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August 13, 2013

Fracking has used up ALL the water in some towns in Texas

Can't they just drink the oil? A Texan tragedy: ample oil, no water | Environment | theguardian.com
Beverly McGuire saw the warning signs before the town well went dry: sand in the toilet bowl, the sputter of air in the tap, a pump working overtime to no effect. But it still did not prepare her for the night last month when she turned on the tap and discovered the tiny town where she had made her home for 35 years was out of water. "The day that we ran out of water I turned on my faucet and nothing was there and at that moment I knew the whole of Barnhart was down the tubes," she said, blinking back tears. "I went: 'dear God help us. That was the first thought that came to mind." Across the south-west, residents of small communities like Barnhart are confronting the reality that something as basic as running water, as unthinking as turning on a tap, can no longer be taken for granted. Three years of drought, decades of overuse and now the oil industry's outsize demands on water for fracking are running down reservoirs and underground aquifers. And climate change is making things worse. In Texas alone, about 30 communities could run out of water by the end of the year, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Nearly 15 million people are living under some form of water rationing, barred from freely sprinkling their lawns or refilling their swimming pools. In Barnhart's case, the well appears to have run dry because the water was being extracted for shale gas fracking.

August 12, 2013

Dying teen denied heart transplant because he has low standardized test scores, is black

Dying Teen Is Being Denied A Heart Transplant Because He's Had Trouble With The Law | ThinkProgress
Fifteen-year-old Anthony Stokes has less than six months to live unless he receives an emergency heart transplant. But his family has been told that Anthony doesn’t qualify for the transplant list because he has a “history of non-compliance” — partly due to his history of earning low grades and having some trouble with the law. “They said they don’t have any evidence that he would take his medicine or that he would go to his follow-ups,” Melencia Hamilton, Anthony’s mother, told WSBTV News. Hamilton explained that her son has an enlarged heart, and a transplant is the only thing that will help his condition. The doctors at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta weren’t very specific about what exactly contributed to their decision to label Anthony as “non-compliant.” But family friends explained to WSBTV News that they were told it’s partly because of Anthony’s performance in school and run-ins with law enforcement. His family and friends don’t accept that as a valid reason to deny the teen life-saving treatment. “We must save Anthony’s life,” family friend Mack Major, identified as Anthony’s mentor, told CBS Atlanta. “We don’t have a lot of time to do it, but it’s something that must be done.”

When Lawyers Cut Their Clients Out of the Deal

When Lawyers Cut Their Clients Out of the Deal - NYTimes.com
The class members would get nothing. The plaintiffs’ lawyers would get about $2.3 million. Facebook would make a roughly $6.5 million payment — to a new foundation it would partly control. The appeals court upheld the settlement last year by a 2-to-1 vote, with the majority saying it was “fair, adequate and free from collusion.” Last month, critics of the settlement asked the Supreme Court to hear the case. The Facebook settlement certainly explores new frontiers in class-action creativity. For starters, consider the plaintiffs. “They do not get one cent,” Judge Andrew J. Kleinfeld wrote in dissent. “They do not even get an injunction against Facebook doing exactly the same thing to them again.” In exchange for nothing, the plaintiffs gave up their right to sue Facebook and its partners in a program called Beacon, which automatically, and alarmingly, displayed their purchases and video rentals. The program has been shuttered, but its legal legacy lives on. “This settlement perverts the class action into a device for depriving victims of remedies for wrongs,” Judge Kleinfeld wrote, “while enriching both the wrongdoers and the lawyers purporting to represent the class.” The Supreme Court will soon decide whether to hear the case, Marek v. Lane, No. 13-136. The justices have been quite active in restricting other aspects of class actions, and they may decide it is time to consider settlements that critics say leave plaintiffs worse off than when they started.