10/19/11

Germany Sets Aside $130 Billion for Renewable Energy

By: John C.K. Daly of Oil Price

German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced on 30 May that Germany, the world’s fourth-largest economy and Europe’s biggest, would shutter all of its 17 nuclear power plants between 2015 and 2022, an extraordinary commitment, given that they currently produce about 28 percent of the country’s electricity.

Underlining the government’s seriousness in changing the country’s energy matrix, Germany’s Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau (German Development Bank) is to underwrite renewable energy and energy efficiency investments in Germany with $137.3 billion over the next five years, Germany Trade and Invest reported. Overall, the German government’s 6th Energy Research Program has made an extraordinary $274.6 billion available for joint funding initiatives in energy storage research over the next three years.

It is by any yardstick an extraordinary (and expensive) commitment that may well have the collateral benefit of unlocking similar funding worldwide for renewable energy projects.

The new Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau loans and projects are designed to underwrite a broad array of energy areas, including energy efficiency and smart grids, as well as wind and solar energy generation. Last year Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau financed 40 percent of all photovoltaic installations in Germany.

Germany is already the world’s strongest photovoltaic market and also accounts for Europe’s largest share of installed wind capacity. Moving resolutely into the field of renewable energy, by 2020, renewable energy sources are expected to account for 35 percent of Germany’s energy output, soaring to 80 percent by 2050. Germany now produces 20 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources, now, up from just 6 percent in 2000. The effort is in turn creating thousands of jobs and new industries.

Industry expert Tobias Homann observed, “With the decision to abandon nuclear power earlier this year, it was clear that the road ahead would be challenging. But Germany is in a very promising position to be the first industrialized country to rely entirely on renewable energy.”

One of the current major shortfalls of the renewable energy market is its inability to store generated energy but Germany is working on this dilemma, focusing on the development of battery and smart grid technology.

According to Germany Trade & Invest CEO Jurgen Friedrich, “Germany has established the ideal prerequisites for the rapid development of the energy storage industry. The unique combination of renewable energy generation, innovation and implementation through such projects makes Germany an optimal location for companies looking to enter this budding industry.”

Germany is also assiduously pursuing improving solar technology. Germany’s photovoltaic installations and solar facilities recently surpassed hydropower in Germany’s total energy generation matrix.

In the area of offshore wind power generation, Germany projects 4,000 turbines off its Baltic coast producing electricity by 2030. Germany’s northeastern Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state on the Baltic will produce 100 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2015-2017, and then export the excess to other German states. Mecklenburg-Vorpommern premier Erwin Selling told reporters, “Renewable energy has become extremely valuable for our state. It’s just a great opportunity – producing renewable energy and creating manufacturing jobs. From an industrial point of view we’d been one of Germany’s weaker areas. But the country is abandoning nuclear power. That will work only if there’s a corresponding and substantial increase in renewables. It’ll be one of Germany’s most important sectors in the future. We want to be up there leading the way.”

The picture is not completely rosy, however – there have been delays in expanding and upgrading the national grid of high-voltage transmission lines from sparsely populated coastal regions such as Mecklenburg-Vorpommern to areas where the power is needed in Germany industrial and densely populated western and southern regions. While Berlin is working to remove infrastructure bottlenecks, if the nation’s electrical grid is not expanded soon it could cause future problems when more off-shore wind power goes on line.

Such problems aside however, Germany, as Europe’s leading creditor nation and technological powerhouse is surging forward on weaning itself off of nuclear energy and strongly moving towards alternative renewable energy sources, an experiment that will doubtless be watched by other industrialized societies from Tokyo to Washington.

Source: http://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Renewable-Energy/Germany-Sets-Aside-$130-Billion-for-Renewable-Energy.html

By: John C.K. Daly of Oil Price

10/19/11

Sessions Unveils Amendments To Combat Billions In Spending Through Waste, Gimmicks

WASHINGTON, October 19—Speaking on the Senate floor last night, Sen. Sessions announced he would be introducing three amendments to put an end to billions in unnecessary spending through waste, fraud, abuse, and gimmicks. A summary of Sessions’ amendments follows:

• Elimination of categorical eligibility for the food stamp program—Under current law, individuals often become automatically eligible for food stamps simply by receiving a separate government benefit—regardless of whether they meet specific food stamp eligibility requirements. As Sessions noted, “In one state… if a person uses a pregnancy hotline, apparently, their assets are overlooked and they can qualify for food stamps… In many states, all that is needed to become food stamp eligible is to be mailed a brochure by the government… regardless of the assets the individual might have.”

• House of Representatives levels on food stamp funding—Senate Democrats propose an additional $9 billion in funding over last year’s level, which would amount to a quadrupling ($20 billion to $80 billion) since 2001. Preventing this $9 billion increase would save nearly $100 billion over 10 years, assuming no other increases. The number of people using food stamps has increased seven-fold since the program’s national expansion in the 1970s—with nearly 1 in 7 Americans now receiving benefits. Meanwhile, food stamp funds have been wasted, mishandled, and misused. In one notorious case, a defendant in the “Operation Fast and Furious” scandal was a food stamp recipient at the same time as he was buying more than 300 high-powered assault rifles and other weapons. In another case, a Michigan man was able to continue receiving food stamps after winning $2 million in a lottery because his winnings were counted as an asset rather than income.

• No CHiMPs that don’t save money—This amendment would create a 60-vote point of order against any appropriations bill if it includes CHiMPs (changes in mandatory programs) that do not reduce outlays over the ten-year window. CHiMPs is a commonly used gimmick that has resulted in at least $72 billion in deficit spending since 2005.

10/19/11

Occupy Wall Street Protestors Not Unemployed, Not Diverse – Are Radical Wealth Distributionist Left-Wingers

By: Maggie Thornton
Maggie’s Notebook

Douglas Schoen says his company has polled some 200 Occupy Wall Street protesters and they are not ideologically diverse or unemployed, but are radical wealth distributionists and they overwhelmingly approve of violence to reach their goals. Take a look at this:

Wall Street Journal (read it all here):

The protesters have a distinct ideology and are bound by a deep commitment to radical left-wing policies. On Oct. 10 and 11, Arielle Alter Confino, a senior researcher at my polling firm, interviewed nearly 200 protesters in New York’s Zuccotti Park. Our findings probably represent the first systematic random sample of Occupy Wall Street opinion.

Our research shows clearly that the movement doesn’t represent unemployed America and is not ideologically diverse. Rather, it comprises an unrepresentative segment of the electorate that believes in radical redistribution of wealth, civil disobedience and, in some instances, violence. Half (52%) have participated in a political movement before, virtually all (98%) say they would support civil disobedience to achieve their goals, and nearly one-third (31%) would support violence to advance their agenda.

The vast majority of demonstrators are actually employed, and the proportion of protesters unemployed (15%) is within single digits of the national unemployment rate (9.1%).

An overwhelming majority of demonstrators supported Barack Obama in 2008. Now 51% disapprove of the president while 44% approve, and only 48% say they will vote to re-elect him in 2012, while at least a quarter won’t vote.

Fewer than one in three (32%) call themselves Democrats, while roughly the same proportion (33%) say they aren’t represented by any political party.

What binds a large majority of the protesters together—regardless of age, socioeconomic status or education—is a deep commitment to left-wing policies: opposition to free-market capitalism and support for radical redistribution of wealth, intense regulation of the private sector, and protectionist policies to keep American jobs from going overseas.

Sixty-five percent say that government has a moral responsibility to guarantee all citizens access to affordable health care, a college education, and a secure retirement—no matter the cost. By a large margin (77%-22%), they support raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, but 58% oppose raising taxes for everybody, with only 36% in favor. And by a close margin, protesters are divided on whether the bank bailouts were necessary (49%) or unnecessary (51%).

10/19/11

The AFL-CIO’s Revolutionary Activist

By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media

The AFL-CIO is making headlines by running ads promoting “Occupy Wall Street.” One seriously doubts that members of the working class have much in common with the left-wing professional agitators running these protests and the tent cities they are erecting illegally in private and public parks in New York, Washington, D.C. and other cities. The most interesting part of this story, however, is that one of the AFL-CIO affiliates behind the campaign, the Working America group, is headed by a veteran of the Venceremos Brigades to Cuba, a progressive activist by the name of Karen Nussbaum. Equally significant, her husband works for the public relations firm that represented billionaire hedge fund operator George Soros.

The Venceremos Brigades, which are actually still in operation, were the orchestrated “tours” of the communist island, conducted under the authority and supervision of Castro’s intelligence service. They were designed to create a communist cadre on the soil of the United States. The Brigades were organized in 1969 by Bernardine Dohrn and other members of the Weather Underground terrorist group.

“I learned about revolution in Cuba,” Nussbaum has said. Now, she is practicing revolution in the streets of the U.S., armed with the millions of dollars that the AFL-CIO forcibly extracts from unsuspecting workers.

“Making the connection between the Occupy Wall Street protests to working class people all over the country will be vital to determining the power of this movement,” Nussbaum says, in an article being distributed by Soros-funded media. “We offer our support and encouragement to Occupy Wall Street and to this growing movement because it’s finally forcing the political, media and financial elites to take notice of what’s really happening.”

Liberal blogger Greg Sargent of The Washington Post is absolutely ecstatic over this development. He wonders, “what if working class white voters actually like and agree with Occupy Wall Street’s message, if not always with the cultural and personal instincts of its messengers?” He quotes Nussbaum in his piece as saying that Working America has signed up 25,000 “new recruits” as a result of the protests in one week alone. It claims three million members.

If “working class white voters” already have a problem with the “cultural and personal instincts” of the protesters, an apparent reference to their hygiene problems, anarchistic tendencies, and penchant for Marxist-style “solutions,” what do you think the reaction is going to be when they find out that Nussbaum herself, the executive director of the AFL-CIO’s Working America affiliate, is someone who traveled to Cuba to sing the praises of Communist dictator Fidel Castro?

But don’t count on Greg Sargent or any other mainstream media reporter to reveal this information. They probably consider it McCarthyism to document someone’s communist connections or affiliations. But a radical in a crowd at a Tea Party event? That’s a scandal worth covering.

I have been writing about Nussbaum for several years now, running into total silence or stonewalling when I have challenged her personally to talk about her trip to Cuba, which included a personal meeting with Fidel Castro. In 2009, when asked about the matter, she turned and walked away.

The broader question is: what has happened to the AFL-CIO, which was once an anti-communist organization?

My latest attempt to interview Nussbaum about this controversy came during the “Take Back the American Dream” conference in Washington, D.C., where she said the issue was “not relevant” and a press aide, Joel Payne, intervened to save her from more questioning. All of this was captured in a video that can be seen on YouTube. This progressive conference is an annual affair and Nussbaum has appeared before it in the past. She is clearly a major figure in the labor movement and has been so for many years.

Since Castro has outlawed independent labor unions in Cuba, as well as freedom in general, Nussbaum’s fascination with the communist system on the island is a relevant line of inquiry for those concerned about the dangers of socialism and totalitarianism here and the current direction of the AFL-CIO. Does her support for Castro and Cuba have anything to do with her support for the “Occupy Wall Street” movement?

An August 10, 1970, New York Post article about her trip to Cuba quoted Nussbaum as saying that she “was impressed with Castro and with Cuban socialism.” The story said that Nussbaum, then 20 years of age, had met with Castro, then 43, during dinner in Havana. “How I Cut Cane And Met Fidel” was the headline. Cutting sugar cane in Cuba was the ostensible reason for the trips, although Nussbaum acknowledged engaging in “self-criticism” or brainwashing sessions to assess the state of the communist revolution on the island.

The Venceremos Brigades came under scrutiny by the investigative panels of the Congress of the United States—panels which have since been abolished or dismantled by liberals. One of the main concerns was that some of the Americans going to Cuba were being trained in guerrilla warfare, insurrectionary tactics, and explosives.

The violence at Columbia University in 1969 was instigated by Mark Rudd after his trip to Cuba. Rudd was a leader of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and then the Weather Underground. In addition, three members of the “Chicago 7,” the group charged with sparking riots in the city during the 1968 Democratic National Convention, had been to Cuba.

Another traveler to the communist island was Kathy Boudin, a member of the Weather Underground who had also been to Moscow. Her father, Leonard Boudin, was equally notorious, having been a member of the Communist Party USA and an official representative of the Castro government.

Kathy Boudin, Cathy Wilkerson and Ted Gold, two other Weather Underground members who had been to Cuba, had established a bomb-making factory in a New York City residence in 1970 when one of the bombs went off, killing Gold and Weather Underground members Diana Oughton and Terry Robbins. Boudin and Wilkerson managed to escape. The bomb was intended for an officers’ dance at Fort Dix, New Jersey.

Although Nussbaum doesn’t want to talk to me about her trip to Cuba, she did some talking, in the form of an “oral history” of her involvement in the feminist movement and radical activities. In this interview, conducted in 2003 and published in 2004, Nussbaum talked about her involvement in the communist movement, noting her exposure to groups like the Young People’s Socialist League and the SDS at college. She became a member of the Black Panther Support Committee, a group in support of the black militants who targeted police officers as “pigs,” before going to Cuba as a member of the Venceremos Brigades. Nussbaum admits, “There were a lot of Weathermen who were in the Brigade” and a “huge array of young leftists.”

What’s more, she found Cuba exciting and wonderful. “It was thrilling,” she said. “It was a society that was combating racism, that had provided free health and educational care to every person on earth…” On and on it goes.

But Cuba wasn’t her only stop on the communist world tour. She became a member of a local “peace organization” opposed to American involvement in the Vietnam War and traveled to Hanoi in 1973. Nussbaum assures her interviewer that the visit was safe, “though illegal.”

Nussbaum became a friend of “Hanoi Jane” Fonda, who was photographed sitting on an anti-aircraft gun used to shoot down American aircraft and is still regarded as a traitor. Fonda’s website features a photo of them together. Nussbaum’s husband, Ira Arlook, who is also in the photo, works for Fenton Communications, the firm that has represented George Soros, the communist Nicaraguan Sandinistas, and others of that ilk. Arlook, chief of “advocacy campaigns” for the firm, handles the account of the Soros-funded Moveon.org.

In the interview, Nussbaum talks about how John Sweeney, then chief of the AFL-CIO, and Richard Trumka, secretary-treasurer under Sweeney, had worked to “open up” the labor federation to “new constituencies” and had become “more aggressive.” Nussbaum was brought into the AFL-CIO as part of this effort, becoming an assistant to Sweeney and running the Working America affiliate under Sweeney and now Trumka, the current president.

It is fascinating that Nussbaum will talk about these things with another radical but closes her mouth when asked for an explanation from those critical of her involvement in communist and anti-American causes.

How did a Castro sympathizer come to “occupy” a top position in the AFL-CIO? The terrible truth is that the anti-communism of this once-great labor federation has been snuffed out, first under Sweeney, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, and now under Trumka. Today they’re literally in bed with the Reds and conducting street actions and protests to bring the revolution that Nussbaum saw firsthand in Cuba to America.

Because the police are being restrained in most cases from closing down the illegal protests, which are growing in response to support from President Obama and his backers, the fear is that the Marxist violence of the 1960s and 1970s will return. Most of the young people and “workers” in the protests are, whether they know it or not, mere cannon fodder. They will be sacrificed for the revolution when the inevitable confrontation with law enforcement occurs.

The media can stop this catastrophe before it happens, but only if they blow the whistle on those like Nussbaum at the AFL-CIO and elsewhere using the protests for their own purposes.

Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism, and can be contacted at [email protected].