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Is The Energiewende Running Out Of Steam?

By Paul Homewood | Not A Lot Of People Know That | August 4, 2017

News from Reuters :

Germany’s long goodbye to coal despite Merkel’s green push

FRANKFURT – Burning coal for power looks set to remain the backbone of Germany’s energy supply for decades yet, an apparent contrast to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ambitions for Europe’s biggest economy to be a role model in tackling climate change.

Merkel is avoiding the sensitive subject of phasing out coal, which could hit tens of thousands of jobs, in the campaign for the Sept. 24 election, in which she hopes to win a fourth term.

Although well over 20 billion euros are spent each year to boost Germany’s green energy sector, coal still accounts for 40 percent of energy generation, down just 10 points from 2000.

To avoid disruption in the power and manufacturing sectors, coal imports and mines must keep running, say industry lobbies, despite the switch to fossil-free energy.

“(Coal) makes a big contribution to German and European energy supply security and this will remain the case for a long time to come,” the chairman of the coal importers’ lobby VDKi, Wolfgang Cieslik told reporters last week.

He also stressed it was crucial for steel manufacturing in Germany, the seventh biggest producer in the world, that use a quarter of the country’s coal imports.

Critics point to the irony in Merkel’s tacit support for coal given that she criticized U.S. President Donald Trump for ditching the Paris climate accord after pledging to voters he would lift environmental rules and revive coal-mining jobs.

“Merkel … has no right to criticize the disastrous climate production policy of U.S. President Trump … figures in this country speak for themselves,” said former Green lawmaker Franz-Josef Fell, referring to Overseas Development Institute (ODI) figures showing the extent of public money going to coal.

Utilities such as RWE, Uniper and EnBW with coal generation on their books fire back by saying their output is covered by them holding carbon emissions rights certificates, while much of their historic profitability has been eroded due to competition from renewables.

Apart from the environmentalist Greens, who want coal generation to end by 2030, none of the main political parties have set phase-out target dates.

Huge vested interests are stifling debate, whether it is potential job losses that alarm powerful unions or the effect on industrial companies relying on a stable power supply.

Industry figures show renewables accounted for 29 percent of power output in both 2015 and 2016, up from 7 percent in 2000. But plants burning imported hard coal still make up 17 percent and brown coal from domestic mines 23 percent of power output.

Cheap coal lets them run at full tilt when necessary while the weather dictates if wind and solar produce anything at all.

Cieslik said he expected hard coal alone to retain a share of 15 percent by 2030.

VDKi warns that nuclear energy, accounting for 14 percent of power, will remove even more of the round-the-clock supply when it is phased out by 2022.

Wind and solar cannot even fill current gaps and a system run mainly on green power would fail to provide guaranteed supply over a winter fortnight, it says.

Power grid operator Amprion has said German networks came close to blackouts during settled and overcast conditions in January when renewable plants produced almost nothing.

Even environmental groups acknowledge the fossil fuel lobbies have a point, arguing there must be remedies to the problem of intermittent renewable supply.

“Old coal plants can be made flexible at a reasonable cost and allow countries with a high share of coal-to-power a soft transition to a climate friendly energy system,” said a study commissioned by Agora thinktank, which backs the energy switch.

Meanwhile the Clean Energy Wire report that German CO2 emissions are likely to rise again this year, following last year’s rise:

Germany’s rising consumption of oil, gas and lignite in the first half of 2017 indicates that the country of the Energiewende will see another increase in emissions in 2017 after a rise in 2016, said Agora Energiewende* head Patrick Graichen. “The data translates to a one-percent increase of energy-related emissions, compared to the same period last year. This corresponds to about 5 million tonnes of CO₂,” Graichen told Clean Energy Wire. New data released by energy market research group AG Energiebilanzen (AGEB) saw energy consumption in Germany increase 0.8 percent in the first half of 2017, due to positive economic development and slightly cooler weather at the beginning of the year. “The hope that 2017 emissions will be below last year’s levels fades visibly. Rather, this is ground for concern that – just like in 2016 – we will see emissions rise in 2017,” said Graichen.

It is easy to blame Merkel’s obsession with getting rid of nuclear. but the reality is that renewable energy is proving itself incapable of filling the gap.

The latest BP Energy Review shows that renewable energy actually fell slightly in 2016, whilst fossil fuel consumption has increased for the last two years.

image

It is little wonder that Merkel and co are so keen on maintaining imports of Russian gas.

Nuclear power still supplies 6% of Germany’s energy, and it is clear that renewable energy cannot replace this reliable baseload.

Germany has made big strides in getting to a position where renewable energy (excl hydro) now accounts for nearly 12% of total energy consumption. But all the signs suggest that it is becoming increasingly difficult to grow this share further.

August 4, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , | Leave a comment

German States Take Trumpian Climate U-Turn

The Global Warming Policy Forum – 26/07/17

Germany is at risk of tacitly joining Donald Trump in turning its back on the Paris climate change deal. Two of the country’s regional governments have decided to put preserving jobs in coal mines and power plants ahead of cutting carbon emissions.

If Europe’s largest economy misses its targets, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s environmental credentials – and the global accord itself – would suffer a big setback.

Officially, Germany is fully committed to the Paris accord. At the G20 summit in Hamburg earlier this month, Merkel said she “deplored” Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the treaty. She led an alliance of world leaders who unsuccessfully tried to persuade the U.S. President to reconsider.

Yet two important German states are undermining Merkel’s position. North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and Brandenburg are home to many mines which extract brown coal and power plants that burn the carbon-intensive fuel. Their governments have vowed to protect an industry that provides more than 70,000 jobs, many of them in economically deprived regions in the country’s east.

That’s bad news for Germany’s promise to reduce overall emissions by at least 55 percent, relative to 1990, by 2030. Per unit of electricity generated, brown coal produces twice as much carbon as gas-fired power plants. In 2016, the fuel accounted for 23 percent of Germany’s electricity but emitted 50 percent of the sector’s carbon dioxide. Brown coal reserves are expected to last for several decades, and utilities even have permission to open several new mines.

NRW’s new government, which is led by Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union, in late June decided to stick to the current mining plans in the region. In mid-June, Brandenburg’s government said it wanted to soften its 2030 reduction targets. A study commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund environmental group shows that NRW’s plans alone would bust Germany’s Paris targets.

Unless Merkel can rein in the brown coal enthusiasts at home, she risks sending a devastating message to the world. If a country as rich and ecologically conscious as Germany prioritises coal mining jobs over the fight against global warming, others will also find it easier to turn their back on the treaty.

July 29, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | | Leave a comment

The Atlantic Council: Experts on the front line of disinformation

By Bryan MacDonald | RT | July 26, 2017

NATO’s academic wing has been warning about disinformation for years. And it’s no wonder when its staff and contributors are so well-versed in the practice themselves.

The Atlantic Council is an organization dedicated to discussion between people who hate Russia and folk who really, really hate Russia. Thus, amid the current hysteria, it’s Christmas every day for its assorted staff and “fellows” or, to use a more accurate term, ‘lobbyists.’

For the uninitiated, it’s difficult to explain what exactly the Atlantic Council does. Essentially, the club exists to influence the information space to justify NATO’s continued existence. It does that by either employing Russia’s opponents directly or offering retainers to journalists and media analysts who can be relied upon to push the outfit’s anti-Russian stance. Which, of course, is its lifeblood.

While the Atlantic Council is set-up to promote antagonism toward Russia, it also needs it. Because if Russia combusted tomorrow, everyone on the payroll would be out of a job. So, it’s like the famous U2 song “I can’t live, with or without you.” But unlike the protagonist of that ditty, these guys don’t give themselves away. Instead, this NATO adjunct is lavishly funded, by a roll call of famous entities.

Such as the Foreign & Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom, Abu Dhabi’s National Oil Company, the Ukrainian World Congress, the Lockheed Martin Corporation, the Raytheon Company, the US State Department and the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, which is the plaything of a Ukrainian oligarch.

Some of the more prominent beneficiaries of the resultant money tree include Bellingcat’s Eliot Higgins, CNN’s Michael Weiss, Crowdstrike’s Dmitri Alperovitch, Obama advisor Evelyn Farkas and Maxim Eristavi of Ukraine’s Maidan. All of whom are conveniently united by their hostility to all things Russian.

Like Rolling Stones

The Atlantic Council’s content ranges from very anti-Russian to extremely anti-Russian. For instance, it carries articles by the likes of Alexander Motyl, who predicted Russia’s imminent collapse in January of 2016, before warning in January of 2017 that Moscow was planning a major land invasion of Ukraine. Which is Russophrenia at its finest, in fairness. Nevertheless, Motyl is a shrinking violet compared to Atlantic Council lobbyist Anders Aslund, who foresaw Russia’s demise way back in September 1999. And now, almost eighteen years later, he’s still hanging around for the big moment. In the manner of a Seventh Day Adventist awaiting the second coming of Jesus, any day now.

So, now that we’ve established the Atlantic Council’s modus operandi let’s look at the latest example of the group’s myopia. This week, they’ve unleashed one Polina Kovaleva to opine on “why Congress should pass the Russian sanctions bill.” And she’s delivered a tirade which is shoddy, even when measured by the usual indigent standards.

Kovaleva gives her readers examples of why the embargo is justified, in her opinion, but then delivers a line so deceptive that it makes you wonder whether she’s in touch with reality. “Although the Senate easily passed a strong sanctions bill in June to punish Russia for its aggression in Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, the White House has quietly lobbied to weaken it, and some European politicians are pushing back,” she writes.

Eurocrat Anger

That’s’ right, “some European politicians are pushing back.” Some! What she actually means is “basically every significant elected representative in the European Union.” Including, the “leader of the free world” herself Angela Merkel and that well-known renegade Jean-Claude Juncker.

Here’s what Reuters reported on Wednesday morning: “European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Wednesday the European Union was ready to act “within a matter of days” if proposed new US sanctions on Russia undermined the bloc’s energy security. And that came three days after the Financial Times reported how Brussels was considering imposing penalties on the US if it damaged European interests to settle scores with Moscow.

Meanwhile, for her part, Merkel has backed Germany’s Foreign Minister, Sigmar Gabriel, in expressing concerns that Washington is threatening “illegal extraterritorial sanctions against European companies that participate in the development of European energy supply.”

Because everybody in Europe knows this US Congress bill has little or nothing to do with punishing Russia. Instead, it’s about trying to nudge Moscow’s energy companies out of Europe, to create market share for their competitors. In other words, a form of economic war, in which the EU countries’ interests don’t amount to a hill of beans.

Something explained recently by Wolfgang Ischinger, a prominent German pundit and former diplomat. He contended: “how would the US have reacted if Europeans had adopted a bill against Keystone XL pipeline but in favor of European business?” before pointing out “for Europe, the loss of such large oil or gas supplies from Russia is unacceptable: there are no alternatives.”

Without question, this is a high-profile resistance campaign. And these sanctions could severely rupture transatlantic ties. Because you don’t get more powerful than Merkel and Juncker in Europe. But the Atlantic Council makes it sound as if a few fringe politicians are off on a solo-run, rejecting Washington’s supreme wisdom.

That is certainly not the case and amounts to misleading agitprop of the highest order. Which is rather apt for a lobbying firm which recently held a “Disinfo week” and proudly claims to be “On the front lines of disinformation.” Because, on this evidence, the Atlantic Council is home to seriously proficient gurus of hogwash.

Bryan MacDonald is an Irish journalist, who is based in Russia.

Read more:

German business lobby urges EU action against new US sanctions on Russia

July 26, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Russophobia | , , , , | 1 Comment

Egypt hikes electricity prices by more than 40% as demanded by IMF

Press TV – July 6, 2017

Egypt has decided to raise electricity prices by more than 40 percent as demanded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in order to receive a $12 billion bailout loan.

Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker said on Thursday the new charges would apply as of July, which are likely to further deepen the economic woes of most Egyptians.

He said households would now be paying between 18 and 42 percent more on their bills depending on the category and level of their consumption but some of the subsidies would remain in place.

Under the IMF-devised austerity plan, Cairo is obliged to cut subsidies as a condition to receive installments of the three-year loan.

“We were supposed to have been completely done with the (electricity) subsidy in the current and next fiscal years,” Shaker said.

“But considering the special situation related to the large increase in the exchange rate, we extended this period to an additional three years,” he added.

Since November, Egyptian authorities have floated the country’s currency, slashed fuel subsidies twice, and adopted a value added tax as part of the program, which has led to soaring consumer prices.

The value of the Egyptian pound has since plummeted. One US dollar which was worth 8.8 pounds at the official exchange rate in November sells for more than 17 pounds now. Annual inflation reached 30.9 percent in May.

Egypt’s economy has hugely suffered since long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power in 2011, and the country’s first democratically-elected president, Mohamed Morsi, was toppled in 2013.

The current president and former head of the armed forces, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, came to power following a military coup.

The country has seen a rise in violence under Sisi and the once-booming tourism sector of Egypt has suffered greatly due to a hike in terrorism.

People also blame Sisi for wasting billions of dollars on mega-projects such as the controversial expansion of the Suez Canal.

The cash-strapped Sisi administration has tried to persuade the public that painful austerity measures would be to the benefit of the country.

However, frustration is high among Egypt’s 90 million population, especially in the wake of a controversial agreement to transfer the sovereignty of two islands in the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia.

July 6, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , | 2 Comments

Ecuador’s Public Healthcare System Named Most Innovative by UN

teleSUR | July 3, 2017

Public health care in Ecuador was internationally recognized as the most innovative and progressive in the world when they were awarded the United Nations Public Service Award.

The prestigious award, presented on June 23, praised the South American country’s delivery of health services which Ecuadoreans have access to through the Public Health Network (RPIS), from which stem other branches of state medical aid such as the Ministry of Public Health (MSP), Ecuadorean Institute of Social Security (ISSFA), and the National Police Social Security Institute (ISSPOL).

Ecuadoreans will receive medical attention from any one of these institutions at any location, irrespective of their member status or their economic situation per the country’s constitution which guarantees free health care.

Additionally, Ecuador’s public health takes a step further, breaking convention and putting the welfare of its citizens first. In the case that a medical procedure is not available in the country, the patient in sent outside the country to undergo medical aid, free of charge.

One such case was that of Sofia Echeverria, a young woman who had suffered from biliary atresia, a sickness of the liver, since birth. As liver transplant is impossible in Ecuador, she was sent to the Austral Hospital in Argentina to undergo surgery.

Since its initiation, RPIS has treated more than 8 million patients and members the state medical institutions as well as transferred 40,000 to outside private services.

“This has implied great changes in our institutions and state officials attitude since the system was divided and full of barriers that did not allow citizens to benefit from hospital services due to the lack of funds,” Minister of Health, Veronica Espinosa stated.

Espinosa said that despite the progress made, there is still much left to do.

The minister explained the need for a legislative framework which will guarantee universal medical care for future generations – a proposal that will be discussed at the National Assembly.

July 4, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , , | 2 Comments

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