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Report: 96 Percent of U.S. Coal Plants Have No Plans to Clean Up Groundwater They Contaminated

Coal plants have gotten away with contaminating our water for years.

Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images

Seven years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency issued its coal ash rule, ordering power plants to clean up toxic coal ash waste dumps. But three presidential administrations later, just one out of 292 plants evaluated by researchers has planned a comprehensive cleanup. Ninety-six percent of all plants evaluated have proposed no groundwater treatment at all.

These toxic sites host arsenic, lead, mercury, and other toxic metals—all of which seep into groundwater and thus the water we drink. Seventy percent of these waste ponds threaten lower income neighborhoods and communities of color.

These findings were published in a report by the Environmental Integrity Project and Earthjustice, revealing that coal-fired plants across the country have gotten away with data manipulation, lax environmental safety measures, and delayed clean-ups (not including the baseline carbon emissions they have spewed into the atmosphere for years).

It’s not just a lack of planning that has kept coal plants from cleaning up their mess. The report found nearly half the contaminating plants had owners refusing to take any cleanup action, and many even denying responsibility. Other plants have taken some action, simply agreeing that action is needed and—if we are so lucky—providing a list of possible solutions they could pursue someday. But owners have delayed actually executing solutions for years.

In January, the EPA began following up with plants that requested more time and others that have not complied. But enforcement is limited; much of the follow-up has been limited to notifying plants about their obligations to comply with regulations.

Though coal is on the decline in the U.S., it still generated about 22 percent of the nation’s electricity last year—roughly the same amount of all renewables. While renewable energy generation must overtake fossil fuel sources (by existential necessity), the report serves as a reminder that it isn’t enough to stop fossil fuel generation—the waste it leaves behind must be accounted for.

Read more at Environmental Integrity Project.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is Suddenly Having Problems With Twitter After Fighting Elon

The New York representative said she is having problems with her Twitter account after criticizing Musk's subscription plan idea.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is in a Twitter feud with the platform’s new owner Elon Musk, accusing him Thursday of blocking her from viewing her own notifications.

Ocasio-Cortez, popularly known as AOC, has been hitting out at Musk since Tuesday over his plan to charge verified Twitter users $8 a month.

At first, Musk only responded to those criticisms by highlighting that AOC’s campaign sweatshirts cost $58, which the congresswoman said was because the workers who make them are paid a living wage.

But soon after, AOC tweeted that her notifications and mentions—where users can see who has tagged them in posts—were not working.

She posted a screenshot of her mentions tab, which was empty. “This is what my app has looked like ever since my tweet upset you yesterday,” she explained. “What’s good? Doesn’t seem very free speechy to me.”

AOC, who has backed multiple pro-worker efforts in Congress, has expressed her displeasure with Musk’s Twitter takeover plans all week.

Lmao at a billionaire earnestly trying to sell people on the idea that “free speech” is actually a $8/mo subscription plan,” she tweeted Tuesday.

She also pushed back on longtime Musk associate David Sacks, who demanded to know why news publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic aren’t free.

“Are you seriously equating an app where people are torrenting racial slurs at an accelerated clip with the New York Times,” AOC responded with a cry-laughing emoji.

“Also fyi, legacy newspapers actually care about verifying newsworthy sources. And they don’t charge their journalists/creators for ‘priority’ placement.”

Musk is reportedly planning on laying off about half of Twitter’s entire staff. He has already fired all of the top executives and the board of directors. Meanwhile, multiple companies including Coca-Cola, Spotify, and HBO are considering pulling advertising activity from the platform.

The Tesla founder has been pushing employees to work 24/7 to develop a plan that will produce enough money to keep Twitter going, such as the $8/month scheme.

But experts warn that such a plan could encourage more disinformation and hate speech on the platform, leading more companies to pull their ad dollars.

Trump Closes Out Midterms By Eyeing Impeachment of Mitch McConnell

"It's crazy what's happening with this debt ceiling," said the former president, who raised the debt ceiling three times.


Less than a week before the midterms, two former presidents shared their closing messages. Barack Obama spent his Wednesday evening visiting Arizona, rallying for Democrats and speaking to the fragility of democracy. Meanwhile, Thursday morning, Donald Trump suggested that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell should be impeached if he allows the debt ceiling to be raised.

“It’s crazy what’s happening with this debt ceiling. Mitch McConnell keeps allowing it to happen. I mean, they ought to impeach Mitch McConnell if he allows that,” Trump said, responding to a question about Congress potentially eliminating the debt limit. “Frankly, something has to be—they have something on him. How he approves this thing is incredible.”

The comment comes as Democrats seek to eliminate the debt ceiling before Republicans potentially retake congressional majorities. They fear Republicans using the debt limit as an excuse to cut spending on social and economic programs.

The former president, largely taken to be the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican nomination, wants his party to hold strong on a debt limit they themselves raised three times throughout Trump’s presidency. Under Trump, U.S. debt increased by $7 trillion.

But Trump suddenly cares so much about the debt ceiling that he’s willing to call for the impeachment of the Republican Party’s Senate leader.

Members of Congress can’t really be impeached. A 1797 impeachment against Senator William Blount of Tennessee established that members of Congress could not be formally impeached; rather they could only be expelled from office by a two-thirds vote by their respective chambers.

This is not the first time Trump has picked a fight with McConnell. Last month, Trump said McConnell had a “death wish” for supporting Democrat-sponsored legislation, and hurled racist comments at Elaine Chao, McConnell’s wife, calling her McConnell’s “China loving wife, Coco Chow!” Trump has also called McConnell “a piece of shit,” and urged Republicans to replace him.

Numerous sitting and potential Republican senators have expressed hesitancy for McConnell to be party leader.

Even if Republicans do gain power this election after such stellar closing arguments, there will be a clash between two camps: McConnell or Trump. The Republicans are in disarray.

Georgia’s Maternal Deaths Will Increase By Nearly One-Third If Abortion Is Banned

The governor's race in Georgia will determine the future for abortion access in the state.

A projection on a building reads "BAN KEMP" and "KEMP WILL BAN ABORTIONS."
Derek White/Getty Images for MoveOn

Maternal mortality in Georgia will increase by nearly a third if the state bans abortion, a new study has found, which it could well do if Brian Kemp is elected governor next week.

A study by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder found that if abortion is banned in Georgia, maternal mortality will increase 29 percent. If the procedure is banned nationwide, then maternal mortality will rise 24 percent overall.

Maternal mortality among Black people nationwide will skyrocket 39 percent.

The United States already has the highest maternal mortality rate among developed nations, and Georgia has the second-highest rate in the country, of 48.4 deaths out of 100,000 births, according to the World Population Review.

It is second to Louisiana, which has 58.1 deaths out of 100,000 births.

Abortion has become a major issue since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Several states, including California, Michigan, and Vermont, will vote in midterms next week on whether to codify abortion in their state constitutions. Kansas voted over the summer to keep abortion protections in the constitution.

Georgia has enacted one of the strictest abortion laws in the country (short of an outright ban). The procedure is banned after six weeks, before many people know they are pregnant, and there are many restrictions on access before the deadline.

During a recent debate, Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp refused to say whether he’d sign even more restrictions into law if elected.

His opponent, Democrat Stacey Abrams, was quick to seize on his non-answer: “Let’s be clear, he did not say he wouldn’t,” she warned. “Under this governor, women are in danger.”

Abrams highlighted several of his stances, such as supporting the cruelly restrictive Texas abortion law that offers financial rewards for turning in someone who had an abortion, and signing a law that would allow investigations into pregnant people who miscarried.

“Abortion is a medical choice,” Abrams stressed during the debate. “That is a decision that should be made between a doctor and a woman.”

“There should not be arbitrary timelines set by men who do not understand biology,” she said, adding that 82 of Georgia’s 159 counties do not have an OBGYN.

But as the CU Boulder report shows, the situation in Georgia looks set to get much worse.

Elon Musk’s New Plan for Twitter Is Going So Well He’s Now Firing Half of Its Employees

After floating a subscription plan, and as advertisers consider leaving Twitter, Musk is looking to fire 3,700 workers, according to a new report.

Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Last week, ahead of acquiring Twitter, Elon Musk visited the company headquarters. “Meeting a lot of cool people at Twitter today!,” he tweeted.

Turns out he’s going to fire half of those “cool people.”

Bloomberg reports that Musk plans to lay off about 3,700 people on Friday, in an effort to drive down costs of an acquisition that has placed about $13 billion worth of debt onto the company. The exact number of cut jobs and amount of severance to be offered is still in flux, according to the report—but the 3,700 number would cut the company’s staff in half.

Musk also plans to require all employees to work in person, reversing Twitter’s work-from-anywhere policy instituted amid the pandemic. The billionaire has suggested that people who prefer remote work should “pretend to work somewhere else.”

The news comes after reports that numerous companies—including Coca-Cola, Spotify, and HBO—are considering suspending advertising activity on Twitter, amid concerns that Musk’s “maximalist” approach to free speech may make the platform unsafe. The social media platform nets some 90 percent of its revenue from advertising. General Motors has already suspended its advertising for the time being.

And while Twitter’s primary source of revenue is threatened, Musk has pushed employees to work day and night on a haphazard plan to generate enough money to keep the platform afloat. The largely-formulated-through-tweets plan would charge users $8 a month, so they can receive benefits like account verification and visibility priorities. Such a plan could lead to further issues involving misinformation and hate speech, potentially encouraging more companies to cut advertising.

“The expectation is literally to work 24/7 to get this out,” Musk reportedly said in an internal company message. While employees throw themselves into making Musk’s financially unsound vision become reality, there’s no guarantee they’ll even have their job in the coming days.

The Weirdest, Smallest Counter-Protest Took Place at Biden’s Speech on the Threat to Democracy

Protesters tried to start a chant, but there were only six of them, so it wasn't very loud.

Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Right-wing activists showed up to protest President Joe Biden’s speech Wednesday night warning that the future of U.S. democracy was at stake in next week’s midterm elections.

But things didn’t quite go to plan: there were only six of them.

Outside of Union Station, six low-energy right-wing activists have gathered to protest Biden‘s speech,” Daily Beast reporter Zachary Petrizzo said on Twitter, alongside a photo of the group.

The protesters had two flags and posters with photos of people who had died during the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

In his speech, Biden slammed “extreme MAGA Republicans” who he said are already trying to undermine the election results. “We can’t take democracy for granted any longer,” he said.

While he spoke, protesters tried to get a chant going, but there weren’t enough of them to make an impact. Later, when Biden left, they missed the motorcade and thus another opportunity to complain that the 2020 election had been stolen or that those arrested for the January 6 insurrection were political prisoners.

One of the oddest details, though, was the people the protesters chose to feature on their signs. The victims included Ashli Babbitt, who was shot dead by Capitol police while trying to enter the building on January 6; and Rosanne Boyland, who appeared to have been trampled to death by the crowd of insurrectionists, but a later medical examination revealed she had died of an amphetamine overdose.

Another poster featured Brian Sicknick, a Capitol police officer who was violently assaulted by rioters on January 6. He suffered two strokes the next day and died.

His mother, Gladys Sicknick, is actively campaigning against election deniers running for office. In a recent ad targeting Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, Sicknick charges that “my son died because of people like Kari Lake.”

Lake “is very dangerous for our country. She saw what happened on January 6 and continues to spread the big lie,” Sicknick says in the ad.

Former Capitol police officer Michael Fanone, who was also brutally attacked on January 6, praised the ad.

Gladys Sicknick is “out there, I think trying to do what all of us are trying to do here, which is bring accountability for January 6,” he told MSNBC. “And, you know, I also support the fact that Kari Lake’s a piece of shit.”

Trump Lawyer Accidentally Reveals Emails About Overturning 2020 Election to the Media

The emails show that Trump's legal team wanted Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to stop the certification of the 2020 election.

John Eastman
Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

On Wednesday, Politico published eight emails showing Donald Trump’s legal team discussing how Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was their “only chance” to stop the certification of the 2020 election.

How did Politico get those emails? A Trump lawyer forgot to deactivate a Dropbox link.

The emails illuminate efforts by Trump lawyer John Eastman and other members of the former president’s legal team to challenge the 2020 election results. Trump attorney Kenneth Chesebro wrote in a December 31, 2020 email that Justice Thomas was their “only chance to get a favorable judicial opinion by Jan. 6, which might hold up the Georgia count in Congress.”

“I agree with this,” Eastman replied, writing that court action would help “kick the Georgia legislature into gear.”

District Judge David O. Carter had ordered Eastman to turn over these and other emails to the House select committee investigating the January 6 riots by October 28, determining that they showed evidence of potential criminal activity.

On the day of the deadline, Eastman’s legal team sent an email to the 9th Circuit Judge, requesting an emergency stay. But after Carter had refused a deadline extension, Eastman’s lawyers folded, sending a Dropbox link including the emails to the committee, seven minutes before the deadline.

They also requested the panel not actually read the emails until the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on the request for a stay. But Eastman’s legal team didn’t formally file for the stay until later that evening—after the email was already sent.

And so it seems by continuing to try keeping the emails away from the January 6 committee, Eastman’s team accidentally exposed them to the public. When the appeals court asked for filings from both parties in response to Eastman’s request for a stay, the January 6 committee sent over Eastman’s email, which had the for some reason still active Dropbox link.

The House general counsel did not know that the link in his emails was still active, when filing with the court:

“Some media outlets have been able to access the Dropbox link that counsel for Dr. Eastman created to share documents with the Select Committee and that was included in the attachments to the brief we filed with the Court last night in response to Dr. Eastman’s emergency motion. We were not aware that the links in Dr. Eastman’s email remained active…”

In similar fashion to Alex Jones’ lawyers accidentally leaking the entire contents of his phone as the Infowars founder was being sued for defamation, it seems that the legal team of the former president’s legal team have cast a major blunder for their client.

Read more at Politico.

Two Economists Explain the Federal Reserve’s Fourth Consecutive Interest Rate Hike

The Federal Reserve has increased interest rates by .75 percent. Economists Ryan Sweet and Dean Baker explain what that means.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday announced an interest rate hike of 75 basis points for the fourth consecutive time.

With inflation at a 40-year high, the Fed has been scrambling to get interest rates high enough that people stop spending money, slowing the economy down in turn. If spending goes down, then so will demand and eventually prices, too.

But the risk is that growth will slow while prices and borrowing rates stay high, sending the economy into a recession.

Ryan Sweet, chief economist at Oxford Economics, and Dean Baker, senior economist at the Center for Economic Policy and Research, answered four questions about what this means going forward.

What will the decision mean for Americans?

Both economists said that the higher interest rates will mean higher mortgage rates and higher rates on personal loans, car loans, and credit card debt.

But “it’s not all bad news as savers will receive a higher interest rate,” said Sweet.

Why is inflation still so high, even with all the rate increase?

“The issue for the Fed is that the Fed funds rate is a blunt tool and can affect the demand side of the economy, but this isn’t responsible for the bulk of the U.S. inflation issues,” Sweet explained. Supply chain snarls caused by the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are the major contributors to the record-high inflation.

Unfortunately, the U.S. central bank’s policies can’t do anything about the supply issues. The policies also take a long time to go into effect.

Fortunately, according to Baker, “there is a lot of evidence inflation is already slowing. The price of many items, like appliances, used cars, and TVs are already falling.”

This many consecutive rate hikes is uncharted territory for the Fed. Should we be concerned?

“Definitely,” said Baker. “The full effect of the rate hikes to date will not be felt until well into 2023. The Fed may well have gone too far.”

The Fed is scrambling to achieve a so-called soft landing, or a decrease in inflation without tipping the U.S. economy into a recession. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said Wednesday that the time to slow rate hikes “is coming,” but he did not give a time frame for when that would happen.

Sweet warned that any easing will be “contingent on inflation moderating, job growth slowing and financial market conditions.”

Given how many variables there are in avoiding a recession, it’s unclear what the Fed will do next or whether they will be successful. And unfortunately, “risks of a recession are uncomfortably high,” Sweet said.

Is a soft landing still possible?

All hope is not lost.

Sweet said that, based on his firm’s analysis, the central bank likely can’t contain economic growth sufficiently, but “the Fed still has a shot”—so long as job growth slows, indicating the economy is slowing, as well.

Baker warned that a lot will depend on whether there are “further major economic disruptions,” such as another Covid-19 wave or an expansion of the war in Ukraine.

“A soft landing is very much possible, but we really are in uncharted waters,” he said.

This article has been updated.

Tulsi Gabbard Has Endorsed At Least 12 Republicans This Election Season

The so-called “free thinker” has only endorsed Republicans since leaving the Democratic Party.

Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

On October 11, Tulsi Gabbard proudly announced her departure from the Democratic Party. Calling on “fellow common sense independent-minded Democrats” to join her, Gabbard did not indicate where exactly she was going. Her recent activity gives enough of an idea.

The former Hawaii congresswoman and 2020 Democratic presidential contender has exclusively endorsed at least 12 Republican candidates across the country. Many of these races are high-stakes. Among Gabbard’s endorsements are several election-denialists and conspiracy theorists.

Less than a week after her announcement that she was leaving the Democratic Party, Gabbard endorsed Republican Don Bolduc in the New Hampshire Senate race. Threatening to unseat incumbent Senator Maggie Hassan, Bolduc is an election denialist who has repeatedly—and bizarrely—falsely claimed children are using litter boxes in schools. A day after that, Gabbard endorsed Republican Kari Lake, the conspiracy theorist and election denialist running for governor in Arizona.

Gabbard has also endorsed JD Vance against Tim Ryan in Ohio’s Senate race, Adam Laxalt against Catherine Cortez-Masto in Nevada’s Senate race, and Tudor Dixon against Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan’s gubernatorial election.

On Monday, Gabbard waded into the country’s most expensive House race, endorsing election denialist Tom Barrett in Michigan, rebuking Liz Cheney’s earlier endorsement of Democrat Elissa Slotkin.

On Wednesday, Gabbard tweeted a video endorsing Blake Masters, citing a need to “rein in big tech companies.” (Masters and Vance have both enjoyed financial support from the venture capital and technology industry they were a part of, including from tech billionaire Peter Thiel.) Also on Wednesday, Gabbard appeared at a rally for South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, who days earlier she had called her “close friend.”

Gabbard has also endorsed Illinois gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey, Utah Senate incumbent Mike Lee, candidate for Washington’s third congressional district Joe Kent, and candidate for Michigan’s third congressional district John Gibbs (an election denialist who in the past suggested that women should not have the right to vote).

Gabbard’s shift is not surprising. Beyond appearing at CPAC this year, she has found a home in right-wing media. There, she has focused less on bringing conservatives closer to her, and more on bringing herself closer to them—criticizing the impeachment inquiry into former President Donald Trump as “partisan,” complaining about “open borders,” and even filling in for Tucker Carlson on his show.

If Gabbard is just preparing for 2024, she can take comfort knowing support is already bubbling. David DePape, the man who attacked Paul Pelosi last week, has endorsed Gabbard to be Trump’s running mate.

This piece has been updated.

Arizona Judge Restricts Armed Vigilantes Monitoring Election Drop Boxes

The order prevents members of Clean Elections USA from standing within 75 feet of a ballot box or following voters after they drop off their ballots.

A poll worker in Maricopa County, Arizona.

In a rare piece of good news, an Arizona judge has banned people accused of voter intimidation from monitoring the state’s ballot boxes ahead of the contentious midterm elections.

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Liburdi sharply restricted the activities of a group called Clean Elections USA late Tuesday. The group says it is watching ballot dropoff locations for potential voter fraud, but it has been accused of voter intimidation

Group members cannot stand within 75 feet of a ballot box, Liburdi said in his ruling. They cannot speak to people at the boxes unless spoken to first and cannot follow voters after they drop off their ballots.

Watchers are not allowed to be armed—some of them have been—and they cannot take photos or videos of voters. Both the group and its founder Melody Jennings have to post statements on the Clean Elections USA website and Truth Social, former President Donald Trump’s social media platform, explaining they have been spreading disinformation about Arizona elections.

Arizona law enforcement has been on high alert over the past few weeks after reports of sometimes armed people showing up to watch ballot boxes. Many voters have accused the watchers of voter intimidation after they took photos and videos of people dropping off their ballots and followed voters.

The watchers could have scared off other potential early voters, or voters in general. They have received support from Mark Finchem, who is running for Arizona secretary of state.

They have apparently been inspired by widespread lies about the 2020 election result. Trump has claimed for years, with zero proof, that the vote was rigged against him.

The League of Women Voters sued Clean Elections USA last week, accusing them of voter intimidation and seeking a court order to halt their actions. During the trial on Tuesday, a man and his wife testified that they had been harassed and filmed by eight to 10 people accusing them of being “mules” for fraudulent votes.

Photos of the man and his car were published, and Jennings later spoke about them on the podcast of former Trump advisor Stephen Bannon.

Liburdi’s ruling Tuesday is both a relief and an about-face from Friday, when he refused another group’s request to ban Clean Elections USA from ballot boxes. “Plaintiffs have failed to show” their case is likely to succeed, the Trump-appointed judge said.

Arizona has struggled particularly hard with false claims that the 2020 election was stolen. Governor Doug Ducey certified the state’s result in favor of President Joe Biden, but the state’s Republican Party supported a massive recount of the votes that ultimately found no evidence of voter fraud.

Republicans are also already priming voters to reject Democratic victories in the upcoming midterm elections, particularly tight ones, as fraudulent.