Transition Technologist meeting notes 17 April 2014

Transition Town - 38 min 21 sec ago

Ttech meet 17/04/14
13:00 - 17:00


Ed: edit procurement principles google doc
ALL create invoices for meeting to cover 4 hours meeting and travel cost (Ben include mileage, Chris train ticket) and send to Ed with TNv3 budget reference
Ed: create new TRAC milestone TNv3
Ed: create new TRAC ticket: ‘meetings’ in milestone TNv3
Ed: follow up use case project management tool

Check in
Set agenda and times

Updates for 2014/15
- TN strategy
- Web strategy
- TNv3
- Budgets - maintenance, hosting, IT, development
- People

Web Architects
Chris: Sole full time worker in co-op
Alan - deeper tech 1 day per week and evenings
Jonathan and Adam: 1 day per week each
Sheffield data centre powered by Good Energy
Partnership with Iceland Organisation
WA got big earlier - then hiatus with some management issues
Been a co-op for 3 years
Turnover low - paying selves on UK living wage
Jan/Feb very bad - no payments
March onwards - now paying selves
Want to be able to invest in own infrastructure
Lot of shared hosting: VS loses money
Hourly sys admin: makes money
Plan for next six months:
- merged with eco-host - been quite expensive - lots more clients but not much more work
- Chris needs more hourly paid sys ad work - happier at SSH and command line
- Child rights: 40 hours of setting up web hosting
Also host lots of activist and radical sites
AGM in a month or so - consider the business model (hosting vs services)

Fixtheweb: big migration D6-7
Smaller clients
Likes bigger clients
General - since working on TN -
- much more comfortable using github and version control repository
 is using features, drush, running up quick sites
- better more systematic workflows
- holding three separate sites on github
- 1 code,
- 1 migration, design, playing with ideas
- 1 content

Home educating dad - flexibility is a priority - 2-3 days a week working max

SPAN: Drupal6 site support and maintain
TN: support 2 days per week
Really want to start a tree nursery - ideal
3 days per week computer work
2 days per week non-computer work


Procurement principles
- discussed and google doc annotated
- All really like the open nature of working (TRAC particularly)
ACTION: Ed to edit procurement principles google doc

Lead Developer
- process discussed and agreed
- group happy for Ed to decide on shortlist, and take part in one group interview

Lead Developer process
- w/c 21/4: shortlist
- w/c 28/4: contact suitable devs to proceed
- w/c 5/5: code sample, favourite piece of own documentation, website example for other tech to look at
- w/c 12/5 and 19/5: Skype interview Dev with Ed + programmer + staff member (?)
- w/c 26/5: Group Skype with Ttechs
- 29/5: Decision

Group Skype conversation rough agenda
- introduction
- things they’ve done
- code management topic
- what’s their best bit of documentation
- direction of drupal and fashions - what are the next big steps for drupal (e.g. using views and rules, or CRM?)

- big picture drawn up with mind map
- lots of sucking of teeth
- big question around CRM: can we do this with Drupal or do we need CRM?
- Group happy to contract to a CRM consultant to assist with decision (with question: do we *need* it?)
- other conversations
- all Agreed the lead developer needs to be part of the discussions
- All Agreed: two more meetings: 1 introductory - 1 hackathon group f2f meet for TNv3 devs

Hosting Software and processes
- BOA unpopular! Suitable for businesses with many many small VS, whereas Tn is one big one (albeit with some IIRS installations)
- Maintenance has been very expensive - been a lot of work to de-mystify it, and each update
- Very likely to give BOA up; conversations to proceed with lead developer

Code management software and processes
- Aegir is unpopular!
- All would prefer to use drush and git alone without Aegir
- All happy to re-consider process - discussions also ongoing with Paul on emails
- Code management process and tools to be discussed with lead developer
- Very likely to give Aegir up

Next steps
Choose a developer using the process we’ve agreed
Discuss web hosting software and code management with lead developer
BOA (and aegir) hasn’t been efficacious in our context - has actually over-complicated our lives without any obvious benefits
Next Ttech meets:
1. management
2. hackathon
receipts: Chris. email statement with mileage from Ben.
4 hours for all
New milestone TRAC: TNv3
ALL add time for meeting to new TRAC ticket: meetings (TNv3)
Ed follow up use case based project management tool - something that is openly available
Ed tidy up procurement document

About the author

Ed is the Web and Communications Manager for Transition Network.

He lives in Dorchester, likes digging and climbing, growing vegetables and reading, bicycles and books, swimming, camping and generally being outdoors.

Categories: Seriously

Net Neutrality Dead For Good? FCC May Endorse Pay-For-Play Deals

The Media Channel - 2 hours 17 min ago
By Jon Brodkin via Ars Technica FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler confirmed today that proposed rules to replace the net neutrality regulations struck down by a court decision are on track for an FCC vote on May 15. Wheeler didn’t detail exactly what those rules would be, but The Wall Street Journal says it has a source [...]
Categories: Seriously

Paper Produced by San Quentin Inmates Looking to Grow

The Media Channel - 2 hours 27 min ago
By Katherine Seligman via Sacramento Bee From a small trailer near an exercise yard full of honking geese, the men of the San Quentin News put out a paper they hope will reach beyond the gates of the prison where many of them are serving life sentences. “We’ve been given a chance to be the [...]
Categories: Seriously

The Hamid Mir Case: ‘In Pakistan, They Used to Censor Journalists – Now They Shoot Us’

The Media Channel - 2 hours 37 min ago
By Mohammed Hanif via Guardian More than a hundred bouquets line the lobby of the private ward of Karachi’s posh, private Aga Khan Hospital. Outside, dozens of policemen with bulletproof vests and automatic weapons look at every visitor suspiciously, officers speaking urgently into their walkie-talkies. The Karachi police force is really good at strutting about [...]
Categories: Seriously

Conversation With James Risen: Can Journalists Protect Their National Security Sources?

The Media Channel - 2 hours 43 min ago
By Dina Rasor via Truthout The New York Times reporter James Risen is in a waiting game with the Department of Justice and the Supreme Court, and the fate of a journalist’s right to protect sources lies in the balance. Will his case be the watershed for journalists to have the right to protect their [...]
Categories: Seriously

Katrina Brown on resilience, impact and learning

Transition Town - 3 hours 20 min ago

Katrina Brown is a Professor of Social Sciences based at the Environment and Sustainability Institute at Exeter University. The three key themes her research centres on are Resilience, Vulnerability and Development, Dynamics of Change in Coastal Social Ecological-Systems and People, Poverty and Carbon.  As someone who has published papers about community resilience, I was interested, in the context of this month's theme, in her thoughts on impact, resilience, and how we might measure it.   

So, Kate,you’re in a lift and you’ve got three floors to explain what resilience is.  What’s your resilience 'elevator pitch'?

Resilience is about the capacity of a system to be able to respond to change. That might be an ecological system, it might be a social ecological system. The way in which I understand resilience is applied to a social ecological system, so to an integrated system. Resilience covers not only the ability to be able to persist and to bounce back after even extreme events or sudden shocks, but it’s also the ability to learn from and respond and bounce back better, to positively develop in response to a whole range of different changes, some of which might be slow onset changes, background drivers, large-scale drivers, but within the context of a range of different changes.

You note in a recent paper that there is a sharp increase in interest in resilience among social scientists. Why is that? What does resilience add to previous debates do you think?

I think that resilience is helpful because it enables us to look more holistically at systems, integrated social ecological systems, and it enables us to consider the impacts of a range of different types of changes, and to consider those in conditions where the future is highly uncertain. It’s part of this consciousness of living in uncertain and risky times, and I think that resilience is a very helpful concept for understanding change and our societal and environmental responses to change within that context.

Does resilience deepen or undermine the concept of sustainable development?

It can probably do either. For me, I find resilience a very useful concept in thinking about sustainability. It contributes towards my reflections and understanding of sustainability because I think that it puts change within this broader context of thinking about sustainable development, about progress or whatever. It’s a really helpful underpinning concept that can contribute towards an understanding of sustainability.

You write in one of the papers that you sent that “resilience centralises climate change as the defining feature of local government and governance.” But are we also seeing resilience, do you think, being used increasingly as a tool by climate sceptics? After the floods the term resilience seems increasingly being used as a way to reinforce business as usual rather than to question it.

Certainly that’s a finding from my own research as well. I think resilience as a concept can be used and applied in many different ways. We saw similar things with sustainable development. There is this aspect of resilience which is used in a very conservative way. It’s used or interpreted as means of staying the same, of resisting change.  There is that aspect to resilience which is about actually resisting change. There is this very different tension to resisting ideas around resilience which for me, as an academic, make it all the more interesting.

But it means that as a concept it is very widely adopted and applied in a whole range of different settings and by a whole range of different people from social movements like the Transition movement to state agencies when we’re talking to responses to flooding and building resilience. So yes, resilience is used in many different contexts and in many different ways by lots of different people.

This month we’re looking at impact and measurement for Transition. You wrote that “there has been a shift away from the notion that the central concepts of adaptive capacity, resilience and wellbeing can be objectively measured by a set of quantifiable indicators to a much more nuanced view that understands them as comprising subjective relational as well as objective aspects.” What do you mean by that and what are your thoughts on how Transition initiatives can measure whether their work is or isn’t making their community more resilient?

There’s always a tendency to try and reduce these concepts like vulnerability, adaptive capacity and resilience to a set of straightforward objective measurable indicators. But actually a lot of the literature and a lot of the research shows that there’s a whole set of subjective dimensions to resilience or vulnerability. So actually how a person feels about their own capacity and their own abilities, their own efficacy, which are hugely important in determining how they might be able to respond, and that also translates to a community scale as well and to a collective scale. We always should be looking across the objective and the subjective aspects in trying to assess how resilient a community or how resilient a society or a system might be.

I suppose some things like Transition would be coming at resilience from a mitigation perspective, seeing resilience as a tool for mitigation whereas it’s all too increasingly seen as an adaptation tool. How do you see that balance between mitigation and adaptation in terms of climate and resilience?

Both are extremely important and I think that resilience applies just as well to thinking about how we build capacity to adapt as to how we build capacity to mitigate. The way that we think of resilience as a concept applies to both. If we start looking at resilience as a much more proactive capacity, to be able to self organise, to learn and to actually develop in a more sustainable way then it becomes a really key concept in thinking about mitigation.

I wonder from your perspective, as somebody who studies the field of community resilience, what’s your sense of the impact that Transition and the way that it interprets and works with the idea of resilience has had over the last 7 or 8 years?

I can’t talk that specifically about the Transition movement as it’s not my area of expertise, but from what I know about the Transition movement, in terms of some of these core capacities that you might think of as having been developed, around the capacity to self-organise, around building social capital in different ways, this idea about doing stuff together which builds a whole set of capacities at a community scale, I think those are really important.

How that then feeds into building competencies around community action, around building these sort of reflexive and problem solving skills that might happen as a result of doing stuff together. And then I suppose building a set of capacities which are about co-creating collectively a vision of the future and setting that within a context of a political strategy would be the things that I would have thought would be really important and the kinds of areas where you could identify impact within the Transition movement.

You’ve written about how mainstream resilience thinking often places the emphasis on individual responsibility for coping, that actually the lack of resilience is somehow your inability to cope and seeing it in the context of how we contribute to economic success rather than social wellbeing. You talk about shifting the emphasis from positive adaptation despite adversity to positive adaptation to adversity. What’s your sense of that in terms of the social justice aspects and inclusion aspects around resilience?

This is an area that’s really starting to come to the fore in debates around resilience. It’s an area which, from the academic and scientific perspective is only just starting to be integrated and there’s a lot of debate around how do we understand the dynamics within resilience, for example.

When we start looking beyond these individual capacities and thinking about resilience as something that is vested, a characteristic of an individual to actually this much more dynamic view of collective and community resilience, then all of these issues to do with whose resilience, whose voice, who defines resilience, who defines these visions for the future become incredibly important. Then of course we come back to real core social science ideas, as you say around social justice, around inclusion, participation and so on.

My own background is in international development and I think there’s really important research and track record of findings from international development which has looked at these issues which we have to now start integrating into our understanding of resilience. It’s an under-researched area but of course it’s an area of paramount importance.

In one of your papers you ask the question “how much adversity should resilient individuals endure before social arrangements rather than individuals are targeted for intervention?” What are your thoughts on that?

There are two aspects to that. The first is an issue that you alluded to in an earlier question, which is this idea that resilience can be used in this very conservative sense and in a way it can be used to say – well individuals are very resilient, and it can be seen as part of the retreat of the state and responsibility for supporting individuals and communities after particular events. There’s that sort of danger and there’s quite a lot of writing in the community psychology literature which talks about the dangers that are inherent in resilience thinking in that respect.

But secondly, there’s again this tension between how we understand the role of structural elements in supporting resilience, either in individuals or communities compared to the individual’s characteristics. It’s that debate about structure in agency really which is part of an ongoing discussion within the social sciences which is how can resilience be supported and enhanced through external infrastructure, external interventions, compared to how much is it built through individuals’ capacities. So I think that there’s an important tension and discussion around that. How much is resilience the responsibility of governments or other agencies, compared to how much does it have to come from within communities and individuals?

You mentioned earlier on about how one of the aspects of resilience is about learning and the ability to learn and reflect in that way. What’s your sense of, as somebody who works in higher education, of what our education system designed to produce people with the best skills for resilience would look like? Does it look like it looks like today or what would our education system look like if it produced individuals and professionals who were a resilient and grounded in resilience as they could be?

That’s a hugely challenging question. One of the key issues for me as somebody who works in the university system is how we get our students engaged with the real world and engaged with the communities within which they live and the communities within which our universities exist. It’s something that our institute in Cornwall, the Environment and Sustainability Institute is trying really hard to do, is to form much more meaningful partnerships in a whole range of stakeholders in the community in which we exist, so that our research can actually speak more directly to the needs of stakeholders.

Our students can work alongside and in partnership with our stakeholders within the community. I think that’s extremely important.  It’s important in terms of how our research can actually address real-life issues, it’s important in terms of how we understand ourselves not only as educators but as citizens and I think that it’s also incredibly important for enhancing the experience that our students get out of their studies.

The important thing for me is to think about resilience as this multi-dimensional concept which is used by many different people which has opportunities within it, and which can be used, as the Transition movement is using it, in this radical and very dynamic sense as opposed to the conservative, the staying the same, the persisting sense in which it’s very often applied more popularly. 

Categories: Seriously

NRC extends post-Fukushima fix deadline for Limerick nuclear plant

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 23:08

NRC extends post-Fukushima fix deadline for Limerick nuclear plant 23 Apr 2014 (PA) The Exelon nuclear plant has been given two more years to make a crucial upgrade to the reactor buildings intended to prevent explosions like those that occurred during the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. In March 2012, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission ordered the Limerick Generating Station to take a number of steps designed to prevent the building-up of explosive gas in the reactor containment building...On Feb. 26, Exelon wrote to the NRC and asked for a two-year extension on the deadlines for installing the new safeguards in each of its two reactors. On April 14, the NRC informed Exelon that its request for an extension had been granted.

Categories: Seriously

F.B.I. Informant Is Tied to Cyberattacks Abroad

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 22:29

F.B.I. Informant Is Tied to Cyberattacks Abroad --Attacks were coordinated by snitch Hector Xavier Monsegur, aka Sabu 24 Apr 2014 An informant working for the F.B.I. coordinated a 2012 campaign of hundreds of cyberattacks on foreign websites, including some operated by the governments of Iran, Syria, Brazil and Pakistan, according to documents and interviews with people involved in the attacks. Exploiting a vulnerability in a popular web hosting software, the informant directed at least one hacker to extract vast amounts of data from the government servers of a number of countries and upload it to a server monitored by the F.B.I., according to court statements. The details of the 2012 episode have, until now, been kept largely a secret in closed sessions of a federal court in New York and heavily redacted documents.

Categories: Seriously

You say paella, I say prostitution

Global Post - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 21:19
Categories: Seriously

Saudi Arabia Sees 11 New MERS Cases as Virus Sweeps to Mecca

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 19:53

Saudi Arabia Sees 11 New MERS Cases as Virus Sweeps to Mecca 23 Apr 2014 Saudi Arabia reported another 11 cases of a potentially deadly respiratory virus, including the first in the Muslim holy city of Mecca. Six of the people to have newly contracted Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, were in Jeddah, the kingdom's largest city, with another four in the capital, Riyadh, and one in Mecca, according to a health ministry statement. That brings the total number of cases in the country to 272.

Categories: Seriously

Only With Political Will Can We Avoid The Worst Of Climate Change

de Smog blog - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 19:00

This is a guest post by David Suzuki.

It’s fitting that the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report was released during Earth Month. After all, the third chapter of its Fifth Assessment focuses on ways to keep our planet healthy and livable by warding off extreme climatic shifts and weather events caused by escalating atmospheric carbon.

Doing so will require substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions – 40 to 70 per cent by 2050 and to near-zero by the end of the century. We must also protect carbon “sinks” such as forests and wetlands and find ways to store or bury carbon. The good news is that weaning ourselves off fossil fuels, conserving energy and shifting to cleaner sources comes with economic and quality-of-life benefits.

“There is a clear message from science: To avoid dangerous interference with the climate system, we need to move away from business as usual,” said economist Ottmar Edenhofer, co-chair of Working Group III, which produced the chapter.

Doing nothing isn’t an option. That would lead to a significant increase in global average temperatures and extreme weather-related events such as storms, droughts and floods, wreaking havoc on our food systems, communities and the natural environment we depend on for our health and survival. Technological measures and behavioural change could limit global mean temperatures to less than 2 C above pre-industrial levels, but only with “major institutional and technological change.”

Because we’ve stalled so long, thanks largely to deceptive campaigns run by a small but powerful group of entrenched fossil fuel industry interests and the intransigence of some short-sighted governments, we must also consider ways to adapt to climate change that’s already occurring and that we can’t stop.

Although carbon emissions are rising faster than efforts to curtail them, there are glimmers of hope. A growing number of networks – including cities, states, regions and even markets – are working together to implement climate plans. And costs of renewable energy, such as solar and wind, are falling so quickly that large-scale deployment is practical. Putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions through carbon taxes or other methods is one critical way to shift investment from fossil fuels to renewables.

Carbon-intensive fossil fuel economies will suffer as renewable energy technologies mature – especially those relying heavily on coal and unconventional oil such as bitumen from tar sands. Canada’s choice: take advantage of the growing worldwide demand for clean energy technology, transit infrastructure and sustainable building techniques or continue to focus on selling our non-renewable resources at bargain-basement prices until climate and food-system destabilization swamps global markets and the world rejects Canada’s high-carbon fuels.

The IPCC found responsibly addressing climate change by pricing carbon and making needed investments is affordable: ambitious mitigation would reduce economic growth by just .06 per cent a year. That’s not taking into account the many economic benefits of reducing climate change – from less spending on health and disease to reduced traffic congestion and increased activity in the clean-energy sector. Considering the costs and losses climate change and extreme weather impose on our cities, communities and food systems, we can’t afford not to act.

A clean energy revolution is already underway and, as the world comes to grips with the need to change, it will inevitably spread. As Canadians, we can choose to join or remain stuck in the past. Tackling global warming will require all nations to get on board. That’s because greenhouse gases accumulate and spill over national boundaries. And, according to the IPCC, “International cooperation can play a constructive role in the development, diffusion and transfer of knowledge and environmentally sound technologies.”

As a policy-neutral scientific and socioeconomic organization, the IPCC doesn’t make specific recommendations, but it reviews the available science and spells out in clear, albeit technical, terms that if we fail to act, the costs and losses to our homes, food systems and human security will only get worse.

It’s been seven years since the fourth assessment report in 2007. We can’t wait another seven to resolve this crisis. As nations gear up to for the 21st climate summit in Paris in late 2015, where the world’s governments have pledged to reach a universal legal climate agreement, international co-operation is needed more than ever. Let’s urge our government to play a constructive role in this critical process.

With contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Senior Editor Ian Hanington.

Learn more at

Image credit: Global warming impacts nature via Shutterstock.

Tags: IPCCclimate changeextreme weather
Categories: Seriously

FCC Makes Mockery Of Net Neutrality With Proposal To Allow Internet “Fast Lanes”

Consumerist - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 18:47


Recently installed FCC Chair Tom Wheeler apparently has no interest in actual net neutrality, as the new rules he’s proposing this week allow for Internet service providers to create so-called “fast lanes” for content companies willing to pay extra to more reliably deliver their data to the end-user.

The original neutrality rules — which were gutted by a federal appeals court earlier this year, not because they were bad but because of a nitpicky classification oversight made by an FCC in the ages of dial-ip — prevented ISPs from either crippling or prioritizing users’ access to content. These companies were to simply be conduits that carried data back and forth as quickly and efficiently as they could without regard to its source.

That’s why it was called “net neutrality.”

But according to multiple news reports, Chairman Wheeler’s new proposal won’t simply correct the classification error that allowed Verizon to successfully challenge the old Open Internet rules. The draft he’ll be passing around the FCC office on Thursday reportedly keeps the “no crippling” aspect of the former guidelines, but does away with the “no prioritization” part, meaning Verizon, Time Warner Cable, Charter, AT&T, Charter, etc. can all decide that companies wanting quality access will have to pay for it.

[It's worth noting that Comcast will presumably not be able to partake in this money-minting new development, as it is legally bound to abide by the old neutrality rules through 2018 (though honestly, we wouldn't be surprised at this point if Wheeler gave Kabletown a pass).]

So why is this fast lane news such a bad deal?

Here are three reasons that quickly come to mind:

1. No Incentive To Improve Service
Right now, ISPs are racing to keep up with the growing popularity of bandwidth-heavy content, not just from Netflix, but from every pay-TV operator, Amazon, Google, Apple, countless smaller streaming services, online gaming, video teleconferencing, audio streaming, and more. But adding a fast lane takes away much of the incentive to make future innovations available to consumers at large.

The idea of net neutrality meant that ISPs are motivated to provide the best service for as many customers and content providers as possible. But if there is big money to be made off of deep-pocketed media companies trying to outperform each other online, that’s where the focus will go.

If fast lanes are approved, those content companies unwilling or unable to pay extra for improved delivery will be stuck with the status quo, while those who can part with the cash will see the benefits that everyone would have enjoyed had true neutrality been established.

2. The Fight Is Fixed
Compared to many other industries, the cost for entry into the various online markets is relatively affordable — and that level-ish playing field has resulted in numerous risky and visionary online ventures that have offered consumers choice and value.

But fast lanes will now allow ISPs to determine the price startups must pay if they want to reach consumers. It turns ISPs from the providers of neutral pipelines to the arbiters who which companies succeed and which go under.

“The FCC is inviting ISPs to pick winners and losers online,” writes Michael Weinberg of Public Knowledge. “This is not net neutrality. This standard allows ISPs to impose a new price of entry for innovation on the Internet.”

3. You’ll Pay The Price
The most commonly heard refrain from supporters of fast lanes is that bandwidth-heavy content companies should be the ones who foot the bill. That’s like a supermarket telling the maker of a popular brand of potato chips that it needs to help pay the store’s employees because they’re always having to re-stock the shelves.

The fast lanes attempt to put lipstick on this pig by saying “We’re not forcing anyone to do this… These companies are voluntarily paying for the improved content delivery.”

Sadly, there are numerous analogs to this notion in supermarkets and almost every other retail operation. A food company will pay for prime placement on the shelves, or for an end-cap placement to stand out from the rest of the stuff in the crowded aisles. That’s one of the reasons these products cost more, because that additional cost just gets added to the price you pay at the cash register.

But while consumers have options if they want potato chips but don’t want to pay for the expensive brands, that’s not the case with online services.

Most consumers have little to no say in who the get their wired broadband service from, so that’s one choice that’s out the window. And though there are a growing number of streaming video services, only those willing to pay for fast lane service will be able to survive, meaning even fewer choices.

And even if your ISP doesn’t charge for fast lane service, if a large ISP begins demanding more money from content providers, those companies will then pass on that extra cost to all cost.

So say Amazon begins paying Verizon more money to get in the fast lane, but doesn’t make a deal with Comcast. If Amazon has to raise its prices (or cut its selection) to afford this additional cost, Comcast customers would be negatively impacted even though their ISP didn’t charge fast lane rates.

It’s important to note that Wheeler’s proposal is just the beginning of the process. Even if the full FCC gives if the thumbs-up, there will still be a public comment period, during which you can be sure we’ll remind you to make your voices heard.

FCC to Propose New ‘Net Neutrality’ Rules [WSJ]
In Policy Shift, F.C.C. Will Allow A Web Fast Lane [NY Times]

Categories: Seriously

'Net Neutrality' Overturned by FCC in Cave-in to Cable Lobbyists

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 16:50

'Net Neutrality' Overturned by FCC in Cave-in to Cable Lobbyists --One top cable executive said, 'I have to say, I'm pleased.' 23 Apr 2014 Regulators are proposing new rules on Internet traffic that would allow broadband providers to charge companies [and, in turn, consumers] a premium for access to their fastest lanes [and slow delivery of items such as the CLG Newsletter]. The Federal Communications Commission plans to put forth its new rules on Thursday. The proposal marks the FCC's third attempt at enforcing "net neutrality"--the concept that all Internet traffic should be treated equally. Net neutrality was a key part of President Barack Obama's campaign platform in 2008. [Yes, *once again,* corporatist, warmonger, and complete and utter *fraud* Barack Obama caved to his Wall Street overlords. Start reading.]

Categories: Seriously

Barnett Shale Fracking Victims Win First Round in Court Battle with Gas Industry

de Smog blog - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:07

Legal tremors are reverberating in the Barnett Shale region in Texas after yesterday's $2.925 million dollar verdict in favor of the plaintiffs Bob and Lisa Parr, who sued Aruba Petroleum for damages to their health and the devaluation of their home in a fracking nuisance case.

Earthworks energy program director Bruce Baizel stated in a press release that the jury’s decision is important for two reasons:

“When evidence of fracking’s impacts are shown to an impartial jury in a court of law, they find them to be real and significant. And it shows why the fracking industry is reluctant to allow lawsuits of this type to go to trial. Instead fracking companies try to force out of court settlements that gag the harmed family as a condition for financial compensation. They almost always succeed, hiding from the public the proof of fracking’s dangers. Consequently, industry and government continue claiming fracking is harmless. We hope this lawsuit will make regulators, in Texas and around the country, reexamine their assumptions about fracking’s dangers, and their responsibility to keep the public safe.”

The Parrs were part of an Earthworks' study entitled “Natural Gas Flowback: The Dark Side of the Boom.” The study complied data on the health effects of hydraulic fracking and gas industry activities in the Barnett Shale.

According to the report, Lisa Parr's blood and lungs were tested by Dr. William Rae of the Environmental Health Center in Dallas. The report states that Dr. Rae “found more than 20 chemicals, including six that matched the VOCs detected by TCEQ’s air sampling of the well site.”

The Parrs’ neighbors, the Ruggieros, also had to deal with the health consequences and nuisances caused by Aruba Petroleum’s operations including noise and air pollution. They settled and signed a confidentiality agreement. Though Tim Ruggiero doesn't discuss the settlement or Aruba Petroleum, he wrote a personal essay, “Leaving Gasland,” concluding that for him “Leaving Gasland is not winning, it’s merely an end to losing.”

Aruba Petroleum released a statement to ThinkProgress today stating, “The facts of the case and the law as applied to those facts do not support the verdict,” and that “Aruba is an experienced oil and gas operator that is in compliance within the air quality limits set by the Texas Railroad Commission and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.”  

The Parr case has already started to redefine what winning can look like, even though Aruba Petroleum is likely to appeal.

“We hope this lawsuit will make regulators, in Texas and around the country, reexamine their assumptions about fracking’s dangers, and their responsibility to keep the public safe,” Baizel says.

Here is a slide show of images taken in the Barnett Shale region in Texas.

Photos of Barnett Shale Fracking

Fort Worth, Texas. Chesapeake Energy industrial site in the Barnett Shale ©2013 Julie Dermansky

A tank used in natural gas production in Rhomes, Texas, in the Shale Creek community ©2013 Julie Dermansky

Cows graze in front of an Energy Transfer Company site in Hood County. ©2013 Julie Dermansky

Steven Lipsky stands next to his water well in Weatherford, Texas. ©2013 Julie Dermansky

Shelly Perdue holds up contaminated water in her Granbury, Texas, kitchen. Her home is across the street from a Range Resources fracking site. ©2014 Julie Dermansky

Earthworks Texas watchdog Sharon WIlson standing next to a gas vent on Steven Lipsky’s well in Weatherford Texas. ©2014 Julie Dermansky

In Denton, Texas, residents live with drilling activity at well pads as close as 200 feet from homes. ©2013 Julie Dermansky

Frack pond in Denton, Texas. ©2013 Julie Dermansky

Smoke rises during flowback at an EagleRidge hydraulic fracturing site that is approximately 200 feet from a housing development in Denton, TX. ©2014 Julie Dermansky

Chemicals at an EagleRidge fracking site across the street from the University of North Texas’ Apogee Stadium in Denton, Texas. ©2014 Julie Dermansky

One of the wastewater injection wells thought to be the cause of earthquakes in and around Azle, Texas. ©2014 Julie Dermansky

Cracked wall in Joretta Lanier’s living room in Azle, Texas. ©2014 Julie Dermansky

Crack in Barbara Brown’s porch in Reno, Texas that developed after one of the earthquakes that have rattled the area since injection wells started operations.

Barbara Brown with medications she takes for health problems developed after fracking intensified near her Reno, Texas home. She lives less than a mile from a fracking site and a wastewater disposal site. Her home has been damaged by an earthquake swarm that started rattling the ground in November, 2013, shortly after the disposal plant began operation. ©2014 Julie Dermansky

Visitors at the Ross Perot Museum in a hall about the energy industry, funded by Dallas oil and gas companies. ©2014 Julie Dermansky

Read more: Photos of Barnett Shale Fracking Tags: frackingBob and Lisa Parraruba petroleum incfracking lawsuitBarnett Shale
Categories: Seriously

Pour Out A Bottle Of Ketchup For 40,000 Pounds Of Fries Destroyed In Fire

Consumerist - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 13:59

(Waterville Fire Department)

These fries are a little overcooked. In a Walmart parking lot in Maine on Tuesday evening, a tractor-trailer carrying 40,000 pounds of frozen Burger King French fries caught fire. destroying the cargo, the truck, and the dreams of the fast food-loving people of New Jersey.

The spuds were on their way from New Brunswick, Canada to New Jersey, where they would ultimately be served up in Burger King restaurants. The local fire chief told reporters that the vehicle’s brakes appear to have overheated, causing the fire.

No one was injured in the tater blaze, but the driver was too embarrassed to identify himself to the media.

Truck carrying 40,000 pounds of french fries catches fire in Maine [WMUR] (Thanks, Peg!)

Categories: Seriously

Gillette Wants To Sell You A Fancy New Razor That Works With Older Blades

Consumerist - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 13:47

The Gillette business model is now a legend selling an item inexpensively or giving it away for free, then selling customers a more profitable item that they need to keep that item going. Think of razors and disposable blades, inkjet printers and cartridges, or free mobile phones tied to long service contracts. Now Gillette is changing its time-honored business model a little, and selling the FlexBall razor, which accepts a variety of blade cartridges.

Maybe it says a lot about how silly the blade arms race has been that critics consider it an innovation when a major razor brand introduces a product that’s backwards-compatible to an older type of razor sold by that same company.

Anyway, the razor hits stores next Wednesday. Nobody will be lining up at midnight to buy it. The design is innovative: it pivots on a roller ball, sort of like a Dyson vacuum cleaner. Maybe people will like that. Will they pay a premium price to give it a try? By focusing on the razor itself instead of more or less giving away the razor and focusing on the blades, Gillette is gambling here.

Maybe this is a first step toward unlocked, platform-agnostic razors that accept plastic blades from any other brand. Or maybe the big brands feel like they need something more advanced in order to compete with the Dollar Shave Clubs of the world: indeed, Gillette does have its own blade subscription service. Gillette’s personal-grooming brands aren’t doing well for the first time in years, and it isn’t just because beards have come back in style.

Why Gillette’s New Razor Is Good for Procter & Gamble [Bloomberg BusinessWeek]
Gillette’s New Weapon in Razor Arms Race [Wall Street Journal]

Categories: Seriously

U.S. soldier convicted in WikiLeaks case granted name change

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 13:07

U.S. soldier convicted in WikiLeaks case granted name change 23 Apr 2014 Former U.S. soldier Bradley Manning, who is serving 35 years in prison for turning over classified files to WikiLeaks, can exchange the name Bradley for Chelsea to reflect her desire to be treated as a woman, a judge in Kansas ruled on Wednesday. Manning's name is legally changed to Chelsea Elizabeth Manning, according to the decision handed down by Leavenworth County District Judge David King. Manning will be issued a new birth certificate to reflect the name change.

Categories: Seriously

This DIY Mustard Caddy Won’t Change Your Life, But It Will Keep The Mustard Flowing

Consumerist - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 13:00

Look at that awful mess that needs organizing! (Alton Brown on YouTube)

I’m going to play it to you straight — this is not one of those cases where it’s like, Read This Post And Your Life Will Forever Be Changed By What Happens because I don’t think easily squirted mustard falls under that kind of description. But still, getting sauces flowing when you need them? Super handy.

Generally awesome food guy Alton Brown has a dramatic reimagining (I can only hope, because otherwise it’s crazy how prepared his camera crew was) of how he came to conquer unsquirtable mustards.

If you don’t want to watch the entire two minutes of intensely acted refrigerator revelations, it’s simple: Take an egg carton (remove eggs first, obviously) and cut off the top, leaving only the scooped out egg cradles.

Set that in your fridge door’s shelf and stand various mustards or other condiments upright in it and voila — the next time you need a squirt it won’t be such a chore. My mind isn’t blown and my life has remained fairly the same since this knowledge was first revealed to me, but I am jonesing for a hot dog.

Categories: Seriously

But What About Beer? A FAQ on drug consumption at common activist spaces

Info Shop - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 12:31

This zine was written because we felt that it might be important for people who have not encountered these issues before to have the opportunity...

Categories: Seriously


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