Weatherdem's Weblog

Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy

News Pieces 1/30/09: Cassini, GDP, Exxon and Winter Storms

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NASA’s Cassini mission managers want to extend the mission another 7 years.  Doing so would allow them to investigate the Saturnian system for 1/2 of a Saturn year.  I hope they get the go-ahead.

The economy shrank at a 3.8% annual rate in the last quarter.  That’s a preliminary reading – one which is expected to get worse as the numbers are looked at in more depth.  That number won’t get better any time soon.  Millions are losing their jobs and their houses.  Millions more have lost access to credit, which was the economy’s driving force for the past twenty years.  Americans are going to realize they aren’t being paid enough when their credit lines are shut down as the recession deepens and lasts longer than most people are estimating right now.  All these things are the direct results of Con-servative policies being implemented (exactly as Cons wanted them to be, by the way) in the U.S.  It’s happened to every other country in the world where America tried to export “capitalistic democracy”.  The Cons finally got their chance to implement their policies to their fullest extenet here in America.  We’re living with the consequences now.  What are Cons doing in Congress? Pushing the same failed policies that got us here.  Thankfully, voters made better choices in this last election.

Did you hear that even poor ol’ Exxon Mobil is huring – just like the rest of us – in the recent economic downturn?  Okay, maybe not just like the rest of us.  After all, their 2008 profits were only $45,200,000,000.  Only $45.2 Billion.  Does anybody remember $4.50 gas last summer?  Guess where it went.  Autocratic regimes in the Middle East and mega-corporations like Exxon Mobil.  That’s correct – that disgusting number is only the profits of one corporation.  Keep those numbers in mind when you see their advertising claiming they’re doing all  kinds of critical research, developing better things for tomorrow.  In the face of the worst economic downturn since the last Republican Great Depression, in the face of record energy prices, the mega-fossil fuel corporations are making billions in profits and distributing millions more to executive bonuses.  When will their new technologies and “cleaner” fuels be available?  Eh, just keep buying gas for a few more decades.  Maybe after another $500 Billion or so in profits, they’ll actually come up with something.  Or Americans can continue to play the sucker in the relationship and continue buying their fossil fuels and never expect more out of them.

I heard about this last night on the radio.  Plenty of people in the eastern half of the U.S. are without power from … an average January winter storm.  The excellent questions raised were the following.  How many billions of dollars is the Dept. of “Homeland Security” sucking down every year?  The purpose of DHS is to protect the “homeland”, correct?  What kind of target do you think terrorists would like to strike?  Maybe power plants or power infrastructure more generically?  Our economy would certainly suffer even more if extensive power outages occurred.  Do you think DHS is doing its job protecting the homeland if a common, well-forecasted winter storm puts millions of people into the dark and cold?  I certainly don’t.  Given these circumstances, I have no faith in DHS to protect any American from a terrorist attack.  There are plenty of problems with our current infrastructure.  This kind of problem should receive some attention in the recovery package making its way through Congress now.

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