Roundup: Aerial Views beyond the Big Wall

Aerial views of prisons • A year after the Elk River chemical spill • College scholarships for gamers • Restricting agricultural restrictions • A threat to hospital funding in NM • Worlds Apart republished

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Many rural residents are familiar with the sight of a prison located in or near their community. With around 1,800 state and federal and 3,200 local and county correctional facilities in the U.S., their physical footprint is not insubstantial. To show this visually, artist Josh Begley has captured aerial images, from Google Maps, of each and every one.

“Prison Map is about visualizing carceral space,” says Begley. “We have terms like the ‘prison industrial complex’ but what does that actually look like? If you were to stitch together all these spaces of exception, how might they appear from above?”

To create Prison Map, Begley coded a script that plugged the known coordinates of prisons and jails nationwide into the Google Maps API. When he ran the script, it snapped a photo of every county jail, state prison, federal penitentiary, immigration detention facility and private prison—more than 5,300 in all.

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The Atlantic reports about the aftermath of West Virginia's Elk River chemical spill one year after the incident. The spill dumped around 10,000 gallons of an industrial coal purifying chemical into the river.

To [Junior] Walk, the Charleston spill was just the latest symptom of a deep-seated problem in the Mountain State. Throughout his life, from his time attending a now abandoned elementary school that was situated a few yards from a coal processing plant and slurry impoundment to his experience working for a coal company, Walk has lived through many of these symptoms, though he didn’t always realize there was anything extraordinary about them. “I thought everyone had big piles of coal right next to their playground at school. I thought it was normal not to be able to drink your own tap water.”

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A small university in Eastern Kentucky will become the second in the nation to offer scholarships for students good enough to play a certain video game competitively. The game, League of Legends, let’s five-player teams compete against other teams online. New Media Director at the University of Pikeville explains:

"It's actually becoming a worldwide trend," Parsons said. "This game is five on five competitive play. It takes skill, practice and a lot of teamwork."

Parsons said this dedication to provide various types of technology to students is an obvious extension of what their university is all about.

"I think there are going to be a lot of students, both nationwide and international, who are going to look at our university who wouldn't have before," Parsons said.

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The Indiana Senate is considering a bill that would prevent local governments from passing harsher livestock and commercial agriculture rules than what’s already on the books, reports Bloomberg Businessweek.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg, said she submitted her bill in response to steps taken by various counties to keep out large facilities that can house thousands of hogs or cows.
"Animal agriculture has been a big part of Indiana, and so the state needs to at least know this is going on," Leising told The Indianapolis Star."As far as I know, there hasn't been any discussion on the state level about the fact these counties are doing this."

Not everyone loves the idea of this bill. Some rural residents want the ability to limit some of the big livestock plants.

Residents in some counties have fought the construction of large animal operations, citing concerns such as declining property values, additional odors and possible health problems from increased water and air pollution.

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Rural hospitals in New Mexico fought off closure as they received a $210 million cash injection from the Safety Net Pool and by increasing Medicare reimbursements. But a new bill (Senate Bill 117) threatens to end these funding sources by allowing counties to opt out of paying into the fund.

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Worlds Apart, the 1999 book by the Cynthia Duncan, looks at the nature of poverty through the stories of people in Appalachia, New England and the Mississippi Delta. First published in 1999, the book has been republished in a second edition.

Compiled by Shawn Poynter.

 

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