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United States - Jan 15

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Dems unveil $825B in spending increases, tax cuts

David Espo, Associated Press
Democrats in Congress rolled out recommended spending increases and tax cuts totaling a whopping $825 billion on Thursday and debated whether to release a huge new infusion of bailout cash for the financial industry, a rapid response to President-elect Barack Obama's plea to tackle national economic woes.

"Immediate job creation and then continuing job creation" are the twin goals of the measure to cut taxes for businesses and individuals while pouring money into areas such as health care, education, energy and highway construction, declared House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

... The outlines of the economic stimulus measure reflected a change in political priorities, with an emphasis on spending and tax breaks designed to encourage production of alternative energy sources, make federal buildings more energy- efficient and weatherize homes.

... A written summary showed $30 billion for highway construction, $10 billion for mass transit and rail, and $3 billion for airport improvements.
(15 January 2009)



Advice To Pres. Obama (#2): Yes We Can, But Will We?

Nate Hagens, The Oil Drum
We are at a major crossroads in the history of our nation and our world. There are dozens if not hundreds of salient aspects of our supply and demand situation, each with its own cheerleaders, opponents and unaware. Myopic focus on any particular issue runs the risk of creating more long term harm than good. In this letter, I attempt to highlight our situation's most critical components, not claiming other issues are unimportant, but that the following principles likely trump/supercede the others:

1)It is energy, not money, that powers our economies

2) All energy is not equal- each energy investment entails different input costs, and has different output quality, often not recognized by the market system, nor environmentalists

3)By far the highest odds for arriving at a better energy future lie in exploration of, understanding of, and ultimate jettisoning of our cultural addiction/habituation to conspicuous consumption.

Note to reader: This is longer than I anticipated (plus ca change....) If you already understand net energy implications and/or are pressed for time, you might skip down to the obese Ronald image and below.

Dear President Obama,

Let me start by explaining where I am coming from. Until a few years ago, I worked as a Wall Street trader and hedge fund manager. I am now working on a Ph. D. in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont. I am neither capitalist nor communist nor Republican nor Democrat, but just an awfully concerned citizen of this great country and planet. I have recently come to see that there is a great deal hidden from view both about our energy resources and our energy consumption. In this letter, I would like to explain what some of these things are.
(15 January 2009)



Energy Nominee: Coal, Nuclear an 'Important Part' of Power Mix

Les Blumenthal, McClatchy Newspapers
Energy-Secretary-Designate Steven Chu told a Senate Committee on Tuesday that the incoming administration would have an increased commitment to alternative energy sources like solar, wind and geothermal, but also made clear coal and nuclear would be part of the energy mix.

Chu, who won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1997 and is currently director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, made the comments during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Chu is expected to win confirmation easily.

[Nobel Prize-winning physicist Dr. Steven Chu makes remarks before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources on his nomination to be the next energy secretary in the Obama administration, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, January 13, 2009. (Reuters/Mike Theiler)]Nobel Prize-winning physicist Dr. Steven Chu makes remarks before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources on his nomination to be the next energy secretary in the Obama administration, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, January 13, 2009. (Reuters/Mike Theiler)
The new administration is also committed to "aggressively" increasing energy efficiency in appliances and buildings; will push for more fuel-efficient vehicles including plug-in hybrids and supports a more "robust" transmission and distribution system for electricity, Chu said.
(14 January 2009)



Shaky economy means ‘bye-bye baby’ for some

Melissa Schorr, MSNBC
Birth rate expected to drop in U.S. as more couples delay family plans
---
... The economy is a leading source of worry for many Americans, with 80 percent saying they feel stress about their personal finances, according to an annual survey released recently by the American Psychological Association. With rising job cuts and home foreclosures, many financially crunched families have decided the time isn't right to have a child, or another child.

... Birth rates do tend to drop in times of economic uncertainty. There was a dramatic decline in fertility rates following the Great Depression in the 1930s, when, for the first time in U.S. history, women went from having an average of three children the previous decade to two.

... Although national birth data for the past few months isn’t expected until later this year, demographers are predicting a similar baby bust to follow the recent baby boom. How far the birth rate falls depends on how severe and long this financial crunch turns out to be, experts say.
(14 January 2009)

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