"Dr. Sebastian Gorka May Be a Far-Right Nativist, But for Sure He’s a Terrible Scholar" - an analysis of the Nazi-aligned Hungarian in Trump's administration. "New York Attorney General Steps Up Scrutiny of White House" and "The Unlikely Liberal Hero Adam Schiff Is Ready to Investigate Trump" are about investigations, which are necessary, but don't expect them to move quickly. "Lawmakers seek FBI, NSA answers on Trump, Russia at rare public hearing" isn't about new investigations but hopefully getting some data about what we already know.
In matters of political control, we have the Trumpist Commissars stepping up in, "White House installs political aides at Cabinet agencies to be Trump’s eyes and ears." Meanwhile, we're all worrying about the honest truth - that "For Donald Trump, a Terror Attack Will Be an Opportunity Not a Curse." Of course, other than 'taking massive advantage to tear down more law,' we have to wonder what else the Trump administration would manage in response to a crisis, particularly after how we saw "In One Rocky Week, Trump’s Self-Inflicted Chaos on Vivid Display." (One could say the same thing about every move made since the last election, I suppose.)
Finally, another moment of reality: "CNN's Zakaria: Trump got to the Presidency by 'bulls--tting'."
Only one direct racism article this time - "A California waiter refused to serve 4 Latina women until he saw ‘proof of residency’." Like you need to be a resident to eat at a restaurant? Seriously? What the hell.
But this is kind of related - "Message to YouTube Creators from YouTube about Restricted Mode" is actually from me, but in response to YouTube's apparent decision to create a "Restricted Mode" which is supposed to be super-safe mode? But queers are autoblocked while white supremacists like David Duke are not. LGBT coming out stories and makeup tips?" NOT SAFE. Genocide advocacy? TOTALLY SAFE. So, yeah. Fuck you, youtube.
To the courts, we have "Reported Gorsuch Statements Show Disqualifying Disregard for Women’s Workplace Rights," where Gorsuch reportedly told law students that corporations have a responsibility to grill women about child plans, because women will get hired, immediately get pregnant and go on paid maternity leave and never come back. NO, REALLY. (This will be in an action item.) Also, we have the less explosive but still extraordinary, "9th Circuit judges in nasty feud over Trump travel ban."
Two "please don't do what you said you would" stories - "Trump Proposes Cutting Billions to Urban Areas He Vowed to Help," and "Washington farmers tell Trump: We need more foreign workers." Not that it matters - Trump's approval rating with Republicans and white men continues not to budge. (White women are now majority opposed, though not by much.)
Two environmental stories: "Environmentalists warn about Trump Puget Sound budget," with Trump zeroing it out, the ecological (and resulting business) impacts would be huge. And also, "Effort to replace pipes to Flint homes off to slow start." They're far behind schedule and there's no promise of money to continue working.
Finally, a couple of cultural stories from the evangelicals - "The Resenters: Building Hell in Heaven’s despite," and I don't know what the title is supposed to be referencing (I presume some Christian religious thing), but it's basically about ressentiment as filtered through their lens. "Dying before We Reach the Promised Land" is one evangelical trying to work out how the fundamentalist evangelicals could go so completely against everything they pretended to stand for. I think he's overly charitable to his own - I just don't think they ever believed any of it, and that it was always just about power, and people like him were suckers. But that's me.
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A California waiter refused to serve 4 Latina women until he saw ‘proof of residency’
By Cleve R. Wootson Jr. | March 19 2017 | The Washington Post
Guillermina Carrillo, center, hoped her daughters — from left, Ana Carrillo, Elvia Zarate-Carrillo, Diana Carrillo and Brenda Carrillo — would never experience the kind of discrimination she did when she immigrated from Mexico. (Courtesy of Brenda Carrillo)
It was girls’ day out, and Diana Carrillo had abandoned her desire to eat healthy well before she, her sister and two friends got to the Southern California restaurant. The destination: Saint Marc, an upscale spot in the seaside city of Huntington Beach, where Carrillo had been once before.
As the waiter walked up to the table, Carrillo figured she’d splurge on the grilled-cheese sandwich and pay the $2 up-charge to add some of the restaurant’s signature bacon. To start, maybe she’d share a watermelon and cheese plate with her sister and friends.
But the mood soured quickly after the waiter appeared. Before he could serve the four Latina women, he said, they needed to show proof of residency. “I need to make sure you’re from here,” he said.
Flummoxed, the four women handed over their IDs. But as what was happening sank in, they fumed. “I looked at my sister and [my friend], and I said, did he really just say that?”
Seeing the social media backlash, the restaurant’s management contacted Carrillo that Monday. They offered a VIP experience at the restaurant and pledged to donate 10 percent of the weekend’s proceeds to a nonprofit organization of the group’s choice. The four women declined the lavish meal, but asked that the restaurant donate the money to Orange County Immigrant Youth United.
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Dr. Sebastian Gorka May Be a Far-Right Nativist, But for Sure He’s a Terrible Scholar
A closer look at the doctoral dissertation of President Trump’s expert on “radical Islamist terrorism.”
By Daniel Nexon | Foreign Policy | March 17, 2017
Sebastian Gorka, President Donald Trump’s deputy advisor on national security affairs, has emerged as an extremely “visible defender of the administration” on television and radio, especially on counterterrorism policy. Apart from his full-throated defense of policies such as the immigration and travel ban, Gorka likes to boast of his credentials and denigrate his predecessors, as when he told Fox News that “I think the message is deadly clear to our enemies and our adversaries. We don’t have a national security team made out of 28-year-old grad school students who have degrees in fictional writing.” Gorka maintains that the West is locked in an existential ideological struggle with Islam — a view that plays well in the Trump administration.
But Gorka’s own credentials have already come under scrutiny. Before his appointment, he was not a well-known figure among terrorism experts. A report in Politico noted that “several experts … puzzled over the gap between the numerous military academic credentials listed by Gorka — a political science Ph.D. who unfailingly uses the title ‘Dr.’ — and their unfamiliarity with his work and views.” This dovetails with a number of reports that raise doubts about his knowledge of Islam and terrorism, as well as about his ties to Hungarian far-right groups — including one, Vitezi Rend, whose members “‘are presumed to be inadmissible’ to the country under the Immigration and Nationality Act” — and his claim to have access to confidential information within the White House, despite no confirmation that he has security clearance. The biggest concern: Despite casting himself as an expert on radical jihadi ideology, Gorka does not speak Arabic and has spent no time in the Middle East.
It’s possible for relative outsiders to produce important work. Often, those scholars extend their intellectual reach beyond their area of immediate expertise and bring fresh or disruptive perspectives to research communities. But sadly, Gorka’s scholarship is as shaky as his credentials, as I discovered when I went to one of the few available sources: his dissertation. I wanted a better understanding of Gorka’s views and their scholarly foundations. As he has, to my knowledge, published only one article in a peer-reviewed journal — a slim, multi-authored piece cautioning against overthinking “complexity” when it comes to grand strategy — my pickings were slim.
I should stress that I am not a terrorism expert, either. However, I have advised many dissertations, including a few on counterterrorism policy and insurgencies, in nearly 15 years as a practicing academic. I am also currently the lead editor of a well-regarded international studies journal, for which I read hundreds of academic manuscripts (of varying quality) in any given year.
I have assessed plenty of rushed, incomplete, and problematic academic manuscripts, including doctoral theses. When I read dissertations, therefore, I anticipate something less than perfection. What I do expect, however, is to see substantive works of scholarship. I would particularly expect this from the only scholarly work produced by a man who loves to wave his doctorate “as though it’s a big deal.”
If his dissertation is any guide, then Gorka is, in fact, bluster all the way down. His thesis is part smoke and mirrors, part testament to self-importance, and not at all serious scholarship. Gorka believes what he believes. In the case of his dissertation, that we face a new phase of historically lethal terrorism carried out by irrational actors, this can only be met by radically overhauling the state. Indeed, in 2010, Gorka asserted that the terrorist threat is so supreme that “[w]e need not prepare in the short or even medium terms for conventional warfare between nation‐states, using tanks and aircraft carriers. For the foreseeable future our enemies will be non‐state actors — with or without state sponsorship — using irregular means against us.” Regardless, evidence, methodology, and analytical rigor are nuisances that can be shunted aside, whether in the pursuit of a credential or in the formulation of policy.
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New York Attorney General Steps Up Scrutiny of White House
Eric Schneiderman hires a public-corruption prosecutor to target the Trump administration
By Erica Orden | The Wall Street Journal | March 19, 2017
New York state’s attorney general, to date one of the most vocal antagonists of President Donald Trump, is preparing to escalate his office’s litigation against the president’s administration.
Democrat Eric Schneiderman has hired one of the top public-corruption prosecutors under former Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara to focus specifically on issues involving the Trump administration. Howard Master, who prosecuted the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s case against longtime New York state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver , is expected to work on both continuing and new White House-related matters for the attorney general, as well as on high-level public-corruption cases.
The hiring of Mr. Master, whose title will be senior enforcement counsel, signals Mr. Schneiderman’s continued intent to take on the Republican president.
Eric Soufer, a spokesman for Mr. Schneiderman, confirmed Mr. Master’s hiring and said he “will be working on a wide range of civil and criminal investigations and enforcement matters, including public corruption, complex civil litigation” and potentially litigation against the Trump administration.
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Message to YouTube Creators from YouTube about Restricted Mode
19 March 2017
Seen on Twitter
Okay, so apparently this is happening? Reportedly while worksafe LGBT vids are overblocked in this mode, white supremacists aren't.
Like, the always-funny but always-worksafe Thomas Sanders says he's blocked, but David Duke's channel apparently isn't. bc queers apparently
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White House installs political aides at Cabinet agencies to be Trump’s eyes and ears
By Lisa Rein and Juliet Eilperin | The Washington Post | 19 March 2017
The political appointee charged with keeping watch over Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and his aides has offered unsolicited advice so often that after just four weeks on the job, Pruitt has shut him out of many staff meetings, according to two senior administration officials.
At the Pentagon, they’re privately calling the former Marine officer and fighter pilot who’s supposed to keep his eye on Defense Secretary Jim Mattis “the commissar,” according to a high-ranking defense official with knowledge of the situation. It’s a reference to Soviet-era Communist Party officials who were assigned to military units to ensure their commanders remained loyal.
Most members of President Trump’s Cabinet do not yet have leadership teams in place or even nominees for top deputies. But they do have an influential coterie of senior aides installed by the White House who are charged — above all — with monitoring the secretaries’ loyalty, according to eight officials in and outside the administration.
This shadow government of political appointees with the title of senior White House adviser is embedded at every Cabinet agency, with offices in or just outside the secretary’s suite. The White House has installed at least 16 of the advisers at departments including Energy and Health and Human Services and at some smaller agencies such as NASA, according to records first obtained by ProPublica through a Freedom of Information Act request.
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For Donald Trump, a Terror Attack Will Be an Opportunity Not a Curse
Peter Maass | The Intercept
CAN WE BREATHE a sigh of relief after federal judges blocked President Donald Trump’s discriminatory executive orders? For a moment we can, but we are just a terrorism attack away from the White House gaining a new pretext for its wrathful crackdown against Muslims and immigrants.
Among the alterations in American politics since Trump’s inauguration, this may be the most frightening one: a terror attack on U.S. soil will be used by the White House as an excuse for implementing an extra-legal agenda that could only be pushed through in a time of crisis. What the courts will not allow today, what protesters will hit the streets to defend tomorrow, what even the pliant Congress would have a hard time backing — the White House is almost certainly counting on all of this changing in the wake of a domestic terrorist attack.
This macabre turn, in which terrorism becomes an opportunity rather than a curse, has ample precedents that tell us one thing: be prepared.
It wasn’t long ago that 9/11 was used as a pretext for invading Iraq. Although it was almost immediately clear that Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told President George W. Bush on the evening of September 11, “Part of our response maybe should be attacking Iraq. It’s an opportunity.” Just a few years earlier, Rumsfeld, along with Paul Wolfowitz and Dick Cheney, had signed a now-infamous letter calling for the removal of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. The with-us-or-against-us atmosphere after 9/11 enabled them to carry out the task.
It has happened overseas, too. Vladimir Putin’s rise to power in Russia was accelerated by a series of mysterious bombings against apartment buildings across the country, and the bombings were so essential to consolidating Putin’s rule that he was suspected of organizing them. There was also, most famously, the Reichstag fire in 1933, in which the German Parliament burned to the ground, leading Adolf Hitler, the new chancellor, to warn that “there will be no mercy now. Anyone standing in our way will be cut down.”
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In One Rocky Week, Trump’s Self-Inflicted Chaos on Vivid Display
By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS and MAGGIE HABERMAN
The New York Times | MARCH 18, 2017
WASHINGTON — Minutes before President Trump was to take the stage in Nashville last week to make his case for the health care overhaul he had promised, he received some unwelcome news that shifted his script.
A Federal District Court judge in Hawaii had just placed another stay on his ban on travelers from six predominantly Muslim countries, dealing his order a second legal setback in two months. As a country music duo crooned in an auditorium still filling with adoring supporters of Mr. Trump, the president fumed backstage and huddled with his staff for a hasty redrafting of the speech.
When Mr. Trump emerged, he decided to relegate the health care overhaul, which he has identified as a top domestic priority, to a brief mention more than halfway through the speech. He instead replaced its prime billing with an angry diatribe against the travel ban ruling and the judge who had issued it.
“I have to be nice, otherwise I’ll get criticized for speaking poorly about our courts,” he said. But he could not help himself: The president soon suggested that the court that had just ruled against him should be destroyed. “People are screaming, ‘Break up the Ninth Circuit!’ ”
Once again, Mr. Trump’s agenda was subsumed by problems of his own making, his message undercut by a seemingly endless stream of controversy he cannot seem to stop himself from feeding.
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CNN's Zakaria: Trump got to the Presidency by 'bulls--tting'
By Brooke Seipel - The Hill - 03/18/17
CNN host and Washington Post columnist Fareed Zakaria said late Friday he believes President Trump has "succeeded by bulls--tting" and that strategy has followed him into the White House.
"The president is somewhat indifferent to things that are true or false," Zakaria told Don Lemon on CNN. “He’s spent his whole life bulls--tting. He’s succeeded by bulls--tting. He has gotten the presidency by bulls--tting.”
"It's very hard to tell somebody at that point that bulls--t doesn't work, because look at the results right? But that's what he does. He sees something, he doesn't particularly care if it's true or not, he just puts it out there. And then he puts something else out," Zakaria continued.
He then went on to say' Trump's press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday was a perfect example of this, pointing to the President's answer to a question on the White House accusing British intelligence of spying on him at former President Obama's direction.
Trump responded to the question saying, "All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind, who was the one responsible for saying that on television. I didn't make an opinion on it. That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on Fox."
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The Unlikely Liberal Hero Adam Schiff Is Ready to Investigate Trump
By Ryan Lizza | The New Yorker | March 14, 2017
On Monday, March 20th, the House intelligence committee will hold its first open hearing on Russia’s meddling in the 2016 Presidential campaign. Because Republican leaders in the House and Senate have blocked any attempt at forming an independent committee modelled on the bipartisan 9/11 Commission to dig into the Russian cyber attack, the intelligence committee’s investigation may be the only chance Americans have at receiving a comprehensive report on the breadth of the Russian hacking.
The top Democrat on the committee is Adam Schiff, a congressman from Los Angeles who was first elected in 2000. Before the election of Donald Trump, Schiff was known in Washington as a milquetoast moderate. But, appalled by Trump’s muted response to the Russian attack, Schiff has emerged as an unlikely face of Democratic resistance to the new President, using his position on the intelligence committee to pursue an investigation of the Russian influence campaign, its potential links to Trump and his associates, and how America should respond. He’s convinced that the Democrats won’t be the last American victims of the Russians. “One of the things that the intelligence community concluded was that there will be a next time,” he told me on Monday. “They will do this again.”
Despite his understated reputation, Schiff has gained a quiet respect among foreign-policy liberals and reporters for his nuanced views on surveillance, war powers, and press freedoms. He championed reform of the Patriot Act after the revelations by Edward Snowden about the N.S.A.’s bulk collection of metadata. He pushed for a new, more tailored war authorization against Al Qaeda to replace the overly expansive one put in place after 9/11. And he has been outspoken on free-press issues, both in the United States and abroad.
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9th Circuit judges in nasty feud over Trump travel ban
Jurists trade charges and counter-charges over ruling that kept block on executive order.
By Josh Gerstein | Politico | 03/17/17
President Donald Trump's travel ban has triggered an unusually caustic public spat among the judges of the federal appeals court that first took up the issue.
The disagreement began to play out publicly Wednesday when five 9th Circuit Court of Appeals judges publicly recorded their disagreement with a decision three of their colleagues issued last month refusing to allow Trump to reinstate the first version of his travel ban executive order.
The fight escalated dramatically on Friday with the five Republican-appointed judges filing another withering attack on the earlier opinion and two liberal judges accusing their conservative colleagues of trying to make an end-run around the traditional judicial process.
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Lawmakers seek FBI, NSA answers on Trump, Russia at rare public hearing
Reuters | Mon Mar 20, 2017
By Patricia Zengerle | WASHINGTON
The directors of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and National Security Agency will break their public silence on Monday about their investigations into possible links between Russia and President Donald Trump's campaign at a rare open congressional intelligence committee hearing.
Representatives Devin Nunes, chairman of the House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Adam Schiff, the panel's top Democrat, have called FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers to testify as part of their committee's probe into allegations that Russia meddled in U.S. elections.
Other congressional committees also are investigating the matter, mostly behind closed doors. But amid a furor over whether Moscow tried to influence the 2016 presidential race on Trump's behalf, lawmakers said they would make public as much of their probes as possible.
Russia denies attempting to influence the election.
Comey and Rogers are not expected to reveal much in public about the probes, which include information that is classified Top Secret and also separated into different compartments, each of which requires a separate clearance.
But the hearing could become heated as Republicans balance support for their party's leaders and Democrats vent frustration over Republican congressional leaders' refusal to appoint a special prosecutor or select committee to investigate.
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Reported Gorsuch Statements Show Disqualifying Disregard for Women’s Workplace Rights
By: Emily Martin | National Women's Law Center | Posted on March 19, 2017
In a just-released letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, a former student of Judge Gorsuch has alleged that last year, in the Legal Ethics and Professionalism course he taught at the University of Colorado, Judge Gorsuch made a series of comments asserting that women manipulate employers by accepting jobs without disclosing their plans to become pregnant, accepting maternity benefits from their employers, and then failing to return to work after maternity leave. The former student states:
“Judge Gorsuch outlined how law firms, and companies in general, had to ask female interviewees about pregnancy plans in order to protect the company. At least one student countered that an employer could not ask questions about an interviewee’s pregnancy plans. However, Judge Gorsuch informed the class that was wrong. Instead Judge Gorsuch told the class that not only could a future employer ask female interviewees about their pregnancy and family plans, companies must ask females about their family and pregnancy plans to protect the company.”
Documentary evidence confirms she complained to others at the time about these statements, including to law school administrators. A second former student from the same class has submitted an anonymous declaration to the Judiciary Committee stating that Judge Gorsuch “said that many female lawyers became pregnant, and questioned whether they should do so on their law firms’ dime.” If accurate, these descriptions— which are corroborated by more than one person and were reported contemporaneously — suggest that were Judge Gorsuch elevated to the Supreme Court, critical precedents and legal interpretations protecting women from sex discrimination at work would be at risk.
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Trump Proposes Cutting Billions to Urban Areas He Vowed to Help
by Jane C. Timm | NBC News | 16 March 2017
President Donald Trump is proposing slashing billions in federal funding that helps heavily minority urban communities — just months after appealing on the campaign trail to residents of cities like Detroit, asking, "What the hell do you have to lose?"
Released Thursday, the budget calls for $6.2 billion of cuts to the nation's Housing and Urban Development agency, putting the already strapped federal housing authority under even bigger strain.
The reductions come in a spending plan designed specifically to keep the president's many promises — "if he said it on the campaign, it's in the budget," Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told reporters Wednesday — and one that advocates say will have disastrous effects in the largely African-American communities that Trump promised he'd "fix."
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Washington farmers tell Trump: We need more foreign workers
By Hal Bernton | The Seattle Times | Originally published March 17, 2017
BENTON CITY, Benton County — Javier Fabian got on a bus in the Mexican border town of Nogales a few months back, journeying north for a season in Washington’s orchards and vineyards that starts by trimming the branches of stout Bing cherry trees.
Under an agricultural-visa program that brings in foreign workers, Fabian will spend eight months in the Columbia Basin. He’ll prune, thin and pick the bounty for a farming operation that spreads across 300 acres of irrigated desert land.
In Washington state, the number of foreign agricultural workers like Fabian has more than quadrupled in the past half-decade to more than 13,000 annually as growers seek to ease a labor crunch that has left some unable to get their fruit harvested on time.
Now growers want the Trump administration to make it even easier to hire more foreign workers, while hoping the new president won’t aggravate the labor shortage by sending back to Mexico more farmworkers who came here illegally.
“Two years ago, we lost 10 of our 30 acres of Gala apples because we couldn’t get them picked in time. It was a huge hit for us,” said Shawn Gay, a Benton City grower. That experience prompted Gay to turn to Mexican guest workers for part of his labor force, which this year includes Fabian and 25 others.
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Environmentalists warn about Trump Puget Sound budget
Phuong Le, Associated Press | Updated 10:04 am, Sunday, March 19, 2017
SEATTLE (AP) — State officials, environmental advocates and others are warning of dire environmental and economic consequences if President Donald Trump's cuts to Puget Sound and other environmental programs go through as proposed.
The Environmental Protection Agency's funding for Puget Sound — about $28 million last year — would be gutted under Trump's budget blueprint released Thursday.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's 50-year-old Sea Grant program, which focuses on creating a healthy coastal environment and economy, would also be axed, including about a $4 million hit to the program in Washington state.
U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, a Washington state Democrat, called the cuts "completely irresponsible" and vowed to fight the president's proposal.
"It sets a bad starting point for the discussion," Kilmer, who is on the House Appropriations Committee, said in an interview Friday. "These are iconic bodies of water that have an important role, not just environmentally but from an economic standpoint as well."
Statewide tourism and recreational dollars are tied to Puget Sound and clean water supports shellfish and fishing industries that pumps up the economy, Kilmer said.
EPA money has helped cities, counties, state agencies, local nonprofit and tribes on cleanup efforts in Puget Sound. The money has been used to restore salmon habitat, help open shellfish beds to harvest, manage stormwater runoff, replace culverts that block salmon passage and prevent flooding while restoring wetlands.
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Effort to replace pipes to Flint homes off to slow start
Chris Ehrmann, Associated Press
Updated 8:08 am, Sunday, March 19, 2017
FLINT, Mich. (AP) — Flint residents could still be a few years away from drinking unfiltered tap water as the city makes incremental progress on an ambitious — if not overly optimistic — timeframe to replace old water service lines that leached lead into homes and businesses.
Retired National Guard Brig. Gen. Michael McDaniel, who coordinates the FAST Start initiative, said he has a goal of finishing the pipe replacements for residents in 2019 by fixing service lines to 6,000 homes a year. The city has estimated that lines to 20,000 homes need to be replaced.
"So far, I'd say it's been going slow," McDaniel said. "We wanted to replace 1,000 service lines in the city of Flint in 2016 and we are still working on that contract even today because we've had a fairly warm winter."
As of last week, lines to fewer than 800 homes had been replaced with new copper pipe. The effort has been plagued by problems that include inaccurate records on the location of pipes and the type of material used in them. Funding for the project beyond this year is also uncertain.
The effort comes as some residents in the impoverished city where 57 percent of the roughly 100,000 residents are black still do not trust the government because of failures that led to the lead-tainted water crisis. To save money while under state control, the city began using water from the Flint River for in April 2014 without treating it to prevent corrosion in steel pipes. Residents' complaints about color, odor and taste were downplayed by the government until elevated levels of lead, a neurotoxin, were detected in children. Twelve people died in a Legionnaires' outbreak that has been linked to the improperly treated water.
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The Resenters: Building Hell in Heaven’s despite
March 18, 2017 by Fred Clark | Patheos
(Originally posted August 30, 2010. Re-posting it today so that I can add the “Trump” tag.)
There was a story in Sunday’s paper that will make some people happy and some people unhappy.
That’s not quite it. What I mean to say is that this story will be a source of happiness for happy people and a source of further unhappiness for those who have chosen to be unhappy.
Neither category of readers is directly affected by this story, so these opposite responses are a matter of choice, or of many choices over time that have come to shape habit, perception and character.
Choice, habit and character are the language of ethics, and the distinction I’m exploring here is, primarily, an ethical one. It is a matter of morality — of wrong and right, bad and good, selfish and unselfish.
But this article does not present itself as an ethical dilemma, and neither set of readers will experience it that way. Their respective reactions will seem to them, rather, as simply a matter of temperament or sentiment — a “gut reaction.” And that gut reaction will be felt as either happiness or as unhappiness, depending on habit and character cultivated over time.
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Dying before We Reach the Promised Land
How moral degradation didn’t come for evangelicals, but from them
Tyler Huckabee | March 7, 2017 | Fathom
Toward the end of the book of Numbers, the Israelites are still out wandering around the desert, hoping to stumble across the Promised Land. Water’s running low and Moses goes to God, hoping to talk him into sparing a little from heaven. “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together,” God tells him. “Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water.”
Moses does almost exactly as instructed, hitting the rock with his staff instead of speaking to it. This seems like a forgivable error—Moses had signed up to lead these people on a fairly straightforward hike from Egypt to modern day Israel and, owing to their bitter disobedience, found himself in charge of a forty-year goose chase.
His temper was bound to be fragile. He probably hit a lot of rocks. But this appears to be the first time he hit a rock he was supposed to be having a conversation with, and for God, it was the last straw.
“Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them,” God told him.
This strikes me as one of the Bible’s saddest stories. Here is Moses—one of history’s greatest heroes, an eternal icon for all those who seek freedom from tyranny—cursed to see his dream deferred. It was Joshua who ended up leading the Israelites into the Promised Land, leading them along the route and in the way Moses had taught them.
Trump supporting evangelical leaders look a lot like Moses.