Sunday, April 7, 2013

Smart Money Abandoning Renewable Energy
British Petroleum is still one of the world’s biggest oil companies. But as early as the late 1990’s they didn’t want you think of them that way. CEO Lord John Browne of Madingley argued that “the transition to alternatives could be accelerated by changing industry practices today.” While other oil companies eschewed climate change alarmism, BP embraced it. In 2002, Lord Browne declared: “Climate change is an issue which raises fundamental questions about the relationship between companies and society as a whole, and between one generation and the next,”

As a result, Mother Jones reported in 2006: “BP vowed to cut its own CO2 emissions and invest heavily in solar, wind, and other alternative technologies; it even supported … the Kyoto climate treaty.

BP jumped into renewables and their moniker underwent an evolution from British Petroleum to BP, then to Beyond Petroleum. Between 2000 and 2005 BP invested $500 million into solar power and $30 million on wind and have invested more than $4 billion in alternative energy in the US since 2005. At the time, according to the Wall Street Journal, BP turned a profit on its solar business but not on wind. In 2005, Browne “decided that the energy giant should enter unknown territories of wind, solar and hydrogen power” which began a “re-branding” designed to “capture public affection” by positioning “themselves as environmentally friendly enterprises.”

The switch seemed to be sound strategy. ExxonMobil didn’t agree.

Comments from a 2008 blog post on ExxonMobil’s position as “obstructive over climate change” included the following: “Given that oil isn’t going to last a whole heck of a lot longer, would not a good business strategy be to start investing in renewable energy?” and “Just from a corporate survival perspective, better start learning, and fast. Carbon is the low-hanging energy fruit and soon to become an economic dead end. What company wants to keep going down a dead end?” BP thought it was “prudent to start diversifying now as a kind of insurance policy.”

ExxonMobil took a different course. In 2005, then-CEO Lee Raymond, said: “What all these people are thinking about doing, we did 20 years ago—and spent $1 billion, in dollars of that day, to find out that none of these were economic.” “In the late 1970s, as oil prices skyrocketed, Exxon diversified into an array of fossil-fuel alternatives, including nuclear and solar energy.” “After several years, Exxon still couldn't see prospects for renewable energy turning into a money-maker, especially since oil prices were falling in the 1980s. In the mid-1980s, the company decided to get out of the business.”

Raymond had “an unabashed skepticism about the potential of alternative energy sources like wind and solar.” He saw “Spending shareholders’ money to diversify into businesses that aren't yet profitable—and that aim to solve a problem his scientists believe may not be significant” as “a sloppy way to run a company.”

Wall Street agreed. According to Mother Jones, in 2006, Wall Street “worried that even a small increase in investment in non-oil alternatives would distract BP’s focus from its core business—oil.” Commentators and analysts began mocking BP as being “Beyond Profits.”

Yet, critics of Exxon’s approach, in 2008, feared “that the company’s reluctance to explore alternative energy will prove to be bad business judgment in the long run.”

Andrew Logan of Ceres, a Boston-based environmental group, sees two possible scenarios: “One is that all the scientists in the world are wrong, in which case there’s no climate change, in which case Exxon will do well.” He then says: “But if the scientists are correct and we have to find a way to transform the way we use energy, then Exxon is going to lag significantly behind its competitors.”

It is obvious now, nearly a decade later, which was the sound strategy. Global warming is not the manmade crisis it was predicted to be in the mid-2000s and we know that oil is “going to last a whole heck of a lot longer.” Today, innovation and imagination are producing record quantities of domestically produced oil and gas. Robert Bryce reports: “we won’t hit peak oil until we hit peak imagination.” And, Exxon’s Raymond made the right choice to get out of renewable energy.

On April 3, BP announced that it was selling its US wind assets—estimated to be worth $1.5-3.1 billion. The announcement stated that BP has decided sell the US wind energy business “as a part of our continuing effort to … re-position the company for sustainable growth” and that it would “unlock more value for shareholders.”

In a speech in late 2012, BP’s general manager for global energy markets, Mark Finley, praised the rapid growth of renewable energy—claiming it had increased by 18% last year, “the tenth year in a row for double-digit growth.” Though, he acknowledged that “renewables make up such a small slice of the world’s energy portfolio now—only about 2%—that even at such a blistering growth rate they are unlikely to significantly displace fossil fuels in the next two decades.”

Addressing renewables growth, Finley said it was happening “most typically in places where the governments can afford the subsidies needed to help these fuels compete. The key challenge going forward is: when things grow fast, subsidies get expensive fast. So can these forms of energy achieve economies of scale that will allow them to compete without subsidies?”

“That is the real question.”

Yes, that is the real question, and apparently, BP got the answer. Without subsidies, renewables cannot compete—BP is bailing. Addressing wind energy’s future, Amy Grace, a New York-based analyst at New Energy Finance, said: “There’s limited visibility beyond 2014 about what the assets will be worth as a tax credit supporting turbines is set to expire at the end of this year.”

Additionally, having now actually lived with the presence of industrial wind turbines, people no longer want them “imposed on their communities.” On April 4, the Falmouth, MA, Board of Selectmen and the Falmouth Finance Committee held a joint meeting and unanimously stood by the selectmen’s prior vote to remove the town’s wind turbines. Residents say: “they're suffering headaches, dizziness and sleep deprivation and often seek to escape the property where they've lived for more than 20 years."

Deception Part of North Korea War Plan
The Russian and British Foreign Ministries and the US State Department reported that on 5 April the North Korean Foreign Ministry distributed a diplomatic circular to all resident embassies in Pyongyang and non-governmental organizations that the North Korean government would be unable to guarantee the safety of embassies and international organizations in the event of conflict from 10 April. The North Korean government asked foreign embassies whether they were considering evacuating staff.
This week South Korean workers employed in factories in the North were also told to leave by April 10, according to South Korean press.
British reaction. The British Foreign Office said it "has no immediate plans to withdraw our embassy in Pyongyang. We are considering next steps, including a change to our travel advice."
Earlier, a spokesperson said: "The DPRK (The Democratic People's Republic of Korea) has responsibilities under the Vienna convention to protect diplomatic missions, and we believe they have taken this step as part of their continuing rhetoric that the US poses a threat to them."
Russian reaction.  "This is true; on 5 April a representative of the North Korean Foreign Ministry suggested that Russia and other diplomatic missions in Pyongyang consider evacuating their staff from North Korea owing to the deteriorating situation on the Korean Peninsula. Russia noted this information and, for the time being, we are considering the issue," Denis Samsonov, public relations officer at the Russian embassy, said.
At the same time, Samsonov said that "nothing extraordinary is happening, the embassy is operating normally".
"I can assure you that the situation in Pyongyang is absolutely calm. Visually, no tension is observed. 

Moreover, today is a public holiday in Pyongyang and nothing extraordinary is in sight," he added.
US reaction. Sweden protects and represents US interests in Pyongyang. The US State Department spokesperson said, "We have been in touch with the Swedes, our protecting power in the DPRK, because obviously if they were to change their status, we would have to inform American citizens in the DPRK. At this point, we have no reason to believe that they will make any changes."
Comment: The US State Department spokesperson had no information about the number of US nationals in North Korea. They are either in prison or working with humanitarian aid organizations. 

There has been no comment from the Chinese, Indian or other non-European embassies about the note. UN Secretary General Ban reportedly is studying it.
The note is strange because it is not directive, but it allows only five days for departures. There are not enough scheduled flights between Pyongyang and Beijing to evacuate the foreign diplomats and staff in five days. 
Expulsion of foreign diplomats is another classic warning indicator of war. North Korea has evacuated its embassies on multiple occasions, especially during the buildup to wars in the Middle East. Thus, North Korean officials know the significance of this action.
The ambiguity in the language of the circular appears deliberately designed to foster doubt and disbelief. It appears to be working. An expulsion order, in contrast, would leave no doubt that North Korea's intention would be to take action that risked general war.
Ignoring the ambiguity and the various reports of normality in Pyongyang and elsewhere, cumulatively, since February North Korea has made war preparations and tested and rehearsed its civilian and military war plans. It is on a path that has prepared the nation for war and indicates its intention is to take military action that risks general war.
The departures from the process tracked in past crises and the apparent inconsistency and lack of uniformity in behavior may best be judged as part of the deception plan. Street scenes in Pyongyang are normal and planting has begun. They indicate an attack is not imminent.
On the other hand they do not contradict the North's statements that it intends to settle all accounts. Everyday behavior can change in a week, now that the leadership has rehearsed the national mobilization plan and the soldiers are trained. After a stand down to rest and recover from the final phase of the Winter Training Cycle which ended on 31 March, the Korean People's Army, as a force, will reach its point of maximum readiness after 10 April.
Deception is a mandatory part of every North Korean military action and has been used throughout the past two months. Deception was used during the nuclear test and the satellite launch. Deception is being used now at Kaesong and elsewhere to persuade reporters that the North's intentions are more benign than the North's own statements say they are. Doubt and confusion degrade vigilance and lengthen response time.
The irony is the North Korean leadership has notified the Allies of every step in the process; posted the three-day war plan on the internet; informed the US and South Korea governments that they intend to attack and announced the date the final attack plan was approved. Now they are clearing out foreigners.
They are hiding their intentions in plain sight by using media and visual reports to reinforce biases that this is the same old thing; that they are bluffing. There are many familiar pieces, but the cumulative progression is new.
To repeat, cumulatively, the North Koreans incrementally have executed and tested their national war preparation plan since February. Uneven implementation appears to be part of the deception plan and a concession to civilian requirements when tight discipline is not yet needed.
No source in the public domain has reported that war preparations have ended or that the leadership has ordered a stand down from full combat readiness. 
NightWatch judges that North Korea intends to take military actions that will risk general war, but will be short of the start of general war. However, North Korea will be prepared for escalation to general war instantly.
Thus far the public statements and other evidence indicate the military actions are likely to include missile launches against US bases, such as Guam, and a shooting incident against South Korean forces, such as those on the islands off the west coast. The North Koreans told the embassies that this can occur any time after 10 April. The Allies must assume they mean it.
Two missiles. Today South Korean authorities told the press that two long range ballistic missiles arrived by train at the east coast site. They were loaded onto mobile transporter-launch vehicles and have been driven to hidden launch facilities. The report appears to be a re-evaluation of earlier information. The total thus far is two missiles

U.S. Army lists Evangelical Christianity, Catholicism, and "Islamophobia" as forms of "Religious Extremism" with Al-Qaeda and Hamas

From Jihad Watch / Posted by Robert Spencer

This is the politically manipulative and ridiculous nonsense that has replaced truthful information about Islam and jihad. And the implications of it are quite ominous.

Evangelical Christianity, Catholicism and "Islamophobia" are forms of "Religion Extremism" on par with al-Qaeda and Hamas?

Then how long will it be before the Obama Administration goes to war against them, as it has repeatedly declared that it is at war with al-Qaeda?

Note also: Obama has repeated many, many times that we are not at war with Islam, and the mainstream media line is that to suggest otherwise would be evidence of "hatred" and "bigotry." But apparently it is not "hatred" and "bigotry" for the U.S. to declare that Catholicism is the same sort of thing as al-Qaeda. Now, the list does include "Sunni Muslims," but specifies those in Iraq -- we already know that there is no possible way that the Obama Administrations means to classify all Sunni Muslims as "extremists." And the list also apparently specifies that only Catholicism in the U.S. is a form of "religious extremism." But that's bad enough: where are the Catholics flying planes into buildings, bombing Baptist churches, and threatening to conquer the nation and subjugate non-Catholics under the rule of church law?

This is not going to end well.

"US Army Labeled Evangelicals, Catholics as Examples of Religious Extremism," by Todd Starnes for Fox News, April 5 (thanks to Pamela Geller):
The U.S. Army listed Evangelical Christianity and Catholicism as examples of religious extremism along with Al Qaeda and Hamas during a briefing with an Army Reserve unit based in Pennsylvania, Fox News has learned. 
“We find this offensive to have Evangelical Christians and the Catholic Church to be listed among known terrorist groups,” said Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty. “It is dishonorable for any U.S. military entity to allow this type of wrongheaded characterization.”
The incident occurred during an Army Reserve Equal Opportunity training brief on extremism. Topping the list is Evangelical Christianity. Other organizations listed included Catholicism, Al Qaeda, Hamas, the Ku Klux Klan, Sunni Muslims, and Nation of Islam.
The military also listed “Islamophobia” as a form of religious extremism.

Democratic Party lying about racist roots

Conservative rising star: 'They're co-opting history of the Republican Party'

Democrats are lying about their past and overwhelmingly winning minority voters, and a prominent black conservative says they will keep winning until conservatives learn how to win the propaganda war and champion the story of slave-turned-abolitionist Frederick Douglass as an outreach to black voters.

K. Carl Smith is a rising star among black conservatives. He recently addressed the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference and is author of “Frederick Douglass Republicans: The Movement to Re-Ignite America’s Passion for Liberty.” He told WND conservatives have the right message, but their approach to voters is deeply lacking.

“The Republican Party has done a horrendous job of talking about a message that unites people. They don’t talk about liberty enough, and that’s the all-encompassing message that you want to put out there. That’s not happening. It’s not being done in a very effective way,” Smith said.

“We’re so badly losing the propaganda battle. Whenever we try to express our conservative values, we have already been discredited, so our message falls on deaf ears. I contend that the No. 1 problem facing the GOP and the conservative movement is not the problem of messaging per se, but this whole idea about winning a propaganda battle so your message will connect with people and resonate with people. So when you talk about conservatism, they don’t see you as a sellout. They don’t see you as a racist or that you don’t care about the poor. We’ve got to start winning that propaganda battle first, and that’s what we’re not doing a very good job of,” Smith said.

He said Democrats are very effective in the propaganda battles, largely because their message to black voters and other solidly Democratic voting blocs is built on a glaring lie.

“They have massively co-opted the history of the Republican Party. If you go to the Democratic Party’s website right now, go to the ‘About Us.’ Go to the link that says ‘Our History.’ On that page, the first sentence says for the past 200 years, the Democratic Party’s been the leader of civil rights

That’s not true!,” Smith exclaimed.

 Listen to the full program here:
More Doctors Planning Early Retirement / Insider Report
As the U.S. healthcare system changes dramatically over the next few years due to Obamacare, increasing numbers of doctors are planning to retire or scale back the hours they work, a new survey reveals.

The annual poll of 600 physicians by Deloitte Center for Health Solutions found that six out of 10 doctors believe it is likely that many physicians will retire earlier than planned in the next one to three years.

The survey also found that 55 percent of physicians think that doctors will scale back their practice hours “based on how the future of medicine is changing,” Deloitte stated.

And 38 percent of doctors polled say Obamacare is “a step in the wrong direction,” while 44 percent say it is “a good start.”

Other findings of the Deloitte survey:

  • Half of the doctors polled think that physician income will fall dramatically in the next one to three years, and 68 percent of those with a solo practice think that way.
  • Only 59 percent of primary care providers are satisfied with practicing medicine.
  • A quarter of physicians would place new or additional limits on accepting Medicare patients if there were changes to the Medicare program such as lower payments or a switch to vouchers.
  • Nearly three-quarters of those polled believe the best and brightest may not consider a career in medicine in the future.
  • Just one in 10 doctors thinks that medical liability reform will pass Congress in the next one to three years.
  • Only 31 percent of doctors would give the overall U.S. healthcare system a grade of A or B.
  • Op-ed: 
    Stalemate or war...only time will tell 
    By: Diane Sori

    While Kim Jong-un continues his saber-rattling rhetoric, South Koreans are carrying on as if everything is normal even with the North having formally declared war on them...but they're doing so with one eye open.

    And despite US pleas to China to help defuse the situation and get North Korea to calm down, North Korean state television again aired footage (to stir up the masses) of huge rallies against the US and South Korea, with protesters chanting anti-American slogans and carrying banners reading, "Let's destroy our mortal enemy, the United States."

    Sounds just like Kim Jong-un's buddy the Iranian nut job Ahmadinejad doesn't it...

    North Korea's threats of war have gone on for 40 years, and upping their threats by moving two intermediate-range missile launchers to its eastern coast...missiles with 'considerable range' according to Pyongyang...missiles with a possibility of being able to hit targets in the South or in Japan...could be just more saber-rattlings to mask a test or it could be a prelude to war. And with the North's top military honchos warning that it's been authorized to attack US and South Korea's defenses as well as authorizing a nuclear strike on the US using “smaller, lighter, and diversified nuclear weapons,” we're now forced to take these threats seriously because it's NOT wise to discount a desperate madman.

    And with North Korea in serious economic straits, the realization that desperate madmen do things differently than the sane do takes on new meaning. Even White House spokesman Jay Carney said a missile launch would NOT be unexpected. "We would not be surprised to see them take such an action...we have seen them launch missiles in the past," Carney said. 

    Now add into this that Pyongyang has told all foreign embassies that they could NOT guarantee the safety of their personnel after next Wednesday, and asked them if they needed help closing down and evacuating, the game has been upped a notch.

    But NO foreign embassies have announced plans to evacuate by Wednesday or any day, for as like South Korea, these diplomats have heard the North's musings of war many times before. And the significance of why next Wednesday is uncertain, although it has been rumored that Wednesday is the date for the possible closure of the Kaesong Industrial Complex, a facility inside the North where South Korean companies employ 53,000 people. 
    And how has our military responded to all this...a missile defense system has been moved to Guam, nuclear-capable B2 stealth bombers have been flown over the Korean peninsula in a show of strength and camaraderie with our ally South Korea, and US warships have been deployed and will be stationed off the coast...all of which Pyongyang calls rehearsals for a northward invasion.
    Like North Korea has anything we or Seoul want.

    And all this is because of North Korea's outrage at the newest U(seless) N(ations) sanctions put in place as punishment for them having carried out a third nuclear test, and in response to the annual US/South Korean military exercises.

    And what has the White House answer been to all this...the usual I would say as true to form of those in this administration who placate our enemies, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has put on hold a long-planned intercontinental ballistic missile test at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California that was scheduled for next week, claiming rising tensions with North Korea as the reason why. Hagel said he felt that performing any tests of that nature could be misconstrued by Pyongyang and lead to an escalation of the situation with North Korea, so he decided, with White House approval, to postpone the 'Minuteman 3' missile test until next month.

    Well guess what...who cares or gives a damn what North Korea or its man-child leader think...this test was crucial to the defense of this country and this country comes least it's supposed least it used to.

    That's before we had a president who lets a little piss-ant country like North Korea call the shots and allows them to hold us hostage as we wait and see if their man-child leader will follow through on his threats or just continue to bloviate on and on and on...