December 25, 2012

Posted by orrinj at 10:40 PM


The Shale Revolution's Shifting Geopolitics (ALAN RILEY, 12/25/12, NY Times)

The shale energy revolution is likely to shift the tectonic plates of global power in ways that are largely beneficial to the West and reinforce U.S. power and influence during the first half of this century. [...]

[M]any supporters of energy independence miss a key point: The major geopolitical impact of shale extraction technology lies less in the fact that America will be more energy self-sufficient than in the consequent displacement of world oil markets by a sharp reduction in U.S. imports. This is likely to be reinforced by the development of shale oil resources in China, Argentina, Ukraine and other places, which will put additional pressure on global oil prices.

The second factor is the potential to use natural gas for transportation. Some analysts suggest that this will only be a realistic prospect for fleet and long-haul road transportation. But they are overlooking the immense advantage that natural gas has as a transportation fuel in America and Europe, which have both developed a natural gas infrastructure in urban areas that takes piped natural gas into homes, offices and supermarkets. Once gas is cheap and widely available, it is possible to consider dealing with the "last mile" problem of providing home refueling kits so consumers can fill up natural-gas powered cars in their own garages.

The incentives to develop shale oil and natural gas are very great. But so far, the United States has only experienced the first stage of low natural-gas prices and the reimportation of energy intensive industries such as chemicals and steel because of low gas prices. The next stage of the shale revolution's impact is going to be felt as major stimulus gets under way from lower oil prices. More broadly, the shale revolution will grant the United States a greater range of options in dealing with foreign states.

Posted by orrinj at 2:35 PM


The Polyphonic Spree On World Cafe (World Cafe, December 25, 2012, WXPN)
Formed in Texas by bandleader Tim DeLaughter in 2000, this massive group -- the number of members often nudges toward 20 or more -- is well-suited to re-imagine popular Christmas music, combining the instrumentation of a rock band with the layered harmonies of a choir.

This Christmas season, the band has hit the road with its "Holiday Extravaganza," turning each of its shows into a sort of traveling holiday music carnival. Here, The Polyphonic Spree brings its dense, exuberant songs to the World Cafe studios to perform spirited renditions of Christmas classics.

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Posted by orrinj at 8:55 AM


Corporate tax rate overhaul may be part of a 'fiscal cliff' deal (Jim Puzzanghera, 12/25/12, Los Angeles Times)

The White House wants to put a corporate tax overhaul, along with changes to the individual income tax system, on a fast track as part of any deal to avoid the "fiscal cliff."

The centerpiece of an overhaul would be slashing the 35% corporate tax rate, a goal long sought by corporate executives and lobbyists.