I had noticed that, too, MikeE. Odd. The products in Germany that I consider similar to shortening in the US very much appear to be hydrogenated, but I haven't looked at their ingredients recently.
#5: I wouldn't say that that is at all the case in US recipes. If they mean oil, they say oil. If they mean butter, they say butter (which can often be substituted with margarine). If they mean shortening, they mean a solid white vegetable fat. At times, they will tell you possible substitutions.
Contrary to #1, the choice of butter, shortening, oil or lard can sometimes make quite a difference in the results. While pie crust was traditionally made with pure white lard in the US, shortening (the solid white vegetable fat type) has come to replace it for many people, and the results do differ somewhat -- but both work similarly. Butter or oil can also be used in pie crusts, but the proportions of the recipe differ, and, in the case of oil, the way in which the dough is mixed together differs.
I do have a pancake recipe, though, that calls for melted shortening to be added to the liquid ingredients before adding them to the flour. I usually simply add oil to the liquid ingredients since it's easier.