Our favorite stories of the week, featuring the Boston Magazine, ESPN Magazine, Washingtonian, Mother Jones, and The New Yorker.
Consumers were warned about plastic bottles with BPA, but are plastics from BPA-free bottles releasing the same synthetic estrogens? An investigation into the scientific research and public relations campaigns over replacement plastics like Tritan:
The center shipped Juliette’s plastic cup, along with 17 others purchased from Target, Walmart, and Babies R Us, to CertiChem, a lab in Austin, Texas. More than a quarter—including Juliette’s—came back positive for estrogenic activity. These results mirrored the lab’s findings in its broader National Institutes of Health-funded research on BPA-free plastics. CertiChem and its founder, George Bittner, who is also a professor of neurobiology at the University of Texas-Austin, had recently coauthored a paper in the NIH journal Environmental Health Perspectives. It reported that “almost all” commercially available plastics that were tested leached synthetic estrogens—even when they weren’t exposed to conditions known to unlock potentially harmful chemicals, such as the heat of a microwave, the steam of a dishwasher, or the sun’s ultraviolet rays. According to Bittner’s research, some BPA-free products actually released synthetic estrogens that were more potent than BPA.
PUBLISHED: March 4, 2014
LENGTH: 24 minutes (6114 words)
This week's picks from Emily includes stories from Politico, Vela Magazine, McSweeney's, and Mother Jones.
From Deep Throat to Thomas Drake: Julia Wick selects five classic stories from The New York Times, Mother Jones, Vanity Fair and more.
Our story picks from CNN, Philadelphia Magazine, Mother Jones, The Atlantic, The New York Times, and a Rolling Stone guest pick by Win Bassett.
Lawmakers in states across the country have been fighting to make pseudoephedrine—an ingredient found in over-the-counter medicine like Sudafed used to make methamphetamine—a prescription drug to reduce the number of meth labs being built. Few states have succeeded to match the lobbying power of drug manufacturers, while those that have have seen results:
"Pharma companies and big retailers 'flooded our Capitol building with lobbyists from out of state,' he says. On the eve of the House vote, with the count too close to call, four legislators went out and bought 22 boxes of Sudafed and Tylenol Cold. They brought their loot back to the Legislature, where Bovett walked lawmakers through the process of turning the medicine into meth with a handful of household products. Without exceeding the legal sales limit, they had all the ingredients needed to make about 180 hits. The bill passed overwhelmingly.
"Since the bill became law in 2006, the number of meth labs found in Oregon has fallen 96 percent. Children are no longer being pulled from homes with meth labs, and police officers have been freed up to pursue leads instead of cleaning up labs and chasing smurfers. In 2008, Oregon experienced the largest drop in violent-crime rates in the country. By 2009, property crime rates fell to their lowest in 43 years. That year, overall crime in Oregon reached a 40-year low. The state's Criminal Justice Commission credited the pseudoephedrine prescription bill, along with declining meth use, as key factors."
PUBLISHED: Aug. 12, 2013
LENGTH: 28 minutes (7063 words)
A mini-documentary on one resident who took matters into his own hands after the city killed its light-rail plans. Plus: Detroit stories from the Longreads archive, from Mother Jones, GQ, Los Angeles Review of Books and Guernica.
Our picks this week include BuzzFeed, Mother Jones, The Stranger, Tin House, Bloomberg Businessweek and a guest pick by Sarah Bruning
Meat industry lobbyists are attempting to push through legislation that would make it difficult for whistle-blowers to report animal abuse at farm facilities. Many states already have so-called ag gag provisions:
"Recognizing that, in the era of smartphones and social media, any worker could easily shoot and distribute damning video, meat producers began pressing for legislation that would outlaw this kind of whistleblowing. Publicly, MowMar pledged to institute a zero-tolerance policy against abuse and even to look into installing video monitoring in its barns. And yet last summer, at the World Pork Expo in Des Moines, MowMar's co-owner Lynn Becker recommended that each farm hire a spokesperson to 'get your side of the story out' and called the release of PETA's video 'the 9/11 event of animal care in our industry.'
"As overheated as likening that incident to a terrorist attack may seem, such thinking has become woven into the massive lobbying effort that agribusiness has launched to enact a series of measures known (in a term coined by the New York Times' Mark Bittman
) as ag gag. Though different in scope and details, the laws (enacted in 8 states and introduced in 15 more) are viewed by many as undercutting—and even criminalizing—the exercise of First Amendment rights by investigative reporters and activists, whom the industry accuses of 'animal and ecological terrorism.'"
PUBLISHED: June 17, 2013
LENGTH: 22 minutes (5559 words)