How Did I Miss That? Plastic Soup in the Pacific; Expensive Johns in N.C.

Steve Russell

Slate reported that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch has been grossly exaggerated in that most of the plastic detritus is not easily visible to the naked eye and the descriptions that make it sound like an island of trash the size of Texas are overblown. More than half of the trash problem is “micro-garbage” full of toxins that can enter the food chain and find their way to us.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, though, is not substantial enough to be picked up by satellite, so it is said you cannot observe it with Google Earth. It is so invisible, as Slate put it, you could be traveling though it “and never notice you are in the middle of a death-shaped noxious vortex.” It’s more a broth than a patch; soup rather than salad.

There are two separate giant plastic soups in the North Pacific, one in the Atlantic, and several others elsewhere. Collectively, they call this hazardous stuff “marine debris.”

My cousin Ray Sixkiller said he felt a lot better knowing he can’t see the toxins coming to his tuna sandwich. I was wondering if the science guys could genetically engineer a tuna to give sandwiches already wrapped in plastic? And maybe a nice cup of polypropylene broth on the side?

Foreign Policy reported that a public push is underway to get the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the “White Helmets,” as they call the Syrian civil defense. The White Helmets are largely engaged in pulling civilians from the rubble after bombing raids by the Russians or the Assad government. Sometimes bombs fall on the rescuers. Among other celebrities, George Clooney has signed the petition.

The Washington Post reported on a bit of ugliness from President Obama’s first undergraduate school, Occidental College in Los Angeles. The other distinguished alum from Occidental was Rep. Jack Kemp, who is the primary rebuttal when the GOP is attacked for taking in the Dixiecrats after they left the Democratic Party over LBJ’s civil rights legislation.

Kemp was attracted to Occidental not by the diversity, but by Occidental’s early use of formations that were more common in professional football. After he got the career in football he always wanted, Kemp went into politics and quickly became known as “the bleeding heart conservative” because he was a rare voice on the right for governmental intervention in the problems of inner cities. To this day, Occidental has a Republican Club with a Facebook logo featuring Kemp.

The Occidental Republican Club put together a 9-11 memorial to recognize the anniversary that involved placing 2,997 U.S. flags—one for each victim. The memorial was destroyed the first night, the flags removed or just kicked over. A trash barrel was overflowing with flags.

Some fliers appeared protesting the war in Iraq, but the connection between the fliers and the vandalism was unclear.

The Kansas City Star reported that Missouri Republicans have overcome a Democratic filibuster and overridden Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill to eliminate permits to carry concealed weapons and the training requirements and background checks that were linked to the permits. The same bill eliminated the duty to retreat from a confrontation before using deadly force and expanded the “castle doctrine” to allow guests in a home to use deadly force against intruders.

“So Missouri eliminated training for gun carriers and expanded the legal use of deadly force all at once?” Cousin Ray was shaking his head. “What could possibly go wrong?”

The Southern Poverty Law Center announced that the city of Chickasaw, Alabama responded to an SPLC letter complaining about putting people in jail for not paying utility bills by repealing the ordinance without a lawsuit being filed.

The repeal did not come in time for Sonya Ayers, a 48 year old resident of Chickasaw with no criminal record. Ayers fell behind on her water bill while unable to work because she was caring for her ailing mother.

Her mother died in early November 2015 and on November 23 she went to the courthouse to get papers notarized she needed for her new job.

The city shut her water off and then prosecuted her for maintaining a dwelling without water. She was ordered to pay over $400 in fines and fees to the city plus monthly supervision fees to Judicial Corrections Services, a private company hired to oversee persons placed on probation.

While in jail, her car was repossessed, and there is no public transportation.

Considering that this is Alabama, famous for a bombed church in Birmingham and setting dogs on peaceful protesters long before North Dakota allowed setting dogs on the peaceful protestors supporting the Standing Rock Sioux, it feels like a punchline for a bad joke when I report that Ms. Ayers is white.

Moving from discrimination against the poor to discrimination against the different, Wired made a serious effort to find out how much money the anti-transgender “bathroom bill” has cost North Carolina so far. A law, I hasten to add, not supported by a majority of North Carolinians, according to opinion polling.

Here’s a fair description of the bill of goods North Carolina taxpayers are involuntarily buying:

1. It’s mean. It creates a problem where none existed for no purpose beyond hurting the feelings of transgender people and allowing the fundamentalist mullahs to feel superior.

2. It’s certain to eventually get declared unconstitutional because it’s purposeful discrimination with no offsetting public advantage.


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