The View from Here: October 2011 Archives

Otsego County, NY: The fracas over fracking


Protesters in New York State opposed to gas fracking, mostly over concern of what it will do to ground water. Photo/Hans Pennink-Reuters

  There's this little county in central New York State, better known for home runs than horizontal drilling, but it's sitting on an energy bonanza.

There's natural gas right below it. A motherlode - the kind that of echoes that story 'bout a man named Jed.

Contracts are being waived in front of hardscrabble farmers. And the energy companies want to tap this supply with a controversial technique known as "fracking". 

Fracturing the rockbed using water, sludge and chemicals to release the gas.

But it's also fracturing a small community currently facing a high-pressure courtship from the energy industry, as we hear from Maria Scarvalone, in the heart of a rural American landscape.

Maria's documentary

The Oct 20 Dispatches program

Communities in New York, like elswhere, are split between supporters and opponents of extracting gas by fracking. Photo/Maria Scarvalone

We know the side-effects of fracking are not all swimmin' pools and movie stars.  But there's still more to it. For example, about its relationship to academia and the environment. 

Sarah Koenig is here to enlighten. She's a contributing producer to Public Radio International's This American Life program.

She recently did her own documentary examining fracking issues in Pennsylvania, which sits atop the same Marcellus Basin gasfield that's under Otsego County, New York. 

She looked into the work of pro-fracking scientist Terry Engelder from Penn State University, and Dan Voltz, formerly of the Univeristy of Pittsburgh, who arrived at very different conclusions.

Sarah Koenig, from State College, Pennsylvania

This American Life airs on Sunday nights at 11-pm on CBC Radio 1.  You can hear Sarah's full show documentary called Game Changer here.

UPDATE:  The Environmental Protection Agency has announced it will issue rules for the treatment of waste water from fracking.   Read more here

Sudan's "next" civil war in progress in Blue Nile

Hawa Jundi in a temporary camp where she sheltered after her village of Sally was bombed from the air. Photo/Jared Ferrie


Malawi this week refused to honor its obligation to arrest Sudan's visiting president, Omar al-Bashir, who's accused of genocide in Darfur. 

In Malawi, a spokesman said it was a matter of "brotherly co-existence."

Now, as it did in Darfur, Sudan has started an aerial bombing campaign against rebels in its southern border area.

President al-Bashir denies his government is bombarding the Blue Nile State. But Dispatches contributor Jared Ferrie hears different on the ground... 

Jared's dispatch

Here is a New York Times photo gallery.    Hear the full Dispatches episode here!

The Oct 20 Dispatches program

The View From Here Blog


Famine aid: giving cash instead of food

Abdoulai Mohamed counting the cash to be handed out to victims of the drought in Loruth, Kenya.  Photo/Anjali Nayar

Cash for Kenyans

In drought-stricken Kenya, there's this pregnant woman who walks for kilometres every day, seeking ways to feed her family.  And there are millions like her at risk of famine.  

And now, one western aid group operating there is adding to the traditional approaches to foreign assistance.  It's taken to handing out cash.

That's a bit of a departure from the usual goals of funding sustainable development because it lets the needy decide how to spend it, as we hear from Dispatches contributor Anjali Nayar in a village on Kenya's northern border.

Hear Anjali's dispatch.

Rick and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who won this year's Nobel Peace Prize along with Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman, spoke with Rick while making Dispatches's The Paradox Of Democracy. That program won the Amnesty Int. Canada broadcast media award in 2007.

The complete interview

The Paradox of Democracy

The Dispatches View From Here blog 

China's surfer girl goes global

Darci Liu, China's Surfer Girl, on Hainan Island (photo/Danielle Nerman)

Darci Liu is one of China's only female competitive surfers, in a country where most people avoid the sun, and many are afraid of the surf. 

Now Darci has just learned she's going to represent China for the first time ever in top-tier international competition, in a long-board surfing event run by the Association of Surfing Professionals (the ASP) in late October.

A few months ago Canadian journalist Danielle Nerman took to the beach on Hainan Island, to find out why Darci is so taken with surfing. 

Congo's pygmies: from the forest to the suburbs

Dennis Porter gets an archery lesson from Congolese pygmies who have left the forest for squalid camps near the city of Beni. Photo/Dennis Porter

To say the pygmies of central Africa got a raw deal is an understatement. Civil war has forced them out of their ancient forest homes and plunged them unprepared into the 21st century. 

For all that, they remain relentlessly cheerful, despite hardly having a pot to pitch in, as our correspondent discovers.

Dennis's View From Here