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Dear EarthTalk: I understand that mining was just banned in the Grand Canyon and environs. Why is that an important victory for the environment? — Michael McAllister, Reno, NV

EarthTalk®

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Dear EarthTalk: Are all the commercial messages kids are bombarded with today having any noticeable negative effects? And if so what can a concerned parent like me do to limit my own kids’ exposure to so much advertising and marketing? — Jason Baldino, Somerset, NJ

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The Black Hole Of Improper Payments

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Going strictly by the numbers, the DOD appears to be a model agency when it comes to avoiding what the government calls “improper payments” — those that should never have been made, or amount to more than was agreed in a contract. Despite their $687 billion budget, DOD has reported contributing relatively little to the government’s estimated $100 billion in improper payments in each of the last three years.