Monday, February 27, 2017

Morning Mix In Flint, Mich., there’s so much lead in children’s blood that a state of emergency is declared

Residents of Flint, Mich., complained of persistent problems with their water since the city switched the supply in April 2014. On Jan. 13, officials announced a spike in cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the area. (AP

For months, worried parents in Flint, Mich., arrived at their pediatricians’ offices in droves. Holding a toddler by the hand or an infant in their arms, they all have the same question: Are their children being poisoned?
To find out, all it takes is a prick of the finger, a small letting of blood. If tests come back positive, the potentially severe consequences are far more difficult to discern.
That’s how lead works. It leaves its mark quietly, with a virtually invisible trail. But years later, when a child shows signs of a learning disability or behavioral issues, lead’s prior presence in the bloodstream suddenly becomes inescapable.
According to the World Health Organization, “lead affects children’s brain development resulting in reduced intelligence quotient (IQ), behavioral changes such as shortening of attention span and increased antisocial behavior, and reduced educational attainment. Lead exposure also causes anemia, hypertension, renal impairment, immunotoxicity and toxicity to the reproductive organs. The neurological and behavioral effects of lead are believed to be irreversible.”
The Hurley Medical Center, in Flint, released a study in September that confirmed what many Flint parents had feared for over a year: The proportion of infants and children with above-average levels of lead in their blood has nearly doubled since the city switched from the Detroit water system to using the Flint River as its water source, in 2014.
The crisis reached a nadir Monday night, when Flint Mayor Karen Weaver declared a state of emergency.
“The City of Flint has experienced a Manmade disaster,” Weaver said in a declaratory statement.

The mayor — elected after her predecessor, Dayne Walling, experienced fallout from his administration’s handling of the water problems — said in the statement that she was seeking support from the federal government to deal with the “irreversible” effects of lead exposure on the city’s children. Weaver thinks that these health consequences will lead to a greater need for special education and mental health services, as well as developments in the juvenile justice system.
“Do we meet the criteria [for a disaster area]? I don’t know,” she told Michigan Live. But Weaver doesn’t think the city can receive the help it needs without alerting federal officials to the urgency of the matter.
To those living in Flint, the announcement may feel as if it has been a long time coming.
Almost immediately after the city started drawing from the Flint River in April 2014, residents began complaining about the water, which they said was cloudy in appearance and emitted a foul odor.
Since then, complications from the water coming from the Flint River have only piled up. Although city and state officials initially denied that the water was unsafe, the state issued a notice informing Flint residents that their water contained unlawful levels of trihalomethanes, a chlorine byproduct linked to cancer and other diseases.
Protesters marched to City Hall in the fierce Michigan cold, calling for officials to reconnect Flint’s water to the Detroit system. The use of the Flint River was supposed to be temporary, set to end in 2016 after a pipeline to Lake Huron’s Karegnondi Water Authority is finished.
A petition lobbying for the ending the city’s Flint River water supply garnered 26,000 signatures.
Through continued demonstrations by Flint residents and mounting scientific evidence of the water’s toxins, city and state officials offered various solutions — from asking residents to boil their water to providing them with water filters — in an attempt to work around the need to reconnect to the Detroit system.
That call was finally made by Snyder (R) on Oct. 8. He announced that he had a plan for coming up with the $12 million to switch Flint back to the Detroit system. On Oct. 16, water started flowing again from Detroit to Flint.
David Murray, press secretary for Michigan governor Rick Snyder’s office, told The Washington Post that the state has been working on improving the water quality in Flint and other cities for the past year. It has also offered more than $10 million in financial assistance to pay for a temporary switch into the Detroit system while the connection to Lake Huron is being prepared.
“Flint residents need to have access to safe, clean water,” Murray wrote in an email to The Post. “Gov. Snyder and the administration have been working closely with the city to focus on health issues affecting children and other city residents, and address water infrastructure challenges.”
He added that while the water leaving Flint’s drinking water system is safe to drink, “some families with lead plumbing in their homes or service connections could experience higher levels of lead in the water that comes out of their faucets.” An action plan created by Snyder in October includes free water testing, free water filters and the accelerating of corrosion controls in the drinking water system, according to Murray.
For the parents of children who may have been affected, such actions were accompanied by the sense that they had come too late.
These parents and other Flint residents filed a class-action federal lawsuit against Snyder, the state, the city and 13 other public officials in November for the damages they have suffered as a result of the lead-tainted water. The suit, which claims to represent “tens of thousands of residents,” alleges that the city and state officials “deliberately deprived” them of their 14th Amendment rights by replacing formerly safe drinking water with a cheaper alternative that was known to be highly toxic.
“For more than 18 months, state and local government officials ignored irrefutable evidence that the water pumped from the Flint River exposed [residents] to extreme toxicity,” the complaint reads. “The deliberately false denials about the safety of the Flint River water was as deadly as it was arrogant.”
Calling officials’ conduct “so egregious and so outrageous that it shocks the conscience,” the complaint cites the specific experiences of a few plaintiffs and their families, all of whom allege they have been challenged by similar health ailments since high levels of lead and copper entered their bloodstreams.
These conditions include skin lesions, hair loss, chemical-induced hypertension, vision loss and depression. Of the four families described in the complaint, two had ceased to drink Flint water after a certain point — and used it only for washing and cooking — but still said they were exposed to many of the same ill effects.
Snyder’s press secretary, Murray, wrote in an email to The Post that the administration disagrees with points in the suit, but declined to discuss details of pending litigation.
As the Detroit Free Press reported in October, avoiding Flint water became a way of life for the city’s residents.
Those who could afford it opted for bottled water, buying it by the gallons. Those who couldn’t spare the money drank it straight from the tap all the same, knowing that they would be paying for it later. When it came to bathing, some slowly filled bathtubs with pots of boiled water for their children.
(The city issued a boil advisory in September 2014. This recommendation runs contrary to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines on lead in drinking water, which state that heating or boiling water will not remove lead. In fact, “because some of the water evaporates during the boiling process, the lead concentration of the water can actually increase slightly as the water is boiled,” according to the CDC.)
LeeAnn Walters, a Flint resident and mother of 4-year-old twins, took every precaution after blood tests revealed that the level of lead in one of her sons had soared after the switch to Flint River.
“I was hysterical,” Walters told the Free Press. “I cried when they gave me my first lead report.”
She had feared lead was the problem when her whole family developed rashes and her son stopped gaining weight.
Now, Walters said, when her children experience problems as they grow up, she will always wonder whether things would have been different — if their lives would have been better — if it weren’t for the water.

Erik Prince is Back: Former CEO of Blackwater Offering Services to the Trump Administration

Oakland Institute founder Anuradha Mittal says Prince may exercise considerable influence over Trump's policy towards ISIS and push for the use of private contractors in national defense.

Oakland, CA—The Return of Erik Prince: Trump’s Knight in America’s New Crusade? a new brief from the Oakland Institute, exposes the comeback of the founder of Blackwater, the notorious private security company. An ardent detractor of Obama/Clinton foreign policy during the presidential campaign, Prince is now set with access to unique assets, to be a key player in Trump’s foreign policy.
Using information not seen before, the brief describes Prince’s post Blackwater maneuvers – acquiring logistics capacity in Africa, the Mediterranean Region, and Asia, and networking with high-level individuals in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to launch a private equity fund, Frontier Resource Group (FRG).

“According to our findings, Prince’s connections range from top Emirati businessmen to Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Court,” said Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director of the Oakland Institute. “The first investor in the Frontier Resources Group was a company linked to Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the brother of Abu Dhabi’s ruler itself,” she added.
The UAE is a country where both Trump and Prince have business interests and unsurprisingly was not included among seven predominantly Muslim nations impacted by Trump’s travel ban. The UAE is also a key US ally in the wars that are raging in the Muslim world. It is a member of the US-backed coalition against Houthis rebels in Yemen and is willing to send troops to Syria as part of a US-led coalition against ISIS. In Libya, it is backing the anti-Islamist and Russia-favored General Haftar, reportedly with the support of American pilots employed by Prince.
Prince’s new logistics business, Frontier Services Group (FSG), listed at the Hong Kong stock exchange, owns several aircraft and transportation companies. The firm also provides security consulting services, and is building a training, risk mitigation, intelligence, and medevac base in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous province, which shares the border with Afghanistan.
“The brief reveals the opportunities for Prince to operate once again as a private security contractor – this time for the Trump administration,” added Mittal. “His company, FSG, in addition to experience in securing oil fields in conflict areas, has a staff roster packed with former militaries and mercenaries, including from Blackwater and Executive Outcomes, enabling quick mutation from logistics provider to a war contractor.”
With such assets, Prince is in a prime position to support Trump’s vowed effort to destroy ISIS and get the US hands on its oil reserves. In addition, Prince has connections at the highest level of the Trump administration. His sister Betsy DeVos is Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education, and Prince supported the career of Vice President Mike Pence along with other prominent advisors to Trump.
Linking Washington swamp and alt-right factions, Prince connections with Republican heavyweights include Donald Rumsfeld and James Baker III at the Bohemian Grove private gatherings, to Steve Bannon himself who’s alt media Breibart helped establish Prince as a national security expert. “Prince’s past connections helped him become one of the top private contractors for the Bush administration. His current position augurs a fierce comeback – bolstered by Trump’s ethics of mixing personal business and foreign policy agenda,” said Mittal.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

“Cat Call” by Vinegar Mother - BTR Live Studio [ep583]

Vinegar Mother is a progressive soul group begun in Connecticut and now making moves in the New York City music scene. Comprised of Julia Zivic on vocals, Itamar Gov-Ari on keyboard, Jason Zivic on drums, Paulie Beladino on guitar, and Mike Roninson on bass, the band is dedicated to bringing some much-needed good vibes to 2017. They dropped by Serious Business Music in DUMBO to share some of that with you for this session!

The Sunny Seat EP is available now.

Listen to the audio podcast for more music and interview:

Official website for Vinegar Mother:

Monday, February 13, 2017

Never Give Up Your Seat for a N****r' – White Louisiana Judge Banned From Restaurant After Making Racist Statement

While dining in Sammy’s Grill in Baton Rouge Louisiana one patron overheard a judge spew racist comments about a woman. When Judge Mike Erwin saw man sharing his seat with a Black woman in the crowded restaurant, he allegedly said, “You should have made her get her fat n****r ass up.”

On February 3, Baton Rouge resident Kaneitra Johnson witnessed the ordeal and made a public Facebook post over the weekend that recounted the story.
“I’m halfway on the seat and the Lyft driver is on the other half of the seat,” Johnson said. “Then he asked for his jacket. All of a sudden I hear this older man behind me tell the Lyft driver, ‘You never give up your seat for a n*gger.’”
Johnson said the man continued, “You should have made her get her fat n*gger a** up.”
Eventually the police were called and questioned the older man who made the comments. Johnson later learned the racist man was Judge Mike Erwin of Louisiana’s 19th Judicial District Court
According to Johnson’s post, no action by police or Sammy’s was taken against Erwin.
However, when Sammy’s grill manager Andy McKay, who was absent that evening, was made aware of the situation, he took matters into his own hand.
“I wasn’t there that night, so I can’t comment on the details, but I know police were called,” McKay told The Root“I can also tell you that the owner, Sammy Nagem, has made it clear that Judge Erwin is no longer welcome here.
“We will refuse his business,” McKay added.
While working for the 19th Judicial District Court, Erwin has frequently been in control of the outcomes for many Black men and women. For him to use such vile language about Black people means his abilities as a judge should be questioned.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

BREAKING: Mitch McConnell Implicated In Coverup Of Russia/Trump Election Meddling, FBI Inquiry

With many high-ranking congressional Republicans calling for a full investigation into the CIA’s report of interference by the Russians into the 2016 presidential election, it has been revealed that one, Senate Majority Leader, Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, knew about the hacks long before the election.
During a preliminary secret briefing for congressional leaders in September, McConnell dismissed the findings and cast doubts about the accuracy of the data. As reported by the Business Insider, several unnamed officials stated that McConnell even went so far as to threaten to rebuke the Obama administration if it publicly challenged Russia over the cyberattacks.

Despite recommendations from his own country’s intelligence stating that Russia was interfering with the U.S. elections — well enough in advance of the election to counter the cyberattacks — McConnell dismissed them and refused to act, and was complicit in covering them up.
According to The Washington Post, the CIA performed and presented a secret investigation into the suspected interference of the 2016 U.S. presidential election by Russian hackers backed by Moscow. The difference between the CIA’s report in September and the one presented to Congress last week is that, although they were aware of the cyber espionage as far back as July, they have now concluded that the purpose of the hacks were to help Donald Trump win the presidency.
U.S. intelligence has identified the individuals who provided thousands of stolen Democratic Party emails, and uncovered their connections to the Russian government. The CIA secret assessment concluded that not only did the Russian cyberattacks shake the American people’s faith in the system, they intended to aid the Republican candidate in becoming the next U.S. president.
A senior U.S. intelligence official presented the findings to U.S. senators, saying:
‘It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected. That’s the consensus view.’
High-level senators were updated with the latest CIA assessment last week in a closed-door meeting. Officials requesting anonymity told the Washington Post that intelligence told the senators that it was “quite clear” that the Russian government’s intention was to see Donald Trump assume the presidency.
Last Friday, President Obama announced that he had ordered a “full review” of the Russian cyber-espionage and wants the full details before leaving the Oval Office in January.
McConnell has been open about his favoritism of the Republican president-elect, and had vowed to obstruct the Obama administration from the president’s early days in office. As reported in POLITICO, Donald Trump also recently hired McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, to be his secretary of transportation. Chao also worked under George W. Bush as his secretary of labor and deputy secretary of transportation.
McConnell seems to have no problem using his position as Senate Majority Leader to further his political ambitions. He also said that despite the implied conflict of interest, he would not absent himself from the vote on his wife’s appointment, according to the Washington Post.
‘Someone actually asked if I was going to recuse myself. Let me be quote clear: I will not be recusing myself.’
The Trump team also dismissed the updated findings on Friday, releasing a statement that read:
President-elect Trump has been dismissing the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies throughout his campaign and since winning the election on Nov. 8. He has been regularly skipping intelligence briefings, as well. President Obama has ordered his national security team to provide Trump and his cohort, Mike Pence, access to his daily briefings, but Trump has been ignoring the majority of the meetings and averaging only one per week since he became president-elect, According to MSNBC.
Mitch McConnell’s policy of personal power grab at the expense of Americans continues. Although he has given a slight head nod to the need to investigate further into the Russian hacks, he has also stated that the investigation should be done through regular channels; namely the Senate Intelligence Committee of which he is a member, raising more suspicions into the senator’s possible collusion into covering up the Russian interference in the U.S. Election.

Weekend Show Highlight- Vinegar Mother Feb. 12th, 2017 #BrooklynBazaar


Conversation With Sleigh Bells Live Podcast Taping | Kaufman Music Center

Thursday, February 09, 2017 | 7:30pm
Brooklyn rock duo Sleigh Bells to delve into the specific decisions that have gone into creating their exuberantly brash and visceral songs. A “former teen-pop singer turned punk-rock badass,”

Talib Kweli | Highline Ballroom

Friday, Feb 10, 2017 | 6:30 PM Doors
Brooklyn’s own hip hop recording artist, entrepreneur, and social activist Talib Kweli returns on center stage with guests Styles P & K’Valentine.

Shy Girls, Flamingosis, Ex Reyes | Music Hall Of Williamsburg

Friday February 10, 2017 | 8:00PM
A night of electrifying cinematic avant-soul bound to make you sweat all night!

2017 Reggae Bash | The Silent Barn

Saturday February 11th, 2017 | 10:00PM
A reggae & dancehall night – come ready to dance to Bob Marley, Vybz Kartel, Korede Bello, Gyptian, DJ Taj and much more! Featuring DJ’s RECK MILLZ and MO hosted by ASHLEY.

Vinegar Mother, The Textiles, Tabemono, C3

Sunday, February 12th, 2017 | Brooklyn Bazaar
In the vein of neo-soul genre-benders Hiatus Kaiyote, Vinegar Mother bring sexy grooves and impeccable musicianship to Greenpoint’s Brooklyn Bazaar.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Nashville police officer fatally shoots man after he bolted from traffic stop

A Nashville man was shot and killed by a police officer after a foot chase triggered a series of scuffles and gunfire on Friday afternoon, authorities said.
Jocques Scott Clemmons ran a stop sign around 1 p.m. and was subsequently pulled over by officer Josh Lippert, who was riding in an unmarked car in the city's East End neighborhood, according to a release from the Metro Nashville Police Department. 
As Lippert got out of his cruiser, surveillance video provided by police shows Clemmons tackling the officer to the ground before running off. Lippert quickly got to his feet and chased after Clemmons.  
A second fight broke out as Lippert tried to arrest Clemmons in a nearby parking lot, cops said. In the commotion, Clemmons stumbled to the ground, dropping a revolver he had been keeping in his waistband, officials said. 
Josh Lippert (left) is on administrative assignment after shooting Jocques Scott Clemmons (right) during a struggle.

Josh Lippert (left) is on administrative assignment after shooting Jocques Scott Clemmons (right) during a struggle.

Lippert tried to kick the gun away, but Clemmons allegedly picked it up, and refused to drop it despite shouted commands, according to cops. 
"Lippert, believing he was in imminent danger, fired on Clemmons just as Clemmons was turning to move between two parked vehicles," police said in a statement.
Lippert fired three shots, fatally striking Clemmons in the lower back. 
Surveillance video provided by cops showed Lipper opening fire at Clemmons. 

Surveillance video provided by cops showed Lipper opening fire at Clemmons. 

Clemmons was taken to a local hospital, but could not be saved. 
Police shared a picture of a loaded .357 magnum on their Twitter account, and said it belonged to the victim.
Lippert,a five-year veteran, was placed on administrative assignment as the shooting is being investigated.
Police said they later recovered a magnum pistol.

Clemmons was convicted of a drug felony in 2014, and was not allowed to carry a firearm due to his probation status, cops said. 
It was not immediately clear why Clemmons charged at Lippert, though cops speculated that carrying a loaded firearm illegally could have been a reason. 
But nearby resident Brenda Morrow mused that the shooting could prompt some skepticism.
"A person is shot in the back," Morrow told The Tennessean. "That means he's fleeing; he's no threat."    

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Before Nordstrom Cut Ties with Ivanka, Its Three Presidents Sent This Memo About the Muslim Ban to Employees

WHITE FEMINISM: So last season.

Last night, the New York Times reported that Seattle-based retailer Nordstrom would be severing its relationship from Ivanka Trump's brand of shoes and handbags. The company defended the move as apolitical—one made purely because of "performance" issues—amid a Trump products boycott campaign called #GrabYourWallet.
But while the decision to drop Ivanka Trump from the store may have been based on performance, it was President Donald Trump's Muslim ban that inspired the three presidents of the company to send a memo about immigrants to all Nordstrom employees three days before the Ivanka news broke.
The memo, sent by brothers Peter, Erik, and Blake Nordstrom, read (in part):
When John W. Nordstrom came to the U.S. as an immigrant, he was given opportunities that allowed him to find a more prosperous and happy life. In so many ways, our humble beginning and the work ethic and gratitude that goes with it helped shape the culture of our company to this day. Over 116 years we have been fortunate to be able to build on the foundation JWN laid for us, thanks to all of you who have chosen to bring your unique experiences and backgrounds to work here at Nordstrom every day. We currently employ more than 76,000 people who comprise different races, ethnicities and genders. We literally have thousands of employees who are first and second generation immigrants. Every one of your unique qualities brings a richness that allows us to better reflect and serve the multi-cultured communities we’re a part of and ultimately makes us a better company. We are a better place with you here, no doubt about it.
It’s important that we reiterate our values to all of you and make it clear that we support each of our employees. We will continue to value diversity, inclusion, respect, and kindness… you can count on that.
The memo also noted that the company was in the process of figuring out which employees would be affected by the executive order, and would be connecting with those employees to offer support.

Nordstrom, however, did not respond to a request for comment on whether the company endorsed the Washington Attorney General's lawsuit against the Trump administration over its Muslim ban executive order.