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Environmentalists should rejoice at the news.

From AP:

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The final report from a landmark federal study on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, found no evidence that chemicals or brine water from the gas drilling process moved upward to contaminate drinking water at a site in western Pennsylvania.

The Department of Energy report, released Monday, was the first time an energy company allowed independent monitoring of a drilling site during the fracking process and for 18 months afterward. After those months of monitoring, researchers found that the chemical-laced fluids used to free gas stayed about 5,000 feet below drinking water supplies.

Scientists used tracer fluids, seismic monitoring, and other tests to look for problems, and created the most detailed public report to date about how fracking affects adjacent rock structures.

The fracking process uses millions of gallons of high-pressure water mixed with sand and chemicals to break apart rocks rich in oil and gas. That has led to a national boom in production, but also concerns about possible groundwater contamination.

But the DOE report is far from the last word on the subject. The Energy Department monitored six wells at one site, but oil or gas drilling at other locations around the nation could show different results because of variations in geology or drilling practices. Environmentalists and regulators have also documented numerous cases where surface spills of chemicals or wastewater damaged drinking water supplies.

The DOE study also ran into problems with the man-made markers meant to track possible long-term pollution. DOE said it was able to track the markers for two months after fracking, but then that method had to be abandoned when it stopped working properly.

A separate study published this week by different researchers examined drilling sites in Pennsylvania and Texas using other methods. It found that faulty well construction can cause pollution, but not fracking itself.

Avner Vengosh, a Duke University scientist involved with that study, just published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said in an email that it appears the Energy Department report on the Pennsylvania site is consistent with their findings.

The Energy Department report did yield some surprises. It found that the fractures created to free oil or gas can extend up to 1,900 feet from the base of the well. That’s much farther than the usual estimates of a few hundred feet. The Energy Department researchers believe that the long fractures may have followed existing fault lines in the Marcellus Shale or other formations above it.

Original article here: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/landmark-fracking-study-finds-no-160237470.html

Greedy capitalists continue to hoard their cash as the rest of us suffer. Need more government asap.

From Zerohedge:

What is the biggest risk for investors in China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba? In one word: politics.

Jack Ma Yun, English teacher-turned entrepreneur, is already a legend in China for the incredibly fast growth and remarkable success of the e-commerce firm he founded in 1999. I have no doubt about Ma’s business experience and leadership skills, but there is one thing Ma – and many of his rivals – may be worried about. Politics.

The Alibaba success story is not just about Alibaba itself. It is about the inevitable trend of globalisation, the rise of China as a country on political and economic fronts, and also about how eager Beijing is to support and build up a crop of new national brands that can compete with the likes of Google and Amazon in the United States.

“To have political connections in Beijing … isn’t necessarily bad. Many companies try to do so”

Beijing’s support – directly or indirectly – is a key factor in Alibaba’s success. Without the government’s support, Ma would not have felt confident enough to speak in New York in front of hundreds of Wall Street investors during the recent roadshow for Alibaba’s initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange.

Ma understands the importance of the government’s backing for Alibaba and most of the time he has been good at lobbying Beijing for policy support.

However, in at least one case he had a setback and was honest enough to tell the public how he felt about that.

“Sometimes, what can beat you is not technology, but just a document,” said Ma at a technology conference in Beijing in March this year, in response to a question about what challenges Alibaba would face in the next phase of its business expansion.

Read the rest here: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-09-14/biggest-risk-investing-alibaba

From BI:

Japan Shrinks More Than Expected. “Japan’s economy shrank an annualized 7.1% in April-June from the previous quarter, more than a preliminary estimate, underscoring concerns the hit from an April increase in the sales tax may have been bigger than expected,” reported Reuters’ Leika Kihara. “The revised contraction was the biggest since January-March 2009, when the global financial crisis hit Japan’s exports and factory output, keeping policymakers under pressure to expand fiscal and monetary stimulus should the economy fail to recover from the disruption of the April tax hike.”

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/opening-bell-sept-8-2014-2014-9#ixzz3CjNBNgC3

Who says taxes don’t influence behaviors?

From Reuters:

(Reuters) – Burger King (BKW.N) is in talks to combine with Canadian coffee and doughnut chain Tim Hortons Inc (THI.TO) in a deal that would create a fast food powerhouse with a market capitalization of roughly $18 billion.

The companies confirmed merger discussions late on Sunday, and said the new company would be the world’s third-largest quick service restaurant. It would be based in Canada, which has lower overall corporate taxes than the United States.

The proposed deal would be structured as a so-called tax inversion transaction to move Burger King’s domicile out of the United States, and could come as soon as in the next few days, according to sources familiar with the discussions.

Read the rest here.

From WaPo:

As I was arguing last week, it’s time to call the eurozone what it really is: one of the biggest catastrophes in economic history.

There have been plenty of those lately. And it’s not just the Great Recession. It’s the way we’ve struggled to make up the ground we lost since. The United States, for one, has had its slowest postwar recovery. Britain has had its slowest one, period. But, six and a half years later, Europe has distinguished itself by not having much of a recovery at all. And, as you can see above, that’s about to make it worse than the worst of the 1930s.

I’ve taken the chart above from Nicholas Crafts, and extended it a bit to put Europe’s depression in, well, even more depressing perspective. Eurozone GDP still hasn’t gotten back to its 2007 level, and doesn’t look like it will anytime soon. Indeed, it already wasn’t clear if its last recession was even over before we found out the eurozone had stopped growing again in the second quarter. And not even Germany has been immune: its GDP just fell 0.2 percent from the previous quarter.

Read the rest here. (Libertarians, beware. You will not agree with the author’s analysis.)

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