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Biden to finally visit East Palestine, Ohio this week — more than a year after toxic spill

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Biden to finally visit East Palestine, Ohio this week — more than a year after toxic spill


President Joe Biden will visit East Palestine, Ohio this Friday, finally making good on his promise to tour the site of the Norfolk Southern train derailment that unleashed a brew of toxic chemicals into the environment more than a year ago.

News of the Democrat’s visit came after he endured fierce criticism from Republicans for failing to visit the beleaguered community since the Feb. 3, 2023 environmental disaster.

“The President will travel to East Palestine, Ohio to discuss how the Administration is continuing to work with state and local officials to hold Norfolk Southern accountable and support the community as it moves forward,” the White House said in an advisory.

Dozens of cars on a Norfolk Southern freight train transporting toxic chemicals derailed last year, causing authorities to made the controversial decision to conduct a control burn, which set off a plume of black clouds over the community.

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The carcinogen is believed to have released highly toxic dioxins after being burned as well over 100,000 gallons of vinyl chloride were leaked in the aftermath of the derailment.

The synthetic polymer of plastic can take a toll on one’s nervous system and cause long-term health ailments such as liver damage or cancer.

White House officials have defended President Biden’s record amid criticism of the delayed visit. REUTERS

At least four other toxic chemicals, including butyl acrylate, ethylhexyl acrylate, ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, and isobutylene also leaked during the derailment, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Republican East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway, invited Biden to visit the town, which is roughly an hour’s drive west of Pittsburgh.

A White House official confirmed last month that Biden intended to travel to East Palestine this February, but didn’t publicly set a date in stone.

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Shortly after the derailment, former President Donald Trump stopped by the town of just under 5,000 people, ordered McDonald’s for first responders and community members, and disbursed “Trump water.”

Democrats such as Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg have tried to flip the blame on Trump, pointing to rail deregulations during his White House tenure.

Drone footage captured the controversial controlled burn. AP

“Well, I haven’t had the occasion to go to East Palestine,” Biden told reporters in September when asked. “There’s a lot going on here, and I just haven’t been able to break.”

I was thinking whether I’d go to East Palestine this week, but I was reminded I’ve got to go literally around the world,” Biden added, referring to his Group of 20 trip to New Dehli India that featured a stop in Vietnam.

Toxic chemicals seen in East Palestine. Getty Images
Norfolk Southern freight train cars were seen after the derailment. AP

Residents in East Palestine have reported an array of health scares and concerns for the long-term outlook following the exposure to the hazardous chemicals.

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“The President will discuss his commitment to ensuring the people of East Palestine are not defined by this single event, and that his administration is delivering on the needs of families, businesses, and affected residents,” the White House added.

EPA contractors collect samples from the derailment site in March 2023. Getty Images

In the time since the spill, multiple lawmakers have crafted legislation to tighten rail safety standards, including via the bipartisan Railway Safety Act.

However, such legislation has remained in limbo.



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Nebraska to Test Ohio State’s Improvements in Perimeter, Halfcourt Defense

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Nebraska to Test Ohio State’s Improvements in Perimeter, Halfcourt Defense


The hopes for an NCAA Tournament appearance from this year’s Ohio State team are suddenly alive again, but that’s not where Jake Diebler can allow the focus of his bunch to rest.

20 – 8

roster  |  schedule

Feb. 29, 2024 – 6:30 pm et

Value City Arena

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Columbus, OH

That’s because a Big Red-hot Nebraska team is coming to Columbus on Thursday, one that defeated the Buckeyes 83-69 in Lincoln earlier this season.

“As long as there’s a Big Ten Tournament, we’re not out of the picture,” Diebler said on Wednesday. “Our guys have done a great job in the last couple weeks of not looking too far ahead, being in the moment. But we’ve also talked about each opportunity as it’s presented itself. And, listen, tomorrow night is a huge opportunity.”

The Huskers are on a four-game winning streak and boast a 20-8 record. They’ve struggled away from Pinnacle Bank Arena with a 2-7 road mark, but took their last contest in a hostile environment at Indiana on Feb. 21.

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For its part, Ohio State is fresh off a buzzer-beater win at Michigan State on Sunday, one that saw a massive improvement in a key area for the Buckeyes – halfcourt defense. It’s the main reason why the Spartans only managed 57 points.

Maintaining those gains and its aggressive mentality will be key in tackling a Nebraska squad that shot a gaudy 14-of-26 (53.8%) from three last time out against the Buckeyes.

“We talked about yesterday, ‘They’re playing really well and they’re a really good team – and so are we,’” Diebler said. “We’re not the same team we were at that time. Now neither are they, but we need to continue to be about the stuff that we’ve been about these last couple weeks. Guarding the ball, keeping the ball in front, our ball-screen defense, all of that’s going to be really, really important. And we need to guard the three-point line. They shot it extremely well at their place against us, and some of that was some breakdowns we had.”

Center Rienk Mast proved the most problematic perimeter threat the last time the Buckeyes and Huskers met, shooting 6-of-8 from downtown and racking up a career-high 34 points.

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Mast averages only 1.3 made triples per game and shoots 34.3% from behind the arc, but it demonstrates the Huskers’ prerogative to take and make three-pointers under fifth-year head coach Fred Hoiberg. Six different Nebraska players average at least 2.9 three-point attempts per game.

As a team, Nebraska is 26th nationally in made threes per game with 9.4 and 65th in three-point field goal percentage at 36.1%. Eighth-man C.J. Wilcher is the most accurate of the bunch, knocking down 40.9% of his attempts from outside.

“Nebraska has, probably, five different players that are capable of scoring 20 or more points on a given night,” Diebler said. “They have some real offensive firepower, but our defense is improved.”

Star guard Keisei Tominaga is the most potent offensive threat the Huskers possess, scoring a team-high 14 points per contest and hitting 37% of his team-high 5.9 three-point attempts per game.

Mast and guard Brice Williams each pitch in 12.9 points per contest while forward Juwan Gary adds 12.1. Shooters and scorers will be all over the floor in Value City Arena, so Ohio State will need to stay attached and disciplined.

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“In order to win moving forward, we have to be consistent in that area (of half-court defense),” Diebler said. “So we talked a lot about that post-Minnesota in film, in practice, and our guys deserve a ton of credit for making the adjustment.”

Projected Starting Lineup
No. Player Position Height Weight 2023-24 Stats
30 Keisei Tominaga G 6-2 179 14.0 PPG, 1.3 APG
3 Brice Williams G 6-7 213 12.9 PPG, 2.4 APG
4 Juwan Gary F 6-6 221 12.1 PPG, 6.0 RPG
53 Josiah Allick F 6-8 231 6.9 PPG, 4.9 RPG
51 Rienk Mast F 6-10 248 12.9 PPG, 7.8 RPG

Their previous meeting with Nebraska isn’t the only time shoddy perimeter defense has hurt the Buckeyes this season. Northwestern and Michigan each hit more than 50% of their distance attempts whilst defeating Ohio State earlier this year. Illinois, Indiana, Penn State and Minnesota each shot better than 41% from three in their wins against the Buckeyes.

When the Buckeyes allowed the Gophers to go 8-of-19 from deep as part of an 88-point offensive outpouring, it seemed the team’s old defensive demons were unrelenting. But even then, Diebler saw growth.

“Even going back to the Minnesota game, I felt like our halfcourt defense was really good for stretches,” Diebler said. “We just didn’t finish plays with a rebound or a loose ball, maybe an end-of-the-shot-clock assignment. Against Michigan State, we grew from that. We were significantly better.”

The Spartans started 3-of-5 from three against Ohio State and three makes came from wide-open shooters, but the Buckeyes clamped down and held them to 1-of-11 shooting the rest of the way, including an 0-for-7 second half.

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Expecting to force Nebraska to go that cold could be a little ambitious, but it’s the approach the Buckeyes will need when they tip off against the Huskers at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

Ohio State expects to get back the services of its own top sharpshooter, Jamison Battle, after he missed the Michigan State game with an ankle injury.

“It’s an NCAA Tournament team, it’s a really good team coming into our building,” Diebler said. “It’s a team that beat us once already this year. So there’s plenty of motivational elements to this game, and we’re not shying away from whatever that reality may be. But we’re not spending a lot of time and energy on talking about some of these what-if scenarios, it’s more just focusing on handling this opportunity as best as we possibly can, then we’ll prepare for the next one after that.”



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Buckeyes avenge loss to U-M, win Big Ten outright

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Buckeyes avenge loss to U-M, win Big Ten outright


COLUMBUS, Ohio — Jacy Sheldon scored 22 points to lead No. 2 Ohio State to its 15th straight win and the Big Ten regular-season title 67-51 over Michigan on Wednesday night.

Cotie McMahon had 18 points and seven rebounds for the Buckeyes (25-3, 16-1 Big Ten), who had already clinched at least a share of the title and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament with a win over Maryland on Sunday.

The game was revenge for the Buckeyes, whose only conference loss this season came in a 69-60 shocker against Michigan in Ann Arbor on Dec. 30. Ohio State hasn’t lost since.

In that first meeting with the Wolverines, Sheldon was held to seven points and McMahon five.

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“First time we played them I felt like we weren’t at our potential,” McMahon said. “And I feel like we still aren’t, but we are way better than what we were the first time we played them.”

The Wolverines (17-12, 8-9) didn’t help themselves this time, turning the ball over 29 times leading to 30 Ohio State points. Laila Phelia led Michigan with 13 points.

The first half was plain sloppy, with 14 turnovers by Michigan and nine by Ohio State. The teams were a combined 4 for 21 from 3-point range before halftime.

The Wolverines mounted a 10-2 run to finish the first half and tied the game at 22 at the break.

Ohio’s State’s 12-2 run in the third quarter gave the Buckeyes a 14-point lead. Michigan closed it to 11 points with a 6-0 run, but a 3-pointer by Sheldon shifted the momentum back to the Buckeyes with 3:43 left.

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“You know, I thought our press was way more effective in that third quarter than at any point in the first half,” Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said. “We got some turnovers, easy baskets and I thought at that point we really started to wear on them.”

For the Buckeyes, it is the first outright Big Ten title that counted since 2009-10. They won it in 2017-18 but were stripped due to sanctions related to recruiting violations by a former assistant.



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Overheard at NFL combine: Harbaugh haircut, a ‘household name’, Michigan-Ohio State

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Overheard at NFL combine: Harbaugh haircut, a ‘household name’, Michigan-Ohio State


The NFL Scouting Combine is underway in Indianapolis, and linebackers and defensive linemen were the first position groups to speak with media during the week-long event.

Michigan has a record 18 players at this year’s combine, and a handful of them took the podium Wednesday in Indianapolis. Not surprisingly, their former head coach, Jim Harbaugh, was a popular topic after he accepted the Los Angeles Chargers coaching job last month.

With defensive line being a position of need for the Detroit Lions, there’s a chance they could use their first, No. 29 overall, to bolster their front.

Overall, dozens of players spoke to reporters Wednesday, with notable quotes highlighted below. Linebackers and defensive linemen will participate in drills Thursday, while tight ends and defensive backs will speak to media.

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Michigan edge Braiden McGregor on Harbaugh asking his mom for a haircut at a home visit during his senior year of high school: “It was funny. I don’t think a lot of people have stories like that. My mom, I know she was nervous because, I mean, it’s Coach Harbaugh. He is gonna be on TV the next week. She was excited. He still asked me about it every once and a while, like, ‘Your mom still cut?’ It was just funny. Made me feel like I made the right decision out of high school to go there.”

Penn State edge Chop Robinson, a potential first-round pick, on origins of his name: “I have a household name. It’s actually ‘Plump.’ But outside of there, it’s ‘Chop.’ … I was 14 pounds when I was born, and my mom nicknamed me ‘Pork Chop.’ Then once I got older and started to slim down, and couldn’t have people calling me ‘Pork Chop.’ So I just shortened it to ‘Chop.’”

Missouri DL Darius Robinson, a Southfield native and potential first-round option for the Lions, on meeting with Detroit: “My heart was bumping, man. I’m telling you, it was like a dream just to see all the names (and) faces, growing up a Lions fan. That was a great interview.”

STORY: Violent pass rusher meets with hometown Lions: ‘My heart was bumping, man’

Michigan LB Michael Barrett on funny Harbaugh story: “When he was recruiting me, he came on an official visit to my home. My mom had bought pizza. I think it was like three boxes we had, and he ate a whole entire box while he was there. He was like, ‘I’ve been flying all over the place and I’m kind of hungry.’ That’s the first thing that came to my mind. It’s just says all the stories he has, just random little small things he give on a day to day basis.”

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Ohio State LB Tommy Eichenberg on losing to Michigan three times: “I felt like I let down so many people. I mean, especially being a captain, too. That’s a standard is winning that game. It’s very hard for me. But you gotta keep moving forward. They got good. Like, they’re good. They’re a good team. I know from now on the Buckeyes will be good.”

Western Michigan DL Marshawn Kneeland on who he sees himself in: “Just somebody that I’ve noticed that plays a lot like how I play is Aidan Hutchinson. His high motor, high effort. He’s always running to the ball. I looked at the times; some of his times are a little faster than mine, and some of mine are a little faster than his. But I think I’m close to him.”

Michigan LB Junior Colson, who was adopted from Haiti in 2010, on when the NFL became a possibility for him: “Ever since I stepped onto the football field. I always wanted to be the best. Whatever you put your name to, whenever you lay down, you always want to try and be the best at it. Or why try and do it at all?”

STORY: Michigan linebacker believes he can make an instant impact in the NFL

Ohio State LB Steele Chambers on the four animals he’d take to war with him: “I typically go with the elephant. I’m going to mount that — I’m going have a sword with me, so I’m going to be on top of the elephant with that. I’ll have a polar bear or grizzly bear; whatever I’m feeling depending on the climate. I’ll probably go tiger — it’s probably the biggest, fastest big cat. And then I gotta go hippo — just because it’s tenacious.”

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Bills GM Brandon Beane on 2018 trade, when the team sent the No. 12 overall pick and two second-rounders to move up to No. 7 and draft QB Josh Allen: “We got criticized for how much we gave up for Josh. And I’m like, if he doesn’t work out, I’m not going to be here anyway. And if he does work out, nobody’s gonna give a (expletive).”

Washington edge Bralen Trice, a top-75 draft prospect, on his dog mentality: “I think it goes hand-in-hand with the killer mentality. Attacking everything you do, you line up on the line and look at the guy across from you, and you’re thinking, ‘I’m putting this guy in the dirt, immediately.’ It’s just showing up every day and giving everything you got, regardless of the situation. Leaving everything outside the door when you walk in, thinking only football. Putting all the fear out, that’s the dog mentality. What plays into that, at UW, a huge part of it is just brotherhood when you’re playing next to the guys who you work with every single day. It’s just I go back to that every single time.”

MLive’s Kyle Meinke, Ben Raven and Aaron McMann contributed to this story.



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