— Matthew Ward (@HistoryNeedsYou) August 3, 2014
I read the news today, oh boy. Thought I’d share a couple items with you that you may not have seen.
Approximately 400,000 people in and around Toledo, Ohio are being warned not to drink their tap water after high levels of a dangerous toxin were discovered in the water supply Saturday, according to the Toledo-Lucas County Department of Health.
The toxin is called microcystin, the high levels of which were caused by massive increases in algae on Lake Erie. The increases in algae, called “algae blooms”, are poisonous if consumed — causing abnormal liver function, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, numbness, and dizziness. Boiling the water doesn’t help — in fact, it increases the presence of the toxin.
As of now, it’s unclear when Toledo residents will have clean water again. According to the Toledo Blade, fresh water samples are being flown to a specialized U.S. Environmental Protection Agency laboratory in Cincinnati, which will determine the extent of the contamination.
Here are 7 things you need to know about microcystin — what it does, why it’s there, and why it’s spreading in the five Great Lakes that form the largest system of fresh water in the world…
And via Miles Grant here’s a pic of a glass of Lake Erie algae water scooped up by the NWF’s Collin O’Mara near the city’s water intake. Here’s another pic of the goop, via ravageritual on reddit (“Fucking get the chips! The lakes become guacamole.” “Tostito, Ohio.”) “This is the water source in Toledo, Ohio. No photoshop. Toxic algae bloom.”
Secrets wrapped up in lawsuits over the 2013 explosion of the fertilizer plant in West could keep valuable health and safety information hidden from the public forever.
Because a judge has approved confidentiality agreements requested by attorneys, even people who live in West may never find out much more about what happened. The agreements allow both sides to label as confidential virtually all information uncovered as the lawyers prepare for trial.
Information gathered before the West trials could include more details on injuries, safety testing of the fertilizer that exploded, what the city knew about the plant’s dangers, and how it had planned for emergencies. That information could help people learn how to avoid or better plan for such catastrophes. The West blast killed 15 and injured hundreds.
Nuclear weapons lab employee fired after publishing scathing critique of the arms race
Los Alamos lets a 17-year employee go after retroactively classifying his published article [long read]
James E. Doyle’s ordeal with Washington began one morning in early February last year, when his supervisor stopped by his desk at Los Alamos National Laboratory and told him that senior managers wanted copies of all his publications.
The 55-year-old political scientist asked the reason for the request, and he eventually was told that someone at the House Armed Services Committee wanted to see the publications. But Doyle said officials refused to tell him who it was or why.
Later that day at the lab’s New Mexico campus, he said, two members of a Security Inquiries Team abruptly arrived with a special, silver-colored briefcase for secure documents, and pulled out an article he published a few days earlier on the website of a London nonprofit group.
They claimed that the article, an impassioned critique of the political theories undergirding the nuclear arms race and a defense of President Obama’s embrace of a nuclear weapons-free future, contained classified information.
The assertion astonished Doyle, since the laboratory’s security authorities had already reviewed the article and declared it unclassified. But it was the start of a series of events in which Doyle first had his pay docked and his security clearance withdrawn, and then eventually was fired.
“It sure looks like he’s being fired for supporting the President’s policy,” said Jon Wolfsthal, a special adviser on nuclear matters to Vice President Joseph Biden from 2009 to 2012 who knows Doyle.
“Nobody would go after this article on classification grounds unless they were pursuing a political agenda, and it is amazing to attack someone politically for writing an article in support of a policy of the president of the United States,” said Matthew Bunn, a former White House official under President Clinton and now a nonproliferation expert at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
Doyle said he is not certain where he will end up, though he plans to continue to work on nonproliferation and disarmament issues. “I pursued a career in national security with the motivation of improving the national security policy of my country,” he said. “And there’s nothing conflicting in advocating the elimination of nuclear weapons and maintaining the security of the United States.”
And, as dakine would say, because I can: