Last week it was the story of House Republicans selling their voters down the river by voting for the health care bill that would rob some 24 million people (7% of the population) of adequate, affordable health care. This week it is the unconscionable termination by team Trump/Sessions of FBI Director James Comey in the midst of his investigation of ties between the Trump team and Russia. When these major stories hit, they dominate the news, which is both necessary and to an extent desirable, however they also push all other news to the back burner, last page, below the fold, where it may be overlooked entirely. So today I thought I would bring you some bits ‘n pieces … small stories that you may have missed this week. Rather a digest of little-noted news.
Score one for Planet Earth
The wins have been small and few, mostly unnoticed, but there have been wins. Yesterday we scored one for Planet Earth, when the Senate rejected efforts to roll back an Obama-era rule limiting methane emissions from energy production sites on federal land. The vote was close in the narrowly Republican-controlled Senate … 51-49 … but three Republican senators voted against repealing the ruling. My hat is off to Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Susan Collins for voting their conscience!
Shaq for Sheriff?
I am not a sports person. I will watch an occasional baseball game, but really do not follow any sports. Even so, I have heard of and actually rather respect former basketball player Shaquille O’Neal, affectionately referred to as just ‘Shaq’. News is that Shaq is planning to run for sheriff of … well, that is rather an open-ended question, as he has not yet decided quite where he wants to do his sheriff-ing. He owns homes in both Georgia and Florida, so he could run in either state. Too bad he doesn’t own one in Arizona, perhaps he could replace the corrupt, bigoted Sheriff Joe Arpaio!
Anyway, Shaq says, “This is not about politics. This is about bringing people closer together. When I was coming up, people loved and respected the police, the deputies, and I want to be the one to bring that back, especially in the community that I serve. I can put on a suit and have a conversation with Bill Gates. I can go in the hood and talk to the homies, and talk to the children. My style is going to be to surround myself with guys that have been doing it way longer than I’ve been doing it, surround myself with smarter people. And I know it will be successful.”
Heck, folks … I say we urge him to run for Congress, with an eye to the presidency in 2020!
They say it cannot happen … but it already did
Remember the protests last year by the Standing Rock Sious, hoping to delay completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline that would run from North Dakota to Illinois? Well, the protestors lost their battle once Trump was inaugurated, and signed an executive order to expedite and complete the project. Now, even though it is not fully operational, oil is flowing through it and … guess what? There has already been a leak. Not a huge leak … only some 84 gallons, so they say … but a leak nonetheless.
A few concerning facts: No full environmental impact study has been done on the pipeline. The spill happened the first week in April, but was only uncovered this week by a local South Dakota reporter. Donald Trump has investments in Energy Transfer Partners, operators of the pipeline, and they contributed heavily to his 2016 campaign.
“They keep telling everybody that it is state of the art, that leaks won’t happen, that nothing can go wrong,” said Jan Hasselman, a lawyer for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which has been fighting the project for years. “It’s always been false. They haven’t even turned the thing on and it’s shown to be false.”
This time, it was only 84 gallons … what will it be next time? But wait … there’s another …
A natural gas pipeline in Ohio, also operated by Energy Transfer Partners, sprung at least 18 leaks and reported more than 2 million gallons of drilling materials spilled. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has curtailed work on the pipeline and blocked Energy Transfer Partners from starting horizontal drilling in eight areas where drilling has not yet begun. FERC also ordered the company to double the number of environmental inspectors and to preserve documents the commission wants to examine as it investigates the spills.
The biggest spill, in a pristine wetland along the Tuscarawas River about 50 miles south of Akron, covered 6.5 acres, the commission said, “coating wetland soils and vegetation with bentonite clay and bore-hole cuttings.” FERC said that its staff has “serious concerns” regarding the magnitude of the largest spill, “its environmental impacts, the lack of clarity regarding the underlying reasons for its occurrence, and the possibility of future problems.”
This is one to keep an eye on, folks.
Any or all of these stories may warrant a full post at some point, especially the last one. Meanwhile, I now return you to your steady diet of Trump & Co.!