National Guard and Defense Contractor Have Bad Chemistry

Croda chemicals plant, by geograph user Derek Harper, licensed via Creative Commons

Wait, Water Plants Could Be Unsafe?

Cancel your vacation plans to any water plants in the Middle East.  American defense contractor KBR was recently ordered to settle with the United States National Guard in response to a toxic chemical issue.  About a dozen soldiers took up the lawsuit, claiming KBR knew all along that they were being exposed to a drug called “carcinogen hexavalent chromium” at an Iraqi water facility.  A judge in Portland, Oregon ordered the settlement of $85 million with each individual member of the National Guard receiving around $7 million.  The soldiers are currently suffering from respiratory issues, trouble breathing, and skin conditions that will require extensive health care for the immediate future.

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Texas Educators Ordered to Apologize Post-Settlement

Graduation prayer, licensed via photos.com
Church + State, perniciously entwined.

Apparently civility is the kind of thing that needs to be enforced by a court.  A few weeks after a settlement banning school administrators in Texas from promoting religious displays, U.S. District Judge Fred Biery issued an order forcing certain school employees to apologize to the plaintiffs in the settled case.  The settlement included a term forbidding administrators and employees from “disparaging” the plaintiff’s family, some agnostics who had objected the the promotion of prayer in a San Antonio graduation ceremony.  The superintendent of the school district then nearly immediately disparaged the plaintiff’s family in a televised interview, not deigning to wait even a few hours after the settlement was reached.  Later, the director of the high school marching band accused the plaintiffs of “lies and false accusations” on Facebook, a statement that could be construed as slander, should the plaintiff be able to prove that she is not a liar.

Judge Biery then issued a “Non-Kumbaya” order, essentially claiming that the defendants in the case need not be perfect friends with the plaintiffs, holding hands and singing “Kumbaya” together and whatnot, but that they must at least be publicly amicable and civil.  The order required two signed documents within ten days: one noting that the defendants have apologized for their outbursts, and one noting that the plaintiffs have accepted the apology.  In his order, Judge Biery stressed that “silence is golden”, and that some people, such as Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, have paid a price for “talking too much”.

It’s a sad state of affairs when a judge has to step in to force someone to be graceful and reverent by order of the court.  Makes it hard to believe that Coach Taylor could train such stand up players in an environment full of sore losers.