Iraqi Cabinet approves next year's budget

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq's Cabinet on Tuesday agreed on a 2015 budget of some $105 billion and sent it to parliament for final approval, a government spokesman said.

Spokesman Rafid Jabouri said the budget of 123 trillion Iraqi dinars ($105.48 billion) comes with a deficit of 23 trillion dinars ($19.72 billion). Jabouri added that the budget calculations are based on an assumed oil price of $60 a barrel.


As recession looms, Russia acts to support ruble

MOSCOW (AP) — With its economy spiraling toward recession following Western sanctions and a dramatic fall in the price of oil, Russia took another step Tuesday to shore up the value of the ruble, which has been one of the world's worst-performing currencies this year.

Russia's energy-dependent economy has suffered a severe economic shock over the past few months, largely because oil prices have tanked — the benchmark New York rate has fallen by around a half since June to stand at not much more than $55 a barrel.

Nevada congressman criticizes Jewell over grouse

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Nevada congressman said he was offended when Interior Secretary Sally Jewell claimed some lawmakers in the West are playing politics over the protection of the sage grouse.

Republican Mark Amodei said the Obama administration is to blame for the conflict over the chicken-sized bird because Jewell and others should be doing more to keep it off the list of threatened or endangered species.

Experts say Great Lakes wolves aren't endangered

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A group of wolf experts disputed Monday that gray wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan are endangered or that a judge's ruling will help the region's population spread to other states.

A federal judge on Friday threw out the Obama administration's decision to remove wolves in the three states from the endangered list. The move banned sport hunting and trapping of wolves in the region, where the combined population is around 3,700.

Israel challenges natural gas developers over monopoly

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's antitrust authority said Tuesday it will challenge the ownership structure of the country's natural gas resources, a decision that could rattle an increasingly important industry.

A conglomerate of companies including Texas-based Noble Energy and Israel's Delek Group has been developing Israel's offshore natural gas deposits, selling gas to the Israeli market and agreeing to sell to neighboring countries as well.

Legal fight for compensation possible over NY fracking ban

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Legal experts say some landowners in New York might challenge the state government for compensation after it ruled against allowing fracking, but they add that winning a court fight over the concept of “takings” could be tricky, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

Energy efficiency spend for Ameren Missouri to total $135 million

The Associated Press

According to a proposal Ameren filed with the Missouri Public Service Commission Monday, the company will spend $135 million on energy efficiency moves between 2016 and 2018, including offering incentives for customers to buy new and more efficient light bulbs and appliances, The Associated Press reports.

Obama a science geek, says Holdren

The Hill

White House science adviser John Holdren – in an interview Monday with NPR’s Living Lab on the Point program – described Barack Obama as a science geek, recalling a lengthy conversation with the President where he discussed fusion energy in depth and then tossed out a question about honeybees, The Hill reports.

Late at night, Christie doing 2016 foreign policy homework

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — It's after 9 p.m. on a Sunday night in late November and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is deep into a conference call talking about nuclear weapons and Iran.

One voice is advocating a hard line, arguing against allowing Iran any capability to enrich uranium. Another summarizes the status of current negotiations and argues that forcing Iran to give up enrichment entirely isn't realistic.

Nicaraguans will benefit from canal: Ortega

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — Nicaraguan officials and a Chinese company broke ground Monday on a $50 billion transoceanic waterway predicted to rival the Panama Canal, but which has been a source of anger and protests from citizens in recent weeks.

President Daniel Ortega, with Wang Jing, president of the contracting firm HKND Group, said the canal will change the economy of Nicaragua, one of Latin America's poorest countries, as well as the rest of the hemisphere.


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