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PITTSBURGH (AP) — The U.S. Coast Guard wants to allow barges filled with fracking wastewater to ply the nation's rivers on their way toward disposal. Many environmentalists are horrified, but industry groups say barge transport has its advantages.

Critics of the plan say that if there was an accident, it could threaten the drinking water supply of millions of people. They also cite the uncertainty around what's in that toxic mix.

The Coast Guard is proposing to address that by requiring chemical testing of each barge load before shipment.

The wastewater now is usually disposed of by truck or rail. A government report notes that poses more risk for accidents than shipping by barge.

The industry says far greater amounts of toxic chemicals are already being moved by barge, including oil drilling waste.

Read more...

ATLANTA (AP) — For the Braves, abandoning downtown Atlanta for the suburbs means moving closer to the team's fan base and developing money-making restaurants and amenities.

Team officials say it's simply good business.

Their decision also highlights long-standing disparities over wealth, where people live and transportation. Those facets of life are connected to race and social class in Atlanta. The Braves will be moving from an area that's predominantly black and relatively poor compared to whiter Cobb County — where the team says more ticket-buyers live.

Although it is long past segregation, the hometown of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King is far from integrated, and the city's politics, business and even sports teams reflect that gap. The Braves said they made their decision was not driven by race or class.

Read more...

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. Paul Ryan says his 2-year budget agreement with Democrats is the equivalent of taking a few steps in the right direction.

For Republicans lacking a clear national leader, the deal also may be a way to span the GOP's divide.

And it could put the Wisconsin Republican — his party's 2012 vice presidential nominee — in the role of bridge-builder before next year's congressional elections.

The budget plan approved by the House capped a year in which Ryan pushed his fellow conservatives to recognize the realities of divided government.

Ryan could eventually try to succeed House Speaker John Boehner or jump into the 2016 White House race.

Some conservatives oppose the deal but it could help him make the case that Ryan can get things done in divided government.

Read more...

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