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First Flint Water Criminal Charges

The Michigan State AG has filed the first charges for the Flint Water Contamination impacting thousands of Flint, Michigan residents and their children with lead poisoning.

One would hope that this is just the first round, as the stink on this one reaches all the way to the Governor’s office, although it is questionable whether a Republican AG would be that honest. This may well be just the sacrificial lambs tossed under the bus to escape real culpability.

Criminal charges today in Flint water crisis

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette will announce criminal charges today in connection with his ongoing investigation of the Flint drinking water crisis, three sources familiar with the investigation told the Free Press on Tuesday.

Officials believe the city got artificially low lead readings because they didn’t test the homes most at risk — those with lead service lines or other features putting them at high risk for lead. Among those to be charged is a City of Flint official who signed a document saying the homes Flint used to test tap water under the federal Lead and Copper Rule all had lead service lines — a statement investigators allege was false.

Schuette is to announce felony and misdemeanor charges against at least two, and possibly as many as four people, according to two other sources familiar with the investigation. The investigation is ongoing and more charges are expected, sources said.

The charges, which will be brought against individuals connected with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the City of Flint, relate to the lead contamination of Flint’s drinking water and not to the possible link between Flint River water and an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease that is tied to the deaths of 12 people, one of the sources said.

Schuette, a Republican who is widely expected to run for governor in 2018, opened an investigation in January, tapping former Detroit FBI Director Andrew Arena and Royal Oak attorney Todd Flood to head the probe.

Andrea Bitely, a spokeswoman for Schuette, would neither confirm nor deny the charges.

Sources said the number of people to be charged Wednesday was still uncertain late Tuesday because of the possibility one or more of those targeted could agree to cooperate with authorities and avoid charges.

A person familiar with the matter said that other parts of state and Flint city government remain under investigation. The prosecution team is trying to uncover more about why the individuals expected to be charged Wednesday, as well as others still under investigation, may have acted the way they did and who may have instructed them to do so, according to one of the sources….More

 

 

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Republican Senator Puts Hold on Water Bill Designed to Combat Lead in Drinking Water

It only impacts black folks…Right.

The bill is designed around helping cities and towns with lead contamination…Not just Flint.

The portrait of yet another racist Republican asshat

Senator puts hold on lead bill, says Flint doesn’t need fed aid

A U.S. senator from Utah who put a hold on a bill to provide federal aid to Flint, Michigan, amid its water crisis said Friday he did so because the federal money is unneeded.

“The state of Michigan has an enormous budget surplus this year and a large rainy-day fund, totaling hundreds of millions of dollars,” Sen. Mike Lee, a Republican, said in a statement Friday.

“Gov. [Rick] Snyder has requested $200 million of that from the state legislature for Flint this year. Relief and repair efforts are already in the works,” Lee said. “The people and policymakers of Michigan right now have all the government resources they need to fix the problem.”

The residents of the city of nearly 100,000 were exposed to lead poisoning when the city switched water sources in a bid to save money. Lead poisoning can destroy brain tissue and cause irreversible developmental problems in children.

The $220 million bill would provide funds to help Flint and cities like it fix and replace lead pipes, as well as prevent and address lead poisoning.

Lee’s “hold” on the bill only stops the speedy consideration of a bill, and can be bypassed procedurally.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., a key sponsor of the bill, said she was surprised and disappointed that Lee would hold up a bipartisan measure that would “help communities across the country, including in his home state of Utah.” She said if Lee is opposed, he should vote against the bill rather than try and hold it up

Lee accused lawmakers of “political grandstanding” and of using the water crisis in Flint to send federal dollars to their home states.

As introduced, the legislation would provide $100 million in “drinking water state revolving funds” available to any state with a drinking water emergency; provide $70 million to back water infrastructure loans; and provide $50 million to prevent and address lead poisoning.

 

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FBI Investigates Possible Crimes in Flint Water Crisis

Not sure what they could prosecute other than gross negligence…Unless they have a smoking gun…

The DOJ obviously feels there is something to look at.

An “Old Warrior” makes the case here

A bit of the history, and why the Governor is culpable.

FBI Joins Investigation of Flint Water Lead Contamination

The FBI is working with a multi-agency team investigating the lead contamination of Flint’s drinking water, alongside Environmental Protection Agency investigators who can tackle criminal violations of federal environmental law, officials said Tuesday.

Several local, state and federal officials have resigned since doctors revealed last year that using the Flint River for the city’s drinking water supply caused elevated levels of lead in some children’s blood. Lead contamination has been linked to learning disabilities and other problems. Michigan’s governor has apologized repeatedly for the state’s role.

FBI spokeswoman Jill Washburn told the AP in an email that the agency’s role is “investigating the matter to determine if there have been any federal violations.” She declined to say when the FBI got involved.

Officials haven’t said whether criminal or civil charges might follow the investigation.

In addition to the FBI and the EPA, the team includes the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Gina Balaya, a U.S. attorney’s spokeswoman in Detroit, told The Associated Press in an email. The Detroit Free Press first reported the FBI’s involvement Tuesday.

In November, the EPA announced it was auditing how Michigan enforces drinking water rules and said it would identify how to strengthen state oversight. The U.S. attorney’s office in Detroit said in January that it was investigating the water crisis with the EPA.

Flint switched its water source from Detroit’s water system to the Flint River in 2014 to save money while under state financial management. The river water was not treated properly and lead from pipes leached into Flint homes. The city returned to Detroit’s system in October while it awaits the completion of a separate pipeline to Lake Huron this summer.

The U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is expected to hold a hearing Wednesday on Flint’s water crisis. Detroit schools emergency manager Darnell Earley, who was state-appointed emergency manager for Flint when its water source was switched, had been asked to testify but declined the invitation, Detroit Public Schools spokeswoman Michelle Zdrodowski said in an email.

The federal investigation is one of several taking place into Flint’s water supply. Last month, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced the appointment of a special counsel to help his office investigate whether laws were broken.

An independent panel appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder has determined that the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality was primarily responsible for the water contamination. The Michigan Civil Rights Commission also plans to hold hearings to explore whether the civil rights of Flint residents were violated.

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2016 in American Genocide, Stupid Republican Tricks

 

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Environmental Racism…And the Flint Disaster

The fact that the City Government supplied bottled water to the government employees more than a year before the Lead issue with the water blew up, and did nothing to respond to the complaints of the majority black citizens is damning.

Black Lives Matter in Environmental Justice

British Home Secretary Theresa May called the poisoning “deeply disturbing”, and argued, “It goes without saying that this was a blatant and unacceptable breach of the fundamental tenets of… law and civilized behavior.” She referred to the Russian state’s involvement in poisoning Alexander Litvinenko. But she could have been talking about Michigan.

In his state address, Governor Synder offered apologies, prayers and ostensive outrage at a “crisis” and a “catastrophe,” that apparently emerged from unknown, agentless actions; “Mistakes were made.” By whom? The Flint water crisis was borne of state decisions that have, like most institutional policies and practices in America, jeopardized Black lives.

Decisions like that made in January 2014–a few months before Flint tried to save money by switching to river water–wherein the state allocated $2,147,000 to three new police initiatives. Everything we know about policing in this country suggests that these initiatives are likely to produce excessively aggressive surveillance, control, and physical force. Operation Fresh Start, at a cost of $250,000 for one day, was actually designed to build community trust by assisting area residents “who through various reasons, have found themselves in an untenable situation where they are included in the population of individuals who have active arrest warrants.”

Again, this language evokes a mysterious, agentless process that sucked residents into a vortex of arrest warrants. But warrants result from decisions–from purposeful police targeting of “misdemeanors, victimless crimes, or civil infractions.” It strains credulity to argue that warrants would have fallen harder on a population other than Flint’s Black residents (e.g., see Ferguson). And yet, Flint launched the program in the smallest zip code by far (48502), one encompassing a census tract that is 45% White, higher than the citywide average, 37%. Thus, a fresh start was bequeathed to an area with few residents, where beneficiaries would be disproportionately White.

Decisions like those made to cast non-potable, poisonous water as harmless, persuading residents that adults and babies alike should consume Flint’s river water (and mandating that WIC could not cover the costs of bottled water). State officials continually belittled residents’ concerns, branding them mere “aesthetics.” Decisions like those made to cast non-potable, poisonous water as harmless, persuading residents that adults and babies alike should consume Flint’s river water (and mandating that WIC could not cover the costs of bottled water). State officials continually belittled residents’ concerns, branding them mere “aesthetics.” They described total coliform and E. Coli contamination as a “hiccup”; page 58 and asserted that regarding TTHMs, “it’s not like an eminent [sic] threat to public health.” that regarding TTHMs, “it’s not like an eminent [sic] threat to public health.”

Decisions like portraying the remediation of lead contamination as an individual responsibility. Officials championed kitchen water filters to provide “added comfort,” entreated the flushing of faucets and usage of cold water, and argued that lead can leach from myriad home sources including fixtures, faucets, and lead based paint. The state marshaled answers to FAQs about replacing “leaded materials” with bold print declarations that service pipes on private property are a homeowner’s responsibility.

Public health scholars argue that although the government suggests that we wash our cutting boards thoroughly, that is only necessary when we consume meat from a food system where contamination is likely. Focusing on individual behavior is ineffective as a public health strategy, and even if it were not, racial inequalities in money, power and human capital make it more difficult for Black residents to mobilize their own personal public health infrastructures.

The Flint water crisis will produce a cascade of negative health and social consequences: illnesses caused directly by waterborne pathogens and toxic chemicals; economic losses from expenditures on bottled water, medical bills, lost wages, unemployment, and property devaluation; physiological dysregulation from stress, worry and sleeplessness; cognitive, learning, and behavioral challenges. It’s the House that Jack Built.

Snyder proclaimed that he would see to it that “Anyone with lingering health care concerns is quickly, compassionately and effectively treated. I know there will be long- term consequences. But I want you to know that we’ll be there with long-term solutions for as long as it takes to make this right.” Indeed. Black children confront an educational system that is more concerned with controlling their bodies than enriching their minds. It is unlikely in the extreme that a child with lead-induced impairments will receive the long-term assistance she needs to be successful. Much more likely is a trajectory of suspensions and other punitive measures for behavioral difficulties. And if a boy’s trajectory culminates in the school-to-prison pipeline, no one will ask whether he experienced lead poisoning. He’ll just be another morally deficient criminal black man….More

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2016 in American Genocide, The New Jim Crow

 

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Poisoning Babies in Flint

Another case where the Republican “cutting taxes” meme has destroyed a generation of black children…

The beleaguered city’s water problems can be traced back to a controversial move by Michigan governor Rick Snyder.

Children in Flint, Michigan, have such high levels of lead in their blood that Mayor Karen Weaver declared a state of emergency on Monday, calling the situation a “manmade disaster.” The origins of the escalating situation in Flint go back to 2011, when Republican Gov. Rick Snyder appointed an emergency financial manager to balance Flint’s budget—largely by cutting costs on basic public services. Here’s what you need to know:

What’s going on?

In April of 2014, Flint switched its water source from Detroit to the Flint River in an effort to save money. The decision, made by emergency manager Darnell Earley, was met with skepticism: Residents complained that the water was smelly and cloudy. Water tests have since shown high levels of lead, copper, and other bacteria, including E. coli. (GM started hauling in water to its remaining Flint plant last year after noticing that the Flint water was corroding engines.)

According to the Hurley Medical Center study below, the proportion of kids under five with elevated levels of lead in their blood has doubled since the switch to Flint River water, to roughly four percent. In some areas, that number has leapt up to more than six percent. “This damage to children is irreversible and can cause effects to a child’s IQ, which will result in learning disabilities and the need for special education and mental health services and an increase in the juvenile justice system,” wrote Weaver in the state of emergency declaration. In October, the city transitioned back to the Detroit water system, though lead levels still remain higher than the federal action level.

Why are the lead levels so high in Flint?

Flint, the birthplace of General Motors and once a prosperous city, has been in a state of decline for decades. The population has halved since its peak in the 1960’s and 70’s; by 2013, the city had lost roughly three quarters of its property tax base and suffered from a 16 percent unemployment rate. The problem has been met with austerity: Under a controversial law passed by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who has been criticized for close ties with the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the state can now appoint emergency managers with the ability to override local policies and make sweeping decisions in the name of “fiscal responsibility”—a policy that stripped half of the state’s black residents of their voting rights.

Flint emergency manager Darnell Earley implemented steep budget cuts, including last year’s decision to save money by changing the city’s water source. In March, Earley nixed a city council vote to “do all things necessary” to switch back to the Detroit system in March, calling the decision “incomprehensible.” He stepped down the next month. The series of events has led to litigation: In November, Flint residents filed a class-action lawsuit alleging that the contaminated water caused them to experience myriad health conditions, including skin lesions, hair loss, depression, vision loss, and memory loss. The same month, the ACLU and Natural Resources Defense Council sued the city, governor, and public officials, claiming that public officials have known for years that drinking Flint River water could result in contamination problems. Michael Steinberg, legal director for the ACLU of Michigan, said, “In their short-sighted effort to save a buck, the leaders who were supposed to be protecting Flints’s citizens instead left them exposed to dangerously high levels of lead contamination.”

How are residents getting by?

Those who can afford it are buying bottled water, but Flint is one of the poorest cities in the nation—41 percent of residents live in poverty. Many still use city water for bathing and cooking.

What are the effects of lead poisoning?

It’s easy to diagnose someone with high lead levels—it simply takes the prick of a finger and a blood test. The symptoms manifest slowly, often years later. According to the World Health Organization, “Lead affects children’s brain development resulting in reduced intelligence quotient (IQ), behavioural changes such as shortening of attention span and increased antisocial behaviour, and reduced educational attainment. Lead exposure also causes anaemia, hypertension, renal impairment, immunotoxicity and toxicity to the reproductive organs. The neurological and behavioural effects of lead are believed to be irreversible.”

What are state officials doing?

A pipeline connecting Flint and other central Michigan counties with Lake Huron is in the works and scheduled to be completed by late 2016. In the meantime, according to a recent Washington Post article, the state has offered more than $10 million to pay for the temporary switch back to the Detroit water system, in addition to covering the costs of water testing and water filters.

 

 
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Posted by on December 26, 2015 in American Genocide

 

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Teach Your Babies to Swim!

Growing up, I had a particularly hard time learning to swim. Nearly drowned when I was about 7 – so I decided to learn. One of the problems was that during segregation, there were very few pools which allowed black folks. The closest one to us was about 25 miles away in Alexandria, Va., which meant that I only got to work on swimming about twice a year.

When they started integrating facilities n the early 60’s, I decided to take some swim classes – convincing my parents that since a common summer activity for us was fishing  on the York River and Chesapeake Bay, learning to swim was a safety issue.

Didn’t really work for a long time, until I sort of mastered the “Dog Paddle”.

The following summer I spent with cousins on the Ocean. My “half fish” friends and cousins were jumping off a pier into a channel leading from the Yacht Harbor to the sea. So… in typical teenage desire to be one of the group …

Because of body fat, babies can’t sink – and can be taught very quickly to swim.

I jumped in to the 20′ deep channel. First time I had ever tried to swim in salt water. I floated right to the top, and found it easy to keep my head above water due to the increased buoyancy in salt water. The problem was the current was running with the tide out to sea – which rapidly was whipping past the ladder on the side of the pier which everyone was using to get back out. Sink or swim time…

I learned to swim, and would become a good swimmer.

Caught the boat bug – probably from my parents who owned a small runabout. I migrated to larger and larger boats. It is common on the Potomac to anchor your boat at a beach on one side or the other in fairly shallow water (depending on how deep in the water your hull went) and dingy or walk to the shore. One popular spot was called “Sharks Tooth Bay” because along the shore you could find fossils and hundreds of fossilized shark’s teeth. On this particular day, I set the anchor and joined friends. The anchor broke loose – resulting in he boat beginning to drift across the river. Jumping in to swim to the boat, I didn’t realize it was the wind which was pushing it faster than I could swim. The long and short of it is I wound up swimming nearly 3 miles – all the way across the river – to catch the boat in fresh water.

Full Throttle Vest Inflat Auto Univ Red 3205RED00

Inflatable life vest designed to auto-inflate when the wearer hits the water

Another night, on a friend’s boat – the Captain went for a leak on the transom and fell off the boat unbeknownst to the rest of us in the cabin. Since we were a couple of miles offshore -he left the boat in gear at low speed when he decided to take his “break”. When we discovered our missing Captain we had no idea how long he had been gone – so we reversed the course heading and started to search. Fortunately the guy had been a LRP, which was one of the precursors to the SEALS, and knew what to do. He made water wings out of his white pants, which kept him afloat – as well as made it easier for us to spot him with the boat’s powerful spotlight.

I don’t know any long term boat owners who haven’t fallen off their boats at one time or another. One of the hazards of even well designed decks is dew or rain making them slippery. Through the years I have pulled more than one non-swimmer out of the water – and a few swimmers who got caught in the currents. Because of that, I wear  an inflatable life jacket which blows up when you fall in when out on the water fishing or beaching. They are expensive (although the prices are falling) – so not a lot of boaters carry them.

Teach your kids to swim. I started mine as babies in a baby swim class. And for those worried about the effect of water on their hair…

It’s a lot better than drowning.

Swim lessons help minority children break cycle

Wanda Butts dropped the phone and screamed when she heard the news that her son was dead.

Josh had drowned while rafting on a lake with friends. The 16-year-old didn’t know how to swim, and he wasn’t wearing a life jacket.

“I couldn’t believe it, I didn’t want to believe it: that just like that, my son had drowned and he was gone,” she said, recalling the 2006 tragedy.

Butts had worried about her son’s safety when it came to street violence or driving, and she said she had always warned him of those dangers. But water accidents never crossed her mind. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2012 in Giant Negros

 

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River Monsters Failure to Catch

As an avid fisherman – I started watching the River Monsters series becoming rapidly bored with the false sense of drama  over the large fish supposedly attacking humans swimming, and the lack of focus on the fish themselves and their ecosystems.

Never to disappoint, it seems the show has discovered Bull Sharks. A species of shark which inhabits most of the world’s oceans, and is capable of living in fresh or salt water. Bull sharks are the most dangerous to humans of the shark species, accounting for the vast majority of bites – simply because the region they inhabit tends to be around the shallows in inlets where food is washed out by the receding tide. Areas where people tend to swim and surf. I have caught 4 footers, and even an 8 footer going after game species such as Grouper and Rockfish as by-catch. But I have yet to hear of a Bull Shark attacking anyone in fresh water. Hooking one is no big deal – you know you have one on the line when it hits like a freight train, and then instantly starts to roll to spit out the hook.

A full grown Bull shark

Was reading  book about the history of the development of the Washington, DC area – and was somewhat surprised to see that in the 1800’s a 12 foot Bull shark was caught off the pier in Georgetown. Of course the Potomac River was about 3 times the size it is now then. But it is not unusual to see salt water species, such as crabs just a few miles below the city even today.

If the show ever gets around to actually providing information about the fish species, showing the fish, and talking about the habitat that enables the fish to reach huge size – then I might tune in again. But I, for one am really tired of the rather lame attempts to make things dramatic. In the series premier, they catch a truly glorious fish – a 350 lb Grouper, and virtually ignore it. Geez…

‘River Monsters’ Premiere: The Search For A Bull Shark; Exciting Or Too Slow? (VIDEO)

Jeremy Wade and “River Monsters” (Sun., 9 p.m. ET on Animal Planet) returned for a fourth season, with Wade on the hunt for a bigger and better monster. He came up slightly short with a juvenile freshwater bull shark, though it was still six feet in length. Ironically, while looking for the bull shark, Wade found a seven foot long, 350 pound grouper.

A grouper might not traditionally be thought of as dangerous or a monster, per se, but when dealing with that size, it certainly seems pretty monstrous. The TCPalmsays the show is a “fun reminder that we have some special creatures sharing our environment with us.”

The New York Daily News, on the other hand, was a little disappointed with this premiere. They feel that the series needs to talk less about the monsters sharing the world with us, and spend more time showing them.

A little Jackie Wilson. Got nothing to do with fishing, Monsters, the River, current TV shows, or Jeremy Wade’s failure to catch fish…

But is infinitely more entertaining.

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2012 in Great American Rip-Off

 

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