Feb 25 2017

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Stars Hollow Gazette‘s Health and Fitness News weekly diary. It will publish on Saturday afternoon and be open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.

Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

A Duty To Warn

Avoiding questions about Trump’s mental health is a betrayal of public trust

As psychologists and psychiatrists continue to warn about President Trump’s mental health, the Columbia Journalism Review called Trump’s mental health “the elephant in the room. Lee Siegel, who wrote the CJR column, and Dr. Lance Dodes.

Health and Fitness News

Little Tikes recalls 540,000 swings after injuries

Study Tracks How Superbugs Splash Out of Hospital Sink Drains

New Drugs May Stop Migraines Before They Start

Study Builds Argument That Infections May Cause Autism

Cats Don’t Cause Mental Illness, Study Finds

Testosterone Gel Didn’t Help Men’s Memories: Study

Doctors Can Ask Patients About Guns, Florida Federal Court Rules

Brain Scans Detect Signs of Autism in High-Risk Babies Before Age 1

Feb 25 2017

Alone In The Kitchen With An Old Frenchman

Recently French chef Jacques Pépin turned 80 and retired. Over the years, he educated viewers of Public Television on how to cook and, something that no other cooking show host has done, techniques in the kitchen with wisdom, humor and a smattering of French lessons. As Gilad Edelman wrote in a Slate article, this man will teach you how to cook

Fruit Fete

Jacques Pepin cooking in episode 112 of Essential PepinBecause apples are available all year, we often forget how delicious they are freshly baked, all warm and puffy, straight from the oven. Jacques’ Good Lady Apples Bon Femme recipe satisfies all apple cravings with maple sweetened fruit. In this show, Jacques goes on to add basil leaves to a Stew of Red Summer Fruit to make a deliciously flavorful, fragrant dessert. He also prepares two more simple and tasty dishes: Braised Pears in a Caramel Sauce and Flambéed Bananas. Apples return as the main ingredient for the final dish of Apple Fritters.

Good Lady Apples Bon Femme

For these baked apples, ubiquitous in home cooking as well as in country inns and restaurants, only a few ingredients are needed. Inexpensive and quickly prepared,

Stew of Red Summer Fruit

Basil lends a delightful fragrance and a slightly licorice taste to this stew. A tasty hodgepodge of red summer fruits, it can be made in winter with fruits such as bananas, apples, and oranges.

Braised Pears in a Caramel Sauce

Depending on the ripeness of the pears, you may need to modify the cooking time so they are tender at the same time as the juice and sugar have caramelized.

Feb 25 2017

The Breakfast Club (Watch The River Flow)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:00am (ET) (or whenever we get around to it) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

 photo stress free zone_zps7hlsflkj.jpg

This Day in History

Ferdinand Marcos flees the Philippines; Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev denounces Josef Stalin; Samuel Colt patents the revolver; Muhammad Ali becomes world boxing champ; Musician George Harrison born.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

I’m really quite simple. I plant flowers and watch them grow… I stay at home and watch the river flow.

George Harrison

Read the rest of this entry »

Feb 24 2017

Obstruction of Justice

The first charge in the articles of impeachment against President Richard M. Nixon was obstruction of justice:

Subsequent thereto, Richard M. Nixon, using the powers of his high office, engaged personally and through his subordinates and agents in a course of conduct or plan designed to delay, impede, and obstruct the investigation of such unlawful entry; to cover up, conceal and protect those responsible; and to conceal the existence and scope of other unlawful covert activities. …Wherefore Richard M. Nixon, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office.

—Article I, Passed By the House of Representatives, July 27, 1974.

It was after Nixon that the Justice Department issued strong rules about contact between the White House and department, which includes the FBI, regarding impending investigations. They did so again in 2007 after Attorney General Alberto González was forced to resign. Attorney General Eric holder issued another memo in 2009 (pdf) which clarified guidelines for White House and department contacts to ensure “impartial and insulated from political influence” and that its “investigatory and prosecutorial powers be exercised free from partisan consideration.”

“Initial communications between the [Justice] Department and the White House concerning pending or contemplated criminal investigations or cases will involve only the Attorney General or the Deputy Attorney General, from the side of the Department, and the Counsel to the President, the Principal Deputy Counsel to the President, the President, or the Vice President from the side of the White House.”

Once again the White house has violated restrictions when White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus asked the FBI to refute reports about alleged communications between the Trump team and Russia during the election. The story was broke by CNN on Thursday:

The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump’s associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN.
But a White House official said late Thursday that the request was only made after the FBI indicated to the White House it did not believe the reporting to be accurate.
White House officials had sought the help of the bureau and other agencies investigating the Russia matter to say that the reports were wrong and that there had been no contacts, the officials said. The reports of the contacts were first published by The New York Times and CNN on February 14. [..]

The discussions between the White House and the bureau began with FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus on the sidelines of a separate White House meeting the day after the stories were published, according to a US law enforcement official.

The White House initially disputed that account, saying that McCabe called Priebus early that morning and said The New York Times story vastly overstates what the FBI knows about the contacts.

But a White House official later corrected their version of events to confirm what the law enforcement official described.

The same White House official said that Priebus later reached out again to McCabe and to FBI Director James Comey asking for the FBI to at least talk to reporters on background to dispute the stories. A law enforcement official says McCabe didn’t discuss aspects of the case but wouldn’t say exactly what McCabe told Priebus.

Comey rejected the request for the FBI to comment on the stories, according to sources, because the alleged communications between Trump associates and Russians known to US intelligence are the subject of an ongoing investigation.

The White house would like nothing more than this scandal disappear. Once again Donald Trump took to twitter to denounce the press for reporting on stories that put them in a negative light, calling it “fake news.” Someone needs to tell him that he is just making it worse for himself. It just makes them look guilty. Priebus’s action has now sparked even more public interest in Trump’s Russian connection.

Charlie Pierce explains why Priebus should have to resign: and AG Jeff Sessions needs to recuse himself

maybe I was marked forever back in the John Sirica Days, but this seems like something that could be the beginning of the end of the end of the beginning. Or something. You can’t use the FBI like your own private spin team. You can’t have an office in the White House and even think you can do that. If the idea ever crosses your mind, you should immediately hand in your hard pass, walk out to Pennsylvania Avenue, and catch the first bus to the nervous hospital. God only knows if it was actually legal for them to do this, since nobody’s really sure what “adjustments” Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III has wrought in the Department of Justice regulations since he took over—or since the story broke at around 7:30 last night. But legality is far too narrow a metric for a fck-up of this magnitude. As RN used to say, let me make this perfectly clear.

You can’t use the goddamn FBI to squash news stories you don’t like any more than you can send the FBI out to shoot the guy who dented your fender outside the goddamn pro shop. Do you think the guys with the badges are valet parking attendants or your own private security goons? And you can’t do it when the FBI is already investigating you on suspicions of the very same conduct detailed in the stories you’re trying to squash. What in the hell is wrong with you, man?

First of all, Priebus has to go. Today. Even if there’s nothing illegal in what happened—and even, as seems completely implausible, the request was made out of simple anger at inaccurate reporting instead of abject terror that accurate reporting was getting too close to where the borscht got made last year—Priebus is revealed as a guy who should not be allowed to spread butter with anything sharper than his thumb, let alone run the staff of any White House, including Camp Runamuck. This is, or ought to be, a career-ender.

Second, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III shouldn’t be allowed within an area code of any investigation of the contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. (I suspect there might be several of these.) He’s hopelessly compromised.

Third, come on, man. You don’t go this far out on a limb because you’re pissed about fake stories. Not even this White House is that stupid. You take this kind of long chance because you believe that there’s something out there that’s worse than being found to be using the FBI to ratfck the New York Times.

Speaking with MSNBC host Chris Hayes, former Justice Department Spokesperson Matt Miller says White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus “has to go” if the report is true.

Feb 24 2017

Good News (If True)

It’s not much of a secret that I think a major reason fo the Democrats’ lack of electoral success is their embrace of Neo Liberal Republican-lite policies. Not only are Left positions more popular, but they are failing to provide any differentiation that distinguishes them from Republicans except in the areas of Cultural Tolerance and Identity Politics (and scant little of that, remember how long it took Obama to come around on Gay Marriage and he never, ever acted to protect Minorities against Police Violence).

Heck of a job Barack.

Weakened Democrats Bow to Voters, Opting for Total War on Trump
FEB. 23, 2017

Reduced to their weakest state in a generation, Democratic Party leaders will gather in two cities this weekend to plot strategy and select a new national chairman with the daunting task of rebuilding the party’s depleted organization. But senior Democratic officials concede that the blueprint has already been chosen for them — by an incensed army of liberals demanding no less than total war against President Trump.

Immediately after the November election, Democrats were divided over how to handle Mr. Trump, with one camp favoring all-out confrontation and another backing a seemingly less risky approach of coaxing him to the center with offers of compromise.

Now, spurred by explosive protests and a torrent of angry phone calls and emails from constituents — and outraged themselves by Mr. Trump’s swift moves to enact a hard-line agenda — Democrats have all but cast aside any notion of conciliation with the White House. Instead, they are mimicking the Republican approach of the last eight years — the “party of no” — and wagering that brash obstruction will pay similar dividends.

Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, vice chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, said there had been a “tornado of support” for wall-to-wall resistance to Mr. Trump. Mr. Inslee, who backed a lawsuit against the president’s executive order banning refugee admissions and travel from seven majority-Muslim countries, said Democrats intended to send a stern message to Mr. Trump during a conference of governors in the nation’s capital.
Continue reading the main story

“My belief is, we have to resist every way and everywhere, every time we can,” when Mr. Trump offends core American values, Mr. Inslee said. By undermining Mr. Trump across the board, he said, Democrats hope to split Republicans away from a president of their own party.

Senator Thomas R. Carper of Delaware, a middle-of-the-road Democrat up for re-election in 2018, cautioned that loathing Mr. Trump, on its own, was not a governing strategy. He said he still hoped for compromise with Republicans on infrastructure funding and perhaps on a plan to improve or “repair” the Affordable Care Act.

“There is this vitriol and dislike for our new president,” Mr. Carper said. “The challenge for us is to harness it in a productive way and a constructive way, and I think we will.”

Among rank-and-file Democrats, however, it is far from clear that the rhetoric of heated opposition is unwelcome. A survey published on Wednesday by the Pew Research Center found nearly three-quarters of Democrats said they were concerned the party would not do enough to oppose Mr. Trump; only 20 percent were concerned Democrats would go too far in opposition.

A handful of liberal groups have already sprung up threatening to wage primary challenges against incumbent Democrats who they see as insufficiently militant against Mr. Trump, raising the prospect of the same internecine wars that plagued Republicans during President Barack Obama’s administration.

In the race for the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee, which concludes with a vote in Atlanta on Saturday, the restive mood of liberal activists has buoyed a pair of insurgents, Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., against the perceived front-runner, Thomas E. Perez.

Mr. Perez, who was Mr. Obama’s labor secretary, is still seen as a favorite in the race, and he has been backed by former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. But he has struggled to dispel the impression that he is an anointed favorite of Washington power brokers.

And Mr. Ellison and Mr. Buttigieg have continued to collect high-profile endorsements: Mr. Ellison won the support of Representative John Lewis of Georgia, the civil rights leader, on Tuesday, and Mr. Buttigieg was endorsed Wednesday by Howard Dean, the former party chairman who remains admired on the left.

In a sign of how little heed Democrats are paying to traditional forces, Mr. Ellison remains viable despite being bluntly attacked as “an anti-Semite” by Haim Saban, one of the most prolific donors to the party and its candidates.

Christine C. Quinn, a vice chairwoman of the New York State Democratic Committee who was a prominent surrogate for Hillary Clinton last year, said she backed Mr. Ellison, who was the first Muslim elected to Congress, in part because of the forcefulness of his criticism of the White House.

“This is not a normal Republican president and these are not normal times,” said Ms. Quinn, a former speaker of the New York City Council. “This isn’t a time for polite parties anymore. This is a time to take a different posture of true aggressiveness.”

Nowhere is it more clear, however, that the protesters are leading the politicians than on Capitol Hill.

Senate Democratic leaders had hoped to capitalize on Mr. Trump’s nomination of Tom Price as health secretary by assailing Republicans for wanting to trim Medicare, an issue Democrats aim to run on in 2018. But Mr. Price was vastly overshadowed by the nomination of Ms. DeVos, who galvanized the new activists like no other cabinet pick.

“Part of what I think the Bernie campaign taught us, even the Trump campaign taught us, and now the resistance is teaching us, is just ditch the consultants and consult with your conscience and constituents first,” said Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii, warning his fellow Democrats that “it’s a fool’s errand to try to plan this out like it’s a traditional political operation.”

The fear factor is real, said Adam Jentleson, a former Senate Democratic aide. Images of angry constituents jeering Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a reliable liberal from Rhode Island, at a town hall-style meeting in late January for supporting the selection of Mike Pompeo as C.I.A. director quickly circulated among other Democratic senators, he said.

“It was eye-opening,” Mr. Jentleson said, “because it made clear that the base is not going to let them off the hook.”

Well, we’ll see. Resist or we’ll find someone who will.

Feb 24 2017

Pondering the Pundits

“Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Paul Krugman; Death and Tax Cuts

Across the country, Republicans have been facing crowds demanding to know how they will protect the 20 million Americans who gained health insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act, and will lose it if the act is repealed. And after all that inveighing against the evils of Obamacare, it turns out that they’ve got nothing.

Instead, they’re talking about freedom — which these days is the real refuge of scoundrels.

Actually, many prominent Republicans haven’t even gotten to the point of trying to respond to criticism; they’re just whining about how mean their constituents are being, and invoking conspiracy theories. Talk about snowflakes who can dish it out but can’t take it! [..]

But perhaps the saddest spectacle is that of Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, whom the media have for years portrayed as a serious, honest conservative, a deep thinker about how to reform America’s safety net. That reputation was never justified; still, even those of us who long ago recognized him as a flimflammer have been struck by his utter failure to rise to this occasion.

After years to prepare, Mr. Ryan finally unveiled what was supposedly the outline of a health care plan. It was basically a sick joke: flat tax credits, unrelated to income, that could be applied to the purchase of insurance.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Trump, Democrats, And The ‘Deep State’: 11 Principles

Putin’s an oligarch. So is Trump.

Putin runs a kleptocracy. So does Trump.

Both Donald Trump and Rex Tillerson have done business in Russia.

So why is money the one aspect of the Russia scandal people seem to talk about the least? Maybe because it’s the one area the U.S. intelligence community avoided when it accused Russia of helping Trump win the election.

The Russia story has raised the intelligence community’s popularity among Democrats and offered a convenient distraction from other national security stories. While many people were fixated on it, for example, this New York Times story by Charlie Savage was largely overlooked:

In its final days, the Obama administration has expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections … far more officials will be searching through raw data.

Here are 11 principles progressives can follow when they hear about (or talk about) Trump and Russia.

Read the rest of this entry »

Feb 24 2017

the Breakfast Club (The Sting)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:00am (ET) (or whenever we get around to it) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

 photo stress free zone_zps7hlsflkj.jpg

This Day in History

President Andrew Johnson impeached; The Nazi Party holds its first major meeting; Manila liberated during World War II; Britain’s Prince Charles, Lady Diana Spencer engaged; Lauryn Hill’s Grammy feat.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

God grant me the courage not to give up what I think is right even though I think it is hopeless.

Chester W. Nimitz

Read the rest of this entry »

Feb 23 2017

Sausage Grinder of Snark (Not My President Week)

There’s a lot less regularity in these posts now that I’ve liberated them from a slavish devotion to deadlines. I primarily publish things I find funny suggested by the universe of late night TV and politics. I’m not so interested in attacks and rants (unless they’re by Lewis Black who’s always good for a chuckle) as I am in humor.

If this is the only piece this week, which is likely, it’s because Sam Bee is in repeats until March, Trevor has been running clip shows (ugh, never as funny as the original, mere chimeras and phantoms of what you missed in the moment they might have been mildly amusing), Stephen tapes 2 on Thursday, and Seth Meyers is always a repeat on Friday.

So there isn’t as much “fresh” material out there as you might think.







Seth Meyers




And finally, something from the 21st which is just too funny-

Seth must really, really hate Manchester By The Sea.

Feb 23 2017

Trump and the Russian Connection

There is a country song by Garth Brooks called Friends in Low Places. It’s a catchy tune about having friends that aren’t at the top of the social strata. Donald Trump on the other hand has friends in high place but while they may be high up in that social hierarchy, Trump’s friends, much like himself, aren’t exactly the most savory characters. So who are these low friends in high places? The list is long and consists of felons, embezzlers, foreign lobbyists, personal lawyers under investigation by the FBI and on. The list reads like a cast of characters from an international spy novel. Trump continuously denies that he has any connections to Russia which rings more hollow every time he says it. On Sunday, it got even more questionable when this New York Times story hot the front page.

A week before Michael T. Flynn resigned as national security adviser, a sealed proposal was hand-delivered to his office, outlining a way for President Trump to lift sanctions against Russia.

Mr. Flynn is gone, having been caught lying about his own discussion of sanctions with the Russian ambassador. But the proposal, a peace plan for Ukraine and Russia, remains, along with those pushing it: Michael D. Cohen, the president’s personal lawyer, who delivered the document; Felix H. Sater, a business associate who helped Mr. Trump scout deals in Russia; and a Ukrainian lawmaker trying to rise in a political opposition movement shaped in part by Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort. [..]

The amateur diplomats say their goal is simply to help settle a grueling, three-year conflict that has cost 10,000 lives. “Who doesn’t want to help bring about peace?” Mr. Cohen asked.

But the proposal contains more than just a peace plan. Andrii V. Artemenko, the Ukrainian lawmaker, who sees himself as a Trump-style leader of a future Ukraine, claims to have evidence — “names of companies, wire transfers” — showing corruption by the Ukrainian president, Petro O. Poroshenko, that could help oust him. And Mr. Artemenko said he had received encouragement for his plans from top aides to Mr. Putin.

“A lot of people will call me a Russian agent, a U.S. agent, a C.I.A. agent,” Mr. Artemenko said. “But how can you find a good solution between our countries if we do not talk?”

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow has a good summery of the NYT report.

So who are all these people?

We know a little about Paul Manafort, possibly more that he’d like us to know, since he was briefly Trump’s campaign manager last summer but got the boot when it was discovered that he had failed to register as a foreign agent when he was playing footsie with pro-Russian former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. Last August, the New York Times reported finding ledgers pledging $12.7m in undisclosed cash payments from the former Russian-backed Ukrainian government to Mr Manafort between 2007 and 2012. Politico is now reporting that Manafort may have been the victim of a blackmail attempt:

A purported cyberhack of the daughter of political consultant Paul Manafort suggests that he was the victim of a blackmail attempt while he was serving as Donald Trump’s presidential campaign chairman last summer.

The undated communications, which are allegedly from the iPhone of Manafort’s daughter, include a text that appears to come from a Ukrainian parliamentarian named Serhiy Leshchenko, seeking to reach her father, in which he claims to have politically damaging information about both Manafort and Trump.

Manafort is also connected to Ukraine’s richest men, Dmytro Firtash who is under indictment here in the US on corruption charges. Manafort and Firtash were linked in a real estate project to redevelop the Drake Hotel site in Manhattan, a Trump organization project.

He is currently under investigation by the FBI.

The next character in this novel is pro-Putin Ukrainian parliamentarian named Andrii V. Artemenko, who met with Trump’s private lawyer Michael Cohen and Russian born Felix Sater, a convicted felon who we’ll get to later, about the so-called peace plan. Artemanko brands himself a Trump-style populist who is now under investigation by the FBI but also by prosecutors in the Ukraine for treason.

Michael is Trump’s personal lawyer, and prior to this appointment he was Executive Vice-President of The Trump Organization and special counsel to Trump. He has now given four conflicting statements about the Russian-Ukraine peace plan and is part of the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign’s Russian links.

The craziest character in all of this is Felix Sater, or Satter as he now calls himself. Sater was born in Russia and is an American citizen. As Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo puts it the details about Mr. Slater are eye-popping

He dropped out of college and began working as a stock broker. But in his late 20s he got into bar fight where he stabbed a fellow broker in the face with a shattered glass. He did time in prison for this attack. After he got out he got involved in a major securities fraud scheme (basically a ‘pump and dump’ operation) tied to the Genovese and Colombo crime families. He got caught. And that’s where things get interesting.

After Sater got busted, somehow he managed to offer his services to the FBI and supposedly the CIA to work on their behalf purchasing stinger missiles and other weapons on the then wild and free-wheeling Russian black market. Whatever Sater was doing for the CIA in the black market arms smuggling world seems to have become much more important after 9/11 – thus Sater’s high value to the US government.

I know that sounds all but incredible. The details of Sater’s alleged work for the CIA are contained in this September 2012 article in The Miami Herald. A good bit of the story emerges from an account by Sater’s accomplice, Salvatore Lauria. Lauria was Sater’s accomplice in the pump and dump scheme and was also there the night he stabbed the guy in the face at the bar. And yes, we’ll hear more from him in a moment. Because Lauria was also involved with Sater and Trump in the Trump SoHo building project. [..]

According to Sater’s Linkedin profile, Sater joined up with Bayrock in 1999 – in other words, shortly after he became involved with the FBI and CIA. (The Times article says he started up with Bayrock in 2003.) In a deposition, Trump said he first came into contact with Sater and Bayrock in the early 2000s. The Trump SoHo project was announced in 2006 and broke ground in November of that year. In other words, Sater’s involvement with Bayrock started soon after he started working with the FBI and (allegedly) the CIA. Almost the entire period of his work with Trump took place during this period when he was working for the federal government as at least an informant and had his eventual sentencing hanging over his head. [..]

What about Salvatore Lauria, Sater’s accomplice in the securities swindle?

He went to work with Bayrock too and was also closely involved with managing and securing financing for the Trump SoHo project.

The Times article I mentioned in my earlier post on Trump SoHo contains this …

Mr. Lauria brokered a $50 million investment in Trump SoHo and three other Bayrock projects by an Icelandic firm preferred by wealthy Russians “in favor with” President Vladimir V. Putin, according to a lawsuit against Bayrock by one of its former executives. The Icelandic company, FL Group, was identified in a Bayrock investor presentation as a “strategic partner,” along with Alexander Mashkevich, a billionaire once charged in a corruption case involving fees paid by a Belgian company seeking business in Kazakhstan; that case was settled with no admission of guilt.

Where this all goes no one knows bu as Charlie Pierce said, I will read any story anywhere that contains the phrase, “once stabbed a guy in the head with a broken margarita glass.”

Feb 23 2017

We Need That Pipeline Why Again?

So a guy from a brokerage came by to pitch my Dad, Richard, on pipeline bonds the other day. To his credit he was dead against it on environmental grounds, but as I told him flat out- even if they’re paying 11% today they’re nothing but a Ponzi scheme because we don’t need them.

Exxon to Leave Up to 3.6 Billion Barrels of Tar Sands/Oil Sands in the Ground
by Sarah Kent, Bradley Olson, and Georgi Kantchev, Energy Mix
February 22, 2017

ExxonMobil Corporation will admit this week that it can no longer profitably develop up to 3.6 billion barrels of its Alberta tar sands/oil sands reserves unless oil prices rise, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The formal acknowledgement, forced on Exxon by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, followed a quarterly report last fall in which Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s former employer admitted that up to 4.6 billion barrels of its reserves might have to stay in the ground.

The move comes after Exxon burned through $20 billion to “put the oil sands at the centre of its growth plans” through its Kearl project, about 70 kilometres north of Fort McMurray, and “highlights how dramatically the prospects of the region have dimmed,” the Journal reports [sub req’d]. “Once considered a safe bet, Canada’s vast deposits are emerging as a prominent case of reserves being stranded by a combination of high costs, low prices, and tough new environmental rules.”

“For a lot of reasons the oil sands look like a prime candidate for eventual abandonment,” Baker Institute energy fellow Jim Krane told the WSJ. “One problem is that costs are persistently higher. The high carbon content only makes it worse.” The uniquely carbon-intensive process for extracting Alberta heavy oil and bitumen, the Journal acknowledges, has prompted the federal and provincial governments to introduce an (not necessarily foolproof) emissions cap and a carbon levy, on top of the already-high cost of tar sands/oil sands production.

The Journal points to continuing low oil prices as the central factor that has “altered investment priorities” for fossil producers, drawing emphasis away from expensive (and acutely environmentally sensitive) Arctic, ultra-deep, and tar sands/oil sands deposits. “Such projects can require billions of dollars in up-front investment and seven to 10 years, or even more, to bring returns. Now companies are turning to new sources of crude oil, such as shale, that don’t require the same massive investment of time and money to bring to production,” the paper states.

Oil Prices Fall As Gasoline Glut Takes Its Toll
By Matt Smith, Oil Price Watch
Feb 22, 2017

U.S. refiners are starting to cut refinery runs amid record high gasoline inventories and slumping profit margins. At least three refineries have made cuts, and more seem set to follow.

While this will help to de-stock product inventories, this turns into a game of whack-a-mole for the crude complex. As product stocks ease due to lower refining activity, this is only going to encourage already-swollen crude inventories higher still. Refinery runs have just dropped below last year’s level for the first time this year.

U.S. waterborne crude imports this month are above both last year and February 2015, although lagging 2014’s level by nearly 400,000 bpd.

This lag makes sense given that domestic production and pipeline flows from Canada combined were about 10.5mn bpd in February 2014, while they have been around 12.5mn bpd for 2015, 2016, and now 2017 too.

This is confirmation not insight. Storage capacity is maxed out for both gasoline and crude with large quantities being held in obsolete Tankers saved from the scrapyards to which they will return if and only if the Global surplus is ever reduced.

It may not be, Solar is growing by leaps and bounds-

Total installation of solar power last year was up a whopping 95 percent on the year prior, led by the build-out of large solar arrays (as opposed to rooftop panels). While this trend of nearly doubling is not set to persist, total installed solar capacity is set to reach 105 gigawatts by 2021, up from ~38 gigawatts now.

Calling Doctor Brown. Doctor Emmett Brown.

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