SPLASH! News: Major Pipeline Blocked, Anti-Vaxxer Seize Upon Somali Autism Concerns, Labor Unions Weakened, and More

Dive Into the News for May 11, 2017

Kiran Opal


Death Toll in Venezuela Unrest Nears 40, Protesters Hurl Feces

CBS – Dozens of people were injured and a 27-year-old man killed Wednesday during another day of violent clashes in Venezuela’s capital as angry demonstrators demanded elections.

National guardsmen launched tear gas and a group of armed pro-government militiamen harassed protesters as they tried to march to the Supreme Court. One masked militia member fired several shots into the air. The militia later dispersed after officers intervened.

At least 93 people were injured in Caracas and demonstrator Miguel Castillo was killed. Authorities also announced that Anderson Dugarte, 32, died from a gunshot wound he suffered Monday at a protest in Merida. The violence pushed the death toll to at least 39 in more than a month of street protests and political turmoil.

Bots Accused of Flooding the FCC With Anti-Net Neutrality Comments

Mashable – Some mysterious bots seem to have taken a keen interest in telecommunications policy.

Automated programs are thought to be responsible for more than 100,000 identical comments recently posted to the Federal Communications Commission’s website.

The messages, each posted under a different name, urge the agency to roll back the Obama Administration’s rules protecting net neutrality.

Yet when ZDNet and The Verge contacted more than two dozen of the supposed concerned citizens, none of them were aware of the opinions expressed in their name. One didn’t even know what net neutrality was.

Instead, the comments are suspected to have come from a so-called “astroturfing” operation conducted on behalf of a party that stands to benefit from loosened regulations on telecoms.


US Blocks Major Pipeline After 18 Leaks and 2 Mil Gallon Spill

Washington Post – The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has curtailed work on a natural-gas pipeline in Ohio after the owner, Energy Transfer Partners, reported 18 leaks and spilled more than 2 million gallons of drilling materials.

The pipeline regulator blocked Energy Transfer Partners, which also built the controversial Dakota Access pipeline, from starting horizontal drilling in eight areas where drilling has not yet begun. In other areas, where the company has already begun horizontal drilling, the FERC said drilling could continue.

The FERC also ordered the company to double the number of environmental inspectors and to preserve documents the commission wants to examine as it investigates the spills.


Why Labor Unions Don’t Have the Clout They Used To

Bloomberg – A major puzzle in the U.S. economy is why wage gains have been relatively subdued in the last couple of years, even as all signs point to a tight job market where employers are having trouble filling positions. One reason is that labor unions just don’t have the clout they used to in America. While there are occasional victories, the situation is a far cry from the glory days of the 1970s, and it’s also helping reshape the political landscape. Jared Bernstein, former chief economist to Vice President Joe Biden and an expert on labor economics, joins Scott and guest co-host Patricia Laya to explain.


Republicans Flub Defense of Health Care Vote

POLITICO – House Republicans celebrated passing legislation to repeal Obamacare last week — but apparently forgot to figure out how to talk about the feat back home.

The result has been a messaging mess, as lawmakers returned to their districts for a weeklong recess to face furious Obamacare defenders.

In interviews and at town halls packed with pro-Obamacare protesters, Republicans have struggled to explain the plan they just approved. Lawmakers are telling audiences conflicting things about how the bill would affect consumers. Others slammed a process they actively participated in or admitted they hadn’t read the entire bill before voting on it — even though GOP leaders spent months hawking a website called ReadTheBill.gop.


CIA Sets Up a Mission Center to Address North Korea Threat

TIME – The CIA has established a mission center geared towards dealing with advancements in North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

“Creating the Korea Mission Center allows us to more purposefully integrate and direct CIA efforts against the serious threats to the United States and its allies emanating from North Korea,” said CIA Director Mike Pompeo in a statement Wednesday.

Tensions remain high on the Korean Peninsula after belligerent exchanges between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump, who deployed a naval strike group to the West Pacific last month and advanced the installation of the THAAD missile defense system in South Korea.


Drs. Weren’t Listening to Somali Immigrants Autism Concerns. Then Anti-Vaxxers Did

HuffPo – Deeqa Hussein can’t put her finger on exactly how or when the vaccination disconnect happened in her community.

For years, a large number of Somali immigrant parents in the Twin Cities area vaccinated their children at rates as high as 92 percent ― outpacing virtually every other ethnic group. And then, Hussein said, many parents just stopped.

“I felt like there was a lot of fear and anxiety surrounding the MMR vaccine,” said Hussein, a special-education teacher with the Minneapolis Public Schools who also serves as the vice president of the local Somali Parents Autism Network and has two sons with autism.

“In the Somali community, it’s very close-knit,” she said. “Word of mouth is much more powerful.”

Written by Pamela Getz

Writer and Activist. Follow Pamela on Twitter @goddesspamela.

Pamela Getz is Editor of International Affairs for Progressive Army and a member of its Editorial Board.

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SPLASH! News: Major Pipeline Blocked, Anti-Vaxxer Seize Upon Somali Autism Concerns, Labor Unions Weakened, and More