Friday, December 19, 2014

Prosperity tries the fortunate, adversity the great.
Rose Kennedy

Top Marginal Tax Rates
1958 vs. 2009

By Timothy Taylor

Friday, March 16, 2012--Top marginal income tax rates used to be much higher back in the 1950s and 1960s.

How much revenue did those higher tax rates actually collect?

Daniel Baneman and Jim Nunns address that question in a short report "Income Tax Paid at Each at Tax Rated, 1958-2009," published by the Tax Policy Center last October.

 For starters, take a look at the statutory tax brackets for 1958 and 2009.

The The tax brackets are adjusted for inflation, so the horizontal axis is constant 2009 dollars.

The top statutory tax rate in 2009 was 35%; back in 1958, it was about 90%.

Marginal income tax rates are lower across the income distribution in 2009.

In addition, the top marginal tax rate occurs much lower in the income distribution in 2009 than it did in 1958.

How many households actually paid these rates?

Here's a figure showing the share of taxpayers facing different marginal tax rates.

At the bottom, across this time period, roughly 20% of all tax returns owed no tax, and so faced a marginal tax rate of zero percent.

Back in 1958, the most common marginal tax brackets faced by taxpayers were in the 16-28% category; since the mid-1980s, the most common marginal tax rate faced by taxpayers has been the 1-16% category.

Clearly, a very small proportion of taxpayers actually faced the very highest marginal tax rates back 1958.

It's interesting to note how the share of taxpayers facing higher marginal rates expanded substantially in the 1970s, probably due in large part to "bracket creep"--that is, tax brackets at that time didn't increase with the rate of inflation, so as wages were driven up by inflation, you were pushed into higher tax brackets even though real income had not increased. 

How much revenue was raised by these high marginal tax rates?

Although the highest marginal tax rates applied to a tiny share of taxpayers, marginal tax rates above 39.7% collected more than 10% of income tax revenue back in the late 1950s.

It's interesting to note that the share of income tax revenue collected by those in the top brackets for 2009--that is, the 29-35% category, is larger than the rate collected by all marginal tax brackets above 29% back in the 1960s.

A few quick thoughts:

1) Perhaps it goes without saying, but there's no reason to think that 1958 was the high point of social wisdom when it comes to tax policy.

In addition, the economy has evolved considerably since 1958: talent and tasks are probably more mobile, and methods of categorizing income in ways that affect tax burdens have become more sophisticated.

Also, the distribution of income has become much more unequal in recent decades, and so arguments over the appropriate share of taxes to be paid by those in the top income groups have evolved as well.

2) Raising tax rates on those with the highest incomes would raise significant funds, but nowhere near enough to solve America's fiscal woes.

Baneman and Nunns offer this rough illustrative estimate:

"If taxable income in the top bracket in 2007 had been taxed at an average rate of 49 percent, income tax liabilities (before credits) would have been $78 billion (6.7 percent of total pre-credit liabilities) higher, taking into account likely taxpayer behavioral responses to the rate increase."

The behavioral response they assume is that every 10% rise in tax rates causes taxable income to fall by 2.5%.

3) If one wants to use the 1958 example as a precedent, it would be fair to point out that the lowest-bracket income tax rates are a fairly new development, as of the mid-1980s.

One could also use the example of 1959 to argue that many more taxpayers in the broad range of lower- and middle-incomes should face marginal federal tax rates in the range of 16-28%.

4) If the goal is to raise more tax revenue from those with high incomes, higher tax rates are not the only method of doing so.

For example, one could limit various tax deductions that apply with greatest force to those high up in the income brackets.

One could also look at ways in which the tax code lets those with high incomes pay lower rates, like the lower tax rates for capital gains and on tax-free investments like state and local bonds.

Sure to please even the most
discriminating pallet!
Mix 12 ounces of fracking fluid with eggnog
shake vigorously til foam appears...
Serve in Belleek stemmed glassware
over crushed ice and one of those adorable umbrellas!

Fox Business News host Melissa Francis said on Tuesday about Elizabeth Warren and Wall Street's deep hostility to the Senator:
"And I can tell you from talking to people in the financial industry, in banking, on Wall Street, they think she is actually the devil. I mean, without question, Elizabeth Warren is the devil."
This statement clearly reveals the fear--from Fox to Wall Street--that Warren might run for president.

Well, now it's time for us to make those fears come true.

With the support of 87.6% of Democracy for America members, DFA just announced that we are joining our friends at MoveOn to launch the Run Warren Run campaign urging Sen. Warren to seek the Democratic presidential nomination.

This is one of the biggest campaigns in the history of DFA--and we see it as a win/win for Elizabeth Warren, the progressive movement, and the country.

If Sen. Warren runs, it will fundamentally change America.

And, even if she doesn't run, it will fundamentally shift the center of gravity in the Democratic Party between the Wall Street Wing and the Warren Wing.

But the only way Elizabeth Warren is going to consider running is if DFA members like you step up to make this unprecedented people-powered presidential draft campaign possible.

The best defense against Fox and Wall Street is to go on offense. Chip in $3 or more today and help DFA convince Elizabeth Warren to run for president.
Wall Street is running scared in reaction to Elizabeth Warren.

And they should be scared.

On issue after issue, Elizabeth Warren is fighting back for the American people:
  • In her game-changing speech on the Senate floor last Friday, Warren boldly declared to Citigroup that "we should have broken you up."
  • Warren is leading the effort to block the nomination of an unqualified Wall Street crony, Antonio Weiss, to a major position in the Treasury Department.
  • Warren also led the fight to stop the huge giveaways to Wall Street in the "cromnibus" bill last week, including new rules that weaken the all-important Dodd-Frank financial regulation law. 
  • The effort failed, but Warren's perceived power increased, as the Congressional Progressive Caucus in the House followed her lead. 
The same reason Wall Street is so afraid of Elizabeth Warren is exactly why she should run for president.

She is a champion of the middle class, a warrior against income inequality, and believes that our government should work for "we the people"--not for the Wall Street elite.

The media is taking notice, as Fox's "devil" comment demonstrates.

Conservative columnist David Brooks even wrote a New York Times piece this week headlined "Warren can win."

 But first, we have to convince her to run.

A strong grassroots movement can do that, just as it convinced her to run for the Senate in 2012.

I've posted the entire history of Ohio's experience regarding fracking. It is overwhelming. Is America being torn apart fracking site by fracking site?

Fracking In Ohio

Connect with us

Act on Fracking

What's at Stake| Our Plan | Take Action | Policy Updates | Recent News

Bottom line: Our government has failed to protect us from fracking.

Click the image to see the full infographic

What’s at stake

This summer, we witnessed a terrible accident at a fracking site in Clarington, Ohio. Twenty-five families living nearby had to evacuate their homes, one person was injured, and toxic chemicals leaked into a nearby stream.
How did this happen?
Several trucks at the fracking site caught fire, triggering a series of more than 30 explosions. The fracking well was RIGHT next to a stream that feeds into a major drinking water source and was within two football fields’ distance from two homes!
Immediately after the accident, emergency workers and drinking water managers weren’t sure how best to protect residents. That’s because the fracking company did not release complete details on all of the chemicals that were used and stored on site.
And guess what the worst part is? This is all  perfectly legal under Ohio law.

Our Plan

As you can see from the story above, there are A LOT of problems with the way fracking operates in Ohio. To read our complete 34 point plan for fixing these issues, see here.
We’ll be working year after year to make this plan a reality. But, in the short term, we’ve identified three priorities that we must immediately address to keep Ohioans safe.
  1. First, we’re working to pass a law that would require companies to notify the necessary authorities about all fracking chemicals stored on-site or in-use before an accident or spill occurs. This would make sure fire departments, first responders, Ohio EPA, and drinking water authorities know what they’re up against.
  2. We are also working to secure increased funding for training and equipment for state and local emergency responders. The firefighters and Ohio EPA emergency response personnel need to have up-to-date tools to be able to do their job to protect the public.
  3. Finally, it is unacceptable that a fracking well can be closer to a waterway than the distance between home plate and the pitcher’s mound. We’re working with lawmakers to make sure that fracking wells stay away from our water and our homes.
Learn more

#ActOnFracking: Take Action Today!

ACTION ALERT: With just a click you can tweet to the Senate Agriculture Committee for stronger fracking protections!
We need stronger laws to better protect Ohioans from fracking, and we need you to make that happen.
One of the best ways to join this fight is by betting your chips on us! A monthly contribution of as little as $10 will keep us at the statehouse, in the media, and in the courtroom, fighting for better protections.

Spread the word:

Policy Updates

House Bill 490, a wide-ranging environmental and agricultural bill,  was voted through the Ohio House and now sits with the Ohio Senate’s Agriculture Committee. In it’s current form, the bill will make significant changes to penalties on fracking operators, and chemical disclosure requirements.
The house bill eliminates most of the Governor’s proposed improvements, which were introduced in the original version of the bill as a response to flagrant fracking violations in the state.   These include:
  • Expanding ODNR authority to suspend operations and revoke permits for dangerous and harmful violations
  • Allowing ODNR to deny permits to violators that have failed to fix existing violations
  • Requiring full background checks of owners and key employees of companies and subsidiaries who want to drill or dispose of brine in Ohio
  • Increasing civil penalties on fracking law violators
  • Boosting criminal monetary and imprisonment penalties for the most flagrant polluters
The house bill also contains provisions which would allow the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) to replace the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) as the repository of chemical inventory reporting. In Ohio, all other industries which handle large volumes of chemicals must provide this information to the SERC, local emergency planning committees and local firefighters.

Recent News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Evil never succeeds quite so successfully as when it is
done in the name of religion.
Blaise Pascal

Sure to please even the most
discriminating pallet!
Mix 12 ounces of fracking fluid with eggnog
shake vigorously til foam appears...
Serve in Belleek stemmed glassware
over crushed ice and one of those adorable umbrellas!
Don't try this at home...or at work (unless you don't get a bonus!)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

So, we finally begin to learn how/when Cheney (that's pronounced phuck!) sold this country out!  

The Halliburton Loophole

Content taken from Burning Question: What Would Life Be Like Without the Halliburton Loophole:

“The loop­hole refers to the Energy Pol­icy Act of 2005, which exempts the hydraulic frac­tur­ing process, also known as frack­ing, from fed­eral over­sight under the Safe Drink­ing Water Act of 1974.

Then Vice Pres­i­dent Dick Cheney did have a hand in get­ting the exemp­tion put into the Energy Pol­icy Act.

Gawd bless uncle dickie...always watching out for our best interests! Waddaguy!

He chaired Pres­i­dent Bush’s Energy Pol­icy Task Force, which rec­om­mended frack­ing be excluded.

Oh yeah...Gotta exclude fracking...

And Cheney is a for­mer Hal­libur­ton exec­u­tive.

Oh? I was unaware of that...I thought he was a weaver. 

Hal­libur­ton, by the way, began frack­ing in the 1940’s to extract for oil. 

But the use of frack­ing, com­bined with hor­i­zon­tal drilling, has only recently been used to mine shale gas.

The loop­hole does have an excep­tion.  

If drilling com­pa­nies use diesel fuel to frack a well, they do have to get a fed­eral permit.

Also amended in the 2005 Energy Pol­icy Act was the Clean Water Act

Con­gress enacted the CWA back in 1972 as a way to reg­u­late dis­charges into the country’s rivers and streams. 

The CWA was amended in 1987 to include storm water run-off. 

But oil and gas pro­duc­tion are exempted from those reg­u­la­tions. 

And in the 2005 Energy Pol­icy Act, those exemp­tions included oil and gas con­struc­tion. 

Envi­ron­men­tal­ists worry about run-off from well pads, pipelines and con­struc­tion sites.

With­out fed­eral over­sight, it’s up to the states to reg­u­late gas drilling.”

“And it’s not just the Clean Water Act, and the Safe Drink­ing Water Act that exempt the oil and gas indus­try. 

The Clean Air Act, passed by Con­gress in 1970, exempts oil and gas wells from aggre­ga­tion. 

That means, each well site is con­sid­ered an indi­vid­ual source of pol­lu­tants, and does not take into account all of the well sites in a spe­cific area.

When it comes to the han­dling of waste water, or frack water, that too is exempt from a fed­eral statute called the Resource Con­ser­va­tion and Recov­ery Act. 

The RCRA tracks indus­trial wastes from “cra­dle to grave.” 

But when it comes to the oil and gas indus­try, as long as the waste water is on the drill site, or being trans­ported, it is not con­sid­ered haz­ardous. 

This also applies to drilling mud. 

That’s why trucks car­ry­ing waste water, which con­tains high lev­els of salts, toxic chem­i­cals, as well as radioac­tive mate­r­ial, may be labeled “resid­ual waste.”

The National Envi­ron­men­tal Pol­icy Act, or NEPA, requires fed­eral agen­cies to do envi­ron­men­tal impact state­ments if major indus­trial projects would impact the envi­ron­ment. 

But the Energy Pol­icy Act of 2005 rel­e­gated oil and gas oper­a­tions to a less strin­gent process.

Finally, the Toxic Release Inven­tory requires indus­tries to report toxic chem­i­cals to the EPA. 

But the oil and gas indus­try are exempt from this reporting.”

Read the Complete Energy Policy Act of 2005
State of the Law:
 Federal, State and Local Regulation of Hydrofracturing, 
(Kathleen Dachille, JD)

I'm sorry folks, I've lost my sense of humor tonite...this bastard is just so evil!

EVIL + STUPID = Ch Ch Ch Cheney and Dumbo


When Same-Sex Marriage Was a Christian Rite

Contrary to myth, Christianity's concept of marriage has not been set in stone since the days of Christ, but has constantly evolved as a concept and ritual.

Prof. John Boswell, the late Chairman of Yale University’s history department, discovered that in addition to heterosexual marriage ceremonies in ancient Christian church liturgical documents, there were also ceremonies called the "Office of Same-Sex Union" (10th and 11th century), and the "Order for Uniting Two Men" (11th and 12th century).

These church rites had all the symbols of a heterosexual marriage: the whole community gathered in a church, a blessing of the couple before the altar was conducted with their right hands joined, holy vows were exchanged, a priest officiated in the taking of the Eucharist and a wedding feast for the guests was celebrated afterwards.

These elements all appear in contemporary illustrations of the holy union of the Byzantine Warrior-Emperor, Basil the First (867-886 CE) and his companion John.

A Kiev art museum contains a curious icon from St. Catherine's Monastery on Mt. Sinai in Israel.

It shows two robed Christian saints. Between them is a traditional Roman ‘pronubus’ (a best man), overseeing a wedding.

The pronubus is Christ.

The married couple are both men.

Is the icon suggesting that a gay "wedding" is being sanctified by Christ himself?

The idea seems shocking.

But the full answer comes from other early Christian sources about the two men featured in the icon, St. Sergius and St. Bacchus, two Roman soldiers who were Christian martyrs.

These two officers in the Roman army incurred the anger of Emperor Maximian when they were exposed as ‘secret Christians’ by refusing to enter a pagan temple.

Both were sent to Syria circa 303 CE where Bacchus is thought to have died while being flogged.

Sergius survived torture but was later beheaded.

Beheaded? Wow! Everything old is new again.

Legend says that Bacchus appeared to the dying Sergius as an angel, telling him to be brave because they would soon be reunited in heaven.

While the pairing of saints, particularly in the early Christian church, was not unusual, the association of these two men was regarded as particularly intimate.

Severus, the Patriarch of Antioch (AD 512--518) explained that, "we should not separate in speech they [Sergius and Bacchus] who were joined in life."

This is not a case of simple "adelphopoiia."

In the definitive 10th century account of their lives, St. Sergius is openly celebrated as the "sweet companion and lover" of St. Bacchus.

Sergius and Bacchus's close relationship has led many modern scholars to believe they were lovers.

But the most compelling evidence for this view is that the oldest text of their martyrology, written in New Testament Greek describes them as "erastai,” or "lovers."

In other words, they were a male homosexual couple.

Their orientation and relationship was not only acknowledged, but it was fully accepted and celebrated by the early Christian church, which was far more tolerant than it is today.

Tell me about it.

Contrary to myth, Christianity's concept of marriage has not been set in stone since the days of Christ, but has constantly evolved as a concept and ritual.

Prof. John Boswell, the late Chairman of Yale University’s history department, discovered that in addition to heterosexual marriage ceremonies in ancient Christian church liturgical documents, there were also ceremonies called the "Office of Same-Sex Union" (10th and 11th century), and the "Order for Uniting Two Men" (11th and 12th century).

These church rites had all the symbols of a heterosexual marriage: the whole community gathered in a church, a blessing of the couple before the altar was conducted with their right hands joined, holy vows were exchanged, a priest officiated in the taking of the Eucharist and a wedding feast for the guests was celebrated afterwards.

These elements all appear in contemporary illustrations of the holy union of the Byzantine Warrior-Emperor, Basil the First (867-886 CE) and his companion John.

Such same gender Christian sanctified unions also took place in Ireland in the late 12thand/ early 13th century, as the chronicler Gerald of Wales (‘Geraldus Cambrensis’) recorded.

Same-sex unions in pre-modern Europe list in great detail some same gender ceremonies found in ancient church liturgical documents.

One Greek 13th century rite, "Order for Solemn Same-Sex Union", invoked St. Serge and St. Bacchus, and called on God to "vouchsafe unto these, Thy servants [N and N], the grace to love one another and to abide without hate and not be the cause of scandal all the days of their lives, with the help of the Holy Mother of God, and all Thy saints."

The ceremony concludes: "And they shall kiss the Holy Gospel and each other, and it shall be concluded."

Another 14th century Serbian Slavonic "Office of the Same Sex Union," uniting two men or two women, had the couple lay their right hands on the Gospel while having a crucifix placed in their left hands.

After kissing the Gospel, the couple were then required to kiss each other, after which the priest, having raised up the Eucharist, would give them both communion.

Records of Christian same sex unions have been discovered in such diverse archives as those in the Vatican, in St. Petersburg, in Paris, in Istanbul and in the Sinai, covering a thousand-years from the 8th to the 18th century.

The Dominican missionary and Prior, Jacques Goar (1601-1653), includes such ceremonies in a printed collection of Greek Orthodox prayer books, “Euchologion Sive Rituale Graecorum Complectens Ritus Et Ordines Divinae Liturgiae” (Paris, 1667).

While homosexuality was technically illegal from late Roman times, homophobic writings didn’t appear in Western Europe until the late 14th century. Even then, church-consecrated same sex unions continued to take place.

At St. John Lateran in Rome (traditionally the Pope's parish church) in 1578, as many as thirteen same-gender couples were joined during a high Mass and with the cooperation of the Vatican clergy, "taking communion together, using the same nuptial Scripture, after which they slept and ate together" according to a contemporary report.

Another woman-to-woman union is recorded in Dalmatia in the 18th century.

Prof. Boswell's academic study is so well researched and documented that it poses fundamental questions for both modern church leaders and heterosexual Christians about their own modern attitudes towards homosexuality.

For the Church to ignore the evidence in its own archives would be cowardly and deceptive.

The evidence convincingly shows that what the modern church claims has always been its unchanging attitude towards homosexuality is, in fact, nothing of the sort.

It proves that for the last two millennia, in parish churches and cathedrals throughout Christendom, from Ireland to Istanbul and even in the heart of Rome itself, homosexual relationships were accepted as valid expressions of a God-given love and commitment to another person, a love that could be celebrated, honored and blessed, through the Eucharist in the name of, and in the presence of, Jesus Christ.


Death of an American sniper

Did Chris Kyle's uncritical thinking in life, revealed in his bestselling memoir, contribute to his death?

By Laura Miller

Thursday, Feb 7, 2013--Christopher Scott Kyle was born and raised in Texas and was a United States Navy SEAL from 1999 to 2009.

He is currently known as the most successful sniper in American military history.

According to his book American Sniper, he had 160 confirmed kills (which was from 255 claimed kills).

A claimed kill refers to a shot where the round hits the target, but cannot confirm the kill.

Chris Kyle served as a Navy SEAL in 4 tours in the latest Iraq war.

For his bravery and military skills, he was awarded some of the highest medals in the US military multiple times including the Bronze and Silver Star.

Whilst in Iraq, the insurgents called him the "Devil of Ramadi" and offered a bounty for his head.

In a funny twist, they displayed pictures of him around the local area with the bounty but it was a picture of another sniper!

He was shot twice, and was involved in six IED attacks.

Chris needed to make a decision on family life or the military.

He had a small child that he did not know very well as he was overseas constantly.

This also put pressure on his marriage, so he decided to leave the SEALS and was honorably discharged in 2009.

After some time struggling with civilian life, he started a security company called CRAFT and wrote the New York Times bestselling book, American Sniper.

Unfortunately Chris Kyle was murdered at a shooting range by a US military veteran he was trying to help on February 2, 2013 in Texas.

A film has been made starring Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller and is called American Sniper.

It will be shown at the cinemas from the December 25, 2014.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

A-Fracking We Will Go
A lot of concern around the safety of unconventional oil and natural gas exploration--commonly known by the shorthand fracking--centers on frac fluid:

It’s the stuff well operators inject into the ground to shake loose the oil and gas.

Is the frac fluid safe?
Industry representatives will tell you that 99.5 percent of the fluid is just water and sand, and the rest is common household chemicals.

To prove it’s safe, they’ll even drink it!

But anti-fracking activists, sometimes in song, will tell you about the hundreds of scary-sounding chemicals in frac fluid. Here’s Joel Kalma:

Both sides are right.

But, according to scientists, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

Lisa McKenzie, an epidemiologist at the Colorado School of Public Health, said, “That other 0.5% is important from a health perspective.”


“Chemicals can have very negative effects in extremely small quantities,” McKenzie said.

And while the long list of chemicals contained in most frac fluids may be intimidating, “The fact that we’ve got 1,000 shouldn’t alarm people,” said Joe Ryan, a professor in engineering at the University of Colorado who studies how drilling affects groundwater.

To figure out what chemicals we need to worry about, Ryan looked at three main factors: toxicity, mobility, and persistence.

That means how dangerous those chemicals are to humans, how likely they are to move through the soil and water, and how long they stay in the environment before they degrade.

Using those factors, Ryan said, “We take a list of 1000 and get down to a list of a couple dozen,” Ryan said.

“We should be watching for these chemicals, because they could actually show up somewhere.”

And they might make someone sick.

Ryan is the lead researcher on a $12 million grant from the National Science Foundation to study how natural gas development affects communities from all angles: ecology, health, economics, even sociology.

In addition to figuring out what aspects of drilling might harm people, the collaboration--called Air Water Gas--also looks at the benefits of the natural gas industry.

They are developing a research-driven decision matrix people can use to decide if the drilling industry is something they want in their community, and if so, how to regulate it.

This project grew out of a public demand for unbiased, trustworthy information about drilling.

Water quality and groundwater

contamination concerns:
A few years ago, the University of Colorado started getting calls from people asking for information about fracking: They wanted to know if they should be worried about their drinking water and they didn't know where to turn to find answers.

So the university forwarded those calls to Mark Williams, a hydrologist.

To meet the demand for information, Williams developed a guide for people living near oil and gas development to learn how to test their well water and get baseline information about their water quality.

How big of a concern is water 
Williams referenced the videos of people lighting their tap water on fire, and said, “a lot of that is real, and what they’re lighting on fire is methane.”

But having methane in your water, while scary and gross, isn't actually a health hazard.

“There are no human health effects for methane,” said Williams.

“Unless of course you blow up your house, which is not a good thing.”

But Williams and Ryan agree on this: There are other, dangerous drilling by-products that can contaminate groundwater, and it’s been documented.

Information about 243 cases was just released in Pennsylvania.

Here’s what Williams’ baseline water testing guide says:

    Oil and gas extraction activities have the potential to contaminate groundwater.

    Oil and gas operators take great care to isolate extraction activities and byproducts from the environment.

    Nevertheless, energy development is an industrial activity conducted by human beings in all the contingency, and uncertainty of the real world....

    Mistakes and mishaps can introduce contaminants into groundwater systems or mobilize gases and contaminants from elsewhere in the subsurface.

    The fluids involved in gas extraction--be they introduced fluids, such as those used for hydraulic fracturing, or produced fluids, such as those drawn from deep underground--typically contain salts, metals, and other potential toxins in concentrations that may be harmful to humans.

But groundwater contamination is very rare, and for it to happen, generally something has to go wrong in the drilling process.

There’s another, more serious, concern that hasn’t caught public attention the way flaming tap water has: Air pollution.

Air pollution from oil and gas 
development is a real risk
John Adgate, a researcher at the Colorado School of Public Health, said water contamination is of less concern then, "the traffic and the noise and air pollution that are around these sites.”

Trucks and construction equipment, in addition to causing traffic accidents, bring diesel exhaust and dust to communities.

Extracting and transporting oil and gas can release pollutants like benzene and ozone.

Although scientists, including those on Ryan’s team, are still learning how these pollutants move through the atmosphere and interact with the environment, we know they can be dangerous to humans.

The National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) has issued a hazard alert to oil and gas workers about dust inhalation, and recently announced results of a study that showed cancer-causing chemical benzene is present in worker's urine at unsafe levels.

Because oil and gas drilling is happening in residential areas, people who don’t work at well-sites may need to worry about these air pollutants, too.

Science-based policy decisions
When it comes to oil and gas drilling, our track record of using scientific research to make policies and regulations hasn’t been great.

For example, how far do oil and gas wells need to be from homes and schools?

This is called set-back distance, and in Colorado, when new rules were decided in 2013 increasing the distance to 500 feet from homes and 1,000 feet from schools, Ryan said,

“It was freely admitted that no scientific information went into the current choice.”

That’s what the Air Water Gas project aims to change.

In the case of the Colorado set-back rule, policy-makers couldn’t use science to drive regulations because at that time it just didn’t exist.

“From a health perspective, there’s very little evidence of the distance wells should be located from homes,” said McKenzie.

She is part of Ryan’s research team and looks at health effects, like the rate of birth defects in babies born to mothers near wells, that can help fill in that knowledge gap.

Risks imposed versus risks accepted.
No industry, including oil and gas, will ever be completely free from risk.

But understanding those risks is the only way we’ll be able to evaluate them.

“There are risks that we accept and risks that are imposed upon us,” said Ryan.

For many communities, the fracking boom has been a risk imposed.

“And we get a lot more concerned about the risks imposed upon us than the ones we accept.”

With more science, communities can learn what they should, and shouldn’t, accept.

The oil and gas industry is six times deadlier than other U.S. jobs, and Inside Energy has covered this topic in-depth in our Dark Side Of The Boom series.

Last week, data journalist Jordan Wirfs-Brock was a guest on Colorado State Of Mind to discuss safety practices in Wyoming and North Dakota and actions that could make the oil and gas industry less dangerous.

In 2013, 11 oil and gas workers in North Dakota died from a job-related injury, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Texas had 50 reported oil and gas worker fatalities in 2013, the most of any state.

Colorado residents sue state, governor in defense of local fracking ban

By Lucy Nicholson

Reuters / Lucy Nicholson

Aren't these rigs purdy? Rigs...Pipelines tearing through the Janis Joplin would say:it's all the same f*ckin' thing.

June 11, 2014--Two residents of Lafayette, Colorado are suing the state, Gov. John Hickenlooper, and energy trade group Colorado Oil and Gas Association to defend the city’s fracking ban, which was passed last fall in a city-wide vote.

The class-action lawsuit filed Tuesday in Boulder County District Court comes in response to a separate suit filed by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) in December that seeks to negate Lafayette’s ban on new oil and gas extraction in the city. 

Sixty percent of Lafayette voters supported the measure to curb hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in November.
Lafayette residents Ann Griffin and Cliff Wilmeng, of the anti-fracking organization East Boulder County United, filed the suit that is seeking to dismiss COGA’s December lawsuit while calling for the protection of citizens’ right to self-governance pursuant to local laws and statutes.

In their complaint, Griffin and Wilmeng are requesting the court to issue injunctions "enjoining the defendants from attempting to enforce the Oil and Gas Act against the plaintiffs and the people of the city of Lafayette to invalidate the charter amendment," as well as "any future enforcement" of the act,
according to the Boulder Daily Camera.

"This suit enforces Lafayette residents' fundamental rights, which are being directly threatened by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association," said Willmeng in a statement.

"We had to take action to protect this community, its families and property, and we will continue to assert our rights to health, safety and welfare. 

These fundamental rights are not subordinate to corporate privilege, and they are not the property of the governor or the state of Colorado to either give away or to overrule."
COGA, which says it “aggressively promotes natural gas expansion in Colorado, represents major state interests that oppose moratoriums or bans in cities like Lafayette, as well as Longmont, Broomfield, Boulder, and Fort Collins.

In a statement at the time of their filing in December, COGA said Lafayette’s ban violates state law because "state regulations specify and the state Supreme Court has ruled that oil and gas development, which must employ hydraulic fracturing or fracking, supersedes local laws and cannot be banned."
“It is regrettable and unfortunate that COGA had to take this action,” Tisha Schuller, the association’s president, said in a December statement.  

There are over 100,000 families that rely on the oil and gas industry for their livelihoods and these bans effectively stop oil and gas development.”
With 95 percent of all wells in Colorado hydraulically fractured, any ban on fracking is a ban on oil and gas development,” she said.

The Lafayette residents’ lawsuit comes one day after Colorado Gov. Hickenlooper postponed a special legislative session to address concerns about the state’s control over natural resource extraction--and localities trying to usurp that control.

The failure to hold the special session indicates a lack of support from negotiating parties for a draft bill that would “clarify powers held by state, county and city authorities in Colorado to regulate oil-and-gas drilling,” according to The Colorado Independent.

Meanwhile, supporters of local rights hailed the Lafayette lawsuit as part of a movement in which communities will fight state governments’ edicts on energy extraction that, by and large, benefit connected, corporate players.

“This class action lawsuit is merely the first of many by people across the United States whose constitutional rights to govern their own communities are routinely violated by state governments working in concert with the corporations that they ostensibly regulate,” said Thomas Linzey, Esq., executive director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, which helped Lafayette craft its Community Bill of Rights.

“The people of Lafayette will not stand idly by as their rights are negotiated away by oil and gas corporations, their state government, and their own municipal government,” he added, according to EcoWatch.

The fracking process entails blasting fissures in rocks thousands of meters under the earth with water and sand to release trapped deposits of oil and gas.

Fracking has been associated with a multitude of dangers to human and environmental health, including groundwater contamination, air pollution, migration of gases and chemicals to the ground’s surface, increase of atmospheric CO2 levels, and heightened earthquake activity.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Darkness cannot drive out darkness;
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; 
only love can do that.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

The US is an oligarchy, study concludes

Report by researchers from Princeton and Northwestern universities suggests that US political system serves special interest organizations, instead of voters

Researchers concluded that US government policies rarely align with the the preferences of the majority of Americans 

By Zachary Davies Boren

April 16, 2014--The US government does not represent the interests of the majority of the country's citizens, but is instead ruled by those of the rich and powerful, a new study from Princeton and Northwestern Universities has concluded.

The report, entitled Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens, used extensive policy data collected from between the years of 1981 and 2002 to empirically determine the state of the US political system.

After sifting through nearly 1,800 US policies enacted in that period and comparing them to the expressed preferences of average Americans (50th percentile of income), affluent Americans (90th percentile) and large special interests groups, researchers concluded that the United States is dominated by its economic elite.

The peer-reviewed study, which will be taught at these universities in September, says: "The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence."

Researchers concluded that US government policies rarely align with the the preferences of the majority of Americans, but do favor special interests and lobbying organizations: "When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose.

Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it."

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Stay for the torture...


Friday, December 12, 2014

The Freedom Tower Was Supposed to Be the Greenest Building in America.

So What Went Wrong?

Under pressure to get a publishing giant into the iconic tower, the site's developers may have sacrificed a core part of its green plans.

By James West*

Monday,  Dec. 8, 2014--Heavy fog blankets Lower Manhattan, including the now-open One World Trade Center.

One World Trade Center, or the "Freedom Tower," as it was formerly known, soars above New York City, finally filling a void left by the 9/11 terror attacks.

The brilliant blue-silver facade glints no matter where you are in the city—nothing less than a "beacon of hope, just like the Statue of Liberty," says the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the site in a joint venture with real estate giant the Durst Organization.

The tower is now the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.

And it's also supposed to be one of the greenest—a first on its scale to aim for the US Green Building Council's LEED gold certification, a coveted prize for sustainable building design.

One World Trade Center features lighting that reacts to sunshine, rain harvesting, and a state-of-the-art onsite fuel cell installation, one of the largest of its kind in the world.

In 2008, then-New York Gov. David A. Paterson praised this "space-age energy technology," adding, "I can think of few sites in the country where the symbolism of this is more important."

Then came Sandy.

A 26-page trove of internal documents obtained by Climate Desk from the Port Authority reveals for the first time a substantial hit to the project's green ambitions:

Superstorm Sandy caused critical damage to the World Trade Center's $10.6 million clean-power sources—those world-class fuel cells—a third of which went unrepaired and unreplaced, in part because of a costly flaw in the main tower's design, and pressure to honor a billion-dollar deal with Condé Nast, the global publishing powerhouse and high-profile anchor tenant.

What happened in the basement of One World Trade Center after Sandy is a previously untold—and as yet unresolved—chapter in the site's redevelopment, already dogged by false starts, political squabbling, and cost overruns, involving some of the biggest names in New York City's world of corporate real estate.

Breaking the Port Authority's Green-Energy Promise?

In 2007, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, a state agency created in the aftermath of 9/11 to coordinate rebuilding efforts, introduced aggressive green standards for the Freedom Tower and its surrounding complex—"unprecedented in their scope and depth," according to the building's architects.

The World Trade Center towers would be required to attain LEED gold certification, achieve net zero CO2 emissions (by purchasing green-energy credits), and operate with at least 20 percent more energy efficiency than the state's current building code.

"Every day is Earth Day at the World Trade Center," claimed the Port Authority.

Another key requirement in the agreement was a fleet of fuel cells, which work by converting natural gas into electricity using an energy-efficient electrochemical process, rather than by burning it.

They're also cleaner because they don't emit greenhouse gases or soot on location; the heat and water they generate as a byproduct can be used for cooling and heating the tower.

And so, in 2008, the Port Authority helped orchestrate a $10.6 million dollar deal with Connecticut's UTC Power to provide nine fuel cells to supply power to three main towers at the site, including One World Trade.

In Tower One, the fuel cells would provide up to 10 percent of the building's electricity source, according to the fuel cell manufacturer; in towers Three and Four, they would supply a combined 30 percent.

Then, three years later, Sandy hit.

Some 200 million gallons of water cascaded into the lower levels of the site, flooding the National September 11 Memorial Museum with at least five feet of water, according to the New York Times.

What no media outlets reported, though, was that the flood also destroyed all nine fuel cells.

And while towers Three and Four now have new fuel cells, the main tower's have never been replaced.

The building opened without them—despite the fact that they were required in the original agreement.

So why didn't the Port Authority replace the fuel cells?

Evidence suggests that the reason had to do with financial pressure.

In May 2011, the publishing giant Condé Nast signed a $2 billion deal to become the tower's anchor tenant.

Built into the terms of the lease was a move-in deadline:

The Port Authority would be liable for penalties or lost earnings if Condé Nast was forced to wait beyond January 1, 2014, to begin the process of moving in. (Climate Desk contacted Condé Nast, but the company did not respond on the record.)

But the fuel cell disaster created the real possibility that the Port Authority and Durst were not going to make that deadline, a potential financial disaster.

Part of the problem was a well-documented mistake in the building's design:

A temporary underground structure serving an existing train station was preventing builders from finishing the tower's giant underground loading dock—the central piece of infrastructure used to haul masses of equipment up into the tower.

Without the loading dock, there was no way for tenants to start moving their equipment into the building.

And once a new loading dock went in—budgeted to cost $18.4 million—it would be all but impossible to remove and replace the dead fuel cells.

Nevertheless, with the tight deadline, Port Authority decided to build the new loading dock.

That meant the fuel cells had to come out fast—and finally, after several months, they did.

Today, more than two years after Sandy, the new loading dock still blocks access to the one window through which the fuel cells could possibly be replaced.

Durst admits in a statement to Climate Desk that "in order to replace the fuel cells that were destroyed by Super Storm Sandy, One World Trade Center's interim loading dock needs to be disassembled," but did not say if or when that might occur.

With no new fuel cells, the Port Authority needed to figure out how the main tower was going to reach the 20 percent energy efficiency goal stipulated in the rules.

According to Durst, the building has now met the goal, but the company did not detail exactly how the building now makes up energy savings, except to say it "has been achieved through a number of means," including the use of LED lighting.

Focusing on the fuel cells is "missing the forest" for the trees, said Jordan Barowitz, a spokesman for Durst.

But that leaves a key part of the green deal in limbo: The rule that states that fuel cells must be built "into the towers."

Durst did not deny that the building was currently in a state of noncompliance with the original 2007 agreement.

Neither the Port Authority nor Durst would confirm which organization in the joint venture is ultimately responsible for replacing the fuel cells.

The Port Authority declined to be interviewed or to answer a series of questions for this story, instead referring us to Durst.

Richard Hankin, the director of 16 Acres, a documentary that charts the deeply convoluted progress at the site, says this confusion over who's in charge of final sign off is typical of the site in general.

"Over the years, the sheer size and complexity of the bureaucracy has often made it impossible to figure out who's responsible for any given area or ultimate oversight," he said.

Hankin found that complications at the World Trade Center stemmed from the tremendous number of invested parties—developers, architects, insurance companies, and victims' groups—combined with the high turnover in top positions at the agencies responsible.

"It's that classic situation: The right arm is unaware of what the left arm is doing, compounded by the fact that it's often a new left arm," he said.

In addition to potentially flouting the original agreement, it remains unclear whether or not the fuel cell fiasco will undermine the tower's LEED certification efforts.

The US Green Building Council listed the gold certification as "projected" as recently as May 2014 in its magazine.

But, says Marisa Long, the communications director at the US Green Building Council, "if the calculations for the LEED certification included a component like fuel cells, and damage to that component forces a change in calculations, the number of points earned to achieve LEED will be based on the new calculations."

Those calculations appear to be based on the original 2007 deal, which contains a variety of standards, not simply those concerning energy efficiency.

Durst says it will still meet LEED gold certification.

"It's that classic situation: The right arm is unaware of what the left arm is doing."

Despite the setback for the building, those involved continue to publicly laud the project's green cred. Patrick Foye, executive director of the Port Authority, opened the building earlier this month by saying the building "sets new standards of design, construction, prestige, and sustainability."

Kenneth A. Lewis, of Skidmore & Owings; Merrill told the USGBC magazine: "We want to open it up and have the LEED plaque on the door."

While there's still time to get the building across the line, Lewis' hope for a grand LEED-certified opening has vanished.

For now, the doors are wide open, without the plaque, and without a clear solution to the alternative energy demands of the tower.

"If one thing is delayed or goes wrong, it very much has a domino effect with all the other parts," Hankin said. "It can result in a lot of finger-pointing."

James West*
Senior Producer, Mother Jones/Climate Desk

James West is senior producer for the Climate Desk and a contributing producer for Mother Jones. He wrote Bejing Blurr (Penguin 2008), and produced award-winning TV in his native Australia. He's been to Kyrgyzstan, and also invited himself to Thanksgiving dinner after wrongly receiving invites for years from the mysterious Tran family.

Visit the United States of America...
Enjoy the sites...Enjoy the food...
Stay for the torture...

Yesterday was Annie Jump Cannon's birthday. Google acknowledged it by introducing her name to those of us who Google every day. I took a moment to check it out. Cannon was indeed worth the effort.

Annie Jump Cannon appears to have been a genius.
    Too bad she was a woman.
    Yes, this country still has a problem with us.
    When I began my career the first thing I was told was that I was in the wrong business!
    And this was at a large corporation!
    The wrong business?
    Guess he thought I should have been working for Bill Cosby!
    I started my own successful business and I never slept with anyone but my husband!
    My two daughters wanted to be altar servers in the Catholic church.
   After serving a few times someone called in and complained!
    The girls were devastated.
    How do you explain that to a seven- and eight-year old?
    It was a blessing when the Catholic high school for girls was forced to close for lack of funds.
   My older daughter was left dangling the whole summer before being accepted to the boys college prep high school.
    Then she was begrudgingly accepted only after all the “sporty” jocks who wanted to go were in.
    It was easier getting her sister in.
   The annoying thing about this shameful treatment of girls in this country is abysmal.

Dot Calm

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Annie Jump Cannon 1922 Portrait.jpg
          Annie Jump Cannon
Annie Jump Cannon was born on December 11, 1863, in Dover, Delaware.

She was the eldest of three daughters born to Wilson Cannon, a Delaware shipbuilder and state senator, and his second wife, Mary Jump.

Cannon's mother was the first person to teach her the constellations and encouraged her to follow her own interests, suggesting that she pursue studies in mathematics, chemistry, and biology at Wellesley College.

Cannon took her mother's advice and pursued her love of astronomy.

Cannon suffered hearing loss sometime during her childhood or early adult years.

Sources vary on the time frame and actual cause, although it is sometimes attributed to scarlet fever.

There are claims this hearing loss made it difficult for her to socialize, resulting in Cannon immersing herself in her work. She never married or had children.

At Wilmington Conference Academy (today known as Wesley College), Cannon was a promising student, particularly in mathematics.

In 1880, Cannon was sent to Wellesley College in Massachusetts, one of the top academic schools for women in the U.S., where she studied physics and astronomy.

Cannon studied under Sarah Frances Whiting, one of the few women physicists in the United States at the time, and went on to become the valedictorian at Wellesley College.

She graduated with a degree in physics in 1884 and returned home to Delaware for a decade.

This was partly due to the fact that there were limited opportunities available to women in the careers that Cannon was interested in.

Also during these years, Cannon developed her skills in the new art of photography.

In 1892 she traveled through Europe taking photographs with her Blair box camera.

After she returned home her prose and photos from Spain were published in pamphlet called "In the Footsteps of Columbus" by the Blair Company, and distributed as a souvenir at the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition of 1893.

Soon afterwards, Cannon was stricken with scarlet fever that rendered her nearly deaf.

This hearing loss made it difficult for Cannon to socialize.

As a result, she immersed herself in her work.

She never married or had children.

In 1894, Cannon's mother died and life at home grew more difficult.

She finally wrote to her former instructor at Wellesley, professor Sarah Frances Whiting, to see if there was a job opening.

Whiting hired her as a junior physics teacher at the college.

This opportunity also allowed Cannon to take graduate courses at the college in physics and astronomy.

Whiting also inspired Cannon to learn about spectroscopy.

In order to gain access to a better telescope, Cannon enrolled at Radcliffe College as a "special student", continuing her studies of astronomy.

Radcliffe was set up near Harvard College for Harvard professors to repeat their lectures to the young Radcliffe women.

This relationship gave Cannon access to the Harvard College Observatory.

In 1896, Edward C. Pickering hired her as his assistant at the Observatory, and by 1907, Cannon finished her studies and received an M.A. from Wellesley.

Professional history
In 1896, Cannon became a member of "Pickering’s Women," the women hired by Harvard Observatory director Edward C. Pickering to complete the Henry Draper Catalog, mapping and defining every star in the sky to photographic magnitude of about 9.

Anna Draper, the widow of wealthy physician and amateur astronomer Henry Draper, set up a fund to support the work.

Men at the laboratory did the labor of operating the telescopes and taking photographs while the women examined the data, carried out astronomical calculations, and cataloged those photographs during the day.

Pickering made the Catalog a long-term project to obtain the optical spectra of as many stars as possible and to index and classify stars by spectra.

If making measurements was hard, the development of a reasonable classification was at least as difficult.

Not long after work began on the Draper Catalog, a disagreement developed as to how to classify the stars.

The analysis was first started by Nettie Farrar, who left a few months later to be married.

This left the problem to the ideas of Henry Draper's niece Antonia Maury (who insisted on a complex classification system) and Williamina Fleming (who was overseeing the project for Pickering, and wanted a much more simple, straightforward approach).

Cannon negotiated a compromise: she started by examining the bright southern hemisphere stars.

To these stars she applied a third system, a division of stars into the spectral classes O, B, A, F, G, K, M.

Her scheme was based on the strength of the Balmer absorption lines.

After absorption lines were understood in terms of stellar temperatures, her initial classification system was rearranged to avoid having to update star catalogs.

Cannon came up with the mnemonic of "Oh Be a Fine Girl, Kiss Me" as a way to remember stellar classification.

Cannon published her first catalog of stellar spectra in 1901.

Cannon and the other women at the Observatory were criticized at first for being "out of their place" and not being housewives.

In fact, women could only get as high as assistants in this line of work and were only paid 25 cents an hour for seven hours a day, six days a week.

Cannon dominated this field because of her "tidiness" and patience for the tedious work, and even helped the men in the observatory gain popularity.

Cannon helped broker partnerships and exchanges of equipment between men in the international community and assumed an ambassador-like role outside of it.

She wrote books and articles to increase astronomy's status, and in 1933, she represented professional women at the World's Fair in Chicago.

Cannon's determination and hard work paid off.

She classified more stars in a lifetime than anyone else, with a total of around 500,000 stars.

She also discovered 300 variable stars, five novas, and one spectroscopic binary, creating a bibliography that included about 200,000 references.

Cannon could classify three stars a minute just by looking at their spectral patterns and, if using a magnifying glass, could classify stars down to the ninth magnitude, around 16 times fainter than the human eye can see.

On May 9, 1922, the International Astronomical Union passed the resolution to formally adopt Cannon's stellar classification system, and with only minor changes, it is still being used for classification today.

The astronomer Cecilia Payne collaborated with Cannon and used Cannon's data to show that the stars were composed mainly of hydrogen and helium.
Wikipedia--The Free Encyclopedia 

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Definition of MEME

:  an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture

Origin of MEME

alteration of mimeme, from mim- (as in mimesis) + -eme
First Known Use: 1976

When you tell the truth, justice is done, but lies lead to injustice.
Proverbs 12:17-27

Monday, December 08, 2014

We knew you bastards were
torturing in our name.
Thanks ever so much for
invading a sovereign country for
the sole purpose of stealing
THEIR oil! Cheney, you're to
blame for your devious plan...
We always knew you were pure
evil. The "president" is simply a
moron. Guess what! Being a moron
is NO EXCUSE for what the two of you
have done to America! The history
books will not be kind!