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Environmental Scientist

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Crude Oil is being transported in unsafe train cars across the USA

On Monday, a train hauling 100 tankers of crude oil derailed in West Virginia.The violent crash punctured several of the tankers. Eventually 19 were engulfed in flames. Now, more questions are swirling about whether these tankers are safe enough to carry crude.

Old cars, new crude
Initially, the crash had many pointing to a seemingly similar accident in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec in 2013, in which crude oil tankers also ignited following a derailment. In the Quebecois crash, many of the tanker cars involved were DOT-111s—a train car not designed to transport flammable crude oil, but that regularly does so on North American rail lines.

In 2009, four years before the Quebecois crash, the DOT-111 had been flagged by U.S. National Transportation Safety Board as inadequate to carry ethanol and crude oil, chiefly because of its inability to prevent a puncture in the event of a crash. But the NTSB's recommendations are not legally binding anywhere in North America. More than 100,000 DOT-111s were transporting crude across American and Canadian rails when the Quebec accident occurred, and still are today.

The CSX Corporation, the railway company that owns Monday's crashed tankers, was quick to point out that the tankers in use in the West Virginia crash were not DOT-111s, but CPC-1232s. But the fact is that a CPC-1232 tanker is just a reinforced,purportedly tougher version of the DOT-111—a redesign put in place after the NTSB's 2009 warning. The biggest difference between the DOT-111 and the CPC-1232 is that the head shields (the puncture-prone ends of the cylindrical tankers) are more heavily protected.



Benjamin Netanyahu takes another swipe at the White House

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took another shot at the White House Thursday, sharply escalating his dispute with the Obama administration over its dealings with Iran.

In comments reported by the Associated Press, Netanyahu claimed to know the details of the nuclear deal being negotiated between the two countries — despite a recent spate of reports claiming that the Obama administration has begun withholding information for fear of Israeli leaks.

“We know that Tehran knows the details of the talks. Now I tell you that Israel also knows the details of the proposed agreement,” the prime minister said. “I think this is a bad agreement that is dangerous for the state of Israel, and not just for it.”

He added, “If anyone thinks otherwise, what is there to hide here?”

Netanyahu’s claims come a day after spokespeople for the State Department and the White House told reporters — in unusually blunt language — that the Obama administration will not be sharing some details about the negotiations with Israel.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/02/benjamin-netanyahu-congress-white-house-115330.html#ixzz3SIirsppe

Bernie Sanders: Wal-Mart Wages ‘Nowhere Near Enough’

IOWA CITY, Iowa, Feb. 19 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued the following statement today after Wal-Mart announced that all of its workers in the United States would earn at least $9 an hour by April and $10 an hour by 2016:

“The Walton family which owns Wal-Mart is the wealthiest family in America and it is absurd that thousands of their low-wage workers are forced to use programs like food stamps, Medicaid and subsidized housing. Wal-Mart should not be paying starvation wages.

“While this is a step forward and a response to grassroots activism across the country, this is nowhere near enough. Wal-Mart should raise their minimum wage to at least $10.10 an hour now and move it to $15 over the next several years. Struggling working families should not have to subsidize the wealthiest family in the country. Wal-Mart also should end its vehemently anti-union activities.”


Who Can Save the Grand Canyon?

A holy war is being fought over a proposal to build a $500 million commercial development, on the rim of America's natural treasure

By David Roberts

Twelve miles in on the rutted dirt road we pull over in a dry wash and get out of our vehicles. We are on the western edge of the Navajo Reservation in Arizona, not far from the sandstone rim where the Grand Canyon plunges 3,000 feet to the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers. The bare plateau across which we are driving is treeless, almost desolate. The region, nearly uninhabited today, was for centuries home to some of the most traditional of the Diné, as Navajos call the People.

Our guide to this outback, Delores Wilson, grew up on the plateau and knows every wrinkle of its landscape. “In summer, when we herded the sheep on our way home,” Wilson says, “we used to stop here and cool off in the shade. I had two sisters, six brothers and countless cousins. We all herded sheep when we were kids.”

Four miles farther in, we stop by the half-collapsed ruins of a small building. “This was my grandmother’s hogan,” says Wilson. “Until I was 7 or 8, we all slept in there, all 10 or 15 of my family, because we didn’t have a home of our own. Packed together like sardines, to stay warm in winter. I can still hear the sheep wailing for the lambs to come home in the evening.”

Our next stop is another six miles west, beside a nondescript bedrock shelf. “This is where I had my puberty ceremony,” says Wilson. “I had to run in all four directions. The other kids ran after me. If they passed me, they’d get old before I did.

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/who-can-save-the-grand-canyon-180954329/#6skejwbUzQb97GqD.99

Paul Krugman- Republicans' Utter, Epic Predictive Failure

Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, is said to be a rising contender for the Republican presidential nomination. So, on Wednesday, he did what, these days, any ambitious Republican must, and pledged allegiance to charlatans and cranks.

For those unfamiliar with the phrase, “charlatans and cranks” is associated with N. Gregory Mankiw, a professor at Harvard who served for a time as George W. Bush’s chief economic adviser. In the first edition of his best-selling economics textbook, Mr. Mankiw used those words to ridicule “supply-siders” who promised that tax cuts would have such magic effects on the economy that deficits would go down, not up.

But, on Wednesday, Mr. Walker, in what was clearly a rite of passage into serious candidacy, spoke at a dinner at Manhattan’s “21” Club hosted by the three most prominent supply-siders: Art Laffer (he of the curve); Larry Kudlow of CNBC; and Stephen Moore, chief economist of the Heritage Foundation. Politico pointed out that Rick Perry, the former governor of Texas, attended a similar event last month. Clearly, to be a Republican contender you have to court the powerful charlatan caucus.

So a doctrine that even Republican economists consider dangerous nonsense has become party orthodoxy. And what makes this political triumph especially remarkable is that it comes just as the doctrine’s high priests have been setting new standards for utter, epic predictive failure.


Friday TOON Roundup 4 - The Rest




The issue








Friday TOON Roundup 3 -Putin and Greece



Friday TOON Roundup 2 - Repubs devolving

Friday TOON Roundup 1 - His Own Man!

Danziger Toon: Hillary has Warren for Lunch

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