Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Last Call For A Fat Stack Of Tubmans

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Wednesday will announce plans to both keep Alexander Hamilton on the front of the $10 bill and to knock Andrew Jackson off the front of the $20 in favor of Harriet Tubman, sources tell POLITICO. 
Lew is expected to roll out a set of changes that also include putting leaders of the women’s suffrage movement on the back of the $10 bill, and incorporating civil rights era leaders and other important moments in American history into the $5 bill. Also, Jackson isn’t getting completely booted off the $20 bill. He’s likely to remain on the back.

Lew's reversal comes after he announced last summer that he was considering replacing Hamilton on the $10 bill with a woman. The plan drew swift rebukes from fans of Hamilton, who helped create the Treasury Department and the modern American financial system. Critics immediately suggested Lew take Jackson off the $20 bill given the former president's role in moving Native Americans off their land. 
Lew told POLITICO last July that Treasury was exploring ways to respond to critics. “There are a number of options of how we can resolve this,” Lew said. “We’re not taking Alexander Hamilton off our currency.” 
Supporters of putting a woman on the $10 bill have complained that it will take too long for the $20 bill to come up for a redesign. But people familiar with the matter said new designs for the bills should be ready by 2020. Treasury is likely to ask the Federal Reserve, which makes the final decision, to speed up the process and get the bills into circulation as quickly as possible.

But please, Andy, do make the most of taking a back seat to one of the most incredible black women in American history.

Rather than remaining in the safety of the North, Tubman made it her mission to rescue her family and others living in slavery. In December 1850, Tubman received a warning that her niece Kessiah was going to be sold, along with her two young children. Kessiah’s husband, a free black man named John Bowley, made the winning bid for his wife at an auction in Baltimore. Harriet then helped the entire family make the journey to Philadelphia. This was the first of many trips by Tubman, who earned the nickname “Moses” for her leadership. Over time, she was able to guide her parents, several siblings and about 60 others to freedom. One family member who declined to make the journey was Harriet’s husband, John, who preferred to stay in Maryland with his new wife. 
The dynamics of escaping slavery changed in 1850, with the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law. This law stated that escaped slaves could be captured in the North and returned to slavery, leading to the abduction of former slaves and free blacks living in Free States. Law enforcement officials in the North were compelled to aid in the capture of slaves, regardless of their personal principles. In response to the law, Tubman re-routed the Underground Railroad to Canada, which prohibited slavery categorically.
In December 1851, Tubman guided a group of 11 fugitives northward. There is evidence to suggest that the party stopped at the home of abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass. 
In April 1858, Tubman was introduced to the abolitionist John Brown, who advocated the use of violence to disrupt and destroy the institution of slavery. Tubman shared Brown’s goals and at least tolerated his methods. Tubman claimed to have had a prophetic vision of Brown before they met. When Brown began recruiting supporters for an attack on slaveholders at Harper’s Ferry, he turned to “General Tubman” for help. After Brown’s subsequent execution, Tubman praised him as a martyr. 
Harriet Tubman remained active during the Civil War. Working for the Union Army as a cook and nurse, Tubman quickly became an armed scout and spy. The first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war, she guided the Combahee River Raid, which liberated more than 700 slaves in South Carolina.

So yeah, let's hurry these new bills along, shall we?

Water Main Leak

Looks like Michigan GOP Gov. Rick Snyder has found his scapegoats for the Flint water disaster.

A city worker and two state officials were charged Wednesday in connection with the Flint water crisis — the first criminal charges filed over the water contamination emergency in the Michigan city. 
Felony and misdemeanor charges were filed against Flint worker Michael Glasgow and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) employees Steven Busch and Michael Prysby, according to local media.

The charges were approved during a hearing by Judge Tracy L. Collier-Nix in the 5th division of Genesee County Court on Wednesday morning. 
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, whose office has led the investigation, is expected to officially announce the charges later today. 
Glasgow, the city’s water supervisor, is charged with willful neglect of evidence and tampering with evidence for allegedly changing test results to show less lead had leaked into the city’s water supply from its aging pipes.

The two MDEQ workers are also facing evidence tampering charges and misconduct in office.

Well then, after 200 plus days, problem solved and everything's okay, right?

Earlier this month, I suggested that the Snyder administration has no intention of replacing a single water line in Flint where the drinking water was contaminated with the powerful neurotoxin lead through the actions of Snyder’s appointed Emergency Managers and the ineptitude of his appointee at the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Dan Wyant, a man with zero experience in managing water systems:

Amid all this non-action, the Snyder administration has started to warn municipalities that they should avoid “partial lead service line replacements”. […] 
Add to this the fact that Flint water lead levels are beginning to drop as the phosphate added to the water for corrosion protection is building up a protective layer on the inside of water lines and it is starting to look as if the Snyder administration is simply waiting until lead levels have dropped enough for Flint residents to begin using their water again. Once that has happened, they could simply point to the data and say, “See? Everything is fine. Nothing to worry about.” 
There’s now more evidence that this is exactly what their plan is:

“If we make a policy decision that we should replace the lead lines, then we have to be thinking about that across the state,” said John Walsh, strategy director for Gov. Rick Snyder, at a Grand Rapids chamber meeting in March. “If you do it for one community, another is going to wonder why you didn’t do it for them.” 
Mark my words, the Snyder administration is not going to be involved in replacing ANY lead water service lines in Flint. They are going to wait until lead levels drop and then suggest it’s unfair to give them any sort of “special treatment”. The fact is, after the catastrophe that they themselves caused, the Snyder administration owes it to Flint residents and the 9,000 children that have potentially been poisoned with lead to make it right. But that’s not going to happen.

As always, Chris Savage at Eclectablog has everything you need to know about Flint and Rick Snyder.  Yet another state where Republican austerity is costing lives and hurting kids....

There's quite a few of those these days.

A Castro Of Millions

Cuban dictator emeritus (you don't see a whole lot of those actually) Fidel Castro figures with the whole normalizing relations with America thing and befriending the Pope that he's going to go out on the best note a dictator like himself can, I guess.

Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro delivered a valedictory speech Tuesday to the Communist Party that he put in power a half-century ago, telling party members he will soon die and exhorting them to help his ideas survive.

"I'll be 90 years old soon," Castro said in his most extensive public appearance in years. "Soon I'll be like all the others. The time will come for all of us, but the ideas of the Cuban Communists will remain as proof on this planet that if they are worked at with fervor and dignity, they can produce the material and cultural goods that human beings need, and we need to fight without a truce to obtain them."

Castro spoke as the government announced that his brother Raul will retain the Cuban Communist Party's highest post alongside his hardline second-in-command. That announcement and FidelCastro's speech together delivered a resounding message that the island's revolutionary generation will remain in control even as its members age and die, relations with the U.S. are normalized, and popular dissatisfaction grows over the country's economic performance.

Is it too much to hope for that his passing will clear the way for actual democracy and progress in Cuba?  Well, that is unless we get Trump, in case Cuba might actually end up ahead of us on the whole progress thing...


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