10 Biggest Lies and Distortions From the GOP Debate
Another GOP debate, another steaming pile of half-truths, lies and pseudo-facts. The Republican party seems to be almost entirely post-truth at this point and if you call them out, you're the liberal media! It's a brilliant racket and one that led us to the current state of affairs where facts aren't just dispensable, but a political liability. Without further ado, here are the top lies and distortions from last night's debate.
Catch up on what happened in the #GOPdebate. https://t.co/xRsP634FFg. https://t.co/NathKZNg4i— CNN Breaking News (@CNN Breaking News)1450238757.0
A popular refrain in the wake of the Paris and San Bernadino attacks is that the U.S. government (or more specifically President Obama) cannot properly vet Syrian refugees. This has been repeatedly debunked as hysterical posturing, yet remains a popular trope among the far right. In addition to a rather thorough takedown by John Oliver two weeks ago, PoliticoFact rated this claim, "mostly false" in its detailed analysis this evening.
"Climate change" was only mentioned once at tonight's #GOPDebate—and it was just to belittle the Paris conference https://t.co/YMFml6URzQ— NowThis (@NowThis)1450239585.0
2. Marco Rubio claims Assad created ISIS.
This is an old canard and one that even nominally lefty outlets like Vox like to push, but it has little to do with reality. In an effort to shore up his neocon credentials, Rubio has doubled down on regime change in Syria while other GOP candidates like Paul and Cruz—as well as Bernie Sanders—have run away from this position. To do this Rubio has pushed the conspiracy theory that the reason ISIS grew in Syria is because the U.S. didn't back the rebels opposed to Assad when in fact the CIA, according to documents revealed by Edward Snowden, spent $1 billion a year arming, funding and assisting the opposition.
Five GOP debates, 47 candidates (approx) … and zero plans to tackle our greatest challenge. https://t.co/TkhI67X2A7 https://t.co/t8EE9Zfww5— Jamison Foser (@Jamison Foser)1450239235.0
3. Donald Trump cites bogus poll that 25 percent of Muslims condone acts of violence.
A popular trope among the nativist wing of the Republican Party (aka the Republican Party), the bogus stat that 25 percent of Muslins support violence is thrown around quite often. But it originates from noted Islamophobic "think tank" Center for Security Policy. As the New York Times notes:
"Mr. Trump vouched for the group at a rally on Monday night. But the poll—conducted by the Polling Company, a Republican firm—is in no way truly representative of all Muslim Americans because of its methodology. The poll was not based on a random sample, but included only people who chose to participate and therefore is not representative of the population being studied. In addition, some of the questions were leading and biased."
Why don't the GOP candidates have clean energy plans? Call them out at the #GOPDebate. #50by30 https://t.co/pKijReu2km via @nextgenclimate— Daniel J. Weiss (@Daniel J. Weiss)1450213615.0
4. Chris Christie insists he was appointed U.S. Attorney on Sept. 10, 2001.
Why does Christie keep repeating this lie? It's been debunked several times and it's a matter of public record. It's a great soundbite to be sure and if true, would put Christie in the heart of the most significant foreign policy crisis of the past 20 years. But the reality is that George W. Bush nominated Christie on Dec. 7, 2001, as one can clearly see from a White House press release.
5. Ted Cruz claims George W. Bush deported 10 million people.
Geroge W. Bush deported 1.8 million people. Obama deported 2 million. It's unclear where Cruz is getting this number from.
6. Donald Trump keeps saying he self-funds, but we know that's demonstrably false.
This is another assertion that's completely disproven and easily searchable online (which raises the question of why CNN hasn't bothered doing this). Trump has received, according to the last available FEC filings, upward of $3.9 million from individual donors compared to using only $101,000 of his own money. How does this fit with his "self-funded" narrative? It's unclear, but perhaps a more urgent question is why would any sane person donate money to someone who claims to have more than $10 billion?
7. Moderator lie: CNN's Wolf Blitzer claimed terrorism fears are higher than they've been since 9/11.
That's not true. A recent Gallup poll shows terrorism fears have spiked recently, but are the same as in 2005 and nowhere near as high as after 9/11.
8. Lie by omission: Why was the attack on Planned Parenthood not mentioned in a debate about terrorism?
As Sean McElwee of Demos noted, in a debate that was nominally about "terrorism," non-Muslim terrorism was completely absent. The recent Planned Parenthood terrorist attack carried out by a man who claims to be a "warrior for babies" wasn't discussed in the broader context of terrorism. Why this is so remains unclear.
9. Lie by cliche: What the hell is Fiorina talking about?
Fiorina keeps referencing "building up the sixth fleet" because presumably it sounds like some important walk-and-talk dialogue in the West Wing, but it actually makes no sense. Several experts have chimed in on this strange refrain and pointed out that it's basically nonsense. As military magazine Stars and Stripes noted:
"Her meaning wasn’t immediately clear—the U.S. 6th Fleet is less a collection of ships than a command structure for operating American warships in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. Moreover, the fleet is one of the few growing military commands in Europe. It is building land-based missile interceptor sites in Romania and Poland and in the coming days it will welcome the last of four guided-missile destroyers to arrive for permanent stationing in Rota, Spain."
10. Several candidates keep claiming the Iran deal "gives $150 billion to Iran."
As the LA Times notes, it's not "giving" $150 billion to Iran, it's relieving sanctions that will ultimately unfreeze more than $150 billion in assets to Iran, but the funds were already Iran's to begin with. No one is "giving" Iran anything.
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By Lynne Peeples
Editor's note: This story is part of a nine-month investigation of drinking water contamination across the U.S. The series is supported by funding from the Park Foundation and Water Foundation. Read the launch story, "Thirsting for Solutions," here.
In late September 2020, officials in Wrangell, Alaska, warned residents who were elderly, pregnant or had health problems to avoid drinking the city's tap water — unless they could filter it on their own.
Unintended Consequences<p>Chemists first discovered disinfection by-products in treated drinking water in the 1970s. The trihalomethanes they found, they determined, had resulted from the reaction of chlorine with natural organic matter. Since then, scientists have identified more than 700 additional disinfection by-products. "And those only represent a portion. We still don't know half of them," says Richardson, whose lab has identified hundreds of disinfection by-products. </p>
What’s Regulated and What’s Not?<p>The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) currently regulates 11 disinfection by-products — including a handful of trihalomethanes (THM) and haloacetic acids (HAA). While these represent only a small fraction of all disinfection by-products, EPA aims to use their presence to indicate the presence of other disinfection by-products. "The general idea is if you control THMs and HAAs, you implicitly or by default control everything else as well," says Korshin.</p><p>EPA also requires drinking water facilities to use techniques to reduce the concentration of organic materials before applying disinfectants, and regulates the quantity of disinfectants that systems use. These rules ultimately can help control levels of disinfection by-products in drinking water.</p>
Click the image for an interactive version of this chart on the Environmental Working Group website.<p>Still, some scientists and advocates argue that current regulations do not go far enough to protect the public. Many question whether the government is regulating the right disinfection by-products, and if water systems are doing enough to reduce disinfection by-products. EPA is now seeking public input as it considers potential revisions to regulations, including the possibility of regulating additional by-products. The agency held a <a href="https://www.epa.gov/dwsixyearreview/potential-revisions-microbial-and-disinfection-byproducts-rules" target="_blank">two-day public meeting</a> in October 2020 and plans to hold additional public meetings throughout 2021.</p><p>When EPA set regulations on disinfection by-products between the 1970s and early 2000s, the agency, as well as the scientific community, was primarily focused on by-products of reactions between organics and chlorine — historically the most common drinking water disinfectant. But the science has become increasingly clear that these chlorinated chemicals represent a fraction of the by-product problem.</p><p>For example, bromide or iodide can get caught up in the reaction, too. This is common where seawater penetrates a drinking water source. By itself, bromide is innocuous, says Korshin. "But it is extremely [reactive] with organics," he says. "As bromide levels increase with normal treatment, then concentrations of brominated disinfection by-products will increase quite rapidly."</p><p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15487777/" target="_blank">Emerging</a> <a href="https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.est.7b05440" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">data</a> indicate that brominated and iodinated by-products are potentially more harmful than the regulated by-products.</p><p>Almost half of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of either the Atlantic or Pacific coasts, where saltwater intrusion can be a problem for drinking water supplies. "In the U.S., the rule of thumb is the closer to the sea, the more bromide you have," says Korshin, noting there are also places where bromide naturally leaches out from the soil. Still, some coastal areas tend to be spared. For example, the city of Seattle's water comes from the mountains, never making contact with seawater and tending to pick up minimal organic matter.</p><p>Hazardous disinfection by-products can also be an issue with desalination for drinking water. "As <a href="https://ensia.com/features/can-saltwater-quench-our-growing-thirst/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">desalination</a> practices become more economical, then the issue of controlling bromide becomes quite important," adds Korshin.</p>
Other Hot Spots<p>Coastal areas represent just one type of hot spot for disinfection by-products. Agricultural regions tend to send organic matter — such as fertilizer and animal waste — into waterways. Areas with warmer climates generally have higher levels of natural organic matter. And nearly any urban area can be prone to stormwater runoff or combined sewer overflows, which can contain rainwater as well as untreated human waste, industrial wastewater, hazardous materials and organic debris. These events are especially common along the East Coast, notes Sydney Evans, a science analyst with the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG, a collaborator on <a href="https://ensia.com/ensia-collections/troubled-waters/" target="_blank">this reporting project</a>).</p><p>The only drinking water sources that might be altogether free of disinfection by-products, suggests Richardson, are private wells that are not treated with disinfectants. She used to drink water from her own well. "It was always cold, coming from great depth through clay and granite," she says. "It was fabulous."</p><p>Today, Richardson gets her water from a city system that uses chloramine.</p>
Toxic Treadmill<p>Most community water systems in the U.S. use chlorine for disinfection in their treatment plant. Because disinfectants are needed to prevent bacteria growth as the water travels to the homes at the ends of the distribution lines, sometimes a second round of disinfection is also added in the pipes.</p><p>Here, systems usually opt for either chlorine or chloramine. "Chloramination is more long-lasting and does not form as many disinfection by-products through the system," says Steve Via, director of federal relations at the American Water Works Association. "Some studies show that chloramination may be more protective against organisms that inhabit biofilms such as Legionella."</p>
Alternative Approaches<p>When he moved to the U.S. from Germany, Prasse says he immediately noticed the bad taste of the water. "You can taste the chlorine here. That's not the case in Germany," he says.</p><p>In his home country, water systems use chlorine — if at all — at lower concentrations and at the very end of treatment. In the Netherlands, <a href="https://dwes.copernicus.org/articles/2/1/2009/dwes-2-1-2009.pdf" target="_blank">chlorine isn't used at all</a> as the risks are considered to outweigh the benefits, says Prasse. He notes the challenge in making a convincing connection between exposure to low concentrations of disinfection by-products and health effects, such as cancer, that can occur decades later. In contrast, exposure to a pathogen can make someone sick very quickly.</p><p>But many countries in Europe have not waited for proof and have taken a precautionary approach to reduce potential risk. The emphasis there is on alternative approaches for primary disinfection such as ozone or <a href="https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/eco-friendly-way-disinfect-water-using-light/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">ultraviolet light</a>. Reverse osmosis is among the "high-end" options, used to remove organic and inorganics from the water. While expensive, says Prasse, the method of forcing water through a semipermeable membrane is growing in popularity for systems that want to reuse wastewater for drinking water purposes.</p><p>Remucal notes that some treatment technologies may be good at removing a particular type of contaminant while being ineffective at removing another. "We need to think about the whole soup when we think about treatment," she says. What's more, Remucal explains, the mixture of contaminants may impact the body differently than any one chemical on its own. </p><p>Richardson's preferred treatment method is filtering the water with granulated activated carbon, followed by a low dose of chlorine.</p><p>Granulated activated carbon is essentially the same stuff that's in a household filter. (EWG recommends that consumers use a <a href="https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/reviewed-disinfection-byproducts.php#:~:text=EWG%20recommends%20using%20a%20home,as%20trihalomethanes%20and%20haloacetic%20acids." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">countertop carbon filter</a> to reduce levels of disinfection by-products.) While such a filter "would remove disinfection by-products after they're formed, in the plant they remove precursors before they form by-products," explains Richardson. She coauthored a <a href="https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.est.9b00023" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2019 paper</a> that concluded the treatment method is effective in reducing a wide range of regulated and unregulated disinfection by-products.</p><br>
Greater Cincinnati Water Works installed a granulated activated carbon system in 1992, and is still one of relatively few full-scale plants that uses the technology. Courtesy of Greater Cincinnati Water Works.<p>Despite the technology and its benefits being known for decades, relatively few full-scale plants use granulated active carbon. They often cite its high cost, Richardson says. "They say that, but the city of Cincinnati [Ohio] has not gone bankrupt using it," she says. "So, I'm not buying that argument anymore."</p><p>Greater Cincinnati Water Works installed a granulated activated carbon system in 1992. On a video call in December, Jeff Swertfeger, the superintendent of Greater Cincinnati Water Works, poured grains of what looks like black sand out of a glass tube and into his hand. It was actually crushed coal that has been baked in a furnace. Under a microscope, each grain looks like a sponge, said Swertfeger. When water passes over the carbon grains, he explained, open tunnels and pores provide extensive surface area to absorb contaminants.</p><p>While the granulated activated carbon initially was installed to address chemical spills and other industrial contamination concerns in the Ohio River, Cincinnati's main drinking water source, Swertfeger notes that the substance has turned out to "remove a lot of other stuff, too," including <a href="https://ensia.com/features/drinking-water-contamination-pfas-health/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">PFAS</a> and disinfection by-product precursors.</p><p>"We use about one-third the amount of chlorine as we did before. It smells and tastes a lot better," he says. "The use of granulated activated carbon has resulted in lower disinfection by-products across the board."</p><p>Richardson is optimistic about being able to reduce risks from disinfection by-products in the future. "If we're smart, we can still kill those pathogens and lower our chemical disinfection by-product exposure at the same time," she says.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://ensia.com/features/drinking-water-disinfection-byproducts-pathogens/" target="_blank">Ensia</a>. </em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649953730#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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