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Information is power. Our mission at Portside is to seek out and to provide information that empowers you -- that empowers the left. Every day we search hundreds of sources to connect you with the most interesting, striking and useful material. Just once a year we appeal to you to contribute to make it possible to continue this work. Please help.

 

Keeping it Fresh: Preservatives and The Poison Squad

Cynthia Graber, Nicola Twilley and Deborah Blum Gastropod
Harvey Washington Wiley, a do-gooder farm boy who trained as chemist, worried that preservatives might be harming the public. The trials' shocking results led to the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act and eventually to the creation of the FDA.

When Great Lakes Water Is ‘Public’ And When It Isn’t

Scott Gordon Science Friday
Public water utilities serve industrial customers all the time—Racine currently has about 40—yet Wisconsin is confronting the inherent tension of fueling a private for-profit operation with a water resource that is protected as a public trust and governed at state and regional levels.

How Robo-Callers Outwitted the Government and Completely Wrecked the Do Not Call List

Simon van Zuylen-Wood Washington Post
In 2015, the call-blocking app YouMail estimated that close to a billion robo-calls were being placed every month. Two years later, that number has leapt to 2.5 billion. At best, these calls annoy. At worst, they defraud. By far, they constitute the top consumer complaint received by the FTC.

What Explains U.S. Mass Shootings? International Comparisons Suggest an Answer

Max Fisher and Josh Keller New York Times
After Britain had a mass shooting in 1987, the country instituted strict gun control laws. So did Australia after a 1996 shooting. But the United States has repeatedly faced the same calculus and determined that relatively unregulated gun ownership is worth the cost to society. That choice, more than any statistic or regulation, is what most sets the United States apart.

Reform or Divorce in Europe

Joseph E. Stiglitz Project Syndicate
The worst-performing eurozone countries are mired in depression or deep recession; their condition is worse in many ways than what economies suffered during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The best-performing eurozone members look good, but only in comparison.This system cannot and will not work in the long run: democratic politics ensures its failure. Only by changing the eurozone’s rules and institutions can the euro be made to work.

Why It's so Hard to Regulate Fracking

Justin Miller The American Prospect
The initial scope of the EPA fracking study was ambitious, though certainly not unachievable. The inherent problem, however, with technical studies of complex industry practices is that the EPA relies heavily on the willingness of the industry to give the agency access.
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