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OpenMarket: January 2009

  • Vladimir Putin: Chevron's Man of the Year?

    January 12, 2009
    What does Chevron think of Vladimir Putin's recent cut-off of Russian gas to the Ukraine and beyond? Looking at their recent ad campaign, it seems they should applaud him.
  • The Answer to Global Warming?

    January 10, 2009
    The Washington Post sponsors the weekly "Style Invitational," officially deemed a humor contest but very often covering matters of great substance.  This week the Post requested proposals for government spending to stimulate the economy. My personal favorite came from David Garratt of Glenn Dale, Maryland.  He suggested:
    Start a massive advertising campaign encouraging citizens to participate in Leave Your Refrigerator Open for 24 Hours, to help counter global warming.
    Works for me!
  • Dishonoring the Heroic Passengers on Flight 93

    January 10, 2009
    We all should be thankful for the heroics of the passengers of Flight 93 on September 11.  They prevented the hijackers from crashing another plane into another target--the Capitol or White House.  Understandably the families want a memorial honoring the passengers. But now they are urging President George W. Bush to just grab the property.  Reports the New York Times:
    Frustrated by years of negotiations over a parcel of land deemed critical for the proposed Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., a group representing the victims' families has asked President Bush to issue an executive order allowing the Interior Department simply to take it...
  • SEIU's California Scheming IV -- and Illinois, too

    January 9, 2009
    Service Employees International Union (SEIU) finalized a contentious merger of several California locals into a statewide "superlocal." Sal Rosselli, the head of one of the locals that was dissolved in this process, has fought the centralizing efforts of SEIU President Andy Stern, but, as evident not, to no avail. SF Weekly's Matt Smith notes:
    The move is seen in U.S. Labor movement circles as a ploy to neuter Sal Rosselli, president of United Healthcare Workers - West. Rosselli has clashed with Stern over  a 2004 agreement with nursing home chains in which the union supported legislation curtailing patient rights in exchange for permission to allow the union to recruit members at certain facilities. Today's move erodes Rosselli's clout by two-fifths, and paves the way for...
  • Bonding with Bill Richardson

    January 9, 2009
    The municipal bond scandal has already forced New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson to withdraw his name as Barack Obama's appointee to the position of Commerce Secretary and may bring down other state and local officials around the country.
  • Ecuador's Mining Law and the 70% WFT

    January 9, 2009
    Ecuador, the only Latin American country that lacks large-scale mining operations, is passing a new mining law that will lift a six-month ban on mining operations. However, a feared windfall tax (WFT) on mining profits — one of the biggest concerns among international investors — is not an issue that is open for debate in the Andean nation. As of this writing, it looks as though applying a WFT on mining profits will be a done deal.

    Chatting with Maria Paula Romo, former VP of the mini Congress, when visiting Ecuador last March 08.

    Chatting with Maria Paula Romo...

  • Stimulating Alternative Energy

    January 9, 2009
    In his speech on the stimulus package Thursday, President (Elect) Obama promised to double alternative energy use in three years. How likely is this? Well, for a start we don't use much alternative energy to begin with - slightly less than 7 quadrillion BTU of the 101 quads we use as a nation annually. Of those 7, 2 quads are related to the use of wood as fuel, something which is not normally viewed as environmentally friendly, and 2.5 are hydropower, an energy source once thought as environmentally friendly but now usually opposed as destructive. Of the remaining 2.5 quads, biofuels provide about 1 quad, and biofuels have become increasingly controversial and opposed - rightly - by many green environmental groups (source for these figures...
  • Democrats Poised for Yet Another Land Grab

    January 9, 2009
    In these troubled times, Congress' plate is piled high with vital legislative priorities. Naturally, upon getting to work this week, the Senate is zeroing in on the most important of all: taking millions of acres of land that may yield a vast amount of natural gas and other mineral resources and locking them away from development forever. Take that, energy crisis! Our very own Myron Ebell had something to say about this move in a press release today:
    The Bingaman-Reid bill is full of bad provisions, but the worst are the ones that would prohibit oil and natural gas production on more than a million acres of federal land. Tens of millions of acres of federal lands in the West have already been withdrawn from mineral and energy production. The new Congress should be...
  • Stimulus Roadblock

    January 9, 2009
    They’ve waited for this day. Billions of dollars potentially at their disposal. But environmental groups may not be able to use it because of something they themselves created: NEPA.
  • Elephantine Mistake

    January 9, 2009
    In the 80s and 90s, Zimbabwean elephant management was a magnificent illustration of how property rights and markets combine to protect and even rescue endangered species. Since Robert Mugabe's government turned to racist demagoguery and violence to keep in power, the elephant has suffered tremendously as property rights and markets have been shattered. Today, it is reported that elephants are being slaughtered for food by Mugabe's army. The elephant is probably one of the lesser reasons to work for the downfall of this vicious dictator, who has ruined the breadbasket of Africa. Yet if its role as a "charismatic megafauna" can help, I trust the green environmental groups...

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