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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Changing the World – a small step at a time. This is credited to the Earth Institute at Columbia University, New York City.
 www.policyinnovations.org/ideas/b…

Reporting of the New York City based Carnegie Ciuncil.

——————————————–

Reducing Emissions Is a Sure Bet for Caesars Entertainment.

By Scott R. Miller | Environmental Defense Fund | May 21, 2014

 

CREDIT: tenaciousme (CC).

It was an especially gratifying moment to shut down the high-intensity discharge lights on the Flamingo facade and the Eiffel Tower Experience and turn on the LEDs.

 

My life changed forever on April 20, 2010 when the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing eleven workers and poisoning the ecosystem. By the time the oil stopped flowing 87 agonizing days later I had discovered the motivation to unleash a deeply rooted passion for sustainability. It drove me to start a sustainability initiative at OppenheimerFunds, and subsequently to leave a successful career in financial services.

Passion alone is not enough, so in the fall of 2011 I began an M.S. in sustainability management at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. Over the next three years I learned multiple ways to lessen society’s impact on the environment and to promote resilience.

An important opportunity for me came in the spring of 2013 when I was accepted into the Environmental Defense Fund’s Climate Corps fellowship program. The EDF Climate Corps matches graduate students with companies, municipalities, and universities across the country. Each fellow is trained for one week by energy efficiency experts and then sent on a 10-week fellowship to reduce cost, energy, and carbon emissions at a host organization. The program has been so successful that it caught the attention of the producers of Years of Living Dangerously, a documentary series about climate change airing this spring on Showtime.

I was matched with Caesars Entertainment (CET) in Las Vegas, Nevada and subsequently selected by the Years Project to be one of three fellows whom they would follow throughout the summer. So, in early June I packed my bags, boxed my bike, and headed to the sweltering summer heat of Vegas to deliver maximum cost and CO2 savings.

Upon arriving, it became apparent that much of the low-hanging energy efficiency fruit had already been plucked, so my supervisor decided to challenge me with an outdoor wall lighting project at the Flamingo Las Vegas, and an energy audit of all pool, spa, and fountain pump systems at CET’s eight Las Vegas resorts. I also attempted an energy retrofit project for the Eiffel Tower Experience at the Paris Las Vegas.

Managing all three projects simultaneously while cameras were following me around was by far the most challenging and rewarding experience of my career.

It was an especially gratifying moment to shut down the existing High-intensity Discharge (HID) lights on the Flamingo facade and the Eiffel Tower Experience and turn on the Light-Emitting Diodes, which were expected to reduce annual energy consumption by 70 percent.

Scott Miller (left) consults with Jessica Alba (right), founder of The Honest Company. IMAGE: Courtesy of Showtime.

In addition to lighting, I had the unique opportunity to partner with the chief engineer of the Flamingo to conduct a CodeGreen audit at three in the morning. We surveyed countless square feet of resort space, identifying energy and water efficiency and conservation opportunities, all of which would help reduce operational costs, carbon emissions, and water consumption—the latter being especially relevant in the desert.

Lastly, I surveyed 125 pump systems, which circulate water through the iconic pools, spas, and fountains of the CET Las Vegas resorts. To reduce energy demand from their around-the-clock operations, I researched an energy efficiency solution known as a variable frequency drive (VFD). I built a life-cycle cost model and talked to VFD suppliers. Toward the end of my fellowship, I was tasked with presenting my findings and recommendations to Caesars CEO Gary Loveman and other key stakeholders, while Showtime cameras captured it all.

In the end, I determined that CET could reduce the average annual energy consumed by their pools, spas, and fountains by more than 60 percent. The financial payback was so attractive that we were able to install four VFDs in the Caesars Palace pool pump room prior to my departure. By implementing my project recommendations at all their U.S. properties, Caesars Entertainment could save more than $350,000 and approximately 6 million kilowatt hours annually, enough to power more than 500 homes and avoid 3,400 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

The stories featured in Years of Living Dangerously include activist celebrities, renowned climate scientists, famous journalists, and inspirational business leaders who have made social and environmental responsibility a top priority for their firms. And, it turns out, ordinary people like me.

Taken together, I believe these stories have the potential to fuel a fundamental shift in how the public views climate change, and to inspire individuals, businesses, and maybe even politicians to make a big pivot toward a more sustainable future.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 18th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

U.S. Endures Heat Waves, Extended Drought.

WASHINGTON, DC, July 16, 2013 (ENS) – Heat waves and drought conditions are touching off wildfires, shriveling grasslands across the western states and stressing eastern urban residents, forcing lawmakers and public lands managers alike to rethink their approach to water supplies.

In Washington, the Senate Water and Power Subcommittee is holding a hearing today on the future of the Colorado River. The hearing follows recent deadly wildfires, a record-breaking heat wave and worsening drought conditions in the Southwest that have put the region’s residents, wildlife and natural resources at risk.

The subcommittee is examining the Bureau of Reclamation’s Colorado River Basin Water Demand and Supply study, released last December, which found that there is not enough water in the Colorado River to meet the basin’s current water demands or future demand increases.

Spanning parts of Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming, the Colorado River Basin is one of the most critical sources of water in the West. The Colorado River and its tributaries provide water to nearly 40 million people for municipal use, supply water used to irrigate nearly 5.5 million acres of land, and is also the lifeblood for at least 22 federally recognized tribes, seven National Wildlife Refuges, four National Recreation Areas, and 11 National Parks.

Climate change will reduce water available from the Colorado River by nine percent, increasing the risk to cities, farms and the environment, the study concludes.

“This study serves as a call to action and underscores the importance of prioritizing innovative conservation solutions rather than resorting to costly pipelines, dams and other diversions,” said Matt Niemerski, water policy director at the nonprofit American Rivers. “We need to step up our efforts and manage our water wisely in order to meet the current and future needs in the basin.”

Across the country, more than 40 percent of U.S. freshwater withdrawals are used for power plant cooling. These plants also lose several billion gallons of freshwater every day through evaporation.

New research released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists indicates that increasing demand and drought are putting a great strain on water resources. Low water levels and high water temperatures can cause power plants to cut their electricity output in order to avoid overheating or harming local water bodies.

John Rogers, a senior energy analyst with UCS’s Climate and Energy Program, said, “In our water-constrained world, a 20-year delay in tackling the problem leaves the power industry unnecessarily vulnerable to drought and exacerbates competition with other water users. We can bring water use down faster and further, but only by changing how we get our electricity.”

A pathway that includes strong investments in renewables and energy efficiency, according to the UCS study, would greatly reduce power generation’s water use and carbon emissions. Under such a scenario, water withdrawals would drop by 97 percent from current levels by 2050, with most of that drop within the next 20 years.

Meanwhile, hot, dry conditions persist west of the Mississippi River, with at least 15 states experiencing drought. Wild horses and livestock compete for the same scarce water resources.

Drought conditions are taking a toll on western rangelands, leaving little water and forage for animals and livestock, prompting the Bureau of Land Management to provide supplemental water and food for wild horses, reduce grazing, and enact fire restrictions.

In New Mexico, 93 percent of rangeland and pastures are rated poor or very poor. The figure is 59 percent in Colorado; 35 percent in Wyoming; and 17 percent in Utah.

Similar conditions exist in Nevada, where more than 60 percent of the state has been in severe or extreme drought conditions since the beginning of 2013.

“Since last fall and winter, we have been working with grazers across the West in anticipation of tough conditions related to drought. In southwestern Montana, for example, the BLM worked with permitted ranchers to graze no more than 70 percent of their alloted forage on BLM-managed lands,” said BLM Principal Deputy Director Neil Kornze.

“As drought conditions continue, wild horses, livestock, and wildlife that rely on rangeland forage and water will face extremely challenging conditions that may leave them in very poor condition,” said Kornze. “We are taking action to address these situations as quickly and as effectively as we can, but our options are increasingly limited by conditions on the land.”

In Nevada, all BLM Districts have been hauling water to wild horses. There, the BLM is trucking 5,000 gallons of water per day, five days a week to four locations in the Winnemucca District at a cost of $1,000 a day.

In the next few days, a USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service veterinarian will join BLM specialists in assessing horses in Lincoln County, Nev., after BLM employees noted that horses were not drinking water from trucked-in troughs and were not eating supplemental hay. This raised concerns about the health of the animals.

Over the past week in Nevada, average temperatures have been 10 degrees above normal, hovering around 100 degrees. The state has recently had only 0.1 to 0.5 inches of rain, resulting in sparse, poor-quality forage, according to the BLM.

Scarce water sources have put pressure on all users, including wild horses, livestock, and wildlife; causing long-lasting damage to plants, stream channels, spring areas, and water quality.

The heat wave continues across the eastern United States, with highs Tuesday expected to reach the 90s across much of the eastern third of the country, says the National Weather Service. Combined with humidity, this will create heat index values of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

The heat and humidity is here for several more days for the Eastern states, including the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, Ohio Valley, and spreading into the Midwest and Great Plains. A large upper level ridge and sinking air in the lower atmosphere are causing the hot conditions, says the National Weather Service, which says, “Although this is the hottest weather so far this season, it is less than the extreme heat observed last summer over these areas.”

In New York, Con Edison’s crews, working 12-hour shifts, are pulling cables, replacing fuses and other equipment to bring power back to customers as the heat wave blankets the metropolitan area. The heat wave is expected to extend into Saturday.

Crews have been responding to scattered outages and have restored power to more than 7,600 customers in New York City and Westchester County since the heat settled here on Sunday.

New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn called New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly personally after an intern fainted in the heat and paramedics did not arrive for more than 30 minutes.

“This whole situation is outrageous and I don’t know what happened, and I’m going to get to the bottom of it. It’s inexcusable,” Quinn told the “New York Daily News.”

Across the Great Plains, AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski and Head of AccuWeather.com’s Long-Range Forecasting Team Paul Pastelok, say heat will be coming in and out of the Plains over the next 30 days.

For the next two weeks, the Midwest will have temperatures in the 80s and 90s.

Meanwhile, temperatures will remain below normal across parts of the southern and southwestern states, mainly from Texas to Arizona, where heavy rain and flash flooding are possible.

The Southwest will catch a break as building monsoon conditions ease the heat down for the Four Corners area, but temperatures will increase over the Great Basin and West, according to AccuWeather forecasters.

All this week, the odds favor above-median precipitation over western Alaska, the southern Rockies, the Northern Great Plains, Western and Central Gulf Coasts, and from the Great Lakes to the Mid-Atlantic, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a service of the federal government.

Dry conditions are likely across the Pacific Northwest, eastern Alaska, and the Central Great Plains. Temperatures are likely to be above normal west of the continental divide, and from the Midwest to the Northeast, with below-normal temperatures favored over New Mexico and the Southeast.

AccuWeather predicts the mercury will soar come September when the Southwest region will reach its hottest point of the year.

OUR MAIN COMMENT ON THIS ARTICLE IS THAT IT SOMEHOW FORGOT MEXICO WHICH HAS RIGHTS TO THE COLORADO RIVER WATER AS WELL. THE SITUATION IS THUS MUCH MORE COMPLICATED THEN MENTIONED HERE. THE ARTICLE ALSO DID NOT MENTION THAT SOME OF THE AGRICULTURE IN ARIZONA IS SIMPLY MISPLACED – GROWING COTTON IN THE DESERT IS JUST NOT THE THING THAT SHOULD BE ALLOWED. OH WELL – YOU CANNOT MAKE SENSE EASILY WHEN YOU TALK CONSERVATION OF RESOURCES!

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 2nd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Opinionator
Let’s Not Braise the Planet
By MARK BITTMAN

Our ability to turn around the rate of carbon emissions and slow the engine that can conflagrate the world is certain. But do we have the will?

—–

Mark Bittman – July 1, 2013 – The New York Times.
Let’s Not Braise the Planet
By MARK BITTMAN
Mark Bittman

According to a report released by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace last month, we are not running out of fossil fuels anytime soon. Since the dawn of the industrial revolution we’ve used around 1.2 trillion barrels of oil; the report estimates that with current technology we can produce roughly five times that much. With future technologies, it may well be that the suffering sky is the limit.

This reduces the issue of conversion to clean energy to one of ethics and intent. Our ability to turn around the rate of carbon emissions and slow the engine that can conflagrate the world is certain. But do we have the will?

The chief economist at the International Energy Agency recommends leaving two-thirds of all fossil fuels in the ground. Makes sense to me, but if you’re an oil executive scarcely being charged for the global damage your industry causes (an effective annual subsidy, says the International Monetary Fund, of nearly $2 trillion, money that would be better spent subsidizing nonpolluting energy sources), responsible to your shareholders and making a fortune, would you start erecting windmills?

Here’s the answer: According to Rolling Stone, just this spring, BP put its $3.1 billion United States wind farm operation up for sale. Last year, ConocoPhillips divested itself of its alternative-energy activities. Shell, with its “Let’s Go” campaign to “broaden the world’s energy mix,” spends less than 2 percent of its expenditures on “alternatives.”Mining oil, gas and coal is making some people rich while braising the planet for all of us. It’s difficult to think ahead, especially with climate change deniers sowing doubt and unfounded fears of unemployment, but we owe quick and decisive action on greenhouse gas reduction not only to ourselves but to billions of people not yet born. “People give less weight to the future, but that’s a brain bug,” the philosopher Peter Singer told me. “We should have equal concern for everyone wherever and whenever they live.”

There’s reason for optimism thanks to renewable energy standards in most states, California’s groundbreaking cap-and-trade law and President Obama’s directive to the Environmental Protection Agency last week. But this isn’t nearly enough, and you have to hope that the president is now fully engaged in progressive energy policy and isn’t merely preparing us for disappointment should he approve of Keystone XL.

Three things worth noting: Most politicians prefer adaptation to mitigation — that is, they’d rather build houses on stilts than reduce emissions; energy independence is in no way synonymous with “clean” energy; and the oft-stated notion that “since gas burns cleaner than coal and oil, we should be moving toward gas” puts us on the highway to hell.

Make no mistake: when it comes to climate change gas isn’t “clean,” because undetermined amounts of methane — a powerful greenhouse gas — leak into the atmosphere from natural gas production.

The answer is zero emission energy. Even moderate changes can help, but cuts in the use of fossil fuels must be much deeper than the president is directing, and this may not happen unless we rid Congress of friends of Big Energy. (By one count the House’s 125 climate-change deniers have taken $30 million in contributions from energy companies.)

Investments in zero-carbon energy are relatively inexpensive and good for the economy, and the cost of business as usual is higher than the cost of even expensive carbon pricing. But it’s tough — pointless? — to make these arguments to the energy companies and their Congressional lackeys, who will fight as they have been effectively paid to do.

Unless we quickly put a steep and real price on all carbon emissions, our inaction will doom our not-too-distant descendants. “Really,” says Dan Lashof, the director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s climate and clean air program, “we need a comprehensive approach to reduce carbon pollution from all sources. What form that takes — caps, taxes, or standards — is far less important than how soon we get it in place.”

Americans and Western Europeans have been the primary beneficiaries of the lifestyle that accelerated climate change, and, of course are among the primary emitters of greenhouse gases. For the first 200-plus years of the fossil fuel age, we could claim ignorance of its lasting harm; we cannot do that now.

With knowledge comes responsibility, and with that responsibility must come action. As the earth’s stewards, our individual changes are important, but this is a bigger deal than replacing light bulbs or riding a bike. Let’s make working to turn emissions around a litmus test for every politician who asks for our vote.

Imagine a democracy across space, time and class, where legislative bodies represented not only those living in the world’s low-lying areas but their great-grandchildren — and ours. Or imagine that our elected representatives were proxies for those people. Imagine those representatives determining our current energy policy. Is there any doubt that things would change more rapidly?

================================================================================================================================================

Arizona Forestry spokesman says 19 firefighters die battling fast-moving wildfire.

View Photo Gallery — 19 firefighters killed in central Ariz. wildfire:?The firefighters were battling the fast-moving Yarnell Hill fire – the photos are front page on New York Times and Washington Post of July 1 and 2 – and all over TV – all over the globe.

By Associated Press, Published: June 30 | Updated: Monday, July 1, 12:57 AM Posted by Washington Post.

YARNELL, Ariz. — Gusty, hot winds blew an Arizona blaze out of control Sunday in a forest northwest of Phoenix, overtaking and killing 19 members of an elite fire crew in the deadliest wildfire involving firefighters in the U.S. for at least 30 years.

The “hotshot” firefighters were forced to deploy their fire shelters — tent-like structures meant to shield firefighters from flames and heat — when they were caught near the central Arizona town of Yarnell, state forestry spokesman Art Morrison told The Associated Press.

Heat wave hits western U.S.:?A heat wave gripping the western United States is one of the worst in years, with desert locations in the Southwest seeing temperatures approach 120 degrees. It is expected to continue through Tuesday.

The flames lit up the night sky in the forest above the town, and smoke from the blaze could be smelled for miles.

The fire started Friday and spread to 2,000 acres on Sunday amid triple-digit temperatures, low humidity and windy conditions. Officials ordered the evacuations of 50 homes in several communities, and later Sunday afternoon, the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office expanded the order to include more residents in Yarnell, a town of about 700 residents about 85 miles northwest of Phoenix.

Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo said that the 19 firefighters were a part of the city’s fire department. The crew killed in the blaze had worked other wildfires in recent weeks in New Mexico and Arizona.

“By the time they got there, it was moving very quickly,” he said.

He added that the firefighters had to deploy the emergency shelters when “something drastic” occurred.

“One of the last fail safe methods that a firefighter can do under those conditions is literally to dig as much as they can down and cover themselves with a protective — kinda looks like a foil type— fire-resistant material — with the desire, the hope at least, is that the fire will burn over the top of them and they can survive it,” Fraijo said.

“Under certain conditions there’s usually only sometimes a 50 percent chance that they survive,” he said. “It’s an extreme measure that’s taken under the absolute worst conditions.”

The National Fire Protection Association had previously listed the deadliest wildland fire involving firefighters as the 1994 Storm King Fire near Glenwood Springs, Colo., which killed 14 firefighters who were overtaken by a sudden explosion of flames.

Morrison said several homes in the community of Glenisle burned on Sunday. He said no other injuries or deaths have been reported from that area.

About 200 firefighters are fighting the wildfire, which has also forced the closure of parts of state Route 89. An additional 130 firefighters and more water- and retardant-dropping helicopters and aircraft are on their way.

Federal help was also being called into to fight the fire, Arizona State Forestry Division spokesman Mike Reichling said.

Prescott, which is more than 30 miles northeast of Yarnell, is one of the only cities in the United States that has a hot shot fire crew, Fraijo said. The unit was established in 2002, and the city also has 75 suppression team members.

The Red Cross has opened a shelter at Yavapai College in Prescott, the sheriff’s office said.

U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, whose district includes Yarnell, shot off a series of tweets Sunday night sending his condolences to those affected. He said his office will remain in contact with emergency responders and would offer help to those who needed it.

Other high profile Arizonans expressed their shock on Twitter, including former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords who called it “absolutely devastating news.” U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., tweeted that he was “sick with the news.”

——-===================================================——–


Western United States swelters amid deadly heat

Date: 01-Jul-13
Country: USA
Author: Tim Gaynor
A dangerous, record-breaking heat wave in the western United States contributed to the death of a Nevada resident and sent scores of people to hospitals with heat-related illnesses.
Photo: Jonathan Alcorn
‘Blast furnace’ heat engulfs U.S. West into weekend
‘Blast furnace’ heat engulfs U.S. West into weekend

Date: 01-Jul-13
Country: USA
Author: Tim Gaynor
An “atmospheric blast furnace” engulfed the sunbaked U.S. West in dangerous triple-digit temperatures on Friday, forecasters said, raising concerns for homeless people and others unable to escape near record temperatures expected over the weekend.
Photo: Joshua Lott

==========================================================================

U.S.
Experts See New Normal as a Hotter, Drier West Faces More Huge Fires.

David Kadlubowski/The Arizona Republic, via Associated Press
The Yarnell Hill fire, which on Monday expanded tenfold, covering more than 8,000 acres.
By FELICITY BARRINGER and KENNETH CHANG

One of the deadliest wildfires in a generation vastly expanded Monday to cover more than 8,000 acres, sweeping up sharp slopes through dry scrub and gnarled piñon pines a day after fickle winds and flames killed 19 firefighters.

Multimedia -Interactive Feature – Arizona Blaze Traps Firefighters

Video: Raw Footage: Arizona Wildfire Aftermath

Related: Lost in Arizona Wildfire, 19 in an Elite Crew That Rushed In Close (July 2, 2013)
*
The Lede: Fallen Firefighters Had Prepared for Worst-Case Scenario (July 1, 2013)

Related in Opinion: Op-Ed Contributor: Living With Fire (July 2, 2013)
*
Dot Earth Blog: 19 Firefighters Fall on the ‘Wildland-Urban Interface’ (July 1, 2013)

The charred remains of an area near Yarnell, Ariz., abutted a strip of fire retardant that kept some houses safe from the wildfire there.
The gusty monsoon winds where the Colorado Plateau begins to drop off into the Sonoran Desert continued to bedevil about 400 firefighters who were defending 500 homes and 200 businesses in the old gold mining villages of Yarnell and Peeples Valley.

Scientists said those blazes and 15 others that remained uncontained from New Mexico to California and Idaho were part of the new normal — an increasingly hot and dry West, resulting in more catastrophic fires.


Since 1970, Arizona has warmed at a rate 0.72 degrees per decade, the fastest among the 50 states, based on an analysis of temperature data by Climate Central, an independent organization that researches and reports on climate. Even as the temperatures have leveled off in many places around the world in the past decade, the Southwest has continued to get hotter.


“The decade of 2001 to 2010 in Arizona was the hottest in both spring and the summer,” said Gregg Garfin, a professor of climate, natural resources and policy at the University of Arizona and the executive editor of a study examining the impact of climate change on the Southwest.

Warmer winters mean less snowfall. More of the winter precipitation falls as rain, which quickly flows away in streams instead of seeping deep underground.

The soils then dry out earlier and more quickly in May and June. “It’s the most arid time of year,” Dr. Garfin said. “It’s windy as well.”
The growing season also starts earlier, so there is more to burn.


“The fire season has lengthened substantially, by two months, over the last 30 years,” said Craig D. Allen, a research ecologist at the United States Geological Survey station at Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico.

The fire potential is exacerbated by the past policy, beginning around 1900, of putting out all fires. Fires are a natural way of clearing out the underbrush. With that natural rhythm disrupted, the flammable material piled up, so when it did catch fire, it ignited a giant fire that burned hotter and wider.

This total-suppression policy began to ease as early as the 1950s, when scientists began to see fire’s role in ecosystems. It was completely abandoned nearly two decades ago.

But in the 1970s, the Southwest entered a wet period, part of a climate cycle that repeats every 20 to 30 years. “That wet period helped keep a lid on fires,” Dr. Allen said. “And it also allowed the forests to fluff up.”

Since 1996, the climate pattern, known as the Pacific decadal oscillation, has swung to the dry end of the spectrum, and the region is caught in a long-term drought.

Stephen J. Pyne, one of the nation’s leading fire historians and a professor at Arizona State University, said, “How we live on the land, what we decide we put on public and private lands, how we do things and don’t do things on the land, changes its combustibility.”

In many landscapes, he added, “you’ve enhanced the natural combustibility” by building hundreds of thousands of homes in fire-prone areas, and for years suppressing natural fires, allowing a buildup of combustible materials like the “slash” debris left behind by logging.

“The natural conditions, particularly climate, the land-use changes that interact with it and how we add or subtract fire, those are the three parts of the fire triangle. Almost all of those are pointing in the same direction — bigger, more damaging fires,” he said.


While Yarnell is not a new community, and its population remained basically stable between 2000 and 2010, it is representative of the risk involved in the trend around the West for people to move into fire-prone areas in what social scientists call the “wild land-urban interface.”


Those expanding communities, with rural views but more urban economies, have been the focus of concern among federal and state officials for a decade or more. While such regions are more plentiful in the East, it is in the areas west of the 100th longitude, reaching from West Texas and the Dakotas to the Pacific Ocean, where the natural aridity, increasingly exacerbated by climate change, makes fires a common threat.

In the West in the 1990s, more than 2.2 million housing units were added in these fire-prone areas, according to testimony by Roger B. Hammer, a demographer at Oregon State University and a leading authority on the issue. Speaking to a House subcommittee in 2008, he called this a “wicked problem,” and predicted an additional 12.3 million homes would be built in such areas in Western states — more than double the current numbers.
Government and scientific data show that destructive sweep of wildfires covered an annual average of seven million acres in the 2000s, twice the totals of the 1990s. Michael Kodas, who is writing a book on modern firefighting, wrote in On Earth magazine last year that scientists believe that number will rise 50 percent or more by 2020.

Yet in fiscal 2013, more than $1.7 billion, or 38 percent of the Forest Service’s budget, was to be devoted to firefighting in general, with $537.8 million — a slight reduction from the previous year — specifically allocated for wildland fires. The Interior Department’s appropriation for wildland firefighting was $276.5 million, a slight increase over the previous year.

But the federal budget sequester eliminated $28 million from the Forest Service budget, although Interior’s remained nearly level. This occurred even though both agencies overspent 2012 budgets of similar size, and though federal firefighters are often first responders, working alongside their state colleagues during blazes like the Yarnell Hill fire.

“The Forest Service is being treated as a firefighter of last resort,” Dr. Pyne said. This, he added, “is not what the agency was set up for, and it’s not financed for it.”
Dr. Allen said that what was different in the recent fires — hotter, more enveloping — is that they are killing far more trees. “We’re seeing the size of postfire treeless patches merging into thousands of acres,” he said, “sometimes many thousands of acres.”
That could permanently transform much of the Arizona landscape as grasslands and shrubs fill in the empty space.

Fernanda Santos and John Dougherty contributed reporting from Prescott, Ariz., and Jonathan Weisman from Washington.

—————————————————-

The New York Times Editors’ Picks of July 2, 2013:

U.S.
Interactive Feature: Arizona Blaze Traps Firefighters.

Nineteen members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, an elite firefighting crew, died fighting a wildfire in Yarnell, Ariz.

. Related Article – OPINION | Op-Ed Contributor
Living With Fire
By ALAN DEAN FOSTER

It may be a disaster zone, but it’s our disaster zone.

===================================================================================================================================================

header at the time States are literally burning and the US is being asked to lead on Climate Change:


Snooping on Americans’ Phone Records, Benghazi, IRS Scandal… Time to Impeach Obama?

The White House recently confirmed the NSA has been collecting the phone records and web search data of all Americans… and Obama was in on it! Allegations have surfaced that the talking points about the Benghazi terrorist attack were altered by the White House to mislead the general public. And it was found that the IRS was unfairly targeting conservative “Tea Party” groups filing for tax exempt status.

These three events have thrown the Obama Administration and the White House into “damage control.”

And the mailing asks for your opnion.

1) Given the circumstances surrounding NSA snooping, Benghazi and the IRS scandal do you think the Obama administration is lying to the American public?
Yes, they are clearly lying about the events.
No, they are telling the truth.
Not Sure.

2) Do you still trust President Barack Obama?
I still trust Obama.
I trust Obama less than I used to.
I no longer trust Obama.
I never trusted Obama.
Not Sure.

3) Based on your understanding of all three events, do you think Obama should be impeached?
Yes, he should be impeached.
No, he should not be impeached.
Not Sure.

4) Which political party do you most closely align with philosophically?
Democrat
Republican
Libertarian
Tea Party
Independent
Other

=============================

Conclusion – THE NUTS IN THE US WANT TO START AN IMPEACH OBAMA CAMPAIGN NOW in order to avoid facing real world realities.

==================================================================================================================================================

List of Crew Members Killed in Arizona Fire

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: July 1, 2013 at 6:17 PM ET

Related:

* Lost in Arizona Wildfire, 19 in an Elite Crew That Rushed In Close (July 2, 2013)
* Experts See a New Normal: A Tinderbox West, With More Huge Fires (July 2, 2013)


PRESCOTT, Ariz. — The city of Prescott has released the names of the 19 firefighters who were killed in a wildfire. Fourteen of the victims were in their 20s.

— Andrew Ashcraft, 29

— Kevin Woyjeck, 21

— Anthony Rose, 23

— Eric Marsh, 43

— Christopher MacKenzie, 30

— Robert Caldwell, 23

— Clayton Whitted , 28

— Scott Norris, 28

— Dustin Deford, 24

— Sean Misner, 26

— Garret Zuppiger, 27

— Travis Carter, 31

— Grant McKee, 21

— Travis Turbyfill, 27

— Jesse Steed, 36

— Wade Parker, 22

— Joe Thurston, 32

— William Warneke, 25

— John Percin, 24

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 10th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Justices to Revisit Voting Act in View of a Changing South

By
The New York Times – Published: November 9, 2012

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court announced on Friday that it would take a fresh look at the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the signature legacies of the civil rights movement.

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Related in Opinion  - Editorial: A Supreme Test on the Right to Vote (November 10, 2012)

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Three years ago, the court signaled that part of the law may no longer be needed, and the law’s challengers said the re-election of the nation’s first black president is proof that the nation has moved beyond the racial divisions that gave rise to efforts to protect the integrity of elections in the South.

The law “is stuck in a Jim Crow-era time warp,” said Edward P. Blum, director of the Project on Fair Representation, a small legal foundation that helped organize the suit.

Civil rights leaders, on the other hand, pointed to the role the law played in the recent election, with courts relying on it to block voter identification requirements and cutbacks on early voting.

“In the midst of the recent assault on voter access, the Voting Rights Act is playing a pivotal role beating back discriminatory voting measures,” said Debo P. Adegbile, the acting president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

The Supreme Court’s ruling on the law, expected by June, could reshape how elections are conducted.

The case concerns Section 5 of the law, which requires many state and local governments, mostly in the South, to obtain permission, or “preclearance,” from the Justice Department or a federal court before making changes that affect voting. Critics of the law call the preclearance requirement a unique federal intrusion on state sovereignty and a badge of shame for the affected jurisdictions that is no longer justified.

The preclearance requirement, originally set to expire in five years, was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1966 as a rational response to the often flagrantly lawless conduct of some Southern officials then.

Congress has repeatedly extended the requirement: for 5 years in 1970, 7 years in 1975, and 25 years in 1982. Congress renewed the act in 2006 after holding extensive hearings on the persistence of racial discrimination at the polls, again extending the preclearance requirement for 25 years.

But it made no changes to the list of jurisdictions covered by Section 5, relying instead on a formula based on historical practices and voting data from elections held decades ago. It applies to nine states — Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia — and to scores of counties and municipalities in other states.

Should the court rule that Congress was not entitled to rely on outdated data to decide which jurisdictions should be covered, lawmakers could in theory go back to the drawing board and re-enact the law using fresher information. In practice, given the political realities, a decision striking down the coverage formula would probably amount to the end of Section 5.

In May, a divided three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected a challenge to the law filed by Shelby County, Ala. Judge David S. Tatel, writing for the majority, acknowledged that “the extraordinary federalism costs imposed by Section 5 raise substantial constitutional concerns,” and he added that the record compiled by Congress to justify the law’s renewal was “by no means unambiguous.”

“But Congress drew reasonable conclusions from the extensive evidence it gathered,” he went on. The constitutional amendments ratified after the Civil War, he said, “entrust Congress with ensuring that the right to vote — surely among the most important guarantees of political liberty in the Constitution — is not abridged on account of race. In this context, we owe much deference to the considered judgment of the people’s elected representatives.”

The dissenting member of the panel, Judge Stephen F. Williams, surveyed recent evidence concerning registration and turnout, the election of black officials, the use of federal election observers and suits under another part of the law.

Some of that evidence, he said, “suggests that the coverage formula completely lacks any rational connection to current levels of voter discrimination,” while other evidence indicates that the formula, “though not completely perverse, is a remarkably bad fit with Congress’s concerns.”

“Given the drastic remedy imposed on covered jurisdictions by Section 5,” he wrote, “I do not believe that such equivocal evidence can sustain the scheme.”

The Supreme Court has already once considered the constitutionality of the 2006 extension of the law in a 2009 decision, Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Holder. But it avoided answering the central question, and it seemed to give Congress an opportunity to make adjustments. Congress did not respond.

At the argument of the 2009 case, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy questioned whether the distinctions drawn in the 2006 law reflect contemporary realities.

“Congress has made a finding that the sovereignty of Georgia is less than the sovereign dignity of Ohio,” Justice Kennedy said. “The sovereignty of Alabama is less than the sovereign dignity of Michigan. And the governments in one are to be trusted less than the governments in the other.”

“No one questions the validity, the urgency, the essentiality of the Voting Rights Act,” he added. “The question is whether or not it should be continued with this differentiation between the states. And that is for Congress to show.”

In the end, the court, in an 8-to-1 decision, ducked the central question and ruled instead on a narrow statutory ground, saying the utility district in Austin, Tex., that had challenged the constitutionality of the law might be eligible to “bail out” from being covered by it. Still, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the majority, was skeptical about the continued need for Section 5.

“The historic accomplishments of the Voting Rights Act are undeniable,” he wrote. But “things have changed in the South.

“Voter turnout and registration rates now approach parity,” he wrote. “Blatantly discriminatory evasions of federal decrees are rare. And minority candidates hold office at unprecedented levels.

“The statute’s coverage formula is based on data that is now more than 35 years old,” he added,“and there is considerable evidence that it fails to account for current political conditions.”

Having said all of that, and acknowledging that the court’s alternative ruling had stretched the text of the statute, Chief Justice Roberts said the court should avoid deciding hard constitutional questions when it could. “Whether conditions continue to justify such legislation is a difficult constitutional question we do not answer today,” he wrote.

On Friday, in agreeing to hear the case, Shelby County v. Holder, No. 12-96, the court indicated that it is prepared to provide an answer to the question it left open three years ago.

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The New York Times Editorial

A Supreme Test on the Right to Vote

Published: November 9, 2012

The Supreme Court decided on Friday to review Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which has been crucial in combating efforts to disenfranchise minority voters. The justices should uphold the validity of the section, which requires nine states and parts of several others with deep histories of racial discrimination to get permission from the Justice Department or a federal court before making any changes to their voting rules.


The case, Shelby County v. Holder, was brought by an Alabama county, which contends that Section 5 intrudes unconstitutionally on the sovereign authority of states and that federal review of proposed voting changes, once needed to end legal segregation, is no longer required.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Just this year, Republican efforts to block the votes of minorities and the poor — which were rejected again and again by federal judges relying on the Voting Rights Act, including Section 5 — have made that utterly clear.

Judge John Bates of Federal District Court in the District of Columbia, rejected Shelby County’s challenge last year, noting that Congress, in renewing the section in 2006, found that “40 years has not been a sufficient amount of time to eliminate the vestiges of discrimination.”

In May, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld his ruling, saying that discrimination in voting is “one of the gravest evils that Congress can seek to redress” and that Congress’s painstaking research in its renewal of Section 5 (22 hearings and 15,000 pages of evidence) “deserves judicial deference.”

In another voting rights case in 2009, the Supreme Court said there were “serious constitutional questions” about whether Section 5 meets a current need. That comment left some legal experts with the impression that the court came close to striking down the provision. But the justices did not do so in that case, and they have even less reason to in this case. Overt discrimination clearly persists and remains pernicious in places like Shelby County.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 24th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The four debates between the two large US parties are over but then there are four parties that together could walk away with 5% of the vote and mess up the tables for the two big ones – to the point that they influence the results in some swing States. These little four have their own debate tonight in Chicago and the moderator is Larry King.

Previewing the third-party presidential candidates debate.

Posted by Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post, October 23, 2012 before the debate.

THEN UPDATED BY US BASED ON THE POST-DEBATE ARTICLE OF THE WASHINGTON POST FIX. ALSO – PLEASE NOTE THAT A SECOND DEBATE – BETWEEN THE TWO TOP INTERNET-VOTING ACHIEVERS – WILL BE HELD IN WASHINGTON DC on TUESDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2012.

Third-party presidential candidates rail against Obama and Romney at debate (VIDEO)

Posted by Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post (THE FIX) on October 23, 2012after the debate.

 www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-…

CHICAGO — Away from the bright lights and fanfare of the just-completed presidential debates, four third-party White House hopefuls debated Tuesday night, coming from starkly different political perspectives, but uniting in agreement that neither Mitt Romney nor President Obama can solve the nation’s biggest problems.

(Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A day after Obama and Romney debated for the final time, the long-shots took a turn. Here in a hotel ballroom just a block from Grant Park — where Obama delivered his victory speech in 2008 – they addressed many of the same issues the major party candidates have wrangled over — the economy, foreign policy, education — but also addressed matters, such as drugs, that have not been a focal points in the race between Obama and Romney.

Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party nominee, earned the loudest applause during the debate’s opening moments. He railed against the domestic and foreign policy proposals both major party candidates have put forth, and called for the legalization of marijuana.

“In no category is marijuana more dangerous than alcohol,” said Johnson, a former governor of New Mexico who also wants to abolish the Internal Revenue Service and do away with income and corporate taxes in favor of an expenditure tax.

Johnson also railed against the length of the war in Afghanistan. “I thought initially that was totally warranted,” he said, before adding that we should “have gotten out of Afghanistan 11 years ago.”

The former governor saved perhaps his most memorable line of the night for the end of the debate, when he declared, “Wasting your vote is voting for somebody that you don’t believe in. That’s wasting your vote. I’m asking everybody here, I’m asking everybody watching this nationwide to waste your vote on me.”

Constitution Party nominee Virgil Goode, a former Virginia congressman and hard-line anti-immigration candidate, proposed a moratorium on green card admissions into the United States until unemployment falls below five percent nationally. He earned only a smattering of cheers when he pitched his plan.

Green Party nominee Jill Stein and Justice Party nominee Rocky Anderson rounded out the lineup on stage. Stein, who ran for governor of Massachusetts against Romney in 2002, called for free public higher education. “Let’s bail out the students,” she declared.

The candidates largely kept things cordial with each other during the debate, but there were disagreements from time to time. Goode was at odds with Johnson’s call to legalize marijuana. Stein and Anderson disagreed with Johnson and Goode on education spending.

The debate was moderated by former CNN host Larry King and presented by the nonpartisan Free and Equal Elections Foundation. Individuals submitted the questions via social media. The issues ranged from drugs, to the economy, foreign policy, and civil rights.

Absent here were the pre-game formalities that colored the much higher-profile debates between the president and his Republican challenger. There were no cable network countdown shows and no well-known pols reporting for surrogate duty. While the debate was streamed live online, the TV networks didn’t air it.

Time and again, the candidates expressed their dissatisfaction with both Romney and Obama. Goode blasted both Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget plan and Obama’s. Stein said neither candidate offered an acceptable way forward on the issues that matter.

“Things are not working and there is not a single exit strategy on the table being offered by Mitt Romney or Barack Obama,” Stein said in an interview before the debate.

At best, the four candidates who appeared together Tuesday are each expected to compete for single-digit percentage shares of the vote in the states where they will appear on the ballot. Not one has made a dent on the national radar akin to the success Texas billionaire Ross Perot found in 1992, when he carried nearly 20 percent of the popular vote. Goode, Johnson, and Stein each claimed one percent support in an early September Gallup poll of national adults.

But even if they only attract nominal enthusiasm, these longest of long-shots could become entangled in the race between Romney and Obama. Johnson will appear on the ballot in 48 states, including some key battlegrounds with independent streaks, where his blend of fiscal conservatism and distinctly libertarian social views could make him a compelling alternative for conservative voters not wedded to voting for Romney.

In Colorado, New Hampshire, and Nevada, in particular, Johnson could be a thorn in Romney’s side if the election is close. Johnson received just two percent support in a recent Suffolk University/News 7 survey of those likeliest to vote in New Hampshire. But the poll also showed Johnson hurt Romney more than Obama.

“Politics is full of ironies. Gary Johnson voters are predisposed to voting against the incumbent president, but Johnson’s presence on the New Hampshire presidential ballot is actually helping Obama,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center.

If Virginia is exceptionally close, Goode, despite attracting just two percent support in a mid-September Washington Post poll of Virginia voters, could be an also-ran to remember, causing some discomfort for Romney supporters. The state Republican Party tried to keep Goode out of the mix altogether earlier this year, alleging issues with the signatures he submitted to the state Board of Elections to get on the ballot.

Goode survived the scrutiny. Now, the former Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent congressman — who could benefit from residual name identification in the southern part of the state — threatens to steal support from Romney at the margins, potentially costing the Republican big in a tight race.

When asked before the debate about the possibility that he might play the role of spoiler, Goode said he was focused on policy matters. “I am focusing on issues. I want to balance the budget now. Romney and Obama do not,” he said.

The biggest question at the end of Tuesday night’s debate may have been who won. A spokesperson with the Free and Equal Elections Foundation said that viewers will have a chance to vote for their favorite candidate during the next 24 hours, and the top two vote-getters will debate once more this election season in Washington next Tuesday.


=====================================================================

THE FIRST POSTING WAS:

CHICAGO — President Obama squared off against Mitt Romney for the final time Monday night, but debate season in the presidential campaign isn’t quite over.

Four third-party candidates will take their turn here Tuesday night in a debate that should be filled with policy and political positions as different as can be from one another.

Constitution Party nominee US Congressman Virgil Goode – now Independent – previously Democrat then Republican – (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson, Green Party nominee Jill Stein, Constitution Party nominee Virgil Goode, and Justice Party nominee Rocky Anderson will participate in a session moderated by former CNN host Larry King will moderate and hosted by the nonpartisan Free and Equal Elections Foundation.

None of the four candidates are strangers to politics. Johnson served two terms as governor of New Mexico and pursued the Republican presidential nomination in 2011 before opting for the Libertarian nod. Goode represented a central Virginia district in Congress as a Democrat, independent, and Republican. Anderson was the mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah, while Stein ran against Romney in the 2002 Massachusetts governor’s race.

While each candidate has his or her share of loyal followers, polling shows they have barely registered a blip on the national radar. Goode, Johnson, and Stein each claimed one percent support in an early September Gallup poll of national adults. Johnson registered three percent support in an early September CNN/ORC survey of those likeliest to vote.

If the race between Obama and Romney is very close in some key swing states that have independent and libertarian streaks, Johnson’s presence on the ballot could affect the Obama-Romney matchup. In particular, Colorado, New Hampshire and Nevada are the battlegrounds where Johnson could prove a nuisance to his major party competition.

A survey of the Colorado race conducted last week by Democratic automated pollster Public Policy Polling showed Johnson pulling four percent support, while a recent Suffolk University survey showed the former New Mexico governor pulling 2 percent support in New Hampshire.

We’ll have a complete wrap of the debate — which begins at 9 p.m. ET – later tonight right here on The Fix.

www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2012/10/23/previewing-the-third-party-presidential-candidates-debate/

You can also follow the debate in real time on Election 2012, where we’ll live blog it. We’ll also aim to bring you short dispatches throughout the day on Election 2012 and Twitter.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 24th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Sheldon Adelson: Casino magnate, mega-donor is a man of many motives.

JASON REED/REUTERS – Chairman and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands casino Sheldon Adelson (C), a donor to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, speaks with other attendees at the end of the first presidential debate Oct. 3 in Denver.

By , Published: October 23, 2012, The Washington Post

When casino magnate Sheldon Adelson switched his support from Newt Gingrich to Mitt Romney during the spring primaries, the billionaire and the candidate were eager to shed their skepticism of each other. If Adelson was going to give a political campaign more money than anyone ever had, he wanted to be certain Romney would join him in steadfast support of Israel. And Romney, according to friends of both, sought assurance that Adelson wouldn’t embarrass him.

Since then, Adelson has joined Romney during the candidate’s visit to Israel this summer, attended presidential debates and gotten together with Romney so often that their wives have become friends, according to confidants of the two men.

Although Adelson, 79, has said he will give $100 million to help Romney and quash President Obama’s “socialist-style” approach to the economy, he remains skeptical, believing that politicians don’t deliver on promises and can’t be trusted.

“Many people who give very significant donations to political campaigns come to me afterwards very frustrated that they don’t get what they wanted once the person is elected,” says Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, which Adelson has supported for years. “Sheldon doesn’t expect people to change. He’s very realistic about politics.”

Adelson — whose gambling operations span the globe from Las Vegas to casinos open or planned in Macau, Singapore and Spain — tells friends he finds the way U.S. elections are funded to be abhorrent, putting too much power in the hands of a wealthy few. So as one of those wealthy few, why would he pour more money into a campaign than 65 average Americans will earn in their combined lifetimes?

Adelson would not agree to an interview unless he could screen all questions in advance, a condition The Washington Post declined to meet. But more than 20 friends, critics, colleagues and beneficiaries portray a man with several motives for his massive donations to political, religious and medical causes.

He’s a scrappy fighter who defends what is his, a self-made man who held more than 50 jobs before striking gold with his Venetian casino on the Vegas Strip, and he has developed a powerful aversion to taxes and unions. He is the 12th-richest person in the nation, according to Forbes magazine, with a fortune valued at $21 billion. ­Under Obama, Adelson has achieved a larger increase in his wealth than anyone else in the country. In the past two decades, he has also undergone a political conversion, from a Massachusetts Democrat who considered Republicans to be the establishment that resisted newcomers like him, to a Nevada Republican who believes that his former party coddles the idle and has fallen captive to identity politics.

Adelson is driven by the idea of Israel as a muscular riposte to the Holocaust. Based on his experience as a Jewish kid who would get insulted and roughed up in a tough Boston neighborhood, Adelson believes Jewish Americans should back an Israel that puts security first and resists compromise with Arabs who do not accept its existence.

“Israel is at the core of everything he does,” says Fred Zeidman, a friend of Adelson, fellow Romney backer and former chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Adelson is something of a paradox. Jewish friends and foes alike call him a “shtarker” — a Yiddish term for a tough guy — yet his pattern of giving supports both his own business interests and more selfless pursuits, such as the more than $100 million he has given to Birthright Israel, a program that sends young American Jews on all-expenses-paid trips to the Jewish state.

His political giving backs his belief in an elbows-out capitalism in which entrepreneurs fight for profits and markets with the least possible regulation, but the vast sums he has given to medical science ask researchers to shelve their competitive instincts for the social good.

Whatever field he toils in, Adelson is “in­cred­ibly stick-to-it-ive,” says Michael Leven, president of Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp. “He stands up for what he believes in. That’s why lawsuits happen.”

Adelson has been involved in legal conflicts with business competitors, unions, even his children — in one 10-year period, he was involved in more than 150 suits in Clark County alone, which includes Las Vegas.

In a suit in which his sons alleged that Adelson defrauded them by pressing them to sell stock for less than its fair value, a Massachusetts judge wrote in 2001 that Adelson was “a harsh, demanding, unfeeling, successful businessman” who was “perhaps lacking paternal kindness and, indeed, cordiality generally.” But the judge ruled for Adelson, saying he had neither misled nor cheated his children.

He does not shy from spending on himself and his wife, Miriam, an Israeli physician who focuses on treating drug addicts. He flies in his own Boeing 747, is driven in a Maybach and has expansive homes in Malibu and Las Vegas. He moves around with burly bodyguards who defend him against enemies, and against those asking undesirable questions.

Childhood friend Irwin Chafetz says that when he worked with him, he sometimes backed away from confronting Adelson, who even friends describe as bullheaded and aggressive. “A lot of times, people don’t want to aggravate him, so they just stand aside and let him do what he’s going to do,” Chafetz says. “In the end, all of us who have enjoyed financial success because of him say we are where we are because he is the way he is.”

Yet Adelson knows how he can come off. Leven tells of meeting in Las Vegas with officials from Vietnam about a possible business location there. “Sheldon didn’t like the location, so he had me meet with them because I would be more tactful,” Leven says. “He would tell them, ‘Your location stinks,’ whereas I talked to them and, next thing you know, I’m going on a helicopter ride to the site next time I’m in Vietnam.”

But Adelson also makes his jets available to employees who need medical care. He bails out childhood friends who have fallen on hard times. Every year, he flies dozens of battle-torn veterans on an all-expenses-paid trip to Vegas.

Adelson has no business degree — indeed, no degree of any kind. He knew little about computers or casinos before entering the fields that would make him rich. He says his success stems from his determination “to challenge and change the status quo.” Critics say his overriding goal is to solidify control of markets in which he does business.

Friends and foes say Adelson gets what he wants by relentlessly protecting his turf, spending liberally on his product and making himself valuable to those who can help him succeed.

“He’s been a fighter all his life,” Leven says. “He’s physically short in stature and he never graduated from college, so he has to be more tenacious. It’s an effort to get ahead.”

Childhood in Boston

As World War II raged across the ocean, in a neighborhood of south Boston that was home to more Jews than any American city outside New York, kids like Sheldon Adelson learned that being a Jew in America both put a target on their backs and gave them a blessed refuge.

Like other Jewish teens in Dorchester, young Sheldon was occasionally beaten up by Irish kids full of anti-Semitic vinegar. Yet he knew that millions of other Jews faced vastly worse enemies in Europe.

Other Jewish boys found refuge in street games such as stickball and halfball, but Sheldon was never interested in sports, friends say. “He was interested in making money,” Chafetz says. Before he got to high school, Adelson bought the right to sell newspapers on a busy street corner.

Adelson sold windshield cleaners, stocked vending machines and, then, as a young man, scored on a travel agency he launched with old buddies. The profits allowed him to move to a more upscale area, into a house that boasted its own bowling alley.

These days, Adelson calls the place he came from “the slums,” and he has donated more than $50 million to support Jewish schools in the Las Vegas and Boston areas. Add his gifts to Birthright and $50 million given to Israel’s Yad Vashem (making the Adelsons that Holocaust museum’s largest donor), and Adelson’s support for Jewish causes vastly outstrips his political donations.

Adelson’s passion for Israel does not stem from religious devotion; he is not a regular at synagogue, does not speak much Hebrew, and is neither kosher nor Sabbath-observant, says Klein, who is both.

When Adelson first visited the Holy Land, he wore his father’s shoes as he stepped off the plane so something of his father’s would be the first to touch the ground.

Like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom he visits regularly, Adelson believes the Jewish state’s neighbors have proved unwilling to accept its existence.

To promote his view, Adelson five years ago launched a free tabloid, Israel Today, that has become the No. 1 newspaper in Israel and a loyal booster of Netanyahu, leading critics to charge that a foreign investor is having undue influence on domestic affairs.

Adelson’s attachment to Israel dates back decades, so few friends were surprised when, after his divorce, “he asked friends to fix him up only with Israelis,” Klein recalls. Adelson was introduced to Miriam Ochsorn, now 66. They married in 1991.

Adelson’s passion for Israel did not develop into Republican activism until the past two decades.

Well into adulthood, he was a Democrat, making large donations to the party until 1996. The next year, he switched to the GOP.

“As Jews in Boston, no one voted Republican, because the Republicans were the establishment,” Leven says. “But Sheldon saw the Democrats becoming less passionate about Israel.”

Friends say two shifts in Adelson’s thinking led to his party switch. On Israel, “he saw the left as more compromising, and Sheldon is not a great compromiser,” Chafetz says.

And Adelson’s opposition to unions alienated him from Democrats.

“What makes him anti-union is not the money,” Chafetz says. “It’s the union rules. He changed philosophically. He doesn’t want to be told he has to have four people do the job if two people can do it. Sheldon is all about accomplishment. It rules his life.”

Union fight in Nevada

When Adelson took on Nevada’s largest union, the Culinary Workers Union, labor groups portrayed him as a bully intent on making money on the backs of workers.

The result was a battle royal. Starting in the 1990s, Adelson and the union fought for years over whether the union could demonstrate on sidewalks outside his hotel. (The workers won.)

Adelson’s $1.5 billion Venetian remains the only major casino on the Strip that is not unionized.

The culinary union rejects Adelson’s claim that he provides his 6,300 workers with better pay and benefits than they would get under union contracts.

“He’s refused to speak to us,” says D. Taylor, secretary-treasurer of the union local. “This is not at all about money — it’s about power. Look, there are a lot of people who grew up poor. That’s not an excuse. The workers know they are at the mercy of the boss. This is someone who will come after you.”

Adelson says that when he believes he has been wronged, he will take action. “If people do something he considers underhanded,” Chafetz says, “he’s not going to let them get away with it.”

Adelson sued the Las Vegas convention authority over its expansion plans. He fought his sons for seven years. And this summer, he sued the National Jewish Democratic Council for $60 million after it posted an article saying he “personally approved of prostitution in his Macau casinos.”

The lawsuit came a week after the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee apologized to Adelson for making the same allegation on its site. The original statement came from a lawsuit in which one of his former executives, Steve Jacobs, alleges that the billionaire condoned prostitution at his Macau casino, which Adelson vehemently denies.

Jacobs’s allegations are now the basis of investigations by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission into whether Adelson’s company violated federal law banning bribery in foreign countries, according to federal sources, who said the probe is not expected to be completed before the November elections.

Adelson has been known to cut off those who disagree with his worldview. In 2007, when the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which Adelson had supported financially, decided to support increased aid to the Palestinian Authority, Adelson halted his gifts to AIPAC.

But Adelson has remained supportive of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum despite his view, according to three friends, that it is run by liberals and its programming leans left.

Aiding medical research:

In 2004, Adelson developed a neurological problem that made it difficult for him to walk. He went from specialist to specialist. There was no clear diagnosis, no certain treatment.

He approached Bruce Dobkin, a neurologist at UCLA. After learning about the cumbersome ways in which medical research is funded and conducted, Adelson decided to launch an experiment. He set up a fund and asked Dobkin to recruit researchers who would collaborate to get results faster. The approach was a far cry from Adelson’s individualistic style in politics and business.

“In the political arena, he doesn’t want to pay any more taxes than he has to, and he hates unions, and he wants to make sure Israel survives,” Dobkin says. “He has no illusions that politicians will solve problems. He doesn’t ask them to be collaborative.”

But on social issues, Dobkin says, “the Adelsons are much more empathetic and liberal, in a sense, than people think.”

Part of that softer side stems from Adelson’s anguish over his two sons from his first marriage, both of whom struggled with drugs. Mitchell died of an overdose in 2005; Gary says he does not want to talk about his father, because they are rekindling ties after years of friction.

Adelson announced that he would spend “billions” on medical research. But it was not clear that the collaboration model would work. At a meeting with Adelson, a researcher from Harvard said he loved the idea but asked, “Who’s going to get credit?”

“I thought that was the death knell,” Dobkin recalls, “but then Sheldon perks up and says: ‘How many papers did Jonas Salk write?  Do you want to be remembered as the guy who wrote 200 or 300 papers or the guy who actually found a treatment that helps people?’?”

The Harvard guy signed up. In the first years, Adelson researchers published hundreds of articles and shared results openly. Then came the financial collapse of 2008, drying up funding.

Leven says his boss remains committed to research. He acknowledges that the Adelson who plays political hardball may look very different from the philanthropist who preaches the gospel of collective research. But in the end, it’s all about getting what you want.

“In business, he doesn’t need cooperation from [casino magnate] Steve Wynn or MGM,” Leven says. “But in medicine, he found he could get a better result with a cooperative approach. He’s just being pragmatic. Sheldon is not a complex person. What you see is what you get.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 19th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We posted the following on February 17, 2008 (four and a half years ago – still in the GW Bush Presidency days !) and we re-post this again – without any changes -  because of the flack that Al Gore gets now from the Romney campaign. Our own old posting came to our attention because of the amount of new visits it earned in the last few days.

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 www.generationim.com/media/pdf-ws… is the reference for a Wall Street Journal Opinion piece (commentary), of March 28, 2006, by Al Gore and David Blood, the cofounders of Generation Investment Management LLP. David Blood is a former Head Of Goldman-Sachs. The Company is based in Washington, London, and will open this year also offices in Melbourne Australia. The President, working out of Washington DC is Peter Knight who has a history of over 30 years of having worked with Al Gore. The company was established already in April 2004. Comprised of a team of 27 people, the company includes 14 investment professionals. Out of profits, 5% are allocated to the Generation Foundation. The Generation Foundation is dedicated to strengthening the field of sustainable development and sustainability research worldwide.

The title of the WSJ article; “For People and Planet” comes about because the two authors believe that capitalism and sustainability are now increasingly interrelated and “not until we more broadly ‘price in’ the external costs of investment decisions across all sectors will we have a sustainable economy and society.” Until now, economists called externalities the costs created by industry but paid for by society. Pollution is such an externality. “The sad thing is that companies have been rewarded financially for maximizing externalities in order to minimize costs” – says the article. For saying this truth, as the joke goes, Generation’s founders were deemed as “Blood & Gore” by those that do not want to stare this reality in the face.

Now, with Global Warming upon us, “the interests of shareholders, over time, will be best served by companies that maximize their financial performance by strategically managing their economic, social, environmental, and ethical performance.” The “polluter pays principle – PPP – is just one example of how companies will be held accountable for full costs of doing business. Further, companies will have to design products so their clients can compete in a carbon-constrained world. Companies that do the right thing will not do this out of altruism – but this will be the way to make money for their shareholders. Ceres is just   organization that understands this reality ( Ceres is the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies) and is just one NGO that deals with corporate responsibility and comes up with new business strategy. Other such NGOs include the World Resources Institute (WRI) and Transparency International (TI).

 www.generationim.com/media/pdf-al… is the link to the May 10, 2005 speech by Al Gore at the Institutional Investors Summit on Climate Risk. That was nearly three years ago. This week’s presentation we presented in our own www.sustainabilitank.info/2008/02…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 29th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

REFF-West is only 4 weeks away – the 5th Renewable Energy Finance Forum – West.

THe revised agenda will equip you with take away strategies to improve your bottom line.

Where is it?         The Four Seasons Hotel, San Francisco, CA

When is it?          September 27 & 28, 2012

————————————————————-

The 5th REFF West will put you face to face with other individuals who share a common ambition in financing and developing renewable energy projects on the west coast.

Don’t just take my word for it; listen to what others have said…

REFF-West brings together the leading participants in RE finance under one roof.”
Michael Mendelsohn, NREL

The quality of people and knowledge as well as the presentation approaches were thoughtful, informative, and entertaining.”
Leslie Solmes, LAS & Associates

If you haven’t seen the agenda yet, you can view it here in full.

There are three easy ways to register, simply:

Visit: www.reffwest.com

Call: +1 212 901 382

Email: energyevents@euromoneyplc.com

—————————————————————-

If you’re not able to join us in September,  you could forward this email on to one of your colleagues at Independent Consultants.

I look forward to seeing you in San Francisco.

Yours sincerely,

Dawn Butcher
Director of Event Planning & Marketing
American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE)

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 29th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

In sun-drenched land, Israel’s solar power industry stifled by government bureaucracy

By Associated Press, Published: August 28, 2012.

KVUTZAT YAVNE, Israel — Israel has developed some of the world’s most advanced solar energy equipment and enjoys a nearly endless supply of sunshine, but when it comes to deploying large-scale solar technology at home, the country remains in the dark ages.
SustainabiliTank.info comment – Though Israel is at the head of the pack technology-wise, and active in its position business-wise outside the country, when it comes to review activities inside Israel, it is basically a government imposed desert in the Netanyahu years. So far from the understanding Ben Gurion had on these topics.

If you read this in the United States, think of Netanyahu’s Israel when imagining a Romney Administration in the United States – same government prejudices leading to same government inaction that feels like retardiness!!}

Solar power provides just a tiny percentage of Israel’s energy needs, leaving it far behind colder, cloudier counterparts in Europe. Israeli solar companies, frustrated by government bureaucracy, have taken their expertise abroad.

Fifty years ago, Israel was at the front of the pack, with simple solar water heaters on top of its apartment buildings. They’re still there, but little else has moved forward.

Advanced solar power has come to the tiny community of Kvutzat Yavneh, but its small scale is more an example of what can be done than what has been done.

Nestled in grape vines and pomegranate trees in south-central Israel, the 16 glimmering installations, each of them four meters (14 feet) tall, are an odd sight in this traditional collective farm, which also features a pickling factory and a barn.

The solar panels provide the community with nearly all of its hot water, and the electricity they generate is sold to Israel’s main energy provider, the Israel Electric Corp.

Miriam Schlusselberg, a secretary at the kibbutz, said the 320 residents are “very excited” to get solar power in their backyard. But she also acknowledged that solar energy on a large scale “is not going to develop on its own unless people start investing in it.”

The field in Kvutzat Yavne, built by the Israeli company ZenithSolar Ltd. in 2009, has a maximum capacity of about a quarter of a megawatt of combined thermal and electric power. That’s not even a dent in Israel’s overall capacity of some 12,000 megawatts.

“This is, unfortunately for us, our only project in Israel,” said Roy Segev, co-founder of ZenithSolar. “I think there was a poor policy from the Israeli government. It was a total neglect of the possibility to create a big industry in Israel.”

Segev said there has not been enough government investment in solar manufacturing or startup companies. He pointed out that industry leaders such as Germany and Italy have outpaced Israel in solar development, despite having fewer sunny days and less powerful sunrays. The Germans, for instance, generate nearly 12 times as much solar power per capita as their Israeli counterparts, according to official statistics from both countries.

Israel has a solar capacity — the amount of energy it could continuously generate in ideal conditions — of 212 megawatts, most of which comes from rooftop installations, according to the electric company. That accounts for less than 2 percent of the nationwide capacity and falls well short of the country’s 2014 goal of 1,480 megawatts from solar sources.

As a result, “no one in the international community is going to take Israel seriously going forward,” said Jon Cohen, CEO of the Arava Power Co. “The natural resource exists, the real national need exist — it’s really a mystery why (solar) is being blocked.”

Cohen spearheaded Israel’s first major commercial solar project, the Ketura Sun plant. The 5-megawatt facility is in the Negev desert, an arid, sparsely populated wedge of land that makes up the southern two-thirds of Israel. The area enjoys around 330 sunny days a year, making it an ideal site for solar power.

But no more large-scale projects have launched since Ketura Sun began operating in June 2011.
“We thought we’d be raising the pioneer flag,” Cohen said, pointing out that his company fought for four years to get the necessary approvals and permits for the field. “We were hoping we’d have more to show on the ground promptly, and here we are a year later, and we haven’t gone far.”
There are some signs of change.

In March, Ashalim Sun PV, a U.S.-Israeli consortium, won a government tender to construct three major solar power plants in the Negev that will provide a combined 250 megawatts of power. The plant is not expected to open until 2015 at the earliest.

Cohen has 10 projects in the works that envisage producing a total of 100 megawatts when completed. Three are still awaiting government approval, a situation he described as “tense and endless.”

Smadar Bat-Adam, chief of staff for Israel’s Energy and Water Resources Ministry, acknowledged that red tape has been an issue. “We are trying to solve the bureaucratic problems,” she said.
Bat-Adam said the overambitious 2014 target was set several years ago, before Israel had substantial solar infrastructure or regulation. While that may not be reached, she said Israel is on track to reach its 2020 benchmark of generating 10 percent of its electricity needs from renewable sources.

“When it comes to infrastructure projects, it always takes time,” she said.

Currently Israel gets most of its power from burning imported fossil fuels, but there is interest in developing alternative sources such as wind and solar. Israel is also rapidly developing natural gas reserves off its Mediterranean coast.

Recognizing solar power’s potential, the Israeli government set up a “feed-in tariff” incentive in 2008, agreeing to pay developers higher-than-retail prices for solar energy fed back into the grid.
Because the government does not want to overpay, it has repeatedly adjusted the tariff as solar equipment has gotten cheaper. As a result, many large projects are on hold, awaiting a firm price.
Many analysts and industry professionals believe this uncertainty has hindered investment.
“The sad reality is that we’ve raised quite a lot from Israeli investors, and we are taking this money and investing it overseas because the industries are more consistent,” said Nimrod Goor, a founding managing partner at Helios Energy Investments LP, an Israel-based infrastructure equity fund.

The situation has made some experts skeptical of Israel’s commitment to harvesting its ample sunlight.

Uri Marinov, an environmental management professor at the Inter-Disciplinary Center in Herzliya and a former director of the Israeli Environment Ministry, said decision makers are making “big, big mistakes” through unnecessary regulations.

“Anyone who wants to build a solar field should be able to do it,” he said.

Israel is still a leader in solar research and development. Segev teamed up with the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev to produce a little household system that reflects concentrated sunlight onto a receiver, producing electricity with roughly two times the efficiency of standard panels. Segev hopes the new model, named the Z10, will find a market in homes throughout Israel.

One of the Z10’s advantages? “It doesn’t need any government support or intervention to set it up,” Segev said.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 25th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

PAUL RYAN HAS TO WALK A TIGHT-ROPE. THIS IS CRYSTAL CLEAR – BUT WHAT DOES HE REALLY STAND UP FOR IF COUNTED?

Tea Party Tries to Balance Ideology, Constituents.

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published, The New York Times: August 25, 2012

A one-stop destination for the latest political news — from The Times and other top sources. Plus opinion, polls, campaign data and video. WASHINGTON (AP) — Twenty months into a Congress they have tilted rightward, tea party loyalists are finding that ideological purity can be elusive for conservative lawmakers trying to balance their convictions against constituents’ election-year needs.

Rep. Paul Ryan, who has won tea party praise as Mitt Romney’s vice presidential pick, had a General Motors assembly plant that was about to be shuttered in his hometown of Janesville, Wis., when he voted for the$14 billion auto industry bailout in 2008. The seven-term House Republican also voted for the $700 billion financial industry rescue that same year. He has since criticized both efforts by President George W. Bush to combat that year’s near economic collapse. Yet his votes — plus his support for Bush’s 2003 debt-financed expansion of Medicare to provide prescription drug coverage — rankle conservatives to this day and underscore the challenge of adhering to small-government principles when voters’ bread-and-butter interests are at stake. More recently, this campaign season has seen some of the House’s most conservative members split over a sweeping farm bill, disaster aid to drought-battered farmers and legislation to finance transportation projects and keep student loan interest rates from ballooning. Such divisions have dampened the expectations of tea party leaders, with some now saying it will take several elections before they win the Washington clout they need. “No one is going to agree with us 100 percent of the time,” Jenny Beth Martin, a national coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots, said of members of Congress. “And we do understand they do have to look at what’s best for their district and their constituents.” Martin said that most of all, tea party supporters want lawmakers to be firm in their convictions. Out of 240 House Republicans and 47 GOP senators, she said there are fewer than 30 House members and about five senators she can reliably count on for support, with too many others focused on bringing federal largesse back home. “We just don’t have very many visionary people stepping up in our political landscape right now at all,” Martin said. The struggles conservatives face were illustrated just before Congress recessed for August, when the House approved $383 million in agriculture disaster aid, mostly for livestock producers and tree farmers. Conservatives ended up on both sides of the 223-197 vote. One of the “yes” votes came from Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., who has one of the House’s most conservative voting records and whose district has one of the nation’s heaviest concentrations of farms. Huelskamp said he has repeatedly told constituents that they will be affected by efforts to curb federal deficits, including reductions in farm support. A farmer himself, Huelskamp said he voted for the disaster aid because it was paid for by cutting conservation programs. “I thought it was fiscally responsible,” he said. That wasn’t the view of Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, a House conservative leader who opposed the bill. He said he wants less federal involvement in the private sector and complained that the savings to pay for the measure’s one year of disaster aid was being culled from conservation programs for a decade into the future. “The first principle is what’s good for your country is good for your constituents,” Jordan said. “And what’s good for your country is not to spend money you don’t have.” Divisions like that among conservatives have not been unusual. The conservative Club for Growth, which advocates lower taxes and less regulation, scores lawmakers’ voting records based on bills it considers key. Of the 46 House Republicans the club considered the most conservative, 27 voted for the disaster aid bill, 17 voted against and two did not vote. On the bill approved in June on transportation and student loans, 28 voted against, 16 voted for and two were absent. “The reality is most members of Congress look to see what gets them re-elected and that drives their ideology more than a detached view of policy,” said Chris Chocola, the club’s president and a former House member. Conservatives showed their clout last month when they prevented House GOP leaders from bringing a massive bill renewing agriculture programs to a vote in the chamber, arguing that its farm subsidies and food stamps were too costly. Yet even that bill highlighted internal divisions. Four of the most conservative members, as measured by the Club for Growth, had voted for the bill when it was approved by the House Agriculture Committee, while two voted against it. Tea party-backed Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., opposed the broad bill at the Agriculture Committee, calling it too expensive. He backed the disaster measure on the House floor, arguing that it merely provided money the government committed to in a farm bill four years ago. “With a drought across the country, there are priorities. As conservatives we set our priorities what is important and what is not, and I felt that was part of an obligation,” Stutzman said of the disaster aid. As for Ryan’s 2008 votes, he said then that the financial industry bailout would preserve the free enterprise system. On the auto industry rescue, he said his district’s economic hardships had been “downright gut-wrenching.” Now chairman of the House Budget Committee, Ryan has since criticized both measures, saying the Obama administration misused them. Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, which often works with tea party groups, said the organization likes Ryan’s willingness to propose conservative budgets but has not forgotten his votes on the bailouts and the Medicare prescription drug expansion. “We’ve had our disappointments and arguments with Paul over the years,” said Kibbe. “He’s definitely not perfect. But in presidential politics, there’s no such thing as perfect.”
=============================================

Paul Ryan and the Stimulus: A Match Designed to Make My Head Explode.

By MICHAEL GRUNWALD @MikeGrunwaldAugust 14, 2012.

Read more: swampland.time.com/2012/08/14/paul-ryan-and-the-stimulus-a-match-designed-to-make-my-head-explode/?iid=obnetwork#ixzz23cN8yK8t

My main obsession (writes Michael Grunwald on the politics column - swampland.time.com/) these days is President Obama’s misunderstood stimulus bill—why, yes, thanks for asking, The New New Deal did come out today—but I’m also fascinated by the partisan Republican budget-buster Paul Ryan and his absurd reputation as a brave deficit hawk. So I thought I’d check out Ryan’s positions on the stimulus. Let’s just say they won’t surprise those of us familiar with his work. Ryan made his skepticism about stimulus clear in a Roll Call op-ed just a month after Obama’s election, complaining, as he always does whenever a Democrat wants to spend money, that it would add to deficits and debt. He also took aim at “the most recent example of stimulus failure,” the $168 billion stimulus package that President Bush had enacted earlier in the year, consisting mainly of tax rebates to American families. “Instead of spending the extra cash, as proponents had hoped, most recipients simply paid off bills or saved the money,” Ryan declared. Funny, Ryan somehow forgot to mention that he was one of those proponents. He had voted for the Bush stimulus, along with the Bush tax cuts, the Bush wars, the Bush security spending binge, the Bush prescription drug benefit, the Bush highway bill that included the Bridge to Nowhere, and the Bush bank bailout. Fiscal conservatism! Ryan did oppose the Obama stimulus, as did every other House Republican. But as I describe in my book (writes Grunwald), there was an interesting behind-the-scenes debate going on within the GOP caucus about what Republicans should support instead, and it’s telling to see where Ryan ended up. One side, call it the political side, was led by Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia. He’s a staunch conservative, but his top priority was making sure the Republican vote on the Obama bill was unanimous. So he wanted to stage a vote on a GOP alternative that had plenty of highway projects and other spending that Republican moderates and concrete lovers could support, so they would have something to say yes to while saying no to Obama. The other side, call it the ideological side, was led by Conference Chair Mike Pence of Indiana, who argued that the whole point of fiscal conservatism was opposing government spending, that the Republicans shouldn’t be trying to out-New Deal the Democrats. “You can’t say spending does nothing for economic growth and then on the other hand, let’s put it all in highways,” one conservative leadership aide recalled. So the Republican leadership, as former Democratic congressman David Obey put it, decided to fall off both sides of the horse. The official $478 billion Republican stimulus alternative was an ideological bill, consisting entirely of tax cuts and unemployment benefits, with not a penny for infrastructure or other spending. But Republicans also crafted a second $715 billion substitute that was almost as expansive as the $787 billion bill Obama signed into law. It slashed spending on Obama priorities like energy efficiency, the smart grid, summer jobs programs, and aid to help cash-strapped states avoid massive layoffs of teachers and cops, but it actually increased spending on highways and the environmentally destructive water projects of the Army Corps of Engineers. Republicans never explained how $715 billion worth of tax cuts and spending could be good public policy while $787 billion worth of tax cuts and spending was freedom-crushing socialism. In the minority, they didn’t have to. And Paul Ryan? As usual, he fell off both sides of the horse. He voted for the ideological tax-cut bill that would have increased the deficit, and the political spending bill that would have increased the deficit. And then he railed about Obama and the Democrats increasing the deficit. “They shocked the American people,” he later explained. “They certainly shocked me…Bam! Out of the gates, these people had a hard-core left agenda…They used the rhetoric of freedom and choice and opportunity to sell an inherently statist agenda.” Yes, the rhetoric of choice and opportunity. Like the rhetoric a certain congressman from Wisconsin used on October 7, 2009, when he wrote Labor Secretary Hilda Solis to push a stimulus grant for a local group. “I have reviewed the Energy Center of Wisconsin’s grant narrative, and I believe that they would make effective use of the funds,” Ryan wrote. He noted that they would “develop an industry-driven training and placement agenda that intends to place 1,000 workers in green jobs.” Ryan also wrote several letters to the Energy Department, seeking stimulus for local groups that would help retrofit homes and businesses to “reduce their energy costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and stimulate the local economy by creating new jobs.” Courage!

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 17th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From and by:  Uri Avnery

August 18, 2012

—-

Mad or Crazy?

BINYAMIN NETANYAHU may be crazy, but he is not mad.

Ehud Barak may be mad, but he is not crazy.

Ergo: Israel will not attack Iran.

—-

I HAVE said so before, and I shall say so again, even after the endless talk about it. Indeed no war has been talked about so much before it happened. To quote the classic movie line: “If you have to shoot, shoot. Don’t talk!”

In all Netanyahu’s bluster about the inevitable war, one sentence stands out: “In the Committee of Inquiry after the war, I shall take upon myself the sole responsibility, I and I alone!”

A very revealing statement.

First of all, committees of inquiry are appointed only after a military failure. There was no such committee after the 1948 War of Independence, nor after the 1956 Sinai War or the 1967 Six-day War. There were, however, committees of inquiry after the 1974 Yom Kippur war and the 1982 and 2006 Lebanon Wars. By conjuring up the specter of another such committee, Netanyahu unconsciously treats this war as an inevitable failure.

Second, under Israeli law, the entire Government of Israel is the Commander in Chief of the armed forces. Under another law, all ministers bear “collective responsibility”. TIME magazine, which is becoming more ridiculous by the week, may crown “King Bibi”, but we still have no monarchy. Netanyahu is no more than primus inter pares.

Third, in his statement Netanyahu expresses boundless contempt for his fellow ministers. They don’t count.

Netanyahu considers himself a modern day Winston Churchill. I don’t seem to remember Churchill announcing, upon assuming office, “I take responsibility for the coming defeat.” Even in the desperate situation of that moment, he trusted in victory. And the word “I” did not figure large in his speech.

—-

IN THE daily brainwashing, the problem is presented in military terms. The debate, such as it is, concerns military capabilities and dangers.

Israelis are especially, and understandably, worried by the rain of tens of thousands of missiles expected to fall on all parts of Israel, not only from Iran, but also from Lebanon and Gaza. The minister responsible for civil defense deserted just this week, and another one, a refugee from the hapless Kadima party, has taken his place. Everybody knows that a large part of the population (including myself) is completely defenseless.

—-

Ehud Barak has announced that no more than a measly 500 Israelis will be killed by enemy missiles. I do not aspire to the honor of being one of them, though I live quite near the Ministry of Defense..

But the military confrontation between Israel and Iran is only a part of the picture, and not the most important one.

—-

As I have pointed out in the past, far more important is the impact on the world economy, already steeped in a profound crisis. An Israeli attack will be viewed by Iran as American-inspired, and the reaction will be accordingly, as explicitly stated by Iran this week.

The Persian Gulf is a bottle, whose neck is the narrow Strait of Hormuz, which is totally controlled by Iran. The huge American aircraft carriers now stationed in the gulf will be well advised to get out before it is too late. They resemble those antique sailing ships which enthusiasts assemble in bottles. Even the powerful weaponry of the US will not be able to keep the strait open. Simple land-to-sea missiles will be quite enough to keep it closed for months. To open it, a prolonged land operation by the US and its allies will be required. A long and bloody business with unpredictable consequences.

A major part of the world’s oil supplies has to pass through this unique waterway. Even the mere threat of its closure will cause oil prices to shoot sky-high. Actual hostilities will result in a worldwide economic collapse, with hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of new unemployed.

Each of these victims will curse Israel. Since it will be crystal clear that this is an Israeli war, the rage will be turned against us. Worse, much worse – since Israel insists that it is “the state of the Jewish people”, the rage may take the form of an unprecedented outbreak of anti-Semitism. Newfangled Islamophobes will revert to old-time Jew-haters. “The Jews are our disaster,” as the Nazis used to proclaim.

This may be worst in the US. Until now, Americans have watched with admirable tolerance as their Middle East policy is practically dictated by Israel. But even the almighty AIPAC and its allies will not be able to contain the outburst of public anger. They will give way like the levees of New Orleans.

THIS WILL have a direct impact on a central calculation of the warmongers.

In private conversations, but not only there, they assert that America will be immobilized on the eve of elections. During the last few weeks before November 6, both candidates will be mortally afraid of the Jewish lobby.

The calculation goes like this: Netanyahu and Barak will attack without giving a damn for American wishes. The Iranian counter-attack will be directed against American interests. The US will be dragged into the war against its will.

But even in the unlikely event that the Iranians act with supreme self-restraint and do not attack US targets, contrary to their declarations, President Obama will be compelled to save us, send huge quantities of arms and ammunition, bolster our anti-missile defenses, fund the war. Otherwise he will be accused of leaving Israel in the lurch and Mitt Romney will be elected as the savior of the Jewish State.

—-

This calculation is based on historical experience. All Israeli governments in the past have exploited American election years for their purposes.

In 1948, when the US was required to recognize the new Israeli state against the express advice of both the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense, President Truman was fighting for his political life. His campaign was bankrupt. At the last moment Jewish millionaires leaped into the breach, Truman and Israel were saved.

In 1956, President Eisenhower was in the middle of his re-election campaign when Israel attacked Egypt in collusion with France and Britain. It was a miscalculation – Eisenhower did not need Jewish votes and money and put a stop to the adventure. In other election years the stakes were lower, but always the occasion was used to gain some concessions from the US.

Will it work this time? If Israel unleashes a war on the eve of elections, in an obvious effort to blackmail the president, will the American public mood support Israel – or could it go the other way? It will be a critical gamble of historic proportions. But like Mitt Romney, Netanyahu is a protégé of the Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, and he may be no more averse to gambles than the poor suckers who leave their money in Adelson’s casinos.

—-

WHERE ARE the Israelis in all this?

In spite of the constant brainwashing, polls show that the majority of Israelis are dead set against an attack. Netanyahu and Barak are seen as two addicts, many say megalomaniacs, who are beyond rational thinking.

One of the most striking aspects of the situation is that our army chief and the entire General Staff, as well as the chiefs of the Mossad and the Shin Bet, and almost all their predecessors, are totally and publicly opposed to the attack.

It is one of the rare occasions when military commanders are more moderate than their political chiefs, though it has happened in Israel before. One may well ask: how can political leaders start a fateful war when practically all their military advisors, who know our military capabilities and the chances for success, are against it?

One of the reasons for this opposition is that the army chiefs know better than anyone else how totally dependent on the US Israel really is. Our relationship with America is the very basis of our national security.

Also, it seems doubtful whether Netanyahu and Barak have a majority for the attack even in their own government and inner cabinet. The ministers know that apart from everything else, the attack would drive investors and tourists away, causing huge damage to Israel’s economy.

—-

So why do most Israelis still believe that the attack is imminent?

Israelis, by and large, have been totally convinced by now (a) that Iran is governed by a bunch of crazy ayatollahs beyond rationality, and (b) that, once in the possession of a nuclear bomb, they will certainly drop it on us.

These convictions are based on the utterances of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in which he declared that he will wipe Israel off the face of the earth.

—-

But did he really say that? Sure, he has repeatedly expressed his conviction that the Zionist Entity will disappear from the face of the earth. But it seems that he never actually said that he – or Iran – would ensure that result.

That may seem only a small rhetorical difference, but in this context it is very important.

Also, Ahmadinejad may have a big mouth, but his actual power in Iran was never very great and is shrinking fast. The ayatollahs, the real rulers, are far from being irrational. Their whole behavior since the revolution shows them to be very cautious people, averse to foreign adventures, scarred by the long war with Iraq that they did not start and did not want.

A nuclear-armed Iran may be an inconvenient near-neighbor, but the threat of a “second holocaust” is a figment of the manipulated imagination. No ayatollah will drop a bomb when the certain response will be the total annihilation of all Iranian cities and the end of the glorious cultural history of Persia. Deterrence was, after all, the whole sense of producing an Israel bomb

IF NETANYAHU & Co. were really frightened by the Iranian Bomb, they would do one of two things:

Either agree to the de-nuclearization of the region, giving up our own nuclear armaments (highly unlikely);

Or make peace with the Palestinians and the entire Arab world, thereby disarming the ayatollahs’ hostility to Israel.

But Netanyahu’s actions show that, for him, keeping the West Bank is vastly more important than the Iranian bomb.

What better proof do we need of the craziness of this whole scare?

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 15th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Obama-Ryan Battle Intensifies Over Medicare Savings – The partisan brawl over the program continued on Tuesday and threatened to become the focus of the presidential race.

By ROBERT PEAR

—————————————————————————————

POLITICS

Obama Rejoins Campaign Trail in Iowa and Finds a Brand-New Rival ThereRepresentative Paul D. Ryan spoke from a political soapbox as President Obama began a three-day bus tour through a swing state.

By HELENE COOPER and TRIP GABRIEL

Ryan Has Kept Close Ties to Donors on the Right – In his running mate, Mitt Romney has found a link to major conservative and libertarian activists with deep pockets.

By NICHOLAS CONFESSORE

Ryan Meets Casino Mogul and Major G.O.P. Donor – Representative Paul D. Ryan traveled to Las Vegas to meet with Sheldon Adelson in what Mitt Romney’s camp called a “finance event.”

By TRIP GABRIEL and NICHOLAS CONFESSORE

———

For Ryan and Obama, More Than the Usual RivalryWhile it is not uncommon for a presidential candidate to know his opponent’s No. 2 better, the history between President Obama and Paul Ryan sets up an especially intriguing showdown.

By JACKIE CALMES

As Ryan Looks to Focus on Economy, Spotlight Shines on His Other Views – Many Democrats assailed Representative Paul D. Ryan’s stances on issues like abortion, gun control and women’s health.

By ROBERT PEAR

Both Sides Focus on the Republican Ticket’s New FaceMitt Romney sought to capitalize on conservative enthusiasm for his vice-presidential choice without having to defend all of Representative Paul D. Ryan’s positions.

By JEFF ZELENY and MICHAEL BARBARO

============================

THE NEW YORK TIMES OP-EDS:
OP-ED COLUMNIST

The Bold to Mitt’s Bland – What Paul Ryan can give Mitt Romney is a tutorial in political myth-making.

By FRANK BRUNI

——-

OP-ED COLUMNIST

Let the Real Debate Begin – With Paul Ryan on the Republican ticket, Americans can have a much needed discussion about the size and role of the federal government.

By JOE NOCERA

——-

OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

Paul Ryan’s Fairy-Tale Budget Plan – Paul D. Ryan’s talk of shrinking Big Government and giving tax cuts to “job creators” will do nothing to reverse the nation’s economic decline and arrest its fiscal collapse.

By DAVID A. STOCKMAN

——————————————————————————————-

Paul Ryan’s budget plan is very nice to Big Oil

By Richard W. Caperton and Daniel J. Weiss

Cross-posted from Climate Progress,  ———–

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 10th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Eugene Robinson
Eugene Robinson
The Washington Post, Opinion Writer

Heating up debate on climate change.

Friday, August 10, 1:10 AM

Excuse me, folks, but the weather is trying to tell us something. Listen carefully, and you can almost hear a parched, raspy voice whispering: “What part of ‘hottest month ever’ do you people not understand?”

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, July was indeed the hottest month in the contiguous United States since record-keeping began more than a century ago. That distinction was previously held by July 1936, which came at the height of the Dust Bowl calamity that devastated the American heartland.

The average temperature last month was 77.6 degrees — a full 3.3 degrees warmer than the 20th-century norm for July. This follows the warmest 12-month period ever recorded in the United States, and it continues a long-term trend that is obvious to all except those who stubbornly close their eyes: Of the 10 hottest years on record, nine have occurred since 2000.

James E. Hansen, who heads NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, summed it up in a piece he wrote for The Washington Post last week: “The future is now. And it is hot.”

Hansen wrote that when he testified before Congress in 1988 and painted a “grim picture” of the consequences of climate change, he was actually being too optimistic. His projections of how rapidly temperatures would rise were accurate, he wrote, but he “failed to fully explore how quickly that average rise would drive an increase in extreme weather.”

Yes, scientists are finally asserting a direct connection between long-term climate trends and short-term weather events. This was always a convenient dodge for climate-change deniers. There might be a warming trend over decades or centuries, they would say, but no specific heat wave, hurricane or hailstorm could definitively be attributed to climate change.

“To the contrary, our analysis shows that, for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change,” Hansen wrote. “The deadly European heat wave of 2003, the fiery Russian heat wave of 2010 and catastrophic droughts in Texas and Oklahoma last year can each be attributed to climate change.”

Hansen went on: “The odds that natural variability created these extremes are minuscule, vanishingly small. To count on those odds would be like quitting your job and playing the lottery every morning to pay the bills.”

If you won the lottery yesterday, feel free to stop reading. If you didn’t, stick with me a bit longer.

The other escape hatch for deniers is the question of why the Earth’s atmosphere is warming. Yes, there may be climate change, this argument goes, but we know there have been ice ages in the past and other big temperature variations. What we’re witnessing is due to natural processes — perhaps some long-term cycle we are too feeble to comprehend. You can’t prove that human activity, specifically the burning of fossil fuels, is to blame.

Gallup poll last year found that this view — essentially, “You can’t pin it on our SUVs” — has been gaining traction in this country, even as it has become discredited elsewhere. Between 2007 and 2010, the percentage of U.S. adults who believed human activity contributed to warming declined from 60 percent to 48 percent.

I wrote a column last fall when University of California at Berkeley physicist Richard Muller, one of the leading skeptics on climate change, reversed field and announced that his own careful research indicated that the atmosphere is, indeed, warming rapidly. Last week, Muller announced in the New York Times: “I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.”

Muller, who heads the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, wrote that he and his team tried correlating the observed warming with phenomena such as solar activity and volcanic eruptions. “By far the best match was to the record of atmospheric carbon dioxide,” he wrote.

The amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is rising because of human activity — the burning of fossil fuels. The more we burn, Muller wrote, the faster the atmosphere will warm.

And the crazier the weather will get.

We can’t do anything about the greenhouse gases we’ve already spewed into the atmosphere, but we can minimize the damage we do in the future. We can launch a serious initiative to develop and deploy alternative sources of energy. We can decide what kind of environment we leave to our grandchildren.

I’d like to hear President Obama and Mitt Romney talk about the future of the planet. What about you?

eugenerobinson@washpost.com

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WE EMPHASIZE THIS:  WE LIKE TO HEAR FROM PRESIDENT OBAMA AND PRESIDENTIAL CONTENDER MITT ROMNEY – WHAT DO THEY INTEND TO DO ABOUT THIS MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE FOR THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY ON PLANET EARTH?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 14th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The third update is of March 14, 2012 – and the game of strip-poker is still on! And we still work on it.

As per the Voice of America:

“The three top Republican presidential candidates are locked in a tight race, as results trickle in following primaries Tuesday in two southern U.S. states.

Exit polls and early results in Alabama and Mississippi show Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are in races too close to call.  

The results of the races in those two predominantly conservative states are important to each of the candidates.  

Romney is hoping for victories to propel him forward and prove he can win over very conservative and evangelical Christian Republicans, who have been drawn to his main rival, former U.S. senator Santorum.

Santorum wants to knock Gingrich out of the race to stand as the sole conservative challenger to Romney. 

Gingrich, a former U.S. House speaker, has focused his efforts on the southern vote and is hoping victory on Tuesday will make him the comeback favorite for the nomination.  Otherwise, he could face increased calls to drop out.

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, is far ahead of the others in the delegate count, winning nearly 40 percent of the 1,144 needed to secure the party’s nomination.  

A new
Washington Post-ABC News poll shows he leads U.S. President Barack Obama in a hypothetical election match-up (49 to 47 percent), while Santorum would be in a competitive race, three points behind (46 to 49 percent) Mr. Obama, if the election were held now. 

The other Republican candidate, U.S. Representative Ron Paul, has not won a nominating contest.  He has single digit support in Alabama and Mississippi.”

———–

At midnight March 13-14, 2012 – it seems that - Rick Santorum has won Tuesday’s Republican presidential primary elections in the states of Alabama and Mississippi, solidifying his status as the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney, the leading candidate in the race.

Santorum narrowly won both staunchly conservative states, with Newt Gingrich finishing second and Romney coming in third.  The former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania told supporters that his campaign was “about ordinary folks doing extraordinary things” and that he was “defying the odds” with their help.

He said it was time for conservatives “to pull together” so they can take on Democratic President Barack Obama in the November general election.

Gingrich had hoped to win in at least one of the two states to keep his candidacy viable.  But the ex-U.S. House speaker told supporters at a late-night rally that he will ignore calls to drop out of the race, describing himself as a “visionary” leader who can restore the country.

The twin losses were another blow in Romney’s efforts to win support from very conservative and religious Republicans who have so far backed Santorum.

————

THE WASHINGTON POST EVALUATION OF THE REPUBLICAN PRIMARIES IS THAT FROM NOW ON IT WILL BE ROMNEY TIME:

Early exit polls in Mississippi made it look like Romney was primed for a breakthrough. He held an early lead with blue collar voters, tea party supporters and even evangelicals — the one group that has beguiled him more than any other.

Problem was, it was too good to be true.

Indeed, by the end of the night, reality set in, the numbers in Mississippi shifted, and Romney lost all three groups in both states.

Romney again relied heavily on non-evangelical voters, more moderate voters, wealthy voters and voters who just want someone who can beat President Obama — just as he has in every other state. It’s been good enough in most states; in the South, it’s just not.

And his track record there speaks volumes.

How consistent is Romney? He has taken between 26 percent and 30 percent of the vote in every Southern state dominated by conservative voters — Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

The thing is, while that consistency cost him on Tuesday, it’s likely to benefit him going forward. While the voting is just halfway done, Romney is almost done with his most troubling region, the South, and his most troubling contests, Midwestern caucuses.

Even in the remaining Southern states, things may get better; both Texas and Louisiana feature more concentrated urban populations (a Romney strong suit) than other Southern states, which should help him perform better. (Romney also performed well in Western Mississippi, which is a good omen for his campaign in the state’s neighbor-to-the-west, Louisiana, on March 24.)

Romney’s problems outside the South have been almost completely relegated to Midwestern caucus states with low turnout. In fact, the only primary Romney has lost outside of the South was in Missouri, which was a beauty contest in which Romney didn’t compete.

————

A Bloomberg National Poll of Republicans shows Romney with the support of 37 percent, compared with 27 percent for Santorum. Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s backing is 13 percent while U.S. Representative Ron Paul draws 11 percent.

“He’s a businessman and has a better idea of how to run something,” said a Republican poll participant, 68, a clerical worker from Maumee, Ohio. “So many things about our country should be run more like a business, instead of just throwing money at everything.”
There are warning signs in the poll for Romney, should the former Massachusetts governor become his party’s presidential nominee. The extended primary season has driven his unfavorability rating up 10 points, to 48 percent, since September.

His past private equity work cuts both ways: it’s a credential that appeals to Republicans, while a slim majority — 52 percent — of all Americans – view his business practice as harmful to the economy, and 68 percent object to the favored tax rate applied to profits generated by the industry.

We conclude. that in the electorate at large, there is no excitement of business practices of candidate like Romney.
But from the Obama – Biden campaign headquarters we got:

“If the general election were held today, President Obama would lose to Mitt Romney — according to the latest poll fromWashington Post-ABC News.

Now, many other polls put the President on top, but all point to the same reality: We’re looking at a race that will be tighter than you think. And the other side has groups ready to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to tear down President Obama.

We cannot underestimate someone like Romney who has shown he will spend and say anything to win.”

——————————————————————————————————

This is an update of the January 29, 2012 article – this after results from Florida, Nevada, Missouri, Minsesota, and Colorado are in.

Santorum solidly defeated Romney in Minnesota and Missouri, and he narrowly edged the former Massachusetts governor in Colorado, according to state GOP officials.

The victories mark a sharp turnaround for Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, whose candidacy had been sputtering after he failed to capi­tal­ize on his narrow win in Iowa last month. Santorum’s wins across the Midwest Tuesday could bestow new legitimacy on his insurgent efforts and boost his fundraising in the critical period before next month’s major contests.

Santorum now appears to pose a more serious threat not only to Romney, but also to Gingrich, who had been positioning himself as the logical alternative to Romney.

Santorum staked his own claim on Tuesday. “Conservatism is alive and well,” he told supporters at his election night party in Missouri. “I don’t stand here and claim to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. I stand here to be the conservative alternative to Barack Obama.”

For Romney, his poor showing Tuesday raised anew the question that has dogged his candidacy all along: Can the relatively moderate, former Massachusetts governor become an acceptable standard-bearer of a party that is increasingly dominated by evangelical conservatives and tea party activists who have long been skeptical of Romney?

After big wins in Florida and Nevada, Romney had hoped to extend his winning streak as he moved to strengthen his claim to the mantle of presumptive nominee. But in recent days, he was clearly bracing for losses on Tuesday.

Romney enjoyed strong establishment backing in Minnesota, with the vocal support of former governor Tim Pawlenty, yet he trailed not just Santorum but also Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.), finishing a distant third.

Addressing supporters in Denver, Romney congratulated Santorum and insisted that he still expects to eventually become the nominee eventually.  Thus – two weeks after Florida – nothing was resolved and the poker game is on in a spit party where one way or another – the minority will be turned into the majority.

================================================

UPDATE 2 comes after non binding caucuses in Maine and a straw poll of the Conservative leadership – finalized Saturday February 11, 2012. These show Mitt Romney in front by a breeze.

Mr. Romney scraped by Mr. Paul by just 194 votes. But fewer than 6,000 votes were cast — about 2 percent of registered Republicans.

Mr. Paul was unbowed, and gave no indication that he would drop out.

“We’re not going away,” he told his supporters.

Although the vote had no substantive meaning in terms of delegates, losing it could have created a political headache for Mr. Romney, the former governor of nearby Massachusetts, and extended a negative storyline that had been building since last week when he lost Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri to Mr. Santorum.

Those losses suddenly increased the symbolic importance of Maine’s all-but-ignored caucuses, and an additional loss on Saturday in his own backyard would have magnified concerns that he cannot seal the deal with voters.

As it was, Mr. Romney also won the annual straw poll of activists at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday. He took 38 percent of the 3,408 votes cast, compared with 31 percent for Mr. Santorum, 15 percent for Mr. Gingrich and 12 percent for Mr. Paul of Texas, who won the last two years but did not attend this time.

Mr. Romney was among those who had ignored Maine, assuming he had it sewn up, until he arrived Friday night. In the face of tough questioning at a town-hall-style meeting in Portland and the evidence of strong organization by Mr. Paul, Mr. Romney decided to stay over Saturday and campaigned at caucus sites. His campaign added a last-minute jolt of radio and television advertisements.

Mr. Paul made a foray to the state last month and also visited caucus sites on Saturday.

It was not clear how much the late activity helped either candidate because many people had already voted in the rolling caucuses, which began on Jan. 29.

“Romney’s win shows that the pragmatists in the Maine Republican Party really came out in force,” said Sandy Maisel, a political scientist at Colby College in Waterville, Me.

“Remember, this is a state party that has elected Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins to the Senate, over and over,” he said.

“While the Tea Party element is strong,” Dr. Maisel added, “those whose principal goal is beating President Obama came to the fore.”

Mr. Romney easily won the low-turnout caucuses four years ago, with Mr. Paul coming in third.

But this time around, Maine offered a rare opportunity for Mr. Paul, a libertarian, to plant his flag.

Although New England Republicans are generally more moderate than the party’s supporters elsewhere, the Maine members are fiercely independent, and the state has become a cauldron of activity for Tea Party supporters, fiscal conservatives and libertarians.

The honestly insignificant numbers of Republicans of Maine, joined by the straw-poll of Conservatives that once backed Santorum then moved to Gingrich – show that the eventual time that it will be a pasodoble  rather then a Texas Waltz is being slowly set in motion.

Maine Caucus Results for the 6000 that showed up to vote as per percentage of the hands up – is »

CANDIDATE PCT.
Romney 39.2%
Paul 35.7
Santorum 17.7
Gingrich 6.2
Others 1.1

=================================================

POLITICS

Buoyed by 3 Victories, Santorum Campaign Sets Ambitious New Goals

By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE

Rick Santorum is setting sights on home-state challenges to Newt Gingrich in Georgia and Mitt Romney in Michigan after a trifecta of wins on Tuesday.

In Santorum’s Sweep, Sign of G.O.P. Unease With Romney

By MICHAEL D. SHEAR

Rick Santorum’s defeat of Mitt Romney in three states could scramble the dynamics of the race.

NEWS ANALYSIS

Romney Faces Rebels on the Right and Softness in the Middle

By JEFF ZELENY

The persistent competition with Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich is forcing Mitt Romney to guard his right flank instead of directing his attention to President Obama.

================================================

The winner in South Carolina is clear – not by 8 votes or 34 but by a stretch of a mile!
Is this a final blow in the rotating front-runner-and-out  game? No, nobody thinks so at the present time. We may be even more confused after Florida we say.

Vice President Joe Biden, speaking to House Democrats at a retreat on the eastern shore of Maryland, took a sharp tone toward the GOP and said Republicans had a “fundamentally different” menu of priorities that the American public is starting to reject.

“I really do think we’re going to win back the House,” Biden said during the House Democrats’ three-day retreat. “I think we will win based purely on the merits of our positions.”

And it’s not just the merits of Democratic positions, either, Biden noted, but the stubborn intransigence of their opponents:

The vice president portrayed congressional Republicans as a stubborn crew unwilling to cooperate with Democrats in Washington to solve the nation’s problems. He called out several by name, including Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

He said the GOP is solely intent on obstructing action in order to ensure Obama’s defeat this fall.

——————

three days before the Florida primary,  at a moment when Gingrich is badly in need of something to rekindle the momentum he gained in the wake of his South Carolina primary victory, former contender Herman Cain has publicly endorsed Newt Gingrich.

Since then, polls have shown that he is losing ground against former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in the State of Florida, even as Gingrich has gained a lead in national surveys.

“I had it in my heart and mind a long time,” Cain said of his endorsement, appearing with Gingrich at a Republican fundraiser. “Speaker Gingrich is a patriot. Speaker Gingrich is not afraid of bold ideas.”

Gingrich joked, “I had no idea it would be this interesting an evening,” he said last night.

Cain is the latest in a series of popular conservative figures to back the former House speaker, while much of the GOP establishment is marshaling against him.
Among Gingrich’s other recent supporters are former Alaska governor Sarah Palin; his onetime presidential rival, Texas Gov. Rick Perry; and former senator Fred Thompson (Tenn.)

——————–

Candy Crowley of CNN decided to interview this Sunday Ron Paul who just returned to his home in Clute Texas from two days of campaigning in Maine. He was a no show in Florida and preferred to have his organization handle this State for him. Ron Paul concentrates on Caucus States where he can fire up easier his local troops. He knows that in the Republican primary in Florida with Romney and Gingrich pitted against each other it will be the the upward mobile Latinos, that are impressed by success and steady family life, will go for Romney rather then Gingrich, but in the real elections in November it can be expected that the Latino vote will go for Obama – this because of issues like the Dream Act that Obama supports in order to help legalize the status of Latino immigrants that served in the army and served well their host country in which they are not allowed to become citizens. Ron Paul talks to the Occupy Wall Street crowd and hopes that some of this reaches also to the future voters in the primaries, and in the eventual election – the strategy seems to be about the long haul – not really about the immediate skirmish.

——————–

Mitt Romney may be the favorite of the Republican establishment, the Republican politicians, the great majority of the “1%” that funds the campaign, the media that belongs to that 1%, but when adding up the the votes that Newt + Rick + Ron get – Mitt is in the minority. The fact that the Conservatives and the remnants of he Tea alliance flock now to Newt, we think that there is a chance Florida will push out Rick and that after Florida, with only Ron Paul still in the running besides Mitt and Newt, the field will have narrowed to a battle that will then drag on so that the show on the road will last at least to April.

Carlos Gutierez who was the G.W. Bush Secretary of Commerce is campaigning for Mr. Romney among the Latinos of Florida, and Governor Rick Scott is worried that the skirmish among the Republicans may eventually weaken the party in the general elections.

Ron Paul says the Tea Party is an agglomeration of different people with different issues of discontent. He knows he has there a wedge that will stay with him.

Master gambler Sheldon Gary Adelson provided Newt Gingrich with $5 Million for South Carolina and wife Dr. Miriam with another $5 Million for Florida, so entering the post-Florida long haul there must be now a consolidation of the two major camps, with the only cloud hovering on the side – Ron Paul and his Libertarian friends. President Obama’s State of the Union speech was intended to make sure that the disenchanted young people that backed him in 2008 do not look sidewise to Ron Paul as the alternative for change.

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Looking at the results so far Mr. Romney has obtained 25% in Iowa of those that bothered to vote in the Republican primaries, 39% in New Hampshire and 27% in South Carolina. That means that even in the most favorable State to his candidacy stil it was a total of 43% – thus more then his 39% – went to the other three members of the present quartet – with Ron Paul getting 23% and the other two 10% each. Assuming that Ron Paul manages to hang on to a 20% of the vote – what is left is a very heated contest between Messrs. Romney and Gingrich and the possibility that none of the above will reach a clear majority before going to the convention.



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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 6th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Gingrich Patron Could Have a Plan B: Romney.

By  and 
Published THE NEW YORK TIMES ONLINE: February 4, 2012.

LAS VEGAS — Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino executive keeping Newt Gingrich’s presidential hopes alive, has relayed assurances to Mitt Romney that he will provide even more generous support to his candidacy if he becomes the Republican nominee, several associates said in interviews here.

Sheldon and Miriam Adelson have given $10 million to a “super PAC” that supports Newt Gingrich.

ALL ABOUT MONEY – BUT WHAT ABOUT POLICIES?:                 Graphic
Party Contributions: A Balance Sheet

Related:

Romney Scores Nevada Victory With Broad G.O.P. Support(February 5, 2012)

In Las Vegas, Making Sure the Caucuses Accommodate (February 4, 2012)

The Man Behind Gingrich’s Money (January 29, 2012)

————————————————-

The signals from Mr. Adelson, whose politics are shaped in large part by his support for Israel, reflect what the associates said was his deep investment in defeating  President Obama and his willingness to play a more prominent role in the Republican Party and conservative causes.

The assurances have been conveyed in response to a highly delicate campaign by Mr. Romney and his top Jewish financial supporters to dissuade Mr. Adelson from adding to the $10 million that he and his wife have given to a pro-Gingrich “super PAC,” Winning Our Future, that has been tearing into Mr. Romney through television advertising.

Several people who have spoken with Mr. Adelson over the past two weeks said he would most likely continue to help the group as long as Mr. Gingrich remained in the race. But, they said, he is concerned that additional deep-pocketed donors have not joined him. And, they said, his affection for and loyalty to Mr. Gingrich, who met with him here on Friday, have not blinded him to the reality that the nominating contest is tilting in Mr. Romney’s favor.

“Sheldon is committed to keeping him in the race as long as he wants to stay in,” said Fred Zeidman, a top fund-raiser for Mr. Romney and a longtime friend of Mr. Adelson. “But any time that Newt decides to get out of the race, he would devote his energy and money to the overriding issue, which is beating Barack Obama.”

Underscoring Mr. Adelson’s devotion to that larger cause, he was among the conservative political financiers on hand last weekend for the twice-yearly gathering of the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch near Palm Springs, Calif., where the Kochs and their like-minded colleagues discussed their efforts to ensure Mr. Obama’s defeat.

Mr. Adelson, who has long been a behind-the-scenes financier to Republican candidates, is said to be comfortable with a more visible role in the 2012 election. His decision to back the pro-Gingrich group has significantly raised his profile, but friends say he does not want his aid to Mr. Gingrich to be interpreted as anti-Romney.

The Winning Our Future super PAC has mostly run vitriolic television commercials questioning Mr. Romney’s character.

“He saw a friend who needed and wanted help,” said an associate who talks to Mr. Adelson regularly, speaking on the condition of anonymity to avoid upsetting him. “I don’t think it’s likely that he’s going to fund Newt’s death march to Tampa,” the site of the Republican National Convention, “but if there is a realistic perception that he can help make his candidacy viable, he will.”

Mr. Adelson declined to be interviewed.

His role is especially pronounced in Las Vegas, where his opulent and highly successful Venetian and Palazzo casinos dot the busy skyline.

His connection with Mr. Gingrich goes back years, built on a shared passion for protecting Israel. But associates of Mr. Adelson said that he was concerned about the Obama agenda more broadly and that his support for Mr. Gingrich’s candidacy was rooted in a belief that his lofty ideas and forceful approach were right for the challenging times.

Mr. Gingrich, whose campaign treasury is severely depleted, is being advised by his inner circle to spend the weeks leading up to Super Tuesday on March 6 resting up, getting Mr. Romney’s attacks out of his head and recalibrating his campaign message to highlight his positive ideas.

But his aides acknowledge that Mr. Adelson’s support will be critical to his ability to seriously challenge Mr. Romney, who appeared to be in a strong position for contests in several states this month.

Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Adelson met on Friday afternoon in the Bellini Ballroom of the Venetian Hotel as part of a “Friends of Newt” meeting. Mr. Gingrich and his wife, Callista, stayed four nights at the hotel, which Mr. Adelson owns, but aides said the two men had met only once among a small group of donors and had not discussed the super PAC.

In a brief interview after the meeting, Mr. Gingrich said Mr. Adelson had been vital in giving Winning Our Future the wherewithal to counter the pro-Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future, which had relentlessly attacked him in Iowa.

“He’s been a partial match for the Romney super PAC,” Mr. Gingrich said. “That’s important because, otherwise, the Romney super PAC would have driven us off the field.”

When asked if his candidacy could proceed without additional support from Mr. Adelson, Mr. Gingrich did not answer, crossing beneath the bright fresco ceilings into the private dining room of Postrio, a Wolfgang Puck restaurant, where a small group of donors and friends awaited, along with servers pouring red wine.

Fully cognizant that Mr. Adelson is an important factor in determining when Mr. Romney can turn his focus away from Mr. Gingrich and more fully toward Mr. Obama, Mr. Romney and his top financial advisers have been pursuing a careful strategy of outreach to Mr. Adelson.

The effort included a telephone conversation, initiated by Mr. Romney, about two weeks ago, according to three people who were briefed about it and who would discuss it only on the condition of anonymity. They described it as cordial, with Mr. Adelson even sharing some advice about his campaign message.

It was the first time the two men had spoken to each other in about four months. Mr. Romney’s campaign had no formal comment, though a senior aide said they shared a “mutual respect for each other.”

There are significant links between the Romney campaign and Mr. Adelson, particularly through several top-level donors who raise money for Mr. Romney and sit with Mr. Adelson on the board of the Republican Jewish Coalition, created in 1985 as a way to foster closer ties between the American Jewish community and Republican leaders.

The Romney donors have sought to convey a carefully balanced message to Mr. Adelson, people aware of the discussions said. They warned that continued support for Mr. Gingrich could help Mr. Obama by leaving Republicans wounded and divided but made it clear that Mr. Romney would welcome Mr. Adelson’s backing. They also avoided angering Mr. Adelson in a way that might lead him to give more money to Mr. Gingrich out of pique. He is cantankerous, his friends say, and inclined to make his own decisions without relying on conventional wisdom or guidance from political advisers.

Those who are said to have reached out are also described by fellow Republican financiers as being as loyal to Mr. Adelson as they are to Mr. Romney (if not in some cases even more so).

People involved in some of the discussions said Mr. Adelson generally expressed his affection for Mr. Gingrich in explaining his support. But it has been in some of those interactions that Mr. Adelson has made it clear that he will be generous to the broad presidential effort in the fall if Mr. Romney is the nominee. Associates say the message has been conveyed that for a man of Mr. Adelson’s wealth, $10 million is a relative pittance and that he is willing to budget much more.

Four years ago, Mr. Adelson supported Rudolph W. Giuliani’s presidential bid, but he and Mr. Romney have been friendly for years. Mr. Romney showed up here at Mr. Adelson’s side in one of his first 2011 campaign appearances, during a gathering of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

A friend of Mr. Romney’s, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Mr. Romney did not begrudge Mr. Adelson’s initial $5 million donation to the pro-Gingrich group, given Mr. Adelson’s known loyalty. But Mr. Romney was said to have been deeply stung by a second $5 million donation, from Mr. Adelson’s wife, Miriam. And the group’s harsh attacks against Mr. Romney were said to have upset Mr. Romney’s wife, Ann, though his aides said she was inured to them.

Yet for all of the tension, people close to Mr. Adelson predicted that all would be forgotten if Mr. Romney was the nominee, given that, in the words of one close associate, “he will do whatever it takes to beat Obama in the fall.”

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Romney Scores Nevada Victory With Broad G.O.P. Support.

Josh Haner/The New York Times

Mitt Romney celebrated his victory in Las Vegas on Saturday. More Photos »

By  and 
Published – THE NEW YORK TIMES ON LINE: February 4, 2012.
IN PRINT – February 5, 2012

LAS VEGAS — Mitt Romney handily won the Nevada caucuses on Saturday, solidifying his status as the front-runner and increasing his momentum as he seeks to use the month of February to ease doubts within the Republican Party about his candidacy and begin confronting President Obama.

Nevada Caucus Results »

CANDIDATE PCT.
Romney 42.6%
Gingrich 26.0
Paul 18.4
Santorum 13.0
Others 0.0
6:10 AM45% reporting
MORE RESULTS

Caucusgoers lined up at Liberty High School in Henderson, Nev., as Republicans cast ballots in the first vote in the West. More Photos »

Mr. Romney ran well ahead of his three opponents on a night that delivered his second decisive first-place finish in four days, following his victory in the Florida primary on Tuesday.

He appeared elated as he took the stage at his election headquarters at the Red Rock Casino hotel here, kissing his wife, Ann, who reminded the crowd that Nevada would be important in the general election, and hugging his sons before delivering a speech geared toward the fall.

“This is not the first time you’ve given me your vote of confidence, and this time I’m going to take it to the White House,” he said as the crowd chanted his name. And he delivered a harsh critique of Mr. Obama: “This week he’s been trying to take a bow for 8.3 percent unemployment. Not so fast, Mr. President.”

Nevada offers only a sliver of the delegates needed to win the Republican nomination, making it more of a symbolic triumph than a practical one. But it gave Mr. Romney an important opportunity to make a more assertive case that the party is finally coming together behind him.

It also gave him an advantage in his attempt to dispatch his chief Republican rival, Newt Gingrich, through the contests this week in Colorado, Minnesota and Maine.

The Romney victory further deflated the once-vital challenge posed by Mr. Gingrich, girding for a rough few weeks of political weather during which Mr. Romney is expected to do well. But Mr. Gingrich, who remained defiant on Saturday, hopes to revive his chances with stronger showings in the 11 states that vote on March 6, “Super Tuesday.”

Far from competing with Mr. Romney here in Nevada on Saturday, results showed that Mr. Gingrich was vying to place a distant second to Mr. Romney against Representative Ron Paul of Texas.

Mr. Gingrich was once again in the position of vowing to carry on in the face of questions about his viability. He took his second straight defeat to Mr. Romney as an opportunity to hold a press briefing to outline his strategy for continuing on to the Republican convention in Tampa this summer.

The election night imagery was striking: Mr. Romney was surrounded by cheering supporters holding signs that said “Nevada Believes.” Mr. Gingrich used his first television appearance of the night to speak to a ballroom of reporters, without applause or signs, standing before a simple backdrop as he outlined his strategy.

“I am a candidate for president of the United States,” Mr. Gingrich said emphatically. “I will be a candidate of the president of the United States. I will go to Tampa.”

He went on to present an unusually detailed discussion of the campaign process that is rarely heard from a candidate on an election night.

He said he expected to catch up with Mr. Romney in the delegate race by the time of the Texas primary on April 3, promising that “the contrast between Governor Romney and me is going to get wider and wider and clearer and clearer.”

Aides said that he had spent the past four days hunkered down in the sprawling complex of the Venetian and Palazzo casinos — owned by his supporter Sheldon Adelson — planning his new way forward. He has settled on what one of them described as a “definitional campaign” to disqualify Mr. Romney in the eyes of Republican voters in the coming weeks.

The Nevada Republican Party disclosed the results slowly on Saturday, with a patchwork of votes coming in from across the state. But Clark County, which is home to Las Vegas and includes half of the electorate, did not disclose its results until after a handful of evening caucuses that were held to allow observant Jews to participate.

Nevada is considered almost home turf for Mr. Romney, who is Mormon. Roughly one-quarter of Republican caucusgoers were Mormon, according to entrance polls, and the state shares a border with Utah, where Mr. Romney won credit for saving the troubled 2002 Winter Olympics. But Nevada’s results may say little about the political terrain nationally, since far fewer caucusgoers appeared to have turned out than the number of Republicans who did so at the Iowa caucuses last month.

Mr. Romney was hoping that a strong victory in Nevada, four days after a commanding finish in the Florida primary, would strengthen his hand among Republicans who remain skeptical of his candidacy and his conservative foundation.

And there were some encouraging signs for him in polls of Nevadans entering caucus sites on Saturday, conducted by Edison Research for the National Election Pool of television networks and The Associated Press.

He won with a broad coalition of voters that included groups that he has struggled with in previous contests, including very conservative voters, strong Tea Partysupporters and evangelical Christians.

The state has the largest share of voters who call themselves strong Tea Party supporters of any of the states that have participated in the Republican nominating contest so far. These voters are considered a vital part of Mr. Gingrich’s coalition, yet Mr. Romney won a higher percentage of them than did Mr. Gingrich, according to the entrance poll.

More than 4 in 10 of the caucusgoers surveyed on Saturday said the quality that mattered most to them in a candidate was his ability to beat Mr. Obama in the fall; nearly three-quarters of those voters said they backed Mr. Romney.

The top issue on the minds of caucusgoers on Saturday was the economy, and 6 in 10 of those who listed it as their leading concern voted for Mr. Romney, potentially bolstering him in his argument that his experience as a businessman makes him the best candidate to improve the employment rate quickly. He was supported by almost half of those who said the federal deficit was their biggest concern. Mr. Paul was supported by a quarter of them. (Mr. Gingrich drew support from a fifth of those voters.)

Mr. Paul began building his organization in Nevada early. But he made it clear on Saturday that he was more focused on drawing attention to the issues of limited government, limited deficits and a restrained military than on winning.

Before there was any indication on Saturday of how he would fare in the race for second place, he addressed a boisterous crowd of supporters in Minnesota, which holds its contest on Tuesday, with a trademark speech. “Something pretty big is happening in this country,” he said, portraying the support he did win in Nevada as a vote for “less government, less war and a free market economy.”

Like Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Paul has said he intends to keep competing through the entire Republican nominating process in an effort to acquire delegates — awarded in more than half the states on a basis that is generally proportional to the share of the vote each candidate wins — and to have a voice at the convention.

Mr. Paul has largely shied away from directly criticizing Mr. Romney, and his aides have indicated that his continued campaign is far less bothersome to them than Mr. Gingrich’s.

With Mr. Romney heading into much friendlier political territory over the next month, a big question hanging over the campaigns is whether Mr. Gingrich will be able to revive his chances.

Mr. Gingrich was pinning his hopes on strong showings in the later contests, including in his home state of Georgia. But history has shown that it hard to recover from a series of losses.

Yet Mr. Romney, for all of his momentum, may be unable to swiftly lock down the nomination, given that he needs to win 1,144 delegates; even after Saturday he had yet to get one-tenth of the way there.

The next phase of the Republican nominating fight presents Mr. Romney an opportunity to test his message in several states that will be pivotal battlegrounds in the general election. He is poised to expand upon his economic proposals in the coming weeks, aides said, as the contest rolls through Colorado, Minnesota, Michigan and Arizona, all of which Mr. Obama is trying to win.

The most disappointing showing on Saturday went to former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who was in fourth place and has failed to show much electoral strength in recent weeks.

——

Reporting was contributed by Ashley Parker in Las Vegas, and Marjorie Connelly, David R. Jones, Allison Kopicki and Dalia Sussman in New York.

=====================================

The Bottom Line: Gingrich + Santorum + Ron Paul hold the Majority. If Santorum decides to leave the fight in favor of Newt Gingrich the continuing fight is even between Gingrich and Romney with Ron Paul in the king-maker’s position by May 2012.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 4th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)



THIS LAND – that means the USA.

In Fuel Oil Country, Cold That Cuts to the Heart.

Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

A man’s plea to an oil dealer for help heating his home in Dixfield, Me., led to some agonizing. More Photos »

By 
Published THE NEW YORK TIMES ONLINE: February 3, 2012
Struggling for Warmth
Follow@NYTNational for breaking news and headlines.

With the darkening approach of another ice-hard Saturday night in western Maine, the man on the telephone was pleading for help, again. His tank was nearly dry, and he and his disabled wife needed precious heating oil to keep warm. Could Ike help out? Again?

Ike Libby, the co-owner of a small oil company called Hometown Energy, ached for his customer, Robert Hartford. He knew what winter in Maine meant, especially for a retired couple living in a wood-frame house built in the 19th century. But he also knew that the Hartfords already owed him more than $700 for two earlier deliveries.

The oil man said he was very sorry. The customer said he understood. And each was left to grapple with a matter so mundane in Maine, and so vital: the need for heat. For the rest of the weekend, Mr. Libby agonized over his decision, while Mr. Hartford warmed his house with the heat from his electric stove’s four burners.

“You get off the phone thinking, ‘Are these people going to be found frozen?’ ” Mr. Libby said. No wonder, he said, that he is prescribed medication for stress and “happy pills” for equilibrium.

Two days later, Mr. Libby told his two office workers about his decision. Diane Carlton works the front desk while her daughter-in-law, Janis, handles accounts. But they share the job of worrying about Ike, whose heart, they say, is too big for his bantam size and, maybe, this business.

The Hartford case “ate him,” Janice Carlton recalled. “It just ate him.”

Mr. Libby drove off to make deliveries in his oil truck, a rolling receptacle of crumpled coffee cups and cigarette packs. Diane Carlton, the office’s mother hen, went home early. This meant that Janis Carlton was alone when their customer, Mr. Hartford, stepped in from the cold. He had something in his hand: the title to his 16-year-old Lincoln Town Car.

Would Hometown Energy take the title as collateral for some heating oil? Please?

Maine is in the midst of its Republican presidential caucus, the state’s wintry moment in the battle for the country’s future. But at this time of year, almost nothing matters here as much as basic heat.

While federal officials try to wean the country from messy and expensive heating oil, Maine remains addicted. The housing stock is old, most communities are rural, and many residents cannot afford to switch to a cleaner heat source. So the tankers pull into, say, the Portland port, the trucks load up, and the likes of Ike Libby sidle up to house after house to fill oil tanks.

This winter has been especially austere. As part of the drive to cut spending, the Obama administration and Congress have trimmed the energy-assistance program that helps the poor — 65,000 households in Maine alone — to pay their heating bills. Eligibility is harder now, and the average amount given here is $483, down from $804 last year, all at a time when the price of oil has risen more than 40 cents in a year, to $3.71 a gallon.

As a result, Community Concepts, a community-action program serving western Maine, receives dozens of calls a day from people seeking warmth. But Dana Stevens, its director of energy and housing, says that he has distributed so much of the money reserved for emergencies that he fears running out. This means that sometimes the agency’s hot line purposely goes unanswered.

So Mainers try to make do. They warm up in idling cars, then dash inside and dive under the covers. They pour a few gallons of kerosene into their oil tank and hope it lasts. And they count on others. Maybe their pastor. Maybe the delivery man. Maybe, even, a total stranger.

Hometown Energy has five trucks and seven employees, and is run out of an old house next to the Ellis variety store and diner. Oil perfumes the place, thanks to the petroleum-stained truckers and mechanics clomping through. Janis Carlton, 35, tracks accounts in the back, while Diane Carlton, 64, works in the front, where, every now and then, she finds herself comforting walk-ins who fear the cold so much that they cry.

Their boss, Mr. Libby, 53, has rough hands and oil-stained dungarees. He has been delivering oil for most of his adult life — throwing the heavy hose over his shoulder, shoving the silver nozzle into the tank and listening for the whistle that blows when oil replaces air.

Eight years ago, he and another Dixfield local, Gene Ellis, who owns that variety store next door, created Hometown Energy, a company whose logo features a painting of a church-and-hillside scene from just down the road. They thought that with Ike’s oil sense and Gene’s business sense, they’d make money. But Mr. Libby says now that he’d sell the company in a heartbeat.

“You know what my dream is?” Mr. Libby asked. “To be a greeter at Walmart.”

This is because he sells heat — not lumber, or paper, or pastries — and around here, more than a few come too close to not having enough. Sure, some abuse the heating-assistance program, he says, but many others live in dire need, including people he has known all his life.

So Mr. Libby does what he can. Unlike many oil companies, he makes small deliveries and waves off most service fees. He sets up elaborate payment plans, hoping that obligations don’t melt away with the spring thaw. He accepts postdated checks. And he takes his medication.

When the customer named Robert Hartford called on the after-hours line that Saturday afternoon, asking for another delivery, Mr. Libby struggled to do what was right. He cannot bear the thought of people wanting for warmth, but his tendency to cut people a break is one reason Hometown Energy isn’t making much money, as his understanding partner keeps gently pointing out.

“I do have a heart,” Mr. Libby said. But he was already “on the hook” for the two earlier deliveries he had made to the couple’s home. What’s more, he didn’t know even know the Hartfords.

Robert and Wilma Hartford settled into the porous old house, just outside of Dixfield, a few months ago, in what was the latest of many moves in their 37-year marriage. Mr. Hartford was once a stonemason who traveled from the Pacific Northwest to New England, plying his trade.

Those wandering days are gone. Mr. Hartford, 68, has a bad shoulder, Mrs. Hartford, 71, needs a wheelchair, and the two survive on $1,200 a month (“Poverty,” Mrs. Hartford says). So far this year they have received $360 in heating assistance, he said, about a quarter of last year’s allocation.

Mr. Hartford said he used what extra money they had to repair broken pipes, install a cellar door, and seal various cracks with Styrofoam spray that he bought at Walmart. That wasn’t enough to block the cold, of course, and the two oil deliveries carried them only into early January.

There was no oil to burn, so the cold took up residence, beside the dog and the four cats, under the velvet painting of Jesus. The couple had no choice but to run up their electric bill. They turned on the Whirlpool stove’s burners and circulated the heat with a small fan. They ran the dryer’s hose back into the basement to keep pipes from freezing, even when there were no clothes to dry.

And, just about every day, Mr. Hartford drove to a gas station and filled up a five-gallon plastic container with $20 of kerosene. “It was the only way we had,” he said. Finally, seeing no other option, Mr. Hartford made the hard telephone call to Hometown Energy. Panic lurked behind his every word, and every word wounded the oil man on the other end.

“I had a hard time saying no,” Mr. Libby said. “But I had to say no.”

When Mr. Hartford heard that no, he also heard regret. “You could tell in his voice,” he said.

Two days later, Mr. Hartford drove up to Hometown Energy’s small office in his weathered gray Lincoln, walked inside, and made his desperate offer: The title to his car for some oil.

His offer stunned Janis Carlton, the only employee present. But she remembered that someone had offered, quietly, to donate 50 gallons of heating oil if an emergency case walked through the door. She called that person and explained the situation.

Her mother-in-law and office mate, Diane Carlton, answered without hesitation. Deliver the oil and I’ll pay for it, she said, which is one of the ways that Mainers make do in winter.

================================


OP-ED COLUMNIST

Romney, the Rich and the Rest

By CHARLES M. BLOW
Published – The New York Times online: February 3, 2012.

After all, Mitt Romney is the same multimillionaire who joked that he was “unemployed” while he was “earning” more in one day than most Americans earn in a year and paying a lower rate on those earnings than most Americans do.

This is the same man who bragged last month that he liked to fire people at a time when nearly 13 million people are out of work and who accepted the endorsement this week of Donald Trump, who has made “You’re Fired!” his television catchphrase.

This is the same man who in November claimed that federal employees are making “a lot more money than we are.” What?! We? What we? Please direct me to the federal employees with the $20 million paychecks. In fact, The Washington Post pointed out in November that federal employees on average “are underpaid by 26.3 percent when compared with similar nonfederal jobs, a ‘pay gap’ that increased by about 2 percentage points over the last year while federal salary rates were frozen.”

And who could forget his remark that “corporations are people.” Classic.

But this week when Romney said that he wasn’t concerned about the very poor in this country, he jumped in the pickle barrel and went over the waterfall.

First, his statement:

“I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich. They’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart of America — the 90-95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.”

Romney went on to say that his campaign was focused on “middle-income Americans” and that “we have a very ample safety net” for the poor.

He later tried to clarify, saying that his comments needed context. Then he said that the comments were a “misstatement” and that he had “misspoke.” Yeah, right.

Where to begin?

First, a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities last month pointed out that Romney’s budget proposals would take a chainsaw to that safety net. The report points out that cuts proposed by Romney would be even more draconian than a plan from Representative Paul Ryan: “Governor Romney’s budget proposals would require far deeper cuts in nondefense programs than the House-passed budget resolution authored by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan: $94 billion to $219 billion deeper in 2016 and $303 billion to $819 billion deeper in 2021.”

What does this mean for specific programs? Let’s take the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, since “food stamps” have been such a talking point in the Republican debates. The report says the Romney plan “would throw 10 million low-income people off the benefit rolls, cut benefits by thousands of dollars a year, or some combination of the two.  These cuts would primarily affect very-low-income families with children, seniors and people with disabilities.”

Does that sound like a man trying to “fix” our social safety nets? Absolutely not. Romney is so far up the beanstalk that he can no longer see the ground.

Then let’s take the fact that a report last month by the Tax Policy Center found that his tax plan would increase after-tax income for millionaires by 14.5 percent while increasing the after-tax income of those making less than $20,000 by less than 1 percent and of those making between $30,000 and $40,000 by less than 3 percent.

For a man who’s not worried about the rich, he sure seems to want them to rake in more cash.

This has nothing to do with context. This has everything to do with a caviar candidate’s inability to relate to a chicken-soup citizenry.

Then there is the “ample safety net” nonsense. No one who has ever been on the low end of the income spectrum believes this, not even Republicans. According to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in October, even most Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who make less than $30,000 a year, which accounts for about a quarter of all Republicans, say that the government doesn’t do enough to help the poor. Only a man who has never felt the sting of poverty or seen its ravages would say such a thing.

But perhaps the most pernicious part of his statement was the underestimating of the rich and poor and the elasticized expansion of the term “middle income” or middle class. Romney suggests that 95 percent of Americans are in this group. Not true.

According to the Census Bureau, the official poverty rate in 2010 was 15.1 percent.

And that’s the income poor. It doesn’t even count the “asset poor.” A report issued this week by the Corporation for Enterprise Development found that 27 percent of U.S. households live in “asset poverty.” According to the report, “These families do not have the savings or other assets to cover basic expenses (equivalent to what could be purchased with a poverty level income) for three months if a layoff or other emergency leads to loss of income.”

On the other hand, the definition of “rich” is more nebulous. However, according to a December Gallup report, Americans set the rich threshold at $150,000 in annual income. And according to the U.S. Census Bureau 8.4 percent of households had an income of $150,000 are more in 2010.

So at the very least, nearly a fourth of all Americans are either poor or rich.

That would leave about three-fourths somewhere in the middle, but not all middle class. Tricking the poor to believe they’re in it, and allowing the wealthy to hide in it, is one of the great modern political deceptions and how we’ve arrived at our current predicament.

According to a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted last month, nearly a fifth of families making less than $15,000 said that they were middle class and nearly two-fifths of those making more than $100,000 said that they were middle class.

Romney is not only cold and clumsy, he’s disastrously out of touch, and when talking about real people, out of sorts. If only he had a heart, and if only that heart was connected to his brain.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 28th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Better Place’s Electric Cars Hit the Roads

Israeli company Better Place celebrates fourth anniversary, officially inaugurates its first fleet of electrical cars.
By Elad Benari & Yoni Kempinski

First Publish: 1/23/2012, 5:44 AM


Better Place electric car

Better Place electric car
Israel news photo: Chen Galili

The Israeli company Better Place on Sunday celebrated its fourth anniversary. The company marked this special occasion by officially inaugurating its first fleet of 100 electric cars. A convoy of 70 cars, driven by dozens of the company’s employees, took to the streets of Tel Aviv for their first rides.

The electric car developed by Better Place has no exhaust pipe and no gas cap, but rather a simple electric socket. It runs on a 450-lb. lithium-ion battery and can go as far as 140 miles before the battery needs to be swapped or recharged at the recharging stations. 200 such stations are expected to be available around the country in the future.

Better Place announced that the delivery process of the new cars will take place in stages and will progress as the infrastructure across the country is completed. The company expects that the deliveries to the general public will begin in the second quarter of 2012.

In 2010, Israel’s Ministry of Transportation gave Better Place a permit to import 13 Renault Fluence electric cars for testing. Israel has long been committed to electric cars, and has expressed hope that by the end of this year it will be the world’s first nation to host a national electric car network.

One of the innovations of the electric cars is that its motor is silent, eliminating the loud exhaust noises in regular cars.

“You hear a noise that lets you know the car is on,” Zohar Beit’or of Better Place told Arutz Sheva. “It’s exactly like the noise that an electric camera makes.”

“The car is so silent that you can actually speak quietly and have a nice conversation without the need to shout,” he said. “It really makes you relax.”

Beit’or noted that he was very excited about the official launch of the new cars, adding he has worked for three years on this project.

“When I started, we only had plans on PowerPoint and we shared many ideas on how this day would look,” he said. “And it’s happening now. For me, it’s a piece of history.”

The company’s Oren Kassif explained that while the Renault company makes the cars, the infrastructure is Israeli and developed by Better Place. This includes charging spots, battery swap stations, and the command and control software.

“This is the first time you can say, at a country-wide level, that you can drive an electric car anywhere in the country,” he said. “What we’ve shown today is that we can deliver the cars, we can sell them, we can have customers driving on the road anywhere they wish.”

He added, “It’s a very exciting day. For the past four years we’ve been developing the systems and the infrastructure, recruiting people and bringing in more investors and customers.”

Photos by Chen Galili







###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 8th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Striking again, Saudi hacker says ‘I want to hurt Israel’

Talkative and boastful, Saudi hacker tells Israel Hayom in an email exchange that he has leaked 11,000 additional credit card numbers to the Internet.
“I have a million credit card numbers and access to tons of Israeli websites, including government servers and military contractors.”

Hezi Sternlicht, Ilan Gattegno, Zeev Klein
Isracard Headquarters this week.
Credit card companies are at the mercy of each and every website, says executive.
|

When Israeli credit cards were first leaked by a Saudi hacker on Monday, some experts said the initial number of cards affected — some 15,000 — would not be the final tally. On Thursday, it turned out the pessimists were right.

On Thursday afternoon Saudi hacker OxOmar leaked an additional file with the details of 11,000 new cards. Out of this list, Israel’s three credit card companies identified 6,048 active Israeli cards, and immediately blocked them. Most of these belonged to Isracard customers. Because some people have more than one card, the Bank of Israel found that as of Thursday night 17,530 Israeli citizens had been affected by the continuous credit card leak. 

Except this time the Saudi hacker did not stop at leaking mere names and credit card numbers. He also exposed the Israeli identification numbers and addresses of many Israelis whose credit card numbers he exposed. In addition, tens of thousands of Israelis’ email addresses were made public.

“My goal is to hurt Israel — politically, economically and culturally,” the hacker wrote on Thursday in an email exchange with Israel Hayom. “I can’t tell you the names of the sites I’ve hacked into but I have access to tons of Israeli servers including government servers and military contractors.” The talkative Saudi hacker reportedly held email conversations with a range of Israeli media outlets.  In an email exchange with Israel Army Radio, OxOmar said he was “waiting for the Mossad” to catch up to him, and that people in Saudi Arabia were praying for his success.

The hacker conveyed the same message in an earlier announcement he posted on the Internet.

“If needed, maybe in next time I start sharing all data I have downloaded from Israeli military contractor companies and let the world have their all documents,” he wrote [sic]. “I’m thinking to start doing it from an Israeli company which creates jammers and eavesdropping devices.”

The hacker expressed anger over the fact that the “fake Jewish and Zionist lobby media” had minimized his accomplishment, saying only 14,000 cards had been exposed. “This made me a little unhappy,” he wrote. “So I’ve started thinking of sending all Israeli credit cards I own which reaches 1M data. I’ll do it soon!”

Israel Hayom asked him when he plans to post the new information. “Soon, in a couple of weeks,” he wrote. “Up till this point, I’ve posted tons of credit card numbers. It’s not 14,000. It’s more than 100,000. Israel must admit this it or I will continue to leak more and more.”

The hacker told Israel Hayom he works alone, out of Saudi Arabia. He apparently told other media outlets that he is 19 years old.

Earlier, in his Internet post, the hacker wrote, “Zionist lobby media, pay attention to what I sent to internet,” followed by “Saudi Arabia for ever! Saudi Arabia rules, long life King Abdullah!”

The real danger: identity theft

The Bank of Israel and credit card companies are taking the threats very seriously. The BOI and the companies have said they are taking all necessary steps to prevent damage to cardholders, despite the fact that almost all the cards in question have already been blocked.

Aside from violations to people’s privacy, the leak creates a real danger of identity theft as well as potential forging of Israeli credit cards, identification cards, drivers’ licenses and passports. All three of Israel’s credit card companies have blocked telephone and Internet transactions on all of the exposed cards. Now some fear the Saudi hacker may reveal what those Israelis spent their money on.

The Bank of Israel is looking into the Saudi hacker’s claims and is working with credit card companies to investigate the serious security lapse that led to the leak. Initial investigations reveal a profile for those Israelis affected by the most recent Saudi leak. Almost all of them went abroad in the past year and spent time in luxury hotels, mainly in Europe (Germany, Italy, Serbia, Hungary, France, Holland and Great Britain). Almost all of them gave their credit card numbers, names and ID or passport numbers to the hotels for security purposes. Some of the Israelis affected made purchases abroad over the phone or Internet.

Nevertheless, the focal point of suspicion is that the hacker obtained the personal details by hacking Israeli retail and coupon websites.

The affair broke on Monday when surfers on the sports website one.co.il were referred to another site where 400,000 names appeared, along with the details of tens of thousands of credit cards. The investigation, which the Justice Ministry is also involved in, has not negated the possibility that Israelis were involved in planting the information on one.co.il.

It is possible that YAHBAL (Israel Police unit for international crime) could get involved in the investigation, since the criminal activity took place abroad.

All three of Israel’s credit card companies said that anyone adversely affected by the leak will be compensated. The CEO of Isracard announced that of the 11,000 new credit card numbers exposed by the Saudi hacker Thursday, about 5,200 belong to its customers. Visa CAL said about 800 of their customers had been affected, while Leumicard said it had only identified 48 of the numbers as theirs.

Visa CAL CEO Israel David on Thursday called on the government to intervene and increase regulation and oversight of Israeli websites. “Without regulation that sets strict standards and oversees websites, the personal information of millions of citizens is at risk,” he said.

David said there is no enforcement of website security measures in Israel and that credit card companies are at the mercy of each and every site and the level of protection it chooses to implement.

Meanwhile, Israeli experts are trying to understand who the Saudi hacker is and how it might be possible to apprehend him. “If he knows how to hide himself well, then the chances of finding him are miniscule,” said Shai Blitzblau, managing director of Maglan Information Defense Technologies Ltd. “He visits the hacker site from changing locations and conceals his identity well,” said Blitzblau, “On the other hand, his boastfulness is uncharacteristic of hackers.”

According to Blitzbau, there are signs that more than one hacker is involved. “When you look at the source of his Twitter registration you see that he borrowed his identity from someone else.” Still, he said, finding the hacker is not a lost cause. “It would require international cooperation from police and security forces, but there are even ways to apprehend someone in Saudi Arabia if that’s where he really is.”

Among the victims: famous people

Among those whose credit card details were leaked Thursday was novelist Orly Castel-Bloom. Israel Hayom read the information from the file to the acclaimed author by phone and she confirmed that this had indeed been her credit card number until two weeks ago. Her home address, cell phone number and home phone number were also leaked.

“Yes, that was my credit card number,” she said. “I’m surprised. Still, the card hasn’t been active for two weeks. I’ve actually done a lot of Internet shopping recently. I moved house and bought a refrigerator and dishwasher online. I don’t think I’ll buy things on the Internet anymore.”

In addition, the man who led last spring’s cottage cheese protest, Itzik Elrov, also had his personal information leaked. “Yes, I do tend to shop on the Internet,” he told Israel Hayom on Thursday. “This is the kind of thing you think will never happen to you. I hope they find a way to enforce the law and clean up this mess. But to tell you the truth, I am more concerned with the price gouging that food companies engage in knowingly than with an anonymous Saudi hacker.”

Earlier this week, on Monday, Labor party Chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich also had her personal information compromised by the Saudi hacker.

===============================

A comment from someone called LAURA said: This Saudi hacker says he wanted to hurt Israel. A pathetic attempt at that. So what else is new?

He is representative of the pathological obsession on the part of the arab-muslim world to destroy Israel rather than focusing on bettering their own miserable lives.

Saudi Arabia is a backward, barbaric, seventh century fiefdom which executes women for adultery and practicing witchcraft, chops off heads and limbs as punishments and outlaws the practice of religions other than Islam. All of their wealth derives from oil which westerners discovered and extracted. Saudi Arabia’s only other export is global terrorism. The country produces nothing in the realms of industry, science and technology or agriculture.

On the other hand Israel is a miniscule strip of land with no natural resources. The Jews took a barren dessert and created a productive and successful nation which has emerged as a world leader in science, technology and medicine.I

Not only does the existence of the Jewish state stand in defiance of Islamic imperialism, but Israel’s success is a stark reminder of the present backwardness of Muslim-Arab civilization.

==============================

A second comment from CuriousAmerican says:

“From the whole story at the site

Now some fear the Saudi hacker may reveal what those Israelis spent their money on.

I guess the trips to Vegas may come out.

This story makes no sense. Hackers know how easy it is to be traced. They would not brag about it to anyone.”

And we add that this is strange indeed as it speaks of Los Vegas to a paper “Israel Hayom” owned by Mr. Sheldon Adelson who also owns the VENETIAN Hotel and Casino of Las Vegas and Macao as we wrote about because of his largess to Republican candidate Newt Gingrich. Also strange things happen when one opens the CuriousAmerican link of the letter writer.

In short – seemingly this whole story has serious political implications and we wish indeed the Saudis had the courage and decency to speak up in their own defence.

The Coincidence – we posted:  Permalink | | Email This Article Email This Article
Posted in Archives, China, Hong Kong, Israel, Macao, Nevada, Reporting from Washington DC, Saudi Arabia

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 8th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

As Primary Looms in N.H., Donor Gives $5 Million Lift to Gingrich.

MANCHESTER, N.H. — As candidates spent the weekend trying to catch up to Mitt Romney in New Hampshire, with the primary just two days away, a longtime supporter of Newt Gingrich donated $5 million to a “super PAC” backing his presidential bid, providing a major boost to Mr. Gingrich’s ailing campaign.

The donation by Sheldon Adelson was reported Saturday night by The Washington Post. He has long been a generous patron of Mr. Gingrich’s political career. The super PAC, Winning Our Future, was formed last month by Becky Burkett, who served until earlier last year as chief development officer for American Solutions, a political action committee that Mr. Gingrich founded. The cash infusion from Mr. Adelson instantly catapults Winning Our Future into the top ranks of candidate super PACs, groups that can raise unlimited amounts of money from donors and spend it all on advertisements and other efforts to back a specific candidate, so long as they do not coordinate with the campaign.

Ms. Burkett declined to comment on the donation on Saturday.

{Sheldon Gary Adelson (born August 6, 1933 – born and grew up in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts) is an American casino and hotel magnate. Adelson is Chairman andChief Executive Officer of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., the parent company of Venetian Macao Limited which operates The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino and the Sands Expo and Convention Center. Adelson vastly increased his net worth upon the initial public offering of Las Vegas Sands in December 2004. He is currently the 8th wealthiest American[2] and 16th wealthiest person in the world,[3] with a net worth of $21.5 billion.

Originally a Democrat, Adelson became a Republican as his wealth increased. “Why is it fair that I should be paying a higher percentage of taxes than anyone else?” he once asked. He began making major contributions to the Republican National Committee following clashes with labour unions at his Las Vegas properties.[5]

Adelson divorced his first wife Sandra in 1988 and met his current wife Miriam Ochsorn, an Israeli physician, on a blind date the following year. They were married in 1991.

The original source of Adelson’s wealth and current investments was the computer trade show COMDEX, which he and his partners developed for the computer industry; the first show was in 1979. It was the premier computer trade show through much of the 1980s and 1990s.[4]

In 1988, Adelson and his partners purchased the Sands Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, the former hangout of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, in order to bring Las Vegas to a new phase of business through the exhibition industry. The following year, Adelson and his partners constructed the Sands Expo and Convention Center, then the only privately owned and operated convention center in the United States.

In 1991, while honeymooning in Venice with his second wife, Miriam, Adelson said he found the inspiration for a mega-resort hotel. He razed (by implosion) the Sands and spent $1.5 billion to construct the The Venetian, a Venice-themed resort hotel and casino. The luxurious, all-suite Venetian revolutionized the Las Vegas hotel industry, and has been honored with architectural and other awards naming it as one the finest hotels in the world. In 2003, The Venetian added the 1,013-suite Venezia tower – giving The Venetian 4,049 suites, 18 leading-chef restaurants, a shopping mall with canals, gondolas and singing gondoliers.

In 1995, Adelson and his partners sold the Interface Group Show Division, including the COMDEX shows, to SoftBank Corporation of Japan for $862 million; Adelson’s share was over $500 million.[4]

Adelson spearheaded a major project to bring the Sands name to the Macao SARChina, the Chinese gambling city that was a Portuguese colony until December 1999. The one million-square-foot Sands Macau became the People’s Republic of China‘s first Las Vegas-style casino when it opened in May 2004. Adelson made back his initial 265 million dollar investment in one year and, because he owns 69% of the stock, he increased his wealth when he took the stock public in December 2004. Since the opening of the Sands Macao Adelson’s personal wealth has multiplied more than fourteen times.[5]

In May 2006, Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands was awarded a hotly contested license to construct a casino resort in Singapore’s Marina Bay. The new casino,Marina Bay Sands, opened in 2010 at a rumored cost of US$5.4 billion.

In August 2007, Adelson opened the $2.4 billion Venetian Macao Resort Hotel on Cotai and announced that he planned to create a massive, concentrated resort area he called the Cotai Strip, after its Las Vegas counterpart. Adelson said that he planned to open more hotels under brands such as Four SeasonsSheratonand St. Regis. His Las Vegas Sands plans to invest $12 billion and build 20,000 hotel rooms on the Cotai Strip by 2010.[7]

In September 2007, Adelson announced that the Sands would open its second hotel, the Sands Macao Hotel in Macau in October of that year.[8]

In 2007, Adelson made an unsuccessful bid to purchase the Israeli newspaper Maariv. When this failed, he proceeded with parallel plans to publish a free daily newspaper to compete with Israeli, a newspaper he had co-founded in 2006 but had left.[9] The first edition of the new newspaper, Israel HaYom, was published on July 30, 2007.

According to Target Group Index(TGI) survey published in July 2011, Israel Hayom, which in contrast to all other Israeli newspapers is distributed for free, surpassed all other newspapers, including Yedioth Ahronoth and became number one daily newspaper (for weekdays) four years after its inception.[10] This survey states that Israel Hayom has 39.3% weekdays readership exposure , Yedioth Ahronoth 37% , Maariv 12.1% and Haaretz 5.8%. But Yedioth Ahronoth’s weekend edition is still leading with 44.3% readership exposure compared to 31% of Israel Hayom weekend edition, 14.9% of Maariv and 6.8% of Haaretz. This trend was already observed by TGI survey in July 2010.[11]

Adelson and his wife contributed $250,000 each (thus the total contribution from the couple was $500,000) to the second inauguration of President George W. Bush.

In 2010, Adelson donated $1,000,000 to Newt Gingrich‘s organization, American Solutions for Winning the Future.[19]

In 2011, Adelson is expected to donate an additional $20,000,000 to pro-Gingrich organizations in an effort to bolster Gingrich’s bid for the U.S. Presidency.[20]

Along with his wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson, Sheldon Adelson was presented with the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars of the Smithsonian Institution on March 25, 2008.[31]}

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Restore Our Future, a super PAC backing Mr. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, and run by his former aides, spent millions of dollars in Iowa on advertisements attacking Mr. Gingrich. The withering barrage was widely credited with torpedoing Mr. Gingrich’s standing in the state and opening the door for Mr. Romney to narrowly win last Tuesday’s caucuses.

The group is already running ads in Florida and South Carolina attacking Mr. Gingrich, and had spent roughly $3.7 million by the beginning of last week.

Rick Santorum, who has emerged as the leading rival to Mr. Romney, began the weekend looking past Tuesday’s primary to the 11-day battle in South Carolina that will follow.

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Mr. Santorum, a former United States senator from Pennsylvania, picked up support from an important social conservative on Saturday, and his campaign completed the purchase of time for television commercials that will run in South Carolina from Tuesday through Jan. 17, according to Republicans who have been tracking the television market. He planned to head south to Greenville, S.C., as soon as Sunday morning’s debate was over.

“We feel great about South Carolina,” Mr. Santorum said.

The new commercials would be the Santorum campaign’s largest commitment yet in South Carolina, which will hold its primary on Jan. 21. Mr. Santorum was already getting support from his “super PAC,” the Red, White and Blue Fund. It began running a 30-second commercial titled “Pride” on Saturday, which emphasizes what his advisers believe is his best appeal to South Carolina voters who remain wary of supporting Mr. Romney: his deeply conservative record.

“He’s the principled conservative,” the announcer says. Then, taking an implicit shot at Mr. Romney, who has been attacked for reversing some of the more liberal positions he advocated as the governor of Massachusetts, the announcer adds, “Rick Santorum, the conservative we can trust.”

Mr. Santorum was set to receive the support of Gary Bauer, the chairman of the conservative group Campaign for Working Families, who said he planned to endorse Mr. Santorum officially when he arrives in South Carolina. Mr. Bauer, who declared in an interview last week that he would not take part in a concerted effort “to try and stop Mitt Romney,” said he had concluded that Mr. Santorum’s middle-class background made him a stronger general election candidate against President Obama.

“It’s going to be a particularly bitter, nasty general election. That’s what the White House is signaling with the class warfare rhetoric,” Mr. Bauer said in an interview on Saturday. “In an election like that, you want the base of your party to be on fire for the candidate.”

With just three days left before voting in the New Hampshire primary, Mr. Santorum made his closing argument the one that candidates have been leveling against Mr. Romney for months — that Mr. Romney is not conservative enough to be the party’s standard-bearer.

Standing on the bench of a picnic table here on a balmy afternoon outside a small delicatessen, Mr. Santorum used his sharpest language yet, saying that Mr. Romney was the candidate of the “establishment” and would only perpetuate “the status quo.”

“The leader in this race fashions himself as, ‘I’m a C.E.O., I’m a good manager,’ ” Mr. Santorum said in a near shout as he spoke without a microphone. But, he said, the country did not need a manager. “It needs someone with a bold vision to transform Washington to limit government, not to manage the problems that are in that city,” he said.

————

Mr. Gingrich and Ron Paul both echoed Mr. Santorum’s attack against Mr. Romney.

Mr. Gingrich released a flier called “Not Romney!” that hammers the message that “Romney is not a conservative” and “Romney is not electable.” Mr. Paul has said that Mr. Romney “won’t stand firm” for conservative principles.

Mr. Romney continued to largely ignore his rivals. Campaigning at a rally in Derry on Saturday morning, Mr. Romney hammered away at President Obama’s leadership.

“What frightens me today is we have a president I don’t think who understands the nature of America, the power of opportunity and freedom,” Mr. Romney said. “He said he was going to bring big things to America. Well, he did, but they came with great big price tags and they didn’t work out so well. Big things, bad things, expensive things.”

Polls show that Mr. Romney leads the field by a wide margin in New Hampshire. But he and his allies spent the day trying to lower expectations, even as they sought to keep his supporters motivated.

“Let me tell you: don’t get too confident with those poll numbers. I’ve watched polls come and go,” Mr. Romney said at a breakfast rally on Saturday. “Things change very quickly. It’s very fluid. I need to make sure you guys get your friends to go out and vote, and you vote as well.”

Also on Saturday, five former United States ambassadors to the Vatican endorsed Mr. Romney, choosing a Mormon over two Roman Catholic rivals in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

In a statement showcased by Mr. Romney’s campaign, the ambassadors said they “are united in our wholehearted support for the candidacy of Mitt Romney for the presidency of the United States because of his commitment to and support of the values that we feel are critical in a national leader.”

———–

Jon M. Huntsman Jr., a former governor of Utah, continued to campaign across New Hampshire. At stops on Saturday morning, he beseeched voters to be serious about their choice.

“The pundits come into New Hampshire, as they are now, and say, ‘Here’s how it’s going to happen folks,’ ” Mr. Huntsman said at a town-hall-style meeting in North Haverhill, where about 100 people turned out. “Then the people of New Hampshire step in and it’s a different reality. You always, always upend conventional wisdom, and I think you’re going to do it again.”

Mr. Paul had said he planned to support his party’s eventual nominee, even though most of the other Republican candidates, he believed, would hew close to the status quo.

“I will support the Republican nominee, because I think they will be better” than President Obama, he said. “But I think it will be marginally better.”

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, who is not competing in New Hampshire but will appear in the debates here, planned to go to South Carolina on Sunday for a last effort to save his candidacy.

———————–

Reporting was contributed by Katharine Q. Seelye from Amherst, N.H.; Trip Gabriel and Richard A. Oppel Jr. from Concord, N.H.; Abby Goodnough from North Haverhill, N.H.; and Jeff Zeleny from Manchester.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 3rd, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Storehouses for Solar Energy Can Step In When the Sun Goes Down.

SolarReserve – A completed solar power tower at the SolarReserve Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Plant, Tonopah, Nev., expected to be in service in 2013.
By MATTHEW L. WALD
Published: January 2, 2012


If solar energy is eventually going to matter— that is, generate a significant portion of the nation’s electricity — the industry must overcome a major stumbling block, experts say: finding a way to store it for use when the sun isn’t shining.

www.nytimes.com/2012/01/03/business/energy-environment/building-storehouses-for-the-suns-energy-for-use-after-dark.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha25

SolarReserve:  An artist’s rendering of the SolarReserve plant, which will absorb heat directed at it by mirrors and store it in molten salt.

That challenge seems to be creating an opening for a different form of power, solar thermal, which makes electricity by using the sun’s heat to boil water. The water can be used to heat salt that stores the energy until later, when the sun dips and households power up their appliances and air-conditioning at peak demand hours in the summer.

Two California companies are planning to deploy the storage technology: SolarReserve, which is building a plant in the Nevada desert scheduled to start up next year, and BrightSource, which plans three plants in California that would begin operating in 2016 and 2017. Together, the four projects will be capable of powering tens of thousand of households throughout a summer evening.

Whether the technology will be widely adopted remains to be seen, but companies like Google, Chevron and Good Energies are investing in it, and the utilities NV Energy and Southern California Edison have signed long-term contracts to buy power from these radically different new power plants.

One crucial role of the plants will be complementing solar panels, which produce electricity directly from sunlight. When the panels ramp down at dusk or on cloudy days, the plants will crank up, drawing on the stored thermal energy.

That job will become more important if photovoltaic panels, which have plunged in price lately, become even cheaper and sprout on millions of rooftops. As the grid starts depending more heavily on solar panels or wind turbines, it will need other energy sources that can step in quickly to balance the system — preferably ones classified as renewable.

Most utilities are trying to generate as many kilowatt-hours of renewable energy as they can to meet stiffer state requirements on incorporating more alternative energy, said Kevin B. Smith, the chief executive of SolarReserve.

“As we move forward, we’ll get more and more traction with the fact we can provide more capacity,” Mr. Smith said, referring to his company’s storage technology.

The Energy Department seems to agree: in September it gave SolarReserve a $737 million loan guarantee for its project in Nevada. The plant will generate 110 megawatts at peak and store enough heat to run for eight to 10 hours when the sun is not shining.

The public’s view on loan guarantees for solar projects has soured somewhat since the bankruptcy of Solyndra, a California company that received a $535 million loan guarantee to build a factory to make solar panels — only to see the market for the modules crash.

But the outlook has always been clearer for companies that make electricity, which, unlike solar modules, is generally presold by contract.

Technical details of the SolarReserve and BrightSource plants vary slightly, but both will use thousands of computer-operated poster-size mirrors aiming sunlight at a tower that absorbs it as heat.

SolarReserve absorbs the heat in molten salt, which can be used immediately to boil water, generating steam that turns a conventional turbine and generator. Hot salt can also be used to retain the heat for many hours for later use. BrightSource heats water that can be used immediately as steam or to heat salt for storage.

The plants rely on salt because it can store far more heat than water can. But once molten, it must be kept that way or it will freeze to a solid in part of the plant where it will be difficult to melt again. “You’ve made a commitment to those salt molecules,” said John Woolard, the chief executive of BrightSource.

The technology is not complicated, but the economics are.

The simplest, least expensive path for solar thermal is to turn the heat into electricity immediately. But the companies are a bit like the farmer who harvests the grain and stores it in a silo rather than shipping it straight to market on the expectation that prices will be higher later. They are betting that in revenue terms, the hour at which the energy is delivered will be more important than the amount generated.

The notion is that widespread adoption of solar panels — whether on rooftops or in giant arrays in the desert — will change the hours at which prices are highest.

Today, electricity prices usually peak in the late afternoon and evening on hot summer days. “Photovoltaic panels will do a pretty good job of chopping that peak” in the late afternoon, said Paul Denholm, a solar specialist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Boulder, Colo.

In other words, the new price peak will be pushed to later in the day, to just before and after sunset, when solar photovoltaic production is small or nonexistent, he and other experts say.

Mr. Woolard said the chief goal of the new plants would be to produce electricity when the utilities need it most. “We’re optimizing around what is important for different times for the utilities,” he said.

His company’s contract with Southern California Edison still requires approval by California regulators.

Adding storage capacity helps keep the air-conditioners humming when solar panels are not producing, but there are other financial benefits.

The equipment that makes electricity from steam is the most expensive part of a solar thermal system, but if it is connected to storage technology, it can run almost twice as many hours as a plant without storage. That means the unit cost of electricity drops.

Another has to do with the arcane economics of electricity. A utility must assure a supply of electricity in two forms: energy and capacity. The difference has never meant much to most consumers, who directly pay only for energy, as measured in kilowatt-hours.

But capacity, the dependable ability to produce power, is becoming more important as renewable energy forms a larger and larger part of the grid.

Wind and sun provide a lot of energy but not much capacity. Today, backup capacity for wind and solar power comes in the form of expensive gas-fired generators, which sit idle most of the year but operate when the wind stops blowing or the sun stops shining.

Storage could cut costs by 4 cents a kilowatt-hour, Mr. Denholm calculates — a considerable benefit for a commodity that retails for an average of 11 cents. A big part of the savings is not having to build the gas-fired generators for backup.

For competitive reasons, neither BrightSource nor SolarReserve would discuss capital costs. But Mr. Smith of SolarReserve said that the storage technology amounted to less than 5 percent of capital costs. For BrightSource, Southern California Edison was willing to pay extra for a plant that could deliver when the sun was not shining.

The success of any given project may depend on the particular details, but other experts agree that a market is opening for plants with storage capacity. A study completed in July by Navigant Consulting, Sandia National Laboratories and Pacific Northwest Laboratory on the potential effects of adding large amounts of photovoltaic energy to NV Energy’s portfolio found that to integrate the new power sources, the utility would need more standby generation.

NV Energy would also need generation whose output could be adjusted over very short intervals to compensate for variability in solar photovoltaic production, the report suggested. The solar thermal storage system is designed to meet exactly those needs.

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