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Lawsuit: Kingston coal ash spill workers treated as "expendables"

By R. Neal, Mon, 2017/07/24 - 6:53am

Former workers for Jacobs Engineering, the California company hired by TVA to oversee cleanup of the massive Kingston coal ash spill, have won a court victory that allows their lawsuit against the company to proceed. The workers and their families claim they were not provided proper safety training and equipment and as a result suffered serious health problems and wrongful deaths related to toxic coal ash exposure.

Jamie Satterfield at the News Sentinel, who wrote a series of investigative reports, says that Jacobs Engineering claimed immunity under TVA's umbrella but a federal appeals court disagreed and ruled that the the trial could proceed. It is scheduled to begin in 2018. According to her reporting, there are 17 deaths related to the cleanup. She says that workers she interviewed "asked for only one thing: tell their story."

Here are the reports:

Kingston coal ash spill workers treated as 'expendables,' lawsuit by sick and dying contends

Trial set for 2018 in lawsuit by Kingston coal ash spill cleanup workers

Migraines, coughs, infections, boils plagued workers cleaning up ash spill

'Just working class people' didn't know dangers they faced at ash spill

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The Most Important Elections You Haven’t Heard About

By jbr, Mon, 2017/07/24 - 6:13am

Democrats have a very rare opportunity coming up to win when it matters most — if they can get their base to pay attention.

The upcoming slate of governors races combines an unusually favorable map for Democrats with a strong chance to influence the once-in-a-decade congressional redistricting process. That process helps determine how many seats each party holds in the House, and Republican success at controlling the process has helped the party achieve dominance in Congress.

Washington politicos and grassroots activists alike often overlook governors races, and that’s especially true in the Democratic Party, which is years behind the GOP when it comes to investing in state races.

The Most Important Elections You Haven’t Heard About

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Seniors left scrambling after TennCare makes cuts to Social Security checks

By jbr, Sun, 2017/07/23 - 5:54pm

Overby, 78, was one of hundreds, possibly thousands, of people whose social security checks were slashed without warning after TennCare determined they were no longer eligible for Medicare assistance.

Seniors left scrambling after TennCare makes cuts to Social Security checks

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Solar farm floats atop a flooded coal mine

By jbr, Sun, 2017/07/23 - 10:27am

Interesting

Said to produce enough energy to power 15,000 homes a year

This solar farm floats atop a flooded coal mine

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Mmm... Pie!

By R. Neal, Sat, 2017/07/22 - 3:19pm

20170722-IMG_20170722_134041273-2.jpg

We actually had some apples on our mini apple tree this year and were able to harvest some before the squirrels and possums got them all. We got enough for two pies, with a few left over. Waiting for them to cool, will let you know how they turned out. They look and smell good...

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Friday night lights

By R. Neal, Fri, 2017/07/21 - 8:25pm

Wow. Stuff is coming out faster than anyone can keep up with.

Sessions implicated for yet another previously undisclosed Russian involvement. News from sketchy sources probably leaked by Trump to throw Sessions under the bus. Media eating it up. Nicely played.

Then, revelations of more Kushner shady business dealings. Going to be harder to spin that.

Not to mention, Trump wonders with his lawers whether he can pardon himself and his family.

Watergate is starting to look like a misdemeanor Walmart shoplifting beef in comparison.

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Come for the three hots and a cot...

By R. Neal, Fri, 2017/07/21 - 8:24pm

Leave with a vasectomy. Or stay. Your choice.

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State Sen. Doug Overbey nominated for US Attorney, East Tennessee

By R. Neal, Fri, 2017/07/21 - 8:24pm

Whitehouse.gov:

If confirmed, J. Douglas Overbey of Tennessee will serve as the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee. Mr. Overbey is currently a senior partner and cofounder of the law firm Robertson Overbey. During his 38 years of practice, he has handled a diverse array of legal matters, including antitrust and commercial litigation. Mr. Overbey is also a three-term Tennessee state senator and the chair of the state ethics committee. He previously served as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Tennessee College of Law. He received his B.A., magna cum laude, from Carson-Newman College, and his J.D. from the University of Tennessee College of Law, where he was first in his class and Order of the Coif.

I'm OK with this. Sen. Overbey is a decent guy. And pretty moderate for a Republican. I actually voted for him a couple of times. (For self preservation. Don't tell anybody. It's Blount Co. What are you gonna do?) Trump must not have vetted him for rabid right-wing creds. His loss, our gain.

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Will advances in AI lead governments to adopt a Universal Basic Income?

By Tamara Shepherd, Fri, 2017/07/21 - 8:23pm

While the U. S. continues to lead the world in innovation relating to artificial intelligence (AI), CNN reports today China's announcement to overtake us via its planned investment of $150 billion over the next few years.

However, a nearly offhand remark in the story--on which the author doesn't expound--is this one:

Alibaba (BABA, Tech30) founder and chairman Jack Ma, currently China's richest man, thinks artificial intelligence will bring about a massive upheaval in society, with robots replacing many CEOs as well as less senior workers.

Cashiers at McDonalds we knew about, but CEOs, too?! Ma has offered prophecies as jarring before, telling media earlier this year that "in the next three decades, the world will experience far more pain than happiness."

But is he alone in his warnings? What could be the future impacts of AI to labor and to society in general? More to the point, if he's right, how should governments be planning now to combat disruption on the scale Ma suggests--and are they?

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Spicer out

By R. Neal, Fri, 2017/07/21 - 1:02pm

Sean "alternative facts" Spicer resigns as press secretary after Trump hires less qualified guy over him as communications director. Chief of staff Reince Priebus didn't know anything about the hire. Chief strategist Steve Bannon also left out of the loop. Trump large and in charge!

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DeVos promotes school choice at ALEC annual meeting

By Tamara Shepherd, Fri, 2017/07/21 - 8:53am

Her speech to ALEC was yesterday in Denver, preceded by protests the day before that.

An excerpt from the Time magazine coverage:

In prepared remarks, DeVos described the protests as a "badge of honor." "Our opponents, the defenders of the status quo, only protest those capable of implementing real change," she said. "You represent real change."

The protesters had criticized DeVos' support for school vouchers, arguing that voucher programs will threaten public school systems by driving money to private schools. Such arguments have also been fueled by recent findings that voucher programs don't improve student performance.

(I haven't posted much on this topic in recent months, have I? It's just so very, very tiring...)

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DTV Hosts Progressive Action Committee Leaders Allie Cohn and Michael Davis

By Doug Veum, Fri, 2017/07/21 - 5:54am

DTV hosts the KCDP's Progressive Action Committee leaders Allie Cohn and Michael Davis tonight (Friday, July 21) on Community TV's channels at 7:30 PM.

Join them in discussing how they have created an organization that is involved in the political issues of the day and are working to effect change through a variety of political actions.

You can view the program on line (here!)

or on these cable channels:
Comcast Channel 12
Charter Channel 193
Wow! Channel 6
ATT U-verse Channel 99

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An Evening with Wendell Potter at the Historic Bijou - FREE

By jbr, Fri, 2017/07/21 - 1:13am

I hope to be there

Thursday July 27, 7:00–9:00 at the Historic Bijou Theatre

New York Times best-selling author, former corporate public relations executive and, once again, a journalist. A Tennesseean by birth who earned University of Tennessee's highest honor of Torchbearer, Potter has covered Congress, the White House and Supreme Court for Scripps-Howard newspapers. After a long career in public relations in the health insurance industry, he had a crisis of conscience in 2008 and blew the whistle on a corrupt industry in his book, Deadly Spin. His latest book is Nation on the Take.

An Evening with Wendell Potter at the Historic Bijou - FREE

Q&A: Whistle-blower and Tarbell founder Wendell Potter

BILL MOYERS JOURNAL | Wendell Potter | PBS

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New Concord connector trail ribbon cutting

By R. Neal, Thu, 2017/07/20 - 10:04am

Parks & Rec press release...

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and local leaders will join members of the community for the grand opening of new trails at Concord Park on Friday, July 21 at 10 a.m. The park is located at 11808 S. Northshore Drive, and the ribbon cutting will take place just east of it next to the old fishing bridge.

The event is open to the public and other elected officials may be in attendance.

The new trail completes an almost one-mile stretch from the fishing bridge at Northshore Drive to the park’s entrance. The new trail also means Concord Park now has 13.7 miles of overall trails.

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Trump unplugged

By R. Neal, Thu, 2017/07/20 - 9:56am

Here's a partial transcript of a New York Times interview with Trump. It's fascinating to see how his mind works, or doesn't as the case may be. He doesn't seem very articulate.

Also, "talking about adoption" is the new "hiking the Appalachian Trail."

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Knoxville Mercury bids Knoxville adieu

By R. Neal, Thu, 2017/07/20 - 9:27am

"Never have I been so proud of failing."

Staff members share their thoughts.You can join them today from 4:30 to 6:30 PM at Boyd's Jig & Reel to share yours.

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Regulation review could clear way for increased oil and gas drilling in National Parks

By jbr, Wed, 2017/07/19 - 11:22pm

The executive order, signed by President Trump in March, orders all agency heads to “…review all existing regulations … that potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources, with particular attention to oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy…”

Regulation review could clear way for increased oil and gas drilling in National Parks

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Conversations

By R. Neal, Wed, 2017/07/19 - 7:49pm

Me: (reading a News Sentinel article) This is totally irresponsible journalism.

The Mrs.: Are you sure it's called journalism?

Me: Good point.

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32 million more people would be uninsured under new Senate Obamacare repeal bill

By jbr, Wed, 2017/07/19 - 6:34pm

A new Senate bill to repeal Obamacare would leave 32 million more people uninsured by 2026 than under current law, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis released Wednesday.

Even more stunning, three-quarters of the nation would live in areas with no insurers participating in the individual market by 2026 -- leaving many without an option if they do not have employer-provided or government health insurance, such as Medicare or Medicaid.

Also, premiums would about double by 2026, compared to current law.

32 million more people would be uninsured under new Senate Obamacare repeal bill

The hard-to-answer question at the core of the health-care fight: How many more people might die?

Significant decline in deaths after Massachusetts’ health reform

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Corker on health care

By michael kaplan, Wed, 2017/07/19 - 11:56am

Dear Mr. Kaplan,

Thank you for taking the time to contact my office about the American Health Care Act. Your input is important to me, and I appreciate the time you took to share your thoughts.

The many problems with the Affordable Care Act remain unsolved. At some point, on behalf of the American people, we have to resolve the issues that are driving up healthcare costs, limiting patient choices, and causing the Obamacare insurance exchange market to spiral downward. As you may know, the American Health Care Act passed by a vote of 217-213 in the House of Representatives and has now come over to the Senate. I stand ready to work with the administration and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in order to reform our broken health care system.

Thank you again for your letter. Please continue to share your thoughts with me as I serve you in the United States Senate, and we move forward to find solutions to our healthcare system problems.

Sincerely,

Bob Corker
United States Senator

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