Pardon Me, Which Way is Backward?”

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Been quiet on the Jersey shorefront lately. As a faithful fighter for the progressive cause, I’m witness to the same unfolding madness as all of you. We’ve now arrived at, and in relatively short order, an incredible confluence of events. Let’s unpack the largest calamities while also highlighting the noisemakers that distract.

The man in the White House, dis-affectionately Mr. Drumpf, carnival barks to his loyal followers. All unfavorable news is a sham, climate science is a Chinese head fake and he, Drumpf, is victim of such hatred because he’s so damn rich, famous, and well-endowed (hands check, please).

Hillary haters, stay united! Who cares the election was 4-months ago? That campaign was fun! And while we’re at it, all you faithful GOP-ers line up & shut up. Your chance to kiss the ring awaits, but first, show me your obedience. Start with a Fox News interview.

Nearly forgotten are the 2 attempts at legalized discrimination disguised as Executive Orders, a.k.a. The Muslim Ban. Cheers to our federal courts, the one leg of the governmental trilogy that seems firm. The “America first” fakery is called out for its blatant truth: RACISM. So far, we’ve dodged a bullet to the heart of what it means to be the United States of America. Sadly and angrily, we cannot say the same for the plight of individuals, heroes and families trying to escape violence. To music I turn. TY RZA.

The AHCA, also known as TrumpCare or Ryan’s ticket to hell, crashed and burned. From this legislative embarrassment squeaks a hint of good news. America is unwilling to sign up for a plan that blatantly injures the weak while enriching the wealthy. Good on you, America, even the ignorant Drumpf voter gave this idea the heave-ho. TY Jared Bernstein for your take on this trump-ian failure.

Russia, say what? Ignore the blaring signals of collusion. Please, pay no attention to Sauron’s soldiers – names like Flynn, Manafort, Page, Sessions, and now, Kushner – who ploy direct links (and recorded conversations) to various and sundry oligarchs, spies, and ambassadors of Russian borscht. Drumpf leaks now a running stream, pee-like. Turncoats line up at Rep Adam Schiff’s door; take a number.

Drumpf family hubris in a single thought: One by one, they have each confirmed their first-class seat on the speedboat that’s soon to crash on the shores of Guantanamo.

But these are NOT the reasons I write. Nearly sixty days since my last post, my fingers alight over Drumpf’s shamelessly titled, “Energy Independence” executive order. This EO takes direct aim at President Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP). EPA chief and chief knuckle-dragger Scott Pruitt is now in charge of dismantling, withdrawing, and rewriting the policies of CPP.

From the largest ISS (that’s International Space Station…) peripheral overview, climate is intrinsically linked with the animal and plant world. And for millennia, species-human ruled the land, sea and air. We, collectively, extracted as we pleased. Mama Nature periodically bit back, but never enough to curtail our taking trends.

Over the past few decades, the scales have tipped toward Her. She’s had enough, wants to kick our whiny little asses out to pasture, into extinction. And she can, as she persists.

Drumpf continues to hoodwink the GOP base, while the top 5% of our country (who voted red) are “all-in” on the con. UNDERSTAND THAT HE, AND HIS PROFIT-PIGS AND NIHILISTS, care not a lick about you, me, or the climate. Money and power are their ONLY goal: take more, give less. Your health, wealth, fresh air & clean water get the wink & nod. All the world, and the majority of Americans, know this.

So, what are we – Progressive USA – gonna do about it? Thanks to a number of leaders in Washington D.C., shout-outs to Representative Adam Schiff, my new heroine Sally Yates, and the stalwart media voice of Rachel Maddow, the underpinnings of redirecting our country are taking hold.

And for a serious environmental and climate shout-out, look no further than EnviroNews. They have got our backs, with investigative reporting that calls out the killers and polluters embedded in politics and business.

With each passing day, things are going to get exponentially more difficult before the ship is righted, or “left-ed.” Ya, I’m not looking to give a lick of literal credit to any red-sniveling fool.

Let’s get to work.

‘Nuff said.

Photo credit: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration

High Tide and High Time

The beach in winter is solitude perfect, an opportunity to discover and recognize one’s immense smallness. My largest thoughts will never hold a candle to the Atlantic’s majesty. And I’m a man who knows big thinking – my life goals – which, like the oceans, both humble and sustain me as I forever forge ahead.

My best big thinking pales in comparison to the ideals of another great one – a man like few we’ve ever known. Today we celebrate the limitless legacy of Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. I was only 8 years old on the day of his assassination. Yet his message of empowerment, hope, fairness and the relentless pursuit of justice will forever ring true. I am honored to bow to his greatness.

This off-season, my fourth on Jersey’s coast, I time my beach sojourn with low tide. An additional 40 yards of firm sand delivers my imagination beyond the break, where I, too, walk on water. Oftentimes a long lake forms, moat-like, on the shoreline. In Fall and Spring, I wade through, chilling my toes and calves. But Winter is thick-socked and booted, so I must stay ashore until I come upon a narrow rise in the sandy bottom. My entry to the beyond deepens my oceanic bond. Intentions and exaltations rejuvenate, it’s impossible to stay low.

Reality returns quickly, though. My dreams intact, my heart strong, I do battle with the human detritus that relentlessly assaults our oceans. Plastic bag at the ready which, of course, I find on the beach, I walk the high tide mark – mama nature’s rampart. I collect plastic shreds and Styrofoam wedges wind-blown from a thousand garbage cans. I gather bottles and cans that somehow missed the recycle bin, wave-strewn and rejected by the tides. Within a mile of walking, my two arms and ten fingers are weighed down. It’s a solo endeavor, one I take pride in, to actively participate in protecting Her from us.

It’s high time that we devote our mindsets to cleanup and conservation. Land and sea has given our species much, yet we continually strive to take more. We collectively suck her dry, and the day will come when Mother Nature says, “ENOUGH!” Until we reverse the leveraging of earth’s resources, and become protectors all, our species’ survival is on a countdown. Earth will live on and thrive without us, after She swats us away like an annoying cluster of gnats.

‘Nuff said.

 

Who Ya Gonna Call in Hoosick Falls?

14666135030_9b5ba88c80_zHere’s an update to my November post, Not My Tap:

 

 

The residents of Hoosick Falls, NY and the surrounding region might soon have no one to call, not even ghostbusters. While the decision on a federal class action law suit is pending, a settlement agreement between the town and the poisoners is on the table. And it’s not friendly. Thanks to Brendan J. Lyons (@brendan_lyonstu) for great reporting throughout the ordeal.

This is not a national story, but it is a local calamity oft-repeated around the country. Companies are forced to defend their existence and profits, while the little man suffers ill health, premature death, or financial ruin without recourse. In the middle are politicians, state and federal regulators, and corporate soldiers following orders. Alas, it is a story well-worn, beaten down.

And it’s a scenario that is NOT going away any time soon, possibly coming to your neighborhood, if not already gurgling in your water supply. So, pay attention.

A few years ago, lethally high levels of PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic acid) were found to have contaminated the water supply of Hoosick Falls, a sleepy hamlet 30-miles north of Albany. The culprit was a local factory that provided decades of good jobs and economic stability, as a manufacturer of Teflon-coated cookware and other plastics. Unfortunately, we all know where this story goes. Only after billions of pots, pans and spatulas are sold do we learn that PFOA will kill you. Slowly.

It’s critical to point out that this discovery came at the hand of a local citizen – not the county or state DEP, not the EPA – who lost his father to cancer. He sent a water sample to an independent lab. And BAM!

In the lawsuit, plaintiffs seek unspecified damages to pay for early detection monitoring, primarily blood tests, as well as the future costs of illness linked to the water contamination. Already dozens of people, including children, have tested positive for toxic levels of PFOA in their bloodstreams. Additionally, the plaintiffs seek monetary compensation for their severely diminished property values. Considering that local banks have suspended issuing home mortgages, and the EPA has recently designated a number of locations in the region, including the factory, as Superfund sites, I would say that beef is legitimate, too.

The defendants in this case, Saint Gobain Performance Plastics and Honeywell, Inc., seek a dismissal of the case altogether, mainly on the strength of legal-ese. Distinguishing between the legal definition of “exposure” and “injury” will likely determine how the health risk portion of the suit is decided. Under current NY State law, companies are only responsible to pay for damages caused by injury. As for property values, the argument from the defense relies on the fact that PFOA does not cause physical harm to “wells, pipes, taps, or showerheads.” Sure, they got that going for them.

Notice how there is NO ARGUMENT that PFOA has infiltrated the bodies and homes of the plaintiffs. Isn’t that kind of like saying, “tough shit, Hoosick Falls, you’re on your own?”

It’s safe to believe that a decision favorable to the plaintiffs could run in the millions, if not tens of millions of dollars. Sounds about right, possibly even fair. Well, keep your eyes in their eye sockets, the defendants have offered to settle for $850,000. And part of this agreement includes no future legal recourse from the plaintiffs.

Not far from all sides of this human debacle lingers state regulators, politicians, and the EPA. The finger of blame is being pointed in multiple directions, with “not my fault” as the supportive argument. It’s a timeless defense. Reminds me of when I was a kid, no more than 8 years old. My best buddy and I got nabbed for “leaking” non-potable fluids in the backyard. And when his mom asked me, “Why’d you do that?” I only had one response, repeated multiple times, “well, Chris did it, too.” Deflect blame to escape responsibility.

At the end of the day, where does this leave the harmed citizens of Hoosick, today or 30-years from now? Let’s assume that they do not agree to the settlement. Even if the judge rules for the plaintiffs, unending appeals can delay or drastically shrink the final damages (see Exxon, Chris Christie, and NJ). Meanwhile, human beings will suffer, either with actual sickness, or the outsized fear of developing cancer hovering over their daily lives.

Let me be clear. Are you ready to find out, decades after the fact, that your water supply is poisoned?  The unfortunate truth is this, too, could be you. Overnight, kiss goodbye the value of home and property. Wonder and worry about your health, or the wellbeing of your loved ones. Every sniffle will send a cancer shiver down your spine.

I cannot pronounce this more urgently: LEARN where your water comes from, what’s in it, and who is responsible for its quality and delivery. INVEST in water filtration, or start a petition in your neighborhood to promote the crazy idea that filters must be distributed by your water treatment provider. Do something, be proactive. The sad truth is we must fight to protect our water and our health. Delay or ignore is now at your own peril.

‘Nuff said.

Photo credit: iLoveMountains.org

2017: Sink or Swim

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My dear friends, I believe our forward path is that simple. We either sink into oblivion, or swim together to safe, smart, progressive shores. I believe #theDTs and #climatechange are the two most significant issues we face. Many others I hold dear, but they wither away, as do we, if we don’t STOP #PEOTUS and START addressing global warming.

My trump-lover acquaintances will bloviate, “c’mon dude, give the guy a chance.” Sorry, can’t. Not after learning his nominations for the U.S. Board of Directors. At EVERY level – Education, Environment, Energy, Health, Justice, Labor, State, Treasury, to name eight – the trump-ian kleptocracy can and will take hold, and we lose.

To quadruple down on the bad news, our climate has been screaming at us for years. The national consciousness has collectively responded with a sigh (and snowballs in Congress) to the severity and consistency of catastrophic storms. Our new normal is to wonder “how bad is it gonna be this year?” Let’s query the folks of the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, or Toms River, NJ, or Fort McMurray in Alberta, or Joplin, MO. And guaranteed that many from these neighborhoods voted red. It’s more important to believe a frothing hair monster that “he alone…blah, blah, blah.” Makes me sick.

Exhale. Reboot to #hope and #change. I strongly suggest learning about our climate, it’s more than the 5-day weather forecast. And I vehemently recommend this interview posted today in Scientific American. Annie Sneed (@aisneed) asks incisive questions of Friederike Otto (@FrediOtto) about the growing field of “attribution science.” Until about 2-hours ago, I hadn’t heard of this discipline. Doesn’t make me a loser, and now I’m more informed.

Another doozy of a wakeup call comes from the mouth of Noam Chomsky. Have a read or a listen to his speech and the discussion with the unshakeable Amy Goodman of @democracynow.

I guess my biggest suggestions, no, I’m begging you, to please learn something today, then do something about what you’ve learned.  I do this all the time, and it feels good. And yes, I will continue to pick up other people’s garbage on my beach walks. It’s no longer gross; in fact, it’s gross to not keep manmade crap out of the ocean. Better in my hands than in the Atlantic, or a seagull’s gullet.

I’ll close today’s post with the prophetic 1964 lyrics of Bob Dylan:

“…and admit that the waters around you have grown / And accept it that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone / If your time to you is worth savin’ / then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone…”

‘Nuff said.

Photo Credit: Gillfoto, “Mendenhall Glacier Melting,” March 3, 2014 https://www.flickr.com/photos/gillfoto/

Connecting the Water Dots

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LOOK. I hope this image frightens you. Approaching the 8th anniversary of the Kingston Coal Ash spill – the billion gallon environmental catastrophe – how we doing in our awareness, response and prevention efforts?

I’d say, not so good.

Truth be told, these large-scale events catch everyone’s attention for possibly two news cycles, then the masses change channels to MNF or DWTS. Love how EVERYTHING these days is a god damn acronym? My new fave: the #DTs. To some, delerium tremens comes to mind. To me, our president elect, freakishly appropriate!

But, I digress. Back to water ignorance.

Thanks to the many organizations like Waterkeeper Alliance, who are consistently raising awareness and money, and of equal importance, generating site clicks on social networks. Bad water news floats by daily. Here are some highlights, and don’t skip the 11-second effort to click on these links, or the 3+ minutes to learn something:

Possum Point

Gulf of Mexico – NOT the BP Deepwater disaster

The #1 killer of children globally, and it’s preventable

Listen to me, please. It no longer matters whether these events are “not in my backyard.” Allow me to connect the dots. Firstly, water flows and always finds its place, carrying with it whatever is put in. Secondly, as long as your utility is burning coal to turn the lights on, then you are involved. Thirdly, how’s that succulent Gulf shrimp tasting? And lastly, how do we continue to accept that 700+ million people don’t have what we have (limitless hydration access) and 2.4 billion people defecate outdoors?

Prevention of future water bombs is a good goal. But the inevitable truth, just ask Corpus Christi, TX, is that someday soon, you or I will be standing on a long line at the big box store with a cart full of bottled water.

If you know anyone who works at a water treatment plant, give them a hug or a handshake for their service. Then tell them about this great article on the 11 Steps to prepare for chemical spills.

Water awareness and safety used to be deep in the background. Turn on the tap, flush the bowl, keep it movin’. Today, tomorrow, and the next day, this mode of thinking is no longer acceptable. So start paying attention. “Water is boring” is so yesterday.

‘Nuff said.

 

Photo credit: SkyTruth, “Kingston Coal-Ash Spill, December 23, 2008                         Courtesy of Tennessee Valley Authority https://www.flickr.com/photos/skytruth/             https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/

A Touch of Aluminum Sulphate, A Hint of Benzene: Tap Water C.O.D.B.

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The nose knows. Every time you sip a glass of tap, unfiltered, the smell (and taste) of chlorine might wrinkle your nostrils, or outright denude your hydration pleasure. It’s all good, though, or at least a snide better than a whiff of what the chlorine kills.

Yeah, if America knew as much about the contents of its municipal water supply as it does the surviving candidates of “The Apprentice,” or some other dumbass reality show, we could actually begin a dialogue on improving water infrastructure and safety controls.

But, as a water rights advocate-friend of mine said, “water is boring.” Until it’s not. Just ask the lovely folks in Toronto over the past few days, or the people of Flint over the past year+, or the gritty residents of Gendive, MT who dealt with a 50,000-gallon oil spill into the Yellowstone River within a 3-wood of the municipality’s intake valves.

It’s the curl of the constituents’ nose-hairs that finally gets some action.

Agricultural run-off, fracking wastewater disposal, and burst oil pipelines are now a daily occurrence in North American waters. And the incredible reality is how few people know about it. If it’s not happening in their backyard, it ain’t a problem.

Guess what, my friendly readers? The problem is everywhere. The EPA sets water quality guidelines for municipalities to follow. Chunky acronyms ( NPDWRs, CCLs, UCMs) that you’ve most likely never heard of represent measurements with significant meaning to your health.

Meanwhile,  EPA and DEP monitoring manpower is severely under-staffed, AND they can only test for “known” contaminants. That UCM measurement is all about the “unknown” or unregulated contaminants flowing into the water supply.

I’ve been saying for a decade-plus. Filters on your taps, including shower head filters, is the best defense. And over the next 4-years, I believe taking certain health decisions into your own hands is even more critical. Sadly, when it comes to water safety, it’s the Cost ODoing Business, because your EPA will not have your back. Plus, it’s so damn boring.

‘Nuff said.

Photo Credits:

Evil Erin, “He nose if you’ve been bad or good,” December 12, 2008 https://www.flickr.com/photos/evilerin/

USDA NRCSTN83003-a, “Water Flows Off a Tennessee Farm After a Storm, April 25, 2013 https://www.flickr.com/photos/usdagov/

 

 

 

Flint is Next Stop On The #NoDAPL Train

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We have the model for success. It’s here and it’s now. #NoDAPL, #StandingwithStandingRock, #WaterIsLife.

“Can we politely ask the Sioux of Standing Rock, and the 100s of Native American tribes who joined in solidarity, to strike the Oceti Sakowin camp and move to Flint for a few months?” This was my first thought upon hearing the news that USACE put a halt on that damn pipeline.

Since my full-day emotional hangover on November 9th, I’ve had a surge of multiple, POSITIVE, energies: empowerment, thoughtful resistance, elevate TRUTH, and PARTICIPATE. So thanks, DT, my one day of the DTs has created a surge.

I refuse to buy-in to “give it up, trump won.” Rather, I buy into joining the fight as best as I know how. I opened a twitter account: @nuffsaid_h2o. From my fingertips to your eyeballs, I can inform, spread the word, #TRUTH2POWER, resist the temptation of accepting a well-versed and well-spouted set of lies and manipulations.

I hold strong and true to the belief that we are a progressive nation. I also recognize that our young American Story has arrived into uncertain and unstable territory. I want our history to show that WE, the Progressive Resistance, stood tall to the tyranny of all money-owned limp-dicks in Washington. Yes, I realize there are a few women-pols who run with the money, but the majority of that crowd is the dying breed: white and male.

Thus, I say Onward Ho! Off we march in solidarity to Flint, MI, then to Hoosick Falls, NY, then to Hindman, KY. The model is set. In order to fix the MANY institutionalized atrocities of ethnic, racial, and gender origin, we might as well start with water. Because, as we all know by now: WATER IS LIFE.

‘Nuff said.

Photo: Thanks to Beatrice Murch! https://www.flickr.com/photos/blmurch/