A Giant Step Forward in the Flint, Michigan, Water Crisis

From Rhea Suh, President NRDC


Unless you’re a Republican, nowadays

❝ For once, I am excited to report that there is good news on the Flint water crisis front. The pipes at the heart of the disaster are going to be replaced. For the first time in the three years since this Michigan city’s water was turned to poison, Flint’s citizens have a guarantee that the resources are in place to replace its estimated 18,000 lead pipes. And for the first time, they know when the pipes will be gone.

Let’s be clear, Flint is not fixed. But things are going to get better.

❝ This did not happen because of the city, state, or federal governments that failed them. It happened because brave people in Flint stood up for their neighbors. They went to court. One of the genius parts of American environmental protections are the citizen suit provisions in our major environmental laws. When the government fails to protect its citizens, we are all empowered to go to court and force the government to do its job.

❝ That happened in Flint. After the city and state trashed the drinking water infrastructure through a series of mistakes and errors, we joined with the Concerned Pastors for Social Action and Flint resident Melissa Mays to petition the federal government to use its emergency powers to help the beleaguered city. They refused. So, along with ACLU Michigan, we sued the city and state. The Safe Drinking Water Act also has provisions for citizens to enforce drinking water rules. Though there have only been a handful of these kinds of cases filed under the act, we all thought Flint seemed like a textbook situation for this type of case…

And today, that suit comes to the end with a settlement that guarantees that in three years, the lead pipes will be replaced. It guarantees that the state kicks in $67 million to help fix the mistakes, along with tens of millions more from federal sources…

❝ …But for today, let’s just celebrate good news for Flint. A city that deserves far more of it in the years to come.

I’ll second that emotion. RTFA for more details, past and present. Rhea Suh is too politely politic to trash-talk the conservatives, mostly in the Republican Party – and some Democrats deserve their share of condemnation for foot-dragging.

Too many folks hold elective office who consider budgets and balance sheets more important than the lives of the human beings they represent.

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Why the women of Popular Science Mag are not working today


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❝ You may notice that our website is looking a little light today. We’d like to explain. Today is “A Day Without a Woman,” a general strike for women’s rights and equality—so many of the women of PopSci aren’t working. And that means the website is going to be pretty quiet: While we get an awful lot of emails assuming we’re a bunch of “sirs,” the majority of the staff here is female.

❝ We happen to work with men who support and promote women’s rights, but we recognize that many women aren’t as lucky. So since this is Popular Science, we’d like to leave you some information to consider during our time away from the office:

Women earn more than half of all PhDs in the U.S., but as a 2008 study found, they comprise only 45 percent of all tenure-track faculty, 31 percent of tenured staff, and 24 percent of all full professors.

Women in science and engineering are paid an average of $60,000 a year, which is $24,000 less than their male peers. This is because science is institutionally sexist. It’s built on social structures designed to give men a leg up—or, depending on your perspective, structures designed to push women down.

When gender is the only variable, institutions are more likely to give male scientists a job offer—and they pay them better, too…

Even in science-related fields, such as nursing, where women are the majority, a 2015 study in the Journal for the American Medical Association revealed that men are still paid more—to the tune of around $5,148 a year. And yes, that’s after controlling for differences in experience and education.

RTFA for more solid info on living in a nation governed by the hypocrites we elect. Nationally, statewide and locally. Which is why we never did get round to passing an equal rights amendment.

Americans elect and re-elect footdraggers from both of the parties we’re allowed who spend more time excusing discrimination – than doing anything about it.

Banksy opens hotel overlooking Bethlehem’s apartheid wall


Worst view in the worldQuique Kierszenbaum/Guardian

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❝ The Walled Off hotel may sound utilitarian, even bleak. Its owner says it has “the worst view of any hotel in the world”, while its 10 rooms get just 25 minutes of direct sunlight a day.

But, nestled against the controversial barrier wall separating Israel from the Palestinian territories, the West Bank’s answer to the Waldorf offers travellers something more elusive than any luxury destination.

The lodging in Bethlehem is a hotel, museum, protest and gallery all in one, packed with the artworks and angry brilliance of its owner, British street artist Banksy.

❝ From the disconcertingly lavish presidential suite where water splashes from a bullet-strafed watertank into the hot tub, to the bunk-beds in the budget room scavenged from an abandoned army barracks, the hotel is playful and strongly political.

All the rooms look out on to the concrete slabs of the wall and some have views over it to pill boxes and an Israeli settlement – illegal under international law – on the hillside beyond.

❝ Banksy’s reputation is likely to keep all rooms fully booked, but he wants guests to leave with more than just a selfie. “It’s a three-storey cure for fanaticism, with limited car parking,” he added in the statement.

The hotel opens to guests on 20 March, with bookings via the website. The team hope Israelis, who rarely see the barrier wall up close or visit Palestinian towns, will be among the guests, even though visiting means breaking the law…

Israelis are banned from visiting Bethlehem and its famous sites. And although Banksy has chosen a site officially under Israeli military control – meaning it is legal for Israelis to stay there – all the roads to reach it involve an illegal journey through Palestinian-controlled territory.

RTFA. Learn a little more about life in what American politicians uniformly call the leading middle East democracy.

Thanks, Honeyman –

– and just because you’re now certified for Level 1 Superbikes doesn’t mean you can double the speed limits in Tasmania! 🙂

Millennials are moving less than preceding generations


How can you tolerate missing out on this?

Americans are moving at the lowest rate on record, and recently released Census Bureau data show that a primary reason is that Millennials are moving significantly less than earlier generations of young adults.

In 2016, only 20% of Millennial 25- to 35-year-olds reported having lived at a different address one year earlier. One-year migration rates were much higher for older generations when they were the same age. For example, when members of the Silent Generation were ages 25 to 35 back in 1963, 26% reported moving within the prior year. And in 2000, when those in Generation X were the age that older Millennials are today, 26% of them reported having moved in the previous year…

It may seem counterintuitive that Millennials would be contributing to a trend toward less geographic mobility. After all, according to Pew Research Center analysis of Current Population Survey data, they are less likely than earlier generations to have three things that tend to be impediments to moving for a young adult:

A spouse…A house…A child…So, if Millennials are less hampered by spouses, houses and kids, why are they moving less than previous generations did at their age?

Labor market opportunities may be a factor. Millennials were hit hard by the Great Recession in terms of job-holding and wages. For many young adults who moved in the past year, job opportunities were a prime motivation for moving, and the modest jobs recovery may not be providing the impetus Millennials need.

RTFA. Interesting, provoking. To my mind – which still thinks it’s 26 years old and keys in on non-conformity to cultural traits and standards stuck into the past – all mostly positive developments.

Army vets back to Standing Rock – forming a human shield to defend against police

❝ US veterans are returning to Standing Rock and pledging to shield indigenous activists from attacks by a militarized police force, another sign that the fight against the Dakota Access pipeline is far from over.

Army veterans from across the country have arrived in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, or are currently en route after the news that Donald Trump’s administration has allowed the oil corporation to finish drilling across the Missouri river.

❝ The growing group of military veterans could make it harder for police and government officials to try to remove hundreds of activists who remain camped near the construction site and, some hope, could limit use of excessive force by law enforcement during demonstrations….

❝ “We are prepared to put our bodies between Native elders and a privatized military force,” said Elizabeth Williams, a 34-year-old air force veteran, who arrived at Standing Rock with a group of vets late on Friday. “We’ve stood in the face of fire before. We feel a responsibility to use the skills we have.”

RTFA. Truly heartwarming to see veterans of our often-unfortunate wars putting their skills and courage to work for Native Americans at the leading edge of resistance to corporate might. Power to you – sisters and brothers.

“If There Is No Struggle, There Is No Progress”

shorpy-douglass
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“This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

Frederick Douglass, August 3, 1857

Remembering a dear friend this weekend, Ishmael Flory, Co-Founder of the African American Heritage Association

The ACLU got $24 million in donations this weekend — response to their courage!


Anthony Romero, ACLU head, on the streets, in the courts, all weekend

❝ In the weeks after the Nov. 8 election, when Donald Trump secured a surprise victory to become president of the United States, the American Civil Liberties Union received so much money in online donations — more than $15 million — that an official with the 100-year-old organization called the flood “unprecedented in our history.”…

…then Trump spent his first week as president signing executive orders and making good on some of his campaign promises, spurring massive protests across the country and the world — about women’s rights, the environment and what Trump calls his “extreme vetting” of travelers to the U.S. from seven predominantly Muslim nations…

❝ This weekend alone, the civil liberties group received more than $24 million in online donations from 356,306 people, a spokesman told The Washington Post early Monday morning, a total that supersedes its annual online donations by six times.

In an interview with CNN, the ACLU had a one-word reaction: “Wow.”

Having lived through a couple of attempts to bring fascism to power in the United States, I’m encouraged. Groups like the ACLU are usually a front-row target of lard-brained right-wingers like Trump and Bannon. Civil liberties – and their defenders – are an automatic target of creeps who front themselves as “strong leaders” and other code words for wannabe dictators.

Early days of McCarthyism,there were beaucoup folks with good intentions, civic understanding – and no guts – who would donate “cash only” to an organization of constitutional lawyers willing to fight for preservation of American standards. That folks have more courage – and greater willingness to drop their hard-earned buck$ on the barrel-head to support the fight for freedom is more than encouraging. It bodes well for the continuing battle.

Women’s March on Washington more than double predicted size — more than showed for inauguration


Support demonstration in BerlinAP/Michael Sohn

9:40AM EST

A city official in Washington says the turnout estimate for the Women’s March on the National Mall now stands at 500,000 people. That’s more than double the initial predictions.

Kevin Donahue is Washington’s deputy mayor for public safety and justice. He says on Twitter that organizers of the march are increasing the turnout estimate to half a million.

There were early signs across Washington that Saturday’s crowds could top those that gathered on Friday to watch President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Keep on rocking in the Free World!