The Evening Blues - 3-17-16
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features Chicago harmonica player Billy Boy Arnold. Enjoy!
Billy Boy Arnold - I Wish You Would
"Fairness is what justice really is."
-- Potter Stewart
News and Opinion
Although Garland has been floated as a possible Supreme Court nominee before in 2010 (when then-Solicitor General Elena Kagan was, ultimately, nominated), relatively little is known about Garland's views on hot-button social issues, like abortion rights and gay marriage. However, Garland has had to rule on his fair share of controversial topics, and perhaps, Garland's most famous ruling was on Guantanamo Bay detainees.
While serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Garland often ruled in support of George W. Bush's Guantanamo Bay detainee policies and "showed great deference to President George W. Bush's indefinite detentions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba," the Washington Post noted in 2010. ...
Garland's most famous decision, though, in regards to Guantanamo Bay policies may be the 2003 ruling in Al Odah v. United States. In that case, Garland joined the majority opinion that Guantanamo Bay detainees were not entitled to habeas corpus, which effectively blocked them "from seeking relief in civilian courts," as Ian Millhiser at ThinkProgress noted.
[For a detailed analysis of Garland from 2010, check out this SCOTUSblog post. - js]
Pentagon Bombshell: 'Avoidable Human Error' Caused Deadly Airstrike on Afghan Hospital
More than a dozen U.S. military personnel have been disciplined — but face no criminal charges — for mistakes that led to the bombing of a Doctors Without Borders hospital that killed 42 people in Afghanistan last year, U.S. defense officials say.
The punishments, which have not been publicly announced, are largely administrative. But in some cases the actions, such as letters of reprimand, are tough enough to effectively end chances for further promotion. The military has previously said some personnel were suspended from their duties but has given no further details.
The disciplined include both officers and enlisted personnel, but officials said none are generals. ...
The hospital, run by the medical charity Doctors Without Borders in the northern city of Kunduz, was attacked by a U.S. Air Force special operations AC-130 gunship, one of the most lethal in the U.S. arsenal. Doctors Without Borders called the attack "relentless and brutal" and demanded an international investigation, but none has been undertaken.
Dictator wannabe graduates to full-fledged Dictator. Will any nation stand up to this bloodthirsty, racist, Manichean moron?
"Democracy, freedom and the rule of law," have "absolutely no value any longer," President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told local leaders in Ankara on Wednesday.
"Those who stand on our side in the fight against terrorism are our friend. Those on the opposite side, are our enemy," he said in the televised comments, according to DPA news agency.
[Holy crap! This jerk sounds just like Dubya! - js]
Turkey will employ "an iron fist against terrorism" and "fight Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants," Erdogan told a televised gathering of local district leaders in Ankara Wednesday.
The president also made critical remarks about the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), which has 80 seats in parliament. ...
Turkey is also working on widening the definition of a "terror crime" to cover those who use the media "to support or praise acts of violence," a senior official from the AKP said Wednesday. Erdogan said Monday that the country's anti-terrorism laws should be widened further.
The militant group Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK) claimed responsibility on Thursday for a suicide bombing in the Turkish capital Ankara that killed 37 people at the weekend, and said it would attack security forces again. ...
In a statement posted online, the group described the latest car bombing on Sunday, at a crowded public transport hub, as revenge for security operations in the mainly Kurdish southeast that have been under way since July, in which hundreds of civilians, security forces, and militants have been killed.
TAK said it had not intended to kill civilians and was targeting security forces. It said a large number of civilians had been killed after police intervened, without explaining exactly how, and warned that further civilian deaths were "inevitable."
The group says it split off from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) — which was previously blamed by the government for the bombing — although experts who follow Kurdish militants say the groups retain ties. At least 40,000 people have been killed since the PKK began its fight for Kurdish autonomy in the southeast three decades ago and the Turkish government responded militarily.
Officials with the Syrian Kurdish forces say they intend to declare a “democratic federal system” immediately in the territory they control across northern Syria, formalizing their de facto autonomy over a broad swathe of the Syrian side of the border with Turkey. The official announcement is scheduled for Thursday.
That likely won’t sit well with the major rebel factions in the ongoing Syrian Civil War, which have angrily rejected the notion of federalism in recent comments, envisioning a powerful, heavily-centralized state with themselves at the helm after the war.
Turkey, which attacks YPG forces intermittently, is also furious at the announcement, with their foreign ministry insisting they would never recognize Kurdish autonomy in the region.
Russia could redeploy its forces in Syria “in a few hours”, Vladimir Putin has said, three days after his surprise announcement that the country’s military involvement in Syria’s civil war would be wound down.
“Of course, if required Russia will be ready in just a few hours to increase its forces in the region to a size that is adequate to meet the situation and use our full arsenal of options,” the Russian president said at a ceremony in the Kremlin to honour pilots who served in the five-and-a-half month mission.
“We don’t want to do that, military escalation is not our preferred route, and so we are hoping that all sides will show common sense and that both the authorities and the opposition will adhere to the peace process.”
Putin said on Monday that, despite the announced pullout, Moscow would keep active the airbase near the Syrian city of Latakia, from which it has run its bombing raids. He added on Thursday that the advanced S-400 missile defence system would be kept in Syria.
As Charlie Savage points out in The New York Times [...] last week’s US airstrike in Somalia that killed 150 suspected al-Shabaab fighters highlights some serious questions raised by leaving the scope of this ongoing 15-year war so unclear. ...
A Pentagon spokesman told Savage that although the government has not deemed al-Shabaab to be an “associated force” in the war against al-Qaeda, the strike was nevertheless “authorized by the 2001 A.U.M.F.” — as were three previous strikes in Somalia last year. The strikes were covered, the Pentagon claims, because the United States has ground troops in Somalia advising Amisom — the African Union’s peacekeeping force there — and those troops faced a “continuing and imminent” threat from al-Shabaab fighters. The US sent those advisors both to help stabilize Somalia against al-Shabaab generally, and to help fight those within al-Shabaab who are believed to be affiliated with al-Qaeda. That al-Qaeda connection, even if secondary, brings it all under the AUMF’s authority, or so the administration’s theory goes.
As Chesney told Savage, the airstrike in Somalia also raises a larger question of whether there are any meaningful limits in the Pentagon’s model for the use of force anywhere the US has stationed troops in any sort of role. ...
President Obama needs to carefully consider the consequences of handing over the Oval Office without clarifying how the United States defines the scope of its armed conflicts.
Despite Pentagon evasions, evidence is mounting that a U.S. airstrike against an ISIS training camp in Libya last month killed two Serbian diplomats who were being held at the site. ...
On February 19, the Pentagon announced it had conducted an airstrike on an ISIS training camp in a farmhouse near Sabratha. The principal target of the attack was Noureddine Chouchane, a Tunisian national described as a “senior facilitator” for ISIS in Libya and a prime suspect in two deadly attacks in Tunisia last year. The strike, which involved fighter jets and drones, was authorized by President Obama. At the time, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook characterized the attack as “very successful” and made no mention of any civilian casualties.
The day after the attack, Belgrade announced that Stankovic and Stepic had died in the bombing. ... The Pentagon immediately expressed doubt about his account. ... Belgrade backed up its account a few days later with the results of autopsies conducted in Serbia that concluded the types of injuries sustained by the two diplomats were consistent with a bombing. But the Pentagon continued to dispute the Serbian accounts. ...
The deaths of the Serbian hostages and the apparent shortfalls in U.S. military intelligence are similar to a CIA drone strike in Pakistan last year that killed two kidnapped foreign aid workers. Both cases involve the U.S. surveilling and bombing a target without apparently realizing Western hostages were being held at the site.
John Kerry on Thursday declared that acts committed by Islamic State against Christians and other minorities in Iraq and Syria are genocide.
The US secretary of state did not say how such a declaration would affect US involvement in areas controlled by Isis.
“My purpose in appearing before you today is to assert that in my judgment, Daesh is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control including Yazidis, Christians and Shia Muslims,” Kerry said, using an Arabic acronym for the extremist group. “Daesh is genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology and by actions, in what it says, in what believes and in what it does.” ...
Last month, the European parliament unanimously backed a resolution to label the atrocities as genocide. Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state, and Republican candidate for president Ted Cruz have also said they consider the acts genocide.
Barack Obama has hesitated to make such a declaration, though he has spoken about the “brutal atrocities” committed against Christians and other religious and ethnic minorities.
The UN’s 1948 genocide convention compels nations that recognize genocide to prevent and punish those responsible. Intervention is not mandatory, rather it is how the declaration has been interpreted in the decades since it was enacted.
Speaking of genocide...
Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, asks why the US has stood by while the Saudi-led coalition of Arab air forces has pounded Yemen daily since March 26, 2015.
“It's hard for me to figure out what the US national security interests are inside the civil war in Yemen,” says Senator Murphy.
Fighting in Yemen involves local militias, separatist groups, a Saudi-backed political elite and a well-organized rebel force, known as the Houthis, which seized control of the country in early 2015. While the politics of the Yemen war are murky, the toll on Yemeni civilians is clear. ...
“It appears that our support for the Saudi-led bombing campaign is killing a lot of civilians,” says the senator. “It is leading to a humanitarian disaster, and strengthening the very groups that we say are our priority to defeat in the region.”
Murphy is one of very few politicians in Washington calling on the US to hold the Saudis to higher standards. “I mean, right now I'm, I think, the loudest voice here. There are a handful of members of the House who've raised similar objections and I've been talking to my colleagues both on the Republican and Democratic side as well.”
This is an excellent article by financial writer Ellen Brown who describes a plausible reason why France and the United States decided to murder Kaddaffi and destroy Libya - it was a threat to the economic stability of the banking system. There's too much here to fairly abstract, but here's a snippet to get you started:
Before 2011, Libya had achieved economic independence, with its own water, its own food, its own oil, its own money, and its own state-owned bank. It had arisen under Qaddafi from one of the poorest of countries to the richest in Africa. Education and medical treatment were free; having a home was considered a human right; and Libyans participated in an original system of local democracy. The country boasted the world’s largest irrigation system, the Great Man-made River project, which brought water from the desert to the cities and coastal areas; and Qaddafi was embarking on a program to spread this model throughout Africa.
But that was before US-NATO forces bombed the irrigation system and wreaked havoc on the country. ... Qaddafi had done more than organize an African monetary coup. He had demonstrated that financial independence could be achieved. His greatest infrastructure project, the Great Man-made River, was turning arid regions into a breadbasket for Libya; and the $33 billion project was being funded interest-free without foreign debt, through Libya’s own state-owned bank.
That could explain why this critical piece of infrastructure was destroyed in 2011. NATO not only bombed the pipeline but finished off the project by bombing the factory producing the pipes necessary to repair it. Crippling a civilian irrigation system serving up to 70% of the population hardly looks like humanitarian intervention. Rather, as Canadian Professor Maximilian Forte put it in his heavily researched book Slouching Towards Sirte: NATO’s War on Libya and Africa:
[T]he goal of US military intervention was to disrupt an emerging pattern of independence and a network of collaboration within Africa that would facilitate increased African self-reliance. This is at odds with the geostrategic and political economic ambitions of extra-continental European powers, namely the US.
The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would reduce the already small number of refugees allowed into the United States, and effectively codify the bigotry of Donald Trump and other GOP candidates.
The Refugee Program Integrity Restoration Act (H.R. 4731) proposed by Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, and Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., would impose new caps on refugee resettlement limits, discriminate on religious grounds, redefine the word “refugee,” and give local and state governments broad powers to refuse resettlement.
In ordinary circumstances, the question of how many refugees America accepts is made at the executive level. President Obama has set a target for accepting 100,000 refugees into the United States in fiscal year 2017. This bill however would effectively take the decision out of his hands by imposing a hard limit of 60,000 refugees in 2017, even as the world is dealing with the biggest refugee crisis since World War II.
Documents obtained by the ACLU show federal law enforcement agency bought hardware for airborne surveillance of Americans’ cellphones
The US Marshals Service spent more than $10m on secret, possibly airborne equipment and software for warrantless surveillance of Americans’ cellphones, documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have revealed.
The documents are heavily redacted, but they show that the Marshals Service purchased more than $10m in hardware and software from Harris Corporation, the manufacturer of the cellphone snooping device known as a Stingray, between 2009 and 2014. ...
Documents released earlier in March by the Electronic Frontier Foundation following a similar freedom of information request revealed that the FBI has also been mounting the devices in aircraft, with no overarching policy or guidelines to their use by agents.
It is unclear, according to Nate Wessler, a staff attorney at the ACLU, how much of the $10m in Harris Corporation equipment the agency purchase is being aircraft mounted. ... For Wessler, the privacy implications for bystanders of airborne Stingray use is “by definition greater, because when you’re flying around with one of these devices it can cover a pretty wide geographic area.”
The FBI’s underhand attempt to get a judge to order Apple to make iPhones less secure is largely backfiring. The Obama administration is now taking heat from all sides in the debate over whether they can force Apple to open a backdoor in its encryption – despite there being no law that requires it. ...
What really is at stake is the future of internet security, and whether the government can force tech companies to become arms of the state.
The outpouring of legal support that Apple received in the San Bernardino case is almost unprecedented, with over 40 separate “friend of the court” briefs filed by a variety of actors, including the major tech companies, law professors, civil liberties groups, Black Lives Matter activists, iPhone security experts and even the UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression.
Congress, which normally showers FBI director Jim Comey with praise, greeted him with an unexpected bipartisan grilling when he appeared before the House judiciary committee to discuss the issue earlier this month.
But it’s not just Congress that’s pushing back against the idea that the government should get backdoor access to consumer devices: a New York court has already strongly ruled against the justice department’s argument in a similar case. As the New York Times reported on Monday: “Many in the [Obama] administration have begun to suspect that the FBI and the Justice Department may have made a major strategic error by pushing the case into the public consciousness.”
Former White House official and counterterrorism expert Richard Clarke said Monday in an interview on NPR's Morning Edition that he believes that if the FBI asked, the National Security Agency “would have solved this problem” of opening the encrypted iPhone of the San Bernardino, California, shooter.
“Every expert I know believes the NSA could crack this phone,” Clarke says. “[The FBI and the Department of Justice] want the precedent that the government can compel a computer device manufacturer to allow [them] in.”
The British government's controversial attempt to pass sweeping new surveillance powers was debated in Parliament for the first time Tuesday, with opposition politicians raising privacy concerns and calling for significant changes to the plans.
If passed into law in its current form, it would mandate a data retention regime unprecedented in any Western democracy, forcing internet companies to store records showing every website visited by every person in the U.K. for a period of 12 months. The bill also codifies powers that would allow British security agencies to conduct large-scale hacks of computer networks, and it will also hand spies the power to secretly monitor journalists and their sources, as The Intercept has previously reported.
During Tuesday’s debate in Parliament, the government’s home secretary, Theresa May, defended the proposed law, stating that it was “world-leading legislation” necessary to combat terrorism threats. However, Labour, Liberal Democrat, and Scottish National Party representatives criticized the bill and vowed not to support it unless it is rewritten in several areas. ...
As expected, members of Parliament have voted in favor of the surveillance bill. It was approved by 281 votes to 15 and will now move to the next stage of parliamentary scrutiny — known as the “committee stage” — during which the legislation will be debated in detail and various amendments proposed.
Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has accepted an offer to become the chief of staff for his former protégé, the current president Dilma Rousseff.
The move is a high stakes political gamble designed to help Rousseff fight back against impeachment proceedings currently in congress that were boosted by massive anti-government protests last Sunday.
Becoming a member of the government will also provide Lula with short-term protection from possible prosecution over corruption allegations currently in Brazilian courts. ...
The formal impeachment process, that began in congress in December, had appeared to be stalling until politicians noted the size of anti-government protests that brought millions onto the streets around the country on Sunday. Rousseff is deeply unpopular because of Brazil's struggling economy that shrank by 4 percent last year.
Sources within the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, the ruling coalition's biggest partner, told Reuters this week that the protests prompted members to favor moving ahead with the impeachment process. Congress is expected to begin the election of a special commission to judge the case later this week.
Lula was appointed cabinet chief in a controversial move that Rousseff said would strengthen her government, but which critics argued was an attempt to shield the former president, who is under investigation for corruption and money-laundering, from prosecution.
Under Brazilian law, government ministers can be tried only in the “privileged forum” of the supreme court. Opposition activists believe any trial in Brazil’s highest court is likely to progress much more slowly than in the federal court.
Investigation into Bundy Militia Mouthpiece LaVoy Finicum's killing raises questions of FBI cover-up
An official investigation into the fatal shooting of Oregon militia leader LaVoy Finicum has raised questions about whether federal agents lied about their actions and removed bullet casings from the scene, adding to accusations that the FBI engaged in a cover-up.
Evidence that FBI agents failed to disclose that they had fired shots at Finicum and queries about whether critical evidence was removed comes from the local Deschutes County sheriff’s office investigation, lending credence to claims previously dismissed as conspiracy theories. ...
Further bolstering theories of evidence removal, law enforcement sources told the Oregonian this week that they had seen an FBI video that showed an agent appear to bend over twice and pick up something near where the two shots likely occurred. ...
Sheriff Shane Nelson of Deschutes County, who led the investigation into the shooting in nearby Harney County, revealed last week that Oregon state troopers fired six shots and that the FBI on scene fired two shots “as Mr Finicum exited the truck”.
But, Nelson told reporters, after the incident, FBI operators “did not disclose their shots to our investigators nor did they disclose specific actions they took after the shooting” – a “failure” now under investigation by the US inspector general.
New police documents reveal that the sheriff’s office also repeatedly asked state troopers whether they saw bullet casings on the ground and if they witnessed anyone removing them – raising questions about whether the FBI may have actively eliminated evidence that would prove they fired shots.
A prosecutor said on Wednesday that he will not use a grand jury to determine whether two Minneapolis police officers should be charged in a black man’s November shooting death, saying it was a difficult decision but one that will bring more accountability to the process.
Hennepin County attorney Mike Freeman said he will make the charging decision himself in the death of Jamar Clark. He also said he will no longer use grand juries to consider future police shooting cases in the county – noting that grand juries have been used there for more than 40 years in such cases, resulting in no indictments of officers.
“The accountability and transparency limitations of a grand jury are too high a hurdle to overcome,” Freeman said. He did not say when he would make his decision in the Clark case, but had previously hoped for the end of March.
Community activists viewed the move by Freeman as a victory and credited pressure from protesters.
It looks like the establishment has had quite enough and wants to wrap the cloak of inevitability around clinton's shoulders to keep people from getting excited about sanders' chances and dampen turnout to keep him from winning western states by broad margins.
Hat tip divineorder:
In unusually candid remarks, President Obama privately told a group of Democratic donors last Friday that Senator Bernie Sanders is nearing the point where his campaign against Hillary Clinton will come to an end, and that the party must soon come together to back her.
Mr. Obama acknowledged that Mrs. Clinton is perceived to have weaknesses as a candidate, and that some Democrats did not view her as authentic. ...
Mr. Obama chose his words carefully, and did not explicitly call on Mr. Sanders to depart the race, according to those in the room. Still, those in attendance said in interviews that they took his comments as a signal to Mr. Sanders that perpetuating his campaign, which is now an uphill climb, could only help the Republicans recapture the White House.
Mr. Obama’s message came at a critical juncture for Mr. Sanders, who had just upset Mrs. Clinton in the Michigan primary and has been trying to convince Democrats that his campaign is not over, despite Mrs. Clinton’s formidable lead in the delegate tally.
Mr. Obama has been careful in public to avoid disparaging Mr. Sanders, given his deeper history and relationship with Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Obama also does not want to alienate the liberal voters who have flocked to Mr. Sanders.
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fascist candidate of all?
Hillary Clinton has excoriated Donald Trump for failing to stop a supporter from roughing up a protester during a speech, saying “This kind of behavior is repugnant. We set the tone for our campaigns — we should encourage respect, not violence.” Yet, in 2011, she did nothing to stop security personnel from brutalizing a 71-year-old veteran who stood silently with his back to her during a speech.
The protester, Ray McGovern, a retired Army officer and CIA analyst, was wearing a black “Veterans for Peace” T-shirt, when he was set upon within sight of Secretary of State Clinton, who ironically was delivering a speech about the importance of foreign leaders respecting dissent. The assault on McGovern left him bruised and bloodied but it didn’t cause Clinton to pause as she coolly continued on, not missing a beat.
The Feb. 15, 2011 incident at George Washington University in Washington prompted an email from Clinton’s personal adviser Sidney Blumenthal who noted that “something bad happened” and suggested that Clinton have someone reach out and apologize to McGovern. Clinton, however, chose not to do so, although criminal charges against McGovern were dropped.
Subsequently, McGovern was placed on the State Department’s “Be On the Look-out” or BOLO alert list, instructing police to “USE CAUTION, stop” and question him and also contact the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Command Center.
Over the weekend, NBC News posed the question Who Does Wall Street Want to Be President? Short version: anyone but Trump. One guy, Asher Edelman, who spent 30 year on Wall Street buying and selling distressed companies, even backs Bernie-- but he runs a New York art gallery now. He emphasized that Bernie's economic program would bring tremendous buying power to working families and that he's "the only person out there who I think is talking at all about fiscal stimulation and banking rules that will get the banks to begin to generate lending again, as opposed to speculation." He's an outlier, of course and who Wall Street really wants is Hillary, the Culture of Corruption candidate. - See more at: http://downwithtyranny.blogspot.com/2016/03/which-one-is-wall-streets-ca...
At the nexus of politics and and money-- the place where Wall Street, K Street and Capitol Hill converge-- it's all about the Benjamins. And everyone understand the concept of "follow the money." The Finance Sector has given Hillary more money than anyone who has ever served in Congress (minus 2-term President Barack Obama). So far the Finance Sector has given her $40,988,045 and it is increasing so rapidly that she could well catch up to the $68 million they've given Obama after 7 years in the White House!
Donald Trump is turning his sights on Hillary Clinton, just a day after the frontrunners won big victories in several states, solidifying the path to their parties' respective nominations.
Trump posted an aggressive attack ad on his Instagram account this morning, criticizing Clinton on foreign policy, an area she's tried to stake her campaign on as a former secretary of state.
The ad shows clips of Russian President Vladimir Putin tackling an opponent in Judo and an Islamic State militant pointing a gun at the camera, raising the issue of the threats America faces. "The Democrats have the perfect answer..." the ad says before cutting to a clip of Clinton barking like a dog.
The New York Times seems to have inadvertently exposed its own political bias with a quiet, retroactive edit of an article originally headlined “Bernie Sanders Scored Victories for Years Via Legislative Side Doors.” The piece was published on Monday, March 14, 2016, a day before polls opened in five crucial Democratic primary states.
Written by congressional reporter Jennifer Steinhauer, the article reflects on the Senator’s strategy for legislative accomplishments over the past 25 years?—?often passing new measures by attaching them to larger bills.
By Monday afternoon?—?once many people, including Sanders himself, had already shared the article widely on social media and other sites?—?the Times evidently rewrote rather significant portions of the article. (No mention has been made anywhere that the article was retroactively altered.) Several new paragraphs were injected, while other wording was subtly changed to shift the praiseful tone of the article to one of shrugging ambivalence toward Sanders’s accomplishments.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is responsible for lead contamination in Flint, Michigan's water supply, and would likely face criminal charges if he were running a business, a Democratic lawmaker said Thursday. ...
Snyder told the panel at a contentious hearing that the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality repeatedly gave him assurances that water from the Flint River was safe, when in reality it had dangerous levels of lead. ...
Cummings said the governor should have done more to push back against state experts. The committee has obtained documents "showing that people all around the governor were sounding the alarms, but he either ignored them or didn't hear them," Cummings said, citing emails showing that Snyder's top legal adviser warned in October 2014 that Flint should "get back on the Detroit (water) system" as soon as possible "before this thing gets too far out of control."
The warning came a year before Snyder says he became aware of the lead contamination on Oct. 1, 2015.
Two sitting representatives even went so far as to publicly call for Snyder's resignation.
Democratic Representative Matt Cartwright from Pennsylvania had some of the strongest words for the Michigan governor. "I've had about enough of your false contrition and false apologies," Cartwright said pointedly to Snyder. "Pretty soon, we will have men who strike their wives, saying 'I'm sorry dear, but there were failures at all levels.'"
He added, "People who put dollars above people do not belong in government. You need to resign." ...
— CSPAN (@cspan) March 17, 2016
"This is a national disgrace and a national scandal," said Carolyn Maloney, a Democrat from New York, joining in the condemnation of the governor's actions. "The truth is you dragged your feet because you didn’t want to take responsibility... Even when you did know [about the high lead levels], you did nothing."
Maloney read from a series of damning emails in which the governor considered declaring a state of emergency in the autumn but delayed taking action because he felt doing so would acknowledge the state's responsibility for the crisis.
"Your delay sickened an untold number of additional people," Maloney concluded.
The Environmental Protection Agency manager who resigned over the Flint poisoned water scandal has blamed state officials for the disaster during an acrimonious congressional inquiry.
Susan Hedman, who was the regional EPA head for Flint, told the hearing she resigned due to “false allegations” in the media that she had failed to react to the crisis and sidelined Miguel del Toral, an EPA official who wrote a memo warning of the dangerous situation in Flint.
In a bad-tempered evidence session, she was directly accused of doing “nothing” to get the children of Flint out of harm’s way. But she insisted that state officials had failed to act on her agency’s urgent concerns. ...
Some of the most pointed criticism during the House oversight committee hearing was aimed at Hedman, with committee chairman and vocal EPA critic Jason Chaffetz saying: “You still don’t get it. You screwed up and you messed up people’s lives.”
Chaffetz unveiled an internal EPA memo from an official in September 2015 that read: “Perhaps (Hedman) already knows all this, but I’m not so sure Flint is the community we want to go out on a limb for.”
Marc Edwards, the Virginia Tech scientist who was called in by residents to belatedly expose the lead poisoning, said Hedman’s response was “unacceptable and criminal”. ... Edwards said the EPA has helped create a “climate where anything goes” across the US. He claimed that water tests are being routinely “cheated” across the nation, as revealed by the Guardian.
Today, Progress Michigan is calling on Governor Rick Snyder to pay his own legal bills and will submit thousands of signatures to the State Administrative Board demanding that taxpayers do not have to foot the bill for Snyder’s legal defense. Governor Snyder’s office is using an exemption, not previously used in Michigan history, that gives Governor Snyder the ability to approve contracts with no oversight.
“It’s odd that the man who did nothing when Flint residents were crying out for help can all of a sudden move heaven and earth to find the money for his own personal defense,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “It appears that Snyder used his control of a board that is meant to regulate spending to pass a rule relieving him of checks and balances on spending and contracts. The loophole the administration is citing appears to allow Snyder to unlimited millions of taxpayer dollars with no oversight. The State Administrative Board should not only condemn the contracts before them to pay for Snyder’s personal legal bills, but should immediately pass a resolution changing the loophole that allows such egregious actions by a state officer whom no longer has the trust of the people.”
Startlingly elevated levels of lead were found in the water in Mississippi’s capital in June, but a warning was not issued by government officials until January, the Guardian has learned – a contamination that bears some resemblance to the crisis in Flint, Michigan.
As with Flint, the problem in Jackson appears to be related to inadequate corrosion control, and the months of delay in state action raises shades of Flint, something that Michigan governor Rick Snyder will testify on before a congressional committee on Thursday.
An astonishing 22% of homes in Jackson, Mississippi, exceeded the federal “action” lead level of 15 parts per billion, according to government tests done in June. Compare that with Flint, where researchers from Virginia Tech sampled hundreds of homes as residents begged for help and found 16.7% of homes exceeded the federal “action” lead level, though the sampling methodology may be different in the two cases.
But Mississippi officials did not notify the city of Jackson of the results until January, and it was not until February that the state issued a warning for pregnant women and small children. A sampling of 101 homes in January and February this year showed 11% of homes above the federal lead limit – a number that is still worrisome, under federal regulations.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Billy Boy Arnold - My Little Machine
Billy Boy Arnold - I Ain't Got You
Billy Boy Arnold - Love Me Baby
Billy Boy Arnold - Rockin Itis
Billy Boy Arnold - 99 Lbs
Billy Boy Arnold - Whiskey, Beer and Reefer
Billy Boy Arnold - Shake Your Hips