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Beaker

Heavy metal contamination found in water wells near Duke Energy coal ash dumps


A view of North Carolina's Dan River following a leak in a storm pipe at the bottom of a 27-acre coal ash pond operated by Duke Energy
Test results confirm that 'Duke's coal ash pits are leaking toxic pollutants into groundwater,' says attorney

North Carolina residents who live near Duke Energy coal ash dumps have been warned by state officials not to drink or cook with water from their wells, after testing showed evidence of heavy metal contamination exceeding state groundwater standards.

The nation's largest electricity company, Duke stores more than 150 million tons of coal ash—a byproduct of burning coal for energy—in 32 dumps at 14 power plants across the state. North Carolina's Coal Ash Management Act of 2014, passed in the wake of the devastating Dan River spill that released 99,000 tons of the toxic sludge, required Duke Energy to contract with private laboratories to collect samples at wells within 1,000 feet of power plants with coal ash ponds.

According to news reports, the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said Tuesday that tests of 87 of 145 private wells near eight Duke plants found elevated levels of substances including iron, chromium, and vanadium—all naturally occurring elements that are also found in coal ash.

The Associated Press reports that several of the letters sent to homeowners by DENR cited high levels of vanadium, with some readings "as high as 86 times the state groundwater standard." Vanadium is classified as hazardous by federal health officials; Duke's self-reported toxic release inventory from 2011 shows about 1.5 million pounds of vanadium released into the environment from Duke's coal-fired plants that year, with the bulk of it flowing into the company's ash pits.

Comment: As usual, the company is attempting to sidestep responsibility for its actions, in spite of the evidence of their culpability.

Last year's huge coal ash spill in North Carolina may cost Duke Energy $100M or the cost of a permit
Up to 82,000 tons of toxic coal ash spilled into North Carolina river from 'antiquated' storage pit


Stop

Michael Brown memorial tree destroyed, plaque stolen within a day of being dedicated in Ferguson

© blogs.riverfronttimes.com
One of the Michael Brown memorials, Ferguson, MO.
A tree dedicated to Michael Brown over the weekend in Ferguson, Mo., was damaged within a day, while a plaque accompanying the tree was stolen, according to the city. This tree, a sapling, was purchased by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association in Chicago. It was dedicated in January-Wabash Memorial Park on Saturday to Michael Brown, the unarmed 18-year-old shot and killed by a white police officer in the summer.

Comment: One has to wonder who's destroying all the Michael Brown memorials. Are these inconsiderate pranks by kids or something more sinister? Fans of Darren Wilson and those folks who hate minorities would be the better bet in this situation.


Treasure Chest

No surprise: Tax cuts for poor and middle class, but not the rich, boost employment and investment

© Agence France-Presse/Jim Watson
Tax cuts for the rich do not lead to growth in jobs or investment, a study says.
The exact link between tax cuts and job growth has for years been a matter of fiery debate, from college economics departments to the chambers of Congress. Now, a working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research could add some nuance to the dispute: Tax cuts do, in fact, boost employment and investment, just not when they're directed at the rich.

The study from Owen Zidar, a professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, found that tax cuts aimed at the top 10 percent of earners produce little stimulative effect on the overall economy. On the other hand, those aimed at the bottom 90 percent have a greater impact.

Zidar examined the short- to medium-term impact of tax changes at the state and federal levels going back to 1948. On the national level, he found a 1 percent gross domestic product (GDP) tax cut aimed at the bottom 90 percent translates to job growth of 2 to 5 percent, but the impact of a similar cut on the top 10 percent of earners has a negligible effect. He reached similar conclusions on the state level: Tax decreases for most of the population generated 5 percent employment growth, but yielded little change when applied to the top income bracket.

Comment: Fortunately there are some politicians who have some comprehension of what it really takes to boost the economy and have taken some steps in the right direction. If only there were more of them!

Minnesota governor taxed the rich and increased minimum wage - now his state's economy is flourishing


Arrow Down

The propaganda is working: A significant majority of Americans think the economy is good... and only getting better

Image
© Unknown
Obama would like everyone to think that the U.S. is Disney Land when it is perilously close to becoming Mordor.
Americans' perception of President Obama's economic policies are on the mend according to a new report from CNN.

"For the first time since President Obama took office," says journalist Matt Egan, "a significant majority of Americans give the economy two thumbs up."

The findings are based on a poll conducted by CNN/ORC.

According to the poll 52% of Americans described the economy as "very or somewhat good."

By CNN standards this is considered a "significant majority." So significant, in fact, that the network contends it is great news from Hillary Clinton's Presidential campaign because it shows how successful Democratic programs have been.

And things are only going to get better from here.

Comment: The signs for an imminent collapse in the U.S. economy are plentiful. Are you preparing?


Sheeple

Ignorance and indoctrination has made the United States a continent of sorrow

The ghastly spectacle of presidential debates on issues overly cooked in the media for decades (Israel and sexual preference, for example) will befall Americans within the blink of an eye. Of course they are not debates but well-rehearsed professional theater with the candidates, media questioners and audiences all acting out their assigned roles, on queue. Who has the appetite for it all? It is a hollow, unreal process and a rather sickening charade unless one is on some measure of hallucinogenic drug or drunk. At the proper stage of hallucination or inebriation the show turns into a sort of Looney Tunes cartoon making the time spent on the theater that is the American presidential election process somewhat tolerable.

A few more hits or swigs are necessary to endure the post-debate commentary on Fox, CNN, CBS, PBS or ABC. Depending on the mind altering substance used, the airhead punditry takes on the persona of the Three Stooges/Tractor Pull announcers. Caked in makeup and attached by wireless earphone to assistants who tell them what to say—the talking heads try to convince the audience that what they saw/heard was not what they saw/heard: In short, they try to spin sense on the nonsense uttered by this and that candidate. The media stooges extol the glorious exceptionalism of democratic style and process of the American presidential election process-and US elections in general—as though no other nation on earth actually holds elections.

Crusader

Church defends New Jersey pastor accused of rape; 'think what you want', we've got 'nobody to answer to but God'

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© Via Facebook
Elder Freddie Alexander
A church in New Jersey is standing by its pastor after he was accused of sexually assaulting a 21-year-old woman for several years, starting when she was 17.

Pastor James E. Simmons Jr., 64, of New Life in Christ Ministries turned himself in to authorities last week after he was charged with sexual assault, criminal sexual contact and endangering the welfare of a child.

Church elder Freddie Alexander told an applauding congregation on Sunday that the accusations against the pastor were the work of Satan.

"If Satan knew what he was doing to New Life, he wouldn't have done it. Because what Satan don't know, what he turn around and did is made New Life get closer... now, because of what Satan has done, he is bringing [us] together."

The elder warned Satan not to "mess with" the church, and denied the allegations against Simmons.

"We love our pastor," Alexander said. "They can say what they want. And I hope I get on YouTube, and I tell you this here. I love my pastor. I love God first, but I love my pastor, and I trust him. And I know that I know him, deep from part of my heart. In the pit of my heart, I know we're going to be exonerated. When our time comes, you will know."

"Think what you want," he added. "We're going to trust God. We've got to answer to nobody but God."

Alexander said Simmons had a "Godly heart" because he was praying for the woman who accused him of sex crimes.

Comment: Religious organizations are a playground for sexual predators. Listen to the SOTT editors interview with Dr. Anna Salter, author of the best-selling book, Predators: Pedophiles, Rapists, and Other Sex Offenders, Who They Are, How They Operate, and How We Can Protect Ourselves and Our Children
Pierre: Something that is heartbreaking in your book is that apparently those kind of individuals target, above all they target the most empathetic ones, the most caring ones. One of your interviewee says "The reason I can be so successful" an inmate tells me "is I find people who really care about other people".

Dr. Salter: I have had offenders tell me that they love churches because people are more gullible in churches, that they look for the best in everyone. You know the real, oh gosh I don't know the word, but the truth is that offenders, predators don't just prey on our weaknesses, they prey on our strengths as well. They prey on the fact that many people are trusting, that they do look for the best in people, that they don't consider the worst in people. And those are natural victims for them. Most of them are not actually looking for a challenge, they're looking for the easiest victim.
See also: Men Who Hate Women: The Franklin Scandal and the Truth About Our Leaders


USA

Irony alert: Ten wonderful things to be grateful for

Being grateful boosts your happiness. Ten wonderful things I'm grateful for.
© unknown
Since every volume on the nearly endless shelf of pop psychology self-help books recommends working up some gratitude as the key to happiness, I've conjured up a list of what I'm grateful for. (Please turn your irony setting on.)

Dollars

A cashless society will strengthen the black market

There is nothing the banks would love more than to ban paper currency, though not for the same reason most gold bugs might like to do the same. If there were no cash, then the banks would have absolute control over our savings, and we would all have to keep our money "in the system." Governments would probably enjoy this as well. It would make it so much easier for them to track our purchases and profits, and tax them accordingly.

The desires of the banking cartel became perfectly clear two weeks ago when Willem Buiter, the chief economist for Citigroup, advocated banning cash to supposedly save the global economy.

Comment: Reconsidering where you're keeping your cash?


Bullseye

Enough already! U.S. capitalist model continues to serve a tiny elite at the expense of billions

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© Reuters
A campsite at a homeless tent city in Sacramento California March 15, 2009.
Amidst the usual self congratulatory palaver that crowds out reason in U.S. media and academia, a recent essay by Paul Buchheit in AlterNet (a source I admit I very rarely consult) conveys some very striking information. Here are some excerpts:
"America's wealth grew by 60 percent in the past six years, by over $30 trillion. In approximately the same time, the number of homeless children has also grown by 60 percent."
Shouldn't that one fact be enough evidence - yes, just that one fact - to convince everyone that U.S. institutions are barbaric? Or perhaps that is too extreme a reaction? Maybe it is nasty naysaying as compared to righteously celebrating the new model iPhone while ignoring homelessness?

Buchheit continues:
"Financier and CEO Peter Schiff said, 'People don't go hungry in a capitalist economy.' The 16 million kids on food stamps know what it's like to go hungry. Perhaps, some in Congress would say, those children should be working. 'There is no such thing as a free lunch,' insisted Georgia Representative Jack Kingston, even for school kids, who should be required to 'sweep the floor of the cafeteria'."
When you study much earlier times, and you find horribly harsh formulations, at least you can note that in many cases they arose when there was generalized ignorance of related issues. Now, however, we all know what is right. But we are pressured to do what is wrong - and to then rationalize it.
"Teacher Sonya Romero-Smith told about the two little homeless girls she adopted: 'Getting rid of bedbugs, that took us a while. Night terrors, that took a little while. Hoarding food'."

Comment: Read the free ebook, From Dictatorship to Democracy by Gene Sharp to get an idea how dictatorships are formed, prevented and destroyed. It's a tall order, so don't hold your breath:
When one wants to bring down a dictatorship most effectively and with the least cost then one has four immediate tasks:
  • One must strengthen the oppressed population themselves in their determination, self-confidence, and resistance skills;
  • One must strengthen the independent social groups and institutions of the oppressed people;
  • One must create a powerful internal resistance force; and
  • One must develop a wise grand strategic plan for liberation and implement it skillfully
A liberation struggle is a time for self-reliance and internal strengthening of the struggle group.



Cardboard Box

Shocking reactions to 'homeless' man offering money in Los Angeles (VIDEO)

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© Raw Story/Screen grab
A video capturing people's reactions when they were offered money by a seemingly homeless man in the streets of Los Angeles went viral on YouTube.

In the video made by "fouseyTUBE," a man who appears to be homeless holds a sign that reads "No One Has Ever Become Poor From Giving" and offers cash to random passersby in the streets of LA. The responses he received were shocking.

"In today's society, it's socially acceptable for the wealthy to give money to the homeless. Is it acceptable because it's one individual helping another? Or because one individual is better than the other, so it's okay to help?" the man asks on camera.

Sitting on a sidewalk or walking up to people, he offers money to the unsuspecting.

"I just want to be a helping hand today. God bless," he says.

The people he approaches, many of whom are in suits, appear to assume that the man is asking for money. When they realize that he's offering money, many of them react with animosity.

"I don't need your f***ing money, you a**hole," a man on his cell phone replies, throwing the money back at the actor. "I could f***ing buy you."

Comment: Most of these people are behaving as their conscienceless leaders do. Apathy, indifference and outright animosity towards people who aren't like them. Psychopaths are charismatic to the point of being able to manipulate people to think and act the way they want you to think; like psychopaths.

Global Pathocracy, Authoritarian Followers and the Hope of the World