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Features of the week

Lots to report here, including some additional stories on energy and the environment that we promised you earlier in the week. Let's get started.

1. Journalist killings reach record numbers. The Financial Times covers the findings of an International News Safety Institute (INSI) report which shows "the world to be a more dangerous place than ever for journalists."

More than 1,000 media workers died on assignment between 1996-2006, and a very large part of these deaths were no accident. Unfortunately, the INSI report finds that the killing of journalists is, in large part, a "virtually risk-free" activity. This is due to the fact that many of their killers go unnoticed and unprosecuted.

The full INSI report, "Killing The Messenger", is available for download in PDF format.

2. "Politics and the English Language". An interesting article from the San Francisco Chronicle on the degredation of language and the resulting impact on our view of reality.

Thanks to the Dines Letter for recently highlighting this article.

3. Who wants to be a billionaire? Forbes is out with their latest list of "The World's Billionaires". Forbes counted 946 billionaires in their list, including 178 newcomers to the billionaire club.

It's becoming increasingly apparent that, like joining the swelling ranks of millionaires worldwide, being a billionaire does not represent everything that it used to.

4. Financial Times on, "The rise of sopisticated indices". This article highlights some of the indices tracking volatility and credit derivatives, many of whose names have appeared in the news lately thanks to the recent action in the financial markets.

5. From Bloomberg, "FBI Exceeded Authority in Getting Data, Report Says".

The FBI violated the privacy of U.S. citizens when investigators illegally gathered information using expanded powers granted under the USA Patriot Act, a government report said.

Gosh, what a shocker. Read on for more.

6. Over at The Energy Blog, Jim and the gang are discussing the rising costs of developing Canadian oil sands projects.

This is an issue we covered last fall in, "Oil sands: questions over rising costs".

Although many Americans are counting on the oil sands as a future energy source from a dependable and politically-friendly nation, rising costs and environmental impacts (not to mention high energy use in extracting and refining the product) seem likely to hobble some of the more optimistic production forecasts.

7. "How green is nuclear power?". That's the question posed by The Christian Science Monitor in their recent report on energy and the environment.

8. I've been hearing more people talk about biobutanol lately. So what is it exactly? Well, as Autoblog Green tells it, biobutanol is a form of butyl alcohol that is made from biomass and used as an alternative fuel for vehicles.

Is it a better alternative fuel than corn ethanol? Read the above link to find out more and see Green Car Congress for more news on advances in biobutanol production.

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