Caving in to pressure from environmental groups, the Obama Administration's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is set to expand the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to include more than 800 new species of plants and animals. FWS signed two agreements in federal court, one with the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), and another with WildEarth Guardians (WEG) in which the parties agreed to a timeline for review of the individual species' cases through 2018. The agreements end a number of lawsuits against FWS by various environmental organizations, including CBD and WEG, over species they claim FWS has ignored.
Facebook continues to be the subject of controversy over issues of privacy, this time because Facebook cookies were found to be accidentally tracking other sites users visited after they had logged off. The information is then sent to Facebook via the cookies, provoking concerns over users’ privacy violations.
Despite ongoing controversy over the federal government’s scandalous loan guarantee to the now-bankrupt Solyndra, a $25 billion green-car loan fund has managed to avoid the congressional guillotine. The Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program, which was established during the Bush years and began dispensing funds during the Obama administration, is designed to provide debt capital to the auto industry and assist manufacturers in retooling facilities and equipment and improving fuel economy for vehicles manufactured in the United States.
The Federal Reserve is seeking contractors to build a tool that will monitor and analyze blogs, news reports, and social-media chatter about the central bank and its policies, with a goal of being able to use “public relations” strategies to counter the growing barrage of negative publicity. But critics quickly added to the institution’s troubled image as the news spread by lambasting the half-baked scheme as “Orwellian” spying and “intimidation.”
Publishers of the Times World Atlas are under fire for exaggerating ice loss in Greenland and are "urgently reviewing" their newest map of that country. HarperCollins claims the latest edition of its atlas, published September 15, depicts the world "at its most fragile," but scientists say it shows a dream world. One expert told Reuters the atlas suggests Greenland's massive ice sheets are shrinking at a rate that "could easily be 20 times too fast and might well be 50 times too fast."
After days of media hype, NASA’s Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) fell into the Pacific Ocean without — it would seem — having harmed so much as the proverbial fly. The satellite had orbited Earth for 20 years without receiving much public attention. Launched by the space shuttle Discovery in 1991, UARS had quietly gone about its work until its inevitable, inexorable descent hurtled the six-ton satellite into the public spotlight at the very hour of its death.
The navigation company OnStar is attracting strong criticism after announcing this past week that it would continue to monitor drivers’ speeds and GPS locations — and sell the information to third parties such as law enforcement — even after customers end their contracts. Outrage ensued and even U.S. lawmakers have now entered the fray.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in an AP interview on September 21 that the Obama administration will continue to support solar power. He made the statement despite the growing scandal over $528 million in loan guarantees to the now-bankrupt California solar power company Solyndra and the practical failure of myriad “alternative energy sources” such as wind and solar power. "I think the future for solar energy is bright. It's not going to be a perfect path where every project proposed is going to be built toward completion." He added that the case of Solyndra demonstrated the challenges facing solar energy industries. Other politicians, such as Governor Brown, stand firmly behind the concept of such government-sponsored enterprises.
As the Solyndra bankruptcy debacle begins to unwind, President Obama and political leaders will find that an increasingly bright light is shone on the federal government’s mischievous administration of green energy loans and subsidies. William Yeatman, energy policy analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) — a think tank promoting free markets and limited government — testified at a House Water and Power Subcommittee of the Natural Resources Committee hearing Thursday on a contentious loan program orchestrated by the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA), a power marketing administration within the U.S. Department of Energy.
Regardless of global temperatures, fewer people are dying from extreme weather events, according to a new study published by the libertarian think tank Reason Foundation. Its research revealed the global weather-related death rate has declined by 98 percent since the 1920s. Deaths from severe weather now contribute only 0.07 percent to global mortality.