The Wandering Eye: The effects of climate change on the Bay, false confessions, and more

While a new study funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration sets out to understand changes in the Chesapeake and Delaware bays over the past half-century, with an eye to forming strategies for adapting to the expected ecological effects of climate-change-driven upticks in sea level and water temperature, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration notes that the chilly, tide-stirred waters of the Gulf of Maine are experiencing faster warming than 99 percent of the world's oceans. Rapid changes in the Gulf of Maine's fisheries have already registered, with warmer-water species arriving as colder-loving ones move elsewhere, and the Chesapeake and Delaware watersheds are home to 8 percent of the U.S. population, challenging their ecological resiliency as the climate continues to change. (Van Smith)

Yesterday's DNA exoneration of death-row inmate Henry Lee McCollum and lifer Leon Brown freed them from the North Carolina prison system, where they'd already served 30 years for a crime they didn't commit: the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl. While the Huffington Post focused on how U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had previously pointed to McCollum as a good example of someone who deserved the death penalty, the New York Times emphasized McCollum's false confession, which eerily resembles the confession of Baltimorean Ronald Hinton, who is currently serving a life sentence in Maryland after his controversial conviction for raping and murdering a 4-year-old girl in 2006. "The detectives balled up their fists and threatened him, and told him he could go home if he said he did it," recalled Hinton's mother, who was just outside the police interview room during his confession, adding that "he just wanted to be out of there." McCollum recently told The News & Observer that "I had never been under this much pressure, with a person hollering at me and threatening me," so "I just made up a story and gave it to them so they would let me go home." (Van Smith)

Here at Baltimore's most literary alternative weekly, we're gearing up for Mencken Day, but we got jazzed reading about Paul Collins' new biography of Edgar Allan Poe, which tries to free the sometimes-erratic author from Rufus Griswold—one of those literary executors, and rivals, whose own interpretation can come to dominate the artist (think Max Brod and Franz Kafka). And, if you happen to be the books-on-tape sort, you can listen to WYPR's Aaron Henkin (a bandmate of mine) read James M. Hutchinson's Poe biography through (Baynard Woods)

The issue of sexual assaults on campus and the way universities respond to them has been getting some long-overdue attention lately. As City Paper intern Ashley Quick, a student at the University of Maryland, College Park, wrote in our recent College Issue, "The freshman fall semester, or first 90 days of a student being at school, proves to be the most dangerous time for sexual assault. This is a time known by school administrators as 'The Red Zone.'" Quick detailed investigations into mishandled responses to sexual assaults at three local schools, Hopkins, Morgan State, and Frostburg. Yesterday, we heard about accusations of of a mishandled response to sexual assault at our alma mater, Columbia University, and one student's brave attempt to pressure the university to expel her attacker. In an essay on, Emma Sulkowicz says she was raped on the first day of her sophomore year. The university had a hearing, she says, but "decided he was not guilty."

"Every day, I am afraid to leave my room," she continues. "Even seeing people who look remotely like my rapist scares me. Last semester I was working in the dark room in the photography department. Though my rapist wasn't in my class, he asked permission from his teacher to come and work in the dark room during my class time. I started crying and hyperventilating. As long as he's on campus with me, he can continue to harass me."

Now, as part of a senior thesis/performance art piece described in a video on the Columbia Spectator's website (where I was once an editorial page editor), Sulkowicz says she will carry around a twin-size dorm mattress with her everywhere she goes, as a symbol of her lost security, until her accused rapist is expelled. It's a brave, bold move that will keep attention focused on an issue that desperately needs more attention. (Evan Serpick)

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