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Fracking cannot fail, but only be failed

By: danps Saturday September 20, 2014 6:28 am

Cross posted from Pruning Shears.

We’ve known for a while that fracking wells have serious integrity issues. A couple of years ago Anthony Ingraffea reported (PDF) on extensive well failures in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale. In June Ingraffea and a team of researches at Cornell followed up with a study estimating forty percent of Marcellus wells will fail over time. Newer wells appear to show higher leakage rates than older ones, so structural integrity is an increasing risk. Since there is no financial or regulatory incentive to build them well, they are getting less and not more reliable. The team also noted that the oil and gas industry was not exactly forthcoming on this topic:

Due to the lack of publicly available structural integrity monitoring records for onshore wells from industry, more recent studies have used data from state well inspection records to estimate the proportion of unconventional wells drilled that develop cement and/or casing structural integrity issues.

This is terrible, but at this point it is not news. So it was a little surprising Monday to see a new study about the structural integrity of fracking wells getting lots of play. Not that I’m complaining – better late than never – but it just seems like something to be treated as further confirmation of what we already knew, not some startling new discovery.

To her credit, Becky Oskin brought up the prior study and framed it in context. Mose Buchele of StateImpact Texas didn’t bring in the Marcellus angle, though maybe it’s outside his scope. A couple other reports really missed the mark though, and for the same reason: an industry-friendly framing of the scope of fracking.

From an environmental, policy, and public health perspective, fracking ought to be viewed as any activity in the entire industrial chain of unconventional natural gas extraction. Silica sand mining in Minnesota is fracking. Its transport to sites is fracking. The drilling of the well is fracking, the extraction from the well is fracking, the transport of the gas is fracking, and the storage of the toxic byproducts – until the last molecule goes inert – is fracking. Calling just the extraction of natural gas fracking is misleading at best and deceptive at worst, because that thing could not exist without all those other things. For anyone who cares about the entire impact of the process, it is absurd to characterize one part as the entirety.

Yet that is just what Matt McGrath of the BBC did, in an article headlined “Weak wells not fracking caused US gas leaks into water.” His article largely gives a pass to the industry, at one point flatly stating: “In none of the investigated wells was there a direct link to fracking.” As though those with contaminated water will be relieved the reason was shoddy practices by the industry and not something intrinsic to drilling. Ben Geman’s piece similarly leads with that framing: “They found that problems with gas-well construction, not fracking itself, is letting gases escape and reach drinking-water wells in some cases.”

Geman does a good job including caveats, and towards the end argues against exactly the framing he uses at the top: “the issues of water quality and fracking can’t be considered in isolation regardless of what’s allowing contaminants to escape.” But it’s damned frustrating to see what most people will take away – the headline and the start of the article – make the opposite point.

It could be that McGrath and Geman were too quick to accept a carefully parsed description from one of the authors:

“These results appear to rule out the possibility that methane has migrated up into drinking water aquifers because of horizontal drilling or hydraulic fracturing, as some people feared,” said Prof Avner Vengosh, from Duke University.

The team attempted to isolate a single variable and examine it, which they did, and they reported the results. All well and good. But outlets like the BBC and the National Journal report on a PNAS paper in the public’s interest. In other words, the important thing here is not the “horizontal drilling” part but the “methane in drinking water” part. So a study that exonerates one part of the process, but that says nothing about another (already-known) reason for contamination, gets us exactly nowhere in terms of its importance for the average citizen.

Maybe the reporters were swayed by the optimistic recommendations from the researchers. McGrath: “‘You need strong rules and regulations on well integrity,’ said Prof Jackson.” Geman: “[Ohio State earth-sciences professor Thomas Darrah] said that the findings are ‘relatively good news’ because ‘most of the issues we have identified can potentially be avoided by future improvements in well integrity.’” I don’t see how an industry that pushes through anti-transparency exceptions, buys politicians left and right, routinely outpaces the ability of agencies to monitor it, requires omertà for regulators but has a revolving door for them when they leave, violates the law yet continues to operate with impunity, doesn’t have sound construction practices elsewhere, and has a corrosive effect on democracy itself is going to embrace strict new rules on well construction.

That seems to be an important bit of context for the story. Leading with an (at best) incomplete framing and following up with hopeful policy prescriptions from scientists seems more likely to misinform readers than enlighten them. Because here is the message that comes across: There is a great and wonderful theoretical version of fracking out there we all should believe in, and any failure to see it in the real world is the fault of those who don’t share the vision, not of fracking itself. Yet somehow the fracking we end up with always ends up being so much worse than the fracking we are promised. Maybe someone could write an article about that.


Saturday Art: Influential Authors: Robert Louis Stevenson

By: dakine01 Saturday September 20, 2014 4:05 am

Robert Louis Stevenson, 1887

Please Note: When I began this series, it was to cover a lot of authors whom I have found personally influential, even though this may only be because I enjoyed the stories they have told in their books or short stories. I’m just fortunate enough and well read enough that many of the authors I have personally enjoyed have also been influential on a macro scale as well as micro. rrt

All of the above being said, yeah I’d say that Robert Louis Stevenson fits the classic definition of an Influential Author. From his wiki introduction:

Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson (13 November 1850 – 3 December 1894) was a Scottish novelist, poet, essayist, and travel writer. His most famous works are Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

A literary celebrity during his lifetime, Stevenson now ranks among the 26 most translated authors in the world.[1] His works have been admired by many other writers, including Jorge Luis Borges, Bertolt Brecht, Marcel Proust, Arthur Conan Doyle, Henry James, Cesare Pavese, Ernest Hemingway, Rudyard Kipling, Jack London, Vladimir Nabokov,[2] J. M. Barrie,[3] and G. K. Chesterton, who said of him that he “seemed to pick the right word up on the point of his pen, like a man playing spillikins.”[4]

Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Definitely influential books and characters. Treasure Island alone provided the inspiration for many of the popular images we associate with pirates:

The influence of Treasure Island on popular perceptions of pirates has been enormous, introducing such elements as treasure maps marked with an “X”, schooners, the Black Spot, tropical islands, and one-legged seamen bearing parrots on their shoulders.[1]

If you say that someone has a “Jekyll and Hyde personality,” most everyone will know exactly what you mean thanks to the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde:

The work is commonly associated with the rare mental condition often spuriously called “split personality”, referred to in psychiatry as dissociative identity disorder , where within the same body there exists more than one distinct personality.[4] In this case, there are two personalities within Dr Jekyll, one apparently good and the other evil. The novella’s impact is such that it has become a part of the language, with the very phrase “Jekyll and Hyde” coming to mean a person who is vastly different in moral character from one situation to the next.[4][5]

While not as influential as the first two, Kidnapped does offer some interesting historical perspective.

I know I read Treasure Island as a boy and …Dr. Jekyll… while in high school. Other Stevenson works I have read includes The Master of Ballantrae and I am currently reading The Black Arrow thanks to Project Gutenberg.

Stevenson wrote many short stories and non-fiction as well as his novels. Looking through the list of his books from there is a wide variety available. For instance, South Sea Tales is described as:

…at the height of his career, Robert Louis Stevenson announced his intention to settle permanently in Samoa. His readers were equally shocked when he began to use the subject material offered by his new environment, not to promote a romance of empire, but to produce some of the most ironic and critical treatments of imperialism in nineteenth-century fiction.

In stories such as ‘The Beach of Falesá’, ‘The Bottle Imp’, and ‘The Isle of Voices’ Stevenson shows himself to be virtuoso of narrative styles. This is the first collection to bring together all his shorter Pacific fiction in one volume and in it Stevenson emerges as a witness to the cross-cultural encounters of nineteenth-century imperialism and to the creation of the global culture which characterizes the post-colonial world.(

Stevenson was also a poet and wrote A Child’s Garden of Verses amongst other works. (Some folks may remember a comedy book and album from the early ’70s which obviously played on Stevenson’s poem.)

IMDB shows Stevenson with 249 writing credits. Treasure Island, Kidnapped, The Black Arrow, The Master of Ballantrae and …Dr Jekyll… have all received multiple movie and TV interpretations, sometimes serious and sometimes for fun (think Muppet Treasure Island or Mr Magoo’s Treasure Island or Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

As the wiki intro noted, Stevenson was popular during his lifetime. As his Goodreads intro notes, modern critics have also begun recognizing his influence on Western Literature

Saturday Art and Archaeology: Unique Discovery in Pennsylvania Dig

By: Ruth Calvo Saturday September 20, 2014 2:32 am

Appearance of woven material in feature indicates fabric content.

Having access to the site of a dig that produced the rare find of what appears to be at least an 800 year old fabric remnant from late Woodland era tribal inhabitants, our FDL commenter, spudtruckowner, has provided us with pictures he was able to take on the scene and as the artifact was prepared for removal for further study. The find was covered to protect it from the elements, so was not visible after the original discovery.   In the picture, careful inspection shows a weave that is not part of the material surrounding the artifact, and a material at variance with the earth that surrounds it. The era has produced no other remnant of fabric, and the piece is regarded as a rare and desirable find. This is the second year of digging at the site, which has produced several pottery and tool artifacts, and may have further layers below those already excavated.

Fabric find, covered and encased in frame of stainless steel and concrete lining, to preserve the material for transport to lab for study.

More standard finds have also been brought out from the site, and some include pottery and tools, as well as charcoal from cooking that has been used to date the era that produced the evidence of life in times before the present, and farther back than the confederate tribes that were here when European settlers arrived on the scene.

Removal of surrounding dirt reveals pottery shape and characteristics, held separately from the pit and remaining shards for picture taking purposes.

Pull Up a Chair: Kiddie Lit

By: Elliott Friday September 19, 2014 11:38 pm

What’s your favorite children’s book(s)?

I’ve always loved One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. May be the first book I could read my own self. But is there an unbeloved Dr. Suess book?

Also loved reading Winnie the Pooh books and A. A. Milne’s kiddie poetry, especially fond of “Alexander Beetle” and:

“Now We Are Six”

When I was one,
I had just begun.
When I was two,
I was nearly new.
When I was three,
I was hardly me.
When I was four,
I was not much more.
When I was five,
I was just alive.
But now I am six,
I’m as clever as clever.
So I think I’ll be six
now and forever.

My mother would read us fairy tales from “My Book House,” a multivolume set compiled by Olive Beaupré Miller, I suspect her mother read to her from the very same volumes. Classic illustrations.

My grandmother always gave us books at Christmas, I still have my Lonely Doll books, (that Edith!). I remember coming home from a visit with Timid Timothy: The Kitten Who Learned to be Brave, we must have gone to a library sale because it still had the pocket in the back. And I still have the book.

This is but a few off the top of my head. What books and authors did you enjoy growing up?

What books would you give a little kid today?

Cartoon Friday: Count Duckula

By: Kit OConnell Friday September 19, 2014 7:38 pm


I may not be working for Firedoglake anymore but … It’s STILL Cartoon Friday!

During my two years at Firedoglake I turned the Watercooler — MyFDL’s end of the night wrap up post — into something I looked forward to assembling every night. Partway through that process, I realized I could do almost anything I wanted with the feature. And between that and my love of cartoons, Cartoon Friday was born.

If you’re new or want to review past installments, here’s a retrospective of Cartoon Friday 2013 and a bunch of more recent installments.

Tonight’s selection is the Count Duckula episode, “There are Werewolves at the Bottom of our Garden.” It originally aired in November of 1990.

Duckula is a British cartoon which spun off from another popular series that also saw syndication in the United States, Danger Mouse. In the original series, Duckula was a fearsome villain — at least relatively speaking when you remember the main characters of the original series were a mouse and a mole.

For his feature series, he was reimagined as something far less fierce.

A colorful Mandarin duck

Ok, a bit more fierce than that.


Perhaps because Danger Mouse dispatched Duckula in the original, Duckula finds himself revived through an ancient and mystic rite — only Nanny, a clumsy hen and one of the vampire duck’s closest allies, substitutes ketchup for blood. Now the mighty warrior is much closer to an Inspector Gadget-like figure: he becomes a hapless vegetarian that survives primarily through the aid of his friends and servants like the tireless but cynical butler, Igor.

So curl up with a favorite libation and get ready to get silly — from the very first moments. Oh, they don’t make theme songs like that anymore.

Thank God.

Seen any good cartoons lately?

House Bans War Powers Resolution Actions

By: David Swanson Friday September 19, 2014 7:27 pm

The U.S. House of Representatives has not just left town, but prior to leaving passed a rule preventing any member from using the War Powers Resolution to force Congress to return and vote on war.

Here’s a video of Congressman Jim McGovern denouncing the rule (or read the transcript here):


If you watch the video, following Rep. McGovern’s remarks two of his colleagues run their mouths. The first is Congressman Pete Sessions nonsensically replying to McGovern. The second is Congresswoman Virginia Foxx on an unrelated topic. If you jump ahead to 10:25 McGovern replies to Sessions. It’s well worth watching.

In addition, Congressman McGovern and five other Democrats and six Republicans have asked Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to hold a vote on war. Here’s their letter: PDF.

MH-17 still exactly where it fell – two months after crash – with no investigation of wreckage

By: operationmindcrime Friday September 19, 2014 7:03 pm

The US media and the Dutch Safety Board have been saying that it is unsafe to investigate the wreckage of MH-17, however, this video proves otherwise, and shows that the only people that attempted to make the site unsafe at any time were the Kiev military which is proven by the type of munitions embedded in the ground close to the site. If your interested in examining the wreckage yourself, this is a good video to watch. It’s hard to believe 60 days have passed and EVERYTHING is still uninvestigated and uncollected by the investigating body delegated to do so. Keep in mind that in the history of plane crash investigations there has never been one like this, where the investigating authorities decided to actually not investigate. If that doesn’t reek of a coverup….I don’t know what does.

Considering that Kiev is a Nazi regime as proven by the threads below……and they had the means, motive, opportunity, and benefitted from the shoot down…..and they have conducted numerous false flag attacks previously…..there is a very strong probability there is a coverup being conducted.

There is a very strong probability that the new Kiev coup government shot down MH-17 and killed all those innocent people……including 80 children. The links below prove they have been killing innocent civilians for the last 6 months. The links also prove the American media has lied and covered up much of what has been going on.

The evidence is overwhelming the American people are being lied to and that Russia is being framed for what the US implemented in Ukraine. Note that the US has claimed they have satellite surveillance footage of the BUK missile that shot down the plane….yet they have never shown it. Note that they claim Russia has invaded 5 times yet they have never proven it. Note that no matter what Russia does they still get sanctioned. Note that there is the possibility that there are parts of victims bodies under these large parts of unmoved plane wreckage yet the wreckage still just sits there even though it is easily possible to access the site and conduct a proper investigation.

Even Conan Doyle would wonder “why is it that a party who is a suspect in a criminal investigation of a mass atrocity, is given a completely free pass, and a say, in whether the investigation related to themselves and an additional party is released to the public. The Dutch Safety Board and the British authorities are working in collaboration with Kiev even though it is a proven fact that Kiev, themselves, lied about their own BUK missile systems in the conflict/shoot-down zone. They were filmed with BUK systems near Slavyansk on July 4th by the Associated Press. Links here: Note that the rebels have no planes. therefore the Ukrainian military would have no normal need for these BUKs…..unless, of course, they intended to shoot down a plane.

Verifiable AP links here:
and here:

Multiple threads proving Kiev are Nazis (backed up by mainstream US media news websites) and multiple videos of Nazi atrocities they have conducted including numerous false flag attacks:

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The Ukrainian Crisis in Totality- February thru September – Extensive video evidence related to all major atrocities, false flags and coverups conducted by the Kiev regime against innocent civilians.

Ukraines grassy knoll (Graphic) evidence police weren’t the only snipers.

The Odessa Massacre – May 11th referendum

Odessa victims/walkthrough

The Mariupol Massacre- video evidence clearly shows US supported troops killed innocent civilians

Bombing of civilians in Slavyansk

Odessa one month later

Lughansk bombing

Krasny Liman

Mariupol one month later

Continued bombing of civilians of Slavyansk

Killing of civilians by US financed nazis

Where is the US anti-war left on Ukraine?

The US backed Ukrainian nazis killing in HD.

Malaysia Airlines MH-17

Shocking revelations about MH-17 shoot down

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The US media wall of coverup and deception of the Ukraine crisis is breaking down.

Ukrainian TV channel financed by US openly calls for genocide of the people of east Ukraine.

Telegraph UK- Ukraine crisis: the neo-nazi brigade fighting pro-Russian separatists -Graphic Warning

The Ukrainian army marches in Kiev

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View NFL Player Crimes in Interactive Graphical Form

By: spocko Friday September 19, 2014 2:23 pm

Can’t keep track of which NFL player has committed what crime? Want to avoid filling in your Fantasy Football League with past or current domestic violence felons?

Sort by your favorite team, crime or position!

Here’s a nifty website (Link) that takes the data from USA Today’s updated arrest list and lets you sort and display the info by crime, team or position.

Note: No commissioners, NFL staff or team owners are on the list.

Think Goodell should resign? Ultraviolet petition here.