Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, may pose a significant—but very local—harm to human health, a new study finds. Mothers who live very close to a fracking well are more likely to give birth to a less healthy child with a low birth weight—and low birth weight can lead to poorer health throughout a person’s life.
The research, published Wednesday in Science Advances, is the largest study ever conducted on fracking’s health effects.
“I think this is the most convincing evidence that fracking has a causal effect on local residents,” said Janet Currie, an economist at Princeton University and one of the authors of the study. (The Atlantic)
The initial pages provide boilerplate information for parents about federally required testing and its ties to Minnesota’s notoriously rigorous and independent academic standards. (Minnesota is only one of a handful of states, for example, that require all high school students to take Algebra 2 in order to graduate.) But on the last page of the form, a paragraph all in bold type pulls out every scare tactic in the book:
“I understand that by signing this form, my student will receive a score of ‘not proficient’ and waives the opportunity to receive a college-ready score that could save him/her time and money by not having to take remedial, non-credit courses at a Minnesota State college or university.”
Any parents still resisting are then served a final dose of guilt. Those who choose to opt out, the form warns, may deprive not only themselves but their whole school district of “valuable information” that could cause a potential drag on any local or state attempts to “equitably distribute resources.” (The Progressive)
The word “alternative” implies a choice. But in an era when the freedom to pick your school is trumpeted by advocates and politicians, students don’t choose the alternative schools to which districts send them for breaking the rules: They’re sentenced to them. Of 39 state education departments that responded to a ProPublica survey last year, 29, or about three-quarters, said school districts could transfer students involuntarily to alternative programs for disciplinary reasons.
Like Logan, thousands of students are involuntarily reassigned to these schools each year, often for a seemingly minor offense, and never get back on track, a ProPublica investigation has found. Alternative schools are often located in crumbling buildings or trailers, with classes taught largely by computers and little in the way of counseling services or extracurricular activities. (ProPublica)
I think the word “treachery” actually sounds cooler than “treason.” But I digress.
The best indications we have about the course of the Mueller probe comes from the President’s own team. They know the President and his top advisors are guilty. So they want to destroy the investigation before it destroys them. Al Hunt, hardly a bomb thrower, put it succinctly:
Equally clear is that no matter what is revealed, Trump and his allies won’t go quietly. Already, some congressional Republicans are trying to smear Mueller, the most experienced and respected special counsel in more than 40 years. If cornered, does anyone doubt that Trump will summon his core supporters to the streets?
The constant revelations create such a blur that context sometimes is overlooked. Trump and his operatives have lied repeatedly, denying that they had any contacts with Russians. Now we now know of at least 19 meetings among 31 interactions.
Considering the way that Trump’s “core supporters,” when they have taken to the streets lately, have tucked their tails and scurried before the undisciplined, if energetic, Antifa, I don’t think that would save him.
Rep. Susan Allen and Rep. Karen Clark are getting well-deserved encomiums for their stellar service. Both are in safe DFL seats, and I anticipate that there will be considerable interest among potential candidates. In fact, several jumped in immediately (see the linked article).
Rep. Abigail Whelan (R-Ramsey) will presumably be best-remembered for her get-with-Jesus speech on the House floor, last session. I don’t bash others’ religious beliefs or practices, however tempting a particular context may be. Make up your own mind.
Tough, red district, but the way things are going any Republican-held seat could be competitive, and having no hard-right incumbent will only help.
And what can the results from this new research tell us about America’s future with the GOP tax plan in effect? The new data suggest the United States may now be about to enter into its third economic epoch since World War II.
The first epoch ran between 1946, year one of the postwar world, and 1980, the year the “Reagan revolution” captured the White House. Over the course of these decades right after World War II, the “pre-tax” incomes of Americans — what the Piketty team defines as the dollars from jobs, the ownership of assets, public and private pensions, and disability and unemployment insurance — grew from the bottom up…
That story changes after 1980. Between that year and 2014, the most recent year with complete data available, inequality in the United States once again starts roaring…
And now the third epoch beckons. What to expect? The boom — for the rich — will intensify under the GOP tax plan. So will the downward pressure on the incomes of America’s poor as the giant deficits the Republican plan generates become a cynical political rationale for still more cuts in government’s redistributive safety-net programs.
But the most startling epoch-three outcome will be the front-on hit the GOP tax plan visits upon middle-class America. The GOP plan guts a major share of the government policies and programs that, taken together, help Americans gain and keep middle class status. (OurFuture.org)
A new Fast Company article presents 2016 data from the Harvard Institute of Politics indicating “19% of Americans aged 18 to 29 identified themselves as capitalists; only 42% claimed they support the economic system.”
The fact that less than a quarter of young Americans acknowledge being capitalists serves as a reflection of dissatisfaction with the state of the country, both economically and with the people making the policies. (AlterNet)
I’ll have to think of synonyms for the phrase “a new low.” It’s getting too repetitive.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has reversed course on a plan to essentially end a $460 million program that helps provide housing to homeless veterans after facing blowback when news of the decision broke…
Politico reported Wednesday that the VA told advocates and state officials in a Dec. 1 phone call that the program — which provides housing vouchers to veterans via the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) — would be drastically cut.
Money allocated to the program would instead go to VA hospitals for use as they see fit, Shulkin reportedly said.
Veterans advocates, lawmakers and some HUD officials pushed back on the move, contending that it would worsen conditions for veterans — more than half of those housed via the program have problems like chronic illness or substance abuse. (The Hill)
A new report shows that American jobs are going overseas at a higher volume than average, disproving Donald Trump’s claim that he is bringing jobs back to the U.S.
Good Jobs Nation analyzed data from the Department of Labor and found that since Trump was elected, 93,000 American jobs have been lost to foreign competition. That is an increase from an average of 87,500 annually over the past 5 years. (Shareblue)
Since Trump’s non-election this has been noted many times, in many contexts: when you thought it couldn’t possibly get worse…
The Pentagon made a decision that “beggars belief,” human rights groups said Friday, when it tossed out its plan to ban certain cluster bombs that leave a large percentage of lethal, unexploded munitions, which pose a significant risk to civilians.
“This is a profoundly retrograde step that puts the U.S. way out of line with the international consensus—cluster munitions are banned by more than 100 countries due to their inherently indiscriminate nature and the risks they pose to civilians,” said Patrick Wilcken, researcher on arms control and human rights at Amnesty International.
The Cluster Munition Coalition also condemned the change, calling the decision “shocking.” (Common Dreams)
The Trump administration is holding talks on providing nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia — a move that critics say could upend decades of U.S. policy and lead to an arms race in the Middle East.
The Saudi government wants nuclear power to free up more oil for export, but current and former American officials suspect the country’s leaders also want to keep up with the enrichment capabilities of their rival, Iran.
Saudi Arabia needs approval from the U.S. in order to receive sensitive American technology. Past negotiations broke down because the Saudi government wouldn’t commit to certain safeguards against eventually using the technology for weapons.
Now the Trump administration has reopened those talks and might not insist on the same precautions. At a Senate hearing on Nov. 28, Christopher Ford, the National Security Council’s senior director for weapons of mass destruction and counterproliferation, disclosed that the U.S. is discussing the issue with the Saudi government. He called the safeguards a “desired outcome” but didn’t commit to them. (Informed Comment)
There is a pretty substantial body of research now showing that the charter movement for the most part hasn’t worked, isn’t working, and won’t work.
This month the, NPE (Network for Public Education) released a stunning report called “Charters and Consequences.” NPE Executive Director Carol Burris stated, “… nearly every day brings a story, often reported only in local newspapers, about charter mismanagement, failure, nepotism or outright theft and fraud.” About the report she writes, “This report … is the result of a year-long exploration of the effects of charter schools and the issues that surround them.”
This 50-page report’s conclusion is shared on the last page:
“For all of the reasons above and more, the Network for Public Education regards charter schools as a failed experiment that our organization cannot support. If the strength of charter schools is the freedom to innovate, then that same freedom can be offered to public schools by the district or the state.
The latest School Performance Scores for the state of Louisiana are in. And that makes now a pretty good time to finally come to terms with the fallacy of the miracle in New Orleans.
For the first time in more than a decade all public schools in Orleans Parish were lumped together in the state performance rankings—no separation of Recovery School District (RSD) campuses from Orleans Parish School Board campuses. We suppose that makes sense with the impending “return” of schools to “local control.” Though, we suspect that the actual reason for the grouping is far more disturbing. With the state department of education finally getting ready to return schools it snatched from local control back in 2005, grouping all these schools together in this year’s performance rankings is an early tip-off to the fact the state education department, the RSD and the “reform” advocates are ready to wash their hands.
We can almost hear them saying, “Sure, we have had your schools under our control for 12 years. And, yep, we joyfully and willingly turned them over to outside, for-profit organizations to operate so we didn’t have to bother. Uhhh, yeah, our oversight of those charter operators was marginal at best. Of course, those operators made beaucoup money off the backs of some of the most underserved and disenfranchised public school children in Louisiana. Why do you think we snatched the schools to begin with? Sorry, no, we really didn’t improve educational outcomes for the community. But real soon, we will be giving them back with the caveat that they all remain under the control of charter management operators; and they will be your problem.” (AlterNet)