Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Opposition to fracking in Australia growing, America’s two-tiered society, suspect wanted for shooting at White House

Image: Farmer Clive Duddy sits in front of an access gate to a property owned by coal seam gas miner Santos.

    Good Morning Humboldt County!

Step right in, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and relax. The first of the three stories I have for you is on fracking (a mining procedure) in Australia. It’s becoming controversial in the states because of a recent study that shows fracking is polluting aquifers. My Times-Standard column will deal with this issue Sunday.

Opposition to fracking in Australia in Australia growing

Australia's coal seam gas industry is expected to grow into an $80 billion enterprise as demand for gas, particularly in Asia, drives rapid growth in the industry.

A big concern is a drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, which involves blasting large amounts of water mixed with sand and chemicals into coal seams to free trapped gas.

The process, also known as "fracking," is used on about 8 percent of coal-seam gas wells in Queensland, although that will likely increase to 25 to 40 percent of wells as they age and the gas becomes more difficult to extract, according to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Opponents say fracking could pollute groundwater beneath prime agricultural land, but the industry says safety precautions mean that water quality will not be impacted and that the industry can co-exist with farmers.

Image: People push a shopping cart loaded with items collected from the streets in the once middle-class Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia

Middle-class areas shrink as America divides into 'two-tiered society' of rich and poor

The portion of American families living in middle-income neighborhoods has declined significantly since 1970, according to a new study, as rising income inequality left a growing share of families in neighborhoods that are mostly low-income or mostly affluent.

The study, conducted by Stanford University and scheduled for release on Wednesday by the Russell Sage Foundation and Brown University, uses census data to examine family income at the neighborhood level in the country’s 117 biggest metropolitan areas.The findings show a changed map of prosperity in the United States over the past four decades, with larger patches of affluence and poverty and a shrinking middle.

Image: Oscar Ramiro Ortega

         Suspect hunted after bullet strikes White House

                                 UPDATE BELOW

The U.S. Secret Service is investigating whether a shooting incident in Washington on Friday night was a rash attempt to fire at the White House.

Initial police reports said the Friday shooting at around 9 p.m. involved two cars speeding along Constitution Avenue, the wide street south of the White House and the Ellipse. The shots were believed to have been fired from a moving car as it passed along the 1600 block, a little over a third of a mile from the White House, in an area between the White House and the Washington Monument.

The car from which U.S. Park Service police believe the shots were fired was found about seven blocks away, crashed into a barrier, with an assault-type rifle still inside. About 10 shell casings were also found in the car, indicating that the shots were fired from inside the vehicle, NBC News reported. The car has been traced to Oscar Ramiro Ortega, 21 (Photo left), who has connections to Idaho, Utah, and Texas, authorities said. He is also known by the name Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, according to the Secret Service.

The latest on this story:White House shooting suspect arrested

Time to walk on down the road…

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