links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic
SustainabiliTank

 
 
Follow us on Twitter


 
Texas:

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 25th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Buying Insurance Against Climate Change.

 

 

Photo

The Alliance of Small Island States has been arguing for an international approach to dealing with losses from climate change. Here, Tarawa in Kiribati, an alliance member battling rising sea levels.       Credit Kadir Van Lohuizen/NOOR

 

 

He writes here:

 

The third National Climate Assessment report — released on May 6 by the White House, and representing the work of more than 240 scientists — warns us about our hazardous future and offers many good ideas for dealing with it. But a most important point may be lost in the crowd.

After discussing how to mitigate the coming dangers, the report says, “Commercially available mechanisms such as insurance can also play a role in providing protection against losses due to climate change.” That sentence should have been in big, bold letters and underlined.

BUT WE VEHEMENTLY DISAGREE WITH ABOVE – AND THAT IS WHY WE POST THIS MATERIAL.
{PJ – editor of SustainabiliTank}   
TO PUT IT IN SIMPLE TERMS – THE DISTINGUISHED PROFESSOR WANTS THE PUBLIC AT LARGE – THROUGH THE TAXATION  SYSTEM AS WE KNOW IT – TO INSURE THE BUSINESS PEOPLE SO THEY CAN CONTINUE WITH IMPUNITY WHAT THE KNOW BEST – THAT IS TO MAKE PROFITS FOR THEMSELVES AND PASS ALL COSTS TO THE OTHERS !!!  WE RATHER THINK TO ACHIEVE INSURANCE BY APPLYING CARBON TAXES IN ORDER TO REACH PREVENTIVE MEASURES AND A MUCH LESS RISKY REALITY.  BUT LET US HIM SPEAK FOR HIMSELF. WE WILL HAVE COMMENTS IN GREEN!

That’s because of the substantial risk that efforts to stop global warming will fail. The implications are staggering, and we must encourage private innovation and government support to insure against the devastating financial losses that will result.

The problem is an age-old one: Each country has a strong individual incentive to take a free ride on the rest of the world — to find self-serving or nationalistic justifications for adding carbon dioxide and other pollutants to the global air supply. Such behavior, which in some ways might benefit the individual country while hurting everyone else, is known in economics as an externality problem, and the world has never solved one of this magnitude. We must face facts: There is a real risk of new kinds of climate-related disaster.E BLAMED 

BUT THE PROFESSOR TALKS OF NATIONS – NATIONAL INTERESTS – IN A GLOBALIZED WORLD WHERE THE NATIONS WERE ACTUALLY REPLACED BY CORPORATIONS.    SO ALREADY FROM START HE JUST GOES IN AN UNACCEPTABLE DIRECTION. IT IS THE CORPORATE INTERESTS THAT SHOULD BE HELD RESPONSIBLE – NOT THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENTS!

In his latest book, “The Climate Casino: Risk, Uncertainty and Economics for a Warming World” (Yale University Press), my Yale colleague William D. Nordhaus describes the uncertainty of global warming’s specific effects around the world. We are taking major gambles with our environment, he says. Expect surprises.

In March, a United Nations report identified with “high confidence” a number of risks that will be visited on different people unequally. It spoke of the “risk of death, injury, ill health or disrupted livelihoods” in low-lying coastal zones and on small islands — and that is just the start. Food systems may break down. There may not be enough water for drinking and irrigation. Ecosystems may be shattered.

In short, we need to worry about the potential for greater-than-expected disasters, especially those that concentrate their fury on specific places or circumstances, many of which we cannot now predict.

That’s why global warming needs to be addressed by the private institutions of risk management, such as insurance and securitization. They have deep experience in smoothing out disasters’ effects by sharing them among large numbers of people. The people or entities that are hit hardest are helped by those less badly damaged.

A CONCLUSION THAT HAS NO RELATION TO THE CAUSE OF FUTURE DISASTERS – PLEASE DO NOT TRY BAMBOOZLE ON US DEAR PROFESSORS!!!

But these institutions need ways to deal with such grand-scale issues. Governments should recognize that by giving these businesses a profit incentive to prepare for these unevenly distributed disasters. After all, fire insurance does no good unless you buy it before the house burns down. And you have to diversify your portfolio before the stock market crashes.

Fortunately, we aren’t too late to take action to insure against some climate risks. And yet this has not been a major element in most of the climate debate.

We already have weather derivatives that can help, like the 50 contracts in 13 countries offered by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. A ski resort can already buy protection against inadequate snowfall and a city can buy protection against too much snowfall next winter by, in effect, taking the opposite side of the same futures contract (through the exchange), thereby pooling their opposite risks.

WHAT A CLEVER IDEA OF MAKING OTHERS PAY FOR THE SINS OF COAL AND OIL BURNERS?  IT IS REALLY ELEGANT!  WHY NOT FIRST GET THE SINNERS PAY – THEN FOR SMALL CORRECTONS THIS PROPOSED DELICACY COULD BE THE CROWN OF THE DEAL – NOT THE REPLACEMENT OF THE DEAL!

There are also catastrophe bonds, like the three-year, $1.5 billion Everglades Re Ltd. issue sponsored this month by the Citizens Property Insurance Corporation. It would provide relief to the insurer of Floridians hit by a bad hurricane; in such an event, the bond holders would bear losses.

But there is a problem with instruments like these: They tend to focus on relatively short-term risks, and don’t hedge against the increasing cost of disasters over distant future years. Yet if the problems of global warming become more serious, they will very likely be long-lasting, raising some complex, tough-to-quantify issues. Some kinds of crises, like hurricanes, may remain intermittent, but their tendency toward severity may build in a slow, hard-to-predict process and in complex geographical patterns.

 

Psychologically, it’s hard for most of us to take the initiative on long-term, ill-defined risks. Three scholars — Howard C. Kunreuther and Mark V. Pauly of the University of Pennsylvania and Stacey McMorrow of the Urban Institute — show this in their book, “Insurance and Behavioral Economics: Improving Decisions in the Most Misunderstood Industry” (Cambridge University Press). But they argue that if we’re aware of them, these psychological impediments can be reduced, and they urge the innovation of long-term risk management contracts that address the problem of climate change.

Some progress is being made: The Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility is one recent example of institutional sharing of climate risks. Then there is the Alliance of Small Island States, formed in 1990 as a response to climate change. The group represents 5 percent of the world’s population, and its island members are scattered around the globe. But if sea levels rise substantially, all of them will be affected. These countries generally aren’t big enough to have a heartland that can help coastal dwellers in a climate catastrophe. The alliance has been arguing for an international approach to dealing with such loss and damage.

These are only beginnings. We have a crucial need to bring innovation to our risk-management institutions. We need to make them flexible, to clarify their long-term international legal status, to develop mechanisms and indexes that can be the basis of long-term risk management contracts and to educate the public about them. Most important, we need concrete action now to build a mechanism that will provide real help for the victims of climate-change disasters.

———————

 

ROBERT J. SHILLER is Sterling Professor of Economics at Yale.

A version of this article appears in print on May 25, 2014, on page BU6 of the New York edition with the headline: Buying Insurance Against Climate Change

——————–

————————-

Some  Comments:

 

Andy

I too, think this article misses the point. What is going to happen is that insurance companies will simply STOP insuring industries and…

 

Tom Stoltz

Change can be bad, but change can be good. Dr. Shiller (like most) focus on the down side of a warmer climate, “The people … that are hit…

 

June

 

The costs should be put on the corporate masters & their politician toadies who have been denying climate change for decades. Once…

———————-

###

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

A Solar-backed Currency for the Refugees of Western Sahara.

By Mel Chin | Creative Time | April 30, 2014

 www.policyinnovations.org/ideas/i…

View of Smara, one of the Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria. CREDIT: Mel Chin, 2011.

What the world needs now is the first Bank of the Sun.

The HSBC ads at Newark International Airport could not have been more appropriate for my trek to the Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria. As I ambled through the jet bridge with my carry-on, color-coordinated images of demure North African women met my eyes, accompanied by some facts assembled by the bank—”0.3% of Saharan solar energy could power Europe”—and a self-aggrandizing but, for me, prescient message: “Do you see a world of potential? We do.”

It was the fall of 2011, and I was on a string of flights from North Carolina to Algeria to participate in an ARTifariti convening of international artists presenting human rights–related projects at the Algerian camps and in Western Sahara. During previous gatherings, a New York–based art critic had presented a slide show to international artists and Sahrawi refugees, sharing pieces by activist artists and filmmakers such as Ai Weiwei and Spike Lee. The get-togethers offered a forum to consider artists who might do a project in the camps.

And in the end, the refugees had chosen a Chinese Texan who had spearheaded Operation Paydirt’s Fundred Dollar Bill Project, an artwork that prompted Americans to draw their own versions of $100 bills (in order to raise awareness of and prevent childhood lead poisoning). Essentially they said, “Bring us the guy with the money.” So I packed my bags and left for the western lands of North Africa.

Mel Chin

Operation Paydirt’s Fundred Dollar Bill Project in St. Roch, New Orleans. CREDIT: Amanda Wiles, 2009.

At an unknown hour on a starless night, I arrived in the 27 February Camp—one of Algeria’s five Sahrawi refugee camps (named after the date in 1976 on which the Polisario Front declared the birth of the Sahrawi Democratic Arab Republic)—and was led to the home of our host, Abderrahman. As we entered his compound, the seasoned warrior, dressed in a blue darrâa, emerged from a UN tent, unfurled a carpet over the sand, ignited charcoal and began to prepare the customary tea for us. We attempted to translate from Hassaniya Arabic to Spanish to English over tea, getting a taste of enthusiastic nomad hospitality.

That night I heard firsthand the history of the Sahrawi people, who today are divided between Algerian refugee camps and a sliver of Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara that they call the “liberated territories.” For nearly four decades, warfare and political powers have trapped more than 150,000 Sahrawis in the camps and separated them from their family members in the liberated territories, which are bounded by the Moroccan wall to the west and Algeria’s border to the east.

When Morocco and Mauritania invaded Western Sahara in 1975 (Mauritania withdrew in 1979), they split up the land and seized the Sahrawis’ natural resources—water, rich fishing grounds and the world’s largest phosphate mine. Now, inhabiting either the arid, landlocked region of Western Sahara or the bare-bones camps of Algeria, the Sahrawi people depend entirely on international humanitarian aid for food, water and medicine. And while Western Sahara has none of the lead-poisoning problems of postindustrial America, its liberated territories have more landmines than any other place on the planet.

Mel Chin

In the tent of Abderrahman and his family. CREDIT: Mel Chin, 2011.

In the morning I awoke from this harrowing chronicle in a land of sand and rock that was brutally burnished by the sun—and I can guarantee that there was no bank in sight. I soon learned why the Sahrawi people were so interested in the Fundred Dollar Bill project: they have no currency of their own and deal mostly with Algerian dinars. In response, we created a background template for their currency, printed thousands of blank bills and distributed them through the camps, announcing a design opportunity. After we curated their drawings, the Sahrawis would vote on the designs for what might become their first currency.

The denominations for the currency, called “sollars,” were 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100. Children and teens drew the 5s and 10s; young adults, the 20s; and of course, the elders, the 100s. But the designs for the 50s would have two adult versions, one male and one female. The survivalist family culture that has emerged from the hostile desert climate has enforced a long-standing code of equality between the sexes. In a region where food is scarce and hot summer temperatures and freezing desert nights can kill, whoever survives the elements must be allowed equal rights in the tribe to barter and represent the family, regardless of religious dictates.

Mel Chin

The children’s school at the 27 February Camp. CREDIT: Mel Chin, 2011.

While I was in the camps, I came to understand that the symbolic and therapeutic benefits of designing the first Sahrawi currency with the refugees were not worthy enough goals. The Sahrawi people need a real economy. And to make that happen, the fictional currency I helped the refugees design had to be backed by something real and exchangeable on international markets.

As I mulled over the problem under the blazing sun, I realized that the desert holds the potential to bring Sahrawis economic and political independence—and the leverage necessary to help us all combat climate change.

What the world needs now is the first Bank of the Sun. The first solar energy–backed currency in the world could bring the Sahrawi people an independent economy and offer a major breakthrough in an environmental quagmire. We would create a new model of banking and currency, free from the dominance of gold and oil, for first-world countries to follow.

And this model would be delivered by the Sahrawi people, who have been waiting for freedom and self-determination for 39 years! By achieving worldwide renown for freeing people from hydrocarbon dependency, the Sahrawi could then barter with the global community for another form of independence: their right to self-determination.

Mel Chin Bank of the Sun Western SaharaFreedom is the concept propelling my action with the Sahrawi people. The sun on this poster for the Bank of the Sun is composed of the Arabic word for “freedom,” repeated 38 times—once for every year the Sahrawis have waited for the right to self-determination (as of last year). CREDIT: Mel Chin, 2013.

I admit that it was a pretty far-out and grand idea, but I suppose I did see a world of potential in Saharan solar energy, just like the jetway HSBC ad said. I was thinking like a bank.

After getting back from the Tindouf camps, I found myself in Texas, accepting a national award for my efforts in public art and, most likely, boring everyone with crazy talk about a Bank of the Sun in landmine-laced Western Sahara. My friends were more concerned about my diminishing sense of self-preservation than about anything I said—especially after I told them that my trip to Tifariti had been interrupted by the armed kidnapping of three foreign-aid workers from a neighboring refugee camp. They didn’t even entertain my ideas with any questions about how the bank idea could be pulled off.

As with most such gatherings, there was not much left to do after the award ceremony but drink and dance. So, with friends in tow, we honky-tonked through San Antonio, taking over a bar by the River Walk and proceeding to do what had to be done. While taking a break from the floor, I noticed a man about my age sitting at a table with a beer, tapping his feet to the bluesy beat. I had my posse pull him onto the floor. He began to move in a calculated way, like an engineer. Intrigued, I joined him and the party on the floor.

Over the din, I shouted, “What do you do?”

He shouted back, “I’m an engineer.”

“Really?” I asked. “What kind?”

“A solar engineer.”

I challenged Texas style: “So, ever heard of Western Sahara?”

Matter-of-factly he replied, “Yes, we designed a power station for the refugee camps there.”

For me, a light flicked on, burning away the haze of booze and turning the blaring R&B into a background of sweet birds; the bodies in frantic motion seemed to stand still. I urged him off the dance floor. He told me, in an Australian accent, that he was Dr. Richard Corkish, head of photovoltaic engineering at the University of New South Wales in Australia. Not only that—his colleague had just been in the same refugee camps I had visited, advising on how to power a women’s clinic. It was a profound coincidence, to say the least. We closed the bar, and I left clutching Dr. Corkish’s business card.

For me, a light flicked on, burning away the haze of booze and turning the blaring R&B into a background of sweet birds.

Since our night on the floor, Dr. Corkish has been an adviser to the Bank of the Sun, which is on its way to becoming a reality. He has assigned students the project as part of his curriculum and counseled us on the design of a modular, pragmatic stand-alone solar power plant in Western Sahara, as well as a cost-effective method for transmitting power. Following Corkish’s methodologies, we could generate more than enough energy for Sahrawi needs, creating a surplus to sell to neighboring countries or even to Europe. By working in the Western Sahara to retool our approach to energy, we would prove that the most advanced methods of solar-power storage and delivery are feasible even in a place with no infrastructure. The most appropriate technology for us all could be built from the sand up.

In February 2013 I discussed the project with Ahmad Bukhari, the Polisario representative to the United Nations, and later with Mohamed Yeslem Beisat, the ambassador to the United States for the Western Saharan people. Skeptical at first, they have both become advisers and creative collaborators.

To make the first Bank of the Sun a reality, we have to find a place where electricity can be generated that is both safe from armed conflict and close enough to someone interested in buying energy. Bukhari suggested placing the stand-alone solar power plant not in the camps but in Mijek, a nomadic outpost in the liberated territories. Mijek continues to be the most likely site because the energy could be sold to Zouérat, a town in northern Mauritania where an iron ore mine needs more power than is available. The Mauritanian ambassador recently confirmed that the country would buy any energy offered. I have started to seek funds for a fact-finding trek, during which I will finally step on the sands of Western Sahara.

Mel Chin

The site and plans for the potential Bank of the Sun. CREDIT: Mel Chin, 2013.

During my time in the Sahrawi refugee camps, I relearned a lesson I picked up in the flood-wracked and environmentally poisoned parts of New Orleans: you are not inspired by tragedy or human suffering—you are compelled.

My brilliant translator, a young man named Mohamed Sulaiman Labat, was born in the camps and has never traveled beyond his host country, Algeria, or the shameful wall of sand and explosives erected by Morocco in Western Sahara. Sulaiman is majestic in his capacity for optimism and his aptitude for imagining alternative futures based on ideas we discussed during my stay. On our last night together, he spoke with me about staring each night into the vast sky above the camps. He then asked, “No disrespect, but why is it so easy for an artist to see our need for justice when the rest of the world can’t?”

A question like that makes you think about what could be and about how our humanity is challenged if we don’t take action to amplify his question—and to force an answer.

———————–

This piece from Creative Time Reports is republished without trying to track down permission. Climate Reports is made possible by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. This series is produced in conjunction with the 2013 Marfa Dialogues/NY organized by Ballroom Marfa, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation and the Public Concern Foundation. We hope that the authors will not mind our trying to publicize their very sound dream for a mos reasonable future. The only question is if the world will be enlightened enough to see that the true realists are the dreamers of today.

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 11th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)



U.S. Climate Has Already Changed, Study Finds, Citing Heat and Floods.

Declaring that the issue of human-induced climate change had “moved firmly into the present,” a major study released by the White House  found that water shortages, torrential rains, heat waves and wildfires were worsening.

——————————————————-

 

FROM THE WHITE HOUSE:

Climate Change- And President Obama’s Action Plan.

President Obama has announced a series of executive actions to reduce carbon pollution, prepare the U.S. for the impacts of climate change, and lead international efforts to address global climate change.

The National Climate Assessment:

Watch Dr. John Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science & Technology, discuss the Report. 

On May 6, the Administration released the Third U.S. National Climate Assessment, the most authoritative and comprehensive source of scientific information to date about climate-change impacts across all U.S. regions and on critical sectors of the economy.
The report, a key deliverable of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, confirms that climate change is not a distant threat — it’s affecting us now.
Explore the report
—————————–

Due to climate change,

the weather is getting more extreme.


Temperatures are rising across the U.S.

Temperatures from 2001 to 2012 were warmer than any previous decade in every region of the United States. Explore this interactive map from the National Climate Assessment to learn more.

Globally, the 10 warmest years on record all occurred since 1998.

Source: NOAA

For the contiguous 48 states, 7 of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 1998.

Source: NOAA


2012 was the second most extreme year on record for the nation

Source: NOAA, U.S. Climate Extremes Index

Record Heat Across the U.S.

State-by-state temperatures in 2012 – graphs provided.

Also in 2012:

Warmest Year on Record for the U.S.

Doesn’t include Alaska, Hawaii, or U.S. territories.

Source: NOAA

Record High Temperatures Tied or Broken

One-third of the U.S. Population experienced 100 degree F temperature

Above Average

6th-10th Warmest Year on Record

2nd-5th Warmest Year on Record

Warmest Year on Record

Source: National Climate Data Center/NESDIS/NOAAV

Doesn’t include Alaska, Hawaii, or U.S. territories.


Droughts, Wildfires, and Floods are all more frequent and intense

Precipitation was 2.57 inches below the 20th Century Average

Source: NOAA

15th driest year on record

Source: NOAA

Wildfires burned more than 9.3 million U.S. acres

Source: National Interagency coordination center


Extreme weather comes at a cost

Climate and weather disasters in 2012 alone cost the American economy more than $100 billion



$30 Billion

U.S. drought/heatwave

Estimated across the U.S.

$65 Billion

Superstorm Sandy

Estimated

$11.1 Billion

Combined severe weather

Estimated for incidents across the U.S.


$1 Billion

Western wildfires

Estimated

$2.3 Billion

Hurricane Isaac

Estimated

There are also public health threats associated with extreme weather

Children, the elderly, and the poor are most vulnerable to a range of climate-related health effects, including those related to heat stress, air pollution, extreme weather events, and diseases carried by food, water, and insects.


We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgement of science — and act before it’s too late.”
- President Obama


Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter

We’re still contributing to the problem

Carbon pollution is the biggest
driver of climate change


Global temperatures and carbon dioxide levels are on the rise

The global annual average temperature has increased by more than 1.5 degrees F between 1880 and 2012. This interactive graph from the National Climate Assessment shows the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide over the same time period. Climate scientists say we need to avert an additional 2-degree temperature increase to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.


U.S. greenhouse gas pollution includes:

Carbon Dioxide (CO2), 82%

Enters the atmosphere through burning fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil), solid waste, trees and wood products, and also as a result of certain chemical reactions (e.g., manufacture of cement).

Fluorinated gases, 3%

Hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride are synthetic, powerful greenhouse gases that are emitted from a variety of industrial processes.

Nitrous Oxide (N2O), 6%

Emitted during agricultural and industrial activities, as well as during combustion of fossil fuels and solid waste.

Methane (CH4), 9%

Emitted during the production and transport of coal, natural gas, and oil as well as from landfils.

Source: EPA

We’ve made progress thanks to:

Stronger Fuel Economy Standards

We set the highest fuel economy standards in American history that will double the efficiency of our cars and trucks by 2025.

INCREASING CLEAN ENERGY

Since President Obama took office, the U.S. increased solar generation by more than ten-fold and tripled electricity production from wind power.

Decreased Carbon Pollution

In 2012, U.S. greenhouse gas pollution fell to the lowest level in nearly 20 years.

Renewable Energy and Efficiency Targets

35 states have renewable energy targets in place, and more than 25 have set energy efficiency targets.


But we have more work to do.


Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter

The President’s Plan to Cut Carbon Pollution in America

Reducing Carbon Pollution from Power Plants

Power plants are the largest major source of emissions in the U.S., together accounting for roughly one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas pollution.

PROGRESS:

In September 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced proposed carbon pollution standards for new power plants.

PROGRESS:

EPA has met with more than 300 stakeholder groups from across the country to gather information on standards for existing power plants.


Continuing the momentum for the future:

Accelerating Clean Energy Leadership

During the President’s first term, the United States more than doubled generation of electricity from wind and solar energy.

PROGRESS:

The Department of the Interior (DOI) announced permitting the 50th utility-scale renewable energy project on public lands. The projects could support more than 20,000 jobs and generate enough electricity to power 4.8 million homes.

PROGRESS:

Since President Obama took office, the U.S. increased solar generation by more than ten-fold and tripled electricity production from wind power.


Continuing the momentum for the future:

Building a 21st Century Clean Energy Infrastructure

Heavy-duty vehicles (commercial trucks, vans, and buses) are currently the second largest source of greenhouse gas pollution within the transportation sector.


PROGRESS:

In January 2014, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum establishing the Federal government’s first Quadrennial Energy Review (QER) process, with an initial focus on our nation’s energy infrastructure.

PROGRESS:

In February 2014, President Obama directed EPA and DOT to develop and issue the next phase of heavy-duty vehicle fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards by March 2016.

PROGRESS:

In 2011, the Administration finalized fuel economy standards for Model Year 2014-2018 for heavy-duty trucks, buses, and vans. This will reduce green-house gas emissions by about 270 million metric tons and save 530 million barrels of oil.

PROGRESS:

The Administration has already established the toughest fuel economy standards for passenger vehicles in U.S. history. These standards require an average performance equivalent of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.


Continuing the momentum for the future:

Cutting energy waste in homes, businesses, and factories

Energy efficiency is one of the clearest and most cost-effective opportunities to save families money, make our businesses more competitive, and reduce greenhouse gas pollution.


PROGRESS:

Since June more than 50 multifamily housing partners – representing roughly 200,000 units and over 190 million square feet – have joined the President’s Better Buildings Challenge.

PROGRESS:

In President Obama’s first term, DOE and HUD completed efficiency upgrades in nearly two million homes, saving many families more than $400 on their heating and cooling bills in the first year alone.

PROGRESS:

In December 2013, the Department of Agriculture announced it will provide up to $250 million to help business and residential customers in rural areas cut their energy bills through energy efficiency and renewable energy use.

PROGRESS:

Since June, DOE has issued nine proposed and five final energy conservation standards for appliances and equipment. If finalized and combined with rules already issued, the energy savings will help cut consumers’ electricity bills by hundreds of billions of dollars.


Continuing the momentum for the future:

Reducing other greenhouse gas emissions

Emissions of Hydrofluorocardons (HFCs) — which are potent greehouse gases — are expected to double by 2020 and nearly triple by 2030 in the U.S.

PROGRESS:

Since 1990, methane emissions have decreased by 11% in part through partnerships with industry.

PROGRESS:

In March 2014, the Administration released a Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions from landfills, coal mining, agriculture, and oil and gas systems through voluntary actions and common-sense standards.


Continuing the momentum for the future:

Federal leadership

Since 2008, federal agencies have reduced greenhouse gas pollution by more than 17 percent — the equivalent of permanently taking 1.8 million cars off the road.

PROGRESS:

In December 2011, President Obama signed a memorandum challenging federal agencies to enter into $2 billion worth of performance contracts for building energy efficiency within two-years.

PROGRESS:

On December 5, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum directing the federal government to buy at least 20% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.


Continuing the momentum for the future:


Even as we take new steps to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, we must also prepare for the impacts of a changing climate that are already being felt across the country.


Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter

The President’s Plan Will

Prepare for the impacts of climate change

Moving forward, the Obama Administration will help states, cities, and towns build stronger communities and infrastructure, protect critical sectors of our economy as well as our natural resources, and use sound science to better understand and manage climate impacts.

Assess the Impacts of Climate Change

GOALS

Provide an assessment of climate change impacts on the United States that translates scientific insights into practical knowledge that can help decision-makers prepare for specific impacts.

PROGRESS:

On May 6, the Administration released the Third U.S. National Climate Assessment (NCA), the most authoritative and comprehensive source of scientific information to date about climate-change impacts across all U.S. regions and on critical sectors of the economy. The NCA serves as a critical resource for informing climate preparedness and response decisions across the Nation.


Support climate-resilient investments

GOALS

Remove policy barriers, modernize programs, and establish a short-term task force of state, local, and tribal officials to advise on key actions the federal government can take to support local and state efforts to prepare for climate change.

PROGRESS:

Federal agencies are working to ensure grants, technical assistance, and other programs support smarter, more resilient investments.

PROGRESS:

Established the President’s State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, which is made up of 26 Governors, county executives, mayors and tribal leaders.


Rebuild and learn from Superstorm Sandy

GOALS

Pilot innovative strategies in the Superstorm Sandy-affected region to strengthen communities against future extreme weather and other climate impacts and update flood risk reduction standards for all federally funded projects.

PROGRESS:

From HUD grants and DOT funding for resilient transit systems to a DOI competition for support for coastal resilience projects, over $10B in Sandy recovery funds is being used to increase resilience.

PROGRESS:

On August 19 the Hurricane Sandy Task Force delivered a rebuilding strategy that is serving as a model for communities across the nation.


Launch an effort to create sustainable and resilient hospitals

GOALS

Establish a public-private partnership on increasing resilience of the health care industry.

PROGRESS:

HHS is on track to release a resource packet in fall 2014 providing best practices for increasing the resilience of healthcare facilities.


Maintain Agriculture Productivity

GOALS

Deliver tailored, science-based knowledge to farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners to help them understand and prepare for the impacts of climate change.

PROGRESS:

USDA established seven new “regional climate hubs” to help farmers and ranchers adapt their operations to a changing climate.


Provide tools for Climate Resilience

GOALS

Include existing and newly developed climate preparedness tools and information that state, local and private-sector leaders need to make smart decisions.

PROGRESS:

In March 2014, the Administration launched the Climate Data Initiative, bringing together extensive open government data and innovation competitions to develop data-driven resilience tools for communities.


Reduce Risk of Droughts and Wildfires

GOALS

Make it easier for communities to get the assistance they need to adapt to drier conditions.

PROGRESS:

Launched the National Drought Resilience Partnership and released the National Wildfire Cohesive Strategy.


Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter

Because climate change spans international borders, the President’s plan will also

Lead international efforts to address global climate change

America will continue to take on a leadership role in engaging the world’s major economies to advance key climate priorities and in galvanizing global action through international climate negotiations. The plan will:

WORK WITH OTHER COUNTRIES TO TAKE ACTION TO ADDRESS CLIMATE CHANGE

Lead public sector financing toward cleaner energy

PROGRESS:

The President put forth an initiative to end public financing for new coal-fired power plants overseas, except in rare circumstances. Following the lead of the U.S., other nations—including the U.K., the Netherlands, and the Nordic countries—have joined the initiative.


 

Bilat cooperation with major economies

PROGRESS:

President Obama has made climate change a key issue in some of our most important bilateral relations, including China and India. Together, we are making progress around issue areas such as vehicle emissions standards, energy efficiency, and clean energy initiatives.


 

Expand clean energy use and cut energy waste

PROGRESS:

Facilitating the transition to a global clean energy economy, the U.S. Department of Energy is leading the Clean Energy Ministerial, a high-level global forum that promotes policies and programs aimed at scaling up energy efficiency and clean energy.


 

COMBAT SHORT-LIVED CLIMATE POLLUTANTS

PROGRESS:

Building on the breakthrough June 2013 agreement on hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by President Obama and China’s President Xi, G-20 leaders in September 2013 expressed support for using the expertise and institutions of the Montreal Protocol to phase down HFCs.

PROGRESS:

The U.S. continues to spearhead the Climate and Clean Air Coalition which has expanded to 88 partners, including 39 countries. The Coalition is implementing ten initiatives to reduce emissions of methane, HFCs, and black carbon.


 

Reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation

PROGRESS:

In November 2013, the U.S., Norway, and the U.K. launched a public-private partnership to support forests in developing countries, with the goal of reducing emissions from deforestation and promoting sustainable agriculture.


 

NEGOTIATE GLOBAL FREE TRADE IN ENVIRONMENTAL GOODS AND SERVICES

PROGRESS:

In January 2014, a U.S.-led coalition of countries—representing 86% of global trade in environmental goods—announced plans to launch talks aimed at eliminating tariffs on a wide range of environmental goods under the World Trade Organization.


 

ENHANCE MULTILATERAL ENGAGEMENT WITH MAJOR ECONOMIES

PROGRESS:

The United States continues to play an active role in shaping the design of a new global climate agreement due in 2015, including through our chairmanship of the major economies forum on energy and climate.


 

Mobilize climate finance

PROGRESS:

In April 2014, the U.S., U.K., and Germany announced the Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance, a public-private platform designed to spur private-sector investment in low-carbon, climate-resilient infrastructure in developing countries.


 

Lead efforts to address climate change through international negotiations

The United State has made historic progress in the international climate negotiations during the past four years.

Moving Forward

The U.S. has committed to expand major new and existing international initiatives, including bilateral initiatives with China, India, and other major emitting countries.

We will lead global public sector financing toward cleaner energy by ending U.S. government financial support for new coal-fired power plants overseas, with limited exceptions.


###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

    Tax Breaks That Are Killing the Planet

 The comments show how deep is the Republican brainwashing of the population. You have here pundits for whom loss of life is nothing when compared to what they think is the right of corporations to make a profit.

What is even worse, nobody asked whose oil and coal is it anyway?  If Natural Resources are the property of the Whole Nation, then why should a company get depletion subsidies for their appropriating to themselves the natural National treasures? The whole system of paying royalties is inadequate – but the payment to them for the deletion of the resources is ridiculous. Getting a bonus for gains from misappropriated resources is much more like rewarding the CEOs for being great thieves! Just give it some more rational thinking and use the babble of the comments as your guideline.   ST.info editor)

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 24th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil. (photo: World Economic Forum)
Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil. (photo: World Economic Forum)

Fracking Infrastructure? Not in My Backyard, Says Exxon CEO

By Eve Andrews, Grist

23 February 14

 

oe is Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil.

Public utility Cross Timbers Water Supply Corp. has had the nerve to plan a water tower in Bartonville, Texasright next to Tillerson’s own personal horse ranch! Not only is the tower a blight on Tillerson’s very own piece of Texas forever, but it’s also going to bring all kinds of noise, traffic, and plebeians to his driveway. Oh, and one more thing – it’s also going to supply the energy companies that are quickly growing their fracking operations in the area. Included among these companies is XTO Energy, which ExxonMobil acquired in 2009.

Tillerson and his wife have brought suit against Cross Timbers to block the proposed water tower, and they’re not alone. Former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R) and his wife are the lead plaintiffs in the suit. Armey’s impressive track record includes a stint as chairman of Tea Party-affiliated FreedomWorks, a D.C.-based nonprofit committed to “helping activists fight for lower taxes, less government, and more freedom.”

The Cross Timbers case has been going on since 2012, and was recently sent back to the district court after a ruling reversal by an appellate judge, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Tillersons, Armeys, and their co-plaintiffs argue that they were promised that utility construction would not come near their homes. Cross Timbers’ position has been that, as a public utility, they can build wherever they goddamn please.

Tillerson’s primary concern seems to lie in damage to the aesthetics and privacy of the property in which, as he repeatedly reminded the audience at a Bartonville town meeting in November, he’s invested millions of hard-fracked dollars. We might focus more on the danger of water contamination that tends to accompany fracking infrastructure, for which XTO Energy currently faces criminal charges in Pennsylvania. But, hey – you do you, Rex!

UPDATE: Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) has released a statement kindly inviting Tillerson to an exciting new club:

“I would like to officially welcome Rex to the ‘Society of Citizens Really Enraged When Encircled by Drilling’ (SCREWED). This select group of everyday citizens has been fighting for years to protect their property values, the health of their local communities, and the environment. We are thrilled to have the CEO of a major international oil and gas corporation join our quickly multiplying ranks.”

Read the rest of Polis’ statement here.

 


THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like!

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Are we one step closer to Obama green lighting the keystone pipeline? (photo: AP)
Are we one step closer to Obama green lighting the keystone pipeline? (photo: AP)

 

Keystone XL Pipeline Closer to Reality After State Department Review.

By Suzanne Goldenberg, Guardian UK

01 February 2014

 

• Review: no significant effect on carbon emissions likely
• Campaigners hope Obama will say no to crude-oil project

 

he Keystone XL, a mundane pipeline project that escalated into a bitter proxy war over climate change and North America’s energy future, moved one important step closer to reality on Friday.

The State Department, in its final environmental review of the project, concluded that the pipeline, which would carry crude from the Alberta tar sands in Canada to refineries on the Texas Gulf coast, would not – on its own – have a “significant” effect on carbon pollution.

The report acknowledged that crude from the tar sands was 17% more carbon intensive than conventional oil. But it said that did not mean that the project on its own would worsen climate change by expanding production from the tar sands.

“The approval or denial of any single given project is unlikely to significantly affect the extraction of the oil sands,” Kerri-Ann Jones, assistant secretary of state, said during a conference call with reporters.

The finding clears the way for President Barack Obama to approve a project that has became a highly charged symbol of the fight over North America’s energy future. But he is under no deadline. The State Department said that the environmental impact statement it released on Friday was not an automatic guarantee Keystone XL would be completed.

“It’s only part of what we need to look at in order to make this important decision,” Jones said. She said that the decision-making process would also examine issues of energy security, foreign policy and economic interests, along with climate change.

Eight government agencies and the public now have 90 days to weigh in on the project. Secretary of State John Kerry, who worked on climate change for years in the Senate, will also have a say. The final decision rests with Obama, who will determine whether Keystone XL is in the US national interest.

But after five years of wrangling and delays, it now appears increasingly likely that TransCanada will be able to build the pipeline.

“If anything I would hope we would see a shorter time frame rather than a longer time frame,” Russ Girling, TransCanada’s chief executive, told reporters. “My view is that the 90 days could be truncated significantly because I do believe that a lot of the inter-agency consultation has already taken place.”

Girling said it would take two full years to build the pipeline, once it had final approval.

The State Department, in Friday’s report, essentially concluded that Keystone would have little material effect on greenhouse gas emissions and that Canada would continue to develop and ship tar sands crude with or without the pipeline.

“Approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including the proposed project, is unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands or the continued demand for heavy crude at refineries in the United States,” the review said.

The review included models suggesting that transporting oil by rail would generate even more greenhouse gas emissions than a pipeline, and also discussed measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the pipeline.

“The facts do support this project. The science continues to show that this project can and will be built safely,” Girling said. “It will have a minimal effect on the environment and it will not significantly impact carbon emissions.”

The finding came as a bitter disappointment to environmental groups and some Democratic members of Congress, who had urged Obama to reject the pipeline.

“Even though the State Department continues to downplay clear evidence that the Keystone XL pipeline would lead to tar sands expansion and significantly worsen carbon pollution, it has, for the first time, acknowledged that the proposed project could accelerate climate change,” said Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, a campaigner for the Natural Resources Defence Council.

“Piping the dirtiest oil on the planet through the heart of America would endanger our farms, our communities, our fresh water and our climate. This is absolutely not in our national interest.”

The campaign against Keystone XL has become a national movement over the last three years, with environmental activists, Nebraska landowners and hedge fund managers all coming out against the project. In 2012, Obama, under pressure from landowners concerned about underground water sources and sensitive prairie, rejected the first proposed route for the pipeline across Nebraska.

The White House continued to come under pressure from environmental campaigners. Former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer took out television ads on Tuesday, the night of Obama’s state of the union address, attacking Keystone XL, and other wealthy Democratic donors wrote open letters to the White House seeking to shut down the project.

The pipeline would eventually double the amount of crude oil being shipped from Alberta’s tar sands.

Campaign groups argued it would open up a vast store of carbon and tie North America more closely to a fossil fuel future. The climate scientist James Hansen said building Keystone XL would be “game over” for the planet.

Industry groups and supporters said the project would help protect America’s energy supplies and provide jobs.

Republicans in Congress – joined by some Democrats in conservative or oil-producing states – put forward legislation to compel Obama to move on the pipeline. They also warned that rejection of Keystone XL would damage relations with Canada, which has lobbied hard for the project.

Canada’s prime minister, Stephen Harper, built his economic strategy around natural resource extraction – despite its toll on the climate. The Canadian government, in a report to the United Nations last September, estimated its carbon emissions will soar 38% by 2030, largely because of the development of the tar sands.

Others argued that opponents had oversold the importance of Keystone XL as a contributor to future climate change. They said Obama’s commitment to cutting carbon pollution from power plants – the single biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions – would have a far greater impact on the climate.

Obama said last June that he would base his decision on the project’s carbon pollution impacts.

Some campaigners said they hoped Friday’s finding would still provide enough leeway for a refusal.

“The State Department has given Obama all the room he needs to do what he promised in both campaigns: to take serious steps against global warming,” said Bill McKibben, the co-founder of 350.org, which led the fight against the pipeline. “Now we’ll see if he’s good for his word.”

But Obama has been consistent in trying to move on climate change while expanding fossil fuel development, much to the frustration of campaigners who say the two policies are incompatible. In his state of the union address, Obama gave strong support to natural gas development, but made no mention of Keystone.

The State Department had conducted two earlier environmental reviews of the project. Last March, it found that if Obama rejected the pipeline Alberta crude would go to market by rail or other pipelines. But it revisited the issue under criticism from the Environmental Protection Agency, which said the early reviews had not been broad enough.

The State Department is awaiting a separate report from its inspector general, into allegations by environmental groups that a contractor’s review was biased because of connections to TransCanada and the oil industry.

“It seems like it’s been very influenced by industry and that’s highly problematic,” said Scott Parkin, senior campaigner at Rainforest Action Network.

Activists immediately called a series of protests against the decision.

Nearly 80,000 people have signed up to commit civil disobedience to stop approval of the pipeline, said Elijah Zarlin, senior campaign manager at Credo.

“If the State Department is recommending to the president that this is in the national interest, that would trigger action,” he said.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 25th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Koch World 2014

By Kenneth P. Vogel, Politico

25 January 2014

 

f the Koch brothers’ political operation seemed ambitious in 2010 or 2012, wait for what’s in store for 2014 and beyond.

The billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch are convening some of the country’s richest Republican donors on Sunday at a resort near Palm Springs, Calif., to raise millions of dollars for efforts to shape the political landscape for years to come.

It’s the cash that can possibly kick Democrats out of the Senate majority this fall and shape the philosophy and agenda of the GOP conference – not to mention the 2016 presidential field.

The Koch political operation has become among the most dominant forces in American politics, rivaling even the official Republican Party in its ability to shape policy debates and elections. But it’s mostly taken a piecemeal approach, sticking to its sweet spots, while leaving other tasks to outsiders, or ad hoc coalitions of allies.

That’s changing. This year, the Kochs’ close allies are rolling out a new, more integrated approach to politics. That includes wading into Republican primaries for the first time to ensure their ideal candidates end up on the ticket, and also centralizing control of their network to limit headache-inducing freelancing by affiliated operatives.

The shift is best illustrated in the expansion of three pieces of the Koch political network expected to be showcased or represented at the three-day meeting in Palm Springs, whose evolving roles were described to POLITICO by several sources.

    • Center for Shared Services: a nonprofit recruiter and administrative support team for other Koch-backed groups, which provides assistance with everything from scouting office space to accounting to furniture and security.

 

    • Freedom Partners: a nonprofit hub that doled out $236 million in 2012 to an array of conservative nonprofits that is now expanding its own operation so that it can fulfill many of the functions of past grantees.

 

  • Aegis Strategic: a political consulting firm started last year by Koch-allied operatives who will recruit, train and support candidates who espouse free-market philosophies like those beloved by the Kochs, and will also work with nonprofit groups in the Koch network, like Freedom Partners, with which it has a contract to provide policy analysis.

The Koch network raised an astounding $400 million in the run-up to 2012, spending much of it assailing President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats. After the Election Day letdown, the Kochs did an in-depth analysis to find out what went wrong and what they could do better. Among the areas identified for improvement were greater investments in grassroots organizing, better use of voter data and more effective appeals to young and Hispanic voters, according to sources.

Still, the big question was whether the donors who attend the conferences would keep stroking big checks or scale back their efforts. There’s no way to measure that definitively, since most of the groups in the network don’t disclose their finances regularly or reveal their donors. Early indications, though, suggest enthusiasm is high.

Groups in the Koch network – led by the brothers’ main political vehicle Americans for Prosperity – spent $25 million between the summer and early this month on ads bashing Democrats over Obamacare, which have been credited for hurting Democratic senators who are vulnerable in 2014.

James Davis, an official at Freedom Partners told POLITICO that his group has expanded rapidly, “and we expect to continue to grow.”

The 2014 potential of AfP, Freedom Partners and the other groups in the network depends in large part on the reception they get at this weekend’s gathering – the annual winter installment in the Kochs’ long-running series of twice-a-year meetings. Koch Industries spokesman Rob Tappan declined to comment on the Palm Springs meeting, but the company’s website includes a statement describing the events as bringing together “some of America’s greatest philanthropists and most successful business leaders” to “discuss solutions to our most pressing issues and strategies to promote policies that will help grow our economy, foster free enterprise and create American jobs.”

Many of the right’s most generous benefactors – folks like Minnesota media mogul Stan Hubbard, Wall Street investor Ken Langone and Wyoming mutual fund guru Foster Friess – are regulars. The gatherings, which attendees call “seminars” and are typically held at tony resorts, routinely attract some of the top operatives and biggest names in Republican politics, as well as rising stars tapped by the Kochs’ operatives.

The last seminar, held in August outside Albuquerque, N.M., drew Rep. Paul Ryan, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and Iowa state legislator Joni Ernst, who is running in a crowded GOP Senate primary.

The seminars typically conclude with pledge sessions that can raise tens of millions of dollars. In 2012, that cash mostly went into a pair of non-profit conduits – Freedom Partners and the Center to Protect Patient Rights – whose operatives then doled it out to a range of nonprofits blessed by the Koch operation, including some groups asked to make presentations to donors at the seminars.

But several sources suggested that Freedom Partners’ growth and expansion into a more central strategic role within the network means that the roles – and possibly funding – of the Center to Protect Patient Rights and other groups in the network will diminish. In other words, Freedom Partners will bring in-house many Koch network functions that had been outsourced. That could reduce the chances of a repeat of situations like that which the Center to Protect Patient Rights and one of its beneficiary nonprofits found themselves in California, where they paid $1 million last year to settle an investigation into alleged campaign finance violations. The settlement stipulated that the violation “was inadvertent, or at worst negligent,” but the investigation brought unwanted attention to the Kochs, who repeatedly stressed that they had no involvement in the matter and distanced themselves from the operative who ran the Center to Protect Patient Rights, Sean Noble, explaining that he was just a consultant.

Freedom Partners, by contrast, is run by Marc Short, a former Koch employee, and staffed by other Koch loyalists, although Koch Industries issued a statement saying the group “operates independently of Koch Industries.” The group, established in November 2011, is technically a business league, and its members pay at least $100,000 in annual dues. “Our membership has grown out of concern that the administration’s policies are hurting Americans by crippling businesses and our economy,” Davis said. The growth has continued since the 2012 election, he said, adding that the group is in the process of expanding its 50-employee staff.

It appears to be looking to hire a creative director to make videos for both Freedom Partners and other groups, as well as an executive to work with the groups’ donors and help raise money for it and other groups. Those postings are listed on the website of the Center for Shared Services, which sources say is filling an innovative niche recruiting talent for the entire Koch network.

The network’s ambitious plans are borne out in the Center’s job board, which has an array of posts that hint at major 2014 expansions that seem to track areas of improvement identified in the Kochs’ post-2012 analysis.

The website doesn’t actually list the groups for which it’s hiring, but sources say the Center — which was founded in mid-2011 and received $2.7 million from Freedom Partners in 2012 — is primarily devoted to boosting Koch-backed nonprofits. All the services it provides are “free or substantially below cost,” according to the group’s tax filings, which show it spent only $1.2 million through mid-2012. Center officials did not respond to requests for comment, but the group’s job board reads like a guide to Koch World.

“The leading data and technology provider for the pro-free market public policy and advocacy community” is looking to hire about a dozen positions, including developers to “help build data driven web and mobile applications systems.” The outfit is based in Alexandria, Va., where the Koch-backed voter data non-profit Themis and its for-profit arm i360 are headquartered.

A “youth advocacy organization” is seeking directors, volunteer coordinators and event coordinators in multiple states who have worked on national political campaigns, and have voter identification and turnout experience. The Koch network’s youth advocacy nonprofit is called Generation Opportunity and it, like the organization in the postings and many Koch-backed non-profits, is based in the Washington suburb of Arlington, Va. An organization dedicated to Hispanic voter outreach – much like the Koch-backed LIBRE Initiative – is hiring field directors in Colorado, New Mexico and Texas.

Americans for Prosperity, The LIBRE Initiative and Generation Opportunity have focused their efforts primarily on beating up Democrats over Obamacare, but after 2013 conservative operatives had studied the Koch operation for signs that it might throw its weight into Republican primaries. AfP’s president Tim Phillips had suggested that was a possibility for his group, which could have seriously altered the balance of power in the battle for the soul of the GOP. And, while POLITICO has learned that AfP ultimately decided against such a move, sources say that Aegis is envisioned as a way for Koch operatives to mix it up in primaries.

“They are the candidate-support operation of the Koch network,” said one GOP operative who has met with Aegis president Jeff Crank about his firm’s plans. “They’re looking at these races and looking to get involved in primaries.”

Crank, who ran twice unsuccessfully for congress in Colorado, was the director of that state’s chapter of Americans for Prosperity, before serving a stint as the interim chief operating officer for the entire organization after a post-2012 election shakeup. Another Aegis staffer ran AfP’s Nebraska chapter, while a third worked at Themis.

Crank didn’t respond to phone calls or emails for this story, but last week on the Saturday morning radio show he hosts on a Colorado station, he said one of the reasons he started Aegis was “because we’re trying to end that kind of nonsense from political consultants, who just go out and get a candidate so they can get a job.” On his show a week earlier, he praised the Koch brothers, calling them “some of the most philanthropic givers in the United States of America” — citing their donations to medical research, the Smithsonian and various arts programs in New York. “But they’re vilified if they give any money to try and keep America free.”

Sources told POLITICO that Koch network donors invested in Aegis. Crank told the Denver Post that he had financial backers, though he didn’t identify them, and said he also used his own money. He said his goal was avoiding GOP electoral meltdowns like Todd Akin, who won a Missouri Senate primary, only to implode in the general election campaign when he asserted that victims of “legitimate rape” very rarely get pregnant.

“Our effort is to find good candidates who are committed to pulling America off the fiscal cliff, whether they are gubernatorial candidates or U.S. House or U.S. Senate candidates,” he told the Denver Post. Mother Jones reported that Crank has touted his ties to the Kochs and their fundraising network and that its first client is a New Hampshire state lawmaker who has been an AfP ally.

It’s unclear if Aegis has signed any gubernatorial or congressional candidates yet, but POLITICO has learned that Aegis and i360 both made informal pitches to work for Ernst’s Iowa Senate campaign around the time that she attended the August seminar in Albuquerque, for which her campaign reimbursed Koch Companies Public Sector $242 for “event registration fee,” according to Federal Election Commission filings. They show the campaign also spent $884 on lodging at the Hyatt where the conference was held. Derek Flowers, an Ernst campaign staffer, told POLITICO that the payment to Koch was “to cover the cost of meals and expenses while at the retreat” which was paid for by the company, and said ultimately the campaign decided to go with firms other than Aegis and i360.

Ernst, though, said she was grateful for the chance to appear before the Koch network donors in Albuquerque, where she talked her campaign and why she thought she would be a good senator. “I do think it gets my name out there,” she said last year, in previously unreported comments. “Not everyone will jump on board and support just because of that, but it is good to get the name out, absolutely.”

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

Sunday New York Times Review   |   Editorial

The Koch Party

Only a few weeks into this midterm election year, the right-wing political zeppelin is fully inflated with secret cash and is firing malicious falsehoods at supporters of health care reform.

As Carl Hulse of The Times reported recently, Democrats have been staggered by a $20 million advertising blitz produced by Americans for Prosperity, the conservative advocacy group organized and financed by the Koch brothers, billionaire industrialists. The ads take aim at House and Senate candidates for re-election who have supported the health law, and blame them for the hyped-up problems with the law’s rollout that now seem to be the sole plank in this year’s Republican platform.

In one typical example, the group’s ad against Representative Gary Peters of Michigan, a Democrat who is running for an open Senate seat, is full of distortions and lies. It accuses Mr. Peters of lying when he said the law bars cancellations of insurance policies. Mr. Peters happened to be right, as millions of people who once faced losing all insurance after they got sick now appreciate. The 225,000 Michigan residents who the ad said received “cancellation notices” were actually told that they could change to a better policy; they were not told they could no longer have insurance, as the ad implies. And though the ad said health care costs are “skyrocketing,” national spending on health care is now growing at the slowest pace ever recorded, in part because of the reform law.

Democrats intend to counter this campaign with the facts, but few of the candidates have the money to do so now. As a result, the campaign is taking a serious political toll, increasing the chances that Republicans who support a repeal of the law will win back the Senate majority this fall.

Naturally, Democrats are using the campaign to increase their own fund-raising, begging donors to give unlimited amounts to left-leaning super PACs and advocacy groups. But it is unlikely that they will be able to match the resources or the cunning of the Kochs, who are using vast pools of money earned through corporate revenues to build a network unrivaled in complexity and secrecy. This weekend, they are bringing together some of the biggest Republican bank accounts at a resort in Palm Springs, Calif., to collect money and plan this year’s strategy.

As Politico described it on Friday, they have already set up an operation so sophisticated it rivals “even the official Republican Party in its ability to shape policy debates and elections.” Its components include a political consulting firm to recruit, train and support like-minded antigovernment candidates, which will be active in the congressional primaries. There is also a center that provides technology and administrative services to right-wing groups and candidates, an office that compiles and analyzes voter data and a youth advocacy group.

In 2012, as The Washington Post reported, the Koch network raised $407 million, which was secreted among 17 groups with cryptic names and purposes that were designed to make it impossible to figure out the names of donors the Kochs worked with. As one tax expert told The Post, “it’s designed to make it opaque as to where the money is coming from and where the money is going.”

The Democrats have smaller versions of these operations, though they are more focused on building a super PAC to collect unlimited donations supporting Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2016, and they lack the resources to compete with the Kochs at this stage.

The clandestine influence of the Kochs and their Palm Springs friends would be much reduced if they were forced to play in the sunshine.

The Internal Revenue Service and several lawmakers are beginning to step up their interest in preventing “social welfare” organizations and other tax-sheltered groups from being used as political conduits, but they have encountered the usual resistance from Republican lawmakers. Considering how effectively the Koch brothers are doing their job, it’s easy to see why.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 PLEASE – REMEMBER PRESIDENT BUSH THE FIRST WHO PROUDLY DECLARED HE DOES NOT EAT BROCCOLI!

———————————————————————————-

 

The Standard American Diet in 3 Simple Charts

| Mon Jan. 20, 2014

US obesity and diabetes rates are among the globe’s very highest. Why? On her blog, the NYU nutritionist and food-politics expert Marion Nestle recently pointed (hat-tip, RealFood.org) to this telling chart on how we spend our grocery money, from the USDA’s Amber Waves publication:

So, we do a pretty good job eating enough potatoes. But the healthier, more brightly colored vegetables like kale and carrots, no so much. We spend four times the amount on refined grains the USDA thinks is proper, and about a fifth of the target expenditure in whole grains. We spend nearly 14 percent of our at-home food budgets on sugar and candies, and another 8 percent on premade frozen and fridge entrees. Whole fruit barley accounts for less than 5 percent of our grocery bill. And so on—a pretty dismal picture.

That chart deals with at-home expenditures. What about our food choices out in the world? The USDA article has more. This chart shows that we’re getting more and more of our sustenance outside of our own kitchens:

And while the article doesn’t offer comparable data to the above at-home chart about expenditures outside the home, it does deliver evidence that our eating out habits are pretty dire as well:

Why do we eat such crap food? The USDA throws up its hands: “Despite the benefits to overall diet quality,” the report states, “it can be difficult to convince consumers to change food preferences.”

But it never pauses top consider the food industry’s vast marketing budget. According to Yale’s Rudd Center, the US fast-food chains like McDonalds, Wendy’s, and Burger King spent $4.6 billion on advertising in 2012. “For context,” Rudd reports, “the biggest advertiser, McDonald’s, spent 2.7 times as much to advertise its products ($972 million) as all fruit, vegetable, bottled water, and milk advertisers combined ($367 million).” I can’t find numbers for the marketing budgets for the gigantic food companies that stock the middle shelves of supermarkets; but according to Advertising Age, Kraft alone spent $683 million on US advertising in 2012.

By contrast, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, the USDA’s sub-agency that “works to improve the health and well-being of Americans by developing and promoting dietary guidance that links scientific research to the nutrition needs of consumers,” had a proposed budget of $8.7 million in 2013.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 13th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

TODAY’S NEWS:  THIS WE POSTED JANUARY 10, 2014

A U.S. attorney has opened an investigation looking into the release of a potentially dangerous chemical into parts of West Virginia’s water supply.

Nearly 200,000 residents in nine counties have been told not to drink the water and avoid cooking with it, brushing their teeth or even taking a shower.

The spill of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol was found coming from a 48,000-gallon tank at a chemical storage facility about a mile upriver from the West Virginia American Water plant. The chemical is used to wash coal before it goes to market.

—————————————————–

THE NEW UPDATE – January 13, 2014:

Restaurants reopen with bottled water after West Virginia spill

Date: 13-Jan-14

Author: ANN MOORE of Reuters’ Planet Ark

 

Restaurants reopen with bottled water after West Virginia spill Photo: LISA HECHESKY
Water is distributed to residents at the South Charleston Community Center in Charleston, West Virginia, January 10, 2014.
Photo: LISA HECHESKY

(Reuters) – Restaurants and shops began reopening on Sunday in parts of West Virginia where the water supply was poisoned by a chemical spill, although up to 300,000 people spent a fourth day unable to use tap water for anything besides flushing toilets.

State government officials, the utility company West Virginia American Water and the National Guard continued to test the water supply after as much as 7,500 gallons (28,000 liters) of an industrial chemical leaked into the Elk River on Thursday.

It could still be several days before people in nine counties and Charleston, the state capital and largest city, can once again use the water from their faucets for drinking, cooking and bathing.

Earl Ray Tomblin, the governor of West Virginia, and other officials said at a press conference on Sunday that efforts to flush the chemical from the water supply were showing signs of progress, and that most water samples were found to be within safety limits for a second day.

But they did not specify when the drinking water ban might be lifted, instead saying they were working to create a website where residents will be able to check to see when the restriction is lifted in their area.

“Our team has been diligently testing samples from throughout the affected area, and the numbers look good,” Tomblin said. “I believe we’re at a point where we see light at the end of the tunnel.”

A dozen restaurants in Charleston had been allowed to reopen by Sunday afternoon by the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department after assuring officials that they have secured a source of potable water.

“It feels very expensive,” said Keeley Steele, who bought hundreds of bottles of water in order to reopen her comfort-food restaurant, the Bluegrass Kitchen, in Charleston on Sunday. “This is all coming at such a huge cost.”

Hotels were allowed to continue operating as long as they steer clear of using tap water, although several hotel owners said they were only honoring existing reservations to reduce the expense of shipping out linens for cleaning.

Officials have so far declined to estimate the economic cost of the spill.

Frustrations, however, continue to mount, with West Virginians lamenting the toll the outage has taken on their health and personal hygiene.

“It feels like we’ve all been living on junk food these past couple days,” Josephine Ritter, a 40-year-old hairstylist, said outside a recently reopened 7-Eleven convenience store in Charleston. “You can’t cook or clean or anything. It’s just bottled water and potato chips every day.”

The emergency began last week after a spillage from a tank belonging to Freedom Industries, a Charleston company that makes chemicals for the mining, steel and cement industries, authorities said.

The spill happened about a mile upriver from a West Virginia American Water treatment plant. President Barack Obama declared it an emergency, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency has sent dozens of tractor trailers loaded with clean water.

Water tainted by the spilled 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, or Crude MCHM, smells faintly of licorice. Contact with the water can cause nausea, vomiting, dizziness, diarrhea, rashes and reddened skin. Around 70 people had visited emergency rooms with these symptoms by Sunday, said Karen Bowling, Cabinet Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.

Some 1,045 people have called the West Virginia Poison Center since the spill to say they or someone in their household had been exposed, she said.

The “vast majority” of those people reported symptoms of some kind, said Elizabeth Scharman, the poison center’s director. While there is little data on the chemical’s effect on humans, she said most symptoms were easily treated and that rashes and feelings of nausea would soon fade.

“It’s not a highly toxic chemical, it’s an irritant chemical,” she said, adding that less than 10 people had had to be admitted to a hospital. More than 60 people had also called to say their livestock or pets had been exposed.

Meanwhile, some West Virginians are anticipating a disheveled start to the new work week.

“I’m not looking forward to going back to work on Monday without a shave or shower,” said Clark Mills, a 51-year-old contractor in Charleston. He has sent his family to stay with relatives in an unaffected part of the state while he waits out the problem.

“I have a 6-month-old baby,” he said. “We can’t live like this.”

(Reporting by Ann Moore and Jonathan Kaminsky; Writing by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Eric Walsh)

———————————-

 

Calls for Oversight in West Virginia Went Unheeded

###

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

The following is based on THE PENTAGON POST and on a PRESS RELEASE from the UNFCCC Headquarters in Bonn.

coal

 

Hundreds of youth groups from around the world have written to UN climate chief Christiana Figueres asking her to withdraw from the coal summit taking place at the same time as international climate talks.

 

At a time when the world  meets in Warsaw for the United Nations’ annual climate change conference, the Polish government has decided to preside as well over a high-level coal industry event on the sidelines of the two-week climate conference.

Companies dealing with coal, oil and gas normally maintain a low profile presence during the UN climate talks but Polish officials say that coal, which accounts for more than 80 percent of Poland’s electricity generation, won’t go away anytime soon and needs to be a key part of the climate debate.

 

The decision has also invited mixed reactions from the environmentalists who issue increasingly dire alarms that time is running short to head off the most disastrous effects of global warming.

 

Meanwhile, in a statement The Associated Press, the World Coal Association said the coal summit is meant as a contribution, not an alternative, to the UN talks. It noted that UN climate chief Christiana Figueres will be a keynote speaker at the event.

Hundreds of youth groups from around the world have written to UN climate chief Christiana Figueres asking her to withdraw from the coal summit taking place at the same time as international climate talks.

 

The Warsaw meet of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has no measurable targets. But observers hope it will at least do some legwork for a much-trumpeted deal, due to be signed in Paris in 2015 for implementation five years later.

 

——————————————————————————————-
THE UNFCCC PRESS RELEASE:

UN’s top climate change official tells coal industry it can and must radically change and diversify
(Warsaw, 18 November 2013) – Speaking to the International Coal and Climate
Summit, organized by the Polish government and the World Coal Association,
Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
Christiana Figueres said the coal industry can and must radically transform
and diversify to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Directly addressing the CEOs of major coal companies she said: “Let me be
clear from the outset that my joining you today is neither a tacit approval
of coal use, nor is it a call for the immediate disappearance of coal. But
I am here to say that coal must change rapidly and dramatically for
everyone’s sake.”

The World Coal Summit is taking place shortly after the release of the
findings of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),
which shows that human-generated climate change is real and accelerating,
and at the same time as the UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw.

“The IPCC’s findings have been endorsed by 195 governments, including all
of those in which you operate. We are at unprecedented greenhouse gas
concentrations in the atmosphere; our carbon budget is half spent. If we
continue to meet energy needs as we have in the past, we will overshoot the
internationally agreed goal to limit warming to less than two degree
Celsius,” she told the coal summit.

Ms. Figueres said that in order to make this radical transformation,
further capital expenditure on coal could only go ahead if it is compatible
with the 2 degree Celsius limit. She pointed to the building groundswell of
climate action and climate change-related policies at all levels of
government and society.

“All of this tells me that the coal industry faces a business continuation
risk that you cannot afford to ignore. Like any other industry, you have a
fiduciary responsibility to your workforce and shareholders. And by now it
is abundantly clear that further capital expenditures on coal can only go
ahead if they are compatible with the 2 degree Celsius limit.”

Ms. Figueres urged the coal industry to honestly assess the financial risks
of business as usual, to anticipate increasing regulation, growing finance
restrictions and diminishing public acceptance and to leverage technology
to reduce emissions immediately across the entire chain of coal output.

She also said that the industry would need to diversity its portfolio
beyond coal, noting that the bottom line for the atmosphere is that most
existing coal reserves will have to stay in the ground.

“Some major oil, gas and energy technology companies are already investing
in renewables, and I urge those of you who have not yet started to do this
to join them. By diversifying your portfolio beyond coal, you too can
produce clean energy that reduces pollution, enhances public health,
increases energy security, and creates new jobs,” she said.

Ending her speech, she called on the industry to “look past next quarter’s
bottom line and see the next generation’s bottom line.”

The speech by Christiana Figueres to the International Coal and Climate
Summit can be found at:
<unfccc.int/files/press/statements/application/pdf/20131811_cop19_coalassociation.pdf>
======================================================================

AND FROM BILL McKIBBEN LEANING FROM THE PHILIPPINES:

Friends,

 

When we last sent you an email about the Typhoon in the Philippines, we didn’t yet have a picture of what the impacts would look like.

 

Now we do. It looks like this.

 

In a reasonable world, Typhoon Haiyan would be the wakeup call that jolts world leaders meeting in Poland for UN climate talks into decisive action. Depressingly, the message isn’t yet getting through, which is why the Filipino delegation, and many allies, have embarked on a fast to underline the immense, immediate needs facing the victims of this storm.

 

For our part, we’re bringing thousands on thousands of messages of solidarity with Philippines climate leaders from around the world to the halls of the UN climate talks. This is our way of showing intransigent politicians that the world is counting on them to stand with the victims of Typhoon Haiyan and take real action.

 

Our team in Warsaw will deliver the messages alongside the Philippines delegation later this week, and it’s my hope that they’ll be carrying yours when they do. Click here to send a wake up call message on behalf of the Philippines.

 

Due to the overwhelming destruction of infrastructure and communication systems, the relief effort in the hardest hit places is only just beginning. In addition to sending that message, can you pitch in to support our friends in the Philippines as they recover from this unprecedented storm, if you’re able?

 

This Thursday, the penultimate day of UN talks, people will be gathering in climate justice for the Philippines vigils across the globe, to send the message we’re standing with the Philippines even if they won’t.

 

Yeb Sano, the lead Filipino negotiator at the UN Talks, has been fasting for 7 days in a brave protest of the inaction and delay in the face of climate disaster. And his courage is contagious: we’re hearing from people around the world who are fasting with him in solidarity.

 

The full account of the destruction won’t be known for a while yet, but the message of Typhoon Haiyan already couldn’t be clearer. It doesn’t feel quite right to look for good in moments like these, but there is at least a glimmer of hope that such a tragedy will cut through the fog of politics and reveal the urgency of this crisis.

 

I fear it will only happen if we push however, and so push we will.

 

Many thanks,

 

Bill

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

From IISD Reporting: 

As delegates kicked off the second half of the conference at the Warsaw National Stadium, another conference, deemed “controversial” by many, convened three kilometers away. At the International Coal and Climate Summit, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres delivered a keynote speech, warning that “the coal industry faces a business continuation risk it can no longer afford to ignore.” Previously, an open letter signed by several NGOs requested Figueres to withdraw from the event, worried that her presence would lend credibility to a conference “that should not be legitimized.” Responding to these concerns, and subsequently gaining a somewhat cautious approval from one NGO representative, Figueres specified in her keynote address that her presence “is neither a tacit approval of coal use, nor is it a call for the immediate disappearance of coal. But I am here to say that coal must change rapidly and dramatically for everyone’s sake.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 17th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

As reported today by Tom Kludt of the TPMlivewire:

As Congress looked to end the budget and debt crises – at least for now — a Republican congressman offered an ominous outlook on Wednesday.

Pledging to vote against the plan to re-open the government until Jan. 15, 2014 and raise the debt ceiling until at least Feb. 7, 2014 Rep. John C. Fleming (R-LA) indicated that he’s already looking toward the next showdown.

“I’ll vote against it,” Fleming said, as quoted by the New York Times, “But that will get us into Round 2. See, we’re going to start this all over again.”

Fleming was one of 144 House members — all Republicans — who voted against the deal that passed both houses of Congress on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, he told reporters that Republicans wanted to use the looming debt limit deadline as leverage.

————————————————————————————————-

Gridlock Has Cost U.S. Billions, and the Meter Is Still Running

By ANNIE LOWREY, NATHANIEL POPPER and NELSON D. SCHWARTZ

Damage to growth, employment and interest rates has already been extensive, economists say, even without a debt default and a continuation of the government shutdown.

————————————–=============================———————————————————–

NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL

The Republican Surrender

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD

After inflicting enormous damage, the House wins virtually nothing and gives up.

THE NEW YORK TIMES OP-ED COLUMN

Republican Collapse

By CHARLES M. BLOW

Far-right elements of the House prefer to go down in a blaze of glory – or at least take the country down in one.

 

—————————————————==================================————————————-

The GOP House leadership did not block a Senate agreement that was not blocked by the Senator from Texas – Mr.Ted Cruz, thus ending the shutdown and raising the debt ceiling, House Speaker John Boehner let know in a statement:

“The House has fought with everything it has to convince the president of the United States to engage in bipartisan negotiations aimed at addressing our country’s debt and providing fairness for the American people under Obamacare,” Boehner said. “That fight will continue. But blocking the bipartisan agreement reached today by the members of the Senate will not be a tactic for us.”

But above is below the honesty line. In effect the shutdown is out on vacation only till January 15th 2014, and their hand on the limitation of debt levels got a reprieve only till February 7th 2014. One can surely anticipate that above will continue at least to the November 2014 US elections cycle where the Republican candidates for positions like the Mayor of New York City or a Senator from New Jersey are expected to lose by unusually big margins.  Will this cause finally the split between the Tea Party and the main Republican body?

The Nations of the World are right to continue to worry on matters of US sanity and will surely continue to look for another Global Economy structure that is less based on the US printed Dollar. It is Ted Cruz and his partners that managed to accomplish the harm to the US that Bin Laden was not able to do. The Washington based Heritage Foundation under the new leadership of former Senator Jim DeMint seems to be a Circus-manager for the Republican side. The whole world sees the need for an immediate rebirth of Liberal-Republicanism when watching how Big Money and the extreme right have hijacked the present days Republican party.

—————-

Looking up DeMint and the Heritage Foundation we found:

Benjy Sarlin –

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) is leaving the Senate in January 2013 to run the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank based in Washington.”I’m leaving the Senate now, but I’m not leaving the fight,” DeMint said in a statement. “I’ve decided to join The Heritage Foundation at a time when the conservative movement needs strong leadership in the battle of ideas.”

As an unofficial leader of the tea party movement, DeMint was considered among the most powerful members of Congress. He cultivated a set of loyal followers — and bitter detractors — by backing conservative Senate candidates that he felt would be allies in confronting less hardline Republican leaders. A nod of support from his Senate Conservative Fund, which raised over $16 million in the most recent cycle alone, could put a previously obscure candidate on the national map immediately. Some of his bolder endorsements, like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rand Paul (R-KY), are now considered some of the party’s brightest stars. Others, like Christine O’Donnell, became some of the party’s biggest disasters.

DeMint embodied the “party of no” label the GOP earned over the last four years, frequently leading filibusters to stymie President Obama’s agenda and often threatening to scuttle deals reached between the White House and Republican leaders. During the 2009 health care debate, he famously described the Affordable Care Act as Obama’s “Waterloo,” saying its defeat would “break him.”

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who clashed with DeMint at times, praised his “uncompromising service” in a statement released after news broke of DeMint’s decision to step down.

“Jim helped provide a powerful voice for conservative ideals in a town where those principles are too often hidden beneath business as usual,” McConnell said.

The Heritage Foundation appears to be a good fit for DeMint’s style. Some of its staffers have clashed with Republican leaders in recent days, leading the charge against Speaker Boehner’s proposals to raise revenue as part of a fiscal cliff deal and hosting speaking engagements for conservative members of Congress who were stripped of their committee assignments.

But far from being a bomb-throwing outfit on the fringe of the Republican Party, the generously funded Heritage Foundation sits at the core of modern Republican Party in Washington. McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, a labor secretary under George W. Bush, is a distinguished fellow at Heritage, whose headquarters is just a couple of blocks from the Senate side of the Capitol complex.

It also presents a likely boost in compensation: DeMint makes $175,000 in salary as Senator, but outgoing Heritage president Edwin Feulner took home about $1,100,000 in 2010 according to the group’s public tax forms. DeMint is one of the least wealthy members of the Senate, reporting a net worth of $65,000 last year.

The group parallels DeMint’s — and the GOP’s — rightward shift in the Obama era. As Slate’s Dave Weigel noted on Thursday, DeMint supported Mitt Romney’s campaign in 2007, citing his mandate-based health care law. Romney in turn adapted his law from mandate-based proposals backed by the Heritage Foundation. By 2009, all three were leading opponents of Obama’s mandate-based health care reforms.

“Jim DeMint understands that conservative principles and values advance the interests of all Americans–regardless of age, gender, wealth or race,” Feulner said in a statement. “He is firmly committed Heritage’s immutable mission: to build an America where freedom, opportunity, prosperity and civil society flourish.” {that is what the Heritage Foundation writes on its mast-head while working for Big Money interests.}

——————————

An agreement struck by Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) ended a stalemate created last month, when hard-line conservatives pushed GOP leaders to use the threat of shutdown to block a landmark expansion of federally funded health coverage – an American Law vetted already by a Supreme Court decision that this law was fully in agreement with the US Constitution.

That campaign succeeded mainly in undermining popular support for the Republican Party, however. By late Wednesday, dozens of anxious GOP lawmakers were ready to give President Obama almost exactly what he requested months ago: a bill to fund the government and increase the Treasury Department’s borrowing power with no strings attached.“We’ve been locked in a fight over here, trying to bring government down to size, trying to do our best to stop Obamacare,” House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told a Cincinnati radio station. “We fought the good fight. We just didn’t win.”The Senate overwhelmingly ratified the deal Wednesday evening, 81 to 18, with more than half of Senate Republicans voting yes.A few hours later, the House followed suit, approving the measure 285 to 144. Eighty-seven Republicans joined a united Democratic caucus in approving the measure, allowing Congress to meet a critical Treasury Department deadline with one day to spare.Obama signed the measure into law shortly after midnight,, reopening parks and monuments across the nation, restoring government services and putting furloughed federal employees back on the job, many of them in the Washington region.“Employees should expect to return to work in the morning,” Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the White House budget director, said in a statement.The measure also guarantees those workers back pay for time spent at home, aid flood-ravaged Colorado and provide extra cash for fighting wildfires out West. And it grants the District government, which relies on Congress to approve its budget, authority to manage its own affairs through the 2014 fiscal year.Enforcement of the debt limit is suspended until Feb. 7, setting up another confrontation over the national debt sometime in March, independent analysts estimated. Meanwhile, federal agencies are funded through Jan. 15, when they might shut down again unless lawmakers resolve a continuing dispute over deep automatic spending cuts known as the sequester.Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) was to have breakfast Thursday morning with her House counterpart, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), to start a new round of talks aimed at averting another crisis. Obama repeated his vow to work with Republicans to rein in a national debt that remains at historically high levels.

“With the shutdown behind us and budget committees forming, we now have an opportunity to focus on a sensible budget that is responsible, that is fair, and that helps hardworking people all across this country,” Obama said at the White House.

Few held out hope that the talks would yield an ambitious plan to overhaul the tax code or restructure federal health and retirement programs, the biggest drivers of future borrowing. But there were signs that Republicans may be more inclined to compromise and less inclined to follow what Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) called “the fringe elements” of the GOP.

“The reality is there’s a much larger population within our caucus that recognizes reality for what it is,” said Schock, who represents the iconic middle-America town of Peoria. “At the end of the day, whatever we pass will have to be a bipartisan bill. The sooner that our conference recognizes that we’re going to have to negotiate with the other side, the more we can get done.”

The fight over the health-care law that many call Obamacare originated on the Senate side of the Capitol, with Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), as well as former senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who now heads the conservative Heritage Foundation. Cruz and Lee voted against Wednesday’s agreement, as did GOP presidential hopefuls Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Rand Paul (Ky.).

The price the House paid for waging what many Republicans saw as an unwinnable fight was ultimately devastating. Boehner had counseled against shutting down the government as recently as late August, fearing a backlash among voters that quickly materialized in public opinion polls.

Yanked to the right, Boehner tried repeatedly to satisfy Cruz and his allies. He made a last-ditch effort Tuesday to rally his troops around a measure that would have eked out two minor health-care victories: repeal of a tax on medical devices that helps finance the Affordable Care Act and elimination of employer-provided health insurance subsidies for lawmakers, their aides and administration officials. The subsidies, long available to all federal workers, have been derided by conservative commentators as a “special exemption” now that lawmakers are required to get insurance through the new health-care exchanges.

It wasn’t enough. Conservative lawmakers demanded more concessions. More moderate Republicans complained that the plan would never pass the Senate.

On Tuesday night, with House Republicans bitterly divided and Boehner himself badly weakened, the effort collapsed. By Wednesday, Boehner and McConnell had no choice but to seal a deal with Reid or run the risk of inviting economic calamity. In the House, the vote was eerily similar to the last fiscal showdown with Democrats. During the brief debate, not a single member of the GOP leadership team spoke in favor the bill. That left House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) alone among senior Republicans to publicly champion the bill, just as Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) had been during the “fiscal cliff” vote on New Year’s Day.

It ended with a bizarre moment, when a House stenographer ran to a microphone and began shouting religious messages. She was forcibly removed from the chamber.

In the Senate, McConnell, a wily tactician unaccustomed to surrender, tried to salvage some sense of accomplishment. As he and Reid announced the deal at midday Wednesday on the Senate floor, McConnell noted that the measure would maintain current spending levels, “protecting the government spending reductions that both parties agreed to under the Budget Control Act” of 2011.

“That’s been a top priority for me and my colleagues on the Republican side of the aisle,” McConnell said.

But Democrats quickly said they would seek to roll back those cuts before the next round of sequester reductions goes into effect Jan. 15. Meanwhile, many Republicans lamented that the misguided attack on the health-care law had cost the party a shot at forcing Democrats to consider a serious debt-reduction plan.

“This package is a joke compared to what we could have gotten if we had a more reasonable approach,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) “For the party, this is a moment of self-evaluation. We are going to assess how we got here. If we continue down this path, we are really going to hurt the Republican Party long term.”

Democrats, for their part, quietly recorded a partisan victory. But after a shutdown and debt-limit fight estimated to have sucked as much as $20 billion out of the U.S. economy, there was no celebration.

“I’m tired,” Reid said after the Senate voted Wednesday night. “Concluding this crisis is historic. But let’s be honest: This was pain inflicted on the nation for no good reason.

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

 

Video Video: ‘There Are No Winners Here,’ Obama Says

Saying the American people are fed up with Washington, President Obama urged lawmakers to work together to improve government and to serve their constituents.

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

By definition, common ground suggests no grand bargain, which would require a much more difficult trade-off where they fundamentally differ — higher tax revenues that Republicans oppose, in exchange for reductions in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security that Democrats vow they will not entertain without curbs on tax breaks for wealthy individuals and corporations.

With the last-minute settlement, Washington found itself battered, exhausted and about where it was back in March in terms of budget progress. That month, Congressional Republicans and the White House failed to prevent the sequestration cuts from taking effect across military and domestic programs.

The Republican-led House and Democratic-controlled Senate passed vastly different budgets, but Republicans blocked Democrats’ repeated efforts to convene a conference committee to reconcile the differences — until this week.

Congress not only reopened the government through Jan. 15 and raised the nation’s borrowing limit effective to Feb. 7 on Wednesday. It also mandated the formal budget negotiations in a separate parliamentary motion.

“Nobody can guarantee success, but what we can say is that if we don’t make the effort and get together and talk, that would guarantee failure,” said Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, House Democrats’ chief negotiator.

The need for a bipartisan breakthrough, even a modest one, was amplified by the economic costs wrought by the 16-day shutdown and near-default on government obligations.

“The key now is a budget that cuts out the things that we don’t need, closes corporate tax loopholes that don’t help create jobs, and frees up resources for the things that do help us grow — like education and infrastructure and research,” President Obama said Thursday from the White House, setting ambitious goals for Congress even as his own role in the bargaining was unclear.

The question of what a new House-Senate budget conference can deliver by its Dec. 13 deadline — in time for Congress to act by Jan. 15 on funding to keep the government open — remained the subject of deep skepticism, well earned by past failures at reaching so-called grand bargains for deficit reduction and spending investments in the past three years.

With the scope of the talks narrowed for now, on the table are ideas left over from past, failed bargaining: possible reductions in other programs — like farm subsidies, federal pensions, the Postal Service and unemployment insurance — and relatively minimal tax loophole closings, possibly as little as $55 billion.

While there is nonetheless hope on both sides for a defining budget deal, the three-week budget crisis scrambled Washington’s power structure.

Democrats, united throughout, believe they enter this next round far stronger, backed by a president who proved his own resolve. Republicans, having played their trump card by shutting down the government, are weakened and more divided than ever.

Reflecting his party’s chastened state heading into the next phase, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, told the conservative National Review on Thursday, “A government shutdown is off the table.”

Even so, Republicans enter these new talks with one advantage: if the negotiations fail, the next round of across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration will hit automatically, even deeper than the first. Democrats want to avoid that far more than Republicans do.

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

 THE NEW YORK TIMES in the morning:

The Damage Done

By PAUL KRUGMAN

We may have managed to avoid driving off a cliff this week, but we are still on the road to nowhere.

Common Interests, Not Confrontation

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD

With the budget crisis over for the time being, President Obama calls for an end to destructive governing.

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

THE WASHINGTON POST in the morning:

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

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 8th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

Op-Ed Contributor

 

Obama and the Debt.

 

 

Sean Wilentz is a professor of history at Princeton University.

 

 

 

PRINCETON, N.J. — THE Republicans in the House of Representatives who declare that they may refuse to raise the debt limit threaten to do more than plunge the government into default. They are proposing a blatant violation of the 14th Amendment, which states that “the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law” is sacrosanct and “shall not be questioned.”

 

      Chris Gash

 

 

 

Yet the Obama administration has repeatedly suppressed any talk of invoking the Constitution in this emergency.

Last Thursday Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said, “We do not believe that the 14th Amendment provides that authority to the president” to end the crisis. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew reiterated the point on Sunday and added that the president would have “no option” to prevent a default on his own.

In defense of the administration’s position, the legal scholar Laurence H. Tribe, who taught President Obama at Harvard Law School, has insisted, as he put it two years ago, that “only political courage and compromise” can avert disaster.

These assertions, however, have no basis in the history of the 14th Amendment; indeed, they distort that history, and in doing so shackle the president. In fact, that record clearly shows that Congress intended the amendment to prevent precisely the abuses that the current House Republicans blithely condone.

Congress passed the 14th Amendment and sent it to the states for ratification in June 1866. Its section on the public debt began as an effort to ensure that the government would not be liable for debts accrued by the defeated Confederacy, but also to ensure that its own debt would be honored.

That was important because conservative Northern Democrats, many of whom had sympathized with the Confederacy, were in a position to obstruct or deny repayment on the full value of the public debt by paying creditors in depreciated paper money, or “greenbacks.” This effective repudiation of obligations already accrued — to, among others, hundreds of thousands of Union pensioners and widows, as well as investors — would destroy confidence in the government and endanger the economy.

As the wording of the amendment evolved during the Congressional debate, the principle of the debt’s inviolability became a general proposition, applicable not just to the Civil War debt but to all future accrued debts of the United States. The Republican Senate leader, Benjamin F. Wade of Ohio, declared that by placing the debt “under the guardianship of the Constitution,” investors would be spared from being “subject to the varying majorities which may arise in Congress.”

Two years later, on the verge of the amendment’s ratification, its champions inside the Republican Party made their intentions absolutely clear, proclaiming in their 1868 party platform that “national honor requires the payment of the public indebtedness in the utmost good faith to all creditors at home and abroad,” and pronouncing any repudiation of the debt “a national crime.”

More than three generations later, in 1935, Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes, ruling in the case of Perry v. the United States, revisited the amendment and affirmed the “fundamental principle” that Congress may not “alter or destroy” debts already incurred.

House Republicans threatening to refuse to raise the debt ceiling — that is, force a repudiation of debts already accrued — would violate that “fundamental principle” of the Constitution.

 

Surely the lawyers advising and defending the White House, let alone the president, know as much. Refraining from stating this loudly and clearly, and allowing Congress to slip off the hook, has been a puzzling and self-defeating strategy, leading to the crippling sequester and the politics of chronic debt-ceiling crisis. More important, by failing to clarify the constitutional principles involved, the administration has neglected to do its utmost to defend the Constitution.

That failure has led to another abdication, involving constitutional action as well as constitutional principle. The White House, along with Mr. Tribe, has rightly pointed out that the 14th Amendment does not give the president the power to raise the debt limit summarily.

 

But arguing that the president lacks authority under the amendment to halt a default does not mean the executive lacks any authority in the matter. As Abraham Lincoln well knew, the executive, in times of national crisis, can invoke emergency powers to protect the Constitution.

Should House Republicans actually precipitate a default and, as expected, financial markets quickly begin to melt down, an emergency would inarguably exist.

In all, the Constitution provides for a two-step solution. First, the president can point out the simple fact that the House Republicans are threatening to act in violation of the Constitution, which would expose the true character of their assault on the government.

Second, he could pledge that, if worse came to worst, he would, once a default occurred, use his emergency powers to end it and save the nation and the world from catastrophe.

 

Were the president to act with fortitude, Republicans would continue to lambaste him as the sole cause of the crisis and scream that he is a tyrant — the same epithet hurled at Andrew Jackson, Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Lincoln, who became accustomed to such abuse, had some choice words in 1860 for Southern fire-eaters who charged that he, and not they, would be to blame for secession if he refused to compromise over the extension of slavery: “A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, ‘Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!’ ”

It is always possible that if the administration follows the two-step constitutional remedy, the House might lash out and try to impeach Mr. Obama. Recent history shows that an unreasonable party controlling the House can impeach presidents virtually as it pleases, even without claiming a constitutional fig leaf.

But the president would have done his constitutional duty, saved the country and undoubtedly earned the gratitude of a relieved people. Then the people would find the opportunity to punish those who vandalized the Constitution and brought the country to the brink of ruin.

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

Default Threat Generates Fear Around Globe.

 

Five years after a financial crisis in the United States helped spread a deep global recession, much of the world again fears collateral damage.

 

LONDON — The bitter fiscal stalemate in Washington is producing nervous ripples from London to Bali, with increasing anxiety that the United States might actually default on a portion of its government debt, set off global financial troubles and undercut fragile economic recoveries in many countries.

 

Readers’ Comments

“One wonders whether this is a precursor to an increasingly ungovernable nation where the parties simply oppose each other on all issues regardless of the cost to the nation.”      Tim, sausalito, ca

 

 

Five years after the financial crisis in the United States helped spread a deep global recession, policy makers around the world again fear collateral damage, this time with their nations becoming victims not of Wall Street’s excesses but of a political system in Washington that to many foreign eyes no longer seems to be able to function efficiently.

There is plenty of evidence that the United States remains engaged globally on many levels, with the dual commando raids on targets in Africa this weekend the most recent. But the partial shutdown of the United States government has shown again that Washington’s problems extend beyond American borders. Effectively grounded by the political crisis at home, President Obama was absent from a summit meeting of Pacific Rim leaders in Indonesia on Monday, giving China greater opportunity to highlight its role in the region.

One of the attendees, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, provided a possibly sardonic statement of sympathy for Mr. Obama. “We see what is happening in U.S. domestic politics and this is not an easy situation,” Mr. Putin said, adding, “If I was in his situation, I would not come, either.”

In Europe, the effort to reach a big new trade accord with the United States is at a standstill, with many government agencies in Washington operating with skeletal staffs. And as worrisome as that kind of delay is in Europe, it is only a precursor to the almost certain economic fallout if the United States does not raise the debt limit and defaults for the first time on government securities.

Foreigners often complain, usually with some forbearance, that the United States is so powerful that its president is in some important sense their president, too. In their case, however, they lack the opportunity to cast a vote.

There is not much that any foreigner can do about Mr. Obama’s confrontation with the House speaker, John A. Boehner, who said Sunday that his Republican members would not accept a clean bill — one with no conditions — that would raise the American debt limit before the government hits its borrowing limit and risks technical default as soon as next week. At the same time, Mr. Boehner has told colleagues privately that he would avert a default, but whether he actually has the ability to do so remains uncertain.

“The international community is asking, ‘Does the U.S. still have the will to act?’ ” said Xenia Dormandy, a senior fellow at London’s Chatham House and a former American official in the State Department and the National Security Council under President George W. Bush.

“Both the Syria vote and the current budget crisis are nerve-racking for the world,” she said, referring to Mr. Obama’s sudden decision to ask Congress to authorize a strike on Syria and then changing his mind.

Alain Frachon, a columnist and former Washington correspondent for the French newspaper Le Monde, said, “Washington is looking more like the Italian political system, with its permanent crises, and not a presidential system, as before.”

“People are worried about the debt ceiling — it could be the little drop that could trigger another crisis in financial markets,” he said. “And it’s just when there was the perception for the first time in the long sovereign debt crisis that there is a window of opportunity to breathe a little bit, and to introduce a bit more suppleness into the way we’ve managed it.”

The anxiety is all over Europe, Mr. Frachon said, and it comes just as Greece and Spain seem to be turning around, as there are spurts of growth that promise an end to recession, and as Germany has gotten through its elections and Rome through another political crisis. Another financial meltdown would hurt France, too, he said, not just Greece, Portugal and Spain.

“People don’t want to see all this fragile equilibrium destabilized by a possible financial crisis provoked in Washington,” he said.

Jean-Paul Fitoussi, an economist at the Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris, said a default would slow the American economy and depreciate the dollar, “so it would lead to a loss of competitiveness in Europe at the very moment when all policies in Europe are aimed at increasing competitiveness, and that would be very bad news.”

Perhaps worse, he said, is that “the banking system in Europe remains fragile, so more bad news could have unforeseen consequences on the world’s financial system.”

The United States has gone through government shutdowns before, Mr. Fitoussi noted, but this time it feels different, even if it turns out to be short-lived.

“Perhaps we have not completely understood the American Constitution, and the effective power of the president is not as strong as we believed,” he said. “And maybe it’s because Obama is not using his constitutional power very well.”

The weekend military strikes on terrorist targets in Libya and Somalia are a perfect indication that the American government can act when its direct interests are at stake, said Ms. Dormandy of Chatham House. But the deeper question is whether a more insular, less globally active United States is emerging for the longer term, or is just a function of the Obama administration’s reaction to events.

“The jury is still out,” Ms. Dormandy said, “but I would say it seems like a more profound transition.”

Alexander Lambsdorff, a member of the European Parliament for the German Free Democratic Party, sees a possible benefit for the euro and the euro zone if the United States defaults, however briefly. Investors will seek an alternative to the dollar in German, Dutch and Finnish bonds, he said. “If European leaders have proven one thing,” he said, “it is their resolve to keep the euro afloat and their countries out of default.”

Mr. Lambsdorff said that he admires the United States Constitution, but that the founders never imagined “a media democracy.” The weakness of the American system is in the constant political campaigning required for the House of Representatives, he said.

“In the permanent campaign mode the representatives find themselves, there is an incentive to be more radical and less compromising,” he said. “But no democracy works without compromise, and if compromise starts to be elusive, then a democratic system has to rethink itself.”

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

Editorial

 

The International Fallout.

 

 

 

The Republican-induced government shutdown and the party’s threats to create another crisis next week over the debt ceiling are causing harm internationally as well as at home. They are undermining American leadership in Asia, impeding the functioning of the national security machinery, upsetting global markets and raising questions about the political dysfunction of a country that has long been the world’s democratic standard-bearer.

 

 

The biggest foreign policy casualty, so far, may be the cancellation last week of President Obama’s trip to Asia, which the president’s press secretary said was necessary so he could deal with the shutdown and the political stalemate in Congress. Even though he sent Secretary of State John Kerry in his place, this was the third time that Mr. Obama had canceled or postponed a trip to Asia, further hampering his efforts to make the region a centerpiece of his foreign policy.

In Mr. Obama’s absence, China was able to grab the spotlight. China’s leader, Xi Jinping, who became the first foreigner to address the Indonesian Parliament, offered billions of dollars in trade to that country. Mr. Xi then visited Malaysia (another stop President Obama had planned) and announced a “comprehensive strategic partnership,” including an upgrade in military ties. Mr. Obama should reschedule his trip as soon as he comfortably can.

The fiscal chaos has also given China, America’s largest creditor, an opportunity to scold the United States. On Monday, in the Chinese government’s first public response to the stalemate in Washington, Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao urged the United States to “earnestly take steps” to avoid a debt default to ensure the safety of Chinese investments and the global economic recovery.

Other financial leaders also felt compelled to speak out, including South Africa’s finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, who warned that the global community has much to fear. “This is clearly an issue that might go to the brink,” he told Reuters. On Monday, most global markets were lower, and the price of oil dropped as traders became increasingly anxious about the standoff in Washington, particularly over the debt ceiling.

The shutdown of the American government is being felt in other ways as well. A round of negotiations between the United States and Europe on the world’s largest free-trade deal, set for next week in Brussels, was canceled because the United States trade representative, Michael Froman, said he lacked the staffing and the finances to make the trip.

And while Republicans accused the Obama administration of being ill prepared for the 2012 attack in Libya that killed four Americans, including the ambassador, the shutdown they have imposed has halted vital training for State Department security officers and improvements to American embassies.

The director of national intelligence, James Clapper Jr., told a Senate committee that furloughing 70 percent of the intelligence agencies’ civilian employees was “extremely damaging” to intelligence-gathering efforts. And, at a time when the United States is about to begin a critical round of negotiations with Iran on the nuclear program, Wendy Sherman, an undersecretary of state, has said that the shutdown has “totally depleted” the government’s ability to enforce sanctions against Iran.

The shutdown is taking a toll that looks even more self-defeating when the consequences beyond America’s shores are taken into account.

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 6th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Tropical Storm Karen Reaches U.S. Coast, Evacuations Ordered.

Published on : Sunday, October 6, 2013

tropical stormTropical storm Karen  warning was in effect from Morgan City to the mouth of the Pearl River, between Louisiana and Mississippi. Karen weakened overnight; however officials and the northern Gulf Coast still urged alertness, as heavy rains and high winds remained a possibility.

Oil output in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico had been cut in half as oil and gas firms shut platforms and vacated some workers in preparation for the storm. Meteorologist expected the storm’s center to be in the warning area Saturday night or Sunday morning.

Karen’s projected path transferred slightly westward and it was expected to move ashore over Louisiana on Saturday night and into Mississippi and then Alabama on Sunday.

 

Answering the needs posed by this storm – Climate Change related or not – requires Federal funding – something that some Congressmen from the districts to be hit have just made very difficult in Washington. Justice would hold now the voters in these Districts hostage to their votes – but surely – this Administration would not do such things – though memory tells us that the previous Republican Administration did not come to the help of people they thought were not bound to vote for them.  Oh Well!

= = = = =

A Federal Budget Crisis Months in the Planning.

 

Michael Stravato for The New York Times

“You are here because now is the single best time we have to defund Obamacare. This is a fight we can win.” SENATOR TED CRUZ, speaking in August to a Heritage Action gathering in Dallas

 

 

 

WASHINGTON — Shortly after President Obama started his second term, a loose-knit coalition of conservative activists led by former Attorney General Edwin Meese III gathered in the capital to plot strategy. Their push to repeal Mr. Obama’s health care law was going nowhere, and they desperately needed a new plan.

Out of that session, held one morning in a location the members insist on keeping secret, came a little-noticed “blueprint to defunding Obamacare,” signed by Mr. Meese and leaders of more than three dozen conservative groups.

It articulated a take-no-prisoners legislative strategy that had long percolated in conservative circles: that Republicans could derail the health care overhaul if conservative lawmakers were willing to push fellow Republicans — including their cautious leaders — into cutting off financing for the entire federal government.

“We felt very strongly at the start of this year that the House needed to use the power of the purse,” said one coalition member, Michael A. Needham, who runs Heritage Action for America, the political arm of the Heritage Foundation. “At least at Heritage Action, we felt very strongly from the start that this was a fight that we were going to pick.”

Last week the country witnessed the fallout from that strategy: a standoff that has shuttered much of the federal bureaucracy and unsettled the nation.

To many Americans, the shutdown came out of nowhere. But interviews with a wide array of conservatives show that the confrontation that precipitated the crisis was the outgrowth of a long-running effort to undo the law, the Affordable Care Act, since its passage in 2010 — waged by a galaxy of conservative groups with more money, organized tactics and interconnections than is commonly known.

With polls showing Americans deeply divided over the law, conservatives believe that the public is behind them. Although the law’s opponents say that shutting down the government was not their objective, the activists anticipated that a shutdown could occur — and worked with members of the Tea Party caucus in Congress who were excited about drawing a red line against a law they despise.

A defunding “tool kit” created in early September included talking points for the question, “What happens when you shut down the government and you are blamed for it?” The suggested answer was the one House Republicans give today: “We are simply calling to fund the entire government except for the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare.”

The current budget brinkmanship is just the latest development in a well-financed, broad-based assault on the health law, Mr. Obama’s signature legislative initiative. Groups like Tea Party Patriots, Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks are all immersed in the fight, as is Club for Growth, a business-backed nonprofit organization. Some, like Generation Opportunity and Young Americans for Liberty, both aimed at young adults, are upstarts. Heritage Action is new, too, founded in 2010 to advance the policy prescriptions of its sister group, the Heritage Foundation.

The billionaire Koch brothers, Charles and David, have been deeply involved with financing the overall effort. A group linked to the Kochs, Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, disbursed more than $200 million last year to nonprofit organizations involved in the fight. Included was $5 million to Generation Opportunity, which created a buzz last month with an Internet advertisement showing a menacing Uncle Sam figure popping up between a woman’s legs during a gynecological exam.

The groups have also sought to pressure vulnerable Republican members of Congress with scorecards keeping track of their health care votes; have burned faux “Obamacare cards” on college campuses; and have distributed scripts for phone calls to Congressional offices, sample letters to editors and Twitter and Facebook offerings for followers to present as their own.

One sample Twitter offering — “Obamacare is a train wreck” — is a common refrain for Speaker John A. Boehner.

As the defunding movement picked up steam among outside advocates, Republicans who sounded tepid became targets. The Senate Conservatives Fund, a political action committee dedicated to “electing true conservatives,” ran radio advertisements against three Republican incumbents.

Heritage Action ran critical Internet advertisements in the districts of 100 Republican lawmakers who had failed to sign a letter by a North Carolina freshman, Representative Mark Meadows, urging Mr. Boehner to take up the defunding cause.

“They’ve been hugely influential,” said David Wasserman, who tracks House races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. “When else in our history has a freshman member of Congress from North Carolina been able to round up a gang of 80 that’s essentially ground the government to a halt?”

On Capitol Hill, the advocates found willing partners in Tea Party conservatives, who have repeatedly threatened to shut down the government if they do not get their way on spending issues. This time they said they were so alarmed by the health law that they were willing to risk a shutdown over it. (“This is exactly what the public wants,” Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, founder of the House Tea Party Caucus, said on the eve of the shutdown.)

Despite Mrs. Bachmann’s comments, not all of the groups have been on board with the defunding campaign. Some, like the Koch-financed Americans for Prosperity, which spent $5.5 million on health care television advertisements over the past three months, are more focused on sowing public doubts about the law. But all have a common goal, which is to cripple a measure that Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican and leader of the defunding effort, has likened to a horror movie.

Americans for Prosperity – SOWING DOUBT A site by Americans for Prosperity, which has spent $5.5 million recently on television ads critical of the health care law.
Multimedia

“We view this as a long-term effort,” said Tim Phillips, the president of Americans for Prosperity. He said his group expected to spend “tens of millions” of dollars on a “multifront effort” that includes working to prevent states from expanding Medicaid under the law. The group’s goal is not to defund the law.

“We want to see this law repealed,” Mr. Phillips said.

A Familiar Tactic

The crowd was raucous at the Hilton Anatole, just north of downtown Dallas, when Mr. Needham’s group, Heritage Action, arrived on a Tuesday in August for the second stop on a nine-city “Defund Obamacare Town Hall Tour.” Nearly 1,000 people turned out to hear two stars of the Tea Party movement: Mr. Cruz, and Jim DeMint, a former South Carolina senator who runs the Heritage Foundation.

“You’re here because now is the single best time we have to defund Obamacare,” declared Mr. Cruz, who would go on to rail against the law on the Senate floor in September with a monologue that ran for 21 hours. “This is a fight we can win.”

Although Mr. Cruz is new to the Senate, the tactic of defunding in Washington is not. For years, Congress has banned the use of certain federal money to pay for abortions, except in the case of incest and rape, by attaching the so-called Hyde Amendment to spending bills.

After the health law passed in 2010, Todd Tiahrt, then a Republican congressman from Kansas, proposed defunding bits and pieces of it. He said he spoke to Mr. Boehner’s staff about the idea while the Supreme Court, which upheld the central provision, was weighing the law’s constitutionality.

“There just wasn’t the appetite for it at the time,” Mr. Tiahrt said in an interview. “They thought, we don’t need to worry about it because the Supreme Court will strike it down.”

But the idea of using the appropriations process to defund an entire federal program, particularly one as far-reaching as the health care overhaul, raised the stakes considerably. In an interview, Mr. DeMint, who left the Senate to join the Heritage Foundation in January, said he had been thinking about it since the law’s passage, in part because Republican leaders were not more aggressive.

“They’ve been through a series of C.R.s and debt limits,” Mr. DeMint said, referring to continuing resolutions on spending, “and all the time there was discussion of ‘O.K., we’re not going to fight the Obamacare fight, we’ll do it next time.’ The conservatives who ran in 2010 promising to repeal it kept hearing, ‘This is not the right time to fight this battle.’ ”

Mr. DeMint is hardly alone in his distaste for the health law, or his willingness to do something about it. In the three years since Mr. Obama signed the health measure, Tea Party-inspired groups have mobilized, aided by a financing network that continues to grow, both in its complexity and the sheer amount of money that flows through it.

A review of tax records, campaign finance reports and corporate filings shows that hundreds of millions of dollars have been raised and spent since 2012 by organizations, many of them loosely connected, leading opposition to the measure.

One of the biggest sources of conservative money is Freedom Partners, a tax-exempt “business league” that claims more than 200 members, each of whom pays at least $100,000 in dues. The group’s board is headed by a longtime executive of Koch Industries, the conglomerate run by the Koch brothers, who were among the original financiers of the Tea Party movement. The Kochs declined to comment.

While Freedom Partners has financed organizations that are pushing to defund the law, like Heritage Action and Tea Party Patriots, Freedom Partners has not advocated that. A spokesman for the group, James Davis, said it was more focused on “educating Americans around the country on the negative impacts of Obamacare.”

The largest recipient of Freedom Partners cash — about $115 million — was the Center to Protect Patient Rights, according to the groups’ latest tax filings. Run by a political consultant with ties to the Kochs and listing an Arizona post office box for its address, the center appears to be little more than a clearinghouse for donations to still more groups, including American Commitment and the 60 Plus Association, both ardent foes of the health care law.

American Commitment and 60 Plus were among a handful of groups calling themselves the “Repeal Coalition” that sent a letter in August urging Republican leaders in the House and the Senate to insist “at a minimum” in a one-year delay of carrying out the health care law as part of any budget deal. Another group, the Conservative 50 Plus Alliance, delivered a defunding petition with 68,700 signatures to the Senate.

In the fight to shape public opinion, conservatives face well-organized liberal foes. Enroll America, a nonprofit group allied with the Obama White House, is waging a campaign to persuade millions of the uninsured to buy coverage. The law’s supporters are also getting huge assistance from the insurance industry, which is expected to spend $1 billion on advertising to help sell its plans on the exchanges.

“It is David versus Goliath,” said Mr. Phillips of Americans for Prosperity.

But conservatives are finding that with relatively small advertising buys, they can make a splash. Generation Opportunity, the youth-oriented outfit behind the “Creepy Uncle Sam” ads, is spending $750,000 on that effort, aimed at dissuading young people — a cohort critical to the success of the health care overhaul — from signing up for insurance under the new law.

 The group receives substantial backing from Freedom Partners and appears ready to expand. Recently, Generation Opportunity moved into spacious new offices in Arlington, Va., where exposed ductwork, Ikea chairs and a Ping-Pong table give off the feel of a Silicon Valley start-up.

Its executive director, Evan Feinberg, a 29-year-old former Capitol Hill aide and onetime instructor for a leadership institute founded by Charles Koch, said there would be more Uncle Sam ads, coupled with college campus visits, this fall. Two other groups, FreedomWorks, with its “Burn Your Obamacare Card” protests, and Young Americans for Liberty, are also running campus events.

“A lot of folks have asked us, ‘Are we trying to sabotage the law?’ ” Mr. Feinberg said in an interview last week. His answer echoes the Freedom Partners philosophy: “Our goal is to educate and empower young people.”

Critical Timing

But many on the Republican right wanted to do more.

Mr. Meese’s low-profile coalition, the Conservative Action Project, which seeks to find common ground among leaders of an array of fiscally and socially conservative groups, was looking ahead to last Tuesday, when the new online health insurance marketplaces, called exchanges, were set to open. If the law took full effect as planned, many conservatives feared, it would be nearly impossible to repeal — even if a Republican president were elected in 2016.

“I think people realized that with the imminent beginning of Obamacare, that this was a critical time to make every effort to stop something,” Mr. Meese said in an interview. (He has since stepped down as the coalition’s chairman and has been succeeded by David McIntosh, a former congressman from Indiana.)

The defunding idea, Mr. Meese said, was “a logical strategy.” The idea drew broad support. Fiscal conservatives like Chris Chocola, the president of the Club for Growth, signed on to the blueprint. So did social and religious conservatives, like the Rev. Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition.

The document set a target date: March 27, when a continuing resolution allowing the government to function was to expire. Its message was direct: “Conservatives should not approve a C.R. unless it defunds Obamacare.”

But the March date came and went without a defunding struggle. In the Senate, Mr. Cruz and Senator Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, talked up the defunding idea, but it went nowhere in the Democratic-controlled chamber. In the House, Mr. Boehner wanted to concentrate instead on locking in the across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration, and Tea Party lawmakers followed his lead. Outside advocates were unhappy but held their fire.

“We didn’t cause any trouble,” Mr. Chocola said.

Yet by summer, with an August recess looming and another temporary spending bill expiring at the end of September, the groups were done waiting.

“I remember talking to reporters at the end of July, and they said, ‘This didn’t go anywhere,’ ” Mr. Needham recalled. “What all of us felt at the time was, this was never going to be a strategy that was going to win inside the Beltway. It was going to be a strategy where, during August, people would go home and hear from their constituents, saying: ‘You pledged to do everything you could to stop Obamacare. Will you defund it?’ ”

Heritage Action, which has trained 6,000 people it calls sentinels around the country, sent them to open meetings and other events to confront their elected representatives. Its “Defund Obamacare Town Hall Tour,” which began in Fayetteville, Ark., on Aug. 19 and ended 10 days later in Wilmington, Del., drew hundreds at every stop.

The Senate Conservatives Fund, led by Mr. DeMint when he was in the Senate, put up a Web site in July called dontfundobamacare.com and ran television ads featuring Mr. Cruz and Mr. Lee urging people to tell their representatives not to fund the law.

When Senator Richard M. Burr, a North Carolina Republican, told a reporter that defunding the law was “the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard,” the fund bought a radio ad to attack him. Two other Republican senators up for re-election in 2014, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, were also targeted. Both face Tea Party challengers.

In Washington, Tea Party Patriots, which created the defunding tool kit, set up a Web site, exemptamerica.com, to promote a rally last month showcasing many of the Republicans in Congress whom Democrats — and a number of fellow Republicans — say are most responsible for the shutdown.

While conservatives believe that the public will back them on defunding, a recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that a majority — 57 percent — disapproves of cutting off funding as a way to stop the law.

Last week, with the health care exchanges open for business and a number of prominent Republicans complaining that the “Defund Obamacare” strategy was politically damaging and pointless, Mr. Needham of Heritage Action said he felt good about what the groups had accomplished.

“It really was a groundswell,” he said, “that changed Washington from the outside in.”

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

Op-Ed – The NYT
Nicholas D. Kristof

Op-Ed Columnist

Governing by Blackmail

By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

House Republicans have taken America’s economy hostage and are using it as a bargaining chip in the most dangerous political game.

. Columnist Page | Blog

Op-Ed Columnist

Welcome to Ted Cruz’s Thunderdome

By MAUREEN DOWD

A frightening futuristic capital where Thomas Jefferson’s utopia has devolved into Ted Cruz’s dystopia.

. Columnist Page

 

Sunday Review – The NYT

News Analysis

The Benefits of Intransigence

By SAM TANENHAUS

Tea Party obstruction may not be as crazy as many traditional conservatives think.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 21st, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

My son Daniel.

A Letter from Tom Hauser of Littlleton, Colorado, father of Daniel killed in the Columbine school shooting spree.

to me – Pincas — My son, Daniel, was a smart, quiet kid.

He’d just become a straight-A student, and he was overcoming his shyness as a new member of the debate team.

On April 20th, 1999, my beautiful and bright 15-year-old son was killed by two teenagers with guns in the library of Columbine High School — one of 12 innocent kids who lost their lives for no reason at all.

It’s been 14 years since that horrible day — 14 years of fighting so no family has to grieve like ours did.

These tragedies keep happening, and so far, Congress has failed to take common-sense action to stop them — even though nine in 10 Americans have agreed that expanding background checks would help close the loopholes that put guns in the hands of dangerous people and prevent future violence.

Today, OFA and allied organizations are standing up for a national Day of Action to ask members of Congress: What will it take to finally act to prevent gun violence?

I hope you’ll join in — say you’ll do one thing this week to show Congress you want action to prevent gun violence.

The evening of the shooting at Columbine High was the most hopeless I’ve ever felt.

Since Daniel’s death, I’ve found a way to honor him: by trying to prevent other families from feeling this pain. I’ve advocated locally and nationally for smarter gun laws — even helping achieve a statewide ballot victory here in Colorado.

In December, when I heard about the shooting in Newtown, I sat in my office and broke down. I was watching another community torn apart by guns — more parents grieving, more kids who would never see graduation, or a wedding, or a family of their own.

And in the wake of another tragedy, nine in 10 Americans agreed that it was time to act — expand background checks to close the loopholes that put guns in the hands of dangerous people.

But Congress disappointed us, putting politics above the safety of our kids.

That’s why this week, we’re asking: How many parents will have to go through what I did before we say “enough”?

You should be a part of this, too. Tell Congress you’re going to keep asking until they act:
 my.barackobama.com/Do-One-Thing-f…

Thank you,

Tom

Tom Mauser
Littleton, Colorado

###

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


Bhopal (/bo??p??l/ (Hindustani pronunciation: [b?o?pa?l] is the capital of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh and the administrative headquarters of Bhopal District and Bhopal Division. The city was the capital of the former Bhopal State. Bhopal is known as the City of Lake for its various natural as well as artificial lakes and is also one of the greenest cities in India.

Bhopal houses various institutions and installations of national importance. Some of these include ISRO’s Master Control Facility, the CSIR, AIIMS Bhopal, National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) AMPRI, MANIT, IISER, SPA, IIFM, BHEL and NLIU.

The city attracted international attention after the Bhopal disaster, when a Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide manufacturing plant leaked a mixture of deadly gases including methyl isocyanate on the intervening night of 2 / 3 December 1984, leading to the worst industrial disaster in the city’s history. Since then, Bhopal has been a center of protests and campaigns which have been joined by people from across the globe. {Wikipedia}

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

Alternet’s Smirking Chimp / By Bob Burnett

Is America Turning into Texas?
What’s happened Texas graphically illustrates the choice facing America.

July 2, 2013

On April 17 there was a horrific explosion at the West Chemical and Fertilizer plant in West, Texas, that killed 15 people, injured more than 200, destroyed or damaged 150 homes and caused at least $100 million in losses. Five days later, Texas Governor Rick Perry was in Illinois trying to lure business to Texas, praising his state’s limited regulations. Is Texas America’s future?

Republican conservatives have a simple economic precept: what’s good for business is good for America. Conservatives believe states should provide a “business friendly” environment with low taxes and few regulations. They argue this inevitably creates jobs and builds community through the “trickle-down” theory of Reaganomics: “a rising tide lifts all boats.”

Texas is the foremost practitioner of the conservative theory. This year Chief Executive Magazine voted Texas “the best state to do business in” for the ninth consecutive year, citing factors such as low taxes and sparse regulations. Texas’ 6.5 percent unemployment rate is below the national average.

But the Texas economy has negative aspects that contributed to the explosion at the West Chemical and Fertilizer plant. There is no state fire code and McLennan, the county that housed the plant, also has no fire code. According to the New York Times

Texas has also had the nation’s highest number of workplace fatalities — more than 400 annually — for much of the past decade. Fires and explosions at Texas’ more than 1,300 chemical and industrial plants have cost as much in property damage as those in all the other states combined for the five years ending in May 2012.

In much of Texas zoning laws are non-existent. In 1962, when the West Chemical and Fertilizer plant originally opened, the facility was far from downtown; in recent years, a school, nursing home, and apartment complex were built nearby.

A consequence of Texas’ “anything goes” attitude is not only the nation’s highest number of workplace fatalities but also America’s dirtiest environment. According to the Houston Chronicle Texas leads the U.S. in greenhouse gas emissions.

Texas’ coal-fired power plants and oil refineries generated 294 million tons of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases in 2010, more than the next two states — Pennsylvania and Florida — combined.

Regrettably, many Texans lack adequate health care. The Texas Observer reports that the state ranks first in the nation for adults without health insurance.

Over the last decade, Texas added thousands of jobs in construction and energy. Unfortunately, Texas leads the nation in construction fatalities.

The Texas construction industry is characterized by dangerous working conditions, low wages, and legal violations that hurt working families and undercut honest businesses.

Furthermore, an average of 39 energy industry workers die each year.

Oil and gas field services and drilling workers were killed on the job in Texas more than those in any other profession, according to a Houston Chronicle analysis of five years of fatal accidents investigated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

And when Texans are injured on the job, they often have great difficulty getting their medical claims reimbursed. Texas is the only state where employers have a choice about paying worker’s compensation. If the worker’s employer doesn’t provide coverage, the worker has to file a civil claim. But even when there is worker’s compensation, the system is notoriously difficult.

Texas Governor Rick Perry roams the U.S. luring workers to Texas with the promise of good jobs, but the reality is unimpressive. Writing in the American IndependentPatrick Brendel observed the new Texas jobs are primarily low-wage jobs:

Texas has by far the largest number of employees working at or below the federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour in 2010) compared to any state, according to a [Bureau of Labor Statistics] report. In 2010, about 550,000 Texans were working at or below minimum wage, or about 9.5 percent of all workers paid by the hour in the state.

On June 14, Governor Perry vetoed an equal pay bill.

Meanwhile, the ruined city of West, Texas, is struggling to recover. Total losses will be more than $100 million and FEMA likely will reimburse only 10 percent. The City of West has sued the owner and supplier of the West Chemical and Fertilizer Plant.

On April 22 Texas Governor Rick Perry was asked about the explosion at the West Chemical and Fertilizer Plant and contended that “more government intervention and increased spending on safety inspections would not have prevented” the West catastrophe.

What’s happened in West and Texas graphically illustrates the choice facing America. We can adopt an extreme pro-business strategy and subordinate worker pay and safety; we can, in effect, tell the 99 percent, “You’re on your own.” Or we can adopt a strategy that puts people first; we can decide that capitalism has to be subordinate to democracy and protect the rights of all Americans.

###

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 May 18th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

A Black Mound of Canadian Oil Waste Is Rising Over Detroit

Fabrizio Costantini for The New York Times

Petroleum coke, a waste byproduct of refining oil sands oil, is piling up along the Detroit River.

WINDSOR, Ontario — Assumption Park gives residents of this city lovely views of the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit skyline. Lately they’ve been treated to another sight: a three-story pile of petroleum coke covering an entire city block on the other side of the Detroit River.

   Fabrizio Costantini for The New York Times

Brian Masse, a member of the Canadian Parliament, wants a bilateral agency to investigate the pile accumulating in Detroit.

Detroit’s ever-growing black mountain is the unloved, unwanted and long overlooked byproduct of Canada’s oil sands boom.

And no one knows quite what to do about it, except Koch Carbon, which owns it.

The company is controlled by Charles and David Koch, wealthy industrialists who back a number of conservative and libertarian causes including activist groups that challenge the science behind climate change. The company sells the high-sulfur, high-carbon waste, usually overseas, where it is burned as fuel.

The coke comes from a refinery alongside the river owned by Marathon Petroleum, which has been there since 1930. But it began refining exports from the Canadian oil sands — and producing the waste that is sold to Koch — only in November.

“What is really, really disturbing to me is how some companies treat the city of Detroit as a dumping ground,” said Rashida Tlaib, the Michigan state representative for that part of Detroit. “Nobody knew this was going to happen.” Almost 56 percent of Canada’s oil production is from the petroleum-soaked oil sands of northern Alberta, more than 2,000 miles north.

An initial refining process known as coking, which releases the oil from the tarlike bitumen in the oil sands, also leaves the petroleum coke, of which Canada has 79.8 million tons stockpiled. Some is dumped in open-pit oil sands mines and tailing ponds in Alberta. Much is just piled up there.

Detroit’s pile will not be the only one. Canada’s efforts to sell more products derived from oil sands to the United States, which include transporting it through the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, have pulled more coking south to American refineries, creating more waste product here.

Marathon Petroleum’s plant in Detroit processes 28,000 barrels a day of the oil sands bitumen.

Residents on both sides of the Detroit River are concerned that the coke mountain is both an environmental threat and an eyesore.

“Here’s a little bit of Alberta,” said Brian Masse, one of Windsor’s Parliament members. “For those that thought they were immune from the oil sands and the consequences of them, we’re now seeing up front and center that we’re not.”

Mr. Masse wants the International Joint Commission, the bilateral agency that governs the Great Lakes, to investigate the pile. Michigan’s state environmental regulatory agency has submitted a formal request to Detroit Bulk Storage, the company holding the material for Koch Carbon, to change its storage methods. Michigan politicians and environmental groups have also joined cause with Windsor residents. Paul Baltzer, a spokesman for Koch’s parent company, Koch Companies Public Sector, did not respond to questions about its storage or the ultimate destination of the petroleum coke.

Coke, which is mainly carbon, is an essential ingredient in steelmaking as well as producing the electrical anodes used to make aluminum.

While there is high demand from both those industries, the small grains and high sulfur content of this petroleum coke make it largely unusable for those purposes, said Kerry Satterthwaite, a petroleum coke analyst at Roskill Information Services, a commodities analysis company based in London.

“It is worse than a byproduct,” Ms. Satterthwaite said.“It’s a waste byproduct that is costly and inconvenient to store, but effectively costs nothing to produce.”

Murray Gray, the scientific director for the Center for Oil Sands Innovation at the University of Alberta, said that about two years ago, Alberta backed away from plans to use the petroleum coke as a fuel source, partly over concerns about greenhouse-gas emissions. Some of it is burned there, however, to power coking plants.

The Keystone XL pipeline will provide Gulf Coast refineries with a steady supply of diluted bitumen from the oil sands. The plants on the coast, like the coking refineries concentrated in California to deal with that state’s heavy crude oil, are positioned to ship the waste to China or Mexico, where it is burned as a fuel. California exports about 128,000 barrels of petroleum coke a day, mainly to China.

Tony McCallum, a spokesman for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, played down the impact of Keystone XL. “Most of the Canadian oil earmarked for the U.S. Gulf Coast is to replace declining heavy oil imports from Mexico and Venezuela that produces the same amount of petcoke, so it doesn’t create a new issue,” he wrote in an e-mail.

Much of the new coking investment has gone into refineries in the Midwest to allow them to take advantage of the oil sands. BP, the British energy company, is building what it describes as the second-largest coke refinery in Whiting, Ind. When completed, the unit will be able to process about 102,000 barrels of bitumen or other heavy oils a day.

And what about the leftover coke? The Environmental Protection Agency will no longer allow any new licenses permitting the burning of petroleum coke in the United States. But D. Mark Routt, a staff energy consultant at KBC Advanced Technologies in Houston, said that overseas companies saw it as a cheap alternative to low-grade coal. In China, it is used to generate electricity, adding to that country’s air-quality problems. There is also strong demand from India and Latin America for American petroleum coke, where it mainly fuels cement-making kilns.

“I’m not making a value statement, but it comes down to emission controls,” Mr. Routt said. “Other people don’t seem to have a problem, which is why it is going to Mexico, which is why it is going to China.”

“One man’s junk is another man’s treasure,” he said. One of the world’s largest dealers of petroleum coke is the Oxbow Corporation, which sells about 11 million tons of fuel-grade coke a year. It is owned by William I. Koch, a brother of David and Charles.

Lorne Stockman, who recently published a study on petroleum coke for the environmental group Oil Change International, says, “It’s really the dirtiest residue from the dirtiest oil on earth,” he said.

Rhonda Anderson, an organizing representative of the Sierra Club in Detroit, said that the mountain’s rise took her group by surprise, but it had one benefit.

“Those piles kind of hit us upside to the head,” she said. “But it also triggered a kind of relationship between Canada and the United States that’s allowed us to work together.”

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 5th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Up to 75 homes, a large apartment complex, a middle school and a nursing home suffered major damage in West, Texas. (photo: NBC36TV/Twitter)
Up to 75 homes, a large apartment complex, a middle school and a nursing home suffered major damage in West, Texas. (photo: NBC36TV/Twitter)

 

What Do the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Al-Qaeda Have in Common?

By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News

04 May 13

 

Answer: Both aren’t above killing people to attain their goals.

n 2009, Congress considered a bill that would have strengthened safety standards at fertilizer plants like the one that recently exploded in West, Texas, killing dozens of first responders and leveling a nearby middle school and a nursing home 500 yards away. The 2009 safety regulations were staunchly opposed by the US Chamber of Commerce, multinational corporations’ lobbying arm in Washington. The lobby spent millions to defeat it and labeled it a “key vote” that year. Even though it passed the House, the bill died in the Senate before even getting a vote.

Had those new regulations passed, the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, could have been prevented. But even though the plant dealt in highly-explosive materials like ammonium nitrate, it was only inspected once in its entire history, in 1985. Corporate lobbies like the US Chamber of Commerce prioritize profits and stock prices above safety of the surrounding community, and vehemently oppose environmental and safety regulations in all instances by spending millions of dollars to influence Congress and support candidates who promise to deregulate anything and everything.

The only problem with deregulating environmental and safety laws for corporations is that it opens the floodgates for environmental disasters and fatal catastrophes. Corporations successfully lobbied to deregulate offshore oil drilling in 2002 and 2003, successfully gaining an exemption from the Bush administration on having to install acoustic switches that would activate blowout preventers on oil rigs. Oil companies have to abide by that law in every country where they drill, except for the United States. The acoustic switch shuts off oil blowouts at the source, plugging the well before the blowout becomes too large to contain.

Even though it would only cost an additional $500,000 to install, business groups opposed the idea of oil companies posting record profits that year having to pay an extra cost for even such a basic safety measure. Yet after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the Gulf Coast, BP has had to pay out billions of dollars in fines and settlements. Clearly, the business model of hyper-deregulation is costlier not only in terms of dollars spent, but in lives lost, habitats ruined, and entire economies upended.

The explosion in Boston was defined as a terrorist attack, as Tamerlan and Dzokhar Tsarnaev’s actions were done with malicious intent and claimed 3 lives while seriously injuring hundreds of others. The two men selfishly chose to end the live of others to make whatever petty point they wanted to make. But the explosion in West, Texas, was also done with malicious intent.

Anyone with half a brain knows that it’s incredibly dangerous for a place that manufactures explosive materials to operate under safety standards that are decades out of date. The wanton deregulation that inevitably led to that explosion was also done with selfish intent, as the US Chamber of Commerce chose to allow corporations to make more money rather than keep the community safe from harm. By that definition the explosion in West, Texas, was also a terrorist attack.

Corporate terrorists should be pursued just as much as religious extremists who commit terrorist acts. And since the US Chamber of Commerce hasn’t released a statement apologizing to the community of West for their reckless behavior that led to the deaths of dozens, it can be said that they will continue to commit acts of terror for selfish economic gain until they’re indicted for their complicity in manslaughter, if not murder.

 


Carl Gibson, 25, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary “We’re Not Broke,” which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin. You can contact him at carl@rsnorg.org, and follow him on twitter at @uncutCG.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 5th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Search Results

  1. News for Did a Saudi judge order paralysis ?

    1. Saudi judge orders man surgically paralyzed to pay for childhood stabbing

      New York Daily News ?- 1 day ago
      A Saudi court has ordered that 24-year-old Ali Al-Khawahir be surgically I think about my son’s fate and that he will have to be paralyzed.”
  2. Saudi court orders man to be paralyzed as an Islamic punishment

    worldnews.nbcnews.com/_…/17601030-saudi-court-orders-m...

    1 day ago – A young Saudi man faces being forcibly paralyzed as a punishment under she did not have even a fraction of this money, meaning the court

  3. Saudi Arabian court orders man to be surgically paralysed in ‘eye for

    Robert Williams
    by Robert Williams – in 25 Google+ circles – More by Robert Williams

    2 days ago – A Saudi Arabian court has ruled that a man should be paralysed as punishment for but your IP address will be logged to prevent abuse of this feature. Amnesty claims that the paralysis sentence would contravene the UN

  4. Saudi court orders criminal to be surgically paralyzed – The Globe

    2 days ago – Saudi court orders criminal to be surgically paralyzed Add to . A government-approved Saudi human rights group did not respond to requests

  5. Saudi judge orders man surgically paralyzed to pay – Mixed Martial

    1 day ago – A Saudi court has ordered that 24-year-old Ali Al-Khawahir be surgically paralyzed as A decade later and he will now be paralyzed for life.

  6. Surgical Paralysis Ordered in Saudi Arabia as Punishment for

    Steven Nelson
    by Steven Nelson – in 59 Google+ circles – More by Steven Nelson

    1 day ago – Surgical Paralysis Ordered in Saudi Arabia as Punishment for Ali Al-Khawahir, 24, is awaiting court-ordered surgical paralysis in Saudi Arabia for an and said the defendants did not have legal representation during court

  7. Saudi court sentences man to paralysis

    www.philly.com/…/20130404_Saudis_sentence_man_to_paral
    1 day ago – Unless he can quickly raise $270,000, a Saudi man will soon face court-ordered surgical paralysis from the waist down, Amnesty International
  8. Britain ‘concerned’ after Saudi Arabia ‘orders man to be paralysed

    1 day ago – Saudi Arabian courtorders man to be paralysed’ has sentenced a man to be paralysed in retribution for causing the paralysis of a friend when he was fourteen years old. John Kerry: US will ‘empower’ Syria opposition

  9. Saudi judge orders man surgically paralyzed to – Contacto Latino

    contacto-latino.com/…/saudi-judge-orders-man-surgically-para

    Saudi judge orders man surgically paralyzed to pay for childhood stabbing. By NY Daily News Latino | Published: 2013-04-04 19:47:21 UTC | Read more, click

  10. Saudi judge orders man surgically paralyzed to – One News Page

    1 day ago – Saudi judge orders man surgically paralyzed to pay for childhood his friend in the back and paralyzing him will be surgically paralyzed

Reports of Saudi Paralysis Sentence (Taken Question)

Taken Question

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
April 5, 2013

Question: What is the U.S. response to reports that a Saudi judge gave a court order for a prisoner to be surgically paralyzed?

Answer: If these reports are true, they would be incredibly disturbing. We expect the Saudi Government to respect international human rights norms. We regularly make this point as part of our bilateral dialogue.



PRN: 2013/0374

—————————————————————-

Texas Refinery Is Saudi Foothold in U.S. Market.

By CLIFFORD KRAUSS

The Motiva refinery in Port Arthur, the largest in the United States, ensures a bigger market for Saudi crude and a stronger global voice for the kingdom.

 

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

www.timesofisrael.com/report-shell-to-dump-firm-over-its-ties-to-israel/?utm_source=The+Times+of+Israel+Daily+Edition&utm_campaign=004fe980fe-2013_04_05&utm_medium=email

 

This can now be seen in context!

 

Jewish Times // The Times of Israel

‘Shell to dump energy firm over its ties to Israel’

Australia’s Woodside Petroleum has a 30-percent interest in Israel’s Leviathan natural gas field

April 5, 2013, 3:28 pm 2

 

THE HAGUE (JTA) – Royal Dutch Shell declined to comment on reports that it will divest its stake in an Australian energy firm because of that firm’s investment in Israel’s gas fields.

According to the RTL Dutch television network, a spokesperson for Shell said on Wednesday that he had no comment on a report by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia which said Shell would likely dump its 23.1-percent stake in Australia’s Woodside Petroleum.

The report said Shell planned the move to avoid the risk of boycott by Arab countries following Woodside’s agreement to purchase a 30-percent interest in Israel’s Leviathan natural gas field. RTL reported that Shell’s stake in Woodside is worth more then $7 billion.

Last year, Shell said that involvement with Woodside was “incompatible” with Shell’s “long-term plans.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 16th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Op-Ed Columnist

A Real Carbon Solution

{please allow for www.SustainabiliTank.info Chutzpah – we tend to put a question mark at the end of the title.  (?) }

By JOE NOCERA
Published: March 15, 2013   ///   121 Comments

Sometime this summer, in Odessa, Tex., the Summit Power Group plans to break ground on a $2.5 billion coal gasification power plant. Summit has named this the Texas Clean Energy Project. With good reason.

Part of the promise of this power plant is its use of gasified coal; because the gasification process doesn’t burn the coal, it makes for far cleaner energy than a traditional coal-fired plant.

But another reason this plant — and a handful of similar plants — has such enormous potential is that it will capture some 90 percent of the facility’s already reduced carbon emissions. Some of those carbon emissions will be used to make fertilizer.
The rest will be sold to the oil industry, which will push it into the ground, as part of a process called enhanced oil recovery.

Let us count the potential benefits if plants like this became commonplace. Currently, some 40 percent of carbon emissions come from power plants. The carbon-capture process Summit will employ “is the only technology that can reduce CO2 emissions from existing, stationary sources by up to 90 percent,” said Judi Greenwald of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.
To put it another way, this technology could be a climate-saver.

Second: Environmentalists could call off their war against the coal industry, thus saving tens of thousands of jobs, as climate-destroying coal-fired plants were replaced by clean coal gasification plants.

Third: Gas-fired power plants, which already emit 50 percent less carbon than coal-fired plants, could become even cleaner if they included the carbon-capture technology.

Fourth: Using carbon emissions to recover previously ungettable oil has the potential to unlock vast untapped American reserves. Last year, ExxonMobil reported that enhanced oil recovery would allow it to extend the life of a single oil field in West Texas by 20 years.

Fifth: China. Too often, American environmentalists ignore the reality that the Chinese are far more concerned with economic growth than climate change. (And who can blame them? All they want is what we already have.) The Chinese are relentlessly building coal-fired power plants, which Western environmentalists couldn’t stop even if they tried. But if power plants like Summit’s — which will turn CO2 into profitable products — were to gain momentum, that would likely catch China’s attention. A reduction of carbon emissions from Chinese power plants would do far more to help reverse climate change than — dare I say it? — blocking the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The Summit executive most closely associated with the Texas Clean Energy Project is Laura Miller. Her environmental credentials are unimpeachable. As the mayor of Dallas in 2006, Miller founded the Texas Clean Air Cities Coalition to fight a plan by TXU Energy, a big power company, to build 11 new coal-fired plants. During a trip to Europe, she saw both coal gasification and carbon-capture technologies being used. When she left the mayor’s office, she signed up with Summit and became a passionate advocate of the Odessa plant.

Eric Redman, the president and chief executive of Summit Power, describes her as “the public face of the project.” (As a young man, by the way, Redman wrote one of the classic works about Congress, “The Dance of Legislation.” It’s still worth reading.)

So who could possibly be against coal gasification and carbon capture? Ratepayers, for one, mainly because carbon-capture technology is so expensive. In 2011, American Electric Power, or A.E.P., canceled a big carbon-capture project, in part because it was clear that state regulators were not going to allow the company to pass on the additional costs to its customers.

To help make the project economically viable, the Texas Clean Energy Project is getting a $450 million grant from the Department of Energy. (Absurdly, the Internal Revenue Service is requiring Summit to pay taxes on the federal grant, which means that a third of it will go right back to the government.) But if the plant proves successful — as I believe it will — and others replicate it, the costs will inevitably come down, and federal help won’t likely be needed.

And the other opponent? None other than Bill McKibben, Mr. “Stop Keystone” himself. When I e-mailed him to ask whether he supported carbon-capture for enhanced oil recovery, he replied that if carbon were sent back into the ground “the worst possible thing to do with it is to get more oil above ground.” He continued, “It’s time to keep oil in the earth, not to mention gas and coal.”

To me, at least, his answer suggests that his crusade has blinded him to the real problem. The enemy is not fossil fuels; it is the damage that is done because of the way we use fossil fuels.

If we can find a way to create clean energy from fossil fuels, then they can become (as they used to say) part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

Thankfully, Laura Miller and Eric Redman understand that, even if Bill McKibben doesn’t.

———————————————————————————————————————————————–
Laura Miller (born 1958) served as mayor of Dallas, Texas (U.S.) from 2002 through 2007. She did not run for re-election in the 2007 mayoral race. She was the third woman to serve as mayor of Dallas.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Miller attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison and spent the early part of her career as a journalist. As a journalist, Miller worked as a staff writer for The Miami Herald and The Dallas Morning News and then as a columnist for the New York Daily News and the now-defunct Dallas Times Herald. In 1991, Miller became an investigative reporter for the Dallas Observer and then a columnist for D Magazine.

In 1998, Miller was elected to the Dallas City Council representing Oak Cliff and southwest Dallas. In 1998, Miller was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments which effectively eradicated the cancer.

In 2002, Miller was elected as Mayor of Dallas, replacing Ron Kirk who left the post to run for the United States Senate position vacated by retiring Texas Senator Phil Gramm.

She fought for and won approval of a strengthened smoking ban, an ordinance prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, a revamped public housing system, a $23 million homeless assistance center, major changes to the city’s Trinity River Corridor improvement plan and a taxpayer-funded downtown redevelopment effort.

She participated in an agreement between American Airlines, the City of Fort Worth, DFW Airport and Southwest Airlines to revise the federal flight restrictions at Love Field Airport, which involved: replacing geographic limitations on Love Field service with: flight caps determined by a limitation on the number of gates allowed at Love Field, restrictions on the rights of any new air carrier to service North Texas via any airport other than DFW Airport, and banning international commercial air travel at Love Field. The unique agreement and resulting oligopoly required an exemption from federal antitrust laws, which Miller also successfully helped obtain.

David Levey, executive vice president for Forest City Enterprises, credited Miller for reviving a $250 million deal to renovate downtown’s long vacant Mercantile National Bank Building.

During her term, the Dallas Cowboys announced plans to build Cowboys Stadium and many citizens hoped it would be built in Dallas. The city and the Dallas Cowboys, however, failed to reach a deal and the stadium was built in Arlington.

She announced parade plans for the Dallas Mavericks championship in 2006, prior to the Mavericks losing four straight games and ultimately the NBA championship to the Miami Heat in six games.

Miller was succeeded in office by Republican Tom Leppert.

Laura Miller serves as Director of Projects, Texas,[3] for Summit Power Group, a Seattle-based developer of wind, solar and gas-fired power plants. Summit was recently selected by the U.S. Department of Energy to receive a $350 million cost-sharing award to build the world’s first IGCC (Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle) clean-coal power plant located near Odessa, Texas. The low-emissions project, called the Texas Clean Energy Project, is projected to capture just under 3 million tons a year of carbon dioxide, which will be used for enhanced oil recovery in the West Texas Permian Basin.[4]

Miller’s other environmental accomplishments included the formation and co-leading (with former Houston mayor Bill White) of the Texas Clean Air Cities Coalition, made up of 36 cities, counties and school districts in Texas that opposed the construction of 11 coal plants (which would have used older technology) by TXU, a Dallas-based energy company. Ultimately, TXU (now called Energy Future Holdings) officially suspended its plans to build eight of the eleven plants.[5] As a result of these efforts, Miller won a 2008 Climate Protection Award from the Environmental Protection Agency for this nationally-recognized effort,[6] which has been memorialized in a documentary film, produced and narrated by Robert Redford, and entitled “Fighting Goliath: The Texas Coal Wars.”

Miller is married to Dallas attorney and former Texas State Representative Steven D. Wolens, is Principal at McKool Smith, Dallas,  TX  U.S.A., and was described by Texas Monthly as the “House’s most dreaded foe, and most welcome ally,” He was best known for ushering in Senate Bill 7, deregulating Texas energy markets.  His legal practice areas are given as “Government/Cities/Municipalities (70%), Business Litigation (30%)” which seem to have overlapped his wife’s activities – but surely – in Texas everything is possible.

He is one of the Texas “Super-Lawyers” and was called one of the ten best legislators in Texas. They have two daughters, Alex and Lily, and a son, Max.

——————-

Eric Redman, (born 1948, Palo Alto, California), is an a businessman with experience on Capitol Hill.

Redman was legislative assistant to the late Senator Warren G. Magnuson, Democrat of Washington State, who was with the Senate Commerce Committe, and served most of his years in the Senate along with Senator Henry Jackson, his friend, and fellow American Nationalist. Redman worked with Magnuson for two years circa 1971.[1]  He wrote then the book “The Dance of Legislation”, a descriptive account of a single bill establishing the National Health Service Corps along its two-year trip through Congress.[2]

The book was initially published in 1973, with a second edition in 2001. Redman has also written for a variety of other publications such as the New York Times,[3] the Washington Post,[4][5] Open Spaces,[6] and others,  and was once a Contributing Editor of Rolling Stone.[7] His article on the climate effects of soot, “A Dirty Little Secret,” appeared in the May–June 2005 issue of Legal Affairs.[

 

His interest in the effects of SOOT - which he called A Dirty Secret, are a give away when the issue is man caused Climate Change - it seems he was eager finding other reasons for global warming like the speakers for the Heartland Institute used to do. No, the issue is not that black particles of man caused soot are not a source of global warming, but that they are the reason to displace CO2 emissions as a suspect, are the reason for our comment.

Redman studied at Harvard College (1966–1970), was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship and studied at Oxford University (1970–1971),[1] then he experienced work on Capitol Hill, after which he and obtained a law degree from Harvard Law School in 1975.[9] He joined the law firm Heller Ehrman LLP in 1983, and founded the firm’s Energy Practice Group.[10]

Redman left the legal practice  for business after specializing in public policy and energy law for more than 30 years. He is currently President of Summit Power Group Inc,[11][12] a Seattle-based developer of wind, solar, gas-fired, and carbon-capture power plants. Summit is currently developing the Texas Clean Energy Project in Odessa, Texas. That is obviously the reason of his present advocacy.

————————————————————————————————————————–

Joseph “Joe” Nocera ( 1952 in Providence, Rhode Island)  is a sterling American business journalist and author. He became a business columnist for The New York Times in April 2005. In March 2011, Nocera became a regular opinion columnist for The Times’ Op-Ed page, writing on Tuesdays and Saturdays.[2] Nocera is also a business commentator for NPR’s Weekend Edition with Scott Simon.

Prior to joining The New York Times, Nocera worked at Fortune from 1995 to 2005, in a variety of positions, finally as editorial director.

Nocera was the “Profit Motive” columnist at GQ from 1990 to 1995, and wrote the same column for Esquire from 1988 to 1990.

In the 1980s, Nocera was an editor at Newsweek; an executive editor of New England Monthly; and a senior editor at Texas Monthly. In the late 1970s he was an editor at The Washington Monthly.

Go to Columnist Page »    ///     Joe Nocera’s Blog »    ///   Related in Opinion:  More on the Environment »    ///    Read All Comments (121) »

Mr. Nocera is a clear profit motive journalist with connections to Texas – we do not doubt his writing skills, but we wonder if the subject at hand got the full investigative scrutiny it deserves.

A version of this op-ed appeared in print on March 16, 2013, on page A21 of the New York edition with the headline: A Real Carbon Solution.

###