Thursday, September 15, 2011

What the Frack… Are They Thinking?

Maverick Chronicles, 9/15/2011: A New Song by Dave Lippman, Hydraulic Fracturing, Poverty Rising, Pacifica Remembers 9/11, and Murdering Journalists. Burlington: The College, the Mayor and Lockheed.  Plus, Local Democracy and the Big Question: How Much to Buy Rick Perry?

The idea is to increase or restore the rate at which fluids – like oil, water, or natural gas – can be extracted from subterranean natural reservoirs. Hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – makes possible (and profitable) the production of natural gas and oil from rock formations deep below the earth's surface. What could go wrong?

This video takes on the issue with a catchy new song by Dave Lippmann. Dave –  also known as anti-folk singer George Schrub – will be opening for David Rovics on Friday night (Sept. 16) in Brooklyn at the Park Slope Methodist Church. The evening wil benefit SOA Watch/Brooklyn for Peace. That’s 7:30 PM, at 8th St at 6th Avenue, Park Slope, Brooklyn.

They want shoot us up with chemicals / I don't mean to be polemical
But shooting chemicals into rocks/
Is that really thinking outside the box?
From Dave Lippmann’s “What the Frack?"

The problem with fracking is its environmental and human health effects, which appear to include contamination of ground water, risks to air quality, migration of gases and chemicals used in the process to the surface, and the potential mishandling of waste. Let’s also not forget any costs associated with the environmental clean-up processes, loss of land value and impacts on humans and animals.

A 2010 EPA study "discovered contaminants in drinking water including: arsenic, copper, vanadium, and adamantanes adjacent to drilling operations which can cause illnesses including cancer, kidney failure, anaemia and fertility problems."

This struggle is proceeding on many fronts and across the country. Last week, for example, a new panel made up of natural gas drillers, environmentalists and government officials began to advise New York's Department of Environmental Conservation about fracking. The impact on drinking water is one of the most common concerns. 

In New York, both private and public drinking water supplies near potential well sites will be tested before future drilling permits are issued. The DEC recently released the final draft of its regulations. The department will accept public comments on the proposed rules for fracking until December 12.

Meanwhile in Montana, a statewide conservation group says a set of new regulations requiring the disclosure of chemicals used in fracking don’t go far enough in protecting the rights of nearby property owners. "We are not satisfied, " said Derf Johnson, speaking for the Montana Environmental Information Center, last Tuesday. “We're definitely happy that the state is finally getting around to doing this, but the current regulations are fairly deficient.”

Under new rules from the Montana Oil and Gas Board, which went into effect for wells on state and private land August 26, producers can disclose the chemicals used in fracking fluid either to the board or to a "national fracturing fluid disclosure database" maintained by 

And hydraulic fracturing isn't just a US problem. Food & Water Watch has brought fracking to the attention of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, which is currently considering a report on the human right to water and sanitation.

In a letter to the UN Human Rights Commission, Food & Water notes that the oil and gas industry has its sights set on fracking in Europe. The US energy information administration forecasts 187 trillion cubic feet of gas resources available in Poland, followed closely by France at 180 trillion cubic feet. In France, however, which has seen strong protests, there is currently a moratorium against fracking.
Record Number of Americans in Poverty

The poverty rate in the US soared to 15.1 percent in 2010, its highest level since 1993, according to a Census Bureau report released on Tuesday. Household incomes continued to fall sharply, amidst the worst jobs crisis since  the Great Depression of the 1930s, and the number of people without health insurance increased. Analysis beyond the mainstream by Joseph Kishore, Countercurrents.

Pacifica Radio’s 9/11 anniversary special begins the way Sept. 11, 2001 actually began for many Pacifica listeners, with Amy Goodman reporting live from New York, just a few blocks from where the planes hit the World Trade Center towers. Now available as a podcast, it also includes Democracy Now! producers, along with Donald Rumsfeld, Chalmers Johnson, George W. Bush, Manning Marable, Christine Todd Whitman, rescue workers interviewed by Miranda Kennedy as well as Joe Picurro, plus Odetta, Rita Lasar and Masuda Sultan, Noam Chomsky, Terry Rockefeller (9/11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows), Alex Ryabov (Iraq Veterans Against the War), Seymour Hersh, Yanar Mohammed, and Afghan activist Rangina Hamidi. Click Pacifica on 9/11 for the podcast. Courtesy of Democracy Now!
Latin America: Deadly for Journalists 

Three journalists were killed in the space of a week in Brazil, Honduras and Peru, cementing Latin America's status as the most dangerous region for journalists in 2011.
On 8 September, Pedro Alonso Flores Silva, director of the news programme "Visión Agraria" in Casma, Peru, died two days after he was ambushed near his home. A hooded assailant got out of a taxi and shot him at least once in the abdomen, report the Instituto de Prensa y Sociedad (IPYS), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

According to Flores's wife, Mercedes Cueva Abanto, the journalist had been the target of frequent threats during the past three months for linking local mayor Marco Rivera Huerta to alleged corruption. The mayor, who had brought a defamation case against Flores, has denied any involvement in Flores's murder. This is the second murder of a journalist in Peru this year, both carried out in the north of the country.

In Honduras, there's Medardo Flores, a radio journalist who supported deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya. On 8 September he was shot nine times in Puerto Cortés while returning home in his car, report the Comité por la Libre Expresión (C-Libre), the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), the International Press Institute (IPI) and RSF.

A week earlier in Brazil, Valderlei Canuto Leandro, a radio journalist known for his scathing critiques of the local authorities, was shot at least eight times by unidentified gunmen aboard a motorcycle. CPJ has documented an alarming rise in lethal violence in Brazil. Four other Brazilian journalists have been killed this year, and a blogger was shot and wounded.

According to IPI's Death Watch, Latin America is the deadliest region in the world for journalists in 2011, with at least 34 killings so far this year.  Full story from IFEX.


Michelle Bachmann isn’t famous for her accuracy, but she wasn’t making things up when she went after Lone Star candidate Rick Perry Last week. According to Democracy Now, newly disclosed records show that Ranger Rick has received more financial support from the drug giant Merck than he has acknowledged.

Perry came under criticism during a red meat Republican presidential debate last Monday night over his 2007 effort to force Texas schoolgirls to receive a vaccination for the sexually transmitted virus, HPV. A former top aide to Perry formerly worked as a Merck lobbyist, which stood to profit from the forced vaccinations.  Desperate to challenge the frontrunner and rescue her own campaign, Bachmann basically called out Perry as a drug company tool.

The debate was staged by CNN like a reality show, fueled by a raucous audience provided by its Tea Party co-sponsor, and stoked by incendiary charges. Perry tried to deflect Bachmann’s attack by saying Merck had only donated $5,000 to his campaign. "If you’re saying that I can be bought for $5,000, I’m offended," he tried to joke. But the quip only sparked commentary on exactly how much buying Perry would actually take.

Well, according to the Washington Post, Merck has donated nearly $30,000 directly to Perry’s gubernatorial campaigns since 2000. Still small potatoes. But Merck has also given more than $380,000 to the Republican Governors Association, or RGA, since 2006 — the same year Perry began playing a prominent role in the group. He has served two terms as chair of the RGA, which in turn has given his campaign at least $4 million over the past five years.

So, that would be a total of $4.4 million. You can see why Perry was upset.  This guy is not a cheap date.
Other upcoming Dave Lippmann performances:

*Thursday, September 22:  Colors, 9-11 PM, From Palestine to Mexico: One Wall, One Struggle, featuring Son del Monton and Klezmer Musicians Against the Wall
*Saturday, October 22: People's Voice Café, New York, with Harmonic Insurgence, 40 East 35th St. 
*Thursday, November 10: US Labor Against the War fundraiser, New York,1199 SEIU Penthouse

As one of the country’s smallest schools approaches 40, it is dealing with enrollment and financial pressures on a large new campus.

The Burlington City Council has upheld Mayor Bob Kiss’s recent veto of an advisory resolution on community standards for climate change partnerships aimed at military contractor Lockheed Martin.

A new essay adapted from The Vermont Way: Restless Spirits and Popular Movements

COMING SOON: Vermonters and the White House

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