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America’s Radioactive National Park by Paul DeRienzo
Tucked away in last year’s defense bill is a measure establishing the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. It encompasses three sites crucial to America’s wartime entry to the atomic age. Is the new park a monument to death or glorious victory? Paul DeRienzo went to one of the sites to find out.

WHO

Growing Support for Campaign Against ISIS – and Possible Use of U.S. Ground Troops
A new Pew Research poll finds that public support is growing for both the current campaign against ISIS and for a wider conflict involving ground troops. The poll compares current attitudes with those registered in October of last year. While support for Obama’s war increased to 63% from 57% in October, backing for the use of ground troops rose to 47% from 39%. Also, over the last year, the percentage of Americans who believe “overwhelming military force” is the only answer to terrorism jumped to 47% from 37%. America is trending hawkish.

How Regulators and Legislators Make it Harder for You to Use Solar Power
Americans are embracing solar power. The technology is getting cheaper to produce and people seem to like the idea of exerting power over their power … and taking it out of the hands of utilities. A Deutsche Bank analyst predicted that the cost of rooftop solar-powered electricity will finally drop to match the lower cost of fossil-fueled power generation within two years, and keep dropping. Utilities are already seeing the effect on their bottom line. So, they’ve begun working with utility commissions and legislatures to curtail the adoption of solar power systems by reducing tax credits, closing down the two-way street of net metering that sends excess power back to the grid and by establishing a de facto tax on those installing rooftop solar. BTW, the coal-fired Koch Brothers are driving and funding some of these changes.

WHAT

The Disappeared: Chicago Police Detain Americans at Abuse-Laden ‘Black Site’
An investigation by The Guardian has uncovered a secretive warehouse used by Chicago Police as an “off the books” detention and interrogation site that is, essentially, a domestic version of the CIA’s infamous network of ‘Black Sites.’ The “sensitive” location—known as Homan Square—is heavily guarded and also home to military-style police vehicles. Although one reporter was told Homan Square is off-limits, The Guardian found a variety of abuses at the facility, including: “keeping arrestees out of official booking databases; police beatings; shackling for prolonged periods; denying attorneys access to the ‘secure’ facility; and holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.” This is just the latest revelation about the excesses of the Chicago Police Department, which include torture, police brutality and coerced confessions.

WHY

Corals Face ‘Slow Starvation’ from Ingesting Plastics Pollution, Experts Find
Plastic is everywhere … including in the digestive tracts of coral. According to a new study, coral consumes microplastics at the same rate it consumes everything else. However, instead of filling up on nutritious food, coral are swallowing the pieces of plastic waste 5mm in size or smaller that increasingly pollute the world’s oceans. One estimate found that over 5 trillion pieces of plastic are currently floating around the cradle of all life on Earth. And this finding shows how plastic can easily work its way into the food chain.

Stopping Killer Robots and Other Future Threats
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists highlights the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. In 2012, a group of non-governmental organizations created the campaign to push for an international ban on fully-autonomous weapons systems. These are not the remotely-piloted drones currently used by the Obama Administration. These yet-to-be deployed but quickly forthcoming devices will be unpiloted and, in essence, empowered to make life-or-death decisions via algorithm. If successful, the campaign would be only third time in history a weapon was banned before it was used—along with exploding bullets in 1868 and blinding lasers in 1995. Seth Baum of the Global Catastrophic Risk Institute sees this latest effort as a crucial test case. If successful, it would set a precedent of pre-emptive humanitarian action at the beginning of a new era of rapidly-expanding and increasingly deadly military technology.

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