Quote of the day

Link:

And let’s not forget Thomas Friedman, whose every column reads: I was visiting somewhere impossibly glamorous when I had an idea that could change the world. As my prince/billionaire/ genius host showed me around, he pointed out how deeply he agreed with me. Why is everyone else so slow?

Whee

Alternet’s Josh Holland:

It’s simply a hostage exchange. The Republicans gave up the fiscal cliff, and will now take the debt limit, the federal budget and automatic across-the-board cuts to discretionary spending (the sequester), and have another standoff in 2-3 months time. The deal wouldn’t have gotten 85 GOP votes in the House without the leadership giving right-wingers ironclad guarantees that they’ll have another hostage soon.


What leverage will the White House have at that point? They’ve already rejected the “constitutional option” to avoid the debt ceiling — and won’t mint a big platinum coin. The Bush tax cuts on high earners will be off the table. That leaves cuts to defense — which Republicans hate — and public opinion, to which the GOP doesn’t seem terribly responsive when its base is screaming murder and threatening primaries (which is always). That’s pretty thin gruel given that the “austerity caucus” thinks it has a good shot at cutting Social Security and Medicare as part of a “grand bargain” with Obama.


Other than that, we’ll only have the Democrats’ legendary iron back-bone on which to rely. Nobody’s ever gotten rich betting on that.

Why did the train cross the border 24 times and never unload?

The Canadian border services and the EPA are investigating the possibility of fraud, although the companies claim that the practice was totally legal. But hey, as long as you’re making money, doing the wrong thing is easy to live with!

A cargo train filled with biofuels crossed the border between the US and Canada 24 times between the 15th of June and the 28th of June 2010; not once did it unload its cargo, yet it still earned millions of dollars. CBC News of Canada was the first to pick up on this story on the 3rd of December 2012, and began their own investigation into the possible explanations behind this odd behaviour.


CN Rail, the operator of the train, stated their innocence in the matter as they had only “received shipping directions from the customer, which, under law, it has an obligation to meet. CN discharged its obligations with respect to those movements in strict compliance with its obligations as a common carrier, and was compensated accordingly.” Even so, they still managed to earn C$2.6 million in shipping fees.


During their investigation CBC managed to obtain an internal email which stated that the cars of the train were all reconfigured between each trip but that the cargo was never actually unloaded, because “each move per car across the border is revenue generated”, the sale of the cargo itself was inconsequential.


The cargo of the train was owned by Bioversal Trading Inc., or its US partner Verdero, depending on what stage of the trip it was at. The companies “made several million dollars importing and exporting the fuel to exploit a loophole in a U.S. green energy program.” Each time the loaded train crossed the border the cargo earned its owner a certain amount of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs), which were awarded by the US EPA to “promote and track production and importation of renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel.” The RINs were supposed to be retired each time the shipment passed the border, but due to a glitch not all of them were. This enabled Bioversal to accumulate over 12 million RINs from the 24 trips, worth between 50 cents and $1 each, which they can then sell on to oil companies that haven’t met the EPA’s renewable fuel requirements.

Al Jazeera buying Current TV

Good. I like Al Jazeera, they cover a lot more news than American channels:

Al Jazeera on Wednesday completed a deal to take over Current TV, the low-rated cable channel that was founded by Al Gore and his business partners seven years ago.


Current will provide the pan-Arab news giant with something it has sought for years: a pathway into American living rooms. Current is available in about 60 million of the 100 million homes in the United States with cable or satellite service.


Rather than simply use Current to distribute its English-language channel, called Al Jazeera English and based in Doha, Qatar, Al Jazeera will create a new channel, called Al Jazeera America, based in New York. Roughly 60 percent of the programming will be produced in the United States, while the remaining 40 percent will come from Al Jazeera English.


Al Jazeera may absorb some Current TV staff members, according to people with knowledge of the deal who insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. But Current’s schedule of shows will most likely be dissolved in the spring.

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