A plan to get the Navajo Nation healthy will mean taxing Snickers and Pringles. The California drought has a new enemy: Water thieves. And did you know that you can get a DUI while on horseback in Colorado? It's all this week in What's Ruining Our Cities.
Cities everywhere are trying to encourage residents to eat healthy, but here's one of the more progressive plans to get a community into shape. On Friday, the Navajo Nation council approved a "junk food tax" on snack items which have been deemed unhealthy. So sales of foods like soda and cookies on the reservation would include an additional two percent sales tax, with all the funds going towards initiatives like farmers markets and community gardens. Native American populations have some of the highest rates of obesity and diabetes in the country, and these statistics are particularly troubling for children: Native Americans aged 10 to 19 are nine times as likely to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. The tax has been proposed several times over the last few years, but this time it's expected to go into effect. [Yahoo]
Could the drought get any worse? Sadly, yes. "Water rustlers" are now stealing the precious resource from the driest parts of the state, tapping into hydrants and irrigation infrastructure and siphoning off the goods, according to the San Jose Mercury News: "Lemoore, a San Joaquin Valley city with strict water rationing, has reported several night raids on its hydrants this year. Modesto earlier this year fined six homes for siphoning water from a canal." The most frequent perpetrators are city contractors like street sweepers or water truckers who already have access to the water but seem to be filling up more than usual and selling the water on some kind of black market. The winter rain can't come soon enough. [Mercury News]
It's almost 2015 and some states in this country still have "blue laws," which prohibit selling alcohol on Sundays. But did you know that up until last year, you also couldn't buy alcohol on Election Day in South Carolina? Our own Sarah Zhang takes us on a long and winding trip through the U.S. checking out some of the most bizarre (and just plain stupid) alcohol-related laws still on the books. From Oklahoma, where beer must be sold room temperature, to Utah's "Zion curtain" required to keep the act of pouring drinks hidden from underaged eyes, these laws will make you want to pour a nice stiff cocktail to celebrate the (hopefully) reasonable laws in your city. [Gizmodo]
Tuba City, Arizona, in the Navajo Nation, photo by Ross D. Franklin/AP