Posted by: maboulette | November 16, 2019

President Trump and Ukraine


Annoucement

Since taking office, President Trump has criticized Ukraine for corruption and expressed sympathy with Russia’s historical claim to parts of the country — views that have tempered his engagement with Ukraine.  His skepticism of Ukraine was fueled even before he took office when, in the thick of the 2016 election, the country’s anticorruption agency released information alleging payments to Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. Mr. Trump’s views on Ukraine are now an important backdrop to the impeachment hearings under way in the House of Representatives, which focus on whether the president sought to pressure Kyiv to investigate his political rival

TOTALLY

In White House meetings and talks with foreign leaders, Mr. Trump has repeatedly described Ukraine as “totally corrupt” and full of “terrible people,” according to current and former administration officials. At their introductory meeting in Germany in 2017, President Vladimir Putin urged Mr. Trump to recognize Russia’s claim of sovereignty over part of Ukraine, citing links dating to an 11th-century political federation located in modern-day Ukraine, Belarus, and part of Russia.  Since then, Mr. Trump has often complained about U.S. support for Ukraine, describing the country to European leaders as “your Ukraine” and “part of Russia,” U.S. and foreign officials said.

SKEPTICISM

The president’s skepticism toward Ukraine cropped up in deliberations in which he initially opposed the sale of missiles to Ukraine to bolster the nation’s defenses against Russia, according to current and former officials. Mr. Trump ultimately approved transferring the missiles, which the Obama administration had refused to do.

US GOAL

Reducing corruption is a longstanding U.S. goal in Ukraine; the country was ranked 120 out of 180 on Transparency International’s 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index. The U.S. has also provided financial and other assistance to support Ukraine against Russia, especially since it annexed Crimea in 2014 and backed armed separatists in the eastern part of Ukraine.

AFTER ELECTION

After his election, Mr. Trump took steps to improve U.S. relations with Russia while accusing Ukraine of interfering in the 2016 election to help Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. U.S. intelligence and special counsel Robert Mueller have documented that Russia, not Ukraine, interfered in the 2016 election to help Mr. Trump — a conclusion Mr. Trump has repeatedly questioned.  Current and former aides said his reluctance to accept that finding fueled his chilly approach to Ukraine.

PUZZLED

Administration officials were “puzzled as to why he seemed so much more favorably disposed towards Russia than towards Ukraine — especially when their interests diverged,” a former administration official said.  When Mr. Poroshenko prepared for his June 2017 visit to the White House, Mr. Trump was initially opposed to meeting the Ukrainian leader, who had been scheduled to meet with Vice President Mike Pence, according to two people involved in the planning.  Still, White House advisers believed the presidents should have at least a quick photo op and meeting as a show of support, particularly since Mr. Trump had granted an unscheduled visit to two top Russian diplomats the month before.

LEAD-UP

In the lead-up to the visit, Mr. Trump told aides he wanted Ukraine to buy coal from the U.S., the former administration official said. When another official suggested to Mr. Poroshenko that Ukraine buy the coal from a Pennsylvania company, the Ukrainian leader agreed, according to people familiar with the conversation.  Nine days after their Oval Office meeting, Mr. Trump touted Ukraine’s plans to purchase coal at an event in Washington billed as “Unleashing American Energy.”

“Ukraine already tells us they need millions and millions of metric tons right now,” Mr. Trump said. “There are many other places that need it, too. And we want to sell it to them.”

A deal was struck the next month between the Ukrainian state-owned utility Centrenergo and XCoal Energy and Resources to import hundreds of thousands of tons of coal, worth tens of millions of dollars.

TYPICAL

Such asks of friendly countries were typical early in the Trump administration. Before any meeting with a foreign leader, officials would brief the president on what sorts of purchases the visiting country could make or how it could help the U.S. economy, the former official said. “The president always wanted to know,” the official said.

MISSILE SALE

Mr. Trump initially scolded advisers who had been urging him to approve the missile sale, the current and former officials said. Mr. Trump objected to providing what he called “lethal aid” to Kyiv and said European allies should do more to protect their neighbors, according to several former White House officials.  H.R. McMaster, then the national security adviser, and then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis assured Ukraine that the request would go forward when, according to one foreign official briefed on the matter, Mr. Trump was “in a good mood.”

DECEMBER 2017

The opportunity came in December 2017 after Congress approved the president’s sweeping tax-reform bill a day earlier. Messrs. McMaster and Mattis brought the Javelin approval document to Mr. Trump the next day and he signed it, according to a foreign official and a former administration official.

NEGATIVE

Still, Mr. Trump’s view of Ukraine has remained consistently negative. In June 2018 at the Group of Seven dinner in Canada, he told his counterparts that Ukraine was “one of the most corrupt countries in the world,” according to a foreign official.

Last month, defending the efforts of his lawyer Rudy Giuliani to push investigations in Ukraine, Mr. Trump told reporters: “He looks for corruption wherever he goes. Everybody understands Ukraine has big problems in that regard.”

DEMOCRATS AND IMPEACHMENT

Democrats have accused the president of abusing his office by urging Ukraine’s newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to open investigations that could benefit Mr. Trump’s re-election and by withholding a White House meeting and military assistance as leverage. Mr. Trump has defended his conduct as proper and said his aim was to encourage Ukraine to fight corruption

 


Kelly Clarkson is heading to Vegas!

 On Friday, the 37-year-old singer announced that she will headline a new Las Vegas residency, Kelly Clarkson: Invincible, starting in April 2020 at Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.

 ANNOUNCEMENT 

Clarkson announced the news during the Kellyoke segment on her talk show, The Kelly Clarkson Show, by singing a medley of her own songs and welcoming a group of showgirls to the stage.

 KELLYOKE ON HER TALK SHOW 

“You’re probably wondering two things: one, why are there showgirls here? And what I say to that is, why not? And two, why am I singing a medley of my own songs during Kellyoke? Because it’s super vain and weird — I usually don’t like doing them during Kellyoke because I feel like a tool — but today there’s a reason, so I did it,” she joked. “When I launched this show I heard from fans everywhere who were worried I’d stop putting out new music and touring. Well, don’t worry. I got you.” 

“I have a major announcement to make today: I’ve scored my very own residency in Las Vegas!” Clarkson continued. “… Not only am I getting to perform, I’m gonna get to play all the Wheel of Fortune slots, which is really my reason for going there… The gambling, the shows, the all-you-can-eat buffet and crab legs, I love all of it.” 

TICKETS, HOTEL STAY

Clarkson further delighted her studio audience by revealing that they’d each receive two tickets to one of the shows as well as a dinner and a hotel stay courtesy of Planet Hollywood.

VEGAS ANYONE?

“I’ve always loved performing in Las Vegas and the high energy of the crowds there,” Clarkson said in the press release. “So many of my musical idols have had, and still have, incredible residencies on The Strip, and I’m so excited to create my own!”

Kelly

DATES APRIL SEPTEMBER 2020

Dates for the residency run from April to September 2020. You can see all the dates here.

PRESALE

Presale, which Citi cardmembers will be able to participate in, runs from Nov. 4 to Nov. 7. Additionally, Caesars Rewards members, Caesars Entertainment’s loyalty program, and Live Nation and Ticketmaster customers will have access to a presale on just Nov. 7. Tickets will go on sale to the public on Nov. 8.

 

 

Posted by: maboulette | November 13, 2019

Lay-Offs At U.S. Steel


USS

U.S. Steel has laid off an undisclosed number of non-union workers nationwide, including at Gary Works and the Midwest Plant in Portage.  The latest round of layoffs is on top of the 150 workers the Pittsburgh-based steelmaker plans to let go when it idles East Chicago Tin later this year.

SLASHING ANNUAL COSTS

U.S. Steel has been looking to slash annual costs by $200 million a year after poor financial performance amid deteriorating market conditions, including weak steel prices, soft demand, declining automotive sales and a record $31 billion in household and kitchen appliance imports last year.

ANNOUNCEMENT

“Following the announcement of our new operating structure on Oct. 8, leaders examined organizational structures, work performed, and spending to find opportunities to more efficiently execute our strategy,” U.S. Steel Communications Analyst Amanda Malkowski said. “At the same time, we’ve been battling challenging market conditions, which means we need to truly become a leaner, more efficient organization faster. As part of this process, we are taking the difficult step to eliminate a number of non-represented positions in the United States.”

NON-UNION HOURLY

The company won’t say how many workers it has let go, but said they are not union-represented hourly workers, meaning those affected all worked in managerial or professional positions. 

MORE TO ANNOUNCEMENT

“Unfortunately, this was a necessary step in the execution of our strategy which will deliver cost and capability differentiation to create a world competitive ‘best of both’ footprint,” Malkowski said, referring to the company’s acquisition of a large stake in the Big River Steel mini mill in Arkansas. “It’s always difficult when we have to say goodbye to valued colleagues, but these moves will allow us to better manage our resources amid challenging market conditions.” 

3RD QUARTER LOSS 

U.S. Steel lost $84 million in the third quarter, or 49 cents per share, down from $291 million in profit during the third quarter of last year. The company has idled Blast Furnace No. 8 at Gary Works and soon will idle East Chicago Tin, consolidating its tin-making operations at Gary Works and the Midwest Plant.

STEEL PRICING DECLINING

The company made $957 million in profit last year after Section 232 tariffs of 25% were imposed on most foreign steel, up from $387 million in annual profit the previous year, but steel prices in the United States peaked last summer and largely have been declining ever since. However, steel executives recently told investors they thought the market was finally starting to stabilize.

So, President Trump do you have anything to add to this?

 

Posted by: maboulette | November 10, 2019

Fact Check: Trump Again Misunderstands California’s Wildfires


Fires

For the second year in a row, President Donald Trump inaccurately attributed California’s rash of wildfires to poor forest management. He also falsely said other states don’t have “close to the level of burn” as California.

OTHER STATES

Most of the California’s latest blazes aren’t in forests, experts explained, and therefore aren’t the types of fires that would benefit from better forest management. Wildfires also aren’t limited to California, even if the state gets more attention for them. So far this year, for example, wildfires in Alaska have burned nearly 10 times as much land as those in California.

WRONG AGAIN

Trump’s comments began on the morning of Nov. 3, as firefighters in California were battling numerous fires across the state, including the Kincade Fire west of Sacramento and the Getty Fire in Los Angeles.  In a series of three tweets, the president attacked California Governor Gavin Newsom, saying he had done a “terrible job of forest management” and that he “must ‘clean’ his forest floors,” adding, “You don’t see close to the level of burn in other states.

EVERYWHERE

Wildfires, of course, do happen elsewhere. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, an average of 61,375 human-caused wildfires occur every year across the U.S., of which approximately 7,500, or 12%, are in California.  And contrary to Trump’s claim that other states don’t have “close to the level of burn” as California, other states often outrank California in terms of acres burned. As of Nov. 5, more than 2.5 million acres had gone up in flames in Alaska this year, compared with fewer than 300,000 in California.

REPORTS

Figures reported to the fire center show that in 2017, both Nevada and Montana had more burned land than California, and in 2016 Oklahoma did. In 2015, Alaska had the most scorched land — more than 5 million acres — followed by Washington.  Even in 2018, when California’s 1.8 million burned acres totaled more than any other state, other states racked up substantial acreage as well, including Nevada, with more than 1 million acres, and Oregon, with nearly 900,000 acres. 

Of the 198 largest U.S. wildfires between 1997 and 2018, agency statistics show that 49 occurred in Alaska, 26 were in Idaho, and 23 were in California.

HIGH RATE

California, then, is by no means the only state with wildfires. Still, it is true that California is highly susceptible to wildfires and is home to some of the most costly and destructive fires.  California’s high risk, experts said, is explained by natural climate features and its massive population.

REASONS FOR RISK

University of California, Los Angeles climate scientist Daniel Swain also pointed to the Golden State’s climate and geography, which he said “sets it completely apart from any other region in the United States” and leaves it more susceptible to extreme wildfire than virtually anywhere else in the nation.  The state, he said, goes for a long time without rain — a period that coincides with high temperatures in the summer — and then seasonal winds come in during autumn when vegetation is very dry. “When the vegetation is as explosively flammable as it is in California toward the end of the dry season,” he said, “it’s surprisingly easy to spark a wildfire.”

CLIMATE CHANGES

Tinderbox conditions, of course, need a spark, and in California, the culprit is usually a person or something related to humans, such as a downed power line. 

Climate change, too, may be a factor in making fires more severe, because more hot weather can further dry out already dry vegetation, Swain said, and precipitation declines may delay the start of the rainy season.

TRUMP’S SUGGESTION

Fire experts were mystified by Trump’s suggestion to “open up the ridiculously closed water lanes coming down from the North.”  “Using water in rivers or irrigation canals isn’t practical for keeping large areas from burning,” explained Dennison.  Syphard agreed that firefighting efforts were not being hampered by a lack of water in the state. “Adding more water,” she said, “is not going to improve the situation.”

The post ‘Trump Again Misunderstands California’s Wildfires’ appeared first on FactCheck.org.

Posted by: maboulette | November 7, 2019

Interesting Case of a Woman Who Went Out Jogging


worm

This woman was out jogging and went through a swarm of flies. A month later, strange things happened.

SWARM OF FLIES

She had just rounded a corner while running along a steep trail in coastal California in February 2018 when she charged face-first into an unpleasant surprise: a swarm of flies. The pesky bugs quickly engulfed her, forcing her to swat them away from her face and even spit some out of her mouth. But little did she know, things were about to get much worse.

EYE BOTHERED HER

A month later, her right eye started to bother her. She rinsed it with water and out came the source of the irritation — only it wasn’t an errant eyelash or a wayward dust particle.  It was a live worm, roughly half an inch long, transparent and wriggling. And it wasn’t alone.

NOT JUST ONE

Soon after the first worm revealed itself, the 68-year-old yanked another of the fidgeting critters from her eye, where it had been living in the space between her lower eyelid and eyeball.

RARE OCCURRENCE

In a rare occurrence, of which there is only one other documented case, experts say the Nebraska woman was infected by a parasitic eye worm known as Thelazia gulosa, a species normally found in cattle, according to a recent paper published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. The parasites often spread among cows — their preferred hosts — through certain types of face flies that eat eye secretions, such as tears, the Oct. 22 paper said. The flying insects carry the worm’s young, and when they’re feeding, they expel the larvae onto the surface of the new host’s eye, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 LARVAE CARRIERS

The flies the woman ran through were likely larvae carriers, and at least one managed to come in contact with her eyes long enough to leave the parasites behind, Richard S. Bradbury, the paper’s lead author, told Gizmodo. The trail she was running on is located near Carmel Valley, Calif., an area southeast of Monterey known for cattle ranching.

INFORMATION

“Normally people would shoo any flies near their eyes away before they could do this, but in this case the patient had run into so many flies at once that she could not shoo them all away before one expelled larvae onto her eye,” Bradbury, a former member of the CDC’s Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria, wrote in an email.

 TWO MORE

 Once the woman, who was not named, discovered the two worms in March 2018, she went to an ophthalmologist in Monterey, Calif., near where she was staying at the time. The doctor extracted a third worm, which was preserved for analysis.

IRRITATION PERSISTED

Still, her eye irritation persisted, so when the woman returned to Nebraska, she consulted another doctor. No worms made an appearance during that visit, but the woman was informed that both her eyes were inflamed.

STILL MORE

It didn’t take long for the woman to find and pull out what would be the fourth and final worm herself. Her symptoms finally cleared up about two weeks later, the journal article said.

 SAMPLE

Meanwhile, the worm sample was making the rounds. It was first sent to the California State Public Health Laboratory before getting forwarded to the CDC, where researchers nailed down the exact species and noticed a significant detail about the eye worm.

 HUMANS SUITABLE

The worm was an adult female and her eggs contained developed larvae, “indicating that humans are suitable hosts for the reproduction of T. gulosa,” the paper said.

ANOTHER WOMAN

The Nebraska woman’s horrific experience was preceded by an eerily similar case involving a 26-year-old woman, who became infected with the worms in 2016 after spending time in cattle fields near her native southern Oregon, The Washington Post’s Lena H. Sun reported. In that instance, the woman had 14 of the tiny translucent worms removed from her eye.

MIGHT NOT BE A FLUKE

“While it may just be a ‘fluke’ event that two cases have occurred within a year or two of each other, it does raise the possibility that something might have changed in the ecology of T. gulosa in the USA to cause it to start occasionally infecting humans,” Bradbury told Gizmodo.

Posted by: maboulette | November 4, 2019

Trump Allies Ramp Up Efforts to Unmask Whistleblower


whisleblower

Some GOP lawmakers and conservative media outlets have sought to reveal a person they believe is behind the complaint even as other witnesses have supported its central findings. 

WHITE HOUSE SUNDAY 

At the White House later on Sunday, Mr. Trump remarked on reports and speculation in some conservative media outlets that the whistleblower is a CIA agent who has worked with senior national security officials from the Obama administration, asserting that it showed the whistleblower was biased against him.

GOP WANTS NAME

Reports have relied on a pattern of personal and professional details they have said point to an individual as the likely whistleblower. The reports also have referenced Republicans bringing up the person’s name during closed-door impeachment hearings, incidents that Democrats have publicly denounced as targeted efforts to reveal the whistleblower. At least one Republican lawmaker has also mentioned the name in an open hearing unrelated to the impeachment inquiry.

STATEMENT THURSDAY

In a statement Thursday evening, the lawyers representing the whistleblower said reporters should protect whistleblowers who lawfully expose government wrongdoing. They again declined to confirm or deny the person’s identity. “Our client is legally entitled to anonymity,” the lawyers said. “Disclosure of the name of any person who may be suspected to be the whistleblower places that individual and their family in great physical danger.”

DEATH THREATS

The legal team representing the whistleblower has received multiple death threats that have led to at least one law-enforcement investigation, the Journal reported this week.

ALLEGED ID

Some of the publications that have written about the alleged identity of the whistleblower have criticized the mainstream media for not pursuing the subject more aggressively.

MEDIA ETHICISTS

Media ethicists said if journalists have confirmation of the name, they would have to weigh public interest in the whistleblower’s identity against the possible harm that could befall the individual, but added that the news value of his identity had diminished over time as more information about Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine has come to light.

GO TO JAIL

“Journalists who like to keep sources anonymous will go to jail over that,” Tom Bivens, a professor of journalism ethics at the University of Oregon, said. “It seems to me that any journalist worth their salt would be willing to accept the anonymity of others bringing forward important information.”

FEDERAL LAW

Federal whistleblower law is designed to offer anonymity for intelligence employees so that they will feel encouraged to speak up about concerns of wrongdoing without fear of retaliation. But enforcing those protections can be difficult, according to national security lawyers, and germane protections generally apply to inspectors general and certain members of Congress and their staff but not to other agency officials or the public.  Those protections aren’t traditionally viewed as extending to journalists, who would be protected under the First Amendment and may argue that their responsibility to inform the public prevails over any obligation to the whistleblower, according to legal experts.

WHISTLEBLOWER COMPLAINT

The Aug. 12 intelligence community whistleblower complaint, which was released publicly in September, detailed concerns about Mr. Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which the president pressed for Kyiv to investigate his political rivals. The Trump-appointed intelligence community inspector general, Michael Atkinson, determined the complaint was both urgent and credible. Mr. Trump has referred to the call as “perfect” and denied any wrongdoing in his interactions with Ukraine.

ATTEMPTS TO EXPOSE

The attempts to expose the whistleblower have continued as at least three other witnesses in the impeachment probe have told congressional investigators that they believed there was a quid pro quo linking Mr. Trump’s desire for investigations into his political rivals with either the withholding of security aid to Ukraine or the promise of a White House visit for Mr. Zelensky. The White House also released a rough transcript of the July call, which corroborated central aspects of the whistleblower’s complaint.

NEED DECREASED

Democrats have argued that corroboration has decreased the need to have the whistleblower testify. His legal team has offered to the Senate and House intelligence committees written testimony in lieu of an in-person appearance before investigators, amid concerns that disclosing his identity to lawmakers could lead to it being publicly leaked.

FRIDAY

A White House official said Friday the White House isn’t seeking to learn the whistleblower’s identity.  But Republicans in Congress have continued to press the issue. Rep. Mark Meadows (R., N.C.), a close ally of the president, told reporters this week that the whistleblower didn’t deserve anonymity, though he did care about the person’s safety. “The reason why you have a whistleblower statute is so that they can come forward and not be retaliated against,” he said.

ENTITLED TO ANONYMITY

Democrats, dozens of former senior national security officials, whistleblower advocates and some Republicans have said the whistleblower is entitled to anonymity and that naming him could jeopardize his personal safety.

 

 

Posted by: maboulette | November 2, 2019

Fact Check: Impeachment Probe Isn’t Driving Stock Decline


stock market

President Donald Trump is falsely suggesting that Thursday’s stock market decline was driven primarily by the impeachment inquiry.

S&P 500

The S&P 500 was down about 0.5% Thursday morning as the House convened to vote on the ground rules for its impeachment inquiry and eventually closed with a decline of 0.3%. Analysts say investors likely had other issues in mind as they sold stocks.

TRUMP’S CLAIM

A look at Trump’s claim Thursday on Twitter as stocks dropped a day after setting their second record this week:

TRUMP: “The Impeachment Hoax is hurting our Stock Market. The Do Nothing Democrats don’t care!”

THE FACTS: Trump neglects to mention the factors that Wall Street experts say really moved the market.  The stock market is more concerned with the U.S.-China trade war, the strength of the global and U.S. economy, interest rates and corporate profits than the impeachment inquiry.

EXAMPLE

For instance, on Thursday, analysts pinned the market’s drop largely on a weak report on business activity in the Midwest and worries about the trade war with China that Trump himself began.

SINCE IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY

Since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced a formal impeachment inquiry on Sept. 24, the S&P 500 has risen 2.4%, and it reached record highs twice this week.

NO ONE KNOWS

It’s tough to tease out for certain the impact of the impeachment proceedings given all the moving parts that go into setting stock prices. But many investors on Wall Street see impeachment having only a modest effect at most, and one unlikely to last for long.

TRUMP GETTING REMOVED

That’s chiefly because few see a real threat of Trump ultimately getting removed from office by Congress. Even if the House impeaches the president for asking another country to investigate a political opponent, investors tend to believe the Republican-controlled Senate will likely acquit him. That would mean Trump and his lower-tax, less-regulation approach that markets like is unlikely to leave the White House, at least until after the next election.

Posted by: maboulette | October 30, 2019

America’s Largest Private Coal Miner Files For Bankruptcy


miners

The slow death of the American coal industry has forced Murray Energy, the largest private coal miner in the United States, to file for bankruptcy protection Tuesday.

BANKRUPTCY

Murray Energy’s bankruptcy has been telegraphed for years. It recently failed to make payments to lenders, and the company entered into a forbearance agreement that bought it time to negotiate a restructuring. But that grace period came and went, and Murray Energy was unable to pay its bills. S&P Global Ratings downgraded the company’s credit rating to “default” earlier this month.

RESTRUCTURING WITH LENDERS

The coal company formed a restructuring agreement with some of its lenders, representing about 60% of Murray’s $1.7 billion in liabilities. The company announced Tuesday it has received $350 million in credit to keep its business operational through bankruptcy.

ROBERT MURRAY REPLACED

Robert Murray, the self-proclaimed king of the coal industry, has been replaced as CEO. Murray Energy announced Tuesday that former Chief Financial Officer Robert Moore will take over as the company’s new chief executive. Robert Murray will remain as the company’s chairman.

“Although a bankruptcy filing is not an easy decision, it became necessary to access liquidity and best position Murray Energy and its affiliates for the future of our employees and customers and our long term success,” said Robert Murray in a statement.

PRESSURE FACING COAL MINERS

The bankruptcy underscores the enormous pressure facing coal miners. A string of coal companies have already filed for bankruptcy, but Murray Energy is among the most powerful and well-connected firms in the industry. Murray Energy and its subsidiaries have 7,000 employees and operate 17 active mines in Alabama, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, Utah, and West Virginia.

TRUMP PROMISES

President Donald Trump’s election in 2016 had raised hopes in the coal industry for a revival. The president moved swiftly to slash environmental regulations and even installed a former coal lobbyist to lead the US Environmental Protection Agency. But the deregulatory push has been overwhelmed by market forces. Coal just can’t compete with cheap natural gas and the plunging cost of solar, wind and other forms of renewable energy.

DITCHING OF COAL

Power companies are ditching coal in favor of cleaner alternatives at a rapid pace. US power plants are expected to consume less coal next year than at any point since President Jimmy Carter was in the White House, according to government forecasts released earlier this month.

COAL EXPORTS DROPPED

US coal exports are estimated to have dropped to 20.9 million short tons in the third quarter, according to the US Energy Information Administration. That represents a 28% drop from the same period of 2018. The agency expects coal exports to keep falling, slipping to 17.3 million by the end of 2020.

MINE WORKERS LOSE

Mine workers stand to lose in the bankruptcy — not just in jobs but potentially in the erosion of healthcare and pension benefits. Murray Energy is the last major company contributing to the pension plan of the United Mine Workers of America. The pension plan’s depleted funding will only get worse if Murray Energy is relieved of its pension requirements.

TRUMP SUPPORTER

In August 2017, Robert Murray, a forceful Trump supporter, wrote a letter to the Trump administration urgently requesting an emergency order to protect coal-fired power plants from being closed. In the letter, he warned the White House that failure to issue the order would spark the immediate bankruptcies of his company and a major customer.

“Our time is running out. Please fight for us,” the executive wrote in the letter.

However, the Trump administration rejected that cry for help because officials determined there wasn’t enough evidence to warrant the use of emergency authority.

Trump let down the miners with all his promises during the campaign for election.

 

Posted by: maboulette | October 28, 2019

For Tiger, 82nd Win Ties Snead for Most On PGA Tour


zozo

It’s been increasingly popular to dismiss, if not denigrate, the accomplishments of Sam Snead since Tiger Woods resumed his pursuit of The Slammer’s seemingly insurmountable mark of 82 PGA Tour titles. Whether suspect or subjective, Snead’s record was established long before Woods began his journey to Sunday’s historic crossroads with his first career victory at the 1996 Las Vegas Invitational

TWO HOLD RECORD NOW

Eighty-two it has been. Eighty-two it remains. Snead just no longer holds the record alone.

RE-ENGAGED THE CHASE

For more than a decade, as he was compiling wins with an ease that belied the inherent difficulty of the exercise—and defied orthodox golf calculus—the notion of Woods catching Snead’s disputed mark was dismissed as a given. And then, as injuries and personal issues robbed him of opportunities, including two full years lost to back problems, Woods himself was inclined to dismiss his chances of even playing again, let alone re-engaging in the chase.

RENDEVOUS WITH DESTINY

Now we know that Woods always had a rendezvous with destiny. All it took, as Woody Allen once said, was showing up. Well, that plus a miracle spinal surgery, a rebuilt swing, and the game’s finest strategic acumen this side of Jack Nicklaus, the man with the one record Woods has yet to eclipse.

ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP

But first things first. Woods transformed the inaugural Zozo Championship in Japan from another so-so fall event into a tournament of indelible significance when he beat native son Hideki Matsuyama by three strokes on Monday (or Sunday depending on where you reside on the international date line) for win No. 82.

TIED WITH ALL-TIME VICTORY LIST

“It’s crazy. It’s a lot,” Woods said after completing a three-under 69 at Narashino Country Club and posting 19-under 261, his 32nd win by three strokes or more, which alone would place him 15th on the tour’s all-time victory list, tied with Horton Smith.

NOT ENOUGH

It’s a lot, yet not enough, if we know anything about Woods, whose fierce competitiveness as much as his talent has carried him to this moment. When he registers his 83rd victory—and you have to believe he will if he remains in relative good health—this niggling over what a tour committee decided in 1987 to arrive at Snead’s victory count will come to a blessed conclusion, for it has made for specious arguments that are patently unfair to both men.

ABOUT SNEED

The cross-talk needlessly has tarnished the reputation of Snead, whom independent record keepers credit with 140 worldwide titles, which, you know, is a lot more than a lot, and who arguably was the finest naturally gifted athlete ever to swing a club. It also has been disrespectful to Woods, who never has expressly disputed the number and has remained true to its pursuit.

INDIVIDUAL TITLES

Now, one can argue legitimately that Woods years ago surpassed Snead in one significant metric: individual titles. You might have missed it. Snead is credited with five official wins in team events among his 82 victories. Woods tied Snead’s number of individual victories at the 2013 Arnold Palmer Invitational and moved into first all-time in this distinction two months later by capturing the Players for win No. 78. He was 37 years old and competing in just his 286th tour event as a professional, a staggering 27 percent success rate.

Posted by: maboulette | October 28, 2019

Trump Gets No Respite From Impeachment After U.S. Raid


Annoucement

President Trump may have scored one of the biggest successes of his presidency with the killing of the Islamic State leader, but this battlefield victory is not going to blunt the momentum of Democrats moving ever closer to impeachment.

INQUIRY

The inquiry led by three House committees resumes Monday with another slate of witnesses, even as the country absorbs Trump’s announcement of the death of Islamic State commander Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, cornered and died in a tunnel by U.S. forces.

HISTORY SHOWS

History suggests Trump will probably get a boost in public support after the raid, but it will probably be short-lived. That gives Democrats little reason to slow down on the impeachment inquiry, especially after testimony last week bolstered their main line of investigation into whether the president pressured the government of Ukraine for his personal political benefit.

SCHIFF SAYS

“We will be doing public hearings, and I think we’ll being doing them soon” Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” program.

TIMETABLE

Lawmakers and those familiar with committee plans say the goal has been to wrap up the impeachment probe by the end of the year. But with a long list of potential witnesses, House adjournments and holidays ahead, there are doubts rising that timetable can be met, even if White House roadblocks aren’t successful.

SCHIFF ALSO SAID

Schiff said Sunday he would give a precise timeline for beginning public hearings, which are all but certain to lead to drafting of articles of impeachment.

“In part we’re struggling with the White House’s continuing efforts to obstruct our investigation, to obstruct witnesses coming in,” Schiff said.

If the House votes to impeach Trump, it will be up to the Republican-led Senate to decide whether to remove him from office.

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