“I will leave the EPA confident the ship is sailing in the right direction, and ready in my own life for new challenges, time with my family and new opportunities to make a difference,” said EPA head Lisa Jackson who gave no exact date for her departure, but will leave after Obama’s State of the Union address in late January.
Announcing her resignation on Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency Administration head did not specifically say why she is leaving and one report by Buzzfeed comfirmed by a source within the Obama administration say that Jackson may departing because of her disagreement with President Barack Obama’s plan to move forward on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline which was denied by spokespeople for the White House.
The Keystone Pipeline System would be used to transport synthetic crude oil and bitumen from Alberta Canada and further south American Crude to one of the multiple refineries in Illinois, Oklahoma and along the Gulf Coast of Texas which is opposed by environmentalists and some members of the U.S. congress because of potential pollution of drinking water and farm irrigation water in Nebraska.
“It was all about Keystone for the last 16 months,” said the former senior Obama administration official. Jackson had opposed the project and did not win the internal arguments. It was understood among her colleagues that she would leave after the November election because of this.
New York Times had reported earlier last year that sources say Jackson considered resigning but at that time Obama backed off from the EPA Proposed ozone pollution standards but ultimately “abandoned the idea as a futile gesture,”
On March 22, 2012 President Barack Obama made the announcement: “Now, right now, a company called TransCanada has applied to build a new pipeline to speed more oil from Cushing to state-of-the-art refineries down on the Gulf Coast. And today, I’m directing my administration to cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles, and make this project a priority, to go ahead and get it done.”
Obama has directed permits to begin the pipeline in northern part of the pipeline but for the southern part of the pipeline he has asked for further study to protect the environment and drinking water yet on speculation this balance may not have been enough for Jackson.
- — Photo Courtesy of gmavt.net —
Internet access has become a part of the U.S. way of life and crucial to the American economic and social health yet, internet connectivity speeds are falling behind other nations and regulators do not consider it necessary for all homes to be connected.
A fast reliable web access is crucial for finding jobs, starting small business, accessing education online, and allowing Americans to connect and complete in the global economy. Yet a third of Americans or 100 million people do not have home access to broadband Internet while countries like Korea have 200 times faster internet to all homes at inexpensive cost of approximately $27.
Only 70 percent of Americans have high speed internet connections while 94 percent of South Koreans are connected according to The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
And although the U.S. prides itself in leading technology advances the FCC only requires 4 megabits per second download and 1 Mbps uploads while South Korean’s government planned to install 1 gigabit per second data access to each home by 2012. These speeds need to be re-evaluated by regulators to reflect the current global standards.
In the U.S. the lower middle and lower income cannot even afford high speed broadband internet access as it is luxury while the Koreans will provide access to all citizens. According to the OECD, U.S. ranks 14th out of 25 countries on internet connectivity including broadband, and fiber to the home.
Experts say that looking at countries that have managed to increase their Internet nationwide and looking at declaring Internet access a “legal right” is something the U.S. should consider and that the FCC should create policies that will ensure more companies compete to keep prices low while providing high speed.
Unfortunately with the history of Ma Bell, broadband and internet, laws were put in place for telecommunication that may be interfering with the ability for many companies to compete in high speed broadband internet access as has been easier other countries.
- — Sandy Hook Victims. http://newyork.cbslocal.com —
“It is time that we show greater concern for protecting our children than for our gun rights,” says a statement released by the Sandy Hook Elementary School’s District – Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents. “That time is now.”
“Unless we eliminate the easy access to weapons and increase the limited access to mental health care then the conditions that produced this horrific mass murder of educators and children will remain long after Sandy Hook is a sorrowful memory,” the statement says. “Just as there is urgency in providing resources for the war on terror, there must be urgency in preventing gun violence from killing and injuring our precious children.”
Records show police officers take a gun to the mentally ill who appear to want to cause harm to others because in the U.S. they have gone without care and are left to responding officers. The public has not yet heard about Adam Lanza who killed 26 including children at Sandy Hook Elementary School and if there was mental illness that may have been contributing factor to the violence.
“It is a shame that a bullet is what our mental health safety net has become,” said Louis Josephson, chief executive officer of Riverbend Community Mental Health Inc. in Concord, New Hampshire, which offers outpatient and residential programs.
Moe Keller, vice president of public policy and strategic initiatives for Mental Health America of Colorado said in a statement that “in Colorado it is easier to purchase an AR-15 assault rifle, the one used by the shooter in Newtown, than it is to access high-quality, affordable mental health and substance use disorder treatment in the community”
“At MHAC we believe the key to keeping our children—and all of us—safe from acts of mass killing involves a multipronged approach that includes prevention, access to services for the treatment of mental health conditions and substance abuse use disorders, and restricting access to guns and ammunition from individuals with the potential to commit violent acts,” said Keller.
Colorado’s Gov. Hickenlooper has proposed $18.5 million in new funding for mental health systems in Colorado in his 2013 budget.
With unemployment up 7.9 percent in November and 1.4 million unfilled tech jobs through 2018 the U.S. House of Representative voted 245 to 139 to increase the number of permanent – residence visas for those graduating from U.S. universities with doctoral or master’s degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEMS).
Backed by prominent technolgy firms such as Microsoft which had 6,000 job openings in September this year, the passing of the bill would keep the needed technology talent in the U.S.
“We are creating unfilled jobs,” said Microsoft chief counsel Brad Smith, speaking at a forum on immigration policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. in September “We have a shortage.”
“We can only gain by asking as many people who are smart and who create opportunities far beyond just their own to be part of our society,” said Representative Darrell Issa, a California Republican. “The benefit to our economy is undeniable.”
STEM jobs, including teaching positions, account for roughly 6 percent of the U.S. economy, according to Nicole Smith, a senior economist who studies the issue at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.
“We know some of the best schools in the world in those areas are found in the United States… This is a chance for them to cut out the red tape” and help graduates stay, she said.
“In a global economy, we cannot afford to educate these foreign graduates in the U.S. and then send them back home to work for our competitors,” said Texas Republican Representative Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee who had introduced the “STEM Jobs Act,” and supporter of this high tech visa program to help retain U.S. trained workers to boost innovation and job creation.