How strip mining made Kentucky floods many times deadlier – National & International News – MON 8Aug2022



How strip mining made Kentucky floods many times deadlier. Sen. Wicker helps defeat bill to cap insulin costs at $35 a month. Israel bombards Gaza, kills at least 44, including 15 children.




How strip mining made Kentucky floods many times deadlier

Clean-up and recovery efforts are still ongoing in eastern Kentucky more than 10 days after floods devastated the region. For now, the death toll remains at 37, including several children. Since the floods, the long-suffering people of Appalachia have endured more heavy rains and a triple-digit heatwave. Many, even those still without power and clean water, have stayed put in their flood-ravaged homes to fend off looters rather than seeking refuge in a safe and air-conditioned shelter.

The area is home to some of the nation’s poorest folks, a great many of whom eked out a living for decades working in local coal mines. A lot of those mines have shut down, leaving only barren scars on the mountains overlooking their homes.

Strip mining is a common practice in coal country. It involves removal of trees and other vegetation, and usually blasting of the rock face to get at the coal seams underneath. This leaves a sometimes near vertical surface with no vegetation to slow or absorb a flow of water. When it rains heavily, as it did 10 days ago, the water comes shooting down with great force. In terms of volume, experts have calculated that mined landscapes allowed 1000 times more runoff than unmined mountain landscapes in previous floods in the area. 

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Senate passes Biden’s climate and tax bill

On a party line vote, Senate Democrats have at last managed to pass a $740 billion package of legislation to address climate change, drug prices, and tax loopholes. There followed much celebration and fist-bumping on the Senate floor. Democrats have been trying to get comprehensive climate legislation passed for nearly a year. The bill now goes to the House, where it’s likely to pass before going for Biden’s signature.

Drug prices – MS Sen. Wicker helps kill provision to cap insulin costs at $35 a month

In addition to the billions in climate subsidies, the bill contains deficit-control provisions. One of these will allow Medicare to negotiate the prices of drugs covered under Medicare part D and B. The provision is fairly modest, allowing Medicare to negotiate the price of 10 drugs (starting in 2025), 10 more the following year and another 10 the year after that. 

The one provision that might have provided relief for patients not eligible for Medicare was struck down on a procedural vote. This clause would have capped diabetics’ monthly insulin bill at $35. The Senate parliamentarian ruled that this clause violated the Byrd rule, requiring 60 votes to include the provision in a reconciliation bill. Astonishingly, it almost got there. The vote was 57-43, with seven Republican Senators, including Mississippi’s Cindy Hyde-Smith, voting with all the Democrats. Mississippi’s other US Senator, Roger Wicker, voted against it.

In 2020, 14.6% of Mississippians were diabetics, the 3rd highest percentage of any state in the nation. 

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Israel bombards Gaza, kills at least 44, including 15 children

Over the weekend, Israel unleashed a campaign of aerial bombing on the Gaza Strip. Last week, Israeli police captured Bassem Saadi, reputed to be the head of Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the West Bank. Israeli authorities blame PIJ and a cluster of other jihadist groups operating in the West Bank for a spate of attacks over the last few months that have killed 17 Israelis and two Ukrainian immigrants. It’s not clear what the connection was between Saadi’s arrest and the airstrikes, but Israel says it was carrying out targeted attacks on other PIJ operatives in Gaza.

Whatever the reason, the aerial bombardment is confirmed to have killed 44 people, including 15 children in Gaza.

Francesca Albanez, the UN special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories, declared Israel’s attacks on Gaza “illegal” and “irresponsible” and called for an investigation. Israel called the bombardment a “pre-emptive” attack in its own defense.

Egypt intervened to negotiate a ceasefire between the two sides, which took effect Sunday and has held overnight. The ceasefire was called to allow aid into Gaza, where hospital generators are mere days from running out of gasoline. However, Israel had previously said its attacks might go on for a week, so its not clear how long this ceasefire will hold.

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