Under the Reading Lamp — 10/24/2010

Why (Almost) Everything Women Are Told About Work Is Wrong
That’s the message of the career advice book Rachel and I are working on together, and that’s the message of this new report from nonprofit research group Catalyst. Despite all the advice women receive telling them that they fall behind men in the workplace because they don’t ask for raises; because they don’t network; because they don’t promote themselves, it turns out that women actually do all of these things, as much as or more than men. The problem isn’t us, it’s them.

Defending Bloated Military Spending
Ryan Alexander, News Analysis: “Had the political leaders tackling our budget mess visited this spectacle, they would have gotten a good lesson on federal spending. The Pentagon’s budget stands the risk of being subjected to a process known as ‘sequestration,’ which would impose $600 billion in defense cuts over 10 years if Congress doesn’t approve a $1.2-trillion deficit-slashing plan that the panel of lawmakers known as the super-committee will propose later this year. In his address to the convention, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called this plan a ‘doomsday mechanism.’”

Bank of America Makes 6.2 Billion Tax Free Dollars in Third Quarter Profits
Brian Walker, News Report: Bank of America reported $6.2 billion in third quarter gains this year, nearly recouping a $7.3 billion loss from the same time last year. Bank of America ceded its ranking as the largest bank to J.P. Morgan & Co after CEO Brian Moynihan began a campaign of mass asset sales in an effort to boost the bank’s capital. Moynihan has suggested that new regulations mean the bank will have to start charging fees for services that have traditionally been free, such as debit cards and checking accounts.

Republicans in Congress Are in a Quandary on Jobs
Kathleen Hennessey, News Report: “[Republican Rep.] Tom Rooney’s candid assessment puts a fine point on the political predicament facing GOP lawmakers when it comes to jobs bills. With President Barack Obama touring the country to sell his $447 billion plan, Republicans increasingly are under pressure to present an alternative vision for reviving the economy. For months, the party has focused on shrinking the government, sparking ugly battles with Democrats over the budget and the debt ceiling.”

Without Credit Card Donations, WikiLeaks Facing Funding Crisis
Mark Seibel, News Report: “WikiLeaks, the whistleblower website that has been at the center of some of the world’s most controversial news for the past 18 months, is facing dire economic times, largely, the website says, because Visa, MasterCard and PayPal have refused for more than 10 months to process donations made on its behalf. The total financial cost of what WikiLeaks calls a blockade is uncertain, but the lack of resources mixed with turmoil that has surrounded the organization has kept the website from accepting new documents from would-be leakers for much of the year, its spokesman says.”

Captured Government’s Increasing Irrelevance Shows Occupy’s Importance
Dave Johnson, Op-Ed: “Our captured political institutions make themselves increasingly irrelevant by not addressing the problems of the 99%. Each day we see more examples of our government being ‘captured’ by and serving the interests of the top 1% against the rest of us. Even as more and more people take to the streets in protest, Washington ignores We, the People, continuing to serve only the top few.

Throw Them Out With the Trash
What the Occupy Wall Streeters are beginning to discover, and homeless people have known all along, is that most ordinary, biologically necessary activities are illegal when performed in American streets – not just peeing, but sitting, lying down, and sleeping.

Robert Reich | The Flat-Tax Fraud, and the Necessity of a Truly Progressive Tax
Robert Reich, Op-Ed: “Herman Cain’s bizarre 9-9-9 plan would replace much of the current tax code with a 9 percent individual income tax and a 9 percent sales tax. He calls it a ‘flat tax.’ Next week Rick Perry is set to announce his own version of a flat tax. Former House majority leader Dick Armey – now chairman of Freedom Works, a major backer of the Tea Party funded by the Koch Brothers and other portly felines (I didn’t say ‘fat cats’) — predicts this will give Perry ‘a big boost.’”

Occupy the Mortgage Lenders
Simon Johnson, Op-Ed: “Participants in the Occupy Wall Street movement are right to argue that the big banks have never properly been investigated for the mortgage origination, aggregation, and securitization behavior that was central to the financial crisis – and to the loss of more than eight million jobs. But, thanks to the efforts of New York’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, and others, serious discussion has started in the United States about an out-of court mortgage settlement between state attorney generals and prominent financial-sector firms.”

Sending Troops Home Could Pave Way for More Non-Competitive Defense Contracting
R. Jeffrey Smith, News Analysis: “Out go all the U.S. troops by year’s end, President Obama said Friday about Iraq. And in go the contractors, along with some familiar contracting problems, say other government officials and independent experts. As the United States pulls out its remaining 50,000 or so troops after a decade of conflict costing around $1 trillion, many of the soldiers’ non-fighting functions will be pursued by a force of State Department-funded government contractors expected to near 15,000.”

Is the National Security Complex Too Big to Fail?
Tom Engelhardt, Op-Ed: “Whatever Washington turned over to the banks, the Complex has it so much easier. After all, its managers essentially pay themselves more or less what they desire in the name of supporting the troops and promoting American safety. Yes, our congressional representatives officially dole out the money, but they have little choice when it comes to offering less than what’s asked of them. And presidential election campaigns always lock candidates into yet more of the same.”

Shocking Report Reveals the Pentagon’s Addiction to Fraudulent Contractors
George Zornick, News Analysis: “The report, released today, showed that hundreds of defense contractors found guilty of civil fraud received more than $1.1 trillion in defense contracts since 2001. The study took into account only companies that were found to have defrauded taxpayers of more than $1 million dollars.More than $573 billion went directly to companies that were guilty of defrauding taxpayers, and when you factor in the awards that went to the parent companies of those contractors, the total is $1.1 trillion.”

The Choice Between Democracy and Autocracy
David Sirota, Op-Ed: “This might all sound like Medieval Europe, but it’s not. It’s America circa 2011, as these clashes are now taking place everywhere. Alas, it’s a predictable situation. Horrifying economic inequality has prompted the bottom 99 percent of income earners to finally exercise their constitutional rights to protest. In response, the nobles in the top 1 percent are demanding their political puppets make clear that such dissent will not be tolerated — and they expect their demands to be followed.”

Montana Looks North for Health Care That Works
Rebecca Leischer, News Report: “A little over a decade ago he was busing Montana senior citizens to Canada to fill their prescriptions at reasonable prices—a way of protesting the American pharmaceutical industry. Now, Montana governor Brian Schweitzer is planning to establish a state-wide universal health care system modeled after that of the state’s Canadian neighbor, Saskatchewan. The governor, a Democrat, announced last month he will seek a waiver from the federal government to design his own health care system in Montana.”

Robert Reich | The Austerity Death-Trap
Robert Reich, Op-Ed: “Under these circumstances, the harder a country works to cut its debt, the worse the ratio becomes — because the economy shrinks even faster. The only way out of this vicious cycle is for the government – the spender of last resort – to boost the economy. The regressives are all calling for the opposite. But even without these hare-brained Republican plans, we’re heading in their direction anyway. Unless Republicans agree to a budget deal before the end of the year (don’t hold your breath), the temporary payroll tax cuts and extended unemployment benefits we have now will end.”

Republican Field Shies Away From History on Insurance Mandate
Wendell Potter, News Analysis: “In the Republican presidential debate Tuesday night, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich acknowledged, apparently in an unguarded moment, that a core element of “ObamaCare,” the requirement that all Americans be enrolled in either a private or public health insurance plan, was a proposal originated by the Heritage Foundation, a powerful conservative think tank. I’m sure the other presidential hopefuls on the stage in Las Vegas were holding their breath.”

Progress on government transparency threatened by proposed budget cuts

Alexandra Duszak | iWatchNews:  “Groups pushing for more government transparency agree with the Obama administration’s recent self-assessment that  progress is being made —but budget-cutting efforts on Capitol Hill could threaten both recent gains and the prospect of future progress.”

Robert Reich | The 7 Biggest Economic Lies
“The President’s Jobs Bill doesn’t have a chance in Congress — and the Occupiers on Wall Street and elsewhere can’t become a national movement for a more equitable society – unless more Americans know the truth about the economy.

Here’s a short (2 minute 30 second) effort to rebut the seven biggest whoppers now being told by those who want to take America backwards.”

Billionaire Tycoon Claps For Herman Cain’s Attacks On Occupy Wall Street Movement
Lee Fang, News Analysis: “Many people in the crowd began clapping for Cain’s response. But one person in particular stood out: casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson. Adelson owns casinos in Las Vegas and China, including the Venetian, where the debate was held tonight. Adelson has served as a major donor to far-right causes. This New Yorker profile reveals Adelson’s many years of funding stealth attack group and Bush-era Republican politicians.

Super Congress Hauls in Super Donations as Special Interests Try to Influence Budget Cuts
Aaron Mehta and Josh Israel, News Analysis: “Formed as part of a compromise in late July between Republicans and Democrats in Congress, the committee faces a serious uphill task: they must come up with $1.5 trillion or more in budget savings, enough to match increases in the government’s ability to borrow enough money to pay its bills through the beginning of 2013. It requires a bipartisan majority of at least seven of the committee’s 12 members to recommend legislation to be presented to the whole Congress for an up-or-down vote by Dec. 23.”

House GOP Wants to Waive Environmental Laws on US Borders
Rob Hotakainen, McClatchy Newspapers | Report: “In a move aimed at improving national security, House Republicans want to give the U.S. Border Patrol unprecedented authority to ignore 36 environmental laws on federal land in a 100-mile zone stretching along the Canadian and Mexican borders.”

Graphic | Border zone bill would waive environmental laws — In Washington state alone, the zone would apply to about 1/2 of the land area within the state and would include three of the largest cities and it’s capital.

Hispanic Alabama Schoolchildren Face Bullying In The Wake Of Anti-Immigrant Law
Ian Millhiser | ThinkProgress: “In a sadly predictable development, Hispanic public school students in Alabama — some of whom are United States citizens — are now facing racially motivated bullying in the wake of the state’s unconstitutional attack on undocumented school children”

Water Grab Hearings Scheduled

There will be a hearing this coming Monday, August 15th to comment on the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Draft Environmental Impact Study regarding the proposed “water grab” from the Great Basin to Las Vegas.  The BLM spent four years studying and evaluating the plan and concluded that the pipeline will cause unmitigated and irreparable damage to the rural region.

Monday, August 15, 2011
Location: Henderson Convention Center @ 200 S. Water Street
Time: 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

 Southern Nevada Water Authority Proposal:
Build a 300-mile pipeline to ship billions of gallons of water from the Great Basin to Las Vegas each year. The pipeline could include up to 400 more miles of lateral lines.

What the BLM Says:
“Subsidence, 525 square miles will drop five feet or more, 8,000 acres of wetlands will be lost, 191,000 acres of shrub land wildlife habitat will be at high risk, along with more than 300 fragile springs and 193 miles of streams, 24,000 tons of dust per year will be kicked up in newly created deserts, critical habitats for antelope, deer, elk, sage grouse, trout and dozens of other species — many of them already endangered — will be severely affected.” See the  draft Environmental Impact Study.

What the Sierra Club Says:
“Contrary to the publicly financed public relations job coming from the Southern Nevada Water Authority, impartial federal analysts warn that the Water Grab threatens an area as large as Vermont, five national wildlife refuges, four state wildlife areas, seven state parks, and two national parks including Great Basin National Park, and irreversible loss of surface water for recreation and wildlife, including wild horses and rare endangered species.

What Channel 8 Investigative Journalist George Knapp Says:
“The BLM has essentially confirmed many of the worst suspicions espoused by environmental groups — that this pipeline would be a disaster on an epic scale.” Read more here…..

The final meetings for public comment are next week:

  •  Las Vegas, Nev., Aug. 15 at 4 p.m., Henderson Convention Center, 200 S. Water Street
  •  Alamo, Nev., Aug. 16 at 5 p.m., Lincoln County Alamo Annex, 121  Joshua Tree Street
  •  Reno, Nev., Aug. 18 at 3 p.m., Sparks High School Large Gym, 820 15th Street

Make you plans now to attend one of the above meetings if you have a comment you’d like to make.

Take Action: Ask Reid/Heller to Co-Sponsor S587

Did you know oil and gas companies are allowed to inject unchecked quantities of a secret, toxic fluid, directly into or drinking water — and that the EPA is currently powerless to do anything about it?  High Pressure Hydraulic Fracturing (or Fracking) is a method of drilling for natural gas by pumping a mixture of water and toxic, cancer-causing chemicals deep underground, and it’s already responsible for poisoning the groundwater in states across the country.  Fracking wells are spreading at an alarming rate. But even more alarming, thanks to the work of Dick Cheney and his infamous energy policy, Frackers don’t have to disclose the chemicals used in their fluid, and the process is totally exempt from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

The FRAC Act, a bill that has been in the Senate since 2009, would correct both these problems. As public concern over Fracking has grown, the bill has gained some momentum. If you’ve ever seen the picture of the man lighting his tap water on fire from the recent documentary Gasland, that was because of nearby Fracking.

Fracking a single gas well uses hundreds of thousands, or even millions of gallons of water, combined with hundreds of tons of chemicals including known toxics and carcinogens. While the exact contents of the fluid is still a secret, scientific examination reveals that it often contains diesel fuel, which includes benzene, as well as methanol, formaldehyde and hydrochloric acid and many others. The fluid is injected thousands of feet underground at extremely high pressure, literally cracking the earth to release trapped gas. Unfortunately, our water table is down there, too.

Yet somehow, the EPA has been handcuffed from regulating Fracking to keep our water clean since 2005, in what has become known as “the Halliburton loophole.” Halliburton, where Dick Cheney was CEO before becoming Vice President, patented Fracking in the 1940’s and remains the third largest producer of Fracking fluids. And in trademark Bush administration style, Halliburton staff were actively involved in a 2004 EPA report on Fracking safety. The “Halliburton loophole” remains a dangerous legacy of the Bush Administration and if we’re going to protect our water, we need to close it.

Fracking is currently underway in 36 states. The ramifications to our water from expanded, unchecked Fracking will be extreme and are only beginning to be fully realized by the public — thanks in no small part to the continued resistance of industry to disclose the poisons it involves.

An important investigative series by the New York Times recently concluded that “the dangers to the environment and health are greater than previously understood.”  In addition to toxic, carcinogenic fluids which remain underground after a well is Fracked, Fracking also produces substantial quantities of waste water which is literally radioactive. According to the Times, the water is “sometimes hauled to sewage plants not designed to treat it and then discharged into rivers that supply drinking water, contains radioactivity at levels higher than previously known, and far higher than the level that federal regulators say is safe for these treatment plants to handle.”  What’s more, above ground spills of toxic Fracking fluids are becoming increasingly common. A large spill this April in Pennsylvania dumped thousands of gallons into fields and streams, eerily, on the one year anniversary of the Deep Water Horizon oil spill.

The oil and gas industry is the only industry in America that is allowed by EPA to inject known hazardous materials — unchecked — directly into or adjacent to underground drinking water supplies. That needs to change, and to change it, we need to work to pass the FRAC Act.

The FRAC Act, S 587 in the Senate and HR 1084 in the House,  would do the following:

  • Require disclosure of the chemicals used in the process of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas extraction, but not the proprietary chemical formula.  Disclosures would be made available to the public online.
  • Protect proprietary chemical formulas– much like the way Coca-Cola must reveal the ingredients of Coke, but not their secret formula; oil and gas companies would have to reveal the chemicals, but not the specific formula.
  • Enact an emergency provision requiring proprietary chemical formulas to be disclosed to a treating physician, the State, or EPA in emergency situations where the information is needed to provide medical treatment.
  • Repeal a provision added to the Energy Policy Act of 2005 exempting the industry from complying with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), one of our landmark environmental and public health protection statutes.

Please express your position about this bill using POPVOX, and let POPVOX send your comments directly to your Congressmen.  Let them know we need to close the Halliburton loophole and protect our health and our drinking water.

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