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News Blog

Alternate Realities Roundup 7/5

by Eric S. Peterson
- Posted // 2013-07-05 -

President Barack Obama has said drone attacks in Yemen are launched if there is a “near certainty” that no civilians will be hurt. Despite that, a new report has catalogued 80 civilian deaths in country from drone attacks since 2009.

Top of the Alty World

“New Report Documents the Human Cost of Drone Strikes in Yemen”—Rolling Stone

More than two months after the deadly explosion of a Texas fertilizer plant, that state has yet to take action on preventing future calamities.—Mother Jones

With the coup in Egypt and power sharing seeming to be an impossibility, The Nation asks if Egypt has now gone from Arab spring to Arab winter—The Nation

European leaders are outraged about revelations of spying on their citizens by the NSA, but are unsure how to react.—The Economist

Top of Alty Utah

Five important takeaways from the Legislature’s special session, where they authorized a probe to investigate allegations of corruption against Attorney General John Swallow.—Salt Lake City Weekly

The legislative resolution also came with multiple amendments, with key Democratic-sponsored ones being voted down along party lines.—Utah Political Capitol

House GOP leadership warns against the blowback that could result from the party being seen as dragging its feet on the Swallow investigation.—Utah Policy

A group is asking the LDS Church to reconsider its policy on civil weddings.—Salt Lake City Weekly

Rantosphere

Bryan Schott explains that there is something perhaps uglier than impeachment that could happen if the Legislature’s investigative committee finds evidence of corruption—a lawsuit by Swallow’s attorneys against the Legislature.

“What happens if the committee investigating Swallow comes up with information that leads the House to impeach him? It’s entirely possible (maybe even likely) that Swallow’s lawyers would sue because the whole investigation wasn’t permitted under the Constitution. How about the warning from Swallow’s lawyers that the investigation can only focus on his time in office, not beforehand? That’s a clear warning-shot across the bow. This whole process is going to be a balancing act worthy of the Flying Wallendas. If Swallow is impeached and he takes the matter to the courts, it won’t be about justice. It will be about naked revenge. He will want to take as many people down with him.”—Schott Happens

The Long View

A look at how a fertilizer-plant explosion changed life forever in the town of West, Texas.

“The explosion spit fire and hot metal into the surrounding area, burning three homes to the ground and melting a large portion of nearby West Intermediate School. Debris from the plant was later found 2.5 miles away. The apartment building across the railroad tracks became a charred skeleton, open to the front and back, its contents shaken out on both sides. Jagged shards of tin knifed through the air, hunks of thick pipe tumbled from the sky and massive chunks of concrete crashed through walls and roofs. The majority of the houses in a five-block radius were rocked by forces acting in two directions. First, a shockwave of energy traveling in excess of 7,000 mph snapped wall studs and ceiling rafters and shattered glass windows and doors. Then, a vacuum sucked everything back toward ground zero, yanking down sheetrock and insulation and caving in roofs. The explosion killed 15 people, injured 200 others, destroyed 161 houses and damaged almost 175 more. It is something like a miracle that those numbers are so low. The fertilizer plant stored a total of 150 tons of ammonium nitrate: The wooden building housed about 50 tons, and another 100 or so sat in a nearby railcar. The explosion could have been five times more powerful than it was, if everything had ignited.”—D Magazine

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