1924 Owens Valley Protests Foreshadow California’s Scary Drought Problems

August 21, 2014
Owens Valley Protests LA 1902

A dusty Los Angeles street in 1902 Source: Water Power

Even with its green lawns and swimming pools, Los Angeles―and Southern California―is a semi-desert. Dropping a major city into this climate with limited water resources seems ridiculous now, but when LA’s population began to boom in the nineteenth century, its leaders believed that the aquifer supplying the city would last.

William Mulholland became the ruthless first superintendent of the then-new Los Angeles Water Department, later the Department of Water and Power (DWP), and later had a famous LA street named after him. In an astonishingly legal and morally bankrupt move, he decided to tap the Owens River, 250 miles away, and bring it to the City of Angels. Eventually, LA drained the Owens Valley dry, but its residents weren’t going down without a fight.

Owens Valley Protests Mulholland

Ken Goldberg’s painting of William Mulholland Source: University Of California Berkeley

The river ended at Owens Lake, at 4,000-foot elevation. Since LA is at sea level, the water could go mostly downhill under its own power. The US Bureau of Reclamation promised Owens Valley farmers they’d build an irrigation system. Through underhanded, borderline-illegal tactics, Mulholland got the plan nixed.

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Ferguson Protests Through The Eyes Of A Teenager

August 21, 2014

Throughout the Ferguson riots, we’ve heard from journalists, activists and–after some significant delays–the police. But the voices of teenagers, those whose ages render them closest to the now-deceased Mike Brown, have certainly been missing. People at Transient Pictures have followed some of these teens in the wake of the killing and riots, documenting the questions they’ve raised since, how they’ve tried to cope with such a loss and broader issues of race, security and their place in it all.

Watch this. Share this. Talk about this.

For more photos of the riots in Missouri, check out our gallery.

How Immigration Has Changed In One Single Map

August 20, 2014

Top Nation Of Origin By State

In the early 20th century, Europeans left their respective homes to participate in the industrial-driven growth sweeping across the United States. As this map suggests, today the majority of immigrants in the United States originally hailed from Mexico. And while the vitriol and prejudice is as unsurprising as it is unfortunate, a little education on US immigration policy and how it pertains to Mexico wouldn’t be so bad for you.

31 Photos That Encapsulate The Crisis In Ferguson, Missouri

August 15, 2014

Police Weapon

Police gunning down an unarmed teenager, descending on non-violent protestors with tanks and special-ops forces, streaming tear gas in the eyes of journalists who ask too many questions and arresting those who are simply doing their jobs. Is Ferguson, Missouri our first taste of what a police state in the United States might look like?

The demonstrations and the descent into authoritative madness came days after the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, a largely black neighborhood in the outskirts of St. Louis. Brown, who was unarmed, was shot and killed by a police officer following a dispute whose details remain unclear.

On Wednesday, a wide swath of Ferguson residents and those interested in the story–parents and children, religious leaders, political activists and journalists alike–began to congregate along West Florissant Avenue, one of Ferguson’s main streets, to express their opposition to Saturday’s events. St. Louis is one of the most segregated cities in the country, and many participants believe Brown’s killing was yet another act of racially-motivated police brutality. Others marched in protest of the militarization of our nation’s police forces and the seemingly negative relationship between their power and accountability.

Ferguson Arms Up

Things devolved into chaos relatively quickly, as participants began to loot and burn down gas stations, and police officers–yet again–took it upon themselves to restore “order” by over-the-top displays of force and threats of arrest if demonstrators didn’t vacate the premises immediately.

Meanwhile, journalists for publications like The Huffington Post and The Washington Post were arrested after simply doing their jobs–recording footage of police officers, an act which is in fact legal. Al-Jazeera America reporters were later subjected to tear gas while police smashed their cameras and lights.

Ferguson Don't Shoot

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Dirt, Disease, And Death: What Life Was Like During The Dust Bowl

July 27, 2014
Dust Bowl Car Road

A car tries to outrun a massive wall of dust; storms could reach speeds of up to 60 mph Source: Wikimedia Commons

In the 1930s, the Great Plains of the United States had a bad drought. But it wasn’t drought that turned these grasslands into the Dust Bowl. The worst environmental disaster in the history of our nation was caused by man.

Most folks that lived in the Great Plains in the 30s moved there to take advantage of cheap farmland the government offered. Washington wanted wheat and the Plains were grasslands; it seemed to make sense.

The problem was that wheat has a short root system. The hardy prairie grass that the farmers tore out had roots several inches deep, allowing the plant to hang onto the soil when the heavy Plains winds blew as they had for thousands of years. It wasn’t so much a problem of the wheat blowing away, it was that the wheat wasn’t strong enough to keep the topsoil from the mouth of that hungry wind.

Dust Bowl Texas 1935

Dust storm looms over Stratford, Texas Source: Wikipedia

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This July 4th, Thank US Suffrage Movement Leaders For Your Independence

July 4, 2014
Suffrage Movement Banner

National Woman’s Party officers gather for the 1920 Republican National Convention to fight for ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment Source: The Huffington Post

Many influential women paved the way for the Nineteenth Amendment, which became law on August 18, 1920.

Abigail Adams

Back in 1776, Abigail Adams sent a letter to her husband, John Adams, who would later become America’s second president. At the time, he was attending the Continental Congress, where wealthy colonists, all men, were deciding whether or not to declare independence from Great Britain. In the letter, Abigail urges him to allow women a place in the new nation’s government. Yet all the talk of “Oppressions…abuses and usurpations” in the Declaration of Independence did nothing to change the position of women, who were left with few rights, or that of slaves, who had none. It was an inherently unequal society ironically built on the concept of equality.

Suffrage Movement Abigail Adams

A young Abigail Adams Source: About

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