Here's what we emailed out the week of May 21, 2021. Sign up for updates directly in your inbox.
Just hearing “standardized test” churns our stomachs. But beyond our distaste, tests like the SAT are biased and can be gamed through expensive test preparation courses, though they pose as a fair measure of student aptitude. That’s why we’re excited to see the University of California make a historic change — across all 10 of their schools — by no longer considering SAT or ACT scores. The settlement came after a lengthy legal debate over how these tests put students of color and/or with disabilities at a disadvantage.
A surge in street racing is leading to fatal crashes across America
Thu May 13
Pandemic boredom led many to pick up some new hobbies, but a growing number are choosing a deadly one: street racing. Across the country, cleared roads from shutdowns became the perfect tracks for (illegal) drag races. New York City alone has received over 1,000 drag racing complaints in six months of 2020, a five-fold increase that led the city to authorize overnight operation of speed cameras.
Fatalities, property damage, vandalism, and litter from the street races have led communities and law enforcement across the country to take action.
- Georgia will jail those convicted of illegal drag racing for up to 10 days. Get three convictions within five years and one’s vehicle is forfeit.
- Mississippi is allowing state troopers to respond to incidents in cities (which wasn’t previously possible due to limited jurisdiction).
- Arizona has issued thousands of tickets for speeding and racing, and are now working on a bill to impose harsher penalties.
- In Washington, D.C., two police officers were charged with reckless driving, after their drag race ended in a crash, along with other traffic offenses in residential neighborhoods.
- California is well acquainted with this problem given the state’s “perfect” landscape for such driving, and has seen 179 deaths since 2000. Their police force is being trained to detect cars that have been modified for street racing.
Officials are trying to direct these drivers to safe, legal places to race their cars. While Oregon is pushing their “Take it to the Track” program, which allows racers to enter weekly, legal contests on a speedway, many states already have destinations for these drivers.
Some additional resources...
- Full coverage: Associated Press
- Florida’s fatal crash: Click Orlando
- California’s persistent problem: LA Times
Sierra Leoneans smell something fishy with $55 million China deal
Mon May 17
Sierra Leone’s Whale Bay is home to endangered species with waters rich in fish varieties, supporting varied ecosystems and a local economy. But now conservationists, landowners, and rights groups all worry that’s about to change. A $55 million deal was struck with China to build an industrial fishing harbour (for tuna and big shipping vessels for international exports) on 250 acres of beach and protected rainforest. The resulting uproar comes for a variety of reasons:
- The land itself is ecologically precious. While the deal includes a promise to recycle marine and other waste into useful products, locals worry trawlers will dirty the waters with oil and kill off all tourism.
- The fish are crucial to local fishermen, who supply 70% of the fish for the domestic market. They worry this will wipe out the local fish population.
- The vague press release. Details of the deal are still not understood, leading two legal campaign groups to demand a copy of the grant agreement, studies of the environmental and social impact, and the report stating this location was the most suitable place for construction.
While 13.76 billion leone (~$1.35 million) has been included in the deal for affected landowners, critics say this is 30 times lower than the actual value of the land. Some are questioning if Sierra Leone even acquired this land legally as their constitution only allows the government to do so if the deal is in the public’s interest.
Beyond this deal, concern continues to grow over China’s investments in African countries. Sierra Leone currently receives Chinese financing for a hospital, a hydroelectric dam, a rubber production project, stadiums, roads, bridges, electrical projects, and mining. A 2017 report digs deep into China’s efforts to “go green” by shipping its brown industries offshore to African countries, who benefit from job creation but suffer from the increased pollution (a tactic US companies have long used).
Some additional resources...
- Full coverage: The Guardian
- Campaign to save the beach: Crowdfunder
- China’s investments in Sierra Leone: Santander Trade
- Report on China’s foreign investments: Cornell Law
- U.S. firms’ productions overseas: The Conversation
ASCII OF THE WEEK
- __ -- ~( @\ \ --- _________]_[__/_>________ / ____ \ <> | ____ \ =\_/ __ \_\_______|_/ __ \__D ________(__)_____________(__)____
When does street racing officially stop?
When they get tired.
Art Credit: ASCII Art Archive