National / International News
Half the picture of student success is something other than academic. So why can't someone come up with a better name for them?
The Government latest assessment of economic growth is due tomorrow morning. More on what we might expect from that report. Plus, the EPA issued new rules this week clarifying which streams and smaller waterways fall under federal protection. Among other things, the new rules will address fertilizer runoff which contributes to algae blooms. Lake Erie has been especially hard hit and NOAA is issuing experimental early season forecasts of blooms in that region. Plus, in California, tobacco taxes are used to pay for preschool and other early childhood services. But that funding is drying up as people quit smoking. Which poses the question: what will replace it?
Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association are hoping to arm communities with resources in the event of another water crisis on Lake Erie this summer.
Algae blooms, caused by excessive phosphorus from pollutants like farm fertilizers, made water in the Toledo area undrinkable last summer. When the algae die, they produce a toxin, which can make water unsafe to drink.
“These blooms, cynobacteria, they like it hot. They don't grow very well when it's cold,” says Richard Stumpf, a NOAA oceanographer.
Stumpf is part of an effort to create a forecast of algae blooms for this summer, based on phosophorus levels in Lake Erie in the spring months.
“The spring phosphorus load is what drives the summer bloom,” he says.
Stumpf says armed with the forecast, communities can at least do things like order more supplies such as charcoal filters, which eliminate the toxins and make the water drinkable.
New rules issued by the Environmental Protection Agency this week were expected to protect waterways in such a way as to limit runoff of farm fertilizer.
But, William Buzbee, a law professor at Georgetown University, says the new rules largely limit deliberate pollution, not runoff.
“That remains a thorny challenge we haven't addressed effectively in the United States,” he said.
A year ago, a European Court said people had a right to demand Google take down certain search results about them. The right to be forgotten was born.
“That idea is spreading in some areas,” says Jennifer Granick, Director of Civil Liberties for the Stanford Center for Internet and Society.
Most recently, Google is challenging a ruling by Mexican authorities that Google Mexico must remove embarrassing—but true—search results about a prominent businessman there.
Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea are also considering questions involving the right to be forgotten. Post dictator democracies in Latin America, says Granick, have resisted the notion.
“The real question,” she says, “is as nations adopt a right to be forgotten in their countries how will that affect the internet and search engines as a whole?”
European regulators want Google to take down search results on all versions of Google, not just the European ones. Google has balked at this for now, but it isn’t inconceivable that Europe’s views could reach beyond its borders.
“It surely could,” says Jonathan Zittrain, director of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. “Right now, when something is taken down because its alleged to be copyright infringing, Google doesn’t take it down when an American complains under American law from Google.com it takes it down from all Google portals.”
He says Google might try to restructure to get out from certain jurisdictions, “or you might even see the American legislature adopt a law telling google not to obey certain orders of a certain kind coming from overseas.”
Google has said it’s received a quarter of a million requests for removal in Europe, from victims of crimes trying to protect their personal information, to politicians trying to cover up misdeeds. Google has rejected 60 percent of those requests.
Tobacco tax revenues that pay for California preschool and other early childhood services are steadily declining as users give up smoking, and a scramble is on to find another source of funding.
The tale of the shrinking funding source — now down to $350 million this year from $650 million in 1998 — starts at tobacco shops like Drive Thru Cigarettes. Tucked inside a strip mall on Huntington Drive in Duarte, the business and other nearby shops have seen sales drop to a trickle.
Customer Eduardo Hernandez said he used to smoke a lot, but he’s down to a pack a day and looks forward to quitting — and relishing the money he could save from his Little Cesar’s Pizza server salary.
Customer of Drive Thru Cigarettes Eduardo Hernandez said one day he will quit smoking. Declining tobacco tax revenues is leading to less money for early childhood programs. (DEEPA FERNANDES /KPCC)
“I know smoking is bad,” he said.
But for now, Hernandez’s habit is helping fund free preschool for disadvantaged families and other early childhood programs. 80 percent of tobacco taxes go directly to fund programs for children under five.
For the full story, go to KPCC.org