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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 12,086

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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette bought off by Big Fracking.

Here's today's editorial glorifying the fact that a ban on fracking in Allegheny County parkland (Pittsburgh & suburbs) has been defeated. This from the same paper which endorsed pro-fracking Tom Corbett for governor in his first election. Exactly how Republican is the editorial board? Sure like to see which board members voted to approve this editorial.

This is in the same week when Scotland and Wales have completely banned fracking in their entire countries, and a push is underway in England for the same action, and while increasing studies are linking fracking to earthquakes in Texas and Oklahoma, and nearby Ohio has shut down wells because of multiple earthquakes. The proposed ordinance would only have been for two years. Across the U.S., frackers are closing down wells because of lowered prices for oil. My hope is that by fighting for this ordinance, the anti-frackers have delayed proposed projects for public parklands long enough such that the drop in price will prevent Big Fracking from further parkland drilling.

Fracking has become a victim of its own success. The industry in the US has grown very fast. In 2008, US oil production was running at five million barrels a day. Thanks to fracking, that figure has nearly doubled, with talk of US energy self-sufficiency and the country becoming the world’s biggest oil producer – “the new Saudi Arabia” – in the near future. But analysts say this whole investment edifice could come crashing down.

Analysts say that while bigger fracking companies might be able to sustain losses in the short term, the outlook appears bleak for the thousands of smaller, less well-financed companies who rushed into the industry, tempted by big returns.

The fracking industry’s troubles have been added to by the actions of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec), which, despite the oversupply on the world market, has refused to lower production.

The theory is that Opec, led by powerful oil producers such as Saudi Arabia, is playing the long game – seeking to drive the fracking industry from boom to bust, stabilise prices well above their present level, and regain its place as the world’s pre-eminent source of oil.

There are now fears that many fracking operations may default on an estimated $200bn of borrowings, raised mainly through bonds issued on Wall Street and in the City of London.

In turn, this could lead to a collapse in global financial markets similar to the 2008 crash.

Bagging the ban: County Council wisely pans a drilling prohibition
By the Editorial Board

What began with a bang ended with a whimper Tuesday when Allegheny County Council sensibly rejected a two-year gas drilling ban at county parks.

The final vote, 13-1, said it all. Council member Bill Robinson, D-Hill District, was the only one in favor, and member Barbara Daly Danko, D-Regent Square, who had spearheaded a similar proposal in 2013, was not present.

Council laid the issue to rest after numerous public hearings in recent months allowed county residents to have their say. Credit the grass-roots activism of Protect Our Parks with putting the first citizen-proposed ordinance before council.

But, as we said in a December editorial, a blanket prohibition on drilling makes as much sense as a blanket approval. Each proposal at each site faces different circumstances, and county officials have been careful in scrutinizing the impact of the two revenue-producing deals that have been struck so far with gas drillers — exploration on vacant land near Pittsburgh International Airport and drilling under Deer Lakes Park from a nearby well pad on private property.

There’s no guarantee the county will find favor with future proposals.

State regulators and local citizens must maintain their vigilance on Marcellus Shale drilling, but county council is right to stay open to opportunities that are safe and beneficial.

I suggest that "local citizens" do not have the resources to maintain vigilance on Marcellus Shale drilling. That is the duty & function of state regulators and DEP inspectors, whose numbers and powers were slashed by Corbett. It's not a matter of "maintaining" but of restoring, and I hope Governor Wolf will be doing that. In the meantime, kudos to Protect Our Parks for demanding these hearings, which delayed further fracking in the parks long enough for the world price of oil to drop below the frackers' break-even price, causing frackers to cancel plans for new drilling and close down some existing operations.

Mezvinsky Sr.'s victims included family, friends, & his own mother-in-law.

Just google Mezvinsky & Ponzi Scheme.

Dick Scaife & his newspapers endorsed her last presidential run.

By their friends, relatives, investors & backers shall ye know them.

Chelsea's in-laws were known grifters 10 years before she married their son. She evidently felt right at home.

Read the transcript of the speech/no need to attend in person.

Curious about tone of voice or facial expressions? Watch the video.

It's not like Bibi will be whispering sweet nothings in any Dems' ears while walking to or from the podium.

The urgency of your message smacks of desperation on the part of Boehner, AIPAC and or Bibi's handlers who are well aware that by boycotting Bibi's speech, the Democrats are sending a powerful message to the Israeli govt. and voters that it's time to vote in new leadership. It is also very threatening to AIPAC's self-promoted image that it orders members of the U.S. Congress on how to behave when it comes to anything to do with Israel.

Boycotting also sends a message to the rest of the world that when it comes to foreign policy, the United States Congress defers to and stands united behind the United States President.
That will definitely do more to "help us to improve our relations with another country . . . .or the people of this land" (to quote your own words) that letting Boehner/Bibi get by with this treacherous stunt.

You say, "Don't be childish. Be adult." What insultingly condescending two-bit, reverse psychology. I note this is your very first post on DU. We are not such political naifs as to find your comment persuasive.

She offered NO specific position on the issue-leaving typical Clinton wiggle room.

It's like any politician saying he or she is in favor of free speech, or motherhood, or apple pie. The devil is in the details.

It is unprecedented for our government, federal, state or local, to mandate medical treatment for children or adults, other than on a case by case basis. Traditionally, except in an emergency situation, parental consent is required in order to perform medical procedures on children, including adolescents. Courts throughout the world recognize that parents have rights but additionally recognize that these rights are not absolute and exist only to promote the welfare of children.

Well known international exceptions would be North Korea's current regime and Hitler's Nazi government, which arbitrarily euthanized or sterilized adults or children with physical or mental disabilities, without giving relatives or parents any hearings in a court of law. Even China, with its one child policy did not forcibly impose abortions or sterilizations, i.e., medical treatment without a patient's consent.

The One-Child Policy restricted the majority of Chinese families to one child each. The consequences of having a child without a birth permit varied by province, with fines reaching as high as several times the average annual income.

To enforce the One-Child Policy, the Chinese government used a quota reward system for Planning Officials who carried out the birth control policies. If they did not meet these quotas, they were either punished or lost the opportunity to earn promotions.

The U.S. has also had an abhorrent policy on forced sterilization, i.e, forced medical treatment -

1907-Indiana becomes the first state in the country to successfully pass a mandatory forced sterilization law, in this case impacting the "feebleminded" (mentally handicapped).
1909-California and Washington pass mandatory sterilization laws.
1922-Harry Hamilton Laughlin, director of the Eugenics Research Office, proposes a federal mandatory sterilization law. Like Lincecum's proposal, it never really goes anywhere.
1927-In Buck v. Bell, the U.S. Supreme Court rules (8-1) that laws mandating the sterilization of the mentally handicapped do not violate the Constitution. Writing for the majority, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes makes an explicitly eugenic argument:
It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.

1936-Nazi propaganda defends Germany's forced sterilization program by citing the United States as an ally in the eugenic movement, and its laws as proof of its status as same. World War II, and the atrocities committed by the Nazi government, would rapidly change U.S. attitudes towards eugenics.

1942-In Skinner v. Oklahoma, the U.S. Supreme Court rules unanimously against an Oklahoma law targeting some felons for sterilization (the plaintiff, Jack Skinner, was a chicken thief) while excluding white-collar criminals. The majority opinion, written by Justice William O. Douglas, rejects the broad eugenic mandate previously outlined in Buck v. Bell (1927):
Strict scrutiny of the classification which a State makes in a sterilization law is essential, lest unwittingly, or otherwise, invidious discriminations are made against groups or types of individuals in violation of the constitutional guaranty of just and equal laws.

1970-The Nixon administration dramatically increases Medicaid-funded sterilization of low-income Americans, primarily Americans of color. While these sterilizations are voluntary as a matter of policy, anecdotal evidence later suggests that they are often involuntary as a matter of practice as patients are often misinformed, or left uninformed, regarding the nature of the procedures that they have agreed to undergo.

1979-A survey conducted by Family Planning Perspectives finds that approximately 70% of American hospitals fail to adequately follow U.S. Department of Health and Human Services guidelines regarding informed consent in cases of sterilization.

1981-Oregon performs the last legal forced sterilization in U.S. history.

True, our state governments have authorized forced sterilizations and lobotomies (Rosemary Kennedy), and even pulling the plug. But these have always been case-by-case decisions.

I personally am in favor of vaccinations for children, but as a lawyer I clearly see that this is an extremely delicate & complex legal issue. Hillary's folksy tweet is reminiscent of her phony black dialect - she's talking down to people and she's too emotionally tone deaf to realize it.

Feb 10, 2008 · Hillary Clinton speaking in a black church in a much different accent and dialect than normal. https://search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?p=Hillary+Clinton+black+accent&ei=UTF-8&hspart=mozilla&hsimp=yhs-001

And the thing is, and what, as a lawyer myself, really offends me about Clinton's cutsey, insultingly simplistic little grandma tweet, is that she is a lawyer and is completely aware of the legal complexities. So she wants to be hip/au currant and tweet? Great, but this is not the topic for such shallow treatment.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. A whole family of grifters.

As the twig is bent, so grows the tree. Marc Mezvinsky's parents were both grifters. Chelsea's father-in-law, or as some refer to him "felon-in-law" is Ed Mezvinsky. Since Ed Mezvinsky's own mother-in-law was one of his fraud victims, HRC & Bill would have been smart not to invest either their private millions or the Clinton Foundation's funds in son-in-law's hedge fund. And just where did Marc M get his faulty international insights as to Greece? Or was Bill selling short on Eaglevale's choices all along?

(F)ederal prosecutors said Ed Mezvinsky habitually dropped the Clintons' names and boasted of their friendship during the 1990s as he defrauded friends, family members and institutions out of more than $10 million.

Ed Mezvinsky was sentenced in 2003 to serve 80 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to a massive fraud that prosecutors said amounted to a Ponzi scheme. He was released from custody in April 2008, but remains under federal probation supervision.
Read more at http://www.snopes.com/politics/clintons/mezvinsky.asp#W86TSmhCqGEkOYkR.99

After serving five years in federal prison, he was released in April 2008. He remained on federal probation until 2011, and still owes $9.4 million in restitution to his victims.

And the groom's mother, Marjorie Margolies? Well, she tried to file for bankruptcy but the bankruptcy judge wasn't having it. Somehow the female bankruptcy judge didn't believe a woman who had served in the US Congress when said woman whined that she had no knowledge of her family's finances because her husband took care of all finances.

Shortly thereafter, she filed for bankruptcy, but failed to receive a discharge from her debts, based on 11 U.S.C. §727(a)(5). The court found Mezvinsky had failed to satisfactorily explain a significant loss of assets in the four years prior to her bankruptcy filing. The bankruptcy judge stated, in her published opinion, "I find that the Debtor has failed to satisfactorily explain the loss of approximately $775,000 worth of assets (the difference between the $810,000 represented in May 1996 and the $35,000 now claimed in her Amended Schedule B)." Sonders v. Mezvinsky (in re Mezvinsky), 265 B.R. 681, 694 (Bankr. E.D. Pa. 2001).

When she filed for bankruptcy, a judge rejected her assertion of ignorance in a scathing decision that, depending on how you read it, either calls her feminist assertions into question or suggests she knows more than she’s letting on. “Her consistent response to questions asked by her creditors about the disposition of her assets is lack of knowledge or ‘my husband handled it,’ a mantra that is completely at odds with her public persona, background, and accomplishments,” the judge wrote.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2013/12/the-clinton-in-law-marjorie-margolies-100696_Page3.html#ixzz3PH7Y4Lsv

Who would HRC seat these grifters next to at state dinners? Whomever they might be, they'd better hang onto their wallets.

Fast tracking not just for TPP; raises its ugly head in PA

This Pittsburgh Post Gazette editorial opposes a state constitutional amendment being pushed by "non-profit" UPMC.

Avoiding taxes: A fast-tracked scheme will help only nonprofits (Headline)

A runaway train is rolling through Harrisburg, but it will crash and burn in cities and towns across Pennsylvania.
Hospitals and large nonprofits are pushing for a state constitutional amendment that could end attempts by local government to force them to make payments to help cover municipal services. That would leave the average residents and businesses that pay property taxes on the hook, as they are today, for more than their fair share of the cost of policing, firefighting and road maintenance.

The amendment would do this by taking away from the courts the authority to define what constitutes a tax-exempt charity and giving it to lawmakers who are susceptible to lobbying by deep-pocketed, albeit nonprofit, institutions.

Senate Bill 4 contains the proposal, which must be passed in two consecutive sessions of the Legislature to become part of the state constitution. It was OK’d once by the General Assembly and is on a fast track for second approval. If that happens soon, the plan will go before Pennsylvania voters this year, perhaps as early as the May primary, for possible final adoption — all without much public exposure or extensive debate.

Almost as a concession to the animosity rising against the Legislature’s hurry-up offense, the Senate Finance Committee has set a hearing for Wednesday on the bill. It comes, however, in the 11th hour of the amendment process — too late for a careful examination of this costly issue.

Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf to sign order barring drilling of new oil, gas wells in state forests, parks

Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Gov. Tom Wolf is set to sign an executive order reinstating a moratorium on new leases for oil and gas drilling under state-owned forests and parks, according to his office.

The order arises in Wolf's second week in office and reverses an executive order issued by former Gov. Tom Corbett in 2014 that ended a blanket ban on drilling leases. The Corbett administration had agreed to delay new leasing until a legal challenge to his plan was resolved. A Commonwealth Court decision this month opened the door for the state to proceed with the plan to expand drilling in forests and parks.

Drilling and fracking critics including the Sierra Club and PennFuture cheered the announcement as a campaign promise fulfilled and a public health and environmental safeguard.

“There's broad public support to keep fracking out of our state parks and forests, (and) during the campaign Governor Wolf made a commitment to prevent new leasing of our public lands, and we're pleased to see him follow through on that commitment,” said Joanne Kilgour, director of the Pennsylvania chapter of the Sierra Club.

Read more: http://triblive.com/state/pennsylvania/7661139-74/state-drilling-gas#ixzz3QCcpjg7K

Hot damn! A Democratic candidate KEEPS his campaign promises and does so in less than a month! Other promises he immediately fulfilled upon taking office were: (1) to ban all state employees in his administration from accepting gifts and (2) banning no-bid contracts (a big problem in PA).

Although anyone would look good compared to newly ex-governor Tom Corbett, Pennsylvania Governor Wolf is just outstanding. All the regular folks I deal with in various civic organizations are delighted about and excited by Pennsylvania's new Democratic governor.

He's also chosen to remain in his own home, rather than move into the ostentatious governor's mansion. His home is about a 30 minute commute from the Capitol and all the administrative agencies' headquarters. Corbett used to commute across the state to his home in suburban Pittsburgh for 3 day weekend - which meant that if any emergency/disaster occurred requiring a state response, Corbett was a 4.5 hour drive away. Wolf is in the capitol 24/7.

Hedge fund managers: grifters widening inequality through insatiable avarice

Robert Johnson, president of the Institute of New Economic Thinking, told attendees at the World Economic Forum in Davos that many hedge fund managers were already planning their escapes, should widening inequality fuel civil unrest. “I know hedge fund managers all over the world who are buying airstrips and farms in places like New Zealand because they think they need a getaway."

This raises a number of questions: (1) Wouldn’t it be cheaper for hedge fund managers to simply stop paying politicians to rig the economic game on their behalf? (2) Do they really need their “carried interest” tax loopholes and their easy access to insider information? (3) Wouldn’t they rather live on $5 million a year in peace, rather than $500 million and worry about civil unrest? (4) Why do they suppose widening inequality won’t create civil unrest in New Zealand?


Ah yes, Hedge Fund Vultures are raping America, one tax loophole at a time. Read the following article to learn the incredible amounts these grifters pay themselves and learn some eye-popping facts about "these smarmy fuckwads who operate said Hedge Funds and do it with little, if ANY, regulatory oversight." From Leopold’s writeup, via Alternet, (http://www.alternet.org/story/151569/how_dracula_hedge_funds_are_sucking_us_dry), one eye-popping fact:

the top 10 hedge fund elites make on average nearly $1 million an HOUR.

As Leopold points out..those guys are trying real hard to maintain a low profile. But he managed to find data on their pay scale, in relation to other rich folks, for 2010 and included the median family income level here in these United States in the following chart:
The Highest Income Celebrities, CEO and Hedge Fund Managers (2010)

The Top Ten------------------ Average Yearly Income---- Years for average American family to earn as much.

Hedge Fund managers --------$1,753,000,000-------- 35,217 years
Movie directors/producers------ $126,000,000 --------- 2,531
Top celebrities from all fields ----$119,800,000-----------2,407
Pop musicians------------------------$87,200,000---------- 1,752
Non-financial CEOs------------------$47,100,000------------- 946
Movie stars----------------------------$42,600,000-------------856
Authors-------------------------------- $26,900,000-------------402
Lawyers-------------------------------- $20,000,000------------402


Corporate vultures who are betting against us really do not deserve that level of pay.

In economics, there’s supposed to be a connection between what you earn and the economic value you produce. Otherwise, it’s called an economic “rent” – which is just a polite way of saying it’s an outright rip-off. These guys (and they are all guys) are ripping off our economy, and it’s up to us to put a stop to it.

Why am I so sure they’re ripping us off? I’ve had the dubious honor of exploring some of their biggest deals, including the “Greatest Trade Ever,” in which hedge funds bet against the housing bubble and won big. It turns out those bets were rigged. Hedge funds brazenly colluded with big investment banks to create securities that were designed to fail, so they could bet against them. So far the SEC has forced Goldman Sachs to pay $500 million in penalties and JP Morgan recently coughed up $153.6 million. This was to settle charges that these banks failed to inform investors that hedge funds had a heavy hand in constructing securities so that they would fail.

In fact, we can now show that hedge funds helped to prolong the housing bubble, deepen the crash and profit along the way. No matter what their apologists say, those hedge fund profits came from trash securities that never should have seen the light of day. Not only didn’t they create positive value for the economy, they created billions of losses that led to bailouts, unemployment and massive public debt. Whether any of them engaged in outright fraud, we leave to the courts. It doesn’t matter. It was a monumental economic rip-off, whether legal or illegal.

To really get your goat..let me tell you what tax rate they get to use, drumroll please…

To add enormous insult to our grievous injuries, these hedge funds managers only pay a 15 percent federal income tax rate (instead of 35 percent) on nearly all of their obscene incomes. That’s because of a tax loophole that allows them to declare their income as capital gains — they call it “carried interest.”

Scotland: Total Ban on Fracking & Unconventional Gas In Sight

I really love the Scots. With both the SNP and Labour opposed to fracking, things are looking good for a nationwide ban. First they kicked Wee Donald (Trump) out when he opposed Wind Farms; now this! We should all sing a chorus of Scots Wha Hae:

Lay the proud usurpers low,
Tyrants fall in every foe,
Liberty's in every blow! -
Let us do or dee.

After a flurry of announcements and counter-announcements this week the campaign to ban toxic and risky forms of gas drilling in Scotland may be almost won. The SNP have just announced their support for an amendment in Westminster to have a moratorium on all forms of on-shore unconventional gas extraction. Earlier this morning Scottish Labour announced they would ban fracking with existing powers in Scotland if they controlled the Scottish Parliament after the 2016 elections.

The speed with which the parties have upped their game following each other’s moves shows how anger over fracking plans is close to the surface in Scotland. Hundreds rallied against fracking December and are returning for another rally at Grangemouth refinery tomorrow. A much larger march is planned in just over a month.

Although today’s new policy positions fall short of a total ban, they remain a huge victory for Scotland’s broad alliance against unconventional gas who are fighting a wide ranging campaign against the Scottish and UK governments, local authorities, and fossil fuel companies.

Mary Church, Friends of the Earth Scotland, said the sudden policy changes “are a direct response to the passionate and informed opposition from community groups and concerned citizens.”
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