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AWOL Newswire Fall 2014


It may be all down-hill, well down-stream, for the Potomac River. 

The Potomac Conservancy, an advocacy group for clean drinking water, released its 8th annual “State of the Nation’s River” report. The river is far from directly drinkable, let alone swimmable, because of pollution, according to Hendrick Belin, the conservancy’s president. The George Washington University alum has over 15 years of non-profit experience, including conservation groups like the National Park Foundation. 

Still, Belin said the river is less polluted than it was 40 years ago, a step in the right direction. He credits this improvement to sewage and pollution control. Despite environmental strides over the last few decades, there is still a long way to go.

One threat to the Potomac is population growth, which leads to more garbage in the river. The population of Frederick, Maryland, for example, is expected to increase 40 percent over the coming years. 

By the conservancy’s estimates, the region will house 2.3 million new residents by 2040. It’s unclear whether the river can withstand that kind of rapid expansion. 

How can we clean the river? The Potomac Conservancy suggests more investment in sewage systems. In urban areas, the group urges enforcement of  anti- littering laws. More compact cities and suburbs will preserve forests, which is important to the river’s future, since this land naturally filters pollution before it reaches the river. The group also supports DC’s 5-cent disposable bag tax, which reduces plastic waste. 

The 380-mile river provides over 4.5 million people with drinking water, according to the Potomac Conservancy. The Silver Spring, MD grassroots group started in 1993. You can learn about about its efforts and read the full report at 

- Alexa Marie Kelly


Riding on the unstoppable wave of their own momentum come superhero movies galore, lined up all the way to a Green Lantern reboot and a Cyborg movie in 2020. To put that into perspective, freshmen who are 18 years old right now will be 24 at that point – two years out of college. Of the 30 movies on the full line-up of releases from Sony, Fox, WB, and Marvel, three of them feature female superheroes: Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, and a Spider-Man spinoff featuring an ensemble of female superheroes. If you’ve done your math correctly, that means, yes, 10 percent of the upcoming superhero movies for the next six years will be about women. 

Since the failure of other female superhero movies like "Catwoman" and "Elektra," producers have been frustratingly reluctant to take a chance on a female lead again, according to an article from Forbes. But with the rise and success of young-adult movies starring empowering heroines like "The Hunger Games'"Katniss and "Divergent"'s Tris, it seems they’re finally ready to  break out of the white male superhero formula and try again. -Andrea Lin

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