Weekly Roundup for 2/28/2011

"Regulation Lax as Gas Wells’ Tainted Water Hits Rivers"
Ian Urbina, The New York Times, Feb. 27, 2011

Synopsis: Abundant, clean natural gas seemed to offer the United States an environmentally friendly alternative energy source to dirty domestic coal or expensive imported oil. But this 4,000-word story by one of the New York Times’s Washington bureau correspondents finds that the newly developed technique of extracting natural gas by injecting water and sand into rock formations at high-pressure – known as hydraulic fracturing, or hydro-fracking – produces toxic and radioactive waste water far more environmentally damaging than previously acknowledged by regulators.

Takeaway: “It’s not clear we have a plan for properly handling this waste,” says a former secretary of conservation for Pennsylvania, one of the leading natural-gas producing states.

--Kenneth Jost, Associate Editor


Mind Control Is Just Not That Easy
Megan McCardle, The Atlantic online, Feb. 27, 2011.

Synopsis: A recent Rolling Stone article reports that the American military illegally tried to use “psy-ops” to induce members of Congress to approve more funding for the Afghan war. But Atlantic business writer McCardle is skeptical. Other than torture, drugs, or other extreme techniques, the Army likely possesses few quick-acting mind-control techniques other than the plain old PR tricks widely used in the private sector, she argues.

Takeaway: “There are no magic tricks you can use to ensure that you get a good deal every time. The history of highly successful experts who delivered spectacularly unpopular ad campaigns, disastrous new products, or political strategies that backfired at Mach 10, should easily confirm this. If there were some special secrets that would get people to give you more money, then I guarantee that they would have found their way into the private sector by now,” McCardle writes.

Marcia Clemmitt, Staff Writer