Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

India’s Electricity Transformation

By Paul Homewood | Not A Lot Of People Know That | June 25, 2017

Renewable proponents are getting excited about the latest news from India:

image

The Indian energy market transformation is accelerating under Energy Minister Piyush Goyal’s leadership.

The most recent and most persuasive evidence is the collapsing cost of solar electricity—a collapse that has gone beyond anyone’s expectations, and the results are in: solar has won.

The global energy market implications are profound.

Recent events have given manifest life to Mark Carney’s landmark 2015 speech in which Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, warned of stranded-asset risks across the coal industry. This month alone has seen the cancellation of 13.7 gigawatts (GW) of proposed coal-fired power plants across India and an admission that US$9bn (8.6GW) of already operating import-coal-fired power plants are potentially no longer viable.

To put an Australian and a global seaborne thermal coal-trade perspective on it, these development strike at the very viability of the Carmichael export thermal coal proposal. They speak as well to a worldwide transition in progress.

India solar tariffs have been in freefall for months. A new 250MW solar tender in Rajasthan at the Bhadla Phase IV solar park this month was won at a record low Rs2.62/kWh,[i] 12 percent below the previous record low tariff awarded across 750MW of solar just three months ago at Rs2.97/kWh.

The Bhalda Phase record lasted two days, with a more recent 500MW Indian solar auction coming in at Rs2.44/kWh,  7 percent below Bhalda Phase.

We see solar pricing continuing to become even more competitive over time.

Several forces are at work.

In December 2016, India released its 10-year Draft National Electricity Plan, calling for the installation of a cumulative 275GW of renewable energy capacity by 2027, as well as 97GW of other zero emissions capacity (primarily large scale hydro, but also nuclear). Relative to a planned total system capacity of 650GW, the plan sees thermal power capacity falling from 69 percent of India electricity-generation mix in March 2016 to 43 percent by 2027.

http://ieefa.org/ieefa-asia-indias-electricity-sector-transformation-happening-now/

 

We are supposed to believe that solar power is going to rapidly replace coal. But, in fact, the news is not really new at all, and simply confirms what we knew already from India’s Draft National Plan, published in December 2016, and covered here.

But first, some basic facts.

The National Plan called for:

1) An increase in capacity of wind/solar by 2027 of 215 GW, plus 8 GW and 27 GW of nuclear and hydro respectively.

2) Total electricity requirement would rise from the current level of 1400 TWh, to 2132 TWh by 2027.

3) 50 GW of coal capacity was already under construction.

4) Non fossil fuel capacity would account for 56.5% of total capacity by 2027.

5) Wind/solar/bio would provide 24.2% of total generation by 2027.

The renewable commitment simply mirrored that contained in India’s INDC, although that only specified the period up to 2022.

The IEEAFA report acknowledged that the plan looks ambitious but absolutely feasible.

If we plug these capacities in and extrapolate from current load factors (based on BP data), we can take a look at what electricity generation will look like come 2027.

( The figure for fossil fuels is the balancing number).

Capacity Load Twh Twh
2027 Factor % 2027 2016
Hydro 73 32 205 129
Nuclear 14 72 88 38
Wind 60 19 100 45
Solar 205 19 341 12
Bio 10 41 36 16
Sub Total Low Carbon 362 770 240
Fossil Fuels 279 1362 1160
Total Electricity 641 2132 1400

In other words, under the Plan, there will still be a big increase in power from fossil fuels, nearly all of which will be coal.

Indeed, the Plan itself states this clearly:

image_thumb38

So what about all of these cancellations of coal plants? I’m afraid this is all rather fake news.

As the National Plan also states, there is already a surplus of power capacity in the pipeline, from all sources, and this is naturally putting the squeeze on new projects.

But as the Global Coal Plant Tracker revealed, there is nearly three times as much capacity in the pipeline but not started, as there is under construction. Given that the 50 GW under construction is already more than is needed, it is hardly surprising that projects not even started yet are being shelved.

Indeed, as the table shows, a total of 430 GW has already been cancelled or shelved since 2010.

There is simply nothing unusual at all about recent cancellations.

image

http://et-advisors.com/wp-content/uploads/ETA-Asia-Coal-Juggernaught_final.pdf

But isn’t solar now cheaper than coal?

Unfortunately, we aren’t comparing like with like. Whilst solar power, particularly in a sunny country like India, has a niche role, it cannot provide power reliably as coal does. As such, it can never play a dominant role.

It is worth bearing mind that we aren’t simply talking about day and night here. For three months every summer, most of India sits under the monsoon, beneath thick cloud and heavy rain.

While some solar power will still be generated, output will be much lower than the rest of the year, and at a time when demand tends to be greatest.

The Indian government is well aware of this, and will continue to ensure that sufficient coal power is always available. Indeed the National Plan also builds in enough coal capacity to cover a 30% reduction in Hydro generation, in case of a failure of the monsoon.

However, just as we are seeing here, coal power plants are suffering financially from competition from renewable energy with little or no marginal costs. Coal plants can only be viable if they are allowed to run at economic load factors.

One of the big problems with India’s electricity market is its curious mix of Central Government, State Government and Private power provision.

Just as in the UK, if India’s electricity system had been designed by electrical engineering experts, rather than developed on an ad hoc basis with conflicting objectives, it would not look like it does now.

And it would also be a lot more efficient!

June 25, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Science and Pseudo-Science | | Leave a comment

Voters are Fired Up for Single Payer Creating Dilemma for Democrats

By Margaret Flowers – Health Over Profit – June 5, 2017

On Sunday, June 4, the same day that Our Revolution, a Democratic Party group that arose from the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, organized rallies and die-ins to highlight the number of people dying in the United States due to lack of access to health care, the New York Times published an article, “The Single Payer Party? Democrats Shift Left on Health Care,” prominently on the front page and above the fold.

The article quotes RoseAnn DeMoro, head of National Nurses United, saying, “There is a cultural shift. Health care is now seen as something everyone deserves. It’s like a national light went off.” Minnesota Congressman Rick Nolan was also quoted, saying that rank and file Democrats “are energized in a way I have not witnessed in a long, long time.” Nolan is correct in stating that following the Democrat’s large loss in 2016, the party needs “a more boldly ‘aspirational’ health care platform.”

Democratic Party voters have been strong supporters of single payer health care for a long time. Polls have consistently shown that super-majorities of Democratic Party voters want single payer, but Democratic Party candidates keep telling them that they can’t have it. The Democratic Party has refused to add Medicare for All to its healthcare platform despite resolutions introduced by single payer advocates. Even the Congressional Progressive Caucus refuses to include single payer health care in their “People’s Budget.”

In 2009, with a Democratic President and majorities in the House and Senate, single payer health care was off the table. Instead, the “public option” was used to divide the Democratic Party voters and convince them that they were asking for too much. Democrats were told that the public option would be more politically feasible and would create a “back door” to single payer. Many were fooled. And the joke was on them because even the public option, which I call the “Profiteer’s Option,” was never meant to be in the final legislation.

While the New York Times wrongly blames the liberal and centrist Democrats for not supporting a public option, it was actually the White House and Democratic Party leadership that kept it out of the final bill. In December of 2009, public pressure was working to convince the Senate to include a public option in its healthcare bill. That’s when leadership stepped in to stop them. Glenn Greenwald writes:

I’ve argued since August that the evidence was clear that the White House had privately negotiated away the public option and didn’t want it, even as the President claimed publicly (and repeatedly) that he did.  … it is the excuse Democrats fraudulently invoke, using what I called the Rotating Villain tactic (it’s now Durbin’s turn), to refuse to pass what they claim they support but are politically afraid to pass, or which they actually oppose (sorry, we’d so love to do this, but gosh darn it, we just can’t get 60 votes).  If only 50 votes were required, they’d just find ways to ensure they lacked 50.  Both of those are merely theories insusceptible to conclusive proof, but if I had the power to create the most compelling evidence for those theories that I could dream up, it would be hard to surpass what Democrats are doing now with regard to the public option.  They’re actually whipping against the public option.  Could this sham be any more transparent?

I was present at the Center for American Progress in March of 2009 when Senator Max Baucus stated that the public option was a bargaining chip being used to convince private health insurers to accept more regulations. It was Baucus’ staffer, Liz Fowler, a former senior vice president for one of the largest private insurance corporations, WellPoint, who wrote the framework for the Affordable Care Act and shepherded it through Congress. The scam was revealed early and though progressive groups knew it, they were complicit in the scam because they accepted being controlled and silenced by the White House.

Jim Messina, a former Baucus chief of staff, was hired by the White House to be “the enforcer” for President Obama’s agenda. Ari Berman described the situation in this enlightening article:

The administration deputized Messina as the top liaison to the Common Purpose Project. The coveted invite-only, off-the-record Tuesday meetings at the Capitol Hilton became the premier forum where the administration briefed leading progressive groups, including organizations like the AFL-CIO, MoveOn, Planned Parenthood and the Center for American Progress, on its legislative and political strategy. Theoretically, the meetings were supposed to provide a candid back-and-forth between outside groups and administration officials, but Messina tightly controlled the discussions and dictated the terms of debate (Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake memorably dubbed this the “veal pen”). “Common Purpose didn’t make a move without talking to Jim,” says one progressive strategist. During the healthcare fight, Messina used his influence to try to stifle any criticism of Baucus or lobbying by progressive groups that was out of sync with the administration’s agenda, according to Common Purpose participants. “Messina wouldn’t tolerate us trying to lobby to improve the bill,” says Richard Kirsch, former national campaign manager for Health Care for America Now (HCAN), the major coalition of progressive groups backing reform. Kirsch recalled being told by a White House insider that when asked what the administration’s “inside/outside strategy” was for passing healthcare reform, Messina replied, “There is no outside strategy.”

The inside strategy pursued by Messina, relying on industry lobbyists and senior legislators to advance the bill, was directly counter to the promise of the 2008 Obama campaign, which talked endlessly about mobilizing grassroots support to bring fundamental change to Washington. But that wasn’t Messina’s style—instead, he spearheaded the administration’s deals with doctors, hospitals and drug companies, particularly the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), one of the most egregious aspects of the bill. “They cared more about their relationship with the healthcare industry than anyone else,” says one former HCAN staffer. “It was shocking to see. To me, that was the scariest part of it, because this White House had ridden in on a white horse and said, ‘We’re not going to do this anymore.’” When they were negotiating special deals with industry, Messina and Baucus chief of staff Jon Selib were also pushing major healthcare companies and trade associations to pour millions of dollars into TV ads defending the bill.

This was the Democratic Party’s deal with the devil. They rejected their voter base and went with the donor class to create and market a health law, the so-called Affordable Care Act, that protected the profits of the medical-industrial complex, and it backfired. In the 2010 election, 63 Democratic incumbents lost their seats in Congress and the party has been in decline ever since with a record low number of elected officials nationally. On issue after issue, the Democratic Party betrayed its base and voters finally gave up, choosing either to vote for other parties or not vote at all.

The question now is whether the Democrats will change.

So far, despite the title of the New York Times article, the answer is no. Although there is widespread voter support for single payer, Nancy Pelosi says the party is not going there and is funneling advocates’ energy to the state level, even though state single payer systems are not possible without federal legislation. At the national level, Democrats are paying lip service to Medicare for All: “We need to get there eventually but right now our task is to fix the ACA” is the current talking point.

The reality is that the political currents have shifted. The public is not going along with the con. People want solutions to the healthcare crisis, not more tinkering with the current failed healthcare system. Across the country, the message is clear that the public supports National Improved Medicare for All. And whichever political party in power embraces this will see a surge in popularity.

Our task as advocates for National Improved Medicare for All is to stay fired up – continue to speak out about Medicare for All, write about it in local papers, meet with members of Congress, organize in our communities and run for office. We must be clear and uncompromising in our demand for National Improved Medicare for All to create a visible tsunami of support that will wake our legislators up.

When the people lead, the legislators will follow.

June 6, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Progressive Hypocrite | , | Leave a comment

Medical marijuana program ‘could save US taxpayer $1bn’ – study

RT | April 24, 2017

A new study claims that medical marijuana use directly correlates with a decline in prescription drug use, which could save the US taxpayer up to $1.1 billion a year on Medicaid prescriptions.

The research follows up on another study carried out last year by Ashley Bradford and W. David Bradford which found that taxpayers would save half a billion dollars each year through the provision of medical marijuana.

“Patients and physicians in the community are reacting to the availability of medical marijuana as if it were medicine,” the father-daughter team wrote in their latest findings, published online this week in the Health Affairs publication. Medical marijuana is legal in 28 states and in Washington DC.

“Using quarterly data on all fee-for-service Medicaid prescriptions in the period 2007–14, we tested the association between those laws and the average number of prescriptions filled by Medicaid beneficiaries,” the researchers wrote.

The revised estimates in the latest study are even more optimistic, and predict that if medical marijuana was made available nationwide it would lead to: an 11 percent drop in prescriptions for pain medication, including opioids; a 17 percent drop in prescriptions for nausea medications; a 13 percent drop in depression medication prescriptions, and a 12 percent decrease in both anti-seizure and anti-psychotic medications.

All of which would amount to a total savings of up to $1.1 billion to the US taxpayer.

A study published on April 1 in the Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence also found that states which have legalized medical marijuana have seen an overall reduction in opioid-related hospitalizations per capita compared with those where the drug is still illegal, even for medicinal purposes.

The researchers did concede that a uniform replacement of FDA-approved treatments with medical marijuana across the board would be harmful.

However, they also disputed the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Schedule 1 classification of the drug which is reserved for drugs that have no “currently accepted medical use[s].”

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been a noted critic of marijuana legalization, claiming that “there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think,” in a meeting with reporters in February, as cited by CBS. He has also expressed surprise that the American people do not support his anti-marijuana stance.

April 24, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Denmark proposes law change to block Russian gas to Europe

RT | April 11, 2017

The European Commission has refused to comment on a proposal by the Danish government to modify the country’s laws allowing it to block the construction of a Russian natural gas pipeline to Europe.

Earlier this week, a bill was put to the Danish parliament to make sure foreign, and security policy is considered when assessing the approval of projects such as Nord Stream-2.

According to the Danish energy ministry, the present regulations do not allow Denmark to decide on permits for transit pipelines to pass through Danish waters due to foreign policy considerations.

“We want to have the possibility to say yes or no from a perspective of security and foreign policy,” said Energy and Climate Minister Lars Christian Lilleholt, adding that it was the only possible way to veto such projects due to environmental concerns.

Denmark’s right-wing minority government will reportedly negotiate with other parties to win support for the proposal.

The Nord Stream- 2 pipeline aims to double the existing capacity delivering natural gas from Russia to Germany and Northern Europe under the Baltic Sea.

The pipeline bypasses Ukraine, which the Kremlin says proved to be unreliable for both the exporter and the importer. The gas transit contract between Moscow and Kiev expires in December 2019 and has not yet been extended.

Last month, EU officials announced plans to enter security negotiations with Moscow over the project, saying the bloc no longer had legal grounds to stop it.

The move followed years of delays over EU concerns the project would strengthen Russia’s dominance of the European gas market and minimize Ukraine’s participation.

April 11, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Unauthorized Biography of David Rockefeller

corbettreport – March 27, 2017

David Rockefeller is dead. But what does it mean? How do we measure the life of someone who has shaped the modern world to such an extent? Join us for this week’s edition of The Corbett Report where we examine David Rockefeller’s life, his works and the world that he left in his wake.

TRANSCRIPT AND MP3 AUDIO: https://www.corbettreport.com/rockefe…

March 28, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , | 3 Comments

Pakistan to give Iran gas talks another shot

The Iranian part of the gas pipeline is complete but Pakistan has run into repeated delays for the 780-km section to be built on its side of the border.

The Iranian part of the gas pipeline is complete but Pakistan has run into repeated delays for the 780-km section to be built on its side of the border
Press TV – March 25, 2017

A Pakistani delegation will be visiting Iran next month to revive talks on a planned gas pipeline which has been set back for years because of US and Saudi opposition, an Iranian news agency says.

Iran’s gas delivery should have started in December 2014 but Pakistan has failed to complete its section of the pipeline under the contract signed back in 2010.

According to Fars news agency, Pakistani officials have officially announced their readiness lately to resume the negotiations and decided to send a delegation to Tehran in the middle of the Persian month of Farvardin which began on March 21 or in early Ordibehesht.

“Although Pakistani officials are subject to the policies of Saudi Arabia and America, the government under pressure from the Pakistani people and businessmen is willing to provide for conditions so that the Iranian natural gas reaches Pakistan,” the source said.

According to the unnamed source, the Pakistani negotiating team has been given complete freedom to negotiate the volume, time and mode of gas imports from Iran and reach a final conclusion.

“Pricing is up for the later stage and if we reach an initial conclusion, we will also get to that phase,” the source added.

The energy crisis in Pakistan which suffers about 12 hours of power cuts a day has worsened in recent years amid 4,000 megawatts of electricity shortfall. The nation of 190 million people can only supply about two-thirds of its gas needs.

Contractually, Pakistan has to pay steep fines to Iran for failing to build and operate its section of the pipeline. Iran’s Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh has said that Tehran decided not to take the matter to international arbitration because Islamabad did not have any money to either pay the penalty or build the pipeline.

Pakistan has however pushed ahead with talks to receive gas from Turkmenistan through a pipeline which is exponentially longer and costlier than the Iran route and has to cross volatile terrain in Afghanistan.

Qatar is currently one of the main suppliers of liquefied natural gas to Pakistan after the two sides signed a 15-year agreement in February 2016 for shipment of 3.75 million tonnes of LNG a year.

In their last negotiations with Iran, the Pakistanis reportedly said they preferred LNG to natural gas.

However, Iranian energy experts have dismissed the proposal as another delaying tactic given that the first Iranian LNG production is years off, while the Pakistanis have started talks to buy natural gas from Turkmenistan.

For years, Islamabad has been under US and Saudi pressure to opt out of the Iran project even though this would entail going the extra mile of more than 700 km across the violence-wracked Afghanistan to get gas from Turkmenistan.

March 25, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , , , | Leave a comment

Foreign-Funded NGOs in Ecuador: Trojan Horse for Intervention?

teleSUR | February 18, 2017

Ecuador has come under fire for scrutinizing non-profits like Accion Ecologica, many of whom get millions from Europe and North America.

Ecuador, the tiny South American nation sandwiched between Colombia and Peru, rarely makes waves in the English-speaking world’s corporate mediascape. Last year, news traveled far on at least two occasions.

First, with an earthquake that killed at least 673 people. Second, when the government moved to investigate and potentially dissolve a nonprofit called Accion Ecologica in connection with deadly violence between members of an Amazonian tribe and police sent to protect a Chinese-operated mining project.

Ecologists and prominent activists friendly to the group, including heavy-weights such as Naomi Klein, called out what they characterized as a callous repression and criminalization of Indigenous people protecting the unparalleled richness of the Amazon and alleged state prejudice against an underdog non-profit organization that was only there to save the rainforest and its inhabitants.

Ecuador’s socialist government, on the other hand, sees the “underdog” label as misplaced.

NGOs may be seen as do-gooders, but that’s not always the case. As a country historically vulnerable to the whims of powers in the North, Ecuador has, under the administration of the outgoing President Rafael Correa, put up a guard against a new kind of public diplomacy from abroad that focuses on gaining the favor of civil society to indirectly execute their political priorities.

NGOs are flagged when they operate outside the bounds of the law and their stated objectives, indicators of potential pressure from outside funders to protect their interests rather than those of nationals.

“We’re an Ecuadorean NGO, born here in Ecuador and working for 30 years in the defense of the rights of the environment and of communities across the country, and for that work we are very well known, even at an international level,” Alexandra Almeida, president of Accion Ecologica, told teleSUR.

“But that doesn’t mean that a foreign organization could manipulate us with anything — with funds, with nothing — that’s how we operate.”

NGOs have rarely had to justify their work to anyone, let alone prove that they act for the good of the people only. But Ecuador is not an ordinary country. Rich in resources but export dependent, authorities are attempting to manage the many foreign hands trying to pull the country’s development in their favor.

Silent Action Meets Loud Reaction

This government is the first to scrutinize NGOs, but their scrutiny has not been limited to Accion Ecologica.

In 2012, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa boldly declared that NGOs have been entering the country like never before during the previous decade. Many, backed by foreign states and foreign money, are out to destabilize the state, Ecuadorean leaders stated.

“Their interest is not the country, impoverished sectors, natural resources or strengthening democracies,” said Paola Pabon, director of the National Ministry of Political Management, which is responsible for tracking NGOs, in an interview with teleSUR last year. “What interests them is having control over governments, having influence over civil society to create elements of destabilization.”

Executive Decree 16, which went into effect in 2013, created a system to catalogue the financing, decision-making and activities of every registered social organization — a total of over 46,000 in the country, including non-profits, unions and community organizations, among others.

The resulting action saw 26 foreign NGOs expelled from the country for a lack of transparency and compliance with national law; in brief, for declaring themselves “non-governmental organizations” while acting on behalf of foreign governments. Among the more high-profile cases was Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical missionary relief organization that received funding and support from USAID. Fifteen others were given two weeks to get their activities in order.

A handful of Indigenous organizations, which had previously mobilized against Correa’s government, attacked the decree via the Constitutional Court. Two years later, Ecuador reformed the regulations with Executive Decree 739, which fine-tuned the reasons for closing an NGO — the main one, “diverting from stated objectives” — and, caving to demand, eliminated the requirement for organizations to register projects financed from abroad.

Donor Nations: Generous or Greedy?

The trend that prompted Ecuador’s law was not without precedent.

Through the U.S. Agency for International Development, known as USAID, and the linked but publicly independent National Endowment for Democracy, known as NED, the United States pumped over US$100 million into Venezuela to create 300 new organizations credited with contributing to the coup d’etat against Hugo Chavez in 2002. In a similar move, USAID admitted that it tried to provoke a “Cuban Spring” by setting up Zunzuneo, a kind of Cuban Twitter, to circulate calls to protest.

The most common nonprofits close to foreign governments and private interests are those that stand tallest against their states. In Ecuador, that tends to be groups that work closely with Indigenous communities, with those protecting their right to their land and with those defending women and the environment. Funding by private foundations and corporations, while more widespread, is far less transparent and tougher to quantify. Big names like the Ford Foundation and Open Society, however, are well known for injecting funds into NGOs in the global south to advance specific political visions.

But the United States isn’t the only country to have funneled funds to Ecuador through NGOs.

Official numbers from Ecuador’s Chief Administrative Office of International Cooperation, or SETECI, show that since Correa assumed office in 2007 until 2015, foreign NGOs have managed over US$800 million from abroad. Top givers include the U.K. and Spain, followed by several European states.

No one, however, beats the United States. In that same period, the U.S. sent over twice the amount of money of the next-highest donor, with a total of over US$282 million and 780 projects, or 35 percent of all funding.

Of those funds, which only count NGOs based abroad that invested in local or regional projects, 13 went to projects in the Amazon led by non-profits like Care International, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the World Wildlife Fund, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Mitsubishi Corporation Foundation for the Americas. Projects based in Morona Santiago, the province where the anti-mining protests that led to the death of a police officer broke out, brought in over US$1 million from the U.S. since 2007.

The flow of funds is indicative of a broader attitude between receiver and giver, who “take advantage of the assumption that they have a perfect democracy, which is completely false – there’s a paternalistic attitude that must be regulated,” said Fernando Casado, research fellow at the National Institute for Higher Studies on public administration in Ecuador and Venezuela. Conversely, a flow in the opposite direction would immediately raise suspicion from developed countries, he added.

Yet money itself doesn’t tell the full tale: the funds are tied directly to foreign policy objectives, Casado told teleSUR. “The powers of the North have changed strategy.”

Each state has its own way. Germany, which has had 151 NGO projects in Ecuador since 2007, is known for meddling in affairs of developing countries through its Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, or BMZ. When SETECI found that three-quarters of its funds went toward stopping another mining project in the Amazon’s Yasuni region last March, it kicked the German agency out of Ecuador.

The United States has several agencies do its work, the most prominent being USAID, NED — funded through money allocated to USAID by Congress — and the Broadcast Board of Governors. The stated missions: to promote development, democracy creation and a free press, respectively, while strictly adhering to U.S. foreign policy priorities.

“We should not have to do this kind of work covertly,” said former head of NED Carl Gershman on CIA missions to the New York Times in 1986. “It would be terrible for democratic groups around the world to be seen as subsidized by the CIA. We saw that in the 60s, and that’s why it has been discontinued. We have not had the capability of doing this, and that’s why the endowment was created.”

What Givers Want

The “work” the United States has set out for Ecuador — according to a 2016 Office of Inspector General report on the U.S. embassy leaked by WikiLeaks — is “to mitigate the effects of the contentious political environment created by the Ecuadorean Government” with the help of other government agencies, which play a “critical role.”

The report, intended for the eyes of the BBG and Congress, said the embassy was “actively engaged with civil society leaders and nongovernmental organizations to increase Ecuadorean awareness of and support for U.S. policies and values, promote Ecuadorean civil society and government accountability, and strengthen environmental initiatives.”

To set up a climate conducive to U.S. meddling, the U.S. Government Accountability Office included Ecuador on a shortlist with Colombia, Egypt and the West Bank/Gaza the year Correa was elected to closely study public opinion in “specific, targeted public awareness campaigns.”

It also either commissioned or was the beneficiary of a study from Stratfor, a secretive intelligence company contracted by the State Department and the U.S.’s multinational titans, which evaluated the extent to which Ecuador is manipulable by NGOs. The 2013 report, leaked by WikiLeaks, focused especially on how NGOs can influence trade policy and corporate regulation. Its conclusion: based on a scale likely defined in relation to other developing nations, Ecuador is fairly resilient to NGO pressure but has submitted in certain instances.

USAID sends hundreds of millions to local projects in Ecuador, some less explicitly political, but some indirectly benefiting opposition groups, according to U.S. Ambassador in Ecuador Adam Namm. BBG affiliate, TeleAmazonas, has been accused of fomenting strong opposition rhetoric against Correa. And the NED spends over US$1 million annually on dozens of local programs with broad objectives like “promoting citizen oversight of elected officials,” “monitoring due process and the independence of the judicial system,” “monitoring the use of public resources in government advertising” and “facilitating dialogue and consensus on democracy.”

Both Germany’s BMZ and USAID are back in Ecuador following a deluge of NGO activity after the April earthquake. The workload of the National Ministry of Political Management has peaked ever since, said Pabon.

The Sneaky Alliance With Mother Earth

One pet project of USAID was the Conservation in Managed Indigenous Areas, or Caiman, which ended before Correa took office but was among several USAID programs to conserve the country’s biodiversity and promote alliances between Indigenous communities and private businesses.

Caiman worked with various groups working in ecological and Indigenous rights, including Accion Ecologica. For several years, Caiman had Accion Ecologica help them battle against the Ministry of the Environment and train park rangers to oppose contamination from oil and mining.

Whether or not USAID or foreign foundations have funded Accion Ecologica directly is unclear. Unlike many others in the industry, the non-profit does not publish its financial information on its website, and refused multiple requests from teleSUR for copies of audits. When asked, the organization’s president said she does not know specifics on foreign funders and could not answer.

Almeida did say that Accion Ecologica receives funds from Europe — from individuals, “small organizations, alliances, groups that form” around fundraising events on ecological issues. She did not say how much or cite specific names but mentioned Italy and Belgium.

A 2012 investigation from Andes, an Ecuadorean state publication, found that both Accion Ecologica and the Regional Foundation of Human Rights Advising, another powerful nonprofit, are financed by the European Commission, Oilwatch, the Netherlands embassy and a few international ecological networks. Almeida said the accusations were false.

While Europe may be the principal interested party in the success of Accion Ecologica, the U.S. is also well known to have played an active role in similar battles.

In 2013, the year after Correa took the lead against foreign NGOs and a year before he expelled USAID, Bolivia accused USAID of spending US$22 million to divide Indigenous groups on the exploitation and nationalization of oil in their lands.

“Since the right can’t find arguments to oppose the process of change, it now turns to campesino, Indigenous and native leaders who are paid by several NGOs and foundations with perks to foment a climate of conflict with the national government to deteriorate the process of unification that the country is experiencing,” said Morales as he gave USAID the boot.

Beyond Accion Ecologica

“Theoretically speaking, NGOs shouldn’t exist,” said Casado. NGOs operate within a logic of narrowing, minimizing and weakening the role of the state so they can keep filling holes in public services and keep their jobs, which are at risk of disappearing if the state works as it should, added Casado.

“They elect themselves representatives of civil society in general,” and yet their role is limited and entirely reliant on and responsive to funding, which at the end of the day remains in their pockets. Other social organizations and popular movements, said Casado, operate only on conviction.

If an NGO is completely free to operate without regulations, a country would open itself to any corporate and foreign interest that found an open hand, he argued. Latin America is intimately familiar with that process — of consolidating power in the monied class — and NGOs back similar corporate interests, only with a more benevolent face.

It’s near-impossible to identify the perfect case of foreign intrusion — and, as in Accion Ecologica’s case, near-impossible to prove. Multiple factors are always at play, from the ideology of individual members to the decision-making process to however events play out on the ground. Casado said that the first step to uncovering hidden interests is financial transparency — a move that faces stiff opposition precisely for the interests that it could reveal.

Ecuador’s answer is to carefully collect records and draw a clear line between what is acceptable and what is not. Foreign NGOs, state the decree, cannot participate “in any form of party politics, any form of interference or proselytism, any threat to national security or public peace or any other activity not permitted under their migratory status.”

Case Closed?

When Accion Ecologica testified before the Interior Ministry and the Ministry of the Environment, it argued that it had been doing the same work — protecting the rainforest — for decades, always in a peaceful manner. The evidence presented showing they provoked violence through a series of tweets in and around the time of violent clashes was “a bit absurd, very absurd,” said Almeida.

In the end, the government’s case did not hold, and the Environment Ministry concluded there was not enough credible evidence to shut down the group. Accion Ecologica credited “pressure” from its supporters, as its representatives continue to urge for a deregulation of NGOs.

“It’s not only NGOs, but also any organization that will be at risk, especially their right to free expression and the right to free association” if the decree regulating NGOs remains intact, said Almeida.

Her position echoes those taken up by opposition politicians, whose one commonality is their depiction of Correa’s government as one systematically trouncing on citizens’ rights and freedoms.

In an election year, rhetoric makes the difference.

Dianileysis Cruz contributed reporting.

February 19, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Environmentalism, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Iran announces major oil, gas discoveries

Press TV – February 5, 2017

Iran has confirmed the discovery of 15 billion barrels of new in-place oil reserves, but a top official says huge investments and state-of-the-art technology are required to exploit those reserves.

Ali Kardor, the managing director of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), was quoted by domestic media as saying that around 2 billion barrels of the newly-discovered reserves were “recoverable”.

Kardor added that around 1.8 trillion cubic meters (tcm) of in-place reserves of natural gas – around half of which he said were recoverable – had also been discovered. However, he did not specify when and where the new discoveries had been made.

Meanwhile, NIOC Director for Corporate Planning Affairs Karim Zobeidi said the overall volume of Iran’s oil reserves stood at 771.53 billion barrels, of which around 102 billion barrels would be recoverable at a rate of 24.6 percent.

Zobeidi added that Iran’s in-place reserves of natural gas stand at 55 tcm of which 33 tcm could be recovered at a rate of around 70 percent.

The NIOC chief was further quoted by the Persian-language newspaper Iran as saying that a new round of tenders – scheduled for the next few weeks – would pave the ground for international energy companies to help develop the country’s oil and gas reserves.

Kardor also said that Iran’s production of high-quality oil would reach four million barrels per day (mb/d) before April – what could be a landmark success for the country after the sanctions that had kept production a little above 2 mb/d were lifted in January 2016.

February 5, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , | 3 Comments

Too Many People in the World: Names Named

By Roger Harris | CounterPunch | January 20, 2017

Over-population of a particular kind contributes to planetary environmental degradation, poverty, and wars without end. Thanks to Oxfam, we know just who the offending individuals are. Eight people now have the same wealth as the poorest half the world’s population.

Heading the list of the world’s richest is Microsoft magnate Bill Gates; number three is investor Warren Buffett. The Gates Foundation, bolstered by Buffett’s fortune, is the world’s largest private charity. Without a hint of irony, the foundation’s website describes their vision to “develop strategies to address some of the world’s most challenging inequities.”

The supreme irony of our modern era – really a contradiction – is that the forces of production have developed to the level that there is a material basis for eliminating poverty for the first time in human history. Yet the relations of production are such that unprecedented accumulations of wealth are ensured, threatening our very existence with destruction by either WMDs or ecocide also for the first time in human history.

The Gates Foundation is a leading modern promoter of the neo-Malthusian gospel of over-population, which has historical antecedents in British cleric Thomas Malthus’s theories of 1798. The ideology of over-population diverts criticisms of capitalist social relations of unequal distribution, serving to justify a system that creates needs without the means of satisfying them.

After World War II, Malthusian theory was resurrected to support the ideological initiatives of the ascendant US superpower and its cohorts. This ideological initiative in the service of international capital took place in the context of a wave of national liberation struggles in the post-war period. Peasant tillers of the soil were demanding land reform. To this rightful claim, the Cold Warriors offered population control coupled with the commercialization of land using the model of US agribusiness.

According to the Gates Foundation, population growth “contribute(s) significantly to the global burden of disease, environmental degradation, poverty, and conflict.”

Monthly Review editor John Bellamy Foster comments on this framing of global problems:

“There can be little doubt that the real aim of the neo-Malthusian resurrection of Malthus, then, was to resurrect what was after all the chief thrust of Malthusian ideology from the outset; that all of the crucial problems of bourgeois society and indeed of the world could be traced to over procreation on the part of the poor.”

“The biggest danger of blaming over-population for environmental problems,” warns Anne Hendrixson of the Population and Development Program at Hampshire College, “is that it ignores the real culprits.”

Conceptually underlying this particular understanding of the dynamics of human population growth is that these deleterious effects are somehow natural, because human reproductive activity is itself natural. In fact, poverty and environmental destruction are not simply and inevitably natural consequences of the human condition but are mediated by particular historical circumstances.

The high fertility rates of the poor and the high resource consumption rates of the rich are both environmental issues that should not be counter-posed, but should be seen as keys to understanding a single larger solution to environmental destruction.

For the super-rich such as Gates and Buffett and their self-serving foundations, over-consumption is not an especially troubling problem but over-population is. Illustrating the consumption gap, Oxfam reports “someone in the richest one percent of the world’s population uses 175 times more carbon on average than someone from the bottom 10 percent.”

Poverty is an inevitable by-product of a socio-economic system that generates increasingly inequitable wealth.  Wealth is linked as a driver of population growth because the high fertility rates of the poor are a response to their precarious condition. A large family is the poor person’s work force and retirement fund.

Martin Luther King, Jr., commented, “I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few.” The 1960’s counterculture slogan “serve the poor… eat the rich” put it more crudely.

The more trenchant predicament, though, is not so much a moral one that the super-rich have too much money and live in obscene luxury, but the political one that they have too much power. Let them keep their mansions and yachts, if only they’d hand over their senators, generals, and presidents.

We do have an over-population problem – too many too rich people. The capitalist system, which creates both great wealth with unsustainable consumption rates and great poverty with unsustainable population growth rates, is the fundamental adversary of the environment.

As Bill and Melinda Gates counsel:

“Our friend and co-trustee Warren Buffett once gave us some great advice: ‘Don’t just go for safe projects,’ he said. ‘Take on the really tough problems.’”

Surely ending wealth inequality and the capitalist system that produces it must top the to-do-list.

Roger D. Harris is on the State Central Committee of the Peace and Freedom Party, the only ballot-qualified socialist party in California.

January 20, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment

Newly Discovered Texas Oil Field Could Hold 20 Billion Barrels

Sputnik – 18.11.2016

The United States Geological Survey has announced the discovery of the largest oil field in the United States to date.

The Wolfcamp formation, in the Permian Basin in a West Texas desert, is believed to hold some 20 billion barrels of oil, worth roughly $900 billion at today’s prices. It is also believed that this field contains an estimated 16-trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 1.6 billion barrels of liquid natural gas. “The estimate lends credence to Pioneer Natural Resources Co. Chief Executive Officer Scott Sheffield’s assertion that the Permian’s shale endowment could hold as much as 75 billion barrels, making it second only to Saudi Arabia’s Ghawar field,” Bloomberg reports.

The Wolfcamp find is three times larger than the previous largest fossil-fuel discovery in the US, the North Dakota’s Bakken field.

The area, controlled by several energy companies, has been producing gas for the past 100 years. The latest find was previously inaccessible as it is buried under four layers of shale. To retrieve it, modern methods such as fracking and horizontal drilling must be used, Newser reported.

“The fact that this is the largest assessment of continuous oil we have ever done just goes to show that, even in areas that have produced billions of barrels of oil, there is still the potential to find billions more,” Walter Guidroz, program coordinator for the USGS Energy Resources Program, said in a statement.

“Changes in technology and industry practices can have significant effects on what resources are technically recoverable.”

 

November 17, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | | 3 Comments