30 June 2015

28 June 2015

Its no fun

An New Zealander  has posted a personal story on Vox.com that emphasizes the unintentional complexity of the immigration system. William Han writes that he has been here strictly legally for 15 years, while acquiring 2 Ivy League degrees, but still found the system too dense for the US to allow this talented resource to remain in the country. If you doubt his talent, just read the excellently told story.

Much of the story revolves around Han's status as the holder of an H1-B visa. I learned a little more about these a few years ago as part of a research team working on the Eagleton Institute's RIIM project. As part of the project we mapped out where the H1-B employers in New Jersey are (almost everywhere) and where the the heaviest users are (the Northeast Corridor). But as Han raised questions about how H1-B workers are treated, I realized the this map might also be a map of posible employer abuses in New Jersey. Check out the entire report, “Meet the Neighbors: Organizational and Spatial Dynamics of Immigrant New Jersey.”

22 June 2015

Water woes

The Washington Post recently published a revealing article on the water crisis in California that suggests this might be harder to fix than some first expected.

h/t JohnB

12 June 2015

NPS tries new approaches

According to the NYTimes, the National Park Service is enhancing the park experiences with more social media, new phone apps, and digital mapping. This should make for an interesting conversation in our Byrne Seminar on National Parks and information this fall.

09 June 2015

Vodka and planning

I don't remember ever reading about a town with Vodka money problems before.  Otherwise it seems like a classic rural development/gentrification conflict. But I think we will see more of these single investor gentrification issues in the future. #LonerGentrifiation

05 June 2015

04 June 2015

Water supply for New Jersey's poor

With recent news spurring on a dramatic increase in attention to water as an issue, Rutgers' Dan Van Abs asks whether water supply is a commodity, service or right.

As he points out, the United Nations has taken a stance on access to water:

It is worth noting again the U.N. statement. “Disconnection of water services because of failure to pay due to lack of means constitutes a violation of the human right to water and other international human rights.” The key phrase here is “due to a lack of means.” The U.N. never said that disconnection of a wealthy household due to lack of payment was a violation of human rights. Its point was that people have a human right to water and should not be disconnected just because they can’t afford to pay.
It is an interesting question that has serious implications for those of limited means. Van Abs does a great job, in this short column, or asking us what kind of state we want to be in.

01 June 2015

Environmental problems linked to health concerns

We regularly hear stories about how environmental problems link to health problems. Think: increased car usage and asthma rates, ozone depletion and skin cancer. But this story still caught me off guard.

The Washington Post warns that scientists are concerned that the artificially created Salton Sea is now drying up in a way that could spark a health crisis. The Salton Sea has always seemed disgusting. The Post describes it as, "Created by accident more than a century ago and fed largely by agricultural runoff, the Salton Sea is a difficult place to champion." So who cares if it is the first major casualty of the California drought in 2017 when it gets cut off from its current source?

Aside from the loss of habitat, the new playa could have other results:
Choking clouds of particulate matter driven by powerful desert winds could seed health problems for 650,000 people as far away as Los Angeles. The effects would be even worse along the lake, where communities already fail federal air-quality standards and suffer the highest asthma rates in the state.
 I would love to see a map of the potential public health problems created by letting the Salton Sea go dry. and, of course, it doesn't necessarily mean that there is an alternative. This drought is going to be a killer.