News February 16

Senator Sanders

Postal Service Most Senate Democrats want "significant improvements" to a bill to overhaul the U.S. Postal Service. A letter from a coalition led by Sen. Bernie Sanders spelled out improvements that should be made in the bill that would permit the end of Saturday mail deliveries and the closure of thousands of post offices and processing centers, The Washington Post reported online. LINK

Vermont Yankee Vermont should appeal a federal court ruling against the state's effort to shut the 40-year-old nuclear power plant in Vernon, Sen. Sanders told Seven Days. "The law is fairly clear that states do have the right to control nuclear power ... if it is an economic issue," he said in an interview posted online. LINK

Global Warming Climate change is "an accelerant of instability," according to the Pentagon, and the Central Intelligence Agency says climate change "could have significant geopolitical impacts," Sen. Sanders said during a C-SPAN broadcast of a one-hour Senate session on global warming. VIDEO

Earmarks "Two votes failed in the U.S. Senate recently, one to adopt term limits and the other permanently to ban earmarks. Sens. Leahy and Sanders voted against both of them. Is anybody surprised?" The Caledonian Record asked in an editorial. LINK

World

Afghanistan The U.S. and Afghan governments have begun secret three-way talks with the Taliban, Afghan President Hamid Karzai told The Wall Street Journal, disclosing an important breakthrough in efforts to end the 10-year war. LINK

Iran Bluster Iran lashed out against Western sanctions on Wednesday in statements that U.S. officials dismissed as signs of increasing desperation within the country's senior leadership, The Washington Post reported. LINK

National

Payroll Tax Members of a House-Senate committee charged with writing a measure to extend a payroll tax reduction said Wednesday that their work was done, just shy of an hour before their deadline to get a bill ready for a Friday vote, The New York Times reported. LINK

Global Warming Documents leaked from a nonprofit organization in Chicago called the Heartland Institute outline plans to cast doubt on the scientific finding that fossil fuel emissions endanger the long-term welfare of the planet, according to The New York Times. LINK

Vermont

Energy Efficiency The state's two largest utilities have proposed investing an additional $21 million in energy efficiency as part of their planned merger, the Rutland Herald reported.

Power Gov. Shumlin is against a push to get the state to become part-owner of the company that operates power lines in Vermont. If a utility merger is approved, a Canadian company would have majority control over Vermont's power lines. Sen. Vince Illuzzi wants the state to buy into VELCO, WCAX reported.  

Bullet Proof Vests Burlington Police Chief Michael Schirling testified Wednesday at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing held by Chairman Patrick Leahy on a federal program to help police buy bullet proof vests, the Burlington Free Press reported. LINK

Community Development A Shelburne housing project is getting a $1.25 million federal community development block grant as part of $2.2 million in grants announced Wednesday by Gov. Peter Shumlin, AP reported. LINK