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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tuesday night and the subscription line is open

Posted By on Tue, Jul 30, 2013 at 4:27 PM

The Tuesday night line is open. Final words:

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* ARKANSAS TIMES DIGITAL MEMBERSHIP REMINDER: Thursday the Arkansas Times begins metered access to our four digital news weblogs, the Arkansas, Rock Candy, Eat Arkansas and Eye Candy blogs. Some free access will continue, but full access will require a subscription ($9.99 a month or $110 a year), but includes a variety of premiums. We've made the move to membership to adjust to the changing media world (i.e., erosion of traditional revenue sources) and to expand what has become a seven-day news/analysis operation. We hope you'll join.

* SUPPORT FOR KALI HARDIG: Huffington Post, one of the most read websites, has posted an article on the case of Kali Hardig, the 12-year-old suffering from a rare disease caused by a brain-eating parasite. The story recounts the suspicion that she contracted the illness from swimming at Willow Springs and recounts the fallout there, plus Health Department advisories on the illness. It's exceedingly rare, but often fatal.

* TAKE HEART. YOU COULD LIVE IN CHATTANOOGA: Many of our readers aren't fans of the often overheated Arkansas Democrat-Gazette editorial page, reliably Republican and stridently anti-Obama. But maybe we're too harsh. The DOG editorialists sound almost moderate compared with this eruption in another newspaper owned by D-G Publisher Walter Hussman, in Chattanooga. The occasion was a visit by President Obama. He was not welcome, to put it mildly. The headline has grabbed national attention:

Take your jobs plan and shove it, Mr. President: Your policies have harmed Chattanooga enough

* JACKSON COUNTY JAIL ESCAPEE DIES IN CAR CRASH: Fox 16 reports that Steven Mitchell, 39, one of two men who escaped the Jackson County Jail in Newport Monday, died in a Missouri car crash. The other escapee is back in custody.

* TOP THIS HEADLINE NATIONAL ENQUIRER: I don't know if KTHV in Little Rock or KAIT in Jonesboro gets the credit, but here's today's attention-grabber:

Dog eats paralyzed man's testicle

* PIPELINE PRESSURE: Sens. Mark Pryor and John Boozman and U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin released a joint letter today calling on a federal pipeline safety agency to release information regarding the Mayflower oil spill. ExxonMobil says the agency is the only one with authority to release the information. Tim Griffin has some of the information, however, but hasn't been willing to release it himself.

UPDATE: The Griffin office, which communicates only once in a blue moon with the Times was heard from this evening to say two things: 1) ALL members of the delegation have the same data Griffin has. I guess only he has made a point of brooding about it on talk radio. Fine. Let them ALL release the material. 2) Griffin has passed an amendment to take money from the Transportation Department budget to increase funding for the pipeline safety office. Somebody has to be punished when Griffin gets money for his peeps. Undoubtedly this rare missive is because of stings from the Democratic Party this morning on Griffin's general record as a pipeline company coddler. The joint letter follows, as does Griffin's news release:

JOINT NEWS RELEASE

WASHINGTON D.C. — U.S. Senators Mark Pryor and John Boozman, along with Congressman Tim Griffin (AR-2) today sent a letter to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) urging them to release information regarding the Mayflower oil spill. After repeatedly dodging the question, ExxonMobil this week claimed that PHMSA is the only one with the authority to release the requested information.

The full text of the letter is below:

Enclosed are our two letters to ExxonMobil requesting information regarding the Pegasus Pipeline failure in Mayflower, Arkansas, and ExxonMobil’s recent response. The ExxonMobil letter states:

“While the investigation is on-going, it is PHMSA that defines the timing, type and amount of investigative information to share with appropriate stakeholders and the general public.”

We believe that in the interest of full transparency, PHMSA should publish on its website the ExxonMobil 2010 and 2013 in-line inspection reports, the 2006 hydrostatic test report, and the 2013 metallurgical report. If PHMSA cannot take this action, we would like to know the statutory requirement preventing PHMSA from acting in the public interest.

The citizens of Arkansas have a right to know the results of these tests. Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter.

GRIFFIN NEWS RELEASE

“Federal agencies are too top-heavy and full of waste. My amendment removes $500,000 from the U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary’s salary and expenses budget and appropriates it for the operational expenses of PHMSA. It ensures PHMSA has additional resources to maintain the safety of America’s pipelines with no additional cost to hardworking taxpayers.”

The House passed Griffin’s amendment by voice vote, and final passage of the Transportation Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act (H.R. 2610) could come as early as Wednesday.

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