After the Storms: Poisons in Texas, Power Outages Across Florida
Energy, Environment, Featured Story, Immigration, Infrastructure, The Latest News

After the Storms: Poisons in Texas, Power Outages Across Florida

And the White House Issues a Warning to Former FBI Director Comey

Tainted waters. Testing organized by The New York Times found flood waters in two Houston neighborhoods have been contaminated by bacteria and toxins that can make people sick. It’s not clear how far the toxic waters have spread. Standing water in one family’s living room had levels of E. coli, a measure of fecal contamination, 135 times those considered safe. Other families have mold. Infectious disease specialists are warning that wounds exposed to flood waters could get mucormycosis, an often fatal disease. Thirteen people injured in the 2011 tornado in Joplin, Mo., suffered fungal infections, and five died. Six of the 13 initially received medicine that wasn’t effective.

Image from Power Outage US

Sweltering reality. Nearly half of Florida didn’t have electricity Tuesday, and some of them could be without power for days or weeks. “The biggest issue is power,” said Naples Mayor Bill Barnett. “We just need power. It’s 92 degrees, and the sun is out.” The Department of Homeland Security estimates that Irma knocked out power to one out of every 22 Americans. Hundreds of thousands lost power in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Alabama. A Florida assisted care facility for patients with memory and dementia impairment went without power for three days. It was unclear when power, cell phone service or supplies would be available again in Key West.

Intimidation. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday said the Justice Department “should certainly look at” prosecuting former FBI Director James Comey for leaking “privileged information” and giving “false testimony” to Congress. “Comey leaked memos to the New York Times,” Sanders said, incorrectly. (Comey gave them to a friend who then passed them along to a reporter.)  A reporter then followed up and asked whether the president would “encourage the DOJ to prosecute Comey” over the leaked notes and the “potential false testimony.”

Refugee ban. The Supreme Court reinstated Trump’s travel ban restrictions on refugees. The one-paragraph emergency order will keep out about 24,000 refugees who have already been vetted. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments Oct. 10 on Trump’s March 6 order that would suspend travel to the U.S. by people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen as well as by refugees.

Voting. Gun rights activist John Lott wants prospective voters to undergo background checks designed for gun purchasers. The White House commission looking into sham allegations of vote fraud heard testimony Tuesday from Lott. The background checks look at drug addiction, mental instability, citizenship and criminal record. Opponents fear the background checks could create barriers to voting. Congress and the Supreme Court have removed most barriers that sought to restrict voting, such as racial discrimination or literacy tests. “This is absurd and dangerous,” said Liz Kennedy, director of democracy and government reform for the Center for American Progress. “The criteria built into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System have no parallel to the requirements to be an eligible voter.”

September 13, 2017