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How the marketing of American weapons determines U.S. foreign policy on China

Key Pentagon Official Turned China Policy Over to Arms Industry & Taiwan Supporters  October 28, 2020,  The triumph of corporate and foreign interests over one of the most consequential decisions regarding China is likely to bedevil U.S. foreign policy for years to come, writes Gareth Porter.   By Gareth Porter
The Grayzone   

When the United States finalized a set of seven arms sales packages to Taiwan in August, including 66 upgraded F-16 fighter planes and longer-range air-to-ground missiles that could hit sensitive targets on mainland China, it shifted U.S. policy sharply toward a much more aggressive stance on the geo-strategic island at the heart of military tensions between the United States and China.

Branded “Fortress Taiwan” by the Pentagon, the ambitious arms deal was engineered by Randall Schriver, a veteran pro-Taiwan activist and anti-China hardliner whose think tank had been financed by America’s biggest arms contractors and by the Taiwan government itself.  

Since assuming the post of assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs in early 2018, Schriver has focused primarily on granting his major arms company patrons the vaunted arms deals they had sought for years.

The arms sales Schriver has overseen represent the most dangerous U.S. escalation against China in years. The weapons systems will give Taiwan the capability to strike Chinese military and civilian targets far inland, thus emboldening those determined to push for independence from China.

Although no U.S. administration has committed to defending Taiwan since Washington normalized relations with China, the Pentagon is developing the weapons systems and military strategy it would need for a full-scale war. If a conflict breaks out, Taiwan is likely to be at its center.

Returning Favors

Schriver is a longtime advocate of massive, highly provocative arms sales to Taiwan who has advanced the demand that the territory be treated more like a sovereign, independent state. His lobbying has been propelled by financial support from major arms contractors and Taiwan through two institutional bases: a consulting business and a “think tank” that also led the charge for arms sales to U.S. allies in East Asia.

The first of these outfits was a consulting firm called Armitage International, which Schriver founded in 2005 with Richard Armitage, a senior Pentagon and State Department official in the Reagan and George W. Bush administrations.

Schriver had served as Armitage’s chief of staff in the State Department and then as deputy sssistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs. (Armitage, a lifelong Republican, recently released a video endorsement of Joseph Biden for president).

As a partner in Armitage International, Schriver was paid consulting fees by two major arms contractors — Boeing and Raytheon — both of which hoped to obtain arms sales to Taiwan and other East Asian allies to compensate for declining profits from Pentagon contracts.

Schriver started a second national-security venture in 2008 as president and CEO of a new lobbying front called The Project 2049 Institute, where Armitage served as chairman of the board. The name of the new institution referred to the date by which some anti-China hawks believed China intended to achieve global domination.

From its inception, The Project 2049 Institute focused primarily on U.S. military cooperation with Northeast Asian allies — and Taiwan in particular — with an emphasis on selling them more and better U.S. arms.

Schriver, known as the Taiwan government’s main ally in Washington, became the key interlocutor for major U.S. arms makers looking to cash in potential markets in Taiwan. He was able to solicit financial support for the institute from Lockheed Martin, General Atomics, BAE and Raytheon, according to Project 2049’s internet site, which provides no figures on the amounts given by each prior to 2017.

Equally important, however, is The Project 2049 Institute’s heavy dependence on grants from the government of Taiwan. The most recent annual report of the institute shows that more than a third of its funding in 2017 came either directly from the Taiwan government or a quasi-official organization representing its national security institutions.

Project 2049 received a total of $280,000 from the Taiwan Ministry of Defense and Taiwan’s unofficial diplomatic office in Washington (TECRO) as well as $60,000 from the “Prospect Foundation,” whose officers are all former top national-security officials of Taiwan.  In 2017, another $252,000 in support for Schriver’s institute came from the State Department, at a time when it was taking an especially aggressive public anti-China line.

By creating a non-profit “think tank,” Schriver and Armitage had found a way to skirt rules aimed at minimizing conflicts of interest in the executive branch.

The Executive Order 13770 issued by President Donald Trump in early 2017 that was supposed to tighten restrictions on conflicts of interest barred Schriver from participation for a period of two years “in any particular matter that is directly and substantially related to my former employer or former clients….”


However, the financial support for Project 2049 from Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, General Atomics, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon, and from Taiwanese official and quasi-official bodies were considered as outside that prohibition, because they were not technically “clients.”

Big Wins for Supporters

Brought into the Pentagon at the beginning 2018 to push China policy toward a more confrontational stance, Schriver spent 2018 and the first half of 2019 moving proposals for several major arms sales to Taiwan — including the new F-16s and the air-to-ground missiles capable of hitting sensitive targets in China — through inter-agency consultations.

He secured White House approval for the arms packages and Congress was informally notified in August 2019, however, Congress was not notified of the decision until August 2020. That was because Trump was engaged in serious trade negotiations with China and wanted to avoid unnecessary provocation to Beijing.

Lockheed Martin was the biggest corporate winner in the huge and expensive suite of arms sales to Taiwan. It reaped the largest single package of the series: a 10-year, $8 billion deal for which it was the “principal contractor” to provide 66 of its own F-16 fighters to Taiwan, along with the accompanying engines, radars and other electronic warfare equipment.

The seven major arms sales packages included big wins for other corporate supporters as well: Boeing’s AGM-84E Standoff Land Attack Missile (SLAM), which could be fired by the F-16s and hit sensitive military and even economic targets in China’s Nanjing region, and sea-surveillance drones from General Atomics.

In February 2020, shortly after Schriver left the Pentagon, the Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen received the lobbyist in her office in Taipei and publicly thanked him for having “facilitated the sale of F-16V fighter jets to Taiwan and attached great importance to the role and status of Taiwan in the Indo-Pacific region.” It was an extraordinary expression of a foreign government’s gratitude for a U.S. official’s service to its interests.

Having delivered the goods for the big military contractors and the Taiwan government, Schriver returned to The Project 2049 Institute, replacing Armitage as chairman of the board.

Neocon Vision

The arms sales to Taiwan represented a signal victory for those who still hoping to reverse the official U.S. acceptance the People’s Republic of China as the legitimate government of all of China.

Ever since the 1982 U.S.-China Joint Communique, in which the United States vowed that it had “no intention of interfering in China’s internal affairs or pursuing a policy of “two China’s” or “one China, one Taiwan,” anti-China hardliners who opposed that concession have insisted on making the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, which called for the United States to sell Taiwan such arms “as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability” as keystone of U.S. Taiwan policy.

The neoconservative Project for a New American Century (PNAC) led by William Kristol and Robert Kagan wanted to go even further; it pushed for the United States to restore its early Cold War commitment to defend Taiwan from any Chinese military assault.

Thus a 1999 PNAC statement called on the United States to “declare unambiguously that it will come to Taiwan’s defense in the event of an attack or a blockade against Taiwan, including against the offshore islands of Matsu and Kinmen.”

After leaving the World Bank in 2008 amidst a scandal involving his girlfriend, Paul Wolfowitz – the author of that 1999 statement on East Asia – turned his attention to protecting Taiwan.

Despite the absence of any business interest he was known to have in Taiwan, Wolfowitz was chairman of the board of the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council from 2008 to 2018. The Project 2049 Institute was a key member of the council, along with all the major arms companies hoping to make sales to Taiwan.

During the first days of Wolfowitz’s chairmanship, the U.S.-China Business Council published a lengthy study warning of a deteriorating air power balance between China and Taiwan.  The study was obviously written under the auspices of one or more of the major arms companies who were members, but it was attributed only to “the Council’s membership” and to “several outside experts” whom it did not name.

The study criticized both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations for refusing to provide the latest F-16 models to Taiwan, warning that U.S. forces would be forced to defend the island directly if the jets were not immediately supplied.  It also called for providing Taiwan with land-attack cruise missiles capable of hitting some of the most sensitive military and civilian targets in the Nanjing province that lay opposite Taiwan.

The delicacy of the political-diplomatic situation regarding Taiwan’s status, and the reality of China’s ability to reunify the country if it chooses to do so has deterred every administration since George H.W. Bush sold 150 F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan. That was, until Shriver’s provocative “Fortress Taiwan” sale went through.

The triumph of corporate and foreign interests in determining one of the most consequential U.S. decisions regarding China is likely to bedevil U.S. policy for years to come.  At a moment when the Pentagon is pushing a rearmament program based mainly on preparation for war with China, an influential former official backed by arms industry and Taiwanese money has helped set the stage for a potentially catastrophic confrontation.

Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist who has covered national security policy since 2005 and was the recipient of Gellhorn Prize for Journalism in 2012.  His most recent book is The CIA Insider’s Guide to the Iran Crisis, co-authored with John Kiriakou, just published in February.

This article is from The Grayzone

October 31, 2020 Posted by | investigative journalism, marketing of nuclear, politics, politics international, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Expert guidance for the next President to head off a nuclear catastrophe

5 Steps for the Next President to Head Off a Nuclear Catastrophe

To the horror of experts, 30 years after the Cold War, the global risk from nuclear weapons is actually getting worse. Here’s how a new administration can turn that around. Politico, By EDMUND G. BROWN JR. , REP. RO KHANNA and WILLIAM J. PERRY, 10/30/2020

Edmund G. Brown Jr. is the former governor of California and executive chair of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) represents Silicon Valley in the House of Representatives.

William J. Perry was the 19th United States Secretary of Defense.

As fires rage across the West and the coronavirus continues its deadly march, President Donald Trump tweets and fulminates but refuses to take charge. He denies climate change; on the pandemic, he leaves to the states his clear responsibility to protect the people of America.

Tragically, his incompetence extends beyond Covid-19 and climate change to another existential danger, rarely debated in Washington or covered by the media: the chance of a nuclear blunder.

The Cold War may have ended in 1989, but the United States and Russia together still possess more than 12,000 nuclear weapons, 90 percent of the world’s arsenal, nearly 2,000 of which are programmed to launch in minutes at the command of either countries’ president. The risk of a real nuclear catastrophe is not a bugbear from a past decade. It is a current threat, and becoming more serious because of Trump’s policies—and because the public has largely stopped paying attention.

Like passengers on the Titanic, our leaders in Washington don’t see what is in front of them.
Trump has pulled out of two vital nuclear treaties—one covering Iran’s nuclear program and the other banning intermediate and short-range missiles. Now, there’s just one treaty holding back an all-out revival of the nuclear arms race with Russia—the New START Treaty, signed in 2010, and expiring early next year. Instead of promptly extending this agreement, Trump is dithering and has shown no interest in controlling nuclear weapons. In fact, he just authorized $13.3 billion to build new intercontinental ballistic missiles. The president is playing Russian roulette with humanity—with weapons that could kill millions, and in the case of a full-scale nuclear war, lead to the end of civilization itself.

How can we change course? That starts with the election of a new president, one who will have the courage to restore nuclear sanity. This is precisely what President Ronald Reagan did when he joined Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985, declaring that “a nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought.”

The next step would be for the new president to publicly reaffirm that principle and take bold action to pull us back from the brink.
Where does the next president begin? Fortunately, serious academic and policy experts have thought long and hard about this continuing and intractable nuclear danger. They have proposed many practical steps. Based on their ideas and our own experience, we recommend that the new president and Congress take the following actions—practical, commonsense and eminently achievable.
First, prohibit “launch on warning” of nuclear weapons. The gravest threat facing the world today is that both the United States and Russia have their intercontinental ballistic missiles on hair-trigger alert, which means that nuclear weapons can be fired before an incoming attack is even verified. The president can quickly change this since he has the sole authority to decide when, and under what conditions, nuclear weapons can be launched………..
Second, cut back the current plan, initiated by the Obama administration, to spend—over three decades—more than $1 trillion to build and maintain a new generation of missiles, submarines and bombers for a nuclear arms “modernization.” ……….

Third, the next president should immediately extend the New START Treaty with Russia and begin follow-on negotiations to reduce deployed strategic nuclear forces by one-third, something Obama himself had planned to do.

Fourth, we should find a way to limit strategic missile defenses, which perversely incentivize building ever more offensive systems—making the world far more dangerous. The United States has spent $300 billion since 1983 trying to build a defense system to stop incoming nuclear missiles, without success………..
Fifth, after the bluster and bombast of Trump, it is now time for serious and intensive diplomacy with Russia and China, and also with North Korea and Iran—one already a nuclear power and the other striving to be one……..

The next president should reflect deeply on our existential predicament and chart a new and wiser path for America.

October 31, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Financial red flags warn against Utah’s NuScale small nuclear reactor project

October 31, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Another city bites the dust in regard to Utah’s NuScam small nuclear reactors plan

Seven Utah cities have now bailed out of an Idaho nuclear power project, Salt Lake Tribune,  By Taylor Stevens-30 Oct 20,

Three more Utah cities voted this week not to move forward with a first-of-its kind nuclear power project that proponents have pitched as the future of clean energy but that opponents have lined up against over concerns about financial risk.

Beaver, Bountiful and Heber are the latest municipalities to exit the small modular nuclear reactor pursuit, following in the footsteps of Murray, Kaysville, Lehi and Logan, which also backed out in recent weeks. ………

The Heber Light and Power Board, which voted 5-1 to get out of the project, and the Bountiful City Council, which unanimously made the decision to back out, both did so this week largely over concerns about the subscription rate of the nuclear energy pursuit.

“There’s enough things wrong with this project that it made it really scary,” said Bart Miller, Heber Light and Power’s chief financial officer. “We’re just a bunch of little utilities in the state of Utah trying to do a $6 billion nuclear power plant.”………

Bountiful City Councilman Richard Higginson said the leaders there had similar concerns, and felt too many of the development and construction costs were falling to a small number of municipalities…….

Costs have been one of the main concerns for several of the cities that have backed out over the last few weeks, as the project’s projected price tag has ballooned significantly, from $4.5 billion a few years ago to around $6 billion now. Opponents have also raised concerns about time and cost overruns, safety considerations and an uncertain regulatory environment.

The Utah Taxpayers Association has been among the critics of the project, arguing that municipal power companies should not act as a “seed investor” for the new technology, a responsibility it’s argued should lie with the private sector.

Environmental groups, such as the Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah, have also raised concerns about the radioactive waste that would be generated by the project.

Cities participating in the Carbon Free Power Project through the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems — a consortium of municipally owned power systems in Utah and several other Western states that has partnered with NuScale Power to study and create the nuclear technology — have until Saturday to decide whether to stay in the project or back out.

October 31, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Urgency to protect nature, or up to 850,000 animal viruses could be caught by humans

UN report says up to 850,000 animal viruses could be caught by humans, unless we protect nature, The Conversation   Katie Woolaston, Lawyer, Queensland University of Technology, Judith Lorraine Fisher, Adjunct Professor University of Western Australia, Institute of Agriculture
October 30, 2020   Human damage to biodiversity is leading us into a pandemic era. The virus that causes COVID-19, for example, is linked to similar viruses in bats, which may have been passed to humans via pangolins or another species.Environmental destruction such as land clearing, deforestation, climate change, intense agriculture and the wildlife trade is putting humans into closer contact with wildlife. Animals carry microbes that can be transferred to people during these encounters.

A major report released today says up to 850,000 undiscovered viruses which could be transferred to humans are thought to exist in mammal and avian hosts.

The report, by The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), says to avoid future pandemics, humans must urgently transform our relationship with the environment.

Humans costs are mounting

The report is the result of a week-long virtual workshop in July this year, attended by leading experts. It says a review of scientific evidence shows:

…pandemics are becoming more frequent, driven by a continued rise in the underlying emerging disease events that spark them. Without preventative strategies, pandemics will emerge more often, spread more rapidly, kill more people, and affect the global  economy with more devastating impact than ever before.

The report says, on average, five new diseases are transferred from animals to humans every year – all with pandemic potential. In the past century, these have included:

  • the Ebola virus (from fruit bats),
  • AIDS (from chimpazees)
  • Lyme disease (from ticks)
  • the Hendra virus (which first erupted at a Brisbane racing stable in 1994).
The report says an estimated 1.7 million currently undiscovered viruses are thought to exist in mammal and avian hosts. Of these, 540,000-850,000 could infect humans.
But rather than prioritising the prevention of pandemic outbreaks, governments around the world primarily focus on responding – through early detection, containment and hope for rapid development of vaccines and medicines…..

Finally, Australia is one of few countries without a national centre for disease control and pandemics.

But there are good reasons for hope. It’s within Australia’s means to build an organisation focused on a OneHealth approach. Australia is one of the most biologically diverse countries on the planet and Australians are willing to protect it. Further, many investors believe proper environmental policy will aid Australia’s economic recovery.

Finally, we have countless passionate experts and traditional owners willing to do the hard work around policy design and implementation.

As this new report demonstrates, we know the origins of pandemics, and this gives us the power to prevent them……

October 31, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, environment, health | Leave a comment

Strong feeling in UK public that the Covid recovery must be a green recovery, too

Centre for Science & Policy 12th Oct 2020,  According to Professor Rebecca Willis, the findings from the UK Climate Assembly suggest that the general public feels strongly that covid recovery must be aligned with net zero goals, both in terms of a green economic stimulus and in terms of not giving government money to big polluters. She also noted that the pandemic has create an opportunity space, in which people are more open to lifestyle changes – including those that might be more environmentally friendly.

October 31, 2020 Posted by | climate change, UK | Leave a comment

 A Joe Biden administration would re-examine the U.S. nuclear strategy and arsenal.

October 31, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russia’s nuclear doctrine – both Russia an USA benefit from nuclear weapons control agreements

A Closer Look At Russia’s Nuclear Doctrine, June 4, 2020 Emma Claire Foley   On June 1, Russia released a document detailing its nuclear doctrine. Though the 7-page document is much shorter than U.S. Nuclear Posture Reviews, it plays a similar role as a publicly available statement of the situations under which a country would use its nuclear weapons.

In some ways, this release is unprecedented. Though Russia has released information about its nuclear posture before, this is the longest and most comprehensive public statement of that posture to date. A similar document, signed in 2010, was classified.

Until now, much of what is publicly known about Russia’s nuclear doctrine was drawn from its 2014 Military Doctrine. The new document draws heavily from the sections of the 2014 document that dealt with nuclear weapons, but sheds new light on some issues, particularly having to do with Russia’s weapons developed after its withdrawal from New START.

The document confirms Russia’s adherence to a launch-on-warning posture, as discussed by President Putin in 2018. That means Russia would launch a nuclear strike once it received information that another country had launched missiles at Russia, leaving open the possibility that a technical failure or mistaken intelligence could lead to an unintended first strike.

It also leaves open a broad range of situations in which Russia could respond to an attack with nuclear weapons, including “critical state or military facilities of the Russian Federation, the failure of which will lead to the disruption of the retaliatory action of nuclear forces,” an attack with a nuclear weapon or other weapon of mass destruction, or a conventional attack that threatens “the existence of the state.” Though this largely corresponds with what experts had gathered from previous statements, it leaves open to interpretation the definition of “critical state or military facilities.”

The document’s release must be viewed in context. It articulates a launch-on-warning posture as part of a larger defensive role for nuclear weapons, yet history has shown that nuclear “false alarms” that might compel Russia to launch an inadvertent first-strike are not only possible—they’re relatively common. A global No-First-Use agreement, accompanied by changes to nuclear force structure so that nuclear weapons are not kept ready to launch at a moment’s notice, would eliminate this very real risk.

In recent months, Russia has repeatedly, explicitly conveyed its willingness to extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which expires in 2021 and would leave the world without key limits on the two largest nuclear arsenals. These overtures seem to have fallen on deaf ears in the Trump administration, which has expressed its intention to replace the treaty with a trilateral agreement with China despite China’s persistent rejections of the idea. In light of U.S. withdrawals from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and the Open Skies Treaty, the prospects for a New START renewal look dim.

Despite the lack of U.S. participation in international arms control efforts, however, it’s clear that the rest of the world sees the value in maintaining these hard-won agreements. Other signatories have worked hard to maintain the Iran Deal’s frameworks, even after the U.S. withdrew and in the face of its ongoing attempts to start a conflict with Iran. The Trump administration’s knee-jerk rejection to any international agreement reveals a fundamental inability to understand that an international agreement could be in the interest of all of its signatories.

Russia’s step to increase transparency while remaining clear about its faith in its nuclear deterrent, on the other hand, may be another acknowledgment that both countries stand to win from a return to arms control. The only way to make sure that nuclear weapons are never used is to eliminate them. But extending New START maintains progress made by earlier generations and leaves the door open for more ambitious negotiations in the future. It’s a key next step toward making sure nuclear weapons are never used again.

October 31, 2020 Posted by | politics international, Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A Joe Biden victory could push Scott Morrison – and the world – on climate change

A Joe Biden victory could push Scott Morrison – and the world – on climate change, Guardian Katharine Murphy 30 Oct 20,  International action on emissions reduction will get a huge shot in the arm if the US election goes to the Democratic leader.

I’m a deeply superstitious person, so I can barely bring myself to utter the words “if Joe Biden wins the American presidency next week”, but for the purposes of where we are going this weekend, I need to utter those words, because that’s our starting point for unpacking a few things.

If Biden wins, obviously that’s the end of Trumpism, which would be a boon on so many fronts. So, so many fronts. The compendium of boon would span many volumes, and we haven’t got all weekend, so let’s just hone in on one critical issue that impacts Australia, and that’s climate change.

If we take the former vice-president at his word (and if you want a recent interview that dives right in, have a look here), a Biden victory would be a massive shot in the arm for international action on emissions reduction.

If we take the former vice-president at his word (and if you want a recent interview that dives right in, have a look here), a Biden victory would be a massive shot in the arm for international action on emissions reduction……………

Without wanting to ruin anyone’s weekend, we have to track back to America to find our final cause for pessimism – and that it, of course, the re-election of Donald Trump next Wednesday Australian time.

If Trump returns to the White House, the prognosis is simple. The planet loses.

October 31, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020 | Leave a comment

UK government’s economic recovery plan funds fossil fuels £3.8bn, but renewables only £121m

Edie 29th Oct 2020, The UK Government has earmarked £3.8bn of stimulus funding for legacy fossil fuel and nuclear generation, compared to just £121m for renewables, a damning new report has claimed. Published by global technology company Wärtsilä’s energy arm, the analysis concludes that the UK Government’s short-term plans for helping the energy sector recover from the financial impacts of Covid-19 are not aligned with the 2050 net-zero target or the interim carbon budgets.
It maps out the benefits to the economy and the climate if the UK were to invest all of its energy stimuli in renewables through to the end of 2025, claiming that this scenario would bring the generation share of renewables up to 60%. In comparison, the share in 2019 was 37%. Wärtsilä Energy believes that wind would account for the majority of renewable generation in this scenario and energy
storage capacity would be scaled up dramatically.
The report also outlines how almost 124,000 jobs could be created or saved in this scenario. Using the same calculations for a scenario in which all energy stimulus is allocated to fossil fuels, it sees the renewable scenario positively affecting 175% more jobs. This finding is in line with recent research from McKinsey, which concluded that for every $10m (£8m) invested by a Government in energy efficiency, 77 jobs could be created. For investment in renewable generation technologies, the figure stands at 75 jobs. In comparison, funnelling $10m into fossil fuels would create just 27 jobs.–not-net-zero-aligned—report-finds/

October 31, 2020 Posted by | climate change, employment, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Renewables, not nuclear, are the solution, for a cleaner world.

October 31, 2020 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Two politicians to plead guilty in Ohio nuclear corruption case

Ohio Political Operatives to Plead Guilty in Nuclear Plant Bribery Case
The five are accused of shepherding $60 million in energy company money for personal and political use.
Manufacturing,  Oct 29th, 2020    Andrew Welsh-Huggins  COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Two Ohio political operatives plan to plead guilty to charges that they conspired as part of what another defendant called an “unholy alliance” aimed at bailing out two aging Ohio nuclear power plants, court documents show.

Former Republican House Speaker Larry Householder and four others are charged with racketeering for their roles in the alleged scheme, under a law federal prosecutors typically use to charge gang members.

The five are accused of shepherding $60 million in energy company money for personal and political use in exchange for passing a legislative bailout of two aging nuclear plants and then derailing an attempt to place a rejection of the bailout on the ballot.

A federal court docket showed that “plea agreements” were filed Thursday for defendants Jeffrey Longstreth, a longtime Householder political adviser, and Juan Cespedes, a lobbyist described by investigators as a “key middleman.”

…………. The government says the energy company money was funneled through Generation Now, a group created to promote “social welfare” under a provision of federal tax law that shields its funding source or spending. The government says part of the scheme involved bribing or otherwise discouraging signature gatherers from doing their job. Generation Now is charged as a corporation in the case.An 82-page criminal complaint makes clear the energy company is FirstEnergy and its affiliates. FirstEnergy’s CEO has said he and the company did nothing wrong.

In a recorded conversation in September 2019, Borges described the relationship between Householder and the energy company as “this unholy alliance,” according to the July 21 complaint that lays out the details of the alleged scheme.

Lawmakers from both parties have pledged to repeal the bailout and to pass legislation requiring disclosure of money contributed to and spent by dark money groups. However, hearings to repeal the bailout ended this fall without resolution.

As recently as Wednesday, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine called on lawmakers to repeal the bailout during the Legislature’s lame duck session following next month’s election.

On Tuesday, two Ohio cities sued to block the bailout law from taking effect in January.

October 31, 2020 Posted by | legal, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

The human cost in illness and death, caused by working with nuclear weapons

October 31, 2020 Posted by | employment, health, PERSONAL STORIES, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Small nuclear reactors pose a financial danger to municipalities – Utah Taxpayers Association

“……….The Utah Taxpayers Association doesn’t have a stance on nuclear energy, but it opposes the possible financial risks to municipalities involved in the project, said Vice President Rusty Cannon.

“We don’t think these municipal power companies should be acting as seed investors essentially,” he said.

Cannon said his organization, which has led opposition to the initiative in Utah, is concerned that the costs of a ballooning nuclear test run will be tossed onto the Utah cities investing in the project, or more broadly, onto taxpayers.

“We understand that these municipal power companies need to plan for baseload power in the long term,” he said. “We just feel like if this project is going to succeed, it should be funded by private money.”

The criticisms from the association’s webpage call on citizens to urge their elected officials to withdraw from the project, and Cannon said quite a few have. The association evokes a string of failed or heavily delayed nuclear power projects across the country…….

“………..As the project seeks more subscribers, Webb said UAMPS is hyperaware that failure of the project could have widespread repercussions.

“This does represent the next generation of nuclear,” Webb said. “Many, many people are watching it very carefully because if this project isn’t successful then it does set back new nuclear.” From NevadaCurrent, 30 Oct 20,  Two Nevada towns among those betting on ‘new nuclear’

October 31, 2020 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

A bit of good news – Chameleon last seen a century ago rediscovered in Madagascar

October 31, 2020 Posted by | environment, OCEANIA | Leave a comment