Thursday Morning: A Little Green Around The Gills

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to those of you who observe this opportunity to drink beer (tinted green or otherwise) and eat boiled dinner and wear green! We’ll know the hardcore among you tomorrow by your hangovers.

Folks overseas don’t understand how St. Patrick’s Day blew up to the same proportions as other holidays like Halloween, blaming it on American commercialization. But the holiday as observed in the U.S., like Halloween, has roots in immigration. Four to five million Irish immigrated to the U.S.; their descendants here are nearly 40 million today, roughly seven times the number of actual Irish in Ireland now. With this many Irish-Americans, even a tepid observation of St. Patrick’s Day here would be visible abroad.

In addition to all things green, we’ll be watching this week’s second #FlintWaterCrisis hearing. Representatives Chaffetz and Cummings can go all shouty on Michigan’s OneLawyeredUpNerd Governor Rick Snyder and EPA’s Gina McCarthy though I have my doubts anything new will emerge. (And you’ll see me get really angry if Rep. SlackerForMichigan Tim Walberg shows up to merely make face on camera. Useless helicoptering.)

Unlike Tuesday, I hope like hell somebody brings up Legionnaire’s cases and deaths in Flint after the cut-over of Flint’s water to Flint River. Thousands of children may have been permanently poisoned by lead, but people sickened and died because of this complete failure of government-as-a-business.

I can’t stress this enough: There were fatalities in Flint because of the water.

Hearing details – set a reminder now:

Thursday 17-MAR — 9:00 AM — Gov. Snyder (R-MI) & EPA Head McCarthy: House Hearing on Flint, MI Water Crisis (est 3 hours, on C-SPAN3)   Link to House Oversight Committee calendar entry

You can find my timeline on Flint’s water here — as noted Tuesday, it’s a work in progress and still needs more entries.

Moving on…

Apple leaves Amazon for Google’s cloud service
Wait, what?! File under ‘Wow, I didn’t know!’ because I really though Apple housed all its cloud services under its own roof. I mean, I’ve written about data farms before, pointed to a new Apple location. I didn’t know Apple had outsourced some of its iCloud to Amazon.

Which makes Senator Ron Wyden’s remarks about asking the NSA with regard to the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone even more interesting.

No wonder Apple is moving to Google, considering Amazon’s relationship with certain government agencies as a cloud service provider. Some of Apple’s data will remain with Amazon for now; we might wonder if this is content like iTunes versus users’ data. Keep your eyes open for future Apple cloud migrations.

US Navy sailors’ electronic devices combed for data by Iran
Gee, encrypted devices and communications sure are handy when members of the military are taken into custody by other countries. Too bad the Navy’s devices weren’t as secure as desired when Iran’s navy detained an American vessel in January this year. To be fair, we don’t know what all was obtained, if any of the data was usable. But if the devices were fully encrypted, Iran probably wouldn’t have said anything.

American Express’ customers’ data breached — in 2013
Looks like a select number of AmEx customers will receive a data breach notice with this explanation:

We became aware that a third party service provider engaged by numerous merchants experienced unauthorized access to its system. Account information of some of our Card Members, including some of your account information, may have been involved. It is important to note that American Express owned or controlled systems were not compromised by this incident, and we are providing this notice to you as a precautionary measure.

The breach happened on December 7, 2013, well into the Christmas shopping season, but we’re just finding out now? “Third party service” means “not our fault” — which may explain why AmEx shareholders (NASDAQ:AXP) haven’t been notified of a potential risk to stock value as yet. Who/what was the third party service? Where’s their notification to public and shareholders?

I need to brew some coffee and limber up before the hearing on Flint, track down my foam footballs and baseballs to throw at the TV while Gov. Snyder goes on about how sorry he is and how he’s going to fix Flint’s water crisis. Oh, and find an emesis basin. See you here tomorrow morning!

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.
44 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    harpie (9:32) — Yeah, NOW Walberg asks about Legionnaire’s, on camera, nearly two years after the cases began. How convenient.

    Gee, I wonder how many people who live in his district work in Flint? I wonder how many who work in his district live in Flint? I wonder how many cases of Legionnaires also occurred in his district, but just NOW Walberg is asking?

    Ugh. So typically of his tenure in Congress.

    EDIT — 10:00 am — Excerpt from MDHHS report on Legionnaire’s, 29-MAY-2015 (pdf):

    …In other exposures, of 30 persons interviewed, 2 (7%) stayed overnight in 2 different hotels, 2 (7%) were exposed to hot tubs and 20 (67%) visited ≥1 grocery store. All locations mentioned were visited by ≤2 patients with the exception of one grocery store outside of Flint that was visited by 5 patients.

    Ten cases had no exposure to a Flint hospital in the 2 weeks prior to illness nor were their homes on the Flint water system. Of those, 3 people might have been exposed to Flint water at a grocery store or motel. Additionally, 1 person reported exposure to stagnant water as an industrial painter and one person was hospitalized at hospital A for 10 days immediately prior to their exposure period. The remaining 5 cases have no known exposure to Flint water, healthcare, or travel. …

    Some of these cases might have been residents in Walberg’s district (MI-7), but he’s not exactly shown much interest until now.

  2. Rayne says:

    [9:51] Rep. John Mica (R-FL) talking about Flint as a “failed city.” DUDE. Who do you think contributed to the conditions that set up this so-called failure? The employment crash along the entire I-75 corridor didn’t happen via immaculate conception; a million people left this state after major manufacturing facilities left, all enabled and encouraged by Congress and the Bush White House.

    My blood pressure’s skyrocketing.

    • bloopie2 says:

      “My blood pressure’s skyrocketing.” We prescribe beer. Drink all the beer (but not the water). You’ll feel as though you’ve got the strength of a thousand afterwards. [Legal disclaimer: We accept no responsibility if you drink all the beer and do not feel as though you’ve got the strength of a thousand afterwards]

  3. Rayne says:

    [10:10] “We need urgency” says Gov. Snyder about response to Flint. But he never did any Management-By-Walking-Around to focus attention and demonstrate urgency for the seven months he avoided appearing in Michigan’s 7th largest city.

  4. Rayne says:

    [10:16] Oh geez…Snyder’s doubling-down on the “career bureaucrats” bullshit. Dude, you as career corpora-crat haven’t exactly improved on this. Already more than an entire term in office and STILL Flint is fucked, and only a couple of people in MDEQ have exited. Your entire administration needs a housecleaning.

  5. Rayne says:

    [10:20] “Yeah, and the law failed!” yells Chaffetz. Um, it did, and the law is your problem, Chaffetz. Does the law empower the EPA to muster cash, personnel, other resources to step in when a state or city fails to do its job to protect the people? I seriously doubt it does, after nearly 15 years of GOP undermining federal executive functions with budget cuts alone.

    [10:25] McCarthy mentions Congressional limits on EPA, citing “states’ rights.” Right there, GOP’s handwriting. Mm-hmm.

  6. harpie says:

    10:27 McCarthy hits Congress with it’s own deference to “states rights”, enacted into the law wrt: EPA authority.

  7. harpie says:

    Cummings/Md? 10:12 [emails from chief of staff (Muchmore) color issue 10/2014; GM 2/15; 3/15; Snyder “career bureaucrats”

    Any person with knowledge about water issues would have seen the”color” issues [Snyder admits to knowing about here] as a possible/probable red flag for pipe corrosion.

  8. harpie says:

    Connolly/? 9:58 “Off with his head” committee [LOL!]; wrt: EM law rejection by voters; wrt: EM Ambrose; stacks of EM resolutions [!]; failure of Snyder’s philosophy of government; MDEQ quality of hubris;

  9. Rayne says:

    harpie (10:31) — yeah, I’m pretty sure PR team, MI-GOP, and criminal lawyers encouraged the frequent use of “career bureaucrats” to sprinkle blame around while avoiding taking responsibility for anything related to Flint. Career dirtbag.

    Glad McCarthy finally got in the bit about Congressional limits and states’ rights. I’m betting the GOP members filibustered her to prevent just that bit.

  10. Rayne says:

    harpie (10:55) — Yup, spot on, that’s it — state had primacy over EPA, and there’s really little mechanism in that for EPA to remove primacy in a reasonable window of time.

  11. P J Evans says:

    Yesterday Raw Story had one on Snyder whining about not getting FEMA funding – the general response from readers was ‘you built that – you fund it yourself’, with a side order of taking the money out of his personal accounts.

  12. Rayne says:

    [11:23] Rep. Palmer (R-AL) hammering on McCarthy about EPA not taking action. SadLOL
    Like Congress had nothing to do with that inability to take action. Like MDEQ hadn’t obstructed the process. Like Snyder’s office didn’t pretend nothing was wrong.

    Now Palmer going on about a pattern of behavior about EPA and Copper and Lead Rule…hey, Congress could have done something about it a while ago, if that Rule should have been a law with teeth.

    Cuts off McCarthy telling her she’s filibustering. Projection much? I note he didn’t cut off Snyder’s empty chatter.

  13. Rayne says:

    One of the most cringe-worthy segments of this hearing is Snyder discussing calculations about charging Flint residents for their water. Dr. Edwards said they can’t yet say the water is safe to drink, and Snyder thinks they should be charged at all? Absolutely unacceptable.

    [11:31] Snyder tries to do his own filibustering, talking about how he expanded Medicare. That does nothing for Flint’s infrastructure whatsoever, and it did nothing to stop lead poisoning or Legionnaire’s cases.

  14. martin says:

    Rep. Rayne after hearing”Dude, you as career corpora-crat haven’t exactly improved on this. Already more than an entire term in office and STILL Flint is fucked, and only a couple of people in MDEQ have exited. Your entire administration needs a housecleaning.”

    Gov. Snyder. “With all due respect Congressman, you only drink beer. So what would you know? Speaking of which..how bout you and I go drink some. After all..it’s St. Pattys day. We’ll talk about this then, ok? On me.

    Rep. Rayne “On YOU? Cool. Your on. I have to warn you though..you better have deep pockets…cause …beeeeeeeer..mmmmm… I love beer.”

    Gov. Snyder. Well then. It’s a deal. I love deals. I buy. You drink. ..and forget. Hahaha. Just kidding. Not. Ok, c’ya after the hearing. ”

    Rep. Rayne (whispering to staff member:” You still got the wire? Good. Wire me up. We’ll teach that asshat a lesson.”)

    Rep. Rayne. “Ok Gov. It’s a deal. C’ya at the pub. Btw..I’m REAL thirsty. And curious.”

    Gov. Snider:” Good. Just remember…a deal is a deal. I pay..you forget..right?”

    Rep. Rayne. (chuckling) Right. I’ll forget anything you tell me. Now..lets go get shitfaced. Hahahaha!

  15. Rayne says:

    martin (11:33) — Hah. Funny. Except I wouldn’t get caught dead, even wearing a wire, drinking beer with Snyder. That’d be a fast way to ruin my cred.

  16. orionATL says:

    on the irish and being “celtic” (from today’s washington post) :

    “…  over the last decade, a growing number of scholars have argued that the first Celtic languages were spoken not by the Celts in the middle of Europe but by ancient people on Europe’s westernmost extremities, possibly in Portugal, Spain, Ireland or the other locales on the western edges of the British Isles.

    Koch, the linguist at the University of Wales, for example, proposed in 2008 that “Celtic” languages were not imports to the region but instead were developed somewhere in the British Isles or the Iberian peninsula — and then spread eastward into continental Europe… ”

    the iberian peninsula? spics? not celts? not from central europe? how could it be?

    i don’t know, but i have some stake in the welch part, and i have been reading for some years that the western and northern part of the spanish peninsula were a likely point of departure for immigrants to ireland and western england.

    more myths fall to science – maybe :)

  17. Rayne says:

    [11:38] Rep. Chaffetz, heatedly, “You’re in charge of the Lead Rule!” to McCarthy.

    Nope. Primacy belongs to the states, and the states may lie to the feds as they have plenty of motive to do so. Further, Congress knew there was a problem due to the Washington DC water problem, and follow through fixing all the problems with regulation and enforcement didn’t happen at Congressional level.

    Maybe Congress should revisit the Safe Drinking Water Act and fix the leaks?

  18. Rayne says:

    [11:50] Rep. Maloney asking Snyder for Yes or No answer about corrosion control, “Get back with me in writing” if you can’t answer Yes or No. “You did nothing for six months” about corrosion control after April (2015).

    A-yup. And there must be some method with teeth in it to assure the states can’t “drag their feet” about studies, or produce manipulated results obstructing implementation of water improvements.

  19. Rayne says:

    orionATL (11:40) — Look at maps of the migration of R1-b Y-DNA across western EU and UK. Some language surely followed that same migration. Same DNA haplogroup represents much of Gaul, which ended up in Gaelic-speaking UK.

    • orionATL says:

      i’ve seen those, but we’re all a mix, even those in eire. the northwestern iberian peninsula possibility has not been sufficiently discounted yet.

  20. Rayne says:

    [12:03] Rep. Lujan Grisham (D-NM) — she’s got it going on. Yes. Nailed Snyder hard. You need to see her at work on this. Worth re-watching her, I couldn’t keep up.

    [12:05] Rep. John Duncan (R-TN) — proceeds to fellate Snyder by telling him he’s accepted far more blame than he deserves. WTAF? Asks Snyder if he’s aware the problem was there a long time before he took office. Now giving Snyder a chance to grandstand about how much he’s done for Flint.

    Hope you got a nice donation from one of Snyder’s donors for your figurative blowjob in the Congressional record, Duncan.

    [12:10] Rep. Pete Welch (D-VT) — asking about the indirect incidental challenges affecting Flint families, how will Snyder address? Talking about MI’s rainy day fund of $600M, asking if Snyder is looking at revenue raising — no, he’s looking at “found money” in amount of $50M so far (a drop in the bucket).

    [12:15] Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) — asking Snyder about emails and deletions. Hmm. Come on, ask about the use of “attorney-client privilege” and “FOIA exclusion” to avoid furnishing emails. Now talking about CA threshold of action versus EPA — why is MI threshold so low? Snyder pointing to his apology. Right, because apologies fix problems over the long run.

  21. Rayne says:

    [12:20] Chaffetz asking McCarthy about revisiting Lead and Copper Rule, why hasn’t it been revisited…except Congress could have asked for a follow-up with EPA any time, ESPECIALLY since the Washington DC water problem was an active issue 2001-2010 (beyond?).

    “Why do the testing if the EPA is just going to blame the state?” says Chaffetz. States’ primacy, lies by the states, and no follow-up by Congress to ensure EPA has the power to step in when necessary, set the threshold for doing so and establish the punishments if the law is not followed or enforced.

    I don’t think Chaffetz and the committee have yet seen (or accepted) the manipulated data and misrepresentations made by the state about Flint’s water. Like the skewed test results omitting the worst cases, or the reliance on experts who in turn relied on manipulated reports.

  22. harpie says:

    Clay/? 12:32 [!!!] Irony is overwhelming! [Trump/Cruz argument against EPA, Rubio, Walker; Iowa] EPA funding, gutting;

    Right on!

  23. Rayne says:

    [12:34] Listening to Rep Wm Lacy Clay (D-MO) about GOP Congress restraining EPA. “…ensuring clean water costs too many jobs” — GOP position on EPA enforcement. Except that there’s a brand new water piping plant now located on the bones of the old Buick City site in Flint, bringing new jobs.

  24. Rayne says:

    Hearing adjourned. STG GOP members of Congress figured out they were getting pummeled about their role and they decided to use this hearing as a means to flog their way out of a PR hole.

    Really need a decision tree showing every single misstep. Every government entity failed in some way all along the way.

  25. harpie says:

    Congressman Carter(R) Ga [2:14:06] “I don’t think anybody here cares about the law.”

    It would be pretty funny tweet this clip from the hearing.

  26. Rayne says:

    Relistening to part of the hearing — about 1:45:00 into the hearing, Snyder’s asking why EPA’s Hedman didn’t call MDEQ’s Dan Wyant or even him, where was common sense?

    Oh Governor. Where indeed? I can’t think of anyone I know in Genesee County who felt attaching Flint City’s water system to the Flint River made sense.

    And now about 1:29:00 Snyder’s talking about recalculating the water and sewer bill — except that Flint was paying the highest rates in the U.S., and the citizens were still being asked to pay far too much for just sewerage. The root cause was never addressed, which was leakage across the entire city system — and now that leaky system is even worse because of the corrosion.

    Really want to know who the jackass suit is sitting behind and left of Snyder, who bobs his head affirmatively when Snyder talks. Yes man, brought in to assure Flint citizens like LeAnne Walters didn’t sit behind him.

  27. Rayne says:

    orionATL (2:42) — If you look at the map, as well as maps of other genetic moves, the Iberian peninsula people also had R1b Y-DNA, and both Iberian peninsula and Ireland were shaped by migration of Bell Beaker culture. That’s my point.

    • orionATL says:

      rayne #38

      thanks. i just had in mind a picture of the natl geographic map running thru the caucasus.

  28. Rayne says:

    About 01:59:00 Rep Gosar (R-AZ) goes off about redacted emails from the EPA, complaining he can’t get a commitment from McCarthy on when unredacted copies will be provided, then complains about Obama’s ‘Most Transparent Administration Evah,’ then praises Snyder.

    OMFG what a troll. Seriously? The redacted email and lack of transparency problem belongs to Governor Snyder.

  29. by the lakeshore says:

    (And you’ll see me get really angry if Rep. SlackerForMichigan Tim Walberg shows up to merely make face on camera. Useless helicoptering.)

    Walberg criticized for asking Snyder ‘softball questions’ during Flint water hearing

    US repuke Rep. Tim Walberg grilled Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy during a Thursday morning congressional hearing on the Flint water crisis, while at one point seemingly defending repuke Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.

    http://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/index.ssf/2016/03/walberg_criticized_for_asking.html

  30. harpie says:

    Meadows/NC 11:33 […] McCarthy: “If they had properly implemented the law as it currently exists, we wouldn’t be sitting here today. As it currently exists, we wouldn’t be sitting here today.”

  31. harpie says:

    Chaffetz [12:21] reads snippet from EPA email which says “Don’t simply add the phosphates”.
    ***
    McCarthy: “Because it could have created more damage than it cured. Water systems are difficult and deserve technical experts which they did not have available. We did. They wouldn’t let them at the table.” […]
    ***
    Chaffetz reads SDWA [first part of the emergency powers]
    ***
    McC: “The second part is about state’s rights. There is a two part process to us actually issuing a 1431. The second is, we need to make sure the states are not already taking appropriate action. […]
    ****We couldn’t figure out for the life of us, in our guidance, we never thought that anybody would go from a treated system to an untreated system and not treat it. I didn’t think we ever had to say that. Because I never thought anyone would. That’s where we are today.”****

    That’s the heart of the matter.

Comments are closed.