A relatively short update this week, while I work my way through a chain of reference that may eventually lead to a post on Agora & Polis. Or may not. It's hard to say, sometimes.
Political polarization tends to get worse in communities where local news sources have shuttered, according to research published in the latest Journal of Communications. As a summary from the AP explains:
With fewer opportunities to find out about local politicians, citizens are more likely to turn to national sources like cable news and apply their feelings about national politics to people running for the town council or state legislature…
That results in more party line voting relative to past elections when local newspapers were more plentiful.
A paper in the Quaternary Science Reviews suggests that so many people were killed by invaders or epidemics during the colonization of the Americas that global temperatures declined as a result. In particular, the inability of depleted American populations to maintain farmland at previous rates led to a growing stock of carbon as wilderness reclaimed previously cultivated regions.
There are some genuinely macabre details in this NYT article on the debate over how much "donors" at pay-for-plasma centers (which are disproportionately located in low income areas) should be paid for their blood — if they should even be paid at all. For example: before FDA requirements led to a preference for voluntarily donations, the trade in human blood supported a class of professional blood donors numerous enough to unionize.