Energy Conference The Thetford Energy Committee was honored Saturday at a statewide energy conference for a home weatherization program. “I am here because I respect enormously the work that you are doing,” Sen. Bernie Sanders said. He called climate change “the issue of our day,” but said government has been slow to respond. “If we’re going to transform our energy system, it’s not going to come from Washington or Paris or London, it’s going to come from the grassroots and people knocking on doors,” he added in the Valley News. LINK
Single Payer The biggest downside of the Affordable Care Act is the reliance on the private insurance industry. It does not have to be this way, however. The law includes a provision that can open the door for states to institute their own single-payer healthcare system. Vermont — home of Ben and Jerry’s, Maple Syrup, Bernie Sanders and the first state to pass marriage equality — decided to set up their very own single payer system.,” according to Truth Out. LINK
White House ’16 In the Rutland Herald and Times Argus, columnist Carol Tashie wrote to Santa Claus; “There’s a rumor going around that our beloved Sen. Sanders is thinking of running for president. While we are damn proud of our independent Socialist senator, please give Bernie a gift certificate for a weekend getaway with Howard Dean. And Dennis Kucinich. And Ralph Nader.” LINK
White House ’16 The Chicago Tribune on Sunday and Orlando Sentinel on Thursday published a Washington Post article that said Sen. Sanders might run for president. "I don't wake up every morning saying, 'Oh my goodness, I really want to be president,'" Sanders said. "But somebody's got to be out there, and if nobody is, I'll do it."
Senate May Vote on Iran Sanctions US lawmakers are preparing a possible vote on new sanctions against Iran, a move President Barack Obama fears could sabotage the nuclear deal. Even as a six-month Geneva agreement provides for partial suspension of existing sanctions, a bipartisan group of senators led by Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Robert Menendez and Sen. Mark Kirk were set to unveil a sanctions bill, AFP reported. LINK
Food Stamp Cuts Top farm bill negotiators have kept mum about how close they are to finding common ground on potential policy changes and spending cuts for domestic food assistance. But advocates tracking the closed-door discussions say they have heard a figure of $8 billion in nutrition cuts over 10 years is under consideration -- double the proposed reductions in a farm bill passed by the Senate with the support of the Obama administration, Congressional Quarterly reported. LINK
Unemployed Veterans The nation’s jobless rate fell to 7 percent in November, the lowest level in five years, but an economy that created just 203,000 net new jobs provided only slight gains for veterans. For veterans of all generations, the unemployment rate in November was 6.7 percent, down 0.2 percentage points from October and continuing to show that veterans appear to do slightly better than non-veterans in finding and keeping jobs. For Post-9/11 veterans, the November unemployment rate is 9.9 percent, down from 10 percent in October, Military Times reported. LINK
Last-Ditch Bid to Block Airline Merger A group of consumers and travel agents filed a last-ditch petition on Saturday to the U.S. Supreme Court to stop American Airlines and US Airways from merging, a move they fear would drive air travel prices up and service down and make planes more crowded. In their appeal to the Supreme Court, plaintiffs led by California resident Carolyn Fjord warned that "irreparable injury" could be caused to the domestic airline industry if the deal goes ahead as planned. The merger is expected to be consummated before the opening of U.S. securities markets on Monday, The Associated Press reported.
Scant Improvement on Greenhouse Gas Emissions Vermont has fallen well short of its first major goal in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. A new report from the state Agency of Natural Resources says those emissions are down slightly from their peak. But they are even with where they were in 1990, when legislation passed in 2006 said they were supposed to be 25 percent below that level, AP reported. LINK