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Recent accident highlights how state fracking laws protect corporate trade secrets over public safety

Mariah Blake – Mother Jones: “On the morning of June 28, a fire broke out at a Halliburton fracking site in Monroe County, Ohio. As flames engulfed the area, trucks began exploding and thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals spilled into a tributary of the Ohio River, which supplies drinking water for millions of residents. More than 70,000 fish died. Nevertheless, it took five days for the Environmental Protection Agency and its Ohio counterpart to get a full list of the chemicals polluting the waterway. “We knew there was something toxic in the water,” says an environmental official who was on the scene. “But we had no way of assessing whether it was a threat to human health or how best to protect the public.” This episode highlights a glaring gap in fracking safety standards. In Ohio, as in most other states, fracking companies are allowed to withhold some information about the chemical stew they pump into the ground to break up rocks and release trapped natural gas. The oil and gas industry and its allies at the American Legislative exchange Council (ALEC), a pro-business outfit that has played a major role in shaping fracking regulation, argue that the formulas are trade secrets that merit protection. But environmental groups say the lack of transparency makes it difficult to track fracking-related drinking water contamination and can hobble the government response to emergencies, such as the Halliburton spill in Ohio.”

FCC to ISPs: Inaccurate Disclosures Violate Transparency Rule

“Providers of broadband Internet access services must disclose accurate information about their service offerings and make this information accessible to the public.  This requirement, known as the Open Internet Transparency Rule, has been in full force and effect since 2011.  The Transparency Rule ensures that consumers have access to information that helps them make informedContinue Reading

The Web of Wealth: Resiliency and Opportunity or Driver of Inequality?

The Web of Wealth: Resiliency and Opportunity or Driver of Inequality? Hannah Thomas, Tatjana Meschede, Alexis Mann, Janet Boguslaw, and Thomas Shapiro. July 2014.  Institute on Assets and Social Policy (Brandeis University) “Families often help each other out financially. A brother lends a few hundred dollars to cover a late household bill. A grandparent puts $1,000 awayContinue Reading

EFF Publishes New Whitepaper on the Broken Penalty System

EFF – “Today, the House Judiciary Committee [held] a hearing on “remedies” in copyright law—that is, the penalties, injunctions, and other means of challenging and penalizing alleged infringement. This is hugely important: fixing copyright’s remedy provisions (like excessive, unpredictable monetary penalties and government seizures of domain names) is key to ensuring that copyright does its job—helpingContinue Reading

UK Independent – NSA reportedly tracking any internet users who research privacy software online

James Vincent - “Any internet users who use or even read about privacy services online will be targeted for surveillance by the NSA, according to a new report from German broadcaster ARD. According to leaked source-code of the US spy agency’s ‘XKeyscore’ software, individuals who search for information about anonymising services such as Tor have their IPContinue Reading

U.S. petroleum refineries running at record levels

“U.S. refineries have been processing record volumes of oil recently. Refinery inputs hit a record-high 16.8 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in each of the past two weeks, exceeding the previous record from summer 2005. Refineries in the Midwest and Gulf Coast in particular pushed the total U.S. input volume upward, as these refiners’ accessContinue Reading

OECD releases full version of global standard for automatic exchange of information

“Taking an important step towards greater transparency and putting an end to banking secrecy in tax matters, the OECD today released the full version of a new global standard for the exchange of information between jurisdictions. The Standard provides for annual automatic exchange between governments of financial account information, including balances, interest, dividends, and sales proceedsContinue Reading

The Economic Effects of the President’s 2015 Budget

“Each year, after the President releases his budget request, CBO analyzes the proposals in that request. Using its own economic projections and estimating procedures, CBO projects what the federal budget would look like over the next 10 years if the President’s proposals were adopted. CBO usually provides that information in two reports: The first examinesContinue Reading

McKinsey – China’s digital transformation

“As individual companies adopt web technologies, they gain the ability to streamline everything from product development and supply-chain management to sales, marketing, and customer interactions. For China’s small enterprises, greater digitization provides an opportunity to boost their labor productivity, collaborate in new ways, and expand their reach via e-commerce. In fact, new applications of the InternetContinue Reading

New GAO Reports – Democracy Assistance/Egypt, FEMA, Foreign Assistance

DEMOCRACY ASSISTANCE: Lessons Learned from Egypt Should Inform Future U.S. Plans, GAO-14-799: Published: Jul 24, 2014. Publicly Released: Jul 24, 2014. DEMOCRACY ASSISTANCE: Lessons Learned from Egypt Should Inform Future U.S. Plans, GAO-14-793T: Published: Jul 24, 2014. Publicly Released: Jul 24, 2014. FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY: Opportunities to Achieve Efficiencies and Strengthen Operations, GAO-14-687T: Published: Jul 24, 2014. Publicly Released: Jul 24, 2014. FOREIGNContinue Reading

Census Bureau Updates Interactive HIV/AIDS Database

“The U.S. Census Bureau today released its annually updated interactive global resource on the prevalence of HIV infection and AIDS cases and deaths. First developed in 1987, the database now holds more than 164,000 statistics, an increase of approximately 5,900 new estimates in the last year, and is the most comprehensive resource of its kind in theContinue Reading

International banking statistics at end-March 2014

“The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) today released international banking statistics at end-March 2014. Between end-December 2013 and end-March 2014, the cross-border claims of BIS reporting banks rose by $580 billion. This marked the first substantial quarterly increase since late 2011. The overall increase was broadly spread across countries and sectors. The largest increase inContinue Reading