Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pennsylvania’s food stamp disaster

Before Miriam Boss got food stamps, the 87-year-old Pennsylvanian was living on only her $1,000 monthly Social Security check. She says making ends meet was always a struggle, and she often went hungry.
Now, Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett wants to enact a new policy that would disqualify thousands of other households in his state from receiving food stamps even though they badly need them. 
Governor Corbett's proposed plan is what's called an "asset test" -- meaning that if someone has more than $5,500 in assets (that could mean a bank account or even a second car), that person would be ineligible to receive food stamps. \

I want my organic farm bill

If Congress and the current administration are serious about the health of America’s citizens, our environment and the economic viability of independently owned family farms, they will:
  1. Implement a $25 billion plan to transition to organic food and farming production, to make sure that 75 percent of U.S. farms are U.S.D.A. organic certified by 2025.
  2. Feed organic food to all children enrolled in public school lunch programs by the year 2020.
  3. Pass a Beginning Farmer and Rancher Bill to place a million new farmers on the land by 2020.
  4. Link conservation compliance with government-subsidized insurance programs and create a cutoff so each farm receives government funds for land only up to 1,000 acres.

Bahrain: Shouting in the dark

Gov Corbett and schools

Last year, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett cut nearly one billion dollars from education. Those cuts have resulted in increased class size and the loss of critical programs and extracurricular activities. Right now, districts across our state are unable to make payroll. Governor Corbett should reverse the cuts and fund education adequately.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Default: the Student Loan Doc

Default: the Student Loan Doc (Trailer)(old) from Default: the Student Loan Docume on Vimeo.

Students Across the Country Call on Sallie Mae Stop Predatory Practices

Students Across the Country Call on Sallie Mae Stop Predatory Practices
Around the country, over 50 campuses coordinate week of action
against corporate student lending giant Sallie Mae

WASHINGTON, DC This week, students from the United States Student Association and Student Labor
Action Project from coast-to-coast are engaging in a coordinated week of action to shed light on the corporate
student lending giant Sallie Mae. Students this week are making their demands loud and clear that Sallie Mae
must stop their predatory lending practices.
Among the actions this week Sallie Mae CEO, Albert Lord, will receive a letter signed by thousands of students

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Did fracking turn this squirrel purple?

One of the explanations being floated for the purple squirrel recently captured in Pennsylvania: An organobromide overdose caused by fracking. Yeah, it sounds a little far-fetched, but doesn’t it sound more interesting than “it fell in a port-a-potty”?
AccuWeather quotes Krish Pillai, a professor at Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania, postulating that a bromine compound caused the unusual color:
This is not good at all. That color looks very much like Tyrian purple. It is a natural organobromide compound seen in molluscs and rarely found in land animals. The squirrel (possibly) has too much bromide in its system.

Man, I used to work really hard to get my hair this color. Are you telling me I could have just been ingesting organobromides all this time?
Tyrian purple dye is an organobromide compound, that much is true — but having a dye-related compound in your system doesn’t necessarily make you turn that color. And NPR points out that Pillai isn’t a biology professor or anything; he’s a computer engineer. Still, it’s interesting! Fracking could have introduced bromide into the groundwater, and the groundwater could have introduced bromide into the squirrel.

'Quran burning' triggers Afghan protests

Hundreds of Afghans have staged angry protests at two sites in and around the capital Kabul, angered by reports that NATO troops had set fire to copies of the Quran, the Muslim holy book.
General John Allen, the American commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, offered his apology and ordered an investigation into the incident as protesters shouting "Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar" [God is great] besieged the US-run airbase in Bagram on Tuesday, firing slingshots and petrol bombs.
Guards at the base, about 60Km north of Kabul, responded by firing rubber bullets from a watchtower, an AFP news agency photographer said.

Another protest by about 500 people broke out in the Pul-e-Charkhi district of Kabul, not far from major NATO bases on the Jalalabad road, Ashamat Estanakzai, an Afghan police spokesman, told AFP.

US soldier jailed for Afghan murders

A US soldier charged with killing unarmed Afghan civilians last year has been sentenced to 24 years in prison after pleading guilty to three counts of premeditated murder.
The guilty plea and sentencing of Army Specialist Jeremy Morlock, 23, of Wasilla, Alaska, on Wednesday marked a turning point in the most serious prosecution of alleged US military atrocities during 10 years of war in Afghanistan.
Under questioning by the judge, Morlock recounted his role in the deaths of three unarmed Afghan villagers whose killings by grenade blasts and rifle fire were staged to appear as legitimate combat casualties.

Judge Rules New York Towns Can Ban Fracking

A New York judge has ruled towns have a right to ban the controversial natural gas drilling process known as fracking. On Tuesday, state Supreme Court Justice Phillip Rumsey upheld a ban by the Ithaca suburb of Dryden, saying the town’s government could prohibit fracking as part of its authority to regulate local land use. The decision could prove key to municipalities seeking to prevent fracking as the industry eyes natural gas reserves in the Marcellus Shale, a massive rock formation that stretches through parts of New York and other states

Appeals Court Rejects Suit over Guantánamo Deaths

A federal appeals court has upheld the dismissal of a case brought by the families of two late Guantánamo Bay prisoners. The military has claimed the prisoners—Yasser Al-Zahrani, Salah Al-Salami and another prisoner—committed suicide at Guantánamo in 2006. But the prisoners’ families had filed suit alleging they died after being subjected to torture. On Tuesday, a three-judge panel upheld the suit’s dismissal, ruling that federal courts do not have the authority to preside over cases related to the treatment of Guantánamo Bay prisoners.

Supreme Court to Weight Affirmative Action Challenge

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear what could mark a major challenge to affirmative action. The case was brought by a white student who says she was rejected from the University of Texas because of her ethnicity. The challenge could lead to the reversal of an earlier decision that allowed public colleges and universities to consider race in order to improve diversity. The 2003 ruling banned the use of point systems but allowed for less direct methods of affirmative action

Enterprise Rent-A-Car: Stop opposing a law prohibiting companies from renting out recalled cars

Cally Houck's two daughters, Raechel and Jacquie, rented a PT Cruiser from Enterprise Rent-a-Car in 2004. What they didn't know about their car was it had been recalled for serious safety problems a month earlier, and that Enterprise didn't fix the car.
Raechel and Jacquie's rental car caught on fire because of the very issue that prompted the recall. The young women crashed their fiery car into a tractor-trailer, killing them both.

Monday, February 20, 2012

California Prisoner Dies During Hunger Strike over Jail Conditions

Prison officials in California have confirmed a 27-year-old prisoner died earlier this month while on a hunger strike. Christian Alexander Gomez died six days after he and 31 other prisoners in the Corcoran State Prison’s administrative segregation unit began refusing food to protest restrictions on access to health, good food and legal services.

OAKLAND, California (Reuters) – A 27-year-old convicted murderer has died while on a hunger strike to protest restrictions on access to health, good food, legal services and other amenities in a segregation unit at a California prison, prison officials said on Friday.
Christian Alexander Gomez died on February 2, six days after he and 31 other inmates in the Corcoran State Prison’s administrative segregation unit began refusing food, said Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
There was no immediate word on the cause of death, and Thornton said the prison had not yet received an autopsy report from the Kings County Coroner, who could not be reached for comment.

Friday, February 17, 2012

ACTA, Anonymous and Poland

Occupy the Food System!

Eric Holt-Giménez and Tanya Kerssen

In the past few weeks, the U.S. Food Movement has made its presence felt in Occupy Wall Street. Voices from food justice organizations across the country are connecting the dots between hunger, diet-related diseases and the unchecked power of Wall Street investors and corporations. See Tom Philppot's excellent article in Mother Jones.

This is very fertile ground.

On one hand, the Food Movement's practical alternatives to industrial food are rooted at the base of our economic system. Its activities are key to building the alternative, localized economies being called for by Occupy Wall Street. On the other hand, Occupy provides a space for the Food Movement to politicize its collective agenda and scale-up community-based solutions by changing the rules that govern local economies.
Of course, in the U.S., what we refer to as the "food movement" is really more of a loose "food network" of non-profit organizations and community groups (CSAs, food policy councils, community gardens, etc) with a sprinkling of bona-fide family farmer organizations and food worker organizations. There's nothing wrong with this. The network has blossomed over the past decade, creating an amazing social infrastructure that is actively using the food system to make us healthier and happier. In the Food Movement we re-learn and re-invent ways of farming, cooking and eating. In doing so, we put back in the social, economic and cultural values robbed by the industrial food system.

Chesapeake Energy Pulls Back Amid Natural-Gas Glut

Taking a drastic step to stem a glut of natural gas that has pushed prices down 45% in the last year, the nation's second-largest producer said it will slash gas drilling by nearly half.
The move is an abrupt turnabout by Chesapeake Energy Corp., which calls itself "America's Champion of Natural Gas" and helped pioneer drilling techniques that have opened up swaths of the U.S. to energy produced from shale rock. So much gas-rich shale has been found, however, that federal and private forecasters predict an oversupply will last for years.
The announcement by Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake was greeted with ...

Chesapeake Eyes $12 Billion in Asset Sales Amid Cash Squeeze

Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK), the second- biggest U.S. natural-gas producer, is seeking as much as $12 billion from assets sales and joint ventures to cope with a cash crunch amid rising debt and tumbling gas prices.
The company expects to get $10 billion to $12 billion from transactions including the potential sale of all its oil and gas fields in the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico, Chesapeake said in a statement today. The Oklahoma City-based company expects to receive about $2 billion in the next 60 days from two separate transactions involving advance sales of output in Texas and Oklahoma.

FDA Finds Most Lipsticks Contain Lead

Sure, you like the way your lips look with that bold red or pink hue, but you might think twice about which lipstick you use after reading about a recent FDA study. According to the FDA, 400 lipsticks on the market contain lead but not at levels high enough to cause major health problems. However, they do warn that if children are playing with makeup, or worse, eating it (as many kids like to do with strange objects), then this could lead to more serious problems.

natrual gas price


Check out the Frack:

Black fly ball 2010

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Gals...

And then Foster Friess, Rick Santorum’s money man, went on MSNBC this afternoon and gave some unsolicited advice on contraception to “the gals.”
Foster Friess: I get such a chuckle when these things come out. Here we have millions of our fellow Americans unemployed, we have jihadist camps being set up in Latin America, which rick has been warning about, and people seem to be so preoccupied with sex. I think that says something about our culture. We maybe need a massive therapy session so we can concentrate on what the real issues are. And this contraceptive thing, my gosh, it’s such inexpensive. Back in my days, they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.”

Where are the Woman?

Rep. Carolyn Maloney said it best: "Where are the women?" This morning, an all-male panel of religious leaders testified in front of a Congressional committee about birth control coverage. That's right, only men -- who are not doctors, by the way -- were allowed to testify by the GOP leadership about critical women's health coverage. No women.

It's absolutely outrageous. The all-male GOP leadership is calling on all-male religious leaders to decide whether birth control should be fully covered by insurance plans. We cannot let this happen. We cannot stand by while Far Right Republicans once again try to send us back to the

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Low prices deflate natural gas rush

Houston Chronicle | Posted: Friday, February 3, 2012 12:09 pm

By Simone Sebastian

Houston Chronicle

A precipitous plunge in natural gas prices has turned the national shale gas rush into a retreat.

Oil and gas companies released a stream of announcements last week of plans to close off natural gas wells, pull out gas rigs and curtail spending in gas fields from Texas to Pennsylvania.

Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy, the nation's second-largest natural gas producer after Exxon Mobil Corp., launched the barrage with an announcement on Monday that it would slash natural gas drilling in half over the next few months.

PA Officials Issue Largest Fine Ever to Gas Driller

Pennsylvania officials fined Chesapeake Energy more than $1 million on Tuesday, the state’s largest fine ever to an oil and gas company. In a statement, the Department of Environmental Protection said Chesapeake’s drilling operations [1] had contaminated water supplies for 16 families in Bradford County.

The announcement came just days after the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the administration of Gov. Tom Corbett, who took office in January, has issued far fewer [2] environmental fines than its predecessor.

Fracking: The Musical

Deficit got you down: start collecting on environmental FINES!!!!

Shale drilling fines drop under Corbett
Sunday, May 15, 2011
The state Department of Environmental Protection assessed significantly fewer fines on Marcellus Shale drilling operations during the first few months of the Corbett administration than under the Rendell administration, according to state data analyzed by Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future.
The statewide environmental organization's review found the DEP took 36 enforcement actions on 313 violations identified by field inspectors during the first three months of 2011 -- a rate of one enforcement action for every 8.69 violations. That's a much lower rate of enforcement than in the first quarter of 2010, when Gov. Ed Rendell was in charge and 122 enforcement actions were taken on 207 violations, or one enforcement action for every 1.7 violations.

NATO Admits to Killing of 8 Afghan Children in Air Strike

The U.S.-led NATO force in Afghanistan has apologized for an air strike last week that killed eight young Afghan children. Local residents blamed NATO at the time, but it took several days for NATO to admit fault. Earlier today, NATO’s Communications Director General Lewis Boone confirmed the bombing and expressed regret.

According to the United Nations, civilian casualties in Afghanistan increased for a fifth straight year in 2011 from nearly 2,800 to more than 3,000.

More than 300 killed in Honduras prison fire, one of the deadliest in decades

By Associated Press, Updated: Wednesday, February 15, 11:40 AM

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Trapped inmates screamed from their cells as a fire swept through a Honduran prison, killing at least 300 inmates in one of the world’s deadliest fires in decades, authorities said Wednesday.

Some 475 people escaped from the prison in the town of Comayagua and 356 are missing and presumed dead, said Hector Ivan Mejia, a spokesman for the Honduras Security Ministry. He said 21 people had been injured.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Konrad Lorenz's vision of the challenges facing humanity

Lorenz also predicted the relationship between market economics and the threat of ecological catastrophe. In his 1973 book, Civilized Man's Eight Deadly Sins, Konrad Lorenz addresses the following paradox:
"All the advantages that man has gained from his ever-deepening understanding of the natural world that surrounds him, his technological, chemical and medical progress, all of which should seem to alleviate human suffering... tends instead to favor humanity's destruction"[8]

Lorenz adopts an ecological model to attempt to grasp the mechanisms behind this contradiction. Thus "all species... are adapted to their environment... including not only inorganic components... but all the other living beings that inhabit the locality." p31.

Fundamental to Lorenz's theory of ecology is the function of feedback mechanisms, especially negative ones which, in hierarchical fashion, dampen impulses that occur beneath a certain threshold. The thresholds themselves are the product of the interaction of contrasting mechanisms. Thus pain and pleasure act as checks on each other:

"To gain a desired prey, a dog or wolf will do things that, in other contexts, they would shy away from: run through thorn bushes, jump into cold water and expose themselves to risks which would normally frighten them. All these inhibitory mechanisms... act as a counterweight to the effects of learning mechanisms... The organism cannot allow itself to pay a price which is not worth paying". p53.
In nature, these mechanisms tend towards a 'stable state' among the living beings of an ecology:

Jacque Fresco - Are we educated yet?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Higher education takes second heavy hit

HARRISBURG -- Calling it a ″lean and demanding″ spending plan, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett on Tuesday proposed a $27.1 billion state budget for 2012-13 that is 0.1 percent less than the current budget and contains no new taxes.

After slashing spending in his first budget last year to close a $4.2 billion deficit, Corbett this year proposes a second round of major cuts to higher education, dropping payments to state-owned and -related schools to $977 million from $1.2 billion, drawing renewed criticism from some.

″We will not spend more than we have,″ Corbett said in an address to a joint session of the House and Senate. ″We will not raise taxes. There is no talking about these limits. Every dollar taken in tax is one less dollar in the hands of a job holder or a job creator.″

On top of double-digit reductions in this year's budget, Corbett proposes 20 percent cuts to schools in the State System of Higher Education, which includes universities such as Slippery Rock and California.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Sierra Club Took $26 Million From Gas Industry

The Sierra Club has admitted it accepted more than $26 million in donations from one of the nation’s largest natural gas companies at a time when the environmental group was publicly promoting natural gas as an alternative to coal. On Thursday, the Sierra Club said it stopped accepting the money in 2010.

Yemeni Activists Protest Saleh’s NYC Visit

Protesters rallied outside a luxury New York City hotel Thursday to denounce President Obama’s decision to allow Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to enter the United States for medical treatment. Saleh is believed to be staying in the Ritz Carlton overlooking Central Park. Yemen’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, Tawakkol Karman, addressed the protest via cellphone from Yemen and called for Saleh to be tried by the International Criminal Court.
Amel Ahmed: "Dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh is staying at this hotel, so we came out to protest the fact that our government would allow him into this country to begin with. We don’t feel that he should be here in the United States of America. We think it sends the wrong message to the Middle East, if you’re saying that you support democracy in the Middle East, and you’re anti-extremism in the Middle East, then you shouldn’t be supporting dictators. You should be supporting people on the ground who are calling for a democracy. I mean, for years, we’ve criticized the Muslim world, for turning to extremism and not sharing the same democratic values, meanwhile we have an entire generation that’s rising up and demanding democracy, and meanwhile, you’re hosting a dictator in a five-star hotel. The message is conflicting, and there should be a consistent message coming from the White House."

SEC Issued Scores of Waivers to Wall Street Firms in Fraud Cases

he New York Times has revealed new details on how the Securities and Exchange Commission has repeatedly allowed Wall Street firms to skirt punishment for fraud. An analysis shows the SEC has granted nearly 350 waivers to financial companies, allowing them to maintain privileges even after admitting fraudulent practices. JPMorganChase received at least 22 waivers over the past 13 years while settling six fraud cases, while Bank of America and Merrill Lynch received 39 waivers and settled 15 times. In a speech on Thursday, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said deceptive practices by Wall Street firms are now under control.
Timothy Geithner: "The financial system, itself, is getting strong and safer. Much of the excess risk-taking and careless and damaging financial practices that caused so much damage to the American economy have been forced out of the financial system. These gains, though, will erode over time if we are not able to put these full reforms in place."

Elementary Students Collecting Water for Dimock Township

Shohola Township, Pike County - As federal officials continue to sample well water in part of Susquehanna County, people who say their well water has been contaminated by natural gas drilling are getting some help.

Elementary school students in Pike County have started a water collection drive for people who live in Dimock Township.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is currently providing water to four families but others say they need help.

That's where students from Shohola Elementary School come in.

For roughly the last week, students have been bringing in water jugs on a daily basis.

"People that don't have water can't drink," second grader Andrea Murphy said.