Midday open thread: Toxic air will cut 20 months off lives of kids born now; King on reparations

Today’s comic by Ruben Bolling is Li’l William Barr issues his book report

On this date in 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis: He was at the time engaged in gathering steam across the nation for the Poor People’s March on Washington. For some time, King had been making the case that “We can’t solve our problems unless there is a radical redistribution of economic and political power.” Shortly before he was murdered he included this in a speech, which you can view here

“At the very same time that America refused to give the Negro any land, through an act of Congress our government was giving away millions of acres of land in the West and the Midwest, which meant it was willing to undergird its white peasants from Europe with an economic floor. But not only did they give them and, they built land grant colleges with government money to teach them how to farm. Not only that, they provided county agents to further their expertise in farming. Not only that, they provided low interest rates in order that they could mechanize their farms. Not only that, today many of these people are receiving millions of dollars in federal subsidies not to farm, and they are the very people telling the black man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps. And this is what we are faced with, and this is the reality. Now, when we come to Washington in this campaign, we are coming to get our check.”

Diagnosed with prostate cancer, Sen. Michael Bennett says he still will make a longshot run for the presidency if surgery gives him a clean bill of health.

State of Global Air Report says life expectancy of children born today will be shorter by an average of 20 months because of pollution: According to the State of Global Air 2019 study published Wednesday, toxic air contributed to nearly one in every 10 deaths in 2017. That means it kills more people each year than malaria, and car accidents, and is comparable with the toll from tobacco smoking.

MIDDAY TWEET

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Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff were consulted on sharing nuclear information with Saudi Arabia – Oh wait, NRC Chairman Kristine L. Svinicki said she did not know. Neither did her four colleagues on the commission. https://t.co/7EPYhXfA32

— Progressive Push (@progressivepush) April 4, 2019

Court orders California to pay homeowners $331 million illegally diverted from mortgage settlement fund: Seven years ago, then-state Attorney General Kamala Harris told then-Gov. Jerry Brown that the nation’s biggest banks would be paying the state $410 million as part of a settlement in the subprime mortgage scandal. Harris recommended that the legislature spend the money for programs to help families hurt by the banks’ illegal loan policies. But the impact of the Great Recession was still unfavorably impacting the state budget, so Brown and lawmakers chose to ease those impacts by using the money to fill in gaps and pay down bond debt. Now a state appeals court has reversed that move and ordered the state to pull $331 million out of the general fund, using the money to pay for homeowner-assistance programs. “Money was unlawfully diverted from a special fund in contravention of the purposes for which that special fund was established,” Justice Andrea Hoch wrote for the Third Appellate District panel. 

Move to preserve and protect skeletons of World War I ships in Maryland’s Marrows Bay is stalled: Some of the opposition comes from crabbers and fishermen who worry that designating the area around these rusting hulks as part of a national marine sanctuary will impinge on their livelihoods. 

Iranian leaders say EU’s mechanism for getting around U.S. sanctions is a joke: Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 multilateral nuclear agreement to lift sanctions on Iran in exchange for curtailing its nuclear program. Saying it was a rotten deal, Trump reimposed economic sanctions in two rounds starting in November last year, and he warned the Europeans who had signed the original agreement that they would be penalized if they tried to go around the sanctions. The Western European signatories—Germany, France, and the U.K.—disagreed with Trump’s move and promised they would find ways to circumvent the sanctions by protecting companies that continued to do business with Tehran. That trade mechanism was passed in January. But on Wednesday, Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the mechanism isn’t working and that Iranian officials never expected it to achieve what was promised. “We will continue pressing the Europeans to implement their commitments. Europe must know that they cannot shy away from their responsibilities with a few statements and some unaccomplished plans,” he said.

Floods strand thousands on Pine Ridge Reservation. Tribal chairman seeks federal disaster designation: As many as 8,000 American Indians have been affected on the South Dakota reservation of the Oglala Lakota by massive spring flooding, with 1,500 displaced from their homes altogether. The situation is especially problematic because of poverty is so deep and wide at Pine Ridge, one of several Sioux reservations in South and North Dakota. Tribal Chairman Julian Bear Runner Wednesday joined the state’s legislature call for a federal disaster declaration for South Dakota. This would mean quicker action by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in addressing the human needs of the devastation. “The Oglala Nation needs support in the aftermath of this devastating storm,” Bear Runner said. “Many of us continue to be stranded in, or out of, our homes without access to potable water. This is unacceptable. Rather than declaring emergencies that don’t exist, President Trump needs to pay attention to the ones that do. I call upon him to send us help before lives are further disrupted.”

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