Marines, Sick Kids, and Toxic Water
For three decades, the water they drank, cooked with, and bathed in may have poisoned some 75,000 marines and their families in Camp Lejeune, N.C. That was the finding last week of a federal Toxic Substances and Disease Registry study that gave residents further cause to believe that an unusually high incidence of disease in their area was no accident. The study said that from the mid-1950s to the mid-'80s, high levels of the potential carcinogen PCEused for dry cleaningpolluted the base's water supply. The degreasing solvent TCE was also in the water, the report said.
Victims also testified last week before the House Committee on Oversight and Investigations, whichlike the disease registryis looking into claims that toxins may have caused birth defects. One marine said his daughter had died from leukemia; another testified that his daughter was born with a cleft palate and spina bifida. The Marine Corps has acknowledged that it knew about the polluted water in the 1980s, but many victims say they weren't made aware of the problem until the late '90s. At least 850 former residents have filed lawsuits against the government.
An Embattled DA Giving Up His Post
The media spotlight that focused for months on the three Duke University lacrosse players indicted for raping a stripper turned its glare last week on the man who zealously pursued the indictments. Accused of ethics violations, and in the midst of a disciplinary hearing, prosecutor Mike Nifong tearfully told a Raleigh, N.C., courtroom on Friday that he would resign as district attorney for Durham County. "My community has suffered enough," Nifong said. He is accused of withholding evidence from defense attorneys, lying to the court and bar investigators, and making misleading and inflammatory comments about the Duke players, including calling them "hooligans." Nifong could still face sanctions, including disbarment, and he disputed some of the accusations of ethical lapses leveled against him. But while the lacrosse players were deemed "innocent" by the state attorney general who took over the case, Nifong conceded that he does not expect any such exoneration from the bar.
Another Loss for the Liberal Arts
The higher education community, which has seen about 70 small private colleges close in the past 25 years, mourned the shuttering of yet another institution last week. Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, announced it would close down its undergraduate campus in July 2008. A paltry $30 million endowment and dwindling enrollment made updating the rundown campus and attracting new students difficult.
A bastion of eccentricity, Antioch has long shunned lectures and grades, and it famously instituted a policy that required verbal consent between partners for every level of sexual contact.
Officials hope to raise enough money to reopen in 2012. But the alma mater to Coretta Scott King may be unable to recall its roots as a center for activism and liberal thought.
A Second Life for Those Plastic Bags
Environmentally conscious California residents shouldn't even think about tossing out their plastic grocery bags. As of July 1, retailers that bag with plastic will be required to provide in-store recycling bins for customers to use.