FROM Jessica Garrison
Buzzfeed Investigation: H-2 Visa Program is the ‘New American Slavery’ Every year, American companies import as many as 150,000 low-skilled temporary workers from countries like Mexico, Central America, and the Philippines. They come in on something called an H-2 visa to work in our fields, hotels, and factories. They’re gardeners and sheep-herders; they work in amusement parks and in US National Parks. An in-depth investigation by Buzzfeed has also found that thousands of them are exploited and mistreated. They are being cheated out of wages and, in some rare, extreme cases, are being beaten, raped, and held prisoner. Buzzfeed reported that the Department of Labor, the government agency that runs the H-2 program, does little to protect these workers. And despite the fact that the law says none of these guest workers should deny jobs to Americans, Buzzfeed reports that’s exactly what’s happening.
High Lead Levels Found in Soil near Exide Battery Plant Exide Technologies is one of just two lead-acid battery smelters west of the Rockies, recycling as many as 25,000 batteries every day. Nearby residents have been worried about health effects from arsenic emissions. Now the state has found elevated levels of lead in soil near 39 homes and two schools, leading to warnings and orders for more testing. Jessica Garrison is reporting the story for the LA Times .
Is One Recycler Doing More Harm than Good? Automobile batteries are made of toxic materials and they're recycled to protect the environment. Exide, a company in Vernon, melts down 25,000 a day and creates lead ingots for sale. But for years, neighbors insist, the plant has emitted both lead and arsenic, with devastating health effects from Boyle heights to Hancock Park. Earlier this year, a judge refused efforts by the State Department of Toxic Substances Control to shut Exide down. Now, the Southern California Air Quality Management District is holding public hearings. The first was on Saturday.
Lax Law Enforcement Leads to Outrage At an angry meeting last night in Boyle Heights, elected legislators expressed outrage over what residents and workers say they’ve known for a long time: they and their children have been exposed to cancer-causing, toxic materials, while state and local regulators have failed to enforce tough laws on the environment. It’s all about the Exide lead-battery recycling plant in the city of Vernon, which reportedly has emitted lead, arsenic and other cancer-causing substances into the air and water. Exide’s own inspection video shows leaks in pipes sometimes used for wastewater. But on Monday, Director of the State Department of Toxic Substance Control Debbie Raphael’s department announced a deal with Exide to let it stay open despite its record of violations.
Polluting Vernon Battery Plant Shut Down Exide Technologies in Vernon is one of the largest car-battery recyclers in the world. But it’s been shut down by the state Department of Toxic Substances Control, which says it’s a public health threat to as many as 100,000 people.
Los Angeles Housing Authority Head Is Fired A controversial city bureaucrat has been ousted. The board of LA's Housing Authority , the largest west of the Mississippi, has fired Rudolf Montiel, who tried to evict nine tenants six months ago after they picketed outside his home in Rancho Cucamonga. Jessica Garrison reports for the Los Angeles Times .
Two More Water Mains Burst Two more water mains burst last night in the San Fernando Valley, just days after a fire engine was almost swallowed in a North Hollywood sink hole and a gusher broke through the pavement in Studio City. The Department of Water and Power says there've been dozens of "major blowouts" in the last three months, flooding streets and damaging buildings as well as vehicles.
Political appointments and the reshaping of the judiciary President Trump has the chance for a long-term impact -- not just on the US Supreme Court, but on the entire federal court system. And his nominees are likely to get the support of a massive spending campaign by donors who don't have to reveal their names. Can President Trump "pack" the federal court system?
The 'deconstruction' of the administrative state President Trump has failed to fill high-level positions in important agencies — and some people he has named want to phase out the agencies they're supposed to lead. We look at the possible consequences for delivering services and providing security — and at top aide Steve Bannon's plans for "deconstructing the administrative state."
America's top diplomat faces challenges in Asia Whatever happened to America's "pivot to Asia?" That's just one of the questions left hanging since Rex Tillerson's first trip there as Secretary of State. Is the Trump Administration hoping to change Foreign Policy or maintain the status quo?