Last week, a chemical company poisoned a major West Virginia water supply so thoroughly that FEMA has been dispatched to clean things up.
On this New Year's Day in America, 2014, the nation's typists ("thought leaders") are required to use their long-dormant psychic abilities to designate the next 12 months as the Year of Something or Other, whether that be "accidental mass suicide" or "wearable automobiles" or "raccoon-sized talking spiders." Such predictions will generally be wrong, yet there is also the remote possibility that the simple act of making a prediction will cause it to happen, no matter how ridiculous or vile.
Four days ago, areas of the Philippines were destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms ever recorded. The storm slammed into Tacloban, a city of 220,000 in the central Philippines. Evacuation has finally begun, but many residents remain in the region without food, clean water or shelter—all were destroyed by the typhoon.
Reports from Tacloban suggest that survivors, desperately trying to stay alive in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, have begun raiding and grabbing supplies wherever possible. Amidst reports of wide-spread looting, President Benigno Aquino III is reportedly considering declaring a state of emergency in the city of Tacloban.
Gawker's Max Rivlin-Nadler goes deep on Americorps for The Nation: "AmeriCorps is at once a real opportunity and a symptom of austerity. Its members are either being offered a pathway to a career—or they’re being used to lower the cost of social services for a government devoted to budget-cutting. Or, more likely, both."
Up in the High Sierra of Yosemite National Park today, a monstrous wildfire is racing through 200 square miles of dense piney forest. The "Rim Fire" is only one of about fifty major wildfires across the American West today, but everyone has at least heard of the majestic Yosemite Valley with its glacier-carved Half Dome and summer traffic jams of vacationers seeking waterfalls and hamburgers, so this is our official Natural Disaster of the week.