Reading Around the Internet: October 26, 2014

Happy Halloween! And for everyone experiencing the beauty of autumn, as we are here in Cape Girardeau, I hope you get outside to enjoy it!

This week’s Reading Around the Internet isn’t just about disasters or property. I’ve included a summary of a piece about the judicial selection process as well as upcoming elections, since both are matters that can have a direct impact on the various topics we blog about:

Obama’s Appointments to the Federal Judiciary

Who our judges are matters a lot, or at least most political scientists think so. Yet one thing we also know: it’s not as easy as thinking that, when the President is a Democrat, he’ll nominate liberals; and when the President is a Republic he nominates conservatives. Different presidents have had different agendas with the courts. Jeffrey Toobin, writing in The New Yorker, takes a look at President Obama’s nominees. Toobin asked President Obama what he thought the most significant decision was at the Supreme Court during his time in office. The answer surprised Toobin, causing him to comment, “In other words, Obama’s favorite decision was one in which the Court allowed the political process to go forward, one state at a time. There’s more good material than this in the article — definitely worth the read.

(In the name of full disclosure, Professor Sheldon Goldman, who is quoted in the piece, was one of my most important professors in graduate school — he’s also one of the foremost experts in the US on judicial selection. But no, I am not recommending it just because he’s quoted — it really is an interesting piece about a very important topic.)

Pondering Preparedness Post-Sandy

Jennifer Peltz and Wayne Parry take a close look at disaster preparedness after Sandy in the region hit by that superstorm. Peltz and Parry argue that, though a lot of effort has been put into preparations, and a lot of preparations have been made, there’s still much to do. Work on floodgates, backup power systems at the hospitals, and the installation of generators at gas stations, as well as redrawn evacuation-zone maps have been produced since Sandy. However, a lot of work has yet to be completed, and so many areas remain vulnerable.


We do in fact have an election on the horizon! The Christian Science Monitor reports that environmental groups, in a bid to make climate change a bipartisan issue, have begun to Republic party candidates. Not all Republicans are getting this support, but key Republicans are. When you read this, keep an eye on the part in the article that describes the environmental groups’ fundraising structure. They have deeper pockets now than in past years, says the article, partly because of some changes in strategy.

Ebola Vaccine

Several countries are working to develop a vaccine for Ebola. The Guardian reports on the progress, as well as providing some of the history of the virus and analysis of the dangers it poses.


Hawaii’s Klauea volcano has been producing a lava flow for quite some time, but recently the lava flow has picked up speed. As it advances on the small town of Pahoa in the Puna district of the Big Island, residents are being warned that evacuation may be necessary within the next few days. has some good coverage, and as it often does, some great photos. The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory also provides daily updates here. In the meantime, Hawai’i’s governor has requested federal aid to supplement his state’s own preparations. Keep in mind that Hawai’i has also experienced torrential rains and flooding after being hit by tropical storms — and the storm season is not yet over.

Reading Around the Internet: October 20, 2014

Last week was fall break at Southeast Missouri State. I had a lovely, relaxing long weekend but went back to work today… Here’s some reading I was doing over the weekend to catch up on happenings in the world of disasters, property and politics:


So a couple of things about Ebola: first, unless you come into contact with bodily fluids when that person is symptomatic, you’re not going to “catch” Ebola…   And, stories and images about the disease that spread false information — and even ones that don’t — can make a crisis situation worse. See Laura Seay and Kim Yi Dionne’s great piece on this in the Washington Post. In fact, keep an eye out for Laura Seay and Kim Yi Dionne’s coverage on this. They are very knowledgeable about African politics in general, and have been doing a great job analyzing this situation. And the disease is certainly being politicized, making it important to pay attention not just to how the disease spreads but what politicians are doing with it (especially as we get closer to the election here n the US).

Here’s the thing, though — there are real people suffering a true calamity, and help can be had. To learn more about Ebola and see past the terrifying voices that are out in the world scaring us, to see the reality of the disease and understand better the situation as it plays out in everyday life, take a look at Ebola Diaries. It will wrench your heart, but you will have a better understanding of this disease and the challenges it poses.


In the Pacific, Hawai’i is being hit again with heavy rain and high surf thanks to Hurricane Ana. Meanwhile, in the Atlantic Hurricane Gonzalo made its way to Bermuda. Though hurricane season has been a fairly slow and low intensity this year so far (with Hawai’i seeing more than it usually does of this activity), we should expect more storms. For the rest of us, forecasters say that we should expect an unusually wet winter this year.

Colorado Flood Recovery

A couple of weeks ago, Governor Hickenlooper issued a flood recovery report in Colorado. Here’s a summary, and here’s a link to the website where you can review the report itself.

Disaster Mitigation: Floodplains

My emergency management students have been learning about mitigation the last couple of weeks. It occurs to me that there are readers out there who may want to know more about FEMA’s floodplain (in particular) mitigation program since there’s been a lot of discussion of mitigation in coastal and river/lakefront areas. Here’s a link to their website.  You may find this page interesting and worth looking around. It can provide you with a broader sense of the goals and aspirations of the National Prevention Framework, which I think deserves more attention than it’s gotten — and will get some attention here sometime during the winter.