Despite a bitter U.S. cold snap, the planet is heading toward its warmest year on record. The month of October was the hottest October on record worldwide, the fifth time this year a month has achieved that feat. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday that the 58.43 degrees Fahrenheit temperature beat out October 2003. "It is becoming pretty clear that 2014 will end up as the warmest year on record," said Deke Arndt, climate monitoring chief for NOAA's National Climatic Data Center. read more
Jordan Michael Smith, Boston Globe: The people we elect aren't the ones calling the shots, says Tufts University's Michael Glennon. The voters who put Barack Obama in office expected some big changes. From the NSA's warrantless wiretapping to Guantanamo Bay to the Patriot Act, candidate Obama was a defender of civil liberties and privacy, promising a dramatically different approach from his predecessor. But six years into his administration, the Obama version of national security looks almost indistinguishable from the one he inherited. Guantanamo Bay remains open. The NSA has, if anything, become more aggressive in monitoring Americans. Drone strikes have escalated. Most recently it was reported that the same president who won a Nobel Prize in part for promoting nuclear disarmament is spending up to $1 trillion modernizing and revitalizing America's nuclear weapons. Why did the face in the Oval Office change but the policies remain the same? read more
With nasty cold fronts thrusting an icy and early winter across the continental U.S. -- along with last winter described by USA Today as "one of the snowiest, coldest, most miserable on record" -- climatologist John L. Casey thinks the weather pattern is here to stay for decades to come.
If the oil and gas industry wants to prevent its opponents from slowing its efforts to drill in more places, it must be prepared to employ tactics like digging up embarrassing tidbits about environmentalists and liberal celebrities, a veteran Washington political consultant told a room full of industry executives in a speech that was secretly recorded. The blunt advice from the consultant, Richard Berman, the founder and chief executive of the Washington-based Berman &amp;amp;amp; Company consulting firm, came as Berman solicited up to $3 million from oil and gas industry executives to finance an advertising and public relations campaign called Big Green Radicals. The company executives, Berman said in his speech, must be willing to exploit emotions like fear, greed and anger and turn them against the environmental groups. And major corporations secretly financing such a campaign should not worry about offending the general public because "you can either win ugly or lose pretty," he said. read more
In 2011, solar panel company Solyndra defaulted on a $535 million loan guaranteed by the Department of Energy. The agency had a few other high-profile bankruptcies, too -- electric car company Fisker and solar company Abound among them. But now that loan program has started turning a profit. Overall, the agency has loaned $34.2 billion to a variety of businesses, under a program designed to speed up development of clean-energy technology. Companies have defaulted on $780 million of that -- a loss rate of 2.28 percent. The agency also has collected $810 million in interest payments, putting the program $30 million in the black.