Dedman College faculty expert recap of day 1 and 2 of the Democratic National Convention

FOX4

SMU Associate Political Science Professor Matthew Wilson analyzes the Democratic Convention on FOX4 Tuesday – Friday of this week at 7:20am. More detailed comments from SMU experts can be found here.

Here are the Fox4 highlights from Day 1 and Day 2.

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Scientists offer explanation on how oil and gas activity triggers North Texas earthquakes

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: July 25, 2016

In a long-awaited study, researchers have offered a possible explanation for how oil and gas activity may have triggered earthquakes in Dallas and Irving last year.

The disposal of wastewater from oil and gas production and hydraulic fracturing “plausibly” set off the tremors, which shook Dallas, Irving, Highland Park and other cities from April 2014 through January 2016, said Matthew Hornbach, the study’s lead author and professor of geophysics at Southern Methodist University.

While the quakes were too small to cause much damage to buildings, they spread alarm through a metro area unaccustomed to feeling the ground shift.

The quakes contributed to a tenfold increase in North Texas’ earthquake hazard level, prompted the Federal Emergency Management Agency to warn of stronger quakes that could cause billions of dollars of damage, and moved local emergency managers to begin preparing for worst-case scenarios.

The study, posted online this week in the peer-reviewed journal Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, is the first scientific work to offer an explanation for the Dallas and Irving quakes. It also provides new evidence that other recent quakes in North Texas’ were likely induced by humans.

Such findings in recent years have prompted pushback from oil and gas companies. This week, through a trade group, they again came out swinging. Steve Everley, a spokesman for an arm of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, questioned the scientists’ work. “Were they looking for media attention?” Everley said in an email. “The authors’ willingness to shift assumptions to fit a particular narrative is concerning, to say the least.”

The state agency that regulates oil and gas, the Railroad Commission, said in a statement that it was reviewing the report “to fully understand its methodology and conclusions.”

Independent experts contacted by The Dallas Morning News praised the study, while cautioning that more work remains before the cause of the Dallas and Irving earthquakes can be firmly established.

“It’s the single best explanation for the increase in earthquakes within the Dallas-Fort Worth basin,” said Rall Walsh, a Ph.D. candidate in geophysics at Stanford University who studies human-triggered earthquakes. READ MORE

Post-Gondwana Africa and the vertebrate history of the Angolan Atlantic Coast

Memoirs of Museum Victoria

Originally Posted: July 25, 2016

Authors: Louis L. Jacobs1, MichaelJ. Polcyn1, Octávio Mateus, Anne S. Schulp, António Olímpio Gonçalves and Maria Luísa Morais

  1. Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas 75275, United States (jacobs@smu.edu; mpolcyn@smu.edu) 

Abstract: The separation of Africa from South America and the growth of the South Atlantic are recorded in rocks exposed along the coast of Angola. Tectonic processes that led to the formation of Africa as a continent also controlled sedimentary basins that preserve fossils. The vertebrate fossil record in Angola extends from the Triassic to the Holocene and includes crocodylomorph, dinosaur, and mammaliamorph footprints, but more extensively, bones of fishes, turtles, plesiosaurs, mosasaurs, crocodiles, and cetaceans. Pterosaurs, dinosaurs, and land mammals are rare in Angola. The northward drift of Africa through latitudinal climatic zones provides a method for comparing predicted paleoenvironmental conditions among localities in Angola, and also allows comparison among desert and upwelling areas in Africa, South America, and Australia. South America has shown the least northward drift and its Atacama Desert is the oldest coastal desert among the three continents. Africa’s northward drift caused the displacement of the coastal desert to the south as the continent moved north. Australia drifted from far southerly latitudes and entered the climatic arid zone in the Miocene, more recently than South America or Africa, but in addition, a combination of its drift, continental outline, a downwelling eastern boundary current, the Pacific Ocean to Indian Ocean throughflow, and monsoon influence, make Australia unique. READ MORE

Congratulations to Timothy S. Myers, Neil J. Tabor, Louis L. Jacobs and Robert Bussert, co-authors of a new paper in the Journal of Sedimentary Research

Journal of Sedimentary Research

Originally Posted: July 19, 2016

Congratulations to Timothy S. Myers, Neil J. Tabor, Louis L. Jacobs and Robert Bussert, co authors of a new paper in the Journal of Sedimentary Research titled “EFFECTS OF DIFFERENT ORGANIC-MATTER SOURCES ON ESTIMATES OF ATMOSPHERIC AND SOIL pCO2 USING PEDOGENIC CARBONATE.” READ MORE

 

How will Fox News move forward after Roger Ailes lawsuit?

Boston Herald Radio

Originally Posted: July 12, 2016

The future of Fox News is in question given the precarious position of chief executive Roger Ailes. As the furor around a sexual harassment suit filed by former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson grows, the 21st Century Fox-owned network could be looking for new leadership.

The network’s parent has said it’s conducting an internal review of the allegations made about Ailes, who signed a new contract in June 2015 that keeps him at the helm of Fox News through 2018. He said in a statement last week that Carlson’s charges are “false” and “retaliatory.”

But if Ailes is ousted as a result of the investigation, there’s no telling whether other Fox executives or on-air talent could bolt. Several female Fox News employees, including Maria Bartiromo and Greta Van Susteren, have spoken out in his defense, while other women have come forward with stories of past harassment from Ailes.

No matter the outcome of this legal imbroglio, Fox News is coming face to face with challenges regarding the ways audiences gain access to information and significant shifts in cultural attitudes as new populations join its viewership base. “As of this moment, Fox News is in a better position than any of the other cable-news networks, but that’s no guarantee it will automatically be that way in the future,” said Matthew Wilson, an associate professor of political science at Southern Methodist Universityin Dallas. “They face a variety of challenges, on the horizon, to their current predominant positioning.” READ MORE

How Benghazi will shape 2016 presidential race

Christian Science Monitor

Originally Posted: June 28, 2016

The final report of the House Select Committee on Benghazi is out, and the news for Hillary Clinton is both good and bad.

On the plus side, for Mrs. Clinton, the committee didn’t make any major new revelations, in general, and did not target her for blame specifically. The 800-page report affirmed the conclusions of previous investigations – that the United States’ national security apparatus, including the Clinton-led State Department, was ill-equipped to protect the US mission in Benghazi, Libya, and had not heeded warnings about risks to the facilities.

On the down side, Benghazi is back in the spotlight, and that, by definition, is bad news for the Democrats’ presumptive presidential nominee. The retelling of the Sept. 11, 2012, terror attack, which left the US ambassador to Libya and three other Americans dead, brings the worst episode of Clinton’s four years as secretary of State back to the headlines. READ MORE

Tower Center Associate Harold Clarke interviewed by the National Post

National Post

Originally Posted: June 24, 2016

Of all the demographics that were torn apart by the Brexit vote — old/young, rural/urban, rich/poor — one of the most dramatic was between voters who consider themselves English first, and those who identify as British.

People who see themselves as British, that is as part of a commonwealth in a single United Kingdom, were more likely to vote with the losing side to Remain in the wider European Union. Self-identified Welsh were about evenly split, leaning more Remain the further they live from Cardiff and the English border. And a majority of Scots, having already rejected secession from the U.K. in 2014, likewise voted to Remain.

But people who identify primarily as English were overwhelmingly more likely to vote to Leave, at 72%. They were the great winners of the referendum, and an analysis of voting intention surveys shows how their three main motivators — economy, security and culture — were expressed in attitudes that ranged from narrow, self-interested xenophobia to romantic, nostalgic English nationalism.

“A lot of people perceive that immigration has produced a huge cultural threat to the English traditions, way of life, Judeo-Christian religious traditions, and all those things. It’s not politically correct to talk about it, but they are really concerned. Immigration was huge in this referendum,” said Harold Clarke, author of Affluence, Austerity & Electoral Change in Britain, and professor of political economy at the University of Texas at Dallas. “Negative attitudes towards immigration were a huge driver of Leave voting. That’s something that’s been building for years.” READ MORE

Two giant sinkholes in West Texas expanding, researchers say

Star Telegram

Originally Posted: June 17, 2016

A couple of giant sinkholes in the West Texas oil patch are apparently expanding, and might eventually converge into one gigantic hole.

The sinkholes are about a mile apart and sit between Wink and Kermit off I-20 west of Midland-Odessa. They were caused by lots of oil and gas extraction, which peaked from the mid-1920s to the mid-1960s, according to researchers at Southern Methodist University.

Satellite radar images indicate that the giant sinkholes are expanding and that new ones are forming “at an alarming rate” as nearby subsidence occurs, they report in the scientific journal Remote Sensing. One is 361 feet across, about the size of a football field; the other is larger, 670 to 900 feet across.

“A collapse could be catastrophic,” said geophysicist Jin-Woo Kim, who leads the SMU geophysical team reporting the findings.

In addition to Wink and Kermit (combined pop. about 7,000), there’s lots of oil and gas production equipment and installations and hazardous liquid pipelines in the area, Kim said in the report. The fresh water injected underground in the extraction process “can dissolve the interbedded salt layers and accelerate the sinkhole collapse.”

There’s something not too dissimilar happening in Daisetta, east of Houston.

Officials have fenced off the area around the sinkholes between Wink and Kermit and they’ll be monitored, but residents don’t appear to be worried about them.

“They’re a ways off from the highway; if nobody mentions it, then nobody is interested in it,” Kermit City Manager Gloria Saenz told the New York Daily News.

A preacher of the Apocalypse from Indiana had a decidedly different take, exclaiming on YouTube: “Here’s my concern. It’s like hell is being enlarged, and that without measure.”

Well, maybe not quite. READ MORE

New study by geophysicists Zhong Lu, professor, Shuler-Foscue Chair, and Jin-Woo Kim research scientist, Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, finds massive sinkholes are unstable

Science Daily

Originally Posted: June 14, 2016

Geohazard: Giant sinkholes near West Texas oil patch towns are growing — as new ones lurk

Satellite radar images reveal ground movement of infamous sinkholes near Wink, Texas; suggest 2 existing holes are expanding, and new ones are forming as nearby subsidence occurs at an alarming rate

Two giant sinkholes that sit between two West Texas oil patch towns are growing — and two new ones appear to be lurking, say geophysicists. Satellite radar images reveal substantial ground movement in and around the infamous sinkholes near Wink, Texas — suggesting expansion of the two existing holes, with subsidence in two other nearby areas suggesting new ones may surface. READ MORE