XL Group plc (XL) will re-domesticate to Bermuda from Ireland as its shareholders have approved of the move.
XL Capital (XL): Q2 EPS of $0.75 beats by $0.14.Revenue of $1.89B beats by $0.35B. (PR) Post your comment!
XL Capital (XL): Q1 EPS of $0.93 beats by $0.29. (PR) Post your comment!
Update: Application, clarification of "New world Order". I have put this update at the beginning of the post for I believe it is an aspect of my post on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) that should not be dismissed by myself nor by a reader of the post. Now that I have had the day to contemplate J. Goodwin's comment and after googling “new world order” I can appreciate his concern and response. I assure everyone, that last thing on my mind with the writing of that phrase was: a conspiracy theory in which a secret elite is conspiring to rule the world via world government and globalization. The TPP is not being written by a secret elite looking to rule the world. On the contrary, the document is being written in secret such that we do not know the specific persons involved, but everyone knows the class or groups represented. The authors/parties feeling of need for secrecy only speaks to their understanding of the potential opposition and not to a devious plot of mad scientist. It's not a James Bond story. This TPP is not about ruling the world. I very much doubt those involved want such a responsibility. This document is about reducing the regulation a sovereign entity may apply to an investment to the point that any investment is almost certain to pay out whether by actually carrying out the investment or through reimbursement for not being able to carryout the investment. Heads you lose, tails I win. This is accomplished in many ways (kind of covering all bases) but mostly by giving a representative of an investment equality to a nation in the eyes of the “law”. It is the elevation of an entity created solely for the purpose of profit (though there is some language toward nonprofit) all the rights and liberties that a nation of people reserve for themselves. There is one thing the investment entity receives that the nation entity (“party” as used in the document) does not: A guarantee against loss. This guarantee comes in the form of insurance. The insurance is the full faith and credit of the nation...it is the ability to tax it's citizens. That is a new world order as in: any period of history evidencing a dramatic change in world political thought and the balance of power. Thank you for reading. This past week the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement has been post worthy on a couple of the more read blogs. There are specific groups working to get the public up to speed on this treaty. One is the Citizens Trade Campaign. Crooks and Liars posted Lee Camps Moment of Clarity episode regarding the treaty. Common Dreams posted a video by Friends of the Earth. This potential treaty has direct bearing on the subject of innovation, production and infrastructure as discussed in the posts regarding Richard Elkus's thesis in his book Winner Take All and MIT's latest report on the subject. Basically this is being referred to as NAFTA on steroids. It is an agreement being negotiated in complete secrecy with only those considered to be a direct player called “clear trade advisers”(600 in the US) having access. Direct players are not you and me, nor congress (you thought the drone unitary executive stuff is tough to get? Ha!) nor that fourth branch known as the press. Yes, Obama is up on this in that he is pushing it. I'll let Citizens Trade Campaign sum it up: “The TPP is poised to become the largest free trade agreement in the world, potentially impacting jobs, wages, agriculture, migration, the environment, consumer safety, financial regulations, Internet protocols, government procurement and more. The pact is currently under negotiation between the United States, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, but is being specifically written as a “docking agreement” that other countries can join over time. Canada, Japan and Mexico are currently pressing to do so. The thirteenth major round of TPP negotiations will be held at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel from July 2 – 10.” Recently a portion of this document was leaked. It is called the “Investment Chapter”. Public Citizens has a review of it here. I have read the first 17 pages of the Investment Chapter. It is these pages that provide the definitions and the cans and can nots for the signatories. The remainder of the document provides the means for achieving satisfaction. (Do read at least the definitions of what is considered “investment”.) What struck me in Public Citizens review was that the system being setup as the arbiter of the trade agreement is following the US' fascination with “extra judicial” proceedings as a viable means of following the ideals of our Constitution. It's those same thought processes that gave us rendition, enhanced interrogation, military tribunals, unitary executive. You can't help but see our past 35 years of leadership in the realm of pioneering new concepts in equality, fairness, justice, and processes to achieve such. Concepts of “free market”, “invisible hand”, and process of deregulation, economies of scale, etc. How else do you explain the use of rotating corporate tied lawyers as judges? Where is the separation of the judge and the plaintiff? This is right out of the current US play book on how to better your nation with the social institution known as “revolving door”? You can see in this document the culmination of work performed over the last 40 years (yes Carter started the deregulation) by the conservative (internationally known as neoliberal) ideology merged with Milton Friedman's economics and Ayn Rand's objectivism. Dare I say, the TPP is to capitalism what our Constitution was to democracy? And that is where I really started thinking. This document is not just about the particulars. It's not just about how trade will or will not happen, or whether a company will be able to privatize the gains and socialize the risks and losses, or whether people will be harmed. All those things will be the result of the document. Nope, this document is much more. This document is the constitution of a new world order. It is an order that has been the dream of many for ages upon ages that until this time in humanity was not possible do to the limits of the technology of the time. This is the document of what I coined a few years ago as The United Corporations of Global. It is this aspect of the document that the people of the world should be most fearful of. It is not a trade agreement as I believe the common man (as in the court concept of the “common man”) would think of the phrase “trade agreement”. This is a constitution that is coming prepackaged with the rules and regulations already written. Only, there is no need for ratification to be a part of the creative process. This document comes pre-ratified in that all a nation has to do is say “I'm in”. It does not take a majority of the worlds nations or a super majority like the original 13 colonies for this document to have power. It has power because those writing it already agree to follow it. Passing it in the US? Can you say “fast track”? The documents greatest power is what I alluded to when I mentioned rendition, unitary executive, enhanced interrogation, military tribunals. Rationalization. This document codifies the use of rationalization as a viable thought process for achieving the advancement of humanity. It reinstates the fallibility of human thinking, turning on it's head the enlightenment age because this document believes it is of enlightened thought. It rationalizes as enlightenment the freeing of people to trade to the greatest level of monetary efficiency. Such a thought is putting a human creation ahead of humanity. It is totally antithetical to the goal of enlightenment. ( I have to say, at this point our fellow Angry Bear Bruce Webb I hope will add to the discussion as our resident historian.) What follows below are specific excerpts from the document. It is legal speak. But it is not hard to understand. I feel it is important that people read these excerpts as this is how you will know the thinking and overall goal of the document beyond the obvious selfish power grab by any particular player or industry. This is a document written by people who envision the world structured far differently than how we are taught to view our social organization based on the US Constitution and it's meaning to the world. It does not matter if you believe our national identity is a lot of myth, that we don't hold up well to our constitutional ideals. The fact is, the myths and ideals have influence and they are not the myths and ideals held by those writing the TPP at worst or are considered not applicable nor appropriate for their desired structure at least. This document is not just about how nations will relate to each other, it also gives the same rights and privileges to individual investor entities as representative of a nation. Thus, keep in mind that anything you read here also means a rich person or a business entity is treated as if they are the nation. However, citizens are not at anytime mentioned as being a “party” of any type other than when it comes to citizens potentially creating a loss for a “party” or it's investor representative. In other words, “citizens” are at all times considered to have lesser status such that citizens have no claim to inalienable rights and the resultant rule of law. It is less than slavery for in this document, the only recognized covered entities are “party” which means a nation of signature and it's participants in the sector of said parties social interaction referred to as “investment”. In fact, there is a defined party entity specifically that is not of the party: investor of a non-Party means, with respect to a Party, an investor that attempts to make, is making, or has made an investment in the territory of that Party, that is not an investor of a Party There is nothing in the list of definitions that suggest or implies “citizen”. The only entities covered and regulated by the TPP are those entities that are creations of man. Man is of no consideration regarding the benefits of the relationships developed in this new constitution. Man is only mentioned as a consequence of potential harm to the “parties” in the form of financial loss. That's it. WE HAVE TO COME TO KNOW THE MIND OF THE DOCUMENT! Even if we can prevent this document from taking effect, we will not put an end to the ideology behind the document if we only defeat the document based on it's ability to do material harm. We have to come to know the mind of this document so that we can be certain to identify the thought within the new words that will be written and spoken when those behind this document make their new attempt at forming the world according to their ideology. We need to know the mind so that we can educate those who will certainly face the next attempt to implement such an ideology. This is why the document is being created in such secrecy. We have learned from NAFTA et al and those that are the mind of the document are aware of our knowledge. Thus I present the sections as they relate to what I believe is the thinking of this new constitution so that we can be aware of the overriding concepts that ultimately reorder societies and would require a new thinking regarding who and what we are, what our purpose is and where we are going as a species on this planet. The TPP is presenting a new ideal of social order. It is one I that find represents the worst of humanity. This is where the sovereignty breaks down and the new social order is created: Article 12.4: National Treatment 1. Each Party shall accord to investors of another Party treatment no less favourable than that it accords, in like circumstances, to its own investors with respect to the establishment, acquisition, expansion, management, conduct, operation, and sale or other disposition of investments in its territory. 2. Each Party shall accord to covered investments treatment no less favourable than that it accords, in like circumstances, to investments in its territory of its own investors with respect to the establishment, acquisition, expansion, management, conduct, operation, and sale or other disposition of investments. The treatment to be accorded by a Party under paragraphs 1 and 2 means, with respect to a regional level of government, treatment no less favourable than the most favourable treatment accorded, in like circumstances, by that regional level of government to investors, and to investments of investors, of the Party of which it forms a part.] Article 12.5: Most-Favoured Nation Treatment 1. Each Party shall accord to investors of another Party treatment no less favourable than that it accords, in like circumstances, to investors of any other Party or of any non-Party with respect to the establishment, acquisition, expansion, management, conduct, operation, and sale or other disposition of investments in its territory. 2. Each Party shall accord to covered investments treatment no less favourable than that it accords, in like circumstances, to investments in its territory of investors of any other Party or of any non-Party with respect to the establishment, acquisition, expansion, management, conduct, operation, and sale or other disposition of investments. This is where the responsibility is defined for achieving “favorable treatment”. The “Party” is obliged to: Article 12.6: Minimum Standard of Treatmentll 1. Each Party shall accord to covered investments treatment in accordance with customary international law, including fair and equitable treatment and full protection and security. 2. For greater certainty, paragraph 1 prescribes the [applicable rules of] customary international law [minimum] standard of treatment of aliens as the [minimum] [general] standard of treatment to be afforded to covered investments. The concepts of "fair and equitable treatment" and "full protection and security" do not require treatment in addition to or beyond that which is required by that standard, and do not create additional substantive rights. The obligations in paragraph 1 to provide: (a) "Fair and equitable treatment" includes the obligation not to deny justice in criminal, civil, or administrative adjudicatory proceedings in accordance with the principle of due process embodied in the principal legal systems of the world; and (b) "Full protection and security" requires each Party to provide the level of police protection required under customary international law. Who determines which party's law is part of the “principle legal systems of the world”? What is “customary”. These are the phrases of those who are trying to hedge. People agree to such language when they believe they have a hidden advantage. This is not language of certainty. Here is where the citizens of the world become hog tied: Article 12.6bis: Treatment in Case of Armed Conflict or Civil Strife 1. Notwithstanding Article 12.9.5(b) (Non-Conforming Measures, subsidies and grants carveout), each Party shall accord to investors of another Party, and to covered investments, non-discriminatory treatment with respect to measures it adopts or maintains relating to losses suffered by investments in its territory owing to armed conflict or civil strife. 2. Notwithstanding paragraph 1, if an investor of a Party, in the situations referred to in paragraph 1, suffers a loss in the territory of another Party resulting from: (a) requisitioning of its covered investment or part thereof by the latter's forces or authorities; or (b) destruction of its covered investment or part thereof by the latter's forces or authorities, which was not required by the necessity of the situation, the latter Party shall provide the investor restitution, compensation, or both, as appropriate, for such loss. Any compensation shall be prompt, adequate, and effective in accordance with Article 12.12.2 through 12.12.4 (Expropriation and Compensation, paragraphs 2 through 4), mutatis mutandis.) Consider the XL pipe line protests. With this agreement, the protestors will have put the citizens of our nation in jeopardy of having to pay for the losses. In other words, a nations taxing apparatus is now bound as insurance against an investor's loss. Capitalism? Read about Excelaron and San LuisObispo County's Huasna Valley. This clause also pits a nation's government against it's people and pits it's people against each other in that civil protest, maybe even strikes become compensatory offenses if a loss in incurred by an investor. So, just how will a nation respond to assure it's citizens “behave themselves” such that the other Party's investor does not suffer a loss by means of social unrest? This is where loss of sovereignty is further accomplished as it relates to a nation determining how best to structure it's economy. Article 12.7: Performance Requirements 1. No Party may, in connection with the establishment, acquisition, expansion, management, conduct, operation, or sale or other disposition of an investment of an investor of a Party [or of a non-Party] in its territory, impose or enforce any requirement or enforce any commitment or undertaking: 12 (a) to export a given level or percentage of goods [or services] ; (b) to achieve a given level or percentage of domestic content; (c) to purchase, use or accord a preference to goods produced in its territory, or to purchase goods from persons in its territory; (d) to relate in any way the volume or value of imports to the volume or value of exports or to the amount of foreign exchange inflows associated with such investment; ( e) to restrict sales of goods [or services] in its territory that such investment produces [or supplies] by relating such sales in any way to the volume or value of its exports or foreign exchange earnings; [ (f) to transfer a particular technology, a production process or other proprietary knowledge to a person in its territory;] [or] (g) to supply exclusively from the territory of the Party the goods that such investment procedures [or the services that it supplies] to a specific regional market or to the world market [; or (h) (i) to purchase, use, or accord a preference to, in its territory, technology of the Party or persons of the Party13 ; or (ii) that prevents the purchase or use of, or the according of a preference to, in its territory, particular technology, so as to afford protection on the basis of nationality to its own investors or investments or to technology of the Party or of persons of the Party] . 2. No Party may condition the receipt or continued receipt of an advantage, in connection with the establishment, acquisition, expansion, management, conduct, operation, or sale or other disposition of an investment in its territory of an investor of a Party [or of a non-Party,] on compliance with any requirement: (a) to achieve a given level or percentage of domestic content; (b) to purchase, use, or accord a preference to goods produced in its territory, or to purchase goods from persons in its territory; (c) to relate in any way the volume or value of imports to the volume or value of exports or to the amount of foreign exchange inflows associated with such investment; or (d) to restrict sales of goods [or services] in its territory that such investment produces [or supplies] by relating such sales in any way to the volume or value of its exports or foreign exchange earnings. 3. (a) Nothing in paragraph 2 shall be construed to prevent a Party from conditioning the receipt or continued receipt of an advantage, in connection with an investment in its territory of an investor of a Party [or of a non-Party,] on compliance with a requirement to locate production, supply a service, train or employ workers, construct or expand particular facilities, or carry out research and development, in its territory. Again in the above section 12:7 we see the continuation of the individual/citizen carved out from the money. Sure, a nation can make some demands, but those only refer to the citizen as work done within the investment and not as a beneficiary of the work done. The benefits and results of the work done shall not be restricted by the host party of the investment. Section 12:7 does allow a nation to protect it's natural resources and the environment by adopting laws however, they cannot be inconsistent with the TPP: (i) necessary to secure compliance with laws and regulations that are not inconsistent with this Agreement; Understand that what is consistent with the agreement is that the investment is protected at all times against not being fulfilled. Lastly we see the final severing of a nations sovereignty; the loss of the right to have the host party represented within the investment entity. Article 12.8: Senior Management and Boards of Directors 1. No Party may require that an enterprise of that Party that is a covered investment appoint to senior management positions natural persons of any particular nationality. 2. A Party may require that a majority of the board of directors, or any committee thereof, of an enterprise of that Party that is a covered investment, be of a particular nationality, or resident in the territory of the Party, provided that the requirement does not materially impair the ability of the investor to exercise control over its investment. Thus, you can put some people in positions that theoretically may have power to prevent the investing entity from harming your nation, but not so much as the hedge phrase is: materially impair. This is another example of using “common man” language to hide the uncommon results. Personally, this language sounds like a ripe area has been created for the allowance of corruption. Consequently, what we have here is an agreement that the investing entity is protected via insurance in the form of the host nation's taxing ability that becomes a mechanism for “encouraging” shall we say, a host nation to take measures to assure it's citizens remain compliant. This is the new social order. This is the corporate model of relationships. Yes, there is a section concerning the protection of the environment and in general -- health. Article 12.15: Investment and Environment] [ ,Health Safety and Labour] [ Article 12.15: Health Safety and Environmental Measures][ 1. Nothing in this Chapter shall be construed to prevent a Party from adopting, maintaining or enforcing any measure otherwise consistent with this Chapter that it considers appropriate to ensure that investment activity in its territory is undertaken in a manner sensitive to environmental [ , health, safety, or labour] [ , health or safety] concerns.] 2. The Parties recognize that it is inappropriate to encourage investment by relaxing its health safety or environmental measures. Accordingly, a Party should not waive or otherwise derogate from or offer to waive or otherwise derogate from, such measures as an encouragement for the establishment, acquisition, expansion, or retention in its territory of an investment of an investor.] It even talks about “Social Responsibility”. But...it's voluntary. Article 12.15 his: Corporate Social Responsibility [ Each Party should encourage][ nothing in this Chapter shall be construed to prevent a Party from encouraging] enterprises operating within its territory or subject to its jurisdiction to voluntarily incorporate internationally recognized standards of corporate social responsibility in their internal policies, such as statements of principle that have been endorsed or are supported by the Parties. [ These principles address issues such as labor, the environment, human rights, community relations and anti-corruption. The Parties remind those enterprises of the importance of incorporating such corporate social responsibility standards in their internal policies.]] Well isn't that a fine one. How do you encourage social responsibility when a nation can not dictate what is to happen to the resultant product of it's citizens' work nor can their representatives on the board of the investment entity effect the management of the investment. Most importantly how do you encourage such voluntary “responsible” activity when the host nation is on the hook for any loss of money that may result from the investment entity's not so socially responsible actions that result in civil protest? Remember, “civil strife” is specifically stated as a compensable event if it produces a loss for the investor. What will this agreement do to the effort to get this world to wake up to the planet warming up? How does this agreement prevent the furtherance of a naturally human trend of selfishness resulting in further policies of exclusivity and extraction of wealth (see: Why Nations Fail)? It doesn't. That is what the ideals of our Constitution are supposedly about. The recognition of the human mind's frailties and a governance structure to assure such frailties do the least amount of harm. The further we go with implementing these types of agreements the further removed we are from the enlightenment concepts that resulted in a group of people writing prose such as our Constitution. You can forget about the ideal bound in our Declaration of Independence. And, the further we are moved toward the model of business organization as the dominate model for structuring a society. It is too accepted that the purpose of business is to make money. There is no longer any talk of “social responsibility” within today's business model. Business no longer is a means for creating wealth that society then puts to work in reducing life's risks. Business is simply about making money...stop. The declaration for the TTP would simply read: We hold this truth to be self-evident, the purpose of business is to make money. Isn't it ironic that in science fiction, a common theme is the threat of man creating an artificial entity that ultimately comes to dominate it's creator. It's a robot, a computer, some kind of machine even biological or any combination or all 3. We obtained the power of the creator only to realize our ignorance toward the full potential of all there is to know. The theme is always dismissed as artistic fun. One thing always is consistent with such stories and dreams. At no time is this entity ever not recognized as nonhuman. Yet, in truth we have created and are willingly moving our self into such a living situation: the corporate structure for managing human relationships. The corporate structure is a creation of man (I don't think a woman is credited with this considering the position of women in centuries past). It is a creation that we have been investing with human social stature and traits. We made this thing. We have given it “personhood”. (Personhood is the status of being a person.) With that birth we have also given it standing within the circle of human relations. It is the physics of two entities occupying the same space in that the corporation is both human in action and representative of human action. And, we have given it one thing that humans do not have and the one thing that is the singular moment of all human endeavor: the real potential of eternal life. The corporation has the ability to do what we can't: defy death. The science fiction writers had it correct as to our drive, they were just looking at the wrong sciences. It's not the material life that will do us in. It is the cognitive life that has the most potential to do us in. The Trans Pacific Partnership agreement is the realization of our self destruction potential.
On Sunday, February 17, 40,000 Americans gathered in Washington, D.C., to protest against approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. Thousands more demonstrated in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and other U.S. cities. Nonetheless, there is momentum for pipeline construction; a recent Harris Poll found 69 percent of respondents supported it. However, Environmentalists believe pipeline approval would be the tipping point in the fight against global climate change. The 1980-mile Keystone XL pipeline would originate in the tar sands region of Hardisty, Alberta, Canada and extend southeast, crossing the border in Montana and wending its way south to a gulf terminal in Nederland, Tex. (The pipeline requires presidential approval because it crosses the Canadian border.) Proponents say Keystone construction would create jobs and promote US energy independence -- the additional 830,000 barrels of oil transported each day would dramatically reduce imports from the Middle East and Venezuela. Environmentalists have three issues with the pipeline. First, the extraction of crude oil from the tar sands creates horrendous greenhouse emissions. In a New York Times editorial, the government's chief climate scientist, James Hansen, observed that if the U.S. and Canada cooperate to exploit the tar sands, ...it will be game over for the climate. Canada's tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history. If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and continue to burn our conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now. Environmentalists also worry the Keystone XL pipeline would jeopardize fragile terrain in America's heartland. Further, they contend the true purpose of the pipeline is not to service the energy needs of the United States but instead China, the world's foremost polluter. Speaking on the PBS NewsHour Keystone spokesman Scott Segal dismissed environmental concerns and quipped, It seems to me building a state-of-the-art pipeline, which is the most efficient way... to move oil around is the best approach. To move that oil to the west and send it to China on tankers that are fueled by diesel, it leaves a much greater carbon footprint. In addition, that oil will make it to the United States, whether there's a Keystone pipeline or not. TransCanada, the primary corporate champion of the pipeline, promises there will be "significant economic benefits to Americans during construction and operations" including "private sector investment of more than $20 billion in the U.S. economy," creation of "20,000 construction and manufacturing jobs," generation of "$585 million in new taxes for states and communities along the pipeline routes," and payment of "more than $5.2 billion in property taxes during the operating life of the pipeline." Moreover, approval of the Keystone XL pipeline will strengthen U.S. relations with Canada and likely reduce our dependence on non-North American oil. But would construction of the Keystone XL pipeline make sense? In their classic, Natural Capitalism, Paul Hawken and Amory and Hunter Lovins stated the obvious: "[multinational capitalism] does not fully conform to its own accounting principles... It neglects to assign any value to the largest stocks of capital it employs - the natural resources and living systems." TransCanada, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, big oil companies and many Washington politicians are engaged in a superficial cost/benefit analysis that emphasizes the short-term economic costs and benefits of the Keystone XL pipeline, but minimizes the long-term environmental consequences. (Some of the Keystone proponents are global-climate-change deniers.) In his State of the Union address, President Obama spoke forcefully about global climate change: The 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods, all are now more frequent and more intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science and act before it's too late. Ninety-eight percent of climate scientists believe that mankind has caused global climate change, which is worsening. The thousands that demonstrated on February 17 believe humanity can no longer afford to ignore the long-term consequences of energy decisions, such as whether or not to construct the Keystone XL pipeline. In President Obama's words, "We can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science and act before it's too late." A line has to be drawn somewhere. A line that says we will no longer permit America's energy decisions to jeopardize future generations. A line that says we have to curtail greenhouse emissions while we still have a chance to save the planet. President Obama should block construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Given a two-day plunge in crude futures, gasoline prices may have hit a temporary peak. Nonetheless, consumers feel the pinch as pump prices have risen 34 straight days. For only the fifth time in history Gas prices topped $4 a gallon in District of Columbia. Nationwide, the price of a gallon of regular gasoline climbed to $3.78 a gallon, up 47 cents in the past month, the AAA said. In parts of California, Gasoline Prices Topped $5.00 on February 5. CNN Money has an interactive Gas Price map to check prices in your state. Republicans Cry Foul Yahoo!News reports Politicians Cry Foul Over High Gas Prices, Urge Action on Keystone XL Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., posted a "Keystone Clock " on his House Energy Committee's website Wednesday. The chairman states more than 1,615 days have passed since TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline proposal sought approval. Joining Upton's call to build the pipeline is Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio. Executives at TransCanada have tried a different tactic to try to get approval from the Obama administration by claiming the pipeline won't affect global warming. The tug of war between economics and environmentalism is escalating thanks to 34 straight days of rising gasoline prices. Boehner posted a "Running on Empty " graphic Tuesday. The Speaker of the House complains gas prices have "soared $0.43 since Jan. 17" before remarking with his own Keystone clock, "How long will Americans have to wait?" Boehner cites several sources, including nine Democratic senators, who want Obama to approve the project quickly. The pipeline may not see a decision until mid-June. Around 20,000 jobs and nearly a million barrels of oil a day are at stake for American oil companies. Speculators to Blame? The Salt Lake Tribune reports Spike in gasoline prices points to speculators "Like locusts ravaging fertile crops, gasoline prices are soaring again and eating away at the purchasing power of ordinary Americans. And again, financial speculators appear to be a big part of the story."Refinery Closures In Recovery Killer? Gas Prices Barrel Toward $4 a Gallon CNN notes refinery closures. Five dollar a gallon gas "is a real possibility" said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital in New York. "This is partly being driven by the lost refinery capacity of about one million barrels per day...that's a lot." Kilduff cited Hess's (HES) closure of a key refinery hub in Port Reading, New Jersey in January as a major factor that has sent gas on a tear. "Prices haven't looked back since," he said. "It's one of about eight refineries that have announced closure. Now the East Coast is heavily reliant on [gas] imports when it used to be self-sufficient," Kilduff stated. Speculation Nonsense Refinery closures are one part of the puzzle. If speculators have driven up the price of oil (and that is debatable) it's not the speculators who are to blame, but rather the Fed. By providing massive liquidity and negative real interest rates, the Fed encouraged speculation in the stock market, in junk bonds, and in commodities. I believe there is a bubble in all of those areas. The Fed's intent was not to foster bubbles per se, but rather to stimulate housing and spur job creation. On the job creation front, the fed failed miserably, and bloated its balance sheet to over $3 trillion dollars in doing so. Fed policies have destroyed those on fixed income for the benefit of the banks and wealthy, as I wrote on Wednesday in Reader Asks Me to Prove "Inflation Benefits the Wealthy" (At the Expense of Everyone Else). The Bernanke Fed is so out of line that the House Subcommittee on Economic Growth Demands Answers From Bernanke on Fed's Exit Strategy; Fed Must Reply by March 5 Yet the media blames those evil speculators. Get real. Mike "Mish" Shedlock http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com"Wine Country" Economic Conference Hosted By MishClick on Image to Learn MoreMike "Mish" Shedlock is a registered investment advisor representative for SitkaPacific Capital Management. Sitka Pacific is an asset management firm whose goal is strong performance and low volatility, regardless of market direction. Visit http://www.sitkapacific.com/account_management.html to learn more about wealth management and capital preservation strategies of Sitka Pacific.
Frances Beinecke: The Expansion of the Dirtiest Fuel on the Planet Hinges on the Keystone XL Pipeline
More than 35,000 people gathered in Washington, D.C. on Sunday to urge President Obama to confront climate change. Farmers, religious leaders, scientists, union workers, students, and more came together because we can't afford to wait any longer. Climate change is already threatening our communities with extreme weather and costly damages. The time to act is now. Fortunately President Obama has the power to stop a major source of global warming pollution from spreading: tar sands oil. The production of tar sands oil generates three times as many greenhouse gases as the production of conventional crude. And yet big oil corporations want to expand tar sands production and generate more pollution. The president can shield us from this pollution by rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline. Big oil companies would like us to believe tar sands expansion in a foregone conclusion, but economic and political realities reveal the future of the industry hinges on that pipeline. They need to haul their land-locked product through America's breadbasket to the Gulf of Mexico for export in order to compete with cheaper fuels. Climate march to the White House, February 17, 2013. Photo Credit: Melanie Blanding Numerous financial analysts and oil executives agree that the current opposition to Keystone XL is already slowing expansion. In a report released in January 2013, Standard & Poor's forecast that delays in approving new pipelines are putting future tar sands production growth at risk. TD Economics, part of a major Canadian bank, came to a similar conclusion about the tar sands industry, calling pipeline capacity constraints "a serious challenge to its long-term growth." "Unless we get increased [market] access, like with Keystone XL, we're going to be stuck," explained Ralph Glass, an economist and vice president at AJM Petroleum Consultants. "We're going to hit a wall at some point in time and our... production is going to be the one backed out of the system." Tar sands companies can't simply choose another route if Keystone XL gets blocked; no other viable alternatives exist right now. CIBC, a major Canadian financial services firm, recently concluded the pipelines proposals for hauling tar sands oil to Canada's West Coast have a less than 50 percent chance of being built. The Northern Gateway pipeline to the British Columbia Coast, for instance, is highly unpopular in that province, where 60 percent of residents oppose the project and aboriginal communities have refused to grant necessary easements. "I personally don't think Northern Gateway will go through anytime soon or if it ever will," said Roger McKnight, a senior petroleum adviser at En-Pro International Inc. "There's just too much politics in the soup and there are too many environmental concerns in the soup and there's aboriginal rights in the soup and that makes for a pretty unsavory soup." Meanwhile, efforts to ship tar sands to Eastern Canada or the Northeast United States are equally uncertain. Several layers of approvals stand in the way of access to coastal ports. In light of pipeline problems -- and the changing economics of the North American oil supply -- many oil companies are starting to shift investments out of tar sands. Suncor, the oldest operator in the region, has signaled three of its most important new projects are unlikely to proceed. Canadian Natural Resources Ltd cut capital spending by $680 million from its Horizon tar sands project last year. "There has been a loss of faith in the economics that are being presented by the producers here," Vice-President of Investor Relations at MEG Energy Corp John Rogers told the Globe and Mail. Keystone XL is the chokepoint for the tar sands industry, and it's time we closed it off for good. We don't need this dangerous pipeline and its dirty oil to power our economy; we have safer, cleaner solutions. President Obama raised fuel economy standards to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, for instance. These standards alone will save drivers more than $80 billion a year at the pump while cutting our oil use by one-third and carbon pollution from new cars in half. I applaud President Obama's commitment to fighting climate change. Approving Keystone XL would contradict that commitment. At the rally on Sunday, thousands of concerned citizens called on President Obama to lead our nation forward, not backward into darker, more polluted days. He can do that by promoting clean energy and reducing carbon pollution from power plants. But he must also reject the Keystone XL pipeline so that tar sands oil can be left where it belongs: in the ground.
WASHINGTON -- On the same weekend that 40,000 people gathered on the Mall in Washington to protest construction of the Keystone Pipeline -- to its critics, a monument to carbon-based folly -- President Obama was golfing in Florida with a pair of Texans who are key oil, gas and pipeline players. Obama has not shied away from supporting domestic drilling, especially for relatively clean natural gas, but in his most recent State of the Union speech he stressed the urgency of addressing climate change by weaning the country and the world from dependence on carbon-based fuels. "We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy and the most severe drought in decades and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence," Obama said in the speech, last week. "Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science -- and act before it's too late." But on his first “guys weekend" away since he was reelected, the president chose to spend his free time with Jim Crane and Milton Carroll, leading figures in the Texas oil and gas industry, along with other men who run companies that deal in the same kinds of carbon-based services that Keystone would enlarge. They hit the links at the Floridian Yacht and Golf Club, which is owned by Crane and located on the Treasure Coast in Palm City, Fla. Carroll is the chairman of CenterPoint Energy, a public utility company based in Houston, Texas. He is not a major donor to political candidates, having given just $5,800 since 2007, including a $2,300 donation to Obama's first presidential campaign. CenterPoint Energy benefited from the 2009 federal stimulus law signed by Obama through its receipt of $200 million in federal grant money to upgrade its system to a Smart Grid. CenterPoint is not Carroll's only connection to the energy industry. Both Carroll and Crane are directors at Western Gas Holdings, the managing partner of Western Gas Partners, a midstream energy provider created by Anadarko Petroleum, one of the largest publicly traded oil and gas companies. Western Gas Partners' main investment is in the booming field of natural gas exploration, transportation and manufacture in Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Wyoming. Unlike Carroll, Crane has been more active in campaign funding circles. In 2012, he gave the maximum $5,000 to the Obama campaign and $30,800 to the Democratic National Committee (DNC). In 2010, he gave big to Democratic Texas gubernatorial candidate Bill White, with $125,297 in contributions. Crane's donations have exclusively flowed to Democrats since 2002. Before that, he made a few contributions to Republicans, including $5,000 to the Republican National Committee (RNC) in 2000, and to candidates such as former Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Texas Sen. John Cornyn. Clark Stevens, a White House spokesman, reemphasized the president's commitment to confronting climate change in a statement Wednesday morning. "The President could not have been clearer in both his second Inaugural address as well as his State of the Union address that continuing to confront climate change is a top priority. In fact the President has already taken historic action on this issue in the wake of Congressional inaction during his first term. This included establishing standards that will double how far our cars will go on a gallon of gas, doubling renewable energy generation from sources like wind and solar, and proposing the first national standard for carbon pollution from new power plants, among other steps. As the President said last week, if Congress will not take action on this important issue he will continue to build on the progress underway by his Administration to confront this threat." Environmental groups have seen their policy priorities move up on the national agenda after Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast, and many were excited by the president's pledge in his State of the Union address to take executive action if Congress fails to pass a climate bill. But Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program, said the president's new rhetoric around climate change doesn't square with his choice of golf partners, or with what he called Obama's "all-of-the-above" energy strategy. "A golf outing does not policy make, but it's clear that folks in the oil industry have access to the president," Slocum said. "The president has made very clear his firm commitment to not just the oil and gas sector, but to expanding the oil and gas sector by increasing production, by, as he said, cutting red tape, and expanding offshore drilling." Other environmentalists contacted by HuffPost agree. "Obama's got a choice to make: He can either side with Big Oil or he can join the more than 40,000 Americans who came to Washington last weekend -- along with the millions more clean energy supporters across the country -- and take us forward on climate change by saying no to Keystone XL," said Jamie Henn, a spokesman for 350.org, a climate advocacy group. "Young people may not be so good at golf, but we vote in record numbers, and we're overwhelmingly on the side of climate action." Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, found Obama's golf outing less unusual than he'd like. "You can’t throw a rock in Washington without hitting a deep-pocketed oil executive, which is why nearly 50,000 Americans had to come to the nation’s capital to remind the president that the vast majority of Americans agree with his calls for climate action," he said. "There's an old adage that you're only as good as the company you keep, but we know President Obama can prove that saying wrong and do more for our children's future than any of his predecessors, or golfing companions, for that matter.” In some ways, Henn noted, a coastal resort in Florida is a peculiar place to try to avoid talk of climate change. If sea level rise continues, it will be among the first places to go. This post has been updated for clarity.
Some 40K people marched on the U.S. capital over the weekend to protest the Keystone XL (TRP) pipeline project, whose rejection could cause a deep and lasting rift with the U.S. But perhaps Canada is not such a benign trading partner, according to Huffington Post's Raymond Learsy, who says Alberta’s government has given "generous donations to Islamists with close connections to Hamas."
Some 40K people marched on the U.S. capital over the weekend to protest the Keystone XL (TRP) pipeline project, whose rejection could cause a deep and lasting rift with the U.S. But perhaps Canada is not such a benign trading partner, according to Huffington Post's Raymond Learsy, who says Alberta’s government has given "generous donations to Islamists with close connections to Hamas." 1 comment!
WASHINGTON - John Kerry welcomed Canada's foreign affairs minister on Friday to the U.S. State Department, where TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline was a key topic of discussion despite the new secretary of state remaining publicly non-committal on the controversial project.“I hope we will be able to be in a position to make an announcement in the near term," Kerry, a fierce climate hawk during his 28 years in the U.S. Senate, told a joint news conference with John Baird in the State Department's ornate Treaty Room."I don’t want to pin down exactly when, but I assure you, in the near term," he said. "We have a legitimate process that is underway and I intend to honour that.”Kerry also noted that Canada is the largest foreign supplier of energy for the United States, something "many people in America are not aware of."The State Department, currently reviewing TransCanada's latest application for the pipeline, will decide the fate of Keystone XL because it crosses an international border.The $7 billion project, which would carry Alberta oilsands bitumen to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries, has become a flashpoint for U.S. environmentalists, who view it as a symbol of "dirty oil."“We had a good discussion with regard to Keystone," Baird said."We spoke about making a decision based on science and based on facts. Obviously when it comes to the environment, I think we have like-minded objectives."Baird is the first foreign minister to sit down with Kerry since the longtime Massachusetts lawmaker replaced Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.Kerry spoke warmly of the Canada-U.S. relationship."We have a history and a heritage of our people that is unbelievably connected," he said. "We have the same entrepreneurial spirit. We have the same core beliefs that everybody ought to be able to find their place in life to do better.”But despite knowing some French, Kerry declined to answer a question en francais."Not today, I gotta refresh myself," he said with a smile.The rapport between the two men seemed friendly as they addressed the packed news conference. And, as always when a Canadian politician visits an American counterpart, there was hockey talk.“We dove right into the toughest issues … we began with hockey," said Kerry, an lifelong hockey enthusiast and devout Boston Bruins fan."He, from Ottawa, is a fan of the Senators. And I want you to know it’s the first time I’ve ever heard someone talk well of senators, so I’m grateful for it.”But it wasn't all hockey and Keystone. The men told the assembled media that they discussed a wide array of issues, including the threat of a nuclear Iran and the ongoing crisis in Syria.“The foreign minister and I talked about this at length, at length," Kerry said of Syria. "We both share a deep concern about what is happening there. I am going to focus on it quite considerably."Both Baird and Kerry also reiterated that Iran must be prepared to address global concerns about its nuclear program during upcoming nuclear talks with international representatives in Kazakhstan.If it does so, Kerry added, the international community will respond accordingly."We are prepared to let diplomacy be the victor in this confrontation over their nuclear program," Kerry said."The president has made it clear that he is prepared to talk about a peaceful nuclear program .... Iran has a choice: they have to prove to the world that it is peaceful, and we are prepared to sit responsibly and negotiate how they can do that and how we can all be satisfied."Kerry didn't answer a question about whether there were any concerns in the U.S. capital about allegations of a Canadian connection in two recent terrorist attacks.Algeria claims Canadians were involved in last month’s terrorist attack on a gas plant. And a man who held both Canadian and Lebanese citizenship was involved in a deadly bus bombing in Bulgaria last July.
XL Capital (XL): Q4 EPS of $0.13 may not be comparable to consensus of -$0.32. Revenue of $1.91B beats by $0.46B. (PR)
XL Capital (XL): Q4 EPS of $0.13 may not be comparable to consensus of -$0.32. Revenue of $1.91B beats by $0.46B. (PR) Post your comment!
“The Occupy Wall Street movement may have faded from the headlines in the aftermath of the eviction of Zuccotti Park more than a year ago, but the issues that originally sparked it and the activism it inspired remain very much alive.” This was the opening to a blog post called Who Were the 99 Percent? from co-authors of the recent study Changing The Subject: A Bottom-Up Account of Occupy Wall Street in New York City. Regrettably, as reported by Allison Kilkenny in the Nation, many in the media have twisted the study’s findings regarding the makeup of OWS by dismissing the movement in an entirely new and spurious way: “this was a damned if they do, damned if they don’t moment for Occupy--they’re either poor, dirty hippies or the sons and daughters of the wealthy elite, but never, ever Americans exercising their First Amendment rights”. Fortunately, we don’t need outside justification to know that ‘We Are the 99%’, and as the study depicts, nothing will extinguish the flame compelling us to speak out and inspiring us to act. -- from the ‘Your Inbox: Occupied’ team Occupy in the News In other news, Stacia Georgi at Brooklyn Ink wrote quite the positive story about the People’s Recovery Summit held this past weekend. Check out occupier and photo-journalist Jenna Pope’s album of the summit for the play by play. Stopmotionsolo.tv provides comprehensive coverage of the recent Citizens United wedding, including a brief history of the ruling and a discussion of his concerns about pushing for a constitutional amendment. Professor Marcuse discusses options in responding to disasters like Sandy, including the wryly titled “Banker’s Socialism”--the “deprivatization of disaster response”--the Private Market Approach and the Equity Approach, which is “using public assistance to ameliorate the damage caused by disaster.” Featured Occu-Project: Flip the Debt Check out how Occupy Unveils a New Debt Clock that Shows How Much the 1% Owe Us. This campaign to ‘Flip the Debt’ aims to "flip the debate" over the national debt by shifting the focus to the global corporations and super wealthy actually responsible. Your blood will boil as you watch the numbers tick up on their ingenious online 'Debt Clock' calculating the amount of taxes dodged by corporations every second. Moreover, each tick is reminder to the 1% that “It's time that you paid your damn taxes!” Occupy These Actions & Events Saturday, February 9th, 7-9pmDiscussion: Energy Extraction and the Keystone XL Pipeline Bluestockings Bookstore, 172 Allen Street Leading mainstream scientist James Hansen has said if the Keystone XL pipeline proceeds it is “essentially game over for the climate.” Join us for a panel discussion about the Keystone XL pipeline and related energy extraction issues. We will skype in with activists down in Texas and Oklahoma, talk to an organizer who has been working at the Canadian Tar Sands oil extraction sight and with NYC Spectra Pipeline organizers. All proceeds from the night will go directly to the campaign to stop the Keystone XL pipeline. With a continued fundraiser after-party in Brooklyn. Featuring Gay Panic and Glittered and Mauled. Saturday, February 9th, 4:30PM - 6:30PMStrategic research workshop Organization of Staff Analysts, 220 East 23rd Street, Suite 707 Join members of NYC Radical Reference for the second in a series of strategic research workshops sponsored by the OWS Labor Outreach Committee. The workshops are open to all. In this event, we will explore what’s behind the legislation and policies that affect our lives as workers, as activists, and as citizens. We will see how to get the goods on candidates, lobbying, and political activity. Sunday, February 10th, 1:00-4:00pmOccupy the Subways 57th and 7th Avenue F Train Subway In support of the workers at Golden Farm Market in Kensington Brooklyn, we will be Occupying the Subways beginning at 1pm and meeting the Boycott/Picket of Golden Farm at 2pm and staying there until 4pm. Monday, February 11th, 6:30pmMovement Mondays Two Moon Art House and Cafe, 315 4th Avenue, Brooklyn There are so many people and groups in the Occupy Wall Street ecosystem that are doing fantastic work. We learn about many of these projects as they’re happening or the day after. Let’s find out WHO is doing WHAT actions and events — well ahead of time! We can also serve as a focused incubation chamber for NEW ideas, strategize for the long term, and reflect upon our successes and failures so we can keep building and growing. Thursday, February 14th, 8:30am-5:30pmJustice for Dennis Flores - Rally at the Court Brooklyn Criminal Court, 120 Schermerhorn Street Dennis is a long-standing member of Occupy Sunset Park, as well as community organizer. Dennis Flores was arrested for defending one of the Rent Strikers against an attack by the slumlord’s hired goon. Hard to believe, but he’s actually being taken to trial on utterly ridiculous charges. Show brother Dennis your support! Turn out for a rally the morning of his trial! Thursday, February 14th, 12:00pm-2:00pmValentines Day Message to Megabanks: Time to Break Up NY Public Library, 42nd st. and 5th ave. Join us to give HSBC, Bank of America and other megabanks Valentine’s Day Break Up Cards. Rally to call for a break up of the megabanks who are Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Jail and simply Too Big. Saturday, February 16th, 6:30p.m-11:00p.mHot & Crusty Workers Victory Party Brecht Forum, 451 West Street The Hot and Crusty Workers Association invites you to a celebration with food, drink. dancing, live music and great conversation. Bring friends, coworkers, classmates. A voluntary $10 donation is suggested. For more information, call Rosanna at 347-652-5724 or Sándor at 917-520-5368 Saturday, February 16th, 7:00pm-10:00pmSandy Storyline Fundraiser Cafe Dancer 96 Orchard Street, New York NY (b/w Broome & Delancey) Join us for a party and benefit to help raise funds for Sandy Storyline, a participatory documentary project about Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath, told through the experiences of community members and volunteers. We are raising money to help support Sandy Storyline's projects, providing media education, community exhibitions and storytelling events for residents in Hurricane Sandy affected areas. Sunday, February 17th, Noon Rally in DC. Buses Leave NYC at 7am.Forward on Climate Rally The National Mall, DC - to the White House Join Occupy Sandy, Occupy the Pipeline, YANA, Rockaway residents and groups from around country for the largest climate rally in the nation's capital. In November, we came together in New York and New Jersey to provide disaster relief. Now we come together to call for real action on Climate Change. The very first step is for President Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Sign up here for a bus ticket (reduced fairs and scholarships available). http://f17nycbusbrigade.wordpress.com Friday February 22nd, 17:30-21:00Tidal 4 Release 20 Cooper Square Tidal 4 is being released this Friday evening. Come and pick up your own free copy! It will include original, commissioned contributions from many organizers of Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Sandy and Strike Debt, Collective pieces from the Tidal Team and friends and a Student Movement piece from Free University folks. Saturday, March 1st and Sunday March 2nd, 12-6pmOccupy Data Hackathon Cuny Graduate Center, 365 5th Avenue Data mining and visualization for the 99%. At the event, we’d like to focus on a few new data sets/projects. Occupy Sandy and Aaron Swartz’s work has come up, and generated a lot of interest. Any ideas, data resources you may know of or questions, please let us know: Occupy Data listserve or [email protected] Sunday, March 10th, 2pmUnorganized Workers Assembly Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South Join the Occupy Your Workplace group for a discussion of strategy and tactics of workplace organizing. We'll have several folks present who have experience as workplace "salts" - workers who get jobs with the aim of organizing. Workers who are curious about organizing, experienced organizers and activists, union members, and all other workers and non workers welcome.
WASHINGTON - The Canada-U.S. Beyond the Border initiatives haven't exactly been a top priority for the White House since Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama announced a "shared vision" for a border deal two years ago.Obama had an election to win in 2012, and Capitol Hill has been consumed with efforts to reduce the country's mammoth national debt, prompting stakeholders on both sides of the border to gripe that progress on Beyond the Border's so-called action plan has, so far, lacked action."There's a kind of general feeling of: 'OK, we're doing all right, but we'd like more please, and can we move faster?'" Chris Sands, an expert on Canada-U.S. relations and North American economic integration, said in a recent interview.Officials are still working on initiatives from the first year of the action plan while stakeholders had hoped to be well into a second-year agenda by now, said Sands, a self-described "fly on the wall" in some of the ongoing negotiations."Part of it is budgetary issues," he said."The Obama administration knows that this is supposed to happen and they know there are pilot projects, but there's no money. How do you do all this with sequestration looming?"Sequestration — a massive package of sweeping, automatic spending cuts to an array of U.S. federal departments and agencies — is set to kick in on March 1.The mandated measures would amount to US$1.2 trillion in cuts by 2021. If Congress fails to act, Americans will be facing the type of austerity measures that won't bode well for some of the costlier cross-border projects envisioned by Beyond the Border, aimed at intelligence-sharing, easing and streamlining cross-border trade and harmonizing regulations.Birgit Matthiessen, the Washington-based senior adviser for the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, is among those expressing frustration at the pace of the action plan."We're in the second year of the two-year action plan and the CME has made it quite clear to both Washington and Ottawa that we're hoping the second year is a lot more ambitious than the first," she said.The long-existing problems plaguing land border crossings have received particularly short shrift, Matthiessen says."They've announced bold initiatives at sea ports and for air cargo, and that's great, those are good, we applaud them," she said."But for our members, it's the land border that's crucial. Customs officials on both sides of the border continue to stop and hinder legitimate business travellers coming across the borders on both sides. The rules are 20 years old; they're out of date, they're archaic. We need clear, updated guidlelines to reflect the modern-day business world."There have nonetheless been some small but significant achievements, including a recent announcement that the U.S. and Canada had increased and matched the value thresholds for “expedited customs clearance” to $2,500 for both countries. The previous threshold for goods for was $1,600.Courier UPS applauded the news.“Canadian and U.S. businesses are the true beneficiaries of the Beyond the Border Action Plan and this change,” Mike Tierney, president of UPS Canada, said in a statement.“Each day, more than $1 billion worth of goods crosses our common border, bringing the annual value of traded goods to more than $580 billion. Yet, every year $16 billion in trade activity has been lost due to border delays. This change will allow for swifter movement of goods for importers and exporters of all sizes.”Despite such modest successes, there has also been controversy in recent months surrounding Beyond the Border, with U.S. and Canadian officials facing a backlash over proposals to eliminate secondary meat inspections under the deal.That backlash intensified in September amid one of the largest food recalls in Canadian history.During the type of secondary inspection that would be eliminated under the proposals, U.S. Department of Agriculture officials discovered E. coli in a shipment of beef from the XL Foods plant in Brooks, Alta., at a Montana border crossing.Progress on Beyond the Border — or lack thereof — is the focus of an event on Monday in the U.S. capital hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.Monday marks the two-year anniversary of Obama and Harper's announcement of a "shared vision" for the border following an Oval Office meeting between the two leaders.Senior bureaucrats from both the U.S. and Canada — members of the Regulatory Co-operation Council, tasked with turning that vision into reality — will be on hand for a meeting that will delve into the steps already taken, and those yet to come, on Beyond the Border.A joint Canada-U.S. report card on the action plan's progress, released in December, acknowledged the future challenges.“While significant progress has been made over the past year, our work is not yet done,” it said."Work on several additional initiatives is underway, including the harmonization of trusted-trader programs, the full implementation of an entry/exit program at the land border, and the negotiation of a pre-clearance agreement for the land, rail and marine modes, together with an update to the existing pre-clearance agreement for the air mode.”Two high-profile stakeholders urged action in a recent editorial published in The Hill, the U.S. congressional newspaper."The challenge now is to move beyond pilot projects, feasibility studies, and regulatory reviews to fuller implementation — transforming words and good intentions into more concrete and longer-term action," wrote John Engler and John Manley.Engler is president of the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies with more than $7.3 trillion in annual revenues. Manley heads the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, representing the CEOs of 150 Canadian companies."We encourage our leaders to keep pressing their officials for tangible results .... Ongoing effort and constant attention by governments, business and labour have made the Canada-U.S. partnership an enormous success, enhancing our global competitiveness. Let’s keep it that way."
Tina Gerhardt: Joseph Stiglitz and the World Economic Forum: Making the Connection Between Climate Change and Economics
On Monday the World Economic Forum (WEF) kicked off in Davos. Why is the WEF vital for climate change? As Kumi Naidoo put it, he is attending the WEF "to appeal to the most powerful that they have to move beyond an obsession with preserving a system that drives economic inequality, environmental destruction and violence." Naidoo continues: "Voices for change are mounting. Earlier this month, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said that the financial costs linked to climate change represent the biggest threat to global economy." In his widely circulated article, "The Post-Crisis Crises," Joseph Stiglitz argues that "in the shadow of the euro crisis and America's fiscal cliff, it is easy to ignore the global economy's long-term problems." But, he continues, "While we focus on immediate concerns, they continue to fester and we overlook them at our peril." And, he argued, "The most serious is global warming." The costs associated with global warming related extreme weather have already impacted deeply the U.S. economy. A recent study by Munich Re found that North America has been most affected by weather-related extreme events in recent decades from 1980-2011: the overall cost totaling $1,060 billion (in 2011 values). In addition to the costs outlined by Munich Re's study, in 2012, extreme weather events, such as Hurricane Sandy, wildfires and drought, forced further costs on the U.S. economy. Hurricane Sandy is estimated to have cost New York City at least $154 million in over-time and $134 million to provide emergency services and recovery and relief programs; and it cost insurance companies up to $25 billion in claims. But much of the storm's losses, in property damage or labor hours lost, are not covered by insurance. As of January 10, 2013, the following funds had been approved in New York to help families and communities recover, according to FEMA: $838,883,227.54 to assist individuals and households; $742,851,828.25 for housing; and $96,031,399.29 for needs assistance. The 2012 drought, the most severe and extensive U.S. drought in at least 25 years, led to wildfires in numerous states, including Oklahoma and Colorado. According to a December 2012 report of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the drought affected about 80% of the US's agricultural land and its impacts are forecast to hit consumers in 2013, mostly in meat and dairy consumption. As a result of the drought, the Mississippi River's water levels dropped 20 feet below normal, making shipping more difficult. This drop led US Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) to call a special meeting in December, 2012 to discuss solutions. As U.S. Representative John Shimkus (R) put it at the meeting, "We do not really value something until we risk losing it." They have since increased again as a result of rains but contractors also deepened the channel since the meeting in December 2012. These extreme weather related financial impacts occur in tandem with a global economic downturn, which has plagued developed economies since 2008. Taking protective measures against subsequent impending extreme weather associated with global warming, Stiglitz argues, will also protect against further financial costs. Stiglitz, in a 2012 talk on "Using Sustainability for Economic Recovery and Growth," asked: "Can we afford to do this? We can't afford not to do it! The obvious reason in the long-term is the environment. But it is also something we cannot afford not to do something about in terms of the economy." In particular, Stiglitz argues that we need to move away from fossil fuels to renewable energies. It will be expensive but it will be an investment that will help to stimulate the economy and it will provide long-term economic development. In an interview, Kristen Sheeran, Director, Economics for Equity and the Environment Network (E3) at Ecotrust, said that she agrees with Stiglitz's basic arguments: "Our reliance on fossil fuels and neglect of renewables is a result of how our economy is structured but it doesn't have to be that way. We can redirect our existing resources, capital, technology and production, towards a sustainable model." For example, "Rather than put people to work building new pipelines, we could put them to work in renewable energy industries. Because Keystone XL Pipeline might create jobs while the pipeline is being built, but then the majority of those jobs will disappear. The renewable industry, by contrast, has solid long-term societal and environmental benefits, as Danny Kennedy argues in Rooftop Revolution. The same goes for retrofits and across the spectrum for environmental and green energy." Sheeran argues that "one needs to consider value in the long-term: the dollars saved, the jobs generated and the environment protected, whether one invests in say retrofitting a home on a personal level, or building a bike lane, on a local level." Sheeran and E3 works for sustainable solutions on a regional and local scale. E3 outlines this approach in their recent report Resilience and Transformation. Some might take issue with Stiglitz's argument when he argues that "retrofitting the global economy for climate change would help to restore aggregate demand and growth." But Stiglitz has stated elsewhere that he seeks not to achieve an increase in the Growth Domestic Product. (He has weighed in previously on the issue with Amartya Sen and Jean-Paul Fitoussi: Measuring our Lives: Why GDP Doesn't Add Up.) Daphne Wysham, fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, agrees that one needs to look beyond GDP. The Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI), she argues, considers both economic and environmental factors. In an interview, Wysham said, "In the age of accelerating climate change, business as usual is dead. Whether it is in regards to fuel consumption or other forms of consumption. So how do we measure progress? That is a question states are beginning to answer with the Growth Progress Indicator." "At the state level, the GPI allows policy makers to better assess the costs and benefits to the economy and the environment, taking into account costs that are often externalized, to the local environment, to people's health, etc." "One needs to ask 'growth of what and for what?'" She continued, "Is it growth in sectors of the economy, such as renewable energy, which is good for the economy, health and environment, that enhances overall societal well-being? Or is it growth that is good for only one of those things. Because on a national level, after a certain point, economic growth does not increase enhance well-being." "What's unique about the GPI," Wysham continued, "is that it tries to take into account what GDP measures but also other factors." Wysham is working with various states to implement the GPI. In May, Vermont passed legislation, establishing a GPI for the state. Maryland put in place their GPI in 2009. Ross Jackson, by contrast, is working at the international scale to ensure as much can be done as possible to avert climate change but not by focusing on an international climate treaty but through economic reform. In his book Occupy World Street, he lays out a plan for radical economic reform, in order to ensure a sustainable environment. After working in global finance -- according to the book's introduction, penned by Hazel Henderson -- to reject "the unreality of global finance and the neoliberal economy system behind it," and co-founded the Gaia Trust to promote a more sustainable world. In an interview, Jackson said, "We are clearly overloading the eco-system. Recent figures say we are 50 percent above the biocapacity of the planet -- based on 2008 figures. Economic growth is certainly no solution. The major problem driving this environmental devastation is cheap oil. So the question is: How do we get a higher price on oil, so that we can stimulate the private sector to invest in renewable energy sources?" "One possible way forward," Jackson proposes, "is for just one nation to adopt ecological economics as state policy." What does that mean? "Well, there are many policy aspects to consider. But we can break them into two major categories 1) new external policies that can re-establish control over the domestic economy; and 2) new domestic reforms." "Re-establishing control over the domestic economy is key," Jackson argues. "Right now, under the WTO rules, one has to accept products with lower environmental standards than those of domestic firms. We need to reclaim the sovereign right to place tariffs or bans. This means, among other things, leaving the WTO, which does not allow such sovereignty." Domestically, Jackson advocates a shift to renewable energy as quickly as possible. In his estimation, leveling the playing field is pivotal to ensuring increased renewable energy. Sheeran said she couldn't agree with that more but added "But if you look at the U.S., we have the capacity to remove the fossil fuel subsidies and to level the playing field internally, domestically." Furthermore, she added, fossil fuel subsidies not only have domestic but also global consequences." "For example," she added, "if we begin to export some of our boom in natural gas, and sell it on the global market, it will bring down gas prices in, say, China, where natural gas is currently expensive. This may affect the pace of renewable energy creation in other countries. So our domestic subsidies do have global impacts." Thus, while international negotiations and the White House continue to dither on ratifying an internationally binding climate treaty, although Ban Ki-Moon continues to underscore that it's a priority for him and President Obama -- in his inaugural address -- did the same, at the international, the state and regional level, plans for solutions that move beyond the gridlock are already afoot. Tina Gerhardt is an independent journalist and academic who covers energy policy, climate negotiations and related direct actions. Her work has appeared in Alternet, Grist, The Nation, The Progressive and the Washington Monthly, as well as Business Green, Climate Progress and TreeHugger.
The ceremonies are all over and Congress has slunk back into Washington, meaning President Obama's second term can now truly begin. Obama laid out an impressive and optimistic agenda in his speech on Monday, which leads to the question of how much of this agenda will actually be passed into law. Obama faces a Senate with a Democratic edge, but not a filibuster-proof edge. Obama also faces a House with fewer Republicans in it, but still enough for a solid majority. From the viewpoint of the past two years, this seems to indicate that not much of what Obama wants will get done. But perhaps -- just perhaps, mind you -- things will be a little different for the next two years. Obama, like all second-term presidents, will only have a short window of time to push his issues. There is one way this conventional wisdom could turn out to be wrong, but it is a long shot, at best. If Democrats can manage to hold their edge in the Senate and take control of the House in the 2014 midterm elections, then Obama could defy second-term expectations and actually get a lot done in his final two years in office. But, as I said, this should be seen as a remote possibility at this point. Remember 2010, in other words. Realistically, Obama's only going to have anywhere from a few months to (at most) a year and a half to get anything accomplished. Which is why he is right to push his agenda immediately, as evidenced by his inaugural speech. But even he must realize that he's not going to get everything he wants, so it will be interesting to see what makes it through Congress and what dies an ignoble legislative death. There is reason for hope. Obama begins from a position of strength, politically. His job approval ratings have been consistently over 50 percent since he was re-elected -- a range Obama hasn't seen since 2009. As mentioned, the Republican presence in both houses of Congress has shrunk. More importantly, though, the House Republicans are visibly chastened (or even "shaken") by the election's outcome. This has already allowed Obama to rack up two early victories in the endless budget debates -- and in both, Obama got almost everything he asked for, did not give up much of anything, and held firm on some very bold negotiating tactics. Obama won the fight over the fiscal cliff, which resulted in the first rise in income tax rates in two decades, and the only thing he had to budge on was the threshold for these higher taxes. Today, the House Republicans passed a "clean" rise in the debt ceiling, after Obama swore over and over again that he "was not going to negotiate" on the issue at all. The score so far is: Obama two, House Republicans zero (to put it in sporting terms). Of course, the Republicans only extended the debt ceiling for a few months, but this shouldn't really worry anyone, because a longer-term extension will doubtlessly be a part of any sort of grand bargain on the budget talks. The Republicans, very wisely, realized they were playing a losing game and decided to reshuffle the deadlines on the calendar. Rather than being faced with the debt ceiling crisis first, and then two budgetary crises, they have moved the debt ceiling problem to the end of the list. Which means the next big fight Obama faces is going to be another haggle over the budget. This is going to be a tough battle, and Obama is bound to disappoint some of his supporters in the midst of it. Some sacred cows are going to wind up as hamburger, although at this point it's hard to see which ones. The real measurement of success here will be whether the House Republicans and Obama can come to terms with a budget for the next year or year-and-a-half. Long-term budget stability has been largely absent from Washington for a while now, so if any agreement can be reached perhaps it'll help the economy recover a lot faster throughout 2013 and 2014. In the long run, that will be a positive thing, no matter what such a budget agreement actually contains. One safe bet for what will be in it, though, is a long-term extension of the debt ceiling. Budget battles are going to happen no matter what else does -- that's another safe bet. What is more interesting, though, is handicapping which of Obama's agenda items will actually see some action. There are three major initiatives that Obama is currently pushing: action on global warming, comprehensive immigration reform, and gun control. Obama did mention other issues in his speech, but these are the big three for now. Gay marriage, for instance, is in the hands of the Supreme Court right now, and no matter how they rule it's hard to see any legislative action (good or bad) happening on it immediately afterwards. Gun control will likely be the first of these debated in Congress. Vice President Biden laid out a wide array of possible actions Congress could take on the issue, all of which Obama then backed. While the Newtown massacre did indeed shift public opinion dramatically on the overall issue, the biggest initiative is not likely to become law. An assault rifle ban is very important to some Democrats, but the way I read it is that this was included to have something to "trade away" in the negotiations. If Obama gets most of the other gun control initiatives -- closing loopholes on background checks, much better tracking of weapons, and all the other "small bore" (sorry about that pun) ideas -- then he will at least be able to say he accomplished something at the end of the day. Perhaps this is pessimistic, but the mechanics of banning "assault weapons" become very tricky, when you have to actually define what they are in legal language. And such a ban may not get universal Democratic backing anyway, so I fully expect this will be shelved at some point in exchange for support for all the other initiatives. Without such a ban, the prospects for other meaningful gun control legislation get a lot better, though, and I think that a bill will eventually pass. The second big agenda item is immigration reform. President Obama holds virtually all the cards, politically, on this one. All Republicans who can read either demographics or polling numbers know full well that this may be their party's last chance not to go the way of the Whigs. Their support among Latinos is dismal, and even that's putting it politely. Some Republicans think they have come up with a perfect solution on how to defuse the issue, but they are going to be proven sadly mistaken in the end, I believe. The Republican plan will be announced by Senator Marco Rubio at some point, and it will seem to mirror the Democratic plan -- with one key difference. Republicans -- even the ones who know their party has to do something on the immigration problem -- are balking at including a "path to citizenship" for the 11 million undocumented immigrants who are already in America. The Republicans are trying to have their cake and eat it too -- and it's not going to work. "Sure," they say, "we'll give some sort of papers to these folks, let them stay, and even let them work... but there's no need to give them the hope of ever becoming a full citizen." This just isn't going to be good enough, though. There are essentially two things citizens can do which green card holders cannot: serve on juries, and vote. The Republicans are not worried about tainted juries, in case that's not clear enough. Republicans will bend over backwards in an effort to convince Latinos that their proposal will work out just fine for everyone. Latinos, however, aren't stupid. They know that being denied any path to citizenship equals an effort to minimize their voice on the national political stage. Which is why, as I said, Obama holds all the cards in this fight. Because this is the one issue in his agenda which Republicans also have a big vested interest in making happen. Obama and the Democrats will, I believe, hold firm on their insistence on a path to citizenship, and I think a comprehensive immigration bill will likely pass some time this year, perhaps before the summer congressional break. The path to citizenship it includes will be long, expensive and difficult (Republicans will insist on at least that), but it will be there. On gun control, I think Obama will win a partial victory. On immigration, I think he will win an almost-total victory. On global warming, however, he's going to be disappointed. In fact, I doubt -- no matter how much "bully pulpiting" Obama does -- that any bill will even appear out of a committee in either house of Congress. This will be seen as Obama's "overreach" -- a bridge too far for the current political climate. Anyone expecting big legislative action on global warming is very likely going to be massively disappointed, to put it quite bluntly. In fact, Obama will signal this in the next few months, as he approves the Keystone XL pipeline -- much to the dismay of a lot of his supporters. Of course, I could be wrong about any or all of these predictions. I have no special knowledge of how things will work out in Congress in the immediate future. I'm merely making educated guesses about what Obama will be able to achieve in at least the first few years of his second term. Obama has a lot of political capital right now, but that could easily change soon. The House Republicans seem almost demoralized right now, and Obama has successfully splintered them and called their bluff on two big issues already -- but they could regroup and decide to block everything the White House wants, and damn the political consequences. Unseen issues will pop up both on the domestic and foreign policy stages, as they always do. But, for now, this is my take on how the next few years are going to play out in Washington. Time will tell whether I've been too optimistic or too pessimistic on any or all of Obama's main agenda items. We'll just have to wait and see. Chris Weigant blogs at: Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigantBecome a fan of Chris on The Huffington Post
From RanSquawk After the closing bell yesterday - Google and IBM reported consensus beating earnings metrics, in pre-market trade Google shares seen up 5% and IBM up 4%. Apple is due to report after the bell today. Orders top EUR 10bln on Portugal 5yr bond tap, spread set at mid-swaps +395bps according to leads (initial guidance was at 410bps) Goldman Sachs has raised its EUR/USD forecast to 1.4000 from 1.3300 BoE MPC voted 8-1 to keep QE unchanged and 9-0 to keep interest rates unchanged at 0.50% Market Re-Cap Heading into the North American open, equities are trading in minor negative territory, led lower by banks as markets look forward to the first LTRO repayment, as well as lingering concerns that losses from derivatives contracts by Monte Paschi (entered with Nomura) may undermine the lender’s earnings. Monte Paschi shares opened 8% lower and were halted by the exchange to prevent a further slide in share price. As a result, even though EUR/USD is trading higher and peripheral bond yield spread are tighter, Bunds are trading in minor positive territory. Of note, Spain’s Iberian neighbour Portugal opened books for its 2017 bond and books are said to be around EUR 10bln, with guidance at MS+395bps (down from original MS+410bps). EUR/USD has also benefited from the decision by the Portuguese Treasury to tap capital markets only a day after a successful placement by Spain yesterday. Looking elsewhere, even though USD/JPY has bounced off earlier lows, implied vols continue to trade heavy as option decay and re-positioning post the BoJ decision weighs on prices. So much so that R/R has slipped to Sep levels, but still favours bets on further JPY depreciation. Going forward, market participants will get to digest interest rate decision by the Bank of Canada, as well as the latest economic outlook update by the IMF. Also, McDonalds, United Tech and Apple are set to report today. Asian Headlines Japanese Government upgraded its monthly economic assessment for the first time in 8 months. Policy makers noted that some parts of economy showing signs of bottoming out and expect the Bank of Japan to take bold steps to achieve 2% inflation. EU & UK Headlines The BoE Minutes from the most recent MPC meeting revealed that the Committee voted unanimously in favour of keeping the interest rate at 0.5%. However David Miles argued that an easing of monetary policy, in part by discouraging any further appreciation of sterling, could help the rebalancing process and avoid potentially lasting destruction of productive capacity. In other UK related commentary, the number of Britons claiming unemployment benefit posted a surprise fall in December to the lowest since mid-2011. Orders top EUR 10bln on Portugal 5yr bond tap, spread set at mid-swaps +395bps according to leads (initial guidance was at 410bps) - PO/GE 5s spread tighter by 10bps Of note, this week marks the beginning on the period when banks in Europe are given an opportunity to repay 3y LTRO funds. Banks have until today (January 23rd) to inform their national central banks of their intention to repay funds and these repayments will be settled the following Wednesday. This Friday, the ECB will announce the size of the first 3y LTRO repayment and around 10-20% of funds borrowed or EUR 100-120bln will be repaid. The EONIA curve is marginally flatter this morning and aggressive steepening is unlikely to materialise unless banks decide to repay significantly higher amount. US Headlines House speaker Boehner says it is time to come up with a plan to balance the budget over the next 10 years and that the important issue that must be addressed is spending. He added, Republicans wont raise taxes on Americans. Of note, debt ceiling extension vote set to take place today. US MBA Mortgage Applications (Jan 18) W/W 7.0% vs. Prev. 15.2% Equities Equities are trading in minor negative territory, led lower by banks as markets look forward to the first LTRO repayment, as well as lingering concerns that losses from derivatives contracts by Monte Paschi (entered with Nomura) may undermine the lender’s earnings. Monte Paschi shares opened 8% lower and were halted by the exchange to prevent a further slide in share price. Of note, Google and IBM reported consensus beating earnings metrics and in pre-market trade Google shares are seen up 5%, IBM up 4%. Major EU earnings: Siemens reported Q1 net income from continuing operations of EUR 1.30bln vs. Exp. EUR 1.18bln, Q1 sales EUR 18.1bln vs. Exp. EUR 18.8bln. Co. also confirmed 2013 outlook. SAP said it sees non-IFRS operating profit in range of EUR 5.85-5.95bln, sees 2013 non-IFRS software related services revenue to increase 11%-13% Y/Y vs. Exp 14% and sees 2013 IFRS effective tax rate of 25.5%-26.5%, non-IFRS tax rate 27%-28%. Novartis reported Q4 core net income USD 3.1bln vs. Exp USD 3.03bln, Q4 core EPS USD 1.27 vs. Exp. USD 1.25 and Q4 sales USD 14.8bln vs. Exp. USD 14.5bln. In addition to that, it was reported that Daniel Vasella is to step down next month as chairman of Novartis and to be replaced by Jörg Reinhardt, the head of Bayer Healthcare. For a full rundown of US earnings, please refer to US Equity Opening News report which will be available at 1400GMT. FX Goldman Sachs has raised its USD/JPY forecast to 87.00 over next 3, 6 and 12 months from 80.00 and also raised its EUR/USD forecast to 1.4000 from 1.3300 over next 3 and 6 months.Even though USD/JPY has bounced off earlier lows, implied vols continue to trade heavy as option decay and re-positioning post the BoJ decision weighs on prices. So much so that R/R has slipped to Sep levels, but still favours bets on further JPY depreciation. However another attempt to consolidate above the 90.00 level is unlikely in the coming days unless the BoJ and the government steps up verbal intervention rhetoric. Separately, EUR/USD edged higher for much of the session, supported by further PO/GE bond yield spread tightening, especially in the short-end, after it was reported that books on 5y syndication rose to EUR 10bln and spread was reduced to MS+395bps (originally set at 410bps) Commodities WTI futures are currently trading flat amid some mild profit taking after trading near their four month highs yesterday. Looking ahead market participants will focus on API inventories data set for release at 2130GMT/1530CST. The US state department has delayed a decision on TransCanada's rerouted Keystone XL oil pipeline until after March. Israeli PM Netanyahu has claimed victory in Israel's parliamentary election, shrugging off surprise losses to centre-left challengers and vowing to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Deutsche Bank raises China oil growth forecast for 2013 and raises China oil demand growth outlook to 5%.
Nebraska Governor Appoves Alternative Route Of Keystone XL Pipeline: Will Buffett/Obama Give The Green Light?
One of the more contentious issues in the past year for America's environmentalists was the (successful) blocking of the Keystone XL pipeline over fears that it would contaminate the Ohallala aquifier in the Sandhill region of Nebraska, a major source of groundwater, and an issue over which none other than the president was quite vocal just about a year ago when he killed the idea. At least that was the pre-spun, socially accepted reason (for the real one read below). It is now time to revisit the fate of this critical pipeline following today's news that the Nebraska governor has approved a new route for the pipeline, one which avoids the most sensitive area in the Sandhills. The response from the opponents has not been late in coming: "Governor Heineman just performed one of the biggest flip-flops that we've in Nebraska political history," said Jane Kleeb, executive director of the group Bold Nebraska. And now it will be up to Obama, whose second inauguration speech had a dedicated segment to clean energy, to kill or let it go through. Since the decision will once again be about politics, the outcome is all but certain, but at least it will provide yet another theatrical sideshow to add to all the others emanating from DC these days. After all it is all about distraction. From AP: Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman approved a new route for the Keystone XL oil pipeline on Tuesday that avoids the state's environmentally sensitive Sandhills region. Heineman sent a letter to President Barack Obama confirming that he would allow the controversial, Canada-to-Texas pipeline to proceed through his state. The project has faced some of its strongest resistance in Nebraska from a coalition of landowners and environmental groups who say it would contaminate the Ogallala aquifer, a massive groundwater supply. Canadian pipeline developer TransCanada and some workers' unions say the project is safe and will create thousands of jobs. The original route would have run the pipeline through a region of erodible, grass-covered sand dunes. The new route skirts that area, although the pipeline's most vocal critics remain firmly opposed to it as well. "Governor Heineman just performed one of the biggest flip-flops that we've in Nebraska political history," said Jane Kleeb, executive director of the group Bold Nebraska. Heineman said previously that he would oppose any pipeline route through the Sandhills region. In his letter to Obama, he said the new 195-mile route through Nebraska avoids the Sandhills but would still cross part of the aquifer. Heineman said any spills would be localized, and the clean-up responsibilities would fall to TransCanada. The governor said the project would result in $418.1 million in economic benefits for the state and $16.5 million in taxes from the pipeline construction materials. And for those wondering why we are confident the answer this time, like a year ago, will be a resounding no, here is a repost from precisely one year ago: Obama Puppetmaster Warren Buffett Biggest Winner From Keystone Pipeline Rejection Just when one thinks American crony capitalism couldn't hit new lows, here comes Warren Buffett and his personal puppet, the president, proving everyone wrong once more. Because if one thinks there is no (s)quid pro quo for all that "sage" advice that Buffett has been giving to Obama on extracting as much wealth as possible from future wealthy Americans (before they decide they have had enough with this crony shit and leave the country for good), one would be fatally wrong. As it turns out, it is not just natural resources and aquifer purity that Obama had in mind when sealing the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline. No - it appears there were far more relevant numerial metrics that determined Obama's decisions. Such as the bottom line number of Buffett's Burlington Northern, which according to Bloomberg, is among U.S. and Canadian railroads that stand to benefit from the Obama administration’s decision to reject TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL oil pipeline permit. '“Whatever people bring to us, we’re ready to haul,” Krista York-Wooley, a spokeswoman for Burlington Northern, a unit of Buffett’s Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A), said in an interview. If Keystone XL “doesn’t happen, we’re here to haul." And quite delighted to reap the windfalls of unfounded populist fears she forgot to add. Because while the whole "carbon-credit" multi-trillion top line expansion scheme for Goldman under the pretense of actually caring for the environment may have collapsed, it is not preventing others from trying and succeeding where even Goldman has failed.