Friday, January 10, 2014

A Little Poisoned Water Never Stopped a Good Brawl

A chemical spill into a river has spawned a major federal emergency declaration, with hundreds of thousands of West Virginia residents told not to drink, do laundry, or bathe with their tap water. Schools have been closed, bars and restaurants shut down, and the National Guard called out to deliver bottled water and emergency supplies.

But when you go to the West Virginia Gazette website to get more info on this unfolding tragedy, one of the first things you learn is that the Rough N Rowdy Brawl at the Charleston Civic Center will still go on as planned!*

Nothing will stop this real-life version of Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club, the event where those "man enough" can pay to beat the living shit out their fellow human beings. The champion in each division (including the top bikini-clad "ring girl") will win $1,000. That's "a substantial sum when you're working two low-paying restaurant jobs to make ends meet" in a state where 17.6% of residents live below the federal poverty level. That's especially true this weekend, when all those minimum-wage eateries are closed because of the water contamination.

 You may not be able to wash the blood off yourselves with the tainted water, but event coordinators do want all of you manly germophobes out there to rest assured that hand sanitizers will be thoughtfully provided in bathrooms.

Now that the important stuff is out of the way, West Virginia water officials say there is still no timeline for when the situation will be alleviated, or even how toxic the licorice-smelling water really is. They don't know for sure that the water is unsafe, but neither can they guarantee that it is. That is because the leaking chemical, 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, has never before been added to water as a chemical additive or flavor enhancer. Its apparent purpose was, oxymoronically enough, to clean coal.

 As of this morning,  Freedom Industries, source of the contamination, was not talking to the water people. As a matter of fact, according to the Gazette, it was business as usual at the chemical plant on Friday morning. Not one government official had yet visited the site.With a welcome sign like this greeting all comers, perhaps you can understand why:

It also might be a blessing in disguise that the leak occurred at the Charleston plant rather than at its other facility in a town called Nitro. According to the Freedom Industries website, the company is a leading producer of freeze conditioning agents, dust control palliatives, flotation reagents, water treatment polymers and other chemicals. It boasts that it can treat huge volumes of chemicals "rapidly and cost-effectively." 

Nothing spells freedom like speedy and cheap.

* Update: Sanity later prevailed, and the event was postponed until next weekend.


James F Traynor said...

We are coming undone. The more obvious symptoms are the economy and climate change. Then there is this business in W. Va., together with the lopping off of entire mountain tops to get at coal seams.

And now it is the seeming unconcern, except among the scientifically afflicted, of MDN-1, a peripatetic bacterial gene that seems capable of conferring resistance on a wide spectrum of infectious agents. But with the current war on science, attention may well languish until the elite begin to lose their limbs via creeping amputation. One little toesy, two little toesy, until off with the leggy. Of course Big Pharma will play it down; antibiotic research doesn't pay - as much as Viagra or Creator for instance.

4Runner said...

They got smog and sewage and mud
Turn on your tap and get hot & cold running crud
You can use the latest toothpaste
Then rinse your mouth with industrial waste
Lots of things that you can drink
But stay away from your kitchen sink.

(Lines selected from the song "Pollution" by Tom Lehrer.)

Will said...


Thanks for the intro to Tom Lehrer! This mid-40s whippersnapper needs to be reminded every now & then that the world didn't start in the late 1970s. Here's "Pollution" for everyone's Saturday morning viewing pleasure:

annenigma said...

Speaking of toxic cocktails, check out the piece listed in Karen's sidebar titled 'Obama's Corporate Plantations' about the 5 'Promise (profit) Zones' that Obama just announced. In this case, the toxic cocktail is made up of deregulation, privatization, and cheap labor, compliments of Massa Obama.

On a separate note, the new book by Betty Medsger called 'The Burglary: The Discovery of the J. Edgar Hoover's Secret FBI' is riveting to an aging activist like myself. I can't stop reading it. The parallels with NSA and Edward Snowden are striking but it goes farther than that.

The fact that most of the abuses of those times have now been legalized is disturbing. The use of informants internally and externally has been expanded and apparently legalized under Obama's 'Insider Threat Program' and the Fusion Centers in every state (see ACLU for map of locations at The Fusion Centers process Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) which are snitch reports from all kinds of sources in all kinds of places about all kinds of people and activities, just as in Hoover's day. Keep your garage door closed! No stone is left unturned.

Another shocking realization is that Hoover's program that secretly listed citizens for arrest and imprisonment without due process in the event of a national emergency is alive and well. At that time, anyone who was discovered or reported by informants of even having the mere possibility of harming the national interest was at risk. Apparently that list grew so long that Congress had to pass the NDAA of 2012 to codify it to include ALL American citizens in one of its sections. The President is even allowed to use the Military to do so now. No wonder he wants to keep the Intelligence Community (20 or so agencies) under military command. An obedient General will carry out his commands whereas a civilian might balk.

So there you have it. Congress and the President have taken Hoover's illegal and unconstitutional practices and have expanded, systematized, legalized them and now include all citizens, but still under the highest levels of secrecy and the same threats of espionage charges for revealing them. That just goes to show that Hoover wasn't the problem. He was just the face of the problem.

The icing on the cake is that legal challenges to the Constitutionality of these programs has been thwarted every step of the way by the Regime. The courts consider State Secrets Privilege and National Security claims to be sacrosanct.

Thanks to Snowden we know things are worse than we thought, but I suspect that what we still don't know is FAR worse still. Nevertheless, I think help is finally on the way - with a little help from our friends, here and abroad.

Keep the faith.