Showing posts with label Georgia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Georgia. Show all posts

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Another EPA Disaster, This Time in Rural Georgia

Another EPA Disaster, This Time in Rural Georgia
Still reeling from a disaster it created at a Colorado gold mine, the EPA has so far avoided criticism for a similar toxic waste spill in Georgia.
In Greensboro, EPA-funded contractors grading a toxic 19th-century cotton mill site struck a water main, sending the deadly sediment into a nearby creek. Though that accident took place five months ago, the hazard continues as heavy storms — one hit the area Tuesday — wash more soil into the creek.
The sediment flows carry dangerous mercury, lead, arsenic and chromium downstream to Lake Oconee and then to the Oconee River — home to many federally and state protected species.
Lead in the soil at the project site is 20,000 times higher than federal levels established for drinking water, said microbiologist Dave Lewis, who was a top-level scientist during 31 years at the Environmental Protection Agency.
He became a whistleblower critical of EPA practices and now works forFocus for Health, a nonprofit that researches disease triggers.
“Clearly, the site is a major hazardous chemical waste dump, which contains many of the most dangerous chemical pollutants regulated by the EPA,” Lewis wrote in a 2014 affidavit for a court case filed by local residents that failed to prevent the EPA project: creating a low-income housing development.
The mill site contains 34 hazardous chemicals, 30 of which are on the EPA’s list of priority pollutants because of “high toxicity, persistence, lack of degradability, and harmful effects on living organisms,” Lewis wrote.
But while the nation is transfixed by the bright orange waterways in otherwise pristine Colorado wilderness, little attention has been paid to the unfolding Greensboro disaster.
The four-acre site features the abandoned Mary Leila Cotton Mill, which produced sheeting until the early 2000s. Looking like a ghostly fortress, the 135,000-square-foot building with turrets and a water tower was covered in lead-based paint that flaked off and covered the grounds along with ash produced by its coal-burning generators. High levels of cancer-causing chemicals, such as benzo(a)pyrene, are also buried there. And neighboring farmers dumped pesticides on the vacant grounds back when arsenic was used to kill bugs.
The Environmental Protection Agency has denied — but now admits — that it funded the cleanup and development project the triggered the catastrophe.
The EPA issued a grant around 2005 to turn the mill and surrounding grounds into a housing complex for the mentally ill, homeless and indigent. Contractors working with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GEPD) have started digging and tearing down the buildings — despite objections by the city of Greensboro and the absence of a plan to deal with the hazardous waste.
EPA and GEPD documents reviewed by Watchdog show proposals to move the dirt elsewhere or to cover it with concrete. In the latter case, the government agencies promise to monitor and repair any potholes, cracks or foundation breaks.
But for Lewis, any excavation would send large amounts of toxic soil into the creek.
Despite the manmade pollutants, Mother Nature has managed to hold her own against further degradation. The toxic soil was mainly confined to densely packed lower levels held in check by a clay barrier near the creek. EPA/GEPD contractors destroyed that barrier with a backhoe.
Now groundwater and other contaminants can flow freely, Lewis said.
The EPA did not respond to a request for comment. The agency has offered conflicting statements about its involvement in the project, alternating between knowing nothing, providing only data and guidance, and acknowledging, finally, that it funded cleanup and development at the site through a grant to the state.
Lewis says his former employer, the EPA, never showed any concern in several responses to his ongoing pleas regarding hazards around the old mill.
In letters to Lewis and David Kopp, who represented the residents in their court case, the EPA downplayed toxicity in the land, pointing to low levels in a 2010 sampling. Lewis says he tested his own samples at the University of Georgia, where he worked for a time as a marine biologist. The results staggered him.
But the EPA told him it knew nothing about Mary Leila Cotton Mill.
“There is no federal agency involved with this project at the mill property,” EPA Regional Administrator Heather McTeer Toney wrote Lewis on Jan. 9. “This property does not warrant federal action at this time.”
Five months later, in a May 28 letter to Lewis, Toney admitted the program was an “EPA brownfields grant-funded project” and that “remediation must be conducted in a manner that is protective of human health and the environment.” The state directed the developer to “maintain the mill property in a manner that protects humans from exposure to hazardous constituents while the property is undergoing corrective action.”
The EPA’s website says brownfields projects are part of the agency’s mandate “to make environmental justice an integral part of every program, policy and activity by…. Applying EPA’s regulatory tools to protect vulnerable communities.”
And involving lead, it appears that the EPA is violating its own standards. The agency prohibits release of untreated lead-laden water into the waterways and cites the Clean Water Act, saying: “The CWA prohibits anyone from discharging pollutants, including lead, through a point source into a water of the United States unless they have a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System(NPDES) permit.”
Researcher Earl Glynn contributed to this report.
Contact Tori Richards at or on twitter @newswriter2.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Some black lawmakers supporting disruptions at campaigns by BlackLivesMatter protesters

After Black Lives Matter protesters ended the rally of Bernie Sanders supporters last Saturday, most responsible Democrats criticized the activists for interferring in the democratic process.

But several black lawmakers are taking a different view and are supporting the disruptions.
The activists have employed the controversial tactic of interrupting stump speeches and other public forums, which has drawn ire from many Democrats as an uncivil and misguided effort that targets allies, rather than opponents, of such reforms. 
But a number of black Democrats disagree, arguing that race-based problems have been neglected for too long, even by liberal policymakers, and the activists have tapped into a vein of frustration that justifies their methods. 
“They really are speaking to the issues, and we're really long overdue responding to those issues,” Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) said in a phone interview. “They've been pointed, nonviolent and strong, and I'm not offended. 
“They're asking for nothing more than to lift up a system to treat them with justice.”
Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) echoed that message, alluding to recent high-profile cases of young unarmed blacks killed by police officers as proof that America's racial problems persist and demand a specific response from the presidential candidates — liberal and conservative alike. The public debate that’s followed the recent protests, he suggested, merits their controversial tactics\ 
“For Black Lives Matter activists, the issue is literally a matter of life and death as evidenced by the continued killing of unarmed Black men and women by police officers across the nation,” Johnson said in an email. “When presidential candidates fail to acknowledge how the current criminal system detrimentally impacts Black lives, they [the activists] resort to disruptive tactics to force attention to the issue. 
“While disruption is uncomfortable, it does result in candidates acknowledging and addressing the issue with policy proposals,” he added. “When that happens, the need to protest is abated.”
In other words, threats and intimidation are just fine because they force candidates to change their agendas.  Is this really how we want to conduct a campaign for the next president of the United States?

This is an extremely dangerous position.  Supporting the veiled threat of violence from the protesters empowers the mob and encourages them to up the pressure on candidates.  Disrupting rallies and preventing candidates from speaking is anti-democratic and shows the activists to be little better than angry thugs.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

[VIDEO] Conservatives grapple with surprise Trump snub

ATLANTA — Michael Pemberton, a 65-year-old conservative from Kentucky, started the day in a good mood. He was attending his second RedState Gathering, and ready to hear from 10 of the Republican Party's presidential candidates. He dug into breakfast — coffee and fruit — and sat down with another conference-goer.
"One of the chaps across me asked, 'Did you hear the news?'" recalled Pemberton. "I thought he was going to tell me that a sinkhole opened up in Kentucky and I couldn't go again. But no: He said, they disinvited Donald Trump. I lost my appetite."
The TV news confirmed it. RedState's outgoing editor-in-chief, Erick Erickson, made an 11th hour call to disinvite Trump after the GOP presidential front-runner told CNN that Fox News's Megyn Kelly had "blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever" when she grilled him during Thursday's presidential debate.
Pemberton grabbed a sharpie and a note card and scrawled out "I AM DONALD TRUMP." He affixed it to his jacket with an American flag pin and grudgingly walked into the conference, determined never to come again.
More than 700 activists had signed up for the gathering, and up to a thousand of them had been expected to join Trump at a Saturday night party at the College Football Hall of Fame. On Saturday morning, the reaction to Trump's exclusion was mixed — and distracting. Annoyance at what seemed to be a politically correct purge competed with annoyance at Trump himself.
"It was really inappropriate to attack Megyn Kelly," said Richard Fonte, 70, an activist who split his time between Texas and Illinois, and strongly supported Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) for president. "That and the fact that he's taking the position that he might run as a third party — that would automatically elect Hillary Clinton."
Fonte's wife, Dulsey, 68, was even happier to see Trump gone: "I find him crude," she said. "I have no sympathy for his candidacy."
Those sentiments had been burbling up on the right, but even 12 hours earlier, Trump's Republican critics had started to soften their tone, and say that the billionaire candidate had tapped into a well of legitimate voter anger. Saturday's burst of anger at Trump was jarring; not everyone at the conference could agree what Trump had even said. Was he making a crude joke about menstruation or wasn't he?
"It's wrong to exclude him and insult him on what people interpret he said as opposed to what he said," said Pemberton. "He was saying that Megyn was seeing blood, in her eyes. As far as 'blood coming out all over,' the first thing I think of is not a woman's menstrual cycle. I think of Jesus Christ, thorns on his head, nail holes in his hands, stigmata."

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Student Takes His School To The Cleaners For $900k

A man poses with dollars, after buying them at a money exchange in Caracas, Febreuary 24, 2015.  REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
A student expelled from a public college for dubious reasons has been vindicated, and has picked up a cool $900,000 in the process.
Way back in 2007, Hayden Barnes was a student at Georgia’s Valdosta State University. The school at the time was planning to build two new parking garages on campus, and Barnes was strongly opposed. So, Barnes expressed his frustration on social media, posting an image collage to Facebook that, among other things, included a picture of Valdosta’s then-president Ronald Zaccari.
Zaccari promptly flew off the handle, labeling the collage a “threatening document” because it dubbed one of the garages the “Zaccari Memorial Parking Garage” (Zaccari said the name implied a threat to murder him). Declaring that Barnes was an imminent threat to both Valdosta at large and Zaccari’s own personal safety, the president unilaterally expelled him without even holding a hearing.
Since then, Barnes graduated from a different college, got a law degree, got married and had a kid. But he remained convinced that his expulsion from Valdosta was a grave wrong, and was determined to be vindicated in the courts. His initial lawsuit against the school transformed into a bruising seven-year legal battle.
Barnes’s case became a cause célèbre to advocates for campus civil liberties, being pushed with particular vigor by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). In 2013, Barnes was awarded $50,000 after a federal court found his due process rights had been violated by the school. Barnes’s fight continued, though, as he also pursued a separate claim that his First Amendment right to free speech had been improperly suppressed. (RELATED: Jury: College President Must Pay Expelled Student $50,000)
Finally, in January, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling overturning a lower court’s ruling against Barnes, reinstating his First Amendment claim against the school. The ruling set the stage for a huge payout from Valdosta, as it would have to cover Barnes’ eight years of attorney fees along with a civil judgment reflecting the school’s suppression of his civil rights.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Few major films shot in California, study shows

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A report shows that despite California acting as the backdrop for blockbusters this year, very few were filmed in the state.
Only 22 of 106 films released by the major studios in 2014 were actually filmed in California. The rest of the movies were shot in New York, Britain, Canada, Georgia, Louisiana, Australia and a dozen other states and countries, according to a feature film study by
FilmL.A. Inc., the nonprofit group that handles film permits for the city and county, the Los Angeles Times reports ((
Only two films with budgets above $100 million were filmed primarily in California: Marvel's "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" and Paramount's "Interstellar."
In 1997 64 percent of the top 25 movies at the box office were filmed in California, compared to 16 percent last year.
Several box office hits set in California were filmed outside of the state, including Warner Bros.' "Godzilla," which was shot mainly in Vancouver, Canada; 20th Century Fox's "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," which was filmed in Louisiana; and Disney's "Million Dollar Arm," which was shot mainly in Georgia.
Even this weekend's "San Andreas," which depicts the destruction of California from a massive earthquake was filmed mainly in Australia.
State lawmakers last year approved an expansion of the film and TV tax credit program tripling annual funding to $330 million a year to try to keep production in state. The new program also allows big budget films to apply for incentives for the first time.
Studios will apply for feature film tax credits under the new program in July.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Would You Have Voted for ObamaCare? Georgia Dem Gives AGONIZINGLY PAINFUL Answer

27 Seconds Is All It Takes to Realize This Is One of the Most Confusing Obamacare Answers Out There

By Mike Opelka, The Blaze
It was a simple question posed by NBC correspondent Kasie Hunt to Georgia Democratic Senate hopeful, Michelle Nunn.  Hunt was speaking with Nunn in a one-on-one interview and asked the question: “Would you have voted for the Affordable Care Act?”

The candidate’s answer was not a “yes” or “no.” In fact, it was so confounding that MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, during an appearance on “Morning Joe,” called it “terrible,” adding, “Boy, nothing screamed ‘practiced politician’ like that answer Michelle Nunn gave on health care.”
“It just doesn’t come across as credible,” he said.

What was Chuck Todd talking about? It might have been the initial 27 seconds of circuitous language heard from Nunn. Her exact words:

“At the time the Affordable Health Care Act was passed, I was, uh, working for Points of Light (a non-profit organization where Nunn served as CEO, earning $300,000/year) . So, I think it’s hard to go back…to look back retrospectively. But when I look at it, I think about…what do we need to do going forward? I look at it, I come at it from the perspective of someone who made payroll, who saw rising healthcare premiums, who believes we actually need to work together to make changes where it’s not working and improve the things that already are working.”

Nunn followed her initial response with more standard Democratic talking points about healthcare, citing the protections given to people with pre-existing conditions and children under 26 years old.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


AP PhotoATLANTA (AP) -- Helicopters took to the skies Wednesday to search for stranded drivers while Humvees delivered food, water and gas - or a ride home - to people who were stuck on roads after a winter storm walloped the Deep South.

Students spent the night on buses or at schools, commuters abandoned their cars or slept in them and interstates turned into parking lots. The problems started when schools, businesses and government offices all let out at the same time. As people waited in gridlock, snow accumulated, the roads froze, cars ran out of gas and tractor-trailers jackknifed, blocking equipment that could have treated some of the roads. In the chaos, though, there were stories of rescues and kindness.

It wasn't clear exactly how many people were still stranded on the roads a day after the storm paralyzed the region. And the timing of when things would clear and when the highways would thaw was also uncertain because temperatures were not expected to be above freezing.

"We literally would go 5 feet and sit for two hours," said Jessica Troy, who along with a co-worker spent more than 16 hours in her car before finally getting home late Wednesday morning.

Via: AP

Continue Reading....

Monday, October 14, 2013

Georgia business weighs paying ObamaCare fine, instead of coverage

Debbie and Larry Underkoffler launched a boutique staffing agency in what they call the worst economy ever, doing anything they could to stand out to potential clients. 
"I would bake sourdough bread, and I made homemade strawberry jam, and deliver it to my prospects," Debbie Underkoffler told Fox News. "I would also deliver homemade cookies." 
Through years of hard work, they built North Georgia Staffing to the point it now has 18 full-time employees, whom the Underkofflers happily provide with generous health benefits. 
"We have very good employees, and we want to take very good care of them," Debbie Underkoffler said. 
But under ObamaCare, the Georgia company now faces a tough choice -- cover all of its temporary workers as well, or pay a hefty fine. 
Aside from its full-time staff, the company also manages about 400 temporary workers, and is hoping to add another 200 in the next year. Those employees can buy into a separate health insurance program North Georgia Staffing signed up with. Under new ObamaCare rules, many of those "temps" will count toward the Underkoffler's full-time staff.  Larry Underkoffler calculates their full-time employee count will instantly surge from 18 to around 200. They will go from boutique operation to "major employer" overnight. 
And that means, under the health care law, they'd have to provide insurance coverage to all, or pay a $2,000-per-worker fine. In the Underkofflers' case, the fine might be the more affordable option. 
Via: Fox News
Continue Reading....

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Dem Rep Moves to Block Obama's Congressional Pay Increase

A Democratic member of Congress is moving to block President Barack Obama's congressional pay increase. The move, led by John Barrow of Georgia, is to prevent the pay increase that Obama issued through an executive order from going into effect.
"At a time when American families face real hardship, it would be irresponsible to allow Congressional pay to increase," says Barrow in a statement. "Too many families face uncertainty in the New Year for Congress to get a bonus. Folks expect us to be looking out for them, not ourselves, and we should be working to lower taxes, cut spending, and get our nation's debt under control. Congress should get to work, and I urge the House leadership to do anything and everything possible to stop this pay increase for Members of Congress right away."
Barrow's office explains: "The Executive Order called for a pay increase for Members of Congress and other elected officials of 0.5 percent after March 27, 2013. During tonight's votes, Congressman Barrow will urge his colleagues to sign his letter to House Leadership urging them to bring legislation to the floor to block the pay increase."
Here's the letter Barrow is circulating to send to House leadership:
Dear Speaker Boehner, Leader Cantor, Leader Pelosi, Whip Hoyer,
We oppose the pay increase for Members of Congress granted by Executive Order on December 27, 2012. The Executive Order would raise our salaries by $900 per year, beginning March 27, 2013.
We believe that it is inappropriate for Members of Congress to receive a pay increase of any size while American families and taxpayers continue to face tough economic times.
We urge you to bring legislation to the floor to stop this pay adjustment as soon as possible.

Via: Weekly Standard

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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Illegal Immigrant Challenging The Constitutionality Of Georgia’s Driver License Law In Front Of State’s Supreme Court…

An illegal immigrant from Mexico is challenging the constitutionality of the state’s driver license law in a case the Georgia Supreme Court is set to hear Monday.

Fernando Castillo-Solis says the law — which requires motorists who have lived in Georgia for 30 days or more to get a state-issued license before driving — discriminates against illegal immigrants.
At issue is a part of the law that says motorists can’t be convicted of driving without a license if they can later present their licenses in court. Since illegal immigrants are ineligible for Georgia licenses, they don’t have the same protection.
“Undocumented aliens are affected by the denial of an absolute defense,” Castillo-Solis’ attorney wrote in a court brief.
Castillo-Solis’ case stems from a 2010 traffic stop in Gwinnett County, where he was charged with driving without a license and failing to register his vehicle. Castillo-Solis, a Mexican citizen who has resided illegally in Georgia for more than 10 years, sought in a lower court to get the state driver license law thrown out. The court rejected his request. With his trial still pending, Castillo-Solis is now appealing to the Supreme Court.
Gwinnett Solicitor General Rosanna Szabo denied Castillo-Solis’ arguments in court papers, calling them unfounded and misleading. She said he never had a Georgia driver license and had no right to one. And she said people seeking to get their driving-without-a-license charges dismissed must “presents proof at trial that he or she actually was validly licensed to drive at the time of the traffic stop.”

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Obama praised Supreme Court affirmative action ruling in 2003, applauded racial ‘set aside plans’

In a June 25, 2003 interview with the Chicago Defender, an urban newspaper serving the city's African-American community, President Barack Obama praised the U.S. Supreme Court for preserving the practice of affirmative action in U.S. university admissions.

Nine years later, Obama's Department of Justice filed an amicus curiae brief with the Supreme Court on Aug. 13, arguing in favor of racial preferences in the admissions department of the University of Texas.

Speaking at Columbia University on Feb. 23, Attorney General Eric Holder said affirmative action may never become obsolete. “The question," Holder said, "is not when does it end, but when does it begin. ... When do people of color truly get the benefits to which they are entitled?” (RELATED: In Harvard essay, young Michelle Obama argued for race-based faculty hiring)

Obama, a state senator and a candidate for U.S. Senate in 2003, praised the late Maynard Jackson in the Defender interview. Jackson, an African-American mayor of Atlanta, died on the day the high court ruled race could be a factor in college admissions. Mayor Jackson, Obama said, was “the architect among big city mayors of effective affirmative action and set aside plans.”

"He structured it in ways that other mayors across the country ended up emulating," said Obama. "His passing is enormous to all of us, but, it is fitting that on the same day he passed we had a Supreme Court that narrowly did the right thing by affirming the basic principle of affirmative action.”

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