• Nice featurette at U.S. News’ Washington Whispers column on Ag Secretary Ed Schafer, “boyhood farmer, telecommunications exec, conservationist, Junkyard Wars runner-up, and classic car and tractor restorer .” Don’t forget manufacturing executive. And governor, that, too. Meanwhile, President Bush is preparing to veto a “bloated” farm bill.
  • Texas tea, brewed strong. “Austin, TX (AHN) – While the rest of the nation is reeling from soaring oil prices, Texas is benefiting from the non-stop rise in prices of black gold. Oil revenues’ contribution to state budget would result to a $10.7 billion budget surplus.” Certainly not limited to Texas: “‘I think the bulk of Montana’s budget surplus comes from the oil fields of Richland and Fallon counties,’ said Richland County Commissioner Mark Rehbein.” That’s the Bakken play at work.
  • While Congress stalled, stuttered and stomped: “At Vienna, the EU and Central American nations, including Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama, agreed to launch free trade talks. The 27-nation bloc also agreed to similar negotiations with four Andean countries including Peru, Colombia, Bolivia and Ecuador.”
  • Sometimes, just the thinking is flat. Henry Payne reports the reaction of airline executives to a recent Thomas Friedman column on global jetting and fossil fuels. Friedman’s enthusiasm for biofuel-powered airlines is naive, they imply, and if there’s one thing airline execs know, it’s fuel usage. Payne: “They are extremely fuel conscious — but not because they are converts to Friedman’s religion. Fuel has always been a major business cost and so airlines are constantly investing in new planes to keep costs down. In the last eight years alone, for example — even as Delta’s fleet number has remained stable — the airline cut its fuel bill by 25 percent.” Reading Friedman’s columns in recent years, you sometimes think he should get out a little less.
  • Looks like Law & Order is actually shaping up. They’ve abandoned the steady beat of anti-corporate propaganda for pro-union propaganda! Yay! Last night’s episode summary: “Strike — A legal aid strike ends in the death of a lawyer, and the investigation leads to a golf pro who proclaims his innocence, again. Then the case takes an even stranger twist when Rubirosa is pitted against Cutter because of the strike that started it all.” New detective actor Anthony Andrews must feel right at home, switching from Fox’s short-lived “K-Ville” agitprop to “L&O” agitprop.
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