New Investigation:

How Lax EPA Oversight Enabled Jackson's Water Crisis.


The Paper Trail: November 7, 2023

COVID Vaccines Still Hard to Find; The Flailing Campaign Against Hate in the Military; Crumbling Train Bridges; and More. 

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The Paper Trail

Editor’s Note

There will be no Paper Trail on Friday, November 10.

Top stories for November 7, 2023

Some COVID vaccines are still hard to find: Early hiccups with claims and appointments for the shots have largely been resolved but other obstacles remain, particularly for children. (Knvul Sheikh, New York Times)

The EPA has found more than a dozen contaminants in drinking water but hasn’t set safety limits on them: During the past decade, regulators have identified at least one of several unregulated contaminants at levels that could impact human health in the tap water of 61 million people. (Agnel Philip, ProPublica)

ICE’s “outdated and overly permissive” device policy left the agency vulnerable, watchdog warns: A DHS IG audit found ICE personnel and contractors kept apps on their mobile devices that made the agency more vulnerable to potential espionage, leaks, and viruses. (Natalie Alms, Nextgov/FCW)

Investigators head to Antarctica research base after claims of sexual violence: The independent monitor for the National Science Foundation is sending investigators to McMurdo Station in Antarctica after a report last year raised concerns about sexual assault and harassment at McMurdo and other U.S. research sites and field work locations in Antarctica. (Amanda Holpuch, New York Times)

Biden administration seeks to crack down on private Medicare health plans: The proposed rule marks the second time in a year that the administration has sought to stiffen regulation of Medicare Advantage, the private-sector version of Medicare that has soared in popularity but is marred by accusations of abusive marketing practices. (Amy Goldstein, Washington Post)

Israel-Hamas War

U.S. officials fear American guns ordered by Israel could fuel West Bank violence: An Israeli government request for 24,000 American assault rifles is drawing scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers and State Department officials who fear the weapons might end up in the hands of settlers and civilian militias trying to force Palestinians from land in the West Bank. (Edward Wong and Patrick Kingsley, New York Times)

🔎 See Also: State Department approves $320 million sale of guided bomb equipment to Israel (Edward Wong, New York Times)

Pentagon now say 46 troops injured in Iraq and Syria attacks, double previous announced: The number of U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria who have been injured by attacks from Iranian-backed groups now stands at 46, more than double the Pentagon’s last figure. The number of troops diagnosed with traumatic brain injury has also risen. (Jeff Schogol, Task & Purpose)

Satellite companies are restricting Gaza images: Commercial satellite imagery providers have revolutionized information collection, helping their clients do everything from monitoring crops and weather to urban planning. But now they find themselves making choices about national security that have typically been made by governments. (Max Tani, Semafor)


Analysis: The Pentagon’s flailing campaign against hate: The military continues to downplay the spread of right-wing extremism in its ranks. Nearly three years after January 6, the military’s most visible changes are cosmetic. (Jasper Craven, The Nation)

Trump State Department appointee sentenced to nearly 6 years for role in Jan. 6 attack: Former State Department official Federico “Freddie” Klein was convicted of eight felonies and sentenced to 70 months in prison. (Quinn Owen, ABC News)

🔎 See Also: Jan. 6 rioter who ripped officer’s gas mask in “sadistic” attack sentenced to 7 years (Ryan J. Reilly, NBC News)

Dobbs Aftermath

Abortion debate is affecting access to drug used after miscarriages: Mifepristone remains unavailable to patients experiencing pregnancy loss — even in states that do not otherwise restrict abortion — leaving tens of thousands of patients to face longer miscarriage processes and potential medical complications. (Caitlin Dewey, Washington Post)

Defense and Veterans Affairs

Collins, King call on Army’s inspector general to investigate Lewiston shooter’s history: Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King asked the Army’s inspector general to conduct a comprehensive review of the events surrounding last month’s mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine, committed by an Army reservist. (Eric Russell, Portland Press Herald)

Burying victims in paperwork?: Military personnel who file sexual harassment complaints are often burden by paperwork and evidentiary requirements. (Jennifer Barnhill,

Senators demand improved military barracks, tell Pentagon to budget more money for upgrades: Lawmakers urged the Pentagon to improve the conditions of its barracks and better track costs associated with improving living quarters for troops, after a GAO report found junior enlisted troops living in barracks with mold, sewage overflow, and other unsafe conditions. (Corey Dickstein, Stars and Stripes)

For sale: data on U.S. servicemembers — and lots of it: A new report found active-duty service members are vulnerable to having their personal information collected and sold to overseas companies, potentially exposing them to blackmail and misinformation campaigns. (Alfred Ng, Politico)

Business and Finance

This county could create the strictest workplace heat rules in the U.S.: Miami-Dade County, Florida, will be a test of whether local governments can protect workers from increasingly dangerous temperatures in the absence of federal rules. (Nicolás Rivero, Washington Post)

Biden wades into home insurance mess: Climate change may force millions of Americans to go without home insurance, as unpredictable weather and intensifying disasters prompt major underwriters to flee certain areas. In response, the Biden administration asked the top insurance companies to provide detailed data about their policies, claims, premiums, and losses. (Minho Kim, Politico)


Biden’s AI order taps Cold War crisis powers for tech oversight: A sweeping executive order establishing the first set of rules governing development and deployment of AI applies a 73-year-old national security law to oversee the booming industry, which claims the order is an overreach. (Isaiah Poritz, Bloomberg Law)

Cloud clash: Europe divides over data digital sovereignty: Europe’s proposed Cybersecurity Certification Scheme for Cloud Services could prevent U.S. tech companies from storing critical European data. (Théophane Hartmann, Center for European Policy Analysis)


Growing U.S. anger with electric utilities finds its epicenter in Maine: There is a burgeoning national movement of consumers frustrated with outages, billing mishaps, high electricity prices, and unaccountable power companies. (Evan Halper, Washington Post)

Crumbling train bridges are everywhere. Railroads and cities are sparring over when to fix them: There are more than 70,000 railroad bridges in the U.S., and many of the steel, concrete, or timber bridges are showing their age. Local leaders are pushing for companies to speed up improvements to rail infrastructure. (Esther Fung, Wall Street Journal)

🔎 See Also: D.C.-Boston Amtrak corridor gets billions in federal boost (Ian Duncan, Washington Post)

Health Care

Children who survive shootings endure huge health obstacles and costs: The ongoing medical needs of gun violence survivors and their families are vast. (Liz Szabo, CBS News)

🔎 See Also: Firearm injury ER visits among kids doubled during pandemic (Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech, The Hill)

Underdiagnosed and undertreated, young Black males with ADHD get left behind: A new study found Black students are 40% less likely to be diagnosed than white students. (Claire Sibonney, CBS News)

As coal miners suffer and die from severe black lung, a proposed fix may fall short: This summer, the Mine Safety and Health Administration issued a proposed new regulation to limit miners’ silica dust exposure. But the agency predicts the rule will save only 63 coal miner lives and avoid 244 cases of black lung disease over the next 60 years. (Howard Berkes, Justin Hicks, and Allen Siegler, NPR)


Immigration and Border Security:

Senate Republicans release proposal to overhaul border policies

Other News:

U.S. announces $425 million Ukraine aid package

Judge tosses IG’s lawsuit alleging harassment by oversight body investigating him

A secret war, strange new wounds, and silence from the Pentagon

Trump and allies plot revenge, Justice Department control in a second term

Records from notorious Tuskegee syphilis study now available online

Upcoming Events

📌 Examining Federal COVID-Era Spending and Preventing Future Fraud. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Spending Oversight. Tuesday, November 14, 2:45 p.m., 562 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

Hot Docs

🔥📃 Brennan Center for Justice: Holding Homeland Security Accountable: How to Strengthen Departmenta