I was looking at something else this week but given that the Queen of Soul passed away this past week, this needed to be today’s Thursday Music entry:

h/t wm

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There has been increased concerns about lead levels in Milwaukee children over the past year or more. The city health department has dropped the ball on following up with treatment for children identified as suffering from lead poisoning. Lead water laterals are only slowly (far too slowly) being remediated because of funding and resource shortages at the city level.

But Milwaukee isn’t the only place in the nation suffering preventable injuries to our children from lead. And one of those other places are military installations in the US…places that should be safe havens for our service members and their families. But lead remediation is expensive…and the responsibility is shared…between the military services and private companies who often own and maintain the on base residences provided to service families.

Reuters has extensive coverage on lead poisoning on Army bases. It’s quite long but worth reading and you can’t feel anything but pissed as you read the expose: Special Report: Children poisoned by lead on U.S. Army bases as hazards ignored

Like most family housing on U.S. bases today, the home wasn’t owned and operated by the military. It was managed by Villages of Benning, a partnership between two private companies and the U.S. Army, whose website beckons families to “enjoy the luxuries of on-post living.”

This wasn’t supposed to happen to families like the Browns, who move often between posts for the U.S. armed forces, trusting base landlords and military brass to provide safe shelter for children and spouses.

Reuters tested five homes at Benning (Fort Benning, GA), using a methodology designed with a Columbia University geochemist. All five contained hazardous levels of deteriorating lead paint within reach of children, in one case exceeding the federal threshold by a factor of 58.

Testing turned up problems elsewhere as well. At West Point, New York, home of the United States Military Academy, paint chips falling from a family’s front door contained lead at 19 times the federal threshold.

At Kentucky’s Fort Knox, whose vaults hold much of America’s gold reserves, Reuters found paint peeling from a covered porch where small kids play. It contained 50 percent lead by weight, or 100 times the threshold.

The Army requires here abatement when certified testing identifies deteriorating lead paint in base homes. Yet it also “discourages” this type of lead-paint inspections, in part because lead abatement can be costly.

The thousand-plus blood results, obtained from Army bases through Freedom of Information Act requests, provide only a glimpse of the problem. A $10 finger-prick test can spot a child exposed to lead, yet millions of U.S. children are never screened. Just how many are tested across all military bases isn’t clear. But for those who are, the results often go unreported to state public health agencies that attend to poisoned kids.

Reuters found that Fort Benning in Georgia was not reporting lead results for small children tested at the base’s hospital. Nor was Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas. Georgia and Texas, like most states, require the reporting of all these lead testing results to state health authorities.

After reporters asked why it often wasn’t informing state health departments about poisoned children, the Army overhauled its practices to comply with state laws.

[emphasis mine.]

The Defense Department has privatized housing on bases for military personnel and their families. I understand the idea behind it…similar to the trend in business to focus on your core strengths and outsource the rest…it makes a certain amount of sense. But only if you have auditing in place and hold contractors accountable for their actions or inactions. Not only have the private contractors egregiously not met their requirements to provide safe and secure housing…the US Army has turned away from the whole mess and ignored requests for help and allowed the contractors to run amok.

And how can our military be expected to protect and keep the nation safe if they are worrying about our ability to keep their families safe here at home?

This one just boggles my mind. Lead has been a long acknowledged threat…lead paint was banned FORTY years ago. We’ve had lead abatement programs ever since. We have effective and inexpensive tests to identify lead poisoning. We spend BILLIONS and BILLIONS of dollars on defense…yet we and our military can’t be trusted to protect our most precious citizens.


full disclosure: I have a son who is active US Army, who has served at both Ft Benning and Ft Knox that were identified as having issues in the Reuters article.

From the river walk in Clarksville TN:

I guess describing it as a Union Occupation is what you’d expect from those who still refer to the Civil War as the Northern War of Aggression.

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but they aren’t Hispanic or Muslim and the didn’t cross into the United States via our southern border: Romanian card-skimming ring nabs thousands from Wisconsin ATMs, police say.

In general, those involved in this crime ring come to the U.S. illegally with fake identification cards, Fond du Lac Detective Bill Ledger said. Muresanu, Preda and Capanu are all in the U.S. illegally, according to court documents.

And not only that…they are apparently part of a ‘ring’…or in our parlance a gang. I thought we were down on gangs (or only just that one?)

Yup…that wall will protect us!

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As the ghost of President Richard Nixon roams the East Wing of the White House, President Donald Trump vindictively rescinds the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan. But he’s not through there:

Striking at one of his fiercest critics over Russia, President Trump said Wednesday he has revoked the security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan, and continues to review the clearances of other Barack Obama administration officials.

As critics accused Trump of seeking to silence opponents, the president added names to his list of other Obama-era officials whose security clearances are under review: FBI and Justice Department officials involved in the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Beyond the absurdity of this in the first place, what exactly is the president supposed to be doing on a Thursday morning other that building ‘enemies’ lists?

But the removal of an individual’s security clearance isn’t really a problem for the individual involved…it may be an issue in the future if their advice is requested by the current or a future administration.

Security clearances for ex-government employees are not that unusual, and those who have them do not always exercise them.

Former leaders of U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies have been allowed to maintain access to classified information, both as a professional courtesy and so that they can consult with successors on certain national security issues.

But the White House can do as it pleases here…and it won’t reflect poorly on Mr. Brennan. It’s just mean spirited and vindictive on the part of a particularly vindictive president. But then as often happens, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders gets involved.

“Neither of these justifications supports Mr. Brennan’s continued access to classified information,” Sanders said in reading Trump’s statement.

Any benefit of consultations with Brennan is “outweighed by the risks posed by his erratic conduct and behavior,” the Trump statement said, and that behavior “has tested and far exceeded the limits of any professional courtesy that may have been due to him.”

First, unless called upon by the government, Mr. Brennan doesn’t have access to classified information anymore.

Second, if anyone in the world is familiar with ‘erratic conduct and behavior’, it is Ms. Sanders and the rest of the staff in the West Wing.

So the bigger question: what is the Trump regime trying to divert attention away from this week with this silly event?

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This little snippet appeared in today’s print edition of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel but was originally published in the Green Bay Press Gazette: Tariff trouble: Brown County businesses face challenges as more tariffs loom.

[side not to MJS: if you are going to print it you should share it on your website too…it’s not friendly to make me search all over hither and yon for the original…and not when I have my subscription renewal sitting here next to my computer…snark]

but here’s something to think about and after this quote I will explain what I am thinking about it…got it?

The first wave of tariffs stung Wisconsin farmers and manufacturers, but Tony Ehrbar said the next wave will force him to change the way he does business.

Ehrbar owns American Tent & Sidewall, a small Green Bay manufacturer that turns Canadian aluminum and Chinese polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, into large party tents for weddings and commercial events. The Trump administration has targeted both raw materials for tariffs — 10 percent on aluminum and 25 percent on PVC.

“There’s an American-made vinyl, but it would not allow me to compete on price. I can raise my prices 25 percent (and pass along the cost to consumers). I can absorb the tariff and take a huge hit to my bottom line. Or I can raise prices a small amount and absorb the rest of the tariff,” Ehrbar said. “I may have to pull back on hiring staff or not grow as fast. The money’s just up in smoke.”

So what am I reading into this? Well the obvious that most of us have been aware of is tariffs are essentially taxes and the cost of tariffs in most cases will be passed through to the consumer…or at least where it can be passed through.

But for firms like American Tent & Sidewall…the two choices seem to be absorb the cost of the tariff or at least a portion of it…after determining how much of a price increase the market will bear. So essentially the company will reduce their net income by the amount of the tariff it can absorb. And what happens when they reduce net income? Well federal and state income taxes take a hit. Does the Trump regime even know that his is going to happen? Rather unlikely because they really really don’t seem to understand how business works.

Can we really bear continued declines in income tax revenue at any governmental level? In a year when we are going ot set a record federal deficit?

there are plenty of important primaries for you to vote in…so get out there and vote.

And remember these two things:

You can only vote for one party. If you split the ballot your votes won’t count.

Bring your valid photo id or you won’t get a ballot!

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Just a quick few endorsements for this Tuesday’s August 14th partisan primaries:

A: Everyone who gets out and votes!

Democratic Gubernatorial Primary: Kelda Roys

Democratic Lt Governor Primary: Mandela Barnes

Democratic House of Representatives 1st District: Randy Bryce

Democratic Milwaukee County Sheriff: Earnell Lucas

Democratic Wisconsin Secretary of State: Arvina Martin

No really! Just hours after Vice President Michael Pence outlines the Trump regime’s plans for a ‘Space Force’, my email inbox receives a missive from the Trump/Pence 2020 campaign asking me to vote for a ‘Space Force’ logo so they can start selling swag. NO Really!

And what an incredible collection of amateurish logos. I thought Space Force was supposed to be a new department within the Armed Forces. Why is there a Mars Awaits motto on one of them? And the Star Trek people might have an issue with a couple of these as well. Don’t you think?? Sheesh!

added note: as an after thought…doesn’t this cross the line between governing and campaigning?

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