Archive | October, 2010

$1 Billion Later, Feds Give Up on High-Tech Border Fence

22 Oct

It sounded good: build a high-tech array of cameras, sensors, and other gear to monitor the Mexico-US border. Boeing, the contractor the federal government hired to build the ‘virtual fence’, promised it would be a cheaper and more efficient way to catch smugglers and illegal immigrants than flooding the zone with Border Patrol agents. But three years later, the government is conceding what critics predicted all along: the thing doesn’t work. They’re defunding the project. As the LA Times reports, “the result, after an investment of more than $1 billion, may be a system with only 53 miles of unreliable coverage along the nearly 2,000-mile border.”

When the border project was just getting going,  I wrote this piece in Mother Jones headlined: “A proposed $2 billion high-tech fence on the U.S.-Mexico border is likely to be virtually useless.” Maybe the Department of Homeland Security oughtta subscribe.

Killing the Jordan

19 Oct

How people and pollution are killing the Jordan River. My latest attempt at video journalism…

This Is Your Time Wasted on Anti-Drug Ads

11 Oct

Originally uploaded to Flickr by ApeLolz

With methamphetamine use soaring in Montana in the early ’00s, a group called the Montana Meth Project tried to fight back with a series of TV, radio and print ads depicting the damage the drug can cause. Montanans were bombarded with images of adolescent prostitutes and vicious criminals – and in recent years, meth use has apparently declined in the Big Sky state. Success, right?

Actually, probably not. A recent University of Washington study found meth use was already dropping – as it was in neighboring states – and that the ads had “no discernible impact on meth use.” (As the invaluable sums up.) That should come as no surprise. As I reported a while back, even the federal government’s many lavishly-funded anti-drug ad campaigns have been found to accomplish essentially nothing.