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Exxon CEO Advocates Emissions Tax The chief executive of Exxon Mobil Corp. for the first time called on Congress to enact a tax on greenhouse-gas emissions in order to fight global warming.
In a speech in Washington, Rex Tillerson said that a tax was a "more direct, a more transparent and a more effective approach" to curtailing greenhouse gases than other plans popular in Congress and with the incoming Obama administration.
"My greatest concern is that policy makers will attempt to mandate or ordain solutions that are doomed to fail," Mr. Tillerson said.
The policy he is advocating is often called a carbon tax because it would be imposed on emissions of carbon dioxide, the most common man-made greenhouse gas. By backing it, Mr. Tillerson has become an unlikely member of a club that includes former Vice President Al Gore, consumer advocate Ralph Nader and President-elect Barack Obama's designated head of the National Economic Council, Larry Summers. (Wall Street Journal)
Pentagon Plans To Keep 20,000 Troops Inside US To Bolster Domestic Security The U.S. military expects to have 20,000 uniformed troops inside the United States by 2011 trained to help state and local officials respond to a nuclear terrorist attack or other domestic catastrophe, according to Pentagon officials.
The long-planned shift in the Defense Department's role in homeland security was recently backed with funding and troop commitments after years of prodding by Congress and outside experts, defense analysts said.
There are critics of the change, in the military and among civil liberties groups and libertarians who express concern that the new homeland emphasis threatens to strain the military and possibly undermine the Posse Comitatus Act, a 130-year-old federal law restricting the military's role in domestic law enforcement.
But the Bush administration and some in Congress have pushed for a heightened homeland military role since the middle of this decade, saying the greatest domestic threat is terrorists exploiting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. (Washington Post)
Children 'bad for planet' HAVING large families should be frowned upon as an environmental misdemeanour in the same way as frequent long-haul flights, driving a big car and failing to reuse plastic bags, says a report to be published today by a green think tank.
The paper by the Optimum Population Trust will say that if couples had two children instead of three they could cut their family's carbon dioxide output by the equivalent of 620 return flights a year between London and New York. (The Australian)
Sun Blamed for Warming of Earth and Other Worlds Earth is heating up lately, but so are Mars, Pluto and other worlds in our solar system, leading some scientists to speculate that a change in the sun’s activity is the common thread linking all these baking events.
Others argue that such claims are misleading and create the false impression that rapid global warming, as Earth is experiencing, is a natural phenomenon.
While evidence suggests fluctuations in solar activity can affect climate on Earth, and that it has done so in the past, the majority of climate scientists and astrophysicists agree that the sun is not to blame for the current and historically sudden uptick in global temperatures on Earth, which seems to be mostly a mess created by our own species. - “Man-made greenhouse warming has [made a] small contribution [to] the warming on Earth in recent years, but [it] cannot compete with the increase in solar irradiance,” Abdussamatov told LiveScience in an email interview last week. “The considerable heating and cooling on the Earth and on Mars always will be practically parallel."But Abdussamatov’s critics say the Red Planet’s recent thawing is more likely due to natural variations in the planet’s orbit and tilt. On Earth, these wobbles, known as Milankovitch cycles, are thought to contribute to the onset and disappearance ice ages. - “Global warming on Neptune's moon Triton as well as Jupiter and Pluto, and now Mars has some [scientists] scratching their heads over what could possibly be in common with the warming of all these planets ... Could there be something in common with all the planets in our solar system that might cause them all to warm at the same time?” (Live Science)
U.S. Toll in Iraq Is 27 for Deadly Weekend New details also emerged about clashes on Saturday in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, which left five Americans dead. Lt. Col. Scott R. Bleichwehl, an American military spokesman, said the gunmen who stormed the provincial governor’s office during a meeting between American and local officials were wearing what appeared to be American military uniforms in an effort to impersonate United States soldiers (New York Times)
What We Wanted to Tell You About Iran HERE is the redacted version of a draft Op-Ed article we wrote for The Times, as blacked out by the Central Intelligence Agency’s Publication Review Board after the White House intervened in the normal prepublication review process and demanded substantial deletions (New York Times)
Warren Buffett gives away his fortune The world's second richest man - who's now worth $44 billion - tells editor-at-large Carol Loomis he will start giving away 85% of his wealth in July - most of it to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (CNN)
US gov demands Google search records: Fishing expedition The US Department of Justice has taken Google to court, demanding it hand over all searches made in a one week period. It's a fishing expedition, unconnected with any ongoing criminal prosecution. The DOJ wants the information to back up its attempt to revive an anti-pornography law derailed by the Supreme Court two years ago.
The subpoena was issued last year, and Google refused the request - but we only learn of the case week, via a San Jose Mercury News report. The DoJ has now ordered a Federal Judge to force Google to comply.
It's a step too far even for a company with a fast and loose attitude to privacy.
Protest as Harassment: The new crime bill permits the police to stop almost any demonstration. It was the greatest legal victory against corporate power in living memory. Last week, two penniless activists, Dave Morris and Helen Steel, persuaded the European Court of Human Rights that Britain’s libel laws, under which they had been sued by McDonald’s, had denied them their right of free speech. The law will probably have to be changed, depriving the rich and powerful of their most effective means of stifling public protest. So why aren’t they hopping mad about it? The company which sued Dave and Helen will say only that “the world has moved on … and so has McDonald’s.”(1) The Confederation of British Industry, so quick to denounce the legal rulings it doesn’t like, hasn’t uttered a word.
They don’t care, and they don’t need to. You can see why by reading the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill, which has now passed through the Commons for the third time. What civil law once gave them, criminal law now offers instead.
There has been a great deal of disquiet about this bill, but not because of its effects on protest. The public complaints have concentrated on the clause banning “hatred against persons on religious grounds”.(2) This is important, but not nearly as important as the parts almost everyone has missed. Once this bill becomes law, it could be used to ban people from handing out leaflets to customers entering McDonald’s, whether their contents are defamatory or not. (London Guardian)
The Accounting Cycle: The Amazing World of Derivatives Thinking about the world of structured finance and derivatives, I not only face a bewildering and complex set of securities, but also I must cope with an amazing set of accounting rules. As William Shakespeare would have said had he been an investor in recent times, "A derivative by any other name still reeks." (Smart Pros)
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