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From the plains of North Dakota to the deep waters of Brazil, dozens of major oil and gas projects have been suspended or canceled in recent weeks as companies scramble to adjust to the collapse in energy markets.
It would be foolhardy to depend on today’s lower energy prices – in this stalled economy – to determine whether or not we should develop alternatives to oil – as within two years we are going to be faced with the same climbing energy prices and the same scarcity of oil.
In the short run, falling oil prices are leading to welcome relief at the pump for American families ahead of the holidays, with gasoline down from its summer record of just over $4 to an average of $1.66 a gallon, and still falling.
But the project delays are likely to reduce future energy supplies — and analysts believe they may set the stage for another surge in oil prices once the global economy recovers.
Oil markets have had their sharpest-ever spikes and their steepest drops this year, all within a few months. Now, with a global recession at hand and oil consumption falling, the market’s extreme volatility is making it harder for energy executives to plan ahead. As a result, exploration spending, which had risen to a record this year, is being slashed.
The precipitous drop in oil prices since the summer, coming on the heels of a dizzying seven-year rise, was a reminder that the oil business, like those of most commodities, is cyclical. When demand drops and prices fall, companies curb their investments, leading to lower supplies. When demand recovers, prices rise again and companies start to invest in new production, starting another cycle.
Read it all…
Read transcript of President-Elect Barack Obama’s Energy and Environment team announcement
The reason why Bush would say – we need to get off our oil addiction – is because as a man who drilled for oil unsuccessfully – he is in the best place to understand the addiction to finding and dealing in oil – he’s the biggest addict.
Al Gore sounded the warning back in 2000 for the environment – when he said we need to move away from the combustion engine – because the polutatants were causing climate change – then the media echoed the Republican charge that the car industry would fail. Then there is another cost – moving leaps and bounds in technology – we have smaller this and faster that – but when it comes to energy technology everything is frozen – just like these Saudi oil reps. stuck in a time warp.
How many calls have their been for a ‘Steve Jobs’ to take over the car industry – because we know what can be achieved. A lot of this backwardness – in energy technology – is almost certainly due to the oil lobby. But there’s even a problem with this – the oil fields used to be controlled by western nations – so although they still make lots of money – the oil industry is likely not as profitable as it once was when they controlled the wells. So now $700 billion from America alone – goes to the Middle East. A place which doesn’t see a whole range of individual freedoms as a priority – and who depend almost entirely on the west for technology. Now imagine our western oil lobby being replaced by theirs. In short we could be trading our freedoms for the oil.
What they are doing at the moment primarily is building mosques everywhere – so they can build a mosque here – but you can’t build a church there. Russia recently – has enough oil of its own - when approached by the Saudis to build a mosque in their capital – told the Saudis well let us kindly build a Russian Orthodox church in your capital. Russia found that 80% of the written material in their mosques was radical – in the US the numbers are similar and most of this radicalized information is coming directly from Saudi Arabia *what was the info. saying – pretty much don’t mix in – don’t make friends with westerns or don’t respect their costumes.
We need to get off the oil for a variety of reasons – and we should not let guys who know nothing about technology – tell us what is or is not possible.
It is worth mentioning that auto CEO’s did give Congress assurance that they would not use this bailout money to sue states over their emission standards. It is a big about turn for the auto industry – almost everything they have been against now they have to be – for, one of the auto CEO’s did say that they thought electric cars were the way forward – as everyone has a plug – hybrid-electric is a good step, until battery life improves – at the moment we have car batteries that can go 240 miles without recharging – but they are heavy – and they weigh a tonne literally – though there is car battery technology being developed in Japan (always Japan) that is half the weight 450 lbs – their car companies quite sensibly work with the battery companies – the Japanese are also working on bringing down recharging times to about a half an hour.
Environmental groups are disappointed that money put aside to aid automakers to produce more fuel-efficient cars is now going to fund their operations.
Although the bill promises the money for retooling plants will be replenished in the future, environmentalists are skeptical. And they’re also upset the bailout doesn’t ban automakers from suing states that set tougher emissions limits than federal rules.
“We know they need help retooling their factories, and we feel very strongly that if those funds are going to be diverted and not replenished, Congress is walking away from their own commitment to fuel efficiency,” says Phyllis Cuttino, head of the U.S. Global Warming Campaign for the Pew Environmental Group.
The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 called for increasing fuel efficiency to 35 miles per gallon by 2020. In exchange for agreeing, automakers would get $25 billion in loans to help revamp their plants. They waited over a year for Congress to allocate the money. Now, some will go to the bailout.
“The funding Congress is considering now is just a Band-Aid, and it diverts funds originally intended to help the Big Three and other companies produce more fuel-efficient vehicles,” says Michelle Robinson, director of the Clean Vehicles Program for the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Those funds should be replenished when the new Congress convenes in January.”
INTERACTIVE GRAPHIC: A state-by-state look at auto industry jobs
What particularly irks environmentalists is that the automakers will continue on their quest to stop individual states from enacting their own emissions rules.
Roland Hwang, vehicle policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said, “The White House has decided they want to hold up this entire bailout bill in order to remove this litigation provision. We’re very disappointed.”
Still, even though they aren’t getting money to increase fuel efficiency, high gas prices have forced the automakers to revamp their lineups in favor of more fuel-efficient cars. As Congress debated the bailout bill Wednesday, Ford showed off its 2010 Ford Fusion hybrid in Marina del Rey, Calif., and said that at 39 miles per gallon, it will be the highest-mileage midsize car.
“We’re going squarely after the imports with this,” says Frank Davis, executive director for North American product. The goal: “not only to compete but lead.” It’s exactly the pitch that Detroit needs to win the hearts of a skeptical Congress and American public, and the environmental lobby. Ford has not asked for loans now. General Motors and Chrysler say they need loans to stave off bankruptcy filings.
While it makes a play for environmentalists, the new hybrid will also be aimed at being a commercial success for Ford. Davis says it should add up to 25,000 sales of Fusions a year. While pricing isn’t set, the hybrid system is 30% less expensive than the last generation, like that in the Ford Escape hybrid SUV.
Ford plans to spend $14 billion in the U.S. on advanced technologies and products to improve fuel economy in the next seven years, it told Congress in the business plan it submitted as part of the bailout consideration. It plans a pure electric sedan by 2011.
Source: USA Today
WASHINGTON (CNN) — The House of Representatives handily passed a bill Wednesday night that would provide up to $14 billion in bridge loans to automakers, but Republican opposition cast doubt about the bill’s fate in the Senate later this week.
The U.S. House approved an auto bailout package Wednesday, but it could hit a roadblock in the Senate.
The stopgap measure, approved by a vote of 237 to 170, is designed to let the new Congress and incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama craft a long-term solution. It would also give the companies time to negotiate with creditors and the United Auto Workers union on additional concessions needed to stem their ongoing losses.
Thirty-two GOP representatives voted with 205 Democrats in support of the bill while 20 Democrats and 150 Republicans opposed the bill.
In Michigan, the home of the three major U.S. automakers — Chrysler, Ford and General Motors — eight Republicans joined the six Democrats in the state’s delegation in voting for the measure. A ninth Michigan Republican, Timothy Walberg, did not vote.
Seven other Republicans that voted for the bill are from nearby Midwestern states that are also home to auto plants. However, outside of the auto belt, the bailout had little Republican support.
Even Democrats couldn’t come to complete agreement on the bill, with House and Senate Democrats going their separate ways on one of the criteria the “car czar” must consider in determining an auto company’s long-term viability plan.
House Democrats used language requiring that autos meet stricter “applicable” fuel efficiency and emissions standards — which would cover consideration of state standards such as those adopted in California and New York — while the Senate version of the bill calls for vehicles to meet “federal” standards, which are not as high as some state benchmarks.
A Senate Democratic leadership aide told CNN that Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Wednesday morning that the bill would never pass the Senate with the House language.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wanted the higher efficiency standard so that liberal Democrats who are not inclined to help the auto manufacturers would feel they had assurances that these companies would adopt and make more fuel-efficient cars, according to House Democratic aides.
However, even if language about the fuel efficiency standards is resolved, Senate Republicans still aren’t likely to flock behind the bill.
“I don’t think the votes are there on our side of the aisle,” reported Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio, one of few vocal Republican backers of the bill.
“It’s not gonna pass right now,” echoed Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, a fierce critic of the bill.
Voinovich and Shelby spoke after Senate Republicans huddled behind closed doors in the Capitol on Wednesday to weigh the merits of the bailout. Vice President Dick Cheney and White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten attended the meeting — called “spirited” by one senator — to sell the bill the White House negotiated with congressional Democrats.
Several senators said they were concerned the so-called “car czar,” created by the legislation, would not have enough power to force the troubled automakers to restructure to become profitable.
“I have concerns about the power of the czar,” said Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minnesota, a moderate who Democrats have hoped would vote for the bill, “that he actually has some real power. And I think that’s a concern a lot of my colleagues have right now.”
“The car czar needs the authority to create a de facto structured bankruptcy. Not consulting. Not calling meetings. He needs the capacity of a master of bankruptcy to force things to happen,” said Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah.
Some senators oppose any assistance to the automakers, saying they should file for bankruptcy, but White House spokeswoman Dana Perino pointed out that many lawmakers from both sides of the aisle believe that allowing “a disorderly bankruptcy could be fatal to U.S. automakers and have devastating impacts on jobs, families and our economy.”
“As a result, they also agree we should find a way to foster the companies’ restructuring so that they can become viable and profitable,” she said. “We believe the legislation developed in recent days is an effective and responsible approach to deal with troubled automakers and ensure the necessary restructuring occurs.”
Other senators said they were concerned that the carmakers might never pay taxpayers back for the loans, meant to keep General Motors and Chrysler afloat until they can finalize a long-term viability plan — by March 31, according to the legislation.
GM has said it needs $4 billion by the end of the month to continue operations, and believes it’ll need an additional $6 billion in the first three months of 2009. Chrysler has said it needs $4 billion by the end of the first quarter.
Ford, which has more cash on hand than its U.S. rivals, is not expected to tap into this bailout in the coming months.
Project Would Be the Largest Since the Interstate System
On the heels of more grim unemployment news, President-elect Barack Obama yesterday offered the first glimpse of what would be the largest public works program since President Dwight D. Eisenhower created the federal interstate system in the 1950s.
Obama said the massive government spending program he proposes to lift the country out of economic recession will include a renewed effort to make public buildings energy-efficient, rebuild the nation’s highways, renovate aging schools and install computers in classrooms, extend high-speed Internet to underserved areas and modernize hospitals by giving them access to electronic medical records.
“We need to act with the urgency this moment demands to save or create at least 2 1/2 million jobs so that the nearly 2 million Americans who’ve lost them know that they have a future,” Obama said in his weekly address, broadcast on the radio and the Internet.
Obama offered few details and no cost estimate for the investment in public infrastructure. But it is intended to be part of a broader effort to stimulate economic activity that will also include tax cuts for middle-class Americans and direct aid to state governments to forestall layoffs as programs shrink.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has called for spending between $400 billion and $500 billion on the overall package. Some Senate Democrats and other economists have suggested spending even more — potentially $1 trillion — in the hope of jolting the economy into shape more quickly.
Nice background today! I wonder if that’s a view of Chicago out the window.
President-elect Barack Obama lays out key parts of Economic Recovery Plan >> Transcript here
GM CEO makes case at bailout hearing
Chrysler CEO lays out plan
Auto workers union fate tied to GM
Car execs grilled by Congress on transport to hearing
GM Volt technology allows a car to drive for 40 miles before switching over to gas/petrol – but we already have electric cars like the Tesla that can go 240 miles without recharging – plenty enough for everyday driving – at about 2 cents/mile to run.
It seems that the auto makers are stalling ~
US Auto makers roll out fuel efficient cars
Dec. 3 (Bloomberg) — President-elect Barack Obama said Bill Richardson will be an “economic diplomat” for the U.S. as commerce secretary and a key member of a team that lays the groundwork for renewed growth.
Warning that a recovery from the recession that began last year “won’t happen overnight,” Obama said Richardson has a unique combination of national and international experience to be an “unyielding advocate” for American companies and workers at home and abroad.
“Bill has seen from just about every angle what makes our economy work and what keeps it from working better,” Obama said at a news conference today in Chicago at which he formally announced the New Mexico governor as his choice to lead the Commerce Department.
Richardson, 61, is one of the highest-profile Latinos to hold elective office in the U.S. Before winning his race for governor of New Mexico in 2002 and gaining a second term in 2006, he served in two Cabinet positions in President Bill Clinton’s administration and eight terms in the U.S. House.
He ended his own bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in January and later endorsed Obama, calling him a “once-in-a-lifetime leader” who can unite the country. That move was a rebuke to Hillary Clinton, who Obama has picked for secretary of state, and her husband publicly lashed out at Richardson at the time.
Richardson downplayed any suggestions that hard feelings lingered from the campaign.
“There are some who speak of a team of rivals,” he said. “But I’ve never seen it that way. Past competitors, yes.”
Richardson said that he would use his position to promote trade. “Boosting commerce between states and nations is not just a path to solvency and growth; it’s the only path,” he said.
He vowed to make the Commerce Department an integral part of Obama’s financial recovery plan. The “catchphrases of your economic plan” Richardson told Obama, are “investment, public/private partnerships, green jobs, technology, broadband, climate change and research.”
“That is the Department of Commerce,” he said.
Richardson would head a Cabinet agency with responsibilities that include compiling economic data, monitoring the weather and adjudicating trade complaints.
Companies such as General Electric Co., the world’s biggest maker of power-generation equipment, said they will be looking to Richardson for help reducing hurdles and tariffs to selling their goods overseas.
Richardson is “very smart on things like free-trade agreements,” said Peter O’Toole, a GE spokesman and former speechwriter for Richardson. “Hopefully we can work with Governor and future Secretary Richardson on making sure that free and fair trade is a two-way street.” …
The Vatican, the world’s smallest sovereign state, has stepped up its fight against global warming by installing a huge rooftop solar energy system.
More than 2,000 photovoltaic panels have been fixed to the roof of one of the city state’s main buildings, enabling the Holy See to cut its carbon dioxide emissions by about 225 tonnes a year, saving the equivalent of 80 tonnes of oil annually.
Looming over them is the imposing bulk of St Peter’s Basilica, but the panels will not be visible from ground level, leaving the Vatican’s impressive skyline unblemished.
The solar energy system covers the massive roof of the “Nervi Hall”, where Pope Benedict XVI holds general audiences.
The 2,400 panels, designed by a Germany company, will heat, light and cool the hall and several surrounding buildings, producing 300 kilowatt hours (MWh) of clean energy a year.
The hall, built in 1971 and one of the Vatican’s newest buildings, has a sweeping, wave-shaped roof which made the project feasible.
The Vatican’s official mouthpiece, the daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, said in an editorial that “the gradual exhaustion of the ozone layer and the greenhouse effect have reached critical dimensions.”
Pope Benedict, like his predecessor John Paul II, has made several appeals for greater efforts to protect the environment.
Last year the Holy See announced that it would become the world’s first carbon-neutral state by planting trees in a national park in Hungary in order to offset its carbon-dioxide emissions.
This latest initiative puts the Vatican at odds with Italy. The Italian government said this week that it would veto new European Union limits on greenhouse gas emissions unless it won concessions.
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said a plan proposed by France’s President, Nicolas Sarkozy, to cut emissions by 20 per cent by 2020, was unrealistic.
Italy’s greenhouse gas emissions are around 13 per cent above 1990 levels – one of the worst performances in the EU.
Analysts believe that Italy may be dragging its heels in order to secure a better deal for its industry and that the government would not dare risk the stigma of sabotaging the EU’s self-declared role as the world leader in tackling climate change.
Obama’s transition team said the president-elect addressed the Bi-Partisan Governors Global Climate Summit in Los Angeles on Tuesday morning to “discuss his commitment to marking a new chapter in America’s leadership on climate change that will strengthen our security and create millions of new jobs in the process.”
Obama said that there are few challenges facing the world that “are more urgent,” adding that the scientific evidence of climate change is “beyond dispute.”
The president-elect pledged to implement a federal cap-and-trade system with “strong annual targets” that would reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and an additional 80 percent by 2050.
He said the U.S. will invest $15 billion a year in safe nuclear energy, clean-coal technologies, solar power, wind and biofuels.
- “This investment will not only help us reduce our dependence on foreign oil, making the United States more secure. And it will not only help us bring about a clean energy future, saving our planet. It will also help us transform our industries and steer our country out of this economic crisis by generating five million new green jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced,” Obama said.
Governors present included Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R), Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D), Illinois Gov. Rod Blagoevich (D), Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle (D) and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R).
The transition team said that there were also representatives from 22 other states and officials from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Poland and the U.K.
- “Now is the time to confront this challenge once and for all,” Obama said. “Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response. The stakes are too high. The consequences, too serious. Stopping climate change won’t be easy. It won’t happen overnight. But I promise you this: When I am president, any governor who’s willing to promote clean energy will have a partner in the White House. Any company that’s willing to invest in clean energy will have an ally in Washington. And any nation that’s willing to join the cause of combating climate change will have an ally in the United States of America.”
Source: The Hill
- What: eRuf Model A
- Where: Pfaffenhausen, Germany
- Price: £150,000+ / $225,000+
- Available: 2009 – 2010
- Key rivals: Tesla Roadster, G-Whiz
Caring about the environment has never been so easy now Ruf has ripped the combustion engine out of a Porsche 911 and slotted in a motor.
- Likes: it’s green, fast and comfy, too
- Dislikes: lardy handling, no luggage space, rough edges inside and understanding new technology
Alois Ruf’s calling card is a firebreathing 911 that eats ozone like a small child chews through chocolate, so the car rolling silently out of the company’s skunkworks, just a mile from the main factory, is what’s technically known as a turn up for the books. It’s the start of a whole new chapter for Ruf Automobile: the eRuf Model A, Germany’s first electric sportscar.
Ruf knows there’s only so much fuel left to be wrung from the earth. And while the tuning community on the whole is happy to bury its head in the oil rich sand, he is already looking to the future with the eRuf brand that will provide environmentally friendly sportscars for petrolheads with a conscience.
This is the first step, essentially a Carrera S with the internal combustion engine ripped out and replaced with an electric motor and batteries.
With no major cooling requirements, or exhaust, Ruf could smooth out the styling, but this is just the first step on a journey long into the future. By the time Model A hits the open market it will have evolved into a whole new animal: lighter, sleeker and much, much faster.
Tesla proved that electric cars could be sexy, but with a real, working electric 911, Ruf has produced a fast and comfortable car that simply plugs in at the end of the day.
And for the sake of convenience we’ll ignore the fact that electricity currently comes from smoke belching power stations.
Even the most efficient combustion engine loses 75% of its output to internal friction and the ancillary systems. An electric motor is a much simpler system and 80% of the output goes straight to the wheels, with all the monumental 480 lb/ft of torque coming direct from the off, from 0rpm, which renders the traditional six-speed manual in this car almost redundant.
It’s there, for now, but the car takes off in sixth and eventually the ‘box will make way for a more conventional automatic set-up with forward, reverse and park. And with all that torque it doesn’t really matter that the actual power output is 150kW, the electrical equivalent of 204bhp. That’s warm hatch territory at best.
But still the eRuf can break through the 60mph mark in seven seconds, in sixth gear, with the whirs and clicks of the gearbox and external hydraulic pumps giving way to the dull roar of tyre meeting road and the electric three-phase brushless motor winding up to 5,000rpm. And that whirring, dull noise will keep on rising until the 140mph limit – not bad for a green machine.
As for the brakes, right here, right now, they’re standard. But that will change as the nature of the motor means it can be turned into a generator at the flick of a switch, or the press of a pedal. So, in the end, hitting the brake will engage generator mode and the car will slow in just the same way while regenerating the batteries. But the traditional disc brake will all but disappear, remaining only as an emergency brake.
Ride and Handling
Ruf worked hard to keep the same basic front/rear weight balance and retain the basic handling characteristics of the 911 Carrera S, kind of.
But there’s one critical problem, the car weighs slightly less than a moon thanks to 96 of the 5.6kg iron phosphate/lithium ion batteries that replace the conventional tank of fuel. They’re rammed everywhere, in the storage space, throughout the back end and anywhere else they could think of to achieve the 200km range that was deemed an essential part of the equation for a usable commuter car rather than a near-pointless technical demonstration.
And that leaves this less powerful car with 1,910kg of kerbweight to contend with, which is a lot. That extra mass drags on its hips through the bends and, while it’s still basically a 911, it feels slow to react, ponderous and less like the surgical weapon we have all come to expect from cars this shape.
But Ruf has made no rampant claims about this being the ultimate electric sportscar, not yet. They have billed this as a commuter that can get to the office, cover 130 miles on a seven-hour charge and ease the conscience of the owner who probably has a gas guzzling monster at home for the weekends. Next generation batteries and a simpler gearbox will cut 300kg from the kerbweight and send the performance skyward, though.
As for the ride, it’s a Porsche 911 with sports seats, so it’s magic carpet smooth. And the eery silence of the electric motor means it’s as quiet as a Mercedes S-Class.
Someone had been hard at work with the label maker on this prototype and the dashboard is a rough concoction of switches, buttons and hastily connected lights right now. Aside from that there is a race-style digital readout that contains a whole new world of information, like the kW/hour, remaining battery life and the current efficiency of the brushless three-phase motor.
But the final version will feature a 911 interior so expertly modified that you’ll swear it left the Zuffenhausen production line and only the important information, like how much juice is left in the batteries and how much you’re using, will be on show. And, hopefully, there’ll be some luggage space once the next gen batteries are fitted as even the rear seats have been ripped out.
The MSN Cars verdict: 3/5
The real genius in this is that every other electric car requires some form of sacrifice: either looking like a berk in a G-Whiz or folding creaking joints over the sill of a Tesla, which is basically a Lotus Elise when all is said and done. Model A combines green, electric power with Porsche 911 style, comfort and practicality.
It’s rough around the edges, but this is just the first step and with the finest tuner in the Porsche business putting his full weight behind the project it will go forth in leaps and bounds.
We cannot wait for Model B.
Super Laser at the National Ignition Facility – KQED QUEST 10 mins
It’s the largest laser beam in the world and it’s being built in the Bay Area. The National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory will shoot tremendous bursts of energy at an area the size of a pencil eraser. The goal? To recreate fusion — which powers the sun and some nuclear bombs — perhaps harnessing a new source of clean energy for the 21st century.
Watch: The National Ignition Facility; Making Star Power on Earth 59 mins
President-elect Barack Obama is hearing from private sector economists, and some members of his economic advisory team that Congress should consider — and he should sign into law in January — a far broader stimulus package than anyone has publicly discussed to date.
Instead of $300 billion dollars, which has been the upper limit, they are now talking about $500 billion, which is 3 to 4 percent of GDP.
These advisers are looking at analysis that says next year unemployment could top eight percent, private sector spending could drop six percent of GDP, and the Federal Reserve is basically out of room to do anything more with monetary policy.
So they argue the nation’s economy will need that injection of capital.
How? They’re talking about implementing it through infrastructure — roads and bridges. Tax cuts. Investments in so-called green-jobs and alternative energy development. Unemployment extensions. And other aid to state and local governments.
But the big question is: how do you get the stimulus without making it permanent spending that increases the deficit over the long term?
President-elect Barack Obama has made no final decisions on a stimulus package, but this is what they’re contemplating right now.
Source: ABC News
This failing economy and troubled auto industry is the perfect storm for Obama and the Democrats, if the auto industry was strong — how could you get it to change direction? The writing was on the wall some eight years ago that the oil age was coming to an end – that to continue to pursue it would lead us into difficulty. And it was one of the hallmarks of Al Gore’s presidential campaign. Now we have seen the results of continuing down the same path. But with this disaster or more stripping of the sector – there is opportunity; the free market idea is to allow the auto industry to fail, or it can be bailed out under conservative socialism, or we can forget about the old titles and give the auto-industry the money it needs but with the strings attached – that it retools for the future car. Why can’t we have a hybrid/electric or an electric SUZ? And this merchandise can be exported – the market should be thrilled.
Bush is arguing – he’ll give Obama this – if in return Obama cedes with the Republican position on trade with Columbia. And it is a weak argument – because what Obama is saying – we will be happy to trade with you – but you are going to have to pull your act together when it comes to workers rights. This carrot and stick approach may do more to change conditions in Columbia – than all the diplomacy in the world. Doubtful if this is a chip that can be traded because it has a long term goal.
WASHINGTON — The struggling auto industry was thrust into the middle of a political standoff between the White House and Democrats on Monday as President-elect Barack Obama urged President Bush in a meeting at the White House to support immediate emergency aid.
Mr. Bush indicated at the meeting that he might support some aid and a broader economic stimulus package if Mr. Obama and Congressional Democrats dropped their opposition to a free-trade agreement with Colombia, a measure for which Mr. Bush has long fought, people familiar with the discussion said.
The Bush administration, which has presided over a major intervention in the financial industry, has balked at allowing the automakers to tap into the $700 billion bailout fund, despite warnings last week that General Motors might not survive the year.
Mr. Obama and Congressional Democratic leaders say the bailout law authorizes the administration to extend assistance.
Mr. Obama went into his post-election meeting with Mr. Bush on Monday primed to urge him to support emergency aid to the auto industry, advisers to Mr. Obama said. But Democrats also indicate that neither Mr. Obama nor Congressional leaders are inclined to concede the Colombia pact to Mr. Bush, and may decide to wait until Mr. Obama assumes power on Jan. 20. [...]
As the auto industry reels, rarely has an issue so quickly illustrated the differences from one White House occupant to the next. How Mr. Obama responds to the industry’s dire straits will indicate how much government intervention in the private sector he is willing to tolerate. It will also offer hints of how he will approach his job under pressure, testing the limits of his conciliation toward the opposition party and his willingness to stand up to the interest groups in his own. [....]
Obama has called on the Bush administration to accelerate $25 billion in federal loans provided by a recent law specifically to help automakers retool. Late in his campaign, Mr. Obama proposed doubling that to $50 billion. But industry supporters say the automakers, squeezed both by the unavailability of credit and depressed sales, need unrestricted cash now, simply to meet payroll and other expenses.
On Friday, Mr. Obama said he would instruct his economic team, once he chooses it, to devise a long-range plan for helping the auto industry recover in a way that is part of an energy and environmental policy to reduce reliance on foreign oil and address climate change.
Democrats close to both Mr. Obama’s transition team and to Congressional leaders seemed willing to call Mr. Bush’s bluff, calculating that he would not want to gamble that G.M. — an iconic, century-old American corporation with business tentacles in every state — would fail on his watch and add to the negative notes of his legacy. Also, economists as conservative as Martin Feldstein, an adviser to a long line of Republican presidents and candidates, have called more broadly for stimulus spending of up to $300 billion.
The major automakers — G.M., Ford and Chrysler — are each using up their cash at unsustainable rates. The Center for Automotive Research, which is based in Michigan and supported by the industry, released on Election Day an economic analysis of the impact of one or all of them failing. If the Big Three were to collapse, it said, that would cost at least three million jobs, counting autoworkers, suppliers and other businesses dependent on the companies, down to the hot-dog vendors and bartenders next door to their plants.
Organized labor is not the only interest group with influence in the Democratic Party that is weighing in as Mr. Obama plans his transition. Environmentalists are adamant that any aid be conditioned on the auto industry’s dropping of its opposition to higher fuel-efficiency standards and investing more in new technology. That puts them at odds with unions, who oppose any strings, leaving it to Mr. Obama to mediate.
Both as a candidate and now as president-elect, Mr. Obama has been in contact with former Vice President Al Gore, who last year won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on climate change. In a column published in Sunday’s New York Times, Mr. Gore wrote that “we should help America’s automobile industry (not only the Big Three but the innovative new start-up companies as well) to convert quickly to plug-in hybrids that can run on the renewable electricity that will be available.”
Read it all
While Americans eagerly vote for the next president, here’s a sobering reminder: As of Tuesday, George W. Bush still has 77 days left in the White House — and he’s not wasting a minute.
President Bush’s aides have been scrambling to change rules and regulations on the environment, civil liberties and abortion rights, among others — few for the good. Most presidents put on a last-minute policy stamp, but in Mr. Bush’s case it is more like a wrecking ball. We fear it could take months, or years, for the next president to identify and then undo all of the damage.
Here is a look — by no means comprehensive — at some of Mr. Bush’s recent parting gifts and those we fear are yet to come.
CIVIL LIBERTIES We don’t know all of the ways that the administration has violated Americans’ rights in the name of fighting terrorism. Last month, Attorney General Michael Mukasey rushed out new guidelines for the F.B.I. that permit agents to use chillingly intrusive techniques to collect information on Americans even where there is no evidence of wrongdoing.
Agents will be allowed to use informants to infiltrate lawful groups, engage in prolonged physical surveillance and lie about their identity while questioning a subject’s neighbors, relatives, co-workers and friends. The changes also give the F.B.I. — which has a long history of spying on civil rights groups and others — expanded latitude to use these techniques on people identified by racial, ethnic and religious background.
The administration showed further disdain for Americans’ privacy rights and for Congress’s power by making clear that it will ignore a provision in the legislation that established the Department of Homeland Security. The law requires the department’s privacy officer to account annually for any activity that could affect Americans’ privacy — and clearly stipulates that the report cannot be edited by any other officials at the department or the White House.
The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel has now released a memo asserting that the law “does not prohibit” officials from homeland security or the White House from reviewing the report. The memo then argues that since the law allows the officials to review the report, it would be unconstitutional to stop them from changing it. George Orwell couldn’t have done better.
THE ENVIRONMENT The administration has been especially busy weakening regulations that promote clean air and clean water and protect endangered species.
Mr. Bush, or more to the point, Vice President Dick Cheney, came to office determined to dismantle Bill Clinton’s environmental legacy, undo decades of environmental law and keep their friends in industry happy. They have had less success than we feared, but only because of the determined opposition of environmental groups, courageous members of Congress and protests from citizens. But the White House keeps trying.
Mr. Bush’s secretary of the interior, Dirk Kempthorne, has recently carved out significant exceptions to regulations requiring expert scientific review of any federal project that might harm endangered or threatened species (one consequence will be to relieve the agency of the need to assess the impact of global warming on at-risk species). The department also is rushing to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list — again. The wolves were re-listed after a federal judge ruled the government had not lived up to its own recovery plan.
In coming weeks, we expect the Environmental Protection Agency to issue a final rule that would weaken a program created by the Clean Air Act, which requires utilities to install modern pollution controls when they upgrade their plants to produce more power. The agency is also expected to issue a final rule that would make it easier for coal-fired power plants to locate near national parks in defiance of longstanding Congressional mandates to protect air quality in areas of special natural or recreational value.
Interior also is awaiting E.P.A.’s concurrence on a proposal that would make it easier for mining companies to dump toxic mine wastes in valleys and streams.
And while no rules changes are at issue, the interior department also has been rushing to open up millions of acres of pristine federal land to oil and gas exploration. We fear that, in coming weeks, Mr. Kempthorne will open up even more acreage to the commercial development of oil shale, a hugely expensive and environmentally risky process that even the oil companies seem in no hurry to begin. He should not.
Soon after the election, Michael Leavitt, the secretary of health and human services, is expected to issue new regulations aimed at further limiting women’s access to abortion, contraceptives and information about their reproductive health care options.
Existing law allows doctors and nurses to refuse to participate in an abortion. These changes would extend the so-called right to refuse to a wide range of health care workers and activities including abortion referrals, unbiased counseling and provision of birth control pills or emergency contraception, even for rape victims.
The administration has taken other disturbing steps in recent weeks. In late September, the I.R.S. restored tax breaks for banks that take big losses on bad loans inherited through acquisitions. Now we learn that JPMorgan Chase and others are planning to use their bailout funds for mergers and acquisitions, transactions that will be greatly enhanced by the new tax subsidy.
One last-minute change Mr. Bush won’t be making: He apparently has decided not to shut down the prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba — the most shameful symbol of his administration’s disdain for the rule of law.
Mr. Bush has said it should be closed, and his secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, and his secretary of defense, Robert Gates, pushed for it. Proposals were prepared, including a plan for sending the real bad guys to other countries for trial. But Mr. Cheney objected, and the president has refused even to review the memos. He will hand this mess off to his successor.
We suppose there is some good news in all of this. While Mr. Bush leaves office on Jan. 20, 2009, he has only until Nov. 20 to issue “economically significant” rule changes and until Dec. 20 to issue other changes. Anything after that is merely a draft and can be easily withdrawn by the next president.
Unfortunately, the White House is well aware of those deadlines.
Here a pro-future energy plan - quickly constructed.
In the future we are going to drive vehicles with mechanics which don’t use oil and gas.
Our factories will be powered by an energy source which cost little or nothing – lowering the cost of production.
The amount spent on energy could be shifted to research and development – we could create more if we don’t have to factor in the energy cost.
Once the cost of energy is out of the equation — as with most things there is an energy cost to manufacture it, and another energy cost to deliver it – to the wholesaler – then another energy cost to either deliver it to the consumer or the retail outlet, each time a product has to be moved or made or cooked, then the energy cost is added on to it like a tax.
Once you take that expense out of the system – then you are instantly looking a system where there is more money.
In your own home – if we don’t have to pay for electricity or heating, or gas to power our cars – or if we can significantly reduce these costs in the short term – and say wages stay the same – then you could instantly see how you could have more money in your own household. But if we could take the cost of energy out of the whole system, or significantly reduce it, then we could see how there would be more money for everyone – as sales or demand may go up and prices go down. We become the limiting factor and not energy availability or its cost. How we want to use and recycle materials for use again, becomes the limiting factors, on what we produce.
TOLEDO, Ohio – No blaring country songs. No pink handmade signs. No rousing chants of “Drill, baby, drill.”
Gov. Sarah Palin abandoned the usual flash of her campaign rallies on Wednesday to deliver her second policy speech as the Republican vice-presidential nominee, an address focused on energy security.
Standing on a riser above a concrete floor, under the glare of fluorescent lighting, Ms. Palin addressed fewer than 200 people, mostly employees of Xunlight Corporation, a spin-off from the University of Toledo that manufactures solar energy implements.
She called for greater energy independence, blaming decades of presidents and legislators for failing to achieve it.
“It’s been 30 years’ worth of failed energy policies in Washington, 30 years where we’ve had opportunities to become less reliant on foreign sources, and 30 years of failure in that area,” Ms. Palin said. “We must steer far clear of the errors and false assumptions that have marked the energy policies of nearly 20 Congresses and seven presidents.”
Ms. Palin also laid the blame at the feet of her Democratic counterpart, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., who has opposed offshore drilling. Mr. Biden was overheard telling a supporter on the campaign trail that he did not support clean-coal technology in the United States.
“He says that clean coal is O.K. for China, but sorry, Ohio, Joe Biden says it’s not for you,” she said. “And that is just nonsense.”
If Senator John McCain is elected, she added, $2 billion a year would be devoted to clean-coal research and development.
Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland released a response on behalf of the Obama campaign:
“In a bit of rare straight talk, Sarah Palin attacked her own running mate’s record today by blaming our oil addiction on ‘thirty years of failure’ in Washington,” said Governor Ted Strickland. “John McCain was there for twenty-six of those years, during which he voted against alternative sources of energy and stood with oil industry lobbyists instead. Now he wants to give those oil companies an additional $4 billion in tax breaks, even as he proposes pennies for the kind of renewable energy that can end our dependence on Mideast oil and create new jobs. After decades of John McCain’s failed leadership on energy, we can’t afford four more.”
As a vice-presidential candidate, Ms. Palin has leaned heavily on her record in Alaska challenging the power of oil companies, and as governor, she negotiated a $40 billion pipeline that would deliver natural gas from the North Slope of Alaska to the lower 48 states. But that project, which she described in her speech on Wednesday, is years away from federal approval and will not be built for at least a decade.
When it comes to the environment, John McCain only has the interests of Big Oil at heart. That’s why he has over 22 Big Oil lobbyists advising him. That’s why he favored lifting the moratorium on off-shore drilling — a move that prompted Big Oil to donate over $1 million to his campaign. And thanks to the League of Conservation Voters, we’ve got the proof!
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — Exxon Mobil Corp. set a quarterly profit record for a U.S. company Thursday, surging past analyst estimates.
Exxon Mobil (XOM, Fortune 500), the leading U.S. oil company, said its third-quarter net profit was $14.83 billion, or $2.86 per share, up from $9.41 billion, or $1.70, a year earlier. That profit included $1.45 billion in special items.
The company’s prior record was $11.68 billion in the second quarter of 2008.
The latest quarter’s net income equaled $1,865.69 per second, nearly $400 a second more than the prior mark.
The company said its revenue totaled $137.7 billion in the third quarter.
Analysts had expected Exxon to report a 40% jump in earnings to $2.38 per share, or net income of $12.2 billion, and a 28% surge in revenue to $131.13 billion, according to a consensus of estimates compiled by Thomson Reuters.
Exxon’s stock price slipped by nearly 3% in afternoon trading.
The company’s earnings were buoyed by oil prices, which reached record highs in the quarter before declining. Oil prices were trading at $140.97 a barrel at the beginning of the third quarter, and had fallen to $100.64 at the end.
Compare that to 2007, when prices traded at $71.09 a barrel at the beginning of the third quarter, and rose to $81.66 by the end.
Exxon’s special charges include the gain of $1.62 billion from the sale of a German natural gas company. It also includes the $170 million charge in interest related to punitive damages from the Valdez oil spill off the Alaskan coast in 1989.
The Irving, Texas-based company said it lost $50 million, before taxes, in oil revenue because of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. The company expects damages related to these hurricanes to reduce fourth-quarter earnings by $500 million.
Despite the surge in profit, Exxon said oil production was down 8% in the third quarter, compared to the same period last year.
The company also said it is spending more money to locate new sources of oil. Exxon said it spent $6.9 billion on oil exploration in the third quarter, a jump of 26% from the same period last year. The company said it began a new program to tap natural gas offshore from Nigeria.
Exxon also has an aggressive program for buying back stock with 109 million of its shares repurchased during the third quarter, at a cost of $8.7 billion.
In a conference call with analysts, David Rosenthal, vice president of investor relations for Exxon, said the company’s “first priority” is utilizing profits to continue investing in exploration programs for oil and other resources.
Someone else said that with the money we are spending in Iraq – we could put solar panels on every roof that feed into the grid (those who have had panels hooked up in this way report bills as low as $5/month). It would take a lot of convincing to tell people that the war in Iraq is not for oil – one, there’s a horrible human tragedy just down the road in Darfur – and no one is rushing to restore order in that region. So what we are doing / allowing the few to decide that we are going to go to war for oil (read democracy), so that a few oil companies can continue to make money from a global economy that runs on oil – something that we no longer need to do.
I was very interested in what Barack Obama said about, the inventions sitting in people garages. People are driving around now with prototype magnetic/electric hybrid motors. (If we are not careful Japan is going to so whop our asses on this one!) But we also have these inventors who have working magnetic motors in the States. We now have electric cars which are more powerful than gas guzzlers – accelerating from 0 -112 mph in 11 secs, beating out any Porsche. These ‘top guys’ have made their money of the war and the oil, but let them have it – because the real currency – the currency of the future is in technological advancements – and this is where we are just beginning. Imaging 100 years from now still driving around in one of these inefficient gas guzzling cars – because some one in the oil industry ‘needed’ to continue to make money – their profits would have ‘gone down’ if we were to change technology. It’s the case for the oil lamp vs. the light bulb.
See magnetic and electric cars and bikes here.
McCain and Palin are motioning for a war in Georgia (near Russia ~ that one!), but that’s all about a oil/ gas pipeline. Palin has stated that if they are elected McCain would place her in charge of energy, and she has stated that ‘we can drill our way out of our difficulties’. This is like the brain dead plan for the future – a future without vision. And what’s worst the experts are saying that they have sunk test wells around ANWR – and through technology they are able to check the area within its perimeter – and the findings are not all that were hoped. The oil leaving Alaska through the pipeline has halved in so many years. If elected it is likely that Palin would create an energy policy based on unsubstantiated facts. She would lead us on a wild moose chase.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — When the Sunday morning political pundits began talking last year about the tab for the war in Iraq hitting $1 trillion, Rob Simpson sprang from his sofa in indignation.
“Why aren’t people outraged about this? Why aren’t we hearing about it?” Simpson said. And then it came to him: “Nobody knows what a trillion dollars is.”
The amount _ $1,000,000,000,000 _ was just too big to comprehend.
So Simpson, 51, decided to embark “on an unusual but intriguing research project” to put the dollars and cents of the war into perspective. He hired some assistants and spent 12 months immersed in economic data and crunching numbers.
The result: a slim but heavily annotated paperback released, “What We Could Have Done With the Money: 50 Ways to Spend the Trillion Dollars We’ve Spent on Iraq.”
Simpson is no geopolitical, macro-economic, inside-the-Beltway expert. He’s an armchair analyst and creative director for an advertising agency, a former radio announcer and music critic in Ontario and a one-time voiceover actor.
His alternative spending choices reflect his curiosity and wit.
He calculates $1 trillion could pave the entire U.S. interstate highway system with gold _ 23.5-karat gold leaf. It could buy every person on the planet an iPod. It could give every high school student in the United States a free college education. It could pay off every American’s credit card. It could buy a Buick for every senior citizen still driving in the United States.
“As I started exploring, I was really taken aback by some of the things that can be done, both the absurd and the practical,” Simpson said.
America could the double the 663,000 cops on the beat for 32 years. It could buy 16.6 million Habitat for Humanity houses, enough for 43 million Americans.
Now imagine investing that $1 trillion in the stock market _ perhaps a riskier proposition today than when Simpson finished the book _ to make it grow and last longer. He used an accepted long-term return on investment of 9 percent annually, with compounding interest.
The investment approach could pay for 1.9 million additional teachers for America’s classrooms, retrain 4 million workers a year or lay a foundation for paying Social Security benefits in 65 years to every child born in the United States, beginning today.
It’s too recent to make Simpson’s list, but that $1 trillion could also have paid for the Bush administration’s financial bailout plan, with $300 billion to spare. It might not be enough, however, to pay for the war in Iraq. Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz has recently upped his estimate of the war’s cost to $3 trillion.
Simpson created a Web site companion to his book that lets you go virtual shopping with a $1 trillion credit card. Choices range from buying sports franchises to theme parks, from helping disabled veterans to polar bears.
Click on Air Force One, the president’s $325 million airplane. The program asks: “Quantity?”
“At one point we couldn’t find anybody who actually stuck with it long enough to spend $1 trillion,” Simpson said. “It will wear you out.”
IN PHOTO: Qannik, a 6-year-old beluga whale, swims in a tank at his new home at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma, Wash., Monday, June 11, 2007. AP Photo by Ted Warren.
Beluga whales endangered, government declares, contradicting Palin
The beluga whales of Alaska’s Cook Inlet are endangered and require additional protection to survive, the government declared Friday, contradicting Gov. Sarah Palin who has questioned whether the distinctive white whales are actually declining.
It was the Republican vice presidential candidate’s second environmental slap from Washington this year. She has asked federal courts to overturn an Interior Department decision declaring polar bears threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
The government on Friday put a portion of the whales on the endangered list, rejecting Palin’s argument that it lacked scientific evidence to do so. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that a decade-long recovery program had failed to ensure the whales’ survival.
“In spite of protections already in place, Cook Inlet beluga whales are not recovering,” said James Balsiger, NOAA acting assistant administrator.*
Source: Chicago Tribune
CNN’s Glenn Beck: A new poll says CEOs across America fear the consequences of an Obama presidency by a margin of four to one.
Under Obama 5% of Americans will see their taxes go up by 3%. And only those earnings over $250,000 – which is hardly a Marxist concept as Beck suggests! We could almost call it trickle down wealth sharing. We have just had 8 years of trickle-down economics – where more and more is given to the wealthiest – and it has only left the middle class worst off. Few can argue with this.
Glenn Beck oddly never mentions the biggest socialist financial sector bailout in history. And how these same CEO benefited from the sharing out of the American people’s wealth/money – to the tune of $700bn plus. Happy to take the US taxpayers money when it suits them.
A shameful attack on Obama – and his plans for the country’s middle class and for green jobs.
The guest mentions drilling in ANWR – no talk of green energy and ET or energy technology that if we don’t move on – like the car industry – we will be left at a disadvantage and behind countries like Japan who are already moving on it.
Sounds like more of the same – whale oil lamp industry against the electric light bulb. Of course the oil lamp industry men were afraid or were ‘fearful’ – real change scares people. But the days of not developing because the few are scared – are over.
Out of this trickle down Big Oil skewed economy – we have seen a failing car industry, banking industry, a home mortgage crisis – with the only industry emerging with record profits is the Big Oil industry. The tail is wagging the dog.
Have a look at the videos below to have a look at the new technology and where we could be going in the future.
Watch how the electric car performs against the Ferrari and Porsche:
Proving that green is clever – watch this magnetic motor hybrid motorbike in action (Japan):
Here’s a magnetic motor car – a DIY garage version. How many inventions are lingering in people’s garages/basements/garden sheds:
I think we can survive pretty good without Drill Baby Drilling in ANWR ~ It’s time for Change!
Jokes: Bush went in as a Social Conservative and came out as a Conservative Socialist.
There are two problems here – one is the folding banking industry around the world – and the other is that the weakened banking industry would allow – outsiders and mainly sovereign wealth funds to come in a cherry pick the banks and or industries that they want at rock bottom prices – these very powerful sovereign funds are mainly coming from three areas – the Middle East, Russia and China. Their investments at a time like this would give these areas undue influence over US and EU banking and insurance industries – but more their investments will give these countries or regions undue influence over US and possibly EU policy. With undue Middle East influence we could all be eating Halal. Western governments had to act.
To blame – of course are a number of things – but one is George Bush’s oil policy. Since the US only has 3% of the world’s oil – to fund its oil usage – it has to get oil from somewhere else. Saudi Arabia held almost all of the cards up until the war in Iraq – and the removal of Saddam Hussein – allowed the US create a major oil player in Iraq. But the cost was enormous. Yesterday 40bn barrel Iraqi oil contracts were put on sale in London. Drill Baby Drill to Big Oil. The problem is that the cost of the war could have funded the industry to build solar panels for every roof – in sunnier areas. And the new research in a whole host of energy alternatives – which would one day become fixtures – or until we develop the new technology.
If you listen to McCain – and Palin – Russia is ready to attack – but the real deal is the laying and operation of a gas pipeline through Georgia. So like Iraq – likely there will be a military build up there – against the evil Russia – to secure the oil or gas coming from there.
Under Bush’s policy vast amounts of money is being transferred to the Middle East – vast amounts of money is going into wars for oil – under “security” – Condi recently had a meeting with the Libyan leader – with the intention of vast amounts of US money flowing into Libya.
While in the US infrastructure crumbles, while the people in the Western world are at the whim of dictators – like Chavez, or Russia which clearly is putting its interests first. And in the Middle East – which showed itself when George Bush didn’t speak at the Israeli Kenesit – as the German Chancellor Angela Merkel did- because – he had to ask the Saudi’s to lower the price of oil – and as a part of that deal – he slung them some nuclear technology.
The oil game is a crazy game and it is leaving the US broke and at a disadvantage. The advantage and the money are in new generation of ET energy technology – one where for example cars are run on magnetism (magnetic motor) – and more efficient battery technologies. What would it mean to the US and EU countries – if they could get a mechanized factory – a factory of robots – to work around the clock without having to take into account the cost of energy. With this we can compete with China. There would be no need to ship jobs abroad.
The candidate with real foresight is Barack Obama. He’s thinking.
The U.S. government is dramatically escalating its response to the financial crisis by planning to invest $250 billion in the country’s banks, forcing nine of the largest to accept a Treasury stake in what amounts to a partial nationalization.
News that European governments also planned to take stakes in their banks and anticipation of new U.S. measures unleashed a tremendous surge in U.S. stock prices yesterday, with the Dow Jones industrial average soaring to the biggest percentage gain since the 1930s, up 11.1 percent. It ended 936.42 points higher, the largest point gain ever, just days after the Dow had its steepest weekly decline in history.
The Treasury Department’s decision to take equity stakes in banks represents a significant reversal, coming just weeks after Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. had opposed the idea. In a momentous meeting yesterday afternoon in Washington, Paulson, flanked by top financial regulators, told the executives of nine leading banks that they needed to participate in the program for the good of the national economy, two industry sources said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
The government’s initiative, which was to be announced this morning before the markets open for New York trading, is part of a wider plan that goes beyond the $700 billion rescue package approved by Congress earlier this month. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is also set to announce today the launch of an insurance fund to guarantee new issues of bank debt. It will provide unlimited deposit insurance for non-interest-bearing accounts, which are widely used by small businesses for payroll and other purposes.
In pressing the bank executives to accept partial government ownership, Paulson’s message was clear: Though officially the program was voluntary, the banks had little choice in the matter. In exchange for giving the Treasury minority stakes, the nine firms would jointly receive an investment worth $125 billion. The government would make another $125 billion available for the next 30 days to thousands of other banks and thrifts across the country.
Federal officials set conditions, telling the banks they could not raise their dividends without government permission and could not offer their executives new retirement packages, though the old packages would remain intact.
Paulson told them the moves would shore up confidence in their own institutions, spark lending throughout the system and send a message to smaller institutions that there is no stigma in accepting federal funding. Though some were reluctant, all of the executives complied.
There is a risk that banks will take the new government capital and use it to bolster their balance sheets but still not resume lending, and the Treasury is not getting any specific contractual guarantee to prevent that from happening. But bank regulators, particularly the Federal Reserve, will lean heavily on the firms receiving infusions to use the capital to increase their lending to businesses and consumers.
Taken together, the steps planned by the Treasury, the FDIC and the Federal Reserve amount to a monumental effort to jump-start the business of lending, which all but dried up in recent weeks as banks have lost faith in one another and their customers. Global markets began to melt down. Some emerging nations teetered on the brink of financial collapse.
Source: Washington Post
SCRANTON, Pa. — The Democratic vice-presidential nominee, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., sharing a stage with Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton for the first time this year, said the campaign of Senator John McCain was stooping to stunts and “ugly inferences” because it was losing and was out of ideas.
Rousing a crowd estimated by the police at 6,000 on an otherwise quiet day on the campaign trail, Mr. Biden said Mr. McCain’s campaign had become erratic, a reference to Mr. McCain’s changing positions on the financial crisis and his decision two weeks ago to suspend his campaign briefly to deal with it.
“Presidents have to supply steady leadership,” Mr. Biden told the friendly crowd in this northeastern Pennsylvania city where he spent the first 10 years of his life. He said Mr. McCain had become increasingly desperate and negative because he saw the presidency “slipping from his grasp.”
A spokesman for the Republican National Committee dismissed Mr. Biden’s remarks as “standard stuff” from the Democratic ticket. He declined to comment further.
The Scranton event drew a larger-than-usual crowd for Mr. Biden because of the presence of the Clintons. Mr. Clinton remains popular in this heavily Democratic, blue-collar city, and Mrs. Clinton’s father grew up and is buried here. The Clintons were in Scranton on Sunday to attend the christening of her brother Tony’s newborn son, Simon Joseph Rodham.
“We’ve done it before, and we’ll do it again. America will once again rise from the ashes of the Bushes.” Hillary Clinton
In the Democratic primary in April, Mrs. Clinton trounced Senator Barack Obama 74 to 26 percent in Lackawanna County, which includes Scranton. Mr. Obama has deployed Mr. Biden here and in other white working-class enclaves to try to win those voters who preferred Mrs. Clinton by such huge margins.
Mr. Clinton, in brief remarks at the beginning of the program, spoke as much about his wife as about the Obama-Biden ticket. People close to Mr. Clinton say he remains bitter about suggestions by Mr. Obama’s supporters that he incited racial animosity during the primaries in support of his wife’s candidacy.
Mr. Obama has been sparing in his use of the former president as a campaign surrogate, although Mr. Clinton left Scranton immediately after speaking to campaign for Mr. Obama in Virginia, a state, Mr. Clinton noted, that had not gone Democratic in a presidential contest for 40 years.
Mr. Clinton said Mrs. Clinton had already made 50 appearances on behalf of Mr. Obama. “She has not only done more to support him than any runner-up in the Democratic primary process in my lifetime,” he said, “she has done more than all the other runners-up combined.”
He spoke warmly of Mr. Biden, whom he has known for more than two decades. He said the choice of vice president was more crucial this year than in the past because the next president would be consumed by the global financial emergency.
“I hope you know that the next vice president for the first two years will be relatively more important in the larger world than has ever been the case because the president is going to have to close the door to the Oval Office and get this country out of the ditch,” Mr. Clinton said.
But he did say that in their televised debate 10 days ago Ms. Palin said she was not certain that global warming was caused by human activity.
“How in the hell — heck — are you going to change it,” Mr. Biden said, “unless you know what caused it?”
In her remarks, Mrs. Clinton offered an updated version of an applause line from her own campaign, saying: “It took a Democratic president to clean up after the last President Bush. It’s going to take a Democratic president to clean up after this President Bush.” (In the primaries, it was “It took a Clinton …”)
She then added a new coda: “We’ve done it before, and we’ll do it again. America will once again rise from the ashes of the Bushes.”
Mr. Biden barely mentioned his Republican vice-presidential rival, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska. But he did say that in their televised debate 10 days ago Ms. Palin said she was not certain that global warming was caused by human activity.
“How in the hell — heck — are you going to change it,” Mr. Biden said, “unless you know what caused it?”
The Democratic ticket is leading in Pennsylvania, according to recent polls, although the McCain campaign is devoting a significant effort to trying to narrow the gap.
Angelina Jolie won’t officially endorse a candidate, despite one being actively sought from both campaigns, but she had nice words for the Democratic nominee in the the German edition of Vanity Fair:
“Obama Would Be Great For My Family”
“Obama is fighting for international justice, he wants to intervene militarily in genocides abroad, and he wants to close down Guantanamo Bay. They are things which could move me to vote for him, not his roots. Of course, an American president like Barack Obama would be great for my family.”
But that isn’t “reason enough to vote for him.”
On being American:
“I am very proud of being American, and all my children have got American passports.
“For me, our family is just what America is – a melting pot, a mixture of many different races and nations,” she says. “My children should be proud of their Asian and African roots, but that in no way means [is] a lack of respect for the fact that they and their parents are Americans.”
If the offending picture is the White House – perhaps the they could tone the ad down a bit – know that you are competing with the old system – but perhaps be more subtle with it – the truth is nothing can stop the new energy – in 50 – 100 years – we are not going to be potting around with a combustion engine. The top of the range electric car is already more efficient than the gas guzzler, it goes from 0-60 mph almost as fast as you can put the pedal down, it is also faster and cheaper at 2¢/mile. Consider that like computers were 10/15 years ago.
The new buzz word is ET ~ energy technology, if we can do what we did with IT – with energy technology – then we don’t know where we will end up and what will be the power of the future. It is likely – the crude oil and its cousins – will go the way of the whale oil they once had to pour in the sea (as the barrels were worth more) and the oil lamps that it powered.
An environmental action group founded by former vice president Al Gore is accusing ABC of censoring an advocacy ad the group paid to air on the network.
The Alliance for Climate Protection late Wednesday sent an e-mail blast to supporters with the ominous subject line, “ABC won’t air our ad.”
“Did you notice the ads after last night’s presidential debate? ABC had Chevron. CBS had Exxon. CNN had the coal lobby,” wrote Alliance CEO Cathy Zoi. “But you know what happened last week? ABC refused to run our Repower America ad — the ad that takes on this same oil and coal lobby.” The message sent readers to to a web page where they could send a form letter to the network.
The ad in question, which was aired by several other networks, is a 30-second spot that starts off with a call to “Repower America,” with images of a little girl, windmills and solar panels.
Zoi sent a letter to Disney-ABC Television Group President Anne Sweeney on behalf of the Alliance, protesting the decision.
“This advertisement simply points out that the massive spending by oil companies on advertising and lobbying is a primary reason our nation hasn’t switched to clean and renewable sources for our energy. The assertions that our ad makes are factual, common sense and are needed in the national debate about our energy future. Your viewers should not be denied the right to hear this point of view,” wrote Zoi.
“Your rejection is even more indefensible given the overwhelming number of misleading ads that the oil and coal industry have run on your network,” she continued. “This year alone, oil and coal companies and interests have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in an effort to convince the American people that they are focused on solving our energy and climate crises. On its face, these assertions by oil and coal defy all reason.”
Barry said the group did not receive a response from ABC. The “Repower America” ad ran on CBS, CNN, CNN Headline News, Fox News, and MSNBC. ABC was the only one to reject the ad, according to the Alliance. The time spot purchased on ABC cost the group nearly $100,000, according to the Alliance. Instead of airing “Repower America,” ABC ran the group’s “Free Us” ad, which was already running on the network.
CNN’s Jim Boulden takes a spin in Mercedes-Benz’s first hybrid being introduced at the Paris Motor Show.
Drill Baby Drill – Perhaps we won’t need that now!
This is the type of thinking we need to get rid of – Palin is not satisfied with hunting wolves herself in a way that could be compared to shooting fish in a barrel – she wants to offer a bounty for anyone who can bring in the foreleg of a wolf !! Wild thinking!
Of all the ads to have aired this presidential campaign, one of the most successful may have been one of the least remarked-upon.
Weeks ago, Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund released a 60-second spot titled “Brutal,” denouncing Gov. Sarah Palin’s support for an aerial wolf killing program as well as a policy that places bounties on the forelegs of killed wolves. It was, according to trackers of voter responses, one of the most effective ads of the cycle.
It also earned the organization $600,000 in donations in the six hours after it was released, and more than $1 million overall. With the extra funds, the organization is now plowing money back into its advertisement.
On Wednesday, the wildlife group will announce that they are expanding the airing of its ad to additional swing states – a measure meant to correspond with Thursday’s vice presidential debate. The ad is currently airing in Florida, Michigan, Ohio and Northern Virginia; voters in Colorado and Missouri will soon see it also.
“Defenders of Wildlife has found a more effective critique of Palin than the Obama campaign or Democratic Party,” said a source with the organization. “The ad damages Palin with exactly the voters McCain put her on the ticket to attract — suburban women, moderate Independents.”
The group’s initial spot scored incredibly well among focus groups. A study of 312 Democrats, Republicans and Independents showed that the ad produced “moderate movement among all parties” in Obama’s favor. The spot earned a Political Communications Impact Score of 23.5, making it, according to the site Media Curves, the second most effective ad to have aired this cycle.
And unlike many presidential campaign ads this cycle, the claims made in the Defenders spot are virtually all true, albeit with some caveats, according to FactCheck.org.
“Aerial killing of wolves may not be your standard national election issue, but it is one that helps illuminate an important part of Sarah Palin’s character,” President of Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund Rodger Schlickeisen said in a statement. “We believe voters deserve to know about her support for this brutal practice, and we are confident the issue can move votes as we head into the home stretch of this campaign.”
Sarah Palin discusses global warming and its causes, vaguely, on CBS
Sarah Palin clearly was in her comfort zone when she chatted on-air Tuesday with conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt. As The Ticket noted , she presented a persona and offered some lines that could serve her well in her Thursday debate with Joe Biden.
Tuesday also saw the broadcast of the last of her several interviews with Katie Couric of CBS (we will miss them; they were fast becoming a staple of our daily routine).
The final segment may not spark more calls from conservative commentators that Palin give up her spot on the Republican national ticket. But in front of the television cameras — and in the face of more pointed questioning — the self-assurance that marked her conversation with Hewitt continued to elude her.
One answer by Palin will do little to quell concerns about her position on global warming. As she did with ABC’s Charlie Gibson a few weeks back, she did her best to skirt a direct answer on its causes.
From the transcript:
Palin: Well, we’re the only Arctic state, of course, Alaska. So we feel the impacts more than any other state, up there with the changes in climates. And certainly, it is apparent. We have erosion issues. And we have melting sea ice, of course. So, what I’ve done up there is form a sub-cabinet to focus solely on climate change. Understanding that it is real. And …
Couric: Is it man-made, though in your view?
Palin: You know there are – there are man’s activities that can be contributed to the issues that we’re dealing with now, these impacts. I’m not going to solely blame all of man’s activities on changes in climate. Because the world’s weather patterns are cyclical. And over history we have seen change there. But kind of doesn’t matter at this point, as we debate what caused it. The point is: it’s real; we need to do something about it.
Pardon us for asking, but would it not be difficult to devise an effective policy to mitigate the effects of global warming without a firm grasp on what caused it?
Palin also was not about to be pinned down …
… by Couric on the subject of her reading habits. Here’s the exchange:
Couric: And when it comes to establishing your world view, I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this to stay informed and to understand the world?
Palin: I’ve read most of them, again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media.
Couric: What, specifically?
Palin: Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me all these years.
Couric: Can you name a few?
Palin: I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news, too. Alaska isn’t a foreign country, where it’s kind of suggested, “Wow, how could you keep in touch with what the rest of Washington, D.C., may be thinking when you live up there in Alaska?” Believe me, Alaska is like a microcosm of America.
Palin may well ace her final on Thursday (especially if much of the public decides to grade on the curve). But following the debate, we think it far more likely her future bookings will tilt heavily toward tete-a-tetes with friendly radio types than sit-downs with the likes of Gibson and Couric.
– Don Frederick