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U.S. Seeks Partnership With Brazil on Ethanol
Countering Oil-Rich Venezuela Is Part of Aim

Monte Reel, Washington Post
The United States and Brazil, the two largest biofuel producers in the world, are meeting this week to discuss a new energy partnership that they hope will encourage ethanol use throughout Latin America and that U.S. officials hope will diminish the regional influence of oil-rich Venezuela.

U.S. officials said they expect to sign accords within a year that would promote technology-sharing with Brazil and encourage more Latin American neighbors to become biofuel producers and consumers.

…For the United States, the initiative is more than purely economic. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has exploited regional frustrations with the market-driven economic prescriptions that the United States has promoted throughout the region for years, and he has used oil revenue to promote several regional economic alliances.

Burns declared that biofuel is now the “symbolic centerpiece” of U.S. relations with Brazil, a country that U.S. officials have long hoped could counteract Venezuela’s regional anti-American influence.

“Energy has tended to distort the power of some of the states we find to be negative in the world — Venezuela, Iran — and so the more we can diversify our energy sources and depend less on oil, the better off we will be,” Burns said at a news conference in Sao Paulo.
(7 Feb 2007)

Re-Energizing … Energize America ..

A Siegel, Daily Kos
The Energize America 20 point plan for a prosperous and sustainable energy future has been building attention through its development here at Daily Kos and in the time since a group of four Kossacks briefed EA2020 at Yearly Kos 2006, with Governor Richardson as a commentator on the panel with us.

What in the world, however, is anyone other than Jerome a Paris doing with Energize America in the diary title?

Well …

We are embarking, as a team — and, we hope, as a community, on a huge leap forward.

A senior member of Congress has approached and met with the Energize America team. We have been asked to turn many of the EA2020 Acts and concepts into draft bills for legislative action.
(7 Feb 2007)
Related post from Jerome a Paris: Energize America coming to Congress. You can help.

US moves in on Africa

Simon Tisdall, The Guardian
This week’s US decision to create a new Pentagon command covering Africa, known as Africom, has a certain unlovely military logic. Like Roman emperors of old, Washington’s Caesars arbitrarily divide much of the world into Middle Eastern, European and Pacific domains. Now it is Africa’s turn.

Practical more than imperial considerations dictated the White House move. With Gulf of Guinea countries including Nigeria and Angola projected to provide a quarter of US oil imports within a decade, with Islamist terrorism worries in the Sahel and Horn of Africa, and with China prowling for resources and markets, the US plainly feels a second wind of change is blowing, necessitating increased leverage.

Africom’s advent also follows a pattern of extraordinary military expansion under President George Bush, not all of which is explained by 9/11. The American military-industrial complex that so troubled Dwight Eisenhower in 1961 has morphed into a boom business with truly global reach. It makes China’s business-oriented People’s Liberation Army look like a corner shop.
(9 Feb 2007)

Poor Among Plenty: For the first time, poverty shifts to the U.S. suburbs.

Peg Tyre and Matthew Philips
..Once prized as a leafy haven from the social ills of urban life, the suburbs are now grappling with a new outbreak of an old problem: poverty. Currently, 38 million Americans live below the poverty line, which the federal government defines as an annual income of $20,000 or less for a family of four. But for the first time in history, more of America’s poor are living in the suburbs than the cities—1.2 million more, according to a 2005 survey.

“The suburbs have reached a tipping point,” says Brookings Institution analyst Alan Berube, who compiled the data. For example, five years ago, a Hunger Network food pantry in Bedford Heights, a struggling suburb of Cleveland, served 50 families a month. Now more than 700 families depend on it for food. ..

That’s not to say that all suburbs are struggling. In areas such as New York and Los Angeles where the regional economies are booming, the surrounding suburbs are doing just fine. It’s another story altogether in the South and Midwest. As the nation’s manufacturing sector continues to contract, cities like Cleveland, Dallas and Detroit are feeling the pain, and so are the suburbs that surround them.

The suburban poor defy stereotypes about how and why people slip into poverty. Howard and Jane Pettry, of Middleburg Heights, Ohio, see themselves as working-class—just facing hard times. In December, Jane was laid off from her job at a local supermarket, and a week later Howard had a heart attack and missed a month of work from his job at a grain mill. Now Jane’s collecting unemployment and they’re staring at the poverty line as they struggle to pay the mortgage and the bills. “I’ve worked all my life and paid my taxes,” says Jane. “Now we’re living off credit cards. It’s terrible.” ..
(8 Feb 2007)

Contributor Rick Dworsky writes: Here we have it: Official statistics indicating the beginning of the collapse of American style suburbia. While not explicitly stated, informed people understand that the underlying reason is the energy cost required to maintain such a lifestyle. Unlike pre-1850 farmsteads that were largely internally self-sufficient –with enough land and resources to support their occupants– today’s small far flung suburban plots were built on the assumption of, and now depend on, importing an infinite stream of cheap energy, food and other necessities; Just like their nuclei, the cities themselves. A problem many suburbanites face as they attempt to transition to localized sustenance, are restrictive land use zoning laws that came out of the same mistaken energy and resource cornucopia philosophy.