October 2012–March 2013

These buildings at 1125 to 1139 Irving Avenue here in Bushwick were named among the top 5 most toxic places in New York City by a local newspaper thanks to their connection with the Manhattan Project.
These buildings at 1125 to 1139 Irving Avenue here in Bushwick were named among the top 5 most toxic places in New York City by a local newspaper thanks to their connection with the Manhattan Project.

Is Bushwick trying to poison us?

Great news for those of us living in Bushwick: According to Metro, a local daily tabloid, two of the five most toxic places in New York City are right in our own neighborhood. One, 1125 to 1139 Irving Avenue, has high levels of radiation thanks to its connection with the Manhattan Project­—you know, the people who developed the atomic bomb. The other, 59-44 Summerfield Street, was used as a factory to make mercury thermometers from around 1900 to the 1950s. (Okay, so that second one is technically in Ridgewood, Queens, but close enough.)

Toxic New York

The five most toxic places in New York City, according to local newspaper Metro:

  1. Newtown Creek, Brooklyn and Queens
    Historically used as a sewage and toxic-waste dump
  2. Harlem, Manhattan
    90% of the city’s bus depots are there, spewing diesel fumes and soot and causing high asthma rates
  3. Astoria, Queens
    Chemical waste
  4. 1125–1139 Irving Avenue, Bushwick, Brooklyn
    High levels of radiation thanks to its connection to the Manhattan Project
  5. 59-44 Summerfield Street, Ridgewood, Queens
    Once used as a factory to make mercury thermometers

Presidential limo shows support for D.C. voting rights

The vice president’s car sporting one of D.C.’s “taxation without representation” license plates. Photo by afagen on Flickr.

In a show of solidarity with Washington, D.C., residents seeking full voting representation in Congress—which we fully support—U.S. President Barack Obama put District of Columbia license plates with the slogan taxation without representation on the presidential limo in time for his second inauguration and parade on 20 January. “President Obama has lived in the District now for four years, and has seen first-hand how patently unfair it is for working families in D.C. to work hard, raise children and pay taxes, without having a vote in Congress,” White House spokesman Keith Maley said in a statement reported by Politico. “Attaching these plates to the presidential vehicles demonstrates the President’s commitment to the principle of full representation for the people of the District of Columbia and his willingness to fight for voting rights, Home Rule and budget autonomy for the District.” The White House plans to use the plates with the slogan for the duration of Mr. Obama’s second term.

Canada begins withdrawing the penny from circulation

The reverse of Canada’s one-cent piece. Image on Wikipedia.

The Royal Canadian Mint stopped distributing one-cent pieces—also called the penny, like its American counterpart—on 4 February 2012. The Canadian federal government decided to end production and circulation of the coins as the cost to produce them exceeded their value. Canada previously ended circulation of $1 and $2 bills, replacing both with coins. With the phaseout of the penny, transactions in Canada will now be rounded to the nearest five cents.

The United States has likewise debated phasing out pennies and $1 bills. Attempts to fully replace the bills with coins have never gotten much traction for a variety of reasons. In the case of the penny, Americans claim that they like the tradition of them—a claim we find dubious both because of how frequently they end up on the ground (they are pretty much worthless these days, with the metal in them worth more than the coin itself) and because Americans seem to care very little about the rest of the physical evidence. Exhibit A: the vast expanses of the historical fabric of our cities left vacant, and then demolished to make room for surface parking lots. But we digress.

Mississippi finally abolishes slavery

Jackson, Mississippi | 7 February 2013
Nearly 150 years after the end of the Civil War, Charles A. Barth, director of the Office of the Federal Register, wrote that he had received notification from Mississippi’s secretary of state, Delbert Hosemann, that the state’s legislature voted in 1995 to ratify the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which abolished slavery. The process to make the ratification official was started by the unlikely pair of Dr. Ranjan Batra, an immigrant from India who is a professor of neurobiology and anatomical sciences at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, and his colleague, Mississippi native Ken Sullivan. But as Seth Meyers and Kevin Hart put it on the 2 March 2013 episode of Saturday Night Live, “We don’t mean to be hard on you, Mississippi, but you just ratified the amendment abolishing slavery two weeks ago. Not only did Mississippi wait 150 years after Lincoln, they waited six months after Lincoln the movie. I mean, really?”

Pentagon lifts ban on women in combat

Washington, D.C. | 24 January 2013
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced that the military was rescinding its nearly 20-year-old ban on women being assigned to official combat roles—a change the editors of this magazine welcome. But now we wonder: when will women be required to register for Selective Service? Or better yet, when will the country get rid of Selective Service altogether?

All of which leads to another question: when will the country lower the drinking age to 18, or raise the age for registration in the Selective Service to 21? After all, even teetotalling Mormons such as us have to think that if you’re old enough to serve in the military—get drafted, be assigned a weapon, drive tanks and pilot fighter planes, and possibly die for your country—then surely you’re old enough to decide for yourself whether you’ll drink.

London Underground celebrates 150th anniversary

Photo by az1172 on Flickr.

On 10 January 1863, Londoners began using a form of transportation that would not only transform cities around the world but become a part of our family’s everyday life: underground trains. Trains carried 38,000 passengers that day on a route between Paddington and Farringdon, now part of the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines.

The world’s oldest subway is also one of its most extensive and heavily used, with 249 miles (402 kilometers) of lines serving 270 stations and carrying over 1 billion passengers a year. It is also one of the world’s most iconic: its “roundel” logo, introduced in 1908, is as much a symbol of London as of the Tube itself, and its map, based on Harry Beck’s original 1931 design, is recognized the world over and has inspired countless imitations.

Meteor over Russia

Chelyabinsk, Russia | 15 February 2013
Over 1,000 people were injured when a meteor, entering the atmosphere at 34,000 miles per hour (54,000 kilometers per hour), exploded 25 to 30 kilometers (16 to 19 miles) above this city some 930 miles (1,500 kilometers) east of Moscow. Most of the injuries were the result of broken glass from windows knocked out by the shockwave.

Temples update

Tegucigalpa Honduras Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Photo on MormonNewsroom.org.

As of 30 April 2013

Operating: 141
Under construction: 13
Announced: 16

Announced, 6 April 2013
Cedar City Utah
Rio de Janeiro Brazil

Tegucigalpa Honduras, 17 March 2013

This article will appear in Issue 10 | April 2013.

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