September 21, 2022

Posted by orrinj at 8:59 PM


Posted by orrinj at 7:41 PM


Posted by orrinj at 7:27 PM


It's Fraud All the Way Down at the Trump Organization (Matt Ford, September 21, 2022, New Republic)

Former President Donald Trump defrauded banks, insurers, and tax agencies out of at least a quarter-billion dollars over roughly the last decade, the New York attorney general's office said on Wednesday. That totaling came as part of a lawsuit filed against Trump and his family real-estate business, the Trump Organization, that sought to recoup those illicit profits and ban Trump and his top lieutenants from running a company in New York ever again.

"With the help of his children and senior executives at the Trump Organization, Donald Trump falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself and cheat the system," New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement on Wednesday. "In fact, the very foundation of his purported net worth is rooted in incredible fraud and illegality. Mr. Trump thought he could get away with the art of the steal, but today, that conduct ends."

Posted by orrinj at 5:04 PM


Trump's Business Empire Could Be Crushed With New Lawsuit (Greg Walters, September 21, 2022, Vice News)

If New York's attorney general gets her way, former President Donald Trump will be drummed out of her state as a businessman almost completely.

That's because her massive $250 million lawsuit against Trump, his company, and his adult children effectively seeks to eradicate them from New York's commercial scene, and in particular, the industry where Trump made his name: real estate.

Victory for NY Attorney General Letitia James would mean banning Trump and three of his kids--Eric, Don Jr., and Ivanka--from running a company based in New York. James wants to block Trump and his family business from buying any New York real estate for five years, and install an independent monitor to oversee all of the company's business activities, including its financial reporting and statements to banks and tax authorities.

In short, James set out Tuesday to obliterate his image as a savvy entrepreneur--one that Trump spent decades cultivating through a series of splashy deals, a hit reality show, and finally a bid for the presidency based on the promise of his self-avowed skills as a negotiator. 

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM

MAGA GASLIGHTS ITSELF (profanity alert):

Greg Abbott's Failures Mean Texas Could Suffer Another Freezing Winter Blackout: In a new documentary, filmmaker Steve Mims tells the truth about the deadly 2021 Texas blackout. (PAUL ALEXANDER,  SEPTEMBER 21, 2022, The Bulwark)

Now Steve Mims, a veteran filmmaker (Arlo and Julie, Starving the Beast), has made a short film, Disaster by Design, that addresses some of lingering questions about Uri. The strength of the film emerges from interviews Mims conducted with experts in the energy field. Doug Lewin, of Stoic Energy, and Virginia Palacios, of Commission Shift (a watchdog group), are impressive, but inclusion of Jerry Patterson, the Texas land commissioner, a Republican who breaks ranks with the state's Republican establishment, gives the film a bipartisan credibility it would not have otherwise.

As for the cause of the disaster, Abbott and his supporters tried to find scapegoats. An easy target was renewables like wind and solar power. On Fox, Sean Hannity claimed that "energy-producing wind turbines are freezing, not working" while Tucker Carlson announced that "the windmills failed like the silly fashion accessories they are, and people in Texas died." And Abbott charged that when wind and solar producers "shut down," it "thrust Texas into a situation where it was lacking power on a statewide basis." Some such assertions were based on early reporting, which overstated the relevance of renewable energy supplies to the overall problem; later reporting set the record straight. To debunk these erroneous claims, Mims quotes Jerry Patterson. "This 'blame-it-on-the-wind' is bu[....]t," Patterson deadpans in the film. "Let's find a scapegoat. . . Wind, that'll be our scapegoat."

Abbott found more success blaming the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). "ERCOT's annual winter assessment . . . assured the public that there would be enough power to meet peak demand this winter," Abbott said--later noting that "those assurances turned out to be false." What Abbott failed to mention was that the members of the Public Utility Commission, which oversees ERCOT, are appointed by him, making him the ultimate authority over the agency he was blaming for the catastrophe.

The disaster's actual cause, as Mims documents, was straightforward. Water froze in the wellheads in the natural gas pipelines, meaning natural gas could not flow through the pipelines, and since Texas gets more than half of its energy from natural gas the grid could not provide sufficient power from other sources so it collapsed. As for the wellheads, they froze because they were not winterized, which would have been required if Texas had not deregulated its electricity production in 1999. So, the ultimate culprit behind Winter Storm Uri was deregulation.

Who benefited? The oil and gas companies who argued for deregulation in the first place. In a deregulated market, prices fluctuate according to demand; during Uri demand was so high that prices skyrocketed from $36 to $9,000 per megawatt hour. Companies that somehow kept their energy flowing saw enormous windfall profits as did some companies that lost power for all or part of the four days but cashed in when the astronomical prices remained artificially inflated even after power was restored. During Uri, Jerry Jones's energy company made so much money his CEO said it was "like hitting the jackpot," while BP raked in $1 billion, Energy Transfer $2.4 billion. "If you want to be angry," Lewin tells Mims, "look at those people who walked away with $11 billion"--the total pocketed by oil and gas companies that made money off Uri.

They're gonna need more Teslas to sleep in.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


The GOP's Surrender to the Antisemites (Jonathan Chait, Sep. 13th, 2022, New York)

On September 3, Cynthia Hughes, founder of the Patriot Freedom project, regaled the crowd at Donald Trump's "Save America" rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, with the plight of her nephew, Tim Hale-Cusanelli. Poor Tim, who once served in the Navy, had been convicted for his role in the January 6 insurrection. The story of his "mistreatment" drew moans from the sympathetic audience.

Hughes did not mention that Navy investigators found 34 former colleagues who reported that Hale-Cusanelli had expressed "extremist or radical views pertaining to the Jewish people, minorities, and women." One recollected Hale-Cusanelli's practice of asking new colleagues if they were Jewish. Another remembered him saying Jews "are ruining everything and did not belong here," and yet another recalled him saying, "Hitler should have finished the job." Hale-Cusanelli has been photographed wearing a distinctive Hitlerian mustache. His passion for genocidal antisemitism developed into a passion for a right-wing putsch attempt, and now he has become essentially a martyr figure championed by the Republican Party's leader.

Trump's rise has reshaped the GOP, driving out some of its constituent elements while bringing in previously excluded factions, the ranks of which include virulent antisemites. The lessons of Hitler's Germany have been badly overapplied, so it is important to contextualize these events carefully. The GOP may not be an antisemitic party. Indeed, it has managed to maintain a big tent that includes both Jewish ultrahawks like Miriam Adelson and their most paranoid enemies. Nevertheless, it has become a party in which antisemitism has gained a foothold. No recent development in American life has done more to throw American Jews' safety and civic equality into doubt.

They blame Soros.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


DOE Report Finds Hundreds of Retiring Coal Plant Sites Could Convert to Nuclear (Office of Nuclear Energy DOE, 9/13/22)

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today released a report showing that hundreds of U.S. coal power plant sites could convert to nuclear power plant sites, adding new jobs, increasing economic benefit, and significantly improving environmental conditions. This coal-to-nuclear transition could add a substantial amount of clean electricity to the grid, helping the U.S. reach its net-zero emissions goals by 2050. 

The study investigated the benefits and challenges of converting retiring coal plant sites into nuclear plant sites. After screening recently retired and active coal plant sites, the study team identified 157 retired coal plant sites and 237 operating coal plant sites as potential candidates for a coal-to-nuclear transition. Of these sites, the team found that 80% are good candidates to host advanced reactors smaller than the gigawatt scale.  

A coal to nuclear transition could significantly improve air quality in communities around the country. The case study found that greenhouse gas emissions in a region could fall by 86% when nuclear power plants replace large coal plants, which is equivalent to taking more than 500,000 gasoline-powered passenger vehicles off the roads.  

It could also increase employment and economic activity within those communities. When a large coal plant is replaced by a nuclear power plant of equivalent size, the study found that jobs in the region could increase by more than 650 permanent positions. Based the case study in the report, long-term job impacts could lead to additional annual economic activity of $275 million, implying an increase of 92% tax revenue for the local county when compared to the operating coal power. 

"This is an important opportunity to help communities around the country preserve jobs, increase tax revenue, and improve air quality," said Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Dr. Kathryn Huff. "As we move to a clean energy future, we need to deliver place-based solutions and ensure an equitable energy transition that does not leave communities behind." 

The reuse of coal infrastructure for advanced nuclear reactors could also reduce costs for developing new nuclear technology, saving from 15% to 35% in construction costs. Coal-to-nuclear transitions could save millions of dollars by reusing the coal plant's electrical equipment (e.g., transmission lines, switchyards), cooling ponds or towers, and civil infrastructure such as roads and office buildings.  

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


King Charles and the Jacobin Right (Capel Lofft, 9/21/22, The Critic)

Charles Windsor has gone through an extraordinarily rapid transformation. We all know that he became King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and its overseas territories and other Commonwealth realms, the second the Queen's heart stopped beating on the afternoon of Thursday, 8 September 2022. In the minds of the UK's Jacobin Right, he went through an even more dramatic metamorphosis at the same time: from the lunatic lefty "Clown Prince" who was in league with Bill Gates, Klaus Schwab, George Soros and the other members of the shadowy elite syndicate that apparently run the world through the obscure auspices of the World Economic Forum -- to His Majesty the King, the venerable Sovereign and beloved Liege Lord of the great country on God's green earth. 

It's easy to mock the motley cast of characters that make up the crankish world of the Guido-GB News British right -- and it's very entertaining, too, so let's do that for a paragraph. Many of them appear to be confused adolescent boys who accidentally wandered into a TV studio in the middle of a school trip and have mysteriously never been asked to leave since. Like a horrible right-wing mirror image of the deranged children that inhabit that barely-glorified hard-left intellectual creche "Novara Media", they have been conducting an adolescent William Hague impersonation contest ever since -- although to be fair to North Yorkshire's favourite pint-downing former Tory leader, they have succeeded in making him look like a cross between Benjamin Disraeli and Edmund Burke.

It's not just the kids though: there are plenty of hoary old-timers who have done a dramatic u-turn now that deranged eco-terrorist Prince Charles has become the Almighty's glorious anointed. Nigel Farage interrupted a busy schedule of day-drinking, wistful self-googling and bashing away on the Daily Mail comment section to give his ever-so-slightly obsequious verdict on the King's early performance. One can only surmise that a portrait of His Majesty has already replaced his beloved, and perhaps slightly soiled, framed photo of the Queen that he kept on his wall between the Pirelli calendars and his mint-condition collection of Rothmans cigarette cards.

In their various ways, what these characters sum up is the extent to which there is a section of the modern British right that is simply one enormous great throbbing id dressed up as a political ideology.

Making "unacceptable!" men their prison husbands is a specialty.