The Collapse of the Mosul Dam Could Affect Millions of People

Mosul Dam

Mosul Dam IMG: via Google Earth

General Karim Fatah, commander of a Kurdish peshmerga battalion near the Mosul dam, told ABC News that Kurdish forces have taken control of both ends of the dam. However, fighters from Iraq and Syria (ISIS) still control some positions near the western end of the structure.

The U.S. government is concerned about these developments, causing President Obama to send a letter to Congress. In this letter he authorized airstrikes against ISIS targets at the dam “in the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States.” The letter went on to explain, “The failure of the Mosul Dam could threaten the lives of large numbers of civilians, endanger U.S. personnel and facilities, including the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, and prevent the Iraqi government from providing critical services to the Iraqi populace.”

The Mosul Dam was built in the 1980s on really terrible ground, requiring constant maintenance to prevent it from collapsing. “Mosul Dam, the largest dam in Iraq, was constructed on a foundation of soluble soils that are continuously dissolving, resulting in the formation of cavities and voids underground that place the dam at risk for failure,” David Petraeus, currently the chairman of KKR’s Global Institute and former commanding general of the U.S. Army, and Ryan Crocker, the former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, stated in a letter.

The dam requires “extraordinary engineering measures” – which is a lot of grouting operations to fill in the holes and “maintain the structural integrity and operating capability of the dam,” according to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report in 2007. The Iraqi government has been able to keep the dam in passing condition by continuously pumping in tons of grout.

“Assuming a worse [sic] case scenario, an instantaneous failure of Mosul Dam filled to its maximum operating level could result in a flood wave over 20 meters [65 feet] deep at the city of Mosul, which would result in a significant loss of life and property,” Petraeus and Crocker’s letter stated.

Last Friday an Iraqi government official said that the lead dam engineer and his steam were still on site. The water level was being kept lower than normal to reduce risk, according to the official.

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Texas Attorney General Threatens to Sue EPA

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Attorney General Greg Abbott insisted this week that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) back down from their proposal to expand the definition of federal waters to include seasonal and rain-dependent waterways. But according to the EPA, the proposal will create harsher penalties for polluting these waterways, which is not only better for the environment but also for local residents—especially because many people get drinking water from these sources.

“It’s important to protect the whole network of streams that flow into rivers and oceans,” said Ellen Gilinsky, a senior adviser for water at the EPA. “This rule ensures clean waters for Texans to drink and recreate in, clean water for businesses, and clean water for farmers.”

But in a written response, Abbot says the new proposal “is without adequate scientific and economic justification and, if finalized, would erode private property rights and have devastating effects on the landowners of Texas.”

The EPA says the update is needed to help close loopholes in the Clean Water Act, which has left more than half of America’s streams and around 20 million acres of wetlands at risk of unregulated pollution and development.

Abbot’s battle with the EPA over air pollution has been extraordinarily long-winded. So far, Texans have had to pay nearly $4 million for Abbott’s continued pressure on the federal agency charged with protecting the nation’s environment through regulations. While some Texans still stand behind Abbott on the issue, not all are happy with the drawn-out drama unfolding.

“Abbott is using precious public resources to attack clean air protections for Texans,” wrote Marcelo Norsworthy, a Texas-based transportation analyst for the Environmental Defense Fund in July. “His penchant for rhetorical flourish is in sharp contrast with his actual track record. He has racked up a long list of court losses in his ongoing effort to weaken environmental and public health protections.”

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Kim Kardashian App Projected to Earn $200m in First Year

Kim Kardashian Game

Kim Kardashian Game

Did you know that Kim Kardashian has a game app? And perhaps more surprisingly, that it’s been incredibly popular since its release? Glu Mobile released the game in late June and by the end of July, it was the ninth most popular free download on the Apple App store.

The game is based around creating your own personalized avatar that visits Hollywood hotspots to meet, flirt, date or just network with other players as you try to become an “A-list” model or actor. Only if you climb high enough on the social ladder do you get to hang out with reality star and fashion entrepreneur, Kim Kardashian.

The game is set to gross $200 million by next summer, which would make it one of the top mobile app games ever. Who knew that hanging out with virtual Kim Kardashian would be so appealing to so many people?

“In Hollywood, when they are losing the predictability of things like the DVD business, there’s an unparalleled opportunity to get into the gaming business,” said Niccolo de Masi, who is chief executive of Glu Games Inc.

The age range for the game is surprisingly extensive. Payal Shah, a 24-year old entrepreneur that provides jewelry for celebrities says, “It’s almost like living a parallel life … it’s a fun escape after a challenging day. The fancy clothes, the stunning villas and apartments, the clubbing and socializing are just a few keystrokes away.”

The world seems to be as obsessed with this game as it is with the Kardashian family itself. And with still more updates set to release, including new locations for the game, it seems like the app will keep looking up for quite some time.

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Department of Justice and FBI to Investigate Ferguson Incident

Michael Brown St. Louis

Michael Brown

President Obama announced Thursday that the Department of Justice and the FBI
will both be investigating the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson,
MO last weekend. The shooting of the unarmed black teen has caused violent
protests and tension between police and protestors, as well as conflicting stories
about what actually occurred.

“There is never an excuse for violence against police or those who would use this
tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting,” Obama said in a press conference from
St. Martha’s Vineyard. He also encouraged police transparency in the
investigation—something community members have been protesting for since the
incident happened.

Brown was shot by an unnamed police officer during an altercation on the street,
which, by some accounts, included an assault on the officer. According to Ferguson
Police Chief Tom Jackson, the officer sustained swelling facial injuries.
Witnesses to the event state that Brown and another man were ordered off the
street and that the officer tried to force them into the car. When Brown attempted
to break free, the office shot him multiple times.

While details of the event remain hazy, the aftermath has been anything but: violent
protests have sparked a militarized police force to retaliate, firing rubber bullets
and spraying tear gas into the crowd. In addition, two reporters from The
Huffington Post and The Washington Post were arrested on Wednesday.

“Here in the United States of America, police should not be bullying or arresting
journalists who are just trying to do their jobs and report to the American people on
what they see on the ground,” Obama said during his Thursday press conference.
“We all need to hold ourselves to a high standard, particular those of us in positions
of authority.” He urged everyone involved to allow the Department of Justice and
the FBI investigations to proceed so that answers can be found.

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Data Shows that Aging Will Hinder Economic Growth Around the World


IMG: via Shutterstock.

Have you ever thought about the affects that human aging has on a country? A country is considered “aging” if 7% of its population is over 65, and a super-aged country has over 20% of its citizens over 65. The United Nations has said that about 60% of countries rated by Moody’s will be aging in 2015 – and by 2020, 13 countries will be “super-aging.” While aging is not usually thought of to be an issue in the developed world, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Thailand, China, Russia, and Turkey are already experiencing an economic impact because of it.

Why is an aged or aging country considered a bad thing? Moody’s projections over the next couple of decades show that over 20% of the populations of many developed and developing nations will reach retirement age. This will lead to decreased productivity, savings, and investment.

“Demographic transition, frequently considered a long-term problem, is upon us now and will significantly lower economic growth,” says Elena Duggar, Senior Vice President of Moody’s. “Estimates show that aging will reduce aggregate annual economic growth by 0.4 percentage point in 2014-19 and by a much larger 0.9 percentage point in 2020-25.”

The United States is predicted to have 16.6% of its population over 65 in 2020, and 10.1% in 2030. The UK is predicted to be super-aged by 2020, and Japan, Germany, Finland, Italy, and Greece are also expected to be by 2015.

Interestingly, there is one country that will not be as affected by this – India. India has a younger population, and although the country has its own struggles such as a crumbling infrastructure and barriers to business – Moody’s Ratings doesn’t see the same aging struggles happening here.

Countries like Japan and China are facing huge issues in regards to aging. Japan has the oldest population on Earth, and China’s one-child policy has affected the average age demographics significantly. City A.M. has an interactive map that shows the percentage of populations over 65, which lends more insights into the aging status of countries and how this can impact a nation’s economy.

What are your thoughts on aging countries? Do you think we should be concerned? Let me know in the comments below!

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