Sebring, Ohio is going through a similar disaster as that of Flint residents: lead in
drinking water. According to RT.com, roughly 8,000 people have been exposed to
unsafe levels of lead in their water, and the Ohio EPA said in a statement that it has
"reason to suspect that the operator falsified reports." In addition to the water treatment
operator's falsification, Richard Giroux (Sebring's Village Manager) initially denied ever
having received letters from the EPA informing him of increased lead levels. This doesn't
seem likely at all, as the EPA has several dated letters that show Giroux should have
known about the growing issue as far back as last summer. I think stories like this will
increase as the impact of austerity continues to rear its ugly face.
The famous Wounded Warrior Project has come under scrutiny recently for exorbitant
spending practices, claims former employees and charity watchdogs. CBS reports that
WWP spends roughly 60% of its revenue on veteran programs -- in comparison, Disabled
American Veterans Charitable Service Trust spends 96%, and Fisher House spends 91%
of revenues on helping veterans. WWP CEO Steve Nardizzi has been fighting a public
PR battle over this issue, claiming that the public is uninformed about how charities
should best spend their money. The NY Times interviewed several former employees,
most of them veterans, who had a different story to tell: $3 million was spent on an all-
hands meeting at a 5-star resort in Colorado, for which Mr. Nardizzi rappelled down the
side of a building to deliver a keynote address. Wow, cool stunt, man. How much did
• Panda Watch 2016: The Iowa caucuses are upon us tomorrow. We highlighted a Politico
piece last week describing the nonsensical process of going through Iowa first, but we're
going to follow it anyway. Here's how realclearpolitics.com has the polls shaping up
heading into tomorrow's big (non-) event:
Iowa: Clinton 45%; Sanders 42% Trump 28%; Cruz 23%; Rubio 15%
New Hampshire: Sanders 57%; Clinton 38% Trump 27%; Kasich 12%; Cruz 12%
South Carolina: Clinton 64%; Sanders 27% Trump 36%; Cruz 20%; Rubio 14%
• Salon Contributor Puts Up 6 Questions to ask Candidates: Andrew Bacevich of
tomdispatch.com wrote a piece for Salon that blew my socks off. He posed six national
security questions that should be asked of every presidential candidate. From the
increasing burden of the Global War on Terrorism to killer drones and energy
independence, Andrew hit on some major topics. He also slammed the moderators of
the debates for asking pseudo questions in an attempt to make themselves look good.
It is well worth the read, and may even inform some of our discussion on BBP 23.
• The media will have the entirety of their attention pointed towards the early caucuses
and primaries; I'm not sure they mean a whole lot at this point. While CNN, Fox and
MSNBC are all tripping over themselves to catch a gunfight between candidates, I'll be
covering what falls beneath the cracks. States and municipalities strapped for cash are
increasingly looking for dangerous solutions to fill in the gaps -- I expect this trend to
continue. This is austerity -- you spent too much and now it's time to feel the pain.
Schools in Michigan are crumbling and infested with bugs. Roads and bridges around
the country are in disrepair. Public pensions, funding for social programs, et al will all
face the chopping block if something is not done. The question remains: who is
responsible for all of this, and how in the hell do we handle it?
state in Libya and what is going wrong. My article last week that talked about US foreign
policy covered much of this information. Although this article is awesome because it
shows how right I was there is something else to be gained. One of the major mantras of
war is the enemy of my enemy is my friend. This may be the case if ISIL continues to be
indiscriminate about who they attack. The power struggle for control of Libya is in the
hands of two groups: House of Representatives in Tobruk and the General National
Congress in Tripoli. Both of these groups have their own military forces. If ISIL
continues their shenanigans, like attacking oil infrastructures they could end up being
their own demise in Libya. Attacks like these will create alliance shifts to whichever
group can provide the beast security. Once Libya has a unified military and government,
their focus will be on rooting out and destroying ISIL.
get a good take on what is going on here. Saudi Arabia has had an extensive history of
conflicts with Yemen, specifically the Houthi tribe and rebels. This is due to the Shia
foundation, which took over the Saudi-backed government in 2014-2015. Although this
article is written by an Iranian news source, UK news sources are also reporting that the
Saudi operation “Decisive Storm” has the UN questioning its legality. I can say this much
Saudi Arabia can pretty much do what it wants in this circumstance. They know that they
will receive criticism for conducting strikes on questionable targets, but they also know
that they can fund themselves and need very little outside support. Furthermore, since
Saudi Arabia is one a key ally to the US and other like-minded western nations they can
pretty much do what they want with nothing more than a stern talking to from us. This is
also most likely why Decisive Storm is getting so little coverage in America news media.
• In order for Islamic fundamental terrorism to be under control or completely removed
from the middle east the countries where these threats exist have to be stabilized and
equipped to fight and remove the threats. The faster Libya can move forward and
reconcile the House of Representatives and the General National Congress the faster
they can focus on rebuilding and fighting ISIL. This is the same model that needs to be
followed in other countries that are fighting against ISIL, a unified government with a
structured military is the best defense against terrorist groups. Here is the catch,
countries with these stable governments actually have to be interested in removing
terrorist groups. Who knows if that will be the case? The only way to ensure that the
government will is if ISIL continues to attack infrastructures that are important to the
government. Regretfully citizens are not those targets most governments could not care
less about the people that they are supposed to defend.
As much as most of us want to get mad at Saudi Arabia for conducting strikes on targets
that include potentially innocent Yemenis. I cannot help but think that Saudi Arabian led
coalition forces are conducting the only way they can to ensure their intended outcome.
This concept was briefly touched on during this week’s podcast. The thing it truly takes
to win a war against Islamic extremism is horrific and unmentionable acts with
questionable international legal implications. I agree with this statement with all my
heart. If that is the case then we have two choices either do what it takes and ignore the
moral implications or do not get involved in wars with Islamic Extremism. They do not
play by our rules and in order to defeat them, we have to play by theirs. If we are
unwilling or able to do this then we need to seriously consider whether we need to get
involved. Saudi Arabia is playing by their rules and will most likely come out on top.
War is ugly; trying to make it otherwise will render it ineffective.
Just a few days ago, Senator Josh Green of Hawaii introduced a bill that would require
gun owners to have insurance on their firearms that would have to be renewed every 5
years that would be meant to cover any and all acts. Senator Green’s reasoning is
comparing it to auto insurance, in that this would provide means to relief in case of an
accident with a person’s firearm.
That’s not what this article is about. It’s about whether the legislation itself is
unconstitutional. I believe it is. Why? It causes undue burden on one’s right to own a
firearm. The concept of undue burden is a test that the Supreme Court developed to test
the restraints something might have on an individual’s constitutional rights. For
instance, segregation of public transportation was used in Virginia in Morgan vs.
Virginia. Essentially, if a law places any sort of burden on an individual that prohibits
them from practicing their rights, it’s wrong. Now, some people will say “we already have
background checks, how could this be any different?” Background checks are not
designed to keep individuals who are allowed to own firearms from obtaining them;
they’re designed to keep them out of the hands of criminals, the mentally ill, and anybody
else who is a threat or not safe enough to own a gun. Insurance, however, serves a very
different purpose. It forces you to pay for something that may or may not ever happen.
totaled 8,124 in 2014. Of course, this doesn’t show how many guns are in America, or
how many gun injuries there were, but gives us a low-balled estimate on what
percentages are actually involved in an injury or death, which comes out to about .008
percent of all firearms being causing harm or death. Trying to force insurance on such a
statistically small incident does nothing but cause problems for the many Americans
who simply want to own a gun for purely legal reasons.
Creating undue burdens on constitutional rights is wrong and hurts Americans. That’s
all that this bill would do; the likely hood of it reducing crime is slim. All it does in the
long run is create more loops and hurdles for law-abiding citizens to have to hop through
in order to own something that the founding fathers saw a need for. That being said,
what essentially amounts to legally mandated insurance on the 2nd Amendment should
be considered unconstitutional.
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A Gloomy Week
The Weekly Bust
Jan 31 2016
We're pretty convinced our democracy isn't working that great, and we have reason to believe that these problems are systemic. We will be covering a lot of these topics in our news updates. The recent spending bill passed in December was stuffed full of unwanted legislation. There's a major trade deal in the works -- the Trans Pacific Partnership. It would make private tribunals for corporations, allowing them to circumvent national laws. Help us get the word out.
A number of us have spent time on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq. We've been at war for over a decade. New threats have emerged from the Islamic State, with a growing number of attacks taking place throughout the world. Mr. "X" brings his intelligence experience to bear by keeping us all up-to-date.
We're very concerned about the effect technology has on society and government. With the latest passing of a hush-hush Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act in the U.S., we grow worried. The fine line between security and liberty is getting blurred. France now faces renewed uncertainty as they grapple with a recent terrorist attack. And Edward Snowden is still seen as a traitor in the eyes of many in Washington. Jeff is our guy.
Dan lived through the financial melt-down of 2008, and although markets have rebounded in spectacular fashion, there is plenty to address. Recent tremors in Chinese markets have been felt in the U.S. Income inequality has become a major buzzword, and the prospects of a $15 minimum wage pose questions. We think there is a lot to talk about, and we'll be digging through the sludge in search of what's relevant. For Dan's latest article, click here.
A lot of our key themes have within them inherent questions of constitutionality. The 1st and 2nd amendments are a constant talking point. Blake cuts through the noise to give you an independent view of the issues and their standing with the constitution.
Middle East & ISIS
Tech & Privacy
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