Jaeah is a former reporter at Mother Jones. Her writings have appeared in The Atlantic, the Guardian, Wired, Christian Science Monitor,Global Post,Huffington Post,Talking Points Memo, and Grist. She tweets at @jaeahjlee.
If you're one of 142 million Americans heading to the outdoors this year, there's a good chance you'll run into one of at least 250,000 rivers in the country. Much of the nation's 3.5 million miles of rivers and streams provide drinking water, electric power, and critical habitat for fish and wildlife throughout. If you were to connect all the rivers in the United States into one long cord, it would wrap around the entire country 175 times. But as a recent assessment by the Environmental Protection Agency points out, we've done a pretty bad job of preserving the quality of these waters: In March, the EPA estimated that more than half of the nation's waterways are in "poor condition for aquatic life."
Back in the 1960s, after recognizing the toll that decades of damming, developing, and diverting had taken on America's rivers, Congress passed the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act in 1968 to preserve rivers with "outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values in a free-flowing condition." Unfortunately, only a sliver of US rivers—0.25 percent—have earned federal protection since the act passed.
In the interactive map below, we highlight 21 rivers that, based on the conservation group American Rivers' reports in 2012 and 2013, are under the most duress (or soon will be) from extended droughts, flooding, agriculture, or severe pollution from nearby industrial activity. Find out which rivers are endangered by hovering over them (in orange). Jump down to the list below to read about what's threatening the rivers. For fun, we also mapped every river and stream recorded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It was too beautiful not to.
Ever since Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who went public with details about two government surveillance programs, fled for Hong Kong, many have questioned whether he made the right choice. Why didn't he go to WikiLeaks' former base of operations, Iceland, where some information activists are lobbying to grant him asylum? (Here's why Iceland may not have been a great option.) Why not France, which has an extradition treaty with the United States but, as Slate points out, also has a "history of reluctance to send people into the US criminal justice system"?
Since 2003, 137 countries have extradited or deported 7,066 people to the United States. Mexico, Colombia, and Canada are at the top of the list, according to data from the US Marshals Service. The number of extraditions by country varies widely and likely depends not just on relations with the United States but how many suspects flee there (Mexico and Canada clearly being favorites for fugitives making a run for the border). While Iceland did not send anyone back to the United States during this time, Hong Kong was number 18, with 47 extraditions.
Top 20 Countries that Extradite to the UNITED STATES
One morning in 1972, Nixon chief of staff H.R. "Bob" Haldeman gave press secretary Ron Ziegler some big news: Nixon had just gone to meet with Mao Zedong, head of China's Communist Party, marking the first thaw in a quarter century of US-China relations. In his shock, Ziegler bit into an unpeeled clementine without realizing it. This obscure clip is one of many you'll experience in Our Nixon, a curated collage of 500 Super 8 film reels shot by Haldeman and Nixon aides Dwight Chapin and John Ehrlichman—ambitious men who obsessively documented their lives in the West Wing. The footage, seized by the FBI after Watergate, offers an intimate glimpse into a notoriously secretive administration. "It was a very unnatural kind of life," Ehrlichman reveals. "You had the feeling you were in the middle of a great big, brilliantly lighted, badly run television show."
Fifty years after the groundbreaking "Gideon" ruling, public defenders are overworked, underpaid—and America's poor are paying the price.
Hannah Levintova, Jaeah Lee, and Brett BrownellMay 6, 2013 6:00 AM
Update (7/1/2013): Gideon's Army, a film about public defenders in the south, premieres tonight on HBO. In the video below, you can see clips from the film, and also watch its director, Dawn Porter, talk further about the US public defense system.
Watch: Public defenders and legal advocates discuss ways to solve the nation's public defense crisis, 50 years after the Gideon decision:
In January 1962, a man sitting in a Florida prison cell scrawled a note to the United States Supreme Court. He'd been charged with breaking into a pool hall, stealing some Cokes, beer, and change, and was handed a five-year sentence after he represented himself because he couldn't pay for a lawyer. Clarence Earl Gideon's penciled message eventually led to the high court's historic 1963 Gideon v. Wainwright ruling, reaffirming the right to a criminal defense and requiring states to provide a defense attorney to those who can't afford one.
Fifty years after the ruling, many legal advocatescontend that the justice system is still failing the poor. Last week, the Supreme Court disappointed reformers when it refused to rule on a case involving a Louisiana man serving a life sentence after waiting five years in jail while the state came up with money to pay his court-appointed lawyer. (The federal system for defending the poor is relatively well resourced, though it's also struggling with budget cuts. Several of the attorneys defending Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev face up to three weeks of sequester-mandated furloughs later this year.)
Just how bad is the state of public defense in America? The charts below detail some of the biggest challenges plaguing the system.
As New York City defends its controversial policing policy in court, here's what you need to know.
Adam Serwer and Jaeah LeeApr. 29, 2013 6:00 AM
This week, New York City is defending itself against a lawsuit that claims its controversial "stop and frisk" policy is used to illegally detain and search people on the basis of race. The subject of an ongoing trial, the suit also argues that the weak justifications given by NYPD officers for most stop-and-frisks fail to meet the constitutional burden for search and seizure. We put together this explainer and some charts to help you make sense of what's going on.
What is "stop and frisk," exactly, and what does it have to do with the NYPD? Starting in the 1970s, in the hope of curbing street crime, New York City began encouraging its officers to stop people they deem suspicious, to question them, and, if there is adequate reason to suspect illegal activities, to pat them down for things like drugs and weapons. This type of police activity has been upheld in the past: In a landmark 1968 case, Terry v. Ohio, a police officer detained three men without a warrant, suspicious that they were casing a local convenience store for a hold-up. One of the men had a revolver, and the Supreme Court ruled that the warrantless search was constitutional because the cop had reasonable suspicion to believe the men were about to commit a crime.
If it's constitutional, then what's the problem? Well, it's not always constitutional. It's only constitutional when the police have reasonable suspicion to believe someone poses a danger, has committed a crime, or is preparing to commit one. And police cannot use race as a criterion for any search and seizure. But New York City has faced allegations of unconstitutional policing against communities of color for a long time.