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President Barack Obama Reveals Emission Reduction Targets

WASHINGTON, Nov. 25 (UPI) — President Barack Obama will seek a U.S. emissions reduction target of about 17 percent below 2005 levels in 2020, the White House said Wednesday.

“This provisional target is in line with current legislation in both chambers of Congress and demonstrates a significant contribution to a problem that the U.S. has neglected for too long,” the White House said in a statement Wednesday.

Given Obama’s goal to reduce emissions 83 percent by 2050, the expected targets in the legislation would mean a 30 percent reduction below 2005 levels in 2025 and a 42 percent reduction below 2005 levels in 2030, the statement said.

Obama will participate in the U.N.-sponsored Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Dec. 9, the White House confirmed Wednesday. His attendance had been in doubt for several weeks.

“With less than two weeks to go until the beginning of the Copenhagen conference, it is essential that the countries of the world, led by the major economies, do what it takes to produce a strong, operational agreement that will both launch us on a concerted effort to combat climate change and serve as a stepping stone to a legally binding treaty,” the statement said.

Obama is working with Congress to pass energy and climate legislation quickly, the White House said.

He will be in Oslo, Norway, Dec. 10 to accept the Nobel Peace Prize.

The U.S. contingent for the climate change conference includes Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, Council on Environmental Quality Chairwoman Nancy Sutley, Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren and Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Carol Browner.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy, Office, Pollution & Toxins, Science, Space, & Technology0 Comments

U.S. President Barack Obama Reviews the "Cougar Cannon" Robot Built by Oakton High School Students

Obama Highlights Science, Technology, Math at White House

U.S. President Barack Obama looks over the “Cougar Cannon,” a robot built by Oakton High School students, during an event highlighting several initiatives designed to boost science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House in Washington on November 23, 2009. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg

Date Taken: November 23, 2009

Posted in Education, Engineering, Office0 Comments

U.S. President Barack Obama Highlights Science, Technology, and Math Education at White House

Obama Highlights Science, Technology, Math at White House

U.S. President Barack Obama greets guests after delivering remarks at an event highlighting several initiatives designed to boost science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House in Washington on November 23, 2009. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg

Date Taken: November 23, 2009

Posted in Education, Engineering, Office0 Comments

IAEA Inspectors Visit Qom Nuke Plant

TEHRAN, Nov. 19 (UPI) — U.N. inspectors Thursday visited an Iranian nuclear power plant that Tehran didn’t disclosed until September, the International Atomic Energy Agency said.

The visit to the facility near Qom was the second for IAEA inspectors, coming a day after Iran’s foreign minister rejected a critical portion of a draft agreement to allay international concerns about Iran’s intentions regarding nuclear weapons, CNN reported.

Also, major world powers will meet Friday to discuss Iran’s nuclear program, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana’s office told CNN Thursday. The United States, Russia, China, Germany, France and Britain meet on a regular basis to discuss possible steps to take concerning Tehran’s nuclear program.

Iran insists it only intends to produce nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, but Western leaders say they believe Iran is trying to develop the capability to build nuclear weapons.

On Wednesday, Iranian-backed media reported Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki as saying Iran will not send its partially enriched uranium elsewhere to be processed into material suitable for medical research, but Tehran might allow its nuclear material to be reprocessed inside Iran.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy, Energy & Fuels, Nuclear, Office0 Comments

Health Care Reform Bill Price Tag is $849 Billion

WASHINGTON, Nov. 18 (UPI) — A healthcare package unveiled Wednesday by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., could extend coverage to more than 30 million Americans, Reid said.

The price tag would be $849 billion over 10 years, covered by a number of new taxes and cuts in Medicare costs, Reid said during a presentation on Capitol Hill.

That would reduce predicted budget deficits by $127 billion by 2019, the largest saving of any of the plans currently being offered by congressional Democrats, The Washington Post reported.

Reid plans to file the legislation formally Friday evening. A procedural vote to place the measure on the Senate floor probably would occur Saturday, his office said.

The plan would provide coverage to 94 percent of Americans by dramatically expanding Medicaid and create options for people without access to affordable coverage, Reid said.

One of those options, Reid said, would be a government-run “public” option that liberals have demanded, although states could “opt out” of the public plan.

Republicans plan to fight the legislation, which they call a government takeover of healthcare that will increase taxes and healthcare costs for individuals, The New York Times reported.

“It’s going to be a Holy War,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said.

President Barack Obama called the development “another critical milestone in the health reform effort.”

“I was particularly pleased to see that the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the bill will reduce the deficit by $127 billion over the next ten years and as much as $650 billion in the decade following, saving hundreds of billions while extending coverage to 31 million more Americans,” the president said in a statement released by the White House.

“Just yesterday, a bipartisan group of more than 20 leading health economists released a letter urging passage of meaningful reform and praising four key provisions that are in the Senate legislation: a fee on insurance companies offering high-premium plans, the establishment of an independent Medicare commission, reforms to the health care delivery system, and overall deficit neutrality,” Obama said. “The economists said that these provisions ‘will reduce long-term deficits, improve the quality of care, and put the nation on a firm fiscal footing.’ Those are precisely the goals we should be seeking to attain.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Human Health & Wellness, Office, People0 Comments

Akron Agrees to Reduce Sewage Overflows

AKRON, Ohio, Nov. 14 (UPI) — The city of Akron, Ohio, has agreed to reduce sewer overflows polluting the Cuyahoga and Little Cuyahoga rivers and the Ohio & Erie Canal, authorities said.

The settlement between the U.S. Justice Department, the Ohio attorney general’s office and the Akron City Council still must be approved in federal court, justice officials said in a statement Friday.

“These steps will improve water quality in the Cuyahoga River and its tributaries, protect public health, and enhance recreation and other public uses of the River,” the statement said.

The settlement calls for Akron to expand the capacity of its sewage treatment plant, reduce overflows from 32 sewer outlets, pay a $500,000 fine and provide $900,000 to remove a dam on the Cuyahoga River between Brecksville and Sagamore Hills Township.

The settlement resolves a lawsuit brought against Akron this year by the federal government and the state of Ohio.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Justice, Office, Other0 Comments

Florida Deputies Say Home Intruder was a Deer they Chased from Home

EAST LAKE, Fla., Nov. 9 (UPI) — Authorities in Florida said sheriff’s deputies investigating a suspected home intruder discovered a deer thrashing around the inside of a house.

Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputies said they entered the East Lake, Fla., home at 1 p.m. Saturday and discovered blood on the kitchen floor, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times reported Monday.

The deputies said they followed banging noises to a back bedroom and witnessed the deer sprinted out of the room and run around the house. The deputies herded the deer toward an open garage door and the animal ran off into the Brooker Creek Preserve, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Sheriff’s officials said the homeowners were out of town at the time of the incident. Neighbors boarded up a damaged window and secured the entrances of the home.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Animals, Office0 Comments

Family Survives 30" Inches and Two Nights of Being Trapped in Snowstorm

SALEM, Ore., Nov. 9 (UPI) — Authorities in Marion County, Ore., said a family of eight survived two nights in a van amid a heavy snowstorm that dropped more than 30 inches of snow.

Lt. Sheila Lorance, spokeswoman for the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, said Mark Shaver and his seven kids were camping near Breitenbush Lake when last week’s storm began depositing snow on the area, The (Portland) Oregonian reported Sunday.

Among Shaver’s children were a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old.

While Shaver attempted to get his family out of the area in his van, the mounting snow levels prevented the vehicle from leaving the camping area. To make matters worse, Shaver did not have a cell phone to call for help.

Trapped at the campsite, Shaver and his children used their remaining camping supplies to survive two nights until they were located Sunday by the sheriff’s office.

“They had warm clothes,” Lorance said of the family members, who were unharmed. “They had food and shelter. They did some of the right things.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Nature & Ecosystems, Office0 Comments

U.N. Officials Fear 'Water Wars' in Developing Nations Facing Global Warming Challenges

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Nov. 6 (UPI) — U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said the Middle East is “in a challenging situation” and would need stability to achieve development, emphasizing the need to fight climate change to help avoid the next major conflict in the embattled region: “Water War.”

“Instability does affect (development). This is clear: Where you have instability, you cannot make development. But when there is no development, that’s also a fertile ground for instability,” Migiro said Tuesday during an interview with United Press International at the end of a visit to Beirut where she met with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman.

She stressed the need for “increasing stability and addressing issues of governance,” saying that the key factor was to maximize the resources of the region, while bearing in mind that “without stability, you cannot move forward.”

“The region is in a challenging situation especially in security and peace-related issues. But it is not impossible to get out of this situation … Actually, we see critical steps (being taken) toward stability,” Migiro said.

She underlined progress in Iraq but cautioned that “the challenges are still huge but not insurmountable.”

Migiro explained that the United Nations’ present efforts were concentrated on addressing security and peace-related issues as well as issues of development.

She warned that water availability in the embattled Middle East region was already affected by climate change.

“Projections are that by the year 2050, water accessibility for human consumption will have dropped by 40 percent. So this is critical, scary,” she said. “Probably the next major conflict will be about water.”

She, however, emphasized that “war is not an option and we are confident that as we are looking into the question of climate change, we will pay enough attention to water access and availability.”

Migiro explained that the U.N. Environment Program, U.N. Development Program and other agencies were closely working with countries in the region to address the question of climate change and water availability “because we do want to avoid the situation where the next conflict arises over water.”

Creating awareness in the Middle East concerning climate change is a key issue but the major focus remains on the Millennium Development Goals, which were developed at the Millennium Summit in September 2000 and include eight international development goals that 192 U.N. member states and at least 23 international organizations have agreed to achieve by the year 2015. The aim is to reduce extreme poverty and child mortality rates, fight disease epidemics such as AIDS, and develop global partnership for development.

Migiro said the MDG implementation in the region has seen some gains but “a lot more needs to be done.”

“There has been progress in this region in particular. We have seen increased enrollment of children, plans to empower women. We are still hopeful,” she said.

She also described as “a noticeable progress” a decrease in extreme poverty in the Middle East, saying “the number of those living in extreme poverty actually dropped between 1981-2005.”

In Egypt, she said, “poverty line has really dropped. We had very few people who were below the poverty line in 2005 … nearly 2 percent.”

Careful but hopeful, she added, “We have not reached a satisfied level but we want to build on the successes.”

Indeed, the climate change, the economic and financial crisis, the fuel crisis have all affected MDG plans.

Despite the United Nation’s inability to help solve long-lasting crises, such as the Arab-Israeli conflict, Migiro said she remains confident that the international organization maintains “a positive image” in the Middle East.

“In times, there are difficulties technically but by large we think we are enjoying enormous support not only from the leadership but the people, too,” she said, referring to the various U.N. organizations operating in the region.

“We are really confident that in the few years to come and once the situation gets better in terms of peace and security, we will see huge steps toward development and therefore sustainable stability in the region,” she said.

On repeated calls to reform the United Nations and the growing frustration of the blunt dominance of the United States and other big powers over the international organization, Migiro explained that in recent years member states began to request “more democratization of the United Nations,” targeting specifically the Security Council and its veto power.

She, however, explained that the “U.N. is going through reforms at the operational level,” referring to a new process under way for a better coordination among various U.N. organizations.

She said the new system was meant “to put our acts together in terms of programs, resources and housing” that would help achieve a better performance and save costs.

For example, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reorganized the Department of Peacekeeping Operations whereby a field support unit was created to support the activities of more than 100,000 peacekeeping troops deployed in various areas of conflicts in the world.

“We are in a hurry to implement the new system … there are certain strengths in the work we are doing now and which will have to materialize by 2011 or so,” she said, noting that the United Nations launched a pilot program in eight countries whereby all U.N. agencies operating in those countries were gathered in one location with one common program and one budget.

Migiro, who in 2006 became the first woman in Tanzania to be named minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation, took office as U.N. deputy secretary-general in February 2007.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Consumption, Office, Organizations, Other, People0 Comments

U.S. Slaps Duties on Chinese Oil Pipes, Chinese Upset

BEIJING, Nov. 6 (UPI) — Beijing reacted strongly against the U.S. decision to slap preliminary anti-dumping duties of up to 99 percent on some Chinese oil pipe imports.

Thursday’s decision by the U.S. Commerce Department, the latest in the two countries’ bilateral trade disputes, comes as President Barack Obama prepares for his first presidential visit to China this month. Earlier disputes relate to tires, automotive parts and chickens.

The official Xinhua news agency called the oil pipe duties the biggest U.S. trade action against China, which resulted after the Commerce Department’s preliminary finding that Chinese exporters had sold the tubular goods in the United States “at prices ranging from zero to 99.14 percent less than normal value.”

U.S. imports of the China-made pipes have grown 203 percent since 2006, totaling $2.6 billion last year. The Commerce Department will make its final determination of anti-dumping and countervailing duties next year.

“Beijing has resolutely opposed any protectionist trade moves by the United States, one of China’s biggest trade partners, claiming protectionism will eventually hurt bilateral trade, and cripple a sluggish global economic recovery from a worst recession since the Great Depression,” People’s Daily, the Chinese Communist Party’s mouthpiece, said.

The report said the Obama administration since taking office in January has initiated about a dozen anti-dumping or countervailing duty investigations against Chinese products “in response to petitions filed by industry and union groups” whose support the administration needs.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy & Fuels, Office0 Comments

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