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Michael Munk reports: Media reports, which barely acknowledged this program when it began in 2004, seemed happy to claim that lower oil prices forced Venezuela to cancel it. For example, NYTimes' "Venezuela Suspends Heating Aid to the U.S" by the dedicated critic of Venezuela, Simon Romero, begins: "Venezuela’s national oil company is suspending a program that provides discounted heating oil to poor communities in the United States, as officials here struggle to find ways of preserving hard currency reserves amid a plunge in oil revenues."
Thought of a certain way, for better or worse, the last century and a half of history -- of human beings on this planet -- comes down to oil rigs, pipelines, and tankers. Like it or not, we're in an oily world where the most essential bets, large and small, are regularly energy ones. Just recently, oil prices plunged as low as $33 a barrel amid a global economic meltdown that offered relief to some consumers, but left others suffering. Think, for instance, in a winter when it's generally going to be far cheaper to heat your home, of those who, fearing that the soaring oil prices of the first half of 2008 would never end, locked in their heating oil for this winter at $4 a gallon.
By Dan DeWalt
“Shall the voters of the town of ___________request the Vermont legislature to:
1. Recognize that the 2% of our New England region's power grid supply that is
provided by Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant can be replaced with a
combination of local, renewable electricity and efficiency measures, along with the
purchase of hydro generated electricity, and excess power already in the New
England electricity market;
2. Given the viable alternatives and the risks posed by continued operation, ensure
that Vermont Yankee will cease operation in March 2012, after having completed its
40 year design life by not granting approval for operation of the plant after that date
and by not determining that further operation will promote the general welfare;
3. Hold the Entergy Corporation, which purchased Vermont Yankee in 2002,
responsible to fully fund the plant's clean-up and decommissioning when the reactor
By George Monbiot
George Monbiot's ZSpace Page / ZSpace
Can you think of a major threat for which the British government does not prepare? It employs an army of civil servants, spooks and consultants to assess the chances of terrorist attacks, financial collapse, floods, epidemics, even asteroid strikes, and to work out what it should do if they happen. But there is one hazard about which it appears intensely relaxed. It has never conducted its own assessment of the state of global oil supplies and the possibility that one day they might peak and then go into decline.
Federal Reserve sets stage for Weimar-style Hyperinflation
By F. William Engdahl | GlobalResearch.CA
The Federal Reserve has bluntly refused a request by a major US financial news service to disclose the recipients of more than $2 trillion of emergency loans from US taxpayers and to reveal the assets the central bank is accepting as collateral. Their lawyers resorted to the bizarre argument that they did so to protect 'trade secrets.' Is the secret that the US financial system is de facto bankrupt? The latest Fed move is further indication of the degree of panic and lack of clear strategy within the highest ranks of the US financial institutions. Unprecedented Federal Reserve expansion of the Monetary Base in recent weeks sets the stage for a future Weimar-style hyperinflation perhaps before 2010.
The reaction from safe-energy advocates is mixed to the proposed appointment of Steven Chu as U.S. energy secretary by President-Elect Barak Obama. Mixed is a charitable response to the prospects of Chu being in charge of the U.S. Department of Energy.
Although he has a keen interest in energy efficiency and solar power and other clean forms of renewable energy, Chu is a staunch advocate of nuclear power.
“Nuclear has to be a necessary part of the portfolio,” declared Chu, the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, at an economic gathering last March in Palo Alto, California organized by Stanford University.”
James L. Jones is Obama's new national security advisor. But he leads an institute that has challenged global warming.
By Tom Hamburger, LA Times
Reporting from Washington — When President-elect Barack Obama introduced James L. Jones Jr. as his national security advisor Monday, he emphasized the retired Marine general's understanding of "the connection between energy and national security."
Obama sees that as a plus, but some environmental groups and global warming activists view Jones' environmental record with suspicion.
Jones will not be responsible for environmental policy, but he has said energy is a vital national security issue. It affects domestic economic stability and international geopolitical relationships, particularly in the oil-rich Middle East.
Ocean currents can power the world, say scientists
A revolutionary device that can harness energy from slow-moving rivers and ocean currents could provide enough power for the entire world, scientists claim.
By Jasper Copping | Telegraph.co.UK
The technology can generate electricity in water flowing at a rate of less than one knot - about one mile an hour - meaning it could operate on most waterways and sea beds around the globe.
By Dave Lindorff
I was listening to Robert Reich, once the left end of the spectrum in the Clinton cabinet, talking with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer a few days ago, and Reich, who has in the past sometimes made sense, was talking about how Americans’ incomes had fallen over the last eight years of the Bush/Cheney administration and that it was necessary to get their incomes back on an upward trend, so that they could “start shopping again.”
Now I understand Reich was trying to make the case that the bailout so far has been focused on the banks and the insurance industry, and that none of this will help unless ordinary people start getting some relief, but still, there’s something completely twisted and out of whack when the best we can come up with is that we need to get Americans back into the malls.
In fact, that is a good part of what’s wrong with the US economy: Fully 75 percent of GDP in America is consumer spending.
By Dave Lindorff
It’s a safe bet that within the next several months, Congress will vote to bail out General Motors. It will be a colossal boondoggle involving, probably, upwards of $50 billion when it’s through, and it will fail in the end.
The reason is before our eyes. This bloated megacorporation is being run by idiots.
For years, as it became evident to everyone that oil prices were going to soar because demand has been exceeding both production and supply and will continue to do so, it has been obvious that to succeed, a car company had to offer well-made cars that could demonstrate high gas mileage. GM, perhaps more than any other company, ignored that reality and has been paying the price, watching its share of the car market wither.
By Paul Rogat Loeb
Remember when the McCain campaign accused Barack Obama of "already measuring the White House drapes." It was more false populism, suggesting that it was the bi-racial son of a single mother who embodied a sense of entitlement, instead of the admiral's son who couldn't remember how many houses he had. But let's take McCain's challenge literally, and ask whether Obama needs to change the White House drapes at all. Or the White House rug or furniture or décor, all of which new presidents traditionally replace when they move in. Obama could replace all this as expected, and no one would deem it exceptional. But suppose instead that he took the opportunity to break with tradition, and make a powerful symbolic stand by instead using the already allocated money to bring back additional solar panels (Bush actually brought back some in 2002 but more could be added), and make the White House more energy efficient.