Election and Super Tuesday Open Thread

Since I won’t be here all day March 15, I’ll be an Election Judge at my polling place, here’s a new thread to fill.

Chicago did it! The Chicago Melting Pot of Minorities, Races, Religions and Genders got together to protest Donald Trump’s hate filled rallies and were able to shut it down. There are more Trump hate filled rallies planned. Will people continue to try to shut them down?

Remember this from a very wise man in history:

Open Thread – Making America “Hate” Again – Trump, Cruz Aftermath

Never thought I’d see the Hate and Division I am seeing in our Nation lately. Many things are to blame, especially the two GOP candidates mentioned. But also a lot of the blame goes to the Media. Instead of doing their job of seeking truth, they are seeking ratings which bring them money in advertising dollars. Investigative reporting is almost non-existent! And whipping the racism and anger of the people will leave a big toll in our near future.

The infestation of hate speech, egoism and greed will be hard to erase. And much of that is evident in our Federal and State Governments. A lot funded by the very rich and big corporations pushing money at these politicians to push their own agenda. An agenda that is horrible for the people of this Nation.

This coming year your Vote will be very important, more than ever before. If you don’t Vote or Vote for the wrong people we all live with the consequences and I will warn you, You Won’t Like it!

Congress has a Budget Deal. What’s it all about?

This was Boehner’s last Hurrah as the House Speaker and member. Boehner and Senate Leader McConnell huddled to try to get a Budget passed. Here’s what they had to deal with:

From the NYTimes: Budget Deal Isn’t Boehner’s ‘Grand Bargain’ but Gets Job Done

The agreement, negotiated in secret by top congressional and White House aides, is a recognition by Mr. Boehner and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, that they were staring into a fiscal and political abyss.

With just days remaining before the Treasury Department estimated it would run short of cash to pay the federal government’s obligations, the two leaders of the House and Senate majorities had no clear path toward raising the federal debt limit. Many House Republicans and some in the Senate refuse to vote for any increase in federal borrowing power no matter the dire circumstances. Support for a debt-limit increase has become a sure ticket to a primary challenge from the right for many of them.

But Mr. McConnell has repeatedly promised no default. And he and Mr. Boehner, with their ties to high-ranking allies in the business and financial worlds, knew that failure to head off a threat to the government’s creditworthiness could boomerang badly on Republicans just one year from Election Day.

So the Right Wing of the Republican Party was fighting this deal the whole time. But the Very Right Wing was going against the Business and Financial “world” so McConnell and Boehner knew that this RW thinking would hurt the Republican Party.

So what’s in the Budget? Lets take a look….

From Yahoo News: White House, Congress reach tentative budget deal

Under the plan, the higher borrowing authority would be in effect until March 2017.

In addition, 58 million barrels of oil from U.S. emergency reserves held at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve would be sold over six years, starting in fiscal 2018, to help pay for the additional spending over two years, according to a copy of the bill posted to a congressional website.

If successful, the agreement would mark a final act for Boehner to clear some politically divisive legislation as Ryan takes over as speaker – assuming the Wisconsin lawmaker gets a majority of the House votes in an election set for Thursday that would win him the top job.

Central to the pact is the easing of across-the-board budget caps which would allow an additional $80 billion in spending over two years, split evenly between military and domestic programs. About $50 billion in added spending would come in fiscal 2016, which started on Oct. 1, and $30 billion would be added to the fiscal 2017 budget.

“The bipartisan budget package unveiled last night represents real progress for hard-working families across the country,” House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.

Boehner said he was “clearing the deck” before Ryan takes over but here’s what Ryan had to say about it from the above linked article:

Republican Representative Paul Ryan, who is expected to be elected to the top House job of speaker on Thursday, replacing the retiring Boehner, told reporters he was reserving judgment on the agreement until he reviewed its details.

And in a nod to rebellious fellow Republicans who are clamoring for changes in the way the Republican-controlled House is run, Ryan added, “I think this process stinks,” hinting that “under new management” work will get done well before deadlines.

What do you think?

The Poisoning of Animas River

First a little history on the Animas River. Wikipedia:

Animas River is a 126-mile-long (203 km)[1] river in the western United States, a tributary of the San Juan River, part of the Colorado River System.

The river’s free-flowing status ended when the Animas-La Plata Water Project was completed in 2015. The project pumps water over a low pass to fill a reservoir, Lake Nighthorse, in Ridges Basin to satisfy Southern Ute tribal water rights claims associated with the Colorado Ute Settlement Act amendments of 2000.[2]

It is a tributary which means it flows into other rivers, eventually into the Colorado River which Wiki describes as: The Colorado River is one of the principal rivers of the Southwestern United States and northern Mexico (the other being the Rio Grande). The 1,450-mile (2,330 km) Colorado River drains an expansive, arid watershed that encompasses parts of seven U.S. and two Mexican states.

Here’s how the Animas River became poisoned and how far reaching the effects are…..

From the Denver Post, Aug. 9, 2015:

Three million gallons of water containing mining waste has poured into the Animas River since Wednesday, and it is still unclear what the environmental and health impact of the spill, caused by the Environmental Protection Agency, will be.

Water collected at sampling stations along Cement Creek and the upper Animas found higher-than-normal levels of arsenic and other heavy metals, Deborah McKean, an EPA toxicologist, said in a Sunday conference call with the media.

But the levels are dropping as the plume drifts farther down the river and is diluted. “Those concentrations increase for a few hours and then decrease again by the next sampling period,” she said. “Those numbers are high and they are scary because they seem so high. However, risk associated with exposure to a chemical is a matter of how much of the chemical you are exposed to.”

It remains unclear if the spill poses health risks to humans and aquatic life.

On Sunday, La Plata County and Durango both declared a state of emergency as a result of the spill, which originated at a mine near Silverton.

“This action has been taken due to the serious nature of the incident and to convey the grave concerns that local elected officials have to ensure that all appropriate levels of state and federal resources are brought to bear to assist our community not only in actively managing this tragic incident but also to recover from it,” La Plata County Manager Joe Kerby said in a release.

On Sunday, the EPA posted reports on its website including sample data taken from the river at different locations that detail how much metal is in the water. Tom Dea, vice president for TZA Water Engineers in Lakewood, reviewed those reports for The Denver Post. [more at link]

The effects of this toxic spill: From CNN:

‘A major, major problem’

“This is a major, major problem,” said Jonathan Freedman, a toxicologist at the University of Louisville, who until recently worked as an investigator at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, a part of the National Institutes of Health.

Typically it takes years or even decades for health problems from metals to develop.

Spokespersons for the EPA did not respond to emails Monday regarding the levels.

The mayor of Durango, Colorado, said experts from the agency were “noncommittal” about the health effects of the contamination during a community meeting Sunday night.

“There was no good discussion of what these levels mean, and that’s what’s frustrating. I’m a fairly smart guy, and I walked away without having answers,” said Dean Brookie. “It wasn’t a great confidence builder.”

According to the EPA, Wednesday’s spill caused a spike in these metal concentrations, but levels “began to return to pre-event conditions” by Thursday.

However, according to the EPA’s own data, there were still very high levels of metals on Thursday. A lead sample was more than 300 times higher than the EPA acceptable level, for example, and an arsenic sample tested 26 times the acceptable level.

EPA spokespersons did not respond to emails Monday asking how many residents rely on the Animas River for their drinking water and how many farms use the water for irrigation.

Cadmium is a particular concern for crops, Costa said, as it’s readily absorbed.

“Of all the toxic metals, it goes into plants like crazy,” he said.

[more]

We must contact our Congress people, both State and Federal, to strengthen the EPA and the laws to not allow dumping poisons into our rivers, streams, farm land and there needs to be more control over the Corporations that use these poisons. We are killing ourselves and our Planet!