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The Pennsylvania Progressive

Restoring Trust In Police

by: John Morgan

Mon Dec 01, 2014 at 16:04:54 PM EST

Relations between African Americans and police have been bad ever since, well, who really knows when it began.  Maybe during slavery when Blacks were forcibly returned to bondage after escaping their horrid situations.  Maybe during segregation when local cops who were also members of the Klan looked away or participated in massive civil rights violations.  Maybe those same cops who helped lynch Blacks and cops today who don't think twice before killing Blacks.  It's been a long, dark history of bad relations which is manifesting itself in the civil disobedience and rioting we're witnessing as a result of too many killings and not enough justice.

How do we begin to mend these relationships, how do we police the police and how do we begin to build trust in the Black community?  Stop and Frisk has been a major factor in distrust and the mass incarceration of Blacks and the targeting of the Black community for drug enforcement when we know drug use is evenly split among all classes and races have both contributed to the problem.

Police forces are responsible to the community.  Voters must elect responsible Mayors and town council members who will oversee, hire and train their police forces properly.  One of the problems in Ferguson has been the apathy of the African American population in this regard.  With only a 15% voter turnout in its last Mayoral election they abdicated their responsibility to elect a Mayor who would see to their concerns.  Now they have an oppressive police department which thinks it has a license to kill any Black man it sees walking down the street.  It not only thinks so, it did.  With impunity.

Officer Darren Wilson not only got away with murder he is now a millionaire as a result (thanks ABC).  So the message sent is that a cop can become a millionaire by shooting to death any Black man he wants.  We just reinforced this perception and made the matter worse.

The first step, as I see it is for citizens to get involved locally.  First of all we need to vote and educate ourselves as to each candidate.  Go to campaign events, call in and question them during TV appearances or in public places and ascertain what their attitudes are regarding community relations and police oversight.  The police serve US and unless we hold them accountable (and those to whom they report) we are part of the problem.

Find out how your community police would react to a Ferguson situation.    Is your local force militarized and how would they respond?  Be proactive about this, not reactive.  By that I mean start NOW by asking questions.  Don't wait until a Michael Brown is killed in your community and it becomes Ferguson.

The White House stepped up today with a program of its own:

FACT SHEET: Strengthening Community Policing

Recent events in Ferguson, Missouri and around the country have highlighted the importance of strong, collaborative relationships between local police and the communities they protect.  As the nation has observed, trust between law enforcement agencies and the people they protect and serve is essential to the stability of our communities, the integrity of our criminal justice system, and the safe and effective delivery of policing services.

In August, President Obama ordered a review of federal funding and programs that provide equipment to state and local law enforcement agencies (LEAs).  Today, the Obama Administration released its Review:  Federal Support for Local Law Enforcement Equipment Acquisition, and the President is also taking a number of steps to strengthen community policing and fortify the trust that must exist between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.

White House Review: Federal Support for Local Law Enforcement Equipment Acquisition
Today, the White House released its review which provides details on the programs that have expanded over decades across multiple federal agencies that support the acquisition of equipment from the federal government to LEAs.  During the course of its review, the White House explored whether existing federal programs:
provide LEAs with equipment that is appropriate to the needs of their communities,
ensure that LEAs have adequate policies in place for the use of the equipment and that personnel are properly trained and certified to employ the equipment they obtain, and
encourage LEAs to adopt organizational and operational practices and standards that prevent misuse/abuse of the equipment.

The report finds a lack of consistency in how federal programs are structured, implemented and audited, and informed by conversations with stakeholders, identifies four areas of further focus that could better ensure the appropriate use of federal programs to maximize the safety and security of police officers and the communities they serve:  1) Local Community Engagement, 2) Federal Coordination and Oversight, 3) Training Requirements, and 4) The Community Policing Model.

Consistent with the recommendations in the report, the President instructed his staff to draft an Executive Order directing relevant agencies to work together and with law enforcement and civil rights and civil liberties organizations to develop specific recommendations within 120 days.  Some broad examples of what process improvements agencies might implement as a result of further collaborative review include:

Develop a consistent list of controlled property allowable for acquisition by LEAs and ensure that all equipment on the list has a legitimate civilian law enforcement purpose.

Require local civilian (non-police) review of and authorization for LEAs to request or acquire controlled equipment.

Mandate that LEAs which participate in federal equipment programs receive necessary training and have policies in place that address appropriate use and employment of controlled equipment, as well as protection of civil rights and civil liberties.  Agencies should identify existing training opportunities and help LEAs avail themselves of those opportunities, including those offered by the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) and the International Association of Law Enforcement Standards and Training.

Require after-action analysis reports for significant incidents involving federally provided or federally-funded equipment.

Harmonize federal programs so that they have consistent and transparent policies.

Develop a database that includes information about controlled equipment purchased or acquired through Federal programs.

Click HERE (>http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/federal_support_for_local_law_enforcement_equipment_acquisition.pdf<) for the White House's review of Federal Support for Local Law Enforcement Equipment Acquisition.

Task Force on 21st Century Policing
The President similarly instructed his team to draft an executive order creating a Task Force on 21st Century Policing, and announced that the Task Force will be chaired by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, who also serves as President of the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association, and Laurie Robinson, professor at George Mason University and former Assistant Attorney General for DOJ's Office of Justice Programs.  The Task Force will include, among others, law enforcement representatives and community leaders and will operate in collaboration with Ron Davis, Director of DOJ's Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office. The Task Force will build on the extensive research currently being conducted by COPS; will examine, among other issues, how to promote effective crime reduction while building public trust; and will be directed to prepare a report and recommendations within 90 days of its creation.

Community Policing Initiative
The President also proposes a three-year $263 million investment package that will increase use of body-worn cameras, expand training for law enforcement agencies (LEAs), add more resources for police department reform, and multiply the number of cities where DOJ facilitates community and local LEA engagement. As part of this initiative, a new Body Worn Camera Partnership Program would provide a 50 percent match to States/localities who purchase body worn cameras and requisite storage.  Overall, the proposed $75 million investment over three years could help purchase 50,000 body worn cameras. The initiative as a whole will help the federal government efforts to be a full partner with state and local LEAs in order to build and sustain trust between communities and those who serve and protect these communities.


 
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The Pennsylvania Republican Party split

by: nicksones

Mon Dec 01, 2014 at 11:30:16 AM EST

The latest shake up within the Pennsylvania Republican Party leadership in the legislature shows just how fragile the party is, and that there is a splintering of Republican politicos. I am talking about Jake Corman defeating Dominic Pileggi for the Senate Majority Leader position in the state Senate.

Corman's win shows that the Republican Party is going to become harder lined. Now I can hear those going on about how the PA GOP won the Senate and the House here in Pennsylvania, and to some Republicans they may feel that the party has a right to take a hardline conservative approach to policymaking. However, the state GOP should also factor in that they no longer have a rubber stamp within the Governor's mansion.

The fracturing of the Republican Party in Pennsylvania can be seen as good for Democrats and bad for Republicans. It shows that the state GOP is vulnerable and that not everyone is willing to get along and play nice when it comes to state Republican Party leadership wishes, which further shows that the state GOP is vulnerable and that Governor elect Wolf has a chance to get victories on certain policy agenda points since not everyone is on the Senate Majority Leader Corman band wagon. So it may be that Senator Pileggi becomes a quick ally to Governor Elect Tom Wolf.  

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The Ferguson Verdict

by: John Morgan

Tue Nov 25, 2014 at 10:34:36 AM EST

On August 9th we were arriving back in Santa Fe after a vacation excursion to the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley and mesa Verde National Park.  Michael Brown was being shot and killed in Ferguson, Missouri by police officer Darren Wilson.  Riots broke out throughout the St. Louis area as news broke that Brown had his hands up when the cop shot him.  The killing of unarmed Black men by police has become epidemic in America as racism rears its ugly head in opposition to a Black President.

I wasn't able to watch the television coverage of the riots because the casita where I was staying didn't have a TV but I did follow it on social media and through the New York Times.  Yesterday a grand jury decided no charges were to be filed against the police officer and more unrest followed.  Confronting violence with violence runs counter to everything Ghandi and martin Luther King Jr. have taught us.  Sometimes tempers flare however and great injustice demands civil disobedience.  That should never include violence though.  Looting, shootings and theft of other's property won't win any converts to one's arguments.

We know we live in an era of The New Jim Crow where mass incarceration fueled by unconstitutional stop and frisk harassment by police is funded by federal government grants.  Growing up in America as a Black man is dangerous to one's health and well being even in the 21st century.  America hasn't really come very far in terms of race relations.  The virulent statements and deeds by the KKK regarding Ferguson amidst other threats to the President and other African Americans is ample evidence.

Speaking of evidence the grand jury decision came as no surprise to many.  There simply aren't any consequences when white cops shoot African American men.  The testimony was taken by a grand jury which worked in secrecy with no cross examination of witnesses.  The lack of transparency makes it all suspicious which will only feed the sense that justice was denied.  If the prosecutor really wanted to pursue justice in this case he should have filed charges against Darren Wilson and let an open and public jury trial determine the evidence and render a verdict.  The Brown family, the people of Ferguson and the Black community nationwide was denied such justice.

Why is it we hardly ever hear of unarmed White men being gunned down by cops?  The militarization of police became a national issue because of Ferguson.  Many community activists and leaders have questioned the wisdom of such tactics following the vast over reaction seen on televisions by millions.  This may be the only good that comes from Ferguson.  Yesterday "verdict" was a shame.

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Fellow Americans, I Need Your Help

by: John Morgan

Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 20:41:09 PM EST

This is a guest column by Ed Cowan

We Americans are the largest, most-powerful democracy on a fragile planet floating in space with no one in charge, no one in politics or media talking about our most serious problems, and our morning and evening news dominated by the latest shootings, stalemated politics, ebola, and the latest news from G.B's royal family.
I'm a writer/thinker who has been published in Australia, Europe, and the U.S., and in 2012 as one of 14 candidates, I finished second to Obama in the New Hampshire Democratic Presidential Primary.  I campaigned by passing out 650 copies of my Campaign Speech, asking the recipients to pass it on if they liked what they read, spending $680, mainly gas and copies, and winning 945 votes, an unheard of 1.39 votes per dollar spent.
That tiny slice of Democratic voters exposed to my ideas-650 people-liked what they read because I offer ideas in black and white and proposals that challenge you to come up with something better.  I don't have the answers; I only have ideas.  Consider this trio:
1. We're not using media, electronic communication, to it's full potential.  We begin to do so when we ask every head of state and every national politician in every nation this question, here addressed to President Obama:
2. "Do you agree, Mr. President, that the top five problems of the planet are:
1) the nuclear-tipped arms race, number one because it is the only problem that can destroy us (with ozone coming up quickly on the outside rail) and because by solving it, we can save trillions of dollars,
2) excessive population and population growth,
3) the stagnant, self-cannibalizing, super-wasteful, wholly corporate, global, market economy,
4) disparity between the rich and poor within nations and disparity between nations. and
5) the Environment, the Master of Ceremonies Problem that never leaves us, that we solve only in degree, and if you do not agree Mr. President, what are the top five problems of the planet and where, sir, is your plan to solve them?"  

Obama may delay in answering, but if so, we could quickly find that Congressmen in both houses and other heads of state begin to answer the question, provoking the international debate we desperately need.
3.   The President can also spike the international punch bowl of nonexistence debate with this action.  We wake up one Monday morning soon to find on our TV Obama standing next to a table of 20 nuclear nosecones from American missiles.  He asks the I.A.E.A., the International Atomic Energy Association, to come to verify that they are nukes and to monitor them 24/7 before TV & www cameras until they are dismantled and placed in a repository.  Obama gives the other seven nuclear heads of state 72 hours to match his move with the same conditions and these numbers for each of the nuclear nations: Russia 20, China 6, France 4, Great Britain and Israel 2, and India and Pakistan 1 each.
What next?  I give up; what?  Again, I don't have the answers; we do!  It's a mighty big we, folks; the five billion adults who get it done daily-who work, raise a family, vote, and act locally-have the answers.  The professionals, experts, and enlightened politicians will do the heavy lifting, but the rest of us can vote and contribute in our own way.  It begins with you; if you like what you read, visit ed@edcowansgreatideas.com, maybe make a purchase ($5 minimum), and copy and pass on this sheet.  Thank you, Ed Cowan
Fellow Democrats: Late November 2014
Okay, we lost a mid-term election.  Because the GOP offers nothing for the common man, they are setting themselves up for a crash in 2016 if we Democrats offer a candidate with better ideas in black and white that begin to solve America's problems.  The Democrats of New Hampshire that I handed my single-sheet Campaign Speech liked it so much that 650 copies got me 945 votes.  The American people want our problems SOLVED.  If you like what you read and want to be part of it, pass this sheet!  HAVE SPEECH; WILL TRAVEL.  EC

                                    Obama Places Twenty Nuclear Weapons on the Table
                                                                           Ed Cowan
President Obama could make a huge positive mark on human history if he appeared at dawn on a bright spring morning at Andrews Air Force Base, standing beside a table with twenty nuclear nose cones from U.S. missiles.  The following words are a suggestion of what he might say:
"Good morning.  As we welcome the sunrise of a new dawn, I would like to announce the dawn of a truly new era.  These are nuclear nosecones taken from twenty armed American missiles.   It is time to begin to eliminate the nuclear arsenals that threaten all higher life on the planet, so I ask the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA, to immediately send inspectors to verify, monitor, and provide constant vigilance 24/7 as we move these nukes to Western repositories.
"Second, I respectfully demand that President Putin match my move by putting twenty strategic Russian nosecones before the cameras and request that the IAEA send inspectors to verify and monitor the Russian weapons.  Hopefully, this will be the first step of a process in which the U.S. and Russia will reduce our nuclear stockpiles to twenty nuclear weapons, ten in each nation, within six years.
"Third, China must match the superpowers with four strategic nosecones before their cameras.  France will place three before the cameras, Great Britain and Israel two, and India and Pakistan one.  All of these warheads in the eight nuclear nations musts be monitored by IAEA inspectors 24/7 and be broadcast on TV and internet channels worldwide until we develop well-regulated arms reduction.
"My fourth point: We know North Korea has a handful of nuclear weapons and that Iran wanted nuclear weapons until their 2014 change in Government.  However, as soon as the eight nuclear nations place warheads before the cameras and begin reductions with parity as the guiding principle, humanity is reducing nuclear weapons.  Then, no non-nuclear nation has a need for or right to nuclear weapons.  North Korea will dismantle their weapons, and Iran will allow entry to IAEA inspectors to monitor their nuclear activity.
"I'm confident this is the right move and the non-nuclear world will applaud loudly.  I say to everyone worldwide, 'Let us hear from you!  The more you applaud, the more you pressure all nuclear nations to match this move by the U.S.'  Thank you; I'll now take questions."
    Consider the reaction internationally to Obama's bold move, or, if he ponders for days as these ideas are discussed nationally, another nuclear head of state could act first and pressure the others to follow.  The non-nuclear world-with everything to lose and nothing to gain from nukes-will applaud loudly, pressuring the reluctant seven to follow.
By coughing up 20 each, Russia and the U.S. will be reducing only a tiny fraction of each superpower's arsenals, and the other six nuclear nations will be reducing about 1% of their arsenals.  The numbers themselves only become very important once every nation has to reveal the exact nuclear weapons in its arsenal in later stages of disarmament.
This unprecedented step would become the most important positive develop in the sixty-nine years of the nuclear age, for once humanity starts to reduce nuclear arsenals under the watchful eyes of IAEA inspectors, everything changes for the non-nuclear nations that aspire to come nuclear nations, such as North Korea and possibly Iran.  Every nation no Earth has the right to build nuclear weapons as long as the U.S. and Russia have that right.  That is just basic cannon sense and fairness.
However, as soon as the U.S. and Russia put twenty on the table and are followed by the other nuclear nations, reducing nuclear stockpiles becomes the goal of all nuclear powers because nuclear weapons are dangerous, useless in any reasonable sense, and even suicidal.  To use them is to invite massive retaliation.  A limited nuclear war or serious nuclear terrorism is a threat to the well being of the planet, for all major rivers run into the sea.

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Executive Orders 101

by: John Morgan

Sat Nov 22, 2014 at 13:23:24 PM EST

President Obama is being vilified by the Right for his use of Executive Orders, especially this week on immigration issues.  These idiots don't understand how government works so here's a basic lesson in civics.  The President is in charge of the Executive branch of the federal government.  As such it is his responsibility to run the governmental agencies and departments which carry out programs, services, regulatory bodies, etc.  He does this through the issuance of Executive Orders much as a corporate CEO does.

 photo executive-orders_chart_zpsb3280fb8.png

Interestingly conservatives who, for years, have argued that government should be run more like business don't seem to comprehend that a President or a Governor is much like a CEO.  Every President issues Executive Orders because that's how our government operates.  In reality Barack Obama has issued far fewer Executive Orders than any of his recent predecessors.  (See the above graphic)

He acted on immigration because the GOP House has refused, for 17 months, to act on a bipartisan bill which passed the Senate.  The Teapublicans have refused to bring the bill to a vote.  Therefore Obama did what every President since Eisenhower has done: acted on immigration matters unilaterally through his constitutional powers to run the federal government.  It is his job to run ICE along with every other federal agency.  

Obama said this the other day about the Republican's inaction:

"It has now been 512 days, a year and a half, in which the only thing standing in the way of that bipartisan bill and my desk, so I can sign the bill, is a simple yes or no vote in the House of Representatives," Mr. Obama told the enthusiastic crowd.

Obama has deported more undocumented immigrants than any other President in recent history.  
 photo deportationremovals_zps21b62d56.jpeg

It is impossible though to deport 12 million people, many of whom didn't sneak over the border.  About 38% of undocumented immigrants in this country simply overstayed their visas.  The cost to round up, detain and deport twelve million people would be staggering.  Considering conservatives long standing opposition to paying taxes this argument is interesting.  They're certainly not willing to pay for such staggering costs.  Perhaps they think we can simply snap our fingers, say some magic words and have them all disappear.  Wait, didn't Hitler try that with the Jews?

Five million of these people the President has chosen not to deport are family members who have close relations, parents or children, who are here legally.  Deporting them would break up family units.  Many more are children who were brought here illegally by their parents.   I did a TV show on BCTV earlier this year with two young women who are covered by his DACA Executive Order.

For people who claim to be all about "family values" the eagerness of conservatives to break up families is offensive.

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Politics Today, Politics Tomorrow

by: nicksones

Fri Nov 21, 2014 at 08:08:33 AM EST

My name is Nicholas Sones, I am currently a student. My major is political science. My interest in politics began in either the 9th or 10th grade. I had a teacher, who like all teachers inspired me, we would debate in her classes, and discuss issues that were facing this nation. I guess the reason that I am interested in politics still is because I like most Americans understand that it all begins with a good education, and behind that education is a public school teacher. I've volunteered for many candidates including Joe Sestak (my first campaign), recently I served as the field director for John Hanger, and then when he dropped out, I went on to serve as field director for Tom Wolf!

I chose to write for the PA Progressive, because writing about politics is somewhat of a hobby and I hope to one day turn it into a career!  

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The Republican Wave That Isn't

by: John Morgan

Tue Nov 18, 2014 at 09:12:51 AM EST

Guest Column by Nick Sones

The Republican wave of 2014 is not a wave at all, and if it, which I do not believe it is, it will only help the Democratic Party in 2016. Regardless of whom the nominee is, this will ensure that a Democrat is in the Whitehouse for another eight years.  The Republican Party will do anything and everything it can to ensure that President Obama's agenda is derailed even though his agenda has kept America safe, and the unemployment rate in September of 2014 was 5.9% (new data is unavailable from the Bureau of Labor Statistics).  That is a significant improvement since the days of George W. Bush. Going back to how this will help the Democrats in 2016, it will help the Democrats because the Republicans will try to repeal the same law that they have tried to repeal, the Affordable Health Care Act (ACA), or to Republicans, Obamacare, 50 times in the United States House. According to CNN, as of March 5 of this year, the House will now try to repeal it for a 51st time, and then the bill will go to the Senate, the Senate will do the same and it will then be sent to the President Obama where it will be vetoed. They will try to undo everything this administration has done. This helps Democrats in 2016 because it allows for the Democratic candidate to tell the American people that everything they have worked for, Obamacare, goes away if you elect a republican president. Let's not give the GOP what they want. Let's work to strengthen America without going into another endless war. The Democrats will play the long game, which will allow us to win in 2016 regardless of whom the candidate may be. Mark my words; there will be a Democrat in the Whitehouse come 2016, for another eight years.  

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Stripping Off Their Royalties

by: John Morgan

Mon Nov 17, 2014 at 12:48:21 PM EST

by Walter Brasch

     He's there by 7 a.m. almost every Sunday except in late Fall and Winter to make money in one of the largest permanent flea markets in northeastern Pennsylvania. In three-foot long cardboard boxes he has an inventory of hundreds of paperbacks, all of them displayed spine up. Westerns. Romances. Adventures. Whatever you want. Three for a buck; fifty cents each. The books are virtually mint condition, and if you don't mind reading something without a front cover, it's a bargain, especially since paperbacks with the covers, sold at supermarkets, pharmacies, and bookstores, are now going for as much as $7.95 each.
     He isn't the only one. There are thousands like him, although most don't produce the sales volume he does. In flea markets and yard sales, individuals have bought what are known as "stripped books" from other flea markets and yard sales and sell them for pennies more; it's just another way to make a few bucks.
     The only problem is that it's illegal.
     The sale of stripped books is a significant and ongoing problem that involves fraud, possible copyright infringement, and some areas that take the crime into interstate commerce violations. However, police departments and prosecutors often don't have the time, manpower, or resources to investigate and bring to court sellers of stripped books. To understand why the sale of stripped books is illegal, it's important to know a little about the nature of book publishing. Although the major book chains usually buy books on the basis of a book's cover and the promotion effort put out by the publisher, no one can predict which books will titillate American reading appetites, even with a $100,000 promotion campaign. So, publishers of the mass market paperbacks--the kind with colorfully-embossed titles superimposed over pirates and scantily-clad women on slick 4-1/4 by 6-3/4 inch covers--order large print quantities to try to saturate American bookstands. They sell these books to distributors for 55-65 percent of the list price-bookstores get 40 percent of that-and hope a few titles bring in enough profit to carry the rest of the line.
     Unique in the field of retail sales, booksellers can return to publishers for full credit any books they can't sell. However, publishers have no desire to pay shipping costs for books they probably won't redistribute, especially since there are another couple of dozen titles they're trying to push that month. And, neither bookseller nor publisher wants several skids of taxable inventory. So, distributors and publishers sign contracts that allow the bookseller to send only the cover back to the publisher, tack on shipping costs, and agree to destroy the rest of the book to prevent further sale.
     The bookseller usually sends stripped books to a recycler who picks them up at no cost and makes his money by selling recycled pulp.
     However, some booksellers "forget" to send some books to a debindery or recycler, either selling some in their own store or, more likely, selling books for pennies apiece to mini-distributors. But, even if the bookseller (who can be the owner of just about any kind of a business) plays by all the rules-and most major bookstores do-and sends the books to a recycler, that doesn't mean the books don't show up again. Some books may be stolen in transit or in storage; and, a few unscrupulous companies may file claims they have shredded 10 tons of what is now literally literary garbage, but have really gotten rid of just nine tons, throwing the coverless books into the streets, like left over food for the cats. The cats, in this case, have pick-ups, and pay for the leftovers.
     So, what's really the problem? After all, even though these transient booksellers probably don't pay taxes on their income, it's hard enough these days to make a buck. And, certainly, it's a break for the readers who are more likely to buy a 50-cent paperback than one costing 15 times as much.
     The problem is that when a reader buys a stripped paperback, the publisher and author don't receive any money. Since there's no income to the publisher, there's also no income to the author who is usually paid 5 percent of the list price of mass market paperbacks.
     Except for the few million-dollar deals that make the headlines every now and then, we authors don't make a whole heap of money from our meager percentages. So every stripped or stolen book that's sold means we get no money while a lot of people who had no part in the creative process are making money off of us. And, I really object to that.
     [Dr. Brasch, an award-winning journalist, has written 20 books. His latest is Fracking Pennsylvania, an overall look at the effects of fracking upon public health and the environment, with special focus upon the economics and politics of the practice.]

     

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A Nation of Fear

by: John Morgan

Tue Nov 11, 2014 at 16:00:19 PM EST

by Walter Brasch

    Maintenance workers at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pa., airport shot and killed a bear and her three cubs.
    The bears had crawled under a perimeter fence and were just lying around, several hundred yards from a runway. The airport director claimed the bears might have posed a risk to flights. The mother bear weighed less than most pro football linemen. While the airport officials were worrying about what a bear and her cubs might do, they probably should have been worrying why that fence wasn't secure. If bears could crawl under it, couldn't drunks or terrorists also get into unauthorized areas of the airport?
    Earlier this year, the airport workers killed a bear who had gone onto a parking lot and climbed away from humans. The airport director also claimed the bear might have hurt someone. He claimed the reason the bears were not tranquilized was because his maintenance workers weren't trained to tranquilize bears. He claimed the Game Commission possibly could not have gotten to the site fast enough to assist.
    The airport director also said it wasn't the policy to publicize the killings, apparently in an attempt to keep the public ignorant of what the airport does to animals.
    A week later, about 30 miles away, near Catawissa, Pa., a Game Commission officer came onto private property and killed a baby raccoon that had posed no threat to anyone.
    The family had rescued the raccoon after her mother was killed by a car. The family bottle-fed the raccoon. They made a small hutch for the raccoon who often went into the woods. The family says they planned to release the animal when it was strong enough, according to reporter Julye Wemple.
    It didn't matter to the Game Commission officer. Dixie had to be killed, he said. The animal might have rabies, he said. He refused to quarantine it. He refused to allow it to run back into the woods. He refused to allow the family to apply for a permit to keep the raccoon-the family didn't realize they had to go through a paper jungle in order to do a humane act. At first, he even refused to take the animal away from the house to kill it. It was a final, desperate plea by the parents who didn't want their four-year-old to see the murder.
    After the officer fired two shots into Dixie-the first didn't kill her-he then cited the family for unlawful acts concerning the taking of furbearers. Maybe, the Game Commission officer thought his badge allowed him to kill rather than protect animals.
    The Game Commission officer's inhumanity now allows every person to kill every animal on sight-just because it might have rabies. Maybe, it will attack us. Or, maybe, it's just an annoyance.
    Fear is a dominant trait in our society.
    We buy .357 Magnums so we can blow away robbers-or in fear of neighbors who take short-cuts through our back yards at night. Or to murder people whose views are different from ours. Three recent high-profile cases revealed Whites killing Blacks because they might be dangerous.
    We fear ideas that aren't what we believe, so we continue to ban books and whine about the National Endowment for the Arts, forgetting that our nation was founded upon a libertarian principle that all views should be heard.
    In a nation that seems to value appearance over intellect, a nation where there are no ugly anchors on TV, we are so afraid of not looking at least as well as anyone else that we spend billions for makeup to cover blemishes; we go to spas, gyms, and plastic surgeons to "tone up our flab" so no one scorns us for being fat. Augmentations to fill out. Liposuctions to reduce. Preparation H to shrink our wrinkles.
    We don't hire the handicapped, the short, the tall, the fat, the skinny because they're "different." We fear and condemn gays, lesbians, and same-sex marriage, trying to justify our contempt and our fear as a voice from God. Some among us are anti-Semitic and racist, irrationally justifying their own pathetic existence.
    While proclaiming our individuality, we try our best to look, act, and think like everyone else, 'lest someone label us "different" or, worse, "radical." We are so afraid of not being "cool" that we allow advertising to dictate what we wear, what we eat and drink, and even what we drive.     We go to college because we're afraid we won't get a good job, and then spend 40 years on that job afraid to do anything different or creative, afraid to speak out for fear of displeasing someone who might discipline or fire us.     We are so afraid that someone else will get something more than we have, so instead of fighting to get better wages and working conditions, we attack unions and public school teachers.
    We are afraid of the homeless because they look different, sometimes smell of booze, and sometimes even want to talk with us, to tell us about their lives and how they became homeless. We don't want to hear that chatter. We have so many more important things to do-like go to our jobs so we can afford that nice mortgaged house and leased car.
    We condemn those who receive public assistance, whether disabled, elderly, or just a single unwed mother who made a mistake. We fear that every dollar they receive is one dollar less that we can spend on our own necessities and luxuries.
     We are afraid of children who escape Honduras, cross into Mexico, and then into the U.S. to seek asylum. They might be terrorists. They might take our welfare. They might want our jobs. For some on the far-right lunatic fringe, the solution is to kill those who cross our borders illegally. Why not just nuke Honduras and solve the problem entirely?
    We fear and condemn Arabs and Muslims, and plan to destroy their countries, because some of them are terrorists, not acknowledging that every ethnicity and religion has its own terrorists. For some, the solution is to launch pre-emptive strikes against-well, everything-just because something might happen.
    That which we don't understand-or want to understand-we attack, leaving us condemned to an isolation of ignorance.
    Those who believe they are Christians often ask, "What would Jesus do?"
    Would Jesus want us to buy guns to kill people and animals? Would Jesus want us to ban books and ideas we don't agree with? Would Jesus want us to concentrate upon appearance? Would Jesus want us to believe the half-truths of politics and corporate advertising? Would Jesus condone racism, sexism, Anti-Semitism, ageism, and homophobia? Would Jesus want us to condemn immigrants, children who are seeking asylum, and those who are the weakest and poorest of our society. Would Jesus want us to condemn those who live on communes or join unions? Would Jesus deliberately kill a mother bear and her cubs who didn't threaten anyone? Would Jesus kill a baby raccoon who posed no threat? Would Jesus want us to live a life of fear?
    The answer is obvious.
    [Dr. Brasch's current book is Fracking Pennsylvania, an overall look at the effects of fracking upon health, agriculture, and the environment.]

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Blog Update

by: John Morgan

Thu Oct 30, 2014 at 15:02:48 PM EDT

I tore my Achilles tendon shortly after arriving home from New Mexico.  I'm laid up for, probably, another six weeks.
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The Politics of Animal Cruelty

by: John Morgan

Sun Sep 28, 2014 at 15:32:11 PM EDT

by Walter Brasch

Pennsylvanians can still butcher, braise, and broil their pet cats and dogs because a murky mixture of politics has left a critical bill on the table in the state senate.

Residents may also continue to use cats, dogs, and other animals as targets for what some erroneously call "sporting events."

Although there are no documented cases of cats and dogs being thrown into the air at these shoots, there is a long history in Pennsylvania of pigeon shoots. Pennsylvania is the only state where such shoots occur legally. The remaining shoots are in the southeastern part of the state, in Berks and Bucks counties near Philadelphia. However, this past week, an undercover investigator for SHARK, an animal rights group, documented a pigeon shoot in Oklahoma to provide campaign funds for Sen. James Inhofe (R). About 1,000 pigeons, according to SHARK, were thrown into the air a few yards from the shooters.

In Pennsylvania, scared and undernourished birds are placed into cages, and then launched about 30 yards in front of people with 12-gauge shotguns. Most birds, as many as 5,000 at an all-day shoot, are hit standing on their cages, on the ground, or flying erratically just a few feet from the people who pretend to be sportsmen. About 70 percent of all birds are wounded, according to Heidi Prescott, senior vice-president of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), who for 25 years has been documenting and leading the effort to pass legislation to end pigeon shoots in Pennsylvania. If the birds are wounded on the killing fields, trapper boys and girls, most in their early teens, some of them younger, grab the birds, wring their necks, stomp on their bodies, or throw them live into barrels to suffocate. Birds that fall outside the shooting club's property are left to die long and horrible deaths. There is no food or commercial value of a pigeon killed at one of the shoots.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Game Commission says pigeon shoots are not "fair chase hunting." The International Olympic Committee declared pigeon shoots aren't a sport, and banned it after the 1900 Olympics because of its cruelty to animals.

But, the Pennsylvania Senate still hasn't taken HB1750 off the table for discussion. Any senator may request the Senate to suspend the rules to allow a bill come off the table; none have.

The House passed the original bill, sponsored by Rep. John Maher (R), 201-0, in November 2013.

It was amended in the Senate, with Maher's approval, to ban pigeon shoots under Title 18, which includes animal cruelty statutes.  Although butchering and selling cats and dogs would be a first degree misdemeanor, carrying a fine of $1,000-$10,000 and a maximum prison term of five years, pigeon shoot violations would be only a summary offense, carrying a maximum $300 fine and/or three months jail sentence, and only for those operating the shoot. That bill was approved in the Republican-led Judiciary Committee, 10-4, on June 26. In the next two days, it passed two of the required three readings in the full Senate, but was tabled, July 8, when the Senate recessed for more than two months. The bill was not placed on the voting calendar when the Senate reconvened for five days between Sept. 15 and Sept. 24. The Senate is again in recess and will reconvene for two to four days, beginning Oct. 6 before going on recess until after the Nov. 4 election.

One of the four who voted against the bill in the judiciary committee was Joseph B. Scarnati III (R), the Senate president pro tempore. In his past two elections, Scranati received $5,275 from the NRA PAC, and $1,000 from the Flyers Victory Fund; the Victory Fund was established to support pigeon shoots. However, Scarnati didn't influence if the bill was to be voted upon by the full Senate, says Kate Eckhart, Scarnati's communications and legislative affairs assistant. The senator who does influence what bills go on the calendar is Dominic Pileggi (R), the majority leader. Pileggi had voted for the bill when it was in Judiciary Committee. However, Pileggi doesn't put a bill on the calendar until the Republican caucus discusses it.

Republican caucus leader is Sen. John Gordner (R), who also voted against the bill in committee. However, Gorder says he voted against the bill on procedural grounds. The amendment, says Todd Roup, Gordner's chief of staff, "was slipped onto the committee's calendar at the last minute without required notice."

Gregg Warner, the Judiciary Committee's legal counsel, disagrees. "We notify members of the committee what bills will be on the agenda on Thursdays or Fridays the week before [a Tuesday meeting]," says Warner, "and then distribute summaries of the bills a day before." Amendments are often distributed on Mondays before scheduled Tuesday meetings.

"Once there is enough support in the caucus," says Roup, the bill will go back to Pileggi. The person responsible for counting votes is Sen. Patrick Browne, Republican minority whip. Because caucus discussions are secret, neither Browne nor Gordner will reveal if the bill was discussed. Gordner, however, will vote for the bill if it gets to the floor for a third reading, says Roup.

Josh Funk, deputy general counsel of the Senate Republican caucus, says there are two tests as to whether a bill is placed onto the calendar to be voted upon by the full Senate. The first test is if a majority in the caucus wants it. The second test, says Funk, is that, "It is not Sen. Pileggi's policy to put bills up for a vote if the end result will be that they fail to receive 26 votes," a Senate majority." However, in the final two days before the Senate recessed this past week, Pileggi did place two bills onto the calendar that failed, by wide margins, to get 26 votes. Nevertheless, a policy that severely restricts open debate, with most discussions and decisions made in secret, significantly reduces the rights of the public to learn how their elected representatives think about a particular issue; the policy could violate Section 702 of the state's Sunshine Act that declares, "The General Assembly finds that the right  of the public to be present at all meetings of agencies and to witness the deliberation, policy formulation and decision making of agencies is vital to the enhancement and proper functioning of the democratic process and that secrecy in public affairs undermines the faith of the public in government and the public's effectiveness in fulfilling its role in a democratic society."

Although there may not be enough votes in the Republican caucus, there are more than enough votes to pass the bill in the Senate. In addition to 24 co-sponsors, an informal tally shows at least a half-dozen other senators will support the bill.

This is also bill the public supports. A statewide survey by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research a year ago revealed not only do more than three-fourths of all Pennsylvanians want to see legislation to ban live pigeon shoots, only 16 percent of Pennsylvanians oppose such a ban. More than four-fifths of all Pennsylvanians say live pigeon shoots are animal cruelty. The bill is supported by the Pennsylvania Bar Association, the Pennsylvania Council of Churches, the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association, the ASPCA, and the Pennsylvania Federation of Humane Societies. Most Pennsylvania newspapers have editorialized against pigeon shoots.

So, why wasn't the bill brought up for a third reading before the Senate adjourned in July? And why is it still on the table?

The answer is enmeshed in a web of politics. Fearing an NRA backlash, and perhaps not wishing to alienate any voters less than six weeks before an election, the Senate may have stalled the vote because of an intense lobbying effort by the NRA. On the day before the Judiciary Committee was scheduled to hear the bill for the first time, the Institute for Legislative Action, NRA's lobbying arm, sent urgent alerts to Pennsylvania members and the legislature. The NRA leadership opposes bans on pigeon shoots, believing that to ban animal cruelty is the "slippery slope" to banning guns.

"That's completely nonsense," says Roy Afflerbach, a lifelong hunter, and former state senator and Allentown mayor.

Many in the Legislature cower in fear at receiving less than an "A+" rating from the NRA. In the Senate Judiciary committee, Sen. Richard Alloway (R), a long-time hunter and a vigorous gun-rights advocate, called pigeon shooting a "blood sport." After an attack by the NRA, he said, "I find it laughable that my friends [at the NRA] would somehow label me anti-Second Amendment." Sen. Daylin Leach (D), vice-chair of the judiciary committee, doesn't worry about the NRA rating. "Pigeon shoots, says Leach, "are a barbaric relic of a long-ago past. Hunters are ashamed of it, and it's time to stop the gratuitous cruelty that pigeon shoots represent."

The NRA alert called pigeon shooters "law-abiding, ethical shooting enthusiasts." However, undercover investigators have observed a large part of the lure of pigeon shoots is illegal gambling on how many birds each shooter will wound or kill. The alert also told legislators that opposition "does not come from within the Commonwealth, but from the outside," targeting the Humane Society of the United States as the leader of the "animal 'rights' extremist groups." However, the NRA is as much an "outside organization as HSUS; its headquarters is in Fairfax, Va.. Both NRA and HSUS have Pennsylvania field offices. All Pennsylvania humane organizations support HB1750. Humane PA PAC, which opposes the pigeon shoot, has 32,000 members, most of them Pennsylvanians.

There is another political land mine for the bill. Even if the Senate passes the bill, the House of Representatives, which had passed the bill without the pigeon shoot amendment, is a far more conservative body, and could likely hold up passage of the bill.

The last free-standing vote in the House occurred in 1994. Although the vote was 99-93 to ban the shoots, a majority of 102 votes was required. Later bills were scuttled, usually by leadership of both political parties.

Four years after the House failed to pass legislation to ban pigeon shoots, the state Supreme Court ruled that the Hegins Pigeon Shoot, held on public property, was not only cruel "but moronic." The organizers grudgingly disbanded the annual Labor Day event, held from 1934 to 1998. The Court's opinion did not extend to shoots at private clubs, all of which draw many of the participants and spectators from New Jersey, and are held in secret.

"The tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians who have contacted their legislators, year after year, for decades, deserve a vote," says Heidi Prescott. If the bill is brought to a vote, "it will pass," she says.

[Dr. Brasch, an award-winning journalist, has been covering Pennsylvania pigeon shoots for more than 20 years. He is a former newspaper and magazine reporter and editor, and the author of 20 books. His current book is Fracking Pennsylvania, an overall look at the politics and economics behind fracking, and its impact on health, agriculture, and the environment. The book also investigates fracking's effects upon animals.]

 

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ISIS

by: John Morgan

Thu Sep 25, 2014 at 13:04:56 PM EDT

President Obama is bombing ISIS targets in Syria, an act of war against that country, in a widening of Mid-East conflict stemming from the ill fated Iraq War begun by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.  The destabilization of Iraq caused by our invasion and overthrow if its government (under false pretenses) has resulted in the creation of ISIS.  It is a direct result of horrible foreign policy decisions and until Iraq develops a fully inclusive, effective central government which isn't a US puppet regime such destabilization will continue.

We can again invade Iraq and bomb ISIS and, perhaps, destroy the group's capabilities only to watch another such organization form and threaten stability in the region.  These are the results of having an idiot in the Oval Office who started a war for regime change without even understanding the dynamics at work in that nation.  Bush wanted to avenge his father's honor and in so doing opened a Pandora's Box of trouble which will last for decades.

Many foreign policy experts predicted this sort of long lasting instability after Bush and Cheney's bloodlust and thirst for defense industry profits (Cheney's Halliburton made $39 billion in profits from the war) motivated them to lie to the country about Saddam's non existent WMD's.  These are the fruits of the biggest foreign policy blunder of the last century.

ISIS does not pose a threat to our strategic national security.  They beheaded two American journalists who chose to enter a war zone voluntarily to do their jobs.  While regrettable we cannot choose to go to war every time an American makes a foolish or dangerous decision.  At some point they must accept personal responsibility for their entering a dangerous region.  Israel murdered thousands of Palestinians and many Americans sat back and cheered the slaughter.  What this says about pr priorities is sickening.

ISIS simply doesn't have the capability to strike definitively inside this country.  Their 20-30,000 untrained fighters have to hold and secure the areas already under their control plus battle opposition forces in Iraq, Syria and the Kurdish region of Iraq.  Their estimated $3 million/day in revenues sound impressive until one understands they actually have expenses.  Since they control a considerable area in both Syria and Iraq remember that now, as the governing body, they must administer governmental services in this region.  Schools, prisons, road construction and repair, security and all those other normal governmental services normal in today's world are now their responsibility.  This costs money.  Those government workers expect to be paid as do their fighters.  Their army also needs training and weapons.  These things cost money.  Three million a day won't go far especially now that Obama is targeting their sources of revenue.  Bombing of their refinery and a tightening of contributions from wealthy Arabs and closing the black market for their oil will reduce their revenues considerably.

Frankly I'm more concerned with the threat of ebola more than I am ISIS.  Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham can inflame passions all they want in their bloodlust for war but remember these two, a year ago, were screaming that we should align ourselves with ISIS against the Assad regime in Syria.  They have no credibility when it comes to national security.  I'd rather see us concentrate on eradicating ebola in western Africa before it migrates to other areas of the world.  This is the more serious threat.

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Pennsylvania Needs A Hate Crimes Law

by: John Morgan

Thu Sep 25, 2014 at 12:43:24 PM EDT

As a victim of gay bashing violence I know how important a hate crimes law is needed in Pennsylvania.  One was passed years ago after much effort to get it passed but it was overturned by the PA Supreme Court on a technicality.  Since then our LGBT population has not had the additional legal protection a hate crimes law establishes.  We saw what happens last week when people think it is OK to bash and assault gays.  A couple walking down a street in Philadelphia encountered a group of twelve young people in their mid-twenties and a brawl broke out.  The two gay men wound up hospitalized with serious injuries.  Three people from Bucks County, all in their mid-twenties, have been arrested.

Kevin Harrigan of Warrington, 24-year-old Kathryn Knott of Southampton, and 24-year-old Philip Williams of Warminster turned themselves in after an investigation by the City District Attorney's office.  While media reports have been saying this wasn't a hate crime an examination of Knott's Twitter feed shows a clear disgust towards gays.  Witnesses have said some in their group asked the men if they were boyfriends and uttered gay slurs during the attack.  That makes this a hate crime.  Pennsylvania's gay population needs the additional legal protections such a law would provide to dissuade such bigots from engaging in reckless behavior towards us.
 

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Arsenic-Laced Coffee Good for You

by: John Morgan

Fri Sep 19, 2014 at 10:40:55 AM EDT

by Walter Brasch

You're sitting in your favorite restaurant one balmy September morning.

Your waitress brings a pot of coffee and a standard 5-ounce cup.

"Would you like cream and sugar with it?" she asks.

You drink your coffee black. And hot. You decline her offer.

"Would you like arsenic with it?" she asks.

Arsenic? You're baffled. And more than a little suspicious.

"It enhances the flavor," says your waitress.

"I really don't think I want arsenic," you say, now wondering why she's so cheerful.

"It really does enhance the flavor-and there's absolutely no harm in it," she says.

"But it's arsenic!" you reply. "That's rat poison. It can kill you."

"Only in large doses," she says. "I'll add just 150 drops to your coffee. It tastes good and won't harm you," she says, still as cheery as ever.

"But 150 drops is deadly!" you reply, looking around to see if you're on "Candid Camera." You're not, and she's serious.

"It's really nothing," she says, explaining that 150 drops, when mixed with five ounces of coffee is only 0.5 percent of the total. She explains that 99.5 percent of the coffee-about 2,800 drops-is still freshly-brewed coffee.

Ridiculous?

Of course it's ridiculous.

But the oil and gas industry want you to believe that 99.5 percent of all the fluids they shove into the earth to do horizontal fracturing, also known as fracking, is harmless. Just fresh river water. Move along. Nothing to see here.

As to the other half of one-percent? They tell you it's just food products. Table salt. Guar gum (used in ice cream and baked goods). Lemon juice. Nothing to worry about, they assure you.

The Environmental Protection Agency, in 2013, identified about 1,000 chemicals that the oil and gas industry uses in fracking operations, most of them carcinogens at the strengths they shove into the earth. Depending upon the geology of the area and other factors, the driller uses a combination of fluids-perhaps a couple of dozen at one well, a different couple of dozen at another well. But, because state legislatures have allowed the companies to invoke "trade secrets" protection, they don't have to identify which chemicals and in what strengths they use at each well. Even health professionals and those in emergency management aren't allowed to know the composition of the fluids-unless they sign non-disclosure statements. Patients and the public are still kept from the information.

What is known is that among the most common chemicals in fracking fluids, in addition to arsenic, are benzene, which can lead to leukemia and several cancers, reduce white blood cell production in bones, and cause genetic mutation; formaldehyde, which can cause leukemia and genetic and birth defects; hydrofluoric acid, which can cause genetic mutation and chronic lung disease, cause third degree burns, affect bone structure, the central nervous system, and cause cardiac arrest; nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide, which can cause pulmonary edema and heart disease; radon, which has strong links to lung cancer; and toluene, which in higher doses can produce nausea, muscle weakness, and memory and hearing loss.

Each well requires an average of three to eight million gallons of water for the first frack, depending upon the geology of the area. Energy companies drilling in the Pennsylvania part of the Marcellus Shale, the most productive of the nation's shales, use an average of 4.0-5.6 million gallons of water per frack. That's only an average. Seneca Resources needed almost 19 million gallons of water to frack a well in northeastern Pennsylvania in 2012; Encana Oil & Gas USA used more than 21 million gallons of water to frack one well in Michigan the following year. A well may be fracked several times (known as "restimulation"), but most fracking after the first one is usually not economical.

After the water, chemicals, and proppants (usually about 10,000 tons of silica sand) are shoved deep into the earth, most have to be brought back up. Flowback water, also known as wastewater, contains not just chemicals and elements that went into the earth, but elements that were undisturbed in the earth until the fracking process had begun. Among the elements that are often present in the flowback water are Uranium-238, Thorium-232, and Radium, which decays into Radon, one of the most radioactive and toxic of all gases.
Wastewater is often stored in plastic-lined pits, some as large as an acre. These pits can leak, spilling the wastewater onto the ground and into streams. The waste water can also evaporate, eventually causing health problems of those living near the pits who can be exposed by inhaling the invisible toxic clouds or from absorbing it through their skin. In the eight years since drilling began in the Marcellus Shale, about 6.5 billion gallons of wastewater have been produced.

Many of the pits are now closed systems. But that doesn't prevent health problems. Trucks pick up the wastewater and transport it to injection wells that can be several hundred miles away. At any point in that journey, there can be leaks, especially if the truck is involved in a highway accident.

Assuming there are no accidents or spills, the trucks will unload flowback water into injection pits, shoving the toxic waste back into the ground, disturbing the earth and leading to what geologists now identify as human-induced earthquakes.

Now, let's go back to the industry's claim of innocence-that 99.5 percent of all fluids shoved into the earth are completely harmless. Assuming only five million gallons of pure river water are necessary for one frack at one well, that means at least 25,000 gallons are toxic.

Would you like cream and sugar with that?

[Dr. Brasch, an award-winning social-issues journalist, is the author of 20 books. His latest book is the critically-acclaimed Fracking Pennsylvania: Flirting With Disaster, an overall look at the economics, politics, health, and environmental effects of fracking.]

   

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News & Notes September 17, 2014

by: John Morgan

Wed Sep 17, 2014 at 10:12:13 AM EDT

I've been busy since my return from New Mexico.  You'd think it was campaign season or something.

The NFL is beset by scandal involving the violent dispositions of several star players.  How is it we're shocked that a violent game is played by violent men?  Our society celebrates their violence on the field then we're surprised that they can't turn it off when they're at home.  Still, there is no excuse or apology for hitting either a woman or a child and hitting a four year old with a stick is no worse than cold cocking a woman in an elevator.  We shouldn't need a video to be outraged by someone's behavior.

It's easy for misinformed people to jump to conclusions about those receiving entitlements.  The myth, for example, that folks on welfare are all drug addicts has been dispelled by expensive programs requiring them to be drug tested.  Not only do these tests violate their Fourth Amendment rights they show how very few welfare recipients actually use drugs.  Reality check:  people on welfare don't have the money to buy drugs.  This article is by a woman on food stamps who gets pre-judged.

Tom Wolf's ad explaining he'd pay for education by imposing an extraction tax on gas companies boils this race down to two key issues that Tom Corbett can't counter.  One simple ad and it dooms Gov. Gasbag.

Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania PAC endorsed Wolf on Sunday.  It is spending a cool million this year on state races to remind women of Corbett's dismal record.  Just close your eyes and vote Wolf.

Speaking of the gas industry two recent reports support fracktivists claims.  The first has been misinterpreted to say that fracking isn't causing ground water contamination.  It says that methane is getting into water due to problems in the actual wells rather than from the explosive hydrofracturing process.  We know that half of all wells will fail at some point allowing methane to migrate into aquifers.  The fact it happens from well casing failures rather than the actual fracking is irrelevant because you cannot separate one from the other.  The other study shows the harmful health effects from fracking on people in close proximity to the gas wells.

The idea that teachers should carry guns was stupid on its face.  As we see guns going off accidentally in schools where the bad policy was enacted I have to wonder how long it'll be until a child is killed.  This horrible idea has no place in our schools Sen. White.

Seven of the 18 most expensive colleges are here in PA.  Topping the list are Pitt and Penn State.  As state government has slashed spending on higher education year after year this burden has shifted to students saddling them with massive student debt which will cripple our economy.  Adults burdened with tons of student debt will not be buying cars, homes and major appliances.  They are doomed with debt for most of their adult lives.  This issue must be addressed if the Commonwealth is going to have a healthy future.

Misinformd Americans are everywhere.  There's a guy at my gym who is constantly harassing me with misinformation he gets from Faux News and Rush.  This study informs us about the extent of Fox's lies.

An example of their outright lies is this one where they blame President Obama for releasing the leader of ISIS.  Unfortunately for Fox the man was released in 2004, long before Barack Obama was President.  I think we all know who was in the Oval Office at the time.  Another is this idiot who thinks marriage equality will lead to man-dog unions.  Instead of channeling Rick Santorum this guy ought to find a brain somewhere which can actually function.  How in the world do you convert "two consenting adults" into the twisted belief that it means bestialty?

The most shameful lies being spread on Fox lately however have been the victim shaming of the young Black man murdered in Ferguson and Janay Rice, wife of football player Ray Rice.  Victim shaming seems to be Fox's favorite sport.

The Realtor PAC has given Congressional candidate Ryan Costello $320,000 according tot he Trivedi campaign.  Given the Chester County Commissioner's proclivity for corruption what do the realtors expect to get in return?

If you read my recent articles about pigeon shoots this news is interesting:  Comcast has rejected a commercial paid for and narrated by Bob Barker which was set to run in Harrisburg.  The commercial urging an end to these barbaric animal cruelty events was deemed "too graphic" by the television carrier.  I thought this was the whole point:  these pigeon shoots are inexcusable and all the video evidence is very graphic.

Kevin Strouse has his first commercial on the air in PA-08:

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