Erin Brockovich explains the Flint water crisis to Stephen Colbert, warns it's 'the tip of the iceberg'
Residents of Flint, Michigan, called in environmental activist Erin Brockovich to examine their contaminated drinking water a year ago, she told Stephen Colbert on Thursday's Late Show. She explained that the real problem with the Flint River water is that it leached the lead and other conaminants out of Flint's water delivery pipes. Colbert, after showing some disgusting photos of Flint water, said that reports are coming in of contaminated municipal water from other cities, too. "Is this just the tip of the leadberg out there for what we're drinking?" he asked.
"I can tell you that Flint, Michigan, is the tip of the iceberg," Brockovich said. "I can tell you for certain that this is a national crisis that we're not getting ready to face — the crisis is already here." Lots of cities, to save money, are treating their water with a corrosive substance that leaches out lead, iron, manganese, and copper from antiquated infrastructure. The problem is "affecting many municipalities across the United States," she warned, listing some in Wisconsin, Louisiana, and Ohio. Watch below. Peter Weber
Hawaii became the first state in the nation to automatically place all gun owners in an FBI criminal tracking database, which will enable the federal government to "monitor them for possible wrongdoing anywhere in the country." From now on, if a Hawaiian gun owner is arrested for any reason, their hometown police will be notified and their permission to own a gun reexamined.
"This bill has undergone a rigorous legal review process by our Attorney General’s office," said Hawaii Gov. David Ige, who signed the bill Thursday, "and we have determined that it is our responsibility to approve this measure for the sake of our children and families."
But critics say the new law is an extreme and invasive measure. "Why are law abiding citizens exercising their constitutional right being entered into a criminal database?" asked Hawaiian Quentin Kealoha in a public comment process about the bill. "Would you enter people exercising their right to free speech into a criminal database?" Bonnie Kristian
Inspired by Britain's vote to exit the European Union, parallel campaigns are already underway in other member states, typically led by right-wing, nationalist parties.
Slovakia's People's Party has already launched a petition calling for a referendum vote even as Slovakia prepares to assume the EU's six-month rotating presidency in July. "Citizens of Great Britain have decided to refuse the diktat from Brussels," the party said on its website. "It is high time for Slovakia to leave the sinking European 'Titanic' as well."
Meanwhile, Marine Le Pen of France's National Front Party tweeted her interest in a Frexit, writing, "Victory for Freedom! As I have been asking for years, we must now have the same referendum in France and EU countries." German and Dutch far-right leaders posted tweets to similar effect. Bonnie Kristian
Massive flooding in West Virginia on Friday left tens of thousands without power, hundreds stranded overnight, and killed at least 23 people, including a 4-year-old boy who went missing as waters rose near the state's Ohio border.
The National Guard has been deployed in eight counties to help with relief efforts following heavy rains the National Weather Service called a "one-in-a-thousand-year event." West Virginians are warned that additional rain showers and overflowing rivers still pose a real risk. In one town, high water caused a burning house to drift downstream.
— AMHQ (@AMHQ) June 24, 2016
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said rescuers are prioritizing those still trapped in homes, stores, and cars, and urged his state to "continue to work together and support each other as West Virginians always do." Bonnie Kristian
The Pentagon will announce Monday a finalized plan for lifting the military's ban on transgender troops beginning in July. Each branch of the armed services will have a year to determine and implement any resultant changes to uniforms, housing, and recruitment.
The decision is the result of a working group established last summer by Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who said at the time he expected to see the ban go — provided the group did not produce evidence it would have an "adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness."
Of the 1.3 million current members of the U.S. military, the Pentagon estimates around 2,500 are transgender and about 65 seek gender reassignment surgery each year. Skeptics of proposals to lift the ban have questioned whether the military will begin including reassignment services in its medical care for soldiers, an issue which was not the primary focus of the Pentagon's research to date. Bonnie Kristian
Take heart if you harbor princess aspirations — "tiaras are no longer the sole province of royalty," says Dana Thomas at The Wall Street Journal. The Georgian diamond floral tiara ($210,000) shown here helped trigger the craze when Downton Abbey's Lady Mary Crawley wore it for her 2012 wedding, but just in the past 12 months, fashion houses, including Saint Laurent and Gucci, have introduced glittering diadems into their collections. You could, of course, shop for affordable options, along with other "mere mortals." But London's Bentley & Skinner, jeweler to the queen, is offering 10 antique diamond and pearl tiaras starting at $39,000, including Lady Mary’s 45-carat diamond garland. Until it's purchased, it can be rented for $2,100 a day.
A California man who rescued a family from an overturned vehicle has been billed $143 by paramedics for making sure he was OK, The Washington Times reports. First responders gave Derrick Deanda a bottle of water and checked his pulse after he smashed a window and freed four trapped passengers last fall. "A couple of months later I get a bill," Deanda said. "Makes you wonder why people don't want to stop to help at an accident scene."
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) confirmed Friday that it had suspended the laboratory assigned to handle drug testing at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The decision, which comes just six weeks ahead of the opening ceremony, was based on a "'noncomformity' with international standards," The New York Times reports. The suspension took effect Wednesday, and the lab has 21 days to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.
However, this isn't the first time the Rio lab has been suspended by the WADA. It last happened in 2013, a year prior to Brazil hosting the World Cup. While the WADA decided to reinstate the lab last year, after nearly $60 million was invested in its facilities and an additional 90 technicians were trained, it has deemed the lab still not up to snuff for the Olympic Games.
The lab will not be allowed to test blood and urine samples during its suspension. So, for now, drug tests are being sent to a lab outside of Brazil to be analyzed. The New York Times reports that it "was unclear Friday if the issue would be resolved — and the suspension lifted — in time for the Rio Games." Becca Stanek