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With food riots raging, let’s open the books on the finances of Big Ag

When we talk about the crisis in food prices, we should scrape below the surface to explore who's actually benefiting from the crisis. Unless you've had your head stuck in the freezer at Dean & Deluca, you've heard about the food crisis across the planet. A recent Financial Times displayed this staggering map of the globe: Black dots marked each of the countries were food riots have been sparked in outrage against the rising prices of food. Thirty dots in all. A recent CNN report noted that "Riots, instability spread as food prices skyrocket." These surging costs, warns World Bank …

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Google Checkout maps the spread of donations and Earth Day lovin’

I think Google has a crush on the planet. First, they announced a goal of achieving carbon neutrality for 2007 and beyond. Then, they unleashed their RE<C campaign (Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal), aimed at producing one gigawatt of clean electricity more cheaply than coal. Next, you may have noticed their blacked-out search page on March 29, in support of Earth Hour, the global awareness movement to turn out the lights and turn up action on climate change. And now, in anticipation and celebration of Earth Day (April 22), Google is winking flirtatiously at the neglected planet once more. This …

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Americans for Balanced Energy Choices gets new name, t-shirts

ABEC has re-branded themselves the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. See here for an interview with President Stephen Miller, who does an admirably media-savvy job of laying out their talking points and PR strategy. His key points: "If we push too hard, too fast, we will force fuel switching away from coal." "The president and the congress have a role to play to make sure the public sector invests in coal-fired power." We've spent a lot of money on t-shirts, trucks, and advertising to affect the primary campaign, and it's working. In other words: We need to burn more …

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Yes, according to a new ‘artisanal’ restaurant in Atlanta

A press release heralding a new restaurant in Atlanta crossed my email inbox recently. Everything seemed pretty standard at first: Holeman and Finch Public House, opening April 14, intends to serve "food and drink ... with unrivaled quality and care." The chef evidently revels in "whole-animal preparations" and plans to make his own "charcuterie such as coppa, bresaola, and tom thumbs." Photo: Samuel Wong Sounds good to me. I applaud nose-to-tail cookery, as well as the move toward small-scale artisanal sausage making. All very trendy, and not a bad thing at all -- as long as the meat is sourced …

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Are you spending more money on food?

Food prices are soaring around the globe. Have you felt the pinch? Take our poll and tell us. You can vote below the fold. And read recent Grist content on the topic: • Why Michael Pollan and Alice Waters should quit celebrating food-price hikes• How expensive is food, really?• Higher food prices mean crappier cafeteria fare for kids Sorry, the poll you are seeking no longer exists. If you’re in a voting mood, suggest a poll and you might just see it on the site.

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Coal victory in West Virginia

Virginia's State Corporation Commission today rejected American Electric Power's request to build a massive ($2.23b) new dirty coal plant in West Virginia. Why, you ask? The commission said the plant's estimated price, which dates back to November 2006, isn't credible. It also said AEP has no plans to provide a detailed, updated estimate until it gets full regulatory approval. So picky!

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How to green your investments

This little piggy went earn, earn, earn all the way home. Photo: iStockphoto If you're thinking green capitalism is one of the most powerful environmental forces in the world, you're right on the money. Today, surprising as it may seem, some of the world's leading financial institutions and biggest corporations are taking earth-positive actions -- not necessarily out of the kindness of their hearts, but because polluting and spewing CO2 is lousy for business, and because greener operations lead to fatter profits. This winter, for example, hundreds of financial leaders and investors representing $20 trillion in capital flocked to a …

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Why did the guru cancel six coal plants?

One of the biggest climate stories of 2007 never made it to the business pages. It's about how Warren Buffett, with no fanfare, quietly walked away from coal, cancelling six proposed plants. Buffett used to love coal. His involvement with it began when Berkshire Hathaway bought MidAmerican Energy Holdings in 1999. MidAmerican was a big operator of coal plants, and with natural gas prices edging toward a huge leap upwards -- bringing coal back into favor -- it appeared to be a typically savvy Buffett move. In 2006, Buffett picked up another utility, PacifiCorp, which includes Rocky Mountain Power and …

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Taking care of rural coal workers

This WSJ piece on the battle over coal in rural (and important electoral swing) states is frustrating. On one hand, you have enviros, characterized as urbanites concerned exclusively with global warming. On the other hand, you have rural residents, characterized as concerned exclusively with keeping their mining jobs. Why is there no mention of the ways Dem candidates and enviros are attempting to address those concerns? No mention of the ways Obama and Clinton propose to use auction revenue to help these states out, retrain their workers, create new green jobs for them? I don't blame the reporters. The candidates …

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Ausra

Via Deathridesahorse, here's a video of Ausra ("utility-scale solar power") CEO David Mills explaining Ausra's solar thermal technology: