Industrial Strength: How U.S. Gov Hid Fracking's Risks To Drinking Water

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By Neela Banerjee for Inside Climate News – Most mornings, when his 7-year-old son Ryan gets up for school at 6:55, Bryan Latkanich is still awake from the night before, looking online for another home in some part of Pennsylvania with good schools and good water. Six years ago, Latkanich signed on to let an energy company tap natural gas beneath his property by pumping water, sand and chemicals into rock formations, a process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Soon after, Latkanich’s well water got a metallic taste, he developed stomach problems, and his son one day emerged from a bath covered in bleeding sores. More recently, Ryan became incontinent. Testing by state regulators and a researcher at nearby Duquesne University showed the well water had deteriorated since gas extraction started but no proof of the cause. The state recently began another round of testing. Latkanich is a single parent. He’s jobless and blind in his right eye from brain surgery. “I worry about my son getting sick, about my getting sick and what would happen to him if I did,” he said. “I’m doing this all alone. And I keep asking myself, ‘How do we get out?’”

Oklahoma City Changes Street Name Removes KKK Leader

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By Nick Hazelrigg for Oudaily – In a meeting filled with emotional appeals from members of the Norman community, the Norman City Council voted unanimously to rename DeBarr Avenue by June 1, 2018. Spurred by local activists at its Oct. 24 meeting, the council agreed to amend its original resolution regarding DeBarr Avenue, named for former OU professor and Ku Klux Klan chaplain Edwin DeBarr, to better meet the requests of the community. Norman Citizens for Racial Justice, a new activist group, led the night’s push on city council as part of its “DeBarr Avenue Action Week.” The council’s original resolution proposed sending the issue of renaming city streets to the City Council Oversight Committee, a solution that caused many demonstrators to accuse the council of dragging its feet and being complicit in racism. After hearing hours of public commentary, the city council unanimously passed an amendment added by council member Breea Clark promising to change the street name by June 1 of 2018, if not earlier. The council also voted to remove two sections from its original resolution which said the city council did not originally name DeBarr Avenue, since many demonstrators said they saw this section as the city’s attempt to avoid blame.

Portuguese Children To Sue European Govs Over Climate Change

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By Staff of The Herald – Seven children are to sue European governments in a landmark lawsuit over the impact that climate change is having on their lives. The Portuguese youngsters, some from the Leiria region which has been devastated by wildfires twice this year, are seeking a ruling to force 47 countries to dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions. And they want the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg to order nations to keep remaining fossil fuel reserves in the ground. One of the children spearheading the unprecedented case is 18-year-old Claudia from the Leiria district, who said older generations have a responsibility to stop releasing dangerous pollution. “What worries me the most about climate change is the rise in temperatures, which has contributed to the number of fires taking place in our country,” she said. Claudia said she is taking the case “for the children and for the future generations who are not responsible for the current state of the environment”. Three days of national mourning are being held in Portugal after scores of people died as deadly forest fires twice hit the country this year. Outbreaks in June claimed 64 lives and another 41 are believed to have been killed in the last week after winds associated with Storm Ophelia fanned flames sparked in drought-like conditions.

Bigoted And Unprofessional Police Chief Backed By Michigan Governor

Michigan State Police Director Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue. (photo: M Live)

By William Boardman for Reader Supported News – This is an unsurprisingly nasty internet meme that was publicly shared by the director of the Michigan State Police on her Facebook page on Sunday, September 24. Director Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue apparently gave no thought to her pre-packaged, knee-jerk reaction to NFL players kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police treatment of African Americans in America. Col. Etue was apparently unprepared for the intense reaction to her casual castigation of fellow citizens, predominantly black athletes, acting on principle. A Michigan State Police spokesperson actually asserted that Col. Etue’s slanderous social media post was “not about race” — even though the issue wouldn’t exist without a racist justice system that allows cops (mostly white) to kill unarmed, innocent black people without suffering significant consequences. Roughly two days after the posting, Col. Etue issued a brief, substance-free non-apology apology for it, posted on the Michigan State Police website (not on Facebook): It was a mistake to share the message on Facebook and I sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended. I will continue my focus on unity at the Michigan State Police and in communities across Michigan.

Catalonia's Battle With The Spanish Government ‘Is A Big Problem For Europe’

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By Greg Russell for The National – A LEADING Catalan official has said Catalonia is in a de facto state of emergency and that its battle with Spain’s central government to hold a referendum on independence is a “big problem for Europe”. In an exclusive interview, Sergi Marcen, head of the Catalan Delegation to the UK, told The National the Catalan Government would work “to the last minute” to try to reach agreement with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government to go ahead with the October 1 poll. He said he believed Europe had remained quiet because Rajoy’s Parti Populaire (People’s Party) wielded significant influence and had been pressurising countries to stay out of it. But he added: “It is a European problem because 7.5 million European people – Catalans – cannot vote on their future; the Spanish Government does not have a majority in parliament and are using the laws in a bad way and this kind of behaviour is like the times of the dictator Franco. “So it’s a big problem for Europe, not only Catalonia.” Spain’s actions, he said, were denying Catalan citizens their basic rights. “Spanish Government and the police are going into media offices, lawyers, people’s houses looking for ballots,” he said. “Freedom of expression is banned. Police are seizing Catalan flags, posters or anything related to the referendum. Public events and meetings about it have been banned, so we don’t have the right to speak in public about the right of self-determination in Catalonia.

Federal Employees Ordered To Attend Anti-Leaking Classes

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By Michael Biesecker for Mint Press News – WASHINGTON (AP) — Employees at the Environmental Protection Agency are attending mandatory training sessions this week to reinforce their compliance with laws and rules against leaking classified or sensitive government information. It is part of a broader Trump administration order for anti-leaks training at all executive branch agencies. The Associated Press obtained training materials from the hourlong class. Government employees who hold security clearances undergo background checks and extensive training in safeguarding classified information. Relatively few EPA employees deal with classified files, but the new training also reinforces requirements to keep “Controlled Unclassified Information” from unauthorized disclosure. The EPA occasionally creates, receives, handles and stores classified material because of its homeland security, emergency response and continuity missions. EPA employees also work closely with contractors and other federal agencies that more regularly handle classified information. President Donald Trump has expressed anger repeated leaks of potentially embarrassing information to media organizations in recent months. In a speech last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said those responsible for the “staggering number of leaks” coming out of the administration would be investigated and potentially prosecuted.

Government Debt Is Not The Problem

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By Dean Baker for Counter Punch – Deficit fears are impoverishing our kids. The people complaining about budget deficits fundamentally misrepresent how the economy works and the problems it faces. A deficit is a problem when it creates too much demand, exceeding the economy’s ability to supply goods and services. In this situation, a deficit is likely to lead to higher interest rates and inflation, which reduce investment. Less investment means less productivity growth, which means we will be less wealthy in the future. Ever since the 2007–09 recession, the problem has been the opposite: too little demand. Millions of workers have gone unemployed because there was not enough demand for their labor. In a weak economy, companies invest less. In a period of weak demand, it is virtually costless for the government to spend in areas that will not only employ people but also increase long-term productivity and spending on infrastructure, research and development and such areas as quality preschool, which pays enormous long-term dividends. Deficit fears prevented the government from spending the money needed to bring the economy back to full employment. That was costly in the short term because it meant millions of workers went unemployed, but it was also very costly in the long term.

NY's Fracking Ban Was Supposed To Set A Precedent -- But Gov. Cuomo Is Going Back On His Word

Anti-fracking protesters gather outside of the auditorium before New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo gives his fourth State of the State address on January 8, 2014, in Albany, New York. (Photo: Spencer Platt / Getty Images)

By Ellen Cantarow and Dennis Higgins for Truthout – New York banned high-volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking) two years ago, in a victory for persistent anti-fracking activists and a potential precedent for other states. Now, however, the state is poised to begin operating a power plant that will make fracking infrastructure fully operational throughout the state, completely undermining the ban. The $900 million power plant planned by Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) in Orange County, New York, requires permits for only two short pipelines before it may begin operating. CPV will be among the largest of New York’s nearly 500 gas- and oil-fired power plants. Like more than half of currently proposed electricity generation in the state, this power plant will burn fracked gas from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale. Opponents charge that the plant is not needed and serves only to further push a warming world to the tipping point of climate-change catastrophe. On October 8, 2015, speaking with former Vice President Al Gore, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent in the next 13 years, but climate scientists and engineers tell us CPV will emit 7 million tons of carbon-dioxide-equivalent pollution annually and add a full 10 percent from power generation to the state’s current greenhouse gas inventory.

New Book Explores How Protesters—And Governments—Use Internet Tactics

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By Wendy Grossman for ARS Technica – In February 2003, the largest demonstration in Britain’s history saw two million people march across London to protest the approaching Iraq War. Dozens of other cities across the world saw similar events, and yet. Why did politicians feel safe ignoring the millions who participated in those marches—yet stand down after the protests against the proposed intellectual property laws SOPA and PIPA? Why did Occupy apparently vanish while the Tea Party has embedded itself into US national electoral politics? How much did Facebook really have to do with the Arab Spring? How—and this is the central question technosociologist Zeynep Tufecki considers in her new book, Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest—do digital media change the reality and effectiveness of social protest? Over the quarter-century since the Internet went mainstream, much has been written and argued about digital technologies’ ability to transform disparate individuals into a movement. Dismissives argue that social media-fueled movements are too fragile and their participants too uncommitted to achieve much.

Venezuela Opposition Plans Alternative Government, Calls For Foreign Invasion

Opposition supporters shout as they burn tires during a protest to demand a referendum to remove President Nicolas Maduro in San Cristobal, Venezuela, May 18, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

By Marco Teruggi for Tele Sur – The problem of the Venezuelan right is to have proposed an objective without the correlation of necessary forces. Although in reality the decision was not Venezuelan, but a U.S. decision, where the strategic and operational level of the current actions resides. I see no correlation because, to be brief, a government can’t be ousted without either the weight of the popular classes or the Bolivarian National Armed Forces, FANB. And today, close to ninety days since the beginning this cycle, they still do not have any of those two variables. It does not mean that they have abandoned their policy towards these two dimensions. In the case of the working classes, already convinced that they can not add to their political call to remove the government, the opposition has decided to hit them even harder with economic suffocation. Scenes from the recent burning of a food store, where 60 tons of goods were decimated, exemplify their actions. They seek to sharpen the material conditions that open the doors to the looting that they organize with their own gangs. Regarding the FANB, they have opted for several movements at a time. One has been the systematic armed attack, both on the main base of Caracas (La Carlota), and on barracks and battalions in different parts of the country.

Political Myth-Making And State Legitimacy

The U.S. Capitol is reflected in a puddle next to the Capitol Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C., Oct. 15, 2013. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty Images

By Gerald Sussman for Counter Punch – First off, it is quite evident that the United States, which for years has been losing internal state legitimacy, is in crisis. (It’s already lost external state legitimacy, the Trump brand reportedly now distrusted by three-fourths of the world.) This means that a majority of American citizens no longer believe that the political and economic elites are working in the public interest. Once this happens, to cite Humpty Dumpty: “all the king’s horses [the police and military apparatuses] and all the king’s men [loyal state officials and publicity agents] couldn’t put Humpty [state legitimacy] together again.” Short of implementing explicit police state controls over a rebellious public, which appears unnecessary in the present somatic corporate state, the ruling class must resort to intensified and unending propaganda (state and commercial). This is exactly what PR guru Edward Bernays had proposed in his book by that title in 1928. We’re well into that propaganda society, with continuous mass distraction and censorship of authentic alternative news sources – all directed toward maintaining a public order of complacency, spectatorship, and establishment-orchestrated political consensus.

Meeting Needs Of Homeless Youth: Public Schools Are Doing What Government Won't Do Directly

Food is served to students at Public School 397 in New York, November 21, 2013. (Photo: Joshua Bright / The New York Times)

By Eleanor J. Bader for Truthout – Dr. Art McCoy, superintendent of schools in Jennings, Missouri, is a humble man. But when he speaks of his school district as “a lighthouse for informed practices that respond to the needs of homeless and low-income kids,” his pride is obvious. As a leader of the movement pushing public schools to address the overlapping emotional and material needs of impoverished students, Jennings is a model — stepping in to provide food, shelter, health care and consolation to students who need it. Not surprisingly, school districts throughout the US are looking to Jennings for inspiration, especially since federal and state governments have done very little to assist this population. Jennings is adjacent to Ferguson, the small city that was catapulted to prominence in August 2014 after police murdered 18-year-old Michael Brown. Each of Jennings’ eight public schools — with an enrollment of 2,600 students, most of them poor and 160 of them homeless — have “comfort rooms”: private spaces where students can meet with counselors and address the obstacles they’re facing. “The biggest issues for our students are domestic violence and the death of a loved one,” McCoy states. “About 2,000 of our 2,600 enrolled students see school-based therapists each academic year to address the multiple traumas in their lives.”

Trump Nominates New FERC Commissioners

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Washington, DC – The Hill reports that the Trump administration announced on Monday its two Republican nominees, Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson, f0r the vacant seats in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). If confirmed, the FERC would once again have a quorum and would be able to resume rubber stamping its backlog of fossil fuel project permits. A coalition of around 160 local, state, regional and national organizations is calling upon the Senate to reject both nominations announced yesterday by President Donald Trump to be Commissioners of FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. “FERC has been abusing communities for decades, abusing their power and authority in ways that undermines the rights of both people and the states. While biased FERC Commissioners with industry ties is nothing new, Donald Trump’s picks, if confirmed by the Senate, would take us to a whole new and dangerous level of conflict and bias.

The Government Smearing Of Israel’s Critics

Members of Congress rush to greet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he leaves the House chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 3, 2015, after lobbying Congress to kill a peace plan with Iran at all costs. (AP Photo)

By Lawrence Davidson for Mint Press News – “Back in the day,” which in this case was Feb. 8, 2007, the U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism adopted a “working definition” of anti-Semitism which included the following point: It is anti-Semitic to “deny the Jewish people their right to self-determination (e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor).” This “working definition” has proved to have staying power. Thus, the U.S. Congress has used the State Department document in devising its Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2016, and in December of 2016, the British government adopted an almost identical “working definition,” which listed the same alleged act of denial – the one that links the Jewish people’s “right of self-determination” with the “claim that the existence of Israel is a racist endeavor” as an example of “contemporary anti-Semitism.”The whole definition, including the quoted sentence, was not original with the State Department. It was originally “written collaboratively by a small group of non-governmental organizations” which remained unnamed.

Convicted For Protesting Jeff Sessions Is No Laughing Matter

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By Tighe Barry. In the recent past, frivolous charges like these would have been thrown out of court. But, Trump and his cronies in the Justice Department are going out of their way to crackdown on dissent, especially in the form of nonviolent protest. Republican officials are jumping on Trump’s bigoted bandwagon to restrict liberties at the local, state and national level. We see laws being passed in over a dozen states to make protesting a crime, while at the same time, North Dakota has passed a law where running over a protester is not a crime. We see state laws being passed to criminalize campaigns that support Palestinian rights. We see that over 200 people who protested Trump’s inauguration have been prosecuted and charged with ridiculous offenses, such as felony rioting charges. We should see our Justice Department prosecuting real criminals, like those responsible for war, not convicting people for laughing in Congress. Unless we rise up and demand our first amendment right to dissent, then the joke will be on the American people. And that is no laughing matter.