UB must investigate? its Shale Institute

University administrators, the press and the public are being duped by industry-backed studies masquerading as objective academic research. Specific examples involve studies released by the University at Buffalo Shale Resources and Society Institute, University of Texas and Penn State University. At all three public universities, authors of studies on the impacts of shale-gas extraction by fracking did not disclose gas industry ties, which were discovered only after their industry-biased conclusions were reported. The lead UB author also failed to disclose industry ties in a Penn State study that was later retracted by the university. The University of Texas is investigating its study's principle author. The absence of an investigation of the UB study damages the university's credibility and erodes public trust.

Publication of academic research in science requires disclosure of industry affiliations and funding sources to avoid even the appearance of conflict of interest. Also required is anonymous peer review mediated by a journal editor, which generally results in revision and resubmission, and ultimately, in acceptance or rejection for publication. University studies resulting from industry-affiliated research should likewise undergo rigorous peer review and be published in a journal prior to their release to the press.

The UB press release contained authors' conclusions that were not peer-reviewed, not supported by the data and were biased in favor of the gas industry. At this critical time in determining policies on shale-gas fracking, it is outrageous that invalid conclusions in the UB press release were made public and promptly cited as an authoritative source in Congress in order to influence policy makers.

The lack of transparency and academic rigor is appalling and intolerable. The UB administration should uphold academic standards and initiate an industry-independent investigation of the Shale Resources and Society Institute and its research findings.

David Kowalski



Blessings are abundant? when obeying the church

In a recent My View column, a former college professor recalled the days when he and his wife faithfully followed the strictures of his church against the use of contraceptives. Using the "rhythm system" to try to space births in a way approved by the church, they had six children (all girls) in 10 years.

The writer then comments: "Eventually, I concluded that our problems were a blessing in disguise. Our children have been the gems of our life."

The irony here is exquisite. In no way was this a blessing "in disguise." They obeyed their church and were blessed with six children and (now) 14 grandchildren who have enriched their lives.

Dan Mattimore

West Seneca


Distinguished educator,? or distinguished check?

Isn't it wonderful that the Buffalo School Board is getting a distinguished educator to provide a plan to help improve persistently low-achieving schools in Buffalo? That is, $1,520 for an eight-hour work day plus expenses, as stated in the Aug. 3 News, seems fair, I guess, to this distinguished educator.

I was under the impression that the education system in Buffalo is always suffering from a budget crisis and I'm beginning to understand why when this kind of expense is mandated from Albany.

Perhaps the board could have saved some money by reciprocating a local distinguished educator to Florida with a plan for an underachieving school in that area. From what I understand, if Elliott makes a recommendation to the district's improvement plan here, the board has to make these changes or provide a written explanation to Albany as to why not, which opens up a question. If her distinguished recommendations do not improve student achievement, does the board still have to pay her a distinguished paycheck? Probably yes, since they "approved her contract."

I truly hope that our new Buffalo school superintendent, Pamela Brown, finds the recommendations of this distinguished educator helpful in the unending quest for a better education plan for all Buffalo schools.

A recent article in the News about possible resident requirements for police officers and past articles on residency requirements for Buffalo teachers makes me wonder about a case like this, where a Buffalo paycheck is paid to an educator who resides in Tampa, Fla.

Norman Machynski



Tragedy in Niagara Falls? was beyond senseless

Recently, I've read about beheadings and betrayals in Afghanistan, mutilations in Mexico, massacres in Syria, genocide in Nigeria and other African and Asian nations, the anniversary of multiple shootings at Utoya Beach in Norway where approximately 91 people were killed by a gunman whose only comment when apprehended was that he wished he had more time to continue to kill, and the shootings in a Denver movie theatre.

Add these international and national events to the daily premeditated and random murders and other atrocities worldwide and one has a very good reason to become extremely contrite. However, every once in a while a single appalling, horrific and indescribably evil act by one human being to another human being hits the news and it makes your skin crawl.

Such an event took place Monday in Niagara Falls. There are no sane reasons or explanations as to why a 5-year-old girl is dead, only that she is, and two young mens' lives will be tragically altered forever. Man's inhumanity to man continues at an alarming pace and affects us all. To quote a line from Marathon Man – "Is it safe?"

And we call ourselves civilized?

Scott Patterson



The News shows its bias ?for Obama and Democrats

The News editorial "The party of No," continues The News' series of skewed editorials blaming every problem, including budget deficits and the economy, on the House Republicans – and the Bush administration, of course. As always, The News completely overlooks the intervening first two years of the Obama administration, when the Democrats controlled the White House, the Senate and the House.

The News bemoans the lack of a federal budget and implies that the Republicans are to blame. But it does not mention that the Democratic-controlled Senate has not passed a budget in more than 1,100 days, although it could do so by a simple majority vote. In fact, in 2011, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that Senate Democrats would be "foolish" to propose their own budget.
The News continues to focus its blame on House Republicans and give Democrats a free pass.

Randall D. White

Grand Island