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Member since: Fri Nov 6, 2015, 07:20 AM
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Not one, but 2 NYT Articles on Flint's Water Crisis!

Flint Fallout: A Resignation, a Hearing and U.S. Aid By MITCH SMITH


Fallout from the drinking water crisis in Flint, Mich., spread Thursday as a high-ranking Environmental Protection Agency official resigned and the agency’s chief administrator said it would take over monitoring of Flint’s water supply for lead contamination.

The developments signaled a change in tack for the E.P.A., whose leaders had deflected blame to state government for missteps in Flint even as critics questioned why there had not been a more decisive federal intervention months ago. The official who resigned, Susan Hedman, an appointee of President Obama’s who oversees a regional office, had come under particular scrutiny for being slow to act on concerns from an E.P.A. scientist, Miguel Del Toral, about lead contamination and for failing to step in as state and local officials played down health concerns. Mr. Del Toral raised concerns that the contamination could be widespread and that the city’s testing methods were flawed.

In a statement, the E.P.A. said Ms. Hedman, who is based in Chicago and whose territory includes Michigan, would leave the agency next month so that her office’s “focus remains solely on the restoration of Flint’s drinking water.”... on Thursday, Gina McCarthy, the E.P.A.’s chief administrator, wrote in a letter to Gov. Rick Snyder that she was issuing an emergency order under the Safe Drinking Water Act to expand federal oversight because of “serious and ongoing concerns with the safety of Flint’s drinking water system” and “continuing delays and lack of transparency.” The E.P.A. will oversee lead monitoring efforts in Flint, she told the governor, in order to “ensure transparency and accountability.”


A Question of Environmental Racism in Flint By JOHN ELIGON


If Flint were rich and mostly white, would Michigan’s state government have responded more quickly and aggressively to complaints about its lead-polluted water?

The 274 pages of emails released by Gov. Rick Snyder this week on Flint’s water crisis included no discussion of race. Instead, they focused on costs relating to the city’s water supply, questions about scientific data showing lead contamination and uncertainty about the responsibilities of state and local health officials.

But it is indisputable that in Flint, the majority of residents are black and many are poor. So whether or not race and class were factors in the state’s agonizingly slow and often antagonistic response, the result was the same: Thousands of Flint’s residents, black and white, have been exposed to lead in their drinking water. And the long-term health effects of that poisoning may not be fully understood for years.

For civil rights advocates, the health crisis in Flint smacks of what has become known as environmental racism. Coined in the 1980s, the term refers to the disproportionate exposure of blacks to polluted air, water and soil. It is considered the result of poverty and segregation that has relegated many blacks and other racial minorities to some of the most industrialized or dilapidated environments...

Litvinenko – Worth More Dead Than Alive By Finian Cunningham


So now Russian President is a cold-blooded assassin, as well as Europe’s “new Hitler”, the saboteur of civilian airliners, sponsor of drug abuse in sports and the friend of Middle East butcher-dictators. Can the list of demonic epithets for the Russian leader get any longer? Just when you think it couldn’t, the good old British master of dirty tricks pulls out the “evil assassin” card...Putin is fingered for ordering the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, a former member of Russia’s security service FSB.

The British so-called public inquiry published this week only said Putin “probably” ordered the killing of Litvinenko in London nearly 10 years ago. But the intended innuendo implanted in the public mind is plain: Putin is an assassin. As the Russian Foreign Ministry said in derisory response to the British report, it is all so predictable. The politicization of a criminal matter is so flagrantly transparent, it is almost cringe-making in its clumsiness. The inquiry was ordered by the British government in October 2014, and is anything but “public”. It is based on secret evidence presented behind closed doors by anonymous British intelligence figures.

No verifiable proof worthy of a proper legal court is presented. It is based entirely on “circumstantial”, that is subjective, inference by a former British judge sitting in private, but who is then given ample media exposure to broadcast his “findings”. To call this a “judicial ruling” is a farce and an insult to the public’s intelligence. Yet following the announcement of the inquiry’s “conclusions”, the British government immediately censured Russia over “a blatant and unacceptable breach of international law”. This is not only typical British arrogance, it is a dangerous, reckless misuse of a country’s dubious legal procedures to project an international political jurisdiction...The corny Cold War stereotypes of “ex-KGB spies seeking revenge” is the first giveaway that this is a “psyops job”, in addition to the scripted political reaction by the British government. This latest smear fits consistently with the long-running running Western-led propaganda vendetta against Vladimir Putin...Of the many absurdities in the British report on the death of Litvinenko, perhaps the main one is the alleged use of radioactive Polonium as a lethal poison...if, as the British claim, it was the work of cold-blooded, professional Russian assassins under orders from their bosses in the Kremlin the fatal contradiction in this claim is that the apparent murder was carried out with extraordinary amateurishness. Traces of radioactive polonium were allegedly found in the London hotels where the accused Russian men stayed and even the planes they travelled on. If professional assassins were to use radioactive poison they would keep the lethal dose in a lead capsule to prevent emission of radioactivity. Our putative Russian assassins in London must have been throwing the deadly substance around themselves like aftershave, if we are to believe the findings of the British judge.

On the contrary, what careless radioactive traces in hotels, planes and elsewhere strongly suggest is that someone was laying an incriminating path to frame up the Russian men. And even at that we don’t really know if traces of radioactivity were actually found because, as noted the un-public nature of the British inquiry was based entirely on secret, unverifiable “evidence”. This is the same kind of legal “standard” that the West uses to accuse Russian warplanes of bombing hospitals in Syria or Russian tanks rolling across Ukraine – with no verifiable evidence. It’s all down to politicized assertion and bombast...Who is to say that his British handlers did not bump off the Russian “former spy” with their own supply of radioactive polonium? And given Litvinenko’s personal umbrage with the Russian government for being sacked from the FSB, he could be relied on by the British to give a plausible-sounding death bed statement imputing Putin for his demise...This has all the hallmarks of a time-honored British psychological operation. Pile up the smears to then undermine the moral authority of your opponent in order that concessions can be extracted.

For the British, Alexander Litvinenko is definitely worth more dead than alive.

It also sounds like the antics of J. Edgar Hoover. Exploding cigars for Castro, etc...

Best Article on Primary Ever! "Clinton's response to Sanders has some Democrats worried"

I'm just quoting the highlights, but recommend the whole piece for your reading list


"They didn't take him seriously enough because they thought they had a gadfly," said John Morgan, a Florida attorney and Clinton donor. "The gadfly wasn't a gadfly — he was a lightning bug. And people have been following that lightning bug all over America."

"The better she does, the more those stories seem to recede in the minds of voters," said Boston-based Democratic strategist Mary Anne Marsh. "Now, Benghazi seems to be back. Email seems to be back. A number of other things seem to be back."

...Though the tightening nature of the race, particularly in Iowa, hasn't sparked widespread panic among her supporters quite yet, it's worrying some donors, as well as Bill Clinton and their daughter, Chelsea, who shared her concerns at a meeting with supporters in New York this week, according to people close to the campaign, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss private conversations.

Democratic donors, strategists and pollsters, including some aligned with Clinton, expressed their concerns in nearly two dozen interviews with The Associated Press...

"It is not about Senator Sanders. It is about his message," said Chris Kofinis, who conducted the group. "When you attack him, you're not actually addressing the problem."

"Sanders organizers seem to be making some headway," said Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, who says he's likely to endorse Clinton. "What I'm hearing more and more is that (black voters) are now open to hearing Bernie."

"Nobody ever stops running for president, they just run out of money," said former Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, a Clinton fundraiser. "Bernie has enough money for a long time."

Whoever pointed out the Hillary campaign was leaking didn't tell the half of it!

Michigan governor will be called to congressional hearing on Flint water crisis


Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and other officials will be called to testify next month to a congressional panel about the crisis over lead-contaminated water in the city of Flint, a congressional office said on Thursday.

U.S. Representative Brenda Lawrence, a Democrat, requested the Feb. 3 hearing of the House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee last week, said her communications director, Tracy Manzer. The invitation will be specifically for the governor and he cannot send a representative on his behalf, Manzer said.

Susan Hedman, administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency's Region 5 office in Chicago, and Dan Wyant, former director of Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality, are among the other invitees. Wyant resigned in December over the growing crisis in Flint.

...Snyder, a Republican, has rejected calls from critics for his resignation over the crisis. He asked the Michigan state legislature this week to approve $28 million to assist Flint and said there would be additional funding requests. The Michigan House approved the funding unanimously on Wednesday and the bill was in the Senate on Thursday.

so it begins...the wheels of justice grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine, if nobody blocks them!

How a Leafy Folk Remedy Stopped Bedbugs in Their Tracks


Generations of Eastern European housewives doing battle against bedbugs spread bean leaves around the floor of an infested room at night. In the morning, the leaves would be covered with bedbugs that had somehow been trapped there. The leaves, and the pests, were collected and burned — by the pound, in extreme infestations.

Now a group of American scientists is studying this bedbug-leaf interaction, with an eye to replicating nature’s Roach Motel. A study published ... in The Journal of the Royal Society Interface details the scientists’ quest, including their discovery of how the bugs get hooked on the leaves, how the scientists have tried to recreate these hooks synthetically and how their artificial hooks have proved to be less successful than the biological ones...At first glance, the whole notion seems far-fetched, said Catherine Loudon, a biologist at the University of California, Irvine, who specializes in bedbug locomotion.

“If someone had suggested to me that impaling insects with little tiny hooks would be a valid form of pest control, I wouldn’t have given it credence,” she said in an interview. “You can think of lots of reasons why it wouldn’t work. That’s why it’s so amazing.”

“The areas where they appear to be pierceable,” Dr. Loudon said, “are not the legs themselves. It’s where they bend, where it’s thin. That’s where they get pierced.”

...But even though there is no indication that the bean leaves and the bedbugs evolved to work together, the leaves are fiendishly clever in exploiting the insects’ anatomy. Like the armor covering knights in medieval times, the bedbug’s exoskeleton has thinner areas where its legs flex and its tiny claws protrude — like the spot where a greave, or piece of leg armor, ends...This folk remedy from the Balkans was never entirely forgotten. A German entomologist wrote about it in 1927, a scientist at the United States Department of Agriculture mentioned it in a paper in 1943, and it can be found in Web searches about bedbugs and bean plants....

Hillary Clinton sounds like a Defeatist, not a Democrat OR a Republican

When the Hillary meme first appeared: "No We Can't"; an electric thrill ran through the body politic. This is precisely what We, the People, have been fighting since the end of the Vietnam Domino Wars.

No problem could be solved by application of effort and money, and so, no money nor effort was supplied.

America's Elite, leadership by default, sat in a corner, sullen and sucking its thumb, shutting down everything America did, or was trying to do. By withdrawing public money, public attention, and even rewriting long-standing laws, the Elite circled the wagons, slaughtered the chickens and instituted an auto-da-fé of the ordinary folk in order to cook up some fancy feasts for itself.

Space program? Shut it down. Hire other nations to launch our satellites and supply vessels
EPA? Shut it down
Public radio? Shut it down
Unions? Shut them down
Public health? Shut it down
Welfare for the needy? Shut it down
Healthcare for the sick, especially the mentally ill? Shut it down
Public Education? Gut it like a hog and feed it to the Charter school movement
Election Finance? Make all the laws illegal. Corporations are people, too!

I could go on, but you get the drift. The American world shriveled and the American economy was hollowed out in the interests of GREED. Nothing else mattered but that the Obscenely Wealthy got even more so...

And along came Hillary. She wanted the signal honor of being the first woman elected President. She didn't actually want to DO anything, just BE something. Something unique and never done before, never to be done again...like Obama.

And so, we have a clear choice.

We can vote for someone who wants to be President.


We can vote for someone who wants to correct 40 years of decline, pillage, war, injustice and inequality: we can vote for Bernie Sanders and his revolution.

It couldn't be a clearer choice.

Does Bernie Sanders actually want to be president? Alex Seitz-Wald

How do you like that for chutzpah?


It's a cliché that after every presidential debate, campaign advisers head to the "spin room" to declare to reporters that "there was only one president on the stage tonight," and it was the candidate they work for. But at the NBC News/YouTube debate here Sunday night, Bernie Sanders won by sounding more revolutionary than presidential. That's no surprise for Sanders, who has adopted the posture of an outsider insurgent for his entire career and made "political revolution" a slogan of his 2016 presidential campaign.

But with the possibility that he could make it to the White House no longer unfathomable, does Bernie Sanders actually want to be president?

It's a seemingly stupid question to ask about a person who has worked themselves to the point of exhaustion every day for the past eight months to achieve that goal. But when Sanders got into the 2016 race with an announcement at a hastily arranged press conference behind the Capitol building in April, everyone assumed the answer was obviously "no."

While he denied it, of course, the world assumed that Sanders was there to influence the political conversation, raise issues important to his movement, and to push presumed nominee Hillary Clinton to the left. Many compared him to Ron Paul, the libertarian Republican who ran for president twice — with no hope of winning — on a message of revolution. That analysis served fine for most the campaign.

But something changed when the calendar turned to 2016: For the first time, if you squint hard enough, you can see Bernie Sanders putting his right hand on the Torah as Chief Justice John Roberts administers the oath of office on the steps of the Capitol in a year's time...

read on, there's more, and it gets worse

One Out of Five Young People Would Move to a State Because Pot Is Legal There


There have been plentiful anecdotal reports about people pulling up stakes to head to where the grass is greener, and now there is polling data to back up the contention that marijuana legalization or liberalization is a pull factor in people's decisions about where they want to live—especially for young people.

A recent Harris Poll found that 20% of Milennials (born between 1982 and 2002) would consider moving to state because pot is legal there. So would 10% of Gen Xers (born between 1965 and 1982), but only 7% of Baby Boomers and 1% of Seniors would move for pot. Overall, 11% of respondents said they would factor in the legal status of weed when pondering a move.

Unsurprisingly, the status of weed is not a leading reason for people's decisions to move to another state. The most common reason was weather (52%), followed by job opportunity (41%), proximity to family (36%), and health reasons (25%). Pot legalization was part of a second tier of motivations that also included proximity to friends (18%), proximity to a significant other (16%), educational opportunity (14%), lifestyle more accepted (13%), or political views more accepted (11%).

Also unsurprisingly, liberals (17%) and moderates (12%) were more likely to consider moving to a marijuana legal state than conservatives (6%). And men (14%) were more likely than women (8%).


How To Use Single Payer Healthcare As Trojan Horse For A Good Welfare State


Currently, total health expenditures in the US make up around 17% of GDP. The average for the OECD is 9.3%. Around half of our healthcare spending is public while the other half is private. Thus, very roughly speaking, to shift all of the current healthcare expenditures onto the public health insurance, you’d need initially to raise the tax level by 8.5 points of GDP (half of 17%).

If you believe, as I do, that switching to a single-payer healthcare system would allow us to better curb healthcare inflation and thus to control costs much more effectively than we currently do, then that means that the 17% of GDP we currently pay towards healthcare could be pushed down over time. Let’s assume that, by keeping healthcare inflation in check through single-payer, we could eventually bring health expenditures down to around 10% of GDP (slightly above the OECD average).

Under this scenario, we would initially raise the tax level by 8.5 points in order to cover the half of health expenditures that are currently paid out privately. Then, over time, we would cut healthcare expenditures by 7 points (from 17% to 10% of GDP). Assuming we didn’t lower the tax level over the expenditure-slimming period, we would be able to use those 7 points of savings towards other welfare programs (child care, child allowance, paid leave, etc.). And there is a lot of stuff you can get with 7 points of GDP.

Single-payer healthcare is the only program that would allow you to pull of this kind of trick. This is because it is the only program that, if done right, will require progressively less revenue (as a percent of GDP) to operate over time. If you can win the initial tax level bump necessary to make it happen (which you can sell as being a simple cost shift from private premiums to public taxes) and hold on to the tax level bump as healthcare expenditures recede, then you can fill out much of the welfare the US currently lacks with the resulting surplus.
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