Matt Vespa - Study: Fracking Doesn’t Mess With Your Drinking Water
Posted: 3/31/2015 9:05:00 PM EST

Let the word go forth that fracking does not mess with your drinking water. In a new study of over 11,000 drinking wells, fracking wasn’t considered the reason for water contamination through methane creeping into the wells. At the same time, Science magazine noted that the authors of the new study are still disputing the validity of the results (via Science Magazine):

The new study of 11,309 drinking water wells in northeastern Pennsylvania concludes that background levels of methane in the water are unrelated to the location of hundreds of oil and gas wells that tap hydraulically fractured, or fracked, rock formations. The finding suggests that fracking operations are not significantly contributing to the leakage of methane from deep rock formations, where oil and gas are extracted, up to the shallower aquifers where well water is drawn.

The result also calls into question prominent studies in 2011 and 2013 that did find a correlation in a nearby part of Pennsylvania. There, wells closer to fracking sites had higher levels of methane. Those studies, however, were based on just 60 and 141 domestic well samples, respectively.

“I would argue that [more than] 10,000 data points really tell a better story,” says hydrogeologist Donald Siegel of Syracuse University in New York, whose team published the new study online this month in Environmental Science & Technology. Chesapeake Energy Corp., which has large oil and gas stakes in Pennsylvania, supplied the researchers with the database, the largest of its kind, and also funded the work.

For all their disagreements, scientists on both sides of the fracking debate agree that it is very unlikely that microfracturing of rock formation itself contributes to the vertical migration of gases. The problem, they say, is with a minority of badly cased or cemented wells—they just disagree on how often this occurs. Siegel cites a 2014 study that found that just 0.24% of the thousands of wells in northeast Pennsylvania were ever given violation notices related to the migration of methane into groundwater. But Anthony Ingraffea, a civil engineer at Cornell University who is alarmed by the risks of fracking, says those violation notices are just the tip of the iceberg. He points to a study he led, published in PNAS [Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences] in 2014, which found that 9% of unconventional wells drilled in northeast Pennsylvania since 2009 already have structural integrity issues. That problem will grow, he says, as wells age, and as tens of thousands of new wells are bored. “We’re just at the beginning,” Ingraffea says.

So, it appears that the issue surrounding methane contamination of drinking wells mostly rests on poor construction of the well:

Siegel doesn’t deny that there have been problems with a few wells with poorly engineered steel casings or cracked and degraded cement walls designed to keep the boreholes from leaking. Such defective borehole walls can provide a conduit for the methane to move from the shale formation, more than a kilometer underground, to water wells just a hundred meters or so below the surface. But he says his study shows that it is an exceedingly rare issue. “We haven’t seen any evidence [of methane migration] other than the occasional local issue,” he says. “I think our paper, in my view, pretty much seals the deal.”

Regardless, the Obama administration has released new regulations on fracking, which is a method that’s used to extract natural gas since 1947.

Fracking, the Keystone pipeline, and the plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 30 percent by 2025 are issues at the heart of job creation in Washington. For construction, the impact could be steep with 45,000 jobs being lost every year if the EPA continues to push their agenda with ozone standards (via PCA):

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to further tighten ozone standards could result in the loss of more than 45,000 construction jobs each year, slow the nation's economy, and impede vital infrastructure investments.

PCA estimates that the cement industry alone would have compliance costs and plant closures that could lead to the loss of nearly 900 jobs. Cement manufacturing jobs are highly technical and well-paying, with an average wage of $77,481 per year. Most cement plants are located in small rural communities, so the impact would be felt disproportionately in those regions.

“A cement plant is vital to the economy of its community. When one is forced to close, the region loses jobs, it loses significant tax revenue for schools and public services, and it loses a strong supporter of local charities and civic activities,” said James Toscas, president and CEO at PCA. “Over the past four decades, the U.S. has virtually eliminated the severe air pollution that currently plagues some other countries. However, regulators have continued to tighten air quality standards, often with little or no proven health benefit. This has gotten to the point where our essential industries have struggled to meet current standards, incurred significant costs, and in some cases had to simply shut plants down.”

Most cement and concrete in the U.S is used for infrastructure. Higher costs for construction projects would mean that governments could afford fewer projects each year.

Vivian Hughbanks  - Second Blogger Hacked to Death In Bangladesh: Police Suspect Assailants Tied To Terror Group
Posted: 3/31/2015 6:30:00 PM EST

A 27-year-old atheist blogger named Oyasiqur Rahman Babu was hacked to death by three Islamic extremists with machetes in broad daylight in Dhaka, Bangladesh Monday morning.

Dead upon arrival, Rahman was brought to a local hospital with two gashes in his throat and four in his face, Bangladesh’s Daily Star reports.

Two assailants in Rahman’s slaying (pictured above) were apprehended almost immediately, and confessed to the killing while being questioned by police, the Daily Star reports.

The pair were students at Hefazat-e-Islam, a known radical Islamist group which has demanded the death penalty for “atheist” bloggers that criticize Islam.

Authorities told local press that during interrogation, the suspects said they had killed Rahman because of his writing on religious issues, according to the Dhaka Tribune.

Also during interrogation the two apprehended suspects said they were instructed to carry out the attack by a third party, whom they named as “Masum.”

“Masum showed us some writings and a photograph of the person. He asked us to come to Dakkhin Begunbari at 9 a.m. when the man comes out of his house for office,” said one of the suspects, according to the Daily Star. “Accordingly, we carried out the attack with cleavers.”

Rahman was the second atheist blogger to be hacked to death in Dhaka in the past five weeks, and the fourth since 2006. In February, secular blogger Avjit Roy and his wife Rafida Ahmed Bonya were also attacked. Rahman had expressed his support of Avjit on social media after the previous attack, changing his profile picture to an image of the hashtag “#iamavijit.”

Freedom-loving nations and coalitions around the world have expressed their condemnation of the murder.

"The Delegation of the European Union to Bangladesh condemns the brutal assault and killing of blogger Washiqur Rahman...

Posted by European Union in Bangladesh on Monday, March 30, 2015

“It’s a matter of tremendous concern that different journalists and other intellectuals have been attacked,” said Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, on Monday.

A total of four men -- the three assailants and the third party -- have been charged by local police with the murder.

Guy Benson - Programming Note: The Hugh Hewitt Show
Posted: 3/31/2015 5:01:00 PM EST

Mary Katharine Ham and I will be subbing for the great Hugh Hewitt tonight, taking the reins of his nationally-syndicated radio show from 6-9pm ET.  Guests include WaPo's Jennifer Rubin on Iran, The Federalist's Gabriel Malor on the Indiana firestorm, plus CNN's Jake Tapper, among others.  Oh, and we may or may not mention our forthcoming book, End of Discussion, which seems highly relevant in light of the Outrage Circus' patented fact-subordinating machinations over RFRA and gay rights.  It'll be a spirited, fast-paced show with lots of breaking news.  We hope you'll tune in. (And pre-order our book!)

Leah Barkoukis - Christians Under Attack in Egypt Over Church Honoring Relatives Killed by ISIS
Posted: 3/31/2015 4:34:00 PM EST

Relatives of the Coptic Christians who were murdered by ISIS in Libya last month are now facing violent attacks of their own—all for wanting to build a church to honor their loved ones. reports:

An angry mob in the Upper Egyptian village of Al Our – the proposed site of the church because it was home to 13 of the 21 Christians murdered in the mass “beachfront” decapitation – descended on the community’s current church after the midday Islamic prayer Friday and chanted that they’d never allow construction of the new place of worship to begin, witnesses told Egyptian activists in the U.S.

Things turned far uglier after nightfall, the witnesses said, as a smaller number of individuals threw Molotov cocktails and stones at the church, injuring several people, and setting cars ablaze, including one that belonged to a relative of one of the victims of the Libyan massacre.

“The police came, but after the attack,” said Mina Abdelmalak, a Coptic Christian living in Washington who is in close contact with the witnesses to the events in Al Our. “There were already cars on fire. People had been bloodied. Stones and bricks had been thrown.”

The Coptic Christians from Al Our first sought permission from Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, to build the church, which until recently has been a customary requirement for the religious minority in the country. No such permission is required to build mosques, however.

Even with al-Sisi’s consent, however, local Muslims objected, particularly over its location near the entrance to the village.

“This is a classic issue in Egypt,” Abdelmalak said, reports Fox. “Even after you struggle to get permission from the president to build a church, you still have to face the mob, which rejects the idea of having a church built in their neighborhood.”

A new location outside the village is now eyed following a meeting between Muslim and Coptic residents that the regional governor brokered.

“This has been effectively imposed on the Coptic residents,” Abdelmalak said. “Dictates to the Christian community are always presented as agreements.”

While police did arrest some members of the mob who participated in the attacks, they were released a few hours later.

Egypt currently ranks No. 21 on Open Doors’ annual list of the most dangerous places in the world to be a Christian.

Cortney O'Brien - Americans Send 1.6 Million Letters to Congress to End ObamaNet
Posted: 3/31/2015 4:15:00 PM EST

It’s been just one month since the Federal Communications Commission voted to regulate the internet, yet freedom-loving Americans are already inundating Congress with their complaints.

On February 26, the FCC voted to alter the rules under Title II of the Communications Act in order to regulate our computers just like utility and phone companies. It is this extreme power grab that convinced American Commitment, a free-market advocacy group, to mobilize over 500,000 citizens to send letters to Congress sharing their concern about the rise of "ObamaNet." In total, 1,621,614 letters were mailed to Capitol Hill. Phil Kerpen, the president of American Commitment, told Townhall he was pleasantly surprised by the outpouring.

“I have never seen such an overwhelming push back from the general public against the federal regulatory action,” he said. “We’ve seen just a stunning response. In just one month, we had more than half a million people take action.”

Each constituent sent three letters through American Commitment – one to the House and two to the Senate. Kerpen said Congress cannot ignore such a barrage of demands.

“I think they’re starting to feel some pressure up on Capitol Hill.”

That pressure is even being felt across party lines. Last week, G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, became the first Democrat to announce he supported congressional action against the FCC regulations.

Kerpen is not surprised by the backlash considering the law’s vast consequences.

“It’s pretty astonishing what the FCC did here to end two decades of successful free market internet policy and instead say we’re going to regulate the internet like a public utility like a 1930’s law designed for the old phone system.”

Kerpen points to another factor that may be driving Americans’ powerful and passionate responses. A Rasmussen Reports poll from last year asked participants, “Are you worried that the FCC regulating the internet will lead to content control and politicization?” Sixty-eight percent said 'yes.'

“We’ve long argued that once you put federal bureaucrats in charge of the economics of the network, it’s only a matter of time before they try to control the content as well," Kerpen said. "I think that is a widely held concern.”

He said Congress has yet to respond to the campaign, but expects that as they move from the oversight phase into more serious legislative action, members will start addressing the letters.

These letters are likely to speak on behalf of all Americans who cherish their freedom and reject the current administration’s apparent obsession with controlling key aspects of their lives. Obamacare ring a bell?

Let the people tweet!

Vivian Hughbanks  - Surprise: Some Folks Are Abusing Their EBT Cards
Posted: 3/31/2015 3:15:00 PM EST

Budget legislation passed by Congress last week includes cuts to some welfare programs, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

The cuts have already attracted backlash from left wing activist groups like the feminist group UltraViolet, which launched a campaign to petition Congress to restore the funding.

“Overnight, the U.S. Senate voted for a budget that literally takes food away from hungry children,” UltraViolet’s campaign pleads. “The budgets that have now passed both the House and Senate make deep, painful cuts to the food stamps program.”

TurningPoint USA responded with a little digging. Here’s what they found:

After a brief search on Twitter and Instagram, Turning Point USA uncovered more than one hundred documented examples of welfare recipients abusing, mocking, and making light of welfare programs. Ripe with abuse, Twitter users attempt to sell food stamps, trade the stamps for weed, and purchase expensive food items.

Several of the social media posts use the hashtags #EBT, #EBTgang, #EBTcard, #EBTsquad, and #TeamEBT – many of which depict a culture of glorifying the use of Electronic Benefit Transfers (EBTs.)

A few examples of the Instagram posts from TurningPoint’s investigation:

The rest can be found here.

Vivian Hughbanks  - Poll: Voters In Key States Don't Trust Hillary Clinton Due To Emails
Posted: 3/31/2015 2:30:00 PM EST

As Hillary Clinton prepares to launch her presidential campaign, a Quinnipiac Poll released Tuesday morning shows that nearly half of voters in key states don’t view her as honest and trustworthy.

“Majorities in each state think Clinton still has questions to answer about her emails,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Poll. “Voters in each state are evenly divided on whether Congressional hearings are warranted.”

In the wake of a tumultuous month of Clinton’s still-developing email scandal, 50 percent of Florida voters see the former Secretary of State as dishonest -- compared to 41 percent that do trust her.

In Pennsylvania, 49 percent of voters don’t trust Clinton and 44 percent do.

Ohio voters are nearly evenly divided: 47 percent don't trust Clinton and 46 percent do.

“Thirty-six percent of independent voters in the key state of Ohio say they are less likely to vote for her because of the e-mail controversy,” Brown said.

“The good news for Hillary Clinton is that the e-mail controversy has not done huge violence to her presidential chances,” he added.

The poll showed that GOP candidates would win against Clinton in both Florida and Pennsylvania.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush beat Clinton 45 to 42 in the Sunshine State, while Kentucky Senator Rand Paul beat Clinton 45 to 44.

“A red flag in blue state Pennsylvania,"said Tim Malloy, another assistant director of the poll. “Hillary Clinton, seemingly invincible before the e-mail scandal, ends up tied with Rand Paul.”

Matt Vespa - Gowdy To Clinton: Let’s Have That Interview About Your Emails, Madam Secretary
Posted: 3/31/2015 2:00:00 PM EST

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, has sent a letter to Clinton’s attorney requesting the former secretary of state sit down for a transcribed interview about her private email address and server. Recently, Clinton’s attorney said that they won’t turn over the server, and that it would be a moot point because it had been wiped clean.

Gowdy has said ad nauseum that the committee isn’t interested in any emails relating to Mrs. Clinton’s personal life, or any emails that have nothing to do with Libya or the Benghazi terrorist attack in 2012.

“Toward that end and because of the Secretary’s unique arrangement with herself as it relates to public records during and after her tenure as Secretary of State, this Committee is left with no alternative but to request Secretary Clinton appear before this Committee for a transcribed interview to better understand decisions the Secretary made relevant to the creation, maintenance, retention, and ultimately deletion of public records,” wrote Gowdy. “The Committee is willing to schedule the interview at a time convenient for Secretary Clinton, but no later than May 1, 2015.”

We continue to believe Secretary Clinton’s email arrangement with herself is highly unusual, if not unprecedented. The decision to delete these records during the pendency of a congressional investigation only exacerbates our need to better understand what the Secretary did, when she did it, and why she did it. While she has cited a variety of justifications for this arrangement, many questions and details about the arrangement remain unanswered. These questions relate to:

  1. her decision to bypass an official government email account;
  2. whether she affirmatively turned over any relevant records during the pendency of the Accountability Review Board investigation or at any time after Congress first began investigating the Benghazi attack until December 2014;
  3. her decision to retain those records upon separation from the Department of State;
  4. the methodology by which these emails were subsequently searched for evidence of official records; and
  5. her decision to delete certain emails.
Katie Pavlich - White House: We'll Probably Extend Nuke Talks With Iran
Posted: 3/31/2015 1:45:00 PM EST

Talks surrounding Iran's nuclear program are down to the wire just five hours ahead of the 6 pm eastern deadline today. The White House is admitting a deal may not be reached in time and that talks may be extended to the end of June.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that even if a deal is reached today or tomorrow, experts need time to dig through the details. Earnest also said a military option is on the table and always has been, but that the administration is still working toward a diplomatic solution.

"The military option has been on the table for quite sometime and continues to be on the table today. That being said, the diplomatic approach would be more effective in resolving the international community's concerns than the military approach," Earnest said. "The President is willing to walk away from the negotiating table before signing a bad deal."

Earnest said any deal that is reached would have to include Iran shutting down every path they have to a nuclear weapon.

"Even if we were to reach a good agreement....we're still going to have a long list of concerns about Iran's behavior. I don't want to leave anybody with the impression we're going to solve all of those concerns through nuclear talks," Earnest said.  "The international community is united no this. What's holding up the talks is the specific commitment that we need to see."

Yesterday Iran made unattainable last minute demands as talks continued to fall apart. Iranian nuclear talks with the United States have already been delayed multiple times.

Republicans and Democrats in Congress have stressed the importance of approving an agreement if one is reached.
Katie Pavlich - Anti-Gun Hollywood Liberal Accused of Molesting Young Woman
Posted: 3/31/2015 12:30:00 PM EST

Meet Harvey Weinstein: Hollywood liberal and an anti-gun zealot. One of his latest projects (which will bomb at the box office), is a movie specifically targeting the National Rifle Association. 

They are going to wish they weren’t alive after I’m done with them,” Weinstein told Stern on Wednesday, referring to the NRA’s lobbying and political strength.

Weinstein did not go into specifics about the project, but said that Meryl Streep was involved and that it would not be a documentary but “a big movie like ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.'”

“I don’t think we need guns in this country, and I hate it,” Weinstein told Stern. “The NRA is a disaster area.”

But it turns out, Weinstein may have more than an anti-gun political position to blame for his stance against firearms ownership, especially among women. From the Washington Times

A 22-year-old Italian woman has accused Hollywood film producer and Miramax co-founder Harvey Weinstein of sexually assaulting her Friday night in New York City, police sources told the New York Daily News.

The woman, who wasn’t identified, told police that Mr. Weinstein, 63, touched her private area and her breasts about 6 p.m. Friday at the Tribeca Film Center, the sources reportedly said.

Mr. Weinstein has been questioned by police, and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance will decide whether to file charges, the Daily News reported.

“He initiated the contact,” the source said of Mr. Weinstein, the Daily News reported. “He saw her and spoke to her. She didn’t know who he was until he approached her.”

Funny how anti-gun men often turn out to be creeps. It isn't the men who support firearms ownership among women who we should be worried about, instead, it's the men who don't.

H/T @MadStJack