“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.
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Eugene Robinson: Where Is the Democrats’ Outrage?
Shame on Republicans for blocking the resumption of long-term unemployment benefits for 1.3 million Americans. And shame on Democrats for letting them.
The GOP cannot be allowed to cast this as a bloodless policy debate about “incentives” that allegedly encourage sloth. Putting that spin on the issue is disingenuous, insulting and inaccurate: As Republicans well know, individuals receiving unemployment checks are legally required to look for work.
Republicans should also know that the jobless desperately want employment. For some, a new job might be just weeks or months away. But the benefits cutoff may make it impossible to keep house and home together in the meantime.
Jeff Biggers: How dirty coal foretold West Virginia’s disaster
Residents have warned about coal-cleaning chemicals for years. Will feds finally investigate state agencies?
Since Jan. 9, when a chemical used to process coal leaked into West Virginia’s Elk River, images of beleaguered Charleston residents lining up for bottles of water from National Guard tankers have dominated the headlines. With some restrictions on water use lifted on Jan. 13, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declared, “We see light at the end of the tunnel.”
The tunnel of denial, hopefully. The fallout over the chemical spill from a coal-processing plant should serve as a wake-up call to the nation after years of pleas by coal-mining communities for federal invention in the state’s rogue regulatory agencies that oversee the coal industry and its chemical-industry counterparts.
Tomblin has attempted to distance the coal industry from the nation’s latest environmental disaster. Asked if the spill was a result of the state’s heavy reliance on the coal industry, he quickly replied, “This was not a coal-company incident. This was a chemical-company incident.” But the entangled reality of dirty coal and its toxic chemical cleansers has finally arrived at the governor’s front door – and faucet.
Have you had your daily minimum requirement of triclosan today? How about your dosage of triclocarban?
Chances are you have, but don’t know it. These two are antimicrobial chemicals, which might sound like a good thing – except that they disrupt the human body’s normal regulatory processes. Animal studies show, for example, that these triclos can be linked to the scrambling of hormones in children, disruption of puberty and of the reproductive system, decreases in thyroid hormone levels that affect brain development and other serious health problems.
Yet, corporations have slipped them into all sorts of consumer products, pushing them with a blitz of advertising that claims the antibacterial ingredients prevent the spread of infections. The two chemicals were originally meant for use by surgeons to cleanse their hands before operations, but that tiny application has now proliferated like a plague, constantly exposing practically everyone to small amounts here, there and everywhere, adding up to dangerous mega-doses.
John Nichols: The Internet As We Know It Is In Peril. The FCC Can (And Must) Save It
When the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Order Tuesday-dealing what is being broadly interpreted as a fatal blow to net neutrality- it highlighted the urgent need for the FCC to develop a smarter and more assertive approach to protecting citizens and consumers in the digital age. [..]
The DC Circuit has rejected the commission’s approach, and struck down key regulations that were designed to preserve net neutrality. In so doing, they have, as U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, says: “(dealt) a blow to consumers and small businesses alike.” Without regulatory safeguards, adds Sanders, “corporations are able to prioritize the information available to users, it stifles ideas and expression, as well as commerce and innovation.”
But the court has not said the FCC lacks authority to protect broadband Internet users.
In fact, if the FCC responds to the court ruling with a bold move to reclassify broadband Internet access as a telecommunications service that can be regulated in the public interest, it has the ability to do just that.
Diane Roberts: For some idiots, there just aren’t enough guns on university campuses
Guns are a part of US culture. But as a professor, I see no reason they need to be on college campuses. It just invites disaster
American universities are places of art and music, gleaming labs and fine old buildings, famous libraries and fancy football stadiums, old traditions and new thinking, beauty, youth and brains – about everything you could want. Except guns. Apparently, there just aren’t enough guns in those ivy-covered halls.
Never fear: second amendment fundamentalists mean to correct what they see as the sad paucity of weapons on campus. In Florida, a gaggle of true believers calling themselves Florida Carry busies itself arguing that institutions of higher learning have no right to ban guns on their taxpayer-funded property. I mean, why wouldn’t you want to pack heat in a class like Organic Chemistry II? Florida Carry’s attack is gradual: last year they prevailed in a suit to let students at the University of North Florida stash guns in their cars; this year, they’re aiming to force the University of Florida to allow its 50,000 students to keep guns in their dormitories.