Sunday, December 12, 2010

Newsmax Briefs... Russia, China, Ethanol & Chavez

News briefs from…

1. Russia to Control Half of U.S. Uranium

2. China Compiles ‘Blacklist’ of Christians

3. Left Joins Right to Fight Ethanol Subsidy

4. Venezuela’s Chavez Blames Capitalism for Heavy Rains

1. Russia to Control Half of U.S. Uranium
Talk show host Glenn Beck has a question: Why is the federal government allowing a state-owned Russian company to gain control of half the uranium mined in the United States?
The uranium company ARMZ, which is wholly owned by the Russian State Corporation for Nuclear Energy, has paid $610 million for control of Uranium One Inc., a Canadian company that owns two uranium mines in Wyoming.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Committee of Foreign Investment in the United States have both approved the deal, which according to the Financial Times could give ARMZ control of more than half of American uranium production.
Beck said on his TV program Monday: “May I ask why are we selling uranium mines to Russia? Two uranium mines in Wyoming are on their way to control by a Russian company. The NRC has OK’d the license transfer to a Russian company. Uranium used in missiles. The name of the company? ARMZ.
“But they are saying now they are not worried at all about Russia’s ARMZ making Russian arms . . .
“Wyoming’s congressional delegation said the uranium could in theory go overseas and serve against U.S. interests. Everyone in Wyoming said don’t do this. And they did it anyway.”
The NRC said Uranium One and ARMZ lack a license to export nuclear fuel, and material from the Wyoming mines must be used in the United States, Bloomberg reported.
But Beck was skeptical, telling listeners the Russian company should be named “We’re Going to Smuggle This Out, Put It Into a Bomb and Blow You Up, Inc.”

2. China Compiles ‘Blacklist’ of Christians
The Chinese government has launched a crackdown on “house churches” Protestant congregations that don’t belong to the state-sanctioned church organization branding the house church movement a “cult.”
That report comes from the China Aid Association (CAA), a U.S.-based Christian group founded in 2002, which calls the Chinese government’s move “grave and troubling.”
The CAA said in a Dec. 7 report: “The all-powerful Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party launched ‘Operation Deterrence’ on Dec. 1.
“According to the Politburo’s top-secret instructions, the crackdown on the largest component of the mainland Chinese church is to continue through March 2011 . . . [The party’s security apparatus has] been notified to collect information about house churches throughout the country and turn these reports in to their superiors.
“A long ‘blacklist’ of church leaders and influential believers reportedly has been drawn up.”
Some 70 million Chinese believers worship in unregistered house churches, according to a 2007 Pew Research Center report. China’s state-sanctioned church organization, the Three Self-Patriotic Movement (TSPM), has only about 16 million Protestant members.
Chinese Christians are reluctant to register with the TSPM the “three” are self-governance, self-support, and self-propagation due to theological concerns, CNSNews reported. TSPM leaders say loyalty to the state should take precedence over belief in Christ.
“Recent government actions against Christians, including official harassment of influential house church leaders, the ordination of a Catholic bishop in defiance of the Vatican’s wishes and even the cyberattacks that brought down China Aid’s Chinese and English news websites, appear to have been a prelude signaling the advent of the crackdown,” the CAA reported in its website.
“Operation Deterrence harks back to the previous era of hostilities and often brutal government persecution that had for decades driven unknown hundreds of thousands of believers ‘underground,’ worshipping in secret and fearing for their lives and freedom.”
The labeling of the house church movement as a “cult” is ominous. China termed the Falun Gong meditation movement a cult in 1999. Since then more than 100,000 practitioners have been sentenced to “reform through labor” camps, according to sources cited by the U.S. State Department.
“They have also been given long prison sentences and even the death penalty simply because of their religious practices, and reports of Falun Gong practitioners being beaten to death in prison or while in other forms of detention have been common,” the CAA observed.
“The specter of similar treatment now hangs over house church Christians as a result of the ‘cult’ label.”

3. Left Joins Right to Fight Ethanol Subsidy
Conservative and liberal organizations and legislators have joined forces to urge Congress to allow the ethanol tax credit to expire at the end of the year.
Tea party organizer FreedomWorks, liberal pressure group, conservative Republican Jon Kyl and liberal Democrat Dianne Feinstein are among those who have signed a letter opposing the 45-cent-per-gallon ethanol subsidy.
“This may be the only issue that many liberals and tea party activists agree on,” said “Marketplace” reporter Sarah Gardner.
Nathaniel Greene of the National Resources Defense Council told “Marketplace” that the corn-based fuel “has more global warming pollution than gasoline. And it’s costing taxpayers about $5.5 billion this year and about $6 billion next year. So both fiscal conservatives and environmentalists are feeling like it’s time to stop wasting our money.”
The ethanol subsidy, coupled with a 54-cent-per-gallon tariff on ethanol imports, is intended to cut oil consumption and reduce carbon emissions, but critics say it has done neither and has led to a spike in food prices.
The New York Times asserted that the ethanol policy provides “wasteful and unnecessary tax breaks for corn ethanol an environmentally dubious fuel supported by farm-state legislators of both parties,” and would cost taxpayers $31 billion over the next five years.
More than four dozen organizations, ranging from the American Conservative Union to the Sierra Club and the National Chicken Council, joined and FreedomWorks to address a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and House Minority Leader John Boehner.
The letter begins: “The undersigned diverse group of business associations, hunger and development organizations, taxpayer advocates, agricultural groups, religious organizations, environmental groups, budget hawks, and public interest organizations urge you to allow the refundable Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) to sunset this year.
“At a time of spiraling deficits, we do not believe Congress should continue subsidizing gasoline refiners for something that they are already required to do by the Renewable Fuels Standard.
“Letting the VEETC expire will help control deficit spending without in any way hindering the development of advanced biofuels, which can help us meet our energy, environmental and food security needs in a fiscally responsible manner.”
In a letter to Reid and McConnell, signed by Feinstein, Kyl and 15 other senators on both sides of the aisle, the lawmakers state: “We do not support an extension of either the 54-cent-per-gallon tariff on ethanol imports or the 45-cent-per-gallon subsidy for blending ethanol into gasoline. These provisions are fiscally irresponsible and environmentally unwise, and their extension would make our country more dependent on foreign oil.
“The tariff is nine cents per gallon higher than the ethanol subsidy it supposedly offsets, and this lack of parity puts imported ethanol at a competitive disadvantage against imported oil.
“Eliminating or reducing ethanol subsidies and trade barriers are important steps we can take to reduce the budget deficit, improve the environment, and lessen our reliance on imported oil.”

4. Venezuela’s Chavez Blames Capitalism for Heavy Rains
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez blamed “criminal” capitalism for recent torrential rains that have killed at least 30 people and left thousands homeless in the South American country.
More than two weeks of steady rain caused floods and mudslides and forced the government to declare a state of emergency in several areas, including the capital, Caracas.
“The calamities we are suffering with these cruel and prolonged rains are yet more evidence of the unfair and cruel paradox of our planet,” Chavez said in his weekly address.
“The developed nations irresponsibly shatter the environmental order, in their desire to maintain a criminal development model, while the immense majority of the earth’s people suffer the most terrible consequences.”
He wrote in his weekly opinion column: “The environmental imbalance capitalism has caused is without doubt the fundamental cause of the alarming atmospheric phenomena.
“The world’s powerful economies insist on a destructive way of life and then refuse to take any responsibility.”
Chavez’s comments ignored the fact that Venezuela is one of the world’s largest oil producers whose chief export helps fuel the “destructive way of life” he castigates.
Critics of his regime attribute the rain-wrought destruction to the Chavez government’s poor planning and a housing policy that leaves millions in precarious hillside shantytowns vulnerable to mudslides, Reuters reported.
Chavez also sought to shift blame in October after heavy rains caused landslides that killed dozens. He said golf courses in Venezuela should be put to better use providing land for housing.
“That’s an injustice,” he said, “that someone should have the luxury of having I don’t know how many hectares to play golf and drink whiskey and, next door, there’s misery and children dying when there are landslides.”

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