From 2014-2018, local government in Flint, Michigan handed out water bottles to the public. Their gaffe in changing the water supply from the Detroit River to the Flint River led to a spike in lead concentration in the city’s tap water. The Flint situation has largely improved but isn’t over yet. Meanwhile, Newark, New Jersey is deep in a lead crisis of its own. Even though water filters are present, the EPA recently concluded that lead levels are high at several test locations.
By Joseph Brown | United States
WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES (BLOOD/GORE) BELOW
It’s that time of year again.
The taste of sulfur from a barrage of fireworks collides with the familiar smell of barbecue as the nation commemorates the ol’ red white and blue. For many Americans, the 4th of July is seen as a way to celebrate the capstone of American accomplishment, and any elementary school kid could tell you that the United States of America gained its freedom against all odds by forcing colonial British forces from its land.
Who has time for royal weddings when you have Monday Night Football anyway?
The classic tale of a determined ragtag band of rebels defeating the most powerful military force in the world has influenced thousands across the globe. It has inspired subsequent revolutions, formed modern American culture, and of course, created the masterful cinematic universe of Star Wars (Let’s not talk about the last one).
The memory of early American revolutionaries is alive and well in American society, but their legacy might have died with the founding fathers. Let’s take a gander at what life would have been like for a family in colonial America:
Amanda is a young woman living in the coastal city of Boston during the height of the American Revolutionary War. Though previously privileged enough to receive post-secondary education, Amanda was forced to abandon her studies and her talents after the conflict between Imperial and Rebel forces escalated. With hostile forces occupying a portion of her hometown, and the infamous British fleet blockading Boston’s ports, life in the besieged city has slowly begun to fade. Rations are running low, and the community is forced to face the possibility of starving, while wandering a few blocks in the wrong direction could lead to a fate even worse than death.
If you thought life couldn’t seem any more bleak than it already is, you’re wrong.
Amanda’s brother was shot in the leg by British soldiers during a protest to lift the blockade, and for the past 64 days, Oliver has existed in a hellish state of unimaginable pain. Rebel forces have commandeered the majority of goods, and the merciless blockade prevents any significant aid from entering the dying city. Amanda and her family have no choice but to sit and watch Oliver writhe in excruciating agony before finally losing consciousness in what is the only remote escape from his pain.
While her brother sleeps, Amanda gathers bits of rubble and driftwood as a means of insulating her home from the bitter Atlantic winds. The war seems impossibly hopeless, and she doubts her brother will survive the winter. Every night, she watches the sun set on the silhouettes of British warships, as they strangle what’s left of her broken city.
Luckily for you and I, we know the ending to Amanda’s story. We know that the Continental Army would eventually manage to defeat British forces, and the rest is history, right?
Unfortunately, not everyone has the privilege of such happy endings.
Although the above narrative is a perfectly probable allegory describing life in the midst of a great American conflict, it is modeled completely upon the true experiences of a family on the other side of the world.
You’re familiar with Amanda, but have you met Asmaa?
During her lifetime, Asmaa al-Housh has witnessed unimaginable amounts of destruction and despair, much like our fictional Amanda. The only difference?
Asmaa is from the Gaza Strip.
Formerly an outgoing photographer and active student at her local university, Asmaa was forced to abandon her aspirations after her brother, Omar, was shot in the leg by Israeli security forces while attending recent march protesting the Israeli blockade of Gaza. As of May 30th, 2018, Israeli border patrols have killed at least 134 Palestinian protesters and injured 15,000 others during the protests. Among the dead and wounded are men, women, and children. Since 2007, no one has been allowed in or out of Gaza territory, and a merciless land, air, and sea blockade has prevented the transportation of significant medical supplies and basic goods.
Asmaa provides full time care for her twin brother, and for the past two months, you can almost always find her at his bedside. With local hospital facilities lacking staff, supplies, room, and tools, emergency services are quickly overwhelmed, and patients who are in need of critical care are often dismissed, or could face lengthy treatment times. Some can’t survive the wait.
The horrendous conditions of healthcare facilities merely reflect the state of being in the Gaza Strip. Residents of the besieged city are lucky to have four hours of electricity a day, and often resort to collecting driftwood or rubble as a means of heating water among the demolished ruins of Gaza neighborhoods. Blackouts are frequent, and uncertainty looms in every corner of human existence. Is the water clean? Where will we get our next meal? Will our house be bombed tonight? Will my son even make it home alive? These are the real questions that residents living in Gaza are forced to ask themselves every day under the Israeli occupation.
Few Palestinians within Gaza ever have the chance to have their voice heard beyond their own neighborhood. When asked what she would tell Americans about her homeland, Asmaa told me that few Americans can comprehend what it’s like to live there.
“Gaza is a prison. I have dreams to travel…but none of this is possible. I have great hope, but it is not always this way. When I hear my brother scream or see his wounds, I am very tired.”
The conflict between Israel and Palestine has proven to be one of the most divisive and dynamic disasters of modern history, and continues to be a polarizing political issue, both internationally and within the United States. Yet, amidst the heartbreaking violence and hopeless political upheaval, the victims of the conflict have largely been forgotten, and are seldom represented as anything more than a statistic. Israeli or Palestinian, these are human lives, and this is as much of a human issue than a political one.
So before you crack open a beer, or eat one of those generic Walmart sugar cookies with colored sprinkles, take a moment to recognize that the principles of freedom and self determination aren’t exclusively American. There are thousands of oppressed peoples around the world who will die before they see the fruits of their resistance, and there are children in Gaza who could teach an American a thing or two about “The rocket’s red glare”.
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By John Liu | USA
Last year, Phoenix surpassed Philadelphia as the 5th largest city in the US. I live in Houston, Texas, where it is the 4th largest city in the US, and that got me thinking, what makes a city a city. What is the minimum population required to be a city? What is the classification of a city? What makes some cities so special?
Before we talk about cities today, let’s talk about what it means to be a city and places before the Industrial Revolution. Merriam-Webster defines a city as a place where people work and live and cities are bigger than towns. This definition is very vague and does not specifically states the criteria for a city. In order to be a city, the minimum population needs to be around 1,500 to 50,000. That is just the minimum population. Size is not all; it also has to have some kind of political importance. Cities also have taxes in place to help support the local government.
So what makes Houston a bigger and more complex city then, let’s say, West, Texas?
First, proximity to water. The ten biggest cities by population in the USA are located next to a water source. It has always been the best way to trade goods because it is so cheap to transport the goods. Today, shipping is still the cheapest method of hauling enormous amounts of goods. It is also a transportation station. Back in 1892, Ellis Island was the best way to get to the US and by the time it closed in 1954, 12 million immigrants called the United States home. Many Asian immigrants made it to the US via San Francisco and there is a strong number of Asians in this country.
Secondly, food and potable water. It is our basic need that has to be achieved and you cannot survive without water after three days. So getting to a water source is important. There is also food that you can get from the water like fish.
The third aspect is resources. This is probably the most important reason why cities are where they are at. Most major cities are not located in the mountains because they are far away from a water source. (with the exception Denver; they are located near the rocky mountains because it has a large amount of silver in its deposit and minerals that are crucial). These cities need resources to sustain themselves.
Lastly, the jobs and affordability. The Sunbelt area, where Houston is located, is one of the fastest growing cities along Phoenix, is one of the most affordable areas to live and it is an area where most elders want to spend their days after they retire. But why do so many people still live in North, especially that San Francisco and New York City is so pricey to live? Both of these places have a lot of jobs to offer. In Houston, we have the largest medical center in the world so many scientists and doctors live over here. In San Francisco, it is the tech giants like Twitter that many tech geeks live over there.
So as cities continue to grow, the futures of millions are on the line finding jobs in these big cities and continue to grow the local urban economies of America.
Noah La Vie | DES MOINES, IA
Bottled water chokes the oceans, releases chemicals called phthalates, which are known to disrupt testosterone and other hormones, and can drastically affect the principalities from where the water is drawn.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) declared in 1999 that “no one should assume that just because he or she purchases water in a bottle that it is necessarily any better regulated, purer, or safer than most tap water.”
Things haven’t improved since 1999 as the NRDC article has been updated in 2016 and contained exactly the same text as before; only adding a section on plastic pollution in water.
All this has led to an understanding from certain groups that bottled water is not regulated and to a certain extent, at least federally, it isn’t. The EPA regulates tap water, groundwater extraction by municipals, and water used for any other purpose but to be sold commercially by companies in plastic bottles. The Environmental Protection Agency’s role in regulating the industry is minimal to the point of obscurity. The Food and Drug Administration has done some work but recent evaluations of the industry’s regulation revealed that 70% to 85% of the bottled water industry was going unregulated by the FDA.
“While federal environmental laws may incidentally apply to some bottled water operations, water withdrawals and use are generally the domain of state law. State law governs groundwater withdrawals with a mix of common law rules and more modern regulatory schemes.”
(Testimony Before the United State House of Representatives
Oversight and Government Reform Committee(
The regulation of bottled water at the federal level is little to non-existent due to successful lobbying and slick marketing by the industry. This all may point to the summation that the industry is unregulated. Conspiracy theorists have seized these symptoms and surface facts and ran with them failing to do crucial deeper research. This has led to marginal beliefs such as that bottled water contributes to a closed third eye, brainwashes us, poisons us, or at its worst: makes us superhuman.
Doing further research would reveal that it is not the federal government who regulates these companies, it is the states. Take a glowing example, Crystal Clear in Iowa. Ordinarily, they would have to follow some basic and lax guidelines from the FDA which is where the conspiracy theories start. Where they end is with SSB 1145 which regulates further what exactly is in bottled water and what encases it. Crystal Clear, therefore, has to make its water as good as or better than tap water and has become successful by regularly doing so.
“Establishing… rules relating to standards for testing for the presence of chemicals in water sold in sealed containers for human consumption. The standards for testing shall not be less stringent than the rules established for public drinking water supplies pursuant to chapter 455B.”
– Iowa Senate Study Bill 1145 (Enacted)
This one paragraph in effect regulates all bottled water in the state of Iowa to be at the very minimum the quality of tap water regulations set by the state. All over the United States, such paragraphs exist: Wyoming, Virginia, Maryland, Arizona, California; these states and more all have similar legalese in their own such legislation.
Bottled Water, like it or not, drink it or not, is regulated by the Government. Perhaps it is not regulated largely by Washington, but regulated it is by the State Governments that are so often overlooked in the application of conspiracy theories. This same solution can be found in most Federal Government Regulation Myths.
- The Federal Government doesn’t regulate what chemicals go into the ground in fracking!
- The Federal Government is ignoring the potholes in our roads!
- The Federal Government is doing nothing about global climate change!
It’s not always obvious, it’s not always clear, but water is regulated. The myth of deregulation of bottled water is busted.
71 Republic LLC and Noah La Vie are in no way associated with Crystal Clear Water Co. who were unavailable for comment. Other brands are available.