Primary Sources

The road back from Katrina; Nigeria’s restive delta; the long arm of the blue law; tripping your way to sobriety
The Nation

The Year After

In the months since Hurricane Katrina, the Brookings Institution has been tracking reconstruction efforts with a “Katrina Index.” The group’s recent year-in-review report found some signs of life and hope in metropolitan New Orleans: the housing market seemed to be moving again, with home rehabilitation and demolition proceeding apace and rents on the rise; many hospitals and schools had reopened; tourists were returning. But there was also plenty of bad news. Fewer than half of all bus and streetcar routes were running, a proportion that hadn’t budged since January; only a third of the region’s restaurants and grocery stores had reopened, as had fewer than a quarter of child-care centers. Gas and electricity were flowing into 40 percent and 60 percent respectively of the homes and businesses that received those services before the hurricane struck. This mixed picture reflects not just the lack of power in large parts of the city, but also the failure of hundreds of thousands of New Orleanians to return. Six months after the hurricane, the city’s labor force had dropped by a third, from 633,759 to 429,469; as of August it stood at just 444,153, and the unemployment rate was rising faster than the growth of the labor force.

chart

“Special Edition of the Katrina Index: A One-Year Review of Key Indicators of Recovery in Post-Storm New Orleans,” Brookings Institution

Education

A Sport and a Pastime

College athletics may well offer a financial windfall for the Dukes and the USCs. But for most colleges, running a sports program is a money-losing proposition: of the 1,266 colleges and universities that were members of the NCAA in 2001, for instance, only forty-one had athletic departments that turned a profit. Now a new study sets out to determine what schools get for the money they shell out to run athletic programs, by measuring whether student athletes fare better in the workplace than their nonathlete peers. The researchers found that most professions show wage premiums for college athletes: ex-athletes in military, business, and manual-labor jobs outearn their competitors by anywhere from 1.5 percent to 9 percent. However, the wage premium doesn’t hold for every line of work: in particular, ex-athletes who go into teaching earn roughly 8 percent less than nonathletes. Regardless, college athletes are actually more likely than nonathletes to teach, with nearly 10 percent of ex-jocks finding their way to the classroom.

“Do Former College Athletes Earn More at Work?,” D. J. Henderson, A. Olbrecht, and S. W. Polachek, The Journal of Human Resources

Foreign Affairs

More Blood for Oil
From the archives:

"Worse Than Iraq?" (April 2006)
Nigeria's president and onetime hope for a stable future is leading his country toward implosion—and possible U.S. military intervention. By Jeffrey Tayler

Nigeria is the largest oil producer in Africa, the fifth-largest oil supplier for the United States, and the tenth-largest oil producer in the world—and, like most of the planet’s oil-rich nations, it is plagued by mounting violence, a new report from the International Crisis Group warns. Unrest in the country’s southern delta region has been growing for a quarter century, stoked by local residents’ conflicts with foreign oil companies and Nigeria’s famously corrupt central government, and now claims up to a thousand lives a year. According to the Crisis Group report, a “loose network” of local militant groups has formed under the umbrella of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), which has succeeded in cutting oil production by 500,000 barrels a day since December 2005. The report praises the Nigerian government and the oil companies for attempting to respond to the violence by promoting development in the region, but notes that these proj­ects are often “hijacked by outsiders and local elites.” It isn’t enough, the authors warn, to spend generously “when there are unresolved questions about where much of that money goes—an opinion apparently shared by MEND’s spokesman, who recently informed a Crisis Group researcher, via e-mail, that the region is becoming Nigeria’s “Vietnam.”

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