President Barack Obama talks with Anand Srinivasan, 15, in the Blue Room, Feb. 7, 2012, during the second annual White House Science Fair celebrating student winners of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) competitions from across the country. Srinivasan, a sophomore from Roswell High School in Roswell, Ga., was a finalist in the Google Science Fair for his project, which examines the use of electroencephalography (EEG) and prosthetic technology to make a more functional artificial limb. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Bloomberg: The U.S. is the closest it has been in almost 20 years to achieving energy self-sufficiency, a goal the nation has been pursuing since the 1973 Arab oil embargo triggered a recession and led to lines at gasoline stations.
Domestic oil output is the highest in eight years. The U.S. is producing so much natural gas that, where the government warned four years ago of a critical need to boost imports, it now may approve an export terminal. Methanex Corp., the world’s biggest methanol maker, said it will dismantle a factory in Chile and reassemble it in Louisiana to take advantage of low natural gas prices….
The result: The U.S. has reversed a two-decade-long decline in energy independence, increasing the proportion of demand met from domestic sources over the last six years to an estimated 81 percent through the first 10 months of 2011 … That would be the highest level since 1992.
…. The transformation, which could see the country become the world’s top energy producer by 2020, has implications for the economy and national security – boosting household incomes, jobs and government revenue; cutting the trade deficit; enhancing manufacturers’ competitiveness; and allowing greater flexibility in dealing with unrest in the Middle East.
… The last time the U.S. achieved energy independence was in 1952…. The shift to increased energy independence is also the result of government policies to depress oil demand …. Automakers have agreed to raise the fuel economy of the vehicles they sell in the U.S. to a fleetwide average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 under an agreement last year with the Obama administration.
ThinkProgress: While Catholic leaders and Republicans have distorted the Obama administration’s rule requiring employers to provide contraception at no additional cost, a majority of Americans, including a majority of Catholics, support such a requirement, according to a new poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute. The requirement garners support from 55 percent of Americans and 58 percent of Catholics, though the number is slightly lower (52 percent) for Catholic voters. As Igor Volsky reported today, many Catholic hospitals and universities already cover contraception in their health plans.
ThinkProgress: … Twenty-eight states already require organizations that offer prescription insurance to cover contraception and since 98 percent of Catholic women use birth control, many Catholic institutions offer the benefit to their employees. For instance, a Georgetown University spokesperson told ThinkProgress yesterday that employees “have access to health insurance plans offered and designed by national providers to a national pool. These plans include coverage for birth control”.
New Yorker: ….. Romney is relying on a media offensive managed by operatives who have long been at the heart of Washington’s Republican attack machine. One of the leaders of this advertising war is Larry McCarthy, a veteran media consultant best known for creating the racially charged “Willie Horton ad,” which, in 1988, helped sink Michael Dukakis, the Democratic nominee for President.
Excerpts of the interview will air tonight (Dec 15) on “World News with Diane Sawyer.” The full interview can be seen during a “20/20″ holiday special on Friday, Dec. 23, 10 p.m. ET on ABC stations.
Pew: Public discontent with Congress has reached record levels, and the implications for incumbents in next year’s elections could be stark, according to the the latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Dec. 7-11. Two-in-three voters say most members of Congress should be voted out of office in 2012 – the highest on record. And the number who say their own member should be replaced matches the all-time high recorded in 2010, when fully 58 members of Congress lost reelection bids – the most in any election since 1948.
The Republican Party is taking more of the blame than the Democrats for a do-nothing Congress. A record-high 50% say that the current Congress has accomplished less than other recent Congresses, and by nearly two-to-one (40% to 23%) more blame Republican leaders than Democratic leaders for this.
Andrew Sullivan: The Telegraph has looked into Romney’s claims that he subsisted as a missionary in France, taking dumps in holes and using showers from hoses. His fellow missionaries remember a different experience:
The Republican presidential hopeful spent a significant portion of his 30-month mission in a Paris mansion … It was staffed by two servants – a Spanish chef and a houseboy … for most of 1968, Mr Romney lived in the Mission Home, a 19th century neoclassical building in the French capital’s chic 16th arrondissement. “It was a house built by and for rich people,” said Richard Anderson, the son of the mission president at the time of Mr Romney’s stay. “I would describe it as a palace”.
…. Why would Romney go out on a limb like that – when it could easily be disproven by an enterprising reporter? Maybe this has something to do with it:
Tearful as he described the house, Mr Anderson, 70, of Kaysville, Utah, said Romney aides had asked him not to speak publicly about their time together there.