A Chemical Train Derailment in Ohio

Happy Wednesday! In an effort to speed up the game, Major League Baseball’s joint competition committee voted unanimously this week to permanently keep a pandemic-era rule change that automatically puts a “zombie runner” on second base to start every extra inning.

Our reaction, and the reaction of all people of good will:

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • Nikki Haley—former governor of South Carolina and ambassador to the United Nations—announced Tuesday she is running for president in 2024, becoming the first prominent Republican to officially challenge former President Donald Trump for the party’s nomination. Her kick-off video calls for “generational change” in GOP leadership, highlighting the party’s failure to win the presidential popular vote in seven out of the last eight elections. Haley will hold a rally in her home state today, and then campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire later this week. 
  • The Consumer Price Index rose 0.5 percent month-over-month and 6.4 percent annually in January, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday, down slightly from 6.5 percent in December but faster than the 6.2 percent economists anticipated. The growth will likely keep the Federal Reserve on track to raise interest rates again when it meets in March.
  • Former Vice President Mike Pence is likely to challenge the subpoena recently issued by Special Counsel Jack Smith—who is investigating former President Donald Trump’s attempts to overthrow the 2020 presidential election. People familiar with Pence’s intentions say the former vice president plans to argue his role as president of the Senate shields him from testifying on the particulars of his work by the Constitution’s “speech and debate” clause. The subpoena, reportedly issued Thursday, would compel Pence to share details of his interactions with Trump in the leadup to January 6, 2021.
  • National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters Tuesday the three flying objects shot down over the U.S. and Canada over the weekend were likely “benign,” and may have served some “commercial” purpose. Kirby added the objects’ origins are still unknown—though they don’t belong to the U.S. government—and the military has yet to recover the debris from the remote locations where the objects fell.
  • The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) announced yesterday U.S. F-16 fighters scrambled Monday to perform a “routine” intercept of four Russian fighter jets entering Alaska’s air defense identification zone. Russian planes did not cross into U.S. or Canadian airspace, and turned away when approached by the U.S. jets. Similar encounters occur between seven and eight times a year, NORAD said.
  • Federal Reserve Vice Chair Lael Brainard will replace outgoing National Economic Council head Brian Deese, the White House announced Tuesday. President Joe Biden announced Deese’s departure earlier this month, and Brainard’s departure from the Fed will free up a Senate-confirmed seat on the central bank’s seven-person board. 
  • Federal Trade Commissioner (FTC) Christine Wilson—the only Republican on the five-person commission—announced in a Wall Street Journal op-ed Tuesday she will resign from the FTC in protest of what she calls Chairwoman Lina Khan’s “abuses of power.” Khan, nominated by President Joe Biden, has moved aggressively to counter tech mergers and scrutinize businesses she considers monopolies. The other Republican member of the commission, Noah Phillips, resigned in October.
  • Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California announced Tuesday she will not seek reelection in 2024 to the seat she’s held since 1992. California Reps. Adam Schiff and Katie Porter—both Democrats—have already launched their bids to replace the Senate’s longest serving woman in history, while California Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee is reported to be jumping into the race soon.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last week suicides in the United States increased from 45,979 in 2020 to 48,183 in 2021, nearing 2018’s record high of 48,344 and reversing 2019 and 2020’s declines.

East Palestine’s Unfolding Disaster

Smoke rises from a derailed cargo train in East Palestine, Ohio. Photo by DUSTIN FRANZ/AFP via Getty Images)

When residents of East Palestine, Ohio, performed as extras in 2021 for a movie about a chemical spill from a derailed train, they never could have predicted life would imitate art quite so closely. Two years later, they’re sharing apocalyptic video clips of smoke billowing above their homes and questioning whether the water’s safe to drink.

On the evening of Friday, February 3, about 38 cars of a Norfolk Southern Railroad train slid off the tracks on the edge of the Ohio village, which sits just across the border from Pennsylvania, about 40 miles from Pittsburgh. It’s not yet clear why, but an initial update by the National Transportation Safety Board suggests an overheated wheel bearing contributed to the accident. Eleven of those cars contained hazardous chemicals—including vinyl chloride, used in making plastics—and the contents began to leak from cars after the derailment as several caught fire. Initially, even firemen were forced to keep their distance.

This content is available exclusively to Dispatch members
Try a membership for full access to every newsletter and all of The Dispatch. Support quality, fact-based journalism.
Already a paid member? Sign In
Comments (392)
Join The Dispatch to participate in the comments.
Load More