California Tries to Decrease Fossil Fuel Production, Raising Concerns About Finding Alternative

In its latest move to combat purported human-caused climate change, the California state legislature recently passed the state budget bill for 2019–2020, which in part authorizes the state’s Environmental Protection Agency to conduct studies and identify strategies to manage the decline of in-state crude oil production and decrease demand and supply of fossil fuel.

The move has led some people to question how the state plans to replace the energy generated from fossil fuels.

“California is the only state in America that imports its oil,” Ronald Stein, co-author of the book “Energy Made Easy” and a policy advisor for the Heartland Institute, told The Epoch Times.

Stein said the reason is California’s restrictive climate policies.

“We’re sending 60 million dollars a day to foreign countries for the oil to keep the fifth largest economy in the world moving forward, and this [bill] is going to reduce the production in the state even more. There will be more and more dependency on foreign countries, and instead of spending 60 million a day, with this new bill, they will be spending 90 million dollars a day for oil from abroad,” he said.

California is one of the leading states when it comes to funding efforts to combat allegedly human-caused climate change. State leaders have hailed the funding in the budget as the next step in that fight.

In a video published by BakersfieldNow, Governor Gavin Newsom praised the funding while attempting to quell concerns about how it will affect the economy.

“This is an economy that built this state; parts of this state are dependent on it,” he said. “And I want to begin the transition, but I want to do it thoughtfully, and I want to paint a picture of what the transition looks like.

“I want to be honest with people that we’re not going to leave anybody behind, that we have a plan,” he continued. “That’s why we put money into the state budget to actually put the first state effort and energy into a real plan on transition.”

According to Stein, the state’s hopes of replacing fossil fuel and oil production with green energy sources are not realistic.

“Solar panels and wind turbines cannot operate the military, they cannot operate the airlines and the cruise ships and the merchant ships,” Stein said.

“If you wanted to, you could shut down the oil industry,” he said. “Energy is a world market, but if you shut it down here, you would have to import it from other countries and other states. And other countries and states don’t have the same environmental controls as California, so doing that would actually increase the greenhouse gas emissions.

“Most importantly, though, importing oil from outside the state would increase its cost, which in turn would further drive up the cost of living in California.”

Stein pointed to Germany as an example of problems that arise when states try to replace fossil fuels with green energy.

Germany pioneered a system of subsidies for industrial wind and solar energy, dubbed Energiewende, but last year the country was forced to acknowledge that it had to delay its phase-out of coal. It also announced that Germany would not meet its 2020 greenhouse gas reduction commitments.

Meanwhile, Germans pay more than any other nation for energy. Earlier this year, Forbes reported that the Energiewende program has cost Germany 32 billion euros over the past five years, which equals US$36 billion.

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Author: Jehman Clifford

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Three Soldiers Died During a Blackhawk Maintenance Test Flight Crash in Minnesota

Gov. Tim Walz announced the death of 3 soldiers in a helicopter crash in central Minnesota, at a press conference on Thursday night.

The UH-60 Black Hawk disappeared 9 minutes after its departure for a test flight and was soon found wrecked in between trees about 16 miles from St.Cloud, according to Fox News.

“As governor and citizen of this great state and a veteran of the Minnesota National Guard, my heart breaks for the family, the friends, and the fellow soldiers,” said Walz. “On behalf of all Minnesotans, we offer our deepest sympathies to the families of these warriors. Words will never ease the pain of this tragic loss and the state of Minnesota is forever in the debt of these warriors.”

Information on the cause of the crash is “preliminary,” according to Walz, and the Army Safety Center investigators from Fort Rucker in Alabama will be investigating details on the scene on Friday.

The UH-60 Black Hawk was conducting a maintenance test flight, taking off from St. Cloud Aviation Facility at 1:55 p.m. Just 9 minutes after takeoff, the copter sent an emergency “mayday” alert and lost contact since.

Dave Tannehill was among the first to take a flight to help search for the missing crew and brought along “extra sets of eyes” to help look, Star Tribune reported.

“We were hoping to find a helicopter sitting in the middle of a field with a couple guys standing next to it looking for a ride. But not lucky enough to find that,” he said.

UH-60 Black Hawk had crashed at 2:15 p.m. near Pearl Lake Lodge in Marty, Minnesota, according to the outlet, adding that the crash showed extensive wreckage.

Allegedly, there were at least to witnesses at the scene who reported that the copter “went down hard”. But they had not witnessed any fire or smoke when it went down.

“It was bad news for everyone,” Tannehill said.

“Our Minnesota National Guard family is devastated by the deaths of these soldiers, and our priority right now is ensuring that our families are taken care of,” said Brig. Gen. Sandy Best, deputy adjutant general of the Minnesota National Guard.
“The coming days will be dark and difficult,” said Gov. Tim Walz.

The names of the 3 soldiers will be released after their families are notified.

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Author: Zusmee Byamba

Paris Police Arrest Scores Amid Strike Over Pension Reform

Paris police fired tear gas at demonstrators Thursday as the Eiffel Tower shut down, France’s high-speed trains came to a standstill and hundreds of thousands marched nationwide in a strike over the government’s plan to overhaul the retirement system.

At least 90 people were arrested in Paris by evening as the protests wound down.

Police said 65,000 people took to the streets of the French capital, and over 800,000 nationwide in often-tense demonstrations aimed at forcing President Emmanuel Macron to abandon pension reform.

The open-ended walkout by the country’s unions represents the biggest challenge to Macron since the yellow vest movement against economic inequality erupted a year ago.

Opponents fear the changes to how and when workers can retire will threaten the hard-fought French way of life. Macron himself remained “calm and determined” to push it through, according to a top presidential official.

In Paris, small groups of masked activists smashed store windows, set fires and hurled flares on the sidelines of a march that was otherwise peaceful. Demonstrators also shot firecrackers at police in body armor. Some journalists were mugged in the street.

The Louvre closed some of its galleries, and the Palace of Versailles shut down. Subway stations across Paris closed their gates, high-speed TGV trains canceled their runs, and nearly 20% of flights at Paris’ Orly Airport were reported grounded.

Many visitors, including the U.S. energy secretary, canceled plans to travel to one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations.

Some travelers showed support for the striking workers. Others complained about being embroiled in someone else’s fight.

“I had no idea about the strike happening, and I was waiting for two hours in the airport for the train to arrive, and it didn’t arrive,” said vacationer Ian Crossen, from New York. “I feel a little bit frustrated. And I’ve spent a lot of money. I’ve spent money I didn’t need to, apparently.”

Beneath the Eiffel Tower, tourists from Thailand, Canada and Spain echoed those sentiments.

Paris authorities barricaded the presidential palace and deployed 6,000 police officers. Police ordered all businesses, cafes and restaurants in the area to close and detained 71 people before the demonstration even started.

Authorities banned protests in the more sensitive neighborhoods around the Champs-Elysees avenue, the presidential palace, Parliament and Notre Dame Cathedral.

Health workers showed up to decry conditions in hospitals. Students pointed to recent student suicides and demanded government action.

And young and old roundly condemned the new retirement plan, which they fear would take money out of their pockets and reduce the leisure period the French expect have come to expect in the last decades of their lives.

Skirmishes broke out between police firing tear gas and protesters throwing flares in the western city of Nantes, and thousands of red-vested union activists marched through cities from Marseille on the Mediterranean to Lille in the north.

Lacking public transportation, commuters used shared bikes or electric scooters despite near-freezing temperatures. Many people in the Paris region worked from home or took a day off to stay with their children, since 78% of teachers in the capital went on strike.

The big question is how long the walkout will last. Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne said she expects the travel troubles to be just as bad on Friday, and unions said they will maintain the Paris subway strike at least through Monday.

Joseph Kakou, who works an overnight security shift in western Paris, walked an hour to get to his home on the eastern side of town.

“It doesn’t please us to walk. It doesn’t please us to have to strike,” he said. “But we are obliged to, because we can’t work until 90 years old.”

The deeply unpopular Macron is expected to reveal the details of his plan next week. The government has promised not to touch the official retirement age—62, though lower for certain physically demanding occupations—but the plan will encourage some people to work longer.

To Macron, the retirement reform is central to his plan to transform France so it can compete globally in the 21st century. The government argues France’s 42 retirement systems need streamlining.

By Thomas Adamson and Claire Parker

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Author: The Associated Press

US to Exchange Ambassadors With Sudan, Ending 23-Year Gap

WASHINGTON—The United States and Sudan plan to begin exchanging ambassadors after a 23-year gap, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday in the latest sign of warming relations between the two countries.

The relationship between Washington and Khartoum has improved since the overthrow in April of President Omar al-Bashir and the formation of a civilian transitional government in August.

The announcement that the two countries would begin the process of exchanging ambassadors again came during Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s first visit to Washington on Wednesday.

“This decision is a meaningful step forward in strengthening the U.S.-Sudan bilateral relationship, particularly as the civilian-led transitional government works to implement the vast reforms under the political agreement and constitutional declaration of August 17, 2019,” Pompeo said in a statement praising Hamdok.

The prime minister discussed strengthening ties between the United States and Sudan during his meeting in Washington with David Hale, the U.S. State Department undersecretary for political affairs.

“After a 23-year interruption, it is great to see the start of the ambassadors exchange operation between Sudan and the United States of America. This is an important step towards rebuilding Sudan,” Hamdok said on Twitter after the meeting.

Washington and Khartoum had been at odds for decades. The U.S. government added Sudan to its list of state sponsors of terrorism in 1993 over allegations that Bashir’s Islamist government was supporting terrorist groups, a designation that makes Sudan technically ineligible for debt relief and financing from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

Last month, a senior State Department official said the United States may remove Sudan from the list and that the two countries no longer had an adversarial relationship. Congress needs to approve such a removal.

Months of demonstrations over price hikes for fuel and bread and cash shortages led to an uprising against Bashir, who was toppled by the military in April.

Sudan’s transitional government was formed in August and it agreed with the United States that it could start engaging with international institutions while still on a list of countries deemed sponsors of terrorism.

By Daphne Psaledakis, Susan Heavey and Tim Ahmann

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Author: Reuters

Rudy Drops Ukraine Grenade on Biden & Obama With Mysterious Tweet About Billions of Missing U.S. Cash

KABOOM. Rudy Giuliani just dropped a bank safe on the heads of Joe Biden and Barack Obama — a bank safe that might be missing billions in U.S. funds. This is getting interesting. And ugly. Fast. And what a surprise, MORE missing money linked to Biden and his former boss. And talk of another Obama-linked…

The post Rudy Drops Ukraine Grenade on Biden & Obama With Mysterious Tweet About Billions of Missing U.S. Cash appeared first on True Pundit.

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Author: admin

Trump Lights National Christmas Tree in Holiday Tradition

WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump helped light the National Christmas Tree on Thursday, taking part in a nearly century-old holiday tradition in the nation’s capital.

The 30-foot tree is decorated with 50,000 lights and 450 giant white star ornaments. The National Park Service planted the tree in President’s Park, just south of the White House, in late October.

The previous tree, a Colorado blue spruce from Virginia, was planted in 2012, but it was damaged last year when a man tried to climb it.

It’s the 97th straight year that the sitting president has participated in the lighting ceremony.

This year’s celebration included performances by Jessie James Decker, Spensha Baker, Colton Dixon, the Air Force rock band Max Impact, Chevel Shepherd, Tucson Boys Chorus, the United States Marine Band, and West Tennessee Youth Chorus.

(L) Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), second from right, and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), right, wait for President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump to attend the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at the Ellipse near the White House, on Dec. 5, 2019. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

The first tree lighting took place on Christmas Eve in 1923, when the 30th President of the United States Calvin Coolidge lit a 48-foot balsam fir in front of 3,000 spectators.

The tree is surrounded by 56 smaller trees featuring ornaments from every state and territory and the District of Columbia.

By Aamer Madhani

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Author: The Associated Press

African Students on Chinese Scholarships Made to Sing Military Songs, Salute Chinese Regime Flag

BLANTYRE, Malawi—When your first language isn’t Chinese, you can perhaps expect to have trouble with studying medicine or engineering in China. But some African students who received scholarships to attend Chinese universities discovered that there was something even more troubling in store for them.

Since Malawi established diplomatic relations with China in 2007, various attempts have been made by both sides to strengthen ties. Offering scholarships to Malawian students to study in China has been one such endeavor.

But some scholarship students’ experiences have turned out to be different than expected, leaving some of them with no option but to cut short their studies and return home.

Unexpected Requirements

Zipporah Bvalani, 24, was accepted to study chemical engineering at the Taiyuan University of Technology; she was one of hundreds of students who received a scholarship via the Chinese state bursary program.

“I was so excited to have been given the opportunity, as the program had not been introduced in Malawian universities yet,” Bvalani told The Epoch Times.

However, she was initially greeted in China with the need to attend quasi-military training as part of “orientation” before starting her studies.

“The military thing changed my whole perspective of what studying at the university is all about. They would make us sing war songs, and salute the Chinese flag while the national anthem was being played. I didn’t really like it because I thought they were trying to take away my identity, like trying to make me one of their own,” Bvalani said.

“They told us that if we didn’t do the military training, then we wouldn’t be able to graduate. No one really liked it. And some of our schoolmates were coming from war-torn countries. It was awkward.”

Language Struggles

Bvalani needed to learn Chinese during her first year in China, to prepare her for her degree path.

While she passed the language proficiency exams, she had only a basic grasp of the language and struggled to understand the lessons for her degree—which were conducted solely in Chinese. Bvalani was the first and only foreign student in her university department. She asked her lecturers and government officials for help, but none was forthcoming.

“I told the embassy about what was happening in my school and emailed the scholarship council, but I never got any meaningful response. I called the embassy during the first training, but they said we came to China on our own accord,” Bvalani said.

Similar stories were disclosed in an investigation by amaBhungane, a not-for-profit investigative news organization that documented students’ experiences. At least seven students described having a similar experience.

One student said she wrote to the China Scholarship Council and asked to be transferred to an English language university, but was just told to surrender the scholarship.

Additional Challenges

According to the students, the lecturers gave preference to Chinese students over the international students, making learning even more challenging. Struggles were often disguised by inflated grades or lowered pass marks.

One master’s student also described having to adhere to “political correctness” during his studies.

“There was no academic freedom in the classes—you couldn’t speak or write about many things. You had to go for neutral subjects because you didn’t want to offend anyone,” he told amaBhungane.

Bvalani withdrew from the university in her second year and returned to Malawi, where she enrolled at a local university. She had to find funds to pay for her own airfare home, which was not covered by the bursary unless she completed her studies.

“Other students would want to come back [to Malawi], but they don’t have funds [to enroll in university],” said Bvalani. “They are too poor to pay for their education here in Malawi, even though the education they are getting in China is not what they expected.”

Many of the students chosen for the scholarships, however, are allegedly relatives of Malawian politicians and elites, according to students and three Malawian journalists who visited the campuses in China, who spoke to amaBhungane.

Some other students also returned home for a fresh start, including medical students, who face additional challenges in Malawi even if they do graduate.

Before they can work as doctors, the medical students must complete a one-year internship when they return to Malawi, as their training isn’t trusted, one student told amaBhungane.

Wezzie Kamanga, who graduated after six years in China with a degree in medicine from Southeast University in Nangjing City, reported facing “enormous difficulties,” not only with the language and having to write using Chinese characters.

She told amaBhungane that when she visited Malawi at the end of her third year and attached herself to a teaching hospital in Malawi, she was surprised by how little medical knowledge and clinical experience she had, compared to her Malawian counterparts. At her Chinese university, only final-year students were allowed into hospitals.

Improvements

Steve Sharra, a senior knowledge translation scientist at the African Institute for Development Policy, said there’s a need to understand China’s reasons for sending these students to universities where the language of instruction is in Chinese rather than English.

“The manner in which the scholarships are being disbursed to Malawian students is regrettable,” Sharra said in an email.

“It is disturbing to learn of what is happening to the students, being made to sit in lectures where they are not understanding anything. What’s worse, the Chinese lecturers manipulate the students’ grades to make it appear as if the students are able to cope with the language and the course content.

“That is academic fraud and would be punished elsewhere.”

Sharra noted that the one year of Chinese language instruction that the Malawian students are given could be improved to enable the students to better grasp the course content.

The program could be extended, or other language-learning methods could be employed to boost the students’ proficiency in Chinese, he said.

While Chinese students studying abroad face similar problems, most of them began learning English in elementary school.

The ministry of education in Malawi didn’t respond to requests from The Epoch Times for comment. The Chinese Embassy also didn’t respond to emails seeking an interview.

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Author: Charles Pensulo

Closing a California State Prison Makes Newsom’s Bucket List

If California Gov. Gavin Newsom has it his way, a state prison will be shut down sometime before he kicks the bucket.

“I would like to see, in my lifetime and hopefully my tenure, that we shut down a state prison. But you can’t do that flippantly. And you can’t do that without the support of the unions, support of these communities, the staff, and that requires an alternative that can meet everyone’s needs and desires,” Newsom told the Fresno Bee editorial board recently.

Newsom brought up the idea of shutting down a prison in a broader conversation on criminal justice reform and never specified which prison, the newspaper reported on Nov. 24. However, California’s political leaders have often suggested closing San Quentin. Built on San Francisco’s north shore in 1852, the prison is the state’s oldest.

In his first year as governor, Newsom has made several bold moves related to criminal justice reform. He suspended the death penalty for the remainder of his time in office and signed a law prohibiting private prisons from operating in the state.

On. Oct. 11, the Democratic governor signed into law Assembly Bill 32, which will phase out the use of all private, for-profit prisons, including both prisons and immigration detention facilities, in California. The bill, authored by Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), will bar the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) from entering into or renewing contracts with a private prison company after Jan. 1, 2020 and will prevent California from holding inmates in privately run prison facilities by 2028.

“During my inaugural address, I vowed to end private prisons, because they contribute to over-incarceration, including those that incarcerate California inmates and those that detain immigrants and asylum seekers. These for-profit prisons do not reflect our values,” Newsom said in a media release when he signed the bill.

Bonta called the signing of AB 32 “a truly historic moment” and slammed the privately-run prison system.

“By ending the use of for-profit, private prisons and detention facilities, we are sending a powerful message that we vehemently oppose the practice of profiteering off the backs of Californians in custody, that we will stand up for the health, safety and welfare of our people, and that we are committed to humane treatment for all,” Bonta said.

CDCR has exited two private prisons this year: the La Palma Correctional Institute in Arizona in June and the Central Valley Modified Community Correctional Facility in September.

The use of private prisons in California has helped the state adhere to a May 23, 2011 Supreme Court ruling that upheld a 2009 three-judge panel’s federal court order requiring the state to reduce its inmate population to 137.5 percent of the prison system’s design capacity. Before California implemented its Public Safety Realignment initiative to deal with the problem of severe prison overcrowding, the prison population had grown to about 180 percent of capacity, and inmates were not getting routine medical and mental health care.

The state passed two assembly bills: AB 109 and AB 117, which became law on Oct. 1 the same year. The “realignment” strategy was an attempt to reduce the state prison population by moving inmates to county jails. Under the new laws, non-violent, non-serious, and non-sexual offenders with sentences of more than one year were to be held in county jails instead of state prisons.

By 2014, the state had offloaded about 25,000 inmates to county jails but fell 9,600 prisoners short of the federal court order deadline, which was extended for two more years. The state’s prison population had grown 12 percent since the original court order was upheld.

In mid-October, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said in a statement that AB 32 was under legal review.

“The idea that a state law can bind the hands of a federal law enforcement agency managing a national network of detention facilities is simply false,” the ICE statement read.

The new state law would force ICE to move detainees to facilities outside the state, affecting California residents, who would have to travel greater distances to visit friends and family members in custody, according to the federal agency.

ICE has come under fire from state lawmakers who have accused it of attempting to circumvent the new state law by trying to lock down long-term contracts with private detention facility operators in California before AB 32 takes effect.

The California State Sheriffs’ Association (CSSA) has also opposed AB 32, mainly on the basis of prison overcrowding.

“While there has been a significant reduction in the state prison population since Realignment, it remains a challenge to continue to meet the federal three-judge panel mandate to relieve prison overcrowding. Removing CDCR’s authority to contract with private prisons takes away a tool and increases the likelihood of releases of dangerous inmates from state prison and heightens pressure to have county jails take on more custodial capacity that would otherwise be housed in state prison,” the CSSA argued. “Given the significant responsibilities and challenges already assumed by local entities under Realignment and the great pressure on local systems that would surely occur in the wake of an influx of new, serious, offenders in local custody, we are exceedingly concerned about hamstringing state prison officials.”

The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) supported the bill, arguing that privately-run prisons are no longer necessary.

“Since peaking in 2006, California’s prison population has been steadily declining, currently standing at 135 percent of design capacity,” the unions said in their letter of support for the bill. “While more still needs to be done to further prison reform, California no longer needs to rely on private prisons to meet the demand of inmate housing.”

As of Nov. 27, the state’s prison population was at 131.5 percent of design capacity, according to CDCR data.

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Author: Brad Jones