Struck down

Here’s some good news for a change:

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A Pennsylvania appellate court panel on Thursday struck down provisions in a new law regulating the state’s booming natural gas industry that opponents said would leave municipalities defenseless to protect homeowners, parks and schools from being surrounded by drilling sites or waste pits.

The decision was a defeat for Gov. Tom Corbett and the natural gas industry, which had long sought the limitations, and the governor’s office said an appeal to the state Supreme Court is likely.

The state Commonwealth Court ruled 4-3 in a decision released Thursday that the limitations in the so-called Act 13 violated the state constitution. The opinion’s author, President Judge Dan Pellegrini, said the provisions upended the municipal zoning rules that had previously been followed by other property owners, unfairly exposing them to harm.

Of course, the notoriously corrupt State Supreme Court will have the final word, but you never know.

Not me, uh uh.

Phil Gramm, who was working for the banks even before he was working for the banks (if you know what I mean), tries to do retroactive damage control after statements by Sanford Weill that it was a mistake to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act – you know, the one that was replaced by the legislation Phil Gramm helped write?

Phil Gramm, the former U.S. senator who helped write the 1999 law that enabled the creation of financial giants such as Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp., said his legislation didn’t make the system any riskier.

Pause here for belly laughs. Okay, I’ll give him this: The Commodity Futures Modernization Act he rammed through in the 2000 budget showdown between Congress and Clinton was much worse. In fact, it had even more to do with the 2008 crash. It made sure that the credit swaps market was unregulated, and that banks and hedge funds didn’t need a minimum reserve to back their casino bets.

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act repealed the 1933 prohibition against federally insured depository institutions combining with securities firms and insurers. While his law allows deposit-taking banks to affiliate with securities firms through holding companies, depositors and taxpayers are protected because affiliates can’t take capital out of the banks, Gramm said in a telephone interview yesterday.

“I don’t see any evidence that allowing them to affiliate through holding companies had anything to do with the financial crisis nor has anybody ever presented any evidence to suggest that it did,” said Gramm, 70. Companies that failed such as Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. “tended to be narrowly focused.”

See, Gramm’s long history as a fighter against banking regulation makes him what passes for an economic expert – for a Republican, I mean. The man is a weasel. Always was, always will be.

John Reed, who helped found Citigroup with Weill, and former Merrill Lynch & Co. CEO David Komansky have said they regretted fighting to overturn the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act. Richard Parsons, speaking two days after ending his 16-year tenure on the board of Citigroup and one of its predecessors, said the repeal contributed to the financial crisis.

“To some extent what we saw in the 2007-2008 crash was the result of the throwing off of Glass-Steagall,” Parsons said in April at a Rockefeller Foundation event in Washington. “Have we gotten our arms around it yet? I don’t think so because the financial-services sector moves so fast.”

[…] Former U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat who warned in 1999 that repealing Glass-Steagall could lead to “massive taxpayer bailouts” in 10 years, said in a telephone interview that the so-called firewalls that exist between regulated banks and affiliates are like “tissue paper.”

“It’s just absurd for anybody now to make the case that having these entities under the same corporate umbrella doesn’t pose substantially greater risk,” said Dorgan, who retired from the Senate in 2011 and is a senior policy adviser at law firm Arent Fox LLP. “Phil is just wrong about this. He was wrong 13 years ago and he’s wrong now.”

I think the word you’re looking for is “lying,” not “wrong,” Sen. Dorgan. Phil Gramm is what the nuns used to call a “bold brazen article.” I’m not as nice. I’d call him a lying sack of excrement.

Sports management

Charlie Pierce with an essay about the similarities between how team owners regard their workers, and what the rest of us deal with:

The people who own professional sports teams come from the same upper corporate class that has spent 30 years destroying the idea of the American economy being a mixed system and a cooperative venture rather than purely an engine of private profit. In all their other successful ventures, keeping down the workforce has been a primary goal. The creation of a passive workforce has been so thoroughgoing that it is now a discipline taught in America’s finest business schools. Indeed, there is more than a little evidence that the elite from which we get our owners is rigidly and steadily fashioning for itself a country of independent owners and subordinate workers. Last week, for example, Rebecca Kemble of The Progressive reported on a meeting of a special committee of the Wisconsin State Legislature at which one state official said that, as far as he was concerned, the purpose of public education was to develop a “workforce.”

“In workforce development we say,” this fellow said, “you begin at birth and end at the grave.”

This is the prevailing zeitgeist in the world in which all of the owners of our professional sports teams make their real livings. Why should they be expected to act differently toward the people who work in their enterprises than they have for their hobbies? Of course, the workers in the industry of sports have a number of advantages over the anonymous workers in America’s other corporations, many of whom are hanging on by their fingernails. First, they are independently rich and independently famous. Their complaints command a spotlight. Second, they have strong and functioning unions; one can only guess what happened among the presiding blazers of the NHL when Donald Fehr took over as the head of the NHL players’ union. And third, the enterprises in question literally cannot function without them. The Sacramento Kings can’t save money by outsourcing the roster to Vietnam. Put these together, and you get the not uncommon complaint that the labor side in sports is “going too far,” usually from people whose industries have crushed their unions and/or packed their jobs overseas. In reality, sports is one of the few arenas in which the battle for power and control between management and labor approximates what it used to be, back in the days when the country had both billionaires and a functioning middle class. And that sticks in several affluent craws.
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There goes the ozone layer

Well, it was fun while it lasted:

Strong summer storms that pump water high into the upper atmosphere pose a threat to the protective ozone layer over the United States, researchers said on Thursday, adding that the risk of damage may increase as the climate warms.

In a study published online by the journal Science, Harvard University scientists reported that some storms send water vapor well into the stratosphere -which is normally drier than a desert -and showed how such events could rapidly set off ozone-destroying reactions with chemicals that remain in the atmosphere from CFCs, the now-banned refrigerant gases.

Oh go away

Fortunately, it’s highly unlikely that the Phils will be in the playoffs that week, so there will be plenty of hotel rooms for the crazies. Lord, save me from Your followers:

Saying America is so mired in “moral depravity” that only a mass appeal to the Almighty can save it, Christian evangelical leaders from across the country are planning a giant prayer rally for Sept. 29 in Philadelphia.

The “America for Jesus” daylong gathering on Independence Mall is expected to draw at least 30,000 people who “want to turn the nation around,” said Bishop Anne Giminez, chairwoman of the event and pastor of Rock Pentecostal Church in Virginia Beach, Va.

Stand your ground WBBH News for Fort Myers, Cape Coral

A Florida man known as the neighborhood crazy kills a door-to-door salesman for trespassing. Isn’t it great that it’s so easy to get guns?

A man in Cape Coral, Florida on Wednesday was arrested for shooting and killing an unarmed door-to-door salesman on his property.

Kenneth Bailey Roop, 52, has been charged with second-degree murder for killing 30-year-old Nicholas Rainey.

A co-worker who witnessed the shooting said Rainey had knocked on Roop’s door, but received no answer. While Rainey was walking down the drive-way, Roop pulled up in his pickup truck and asked why Rainey was at his house. Rainey explained that he was selling steak and seafood. The witness said Roop then pulled out a black handgun and shot Rainey. As Rainey lay on the ground, Roop fired another bullet into the back of his head.

Roop later told police that he shot Rainey in the head “for effect” and that he had three no trespassing signs on his property. Roop said he feared for his life.

“I’m not going to give him the chance to do something to me,” he told police. “I was in fear.”

An off-duty Collier County sheriff’s deputy was nearby and heard the gunshots. When she arrived at Roop’s property, she found Rainey dying on the ground while Roop was in his garage reloading his handgun.

“He was telling the officer, ‘he stepped on my property, he trespassed, I’ll kill anybody that steps on my property,’ somewhere along them lines. It was just unbelievable,” one witness told the The News-Press. “She never flinched. She deserves a medal. I don’t think he was done [shooting].”

The deputy ordered Roop to drop his weapon and held him at gunpoint until police officers arrived.

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