Apr 152014

An analysis of a number of hydraulic fracturing sites in southwestern Pennsylvania has found that methane was being released into the atmosphere at 100 to 1,000 times the rate that the Environmental Protection Agency estimated. The study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that drilling operations at seven well pads emitted 34 grams of methane per second, on average, much higher than the EPA-estimated 0.04 grams to 0.30 grams of methane per second. The researchers, who were attempting to understand whether airborne measurements of methane aligned with estimates taken at ground level — the method commonly used by the EPA and state regulators — flew a plane over the region of the Marcellus Shale for two days in June 2012. “The researchers determined that the wells leaking the most methane were in the drilling phase, a period that has not been known for high emissions,” reported the Los Angeles Times. “Experts had thought that methane was more likely to be released during subsequent phases of production, including hydraulic fracturing, well completion or transport through pipelines.”

via Up To 1,000 Times More Methane Released At Gas Wells Than EPA Estimates, Study Finds | ThinkProgress.

 Posted by at 19:07
Jan 022014

Radical Sunni militants aligned with Al Qaeda threatened on Thursday to seize control of Falluja and Ramadi, two of the most important cities in Iraq, setting fire to police stations, freeing prisoners from jail and occupying mosques, as the government rushed troop reinforcements to the areas. Dressed in black and waving the flag of Al Qaeda, the militants put out calls over mosque loudspeakers for men to join their struggle in both cities in western Anbar Province, which were hugely important battlegrounds during the American-led war in Iraq and remain hotbeds of Sunni extremism. The fighting in Ramadi and Falluja had implications that extended beyond Anbar’s borders, as the Sunni militants fought beneath the same banner as the most hard-line jihadists in Syria — the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. That fight, and a deadly bombing in Beirut on Thursday, was the latest evidence that the Syrian civil war was breeding bloodshed and sectarian violence around the region, destabilizing Lebanon and Iraq while fueling a resurgence of radical Islamist fighters. The number of casualties in Anbar was unclear amid the unfolding chaos, but officials in hospitals in the province reported that at least 35 people were killed on Thursday and more than 70 others were wounded. The fighting began several days ago after Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, a Shiite, ordered security forces to dismantle protest encampments in Falluja and Ramadi.

via Parts of 2 Key Iraqi Cities Fall to Qaeda Group Active in Syria – NYTimes.com.

 Posted by at 21:06
Dec 282013

A legal battle over the scope of US government surveillance took a turn in favour of the National Security Agency on Friday with a court opinion declaring that bulk collection of telephone data does not violate the constitution. The judgement, in a case brought before a district court in New York by the American Civil Liberties Union, directly contradicts the result of a similar challenge in a Washington court last week which ruled the NSAs bulk collection program was likely to prove unconstitutional and was “almost Orwellian” in scale. Fridays ruling makes it more likely that the issue will be settled by the US supreme court, although it may be overtaken by the decision of Barack Obama on whether to accept the recommendations of a White House review panel to ban the NSA from directly collecting such data. But the ruling from Judge William Pauley, a Clinton appointee to the Southern District of New York, will provide important ammunition for those within the intelligence community urging Obama to maintain the programme. Judge Pauley said privacy protections enshrined in the fourth amendment of the US constitution needed to be balanced against a government need to maintain a database of records to prevent future terrorist attacks. “The right to be free from searches is fundamental but not absolute,” he said. “Whether the fourth amendment protects bulk telephony metadata is ultimately a question of reasonableness.” Pauley argued that al-Qaidas “bold jujitsu” strategy to marry seventh century ideology with 21st century technology made it imperative that government authorities be allowed to push privacy boundaries. “As the September 11 attacks demonstrate, the cost of missing such a threat can be horrific,” he wrote in the ruling. “Technology allowed al-Qaida to operate decentralised and plot international terrorist attacks remotely. The bulk telephony metadata collection programme represents the governments counter-punch: connecting fragmented and fleeting communications to re-construct and eliminate al-Qaidas terror network.”

via NSA mass collection of phone data is legal, federal judge rules | World news | The Guardian.

 Posted by at 10:05
Dec 182013

MIAMI, Dec 17 (Reuters) – A Florida man walked into a convenience store with a live alligator and tried to trade it for a 12-pack of beer, according to wildlife authorities who cited him with illegally capturing the animal.

It was unclear why the man thought the clerk at the Santa Ana Market in Miami would accept the 4-foot (1.2-meter) reptile as payment, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Jorge Pino said on Tuesday.

“I think that anybody who would conceive this scheme is not thinking properly,” Pino said.

The clerk called authorities and would-be customer Fernando Caignet Aguilera was cited on Dec. 10 with possessing, illegally taking and attempting to sell the alligator, which he said he caught at a park.

Each of the three misdemeanor charges caries a penalty of up to six months in jail and a fine up to $500, Pino said.

The alligator was unharmed and was released back into the wild, he said. Alligators are no longer endangered but it is illegal to take them in Florida except during a closely regulated annual hunt.
via Florida Man Tries To Trade Alligator For Beer, Gets Cited.

 Posted by at 15:15
Dec 182013

It was a very good year for Major League Baseball; as in historic. According to a source speaking on condition of anonymity, for 2013 MLB gross revenues will exceed $8 billion for the first time, ever. While exact figures were not revealed, baseball will end 2013 with revenues between $8-$8.5 billion.

Last year, revenues were above $7.5 billion. While attendance has been ostensibly flat for the league, the continuing growth in television revenue is a key reason for the rapid escalation.

And, it’s very possible that MLB could see revenues in the $8.5-$9 billion range by this time next year. The league will see revenues double for new broadcast deals with their national network partners FOX, ESPN, and TBS that will add an additional $788.3 million a year to the league’s coffers.

In related news, sources indicate that the massive Dodgers television deal that has been reported to be anywhere from $7-$8 billion over 20 years appears to be on track for approval by the league. At this stage, issues around the revenue-sharing component have been resolved and it’s down to other issues. The deal is expected to be cleared by the league before the start of the 2014 season.

In 1995, MLB revenues were $1.4 billion, or over $2.2 billion when accounting for inflation. Since that time, gross revenues for the league have grown a staggering 264 percent in 18 years.

via Major League Baseball Sees Record Revenues Exceed $8 Billion For 2013 – Forbes.

 Posted by at 12:32
Sep 102013

Representative Eliot L. Engel of New York, the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was more cautious. “If this thing is real, I think we should look at it,” he said. “But the question is this: Do you trust Assad, and do you trust the Russians?” Former Representative Tom Perriello of Virginia, president of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, said the answer might be no. “There’s every reason to believe so far that Russia is playing Congress like fiddles,” he said, “and not playing peacemaker.”

via Russian Proposal Catches Obama Between Putin and House Republicans – NYTimes.com.

 Posted by at 11:27