Northeastern states ask EPA to crack down on Midwest polluters


Eight Northeastern and mid-Atlantic governors on Monday petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to require “upwind” states in the Midwest and South to curb ozone-forming pollution from their power plants, which they say travels downwind and poses health risks to their citizens.

They want the EPA to force nine states – Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia – to regulate the emissions that cross into their borders through prevailing winds and contribute to higher ozone levels to the north and east of the upwind states.

The move comes just ahead of a closely watched Supreme Court review of an earlier appeals court rejection of the EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule.

The governors, led by Delaware governor Jack Markell, said the upwind states had failed for decades to install the technology needed to contain emissions of organic compounds and nitrogen oxides which cause asthma and other respiratory diseases and contribute to as much as 98 percent of the ozone air pollution problems in their own states.

The petition asks the EPA to require the upwind states to join them in an “Ozone Transport Region,” which under the federal Clean Air Act would force actions to limit air pollution consistent with the efforts of the “downwind” states…

Besides Delaware the states petitioning for the controls are Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont…

In a case being closely monitored by environmentalists and energy companies, the Supreme Court on Tuesday will consider the EPA rule that would have set limits on pollution from coal-fired power plants in 28 states, generally referred to as “upwind states,” that directly affect air quality in other states…

Vickie Patton, general counsel for environmental group Environmental Defense Fund, said it is also in the interest of the upwind states to install pollution controls…”Cleaning up this harmful power plant pollution will mean healthier, longer lives for children, families and communities across the Midwest and the millions of people afflicted in downwind states,” she said.

What is it with creeps who dedicate their lives to profiteering from power generation? I’ve been involved in struggles against these scumbags over half my life. Take it all the way back to acid rain.

The only thing that matters in their contemptible lives is profit-and-loss statements with all the emphasis on that first word. They couldn’t care less about families and individuals in their own state much less someone next door or downwind. They should be required to live in a guard shack immediately downwind of one of their crud-belching coal-fired power plants. A shorter lifespan might change their style.

Tech firms tell the Feds to reform surveillance practices

amazon drone + nsa drone

Eight leading American technology firms have called on the United States President and Congress – and their counterparts around the world — to rein in government surveillance.

Microsoft, Google, LinkedIn, Apple, AOL, Yahoo, Facebook and Twitter said in an open letter on Sunday that they were all encrypting their systems and “pushing back on government requests” for customer data “to ensure that they are legal and reasonable in scope.” However, the firms said, they need President Obama and Congress to “take the lead on reformHar.

• Governments should avoid bulk data collection of internet communications, instead limiting surveillance to targeted situations.

• There should be a clear legal framework for surveillance by intelligence agencies, with independent oversight courts that allow an “adversarial process” – i.e. there’s someone around to raise the arguments against surveillance in any given case.

• Governments should “allow companies to publish the number and nature of demand for user information.”

• Governments should “permit the transfer of data and should not inhibit access by companies or individuals to lawfully available information that is stored outside of the country.”

• There should be an international framework for lawful data requests across borders, with governments working together to avoid any jurisdictional conflicts…

Crucially, these are also all consumer-facing American companies, and as such they could face a backlash as people outside the U.S. slowly develop homegrown alternatives, fearing the security implications of using American tech. Early warning signs may already be starting to appear behind the scenes – telecommunications equipment-maker Cisco said in November that it expected a significant drop in revenues due to a fall in international demand.

“Why should we trust you anymore than we trust your government?”

There is also a measure of discussion about who is missing from this gathering of tech giants, e.g., Amazon. Aside from any other consideration, it’s likely that will be laid-off to that nice shiny new contract they signed to provide cloud services to the CIA. D’ya think?

Egg allergies, fear of needles not legit excuses to avoid flu shot

Egg allergies and fear of needles are no longer arguments to avoid getting the flu vaccine, thanks to improvements available this year, a U.S. expert says.

Dr. Jorge Parada, the medical director of the Infection Prevention and Control Program at Loyola University Health System near Chicago, said new this year, those who have egg allergies have access to a completely egg-free vaccine…

In addition, those who have a fear of needles can now benefit from the intradermal flu vaccine which uses a very fine needle that is 90 percent smaller than the needles used for regular flu shots, Parada said.

“The intradermal flu vaccine is injected into the superficial skin instead of the deeper muscle and is preferred by some patients,” Parada said.

A needle-less vaccine administered via a nasal flu mist is also available on a limited basis to those ages 2 through 49 who are healthy, Parada added.

All you have left for an excuse is religion or an irrational belief in some superstition. Oh.

“…Of course, everyone should get a flu vaccine — early in the season is preferred — to protect themselves, their family and friends, and to prevent the spread of the flu virus overall,” said Parada…

Herd immunity is a medical term that refers to the prevention of infectious disease due to mass public vaccination and herd immunity has helped to eradicate smallpox and control measles, whooping cough, polio and many other deadly illnesses, including the flu.”

Yup. Got my flu shot 6 or 8 weeks ago. Freebie under Medicare Advantage.

Well, freebie means no copay in Medicare-speak.

Ride ’em, cowboy

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A red-eyed tree frog clings to the back of a Hercules beetles in the Costa Rican rain forest. From the GUARDIAN EYEWITNESS series, this photo by Nicolas Reusens is an entrant in the 2014 Sony World Photography competition.