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Above the Fold for Nov. 25: The gratitude edition

Above the Fold for Nov. 25: The gratitude edition

At EHN, we have much to be grateful for – a robust press; you, our engaged readers; an environment that, while needing protection, offers beauty and solace.

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Cheers to a relaxing Thanksgiving weekend. Hope you got to enjoy it with friends and family. Here's our take on worthy weekend reading.

I took the above photo at Tahquamenon Falls, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, a few days before White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made reporters say what they were thankful for before asking her questions.

The New Yorker's Masha Gessen called it a "degrading ritual" and it was widely skewered on Twitter.

But I'll play along. I'm grateful ...

  • For organizations like the Society of Environmental Journalists and the Society of Professional Journalists, both of which continue to fight for press freedoms.
  • For my sources from academia, government and NGOs that help me understand all sides of an issue, but especially grateful for everyday citizens who talk to me and invite me into their homes and communities to see how environmental issues affect them.
  • For the reporters who wake up every day and cover the White House from within—keeping our society on top of what our leaders are doing.
  • To live in a place that's still wild and remote and far from White House press briefings.
And now, Sarah, for my question:

Why does the Administration keep nominating people with no scientific background for federal environmental roles? How do these choices respect the work so many scientists are doing day-in and day-out in these fields? (See, for example, Kathleen Hartnett White's nomination for top environmental advisor)

Food fodder

It's the one week of the year when turkeys grab headlines.

In a state better known for its massive corporate farms, North Carolina lawmakers pushed to get pasture-raised turkeys on tables. But the only turkey processor in town shut down a month before Thanksgiving. "My customers had paid a $25 deposit and I had nowhere to take them."

Read the full story from Civil Eats: North Carolina lawmakers rush pasture-raised turkeys to Thanksgiving tables

And on a holiday that many feel neglects to acknowledge the harm done to Native peoples, here's another Civil Eats story that recognizes the important role of Native food tradition.

A Native community preserves its food traditions

As you enjoy those turkey sandwiches and leftover desserts, check out these other reads on farm policy and Big Sugar's lies.

Reporting we're grateful for ...

1. The continued dogged, fearless investigative reporting from ProPublica. The Pulitzer-winning publication sticks tightly to its mission of exposing abuses of power. This week, reporter Lisa Song uncovered an ongoing feud at a small academic publication over what the editorial board deems a shift promoting "corporate interests over independent science in the public interest." But, as Song puts it: More is at stake than just the journal's direction. Read: Sudden shift at a public health journal leaves scientists feeling censored

Just days later the entire 22 member editorial board resigned.

2. The proliferation of top notch environmental news sites. One of the newest projects on our radar is The Revelator, an initiative of the Center for Biological Diversity but editorially independent. The site had a thorough investigation this week of the worst poop- and bacteria-laced waters in the US this week. Read: Wasted Water: The crappiest places in America — literally

3. A sustained focus on justice. After the Flint water crisis and Standing Rock helped put environmental justice back in the national conversation last year, the momentum continues. This week two stories stood out:

It will take more than single-payer to make Baltimore healthy (The American Prospect)

A civil rights 'emergency': Justice, clean air and water in the age of Trump (The Guardian)

Fun with science

Perhaps you missed this:

New York Times had a short piece on podcasts and comedy shows highlighting science for laughs – shows with real Ph.Ds and science writers, aiming to entertain as well as educate audiences on evolution, astronomy, physics.

From the story:

... the more obscure, bizarre and complex the topic is, the better. Whether they are Ph.D.s or stand-up comedians and writers who extract funny from slide shows on dinosaurs, the performers aim to educate.

Let's make this happen for environmental health: water quality, pesticides, dose-response curves, toxicology.

If you know of any, pass them along. We'll publish a list later.

Read the NYT story here.

This week's top reads

1. We're honored to publish translations of Le Monde's award winning series, "The Monsanto Papers," an inside look at worldwide war Monsanto has started to save glyphosate

The Monsanto Papers, Part 1 — Operation: Intoxication

The Monsanto Papers, Part 2 — Reaping a bitter harvest

2. Watch the Senate's quiet intro of its appropriations bill, detailing the EPA's and Interior Department's 2018 spending plans. The bill doesn't slash to the degree President Trump wants, but it does eliminate the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) and $150 million in EPA funding. IRIS has its roots in the Reagan era; state, local, even international governments use its science on the toxicity of chemicals.

We covered the story Tuesday: Senate spending bill would cut EPA program that assesses chemical risks

3. To learn how life on Earth first began—and how it might evolve elsewhere in the Universe—scientists are probing rocks deep beneath the ocean's surface.

bioGraphic had a great essay: Life on the rocks

4. New research provides stark evidence that this widespread mining practice is leading to increases in disease and deaths in Appalachia.

A troubling look at the human toll of mountaintop removal mining (Yale Environment360)

5. Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson says toxic chemicals dumped by 3M Co. in Oakdale caused higher rates of cancer, infertility and low birthweight babies — the first time anyone has estimated the potential human health impact of groundwater contamination in the area since the problem came to light almost two decades ago.

State alleges 3M chemicals caused cancer and infertility, alleges $5 billion in damage (Star Tribune)

Food for thought

Food is on the mind and in conversations this week.

We're all grateful to put good food on the table for friends and families.

But those choices have impacts for other families, particularly in rural America, where so much of our food originates.

We spent most of 2017 investigating those impacts in hog country. They range from a smelly lagoon next door to local communities' lost political clout in state capitols from North Carolina to Iowa and beyond as Big Ag's lobbying increases.

The result is "Peak Pig: The fight for the soul of rural America," published last week.

Read the first day's story here. Let us know what you think. And share it with your friends:

About the author(s):

Brian Bienkowski

Brian Bienkowski is the senior news editor at Environmental Health News.

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