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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

State legislatures made nuclear power LOOK profitable – when it wasn’t!

How ‘waste not, want not’ became ‘spend more, profit more The State, IT’S GOT to be one of the toughest decisions we ever face: When do we bail?…..

August 19, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

In South Africa, nuclear and coal lobbies wage a (losing) war against renewables

Nuclear and Coal Lobbies Threaten to Scupper Renewables in South Africa, http://energypost.eu/nuclear-and-coal-lobbies-threaten-to-scupper-renewables-in-south-africa/ August 17, 2017 by Hartmut Winkler, South African power utility Eskom recently repeated that it will not conclude supply contracts with the developers of new renewable energy power stations. These developers were selected under a programme to facilitate private sector involvement in the building of medium-sized renewable energy power stations.

The programme has won plaudits for its success in facilitating the establishment of multiple solar and wind farms in record time. But Eskom is once again stalling.

The power utility’s stand threatens the viability of the entire renewable energy sector in the country. It’s hostility also defies logic given that the whole world is embracing renewable energy as key to a clean energy future and combating climate change.

So what lies behind the opposition?

The answer lies in the fact that two powerful lobbies are at work in South Africa. One is pro-coal, the other pro-nuclear. This has made the success of the renewable energy projects a target for attacks from interested parties in both. Disrupting the renewable energy sector would ensure that the coal sector remains dominant. And that, over time, it is gradually displaced by nuclear.

Eskom has pointed to the oversupply of electricity as the reason for its objection. But elsewhere it has trumpeted the need for more nuclear power. It can’t have it both ways

The lobby groups attached to coal and nuclear appear to have had powerful allies on the state utility’s board. There is mounting evidence that they have been furthering the interests of a group linked to the Gupta family. It in turn has been accused of capturing state entities to further its own ends, as well as those of President Jacob Zuma, his family and allies.

It has also been widely argued that the massively expensive proposed nuclear build is being driven by the same interest groups.

The battle over renewables is therefore closely linked to a wider political confrontation over control of key aspects of the South African economy.

Eskom’s flawed argument

The renewables dispute centres on the state utility’s refusal to endorse 1121 MW of new renewable energy. This translates to about 1% of Eskom’s current generated electricity, given that renewable energy supply is intermittent. This additional renewable energy would make up 5% of the total renewable energy generating capacity projected by 2030.

Eskom accepts the need to expand its generating potential in the long term. The additional contribution from renewables is well within its broader expansion targets. And tariffs on the energy from renewable sources would be almost half of the estimated cost of new coal and new nuclear power.

Until two years ago Eskom was seen as a neutral player committed to effectively provide electric power in the best interests of the country. But that all changed in 2015 after Brian Molefe was appointed CEO

The Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown has been disingenuous in citing cost as a reason to stop the last phase of renewables. The higher costs she recently quoted were presumably those associated with the first round of renewable energy projects. These contracts were concluded in 2012 and prices for renewables have come down considerably since.

For its part Eskom has pointed to the oversupply of electricity as the reason for its objection. But elsewhere it has trumpeted the need for more nuclear power. It can’t have it both ways.

Powerful forces at play

Until two years ago Eskom was seen as a neutral player committed to effectively provide electric power in the best interests of the country. It threw its weight behind previous power procurement plans.

But that all changed in 2015 after Brian Molefe was appointed CEO.

Molefe and his successor Matshela Koko are both linked to the controversial Gupta family. Their names featured in the Public Protector’s State of Capture report as well as in a bulk leak of emails which implicated the Guptas and other leading figures in the state capture network.

Molefe and Koko played a pivotal role in helping the Guptas purchase a coal mine – the Optimum mine – and to secure a lucrative coal supply contract with Eskom. Both are also strongly pro-nuclear. They have also gone on record to argue that renewable energy is too expensive.

Eskom has furthermore listed renewables as the reason for planning to shut down four coal power plants. In reality, these old plants had already been destined for closure in anticipation of the imminent additional power supply expected from two new coal plants – Medupi and Kusile.

Ultimately South Africa won’t be able to buck international trends. That means that, in the longer term, the future of renewables in South Africa remains bright

It’s suspicious that one of the power stations facing closure, Hendrina, is supplied by coal from the Optimum mine. The effect of stalling renewable power expansion could force the extension of Hendrina’s life span.

Brown is in the process of restructuring the Eskom board after Molefe departed, Koko was suspended and the chairperson of the board resigned. Although there are signs that the minister is aware that she has been misled by the Eskom board on other matters, she doesn’t seem to believe this is true when it comes to renewables, repeating recently the view that it’s too expensive.

Brown’s counterpart in the energy portfolio, Nkhensani Kubayi, has displayed little sympathy for the renewable energy sector, also making far-fetched and easily disprovable claims that the initial solar and wind power stations have resulted in zero jobs. Renewable energy is in fact estimated to eventually generate over 100 000 jobs in South Africa.

Kubayi has also shown that she’s highly receptive to the nuclear lobby. Visiting a nuclear industry fair in Russia in the middle of June she expressed concern that the judicial disqualification of the existing nuclear cooperation agreement damaged relations with that country.

It has been convincingly argued that South Africa can’t afford the nuclear option in the current economic environment.

The immediate future

The global ascendancy of renewables and their particular pertinence in South African climatic conditions may even make coal and nuclear energy technologies obsolete in the distant future. Ultimately South Africa won’t be able to buck international trends. That means that, in the longer term, the future of renewables in South Africa remains bright.

August 18, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

UK govt inviting plans for Small Modular Nuclear Reactors.

Utility Week 15th Aug 2017, Major players in the nuclear industry have been summoned by the government
to present their plans for the development of small modular reactors.
NuScale and Rolls-Royce among companies reportedly invited to talks with
the government over the next few weeks. Hitachi and Westinghouse have also
been invited.

The meeting is likely to relate to a competition launched by
the government in March 2016 to find the best value SMR design for the UK.
The results were originally due to be revealed last autumn alongside a
roadmap for the development of SMRs. Appearing before the House of Lords
science and technology committee in March former energy minister Jesse
Norman told members the competition would be “back on track” soon.
http://www.utilityweek.co.uk/news/nuclear-players-to-present-smr-plans-to-ministers/1309792

August 18, 2017 Posted by | politics, technology, UK | Leave a comment

Americans all too easily accept the idea of a pre-emptive nuclear strike?

The Real Nuclear Option, Americans are disturbingly unbothered by the idea of striking first with nuclear weapons, Slate ,By Fred Kaplan, 15 Aug 17, As President Trump rails against North Korea, threatening to rain down “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it so much as tests another long-range missile, the world can’t help but wonder: Would he really do this? Would he order a nuclear strike, the ultimate fire and fury, against a country that hadn’t attacked us first?

August 16, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

What would be the process, if Trump decides to launch anuclear attack?

President Trump holds the ‘nuclear football’ but what is the process to launch an attack? 9 News, Aug 15, 2017 On January 20 Donald Trump was inaugurated as President, giving the former reality star the sole authority to launch a nuclear attack.

After being sworn in, an aide who had arrived with outgoing president Barack Obama carrying a satchel containing a briefcase, known as “the nuclear football”, moved quietly to Trump’s side.

The symbolism was clear: Trump now had complete control of the launch codes for a strategic nuclear strike.

 It was a moment Trump had been waiting for – indeed, even thinking about for a long time……..

And it seems not all US politicians have confidence in the current system.

Ted Lieu – a Democratic member of the US House of Representatives – has filed a proposal to require congressional approval before the president could launch a first nuclear strike, labelling the current process “unconstitutional”.

“Right now one person can launch thousands of nuclear weapons, and that’s the president. No one can stop him. Under the law, the secretary of defense has to follow his order. There’s no judicial oversight, no congressional oversight,” Lieu said.

But what exactly is the current process to launch a nuclear attack? The current approval process dates back to after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan to end World War II.

The Atomic Energy Act of 1946, signed by President Harry Truman, gave the president full responsibility over the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

That means, the president can use nuclear weapons with a single verbal order – an order that cannot be overridden.

Unlike other executive branch decisions, there are very limited checks and balances to launching a nuclear strike.

While Lie argues the current process is unconstitutional, the answer to that is not definitive – with possible answers lying in murky territory.

The American Constitution allows the president to use significant military force without congressional approval, if it is in self-defence.

That suggests North Korea would have to attack the US, or a US territory, such as Guam, first before Trump could legally pull the trigger on a nuclear retaliation.

However, a wrinkle in that comforting thought is the Korean War.

The Korean War which ran from 1950 to 1953 did not ever formally end – rather it ended with an armistice, with a peace treaty scheduled in Geneva in 1954 never being signed by the two parties.

Therefore, Trump could still attack North Korea first using the argument the US is already at war with the despot regime.While Trump may be able to launch a nuclear strike against North Korea on his say alone, the 1973 War Powers Resolution requires the president to have or to gain congressional approval to send troops to a foreign territory for combat purposes.

9RAW: Trump threatens ‘big, big trouble’ for North Korea

While the president can send the troops without the approval of Congress, the president then requires to get a yes otherwise they must terminate combat within 60 to 90 days.

While the Western world watch the continued exchange of verbal blows between North Korea and the US – a comment made by Trump in 1984, at the height of the Cold War, when the now President told a Washington Post reporter he wanted to be put in charge of US-Russia nuclear arms negotiations.

“It would take an hour-and-a-half to learn everything there is to learn about missiles,” Trump said. “I think I know most of it anyway.”

In March last year, Trump asserted he would be the last person to use nuclear.

“I’m not going to take cards off the table. We have nuclear capability,” he said.

“The last person to use nuclear would be Donald Trump. That’s the way I feel. I think it is a horrible thing. The thought of it is horrible. But I don’t want to take anything off the table. We have to negotiate. There will be times maybe when we’re going to be in a very deep, very difficult, very horrible negotiation.”

It’s a negotiation the world is watching now as North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un continues to move ahead with a plan to strike an area around US territory Guam with four missiles.

August 15 could see North Korea begin preparations to launch four intermediate-range Hwasong-12 missiles near Guam, should Kim follow through on his rhetoric.

The rogue state’s head said today he will watch the actions of the United States for a while longer before making a decision, according to North Korea’s official news agency.

Kim said: “The United States, which was the first to bring numerous strategic nuclear equipment near us, should first make the right decision and show through actions if they wish to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula and prevent a dangerous military clash.”The ball seems to be sitting firmly in Trump’s court – and the world watches to see if he becomes the president to open the ‘nuclear football’.http://www.9news.com.au/world/2017/08/15/13/17/trump-north-korea-nuclear-codes

August 16, 2017 Posted by | politics, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

South Carolina nuclear power backers push for tax-payer aid

After failure of SC nuke plant, backers seek federal aid,  By MATTHEW DALY, 14 Aug 17, WASHINGTON (AP) — Proponents of nuclear power are pushing to revive a failed project to build two reactors in South Carolina, arguing that the demise of the $14 billion venture could signal doom for an industry that supplies one-fifth of the nation’s electricity…..Supporters were alarmed when two South Carolina utilities halted construction on a pair of reactors that once were projected to usher in a new generation of nuclear power……

The July 31 suspension of the partly completed V.C. Summer project near Columbia, South Carolina, leaves two nuclear reactors under construction in Georgia as the only ones being built in the U.S. The collapse of the nearly decade-old project in South Carolina could cost ratepayers billions of dollars for work that ultimately provides no electricity and could signal that new nuclear plants are impossible to complete in the United States.

“These reactors failing would be the end of a nuclear renaissance before it even started,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

Graham and other lawmakers from both parties are urging Congress to extend a production tax credit that would provide billions of dollars to the South Carolina project and the two Georgia reactors. The House approved an extension in June, and Graham is pushing for a Senate vote after Congress returns from its August recess….

The Vogtle plant in Georgia faces similar economic and competitive threats, including the Westinghouse bankruptcy. The plant’s operator, Atlanta-based Southern Co., has said it will decide in coming weeks whether to finish the two reactors, which are years behind schedule and billions of dollars above projected costs……

Besides the production tax credit, nuclear supporters want the extension of an Energy Department loan guarantee program that has helped Vogtle and other energy projects secure funding. Vogtle received an $8.3 billion loan guarantee under the Obama administration – the largest ever issued by the loan program and a deal that some critics say could end up biting taxpayers…..https://www.apnews.com/1746c2dee6464b1586dbbedda6714bc4

 

August 16, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | 1 Comment

Should Florida residents still be paying for defunct, and planned new, nuclear recators?

Florida PSC looks at paying for nuclear projects today, Tampa Bay Times, By Malena Carollo, Times Staff Writer, August 15, 2017 TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Public Service Commission is holding its annual hearing at 1:30 p.m. today to discuss whether — and how much — Floridians will pay for its utilities’ nuclear power projects.

August 16, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Legislation intended to save Georgia’s struggling Plant Vogtle nuclear project is stuck in the Senate

Lifeline to Ga. nuclear project stuck in the Senate,Tamar Hallerman – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 14 Aug 17,  A last-ditch effort to send hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks to Georgia’s struggling Plant Vogtle nuclear project appears to be stuck in the U.S. Senate as lawmakers grapple with the prospect of a broader tax overhaul.

Boosters of the estimated $25 billion project, the only one of its kind left in the U.S., think the federal bill could throw an economic lifeline to the companies behind the venture as they decide whether to move ahead with construction or abandon work amid major cost overruns and deep delays.

Under current law, newly constructed nuclear reactors can receive federal tax credits for producing electricity only if they are put in service before 2021. The bill before Congress would lift the deadline……

Georgia backers of the project recently visited Washington to ask for more aid from the Trump administration, Bloomberg reported last week, potentially by increasing or speeding up the disbursement of $8.3 billion in federal loan guarantees……

Nuclear power also has its critics on Capitol Hill, who see it as a waste of taxpayer funding.

“With so much renewable energy, nuclear power just doesn’t make sense,” U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, a Texas Democrat, said earlier this summer. http://www.myajc.com/news/state–regional-govt–politics/lifeline-nuclear-project-stuck-the-senate/lxjVm1C1Ef5UyRiiKBS6MM/

August 16, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

As UK’s BIG nuclear projects look like failing, the SMALL nuclear confidence men approach the government

Government holds crunch talks with industry giants over the future of British nuclear energy, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/08/13/government-holds-crunch-talks-industry-giants-future-british/ The key nuclear power players have been called in by the Government for crunch talks on plans to meet Britain’s energy demands with new small reactor technology, amid mounting fears over delays and Whitehall paralysis.

Industry giants including NuScale, Rolls-Royce, Hitachi and Westinghouse have been summoned by ministers in a bid to reignite interest in the project. They have been asked to present their plans in meetings over the next few weeks.

Small modular reactors (SMRs) are a fraction of the size and cost of major nuclear power stations such as EDF’s controversial Hinkley Point C project. The Government signalled a key role for the technology in efforts to secure the energy supply and meet climate change targets two years ago.

An apparent lack of action since then has drawn criticism and raised industry concerns that the project has fallen by the wayside amid the political instability of Brexit and the general election.

In May, a House of Lords report branded the Government’s failure to publish the results of a competition for development funding as “particularly alarming”.

Companies considering investments in the technology had hoped that ministers would indicate which proposals they would support months ago, but they received no communication, fuelling the speculation that SMRs were being quietly abandoned.  Renewed government interest in the technology is a boost to the nuclear industry. Rolls hopes to adapt technology developed to power Royal Navy submarines, for instance.

It has said developing SMRs for civil use will cost £1.2bn, with the first installation expected to require a further £1.7bn. Costs are forecast to fall as more mini reactors are built. Modular design allows the systems to be built in “blocks” in factories then assembled on-site. An SMR is expected to require a site about a tenth of the size of a conventional nuclear power station and generate between 200 megawatts and 450 megawatts of power.

Hinkley Point C, currently under construction in Somerset, is set to generate 3.2 gigawatts. Cost projections on the project have soared from £6bn in 2013 to £20bn, and the first new power is not expected to be generated until at least 2025.

Last month, the National Audit ­Office (NAO) hit out at Hinkley Point, saying taxpayers could face a final bill of as much as £50bn, because the wholesale market price for electricity is falling steadily while nuclear power construction remains expensive and high-risk. Under a 2013 deal between the Government and EDF, Hinkley is guaranteed to earn £92.50 for every megawatt-hour (MWh) of energy produced through a combination of wholesale market prices and a levy on consumer energy bills. At the time, the Government said this would require top-up payments totalling £6bn from consumers’ energy bills to meet the “strike price”, but falling market prices have widened the forecast gap every year since then.

The NAO criticised the Government’s nuclear plans, saying ministers had “committed electricity consumers and taxpayers to a high cost and risky deal in a changing energy marketplace. Time will tell whether the deal represents value for money”.

Plans for another nuclear plant at Moorside in Cumbria are also in doubt after Westinghouse, the US nuclear ­reactor developer which is owned by ­Japan’s Toshiba, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy amid spiralling losses brought about by cost over-runs and project delays.

Toshiba is currently a 60pc shareholder in the consortium to develop the 3.8 gigawatt plant at the Moorside site.

Moving to a new backer could push development of the plant back years with regulatory delays and costs likely to go up.

A spokesman for the Department of Business, Energy and Industry Strategy said of the small reactor plans: “We are currently considering next steps for the SMR programme and we will communicate these in due course.”

Success for SMRs could hinge on developing production lines and export businesses that would increase scale and bring costs down further in the years ahead

Tony Roulstone of the Cambridge ­Nuclear Energy Centre, a former senior Rolls engineer, recently told The Engineer magazine: “The cost of building nuclear plants is related to their complexity and the work you have to do on site to build them, and nothing the industry has tried has worked. So it’s time to try something else.

“The manufacturing approach works in every other industry. Nuclear is the only industry in which production engineering is not used.”

Mr Roulstone added: “It’s only by getting into a factory environment and building these things over and over again that you learn how to bring the cost down.”

When George Osborne, the then chancellor, announced £250m of taxpayer funding for development of the technology in 2015, he said the cash would be allocated by 2020.

Mr Osborne, whose time as chancellor came to an abrupt end last year, added that the money would help to “revive the UK’s nuclear expertise and position the UK as a global leader in innovative nuclear technologies”.

 

August 14, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

South Carolina’s state-owned utility drops plans for rate hikes for failed nuclear project

Utility drops rate hike plans for failed nuclear project, By SEANNA ADCOX New Jersey Herald : Aug. 11, 2017 COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Millions of customers who have been footing the bill for years for a now-abandoned nuclear power project may get a temporary reprieve from rising bills, as South Carolina’s state-owned utility dropped plans Friday for two consecutive rate hikes.

Santee Cooper’s board canceled the approval process for average increases of 3.5 percent in 2018 and 3.9 percent in 2019. A vote on the requested hikes had been set for December.

They would have been the utility’s sixth and seventh hikes since 2009 for the now-abandoned expansion of V.C. Summer Nuclear Station north of Columbia. Santee Cooper and South Carolina Electric & Gas decided July 31 to halt construction on two new reactors they’d already jointly spent $10 billion to build, much of that paid by customers.

“Conditions have changed materially since the rate process began,” said Santee Cooper board Chairman Leighton Lord.

But the cancellation doesn’t necessarily mean rates won’t eventually rise for the more than 2 million customers served by Santee Cooper, which provides power directly and through local electric cooperatives. The board directed the utility’s staff to come back in October with a new financial plan.

“Santee Cooper will still need to cover costs related to our load, other system improvements and environmental compliance,” said Santee Cooper CEO Lonnie Carter. “We will tighten our belts and continue to look for ways we can be more efficient to make up the balance.”

Carter said the state-owned utility would have had to raise rates by 41 percent to continue with the project.

Friday’s unanimous vote comes amid a backlash from the public and lawmakers.

The scuttled nuclear project already accounts for 18 percent of SCE&G’s residential electricity bills and more than 8 percent of Santee Cooper’s. SCE&G is seeking permission from the Public Service Commission to recoup an additional $5 billion over 60 years. Those regulators approved all nine of SCE&G’s rate hike requests since 2009. Legislators have publicly warned commissioners they may be fired.

Three of those commissioners are up for re-election early next year by the Legislature. Seven people, including the incumbents, filed for the three slots by Friday’s noon deadline. The commission has no authority over the state-owned utility…….http://www.njherald.com/article/20170811/AP/308119851#

August 14, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

USA Federal Government not stepping in to save South Carolina nuclear power project

Trump administration silent on demise of nuclear project it once called ‘massively important’, Post and Courier By Thad Moore and EmmaDumain tmoore@postandcourier.com eduman@postandcourier.com, Aug 12, 2017   The day after two South Carolina power companies decided to bail out on two partially built nuclear reactors, state regulators asked the project’s top executives what it would take to restart construction.

Kevin Marsh, CEO of South Carolina Electric & Gas parent SCANA Corp., answered with a must: The federal government would need to step in to cover the spiraling costs, he said, and guarantee that ratepayers wouldn’t foot the bill for a project with an uncertain price tag.

Nearly two weeks later, support from D.C. doesn’t appear to be forthcoming.

President Donald Trump and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who have both advocated pro-nuclear positions, haven’t addressed the project’s demise publicly. And one of the two utilities that were building the reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station near Columbia says it hasn’t heard from the administration since giving it the news.

Santee Cooper, the state-run power utility that owns 45 percent of the project, says it told the White House it was ditching the reactors but hadn’t heard anything since. SCE&G, which owns the other 55 percent, declined to answer questions about its communications with the administration.

The silence from Washington casts further doubt on the prospect of reviving the scuttled project, even as state lawmakers and Gov. Henry McMaster scramble to have at least one reactor completed…..http://www.postandcourier.com/business/trump-administration-silent-on-demise-of-nuclear-project-it-once/article_7bd33fc6-7e9d-11e7-8f2e-7b8e4872296c.html

August 14, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Bill Curry met Donald Trump – found him to be a damaged, pathetic personality – and worse now

Over time, his mental health seemed to decline. He threw more and bigger public tantrums; lied more often and less artfully. The media, also in decline and knowing a ratings magnet when it saw one, turned a blind eye.
In 2016, the precariousness of Trump’s mental health was clear to all with eyes to see, but like extras in a remake of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” reporters averted their glances. The day after the election, they were all in a state of shock, like staff at an asylum who woke one morning to find that the patient who thought he was Napoleon had just been named emperor of France. Once he took office, many publications began keeping running tallies of his lies. But all take a more cautious approach to questions of their origins in his deeply troubled psyche. To date, no major network, newspaper or magazine has run an in-depth analysis of Trump’s mental health
My meeting with Donald Trump: A damaged, pathetic personality — whose obvious impairment has only gotten worseI didn’t get his endorsement when I ran for governor — but the severely troubled man I met has only gotten worse, Salon.com.  BILL CURRY 12 Aug 17, In 1994, I visited the home of Donald Trump. He was a Democrat then, of sorts, and I was the party’s nominee for governor of Connecticut. He’d taken an interest in our state owing to his keen desire to lodge a casino in Bridgeport, an idea I found economically and morally dubious. I had scant hope of enlisting him, but made the trip anyway, thinking that if I convinced him I might win, he’d be less apt to bankroll my opponent.
I arrived at Trump Tower in early evening, accompanied by my finance chair and an old friend and colleague. Stepping off the elevator into his apartment, we were met by a display of sterile, vulgar ostentation: all gold, silver, brass, marble; nothing soft, welcoming or warm. Trump soon appeared and we began to converse, but not really. In campaigns, we candidates do most of the talking; because we like to, and because people ask us lots of questions. Not this time. Not by a long shot.
Trump talked very rapidly and virtually nonstop for nearly an hour; not of my campaign or even of politics, but only of himself, and almost always in the third person. He’d given himself a nickname: “the Trumpster,” as in “everybody wants to know what the Trumpster’s gonna do,” a claim he made more than once.

He mostly told stories. Some were about his business deals; others about trips he’d taken or things he owned. All were unrelated to the alleged point of our meeting, and to one another. That he seldom even attempted segues made each tale seem more disconnected from reality than the last. It was funny at first, then pathetic, and finally deeply unsettling.

On the drive home, we all burst out laughing, then grew quiet. What the hell just happened? My first theory, that Trump was high on cocaine, didn’t feel quite right, but he was clearly emotionally impaired: in constant need of approbation; lacking impulse control, self-awareness or awareness of others. We’d heard tales of his monumental vanity, but were still shocked by the sad spectacle of him.

That visit colored all my later impressions of Trump. Over time, his mental health seemed to decline. He threw more and bigger public tantrums; lied more often and less artfully. The media, also in decline and knowing a ratings magnet when it saw one, turned a blind eye. Sensing impunity, Trump revived the racist ‘birther’ lie. In 2011, he told the “Today” show’s Meredith Vieira he had unearthed some dark secrets:

Vieira: You have people now down there searching, I mean in Hawaii?

Trump: Absolutely. And they cannot believe what they’re finding

As Trump recycled old lies, Vieira had a queasy look but no apparent knowledge of the facts. Of course, there weren’t any. Trump had no proof of Obama being born in Kenya. (Since there is none.) It’s highly doubtful he had any researchers in Hawaii. (It was only after Vieira asked him that he claimed he did.) Later, when Trump’s story crumbled, he followed a rule taught by his mentor, Roy Cohn, infamous architect of McCarthyism: Admit nothing. To Trump, a lie is worth a thousand pictures.

By 2016, the private Trump was on permanent public display, raging over mere slights, seeing plots in every ill turn of events and, as always, stunningly self-absorbed. He was called a racist, a sexist and a bully. But his mental health issues were euphemized as problems of “temperament.” He lied ceaselessly, reflexively and clumsily, but his lies were called merely “unproven” or, later, “false.” The New York Times called the birther story a lie only after Trump grudgingly retracted it. Not till he was safe in office claiming that millions of phantom immigrants cast votes for Clinton did the paper of record use the word “lie” in reference to a tale Trump was still telling.

In 2016, the precariousness of Trump’s mental health was clear to all with eyes to see, but like extras in a remake of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” reporters averted their glances. The day after the election, they were all in a state of shock, like staff at an asylum who woke one morning to find that the patient who thought he was Napoleon had just been named emperor of France. Once he took office, many publications began keeping running tallies of his lies. But all take a more cautious approach to questions of their origins in his deeply troubled psyche. To date, no major network, newspaper or magazine has run an in-depth analysis of Trump’s mental health……http://www.salon.com/2017/08/12/my-meeting-with-donald-trump-a-damaged-pathetic-personality-whose-obvious-impairment-has-only-gotten-worse/.

August 14, 2017 Posted by | PERSONAL STORIES, politics, USA | Leave a comment

UK government invested heavily in fossil fuel projects overseas, with only a small investment in renewables

Independent 11th Aug 2017, The Government has been accused of undermining its own efforts to tackle
climate change after new research revealed it is investing twice as much in
fossil fuel projects overseas as it is in renewables.

Almost half (46 per cent) of the money the UK spent on energy overseas went on fossil fuels
while barely more than a fifth (22 per cent) was spent on renewable energy
sources. The research, commissioned by Catholic charity CAFOD and carried
out by the Overseas Development Institute, analysed spending between 2010
and 2014 – the last period for which data is available.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/government-fossil-fuels-renewable-energy-uk-export-finance-climate-change-global-warming-co2-a7887376.html

August 12, 2017 Posted by | climate change, politics, UK | Leave a comment

America’s nuclear industry getting desperate – seeks money from Trump

The U.S. Nuclear Industry’s Last Hope Seeks Help From Trump, Bloomberg , By Ari Natter and Mark Chediak

August 12, 2017,
  • Cost of delayed Georgia nuclear project may be $25 billion
  • Energy Secretary Perry turned down Scana’s bid for bailout

  • President Donald Trump has vowed to revive America’s dying nuclear industry. Backers of a troubled Georgia nuclear project want him to prove it.

    They have asked the administration to come to the aid of a project to build two reactors to the Southern Co.’s Vogtle power plant, according to people familiar with the talks. That could include increasing or speeding up disbursements of $8.3 billion in federal loan guarantees to the companies behind the nuclear plant, the people said. They asked not to be identified discussing ongoing negotiations.

    A Georgia public service regulator was in Washington to make a case for the project, the last nuclear plant under construction in the U.S., and Southern has hosted congressional staff members at the construction site. The company also wants Congress to extend tax breaks for nuclear power….

    With Southern set to tell regulators in Georgia by the end of this month whether it plans to continue with construction plans for the plant, federal support could be crucial. Last week, Southern said it estimated its portion of the cost to complete the reactors was at least $11.5 billion, excluding $1.7 billion in guaranteed payments from Toshiba. Given Southern’s 46 percent stake in the project, that would put the total cost of building the two reactors at $25 billion……

  • After Energy Secretary Rick Perry turned down a request for $3 billion in aid for Scana Corp.’s nuclear plant in South Carolina, it’s not clear how much the federal government will help. Scana abandoned its V.C. Summer nuclear projects last month after it concluded the two reactors would end up costing it more than $20 billion to build.

    In general, the Trump administration has said it’s studying the nuclear issue…..https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-11/troubled-georgia-nuclear-project-is-said-to-seek-aid-from-trump

August 12, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

North Korea could collapse if it gives up nuclear weapons

Paul Keating: North Korea could collapse if it gives up nuclear weapons, SMH,  James Massola, 

Fergus Hunter, 12 Aug 17,   Former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating has warned that North Korea will never abandon its nuclear weapon program and that this new reality will have to be addressed in the same way as the west sought to contain the former Soviet Union.

 

The former prime minister, one of Australia’s most-respected foreign policy thinkers and a strong advocate for a more independent foreign policy, has disagreed strongly with the language and approach being taken the US President Donald Trump towards the rogue state…….

Mr Keating said his criticism could be extended to Australia’s pledge to enter any potential conflict between the US and North Korea. He also disagreed with former prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott that Australia should pursue a missile defence system against North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missiles.

His comments about the growing tensions on the Korean peninsula come on the same day that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull declared Australia would assist America if it was attacked by North Korea……..

Mr Keating decided to speak publicly after being contacted by Fairfax Media and his views will be expanded in a major essay for a new magazine, Australian Foreign Affairs, to be published in October.

“I have long believed, especially after the unprovoked Western attack on Iraq and the ransacking of the Gaddafi regime in Libya, that North Korea would not desist from the full development of its nuclear weapons program, despite threats and sanctions from the West and even from China,” he said

“I said in April, we should regard North Korea as a full and capable nuclear weapons state – a state that would, in future, need to be contained, in the way the Soviet Union was contained during the Cold War. Developments since April have only confirmed my view.”

“More than that, it may be, that because the development of nuclear weapons in North Korea has, in a sense, become the raison d’etre of the state, were Kim Jong-Un and his generals to agree to the West’s demands, they may not politically survive that acquiescence.”……http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/paul-keating-north-korea-could-collapse-if-it-gives-up-nuclear-weapons-20170811-gxua4x.html

August 12, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment