It Doesn't Look So Bad In The First Image, But By The End I'm Sure This Is A Really Bad Idea

It's like watching some kind of bizarre growth.

What you're seeing: The Athabasca tar sands are a humungous (almost 55,000 square miles) deposit of oil-coated sand lying just under the boreal forests and peat bogs of Alberta, Canada. Mining companies extract the oil by digging up the sand in open-pit mines, and then rinsing it with hot water to separate the oil. The sand and wastewater are stored in ponds(smooth tan or green surfaces in satellite images). As of September 2011, roughly 256square miles of land had been dug up.


Companies arerequired to restore the land after they have finished mining. But although themining companies have planted grasses on the site (see "reclaimed pond," 2011), the imagesdon't show much greening up, do they?

Zoom 1: Pit mines can grow to more than 260 feet deep as massive trucks remove up to 720,000 tons of sand every day. It takes two tons of sand (and a heckof a lot of hot water) to produce one barrel of crude oil. The first minesopened in 1967, but growth was slow until 2000 because the global cost of a oilwas too low to make oil sands profitable. With higher oil prices, the mines areexpanding and are likely to continue to do so for decades.

Zoom 2: The mines pull water from the Athabasca River. In 1997, Suncor mining company admitted that their tailing ponds had been leaking 1,600 cubic meters of toxic water into the Athabasca a day. River water tested downstream of the mine contains naphthenic acid, metals such as mercury, and other nastiness.

Zoom 3: The oil sands lie under traditional territories of First Nations people including the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and the Mikisew Cree First Nation. While some First Nations people have jobs in the mining industry, many members protest the environmental devastation caused by tar sands oil extraction, especially the contamination of wildlife that traditional communities rely on for food.

Heroes

There's nothing like a good reunion story to get you misty in the ol' tear ducts. Kate Howard, the managing editor of Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, shared a story of randomly running into the dog she used to foster on Twitter. You know all those dog reunion movies? The ones with names like A Dog's Hope and A Dog's Sloppy Kiss? The ones that make you cry buckets no matter how hard you think your heart is? Well, this is that, but in real life.

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The great thing about American democracy is the separation of powers. The federal government has rights, states have rights, counties have rights, cities have rights, and we, as people, have rights, too.

Heck, even animals have some rights in the good ol' U S of A.

The president of the United States is not a king or a dictator so a team of U.S. mayors, led by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, are asking to go over his head to negotiate directly at next month's UN climate change conference in Santiago, Chile.

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Instagram / James Van Der Beek

About one in five pregnancies end in miscarriage, although it is believed the number might be higher because many miscarriages occur before the woman knows she is pregnant. Miscarriage is actually quite common, yet many people who've had one feel alone, partly because there's still a taboo around talking about it. In order to reduce the stigma surrounding the loss, James Van Der Beek opened up about the struggles him and his wife, Kimberly, experienced.

The Van Der Beeks, who have been married since 2010, have five children and one on the way. In a pre-taped segment on "Dancing with the Stars," Van Der Beek announced that his family will be welcoming a new baby. But the segment gave us a more personal look as Van Der Beek revealed they've experienced three miscarriages as well. "We've had five kids and three miscarriages," Van Der Beek told his dance partner, Emma Slater. "Miscarriage is something that people don't really talk about, and we wanted to recognize that it happens to people. We wanted to destigmatize that as much as we possibly could."

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Courtesy of Capital One

It was around Christmas 2018 and Jean Simpkins, 79, was looking out the window of her new three-bedroom apartment. Eleven floors above Washington, D.C., the grandmother of two gazed out at the lights of the city and became overwhelmed with gratitude. "The only thing I could say," Simpkins remembers, "was 'Thank you, Father.'"

Almost a year later, Simpkins still can't help but look at the apartment as a miracle — one she desperately needed. Fifteen years ago, when her grandson was born, she became his primary caregiver. Six years later, when her granddaughter was four, Simpkins was awarded full custody of her, too. She's spent the time since trying to give her grandchildren the life she knows they deserve, which has been difficult on a fixed income. On top of that, Simpkins worried that the neighborhood the family resided in wasn't the best influence on her kids. Something had to change.

Then she learned about Plaza West, a new development created by Mission First housing that would reserve 50 of its apartments specifically for families in which a grandparent or other older adult was raising children who were related to them. The waiting list, Simpkins says, was daunting. There are a great deal of grandfamilies in the D.C. area and she was sure it might be years before she got the call. But soon after applying, she was offered a choice between a two-bedroom and a three-bedroom apartment. She accepted the latter, sight unseen. She knew that each of her grandchildren needed space of their own.

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