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House passes bipartisan bill requiring faster federal response to Flint-like water disaster

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The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday easily passed a bill requiring federal environmental regulators to act faster when lead contamination is found in drinking water.

The bill passed 416-2. It was crafted by Michigan Representatives Dan Kildee, a Democrat, and Fred Upton, a Republican, in the wake of Flint’s drinking water crisis.

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The measure requires the Environmental Protection Agency to notify the public when concentrations of lead in drinking water rise above mandated levels and to create a plan to improve communication between the agency, utilities, states, and consumers.

In 2014, under a state-appointed emergency manager, Flint, a city of 100,000, switched water supplies to the Flint River, from Detroit’s system as part of a plan to save money in the poverty-stricken city.

The more corrosive river water leached lead from aging pipes. Thousands of children are believed to have ingested dangerous levels of lead, a toxin that can harm brains and cause other health problems.

The bill “wouldn’t have prevented Flint, but it would have caught it far sooner,” Kildee, who is from Flint, said after the vote. The measure must be passed by the Senate and signed by President Barack Obama before becoming law.

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Other measures in Congress to provide Flint with millions of dollars in aid to deal with the crisis face an uncertain future. Kildee has also introduced a bill to provide about $700 million in federal aid, with a match in funding from Michigan. That and other measures languished as Democrats and Republicans struggled to agree on where the funds would come from.

The Department of Agriculture said on Thursday it would temporarily allow Michigan to use funds from its Women, Infants and Children program for low income citizens to conduct lead testing. The department estimated some 3,800 people could get tested in this way.

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(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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John Oliver cites Donald Trump’s final offer for Greenland: ‘$200 and I’ll throw in Don Jr.’

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"Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver's favorite highlight of the week was, of course, President Donald Trump's decision that he wanted to buy Greenland.

In his opener Sunday, the HBO host said that he wasn't all that surprised given Trump's track record.

"Of course, he f*cking did. Of course, he did. Greenland is icy, distant and autonomous is exactly Trump's type," Oliver said, showing a photo of Trump with the first lady.

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Florida teacher removed after bizarre rant about students not standing for the pledge

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Students were faced with a white-board rant in a classroom attacking anyone not standing up for the Pledge of Allegiance.

The moment went viral locally on Thursday after students posted Daniel Goodman‘s “inappropriate” message to students at First Coast High School in Duval County, Florida, The Atlanta Black Star reported.

“THINK: We had about a half million Americans die in our Civil War, which was largely to get rid of slavery. There are no longer separate water fountains and bathrooms in Jacksonville for ‘white’ and ‘colored,’ as Mr. Goodman remembers from the 1960?s. We had an amendment to the U.S. Constitution allowing women the right to vote. We have had a Black president. The superintendent of Duval Schools is a Black woman. Mr. Fluent, our principal, replaced a Black man. Mr. Simmons, who now is a DC PS admninistrator.”

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Angry Minnesota farmer bashes ‘insulting’ Trump comments that ‘we’re great patriots’ during his trade war

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President Donald Trump has insulted at least one Minnesota farmer by his claim that farmers are "great patriots" who want him to continue his trade fight against China.

"This wound is self-inflicted, by our president," said Gary Wertish, who is the Minnesota Farm Bureau president. "We definitely agreed with it in the beginning. But it doesn’t appear that there’s a plan B. Some of the callous comments come, especially from the president, you know, that farmers are 'winning,' we’re 'great patriots,' that’s very insulting. That’s coming from someone who never has faced the challenges of a family farmer. I go into the bank and tell the lender I can’t make the payment because we lost our market? The banker is going to tell me you don’t have to make your payment because you’re a patriot."

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