The Week in Brief: Fracking, Poetry and Bad Credit

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by Joshua L. Durkin

A cartoon by 2011 Pulitzer Prize winner Mike Keefe of The Denver Post.

The environment gets gassed, the national debt clocks in at $14.3 trillion and no one is awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting.

by Joshua L. Durkin



CO2Now is reporting that the atmospheric carbon dioxide reading has hit 392.40 ppm—the highest March reading iin nearly 2.1 million years. In 1961, the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 318.54 ppm. The level of CO2 in the atmosphere effects the climate, according to environmental activists, and (the charitable body part of has taken notice. The goal, according to a report filed with Solve Climate News, is to counteract anti-climate knowledge in policy-making decisions, particularly in Washington.

There have been efforts in Washington to stymie any legislation that recognizes global climate change or gives more power to the Environmental Protection Agency.  Last week a proposed budget that will slash and gut funding for the EPA was passed in the House in a compromise with President Barack Obama, reported Bloomberg. Fully 16 percent of the EPA’s budget will be reduced.

A cartoon by 2011 Pulitzer Prize winner Mike Keefe of The Denver Post.Standard & Poor’s rating agency sent ripples through the world economies earlier this week when it suggested that it would seriously look into downgrading the United States’ credit rating. A mostly ceremonial action by S & P—the national debt has been public all along, and anyone concerned could see that it has grown like spiked bamboo through the flesh of the American middle-class—it nonetheless reflects the massive amount of debt that the recent administrations have racked up and levied on the American people.

The current US national debt, according to the US National Debt Clock, is (as of 21 April 2011): $14.3 trillion, or over $46,000 per person. CNBC published a report on the world’s biggest debtor nations viewable here.

President Barack Obama held a meeting with Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, on April 20. A video is viewable here. The crowd erupted and stood with nearly everyone holding a camera phone or digital camera, as Zuckerberg announced the president’s entrance.

Poet Stephen James Smith spent a day at Western Connecticut State University visiting classes and talking to students.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that as of April 18, 2011 the average price of gasoline in New England is at $3.86, which is a full $1.01 higher than the average from this time last year. The average price of gasoline for the entire country is $3.84.

ProPublica, which won its second Pulitzer Prize this week, reported that the EPA will be conducting its first nationwide study on the effects of fracking, otherwise known as hydraulic fracturing, on the environment. Fracking is the process of pumping highly toxic chemicals into the ground at great pressures to fracture shale in order to release stored natural gas. “Gasland“, a documentary regarding the effects of fracking on families across the country filmed by Josh Fox, was nominated for an Oscar this year.

In Libya, journalists Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros were both killed by a grenade while covering the conflict between rebel forces and members of Qaddafi’s military forces. Hetherington directed the documentary Restrepo, which covered a unit of Marines in Afghanistan’s deadliest valley. Hondros was an accomplished Pulitzer Prize-nominated photojournalist.

The 2011 Pulitzer Prize winners were announced this week.  Jennifer Egan took the prize for Fiction with  A Visit From the Goon Squad, an ambitious work chronicling the lives of a group of friends and the evolution of the music industry from the 1960s into the near future.  Mike Keefe of The Denver Post took the award for Editorial Cartooning, Barbara Davidson of The Los Angeles Times was honored for Feature Photography, and no award was given for Breaking News Reporting.

by & filed under Health & Humanity, World.