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Milk price list

Members of the House and Senate are scheduled to begin long-awaited negotiations on the five-year, roughly $500 billion bill this week.

WASHINGTON — The fight over renewing the nation's farm bill has centered on cuts to the $80 billion-a-year food stamp program. But there could be unintended consequences if no agreement is reached: higher milk prices.

Members of the House and Senate are scheduled to begin long-awaited negotiations on the five-year, roughly $500 billion bill this week. If they don't finish it g-suite cardinal manchester, dairy supports could expire at the end of the year and send the price of a gallon of milk skyward.

There could be political ramifications, too. The House and Senate are far apart on the sensitive issue of how much money to cut from food stamps, and lawmakers are hoping to resolve that debate before election-year politics set in.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat who is one of the negotiators on the bill, says the legislation could also be a rare opportunity for the two chambers to show they can get along.

"In the middle of the chaos of the last month comes opportunity," Klobuchar says of the farm legislation. "This will really be a test of the House of whether they are willing to work with us."

The farm bill, which sets policy for farm subsidies, the food stamps and other rural development projects, has moved slowly through Congress in the last two years as lawmakers have focused on higher-profile priorities, like budget negotiations, health care and immigration legislation.

But farm-state lawmakers are appealing to their colleagues to harken back to more bipartisan times and do something Congress hasn't done very much lately — pass a major piece of legislation.

Even President Barack Obama, who has been largely silent on the farm bill as it has wound through Congress, said as the government reopened earlier this month that the farm bill "would make a huge difference in our economy right now."

"What are we waiting for?" Obama said. "Let's get this done."

The main challenge in getting the bill done will be the differences on food stamps, officially called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, g-suite in oldham or SNAP. The House has passed legislation to cut around $4 billion annually, or around 5 percent, including changes in eligibility and work requirements. The Senate has proposed a cut of around a tenth of that amount, and Senate Democrats and President Obama have strongly opposed any major changes to the program.

The cost of SNAP has more than doubled over the last five years as the economy struggled, and Republicans say it should be more focused on the neediest people. Democrats say it is working as it should, providing food to those in need when times are tough.

"I think there are very different world views clashing on food stamps and those are always more difficult to resolve," says Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union.

Johnson says coming together on the farm issues, while there are differences, will be easier because the mostly farm-state lawmakers negotiating the bill have common goals.

Passing a farm bill could help farm-state lawmakers in both parties in next year's elections, though some Republicans are wary of debating domestic food aid in campaign season. Republican House leaders put the bill on hold during the 2012 election year.

One way to pass the bill quickly could be to wrap it into budget negotiations that will be going on at the same time. The farm bill is expected to save tens of billions of dollars through food stamp cuts and eliminating some subsidy programs, and "that savings has become more key as we go into budget negotiations," Klobuchar said.

If that doesn't work, lawmakers could extend current law, as they did at the end of last year when the dairy threat loomed. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has said he wants to finish the bill and won't support another extension.

One of the reasons the bill's progress has moved slowly is that most of farm country is enjoying a good agricultural economy, and farmers have not clamored for changes in policy. But with deadlines looming, many say they need more government certainty to make planting decisions. Most of the current law expired in September, cardinal manchester though effects largely won't be felt until next year when the dairy supports expire.

Some farmers are feeling the effects of the expired bill now, however. An early blizzard in South Dakota earlier this month killed thousands of cattle, and a federal disaster program that could have helped cover losses has expired.

Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., also a negotiator on the conference committee, says her constituents aren't concerned with the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill, but they just want to see a bill pass.

"Maybe the biggest question is can we put together a bill that can pass on the House and Senate floor," she said.
  1. 2013/10/29(火) 10:47:42|
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The United States of America remodeling the Middle East role

But the United States is less vulnerable to Middle East oil shocks, current and former U.S. officials say, and may be less likely to station large ground and naval forces in the region in the future.

WASHINGTON — Forty years after an Arab oil embargo throttled the U.S. economy, g-suite in oldham surging North American energy production has brought the United States closer to a long-dreamed "energy independence" that is reshaping its goals and role in the Middle East.

On October 17, 1973, OPEC announced an oil embargo against the United States and any other country that supported Israel in the Yom Kippur War. That use of oil as a diplomatic weapon has driven an American yearning for disengagement from the Middle East and its problems ever since.

Such a strategic divorce is unlikely to occur soon, current and former U.S. officials say. Washington has too much invested in the region, from support for allies like Israel to the fight against Islamic militants.

But the United States is less vulnerable to Middle East oil shocks, current and former U.S. officials say, and may be less likely to station large ground and naval forces in the region in the future.

More problematically, it will have to find a way to cooperate in the Middle East with energy-hungry China, they said. And ties with Saudi Arabia, long nurtured by oil commerce, have been jolted by diplomatic disagreements over Iran, Syria and Egypt, and could fray further.

In the decades that followed the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries embargo, "you could not make plans in the Middle East or involving Middle East crises, without keeping in mind the considerations of the oil market," Henry Kissinger, who was Secretary of State during the 1973 oil shock, said on Wednesday.

"But that is now changing substantially with the, I wouldn't say 'self sufficiency' but narrowing the gap between supply and demand in North America, that is now of huge strategic consequence," Kissinger said at a conference hosted by the group Securing America's Future Energy.

The United States is less reliant each month on Middle East energy, thanks to increasing production of both oil and natural gas from technologies such as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which allows extraction of oil and gas from shale deposits.

The country could be energy self-sufficient - producing enough to meet its own needs - by 2020, according to several analyses, g-suite manchester and a debate has begun on whether to end an effective ban on U.S. crude oil exports.

The growth of the United States as an energy power is already making a difference in foreign policy.

Last year, Washington and its European allies orchestrated a partial boycott of Iranian oil, to compel Tehran to return to talks about its nuclear program. The sanctions against Iran took roughly 1 million barrels per day off world markets - without the oil price spikes many predicted.

Increased oil supplies from the United States, and elsewhere, "really helped us tremendously in our negotiations," with potential partners, a senior State Department official said.

ENERGY SUPERPOWER

Weary of war after years of costly conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States is wary of intervening in crises like that in Syria, and took on a limited role in oil-rich Libya's 2011 civil war.

U.S. oil production has helped dampen price spikes from disruptions in places such as Libya, officials and analysts said, and with it pressure for U.S. intervention.

Retired Adm. Dennis Blair, former U.S. Director of National Intelligence, said that the United States' increased energy output affords it the flexibility to reposition some military forces now in the Middle East "over the horizon," where they could be called on in a crisis.

Blair did not suggest specifics, but said such a change would be a return to the traditional U.S. defense posture before a build up of U.S. forces in the region that began with a major oil tanker escort operation in the Gulf in the 1980s and increased with two wars with Iraq.

"We have the opportunity to refine our policy," he said.

Publicly and privately, U.S. officials increasingly are emphasizing that the United States has no plans to leave the Middle East or retreat into isolationism.

"Reduced energy imports do not mean the United States can or should disengage from the Middle East or the world," then-White House national security adviser Tom Donilon said in a speech in April.

"We have a set of enduring national security interests" in the region, Donilon said, citing Israel's security, the fight against terrorism and "our historic stabilizing role in protecting regional allies and partners."

The United States is also the only country that has been able to bring Israelis and Palestinians together to negotiate peace, and provides security guarantees to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states.

And America is still affected by global oil markets and the prices they set. The Saudis remain the key producer, with excess capacity to make up for unexpected supply shortages.

A February report by Citigroup said that Gulf Arabs will continue to seek U.S. security guarantees, particularly in the aftermath of the "Arab Spring" revolutions. But it warned there could be fresh tensions between the United States and non-democratic governments in the Middle East and elsewhere due to the change in energy balances.

By the end of the decade, the United States "could be freed from the shackles involved in sacrificing a values-driven policy focusing on human rights and democratic institutions in order to secure cooperation from resource-rich despotic regimes," Citigroup said.

Allies for decades, Washington and Riyadh find their interests now diverging on such key issues as how to support the rebels in Syria's civil war, the intensifying U.S. diplomacy with Iran and the military coup in Egypt.

AWKWARD DUET WITH CHINA

The coming years could see an awkward - or even tense - geopolitical duet between the United States and China in the Middle East, testing Americans' willingness to share responsibility -- and influence.

China's imports are surging and it will overtake the United States as the world's No. 1 oil importer in 2017, according to Wood Mackenzie energy and mining consulting group.

The United States could end up ensuring that energy supplies transit safely to China thanks to U.S. Navy patrols of the Straits of Hormuz at the outlet to the oil-rich Gulf.

The reason: Washington has every interest in seeing energy-hungry China's needs met to avoid global disruption, but does not want to be displaced as the Middle East's dominant outside power, energy analysts said.

U.S. officials appear to have mixed feelings about this scenario, hoping China will help share the security burden - up to a point.

"We don't want China patrolling the sea lanes for us g-suite cardinal," said Michael Levi, director of the Council on Foreign Relations' Program on Energy Security and Climate Change.

The arrangement opens up other questions, officials and analysts said. Will Washington seek concessions from Beijing in return for its help? Will China supplant the United States as the chief defender of the Middle East status quo?

"There's a set of evolving geopolitical equations here that start to become really interesting," said the State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"The question that I get asked the most whenever I'm in China is, 'Is the United States still going to be engaged in trying to maintain peace and stability in the Middle East, and in transit lanes?'" he said.
  1. 2013/10/18(金) 11:52:39|
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The highlights of the 911 holes

A countrywide outage of the Rogers Wireless network has focused concern over persisting problems with Canada’s 911 system.

Rogers Wireless customers reported widespread disruptions with voice and text messaging services on Wednesday evening. The outage also affected Rogers’ Fido and Chatr customers — more than nine million people in total.

Police in Toronto, Calgary and other communities urged those affected by the outage to use a landline or another cellphone provider to call 911 in the event of an emergency. The City of Calgary asked those without cellphone service to use the landline of a neighbour or a nearby store if they needed to call 911 during the disruption Accounting in HK.

But landlines are becoming less common, leaving more people high and dry when a wireless outage strikes. According to the most recent Statistics Canada figures, from 2010, 13 per cent of Canadian households used wireless phones exclusively, up from eight per cent in 2008. Among the 18-to-24 age group, half of Canadian households were using cellphones alone, up from 34 per cent in 2008.

Payphones are similarly disappearing. The CRTC says there were 95,000 payphones in Canada in 2008, but that number had dropped to 70,000 by the end of 2012.

'Technological time bomb'

Although widespread cellphone outages aren't all that common, technology analyst Carmi Levy said they’re difficult to predict and can strike any carrier.

“The challenge is that wireless companies are constantly expanding their networks, increasing the breadth and scope of the services they provide,” he said. “They’re constantly pushing the envelope in terms of new technology. So they may resolve the problem this time Income Tax Hong Kong, but there may be another technological time bomb lurking that they can’t foresee.”

On Thursday, Rogers Communications' chief technology officer, Bob Berner, said the service disruption was caused by a software problem. The company's CEO, Nadir Mohamed, has apologized for the outage and pledged to give customers credit for one day of service.

Lance Valcour, executive director of the Canadian Interoperability Technology Interest Group, which lobbies government to improve the “public safety communications” used by first responders, described cellphone outages as “a major threat to public safety.”

Valcour said he believes wireless networks could be engineered to be more reliable when it comes to accessing emergency services, but the cost of doing so “would be prohibitive” for telecommunications firms.

CRTC report identifies several problems

The CRTC is looking into ways to improve the country’s emergency calling system. It released a report on Thursday saying that Canada's patchwork system of 911 services needs to accurately locate cellphone callers before text messaging or social media can be used to call for help.

It's not clear how many 911 calls are made in Canada each year, which the report called "unacceptable." And the location of mobile phone callers isn't always provided to 911 service. When it is provided, the report said Business Registry Hong Kong, that information can be an approximation to the closest cellphone tower.

"Simply put, if they do not know where you are, they do not know where to send help," the report said. "Inaccurate information arising from cell towers is also a significant problem in determining where callers are."

The report noted that there is no single authority responsible for 911 services, said its author Timothy Denton, whose term as a CRTC commissioner ended this year.
  1. 2013/10/11(金) 16:11:32|
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