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API: Hispanic Employment Rate, Jobs Creation Hurt by Keystone Delay

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President Barack Obama’s decision to delay approval of the Keystone Pipeline project is hurting job creation opportunities in the United States, particularly among Hispanics, said officials with the American Petroleum Institute (API) on Tuesday.

The Keystone Pipeline will not only help lower oil prices for U.S. consumers, but have a ripple effect spreading outward from Nebraska and neighboring states to create jobs and help small businesses.

This job creation will be helpful in particular for the U.S. Hispanic population, the unemployment rate for which is one to two points higher than other demographic groups in the United States.

The Los Angeles Times reported in 2010 that the unemployment rate among U.S. Hispanics rose because of their disproportionate unemployment in industries and regions significantly impacted by the economic downturn.

According to a U.S. Department of Labor report, the unemployment rate among Latinos in the United States averaged 11.5 percent in 2011; the most recent unemployment report in February 2012 shows improvement for all Americans, including Latinos, who have seen their unemployment rate decline to 10.7 percent in February from a high of 13.1 percent in November 2010.

In 2011, 5.8 percent of Latinos were self-employed compared to 7.2 percent among whites, partly due to lower educational attainment and less access to financial wealth.

The entry rate of Latinos into self-employment compares favorably to that of non-Latino Whites and their entry rate is even higher compared with whites in low-barrier sectors, according to the Department of Labor report. However, Latinos tend to have lower success rates with their new businesses and exit self-employment at a higher rate than whites.

People of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity represented 15 percent of the U.S. labor force in 2011, or nearly 23 million workers. By 2020, Latinos are expected to comprise 19 percent of the U.S. labor force, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

API ‘Disappointed’ in Keystone Delay, Impact on Jobs

“We’re disappointed that the current administration doesn’t see how this project doesn’t add up,” said Hispanic Leadership Fund President Mario Lopez during a conference call with reporters, noting that the project appears to be delayed for political reasons.

“Four years ago, Obama promised to push unemployment lower and lead us out of the depression,” Lopez said. “Approval of the Keystone pipeline would demonstrate to all Americans and to Latinos across the country that he cares about jobs and domestic energy.”

API has committed significant resources to support all aspects of the Keystone project.

“The earth hasn’t moved and the geology hasn’t changed,” said API Executive Vice President Marty Durbin, adding that the Keystone pipeline project is “as ready as it can get.”

Durbin said that imports of Canadian oil sands supply to the U.S. Gulf Coast would not create a supply glut, but would displace oil imported from other countries.

Karen Boman has more than 10 years of experience covering the upstream oil and gas sector. Email Karen at kboman@rigzone.com.

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Criminal charges and $22 Billion in Lawsuits Raise Questions About Brazil

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Dilma Rousseff, Image: Agência Brasil

 

By John Lyons, Wall Street Journal

SAO PAULO, Brazil (Dow Jones)–U.S. President Barack Obama is set to meet with Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff in Washington on Monday amid optimism for closer ties with South America’s rising economic power.

The issues in play reflect Brazil’s growing economic reach. Brazil’s biggest trade partner these days is China, not the U.S., and U.S. officials want Brazil as an ally in nudging China to let its currency rise. Brazil’s bigger economic presence in regional neighbors such as Venezuela, Ecuador and Cuba could allow Brazil to act as a moderating force in a region that has become more anti-U.S. in recent years.

Mostly, U.S. interests in Brazil are fueled by a growing consensus that the commodity-rich nation has put its history of periodic economic meltdowns behind it and will play a bigger role in world affairs as its economy grows. Brazil passed the U.K. as the world’s sixth-largest economy recently and is seeking a bigger voice in global forums such as the United Nations and the G-20 grouping of big economies.

Indeed, Rousseff’s U.S. trip comes a year after Obama traveled to Brasilia to meet her, a diplomatic overture that, observers say, underscored the Obama administration’s desire to hit the reset button on relations that became strained under Rousseff’s predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

(This story and related background material will be available on The Wall Street Journal website, WSJ.com.)

Under da Silva, U.S. officials complained, Brazil’s attempts to flex growing economic weight on the global stage often created headaches for U.S. diplomats seeking to resolve regional and global issues. Brazil refused to recognize U.S.-backed elections to resolve a Honduran coup; Brazil opposed U.S.-backed sanctions to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Though Rousseff is da Silva’s protege and hails from his left-wing Workers Party, she introduced a more pragmatic foreign-policy agenda tuned to providing direct economic benefits to Brazil, rather than carving out a protagonist role for the nation in the Middle East and elsewhere. The result, observers say, may be fewer distractions as the countries tackle increasingly important economic issues.

Rousseff’s “priority is the domestic economy,” said Tovar Nunes, a senior Brazilian diplomat who acts as a foreign-policy spokesman, in a recent interview.

At their White House meeting, the leaders are expected to discuss a range of issues, from global economics to regional security and the environment.

The U.S. is likely to seek Brazil’s support on regional issues ahead of a summit of hemispheric leaders later this month in Colombia. Some analysts say Brazil will urge Obama to add star power to a major U.N. environmental conference planned for Rio de Janeiro this year. Obama hasn’t yet committed to attend.

All the same, the potential for tense moments remains. Rousseff is expected to criticize an expansive U.S. monetary policy that many in the emerging economies blame for creating imbalances such as overvalued currencies and asset bubbles. Rousseff made a similar complaint to Germany’s Angela Merkel last month. Europe, like the U.S., has interest rates near zero to spur growth.

Not much is expected to be accomplished on long-standing bilateral trade issues. Brazil wants to sell more of its beef, orange juice, steel and sugar to the U.S., but those politically sensitive industries are mostly protected by U.S. policies that are unlikely to budge. The U.S. wants more access to Brazil’s growing economy for manufactured goods, but Brazilian factory owners are already complaining of foreign competition and clamoring for more protections.

One chance for goodwill: The U.S. let its tariffs on ethanol, an important Brazilian industry, expire last year.

But other economic issues have become tricky. Vast new Brazilian oil finds mean the country may become an important source of regional crude as production in Mexico and Venezuela declines. But criminal charges and some $22 billion in lawsuits against Chevron Corp. following a deep-water oil leak last year raise questions about Brazil as an operating environment for U.S. firms.

Meantime, Boeing Co. is competing with manufacturers in France and Sweden for a contract to sell some $30 billion in fighter jets to the Brazilian military. A recent U.S. decision to cancel an order of Brazilian-made military training planes is a strike against the American effort in deeply nationalistic Brazil.

Rousseff’s economic focus may foster deeper ties in unexpected ways. Consider one program, called Science Without Borders, which provides scholarships for thousands of Brazilians a year at top U.S. graduate schools. The immediate goal is to make Brazil more productive. But such exchange programs also pay diplomatic dividends as top-educated Brazilians forge bonds in the U.S.

On Tuesday, Rousseff travels to Boston, where she will visit Massachusetts Institute of Technology and meet with Brazilian scholarship students already studying at Harvard University.

More than any single agreement, Rousseff may be seeking something that was a scarce commodity for the volatile nation in past decades: Respect. The country’s leaders have sought to be treated as a partner with the U.S. to be consulted on important regional issues since U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower visited Brazil in 1960. Brazil has sought a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council essentially since the council came into existence.

Such demands used to draw mostly laughs. But that has begun to change amid Brazil’s economic growth. Obama is speeding up Brazilian travel-visa applications, in part because Brazilians are starting to outspend Europeans in key U.S. tourist destinations such as New York and Florida.

Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

By gCaptain Staff On April 8, 2012

Obama energy officials funded solar firms despite ‘junk bond’ ratings from S&P, Fitch

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With oil pump jacks as a backdrop, President Barack Obama speaks at an oil and gas field on federal lands Wednesday, March 21, 2012, in Maljamar, N.M. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)By Gene J. Koprowski

The U.S. Department of Energy backed hundreds of millions of dollars in loans for discredited solar power start-ups whose corporate debt was already sullied with “junk” ratings by Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings, two of the world’s leading credit agencies, a federal government investigation has shown.

Despite the finding, Energy Secretary Steven Chu vigorously defended the ethics of his agency in a hearing last week held by House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa.

Details are emerging this week about the Energy Department’s practices that indicate the agency spent a disproportionate amount of funding on these tainted solar power projects.

Congressional aides interviewed personnel at Fitch and S&P, and officials inside Obama’s Energy Department, as part of their investigation.

A company called Solopower was cited in a “dire” warning by S&P, which accurately forecast that the firm would “fail to meet its debt obligations.” Nonetheless, it received $170 million in federal funding guarantees, investigators told The Daily Caller.

Another company, Abound Solar, was approved for a $400 million loan guarantee by Obama officials, investigators said. Fitch Ratings, however, had earlier assigned a “junk credit” rating to Abound. Fitch deemed the firm “highly speculative” and “lagging in technology” behind its competitors.

It was also rated less creditworthy than Solyndra, another infamous administration solar power investment, which caused scandal for the White House last year when it declared bankruptcy.

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There are Lies, Damned Lies, and now…"Obama Lies"

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Jeffrey Klein
Political Buzz Examiner

Today President Barack Obama, along with his royally expensive Air Force One entourage, landed in Cushing, Oklahoma–the nation’s oil and gas pipeline capital–for another non-public mainstream media event, designed to stifle the public fury over skyrocketing gasoline prices.

The president once again exclaimed his standard slate of “Obama Lies;” specifically, the U.S. must always rely on foreign oil, because we only have 2% of the world’s oil reserves, but we use 20% of the world’s oil production–therefore, no amount of increase in domestic production can lower the price of gasoline.

Not so, say those in the know, along with several federal agencies–including the U.S. Department of Energy, run by the famously anti-oil Secretary, Steven Chu.

“It’s accurate but extremely misleading,” says Dan Kish of [the] Institute for Energy Research, which is supported by the industry. “What he is talking about is oil we already have found,” according to Jim Angle’s excellent FOXNews article yesterday.

Kish argues that it is at least very misleading, because Obama is referring to “proven” reserves of some 21 billion barrels.

However, analysts point out that so-called “proven reserves” were pegged at 20 billion barrels back in 1944.  Interestingly enough, since then, the U.S. has extracted about 170 billion barrels–but we still only show 20 billion barrels of “proven reserves” on the books.

The Obama Administration is already famous for double-counting 500 billion Obamacare bucks.

One federal agency says there’s 10 times more — 219 billion barrels of “technically recoverable” energy [sic].

Author’s note: For purposes of accuracy and the elimination of political and environmental “fashion-speak” in this context, only oil volume is measured in barrels–not “Energy.”  There is no such recognized thing as a “barrel of energy.”  Further, in this context, [usable] “energy” is produced by some form of [combustion] “engine” via the consumption petroleum byproducts, refined from barrels of oil.

Another agency in the Energy Department says there’s 20 times that much–400 billion barrels; while some in the oil and gas industry claim there’s 60 times that amount–1.4 trillion barrels in untapped resources.

That’s energy the government knows we have but that has not yet been drilled for; and, industry experts argue it’s there for the taking.

“The trillion-plus barrels of oil in this country, more oil than in Saudi Arabia, is not counted by the president, and I think that’s misleading the American people,” John Hofmeister, the former CEO of Shell Oil, said.

With those kinds of resources, the U.S. could continue at its current consumption rate for 200 years without any imports, Kish of IER said. “And add Canada and Mexico? The numbers go off the chart.”

Another favorite Obama lie is … “As much as we’re doing to increase oil production–we’re not going to be able to just drill our way out of the problem of high gas prices.”

“Some of us believe that the president is trying to suggest that we don’t have adequate resource[s] here in the United States, which is just not true,” says Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, another industry group.

In fact, one industry analyst says [that] by tapping American oil along with Canadian resources and renewable energy, the U.S. could be self sufficient in just 12 years.

Nonetheless, the Obama lies continued, with the president taking credit for approving the “fast-tracking” of the Oklahoma-to-Texas [last] leg of the Keystone XL pipeline–even though he will not, and has not, had anything to do with it–whatsoever.

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Van Jones Rallies with Hawaii’s Community Organizers for ‘Economic Fairness, Justice’ – and a State Bank

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Van Jones at the Hawaii State Capitol, March 20, 2012 (photo by Mel Ah Ching Productions)

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012
by Malia Zimmerman

BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – Van Jones, President Barack Obama’s former green jobs adviser who heads the “Rebuild the Dream” organization, keynoted a rally and a “mass action event” at the Hawaii State Capitol Tuesday night to promote “economic fairness” and “economic justice.” (see the video here)

Environmental activists groups, a union, and the University of Hawaii organized the five-hour event to promote legislation that would establish a State Partnership Bank, or a “clean” and “green” bank, to fund green energy projects, as well as “highlight other legislation that would make the local economy more just and sustainable.”

If Hawaii lawmakers establish a state bank, it will be only the second one in the country, and in some proposals being floated at the capitol, the governor chairs the bank, union leaders serve as directors, and Democrat lawmakers appoint the remaining board. Republicans, who make up just 9 of 76 seats in the legislature, oppose the establishment of a state bank because they say the institution will be financed by taxpayers, will be led by political insiders and will loan money to people for projects that no private bank would authorize, but they are outgunned.

Jones, author of the New York Times bestseller The Green Collar Economy, said Hawaii is one of 10 stops on his tour of the “front lines of the fight for the future of this country.”

Van Jones in Hawaii (photo by Mel Ah Ching Productions)

Van Jones in Hawaii (photo by Mel Ah Ching Productions)

“Each of our 10 targeted urban, suburban, and rural stops across America will support a strategic state initiative, such as making corporations pay their fair share, and create a replicable model for grassroots action,” Van Jones proclaimed, stating the movement is a “cultural, political, spiritual and educational vehicle bringing together tens of thousands of everyday people in the movement for economic justice and a new economy.”

In his keynote, Jones did not directly address the bank legislation or other legislation pending in Hawaii. Instead he spoke of the dream being “under threat.”

“Not the American dream they talk about on TV,” Jones said. “There are two American dreams. One of them I call the ‘American fantasy.’ You know that one? Everyone is going to be rich. Everybody. And we’re all going to be able to ride out to the great white suburbs, get a McMansion, get flat-screened TV to cover up the holes in our lives. That is the American fantasy, which is turning out to be the American nightmare. It is dying out on its own accord – it deserves no defense and it will get no defense. I am glad that is going away. That was not serving anybody.”

Jones called out the people he called “dream killers in America” and “dream killers right here in Hawaii.”

About 400 people attended the March 20 capitol rally to hear Van Jones speak (Photo by Mel Ah Ching Productions)

About 400 people attended the March 20 capitol rally to hear Van Jones speak (Photo by Mel Ah Ching Productions)

“There are people who have taken the American dream and turned it upside down, inside out. The dream is supposed to be that you can work hard, play by the rules and get somewhere. But you and I both know right here in Hawaii, and across America, the people who are working the hardest and following the rules are the ones who are being left behind, the ones who are suffering the most, the ones who are hurting the most. And yet some people who are not working that hard at all, their investments work for them. And sometimes they break a lot of rules, especially on Wall Street.  But they are the ones doing well. That is taking the American dream upside down, inside out. That’s killing the dream.”

Jones, who served as an adviser to the White House Council on Environmental Quality for 6 months before resigning in September 2009 amid controversy over statements he made and alliances he had, briefly addressed his time in Washington DC.

“I was there for 6 months. Best 6 months of my life, followed by the worst two weeks. … What I saw there is why I am here today. I saw some of the most beautiful people, some of the most well intentioned people, some of the smartest people ever to serve in our government, be stopped in their tracks, stopped in their tracks, by people who mean us no good. People who claim to be patriots but seem to hate everybody in America.”

During an address that was videotaped earlier in 2009, he called Republicans “assholes”, but it was a petition he signed in 2004 endorsing the “9/11 truther” movement that caught many by surprise. Those supporting the truther movement believe President Bush and his administration were involved in the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on America.

Council Member Tulsi Gabbard spoke at the March 20 rally and thanked her 'pops' - Sen. Mike Gabbard - for passing the state bank legislation out of his energy committee that day. She is a Democratic candidate for Congress. (photo by Mel Ah Ching Productions)

Council Member Tulsi Gabbard spoke at the March 20 rally and thanked her ‘pops’ – Sen. Mike Gabbard – for passing the state bank legislation out of his energy committee that day. She is a Democratic candidate for Congress. (photo by Mel Ah Ching Productions)

Despite a rocky political past, which ended with the President accepting Jones’ resignation, he is still considered a rising star in the green-energy movement. Jones shared some of his feelings on his political opponents:

“That always struck me as strange. When I said I love America, I mean I actually love the people in America – the people who live in America. Some of them are brown, some of them are female, some of them are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, some of them have bizarre piercings and tattoos, but I love them. How can you say you love America but then despise most of the people who live here. I don’t understand that politics. I don’t understand how you can say you love America and love the Statute of Liberty, but then not read the poem at the bottom that says “Give me your tired, Give me your poor, Give me your huddled masses who yearn to breathe free.” The way I was raised. You can’t be an anti immigrant bigot and a patriot at the same time. They don’t go together. They don’t go together. Not in my America. They don’t go together.”

Hoping to capitalize on the energy and excitement many Hawaii Democrats experienced in 2008 when Obama won the presidency, Jones said: “What happened to all that hope? What happened to all that beauty? What happened to all that spirit? Did the people leave the planet? Was there a rocket ship I missed? Did people join that other party with the warm beverage – what is it – the coffee party? No we’re still here. We’re still here. And we still have each other. We still have each other. No one can take that from us.”

Jones said he looked forward to being in Hawaii because “it is a community working hard to shape an economy that honors people’s environmental, social, and cultural concerns.”

“We also hope the Revivals to build a base of informed and engaged citizens ready to carry their ideas into the 2012 election cycle,” he said.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie attends Van Jones speech at the Hawaii Capitol (Photo by Mel Ah Ching Productions)

Gov. Neil Abercrombie attends Van Jones speech at the Hawaii Capitol (Photo by Mel Ah Ching Productions)

Faith Action for Community Equity (FACE) Hawaii, a group of community organizers affiliated with various local religious groups, co-chaired the event. Other sponsors included Kanu Hawaii, Sierra Club, UNITE HERE Local 5, University of Hawaii, Blue Planet, and Surfrider Foundation. Council member Tulsi Gabbard, who is a candidate for Congress in the upcoming Democratic primary, spoke at the rally.

Also in attendance at the rally that attracted around 400 people were several Democratic lawmakers, including Tulsi’s father, Senator Mike Gabbard, who earlier that day passed the bank legislation out of his energy committee, as well as Senator Roz Baker, Senator Will Espero and Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

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Obama lobby of Senate leads to defeat of Keystone pipeline

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by Audrey Hudson

The Senate failed Thursday to overturn the White House’s decision to block construction of the Keystone XL pipeline due in part to a last-minute lobbying effort by President Barack Obama.

Obama’s efforts to head off defiance of his order through phone calls to Democratic lawmakers resulted in 56 yeas and 42 nays — four short of the 60 votes needed to pass.

“The president believes that it is wrong to play politics with a pipeline project whose route has yet to be proposed,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said when asked about Obama’s lobbying efforts earlier in the day.

The amendment to the highway bill authored by Sen. John Hoeven (R- N.D.) would have stripped the president of his authority to deny the needed permit to build the cross-border pipeline from Canada to Texas.

“Frankly, it’s hard to even comprehend how out of touch (Obama) is on this issue,” said Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

“I mean, think about it: at a moment when millions are out of work, gas prices are skyrocketing and the Middle East is in turmoil, we’ve got a president who’s up making phone calls trying to block a pipeline here at home. It’s unbelievable,” McConnell said.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) told Obama to put down the phone and stop lobbying against the creation of new jobs. Republicans tout the pipeline as the nation’s largest shovel-ready project that would create 20,000 jobs.

“This is ridiculous, with price of gas soaring, the president blasts anyone who criticizes his lack of an energy strategy, but then he’s lobbying to stop a common-sense amendment allowing Keystone XL pipeline to move forward,” Hatch said.

That measure was further diluted by an alternative amendment offered by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) that would eventually approve the project but also sought to block any export of oil brought into the U.S. to be refined.

“A vote for (Wyden’s) bill is a vote to block the project, make no mistake,” Hoeven said.

Wyden said his amendment would ensure that all of the oil would be used by American consumers and not sold to China.

“When you build a pipeline 2,000 miles across the nation, our challenge is to do it right,” Wyden said.

Wyden’s amendment also failed on a vote of 34 yeas to 64 nays.

“Millions of miles of pipelines cross this country, but for some reason, this one pipeline is a problem?” Hoeven said.

TransCanada has announced that it will go ahead and construct one leg of the project that extends from Oklahoma to Port Arthur, Texas, and will push ahead for the permit to cross the northern border next year.

Meanwhile, Energy Secretary Steven Chu testified before a House panel earlier in the day where he faced questions about the pipeline and previous comments he made that the administration’s goal was not to lower gas prices.

“The president and everybody in the administration want to do what we can to lower the price of gasoline because it has a severe effect on the pocketbook of Americans and it affects American businesses,” Chu told the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on energy and power.

“There is no single magic bullet that can instantaneously do that,” said Chu, who also told the panel he does not own a car.

Some lawmakers were not convinced that the administration is doing all it can to lower gas prices.

“What has the president done to help solve our energy problems?” asked Rep. Fred Upton, (R-Mich.), chairman of the full committee.

“President Obama has twice rejected the Keystone XL pipeline project and all the job creation and secure energy supplies it would deliver,” Upton said. “The president has recently begun to brag that he supports an ‘all of the above’ energy policy, but these actions look more like a policy of ‘nothing from below.’”

Chu was criticized last week after he suggested to the House Appropriations Committee that the Obama administration was not working to reduce the price of gas. Asked by Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.) then if the overall goal was to bring down the price of gasoline, Chu said “no.”

[ Energy Secretary Chu Admits Administration OK with High Gas Prices ]

“The overall goal is to decrease our dependency on oil, to build and strengthen our economy,” Chu said.


Audrey Hudson, an award-winning investigative journalist, is a Congressional Correspondent for HUMAN EVENTS. A native of Kentucky, Mrs. Hudson has worked inside the Beltway for nearly two decades — on Capitol Hill as a Senate and House spokeswoman, and most recently at The Washington Times covering Congress, Homeland Security, and the Supreme Court.  Follow Audrey on Twitter and Facebook.

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Obama says not bluffing on Iran military option

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By Matt Spetalnick and Jeffrey Heller
WASHINGTON/OTTAWA | Fri Mar 2, 2012 8:14pm EST

(Reuters) – President Barack Obama issued his most direct threat yet of U.S. military action against Iran if it builds a nuclear weapon, but in a message to Israel’s leader ahead of White House talks he also cautioned against a pre-emptive Israeli strike.

“As president of the United States, I don’t bluff,” Obama warned Iran in a magazine interview published on Friday, three days before he will host Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington.

With the meeting expected to be dominated by stark differences over what Washington fears could be an Israeli attack on Tehran‘s nuclear sites, Netanyahu said he wanted to preserve the “freedom of action of the State of Israel in the face of threats to wipe us off the map.”

Monday’s talks are shaping up as the most consequential encounter of U.S. and Israeli leaders in years, with tensions further magnified by Republican presidential candidates slamming Obama over his Middle East policy.

Further complicating the talks is a trust deficit between the two men, who have had a rocky relationship.

There is mounting speculation that Israel, which fears that time is running out to stop Iran’s nuclear advance, could act militarily on its own in coming months unless it receives stronger reassurances from Washington.

Netanyahu is trying to convince Obama to more forcefully define the nuclear threshold that Iran must not cross, while the U.S. president wants to convince Israel to hold off on any unilateral strike and give sanctions and diplomacy more time to work.

Both leaders talked tough ahead of their meeting.

“I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say,” Obama said in an interview with the Atlantic magazine.

Obama repeated the U.S. refrain that “all options are on the table” but spoke in his most direct terms yet of a possible U.S. military response if sanctions and diplomacy fail to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

“It includes a military component. And I think people understand that,” Obama said when asked about U.S. intentions on Iran, which insists it is not trying to develop nuclear weapons.

While acknowledging Netanyahu’s “profound responsibility” to protect the Israeli people, Obama cited “potential unintended consequences” as he made clear that it would be unwise for Israel to go ahead with any attack on Iran.

“At a time when there is not a lot of sympathy for Iran and its only real ally, (Syria) is on the ropes, do we want a distraction in which suddenly Iran can portray itself as a victim?”

Obama cannot afford to be too tough on Netanyahu, with Republican presidential candidates ready to pounce on any sign of a rift with close U.S. ally Israel. But Obama’s aides are also worried that a new war in the Middle East could sow chaos and bring further spikes in global oil prices.

It was unclear, however, whether Obama’s sharpened rhetoric on Iran would be enough to placate Netanyahu, who was visiting Canada on Friday before flying to Washington on Sunday.

Netanyahu on Friday ruled out the idea of international talks to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons, a possibility has raised in recent weeks as sanctions have started to take a heavier toll.

“I think the international community should not fall into this trap,” he told reporters in Ottawa after talks with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

(Additional reporting by Caren Bohan; Editing by Anthony Boadle)

Obama loves oil — Not!

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Peter Foster Jan 27, 2012 – 8:00 AM ET

Nothing more clearly indicates U.S. President Barack Obama’s economic muddledom and ideological stubbornness than the dog’s breakfast of energy policies revealed in Tuesday’s State of the Union address. The good news is that hydrocarbons are back (as long as you forget Keystone XL). The bad news is that “clean” energy isn’t going away. Instead it’s “all of the above.”

Without his nose growing visibly, the President claimed the government was behind the technological advances that led to the current shale gas boom, and even suggested that he might take credit for the rise in domestic oil production. In fact, Mr. Obama’s administration has hampered and castigated oil companies at every turn. In the light of the hysterical grandstanding over the BP Gulf spill (whose impact proved to be greatly exaggerated), it was ironic indeed to hear the President now declare a great opening up of offshore exploration.

The industry has responded to attacks by becoming more innovative and productive. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, between 2007 and 2010, U.S. oil production grew from 5.1 million barrels a day (mbd) to 5.5 mbd. The agency predicts domestic production will hit 6.7 mbd by 2020, helping take imports down to 36% of domestic usage in 2035 from 60% in 2005. So much for peak oil. Meanwhile, the EIA also predicts that by 2016, thanks to the shale boom, the U.S. will be a natural gas exporter.

This reluctant acknowledgment of the success of private innovation was accompanied on Tuesday by the usual cheap shots. The oil industry has been subsidized (a dubious claim) for too long. Its profits are too fat. The administration will demand that oil companies release details of fracking chemicals – as if they might wilfully poison Americans without public oversight.

These political sideswipes are unlikely to appease the environmental lobby. If the President thinks he won any Greenie Points by kicking the Keystone XL pipeline down the road, he certainly lost them all – and probably then some – with his support for fracking and offshore drilling. Radical environmentalists don’t want to hear about energy security, objective risks, or practical safety measures: they want to close down hydrocarbons as the work of the climate devil.

Over in the dodgy logic section, Mr. Obama suggested that shale gas success demonstrated that it took time for energy research to pay off, thus he was right to stick with promoting alternatives. However, the cases are entirely different. U.S. government research laboratories may indeed have been involved in technologies such as fracking and directional drilling, but these technologies were first developed in the private sector. Government presence should be attributed more to jumping on winners than skill in picking them. Plus, there is the private sector’s incurable penchant for grabbing government funds. When it comes to alternatives, however, while rent seekers are as thick on the ground as subsidized solar panels, the government has no winners on which to jump.

The President suggested government-stoked success in battery technology, but this is predicated on the success of electric cars, of which the President wants – Soviet target-style – to see a million on the road by 2015. Government support for “clean” energy isn’t an investment in the future: It is money down the drain. Naturally, the half-billion-dollar Solyndra debacle received as little reference as Keystone XL.

Critics have suggested TransCanada’s projection of 20,000 jobs in construction and manufacturing from the Keystone XL line, with many more spin-offs, is exaggerated. Strange how interventionists love the Keynesian multiplier when it refers to government expenditure but deplore the idea when it comes to creating real jobs. More important, job creation in subsidized wind and solar is entirely fictitious. One widely quoted Spanish study suggests that every alternative job costs two jobs elsewhere.

Mr. Obama, now presumably to his embarrassment, has referred to oil as a dwindling “19th-century” resource. If we are talking of being out of date, William Watson noted here yesterday that President Obama’s grasp of economics hasn’t yet absorbed the 18th-century wisdom of Adam Smith. Mr. Owe’s predilection for misconceived trade-is-war “mercantilist” policies was clear from his promise in the State of the Union not to “cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here.”

If they put in big destructive subsidies that threaten real trade war, then so will we. Anything they can do, we can do stupider.

One wonders if the President has the slightest clue about the flagging state of the wind and solar industries in Germany, or that what is boosting China’s alternatives industry is government subsidies … from other countries.

The President announced a plan to devote huge swathes of public land to the development of clean energy to power “three million homes.” He also apparently committed the Navy to buying a chunk of this power, as if it weren’t expensive enough to guard the Strait of Hormuz.

Mercantilist alternative energy strategies represent – as Jimmy Carter famously suggested – the “moral equivalent of war.” The problem is that it is war on one’s own economy. At least, with his partial ceasefire against the oil industry, President Obama is now only shooting himself in one policy foot rather than both.

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