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Coronavirus cases rise in grim march to America’s Election Day

Coronavirus cases rise in grim march to Election Day,  SMH, By Doina Chiacu and Susan Cornwell

Washington: Coronavirus cases continued their grim climb in the United States on Sunday, local time, with Midwestern states experiencing record hospitalisations, as increasingly bitter rhetoric kept the virus front and centre of campaigning two days before the presidential election.

Nearly 87,000 cases were reported on Saturday, with 909 deaths and record hospitalisations for the sixth straight day in the Midwest, according to a Reuters tally. In October, 31 states set records for increases in new cases, 21 for hospitalised COVID-19 patients and 14 for record increases in deaths.

President Donald Trump, the Republican seeking re-election against Democratic challenger Joe Biden on Tuesday, downplays the virus and has accused Democrats of overblowing the pandemic that has killed more 230,000 Americans, more than any other country.

Biden and fellow Democrats have hammered Trump as a poor leader who failed to contain COVID-19 in the United States, which also leads the world in the daily average number of new cases.

Trump’s false accusation Friday that doctors were profiting from COVID-19 deaths drew harsh criticism from the governor of the election battleground state of Wisconsin.

“We have a president that believes that the doctors are at fault, they’re messing with the numbers and he believes that it’s over. It ain’t over,” Democratic Governor Tony Evers told CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday.

“We have hospitalisations going through the roof,” he said. “We absolutely need somebody that understands that this is an issue, it’s a thing. People are dying.”……..

Stanford University economists estimated that Trump’s campaign rallies have resulted in 30,000 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19, and likely led to more than 700 deaths overall, according to a paper posted this weekend.

Infectious disease experts have long suspected that the president’s rallies might be so-called superspreader events. But scientists have not been able to get a good read on their impact, in part because of a lack of robust contact tracing.

Trump has repeatedly disdained masks, even after outbreaks affected his own family and multiple White House staffers.

In contrast, Biden has stuck to federal health guidelines that discourage large, crowded gatherings during his campaign events. He has called Trump’s handling of the virus negligent and irresponsible.

Amid the acrimony, DeWine urged Americans to come together and fight what he called a war against a common enemy.

“This virus doesn’t care whether we vote for Joe Biden or whether we vote for Donald Trump. It’s coming after us.”    https://www.smh.com.au/world/north-america/coronavirus-cases-rise-in-grim-march-to-election-day-20201102-p56ali.html

November 2, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020, health | 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.  https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/10/30/5-steps-for-the-next-president-to-head-off-a-nuclear-catastrophe-433695

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

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.   https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/oct/31/a-joe-biden-victory-could-push-scott-morrison-and-the-world-on-climate-change

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

World climate at the crossroads – much depends on USA election result

Guardian 26th Oct 2020, Among the myriad reasons world leaders will closely watch the outcome of a fraught US presidential election, the climate crisis looms perhaps largest of all. The international effort to constrain dangerous global heating will hinge, in large part, on which of the dichotomous approaches of Donald Trump or Joe Biden prevails.
On 4 November, the day after the election, the US will exit the Paris climate agreement, a global pact that has wobbled but not collapsed from nearly four years of disparagement and disengagement under Trump.
Biden has vowed to immediately rejoin the Paris deal. The potential of a second Trump term, however, is foreboding for those whose
anxiety has only escalated during the hottest summer ever recorded in the northern hemisphere, with huge wildfires scorching California and swaths of central South America, and extraordinary temperatures baking the Arctic.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/oct/26/world-climate-crossroads-trump-biden-different-directions

October 27, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, election USA 2020 | Leave a comment

Joe Biden calls climate change the ‘number one issue facing humanity

Joe Biden calls climate change the ‘number one issue facing humanity’, CNBC, OCT 24 2020

    • Joe Biden declared climate change the “number one issue facing humanity” and vowed a national transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy that he says will create millions of new jobs.
    • Biden has a $2 trillion plan that puts the U.S. on a path to zero carbon pollution from the electricity sector by 2035 and net-zero emissions by 2050.
    • Scientists say that Biden’s transition plan is required to avoid the most catastrophic consequences of climate change.
    • Climate change has fueled record-setting wildfires in the U.S. West and one of the most active Atlantic hurricane seasons this year………
    • “Climate change is the existential threat to humanity,” the former vice president said. “Unchecked, it is going to actually bake this planet. This is not hyperbole. It’s real. And we have a moral obligation.” ……

Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, has boasted a $2 trillion plan that invests significantly in clean energy in the transportation, electricity and building industry, cuts fossil fuel emissions and improves infrastructure.

Biden’s plan also puts the U.S. on a path to zero carbon pollution from the electricity sector by 2035 and net-zero emissions by 2050. Coal and natural gas comprise more than 60% of the electricity sector, according to the Energy Information Association.

“It’s going to create millions of jobs … We can’t be cavalier about the impact it’s going to have on how we’re going to transition to do all this,” Biden said of his plan on the podcast. “But I just think it’s a gigantic opportunity, a gigantic opportunity to create really good jobs.”

Scientists say that Biden’s transition plan is required to avoid the most catastrophic consequences of climate change.  …..

Trump has denied the science of climate change and reversed more than 70 major environmental regulations during his four years in office, with nearly 30 more in progress.

But climate change has been a top issue of the 2020 presidential election, especially among younger voters…….

Biden leads on climate change by an enormous margin, with 58% to 19% of registered voters saying the former vice president would address the problem better than President Trump, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. …..

    •  and this year is set to be one of the five hottest in recorded history.

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/10/24/joe-biden-climate-change-is-number-one-issue-facing-humanity.html

October 26, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020 | 1 Comment

The Atlantic raised the big question. In a crisis, do Americans want Trump’s finger on the nuclear button?

The Atlantic’s endorsement of Joe Biden raises a sobering point all Americans should consider. Daily Kos, Dartagnan Community, Friday October 23, 2020   “……….   —The Atlantic reminds us that the person in charge of this country’s nuclear arsenal matters.

In most matters related to the governance and defense of the United States, the president is constrained by competing branches of government and by an intricate web of laws and customs. Only in one crucial area does the president resemble, in the words of the former missile officer and scholar Bruce Blair, an absolute monarch—his control of nuclear weapons. Richard Nixon, who was president when Major Hering asked his question, was reported to have told members of Congress at a White House dinner party, “I could leave this room and in 25 minutes, 70 million people would be dead.” This was an alarming but accurate statement.

When contemplating their ballots, Americans should ask which candidate in a presidential contest is better equipped to guide the United States through a national-security crisis without triggering a nuclear exchange, and which candidate is better equipped to interpret—within five or seven minutes—the ambiguous, complicated, and contradictory signals that could suggest an imminent nuclear attack. These are certainly not questions that large numbers of voters asked themselves in 2016, when a transparently unqualified candidate for president won the support of 63 million Americans..
The presidency is much more than a “position” to be filled from time to time. As we have all bitterly learned from the pandemic, the implications of a manifestly unfit president are profound and potentially lethal to millions of Americans. To provide someone proven to be as erratic and delusional as Donald Trump with the power to end all of our lives by initiating (or reacting to) a potential nuclear attack is simply insane. Americans may not have known exactly what they were putting into the Oval Office in 2016, but there is no such excuse now. We’ve all seen the movie, and it ends in death.
That crisis—or something close to it— is bound to come, whether we want to acknowledge it or not.  So Americans need to ask themselves who they really trust to make that call when it happens, and whether they really want those fat little fingers so close to that red button. ·https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/10/22/1988590/-The-Atlantic-s-endorsement-of-Joe-Biden-raises-a-sobering-point-all-Americans-should-consider

October 24, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020 | Leave a comment

Donald Trump and Joe Biden on climate change

Independent 23rd Oct 2020 It has been around 20 years since a lengthy discussion on climate change featured in a presidential debate during which time a monumental shift has happened in how America views the crisis.

Two-thirds of Americans think that the US government should do more on climate change and moderator Kristen Welker asked both Donald Trump and Joe Biden how they would step up
on the issue during the final presidential debate on Thursday, with millions of Americans already taking to the polls ahead of election day on 3 November.

Calling it an “existential crisis”, Mr Biden sounded the alarm for the world to address global warming, as Mr Trump took credit for pulling the US out of the 2015 Paris Climate Accord, the international agreement aimed at doing precisely that. Mr Trump said his focus was saving
American jobs, while taking credit for some of the “cleanest air and water the nation has seen in generations” — partly down to regulations passed in the Obama era.

https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change-presidential-debate-biden-trump-windmill-fracking-b1242172.html

Independent 23rd Oct 2020, President Trump, who has repeatedly called climate change a  “hoax”, said he planned for a “trillion trees” before touting America’s “clean air”, “clean water” and lower carbon emissions (all of which are, at best, misleading, as The Independent has reported).

The president then pivoted to an attack on clean energy, taking particular issue with windmills. “He thinks wind causes cancer. Windmills,” Mr Biden noted. “I know more about wind than you do,” Mr Trump replied, before going on to say windmills are extremely expensive, “kill all the birds” and “the fumes coming up, if you’re a believer in carbon emission … for these massive windmills is more than anything we’re talking about with natural gas which is very clean”.

https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/trump-windmills-presidential-debate-climate-change-biden-b1241221.html

October 24, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020 | Leave a comment

Fossil fuels are ”very clean” – Donald Trump

Guardian 23rd Oct 2020, In Donald Trump’s world – laid bare during Thursday night’s final
presidential debate with his Democratic rival Joe Biden in Nashville – fossil fuels are “very clean”, the US has the best air and water despite his administration’s extensive regulatory rollbacks, and thecountry can fix climate change by planting trees.
But according to the harsh realities being laid out by climate scientists, Trump’s world does
not exist. Humanity has just eight years to figure out how to get climate change under control before the future starts to look drastically worse – multiple-degree temperature increases, global sea-level rise, and increasingly disastrous wildfires, hurricanes, floods and droughts. Doing so will mean that unless there is a technological miracle, humans will at some point have to stop burning oil, gas and coal.https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/oct/23/joe-biden-transition-from-oil-industry-rowing-back

October 24, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020 | Leave a comment

Russian hacking group Energetic Bear have hacked nuclear stations, now threaten USA election

Russians Who Pose Election Threat Have Hacked Nuclear Plants and Power Grid .    The hacking group, Energetic Bear, is among Russia’s stealthiest. It appears to be casting a wide net to find useful targets ahead of the election, experts said.  NYT, By Nicole Perlroth, Oct. 23, 2020

Cybersecurity officials watched with growing alarm in September as Russian state hackers started prowling around dozens of American state and local government computer systems just two months before the election.

The act itself did not worry them so much — officials anticipated that the Russians who interfered in the 2016 election would be back — but the actor did. The group, known to researchers as “Dragonfly” or “Energetic Bear” for its hackings of the energy sector, was not involved in 2016 election hacking. But it has in the past five years breached the power grid, water treatment facilities and even nuclear power plants, including one in Kansas………

Energetic Bear typically casts a wide net, then zeros in on a few high-value targets. In Germany and the United States, the group has infected websites popular in the energy sector, downloading malware onto the machines of anyone who visited the sites, then searching for employees with access to industrial systems.

In other attacks, it has hijacked the software updates for computers attached to industrial control systems. It has also blasted targets with phishing emails in search of employees, or co-workers, who might have access to critical systems at water, power and nuclear plants.

And it has done so with remarkable success. A disturbing screenshot in a 2018 Department of Homeland Security advisory showed the groups’ hackers with their fingers on the switches of the computers that controlled the industrial systems at a power plant.

The group has thus far stopped short of sabotage, but appears to be preparing for some future attack. The hackings so unnerved officials that starting in 2018, the United States Cyber Command, the arm of the Pentagon that conducts offensive cyberattacks, hit back with retaliatory strikes on the Russian grid…………… https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/23/us/politics/energetic-bear-russian-hackers.html

October 24, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020, Russia, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Two-thirds of voters support Biden climate plan

October 22, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020 | Leave a comment

Hard to save the Iran nuclear deal, even if Biden wins the U.S. election.

Even if Biden wins US election, time is running out to save Iran nuclear deal
Events in the US are being watched closely as Iran’s presidential election looms in early 2021,
Guardian, Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor, Wed 21 Oct 2020 Even if Joe Biden triumphs at the polls, Iran’s weakened government may only have a few months to negotiate a revived nuclear deal before facing its own electoral challenge by hardliners who oppose any engagement with the west.

The narrow window has prompted calls for Biden to offer a phased approach to rejoining the Iran nuclear deal abandoned by Donald Trump in 2018, in order to show progress before the Iranian presidential election.

Iran’s reformists and centrists remain severely damaged by the failure of the original agreement to deliver economic benefits to ordinary Iranians.

Once Trump left the deal, he imposed maximum economic pressure on Tehran, blocking Iran’s oil exports, and leaving advocates of engagement with the US struggling to defend their strategy. In a recent interview in Kar Va Kargar the foreign minister Javad Zarif insisted the foreign ministry had not been naive to negotiate with the Americans, but said Trump had “blown up the entire negotiating room”.

Iran’s current president, Hassan Rouhani, was also an advocate of the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, but is standing down after two four-year terms. A range of conservatives, including members of the powerful Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, are preparing to stand, advocating either closer ties with China or a stronger self-reliant economic policy.

The reformist movement has not yet decided whether to put up a candidate or instead back a technocratic figure such as Ali Larijani, the former Speaker who is currently assisting Rouhani in framing a 25-year strategic partnership with China.

Reformists were trounced in spring parliamentary elections marked by a record low turn-out. The chances of persuading the disillusioned middle class to vote in the presidential election may in part depend on finding a credible candidate who can raise hopes of a resumption of talks with the west.

Biden has so far promised that “if Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the US would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations”.

But even if he does win, Biden would not take office until 20 January, leaving only a short time for reformists to convince Iranians that the path of engagement is worth trying again.

Some analysts say a Biden victory could be enough to change the mood in Iran – and certainly the elections are being watched with fascination in Tehran……. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/oct/21/even-if-biden-wins-us-election-time-is-running-out-to-save-iran-nuclear-deal

October 22, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020, Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

American election. Joe Biden’s climate plan would give the world a fighting chance

BBC 18th Oct 2020, Who occupies the White House for the next four years could play a critical role in the fight against dangerous climate change, experts say. Matt McGrath weighs the likely environmental consequences of the US election.

Scientists studying climate change say that the re-election of Donald Trump could make it “impossible” to keep global temperatures in check. They’re worried another four years of Trump would “lock in” the use of fossil fuels for decades to come – securing and enhancing the infrastructure for oil and gas production rather than phasing them out as environmentalists want. Joe
Biden’s climate plan, the scientists argue, would give the world a fighting chance.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-54395534

October 20, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020 | Leave a comment

Considering the future of the Iran nuclear deal

The Future of the Iran Nuclear Deal

For nuclear nonproliferation, the remaining parties to the JCPOA must continue with constructive dialogue to help keep the deal alive.
By Elif Beyza Karaalioglu • Oct 19, 2020.   The future of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — the Iran nuclear deal — is uncertain. In the absence of US leadership, representatives of the United Kingdom, Germany, France, China, Russia and Iran met on September 1 in Vienna to discuss the accord.

The deal, which imposes limitations on Iran’s civilian nuclear enrichment program, was agreed in July 2015 between the Iranians and the P5+1 group — China, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — and implemented six months later. The deal was struck when the Obama administration was in the White House following years of negotiations. The JCPOA gave Iran relief from international economic sanctions in return for dismantling major parts of its nuclear program and giving access to its facilities for inspection.

Yet ever since Donald Trump was elected president of the United States in November 2016, the future of the JCPOA has hung in the balance. Trump made it a campaign promise to pull out of the Iran deal. He kept his word and officially withdrew the United States from the JCPOA in May 2018, saying the deal is “defective” and did not address Iran’s ballistic missile program or its interference in the affairs of other countries in the Middle East.

Washington has since reinstated US sanctions on Iran and sought to penalize any nation doing trade with the Iranians, which has led to widespread criticism. In response, Iran has resumed its uranium enrichment at the Fordow nuclear plant, which is banned under the JCPOA.

The events surrounding the Iran deal have seen their ups and downs, but one thing is for sure: The collapse of the JCPOA is in no one’s best interest………….

Considering that US–Iran diplomatic relations are a nonstarter under the Trump administration, the result of the US presidential election on November 3 will be critical. President Trump has promised to reach a new deal with Iran “within four weeks” if he is reelected. If he wins, his administration would have to reshape its approach toward Iran in a constructive way to meet the timeline he has set. On the other hand, if Democratic nominee Joe Biden wins, his administration would likely rejoin the JCPOA, as well as seek additional concessions from Tehran. In a recent op-ed for CNN, Biden stated, “If Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations.”

Biden served as the vice president under the previous Obama administration, which, together with the P5+1 group, negotiated the JCPOA back in 2015. Therefore, it is safe to say that the future of the nuclear deal might just rest on the outcome of the US election.

A Regional Arms Race

For now, however, the US withdrawal from the JCPOA has weakened the impact of the accord. More importantly, the near-collapse of the deal could have a direct impact on the next Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Review Conference in 2021, potentially drawing criticism from non-nuclear-weapon states that may wish to pursue civilian programs of their own.

The JCPOA is not only important for global nonproliferation efforts, but also for stability in the Middle East. The complete failure of the deal would have severe implications.  ………

Sanctions on Iran

On August 20, France, Germany and the UK issued a joint statement saying they do not support the US request for the UN Security Council to initiate the “snapback mechanism” of the JCPOA, which would reimpose the international sanctions against Iran that were lifted in 2015. As the US is no longer a party to the JCPOA, it has limited influence over its enforcement. Therefore, the Security Council rejected the US move.

The Iranian economy was already fragile before President Trump withdrew from the JCPOA, and US-enforced sanctions are further complicating the situation. High living costs, a deep recession and plummeting oil exports are just the tip of the iceberg………..

Nuclear Nonproliferation

With all of this in mind, it is vital that the remaining parties to the JCPOA continue with constructive dialogue to try to uphold the agreement. Everyone benefits from the deal, and its success depends on each side’s fulfillment of their responsibilities and commitments, particularly Iran’s full compliance.

Most importantly, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is necessary for the future of nuclear nonproliferation. If the deal collapses, then the world enters uncharted territory. https://www.fairobserver.com/region/middle_east_north_africa/elif-beyza-karaalioglu-jcpoa-iran-nuclear-deal-us-sanctions-iranian-news-middle-east-world-news-78178/

October 20, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020, Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Ask pro-HB 6 lawmakers seeking reelection what they plan to do about the nuclear bailout bill 

Ask pro-HB 6 lawmakers seeking reelection what they plan to do about the nuclear bailout bill https://www.cleveland.com/opinion/2020/10/ask-pro-hb-6-lawmakers-seeking-reelection-what-they-plan-to-do-about-the-nuclear-bailout-bill.html Oct 18, 2020, By Thomas Suddes, cleveland.com

House Bill 6, which Ohio’s House and Senate passed last year, requires Ohio’s electricity consumers to bail out two nuclear power plants formerly owned by FirstEnergy Corp. – Perry, in Lake County, and Davis-Besse, in Ottawa County.

HB 6 also requires electricity customers to subsidize two coal-burning power plants, one of them in Indiana. Evidently, our General Assembly has solved all Ohio’s problems and now has the time, not to mention the wisdom, to address an Indiana problem.

True, Ohio’s House and Senate usually favor utilities over consumers. That’s not news. But this was: In July, a federal grand jury indicted then-House Speaker Larry Householder, a Republican from Perry County’s Glenford, and four other Statehouse figures because of an alleged racketeering conspiracy, “involving approximately $60 million,” to pass HB 6 – “a billion-dollar nuclear plant bailout.” (Householder and the others are presumed innocent unless convicted.)

Soon after, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, who last year had signed HB 6 almost before its ink dried, asked the legislature to repeal HB 6. But the House (61-38 Republican) and Senate (24-9 Republican) haven’t. True, a House Select Committee on Energy Policy and Oversight, appointed by new Speaker Robert Cupp (a Lima Republican who voted “yes” on HB 6) is “studying” HB 6. Maybe the committee could save time by reading the federal indictment.

Oh yes, the Senate will consider repealing HB 6 – but only after the House repeals it. There’s no reason why the Senate (led by President Larry Obhof, a Medina Republican who voted “yes” on HB 6) can’t repeal HB 6 before the House does. Maybe the real reason is that GOP senators think the House will never repeal it.

About all that Ohio electricity consumers can do is ask those members of the General Assembly who voted “yes” on House Bill 6 whether they will now vote to repeal it.

The Senate passed the bill 19-13. The House sent HB 6 to DeWine in a 51-38 vote (with 50 votes required). Some legislators who voted “yes” on HB 6 are Democrats. But most “yes” votes came from Householder, Cupp and other Republicans. Whether incumbents are Democrats or a Republicans, voters might care to ask reelection candidates what they’ll do about HB 6.
A Greater Cleveland state senator who voted “yes” on HB 6 is asking voters to reelect him: Sen. Matt Dolan, a Chagrin Falls Republican, of the 24th District.
These Greater Cleveland Ohio House members also voted “yes” on HB 6 and are asking voters to reelect them: Democratic Reps. Terrence Upchurch, of Cleveland; Tavia Galonski, of Akron; and Thomas West, of Canton.

These Greater Cleveland House members also voted “yes” on HB 6 and are asking voters to reelect them: Republican Reps. Thomas F. Patton, of Strongsville; Jamie Callender, of Concord Township (HB 6′s co-sponsor); Diane V. Grendell, of Chesterland (whose district includes parts of Geauga and Portage counties); Darrell Kick, of Loudonville (whose district includes Ashland County and part of Medina County); Scott Oelslager, of North Canton; Bill Roemer, of Richfield; Dick Stein of Norwalk (whose district includes part of Lorain County); and Scott Wiggam, of Wooster.

Even if legislators run unopposed, they’re still answerable to residents of their districts.

Legislators who voted “yes” on HB 6 will likely tout “savings” – not “costs” – electricity consumers will see thanks to HB 6. If that’s the answer a voter gets, she or he should ask where the numbers came from. (HB 6 analyses with differing dates are floating around.) The answer a Statehouse politician gets about what a bill costs depends on how she or he asks the question.
Still, these are crucial questions that never get good answers from pro-House Bill 6 General Assembly members:

If HB 6 is such great legislation, why did it only attract 51 “yes” votes in the 99-member House – just one more “yes” vote than the 50-vote constitutional minimum?

And why did 15 of the House’s 61 Republicans – one in four – vote “no” on HB 6 even though then-GOP leader Householder wanted it passed?

Finally: Why would anybody allegedly spend $60 million in dark money to pass a bill that’s supposed to be such a great deal for Ohio electricity consumers – unless it isn’t?

Thomas Suddes, a member of the editorial board, writes from Athens.
To reach Thomas Suddes: tsuddes@cleveland.com, 216-408-9474

October 19, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020, politics | Leave a comment