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‘Straight from the Horse’s Mouth’: Former Oil Exec Says Fracking Not Safe

April 24, 2014

Lauren McCauley : commondreams – excerpt

Retired Mobil VP confirms technology is dangerous and untested

In a message “straight from the horse’s mouth,” a former oil executive on Tuesday urged New York state to pass a ban on the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, saying, ‘it is not safe.’

“Making fracking safe is simply not possible, not with the current technology, or with the inadequate regulations being proposed,” Louis Allstadt, former executive vice president of Mobil Oil, said during a news conference in Albany called by the anti-fracking group Elected Officials to Protect New York.

Up until his retirement in 2000, Allstadt spent 31 years at Mobil, running its marketing and refining division in Japan and managing Mobil’s worldwide supply, trading and transportation operations. After retiring to Cooperstown, NY, Allstadt said he began studying fracking after friends asked him if he thought it would be safe to have gas wells drilled by nearby Lake Otsego, where Allstadt has a home. Since that time, he’s become a vocal opponent of the shale oil and gas drilling technique.

“Now the industry will tell you that fracking has been around a long time. While that is true, the magnitude of the modern technique is very new,” Allstadt said, adding that a fracked well can require 50 to 100 times the water and chemicals compared to non-fracked wells.

He also noted that methane, up to 30 times more potent of a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, is found to be leaking from fracked wells “at far greater rates than were previously estimated.”… (more)

Given the major drought in California that is cutting into food production and driving up food prices, the last thing we need to do is waste any of our water supply on fracking and construction projects, yet our governor is pushing more drilling and more housing. Instead of cutting back on wasteful uses, local water boards are raising the rates on homeowners and businesses and threatening to ration if we don’t cut back. No word on cutting back on fracking or home construction. Incumbents will suffer in November if they continue to operate this way.


Breaking News: Nuclear Zero Lawsuits Filed

April 24, 2014

nuclearzero – excerpt

Big news today out of The Hague and San Francisco. The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) has filed unprecedented lawsuits against all nine nuclear-armed nations for their failure to negotiate in good faith for nuclear disarmament, as required under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The suits were filed against all nine nations at the International Court of Justice, with an additional complaint against the United States filed in U.S. Federal District Court.

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation applauds the courage of the RMI’s leaders in bringing lawsuits against the nuclear-armed nations. The people of the RMI continue to suffer today from U.S. nuclear weapon tests that took place on their territory in the 1940s and 1950s, and they want to ensure that such devastation – or worse – is never brought on anyone ever again.

NAPF is playing a key role in the Nuclear Zero Lawsuits campaign, which just launched this morning. Please go to, where you can learn more about the specifics of the lawsuits and show your support by signing a petition supporting the RMI’s bold, non-violent action.

We’ll be bringing you much more news about these lawsuits in the coming days and weeks. But right now, there are two things I’d like for you to do:

1. Go to and sign the petition, and then share it with your friends.

2. Share / re-tweet announcements about the lawsuits from our Facebook and Twitter pages.

These lawsuits could be the thing that finally breaks the nuclear weapon states’ shameful decades of inaction on nuclear disarmament. Please take a moment to add your voice to the campaign today.


Rick Wayman
NAPF Peace Ops Director

Debra J. Saunders More attitude from the Chronicle’s token conservative columnist. Do people have a right to live in San Francisco?

April 23, 2014

Do people have a right to live in San Francisco? In my Sunday column, I argued no. When Mayor Ed Lee came by for an editorial board meeting this morning, I had a chance to ask him. Lee answered:

“I don’t know about a legal right, but they certainly I think, I think what we want is to try to put some stability in the market for everybody and to allow those that have been here for a long time to continue being here. I’ve got to try to match, and this is kind of a difficult challenge for me and for anybody who’s sitting on a successful city, is how do you try to keep those that have earned their way here – and, you know, yes they are lucky to be in rent-controlled units. Do we have that debate again? Or do we try to say these are good affordable housing stock? I think people who have lived here a long time do deserve our support to try to stay in being here. I think it’s newcomers, we can work with them, but it’s got be about helping us build some housing as well, and maybe even better housing…”

Part of the problem is that San Francisco hasn’t built the amount of housing that should have been built.

Ed page editor John Diaz asked Lee about his lack of leadership against Prop. B. Lee’s answer? “I can’t be distracted with another war on the waterfront.” He thinks he can do a better job building more housing not fighting the waterfront battles. “I’m going to concentrate on the things I can get done.”

By the way, Lee described the old Warriors 30-32 project this way: “For me, it’s like the Star Trek Academy in San Francisco.” That is, it’s a project that only gets built in science fiction… (more)

Ed Lee on ‘Forum’: Tech Workers Have the Same Issues as Everyone Else

April 23, 2014

Newsfix : KQED – excerpt

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a lot of tension in San Francisco these days. Some might call it “a culture war,” others “gentrification” and still others “a housing crisis.” Or if you are Mayor Ed Lee, you may refer to the change in San Francisco simply as “growth.”

KQED’s “Forum” had the mayor on for an entire hour Monday morning. Even so, reams of listener questions went unanswered for lack of time. But the mayor did speak about housing, the Ellis Act, Proposition B, minimum wage, schools and Sunday parking, to name just a few issues. Here are highlights from the interview, edited for clarity and length. You can listen to the show in full here:

Subjects covered:

  • On Rolling Back Metered Parking on Sundays
  • In Defense of Tech Workers
  • Response to Complaints That Direct Action Was Not Taken Against Tech Buses
  • On Closing Ellis Act Loopholes and Senate Bill 1439
  • On Not Taking a Position on Proposition B
  • On Supporting a Minimum Wage Increase to $15 an Hour
  • On Students Leaving San Francisco Unified School District for Private Schools
  • On Bringing African Americans Back to San Francisco
  • In Response to Caller Who Says Muni is the Worst It’s Been in 22 Years

“Why don’t I make you a promise that I’ll ride those Muni lines myself so that I can get the experience you have. I do agree with you that this city has got to be a lot more civil at every aspect. And I can’t agree with you more that if we’re going to invite more people to use the public transportation system we’ve got to get an acceptable standard, kind of like when you’re riding on BART. I think there’s an instant respect. There are incidents that occur, but I think people do have to respect each other and I’m going to make sure that happens… (more)


S.F. city attorney sues 2 landlords over short-term rentals

April 23, 2014

By Bob Egelko : sfgate – excerpt

City Attorney Dennis Herrera jumped into the war over San Francisco’s dwindling housing supply and booming short-term rentals Wednesday, accusing two property owners of illegally converting residential buildings into pricey tourist hotels after evicting longtime tenants, two of them disabled.

The owners, one in Pacific Heights and the other in North Beach, violated city housing and zoning laws and added to the worsening shortage of affordable rental space, Herrera’s office said in its first two lawsuits on the issue. The suits seek thousands of dollars in penalties, along with court orders prohibiting the short-term rental practices…. (more)


How Did Canada’s Middle Class Get So Rich?

April 23, 2014

theatlantic – excerpt

America’s coldest neighbors now have the highest-earning middle class in the world. They have their homes to thank for it. For now.

America’s middle class has been richest in the world for decades, but as David Leonhardt and Kevin Quealy write in the Times‘ new site The Upshot, we’ve lost that distinction to our neighbors from the north.

Canada is officially home to the richest middle class on the planet, according to figures crunched from the Luxembourg Income Study Database. Here’s the last 30 years of America’s dwindling income advantage in a handy chart… (more)

Why Gentrification Is Not Inevitable

April 20, 2014

A new much-publicized report on displacement in Oakland and San Francisco also provides a roadmap for how to stop things from getting worse.

A new comprehensive report on gentrification in Oakland and San Francisco received much attention last week from Bay Area news outlets. But one of aspect of the report — and perhaps the most striking claim in it — went mostly overlooked: the argument that gentrification is not inevitable.

According to the report, “Development Without Displacement,” which was a joint project of the housing-rights organization Causa Justa/Just Cause (CJJC) and the Alameda County Public Health Department, the current trend — rising housing costs pushing lower-income residents out of their communities — can be stopped. The report also presented data showing the recent displacement of working class communities of color in Oakland and San Francisco, along with a summary of research showing the effects of displacement on the lives and health of community residents.

But the report, released April 7 at a standing-room-only event in the Fruitvale Senior Center, is not only a factual document, but also a call to action. It advocates for specific policy changes — and a whole new vision of development. CJJC Program co-director Dawn Phillips said his group is not anti-development. “Residents in deteriorated communities know things have to change,” he said. “The question is, what kind of change?”…

“People need to listen to us — the city council, the policymakers — and we need to talk,” said Towanda Sherry, a member of CJJC. “If we don’t speak up, they’ll roll right over us.”… (more)

There are a number of Ellis Act amendments under consideration in Sacramento. The SF Supervisors running for state office are in a race to get bills written that mitigate the problem at a local level. Here is the article on the latest one:
San Francisco Supervisors Approve Bigger Payouts For Ellis Act Evictions

One CEQA case linking the tech buses to a specific eviction is headed for an appeal:
Bus Blocking protesters call out Google staffer who’s allegedly trying to evict Guerrero Street tenants/



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