Passing Gas to the Consumer

  by Walter Brasch   Gas prices at the pump during the July 4th extended weekend were the highest they have been in six years. This, of course, has little to do with supply-and-demand economics. It has everything to do with supply-and-gouge profits. Over the past decade, the five largest oil companies have earned more than $1 trillion in profits. Last year, the Big Five—BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, and Shell—earned about $93 billion in profits. Their CEOs last year earned an average of about $20 million. Included within the profits is $2.4 billion in taxpayer subsidies because it’s hard to make a living when your hourly wage, assuming you work every hour of every day, is only $2,283. “We … Continue reading

Pennsylvania Senate Committee Says Pigeon Shoots are Animal Cruelty

  by Walter Brasch   HARRISBURG, Pa.—There is a remote possibility that Pennsylvania will finally ban the cruel practice of live pigeon shoots when the state senate reconvenes in September. Pennsylvania is the last state where pigeon shoots are legally held. Rep. John Maher had written an amendment to an animal cruelty bill that would ban the killing, serving, and eating of dogs and cats. The amendment to ban pigeon shoots was sponsored in the Senate by Stewart J. Greenleaf, the committee chair; and Richard Alloway, a life-long hunter. The Judiciary committee had voted 10-4 to send the bill to the full Senate. Voting to send the bill to the Senate were all five Democrats and five of the nine … Continue reading

Scientists Predict Increased Rain, Floods for Northeast

  by Walter Brasch   Pennsylvanians will experience increased rainfall and floods if data analysis by a Penn State meteorologist and long-term projections by a fisheries biologist, with a specialty in surface water pollution, are accurate. Paul Knight, senior lecturer in meteorology at Penn State, compiled rainfall data for Pennsylvania from 1895—when recordings were first made—to this year. He says there has been an increase of 10 percent of rainfall during the past century. Until the 1970s, the average rainfall throughout the state was about 42 inches. Beginning in the 1970s, the average began creeping up. “By the 1990s, the increase was noticeable,” he says.  The three wettest years on record since 1895 were 2003, 2004, and 2011. The statewide … Continue reading

An Assault Upon Our Civility

by Walter Brasch   For awhile, it appeared the NRA leadership committed an act of sanity. But, a few hours later, the pills wore off. The story begins with a group called Open Carry Texas (OCT). This fringe group rubbed both its brain cells together, wrapped itself in what it erroneously believes is the Second Amendment, and decided it would be great theatre to bring semi-automatic carbines into family restaurants. Waving the yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flags, a common sight at Tea Party rallies, OCT members handed out leaflets, proclaimed their rights to carry weapons and confronted citizens who had little desire to be in a place where civilians were carrying weapons and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, any … Continue reading

Democratic Daily columnist wins awards

Walter Brasch, whose weekly column appears in the  Democratic Daily, recently won awards for both his column and his radio commentary. Brasch won first place in commentary (general) and second place in commentary (humor) from the Pennsylvania Press Club, against statewide competition. During the past decade, he has also won multiple awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, National Federation of Press Women, Society of Professional Journalists, Pennsylvania Press Club, and the Pennsylvania Women’s Press Association. At the annual Pennsylvania Press Conference, held in State College, Pa., this past weekend, he won his second consecutive first place for commentary, presented by the Pennsylvania Associated Press Broadcasters Association. Dr. Brasch has been a journalist more than 40 years, specializing in … Continue reading

Insanity Extends Beyond the Shooters

    by Walter Brasch   During this past week, in Scranton, Pa., a 16-year old put two bullets into the head of a taxi driver and then stole about $500 earned by the cabbie that evening. The teen, who showed no remorse when arrested a few hours later, mumbled a few words about his reasons. He said he murdered the cabbie “’Cause that’s what I do to people that don’t listen.” The teen thought the cabbie was taking too long to get him to his destination. The driver was a 47-year-old man with a wife and two children. The gun was an unlicensed 9-mm. A few days later, in Payson, Ariz., a three-year-old boy found a loaded semi-automatic gun … Continue reading

The Sounds of Silence—Political Style

by Walter Brasch   A hush has fallen over our house. It began late Tuesday night and, if we are fortunate, will last at least a week. But it will return. We have no illusions that there will be continued quiet. That’s because we are in the middle of yet another election cycle.   It’s not as bad as it was in 2008 or 2012 when we were getting five to ten robocalls every day from Democrats, Republicans, Friends of Democrats, Friends of Republicans, Chambers of Commerce, and unions. During those years, almost every TV ad was someone praising his own political legacy or attacking her opponent for something that may or may not have been better placed in one … Continue reading

The Fracking Prostitutes of American Colleges (part 3 of 3)

  by Walter Brasch    [Part 1: Lackawanna College, a two-year college in Scranton, Pa., accepted a $2.5 million endowment from Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. to strengthen that college’s programs and ties to the oil and gas industry. Part 2: Problems with academic integrity in other Pennsylvania colleges.] Among the mission statements of the University of North Dakota Department of Geology and Geological Engineering is that it “strives to develop in its engineering graduates keen insight and abilities to design an environmentally sound and sustainable future for humanity.” Like most college mission statements, it’s a broad and vague goal, one that may not reflect reality. The Department is one of the better ones in the country, especially in training … Continue reading