On the Blog

Widespread Wiretapping is “How Google Works”

Somewhat Reasonable - June 29, 2015, 9:28 AM

Google’s wiretapping is back in the news. The Guardian reportsGoogle [Chrome] eavesdropping tool installed on computers without permission.”

This is not an isolated incident. It is a part of a broader Google pattern of behavior.

What should be big news and scandalous here is that the company that has gathered the most Internet users in the world based upon public representations of being pro-privacy and open — is secretly engaged in widespread wiretapping.

Wiretapping is illegally intercepting and recording people’s communications without their knowledge or consent. In the U.S., wiretapping is a criminal offense punishable by a fine and up to five years in prison.

A.   Consider the evidence of Google’s widespread wiretapping.

1.   Google Street View WiFi Data Collection 2008-2011: A few thousand Google Street View vehicles were caught collecting unauthorized WiFi communications from tens of millions of homes in over thirty countries.

In fighting a Google Street View class action suit in the U.S., Google appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court that its unauthorized interception of home WiFi signals was not wiretapping, but Google lost it appeal. Thus Google illegally wiretapped millions of American’s WiFi communications.

2.   Gmail “Content One Box” 2011-present: Legal discovery in a Gmail privacy class action suit, Fread v. Google, uncovered a secret Google network device called “Content One Box” that enables Google to secretly intercept and wiretap, literally hundreds of millions of peoples’ emails over the last four years and counting.

The presiding Federal judge in this case, Judge Lucy Koh, ruled that Google’s scanning of Gmail exchanges to create personal advertising profiles constituted wiretapping. Specifically, Judge Koh ruled that Google’s reading of people’s email is not an “ordinary course of business” and that “accepting Google’s theory of implied consent… would eviscerate the[wiretap] rule against interception.”

This Google wiretapping was also a secret as Bloomberg’s Joel Rosenblatt reported in this courtroom exchange: There is “…a device Google has used to intercept e-mails called the “content one box.” Google determined that the device couldn’t extract information from e-mails that weren’t opened or deleted, or when they were accessed by phones or through Outlook, Rommel said. In 2010, Google moved the device from the storage end of e-mail services to the “delivery pipeline” to extract data before users receive the messages, Rommel said. “That’s the secret,” Rommel said. “It is factually inaccurate to say that the location and the timing of that interception is in the public record,” he said, referring to Google’s disclosures about its scanning. “There is not a single disclosure in the record that identifies, alerts, tells anybody that there is an interception occurring. It’s not there, it doesn’t exist.”

3.  Google Chrome Secret Wiretapping 2015: A Guardian article, “Google eavesdropping tool installed on computers without permission,” reported: “Privacy campaigners and open source developers are up in arms over the secret installing of Google software which is capable of listening in on conversations held in front of a computer.” See this Rick Falkvinge post for more detail.

Tellingly, this is not the first time Google Chrome’s wiretapping ability by design was uncovered. In 2014, Gizmodo reported that Google’s Chrome browser had a way for any website to listen to a website-visitor’s computer microphone, even after the user closed the website link.

4.   Google “Nest Aware” Wiretapping 2015: A separate Guardian article entitled, “Google’s new Nest Cam is always watching, if you let it into your home,” reportedWith Nest Aware, Google is also offering to record up to 30 days of video, with audio, to the cloud and do constant analysis of it.” The purchaser of the Nestcam service may approve of the Google audio recordings, but recorded visitors have not.

5.  Google Glass Wiretapping 2013-14: Since Google Glass was enabled with an always-on audio receiver to listen for the audio command “OK Google,” and since Glass could video and audio record one’s surroundings with a finger tap or a voice command, Google Glass could record people’s private conversations without their knowledge or consent.

Tellingly, CIO.com advised that Google Glass’ “Secret Video and Audio Recordings [are] a Legal Minefield for Employers.”

B.   What does this Google widespread wiretapping pattern tell us?

Now we know of five different Google services that have been, or are, all engaged in some form of audio interception/recording  without peoples’ knowledge or consent – e.g. Street View WiFi communications; Gmail communications; Chrome browser audio transmissions; Nestcam/Internet-of-Things-sensor communications; and Glass wearable communications – all of which upload the wiretapped communications to Google’s servers in the Google’s data centers for storage, analysis, and in the case of Gmail Content One Box, for advertising monetization.

C.   What questions need answering by law enforcement?

1.   Is Google Hangouts wiretapping?

If Google was willing to wiretap over a billion Gmail users and their email senders without their knowledge or meaningful consent, why wouldn’t Google have a Content One Boxcapability for Hangouts communications, i.e. messaging, voice and video calling and conferencing that are all integrated into Gmail?

Why wouldn’t those Hangouts audio communications bits transmit over the same fiber to which the Gmail Content One Box is connected — given how committed Google is to hyper-efficiency in everything computing, communications and storage.

Wouldn’t it would be out of character and contrary to Google’s best engineering practices for Google’s infrastructure to treat Gmail text bits differently from Hangouts audio or video bits – when they commingle everything else for maximal technical and economic efficiencies?

2.   Are Google’s free WiFi services, wireless broadband service “Fi,” and Google Fiber wiretapping?

If Google Street View systematically vacuumed up users’ WiFi communications for three years in over thirty countries without their knowledge or consent, and Google did the same for all email communications of roughly a billion Gmail users, why wouldn’t Google follow its established practice of pushing  the envelope on privacy, and feeding its ad-based business model by intercepting, recording and analyzing all Google WiFi, Fi and Fiber traffic — whether it be text, audio or video – in order subsidize the provision of these costly Google communications services?          

3.  Are Google Nest devices, Google Wearables, and Google’s Internet-of-Things-sensors – wiretapping?

Why wouldn’t Google design its dominant Android mobile operating system to enable Google to listen to the sounds around an Android Internet-of-Things sensor, like Google’s Chrome browser/operating system was designed to enable Google to listen into people’s computers?

Simply, there is no technological limit to Google wiretapping more broadly than it currently does, and there are great commercial advertising incentives for them to do it secretly as well.         

In short, widespread wiretapping is “How Google Works.”

Is anyone but Google listening?

[Originally published at Precursor Blog]

[More “How Google Works” series]

Categories: On the Blog

Twin peaks – Twin Lies

Somewhat Reasonable - June 29, 2015, 9:07 AM

Supposedly record-high temperature and carbon dioxide levels supposedly bring record chaos

Editor’s note: Article co-authored by Paul Driessen and Tom Tamarkin

A recent NOAA article is just what Doctor Doom ordered. It claims the 18-year “hiatus” in rising planetary temperatures isn’t really happening. (The “pause” followed a 20-year modest temperature increase, which followed a prolonged cooling period.) The article states:

Here we present an updated global surface temperature analysis that reveals that global trends are higher than reported by the IPCC, especially in recent decades, and that the central estimate for the rate of warming during the first 15 years of the 21st century is at least as great as the last half of the 20th century. These results do not support the notion of a ‘slowdown’ in the increase of global surface temperature.”

Published in Science magazine to ensure extensive news coverage before critics could expose its flaws, the report was indeed featured prominently in the national print, television and electronic media.

It’s part of the twin peaks thesis: Peaking carbon dioxide levels will cause peaking temperatures, which will lead to catastrophic climate and weather. Unfortunately for alarmists, the chaos isn’t happening.

No category 3-5 hurricane has hit the United States for a record 9-1/2 years. Tornadoes, droughts, polar bears, polar ice, sea levels and wildfires are all in line with (or improvements on) historic patterns and trends. The Sahel is green again, thanks to that extra CO2.  And the newly invented disasters they want to attribute to fossil fuel-driven climate change – allergies, asthma, ISIS and Boko Haram – don’t even pass the laugh test.

The NOAA report appears to have been another salvo in the White House’s attempt to regain the offensive, ahead of the Heartland Institute’s Tenth International Climate Conference. However, a growing number of prominent analysts have uncovered serious biases, errors and questions in the report.

Climatologists Pat Michaels, Dick Lindzen, and Chip Knappenberger point out that the NOAA team adjusted sea-surface temperature (SST) data from buoys upward by 0.12 degrees Celsius, to make them “homogenous” with lengthier records from engine intake systems in ships. However, engine intake data are “clearly contaminated by heat conduction” from the ships, and the data were never intended for scientific use – whereas the global buoy network was designed for environmental monitoring.

So why not adjust the ship data downward, to “homogenize” them with buoy data, and account for the contamination? Perhaps because, as Georgia Tech climatologist Judith Curry observed, this latest NOAA analysis “will be regarded as politically useful for the Obama administration.” However, it will not be “particularly useful” for improving our understanding of what is happening in Earth’s climate system.

Dr. Curry and the previously mentioned scientists also note that the buoy network has covered an increasingly wide area over the past couple decades, collecting high quality data. So again, why did NOAA resort to shipboard data? The ARGO buoys and satellite network (both omitted in this new analysis) do not show a warming trend – whereas the NOAA methodology injects a clear warming trend.

Canadian economist and statistical expert Ross McKitrick also analyzed the NOAA approach. He concluded that it wipes out the global warming hiatus that eight other studies have found. Its adjustments to SST records for 1998-2000 had an especially large effect, he says. Dr. McKitrick also recaps the problems scientists have with trying to create consistent temperature records from the multiple measurement methods employed over the centuries.

Theologian, ethicist and climate analyst Calvin Beisner provides an excellent summary of all these and other critiques of the deceptive NOAA paper.

It is also important to note that, in reality, NOAA is quibbling about hundredths of a degree – essentially the margin of error. On that basis it rejects multiple studies that found planetary warming has stopped.

Britain’s Global Warming Policy Forum succinctly concludes: “This is a highly speculative and slight paper that produces a statistically marginal result by cherry-picking time intervals, resulting in a global temperature graph that is at odds with those produced by the UK Met Office and NASA,” as well as by other exhaustive data monitoring reports over the past four decades.

The vitally important bottom line is simple.

The central issue in this ongoing debate is not whether Planet Earth is warming. The issue is: How much is it warming? How much of the warming and other climate changes are due to mankind’s use of fossil fuels and emission of greenhouse gases – and how much are due to the same powerful natural forces that have driven climate and weather fluctuations throughout Earth and human history? And will any changes be short-term or long-term … and good, bad, neutral or catastrophic?

At this time, there is no scientific evidence – based on actual observations and measurements of temperatures and weather events – that humans are altering the climate to a significant or dangerous degree. Computer models, political statements and hypothetical cataclysms cannot and must not substitute for that absence of actual evidence, especially when the consequences would be so dire for so many. In fact, even the “record high” global average temperature of 2014 was concocted and a margin of error.

Simply put, the danger is not climate change – which will always be with us. The danger is energy restrictions imposed in the name of controlling Earth’s perpetually fickle climate.

Moreover, the IPCC’s top climate official says the UN’s unelected bureaucrats are undertaking “probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the [global capitalist] economic development model.” Another IPCC director says, “Climate policy has almost nothing to do anymore with environmental protection. The next world climate summit is actually an economy summit, during which the distribution of the world’s resources will be negotiated.”

That summit could also give government officials and environmental activists the power to eliminate fossil fuels, control businesses and entire economies, and tell families what living standards they will be permitted to enjoy – with no accountability for the damage that will result from their actions.

For developed nations, surrendering to the climate crisis industry would result in fossil fuel restrictions that kill jobs, reduce living standards, health, welfare and life spans – and put ideologically driven government bureaucrats in control of everything people make, grow, ship, eat and do.

For poor countries, implementing policies to protect energy-deprived masses from computer-generated manmade climate disasters decades from now would perpetuate poverty and diseases that kill them tomorrow. Denying people their basic rights to have affordable, reliable energy, rise up out of poverty, and enjoy modern technologies and living standards would be immoral – a crime against humanity.

Countries, communities, companies and citizens need to challenge and resist these immoral, harmful, tyrannical, lethal and racist EPA, IPCC, UN and EU decrees. Otherwise, the steady technological, economic, health and human progress of the past 150 years will come to a painful, grinding halt – sacrificed in the name of an illusory and fabricated climate crisis.


Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org), author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death, and coauthor of Cracking Big Green: Saving the world from the Save-the-Earth money machine.

Tom Tamarkin is founder and CEO of USCL Corporation and of the fusion energy advocacy groups http://www.fusion4freedom.us  and http://www.fuelRfuture.com. He is widely credited with inventing the utility industry smart meter and holds granted and pending patents in the field.

Categories: On the Blog

Green Energy Steals from the Biosphere

Somewhat Reasonable - June 29, 2015, 8:45 AM

Earth has only three significant sources of energy.

First is geothermal energy from Earth’s molten core and decaying radioactive minerals in Earth’s crust. This energy moves continents, powers volcanoes and its heat migrates towards the crust, warming the lithosphere and the deep oceans. It can be harvested successfully in favourable locations, and radioactive minerals can be extracted to provide large amounts of reliable heat for power generation.

Second is energy stored in combustible hydrocarbon minerals such as coal, oil, gas, tar sands and oil shale. These all store solar and geothermal energy collected eons ago and they are the primary energy sources supporting modern industrial societies and the vast populations dependent on them.

Third are radiation and gravitational energies from the Sun and Moon which are captured by the biosphere as heat, winds, tides, rain, rivers and in biomass such as forests, crops and animals. These are the natural “Green” energies that support all processes of life and still support a peasant existence for some peoples.

Green zealots believe that we can and should run modern societies exclusively on “Green” energies, and they have embarked on a war on hydrocarbons. They need to be told that their green energy favourites are just stealing from the biosphere – they are not as green as they claim.

The most obvious example is the ethanol industry which takes food crops like corn, sugar and palm oil and uses a lot of hydrocarbon energy to convert them to ethanol alcohol which will burn in internal combustion engines, but has less energy density than petrol. This process is replacing natural grasslands and forests with artificial monocultures.

The latest stupid suggestion along these lines is to power the “wanna-be-green” US Pacific Fleet using Queensland food crops. Feeding ethanol to the engines of the US Navy would consume far more food than was used feeding hay and grain to the thousands of horses used to move our artillery and Light Horse Brigades in the Great War.

Biomass is a fancy name for plant material and vegetable trash which, if maintained in/on the soil, will provide the fertility for the next crop. To burn it reduces the humus that maintains fertile soil. The ultimate biomass stupidity is to harvest American forests, pelletise them, dry them and ship them across the Atlantic (all using hydrocarbon fuels) to burn in a UK power station. Burning biomass produces the same emission gases as coal.

Most plants will not grow without energy from the sun. Solar arrays steal energy directly from the biosphere. Some incoming solar energy is reflected to space by the panels, some is converted to waste heat on the panels, and some is converted to electricity – much of which ends up as waste heat. Solar radiation that could have given energy to growing plants is largely returned to the atmosphere as waste heat and much is then lost to space.

Some solar farms are built over land that is already desert – the rest create their own deserts in their shadow. Because solar energy is very dilute, very large areas of land must be shaded and sterilised by the panels in order to collect significant energy.

Solar radiation also evaporates water from the oceans and provides the energy for rain, winds and storms. Much of this moisture falls as useful rain when the winds penetrate land masses. Wind turbines create artificial obstacles to the wind, reducing its velocity and thus tending to create more rain near the coast and rain shadows behind the turbine walls. And they chop up many birds and bats. Again, green energy harms the biosphere.

Hydro power is one of the few green energy sources that is “grid ready” and can supply economical reliable energy. So, naturally, many greens are opposed to it. However, in most places there is competition for fresh water for domestic uses, irrigation, industry and environmental flow. Hydro power is just one more competitor for this valuable green resource.

So Green energy is not so green after all. It reduces the supply of food, water and energy available to all life on earth, and it often consumes large amounts of hydrocarbon energy for its manufacture, construction, maintenance and backup.

Green advocates are enemies of the poor. They want to burn their food, waste their water and deny them access to cheap reliable energy.

Hydrocarbon fuels are the true green energy sources. They disturb less land per unit of energy produced, do not murder wildlife and their combustion produces new supplies of water and carbon dioxide for the atmosphere. More carbon dioxide and water in the atmosphere enables plants to grow faster, bigger and more able to cope with heat or drought.

It was coal, and later oil, which created and still largely supports the populations, prosperity and industry of developed nations. With a backdrop of freedom under the law, they can do the same for the whole world.

Those professing concern for the poor need to realise that Green Energy steals from the biosphere and that hydrocarbons are the real friends of the poor.

Finally, those who have swallowed the carbon dioxide scare should be told that nuclear energy is the most reliable and least damaging “low carbon” option.

Categories: On the Blog

States Are Finally Changing How They Rate School Performance and the Left Isn’t Happy About It

Somewhat Reasonable - June 28, 2015, 3:26 PM

Thanks to reforms implemented by Gov. Pat McCrory (R), North Carolina now assigns each of its public schools a letter grade, to help parents understand where their child’s school ranks relative to other schools across the state.

The grades, ranging from “A” to “F,” are released annually in the state’s North Carolina School Report Cards report published by the State Board of Education. Like most other states, North Carolina used its own custom performance designation system before switching to the easy-to-understand A–F grading model.

This simple reform may not seem like it could contribute much to the education reform debate, but it actually matters a great deal. The nation’s education establishment has consistently and deliberately befuddled parents for decades with evaluation systems non-experts cannot easily understand. As a result, failing public schools often escape the criticism they deserve for delivering an inadequate service.

Under the previous system, parents were left confused about their children’s school performance, says Terry Stoops, director of research and education policy studies for the John Locke Foundation.

“North Carolina lawmakers selected a letter grade system because it was easier to understand than the previous school performance designation system,” Stoops said. “For example, low-performing schools were called ‘Priority’ schools, a term that had no meaning for the vast majority of North Carolinians. On the other hand, all parents comprehend what a ‘D’ or ‘F’ represents.”

North Carolina joins a growing list of states that have transitioned to a letter grade system for school performance reports. According to the Education Commission of the States, 14 states now assign or will soon assign letter grades to help citizens, especially parents, better understand how schools compare to one another.

Unbelievably, there are opponents to this commonsense move toward transparency.

Opponents argue a system that utilizes letter grades will give parents the wrong impression about the potential progress made by their child’s local public schools and could unjustly punish schools in low-income communities.

“They’re going to be labeled as failing schools even if they’re working really hard and getting a lot of growth,” Rep. Deb McManus (D-Chatham) told WRAL.com when the reform was first put into place in 2013. “These are the schools that need our best teachers, and I don’t know how we’re going to get teachers to choose to go to a school that is getting a D or an F.”

“We have never believed assigning a single grade to a school makes much sense,” said Wake County, North Carolina Superintendent Jim Merrill to a local ABC affiliate. “Our parents understand there is much more to a school than one grade can reflect.”

This sort of reasoning is typical of the education elite who are simply uninterested in creating a transparent system that mandates accountability. One has to wonder, if school officials “never believed assigning a single grade to a school makes much sense” then why is it that those same schools assign single grades (per subject) to their own students? Does that fairly or accurately represent what a student knows?

Those who oppose the new letter grade evaluation system are trying to protect the established public education system and aren’t really interested in any reforms, no matter how successful they have been proven to be.

“Fundamentally, public school advocacy organizations feared that school performance grades would further erode taxpayers’ confidence in the public school system,” said Stoops. “These groups dismiss those who call for expanding school choice and other structural reforms because, in their mind, public schools are not failing. Few will agree that the system is working, however, when nearly 30 percent, which amounts to over 700 North Carolina schools, earn a ‘D’ or ‘F’ grade.”

For those who reject the need for simple, proven reform such as the recent changes made in North Carolina, transparency for parents and students will always take a back seat to protecting the interests of the failing but highly funded bureaucratic mess that is public education. Logic, compassion, and progress be damned.

[Originally published at TownHall]

Categories: On the Blog

Commuting in New York

Somewhat Reasonable - June 27, 2015, 3:40 PM

The New York commuter shed(combined statistical area) is the largest in the United States, with 23.6 million residents spread across 13,900 square miles in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. It includes 35 counties, in eight metropolitan areas, including New York (NY-NJ-PA), Allentown-Bethlehem (PA-NJ), Bridgeport-Stamford (CT), East Stroudsburg (PA), Kingston (NY), New Haven (CT), Torrington (CT) and Trenton (NJ). The criteria for designation of combined statistical areas is here and Figure 1 is a map of the New York CSA.

This article examines employment and commuting in the New York area by broad geographic sector. The core sector, of course, is Manhattan (New York County). The second sector is the balance of the city of New York, the outer boroughs of the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. The inner counties are Westchester and Nassau in New York as well as Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Passaic and Union in New Jersey. The balance of the CSA is in the outer counties.

Distribution of Employment

The New York CSA is home to the world’s second largest central business district (CBD). Only Tokyo’s Yamanote Loop has more employment. Overall, Manhattan (New York County) has 2.4 million jobs, with approximately 2.0 million jobs in the CBD, which covers virtually all of the area to the south of 59th Street. Yet, despite this impressive statistic, unmatched anywhere in the country, Manhattan contains only 22 percent of the employment in the New York area. The largest portion of employment is in the outer counties, with 32 percent (Figure 2). Combined, the inner and outer county suburbs represent 60 percent of the jobs in the New York commuting shed.

Where People Live and Work

The distribution of employee residences contrasts sharply with that of employment. Manhattan displays the most extreme imbalance between jobs and where people live. (Figure 3). There are nearly three times as many jobs as resident employees in Manhattan (2.8 jobs per resident employee). The most evenly balanced sector is the outer counties, which are at near parity, with 0.97 jobs for every resident employee. The outer counties are relatively balanced, with 0.87 jobs per resident employee. The balance of New York City has 2.7 million resident workers and only 1.9 million jobs. There are only 0.68 jobs per resident employee. When the entire city is considered, including Manhattan, there is a much closer balance, with 1.16 jobs per resident worker.

Most employees work in their sector of residence. About 85 percent of Manhattan residents work in Manhattan. Nearly 79 percent of outer county residents work in the outer counties, while 71 percent of inner county residents work in the inner counties. Perhaps surprisingly, nearly two-thirds as many inner county residents work in the outer counties as work in Manhattan. Only 55 percent of resident workers in the four outer boroughs of New York City work in the outer boroughs (Figure 4)

Commuting to Manhattan

One of the most enduring urban myths is built around the idea of the monocentric city. This is the conception that most people work downtown (the CBD). This has been an inaccurate characterization for decades, even in New York. In New York, as noted above, the CBD accounts for little more than 20 percent of employment. By comparison, however, this is a substantial number compared to other large North American commuter sheds. The Chicago CSA, for example (the Loop) has about 11 percent of its employment downtown (the Loop), Toronto has less than 15 percent and Los Angeles is under two percent.

The overwhelming majority of jobs in Manhattan are filled by local residents or nearby commuters. According to American Community Survey “flow” data for 2006-2010, 73 percent of Manhattan commuters live in Manhattan or in the balance of New York City. Another 18 percent of commuters travel from the inner counties. This leaves less than eight percent of commuters traveling from the outer counties. Less than two percent of commuters travel to Manhattan from outside the CSA (Figure 5).

How Commuters Travel

New York relies on transit far more than any other US commuter shed. Overall approximately 27 percent of work trip travel is on transit. However, the extent of transit use varies widely by sector. Transit accounts for 75 percent of work trip travel to Manhattan employment. Transit also has a significant market share to jobs in the outer boroughs (38 percent). Jobs in the city of New York account for 88 percent of the transit commuting in the CSA. Outside the city, transit carries a much smaller share. In the inner counties, transit captures nine percent of commuters, while accounting for a much smaller 2.6 percent in the outer counties. In the outer counties, transit’s market share is slightly more than one-half the national average (Table).

Cars have the largest work trip market share in every commuter shed in the nation, including the New York area, where they provide 61 percent of trips. Again, however, there is a very wide variation between the sectors. Cars provide less than 15 percent of commute trips to jobs in Manhattan. They provide a larger 44 percent share in the outer boroughs. In the inner counties and outer counties, cars are strongly dominant, providing for 80 percent and 88 percent of the commutes respectively.

The walking commuter share is lower than might be expected in famously pedestrian oriented Manhattan. Manhattan has by far the densest urbanization in the United States. With more than 70,000 residents per square mile (28,000 per square kilometer), Manhattan is nearly four times as dense as San Francisco, which has the highest density of any large municipality in the US outside New York. With such a high density, and a job density of more than 100,000 per square mile (nearly 40,000 per square kilometer), it may be surprising that workers in the outer boroughs rely on walking to work to a greater extent. Walking has a 7.4 percent commuting share in Manhattan, and a 9.6 percent share in the outer boroughs, despite their much lower population and employment densities.


Table New York CSA Means of Transportation: Work Location: 2013 Area Drive Alone Car Pool Transit Bicycle Walk Other Work at Home Manhattan 10.0% 2.7% 74.7% 1.0% 7.4% 1.8% 2.4% Balance: NYC 37.0% 7.3% 38.7% 1.1% 9.6% 1.4% 4.8% Inner Counties 71.6% 8.6% 9.4% 0.3% 4.2% 1.7% 4.2% Outer Counties 79.6% 8.6% 2.6% 0.3% 2.8% 1.1% 5.0% New York CSA 54.3% 7.1% 26.9% 0.6% 5.4% 1.5% 4.2% Exhibit: United States 76.4% 9.4% 5.2% 0.6% 2.8% 1.3% 4.4% Calculated from American Community Survey


The faster work commute trips of cars is illustrated in the sectoral analysis. Automobile commuting is most dominant in the outer county suburbs, which have the largest number of resident workers and jobs. The average one-way work trip travel time is 24.7 minutes in the outer counties, little more than one half the 49.7 minute one way trip to jobs in Manhattan. The inner counties have the second shortest travel time, at 28.5 minutes. Jobs in the outer boroughs of New York City have an average work trip travel time of 36.4 minutes (Figure 7).

A Dispersed Commuter Shed

Despite its reputation for monocentricity, and its primacy in terms of the sheer numbers of core area employees, the New York combined statistical area remains surprisingly dispersed when it comes to jobs, contrary to popular accounts, although less so than others.


Wendell Cox is Chair, Housing Affordability and Municipal Policy for the Frontier Centre for Public Policy (Canada), is a Senior Fellow of the Center for Opportunity Urbanism (US), a member of the Board of Advisors of the Center for Demographics and Policy at Chapman University (California) and principal of Demographia, an international public policy and demographics firm.

He is co-author of the “Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey” and author of “Demographia World Urban Areas” and “War on the Dream: How Anti-Sprawl Policy Threatens the Quality of Life.” He was appointed to three terms on the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, where he served with the leading city and county leadership as the only non-elected member. He served as a visiting professor at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers, a national university in Paris.

Photograph: Inner County New York CSA: City of Elizabeth, seat of Union County, New Jersey (by author)

[Originally published at New Geography]

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Weekly: Heartland Experts on Obamacare Ruling by the Supreme Court

Somewhat Reasonable - June 26, 2015, 3:00 PM

If you don’t visit Somewhat Reasonable and the Heartlander digital magazine every day, you’re missing out on some of the best news and commentary on liberty and free markets you can find. But worry not, freedom lovers! The Heartland Weekly Email is here for you every Friday with a highlight show. Subscribe to the email today, and read this week’s edition below.

Pope Francis’ Encyclical on Global Warming Fails
James H. Rust, Somewhat Reasonable
“Pope Francis has failed to observe the distinguishing feature between poor and rich countries: Rich countries have successfully developed their fossil fuel resources to provide low-cost and abundant transportation, heating, cooling, cooking, refrigeration, vast communication systems, entertainment, etc., that practically eliminates the burdens of daily living. By denying impoverished countries access to fossil fuels, Pope Francis condemns them to perpetual poverty.” READ MORE States Without Charter Schools Are Falling Behind
Kaitlyn Clancy, Heartland Research & Commentary
Charter schools are often seen as being beneficial only to urban areas with low-income families and dense populations, but those states should reconsider given that nearly all states without charter schools rank in the bottom half of the state education rankings prepared by the American Legislative Exchange Council. READ MORE Heartland Experts on Obamacare Ruling by the Supreme Court
Ben Domenech was among nine Heartland experts who commented on Thursday’sObamacare ruling: “Today’s decision reflects the priorities of this politicized Supreme Court, which is willing to go to ridiculous lengths and offer ‘pure applesauce’ to justify protecting President Obama’s signature health care law. The ruling concedes that this case was justified by plain text reading, but goes to absurd effort to justify the continuation of Obamacare’s regime of subsidies and taxes. This reflects accurately the state of affairs in Washington, DC, which operates under the rule of men, not of laws.” READ MORE Featured podcast: Jeff Stier: FDA vs. Trans Fats
Stier explains why FDA’s defacto ban requires food companies to remove trans fats from products such as frostings, microwave popcorn, packaged pies, frozen pizzas, margarine, and coffee creamers, within the next three years.  LISTEN TO MORE  

Watch the Tenth International Conference on Climate Change! The Heartland Institute’s Tenth International Conference on Climate Change (#ICCC10) was another huge success. You can watch the entire conference online at climateconference.heartland.org. Watch the full panels composed of some of the leading climate scientists and energy policy experts as well as keynote addresses by Sen. Jim Inhofe, Rep. Lamar Smith, and author Mark Steyn. SEE WHAT YOU MISSED! Rep. Smith (R-TX) Rips Secret Science, Unconstitutional Regulations
Ron Arnold, The Heartlander
In his luncheon keynote address at the Tenth International Conference on Climate Change, Rep. Lamar Smith detailed his efforts to counteract the Obama administration’s dangerous executive actions. True to his word, four days after the conference, Smith demanded EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy provide long-withheld documents or face a court order to compel their production.  READ MORE Lifelong Vermonters Fleeing Green Mountain State for Better Opportunities Elsewhere
Bruce Parker, The Heartlander
When researchers behind the Vermont Roots Migration Project set out to discover why people migrate in or out of Vermont, they could not have anticipated the startling results of their inquiry. According to the researchers, the top two reasons people offered for leaving were: “My work is located outside Vermont” and “I can earn more money outside of Vermont.”READ MORE

Poll Shows the Public Supports Fracking
H. Sterling Burnett, The Heartlander
It seems the more the public knows about fracking, the more comfortable and supportive they are of the activity. Support for fracking grew nationwide from 42 percent in 2013, to 56 percent today, coinciding with an 25 percent increase in the awareness of fracking.  READ MORE Bonus podcast: Lisa Snell: Decentralizing School Funding
Lisa Snell, director of education at the Reason Foundation, talks about the benefits and outcomes of allowing school funding to follow the child instead of the money going straight to a local school district.  LISTEN TO MORE Medicaid Set to Overwhelm New Mexico’s Budget
Matthew Glans, The Heartlander
“We have not recovered like many other states have from the 2008 economic recession,” Paul J. Gessing, president of the Rio Grande Foundation, said. “Another thing is New Mexico’s population declined during that period. Population loss is unheard of in a Western state.” The state’s chronically bad economy makes it difficult to imagine how the state can find a way to pay for the huge expenses of the Medicaid expansion, Gessing says.  READ MORE Constitutional Convention Becomes Issue in Wisconsin State Senate Race
Kyle Maichle, Somewhat Reasonable
In the final days before a special election in the Wisconsin State Senate’s 33rd District, a proposal to apply for an Article V convention for the purpose of enacting a federal balanced budget amendment emerged as an important issue.  READ MORE Invest in the Future of Freedom! Are you considering 2015 gifts to your favorite charities? We hope The Heartland Institute is on your list. Preserving and expanding individual freedom is the surest way to advance many good and noble objectives, from feeding and clothing the poor to encouraging excellence and great achievement. Making charitable gifts to nonprofit organizations dedicated to individual freedom is the most highly leveraged investment a philanthropist can make. Click here to make a contribution online, or mail your gift to The Heartland Institute, One South Wacker Drive, Suite 2740, Chicago, IL 60606. To request a FREE wills guide or to get more information to plan your future please visit My Gift Legacy http://legacy.heartland.org/ or contact Gwen Carver at 312/377-4000 or by email at gcarver@heartland.org.  
Categories: On the Blog

Good News for Parents: North Carolina is Changing How it Displays School Performance

Somewhat Reasonable - June 26, 2015, 2:34 PM

Carr Middle School. Photo by Justin Haskins.

Thanks to reforms implemented by Gov. Pat McCrory (R), North Carolina now assigns each of its public schools with a letter grade to help parents understand where their child’s school ranks relative to other schools across the state.

The grades, which range from “A” to “F,” will be released annually in the state’s North Carolina School Report Cards report, published by the State Board of Education. Like most other states, North Carolina utilized its own custom performance designation system prior to switching to the A–F grading model.

Terry Stoops, the director of research and education policy studies for the John Locke Foundation, says under the previous system, parents were left confused about their children’s school performance.

“North Carolina lawmakers selected a letter grade system because it was easier to understand than the previous school performance designation system,” said Stoops. “For example, low performing schools were called ‘Priority’ schools, a term that had no meaning for the vast majority of North Carolinians. On the other hand, all parents comprehend what a ‘D’ or ‘F’ represents.”

North Carolina joins a growing list of states that have transitioned to a letter grade system for school performance reports. According to the Education Commission of the States, 14 states now assign or will soon assign letter grades to help citizens, especially parents, better understand how schools compare to one another.

Opponents of the new system argue a system that utilizes letter grades will give parents the wrong impression about the potential progress made by their child’s local public schools and could unjustly punish schools in low-income communities.

“They’re going to be labeled as failing schools even if they’re working really hard and getting a lot of growth,” Rep. Deb McManus (D-Chatham) told WRAL.com when the reform was first put into place in 2013. “These are the schools that need our best teachers, and I don’t know how we’re going to get teachers to choose to go to a school that is getting a D or an F.”

Stoops says those who oppose the new letter grade evaluation system are trying to protect the established public education structure, one that Stoops says needs significant reform.

“Fundamentally, public school advocacy organizations feared that school performance grades would further erode taxpayers’ confidence in the public school system,” said Stoops. “These groups dismiss those who call for expanding school choice and other structural reforms because, in their mind, public schools are not failing. Few will agree that the system is working, however, when nearly 30 percent, which amounts to over 700 North Carolina schools, earn a ‘D’ or ‘F’ grade.”

Officials at the North Carolina Association of Educators, the state’s largest professional development and advocacy organization for teachers, were contacted for comment on this story, but no reply has been received at press time.

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – H. Sterling Burnett: Will Warming Wipe Out Health Care Gains?

Somewhat Reasonable - June 26, 2015, 12:21 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Kenneth Artz, managing editor of Health Care News speaks with H. Sterling Burnett. Burnett is a Heartland research fellow and managing editor of Environment & Climate News. Artz and Burnett discuss a new report claiming global warming will negatively effect public health.

The new report, produced by the Lancet/UCL commission on health and climate change, claims that global warming threatens to undermine nearly half a century of progress in global health. Burnett explains where this report goes wrong and details why moderate warming may actually benefit human health.

[Subscribe to the Heartland Daily Podcast for free at this link.]

Categories: On the Blog

Gov Hutchinson Defies State School Board, Orders PARCC Test Withdrawal

Somewhat Reasonable - June 26, 2015, 8:53 AM

The Arkansas state school board rejected Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s (R) request to replace the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests with ACT Aspire earlier this month.  Hutchinson is now defying the state school board by directing the Arkansas Department of Education Commissioner Johnny Key “to select a new assessment provider,” reports the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

The basis of Hutchison’s stance is a clause in the Memorandum of Understanding that the state has with PARCC. From Hutchinson’s letter to Key:

Recommitment to the Consortium

In the event that the governor or chief state school officer is replaced in a Consortium state, the successor in that office shall affirm in writing to the Governing Board Chair the State’s continued commitment to participation in the Consortium and to the binding commitments made by that official’s predecessor within five (5) months of taking office.”

Hutchinson continues to explain that he has not affirmed his intentions to continue with PARCC since becoming governor on January 13, 2015, and in fact has expressed the exact opposite approach, saying, “On the contrary, I have publicly expressed my support for withdrawing from PARCC.”

Hutchinson’s action will surely setup a confrontation with the state school board which has until July 1 to sign the contact for PARCC tests.

Categories: On the Blog

U.N.’s Latest Scare Tactic: ‘Catastrophic’ Food Shortage Forecast

Somewhat Reasonable - June 26, 2015, 5:45 AM

Scientists working for the U.N. say a new “computer model” developed at an obscure U.K. university shows the planet faces a “catastrophic” food shortage by 2040.

The Global Sustainability Institute at Anglia Ruskin University forecasts that global society will “collapse” in less than three decades as food production fails to keep up with population growth.Current lifestyles are “unsustainable” due in part to “climate trends” across the globe. “Epidemic food riots” are expected, according to researcher Dr. Aled Jones.

Alarmists now predict global food shortages.


Does this scenario from a bad sci-fi film sound strangely familiar?

Doomsday food shortage prophecies have been trotted out by an assortment of misanthropes since Thomas Malthus. They have always proven illusory, as man uses his creativity to create better food production techniques and technologies, like genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Categories: On the Blog

Soviet Union 2.0 – The Environmental Protection Agency

Somewhat Reasonable - June 25, 2015, 10:58 AM

Former President Richard Nixon is an ancestral RINO – Republican In Name Only. The wobbly GOP wing that insists on delivering us Diet Democrat policies.

So it was in 1970 when President Nixon signed an executive order creating the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Get that? A unilateral fiat – how very pre-Barack Obama of him.

Was there a resounding clamor for an EPA? Certainly not from Republicans. And not from Democrats – else Nixon could have (should have) gone to the bi-cameral-Democrat-majority Congress for legislation. (Actually, to expand the federal government’s purview to this massive degree would have – should have – required a Constitutional amendment.)

Who wanted an EPA? The far Left Watermelons – who are green on the outside, red on the in.


Red – as in Communist. The first Earth Day was April 22, 1970 – which happens to be Vladimir Lenin’s birthday. What a phenomenal coincidence.

Three months after, Nixon signed the order creating the EPA.

The following was said by Soviet Communist Nikita Khrushchev:

An ecologist is a healthy guy in boots who lies behind a knoll and through binoculars watches a squirrel eat nuts. We can manage quite well without these bums.

The Soviets were always just that fond of their Western fellow travelers. Domestic Leftists were the “useful idiots” – helping Communists end capitalism.

The Soviet Union collapsed. The Useful Idiot Movement has not. It has taken over the Democrat Party – and the federal bureaucratic state.

The following was said by anti-Communist former Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus:

I spent most of my life under the communist regime which ignored and brutally violated human freedom, and I remember quite well, wanted to command, not only the people, but also the nature, to command wind and rain is one of the famous slogans I remember since my childhood.

In the past, it was in the name of the Marxist or the proletariat, this time in the name of the planet. Structurally, it is very similar. The current danger as I see it is environmentalism and especially its strongest version, climate alarmism.

Sounds very much like the EPA – especially so in the fourth quarter of the Obama Administration.

EPA Has Begun a Regulations Blitz

Why? Because the President is running out of time – so he is emulating Nixon with a fiat-fest.

White House: Action Needed Now to Slow Climate Change

Actually, no it’s not.

Global Warming? Temperature Up ‘Very Close to Zero’ (Since 1998)

The very nearly impossible has occurred – the global temperature has actually stopped changing.

Has that stopped the climate alarmism? Of course not. Leftists never allow facts to get in the way of a good beating.

EPA Boss: Climate Change Could Kill Thousands

Well that’s a mite vitriolic. Especially when asserted with no facts to back it.

Want facts? If you make energy prohibitively expensive – more and more people can’t afford to keep their respective climate temperatures in check. And it would appear the EPA is fixated on the wrong extreme.

Killer Cold: Winter is Deadlier Than Summer in U.S.

‘It’s Too Darn Cold': Historic Freeze Brings Rare Danger Warning

The EPA’s assaults on the private sector will definitely kill lots of things.

EPA is Dropping a Massive Regulatory Bomb on the Economy

Out-of-Control EPA Is Hurting the Economy

AGs to Congress: EPA Rules Would Hurt Economy, Threaten States’ ‘Sovereignty’

EPA Wants to Implement Unattainable Regulations, Kill American Manufacturing Jobs

Gov’t Report Details How EPA Regs Will Kill Coal

The Latest Industry On EPA’s Emissions Hitlist

How the EPA Plans to Kill Jobs and Reduce Your Income

In the face of Reality, the EPA attempts to strike back with even more of the fact-free patently ridiculous.

EPA Chief McCarthy: Climate Regulations Good for Economy


Costs for Americans to comply with federal regulations reached $1.863 trillion in 2013. That is more than the (Gross Domestic Product) GDPs of Canada or Australia.

The people who grow our food don’t seem to agree. (And of course, if you make food prohibitively expensive – more and more people can’t afford to eat. Which preempts even concerns of government-caused higher energy costs.)

EPA Regulations Suffocating U.S. Agriculture

Farm Bureau Supports Reigning in the EPA

The EPA is Turning Water on Farms Into a Weapon Against Farmers

The Government’s Boundless Appetite for Regulation

Shocker – the EPA is yet again bending the rules.

Farm Bureau to Senate: EPA Abused Rulemaking Process

Which is, again, nothing new.

Disgraced EPA Chief Used Fake Name to Coordinate with Liberal Groups

Top EPA Official Used Personal Email Address to Solicit Green Group’s Input

Is EPA Helping Green Groups Raise Funds in Exchange for Favorable Research?

And if you don’t comply with their dishonest, ever-expansive absurdity? Additional, personalized authoritarianism.

EPA Boss Just Threatened Americans: I’m Going To Come Knocking On Your Doors

This is where, Constitutionally, the Legislative Branch is supposed to step in. And rein in the out-of-control Executive.

Unfortunately, Congress is populated mostly by Nixon-esque RINOs. Who are preoccupied with giving this out-of-control President even more of its delegated power (Trade Promotion Authority [TPA]) – rather than clawing some of it back.

It’s going to be a woefully long nineteen months. From here, January 20, 2017 seems very, very far away.

[Originally published at Red State]

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Utah State Rep. Ken Ivory: Public Land Usage

Somewhat Reasonable - June 25, 2015, 10:14 AM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, H. Sterling Burnett, managing editor of Environment & Climate News speaks with Ken Ivory. Ivory is a Utah state representative and president of the American Lands Council. Ivory and Burnett discuss public land usage.

Ivory discusses the proper relationship between the federal government and the states and how the federal government has badly managed public lands and harmed species in Western states. He also discusses state efforts to wrest control of public lands from the federal government. He also talks about what he learned from Heartland’s Tenth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC-10).

[Subscribe to the Heartland Daily Podcast for free at this link.]

Categories: On the Blog

States Are Now Pulling Back from the Common Core Test Consortiums

Somewhat Reasonable - June 25, 2015, 8:00 AM

While news report focus on states, politicians, teachers, and parents who are angry with Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the debate over CCSS-aligned testing is heating up rapidly.

Maine is now the latest state to withdraw from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) signed his state’s budget into law, which effectively withdrew Missouri from SBAC. Missouri is now writing their own tests.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) attempted to end Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers testing but was over ruled by the State School Board.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) budget called for ending SBAC. The state has now requested bids for new tests.

Categories: On the Blog

Top EPA Official Coordinated With High-Powered Green Groups on Policy

Somewhat Reasonable - June 24, 2015, 11:38 AM

The Environmental Protection Agency has been working, for some time, to craft regulations on coal plants that would dramatically limit both their carbon emissions and their capacity to provide an energy source – electricity – to the majority of Americans in an affordable way.

As Rep. Lamar Smith found out this week, after obtaining a series of emails from EPA policy director Michael Goo’s personal email account, the EPA was not forming these “clean air” policies in a vacuum. According to records, Goo used his personal email address to collaborate on environmental policy with the leader of environmental mega-group Sierra Club International, John Coequyt (also a registered Federal lobbyist), as he formulated greenhouse gas regulations.

According to the Free Beacon, Goo was charged with writing the New Source Performance Standards, or NSPS, that the EPA expected to use to curb carbon emissions from coal plants. According to Rep. Smith, who has been conducting a thorough investigation into the EPA’s communications with anti-coal activists and other environmentalists, such communication is not only inappropriate – as it gives those with a vested interest in the policy the opportunity to craft and shape it – but it’s possibly illegal.

Goo’s use of a personal email address could violate federal law, according to Rep. Lamar Smith (R., Texas), who has investigated EPA officials’ use of personal email addresses in his capacity as the chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.

“For two years, his communications with the Sierra Club and other outside groups were hidden from congressional inquiries and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests—potentially violating the Federal Records Act,” Smith said in a May statement.

Smith obtained the emails last month, but they were not publicly released until Monday. Chris Horner, a senior legal fellow at the Energy and Environment Legal Institute, obtained the emails through a Freedom of Information Act request and posted them at the website Watts Up With That.

“These records prove how EPA gave anti-coal activists an opportunity to review, comment, and shape the strategy EPA would pursue to block development of more coal plants and shutter existing plants,” he wrote.

Horner said Goo’s use of a private email address for official business was “illegal.” Goo did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

This is certainly far from the Sierra Club’s first entanglement with the EPA. In 2012, they happily snapped up former EPA administrator Al Armendariz, after he was let go from the EPA over comments he made likening his approach to the coal industry to that of invading Roman soldiers, crucifying Turkish civilians in order to drive home his message.

It seems that at least some of what Coequyt and Goo shared was sensitive. In one instance, Coequyt actually notes that a report he’s sending Goo should be kept far from the public eye, and suggests that Goo change even his private email address in the event his “new job” with the EPA subjects him to closer scrutiny.

In that instance, Coequyt, whose organization, Sierra Club, has a “death count” for coal plants on its website, was trying to persuade Goo to accept the argument that there should be no exclusion, carved out in the law, that allows coal plants to escape regulation if it’s not technologically feasible for them to meet the EPA’s standards. From the Sierra Club’s perspective, allowing coal plants the opportunity to extend their compliance with Federal regulations until technology is available that makes cutting emissions feasible, defeats their stated purpose: to shut down coal plants and other “top” carbon emitters. The Sierra Club proudly boasts, even, that they’ve shut down over 150 new, more efficient plants.

Coequyt even went so far as to question the long-term viability of the EPA’s own technological solution to carbon emissions, the “Carbon Capture and Sequestration” (CCS) technology, makes it possible for coal plants to continue to produce the same amount of electricity, but drastically reduce their CO2 output by trapping byproduct C02 in underground pockets rather than releasing the carbon dioxide into the air. According to the Free Beacon, he “scoffed” at the idea. That’s putting it mildly.

The EPA is obviously charged with creating environmental policy for the country, but the people it affects the most – especially in industries targeted by environmentalists with whom the EPA exhibits a cozy relationship – are seemingly not included in policy creation, which makes the policies not only difficult to administer, but difficult to implement.

Already, 12 states are considering fighting back against the EPA’s carbon and coal regulations, claiming that the EPA failed to take states’ economic health into consideration as it formulating policy (Michigan, Missouri, Wisconsin and Texas are also challenging the EPA, but on other regulatory incursions). Along with groups like Energy & Environment Legal Institute, these states claim that the collaboration between the EPA and Sierra Club (among others) is cause to question, if not dispose of, the regulations completely and start from scratch. Their argument has merit.

This is not the last of the EPA FOIA requests, either, much more may come to light before the investigation is through.

Categories: On the Blog

Constitutional Convention Becomes Issue in Wisconsin State Senate Race

Somewhat Reasonable - June 24, 2015, 11:27 AM

Chris Kapenga

In the final days before a special election in the 33rd Wisconsin State Senate District, a proposal to apply for an Article V convention for the purpose of enacting a federal balanced budget amendment emerged as an important issue.

Delafield, Wisconsin state Rep. Chris Kapenga (R) ran for a state Senate seat vacated by Paul Farrow (R), who was elected the county executive of Waukesha County, Wisconsin in April. He currently serves as a co-president for the Assembly of State Legislatures, which is responsible for setting the framework for a convention. Brian Dorow and Mikael Langer challenged him for the Republican nomination.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported on June 21st about the debate between Kapenga and his challengers on whether Wisconsin should call for a convention. Dorow felt the repeal of the state’s prevailing wage law is a bigger priority. He went on to tell the newspaper Kapenga’s push for a convention is “misplaced energy.” A bill repealing the prevailing wage law was co-authored by Kapenga.

Citizens for a Responsible Wisconsin, an issue advocacy group, issued direct mail postcards to voters during the final days of the campaign accusing Kapenga of teaming up with Democrats to re-write the U.S. Constitution. The Waukesha Freeman reported on Tuesday the group did not register with the state’s Government Accountability Board, which oversees campaigns and elections. The only registration on file for the group was with the Department of Financial Institutions as a non-stock corporation.

Kapenga won the Republican primary on Tuesday night with 52 percent of the vote. He will face off against Democratic Party nominee Sherryll Shaddock (D) in the general election scheduled for July 21st.

Categories: On the Blog

After the Power Grabs: Gov Doesn’t Care What Happens to Us – It’s On to the Next Grabs

Somewhat Reasonable - June 24, 2015, 10:33 AM

How many times has government royally messed up something? And not fired anyone? Or done anything that remotely resembles improving their performance?

Oh so very often. In part because they don’t care – once they have the power, they don’t care what happens to us. In part because they are too busy planning their next grabs.

A pristine example?

Federal Union Says (Office of Personnel Management) OPM Breach Hit Every Federal Employee

The OPM Breach Is a Catastrophe

First the government must own up to its failure. Then the feds should follow this plan to fix it.

Good luck with that.

China Blamed for Massive Breach of US Government Data


China Gets Pass from Obama on ‘Devastating’ OPM Hack

Did government yet again ignore the rules they mandate we follow?

Reacting to Chinese Hack, the Government May Not Have Followed Its Own Cybersecurity Rules

At least the government immediately realized the breach, right?

Officials: Chinese Had Access to U.S. Security Clearance Data for One Year

The considerable lag time between breach and discovery means that the adversary had more time to pull off a cyber-heist of consequence….

Well it’s just the one, right?

Second Data Hack Might Be Bigger Than First OPM Breach

The second intrusion “involved a different system and a different set of data, and I think you could logically conclude that … a larger amount of data and information was potentially affected,” (White House spokesman Josh) Earnest said.

Government vigilance – there’s nothing like it.

Obama Has Confidence in OPM Chief Despite Hack

“The president does have confidence that she is the right person for the job,” spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.

Government accountability – there’s nothing like it.

That confidence is only possible if you’re completely delusional – or have an entirely different definition of “right” than does the rest of us.

Government’s (much) bigger priority? Lording over even more of the private sector.

McConnell to Advance Cybersecurity Legislation After Government Data Breach

(P)rivacy advocates say the bill, which would require companies to share information about breaches with the government and others in industry, gives too much power to the intelligence community.

The government massively screws up – and uses it as an excuse to execute yet another massive power grab.

As usual their priorities are totally in order.

St. Louis Cardinals Under FBI Investigation for Alleged Hack of Astros System

Do as they say – not as they do.

Evidence of government accountability abounds.

What It Takes to Get Fired From the Obama Administration

More than any of the following.

Benghazi Scandal-Benghazi Fallout – State: Staffers Shouldn’t Be Fired

ATF Director: No One Fired for Fast and Furious

Will Heads Roll? Who Gets Fired Over ObamaCare?

No one. In fact our government hires people other governments fire.

Canadian Officials Fired IT Firm Behind Troubled ObamaCare Website

Evidence of government incompetence – and capriciousness – is everywhere.

Federal Debt Soars to Over $18 Trillion

Federal Unfunded Liabilities Exceed $127 Trillion

How’s government medicine doing?

A Fatal Wait: Veterans Languish and Die on a VA Hospital’s Secret List

The Failure That Is Medicaid

Medicare Faces Unfunded Liability of $38.6 Trillion

Did the government attempt to fix any of this? Of course not – it was on to the next grab.

ObamaCare’s $17 Trillion Unfunded Liability

Failures in Management Led to ObamaCare Website Woes

No Security Ever Built Into ObamaCare Site

And it’s on to the next grabs – where they can really wield their obvious technological prowess.

Network Neutrality. The government imposed it in 2007 – the D.C. Circuit court unanimously rejected it. They reimposed it in 2010 – the D.C. Circuit court again unanimously rejected it.

Having twice been told they can’t have a piece of pie – the government stole the whole bakery. Andimposed 1934 landline phone law on the Internet. Because they’re technology experts.

Government Agency That Wants To Commandeer The Internet Just Had Their Website Crash – Twice

Speaking of government’s love of self-reform.

Report: ObamaPhone Program ‘Riddled With Waste, Fraud, Abuse’


The Feds Want to ‘Reform’ Fraud-Riddled ObamaPhone – By Expanding It to the Internet

Sometimes – sometimes – some governments acknowledge at least some of their limitations.

20 States Now Have Restrictions on Government Broadband

For very good and obvious reasons.

Utah Residents May Be Charged $120 a Year to Bail Out UTOPIA

UTOPIA, short for the Utah Telecommunications Open Infrastructure Agency, was conceived in 2002 as a local government-managed alternative….As of late 2012, the agency was $120 million in the red and had fewer than 10,000 customers….

There are a whole lot of UTOPIAs out there. But the Feds won’t stand for any impediment to the next grab.

(Federal Communications Commission) FCC Votes to Override State Laws That Block Government Broadband Deployments


Stimulus Bill Includes $7.2 Billion for Broadband

Government money to de-privatize the private sector.

What do the terrible barber and the government say? “Next.”

No repairs to the any of the myriad preceding bad haircuts and power grabs.

Full speed ahead to the next. Over, and over, and over again. And again. And….

[Originally published at Red State]

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Lisa Snell: Decentralizing School Funding

Somewhat Reasonable - June 24, 2015, 9:21 AM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Heather Kays, managing editor of School Reform News speaks with Lis Snell. Snell is the director of education at the Reason Foundation. Kays and Snell discuss student-based budgeting.

Kays and Snell talk about the benefits and outcomes of allowing school funding to follow the child instead of the money going straight to the school district. Snell also announces plans for a new student-based budgeting center Reason is opening in order to promote the conceps of decentralizing school funding, allowing parents choice and provind studets with additional educational opportunities.

[Subscribe to the Heartland Daily Podcast for free at this link.]

Categories: On the Blog

The Nation’s Editor, Katrina vanden Heuvel: Pope Takes on Wall Street

Somewhat Reasonable - June 24, 2015, 8:47 AM

One of the nation’s most prominent progressives, Katrina vanden Heuvel, is marketing a new meme – or at least trying to do so. Her latest column in yesterday’s Washington Post proclaims that the Pope is pouncing on Wall Street with his environmental encyclical.

Liberals tilting at Wall Street windmills.

Entitled Pope Francis v. Wall Street, her column calls the encyclical “stunning”  for its critique of “market fundamentalism” which puts “speculation and the pursuit of financial gain,”ahead of the real economy thus imperiling the planet with global warming. Hmm. Wall Street has been hot for fashionable “green stocks” for years, and the bulk of donations from financiers flow to the Democratic Party. They know government subsidies are needed to keep green companies in business, and donate accordingly to the party of bigger, greener government.

But pay that no mind! The editor of The Nation now sees – contrary to Gallup -that there is a “growing swing in public opinion” for government action on climate change. Please, also pay no attention to the fact that these government actions would benefit Democratic donors!  Vanden Heuvel also claims Catholics are especially interested in climate regulations, even though she recently Tweeted that “atheism is on the rise in the U.S.,” at #KatrinaNation. Do not let facts get in the way of a great meme, right Katrina?


Categories: On the Blog

Computerized Common Core Testing Failed the Test

Somewhat Reasonable - June 24, 2015, 8:00 AM

Smarter Balanced is the lesser known consortium creating Common Core aligned tests. The more well-known is the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests. While Smarter Balanced testing was used in 13 states and PARCC was used in just 12 states, PARCC became the punching bag for those opposed to high stakes testing imposed by Common Core.

Three states, Montana, Nevada, and North Dakota, used to implement the Smarter Balanced tests, but these states saw many computer related failures. Many students could not take the test at all. Measured Progress provided the following statistics on the testing to the Associated Press:

The New Hampshire-based company said 37 percent of Nevada students and 76 percent of Montana students completed the computerized English language arts and math tests for selected grades. A total of 88 percent of North Dakota students completed either the online or paper version.

Education Week reported Nevada has filed a “breach of contract complaint against Measured Progress” and is considering legal action. To further complicate the matter, Federal monies are tied to a 95 percent testing rate mandate. At this time, it appears the Federal Department of Education will not withhold funds due to testing failures, as reported by the Las Vegas Sun.

Other companies who administer the Smarter Balanced tests are American Institutes for Research, Educational Testing Service, Data Recognition Corporation, and CTB/McGraw Hill.

Categories: On the Blog

Pope Francis’ Encyclical on Global Warming Fails

Somewhat Reasonable - June 23, 2015, 10:49 AM

The Vatican announced April 14 it will host a major conference on climate change April 28, featuring some of the world’s leading climate scientists and an opening address by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The one-day conference is called Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity: The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Development.  In order to insure a balanced discussion of climate science, The Heartland Institute and Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) sent scientific representatives to the conference.  Unfortunately, they were not allowed to speak at the conference; but they created sensational news across the world by well attended press conferences.

On May 24, 2015, Pope Francis issued his ENCYCLICAL LETTER LAUDATO SI (Praise Be To You) OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS ON CARE OF OUR COMMON HOME.  The 184-page letter consists of 246 paragraphs of which 7 (paragraphs 20-26) are devoted to POLLUTION AND CLIMATE CHANGE.

The first three paragraphs are given under the subheading of Pollution, waste and the throwaway culture.

Pollution, waste and the throwaway culture

Paragraph 20 deals with pollution caused by all forms of human activity.  The serious pollution due to energy use is uncontrolled pollution in homes and urban areas where environmental controls are unavailable on combustion products. Central power generation allows these controls such as electrostatic precipitators, scrubbers, etc. use on electric power generation.  Thus modern society energy sources using fossil fuels are clean energy sources as demonstrated by vast improvements in the United States air quality the past forty years.

Paragraph 21 deals with pollution caused by waste—residues from home and industrial activities that produce garbage that is not properly disposed.

Paragraph 22 deals with waste due to our throwaway culture.  This can be alleviated by stringent recycle programs.

The rest of the paragraphs are listed under the sub-heading “Climate as a common good”.

Climate as a common good

Paragraph 23 is written as follows:

The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all.  At the global level, it is a complex system linked to many of the essential conditions for human life.  A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events, even if a scientifically determinable cause cannot be assigned to each particular phenomenon.  Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it.  It is true that there are other factors (such as volcanic activity, variations in the earth’s orbit and axis, the solar cycle), yet a number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and others) released mainly as a result of human activity. Concentrated in the atmosphere, these gases do not allow the warmth of the sun’s rays reflected by the earth to be dispersed in space. The problem is aggravated by a model of development based on the intensive use of fossil fuels, which is at the heart of the worldwide energy system. Another determining factor has been an increase in changed uses of the soil, principally deforestation for agricultural purposes.

Paragraph 23 is given in entirety due to many errors in statements.  The constant rise in sea level has been constant across the planet for more than a century as shown by tidal gauge measurements posted on the Internet by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  The rate of rise averages about 8 inches per century.   For many weather events, rates of occurrences have declined in recent decades.  The U. S. government provides data on various climate events Pope Francis claims are increasing—heat waves, record high temperatures, flooding, drought, wildfires, reduced snowfall, tornadoes,hurricanes, sea level rise, and Arctic ice melting.  Paragraph 23 states recent warming is mostly due to increased atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide which “do not allow the warmth of the sun’s rays reflected by the earth to be dispersed in space”.  Greenhouse gases don’t influence the sun’s rays because they are transparent to high wavelength energy from the sun.  The scientific community acknowledges increased global warming due to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide from fossil fuel use has only been a factor since 1950 when carbon dioxide was 310 parts per million (ppm) and rising to 400 ppm by 2015.  The alleged dangers from global warming cited by Pope Francis have not occurred.

Paragraph 23 demonstrates Pope Francis did not have expert advice in writing about climate change.

Paragraph 24 is written as follows:

Warming has effects on the carbon cycle. It creates a vicious circle which aggravates the situation even more, affecting the availability of essential resources like drinking water, energy and agricultural production in warmer regions, and leading to the extinction of part of the planet’s biodiversity. The melting in the polar ice caps and in high altitude plains can lead to the dangerous release of methane gas, while the decomposition of frozen organic material can further increase the emission of carbon dioxide. Things are made worse by the loss of tropical forests which would otherwise help to mitigate climate change. Carbon dioxide pollution increases the acidification of the oceans and compromises the marine food chain. If present trends continue, this century may well witness extraordinary climate change and an unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequences for all of us. A rise in the sea level, for example, can create extremely serious situations, if we consider that a quarter of the world’s population lives on the coast or nearby, and that the majority of our megacities are situated in coastal areas.

This paragraph complains about loss of tropical rain forests which may be caused by Pope Francis’ suggestion fossil fuels be replaced by solar and wind energy sources that require vast land areas for their implementation.  Examination of land requirements show it takes 6 acres per megawatt for solar energy and 60 acres per megawatt for wind energy.  The typical megawatts of solar and wind energy to produce the same output of a 1000 megawatt nuclear power plant would be 5000 megawatts solar and 3000 megawatts wind, respectively.  Thus land requirements for the solar plant are 47 square miles and 281 square miles for the wind farm.

The United States’ annual electricity production is a little greater than 4 billion megawatt-hours.  It would take 500 1000-megawatt nuclear power plants to generate that amount of electricity.  Dividing that electric power production equally with solar and wind energy would require 11,800 square miles of solar farms and 70,000 square miles of wind farms.  No mention is made about energy storage problems.

Problems with ocean rise were covered in the discussion of Paragraph 23.  The expected rise of about 8 inches per century is a known quantity and takes place without regards to carbon dioxide increases.

In reality carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels is a positive benefit to society as explained by Princeton University Emeritus Professor William Happer in his October 15, 2014 lecture “The Myth of Carbon Pollution”.  Increased atmospheric carbon dioxide is an airborne fertilizer that causes increased plant growth, larger plant root systems that decrease plant water demands, and decreases in plant water expiration which also decreases plant water demands.  The slight increase in global warming by increased atmospheric carbon dioxide is a positive benefit producing longer growing seasons.

A report on social benefits of carbon dioxide for agriculture alone is estimated at $3.2 trillion from 1961 to 2011.  Benefits from 2012 to 2050 are estimated $9.8 trillion.  These economic benefits from increased atmospheric carbon dioxide make any suggested economic benefits from carbon dioxide curtailment by Pope Francis, President Obama, or others irrelevant.

Paragraph 25 contains the following statement:

Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day. Its worst impact will probably be felt by developing countries in coming decades. Many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming, and their means of subsistence are largely dependent on natural reserves and ecosystemic services such as agriculture, fishing and forestry. They have no other financial activities or resources which can enable them to adapt to climate change or to face natural disasters, and their access to social services and protection is very limited. For example, changes in climate, to which animals and plants cannot adapt, lead them to migrate; this in turn affects the livelihood of the poor, who are then forced to leave their homes, with great uncertainty for their future and that of their children. There has been a tragic rise in the number of migrants seeking to flee from the growing poverty caused by environmental degradation. They are not recognized by international conventions as refugees; they bear the loss of the lives they have left behind, without enjoying any legal protection whatsoever. Sadly, there is widespread indifference to such suffering, which is even now taking place throughout our world. Our lack of response to these tragedies involving our brothers and sisters points to the loss of that sense of responsibility for our fellow men and women upon which all civil society is founded.

Migrants fleeing to better lands isn’t because of “environmental degradation”; but wars that threaten their survival. Christians are being beheaded by Muslim terrorists, various Muslim sects won’t peacefully resolve differences, etc.  Pope Francis has failed to observe the distinguishing feature between poor and rich countries is rich countries have successfully developed their fossil fuel energy resources to provide low cost and abundant transportation, heating, cooling, cooking, refrigeration,  vast communication systems, entertainment, etc. that practically eliminates the burdens of daily living.  By denying poor countries access to fossil fuels, Pope Francis condemns them to perpetual poverty.

Paragraph 26 contains the following statement:

Many of those who possess more resources and economic or political power seem mostly to be concerned with masking the problems or concealing their symptoms, simply making efforts to reduce some of the negative impacts of climate change. However, many of these symptoms indicate that such effects will continue to worsen if we continue with current models of production and consumption. There is an urgent need to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced, for example, substituting for fossil fuels and developing sources of renewable energy. Worldwide there is minimal access to clean and renewable energy. There is still a need to develop adequate storage technologies. Some countries have made considerable progress, although it is far from constituting a significant proportion. Investments have also been made in means of production and transportation which consume less energy and require fewer raw materials, as well as in methods of construction and renovating buildings which improve their energy efficiency. But these good practices are still far from widespread.

Pope Francis wants to replace fossil fuel energy sources with solar, wind, biomass (wood), ethanol from corn, other biofuels, etc. as future energy sources.  These energy sources are too expensive for developing nations.  Solar and wind energy are available for small periods of time and require backup energy sources when unavailable.  Present technology has not given us economical and practical energy storage systems.  Environmental issues from vast wind and solar farms ruing nature’s beauty, incorporating hazardous materials, and having useful lifetimes of about 25 years are not addressed.

In addition, these energy sources require vast land areas in order to produce significant amounts of energy.  This requires destroying millions of square miles of forest land that cleans our air and water, creates oxygen, helps cool the planet, and provides recreation.  Forest land is a sink for carbon dioxide; thus renewable energy sources may add to global carbon dioxide.


Positive issues from Pope Francis’ encyclical are stop wasting food, recycle all that is practical, practice energy efficiency, and clean up our environment.  These are attributes taught by good parents to their children.  My parents never wasted food, made us turn off light bulbs upon leaving a chair after reading, make your beds and allow no cloths strewn on bedroom floors, recycled all paper and cans, etc.  These issues can be resolved by global education and reducing carbon dioxide levels is of no importance.

Pope Francis is making a grievous mistake entering the debate on fossil fuels causing catastrophic global warming due to live-giving combustion gas carbon dioxide.  His policies will leave the planet poorer, less healthy, drudgery for a lifestyle, and lacking creature comforts.  History has not forgotten the Church’s 17th century involvement with science caused the Inquisition in 1633 to force Galileo Galilei to recant the Sun was the center of our universe instead of the Earth.  Galileo was held in house arrest until his death in 1642.  The consequences of the Church’s actions may have set astronomy back a few years; but did not lead to a calamitous future for the planet by denying our population life-giving energy sources of abundant, inexpensive, and geographically distributed fossil fuels of coal, oil, and natural gas.  In 1992 the Vatican formally announced its mistake in condemning Galileo.

The attack on life-giving carbon dioxide may require new attitudes on its existence.  We might paraphrase the famous song of the 1970s peace movement by John Lennon “Give Peace a Chance” with “All we are saying is give CO-2 a chance”.

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