Is Fukushima Safe for the Olympics? ; Understanding Desertification ; and More Picks 7/26

Is Fukushima Safe for the Olympics? (Jeff C.)

The Nation notes, after a recent visit to the area, that the repercussions of the 2011 nuclear disaster are not over.

Anchorage Declares Municipal Emergency in Response to Cuts (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy last month vetoed line items equaling $444 million in cuts to the state operating budget, including an 85% reduction in support for homeless programs, from $14.1 million to $2.6 million. … [Mayor Ethan] Berkowitz expects 800 or more people will lose housing due to budget-related circumstances.”

The Trump Administration’s Revival of Federal Executions Is a Cynical Election-Year Move (DonkeyHotey) 

The author writes, “The only surprising part of the Trump administration’s choice to restart federal executions is that it took the president this long to make it. As a matter of pure politics, Donald Trump would probably like nothing more than to have a national debate over the next year about what sort of justice ought to be meted out to convicted murderers. Such a dialogue during the primary season will likely rile his base, track his ‘American carnage’ motif, and distract reporters away from coverage of the administration’s malfeasance and the president’s own legal troubles.”

Desertification, Explained (Mili)

The author writes, “While land degradation has occurred throughout history, the pace has accelerated, reaching 30 to 35 times the historical rate, according to the United Nations. This degradation tends to be driven by a number of factors, including urbanization, mining, farming, and ranching. In the course of these activities, trees and other vegetation are cleared away, animal hooves pound the dirt, and crops deplete nutrients in the soil. Climate change also plays a significant role, increasing the risk of drought. All of this contributes to soil erosion and an inability for the land to retain water or regrow plants.”

Critics of Peer Review Ask How ‘Race Science’ Still Manages to Slip Through (Chris)

From Undark: “Peer review is considered by many researchers and academics to be the best quality-check for scholarship, but others point out that it can be flawed, opaque, and susceptible to bias.”