Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, February 25, 2008

In Brief - February 25th, 2008

My neighbor just got back from a quick train trip to see her parents down state. While adding a little to her travel time, traveling by train instead of by car gained her both a nap and a stress-free trip, while not costing her much more than the price of a tank of gas. Plus, she got to reminisce about her younger days living in Europe where the train is the fastest way to get around. Here in America, joining the throngs on the highway on Friday night is the norm.

There's a better way.

Incidentally, thanks to the rising cost of fossil fuels worldwide, the oil industry is now profitably extracting oil from deposits in Canadian sand in the province of Alberta. It wasn't economical before, but times are changing: world oil supplies are rapidly being depleted and the price of a barrel is hovering around $100.

Is the marketplace adapting to the prospect of a world without oil? An article in Sunday's Seattle Times speculates that the auto industry is hiding its head in sand by offering American the large, powerful cars it wants instead of the energy-efficient cars that the world needs. Detroit has insisted for years that consumers aren't interested environmentally concious choices, but Japanese automakers such as Honda and Toyota have proved that that is complete nonsense.

Let's look at today's headlines:

In the Pacific Northwest
  • The State of Washington has had to trim its budget surplus figure from $1 billion to $750 million following new revenue forecasts that project less money coming in. The House votes on new the plan today.
  • Capitalizing on his familiar face, Eugene television news anchor Rick Dancer declared his candidacy for Oregon Secretary of State today. He quit his job as anchor of the KEZI 9 evening news on Sunday and is the first Republican to enter a race for statewide office this year.
  • If you have an interest in shipwrecks or just making discoveries, a trip to the Oregon coast this spring break may be just the thing. Wild winter storms have uncovered all sorts of oddities, from shipwrecks to "ghost forests".
Across the Nation
  • Ralph Nader has jumped into the presidential fray. The consumer crusader, frustrated by efforts to stifle his last presidential run in 2004, cites ballot access as the reason for entering the race. But if he thinks he was stifled last time, he ain't seen nothing yet. Democrats aren't interested in providing oxygen to a self-obsessed independent when control of the White House is so tantalizingly near.
  • John McCain's involvement in 2005's Gang of 14 has come back to haunt him. Some conservatives still lament the Senate deal the group brokered which allowed the continuation of filibusters to block judicial nominees. Conservatives see judicial appointments as a crucial presidential privilege.
  • Yet more on the presidential race...the progressive grassroots are spending $20 million to focus on Iraq war costs in their efforts to bring down John McCain's presidential campaign. The joint effort will highlight the connection between war spending and the troubled U.S. economy and includes groups such as, and John Edwards.
  • Don't put that For Sale sign out just yet. Prices for existing homes fell for the sixth straight month in January, while inventories increased. Unfortunately this doesn't help those at the very bottom of the income scale in the Seattle region. Habitat for Humanity could only help 15% of its huge number of applicants move into its volunteer-built homes last year.
Around the World
  • The United Nations World Food Program is cutting back on its aid of food due to huge increase in world food prices. Corn and wheat have grown particularly expensive, partially due to increased demand. Food surpluses from rich nations are down, contributing further to the problem.
  • The New York Philharmonic has arrived in North Korea in preparation for their concert on Tuesday in Pyongyang, which is being billed as "the most prominent cultural exchange between the U.S. and North Korea in the isolated country's history". Only good can come from an evening spent sharing a universal love of music.
  • America lost a valuable piece of equipment on Saturday when the B-2 stealth bomber Spirit of Kansas crashed in Guam after failing to take off. The crew of the aircraft made it out alive, but the $1.2 billion aircraft is a total loss. The crash - the most expensive in aviation history - leaves only twenty B-2 bombers operational. The U.S. Air Force has temporarily grounded the entire fleet and is investigating what happened.
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