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Panich52's Journal
Panich52's Journal
June 9, 2015

Conservs Ramp Up Efforts to Re-Impose the Global Gag Rule and Defund UNFPA

Guttmacher Institute

Political interference impedes effectiveness of U.S. international family planning assistance:

Social Conservatives Ramp Up Efforts to Re-Impose the Global Gag Rule and Defund UNFPA, Posing Real Obstacles to Program’s Effectiveness

Attempts by social conservatives to curb U.S. international family planning assistance by re-imposing the global gag rule and defunding the UN Population Fund are back. Considering that the U.S. Senate is more ideologically aligned with the House than in the past, it is now less certain that the Senate can be relied upon to defeat these attacks, as it has done every year since 2011 when social conservatives took control of the House and began writing these restrictions into the annual spending bill for international family planning programs.

Reinstating the global gag rule or defunding UNFPA would be devastating. And even if these anti-family planning attacks fail again, the threat of their return alone is already limiting the effectiveness of this important U.S. foreign assistance program, warns a new analysis in the Guttmacher Policy Review.

“Social conservatives in the U.S. Congress are not just antiabortion but increasingly anti-family planning,” says Guttmacher policy expert and lead author Sneha Barot. “The harmful policies these lawmakers are pursuing are based on falsehoods, and they are strongly opposed by the administration and pro-family planning members of Congress. However, the concern is that proponents of these regressive policies could force the administration to reluctantly accept one or both in the course of the inevitable political horse-trading that accompanies larger pieces of legislation.”

The U.S. effort to help women in the world’s poorest countries better plan and space their pregnancies is a tremendous foreign aid and public health success story. At a total cost of only $610 million (including $35 million for UNFPA), the program currently enables 28 million women and couples to receive contraceptive services and supplies, thereby averting six million unintended pregnancies, 2.4 million induced abortions (most of them unsafe) and 12,000 maternal deaths.

However, this effort may fall short of its potential impact depending on political interference from social conservatives in Congress. Beyond proposing deep funding cuts to the effort overall, anti-family planning lawmakers are using must-pass legislation to reinstate two harmful policies:

• The Global Gag Rule: Also known as the Mexico City Policy, it was first instituted by the Reagan administration in 1984; ...

There is no evidence that the global gag rule has ever resulted in its stated aim of reducing abortion; ...

• Defunding UNFPA: The UN Population Fund provides global leadership in a range of crucial areas, ...

Much more
June 9, 2015

Word Games Continue: Just What Evidence Did EPA Not Find? - SkyTruth


Word Games Continue: Just What Evidence Did EPA Not Find?
By David Manthos

Yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a series of draft reports on their findings from five years of research and literature review on the question of whether or not fracking contaminates groundwater. But if you just read the headlines you might have been confused about what the EPA had actually concluded. As Forbes pointed out, the headlines were a bit contradictory. 

. ...

But the bigger news is that even EPA was inconsistent about the findings of their own report. The press release from EPA states that their assessment (emphasis added): 

"...shows hydraulic fracturing activities have not led to widespread, systemic impacts to drinking water resources and identifies important vulnerabilities to drinking water resources." *

However, the Executive Summary of the report puts things differently (emphasis added):
We did not find evidence that these mechanisms have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States. 

These two statements may look similar, but there is a big difference between saying that you did not find find any evidence of a crime and definitely claiming that you have proven the suspect's innocence. But try telling the House Natural Resources Committee that fracking has never been proven NOT to cause contamination, and members of Congress will laugh aloud and joke about pigs not flying to Mars. Seriously (check out 1:12:10).

But buried on page 22 of the 28-page executive summary, the EPA goes on to say (again, emphasis added):

This assessment used available data and literature to examine the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing from oil and gas on drinking water resources nationally. As part of this effort, we identified data limitations and uncertainties associated with current information on hydraulic fracturing and its potential to affect drinking water resources. In particular, data limitations preclude a determination of the frequency of impacts with any certainty.


* I find last part, "identifies important vulnerabilities to drinking water resources" the important. Who got to the writers of the release, and with what incentive, to so blatantly obscure that important point?

June 8, 2015

“In praise of the science” — Too much politics in our federal agencies | Latest study explained


Industry & Politicians Seek to Affect the U.S. EPA Methodologies

“In praise of the science” — Too much politics in our federal agencies

From the Editorial on the Opinion Page, Morgantown Dominion Post, June 7, 2015

Another EPA study, another EPA overreaching finding. No, on Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a study that acknowledged what everyone knew. ...

One U.S. senator, who once compared the EPA to the Gestapo, described the report as “the latest in a series of failed attempts” by the Obama administration to link fracking to polluted drinking water. Never mind, that the EPA was formerly the devil’s spawn of the Obama administration, according to that senator and many in that industry.

Interestingly, that industry and its supporters are not championing another study. Also this week, a new study from University of Pittsburgh’s researchers found women living close to areas of high-density natural gas operations are more likely to have babies with lower birth weights than women living farther from such operations.

. ...

That study did cite instances where drinking water was affected by fracking, yet that number was small. The EPA insists that the question this study answered was not whether fracking was safe or unsafe.

Its purpose was to study “how do we best reduce vulnerabilities so we can best protect our drinking water and water resources.”

. ...

Men and women grounded in science don’t take direction from politicians, or should not. It’s counter-intuitive to act according to politics and agendas, rather than research and data.

. ...


See also: ‘Don’t Be Fooled’: The EPA’s Fracking Study, Explained


June 8, 2015

"onerous-to-get ID" - reason it counts as suppression, even virtual poll tax

In TX, percentage of fraud that would be caught by photo ID: .00000013

2012 analysis showed only 10 cases nationwide. One source said the percentage "not show up on a percentage chart (at least on one piece of paper)"

Many have to miss work to apply, even additional days just to get proper docs. Some of those docs cost money. That's the equivalent of a poll tax.

Bottom line is that photo IDs are a solution to a non-existant problem. A convenient fear-mongering to gain support for voter suppression. Because GOP fears democracy.

June 8, 2015

World Ocean Day: photos; tide info; rip tide danger; oceans' oxygen contribution


Your best ocean photos

Thank you for these beautiful images, in celebration of World Oceans Day 2015!


Tides, and the pull of the moon and sun

The sun and moon, shape of a beach, angle of a seabed and prevailing ocean currents, and the winds, all affect the height of the tides.


Video:  Perpetual ocean

A beautiful video visualization of ocean currents around the world.

NASA: Perpetual Ocean


How much do oceans add to world's oxygen?

Most of Earth’s oxygen comes from tiny ocean plants – called phytoplankton – that live near the water’s surface and drift with the currents.


Video: Rip currents #1 danger for beach-goers

These currents can flow faster than humans can swim.  If you're going to the beach this summer, this is one video you and your kids need to watch.


June 3, 2015

Coalfield distress - eitorial

Charleston Gazette

Editorial: Coalfield distress

Researchers at West Virginia University found that coal mines in the northern half of the state are doing well, increasing output by 8 percent per year between 2011 and 2014. But mining in southern counties is an economic tragedy.

Southern production fell nearly half (46 percent) between 2008 and 2014, a new WVU report found. This dragged down the state’s total output, from 158 million tons in 2008 to 115 million in 2014 — with further loss to 98 million forecast for next year.

About the same time the WVU study was released, Murray Energy and Alpha Natural Resources — West Virginia’s two largest producers — announced 1,800 more miner layoffs, and Patriot Coal filed for bankruptcy a second time.

All this adds up to grief in southern counties. Families and communities are devastated by job and income loss. Real suffering results.

The Carbon Tracker Initiative, a project of Investor Watch, warns investors that U.S. coal is in “structural decline.” It says 26 mining firms have failed in the past three years and 264 mines have closed. In a five-year span, coal corporation stocks lost 76 percent of their value “in spite of the Dow Jones Industrial Average increasing by 69 percent during the same period,” it reports.

Andrew Grant of the Carbon Tracker Initiative said: “The roof has fallen in on U.S. coal, and alarm bells should be ringing for investors in related sectors around the world. ...

Why aren’t West Virginia leaders launching emergency strategies to cope with the snowballing economic change? Why don’t they seek ways to rescue suffering counties and towns? Why do they endlessly blame coal’s decline on federal pollution-control laws?

On June 1, a volunteer group called United Citizens for Coal was launched in Boone County, declaring: “We can’t sit back and watch our communities destroyed.” President Roger Horton said:

. ...



WV pols, incld ones in DC, would rather howl about Obama and EPA than help the state move away from petroleum-based economy -- and that inclds fracking for natural gas. Makes one wonder (not really) just who not only provides their bread, but butters it for them as well.

x p WV

May 28, 2015

Mitch McConnell has recruited some new passengers to ride his Coal Train Express to kill Clean Power

From EnvironmentalAction.org fundraising email. I've edited out pleas f/ funds (donation link: http://environmental-action.webaction.org/p/salsa/donation/common/public/?donate_page_KEY=9485&utm_campaign=McConnell&utm_medium=email&utm_source=email_8305&track=email_8305 ) but info is important.
x p in Appalachia

Mitch McConnell has recruited some new passengers to ride his Coal Train Express to kill the Clean Power Plan. ... West Virginia Senators Capito and Manchin that they're riding the wrong train.

{We've run} a series of ads calling out Mitch McConnell for his attempts to block President Obama's Clean Power Plan. When Louisville's bus company rejected our ads for, "mocking and debasing the stature and integrity" of McConnell, we had to switch to an online plant to tell Kentuckians that Mitch would rather groove on dirty coal than back clean power -- even though residents, utilities and the Governor are ready to race forward with wind and solar.

But while we were busy getting our ad ready for Kentuckians, McConnell was busy cajoling new passengers to ride his Coal Train Express to kill the Clean Power Plan. His two new passengers are Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Joe Manchin (D-WV). This month they punched their ticket-to-ride by introducing a bill Capito calls the "principle legislative vehicle" to block clean power. Its also been described as a polluter's wish list and a direct attack on clean air, public health and the environment.

Among other things, Capito and Manchin's bill would allow states to opt out of complying with the new Clean Power rules if a governor determines "it's not in the state's best interest." But a new report just found that the Clean Power Plan would save thousands of lives, reduce hospitalizations due to poor air quality and prevent thousands of heart attacks.2 In 2012, dirty emissions from coal plants in West Virginia were responsible for an estimated 317 deaths and nearly $200 million in medical costs.3 *So it begs the questions, how could clean power not be in a state's best interest, and why are Capito and Manchin more worried about coal companies than public health, or the health of our climate?*

Sometimes you have to follow the money to find the answers. McConnell, Capito and Manchin have taken *over $2.6 million from King Coal in the last four years alone!2 *Put another way, these Senators of Soot were paid $3 million, which allowed King Coal to stick West Virginians with a $200 million medical bill thanks to air pollution. Add the fact that Jim Justice, a billionaire coal executive, just announced that he will run to become governor of West Virginia,4 and it all adds up to one big COALamity.

When it comes to Kentucky and West Virginia, it's time to overthrow the king.


1. Doniger, David. "Capito Bill Brings Out The Knives for the Clean Power Plan - Frightening Remake of The Orient Express. Huffington." May 15, 2015. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-doniger/capito-bill-brings-out-th_b_7287506.html

2. Hauser, Annie. "Clean Power Plan Could Save 3,500 Lives Annualy". Weather.com. May 5, 2015. http://www.weather.com/health/news/clean-power-plan-public-health-benefit

3. Clean Air Task Force: Find Your Risk From Power Plant Pollution. 2012. http://www.catf.us/fossil/problems/power_plants/

4. Maher, Kris. "Jim Justice, West Virginia Billionaire, Launches Campaign For Governor". Wall Street Journal. May 12, 2015. http://www.wsj.com/articles/jim-justice-west-virginia-billionaire-launches-campaign-for-governor-1431380406

May 26, 2015

Most dramatic music video ever - recorded during total solar eclipse | EarthSky


Some of you will argue with me about whether this is the most dramatic music video ever, but, honestly, if you’ve ever experienced a total eclipse of the sun, you’ll agree that no event in nature can beat it. The doom metal band Hamferð originally released this song in 2013, but someone associated with the band had the amazing idea of re-recording it during the March 20, 2015 total eclipse of the sun over the Fareo Islands.

The result is spectacular. What I love most is the strange quality of the light as the video begins and ends. The light really has this eerie quality shortly before and after the awesome moments of totality during a solar eclipse. On the video, as the eclipse becomes total, you can see a tiny sun silhouette in the sky over the Fareo Islands. In the middle of the video, the screen gets too dark to see anything at all … which is not the case when you are there to experience a total solar eclipse. In the real sky, although it does get very dark in the sky, and stars do pop into view, there’s plenty to see throughout. During an eclipse, in fact, there may be a fiery 360-degree horizon of twilight surrounding you, as you gaze up at the darkened sun.

Anyway, although I’ve seen other photos and videos that captured solar eclipses better, this music video has now become my second-favorite ever. Can anything ever really replace astronaut Chris Hadfield’s rendition of David Bowie’s Space Oddity? No. I don’t think so.

May 19, 2015

Oil & Gas Drilling and Fracking are Destroying our Landscape


O & G Drilling and Fracking are Destroying our Landscape

TITLE: Oil and gas development transforms landscapes

From a Report by Brady Allred, et al., The University of Montana, April 29, 2015

Researchers have conducted the first-ever broad-scale scientific assessment of how oil and gas development transforms landscapes across the US and Canada. A landscape transformed by broad-scale vegetation loss and fragmentation from oil and gas development ...

But what are the ecological consequences of this accelerated drilling activity? Researchers at the University of Montana have conducted the first-ever broad-scale scientific assessment of how oil and gas development transforms landscapes across the U.S. and Canada.

Their work was published April 24 in an article titled “Ecosystem services lost to oil and gas in North America” in Science. The article concludes that oil and gas development creates significant vegetation loss of rangelands and croplands across broad swaths of central North America.

Lead author Brady Allred said, “There are two important things here: First, we examine all of central North America, from the south coast of Texas to northern Alberta. When we look at this continental scale picture, we see impacts and degradation that are missed when focusing only at a local scale. Second, we see how present policies may potentially compromise future ecosystem integrity over vast areas.”

Allred and co-authors estimated that from 2000 to 2012 oil and gas development removed large amounts of rangeland vegetation, culminating at a rate per year of more than half of the annual grazing on U.S. public lands. Vegetation removed by this development on croplands is equivalent to 120.2 million bushels of wheat, approximately 13 percent of all wheat exported by the U.S. in 2013.

Fragmentation and loss of habitat also disrupts wildlife migration routes, alters wildlife behavior and assists new disruptive invasive plant species. Co-author Dave Naugle highlights the complexity of the issue: “We’ve known about the impacts of oil and gas development for years, but we now have scientific data from a broad regional scale that tells us we need to act now to balance these competing land uses.”


May 18, 2015

Unaffiliated and Underrepresented; Congress more Christian than constituents


President Obama is a Christian (despite the fact that most Republicans apparently still believe that his “deep down” beliefs are Muslim, according to one poll conducted last year.)

In fact, according to the Public Religion Research Institute, there have only been four “religiously unaffiliated heads of state in American history,” the last being Rutherford B. Hayes, who left office in 1881. This, however, does not mean that they did not believe in God.

Perhaps the most famous unaffiliated president was Abraham Lincoln, who wrote in 1846:

“That I am not a member of any Christian Church, is true; but I have never denied the truth of the Scriptures; and I have never spoken with intentional disrespect of religion in general, or of any denomination of Christians in particular.”

Now it is almost unconscionable to think of a president who didn’t believe in God. In fact, a poll last year by the Pew Research Center found that not believing in God was the most negative trait a presidential candidate could have among a variety of options, even more negative than having an extramarital affair.

Furthermore, in the House and Senate at the beginning of this session of Congress, 92 percent of members were Christian, 5 percent were Jewish, 0.4 percent each were Buddhist and Muslim and just 0.2 percent were unaffiliated. For those doing the math, that leaves only one member unaffiliated: Representative Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat from Arizona.

But how long can this overrepresentation of Christianity and underrepresentation of the unaffiliated last in government? According to a Pew report released last week, “The Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing.” In fact, the percentage of adults who “describe themselves as Christians has dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years,” from 78.4 percent in 2007 to 70.6 percent in 2014.

But the report also found, “Over the same period, the percentage of Americans who are religiously unaffiliated — describing themselves as atheist, agnostic or ‘nothing in particular’ — has jumped more than six points, from 16.1 percent to 22.8 percent.” Much of the change comes from younger people. According to the report, “About a third of older millennials (adults currently in their late 20s and early 30s) now say they have no religion, up nine percentage points among this cohort since 2007, when the same group was between ages 18 and 26.”

This begs the question: How much longer will this be thought of as a strictly Christian nation (if it ever really was one) with an overwhelming Christian government?



Strange question in that last paragraph I posted, considering the only ones who think this is/ever was a 'Christian nation' are radical RW Christians. Oh, and pandering politicians (& their media hacks) who seek their votes.

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Hometown: WV
Member since: Thu Jan 15, 2015, 12:37 AM
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About Panich52

Ancestral WV hillbilly & old-style liberal who believes in US Constitution & detests RW revisionism of its principles (esp Establishment Clause)

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