YOUR DAILY WEEKLY READER: underground issues, Texas pride and a fall off the balcony


ANOTHER GREAT ARGUMENT FOR TRUSTING CORRUPT STATE OFFICIALS AND THEIR CORPORATE OVERLORDS WITH PROTECTING YOUR SAFETY AND THE ENVIRONMENT!: Under a decision quietly finalized two weeks ago, the federal agency will leave it to state officials to decide the fate of the sites in and around Lakeland, an approximately 10-square-mile residential area midway between Orlando and Tampa. However, Florida officials have long argued that the affected area need not be cleaned up in the absence of radiation levels well above what EPA policy would normally permit. The decision not to enforce the usual federal rules could have far-reaching implications for how the United States deals with future radioactive contamination anywhere across the country -- regardless of whether it is caused by conventional industrial activities or illicit radiological weapons, critics say. In a joint statement to Global Security Newswire, the Florida health and environment departments say they have no plans to examine the sites further, despite prior recommendations by federal officials that an aerial radiation survey of the area is needed. The state officials say they already have enough historical data pertaining to the sites, and that additional monitoring is not necessary. The statement, provided to GSN by Florida environmental protection spokeswoman Mara Burger, suggests the EPA decision not to clean up the sites under its Superfund program indicated that the federal agency did not consider the Lakeland area "problematic" from a public health standpoint. Under Superfund law, the federal agency is authorized to remediate contaminated sites that pose a threat to public health and the environment. Internal documents released under the Freedom of Information Act in recent years show, however, that the federal agency's lack of action was the result of state and industry opposition, and that EPA officials did in fact believe the sites could pose a serious public health threat. ‘It's probably the worst site EPA could clean up from a public health standpoint, when you consider the number of potential cancers and the size of the affected population,’ one source familiar with the Florida case told GSN. The source was not authorized to discuss the issue and asked not to be named in this article.” (via National Journal)



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TEXAS JOINS THE LEGAL BATTLE AGAINST GAY MARRIAGE BANS WITH A FEDERAL LAWSUIT: “But even after twice codifying the anti-LGBT legislative edict, lawmakers, arguing on the basis of maintaining traditional values—not to mention a host of other goals in which sexual orientation plays no proven part, like combating poverty, contributing to healthy environments and preventing pedophilia and promiscuity—still weren’t satisfied. In 2005, the Legislature proposed a constitutional amendment that would relegate legal marriage to “consist only of the union of one man and one woman.” Placed on a ballot for voters, the measure passed with roughly 76 percent of the vote. However, attitudes about same-sex marriage appear to be steadily evolving. According to a 2013 poll commissioned by state LGBT rights lobbying and advocacy group Equality Texas, the largest increase in support for the gay community was found among voters’ growing approval of same-sex marriage. By a 47.9 percent to 47.5 percent margin—a minor plurality—Texans support allowing lesbian and gays the freedom to marry, a more than five percent increase since the September 2010 poll. Similarly, while a June 2009 Texas Tribune/University of Texas poll showed 29 percent of people polled supported gay marriage, by June 2013 that figure rose some 10 percentage points, with 39 percent of those polled embracing same-sex marriage.” (via San Antonio Current)


HMMM, SCRATCH THAT PART ABOUT THE SOIL: “Researchers from the University of South Florida are trying to help. They announced Tuesday they have exhumed the remains of 55 boys who died at the notorious state-run reform school in the Panhandle town of Marianna. That's 24 more than the 31 the Florida Department of Law Enforcement found during a cursory investigation in 2009 on orders from then-Gov. Charlie Crist. The FDLE relied on incomplete school records and did not use ground-penetrating radar to map the cemetery. The number even exceeds USF's earlier estimate of roughly 50, which was based on ground-penetrating radar. Among the unidentified remains — many of which appear to have been buried unceremoniously, somewhat haphazardly and at varying depths — anthropologists found thousands of artifacts they hope to date and compare to school records to help determine the identities of the boys buried. They found belt buckles, zippers, coffin hardware, buttons, bottles of embalming fluid and a marble in a boy's pocket. They found more modern debris, signs that part of the cemetery had been used as a dump. They also found remains under a road, under a tree and spread throughout surrounding forest. Only 13 were found in the area marked as a cemetery with pipe crosses, which is on a forgotten corner of campus.” (via Tampa Bay Times)

ANNND, POLITICS AS USUAL!: “NY1 reporter Mike Scotto had the audacity to refer to New York Rep. Michael Grimm's recent campaign finance issues during an interview tonight, and Grimm was not happy. So not happy that he threatened to throw Scotto over the balcony and told him, ‘I will break you in half’ — all on-camera. Grimm was giving Scotto a post-State of the Union Address interview when Scotto tried to ask about charges that a close friend of Grimm's had been illegally funneling money into his campaigns (his fundraiser Diana Durand was arrested by FBI agents earlier this month). ‘I'm not talking about anything that's off-topic, this is only about the President,’ Grimm said, before walking off. Scotto tried to wrap up his standup, concluding that, ‘Congressman Michael Grimm does not want to talk about some of the allegations concerning his campaign finances, we wanted to get him on camera on that, but he, as you saw, refused to talk about that. Back to you.’ That's when Grimm came back, forcing Scotto off to the side of the camera shot. Although the audio is muffled and Grimm's face is hidden, you can hear him conclude, ‘You're not a man... You're not a man. I will break you in half.’ According to NY1's political director, Grimm also threatened to throw Scotto off the balcony. (via Gawker)



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