joe biden – Intersindical RTVV Sun, 27 Feb 2022 19:54:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 joe biden – Intersindical RTVV 32 32 Behind the push to freeze Moscow’s foreign cash Sun, 27 Feb 2022 19:54:15 +0000

“The response from Canada and our allies will be swift and biting,” Freeland vowed after Putin’s forces crossed the border. “This barbaric attack cannot and will not be allowed to succeed.” Freeland was born in Canada to Ukrainian parents – her mother helped draft Ukraine’s constitution.

Before Saturday evening, European leaders had steadily tightened sanctions, but were reluctant to take steps that could cause collateral damage to their own economies. The United States, meanwhile, has rolled out tough sanctions round after round – but, on this most recent package, insisted it was weighing its options as early as Saturday morning, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Canadian official said Trudeau and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had advocated, on behalf of Kiev, for the so-called nuclear option against the Russian banking sector.

The gradual increase in penalties imposed by the West has clearly agitated the people of Kiev.

On Friday, Ukraine’s foreign minister called for an immediate increase in those consequences: “Here’s your ‘never again’ test,” he wrote on Twitter. The Canadian official said Freeland had been in frequent contact with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s government as she tried to “bring it to consensus” and slap the Kremlin with the significant new sanctions.

The effort would block the Russian central bank’s ability to transact with its foreign exchange reserves, a move that could further weigh on the rouble.

Moscow has about 300 billion dollars in foreign currency hidden around the world. Effectively cutting off the Russian central bank from this money will be crucial in supporting the ruble should it continue to fall.

As economist Adam Tooze wrote in his newsletter in January: “Foreign exchange reserves give the regime the capacity to resist sanctions on the rest of the economy. They can be used to slow down a run on the ruble. They can also be used to offset any currency mismatches in private sector balance sheets.

To exclude the Kremlin from this money required the support of all of Europe and the United States.

While it’s hard to say whether Ottawa’s intervention was primarily responsible for its allies’ reversal – certainly domestic pressure and images of shootings in a major European capital had a substantial impact – the official said that Freeland had made a special appeal to the Americans. in the last days. Ahead of Saturday night’s announcement, President Joe Biden remained coy about the need for tougher action against Russia’s central bank.

Sanctioning the central bank has not received as much attention as another important consequence proposed for Moscow: exile from the SWIFT system.

SWIFT is a secure and reliable messaging system that allows member banks to communicate messages, such as money transfers, with each other. It is used by some 11,000 banks in 200 countries.

The Canadian official said Trudeau also supports a proposal, led by Johnson, to exclude Russia from the SWIFT payment system. The Guardian reported that the British and Canadian Prime Ministers were the only ones around the table to support such severe financial sanctions.

On Saturday, Freeland and Trudeau spoke with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal to report progress in building consensus on tougher measures.

In the evening, the consensus finally arrived, as the strikes on Kiev intensified for the third day in a row. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced that the EU would support “the imposition of restrictive measures that will prevent the Russian Central Bank from deploying its international reserves in such a way as to undermine the impact of our sanctions”.

Von der Leyen also announced his intention to ensure that “a number of Russian banks are removed from SWIFT”.

Saturday’s announcement, signed by the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States, appears to be a compromise — cutting only parts of the economy Russian system of financial transactions.

In a call with the president of the European Commission after the decision, Trudeau and von der Leyen “praised the transatlantic cooperation that led to today’s joint statement,” an official reading reports. The sanctions announced by Freeland, they agreed, would mean “the application of additional restrictive measures against Russian banks, companies, officials and elites”.

Obtaining the consensus of European leaders has been difficult. Various European leaders have resisted moves that would limit their ability to sell luxury goods to Russia and feared anything that could block energy shipments to Europe.

The Canadian official said Zelenskyy particularly leaned on Trudeau for help and advice during the crisis. The two have spoken to each other frequently in recent weeks.

Pressure is mounting in Canada, home to the largest Ukrainian diaspora in the world after Russia, to do more. Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez tweeted on Saturday that he was considering removing state propaganda outlet RT from the Canadian airwaves. On Sunday morning, Ottawa closed its airspace to Russian planes. The official opposition Conservative Party is calling on Ottawa to push for Russia’s withdrawal from the G-20.

While Canada seeks to ratchet up the pressure, it has significant Russian-owned or controlled assets within its own borders that it could sanction — a fact Freeland is likely familiar with. Long before entering politics, after graduating with a degree in Russian history and literature from Harvard, Freeland joined the Financial Times as Moscow bureau chief. There, she helped identify corruption in Russia’s oligarch class, earning her big break by exposing the malfeasance of oil company Sidanco.

Freeland went on to write “Sale of the Century,” about the massive sale of Soviet assets after the fall of the Berlin Wall: It “remains essential reading for those of us who still care what went wrong. with the best naive intentions for Russia’s forward journey,” wrote former Canadian Ambassador to Moscow Jeremy Kinsman in Politics.

In 2014, when the West imposed sanctions on Moscow for its invasion of Crimea and eastern Ukraine, Freeland herself, then just an opposition member of parliament, was hit with a Russian travel ban in retaliation.

The man who gave him the tip on Sidanco, Bill Browder, has become one of Putin’s fiercest critics, pressuring governments around the world to adopt sanctions regimes targeting corrupt officials. Browder began his crusade in honor of his friend and former lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Russian prison following a politically motivated prosecution.

While her predecessor had shown indifference to a so-called Magnitsky Act, after Freeland became Canada’s foreign minister, she championed legislation, which passed unanimously in the House of Commons.

The law allows Ottawa to sanction any individual or company responsible for or complicit in corruption. There are many assets in Canada belonging to some of Russia’s wealthiest men – who may not be complicit in corruption, but profit from it nationwide.

EVRAZ, a large steel company based in London, has five plants in Canada – its Regina plant is the largest steel mill in Western Canada. Its main sole shareholder is Roman Abramovich who, under pressure, announced on Saturday that it would cede control of Chelsea Football Club.

Buhler Industries, an agricultural equipment factory headquartered in Winnipeg, is majority owned by the Russian agricultural company Rostselmash. In September, Rostselmash paid $12 million to acquire a larger share of the Canadian company: it now owns 97%, according to company filings. Buhler’s board is made up of a number of Russian captains of industry, many of whom outwardly support the Putin regime. Ottawa considered sanctioning the company in 2014 but did not.

Calgary natural gas producer Spartan Delta Corp., meanwhile, recently acquired a third of its shares from Russian oligarch Igor Makarov — another billionaire running in Putin’s circles – according to a report in the Financial Post. His name appeared on a list from the Treasury Department great Russian oligarchs close to Putin.

On Thursday, as she announced Canada’s second round of sanctions, Freeland relayed a message from a former colleague.

“A Russian friend of mine – a Russian economist who actually worked in the government under [Boris] Yeltsin, but also under Putin – emailed me this morning saying he now knows what it is to be a good German in 1939,” Freeland said.

The finance minister said her goal in pushing for these economic sanctions was to “target people who have been Putin’s fellow travelers. People who have been able to become extremely rich, enjoy all the pleasures of the West, of Western democracies, while helping and encouraging Vladimir Putin.

US Treasury official details Russia sanctions Wed, 23 Feb 2022 18:33:00 +0000

Western leaders are warning that Russia has set in motion its plan to launch a full invasion of Ukraine, while announcing the first round of sanctions against Moscow.

US President Joe Biden described the unfolding events in Ukraine as “the start of a Russian invasion”, as he unveiled tough new measures on Tuesday to punish Moscow.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Russia was “committed” to a “full-scale invasion” of Ukraine, while German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said “Putin has built up enough troops along Ukraine’s borders to be able to really completely invade the country”.

Here’s what you need to know.

What did Russia do? On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Donetsk and Luhansk – two pro-Moscow breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine – as part of what the Kremlin called a “peacekeeping” mission. . This decision came just hours after the signing of the decrees recognizing the regions’ independence.

Several US and Western officials have warned that it could serve as the opening salvo of a larger military operation targeting Ukraine. More than 150,000 Russian troops now surround Ukraine on three sides, according to US and Ukrainian intelligence estimates.

How did Ukraine react? Ukraine’s response to a potential attack “will be instantaneous,” Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said on Wednesday.

A state of emergency is expected to be introduced in all regions of Ukraine under government control, which will last at least 30 days.

But the government has not closed the door to a possible solution. On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was pursuing diplomacy as a way out of the crisis; reservists will be called up for military training, he said, but there will be no general mobilization of the armed forces.

“We desire peace and quiet but if we are silent today, tomorrow we will be gone,” he said in an address to the nation.

How did the world react? Russia’s actions have been strongly condemned by many countries, with Western leaders imposing new sanctions on Tuesday and cutting off a key pipeline with Russia.

Biden announced that the United States would sanction Russian financial institutions and oligarchs. The European Union also sanctioned 351 Russian lawmakers who voted to recognize breakaway regions, and the United Kingdom announced sanctions against five Russian banks and three Russian oligarchs.

Also on Tuesday, Germany said it had halted certification of an $11 billion, 750-mile pipeline that directly connects Russia to Germany. The Nord Stream 2 project was completed in September but has not yet received the final green light from German regulators. Without this, natural gas cannot flow through the Baltic Sea pipeline from Russia to Germany.

On Wednesday, Japan and Australia joined the list of countries to impose sanctions on Russia, Donetsk and Luhansk.

But China, which has enjoyed a strong friendship with Russia for years, has criticized Western sanctions. A Foreign Office spokesman said on Wednesday that they are “never a fundamental and effective means of solving problems”.

‘Opposite Dynamics’: Growing Supply Chain Problems Hinder Solar Advances in US Tue, 14 Dec 2021 17:59:00 +0000

United States installed 5.4 GW of direct current solar power plant to set a third quarter record, but escalating supply chain constraints and costs in all market segments will lead to lower installations by 25% over the next 12 months, depending on the solar energy industries. Association (SEIA).

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The new capacity was 33% higher than a year earlier, when the industry began to recover from the Covid-19 dislocations that most affected residential PV as well as utilities, the main drivers of solar growth in the country.

The United States installed 15.7 GW over the three quarters, “on track to easily exceed 20 GW” this year, which would surpass the record 19.2 GW in 2019, the authors wrote. Overview of the US solar market, published jointly by SEIA and the Wood Mackenzie Research Group.

“The US solar market has never seen so many opposing dynamics,” said Michelle Davis, senior author and senior solar analyst at WoodMac. “On the one hand, supply chain constraints continue to intensify, putting gigawatts of projects at risk.”

“On the other, the Rebuild Better Act would be a major market stimulus for this industry, establishing the long-term certainty of continued growth, ”she added.

The report quotes solar industry veterans as saying that purchasing equipment and pricing projects under development are “by far the most difficult they have ever known”, with US inflation rising by 6. , 8% in November compared with the same month a year ago, the fastest pace. in 39 years.

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The industry’s long-standing over-reliance on component imports from Asia has been fully exposed this year. Utility PV suffers the most, as only 20% of the modules used in projects are made in the United States. This segment represents 64% of installations in the third quarter.

“I can verify that it’s not just us, but other developers have a lot of projects out there that have shelving in place without solar panels on it,” Art Fletcher, executive vice president of construction and manager of purchases at Invenergy, a leading US developer of solar and wind power, said at the American Cleanpower annual conference last week.

“Supply chain issues extend across the portfolio,” he said, noting that Invenergy is creating more jobs than at any time in its history given the high demand for clean energy. “It becomes a challenge. It has strained our resources on a whole new level than what we have seen in the past. “

To get the panels from points of origin in Asia to job sites, developers face a gauntlet of obstacles and pay three or four times more shipping costs than in 2019 before the pandemic.

These include the worst congestion in years at major US ports handling containers. Those in Long Beach and Los Angeles, the nation’s busiest and most important entry points for solar components, have up to 30 container ships in sight waiting for weeks to unload from berths and 50 or more in the queue further into the Pacific Ocean.

Once unloaded, shipping containers sometimes remain in nearby holding areas for additional weeks due to railroad congestion and shortages of trucking equipment and workers. This slowdown in handling is causing bottlenecks throughout the American supply chain. When they do eventually arrive in overcrowded inland distribution centers, further processing delays are likely before delivery to final destinations.

Business problems add to supply problems

Trade-related issues are also worsening the supply situation. US Customs and Border Protection detain modules suspected of having polysilicon processed from metallurgical silicon manufactured by Hoshine Silicon Industry and its affiliates, which allegedly use forced labor against Muslim minority groups in the Xinjing Uyghur Autonomous Region in China.

While the agency Withhold the release order (WRO) allows importers to demonstrate that polycrystalline silicon in their products comes from outside Xinjing, project developers say the review process is cumbersome and decisions take too long to render.

“Things just sit there when some of these importers feel in good faith that they’ve hit the threshold. We have to do better there. We need to get these things done, ”Ray Long, senior vice president of policy and external affairs at Clearway Energy, said at the conference.

“We know that in 2022, with all the projects under construction, if things stay as they are, the panels will not complete these projects on time and they will be significantly delayed,” he added. Clearway has more than a 17 GW solar, wind and battery storage pipeline.

The industry has used more components from Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam instead of those from China which face U.S. anti-dumping and countervailing duties (which have been reduced) imposed by former President Donald Trump. SEIA and the developers oppose it because it increases the costs of solar power and has largely failed to encourage more domestic production.

Last month, the Commerce Ministry dismissed petitions from an anonymous group of solar power makers here alleging that Chinese panel producers were circumventing those rights by completing processing in minor capacity in Asian countries. South East.

While the move was good news for developers here, “the threat of petitions has blocked equipment shipments from these countries due to unlimited risk, further exacerbating supply chain constraints,” the authors wrote. of Overview of the US solar market.

Upside down Rebuild better

The $ 2 billion Rebuild Better Act in the Senate, which passed the House of Representatives last month, has a significant advantage for long-term solar growth, according to the report. It includes approximately $ 555 billion in clean energy funding over 10 years,

The House version includes extensions and modifications to the clean energy tax credits, for example allowing project promoters to choose their direct payment, depending on whether a project meets national content and labor requirements. union work.

WoodMac estimates that the extension of the federal Investment Tax Credit (CII) would translate to 43.5 GW of additional solar capacity from 2022 to 2026, most of which would come from utility solar power.

While large-scale projects will face short-term supply chain constraints, an extension of ITC would maintain the segment’s economic competitiveness and partially offset the resulting price increases, according to the report.

He noted that solar would also be eligible for the Production Tax Credit (PTC), now used by onshore wind projects, “which may be a richer incentive than ITC for projects with particularly capacity factors. students”.

Utility solar which takes an important place in the energy transition plans of President Joe Biden until 2035, his goal to achieve a carbon-free electricity grid. The White House considers PV the cheapest clean energy source that could provide at least 37% of the country’s electricity within 15 years compared to 3.5% today.

The report warned that more tax credits will be needed to help meet Biden’s goals of an 80% clean grid by 2030 and net zero carbon economy-wide U.S. economy. by 2050.

He cites transmission and distribution constraints which constitute an “increasingly stubborn challenge” for solar projects in all segments (the others are community PV and residential PV).

“While an ITC extension can help developers pay for the costs of upgrading the interconnect, more network hosting capacity and better network integration are still desperately needed,” the authors said. “Fortunately, the bill also contains provisions to encourage the development of transmission.”

US-China trade dispute: geopolitics alone may not help Indian manufacturers Sun, 12 Dec 2021 17:29:00 +0000

Against the backdrop of restarting sustainable growth after the pandemic, it is often heard that India’s participation in the Quad can give it the opportunity to be part of the “secure supply chains” the United States wants. As US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo recently said, “we are talking about relocation, but we are also talking about relocating friends.” The trade dispute between the United States and China, since the tenure of Donald Trump and continuing under Joe Biden, has often led experts to say that geopolitics favors India.

It is not unreasonable to believe that due to the escalation of the US-China conflict, having China on the same global supply chains or production networks as the United States is now much more costly for businesses. American manufacturers, thus opening up new opportunities for Indian manufacturers.

However, India’s domestic policies and institutions make it difficult for it to take advantage of these favorable circumstances.

India’s labor regulations restrict the dismissal and reassignment of workers’ duties and, in turn, reduce incentives for hiring, making it very difficult for companies to respond flexibly to technology and labor shocks. request. Entry of new businesses and expansion of existing businesses are limited by Indian land acquisition laws, as well as restrictive building height constraints through a low maximum floor area index. Thus, reforms are needed in these laws, despite some recent improvements in labor law. In addition, the huge problem of poor infrastructure, in the form of low density and quality of roads and lack of availability of electricity, makes matters worse.

Large Shenzhen-style Autonomous Economic Zones (ZAEs), not just relatively small Special Economic Zones (SEZs), are needed. In these EAZs, imported inputs should be able to enter duty-free and production can take place with relatively relaxed factor market restrictions. The resulting agglomeration of economic activity will lead to higher productivity.

In recent years, India has raised a number of import tariff rates, partially reversing trade reforms of the previous 25 years. Even before the recent tariff increases, India had high tariffs on automobiles (60-125% even after the 1991 reforms), rendering the sector inefficient due to lack of competition and high component costs.

Likewise, the high tariffs (20-25%) on artificial fibers and yarns make the production of clothing using these inputs quite expensive. 25.4% of industrial product tariff lines had rates above 15% in 2020-21, compared to 11.9% in 2010-11, the simple average of industrial tariffs falling from 8.9% to 11.1% in during the same period.

In 2018, India doubled its import tariffs not only on electronic and communications devices, but also on cosmetics, watches, toys, furniture, shoes, kites and candles. – a clear recognition of a lack of competitiveness in these labor-intensive entry-level products. some products. Without addressing these issues, favorable geopolitics will be of no use.

While it is still a question of attracting foreign direct investment (FDI), India’s protectionist measures do the opposite. Government and public sector company procurement policies include a preference for products with 50% or more domestic content, giving them a 20% price advantage in procurement decisions. While FDI ceilings have been raised in several sectors, rules strongly favoring management and majority control over being Indian do not help attract FDI.

In addition, the equalization tax on foreign electronic and digital commerce firms adds to the bias against FDI. In addition, the scope of this levy was retroactively widened, thus preserving India’s bad reputation for retroactive taxation, making it difficult to attract FDI on the basis of current incentives.

India’s new Model Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), introduced in 2015, does not fulfill the standard function of the BIT of protecting the interests of investors. Its protection of investors’ rights is conditioned on the length of its existence and on a vague notion of contribution to development.

Investor-state dispute resolution methods are only permitted after India’s legal and other domestic remedies have been exhausted, which can take forever. The new BIT model ended 73 existing models. In addition, recent rules requiring localization of data storage for US payment system providers, later applied to foreign banks retroactively with penalties, will seriously discourage FDI in India.

While the incentives for U.S. companies to keep investing in China are currently weaker, it is uncertain whether they are small enough to take them out of China, especially in areas of manufacturing requiring skills accumulated in China. years of experience. In addition, for low-skilled activities, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia offer a more favorable environment for FDI than India.

So just a Quad membership doesn’t help. Real economic incentives are important. Businesses in democratic countries are not told by their governments where to invest. They respond to incentives. Disincentives like those in India push them back.

The long and frustrating quest for a “smart wall” Fri, 10 Dec 2021 09:30:04 +0000

Every president since Bill Clinton has pursued this technological dream. A physical wall is expensive. Yet he still doesn’t measure up against a ladder. But one clever wall, a line of south-facing watchtowers, promises to seal the border through innovation. This would not only save money by reducing the number of officers needed to patrol the 2,000 miles of ruthless terrain, but it would also save lives. With a smart wall, migrants who got lost in the deserts and mountains along the border would be spotted, captured and safely deported.

At least that’s the vision Joe Biden is counting on.

On the first day of his tenure, President Biden released his 2021 U.S. Citizenship Bill. Between the asylum, visa, and Dream Act reforms was a section titled “Deploying Smart Technology to the Home Office. southern border ”. Technology, the bill said, was the only way to “manage responsibly” and provide “situational awareness” over an otherwise vast and remote border. “I’m going to make sure we have border protection,” Biden said last year, “but it’s going to be based on the assurance that we’re using high-tech capabilities to deal with it.”

For now, that high-tech capability will come from Anduril, which has a contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars to place 200 guard towers along the border in Texas, New Mexico and California. Luckey’s latest venture was successful – he sold Oculus to Facebook for $ 2 billion – but the story of America’s smart wall quest has been, to say the least, disappointing.

Over the past two decades, the United States has invested billions of dollars in towers 30 feet, if not 160 feet high, topped with radar, with night vision or thermal vision, and were built by the world’s largest contractors. defense of the world. Often times, these systems ended with laughable results. They were looking everywhere except downstairs, so migrants and smugglers were hiding under them. The software, designed to detect humans, falsely dispatched agents to apprehend grazing cattle. And sometimes the gear just succumbed to the punishing southwestern sun, wind and rain.

Despite this record of failure, both Democrats and Republicans clung to the dream. Even Donald Trump was hit. While he was campaigning publicly for his “great and beautiful wall”, his administration quietly signed the agreement with Anduril. Only a smart wall, James E. Clyburn, Democratic Majority House Whip, wrote approvingly, “can result in immigration and border security practices that advance justice and mercy everywhere.”

Biden needs to correct the border. A majority of voters thought Trump’s wall was stupid. But the majority of voters under Biden now believe the border is in a state of crisis that requires immediate attention. So Biden left in place Title 42, a 1944 public health law that Trump used during the pandemic to turn back asylum seekers. He half-heartedly fought Trump’s policy of remaining in Mexico and, like Trump, pressured the Mexican government to deploy its military to catch migrants crossing the north of the country to the United States. These strategies have succeeded in pushing back his progressive base and disappointing those who think he is too soft on the border. Biden must appear, at the same time, harsh but human. So, like presidents before him, he’s hit the smart wall. But if history could speak, it could temper Biden’s hopes.

“This dream of constant surveillance,” says Geoff Alan Boyce, director of the border studies program at Arizona-based Earlham College, “is being briefed by techies in the security world who really believe that, essentially, the border can be approached. as an engineering problem. Companies that profit from public procurement, he said, “are perfectly happy to make all of these operational promises of what they can deliver. But the history of border technologies is a little less impressive.

Not only is Anduril’s system unproven, but after 15 years Customs and Border Protection, the parent agency of Border Patrol, hasn’t figured out how to measure what success looks like. Defense companies, Democrats and President Biden will also say that a smart wall is a human alternative to a physical wall. But those who have studied these systems believe the opposite: they have helped push the number of migrant deaths to historic levels. This result, according to critics, is a hallmark of the smart wall, whether it is equipped with the latest cameras, radars or artificial intelligence. Ultimately, the possibility remains that Anduril will deliver a product that is everything it is meant to be – innovative and technologically sound. But that doesn’t mean it will achieve the ambitious results that policymakers and politicians have long demanded.

“They try to present what they do as very different from anything that has been done before,” says Iván Chaar López, who studies border technology at the University of Texas at Austin. But it’s “not that different from what all those old systems did.”

CBP says it uses a mix of walls, agents and technology in each area depending on the needs of the border patrol. Thus, “attributing a reduction in migration to a single asset would be an oversimplification,” the agency says. But if CBP can’t say for sure that watch towers discourage migration, what has the government actually accomplished for all the money it has spent? To answer this larger question, I’ve read outdated government reports on our efforts to secure the border with technology that dates back decades. I traveled the deserts of Arizona, where old watchtowers had been operating since 2007, and crossed the border into Texas, New Mexico, and California to speak with dozens of people in the United States. United and Mexico, trying to understand the impact of these systems on migrants. And I spent hours with the innovators of Anduril where the belief in the ability of Big Tech to challenge history is palpable.

As I stood next to Steckman, the lights above shining on the graphite-colored mast of the guard tower, he turned to me. “AI controls where it wants to look, and AI can think and process at speeds unmatched for the human mind,” he said approvingly. “It’s constantly moving, and you’ll see it on the pitch. “

Iowan lashes out at Biden for cuts in ethanol production Wed, 08 Dec 2021 02:18:00 +0000

KIMT-TV 3 NEWS – Political and biofuel industry leaders in Iowa slam Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to reduce ethanol production targets.

Under President Trump, the EPA set a 2020 production target of 15 billion gallons of ethanol. This has now been reduced to 12.5 billion gallons.

US Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) issued the following statement:

“Iowa is the nation’s largest ethanol producer and 85% of Iowa residents believe biofuels are an integral part of our economy. This move is an about-face by President Joe Biden who campaigned on his supposed support for renewable fuels, ”said Senator Joni Ernst. “These OVRs will reduce the demand for biofuel and have devastating and lasting consequences for farmers and producers in Iowa. While President Biden may have forgotten his promise to the Iowans, the farmers and growers of Iowa and I certainly have not, and we will work together to combat this nefarious policy.

US Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) added this:

“At a time when gas prices are skyrocketing and the administration is myopically focused on climate policy, it makes absolutely no sense for President Biden to turn his back on cleaner, cheaper biofuels. The administration’s unprecedented plan to retroactively reduce blending levels for previous years is a boon to Big Oil. What will stop the administration from drastically reducing obligations in 2022? No matter how optimistic the outlook for the future may be, this precedent makes it clear that the administration is not committed to renewable fuels. It is a shame and an outrage for the producers of Iowa and anyone who cares about our environment.

“This administration has spent much of its first year bragging about its climate priorities while simultaneously begging OPEC to reduce soaring oil costs. The biofuels produced in the country help solve both of these problems, but the Biden administration has chosen not to take yes for the answer. I don’t want to hear a word about President Biden’s so-called climate priorities again until he puts his money where he speaks and delivers cleaner, cheaper biofuels for Americans just like he has. promised to the Iowiens during the election campaign.

Republican MP Ashley Hinson (IA-01) issued the following statement:

“Today is the day President Biden abandoned family farmers and biofuel producers in Iowa. Ignoring deadlines and changing finalized mandates is a slap in the face for family farmers in Iowa, and in stark contrast to President Biden’s campaign promises to support biofuels – promises we now know to be lies and talk. in the air.

“Although I am extremely disappointed with this action, I am not surprised. In view of this, I recently introduced the bipartisan Defend the Blend Act, a bill prohibiting the EPA from retroactively reducing RVO levels that have already been finalized, leading to government-induced instability over our agriculture and biofuels markets. We must pass my legislation immediately to give certainty to the Iowa biofuels community that the Biden administration is destroying. “

Republican Congressman Randy Feenstra (IA-04) made this statement:

“The Biden administration’s decision to retroactively reduce biofuel blending requirements and deliver the largest RFS reduction in history is extremely disappointing. This directly harms the more than 40,000 people who work in Iowa’s biofuels industry, not to mention the thousands of growers who depend on the market for a living. 57% of the corn grown in Iowa is used to produce ethanol. Moreover, pandemic aid – which the administration originally announced in March – is long overdue and a weak attempt to cover up its attack on the RFS. “

“The Biden administration is embracing electric vehicles and petroleum while leaving farmers and biofuel producers behind, even as ethanol and biodiesel provide cleaner and more affordable options for consumers. For an administration focused on climate change and gas prices, this is the height of hypocrisy. “

“You reap what you sow, and right now President Biden is sowing disdain and distrust among the people of Iowa and the heart of America.”

Iowa Renewable Fuels Association executive director Monte Shaw says at best that the proposal is a missed opportunity to reduce fuel prices and carbon emissions:

“Biden’s proposed EPA rule falls woefully short of any attempt to leverage domestic biofuels to help reduce fuel prices and carbon emissions. We also have serious concerns that he is likely violating the Renewable Fuels Standard Act, especially in regards to the 2020 actions. Why the hell should the US ask OPEC for more? and free up our strategic oil reserves while proposing to undermine the one and only federal law that seeks to increase the supply of domestic fuel that reduces carbon emissions. We urge President Biden to step in and make a course correction to his EPA to realign this proposed rule with his commitments to voters in Iowa. “

“We want to say a big thank you for the COVID relief funding announced today and for stepping up the Biden EPA to begin enforcing the 10th Circuit Court ruling on all refinery exemption determinations. That said, I would be lying if I didn’t acknowledge the frustration I’ve heard here having to wait for these announcements that could have come in March just for Biden’s EPA to have a spoonful of sugar to try and help the proposed RVO out. demand destruction. These disparate actions are not related to each other and should be based on their own merits. “

EXPLANATION: What are the rules for travelers entering the United States? Thu, 02 Dec 2021 20:53:07 +0000

President Joe Biden’s latest measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 will increase the hassle factor of flights to the United States, even for American citizens returning from overseas.

From next week, travelers to the United States will be required to show evidence of a negative test for the virus within one day of boarding their flight. The previous period was three days.

In addition, Biden will extend the federal rule requiring passengers on planes, trains and buses to wear face masks until March 18. It was due to expire in mid-January.

These proposals came quickly, underscoring the urgency for the White House to act before winter, when the virus can more easily spread among people indoors, and since the discovery of a disturbing new variant of COVID. -19. The first U.S. case of the omicron variant was discovered in California and reported by the administration on Wednesday.

The administration’s actions come just days after the White House announced a travel ban to the United States for foreign nationals who visited South Africa or seven other African countries within the 14 days. previous ones. This travel ban does not apply to US citizens and permanent residents.

More revealing, perhaps, is what is not included in Biden’s announcement, including some proposals that were launched earlier this week like new quarantine rules for people arriving in the United States from from abroad, which travel industry officials said would have been very disruptive.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked why the administration didn’t go further and demand vaccinations or a negative test for passengers on domestic flights. She replied that “nothing is out of place. ”

“We base our decisions on the advice of medical and health experts, on what will be most effective and what we can implement,” Psaki said. “The President takes their advice and guidance very seriously, but I would say there is discussion of a range of options every day.”

Here is an overview of the new requirements and their likely impact.


The White House has said that early next week, the United States will begin requiring all inbound international travelers to be tested for COVID-19 within one day of their flight to the United States, regardless of whether their nationality or vaccination status. This will replace a similar three-day requirement in effect since early November, when the administration removed country-specific travel bans.

“This tighter testing schedule provides an added degree of protection as scientists continue to study the omicron variant,” Biden said in a brief appearance to announce his latest measures against the virus.

Scott Keyes, founder of travel site Scott’s Cheap Flights, said the shorter time to get tested would weaken demand for international travel from both Americans going overseas and foreigners coming to the United States. by the White House, including allowing the use of rapid antigen tests instead of requiring more expensive PCR tests, and asking insurance companies to cover the costs.

The US Travel Association has said it hopes the one-day window is temporary “until more is known about the omicron variant.”


The Transportation Security Administration will extend the requirement to wear a mask on planes, trains, subways and other public transportation, including airports and bus stations, throughout the winter. The fines, which were doubled earlier this year, will remain in the $ 500 to $ 3,000 range.

The mask rule has become a flashpoint on flights, and some in the airline industry are anxious to see the warrant disappear. Airlines have reported more than 5,000 incidents of unruly passengers to federal authorities since the start of the year, with about three-quarters of the events involving passengers refusing to wear a mask.


Administration officials considered other requirements, including testing international travelers after arriving in the United States and requiring all travelers – even US citizens – to self-quarantine for several days even s ‘they are negative for COVID-19.

Kevin Mitchell, founder and chairman of the Business Travel Coalition, said the elements of Biden’s announcement aren’t big issues.

“One idea that was floated that maybe you should have quarantined – that would have been a problem,” Mitchell said. “It is a relief for the entire world of travel and tourism” that quarantines have not been ordered.

Shares of airlines, which have been volatile since the announcement of the omicron variant, rose 6% to 9% in trading on Thursday afternoon.

In the past week or so, online searches for international flights have fallen sharply while searches for domestic flights have remained fairly stable, according to figures from the travel agency and search engine Kayak.

“This tells me that people are wary, that they take a wait-and-see approach to international travel because they want to see what scientists conclude about this variant of omicron, but domestic travel has mostly failed. not been affected, ”Keyes said.


David Koenig can be contacted at

Manchin hesitates over Biden’s plan, Democrats vow to move forward Mon, 01 Nov 2021 19:11:00 +0000

WASHINGTON (AP) – Senator Joe Manchin hesitated on Monday over his support for President Joe Biden’s sweeping $ 1.75 trillion domestic policy proposal, saying it was instead “time to vote” on a package of $ 1 trillion thinner infrastructure that stagnated amid talks.

The West Virginia Democrat’s announcement comes as Democrats want a signal from Manchin that he will support Biden’s big package. He is one of two main recalcitrant senators whose votes are needed to secure the deal and get it through.

Instead, Manchin pushed back on progressive Democrats, urging them to stop holding the small public works bill “hostage” as negotiations continue on the larger package.

“Enough is enough,” Manchin said at a hastily called press conference on Capitol Hill.

Manchin said he was ready to vote for a final bill reflecting Biden’s big package “that keeps our country moving.” But he said he was “also open to voting against” the end product as he assessed the sweeping social services and climate change bill.

Democrats have been working frantically to complete Biden’s national signing package after months of negotiations, rushing to a possible first round of House votes later this week.

The White House was quick to respond that it remained confident Manchin would support Biden’s plan, and congressional leaders indicated the votes were on track as expected.

“Senator Manchin says he is ready to support a Build Back Better plan that fights inflation, is fiscally responsible and will create jobs,” press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. “Accordingly, we remain confident that the plan will win the support of Senator Manchin. “

The stakes are high with Biden abroad at a global climate change summit and his party battling in two key governors’ races this week – in Virginia and New Jersey – which are seen as indicators of the political mood of the electorate.

With Republicans staunchly opposed and no votes to spare, Democrats tried to unite progressive and centrist lawmakers around Biden’s grand vision.

Progressives refused to vote on the small public works bill, using it as leverage to try to secure commitments from Manchin and Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, the other key obstacle, for the Biden’s larger bill.

Representative Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., Leader of the Progressive Caucus, said her group was ready to move forward and pass both bills this week in the House. She said she was confident Biden would have the backing needed for a possible Senate move.

“I urge everyone to keep calm,” Jayapal told CNN. “We are preparing to pass the two bills on the President’s agenda through the House.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer both echoed in the White House, suggesting the bills were on track.

Manchin, however, in direct response to the progressives’ tactics, said that “holding this bill hostage will not work to gain my support” for the wider community. He said he “will not support such a big bill without fully understanding the impact” it has on the economy and the federal debt.

Manchin’s priority has long been the small public works bill on roads, highways and broadband projects that had already been approved by the Senate but which are stalled by House progressives as negotiations over wide are in progress.

“This is not the way the US Congress should work,” Manchin said. “It is time for our elected leaders in Washington to stop playing games. “

Biden’s top national priorities have been a battleground between progressive and moderate Democrats for months, and it was not clear whether this week’s schedule for the first House votes could be met.

The $ 1.75 trillion package has far-reaching reach and would provide large numbers of Americans with help paying for health care, education, child rearing, and senior care in their homes. It would also provide some $ 555 billion in tax breaks encouraging cleaner energy and electrified vehicles, the country’s biggest commitment to tackling climate change.

Much of its costs would be covered by higher taxes for people earning more than $ 10 million a year and large companies, which would now face a minimum tax of 15% in an attempt to prevent large companies to claim so many deductions that they end up paying no tax.

Over the weekend, Democrats made significant progress towards adding provisions limiting prescription drug prices to the massive package, two congressional advisers said Sunday. They requested anonymity to discuss the ongoing negotiations.

A senior Democratic official said a proposal under discussion would allow Medicare to negotiate lower prices with drug companies for many of their products. Excludes drugs for which the Food and Drug Administration has granted initial competitive protection, periods which vary but last for several years.

There would be a cap on reimbursable drug costs for seniors under Medicare Part D, the program’s outpatient prescription drug delivery, said the senior assistant, who did not provide a figure. And pharmaceutical manufacturers should pay a rebate if their prices exceed certain markers.

Talks continued and no final agreement had been reached. But the move raised hopes that the party’s 10-year $ 1.75 trillion measure would fulfill the Democratic campaign’s long-standing promise to cut pharmaceutical costs, albeit more modestly than some believe. wished.


Associated Press writer Alan Fram contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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Liberals are playing tricks on each other, and it’s a treat for the rest of us Sat, 30 Oct 2021 20:50:45 +0000

Happy Halloween! This weekend indeed closes a very scary week for Democrats.

While the country has had worse weeks since Biden took power in January, I’m not sure the Liberals have had a more embarrassing one.

Let’s start with the race everyone is watching. Democrat Terry McAuliffe is running (again) for governor of Virginia against Republican Glenn Youngkin. Whether McAuliffe wins or loses on Tuesday, one thing is for sure: he ran a hilarious campaign. The closer election day draws, the more the former governor seems to be spiraling out of control.

The last bizarre moment came in Charlottesville when a group of “white supremacists” carrying tiki torches showed up outside Glenn Youngkin’s campaign bus to “support” the Republican candidate. Twitter detectives were able to discover, within minutes, that two of the five of these “Youngkin supporters” were in fact paid Virginia Democratic employees. Another of the “white supremacists” was Black.

As the dirty trick unraveled (and the McAuliffe campaign began to suppress their initial tweets of shock and false outrage), the Lincoln Project suddenly took the brunt of the failed hoax.

Project Lincoln is best remembered, if at all, as a footnote to the 2020 campaign – a boiler room operation of scammers and anti-Trump evictions led by John Weaver, the group’s co-founder , who is accused of preying on underage boys. (This is why Donald Trump Jr., in a memorable tweet Friday, described the group as “The Pedo Project.”)

Meanwhile, the Babylon Bee quickly photoshopped a photo of the Youngkin field bus, with a member of the Ku Klux Klan in formal costume standing in front of it. Next to the Klansman was a inset photo of current Democratic Governor Ralph Northam, who was pictured with both a) a KKK balaclava and b) a black face.

The irony is somehow lost on Democrats today.

This tiki torch train wreck came about after a series of memorable moments for Team Terry. After McAuliffe spent $ 60,000 to hire dubious electoral rights lawyer Mark Elias, a Fox News reporter reached out to the McAuliffe campaign for comment. Journalist Tyler O’Neil asked if McAuliffe intended to challenge the election results.

A McAuliffe spokesperson mistakenly returned a clearly intended response to a colleague who asked, “Can we try to kill this?” as if they were dealing with such obsequious Democratic bodies as the Washington Post or the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Are Terry’s goofy ways rubbing off on his subordinates? Moreover, if McAuliffe loses this election, which he clearly thinks he could, rest assured that tough election results will be all the rage again. Think about “voter suppression”. Do you want to hang chads?

Outside of Virginia, the news cycle was not much better for Democrats. America’s crazed ex-boyfriend Andrew Cuomo was accused Thursday of tampering with a former assistant and is expected to be arrested at some point next week. The New York Post cheerfully reported on the front page on Saturday that his photo and fingerprints would be taken by Albany Police.

Smile, Governor! It’s for the first page!

If you’re interested in following coverage of this scandal, Cuomo’s little brother Chris has a “news” program on CNN. I’m sure they’ll cover this topic wall to wall.

Speaking of CNN, has anyone seen Dr. Fauci lately? Normally, I would love to have a week off to watch Dr. Doom on my TV 24/7. But the timing of his absence seems odd given the hype surrounding a recent explosive story of the White Coat Waste Project.

The taxpayer watchdog group alleged this week that the National Institutes of Health funded a lab in Tunisia that tortures and kills beagle puppies in the name of science. Chief expert Fauci should surely use his numerous television opportunities to respond to these slanderous allegations. Please, someone check the MSNBC Green Room and ask Fauci for a quote on this story.

But no one can take a week from bad to worse like Joe Biden. While his trillion dollar plans (which are sort of zero dollar plans too) are in limbo, Biden made a pilgrimage to the Vatican. The president, being the staunch Catholic layman that he is, seemed delighted to meet Pope Francis to discuss important topics like climate change.

Maybe the Pope asked Biden if the next time he shows up in an 85-car motorcade, could he make sure the vehicles are electric? After regaling the Pope with his own whispered, absurd narrative, Biden headed for his next opportunity to embarrass the country – the COP 26 climate summit in Glasgow.

This monumental event is expected to welcome 30,000 great officials who will shake their fists in the air about the bad weather forecast for next weekend, after which they will have lunch and then return home aboard their private jets.

Halloween might end this brutal week for the left, but I have a feeling the spooky season is just beginning.

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Biden takes Trump’s hard line on Beijing to upcoming summits Sun, 24 Oct 2021 14:00:46 +0000

WASHINGTON – As a candidate, President Joe Biden presented himself as an anti-Donald Trump, whose approach to foreign challenges would bear no resemblance to the incumbent he sought to replace. But as president, Biden’s stances on China have, more often than not, echoed those of his predecessor – even surprising some Chinese hawks.

Yet the Biden administration has also maintained that fierce competition should not and should not prevent close cooperation between nations on a handful of areas of common concern, such as climate change.

Now, as world leaders prepare to meet in a few days for the G20 summit in Rome and the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow – gatherings that Chinese President Xi Jinping plans to skip – their approach is being put to the test. ‘test.

The challenge is familiar to Biden. For eight years as vice president, Biden was a key envoy to China amid pressure from the Obama administration to stand up to Beijing that never fully took shape.

Asian allies feared Biden would revert to policies under the Obama administration and adopt a more conciliatory tone towards China while cutting defense spending, but were reassured by Washington’s approach, said Michael Green of the think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, which helped shape Asian politics in the administration of George W. Bush.

Aiding Biden’s efforts is now an emerging consensus in the United States about the growing threat from China.

“Xi Jinping did what no one else in the world can do: he brought together Republicans and Democrats,” said Anja Manuel, a former State Department official and Chinese academic who heads the Aspen strategic group. “For any administration, there is not a lot of leeway. The country has become hawkish towards China.

During his first year in office, Biden’s approach to China was premised on the idea that an increasingly aggressive Beijing underestimated the resolve of the United States. It is only after the Chinese leader realizes Biden was serious, White House officials argued, that significant progress could occur.

This hard line has drawn some of the only comparisons between Biden and Trump, whose individual policies towards China his successor has largely preserved, the most striking on trade.

“You hear people say, ‘Biden wants to start a new cold war with China,’” Biden said Thursday in a televised town hall. “I don’t want a cold war with China. I want China to understand that we are not going to take a step back and change our views. “

Biden’s senior adviser for Asia, Kurt Campbell, put it bluntly in March when he said the period of “engagement” with China was over and “competition” would now define the relationship between Washington and Beijing.

Outside observers agree. “There has been quite a bit of continuity and certainly more than what China expected,” said Bonnie Glaser, director of the Asia program at the German Marshall Fund in the United States.

The White House argued that the United States has strengthened its own hand in its delicate relationship with China, both by working at home to improve the competitiveness of the United States and by rallying a wide range of allies. This contrasts sharply with the approach taken by Trump, who has often criticized America’s longtime partners in Asia and questioned Washington’s defense commitments.

A senior official in the Biden administration said what is often seen as Biden continuing Trump’s policies is simply that the United States is standing up for its interests and holding China to account.

“If you mean to say it’s similar to what the previous administration did, in some ways that’s right,” the senior official said. “But the main difference is our focus on allies and partners, so we don’t do it alone.”

During Biden’s campaign, and now his presidency, the prospect of China overtaking America as an economic superpower was at the heart of his arguments for massive infrastructure and welfare plans. As a candidate, Biden argued that Trump’s harsh rhetoric on China was not supported by his actions.

“What I would make China do is abide by international rules, not like it did. He increased, not decreased, China’s deficit, ”Biden said during the last presidential debate. “We have to have the rest of our friends with us, tell China, these are the rules. You play with them or you will pay the price for not playing with them, economically. This is how I’m going to handle it.

Important issues have been laid bare by a series of apparent alarming escalations in military tensions between the two superpowers in recent months.

The Chinese military has carried out an unprecedented number of fighter and bomber flights near Taiwanese airspace and has reportedly tested a hypersonic missile that has circled the world. The United States has entered into a new defense pact with Australia and the United Kingdom aimed at countering China and has conducted their own displays of military force in the region.

The harsh diplomatic turn between nations was made public in March when U.S. and Chinese officials gathered for their first high-level meetings in Alaska, only for that summit to erupt into angry allegations and grievances.

China, in the months that followed, insisted the Biden administration poisons the well for any prospect of cooperation on issues by challenging Beijing so directly on security, human rights and economic issues. . Yet the Biden administration insisted that China would ultimately be forced to compartmentalize.

On trade and economic policy, the Biden administration is on hold, and officials have yet to explain how the administration intends to tackle a litany of trade disputes with China.

The Biden administration has chosen to continue upholding the “phase one” trade deal with China negotiated by the previous administration, even though officials say China has failed to honor a number of its commitments in the ‘OK.

But nine months later, Biden is upholding Trump’s tariffs and other punitive measures imposed on China. Biden’s MPs have not said under what conditions they will lift tariffs or whether the administration is considering doubling restrictions against Beijing on intellectual property theft or forced technology transfers.

For US allies in Europe and Asia – who have extensive trade ties with Beijing – there is little appetite for tariffs or “decoupling” from the Chinese economy.

“Our allies in general are looking for new trade deals with China,” said David Dollar, a senior researcher at the Brookings Institution who worked on China issues in the Obama administration’s Treasury Department. “And the United States is trying to rally countries to decouple from China and isolate it. I don’t think they get a lot of traction.

National Security Hawks in Congress have urged Biden to take tougher measures to protect U.S. technology from what they see as predatory business practices from China by taking a tougher approach to export controls and restricting US investment in Chinese companies linked to the Beijing military.

But tech companies and free trade advocates want to see an easing of the trade war, arguing that tariffs are a drag on the U.S. business that could hamper innovation in the long run. Some progressive voices say that a Cold War mentality with China could jeopardize any potential breakthrough in climate change talks, as Beijing’s cooperation will be crucial in making progress in reducing fossil fuel emissions.

The Obama administration, like Biden’s, has sought to closely pursue climate cooperation with China despite their many other disagreements, said Kelly Sims Gallagher, a professor at Tufts University who oversaw climate diplomacy with China at the Obama White House. This task is more difficult for Biden given how intertwined climate change has become with other economic issues, she said.

“I think it is impossible to deal with the climate from the other priorities of the US-China relationship,” she said. “But it is crucial that the two countries maintain a channel of dialogue on this issue, and it should be possible no matter how controversial the relationship becomes.”

Since the Alaskan summit this spring, senior officials in the Biden administration have said they believe the Chinese government is starting to understand his position. Biden is now set to virtually meet Xi this year for their first one-on-one summit since the US president took office.

“We feel like we’re in a much, much stronger position now than when we took office to meet the challenge,” a senior Biden official told NBC News. “It is clear that we are not going to change their specific behavior on certain things, so we are focusing on the influence of the architecture around them in the international community.”

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