eyes on the U.S.

Obama Adds Florida, Turns Focus To Fiscal Cliff



WASHINGTON - Fresh from his election victory and emotional Thank You's (see below), Barack Obama will turn back to the gritty business of trying to turn the U.S. economy around.

The first order of business will be a Friday appearance to address the so-called "fiscal cliff," a set of looming deadlines, which if not resolved could send the economy spiralling back into recession. The Washington Post reports that Obama will try to set the tone for upcoming negotiations with Congressional Republicans.

The President will come in with a bit more fire power, as it looks clear now that he also won the state of Florida in Tuesday's ballotting. The head of Florida's Democrat Party has issued a statement congratulating Obama, in what now seems likely to be a victory in the only state yet to declare an official result.

As of Thursday evening, Obama leads the Republican candidate by a margin of just 58,055 votes in the Sunshine State, or 49.92% to 49.22%. However, the votes yet to be counted are in heavily Democrat areas.

Mitt Romney's aides in Florida have also basically conceded defeat: “The numbers in Florida show this was winnable,” Brett Doster, Florida advisor for Romney, said in a statement to the Miami Herald.

“We thought based on our polling and range of organization that we had done what we needed to win. Obviously, we didn’t, and for that I and every other operative in Florida has a sick feeling that we left something on the table. I can assure you this won’t happen again," he said.

Of course Florida's 29 electoral college votes would not have changed the victor in the race for the White House, as Obama had already garnered 303 electoral votes to Romney's 206.

Still, Obama will have little

However, the painfully slow outcome in the state has brought back memories of 2000 when Republican candidate George W. Bush won Florida by only 537 votes and later won the White House after a bitter recount dispute with Democrat Al Gore that reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

Election day in Miami - @OFA_FL via Twitter

Obama's campaign team cited Florida's 1.4 million Latino community as the success of the Democrat Party. Obama won a record 61% of Hispanic votes in Florida, compared to 57% in 2008, according to Reuters.

Obama also made surprising gains in the usually Republican voting Cuban-American electorate, winning 48%.

A Florida win means victories for the President in all the key swing states except North Carolina.

Okay, three days and we still don't know who won Florida. I say, next time, they don't get to vote. They've had their chance.

— Christopher Moore (@TheAuthorGuy) November 9, 2012

Obama's campaign team posted a video Thursday night of the President thanking his team at the campaign headquarters in Chicago.

Addressing the largely young team, Obama was visibly emotional after the bitterly fought campaign slog. “What you guys accomplished will go on in annals of history…but the most important thing you need to know is your journey’s just beginning. You’re just starting," he said.

“That’s been my source of hope. It’s been why the last four years when people ask me how do you put up with this or that, the frustrations of Washington, I think of what you guys are doing. That’s the source of my hope, my strength and my inspiration.”

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In Argentina, A Visit To World's Highest Solar Energy Park

With loans and solar panels from China, the massive solar park has been opened a year and is already powering the surrounding areas. Now the Chinese supplier is pushing for an expansion.

960,000 solar panels have been installed at the Cauchari park

Silvia Naishtat

CAUCHARI — Driving across the border with Chile into the northwest Argentine department of Susques, you may spot what looks like a black mass in the distance. Arriving at a 4,000-meter altitude in the municipality of Cauchari, what comes into view instead is an assembly of 960,000 solar panels. It is the world's highest photovoltaic (PV) park, which is also the second biggest solar energy facility in Latin America, after Mexico's Aguascalientes plant.

Spread over 800 hectares in an arid landscape, the Cauchari park has been operating for a year, and has so far turned sunshine into 315 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the local provincial capital of Jujuy through the national grid.

It has also generated some $50 million for the province, which Governor Gerardo Morales has allocated to building 239 schools.

Abundant sunshine, low temperatures

The physicist Martín Albornoz says Cauchari, which means "link to the sun," is exposed to the best solar radiation anywhere. The area has 260 days of sunshine, with no smog and relatively low temperatures, which helps keep the panels in optimal conditions.

Its construction began with a loan of more than $331 million from China's Eximbank, which allowed the purchase of panels made in Shanghai. They arrived in Buenos Aires in 2,500 containers and were later trucked a considerable distance to the site in Cauchari . This was a titanic project that required 1,200 builders and 10-ton cranes, but will save some 780,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year.

It is now run by 60 technicians. Its panels, with a 25-year guarantee, follow the sun's path and are cleaned twice a year. The plant is expected to have a service life of 40 years. Its choice of location was based on power lines traced in the 1990s to export power to Chile, now fed by the park.

Chinese engineers working in an office at the Cauchari park


Chinese want to expand

The plant belongs to the public-sector firm Jemse (Jujuy Energía y Minería), created in 2011 by the province's then governor Eduardo Fellner. Jemse's president, Felipe Albornoz, says that once Chinese credits are repaid in 20 years, Cauchari will earn the province $600 million.

The Argentine Energy ministry must now decide on the park's proposed expansion. The Chinese would pay in $200 million, which will help install 400,000 additional panels and generate enough power for the entire province of Jujuy.

The park's CEO, Guillermo Hoerth, observes that state policies are key to turning Jujuy into a green province. "We must change the production model. The world is rapidly cutting fossil fuel emissions. This is a great opportunity," Hoerth says.

The province's energy chief, Mario Pizarro, says in turn that Susques and three other provincial districts are already self-sufficient with clean energy, and three other districts would soon follow.

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