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Sat, 21 Oct 2017
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Local communities worldwide are speaking out against fracking

© David Holt via Flickr
Anti-fracking protests in London last year.
Public opposition to pumping water and chemicals into the ground to extract gas from shale − the technique known as fracking − is growing even in the countries whose governments are most in favour.

Although only four countries - France, Bulgaria, Germany and Scotland - have an outright fracking ban at the moment, many districts in countries that allow fracking in some areas ban it in others.

This is true in the US and in Canada, where potential wells will not be developed because local authorities have refused permission.

The carrot for governments generally has been the promise from the fossil fuel companies of large quantities of cheaply-extracted gas that will last for decades and cut their reliance on imports.

Comment: Selling fracking to the public as a safe, alternative energy source is becoming increasingly problematic. But remember - in short - the public's concerns don't matter: Fracking - you are not important
Whether its on the issue of fracking and public health, or fracking and climate change, recent developments are making the opposite case:
  • In Australia, the New South Wales Government recently suspended all oil and gas licences pending a review of their environmental and health impacts.
  • In Canada, the Council of Canadian Academies recently stated that the process is fraught with many scientific and technical uncertainties, and should not be rolled-out until the impacts can be properly studied.
  • Also in Canada, initial studies by the Chief Medical Officers of New Brunswick and Northern Health Board of British Columbia have highlighted the unknown or uncertain impacts of these processes.
  • Australia has seen some recent high-profile groundwater contamination incidents as a result of 'coal seam gas' operations (what we over here call coal bed methane).
  • Also in Australia, last year the Australian Medical Association passed a motion objecting to the further expansion of unconventional gas operation without detailed environmental and health impacts being undertaken to demonstrate the safety of the process.
  • Even the British Medical Journal recently carried an article critical of the Government's policy agenda around unconventional fossil fuels.
  • Finally, just a few days ago, employees of the Pennsylvania Department of Health blew the whistle on the official cover-up of the health impacts of drilling in the Marcellus shale.

Stock Up

Study says 1/3 of pro-Trump tweets created by bots, but Trump still has 3 times more legit tweets than Killary

© Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
From the 9 million Tweets generated during the first US presidential debate, analysis found that nearly 2 million of them were pro-Trump compared to just over 600,000 pro-Clinton. Over one-third of those for Trump were generated by bots, whereas just one-fifth came from bots for Clinton.

"Twitter traffic on pro-Trump hashtags was more than twice that of pro-Clinton hashtags [and] one third of pro-Trump twitter traffic was driven by bots and highly automated accounts, compared with one-fifth of the pro-Clinton Twitter," according to a new Oxford University study titled, "Bots and Automation over Twitter during the First US Presidential Debate."

The study's authors, led by Professor Philip Howard, warn that such software has the capacity to "manipulate public opinion" and "muddy political issues." The study is part of a wider project exploring "computational propaganda."

Comment: That may be true in theory, but even if the study is valid, and even if we eliminate the bot-driven tweets, that still means Trump had around 1.2 million tweets, and Clinton only had about 480,000. Trump is clearly more popular, regardless of the bots, with around 72%.

Comment: Read more: Whatever the media polls say, independent snap online polls say Trump won third debate


Rigging the election: Undercover video catches Clinton operatives admit to "starting sh*t" inciting "anarchy" at Trump rallies

Throughout the 2016 campaign for the U.S. presidency, the mainstream media's narrative has been that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is a racist, his supporters are "deplorable," and campaign rally violence follows Trump wherever he goes. ­­While it is certainly true that many of his supporters have been caught using violence against others, and Trump himself has even incited said violence, a new video implicates Clinton as the kindling for much of this fire.

The truth about many of those presumed violent Trump supporters is now coming forth, thanks to another undercover sting operation by Project Veritas, who have now exposed the Democratic National Committee's devious and self-described "diabolical" black operatives and their subversive operations.


French nuclear watchdog calling for shutdown of five reactors over safety risks

© Sebastien Nogier / Reuters
A general view shows the French nuclear Tricastin site in southeastern France
The French nuclear watchdog has called for the shutdown and inspection of five more nuclear reactors for safety checks. The reactors have a high level of carbon which could lead to various failures.

The Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) has asked nuclear power utility EDF to carry out additional inspections at Fessenheim 1,Tricastin 2 and 4, Gravelines 4 and Civaux 1 reactors, according to a press release. All these reactors are located across the whole France, close to towns and communes.

"The performance of these inspections will require shutdown of the reactors concerned," ASN added. The watchdog wants to check "certain channel heads of the steam generators on five of its reactors, in which the steel is affected by a high carbon concentration."

Eye 1

Warrantless surveillance: Police stingrays unfairly target low-income, minority neighborhoods

© Daniel Becerril / Reuters
The use of Stingray devices has been controversial. The surveillance tool can be used to locate cell phones by mimicking phone towers, but their practical use shows severe racial disparities in multiple cities across the country, according to a new report.

Police departments in Milwaukee, Baltimore and Tallahassee have all been found to use Stingray tracking devices without warrants and particularly in low-income, minority neighborhoods, according to City Labs. The Stingray devices are often used in theft and robberies, while logistical issues surrounding these tools have some civil rights activists concerned.

The issues presented are twofold. First, a recent study of Stingray use found three large cities across the country used the devices to target areas in low-income neighborhoods with high minority populations. The other problem is that Stingrays are not used to find one single phone. While they may be used with the intention of finding a specific person, they collect location information from many phones within the area they're used.

Comment: StingRay - the cellphone tracking tech police won't talk about

Snakes in Suits

Treatment Industrial complex: Mental health and rehab the new gravy train for private prison corporations

Private prison companies have had a rough couple of months.

First, the Department of Justice announced it would phase out its private contracts for management of Bureau of Prisons facilities. Then, the Department of Homeland Security said it would re-examine the use of for-profit immigrant detention facilities. Stock prices for publicly traded Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group both plummeted and last week CCA laid off 12 percent of its workforce.

This may well be the beginning of the end of for-profit prisons in America. But it may not. Like the Walking Dead TV zombies, you just can't count these bloodsuckers out until its over. And a disturbing new trend suggests it is not.

We call it the Treatment Industrial Complex, or TIC. Through a combination of acquisitions and mergers and an aggressive marketing campaign, for-profit prison companies are moving to preserve their profits by seeking contracts to provide in-prison medical and mental health care; manage mental hospitals and civil commitment centers; and deliver "community corrections" programs, including prisoner reentry services and "alternatives to incarceration" like electronic monitoring.


Mom has been making two lunches so son's classmate can have a meal

© Mike Blake / Reuters
A New Mexico mother gave the internet a true lesson in kindness when reports surfaced that she had been packing lunches for two after her son asked for food for a boy in need. Her story went viral, and she is now urging others to help schools out.

Josette Duran, a volleyball coach from Albuquerque, never thought of making the news, but a wave of unexpected support took her story to the headlines.

It all started with a picture that Duran shared with her friends on Facebook back in September, telling them how proud she was of her 14-year-old son Dylan.

Duran has been packing two lunches instead just one, after Dylan asked her to help a boy at his school.

Comment: Kudos to this woman and her son! Too many children are going hungry because they have no money in their accounts, while the school system ignores their plight.


Vile: Madonna offers fellatio to everyone who votes for Clinton

© Eduardo Munoz/Reuters
Never shy of controversy, the pop star Madonna has offered fellatio to anyone who votes for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. The offer was made at a comedy special in New York City.

[You can read what Madonna said here, but warning: it contains graphic language from a vile media whore.]

Comment: That above tweet is just shallow, ignorant and hypocritical. What a revolting media spectacle. It sure did bring attention to Hillary, though - Bread and Circuses galore!


Syria's Reconciliation Program Working in Many Cities, including West Ghouta, Aleppo

West Ghouta

As reported here at Syrper last weekend, negotiations were underway in Mu'adhdhamiyya to liberate this important city, west of Daarayyaa. Today, 620 terrorists and about the same number of family members left this city toward Idlib. Tomorrow, another batch will leave. By Friday, this important city will be terrorist free.
Further south, another reconciliation is under way at Al-Tayyiba and Zaakiya, a bit south of the recently liberated Al-Dayrkhabiyya. Zaakiya is a large city, about the same size as Khaan Al-Shaykh. Once negotiations are finished and the cities liberated, the terrorists inside Khaan Al-Shaykh will be completely isolated and surrounded and will have no choice but to surrender to the Syrian Arab Army. That will be the last pocket of terrorists in West Ghouta. The impact of this huge diplomatic success will be felt in all southern Syrian provinces and inside East Ghouta.

Comment: See also: U.S. "Pounds" Mosul, Russia Halts Airstrikes on Aleppo

Update (Oct. 20): Sputnik reports that 1,710 people left Moadamiyeh, including 800 militants, 395 women, and 315 children.


US Air Force base poisons Colorado Creek with cancer-causing chemicals

Colorado Springs Air Force Academy
A US Air Force base in Colorado has admitted to accidentally releasing 150,000 gallons of water containing toxic chemicals into the sewer system of nearby Colorado Springs.

Peterson Air Force base said on October 18 that the water contained perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), chemicals used on bases to put out fires and which have been linked to several kinds of cancer, low birthweight in babies and other health issues. The Air Force statement has not clarified how high the levels were.