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Getting the Lead Out of Flint Michigan's Water Supply

Contributed by Alex Shrugged

President Obama declares a state of emergency in Flint, Michigan. Lead levels in the water supply have already poisoned many children who will never be well again. How did it happened? Flint was close to bankruptcy, so the Governor assigned a manager over the city. One of the cost-saving measures he dictated was to use Flint's old water treatment plant to process river water rather than buy treated water from Detroit. It was a good idea, but treating river water is tricky. They made a mistake and failed to add an anti-corrosive chemical to the water. Then, when they discovered too much bacteria in the water, they added extra chlorine. This rusted out the city's iron pipes. It turned the water orange but it also flaked off the protective coating inside the old lead pipes. Lead dissolved into the water. So... did the city fix the problem once it was brought to their attention? No. They denied there was a problem. How about when the regional EPA director was informed of the problem? No. State of Michigan? Forget it. No one wanted to "go out on a limb" for Flint. (Someone actually wrote that in a memo.) After 18 months of protests, scientific studies, and medical studies the state of Michigan finally switches Flint back to Detroit water, but the damaged pipes must be replaced. Obama's declaration opens up funding for that. [1] [2] [3] [4]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
But Alex! Surely this is an isolated case! No, it isn't. Washington D.C., 2001, there were indications that lead levels in the drinking water were rising, and the reaction by government was the same. I'm not blaming Republicans or Democrats. I'm blaming the frickin' bureaucrats and government-paid scientists who tried to cover their backsides. Anyone who disagreed was moved out, discredited or threatened with a loss of funding. Even the CDC said that lead really wasn't hurting the children. Assuming that there is a politician out there who wants to make the right decision, what can he do when scientists won't stick their neck out and give him an honest answer? I recommend watching the Nova episode "Poisoned Water" that aired May 31, 2017. It will re-air on PBS for the rest of the week. And perhaps there is someone out there who sells a water filter that will take the lead out, even if your government assures you everything is OK. Hmmm... Let me think. [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10][11] [12] [13]

This IS the outsider you were looking for! *Jedi hand wave*

Contributed by Southpaw Ben

This year, in an election filled with intruige and more mudslinging than ever before, Donald Trump becomes president-elect of the US, to the fanfare of many and the horror of just as many. He crashes right through the blue wall to victory, winning 4 states that previously had always voted democrat.

My Take by Southpaw Ben
Saturday Night Live does an amazing satirization of election night[14], showing a stereotypical city apartment of Hillary supporters, absolutely positive that Hillary won the election already, then follows them through the night. As the title suggests, I don't think that Trump is the outsider his supporters say he is, nor is he evil incarnate as his opponents claim.

Alex Shrugged Has Left the Building!

Contributed by Alex Shrugged

Wow. It has really been a great run.

It began when Jack Spirko had the idea of linking the episode number for his show with a few thoughts about history for that year... the year that was the episode. As a history buff, I loved the idea, but I knew it would be a lot of work, so I started sending emails about history to help him out. Then it became more formal. I started posting to the TSP Wiki and became a part of the show, and I have Jack to thank for it. I can do a lot of things on my own without prompting, but I would not have done this history segment on my own. That's the truth. He has lent me his forum so that I can speak to all of you using his voice, and I am grateful.

I am also grateful to Southpaw Ben who stepped in just at the right time when I was sick and getting overwhelmed.

There is so much to learn from history, but the mistake is to believe that we can go back to those times if only this changed or that. There is no going back. There is only going forward. However, there are times when an opportunity presents itself again. If we know our history, we have a good idea what will happen next, or as the old joke goes...

Those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat it... and those who DO study history are doomed to watch OTHERS repeat it.

I've taken the watch long enough.

Thank you for your trust.

Alex Shrugged

My Take by Southpaw Ben
Thank you for everything you've done for this community Alex. Your segment always been one of my favorite parts of the show, and I hope to do justice to your legacy as I go back to year 1 AD and hopefully fill in the this segment up to when you started the segment.

Notable Births

None that I can find other than princes.--alexshrugged

Notable Deaths

  • Antonin Scalia (age 79, natural causes after an afternoon of quail hunting): Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. [15]
  • Nancy Reagan (age 94, congestive heart failure): First Lady of the United States. She is buried next to her husband. [15]
  • Gene Wilder (age 83, Alzheimer's disease): Comedic actor in Blazing Saddles and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. He kept his disease private because he didn't want to sadden his younger fans. [15]
  • And a lot of really important people like... John Glenn (age 95, undisclosed), Fidel Castro (age 90, undisclosed), and Elie Wisel (age 87, natural causes). [15]
  • And a lot of people who entertained us like... Prince (age 57, accidental overdose of pain pills), David Bowie (age 69, liver cancer), and Muhammad Ali (age 74, septic shock after respiratory illness). [15]

This Year in Film

  • Rogue One: Yet another Star Wars film. (Visually interesting, lots of action, but otherwise did not forward the story.--alexshrugged) [16]
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: A prequel to the Harry Potter series. (Quirky story. I liked it.--alexshrugged) [16]
  • And...: Star Trek Beyond, Finding Dory, and Doctor Strange. [16]

This Year in TV

  • Jane the Virgin is no longer a virgin: They put a slash through "The Virgin". [17][18]
  • Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson settles a sexual harassment lawsuit against Roger Ailes: Ailes resigns. Similar accusations come from Megyn Kelly, Andrea Tantaros, and two others. [17] [19]
  • Greta Van Susteren leaves Fox News: She has been unhappy with Fox News for a number of years. [17]
  • Al Jazeera America shuts down, citing low ratings: It began with 7,000 viewers in primetime, building to over 17,000. [17]

This Year in Music

  • Work: Rihanna featuring Drake. (There is an explicit music video and a less explicit one, but they both look fairly explicit.--alexshrugged) [20]
  • Closer: The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey. "We ain't never gettin' older". (The music video consists of simulated sex in public. I'm sensing a trend here. No wonder women are complaining more about sexual harassment if this is the example.--alexshrugged) [20]
  • H.O.L.Y.: Florida Georgia Line. "You're holy, holy, holy / I'm high on loving you." (A love song that draws on elements of a traditional prayer service without being religious.--alexshrugged) [20]
  • Die A Happy Man: Thomas Rhett. "Oh, if all I got is your hand in my hand / Baby, I could die a happy man". [20]

This Year in Video Games

  • Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets are launched: This was a Kickstarter project with a goal of $240,000 and raised $2.4 million. (Apparently they solved many of the problems inherent with such VR sets, but ultimately the eyes try to focus on distance and even a slight latency causes vertigo because vision is linked to what the balance sensors in your ears are detecting.--alexshrugged) [21]
  • Overwatch: 9.7 million gamers downloaded the beta version. By mid-year it is the best selling game with $10 million players. [21]
  • Pokémon Go: A mobile free-to-play game where you use your mobile phone and GPS to locate Pokemon characters in the real world. (This becomes a bit of a problem when folks start pointing their cameras in public and screaming, "There it is!"--alexshrugged) [21]
  • Video games sales in the US are flat at around $30 billion: 75% of revenues are from digital downloads. [21]

In Other News

Event More Info Comments
Texas allows open carry of handguns. Rifles and shotguns are already open carry. [2] (As I recall, you need a "concealed carry" permit to open carry a handgun.--alexshrugged)

The "3 Percenters" occupy the US Fish and Wildlife Service's headquarters at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge This stems from the Bundy standoff 2 years ago. It ends in a shootout with the FBI, killing 1 and arresting 5, including Ammon Bundy. [22][23] [2]
An ISIS supporter walks into an Orlando gay nightclub and opens fire 49 are killed, 53 wounded. [24] [2] (Although he murdered many people, it is not clear how many were killed by police while they fired back at the murderer.--alexshrugged)
Vermont's GMO labeling law goes into effect. First in the nation. [25] [2]
Cellphone videos of police shooting Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge appear. It looks complicated but the police got a call that Sterling had threatened someone with a gun. They tried to pat him down, but he ran. The police got him on the ground next to a car, but could not gain control of his arm. One of the officers said, "He has a gun" and after a few more moments they shoot him in the chest 6 times at short range. They pull a gun out of his pocket. [26] [2] (I saw a lot of the video, but not the shooting itself. The gun was deep in his pocket but his pants were thin. He could have shot the gun from outside the pocket.--alexshrugged)[27]
FBI Director James Comey recommends against indicting Hillary Clinton for her illegal email server. Attorney General Lynch closes the investigation with no charges. [28] [2]
A sniper kills 5 Dallas police officers and injures 11 people. The assassin was targeting white police officers. He is blown up by police with a C-4 bomb delivered by a robot. [29][30][31] [2]
Two Baton Rouge police officers and a sheriff are shot dead by an assassin. It is revenge for the death of Alton Sterling. [32] [2][33]
The FBI reopens its investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server. They discover emails on a device belonging to Anthony Weiner that might be germane. [34] [2] (Possibly, but I smell a rat. It could be Anthony Weiner or the FBI, trying to mess up her election chances.--alexshrugged)
The CIA has "high confidence" that Russia influenced the US presidential election. They suggest that the Kremlin orchestrated the hacking of the DNC server and maliciously spread the truth about Hillary Clinton. [35][36][37] [2] (It doesn't make much sense to me, but if they did it, it was the truth. I suppose in Hillary's case that is as good as a lie.--alexshrugged)

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 2016, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. President Obama declares emergency in Flint. Detroit Free Press (2016-01-16). Retrieved on 2016-01-16.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2016 - Wikipedia.
  3. "Study of D.C. water sharpens understanding of lead threat", The Washington Post, December 11, 2010. Retrieved on 2 June 2017. “If a city's water violates federal lead standards, the first thing the water system must do is treat the water to make it less corrosive and less likely to leach lead from pipes and solder. If that doesn't work, the Environmental Protection Agency orders cities to replace the public part of lead service lines.” 
  4. The Plumbing Professor - Innovators - TIME (June 8, 2004). Retrieved on 2 June 2017. “Can you trust the water you drink? Marc Edwards, a Virginia Tech civil-engineering professor and water-corrosion expert, is determined to answer that question. In March 2003 he was working on a pinhole leak in the plumbing of a private home in Washington when he heard talk of elevated lead levels in the local water. He decided to test some samples, and the results shocked him. 'One sample was so high it was off the scale of my field meter,' Edwards says. 'The only thing I know for sure is that it contained more than 1,250 p.p.b. lead.' Five thousand parts per billion is classified as hazardous; a city's water supply is considered unsafe if lead levels in more than 10% of tested samples exceed 15 p.p.b. Worried that there was a widespread problem, Edwards — one of the world's leading authorities on corrosion in home plumbing systems — launched an investigation. He was the right man for the job because leaching of lead into drinking water is one of the major consequences of corroded pipes.”
  5. Alex Shrugged notes: I was going to write about this anyway, but what do I see on TV but this very topic! I stopped writing and took an hour to watch the program. It helped a lot but I've also provided references you can read.
  6. NOVA - Official Website - Poisoned Water. pbs.org (May 31, 2017). Retrieved on 2 June 2017. “Water. Turn on the faucet and it’s always there. Without it we perish. But how safe is our tap water? In this special report narrated by Joe Morton, NOVA investigates what happened in Flint, Michigan, when local officials changed the city’s water source to save money, but overlooked a critical treatment process. As the water pipes corroded, lead leached into the system, exposing the community—including thousands of children—to dangerous levels of poison. NOVA uncovers the science behind this manmade disaster— from the intricacies of water chemistry to the biology of lead poisoning to the misuse of science itself. NOVA follows ordinary citizens and independent scientists who exposed the danger lurking in Flint’s water and confronted those who turned a blind eye. And discover the disturbing truth that reaches far beyond Flint—water systems across the country are similarly vulnerable. How can we protect ourselves from poisoned water?”
  7. Healthy Babies Bright Futures - Lead Test Kits for your Home (2017). Retrieved on 2 June 2017. “We want to give every household the option to test their water. Each test costs Healthy Babies Bright Futures $65 for the kit, laboratory analysis and shipping (water is heavy). We are committed to providing at least 1,000 kits but will offer more if funding is available. Please pay what you can and consider donating to cover the cost of another kit. 100% of HBBF's proceeds from the purchased kits cover the cost of the test kits, analysis, results reporting and shipping and also underwrite the costs for those kits donated or sold below the $65 price point. Together we can reach those most at risk: women who are pregnant or trying to conceive, families with children under age 2 and residents in low-income communities with many sources of lead exposure.”
  8. Flint Water Study Updates - Up-to-date information on our collaborative research and citizen science work with the residents of Flint, MI in light of reported water quality issues. flintwaterstudy.org (2017). Retrieved on 2 June 2017.
  9. "CDC misled District residents about lead levels in water, House probe finds", The Washington Post, May 20, 2010. Retrieved on 2 June 2017. “The nation's premier public health agency knowingly used flawed data to claim that high lead levels in the District's drinking water did not pose a health risk to the public, a congressional investigation has found. And, investigators determined, the agency has not publicized more thorough internal research showing that the problem harmed children across the city and continues to endanger thousands of D.C. residents.” 
  10. Find the lead pipes in your home. NPR (2016). Retrieved on 2 June 2017. “We’ll help you find out whether your drinking water is at risk in a few simple steps. You won't need anything fancier than a magnet and a coin, but you will need to be at home to follow along. If you do find lead, we’ll show you what you can do.”
  11. Health agency covered up lead harm - Salon.com. salon.com (April 10, 2009). Retrieved on 2 June 2017. “A 2004 CDC report found that water contamination 'might have contributed a small increase in blood lead levels.' The study has been influential. School officials in New York and Seattle have used the CDC report as justification for not aggressively responding to high levels of lead in their water, and other cities have cited the report to dispel concerns about lead in tap water. But the results of thousands of blood tests that measured lead contamination in children were missing from the report, potentially skewing the findings and undermining public health. Further, the CDC discovered in 2007 that many young children living in D.C. homes with lead pipes were poisoned by drinking water and suffered ill effects.”
  12. ASEE PRISM - Nov 2004 - The Water Guy - By Pierre Home-Douglas. Retrieved on 2 June 2017. “In the past, the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (WASA) had advised its customers to let water run from the tap for 30 seconds to 1 minute to flush all the lead out. Edwards's sampling, however, indicated that the lead levels were actually highest in water coming between 30 seconds and a few minutes. 'The water utility and the EPA were inadvertently causing some people to drink the very worst water possible,' Edwards says. EPA had subcontracted with Edwards to identify the problem with lead in the water, and WASA had solicited a proposal for urgent research. And yet when Edwards's sampling program proved there was a problem with the advice given to consumers, WASA did not issue any new instructions. 'For me it was a basic moral question,' Edwards declares. 'If you were at all concerned about the health of the people you served, it was imperative to alert them the instant you discovered the problem and knew your well-intentioned advice was wrong.' Then the results from his sampling program stopped coming from the utility. On January 2 WASA called Edwards with an ultimatum: either stop working for the homeowners and work only for the utility, or be cut off from future monitoring data. 'In other words, I was either with them or against them,' Edwards says.”
  13. Marc Edwards (civil engineering professor) - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 2 June 2017. “Marc Edwards (born 1964) is a civil engineering/environmental engineer and the Charles P. Lunsford Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech. An expert on water treatment and corrosion, Edwards's research on elevated lead levels in Washington, DC's municipal water supply gained national attention, changed the city's recommendations on water use in homes with lead service pipes, and caused the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to admit to publishing a report so rife with errors that a congressional investigation called it 'scientifically indefensible'.”
  14. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHG0ezLiVGc
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 2016 Deaths - Wikipedia (2016).
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 2016 in film - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 27 January 2017.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 2016 in television - Wikipedia (2016).
  18. 'Jane the Virgin' New Title Card - Hollywood Reporter (November 2, 2016). Retrieved on 2 June 2017. “As Urman explained, the writers plan to change the title card week to week depending on the storyline and themes explored. 'We're keeping the title but with changes, like a line crossed through, like 'Jane the Guilty Catholic, she explained.”
  19. "Fox Settles With Gretchen Carlson Over Roger Ailes Sex Harassment Claims - The New York Times", September 6, 2016. Retrieved on 2 June 2017. “The evidence that Ms. Carlson had against Mr. Ailes was damning, according to another person with knowledge of the settlement: For a year and a half, she had recorded her meetings with Mr. Ailes on her mobile phone.” 
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 2016 in music - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 30 January 2017.
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 2016 in video gaming - Wikipedia (2016).
  22. Oregon: Armed portest at US wildlife building. BBC News (2016-01-03). Retrieved on 2016-01-03.
  23. Perez, Evan. "Ammon Bundy held; 1 Oregon protester killed", January 26, 2016. Retrieved on January 26, 2016. 
  24. Orlando gay nightclub shooting 'act of terror and hate' - Obama. BBC News (2016-06-12). Retrieved on 2016-06-12.
  25. Gasparro, Annie (2016-03-20). GMO Labeling Law Roils Food Companies. Retrieved on 2016-08-02.
  26. "Alton Sterling Shooting in Baton Rouge Prompts Justice Dept. Investigation", 2016-06-07. Retrieved on 2016-07-07. 
  27. Alton Sterling shooting breakdown - YouTube. Retrieved on 2 June 2017.
  28. "AG Loretta Lynch declines to press charges against Clinton", CNN, 2016-06-07. Retrieved on 2016-07-07. 
  29. Sniper Ambush Kills 5 Police Officers, Injures 7 in Dallas Following Peaceful Protest. NBC DFW (2016-07-07). Retrieved on 2016-07-07.
  30. Use of police robot to kill Dallas shooting suspect believed to be first in US history. The Guardian (2016-08-07). Retrieved on 2016-08-01.
  31. "Suspect in Dallas Attacks Had Interest in Black Power Groups", The New York Times, 2016-08-07. Retrieved on 2016-07-07. 
  32. 2016 shooting of Baton Rouge police officers - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 28 May 2017. “On July 17, 2016, Gavin Eugene Long shot six police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in the wake of the shooting of Alton Sterling. Three died and three were hospitalized, one critically; of the officers who died, two were members of the Baton Rouge Police Department, while the third worked for the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office.[3] Long, who associated himself with organizations linked to black separatism and the sovereign citizen movement,[4] was shot and killed by a SWAT officer during a shootout with police at the scene. Police arrested and questioned two other suspects, but Long was confirmed to be the only person involved in the shooting.”
  33. 2016 shooting of Baton Rouge police officers - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 2 June 2017. “On July 17, 2016, Gavin Eugene Long shot six police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in the wake of the shooting of Alton Sterling. Three died and three were hospitalized, one critically; of the officers who died, two were members of the Baton Rouge Police Department, while the third worked for the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office.[3] Long, who associated himself with organizations linked to black separatism and the sovereign citizen movement,[4] was shot and killed by a SWAT officer during a shootout with police at the scene. Police arrested and questioned two other suspects, but Long was confirmed to be the only person involved in the shooting.”
  34. New Emails in Clinton Case Came From Devices Once Used by Anthony Weiner. The New York Times (2016-10-28). Retrieved on 2016-10-28.
  35. Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House. The Washington Post (2016-12-09). Retrieved on 2016-12-12.
  36. Russian Hackers Acted to Aid Trump in Election, U.S. Says. The New York Times (2016-12-09). Retrieved on 2016-12-12.
  37. Donald Trump rejects CIA Russia hacking report. BBC News (2016-12-11). Retrieved on 2016-12-12.

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