I was thinking the same thing when I read about the outrageous salaries paid to officials in Bell, California: Where are the local papers? Because when small papers get taken over by large ones, coverage of the local communities suffers greatly — and so does democracy.
You’ll have to read this to believe it. Soldiers’ death benefits (and that of retired federal employees) are kept in a private account without FDIC protection and aren’t paid out to the beneficiaries. Instead, they’re given a “checkbook” — without actual checks. And in the meantime, insurance companies are making interest off the money.
SAN FRANCISCO— The Center for Biological Diversity praised the Obama administration’s announcement today that it is cancelling two offshore oil and gas lease sales: one in the Atlantic off the coast of Virginia and another in the Gulf of Mexico. The Atlantic lease sale was part of a controversial area that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar approved for expanded offshore oil development after the Bush administration lifted the moratorium on drilling in the Atlantic. The Gulf of Mexico lease sale was scheduled to take place in mid-August.
“Obama’s decision to cancel these lease sales recognizes that risky offshore drilling needs reform,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at the Center. “Halting controversial lease sales is among the most proactive steps that Obama has taken toward the Gulf disaster.”
The Federal Register notices to be published tomorrow cancel Lease Sale 220 in the Atlantic and Lease Sale 215 in the western part of the Gulf of Mexico. The notices say cancelling these lease sales “will allow time to develop and implement measures to improve the safety of oil and gas development in Federal waters, provide greater environmental protection, and substantially reduce the risk of catastrophic events.”
“Rather than sound science and common sense, federal approval of offshore drilling has relied upon Big Oil promises, “ said Sakashita. “This commitment to revisit oil spill risks, safety and environmental protections is long overdue.” Just weeks before the Deepwater Horizon explosion, the Department of the Interior proposed expanding offshore oil development into new areas of the Atlantic, Arctic and eastern Gulf of Mexico.
I want to thank those of you who recommended I use Terro to get rid of these friggin’ ants. It’s attracting ants by the hundreds, and hopefully they’ll go back to their nests and die. That’s the plan, anyway.
Even though one kind reader offered to send me, I’m really, really glad I didn’t make it to Netroots Nation this year. From what my friend tells me, it was really smoky and people were having a lot of trouble with sore throats, weepy eyes, etc.
Plus, the meetings rooms were all very far away from each other, worse than when they had it in Chicago. I couldn’t have walked all that distance.
So all’s well that ends well!
Next year it’s in Minnesota. I’ll see if I can make that one.
One of the major flaws in the health care bill is that it leaves some important things up to the discretion of state insurance commissioners, and they’re notoriously friendly with the industry. Which means we have things like this happening:
Roughly 40,000 New Mexicans will watch their health care premiums rise by an average of 21 percent after the state struck a weekend deal with Blue Cross Blue Shield New Mexico.
The agreement may be a done deal after Monday, but how it came about had one member of the state Public Regulation Commission howling mad and at least one state lawmaker calling for legislation to overhaul the state’s rate-setting process.
“This should have been deliberated in public,” PRC member Jason Marks said of the rate hike.
PRC commissioners ordered state Insurance Superintendent Morris Chavez last month to hold Monday’s public hearing on Blue Cross Blue Shield’s request to raise rates 24.6 percent, something that insurance Division staff had approved originally in February.
“Instead, we got a backroom deal,” Marks said. “It could be an appropriate, reasonable deal, but I do know I had a lot of questions that haven’t been answered.”
Obama’s economic team has made one really bad choice after another. Maybe he should, oh I don’t know, fire them? (via Atrios)
This post on the Coal Tattoo blog points out something really obvious that hadn’t occurred to me: companies can’t fully develop CCS (carbon capture and storage) technology until they know what the federal regulations will be.
In other words, here’s an industry begging for regulation:
Carbon Dioxide’s Unsettled Future: Technologies to reel in greenhouse gas emissions abound, but can’t move forward without policy actions.
Here’s how it started:
With world population climbing, and energy demand along with it, countries are trying to figure out how to minimize the global-warming consequences of carbon-based energy …
… The challenges are enormous: Because of the differences in energy resources, nations around the world have different abilities to shift away from fossil fuel and to adopt technologies that reduce CO2 emissions.
And many of those technologies are not moving as fast as they could be because of uncertainty in public policies to reduce CO2 emissions.
Among other things, the story quotes George A. Richards, focus area leader for energy system dynamics at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory:
It’s not just a matter of solving technical issues. It is a matter of cost and social acceptance. Cost remains a bottleneck for carbon-capture technology, and regulatory certainty is needed before investments will be made in large-scale sequestration.
That’s right … this story reminded me of West Virginia’s now-senior Senator, Jay Rockefeller, who is pushing a bill to boost CCS, despite a GAO report that says the bill won’t work absent binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions.
And, as we found out late last week, Sen. Rockefeller believes the death of a bill that would have put such limits in place was a “sound idea with bipartisan support.”
Hundreds of Afghan civilians who worked as informants for the U.S. military have been put at risk by WikiLeaks’ publication of more than 90,000 classified intelligence reports which name and in many cases locate the individuals, The Times newspaper reported Wednesday.
Click here to see The Times article, but note, it’s behind a subscription firewall.
The article says, in spite of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s claim that sensitive information had been removed from the leaked documents, that reporters scanning the reports for just a couple hours found hundreds of Afghan names mentioned as aiding the U.S.-led war effort.
One specific example cited by the paper is a report on an interview conducted by military officers of a potential Taliban defector. The militant is named, along with his father and the village in which they live.
“The leaks certainly have put in real risk and danger the lives and integrity of many Afghans,” a senior official at the Afghan foreign ministry told The Times on condition of anonymity. “The U.S. is both morally and legally responsible for any harm that the leaks might cause to the individuals, particularly those who have been named. It will further limit the U.S./international access to the uncensored views of Afghans.”
One former intelligence official told the paper that the Taliban could launch revenge attacks on “traitors” in the coming days.
President Obama first warned on Tuesday that operatives inside Afghanistan and Pakistan who have worked for the U.S. could be at risk following the disclosure, former and current U.S. officials told the Associated Press.