Welcome to our new Thursday feature, where we will share good reporting from elsewhere, either because it is particularly relevant to our readers, or just plain interesting. Here is a look at what we are reading this week:
- “Is a world water war inevitable?” asks investigative reporter Andrew Schneider at Cold Truth. The answer appears to be yes. The U.S. military has recognized the potential for decades. Some West Virginians have been thinking about this issue, too. In 2004, Gov. Bob Wise signed the Water Resources Protection Act. In it, the public claimed the state’s water and required a survey of usage. The Legislature was moved to pass the law after lawmakers realized that distant states were more interested in West Virginia’s water than its coal, as Sen. Earl Ray Tomblin explains in this 2004 story. There’s tons of information about water use in West Virginia at this state Department of Environmental Protection site.
- The $1.2 billion in federal stimulus money spent to help teenagers find jobs this summer was a whopping failure, reports the Associated Press. This and other updates on the stimulus are available from ProPublica. West Virginia, incidentally, is low on teens and children compared to other states. But the state’s percentage of idle teens ages 16 to 19 — those neither working nor going to school, not counting summer vacation — is higher than the national average. It was 10 percent in 2007, compared to 8 percent nationally, according to Kids Count West Virginia.
- New York City schools actually send teachers to a form of detention, called the “rubber room,” where they clock in and get paid, but do nothing, the New Yorker reports. New York’s inability to get rid of truly incompetent teachers may interfere with the city collecting stimulus money offered to school systems that improve teacher accountability. West Virginia education officials comment on their efforts to qualify for this money in Gazette reporter Davin White’s recent story.
- Of interest in West Virginia, with its high rate of heart disease, and especially in Kanawha County, where the local health board continues to be criticized for its anti-smoking ordinance, the Wall Street Journal reports on two studies that showed areas that banned smoking in restaurants saw heart attack rates drop quickly. We caught on to this story at the Pump Handle.