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 31 
 on: Feb 24, 2017, 02:02 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by tashizangmo@yahoo.com
February 23, 2017

NASA announces discovery of seven habitable exoplanets around one star



by Brian Galloway
Red Orbit

NASA recently unveiled they've discovered a group of seven exoplanets orbiting a single star just 39 light years away from Earth. Each planet is rocky, warm, and could contain liquid water-- making them great candidates in the search for life elsewhere in the universe.

This finding, reported in the journal Nature on Wednesday, is the first time scientists have discovered this many potentially habitable planets orbiting a star. Researchers say this system takes the top spot in the list of places where we might find life in the universe.

Dear Rad
Thanks for all this interesting posts.  Even I heard about this discovery and so I was wondering if you would mind me asking you about the discovery chart.  I assume it was a few days ago at least... but, February 18, 1930 is the date the internet Pluto was discovered.  Would you mind elucidating what you think it is in this chart in 2017 that will make us look back at the discovery date?  Is it the Pluto Uranus Jupiter square?  or Sun Neptune?  or something else?  Can you comment?  Thanks so much.
Tashi

 32 
 on: Feb 23, 2017, 11:55 AM 
Started by Deva - Last post by The Otherside
Hi Everyone,

Pluto in the 10th South Node of the Moon in the 3rd

Information/Knowledge is Power... Endless Possibilities

Regardless of the Evolutionary State we are going to be looking at a Soul who is coming into this life with past lives revolving around the  powerful need to learn, take in information, communicate and share their information with others. The 3rd house Mercury and the sign Gemini all correlate to the desire to take in and collect a much information, facts, figures and data as possible through the environment, an endless curiosity that makes them a mental sponge taking in all stimuli from the outside world. The world of information and learning can be an endless need with this placement taking in as much information as the world has to offer but how much information can one truly hold onto? How much of the information taken in is actually perceptually experienced and understood, can they actually apply the information in the external environment? When ridged structures are built around this information taken in becomes limited in some way  is probably where you would see a 10th house Pluto Soul learning their biggest lessons. Where one would be continually challenged to grow.

With Pluto in the 10th and the South Node in the 3rd there will be a desire for the Soul to share their knowledge and  information with others as well as exert authority over others. How this plays out in the external world really depends on so many other factors but   here you could see many with abilities as  writers, data analysts, speakers, politicians, singers, preachers, news spokesperson, military leader  the list is probably endless with the South Node in the 3rd as to the possibilities that could be generated. How this does play out for any individual can look so different when we do consider the Evolutionary State of the Soul.
 With Pluto in the 10th we are talking about a Soul that has a deep security and attachment to structure and with the South Node in the 3rd the facts figures and information to back up this structure where the Soul ultimately feels security. This placement for someone in the Consensus stage of evolution would probably live in a rather rigid reality one that is heavily conditioned by the structures it was born into within the family as well as the external country of birth and those rules and social conditions. This could be the eternal college student with many different degrees or the local librarian where the endless taking in of information and categorizing creates a feeling of growth and movement in a way as well a security structures built around knowledge. It reminds me of when I was much younger how my Mother,  whom has Saturn conjunct her midheaven, was always adhering to the local law of the land where that was the word there was no deviation. When I was younger I would sometimes use words that were seemingly made up to her, they would just come to me out of nowhere,  and she used to ride me about this. One day she got in quite a tizzy over a word that I was using and she pulled out her pride and joy, a 1960s Webster Dictionary, and slammed it down on the counter and was like you show me, you show me where that word is in the dictionary.  Well it turns out that the word was used in the early 16th century but had fallen out of use and the word did in fact mean exactly how I was using it instead of the word she was trying to force me to use. She in the end was like well it's not in my dictionary as the word used "now".  She couldn't deviate from the Law of her 1960s Webster dictionary and the  funniest part is that the word I was using is Agreeance which means Agreement. You can easily feel  how this placement could lead to the mentality of a dictator who rigidly adhered to the laws of the facts and figures of the land in the Consensus reality.
In the Individual State you could see how this placement might lead to someone who is quite argumentative and radical in their mindset. This could be the quintessential protester/anarchist the one who goes around collecting radical information just to blow up Consensus "reality".  They might be quite advanced in  New Age techniques and offer alternative views which they would not be shy in sharing. Possibly a  spokes person for New Age Movements like an animal rights activist  or someone who is developing new technologies for energy conservation.
In the Spiritual State this would be a Soul who has incarnated into this life with an unimaginable knowledge system already in place. Someone who has long broke with  Consensus traditions of facts figures and rigidly held knowledge information systems. Someone who has also left behind the need to rebel the Consensus as a radical Individual but rather someone who has taken in and purged all unnecessary information to come to the Ultimate Understanding. This Understanding and Knowledge base would be born outside of any ridged structures but actually in alignment with Timeless Knowledge and Understanding of Natural Law. They would feel deeply the absolute need to share this timeless knowledge with others to teach to share this Understanding to help others Evolve back to the Source. In this state I feel you would not see this Soul as projecting themselves into the environment so to speak they would just become part of it and let it lead them to where they can be of help which in the end might leave them quite well known.
In all cases the South Node in the 3rd house is going to imply the possibility that information  taken in that rigidly  backs up security structures is limited in some way or form and that the Soul is going to be in a constant state of reformulating their mental structures of reality.

Heather




 33 
 on: Feb 23, 2017, 09:10 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Keith Ellison Powerfully Argues For Pig Trump Impeachment At Democratic Leadership Debate

By Jason Easley on Wed, Feb 22nd, 2017 at 10:30 pm
PoliticusUSA

At the Democratic Leadership Debate, Rep. Keith Ellison argued that Donald Trump committed impeachable offenses on day one of his presidency, which is why investigations must be held, and impeachment is on the table.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zb3Ddowo5go

Rep. Ellison said, “I think that Donald Trump has already done a number of things that legitimately raise the question of impeachment. On day one he was in violation of the Emoluments Clause. This is a part of the Constitution that says a president can’t take payments from a foreign power. The day people checked into his hotel and started paying him, who were foreign dignitaries, he was in violation of that law. There’s already a lawsuit filed against him, and right now, it’s not only about Donald Trump. It’s about the integrity of the presidency. So yeah, I think we need to begin investigations to not go after Donald Trump but to protect our Constitution, and the presidency of the United States, to make sure that nobody can monetize the presidency and make profit off of it for personal gain.”

Ellison’s argument went beyond going after Trump. The question of impeachment relates back to the President’s behavior and how it damages the presidency and our democracy. If Democrats want to expand the case for impeachment so that it appeals to Americans of all political stripes, the argument that Trump is corrupt and is damaging the country is critical.

It is heartening to watch so many passionate candidates debate the future of the Democratic Party. Rep. Ellison and former Obama Labor Secretary Tom Perez are locked in a tight contest to be the next DNC Chair. From listening to the candidates on stage at the Democratic Leadership forum, it’s clear that no matter who is elected chair, the party will be heading in a new direction.

****************

A New Poll Shows That A Perfect Storm Is Building For Pig Trump Impeachment

By Jason Easley on Wed, Feb 22nd, 2017 at 3:30 pm
PoliticusUSA

A new Quinnipiac University poll shows that many of the factors that are necessary for the American public to support impeaching a president a now present in Donald Trump’s poll numbers.

According to the Quinnipiac poll, Trump’s net approval rating has cratered to a new low of a net (-17). Only 38% of respondents approve of Trump, and 55% disapprove.

Unpopularity alone does not justify impeachment.

Trump’s character and how he is viewed by the American people is the dry brush that is one lit match away from becoming a forest fire.

Here are the numbers on Trump’s character:

55 – 40 percent that he is not honest;

55 – 42 percent that he does not have good leadership skills;

53 – 44 percent that he does not care about average Americans;

63 – 33 percent that he is not level-headed;

64 – 32 percent that he is a strong person;

58 – 38 percent that he is intelligent;

60 – 37 percent that he does not share their values.

Sixty-one percent of Americans don’t think that they can trust Trump to do what is right.

The one element that is missing from the impeachment equation is a scandal with a smoking gun. Congress is getting more and more interested in the question of Trump’s potential collusion with Russia. However, there is no direct evidence to prove that Trump colluded with Russia. If evidence surfaces, Trump’s bad poll numbers could plunge even more and reach impeachment territory.

The only thing saving Trump is his popularity with Republicans. Because he is popular with the base, Republican members of Congress are unlikely to do a serious investigation of the President.

If Democrats win back all or part of Congress in 2018, Trump’s firewall vanishes.

No president has been this close to impeachment this early in his term in the history of polling.

Trump’s character combined with the mood of the country is setting up a perfect storm for an epic political scandal that could result in impeachment.

One presidential political scandal is all it would take to set the nation ablaze with talk of impeachment.

 34 
 on: Feb 23, 2017, 07:31 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
USA

Pig Trump is Kremlin’s puppet, Russian editor says

International Business Times
23 Feb 2017 at 07:50 ET  

Many Russians believe that President Donald Trump is a “puppet” in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hands and is being used to fulfill his agenda of discrediting democracies across the world, the editor-in-chief of the Moscow Times, a prominent Russian newspaper critical of Putin’s politics, said Wednesday.

Mikhail Fishman said popular opinion in Russia is that Trump is a “stupid, unstrategic politician” who can be manipulated for the Kremlin’s benefit. He also said Russia is looking to take advantage of the Trump administration’s many slip-ups during its first month in office. “They see the clumsiness, the inexperience. Naturally, they're working to exploit that,” Fishman said.

While the world was unsure about a Trump presidency during the campaign stage, the Kremlin portrayed the Republican nominee in a positive light. Kremlin’s propaganda showcased Trump “as an honest representative of the American people who was being mistreated by the establishment elites and other evil forces in Washington,” Fishman told Vox.

Putin reportedly never expected Trump to emerge as the winner in the presidential election last year. Instead, his goal was to discredit his rival and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Clinton would have likely followed former President Barack Obama’s global policy, and may have further isolated Moscow, especially after the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

A mural depicts U.S. President Donald Trump (right) blowing marijuana smoke into the mouth of Russian President Vladimir Putin on the wall of a barbecue restaurant in Vilnius, Lithuania, Nov. 23, 2016. Photo: Getty Images/Sean Gallup

Fishman said Putin’s ultimate aim — stemming from his identity as an ex-Soviet intelligence officer — was to undermine the concept of democracy. The Moscow Times editor-in-chief explained: “He wants to point to the chaos in these countries and say to his domestic audience, ‘You see, democracy is a sham, and it doesn’t work anywhere.’”

“That serves as a justification for his own anti-democratic policies,” Fishman added. “In the end, it’s about reinforcing his own power.”

In the U.S., Trump’s comments lauding Putin and calling for better relations with Russia while on the campaign trail have raised alarm over his alleged links to the Kremlin, and the influence the latter may have on the U.S. president.

**************

What do we know about Pig Trump and Russia? – video explainer

Guardian
2/2/2017

Luke Harding considers the many links between Donald Trump’s administration and Russia. As well as praising President Vladimir Putin, Trump has surrounded himself with men with close ties with Russia. He has failed to quash allegations that his staff had improper contact with Russian officials, or that he has business interests in Russia

Click to watch: <iframe src="https://embed.theguardian.com/embed/video/us-news/video/2017/feb/23/what-do-we-know-about-donald-trump-and-russia-video-explainer" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

**********

Paul Manafort targeted for blackmail shortly before Ukraine ties forced him out of Trump campaign

Travis Gettys
Raw Story
23 Feb 2017 at 09:05 ET                   

Paul Manafort was apparently the target of a possible Russian blackmail attempt when he served as Donald Trump’s campaign chairman.

The undated messages — which have been hacked and then recently circulated by a hacktivist collective — were sent to an iPhone belonging to Manafort’s daughter in an attempt to reach her father, reported Politico.

One text message appears to have come from a Ukrainian parliamentarian named Serhiy Leshchenko, who claimed to have “bulletproof” evidence of a financial arrangement between Manafort and Ukraine’s former pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych.

The message also claimed to have strong evidence that Trump met in 2012 with Serhiy Tulub, a close associate of the Ukrainian strongman Yanukovych.

“Considering all the facts and evidence that are in my possession, and before possible decision whether to pass this to [the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine] or FBI I would like to get your opinion on this and maybe your way to work things out that will persuade me to do otherwise,” the message reads.

The message urges Manafort to reply using an email address that reporters have used to communicate with Leschenko, according to Politico.

Manafort, who joined the Trump campaign in March and left in August due to his ties to Yanukovych, confirmed the authenticity of the texts that had been hacked from his daughter’s phone.

He told Politico that he had received similar texts to his own phone, from the same address, before his daughter had gotten any.

Manafort said the messages began arriving shortly before the New York Times reported that the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine had obtained documents allegedly showing $12.7 million in cash payments intended for Trump’s then-campaign chairman.

He resigned two days later from the Trump campaign, although he denies receiving off-the-books payment from Yanukovych’s party and claims he was never contacted by Ukrainian or American authorities about the documents.

The FBI and five other law enforcement and intelligence agencies are investigating possible links between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign.

Manafort, along with Trump campaign advisors Carter Page and Roger Stone, has been identified by the New York Times as the subject of the multiagency investigation.

He has also been identified as one of the participants in a back-channel effort by Trump administration officials and the president’s business associates to resolve the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Manafort told the website he hadn’t responded directly to any of the texts and instead passed them along to his lawyer.

The messages hacked from his daughter’s phone first surfaced a couple of weeks ago on the so-called dark web, according to Politico.

Cybersecurity experts are relatively unfamiliar with the hacktivist group that revealed the texts sent to Manafort’s daughter, and the hack appears to be intended as retribution against Trump policies.

A former U.S. military intelligence cybersecurity analyst told Politico the group “seems like randos,” rather than associated with any nation-state.

*********

A Pig Trump Rebellion Is Reported to be Brewing Among The Intelligence Community

By Sarah Jones on Wed, Feb 22nd, 2017 at 1:17 pm
PoliticusUSA

"Rebellion is brewing in Washington," Schindler warns of the spy war on the Trump administration. Contrary to Trump's claims that this is a partisan war, "Behind closed doors, plenty of American intelligence experts believe that President Trump is the pawn of the Kremlin..."

John Schindler, a former NSA analyst, has become one of my go-to reads for takes on the intelligence community’s stance in regards to President Trump and his Russian connections. From Schindler, we learned – before it was confirmed by others – that the Intelligence Community (IC) was withholding information from the Trump White House, out of fear that the Kremlin had ears in the Situation Room. This was later confirmed by other sources, just as several of Schindler’s other early takes have been.

On Wednesday, Schindler dropped another tasty seed on the Trump Russia trail. “Rebellion is brewing in Washington,” Schindler warned of the spy war on the Trump administration.

Contrary to Trump’s claims that this is a partisan war, no, it’s partly about his repeated insults to their work but also, “Behind closed doors, plenty of American intelligence experts believe that President Trump is the pawn of the Kremlin, wittingly or not…”

“The Russia angle is most troubling to the IC. Behind closed doors, plenty of American intelligence experts believe that President Trump is the pawn of the Kremlin, wittingly or not, and assess that it’s only a matter of time before unseemly Moscow ties are exposed and the White House enters unsurvivable political crisis,” Schindler writes.

“Rebellion is brewing in Washington. The resignation of the CIA’s spokesman, a career intelligence analyst, is a sign of how fragile IC morale has gotten under the new administration.”

Schindler seems to be referring to former intelligence analyst and National Security Council spokesman Edward Price, a man who has worked in the Central Intelligence Agency for more than a decade under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, who quit the agency because of Donald Trump. This troubles people who aren’t knee-jerk Trump defenders, because a careerist is not a partisan position. It would be a relief if this were a partisan issue, but instead, it is a deeply threatening issue that has already undermined our democracy and made us a laughing stock around the globe.

“If President Trump keeps upping the ante in his war on the spies, he can expect more damaging leaks to reach the media,” Schindler writes menacingly. “Leaks happen in every administration, and Nixon’s ignominious fall ought to serve as a cautionary tale to any president who thinks he can find the right ‘plumbers’ to fix the leaky faucet.”

Schindler warned of more leaks when Trump first took office and refused to back down on his denials about his connections to Russia. And the leaks came.

Aside from the Russia issue, what we have here is a President who is so ignorant about diplomacy and relations with various factions of power that he thinks he can win a war with the intelligence community by insulting them and trying to remove all of their power to do their job.

“When spies in Washington leak to the media, they do so not out of any ideology, much less overt partisanship, but to protect bureaucratic turf and to settle personal scores,” Schindler penned images of dark ominous clouds ahead.

President Trump keeps lying about Russia and slamming the intelligence community while he’s at it, because this has worked for him all of his life until now. Trump has always had the biggest, baddest, meanest lawyers and deepest pockets. He was able to thug his way out of most troubles, and if that didn’t work, money did.

But now Trump has met a thug who can’t be bought off and isn’t afraid of Trump lawyer thugs. A thug that collectively has more power than Trump can imagine, even as President.

This isn’t to suggest the Intelligence Community is really the thug here, but to put things in terms Trump can understand, they are the BMOC and Trump is the freshman with a huge ego and no reason for it. They will keep leaking if Trump keeps lying.

They will rebel, and as Schindler notes, the result of an IC rebellion can be seen during the Nixon Administration.

Trump’s problem, in addition to his ignorance, is that he hasn’t the courage to come clean and he is probably being held to his current denials by a Russian spy ship off of the coast of Connecticut. Or something.

So there will be more leaks and more leaks, if this report is to be believed.

Republicans in Congress will continue to ignore the warnings to jump ship, and soon enough, the Trump administration’s unseemly ties to Russia just might explode in a very ugly way. A Nixonian way. A way that will not go away.

*********

Republican lawmakers face town hall crowds' fury during 'resistance recess'

Frustrated constituents make their views known to representatives around the country, focusing anger on Trump’s immigration and healthcare plans

Jamiles Lartey and agencies
Guardian
Wednesday 22 February 2017 18.46 GMT

Congresspeople nationwide have been facing angry crowds, protests and tough questions during this week’s congressional recess, a time when senators and representatives often return to their home districts and hold “town hall” events.

Organizers and activists upset with Donald Trump have been flooding into events, especially those hosted by Republican members of Congress, to overwhelm their representatives and exert pressure on a range of issues from Trump’s immigration ban to the looming possibility of the Affordable Care Act being repealed, in what has been dubbed “resistance recess” by some advocacy groups.

The president himself, the indirect target of most of the protesting, had his own take on the protester turnout.

    Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)

    The so-called angry crowds in home districts of some Republicans are actually, in numerous cases, planned out by liberal activists. Sad!
    February 21, 2017

Here are some of the most notable exchanges from across the US:

Iowa: ‘Who is going to save me?’

The Republican senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley both faced contentious crowds at town hall events in Iowa. “Who is going to save me?” an Afghan US military veteran asked Grassley, referencing the president’s now suspended travel ban, reported KCCI.

“I am a person from a Muslim country and I am a Muslim. Who is going to save me here? Who is going to stand behind me?” Zalmay Niazy continued to applause.

Grassley later offered to meet with the man to see if he could assist him.

Florida: ‘No one has paid me to be here’

At the town hall with Representative Dennis Ross, several attendees took on Trump’s tweet.

“I’m gainfully employed, I’m a mother of four, and no one has paid me to be here tonight. I took unpaid time off so I could attend this meeting,” said one Florida resident.

She added, referring to Trump’s weekend trips to Mar-a-Lago in Palm Springs, Florida: “I am asking you, Congressman Ross, what are you doing to protect the citizens of the United States, especially the citizens of 15th district, from the outrageous expenditure of taxpayer money spent all so he can enjoy what he has called the southern White House every weekend since taking office, at our expense?”

Ross replied that he would like to look into it. “You’re the first one that has brought this to my attention,” he said, adding that he would like to compare it to other presidents’ spending on trips to Hawaii and elsewhere.

Kentucky: ‘Sit down and shut up like Elizabeth Warren’

The most powerful member of the US Senate faced jeers from nearly 1,000 people as he arrived on Tuesday to address a group of local business leaders. In Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, they chanted as the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, entered the American Legion Post 34 Fairgrounds in a black limousine.

One woman, who said she “loves” McConnell, nonetheless pressed the senator on the loss of coal jobs.

“If you can answer any of that I’ll sit down and shut up like Elizabeth Warren,” she said, spurring laughs from the crowd.

McConnell said he was “proud” of the demonstrators for expressing their views but told the mostly friendly audience inside that the protesters had “had their shot”, adding: “Winners make policy and the losers go home.”

Virginia: hundreds line the streets

In Blackstone, Virginia, protesters and supporters crowded a restaurant conference room where the Republican congressman David Brat fielded questions for about an hour on Tuesday. Hundreds also lined the streets surrounding the venue, waiting to speak with him outside. He was loudly heckled and booed when he defended Trump and his policies on healthcare and immigration, with the occasional cheer from supporters of his positions on gun rights and fewer regulations.

Brat, a former economics professor who rode voter anger to a historic political upset nearly three years ago, said he enjoyed the feisty give and take.

“People are very nervous and anxious after the Trump win. So my goal tonight is to help allay some of those anxieties,” said Brat, who defeated the then House majority leader, Eric Cantor, in a 2014 GOP primary.

Pennsylvania and Tennessee: town hall but no members of Congress

In some cases, the anger was on display even when a member of Congress wasn’t. In Pennsylvania, a healthcare “town hall” organized by citizens addressed questions and concerns to an empty suit at the front of the assembly, intended to represent Senator Pat Toomey, who declined to attend. Several citizens talked about how their lives would be adversely affected by a repeal of Obamacare, including a pair of cancer survivors.

Some members avoid in-person meetings altogether

Many members of Congress have elected to not hold town halls amid all the discord, and instead hold phone events, citing “safety concerns”. About 18,000 callers participated in a telephone town hall with the suburban Chicago representative Peter Roskam, who has been criticized for canceling smaller in-person meetings and declining debates.

The far-right Texas congressman Louie Gohmert has also eschewed in-person events for phone town halls. The representative said in a statement that he was concerned that “groups from the more violent strains of the leftist ideology … who are preying on public town halls” would “wreak havoc and threaten public safety”.

**********

Arizona Senate allows cops to seize assets from anyone who takes part in a protest that turns violent

Brad Reed
23 Feb 2017 at 06:47 ET                  

The Republican-controlled Arizona Senate has passed a bill that would let law enforcement officials seize the assets of people who participate in protests that turn violent — even if those people had nothing to do with any violent incidents.

The Arizona Capital Times reports that the bill, which passed on Wednesday, “expands the state’s racketeering laws, now aimed at organized crime, to also include rioting,” while also redefining “what constitutes rioting to include actions that result in damage to the property of others.”

The bill would allow police to seize assets of anyone who attended a peaceful protest that happened to turn violent, and it also gives cops the power to arrest people who planned the events, even if they did not personally commit violence.

State Sen. John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills), who supported the bill, explained to the Arizona Capital Times that it’s aimed at curtailing the activities of “professional protest” groups whose goal is to start riots and damage private property.

“You now have a situation where you have full-time, almost professional agent-provocateurs that attempt to create public disorder,” said Kavanagh, a former police officer. “Wouldn’t you rather stop a riot before it starts? Do you really want to wait until people are injuring each other, throwing Molotov cocktails, picking up barricades and smashing them through businesses in downtown Phoenix?”

************

‘Leaving him alone can prove damaging’: Staffers warn Trump needs constant praise and limit on TV

David Edwards
22 Feb 2017 at 15:14 ET                  

Staffers from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign have reportedly warned that too much TV could be dangerous for the president.

Campaign staffers told Politico in a report published on Wednesday that the president requires constant praise and a limit on media consumption.

“If candidate Trump was upset about unfair coverage, it was productive to show him that he was getting fair coverage from outlets that were persuadable,” former communications director Sam Nunberg explained. “I would assume the president would like see positive and preferential treatment from those outlets and that would help the operation overall.”

And although former staffers said that Trump reads little online content, he is seemingly addicted to cable news.

To curb his urge to tweet, campaign officials said that they showed Trump positive coverage from friendly outlets like Breitbart, Fox News, the Daily Caller and the conspiracy theory website Infowars.

“He saw there was activity so he didn’t feel like he had to respond,” one former campaign official pointed out. “He sends out these tweets when he feels like people aren’t responding enough for him.”

Politico notes:

    The in-person touch is also important to keeping Trump from running too hot. One Trump associate said it’s important to show Trump deference and offer him praise and respect, as that will lead him to more often listen. And If Trump becomes obsessed with a grudge, aides need to try and change the subject, friends say. Leaving him alone for several hours can prove damaging, because he consumes too much television and gripes to people outside the White House.

With Trump’s wife and son living in New York, staffers speculate that the president may have difficulty overcoming his obsession with negative coverage anytime soon.

***********

Psychiatrist warns Pig Trump is a ‘psychiatric Frankenstein monster’ who is at war with ‘imagined enemies’

Tom Boggioni
Raw Story
22 Feb 2017 at 10:28 ET                  

Appearing on MSNBC Tuesday night, a psychologist warned that fellow doctors have a responsibility to point out that President Donald Trump exhibits clear signs of mental illness and shouldn’t be trusted with the nuclear codes.

Speaking with host Lawrence O’Donnell, Dr. John Gartner claimed, Trump is a “paranoid, psychopathic, narcissist who is divorced from reality” who will put the nation at risk.

“If we could construct a psychiatric Frankenstein monster, we could not create a leader more dangerously mentally ill than Donald Trump,” Gartner began. “He is a paranoid, psychopathic, narcissist who is divorced from reality and lashes out impulsively at his imagined enemies. And this is someone, as you said, who is handling the nuclear codes.”

It has long been a policy within the psychiatric community to not diagnose individuals without personally interviewing them, but Gartner — who works as a therapist in Baltimore and New York City — warned that, in the case of Trump, that should be set aside because there is ample evidence based on Trump’s public utterances.

“I would argue to my colleagues that those who don’t speak out are being unethical,” he stated. “If we have some knowledge and understanding about the unique danger that Donald Trump presents through our psychiatric training and don’t say something about it, history is not going to judge us kindly.”

Appearing with Gartner, Dr. Lance Dodes also warned against not taking a hard look at Trump’s mental state, which he believes disqualifies him from holding the highest office in the land.

“He lies because of his sociopathic tendencies that Dr. Gartner was talking about,” Dodes suggested. “He lies in the way anybody who scams people does. He’s tried to sell an idea or a product by telling you something that is untrue. There is also the kind of lie he has that in a way is more serious — that he has a loose grip on reality. We can say that because he lies about things that aren’t that important.”

“I think what that indicates is that he can’t stand an aspect of reality that he doesn’t want, so he rejects it,” Dodes continued. “His grasp of reality, his attention to reality is loose. This is an extremely dangerous trait in a president. It actually makes him unqualified.”

**********

Under Pig Trump, American approval of Putin grows

Newsweek
22 Feb 2017 at 10:31 ET  

Russian President Vladimir Putin is fast becoming a more polarizing figure among Americans than ever before as both his approval and disapproval ratings are soaring.

Despite receiving highly negative press over his government’s alleged sponsoring of hacks on the U.S. electoral process last year, a Gallup poll shows 22 percent of U.S. citizens hold a favorable view of Putin. Although far from his career-best U.S. approval rating of 41 percent in the nascency of his first term in 2002, his approval is at a peak for his current third term.

Putin’s disapproval rating, however, is 72 percent—equalling his record from 2015.

According to Gallup, different views of Putin are a partisan matter in the U.S., with independents warming to him over the last two years (by 11 points) and Republicans, once the bulwark of criticism against Putin, warming to him event more strongly (by 20 points.) He lost favor with Democrats by five points.

Republican President Donald Trump has reiterated his personal admiration for Putin’s leadership skills and vowed to seek improved relations with Russia. He has not indicated exactly how he envisions “getting along” with Russia and at what cost.

Russia itself, however, has reached a record-high unfavorability rating among Americans (70 percent), with only 28 percent of U.S. citizens holding a positive view of the country.

 35 
 on: Feb 23, 2017, 07:11 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
French elections: Emmanuel Macron and François Bayrou form alliance

Self-described outsider and centrist take surprise step of joining forces as veteran of three elections says France is at ‘extreme risk’ and needs ‘exceptional response’

Kim Willsher in Paris
AFP
Wednesday 22 February 2017 19.19 GMT

Emmanuel Macron’s presidential campaign has been boosted by a surprise alliance with veteran centrist François Bayrou.

Bayrou, the perennial “third man” of French politics, surprised supporters on Wednesday by offering to sacrifice a separate candidacy and join forces with the former Socialist economy minister, who is standing on a centrist ticket.

Shortly after the announcement, Macron told journalists he accepted the deal, including the demand for a law to clean up French politics, which he added would be a turning point in the presidential campaign and in “political life”.

“The alliance proposed by François Bayrou is based on values and ideas,” Macron told AFP.

“It fits fully into the programme of renewal and unity that’s been our aim from the beginning and that’s why I accepted.”

Macron said he would meet Bayrou, president of the Mouvement Démocrate (MoDem), on Thursday.

After weeks of suspense, the 65-year-old Bayrou, a veteran of three previous presidential elections, had been expected to announce that he would join the presidential race.

Instead, he said he would not stand but offered to join forces with Macron, 39.

The announcement, described as an unprecedented move, took French political pundits and rival candidates by surprise.

Polls suggest the bulk, though not all, of Bayrou’s support – thought to be worth 5-6% of the vote in a race that may come down to two or three percentage points – will transfer to Macron, increasing his chances of advancing to the second round runoff ahead of his centre-right rival, François Fillon.

Bayrou said the country was at “extreme risk” and needed what he described as an “exceptional response”. What he was proposing, he added, was an alliance of partners and not a move for his centrist party to be subsumed by Macron’s En Marche! (Let’s Go!) movement.

“I have two paths, to stand myself or to look for an unusual solution. I have decided to offer Emmanuel Macron an alliance,” Bayrou told a press conference.

“Perhaps it’s a sacrifice for me, but I feel there are times one has to rise to the seriousness of the situation and consider how to get out of it. It’s not a time for me to think of myself, but of my country.”

Bayrou said the French were “disorientated and despairing”, faced with the far-right Front National candidate Marine Le Pen – currently leading in the polls for the first round vote – who he said was the “threat and major danger for our country and Europe”, and Fillon, 62, hit by allegations over jobs given to his wife and children.

“Never in the past 50 years has the democracy in France known such a situation,” Bayrou said, adding that French politics was riddled with “practices that would not be expected anywhere else”. The presidential campaign, which has been rocked by scandals, had left him “stupefied” and “made a mockery of France”, he added.

“To the right, affairs have been uncovered that reveal not just the existence of privileges and tendencies but the tacit and almost unanimous acceptance of them. For a long time it has been repeated that ‘everyone does it’. But I can stand here and say it is not true and it is defamatory for the vast majority of elected representatives.”

Bayrou said one of his conditions for an alliance with Macron, whom he described as “brilliant”, would be a major clean up of France’s political life.

“French people feel politicians words count for nothing. They have no confidence in the words and promises they hear … we have to convince the French our actions can match our words. It’s a good time to do it even if it is a sacrifice,” he added.

Bayrou, who was an education minister in a centre right government in the 1990s, said he had spoken to Macron a week ago and insisted it should be an alliance and not a subjugation of the “French centrist movement”.

“Perhaps this can be the foundation of a new approach in French politics,” he added.

 36 
 on: Feb 23, 2017, 07:05 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
World leaders convene in Oslo for Nigeria food crisis summit

Hopes of renewed impetus on efforts to prevent famine in north-east Nigeria tempered by concerns over omission of word ‘donor’ from summit’s official title

    How to donate: South Sudan famine, Somalia, Yemen and Nigeria food crises: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/feb/22/how-to-donate-south-sudan-famine-somalia-yemen-nigeria-food-crises

Ben Quinn
AFP
Thursday 23 February 2017 07.00 GMT

Days after the world’s first famine in six years was declared in South Sudan, the rich countries convening in Norway this week to discuss the Nigeria food crisis face pressure to stump up funds to prevent a second, in north-east Nigeria.

Uppermost on the agenda will be the failure of wealthy states to react more quickly to an international humanitarian appeal for more than 5 million people facing severe food shortages. Sensitive issues surrounding the Nigerian government’s ongoing offensive against Boko Haram militants in the stricken region are also likely to be discussed at the Oslo conference.

Those working on the frontline of the crisis are hoping the event – hosted by the Norwegian, Nigerian and German governments and the UN – will bolster relief efforts. While this year’s global humanitarian appeal for Nigeria – at present 1.8% funded – is at an early stage, last year’s appeal is only a little more than 50% funded. The UN and humanitarian agencies say more than $1bn is needed.

“It’s a crisis that people have talked about but frankly the level of resource commitment has been nowhere near what it should have been and the situation on the ground is even getting worse,” warned Manuel Fontaine, Unicef’s regional director for the west and central Africa Region.

“We are talking about 120,000 people at risk of famine some time in the year in northern Nigeria and we don’t think that the resources, globally, have been provided for this crisis. This is what we hope to change in Oslo.”

Privately, some NGO workers arriving in the city have expressed scepticism, highlighting the omission of the word “donors” from the summit’s official title, the Oslo humanitarian conference on Nigeria and the Lake Chad region.

“Frankly we are all very, very late on this one,” said one veteran who has worked in northern Nigeria. “There has been quite a lot of pushing in the background for this event to be held and it’s quite interesting that it’s not being billed as a donor conference even though a real effort needs to be made to raise money.”

The same source suggested that discussions were taking place about the potential for shifting aid money over to humanitarian assistance, which would also mean that the funds would not go through the Nigerian government.

“It’s something that is being looked at because budgets are really stretched. But it’s another can of worms, at least in Europe, as much of that money is going with the intention of stopping migration, and is the subject of a whole separate deal with Nigeria. There are real questions for European governments in terms of priorities. Are they more interested in stopping some Nigerians coming to Europe when others are dying in the north east of the country?”

Tensions surrounding the attitude of the Nigerian authorities towards humanitarian organisations are also likely to punctuate proceedings. Among those taking part in public discussions with humanitarian agencies is the outspoken governor of Nigeria’s Borno State, Kashim Shettima, who has accused aid agencies including Unicef of profiting from money meant to help those fleeing Boko Haram.

On Thursday, Shettima, who has said the agencies should leave the country, will be among those to share a stage with Filippo Grandi, the UN high commissioner for refugees.

The Nigerian military campaign against Boko Haram and its potential impact on aid efforts are also a potentially delicate topic. Despite claims that the group has been defeated, some aid workers insist that the homecoming of tens of thousand of Nigerians displaced by the insurgency has been prevented by enduring fear of the Islamists and ongoing insecurity.

The use of armed escorts in aid provision can also limit NGO activities, as being associated with the military may put staff and beneficiaries at risk, according to a group of 16 NGOs.

“Alternatives for allowing movement within insecure areas are needed, and this requires greater investment and resources to facilitate access negotiations and improve civil-military coordination, including increasing the number of civil-military and access staff in all four [Lake Chad] countries,” said a statement by the group signed by Oxfam and Save the Children, among others.

NGOs and UN agencies have been particularly vocal on the issue of protection and access to civilians, especially the young.

Fontaine said that, while he had previously encountered situations where humanitarian access to children detained during armed conflicts was difficult but possible, circumstances in the Lake Chad region were more complicated.

“We’re facing a very complex security situation,” said Fontaine, who estimated that 1,400 children were in official custody. “There is an armed group that has, in particular, targeted women and children, so it’s of a different dimension. Then, there is added pressure on kids with suspected links with Boko Haram.

“We are expecting from the countries at the conference clear commitments on those issues.”

The World Food Programme’s west Africa regional director, Abdou Dieng, pointed out the problems of securing resources at a time when the crises in Yemen, South Sudan and Somalia also require attention.

“While Nigeria is a big country it is also not generally known as a poor country even though many of the areas affected were already severely impoverished,” said Dieng.

He added that he hoped for “substantial support from donors” to help the WFP operation, which ranges from food relief to cash transfers.

 37 
 on: Feb 23, 2017, 07:01 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Police make arrests at Standing Rock in push to evict remaining activists

Officials have set a Wednesday deadline to evacuate Oceti Sakowin, a key encampment in the fight against the Dakota Access pipeline

Sam Levin in San Francisco
AFP
Wednesday 22 February 2017 22.22 GMT

Only a few dozen people remained at the Dakota Access pipeline protest encampment on Wednesday night after the state’s eviction deadline saw most of the activists leave voluntarily amid a show of force from law enforcement in riot gear.

Ten activists were arrested on the road near the camp, but police did not enter the camp, according to North Dakota governor Doug Burgum, who spoke at a press conference Wednesday evening. Burgum said the eviction had gone “very smoothly” and that he expected the government to have “unfettered access to the camp starting tomorrow”.

The closure of Oceti Sakowin, the central camp in Cannon Ball, by officials in North Dakota marks yet another blow to the movement that attracted indigenous activists and environmentalists from across the globe to demonstrate against the oil pipeline.

In the final hours, some holdouts set fires to structures at the camp where thousands have built tipis, yurts, huts and massive shelters in recent months.

According to police officials and a witness, an explosion also ignited at the camp during the tense standoff with police. A seven-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl were taken in an ambulance to a hospital for burns, according to the Morton County sheriff’s office. The 17-year-old was airlifted to Minnesota with “severe” burns, according to Burgum.

The cause of the explosion and severity of the injuries remain unclear. Sean Sullivan, a navy veteran from California, who recently returned to Standing Rock with a group of vets, said he saw the explosion inside a tipi and that he helped the two to safety.

“I was 25 feet away,” he said by phone. “There was a lot of screaming and panic.”

As the afternoon deadline passed, a group remained at camp, some singing and praying as police closed in . A sheriff’s spokeswoman told the Guardian that police began taking activists into custody after 4pm local time and that roughly ten people were arrested.

“Some people are trying to do final cleanup, and there are still people there who are going to remain until they are removed,” Stephanie Big Eagle, a member of the Yankton Sioux tribe, said Wednesday morning. “I’m worried for their safety, we all are. We’re praying for them.”

After leaving Oceti, she and others gathered on Wednesday morning at Sacred Stone, a separate anti-pipeline camp nearby.

Law enforcement officers set up extensive blockades and checkpoints in the area, following orders from Burgum and US army corps of engineers officials that the camp be evacuated. Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which is leading the courtroom fight to block the pipeline, has also supported the evacuation effort, sparking an intense backlash from other activists.

State and tribal officials have claimed that they fear flooding could endanger campers and possibly contaminate the nearby Missouri river, though the activists, who call themselves water protectors, have argued that the government is trying to quash the huge movement against the $3.7bn oil pipeline.

“Just because we’re getting removed from that area doesn’t mean it’s over,” said Big Eagle. “We just have to continue to work together as a whole for this common cause, which is protection of Mother Earth.”

The eviction comes less than a month after Donald Trump ordered an expedited approval of the pipeline, reversing the Obama administration’s last-minute decision to halt the project. The Standing Rock tribe and its supporters have long argued that the pipeline, which is routed upstream of the reservation, threatens its water supply and sacred sites.

Sioux leaders argue that indigenous people have treaty rights to the land where the Oceti camp is located – on property that the army corps now controls.

“People are crying and leaving in their cars,” said Sullivan, describing those he saw who chose to leave before the arrests. “It’s very emotional.”

Law enforcement – which has faced widespread criticism for using excessive force during demonstrations – has begun aggressively prosecuting and investigating the remaining indigenous activists since Trump’s inauguration.

“I’m praying for no loss of life. I’m praying that no one gets hurt,” said Floris White Bull, a 33-year-old Standing Rock member who stayed at her home just south of the camps on Wednesday. “I know for a fact that every single person that’s going to be forcibly removed … is going to be traumatized and suffer distress. That’s not easy.”

North Dakota officials said the government would give hotel and meal vouchers to activists who vacated, along with a bus ticket out of state.

“We’re saving taxpayer dollars any time we can buy a bus ticket and a hotel room rather than put people through the legal system,” Burgum said.

Ernesto Burbank, a member of the Diné tribe in Arizona, who has been at the camps on and off since last August, said many were surprised to see that someone had set a structure on fire. He said he didn’t support people setting fires on sacred grounds, but understood people’s emotions were high.

“These are individual people dealing with PTSD, dealing with sleep deprivation … people constantly being intimidated by officers,” he said by phone from Sacred Stone on Wednesday morning. “They are losing a place that is home. They don’t know how else to channel their frustration.”

Burbank, 35, said he hoped the momentum of Standing Rock, which attracted an unprecedented gathering of indigenous tribes, would not be lost.

“We can defeat the black snake,” he said, referencing the nickname for the pipeline that many use at Standing Rock. “It may not be today or tomorrow, but we can.”

White Bull said she hoped the campaign to push banks to divest from the pipeline would continue even if the Oceti camp was removed.

“I think it’s just the beginning of a global awakening,” she said, noting that similar camps have emerged in other communities to battle pipelines. “People are becoming more conscious of their choices and their own voice ... and realizing the power in unity.”

 38 
 on: Feb 23, 2017, 06:57 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Pope says indigenous people must have final say about their land

Francis echoes growing body of international law and standards on the right to ‘prior and informed consent’
Pope Francis in Rome last week when he said indigenous peoples have the right to ‘prior and informed consent’ regarding their lands and territories.

David Hill
AFP
Tuesday 21 February 2017 01.04 GMT

In the 15th century papal bulls promoted and provided legal justification for the conquest and theft of indigenous peoples’ lands and resources worldwide - the consequences of which are still being felt today. The right to conquest in one such bull, the Romanus Pontifex, issued in the 1450s when Nicholas V was the Pope, was granted in perpetuity.

How times have changed. Last week, over 560 years later, Francis, the first Pope from Latin America, struck a rather different note - for indigenous peoples around the world, for land rights, for better environmental stewardship. He said publicly that indigenous peoples have the right to “prior and informed consent.” In other words, nothing should happen on - or impact - their land, territories and resources unless they agree to it.

“I believe that the central issue is how to reconcile the right to development, both social and cultural, with the protection of the particular characteristics of indigenous peoples and their territories,” said Francis, according to an English version of his speech released by the Vatican’s press office.

“This is especially clear when planning economic activities which may interfere with indigenous cultures and their ancestral relationship to the earth,” Francis went on. “In this regard, the right to prior and informed consent should always prevail, as foreseen in Article 32 of the [UN] Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Only then is it possible to guarantee peaceful cooperation between governing authorities and indigenous peoples, overcoming confrontation and conflict.”

Francis was speaking to numerous indigenous representatives in Rome at the conclusion of the third Indigenous Peoples’ Forum held by the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development.

The UN’s Declaration - non-legally-binding - was adopted 10 years ago. Article 32 says “states shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources.”

Francis also told his audience “humanity is committing a grave sin in not caring for the earth”, and urged them to resist new technologies which “destroy the earth, which destroy the environment and the ecological balance, and which end up destroying the wisdom of peoples.” He called on governments to enable indigenous peoples to fully participate in developing “guidelines and projects”, both locally and nationally.

Various mainstream media including the BBC, The Independent and the Washington Post interpreted Francis’s speech as a comment, or an apparent comment, on the current Dakota Access Pipeline conflict in the US - almost as if that was the only conflict over indigenous peoples’ land they were aware of. But what about everyone and everywhere else? Such interpretations were swiftly rejected by a Vatican spokesperson, who was reported as saying “there’s no element in his words that would give us a clue to know if he was talking about any specific cases.”

So what do some of those who were with Francis that day think of his speech? How significant was it?

Myrna Cunningham, a Miskita activist from Nicaragua and former Chairperson of the UN’s Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, says the Pope was sending several main messages. These included the “need to reconcile the right to development with indigenous peoples’ spiritual and cultural specificities and territories”, and the importance of the UN Declaration and consent which was, she says, “in a way a response to indigenous demands.”

“I expected a strong message but his position exceeded my expectations,” Cunningham told the Guardian. “He is truly clear about the struggles of our people and an important voice to make our demands be heard.”

Elifuraha Laltaika, from the Association for Law and Advocacy for Pastoralists in Tanzania, says it was a “timely wake-up call to governments.”

“His comments come at time when, instead of scaling up, governments increasingly violate and look with suspicion at the minimum standards in the UN Declaration,” he told the Guardian. “Without heeding Pope Francis’s call, life would undoubtedly become more miserable for indigenous peoples than ever before. Greed towards extraction of hydrocarbons and minerals will open up additional fault-lines, heightening indigenous peoples’ poverty and inability to deal with impacts of climate change and a myriad of other challenges.”

For Alvaro Pop, a Maya Q’eqchi man from Guatemala, Francis’s remarks demonstrate his ongoing commitment to indigenous peoples’ rights.

“Indigenous peoples have been the guardians of their resources for centuries,” says Pop, another former Chairperson of the UN’s Permanent Forum. “Free, prior and informed consent is one of the most important issues of the 21st century. The Pope’s comments are truly significant.”

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, a Kankanaey Igorot woman from the Philippines and now the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, says Francis’s comments illustrate his “understanding of the importance” of implementing the UN Declaration.

“His view that a bigger chance of overcoming confrontation and conflict between indigenous peoples and governing authorities can be achieved if prior and informed consent is respected echoes what many indigenous peoples have always stated,” Tauli-Corpuz told the Guardian.

Les Malezer, from Australia, describes it as “gratifying” that the Pope took such a “strong stance” on the need to respect indigenous peoples’ rights, and says he took the opportunity to raise with him the “Doctrine of Discovery” - the international legal concept grounded in the 15th century papal bulls.

“Each person in our audience had the opportunity to say a very few words to the Pope as he came around the room,” Malezer, from Queensland, told the Guardian. “I asked the Pope to continue to review the Doctrine of Discovery which was followed by many instances of genocide of indigenous peoples and the taking of their lands. Also I requested the Catholic Church seek to raise awareness worldwide of the situation and rights of indigenous peoples.”

In asserting indigenous peoples’ right to consent, Francis was echoing - and giving sustenance to - a growing body of international law and jurisprudence binding on governments, and guidelines, principles or operating procedures adopted by some financial institutions, UN agencies and private sector groups. According to a 2013 report by UN-REDD on the international legal basis for what is known as “FPIC” - free, prior and informed consent - “More than 200 States have ratified numerous international and regional treaties and covenants that expressly provide for, or are now interpreted to recognise, a State duty and obligation to obtain FPIC where the circumstances so warrant.”

 39 
 on: Feb 23, 2017, 06:54 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Green Investment Bank: Australian bidder woos MPs as protests continue

Macquarie insists it is committed to renewable energy – but critics say it could invest in fossil fuels if its bid succeeds

Adam Vaughan
AFP
Thursday 23 February 2017 10.37 GMT

The Australian investment bank on the verge of buying the UK’s publicly owned Green Investment Bank has launched a Westminster charm offensive after parliamentarians of all parties told Theresa May to halt the £2bn sale.

Green party co-leader Caroline Lucas, the Lib Dems’ Vince Cable and former Tory minister Gregory Barker last month warned that a sale to Macquarie would put the bank’s green purpose at risk and its most valuable assets, such as large windfarms, could be sold off.

The flurry of interventions prompted Macquarie, dubbed the “Vampire Bank” for its track record after buying Thames Water, to write to MPs in an attempt to assuage their concerns over its commitment to low carbon projects. The investment bank said it had a “substantial” and “longstanding” commitment to renewable energy in emails seen by the Guardian.

Macquarie also appears to have tried to win over critics who had accused it of being an asset stripper, writing: “In meeting the responsibilities that come with owning and managing public assets … [we] have a strong track record of ongoing capital investment to support operational growth.”

A source close to the sale process told the Guardian that there had been a lot of frustration in government and at Macquarie over the focus on asset ownership, which has been fuelled in part by the Green Investment Bank creating 14 new companies ahead of its privatisation.

“One thing that’s always been clear about the Green Investment Bank is that its value has been in funding new projects, not necessarily keeping old ones,” the source said.

The delay over the sale, which had been expected to complete in January, is down to Macquarie and the government haggling over a final price in the region of £2bn, the Guardian understands. The Australian bank was selected as preferred bidder last October, and submitted a revised bid after Christmas.

The sale to Macquarie is expected to be announced in mid-March, sources said.

The government has refused to even confirm Macquarie is its preferred bidder, citing commercial sensitivity. Ministers have insisted the deal will be good value for money for taxpayers, who funded the bank’s launch in 2012, and that its “green purposes” of funding renewable energy and other environmentally sound projects will be protected by a special share owned by the government.

But Greenpeace said that documents it had obtained from the Green Investment Bank via freedom of information requests showed the special share would not rule out the privatised bank investing in fossil fuels.

“The primary option for the special shareholder to prevent, or to challenge after the fact, any restricted activities would be to bring a derivative claim against the directors of GIB,” says the document, Rights of the Special Shareholder, which the Guardian has seen.

However, lawyers said derivative action was unlikely to be an effective method of challenging the bank’s new owners if they invested in projects that went against its green objectives.

“If the government is putting all their hope in the effectiveness of this special share to make sure the bank acts in its green purpose, our concerns are not assuaged by this,” said Jonathan Church, a lawyer at ClientEarth. “The derivative action, to police those green objectives, is shaky and shouldn’t be relied on.”

Doug Parr, policy director at Greenpeace UK, said: “The world has changed since the 2015 decision to privatise the GIB, and there is an urgent need to protect its green purposes from being diluted.

“But the government’s plan to protect them is toothless. There’s almost nothing to stop Macquarie from misusing this vital public institution by failing to invest in early-stage renewables, and even funding fossil fuel projects like fracking.”

Lord Barker, a former climate change minister, and Cable, a former business secretary, warned ministers this week that the taxpayer risked being shortchanged by the sale, as assets such as offshore windfarms under construction would be worth far more later.

“It is clear that this could amount to a windfall of hundreds of millions of pounds to Macquarie, at the expense of the taxpayer,” they said in a letter to business secretary Greg Clark.

Macquarie declined to comment.

 40 
 on: Feb 23, 2017, 06:51 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Pig Trump can save his presidency with a great deal to save the climate

Donald Trump is a deal maker, and there’s a great deal to be made on climate change
Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of Treasury and George H.W. Bush’s Secretary of State James A. Baker III met with the White House to propose a revenue-neutral carbon tax.

Dana Nuccitelli
AFP
Wednesday 22 February 2017 11.00 GMT

A month into his presidency, Donald Trump already has a minus-8 job approval rating (43% approve, 51% disapprove). Congress has a minus-50 approval rating, and the Republican Party has a minus-14 favorability rating. All are facing widespread protests, marches, and public resistance. Hundreds of concerned constituents have been showing up to town hall events held by Republican Congressmen, like this one with Tom McClintock (R-CA):

    Max Resnik (@KCRAMax)

    This is the scene out Rep. Tom McClintock's town hall. We just made it inside after pleading with Roseville police. pic.twitter.com/13UaXMvWph
    February 4, 2017

His constituents asked McClintock about the current hot-button issues: repealing Obamacare, the border wall, the Muslim ban, and climate change.

The first three topics have strong support from the Republican base, but they’re unpopular among most of the rest of Americans. That’s why Trump’s approval is held afloat by Republican support (about 85% approve), while only 35% of independents and fewer than 10% of Democrats view him favorably. In fact, they view these policies so unfavorably that there are constant mass protests. And then there’s this:

    Dana Nuccitelli (@dana1981)

    Betting markets think the odds are better that Trump won't last the year than that he'll be re-elected https://t.co/NjrdZmf5Vr
    February 18, 2017

Trump and the Republican Party need an issue and a policy that has strong support among all Americans. Climate change and a carbon tax fit the bill perfectly.
Americans - including Republicans - support climate solutions

Surveys by Yale and George Mason universities have shown that Trump voters support taking action to address climate change.

    69% of Americans - including about half of Trump voters - think the US should participate in the Paris climate agreement.

    80% of Americans - including 62% of Trump voters - agree that the US should regulate and/or tax carbon pollution. More Trump voters support doing both (31%) than doing neither (21%).

    70% of Americans - including about half of Trump voters – support the EPA carbon pollution regulations that House Republicans are trying to eliminate.

    66% of Americans support a carbon tax, as do about half of Trump voters.

    81% of Americans - including 73% of Trump voters - think the country should use more renewable energy.

    55% Americans - including 33% of Trump voters - think we should use less fossil fuels than we do today. Only 31% of Trump voters think we should use more fossil fuels.

Trump voter response to the question of taxing and/or regulating carbon pollution.

It’s also important to note that only 27% of eligible voters cast their ballots for Trump in 2016; 28% voted for Hillary Clinton, and 40% didn’t vote at all. In a recent nationwide survey, Larry Hamilton at the University of New Hampshire found that 48% of Trump voters think renewable energy should be a higher priority, as do 63–100% from the other groups, including 84% of non-voters. Donald Trump is the president of all Americans, and Americans want climate action.

A group of Republican elder statesmen in the Climate Leadership Council recently visited the White House to pitch a revenue-neutral carbon tax policy. The proposal would be a great deal for liberals and conservatives alike – a true bipartisan compromise. It would tax carbon pollution, which would cause fuel and energy prices to rise, but 100% of the revenue would be returned to taxpayers via a periodic (monthly or quarterly) rebate check to offset those costs. And it would be good for the economy.

It’s a tough sell for Republicans in Congress, who rely upon campaign donations from the fossil fuel industry. However, President Trump isn’t beholden to fossil fuel interests. Additionally, many Republican policymakers want to take action to protect the climate. They understand the science, the risks that climate change poses to future generations, and frankly to their own party. But they’re afraid of being primaried like Bob Inglis was. Were Trump to support a carbon tax, it would provide cover for congressional Republicans to follow his lead.

The left torpedoed a similar proposal in the state of Washington in the 2016 election. Those behind the proposition insulted environmental justice groups rather than making the case that the policy would benefit low-income households. Generally speaking, liberals prefer to spend tax revenue on programs to help people and accelerate the transition to a green economy. But low-income households spend a bigger chunk of their income on fuel and energy, so a carbon tax disproportionately impacts them. However, if the revenue is rebated equally to all taxpayers - as the Climate Leadership Council proposed - poorer Americans actually benefit from the carbon tax.

Congressional Democrats are on board with this policy, as are a number of Congressional Republicans, at least in private meetings. And a majority of Americans – including Trump voters – want the government to take action to address climate change. Even though many of those conservatives are unconvinced by climate science, they’re willing to tax and/or regulate carbon pollution to mitigate the risks in case the scientific experts are right. Even most oil companies support a carbon tax.

Congressional Republicans and Donald Trump hate government regulations, including EPA carbon pollution regulations. But repealing those regulations without a replacement won’t make their voters happy, and won’t be able to break through a Senate filibuster in any case.

Scott Pruitt will undoubtedly do what he can to hamper EPA efforts to curb carbon pollution, but he likely won’t be able to accomplish much more than handcuffing the EPA until a new administration is elected and he’s replaced. However, we can’t afford four to eight years of delayed climate action, so replacing those hampered EPA regulations with a robust revenue-neutral, small government, free market carbon tax would be a good deal for both the left and the right.

Can Trump make the deal?

President Trump could make it happen by voicing his support for the policy. He would go down in history as a hero – the president who was able to broker a tremendous deal between Republicans and Democrats to protect the climate for future generations during a time of extreme partisanship. It would be a shocking move that most Americans – including most Republicans – would love and support.

Alternatively, Trump could continue supporting policies that are only favored by conservative voters, which would keep his approval ratings in the red. Mass protests would continue, his administration would take action to worsen the climate for future generations, and Trump would go down in history as an unpopular, shortsighted president who left America and the planet a much worse place.

The question is, with people like Steve Bannon, Scott Pruitt, and possibly William Happer whispering in his ear, will Donald Trump be able to recognize and make this great deal?

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