Russ Walker

Russ Walker is a former Grist.org editor.

Listen to your elders...

A few (green) minutes with Andy Rooney…

The old codger has been haunting my Sunday evenings for more than three decades. When I was a kid, “60 Minutes” opinionator Andy Rooney was kinda entertaining; his “common sense” rants about the stupidity of daily life appealed to my pre-pubescent world view. And as I got older, it was still fun to watch the old guy rant about whatever had pissed him off the past week. But at a certain point, like after watching his routine for 20 years, it got annoying. Then, after another 10 years, it became sad. One man dedicates his entire life to cranky diatribes. …

So long, clunkers?

Obama considering ‘cash-for-clunkers’ program

President Obama discusses the latest efforts to aide the U.S. auto industry. (White House photo) Did President Obama endorse a “cash for clunkers” program today? Maybe. In detailing the government’s latest efforts to shore up General Motors and the U.S. auto industry, Obama said this: Finally, several members of Congress have proposed an even more ambitious incentive program to increase car sales while modernizing our auto fleet. Such fleet modernization programs, which provide a generous credit to consumers who turn in old, less fuel efficient cars and purchase cleaner cars have been successful in boosting auto sales in a number …

'We'll get it done'

At prime time presser, Obama says an energy plan will pass

During his prime time press conference Tuesday evening, President Obama was put on the spot about Congress’ apparent unwillingness to go along with some of his budget proposals. The questioner listed a number of areas where Democrats on Capitol Hill may part ways, including the White House’s proposed cap-and-trade program to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. If Obama is worried, he didn’t let on. Here’s the part of his response dealing with cap-and-trade and, more broadly, a comprehensive energy bill: When it comes to cap-and-trade, the broader principle is that we’ve got to move to a new energy era. And that …

What we meant to say ...

EPA issues clarification on mountaintop removal notice

One can only wonder whether the following EPA statement regarding its move on mountaintop removal was prompted by some angry phone calls to the agency from certain influential West Virginia lawmakers. In any event, here’s what the EPA sent out late Tuesday: Following reports that mischaracterize actions taken by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), agency press secretary Adora Andy today issued a statement regarding mining permit applications: The Environmental Protection Agency is not halting, holding or placing a moratorium on any of the mining permit applications. Plain and simple. EPA has issued comments on two pending permit applications to …

Comment free

Preparing for new site, Grist temporarily suspending comments

Begging your pardon, but we've turned comments off on Grist in advance of our upcoming site relaunch. Keep an eye out for the new Grist.org, which will include a customizable comments section (among other snazzy features). And if you're just burning to speak up before then, drop us a line: grist AT grist DOT org.

Google Earth first

Search giant plans to devote more IT expertise to energy issues

If you're a fan of Google's efforts to encourage energy efficiency and the development of renewable energy (i.e. RechargeIT, Clean Energy 2030, and PowerMeter), get ready for more. A post on the official Google blog says the company plans to "to put even more engineers and technical talent to work on these issues and problems." Larry Brilliant, the "chief philanthropy evangelist" at Google.org, offered up that bit of news in a post about a larger change at the Google philanthropy arm -- that Google exec Megan Smith will take over day-to-day management of Google.org, allowing Brilliant to "spend more time motivating policy makers, encouraging public and private partnerships, and generally advocating for the changes that we must make as a global society to solve these problems." More from Brilliant's post: In this global economic crisis, the work Google.org is doing, together with our many colleagues around the world, to help develop cheap clean energy, find and fight disease outbreaks before they sweep the globe, and build information platforms for underserved people globally, is more important than ever. We stand behind the commitment made in 2004 to devote 1% of Google's equity and profits to philanthropy, and we will continue to iterate on our philanthropic model to make sure our resources have the greatest possible impact for good.

Service first

Using stimulus funds to make mass transit free

Irwin Kellner, chief economist for MarketWatch, suggests a better use for the billions contained in the economic stimulus legislation: Right now federal money for states and local governments is aimed at big capital projects such as buying new trains or busses. But what is the point of buying new transit equipment if the local systems are mothballing their fleet because of service cuts?Better to use these funds to help eliminate fares and maintain or increase service. It also avoids the government giving people tax cuts with one hand while taking them away with the other.

Do you tip in produce or cash?

A very cool 'only in California' development … bike valets

Slate V posted a short video about the bicycle valet service provided at the farmers market in Santa Monica, Calif. Brilliant! But do the valets help repair flat tires?

Free corn!

Denny's serves up a plate of petroleum

The millions of Americans (Grist included!) glued to their TVs Sunday for Super Bowl XLIII got a personal invite from fast food chain Denny's to swing by any of its 2,500 U.S. locations this morning for a free "Grand Slam" breakfast -- two eggs, two sausages, two slices of bacon, two pancakes (a whopping 800 calories).

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