HOUSE DIVIDED: House Democrats passed the $825 $819 billion economic stimulus package 244-188 Wednesday evening with no GOP votes, despite President Obama's ongoing overtures to court Republicans. The bill includes more than $100 billion in direct spending on various environmental measures, such as $32 million for a "smart grid," and $22 billion to weatherize and make energy-efficiency retrofits to low- and middle-income homes. The bill's next stop is the Senate, but it probably won't get a vote there until next week. The Senate has been at work on the bill, though, adding $137 billion for transportation improvements (only $8.4 billion of which is for mass transit), $49 billion in energy initiatives and various incentives for renewable energy. (Sources: The New York Times, The Associated Press, Talking Points Memo, The Christian Science Monitor, U.S. News & World Report)

THE GORACLE: The Washington Post's Dana Milbank penned this snarky column today about "the Goracle," mocking the deference shown to Al Gore when he addressed U.S. senators about climate change on Wednesday. It does a bit strange at points, such as when a senator invited Gore to visit him on the Jersey Shore, and especially when Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., opened his questioning with "you're probably right, and I'm probably wrong" and ended with "I'm not questioning you; I'm questioning myself." (Source: The Washington Post)

WARM-MONGERING: NATO commanders and lawmakers are convening in Iceland today, debating what to do as the Arctic Circle thaws and relations among adjacent nations cool. The decreasingly icy Arctic is slowly revealing oil and gas reserves that had long been rendered inaccessible by ice cover. The United States, Russia, Canada, Britain, China and several other nations have all been eyeing the situation to their north, and some observers fear a convergence of warships at the North Pole if spats over the fuel reserves get heated. Thankfully, Superman's Fortress of Solitude is right there. (Source: The Associated Press)

AMERICA'S GOT TALONS: A snowy owl baby boom has sent the birds of prey on a rare southern expansion, creating a buzz in places such as Tennessee, Virginia, Missouri and Oklahoma, far south of their usual range. An especially great season of lemming feasts fueled the owls' population surge, which has forced young males southward to stake our their territories. Snowy owls live in the Canadian tundra and usually don't venture past northern Ohio. (Source: AP)

GEOENGINEERING: Grandiose schemes to ward off global warming pop up from time to time, proposing we do things like launch giant sun shades into space or pump sulphur into the atmosphere. They get their requisite "Wha-?" news coverage and then often fade from public awareness. But a British scientist has published the first-ever comparison of these geoengineering ideas, arguing that scientists have reached a "social tipping point" in considering more extreme measures to battle worsening warming, but admits there is no "silver bullet." (Source: New Scientist)

Russell McLendon

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