You are browsing the archive for 2020 October 10.

Avatar of admin

by admin

Four types of scandals utility companies get into with money from your electric bills

October 10, 2020 in Blogs

By ProPublica

Across the country, electric utilities have worked the levers of power to win favorable treatment from state policymakers.

This week, a Richmond Times-Dispatch and ProPublica investigation found that Dominion Energy, Virginia’s largest public utility, successfully lobbied to reshape a major climate bill to cover its massive offshore wind project. The move shifted risk from the company’s shareholders to its ratepayers. As a result of the legislation, a typical residential customer’s bill is projected to increase by nearly $30 per month over the next decade.

Dominion says its wind project is necessary to meet the state’s new renewable energy goals. The utility’s lobbying success underscores its ability to work through the legislative process in Richmond, where special interests have taken on outsized roles in policymaking.

Elsewhere, utilities have gone much further, crossing the line into potentially criminal behavior.

In Illinois, the largest electric utility acknowledged in July it gave jobs and money to associates of the state House speaker in return for favorable legislation, according to a deferred prosecution agreement with the company in federal court.

In Ohio, a power company allegedly funneled $60 million into a slush fund for a legislative leader in exchange for his backing of a bailout of two nuclear plants. The utility has not been charged, but the elected official now faces a racketeering charge in what prosecutors said was “likely the largest bribery, money laundering scheme ever perpetrated” in the state.

“The temptation for a utility to take its customers’ money and spend it on influencing politics and essentially buying off politicians in ways to help them make even more money — it’s a temptation that has proven to be pretty irresistible for many utilities,” said David Pomerantz, executive director of the Energy and Policy Institute, a utility watchdog group that advocates renewable energy.

Below are four ways electric utilities have tried to influence decision-making within state and local governments.

Secret Political Spending

FirstEnergy is one of the nation’s largest electric companies and owns three regulated utilities in Ohio, where the FBI and federal prosecutors are seeking to unravel bribery allegations.

Authorities allege that FirstEnergy contributed $60 million to a group overseen by Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder in exchange for his help passing legislation that provided a billion-dollar bailout of two failing nuclear energy plants. That bill also reduced standards for renewable energy and the energy efficiency programs that save customers money.

Prosecutors have charged Householder with racketeering. He has pleaded …read more


Avatar of admin

by admin

'The entire map has moved': Trump's faltering campaign has handed Biden 'multiple pathways' to victory

October 10, 2020 in Blogs

By Tom Boggioni

According to a report from CNN, Donald Trump’s chances of being re-elected are diminishing daily which is handing his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, multiple pathways to the presidency.

Noting the president is falling behind in both polling and fundraising, CNN’s Eric Bradner writes the president, since he was released from Walter Reed Medical Center, has done nothing but waste his time airing his personal grievances which has done nothing to bring any new voters into the fold. That, in turn, is letting the Biden campaign go on the attack in states where the president is showing surprising weakness.

“With 24 days until the election and millions of votes already being cast, Biden’s aides and Democratic allies say Trump’s missteps and the former vice president’s message have given him a broad map with numerous paths to 270 electoral votes. Time is running out for Trump to change the race’s trajectory — and he is failing to capitalize on the opportunities that do exist,” Bradner wrote, before adding, “Trump’s actions over the week provoked a round of politically damaging headlines and left him without what could have been a valuable opportunity to improve on his first showing against Biden in a debate next week.”

Lending credence to Biden’s increasing chances of unseating Trump, Guy Cecil of the Priorities USA PAC claimed Trump “is struggling to bring new voters into the fold.”

Pointing to battleground states Michigan, Wisconsin and now Georgia, Cecil added, “The entire map has moved. Some states might move by a little more than others, but we have seen the entire map move towards Biden.”

According to the report, Trump is now in danger of losing both Ohio and Iowa, which would doom any chance he has of remaining in office. Should that happen, Bradner claims Trump would be looking at a “blowout.”

“As Trump pulls back, Biden — fueled by what sources familiar with the matter said will be a record-breaking fundraising month in September, topping August’s $365 million — is seeking to expand the competitive map, with ads in Texas and Iowa and a major statewide buy in Ohio this week,” the report continues. “Biden to date has outspent Trump in all six of those core battleground states, making them his campaign’s central focus even as it eyes a broader playing field that includes Ohio, Iowa and potentially Texas and Georgia.”

“Trump’s campaign has been aimed …read more


Avatar of admin

by admin

The week Donald Trump lost the election

October 10, 2020 in Blogs

By Salon

After the debate, he couldn’t hide what an asshole he is. After he got sick, he couldn’t hide how weak he is.

Trump was already down in the polls, both nationally and in many swing states, and after his unhinged performance in the debate with Joe Biden last week, his people knew he would lose more ground. Sure enough, two days later, an NBC/Wall Street Journal national poll had Biden up by 14 points, 53% to 39%, among registered voters. Biden’s margin among women was 20 points last month; in the new poll, he led by 27, 60% to 33%.

A CNN poll conducted at the same time, and largely after Trump first tested positive for the COVID virus, had Biden up over Trump by 16 points, 57% to 41%. Women in the CNN poll, who a month ago favored Biden by 20 points, now favored him by 34 points, 66% to 32%.

By last weekend, Trump was tanking in the polls, he was sick with COVID and he was in the hospital. So what did he do? Almost immediately after leaving Walter Reed Medical Center and making his mock-Mussolini triumphant return to the White House, he tweeted an end to any possible new stimulus package for COVID relief, calling off negotiations with Democrats.

There are more than 213,000 dead from the virus, new coronavirus cases are averaging 45,000 a day over the last week, and there were 53,000 new cases on Thursday alone. According to National Geographic, “the virus is spreading uncontrollably” in the Midwest, new cases are up in 15 states, and “deaths are still hovering around 900 to 1000 a day.”

Schools are shutting down in some places after reopening in August and September, some cities are closing bars and restaurants, and there were 840,000 new claims for unemployment last week.

This is the COVID election, folks.

But Trump has treated the virus with disdain and “played it down” from the beginning. First, he denied it was a problem at all and tried to wish it away. On Feb. 26, he said, “When you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.” Thirty-four times, Trump has said the virus was going …read more


Avatar of admin

by admin

Radicalized right-wingers uniting online — many inspired by Trump — threaten democracy overseas

October 10, 2020 in Blogs

By Common Dreams

Australian researchers published a study this week mapping the online activity of right-wing extremists in New South Wales, concluding such individuals—many of them inspired by U.S. President Donald Trump—pose an “insidious” threat to the country’s democracy.

The study, Mapping Networks and Narratives of Online Right-Wing Extremists in New South Wales, was conducted by researchers at Macquarie University and Victoria University, who analyzed the Facebook pages of 30 extreme right-wing groups and tens of thousands of tweets from over 3,300 users in the southeastern state.

The researchers found that on numerous social media platforms—including Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Gab, 4chan, and 8chan/kun—communities of mostly young men are uniting over “the theme of white identity under threat.”

Anti-semitism, Islamophobia, and far-right conspiracy theories like QAnon are common narratives used to engage and recruit young men into extremist groups, the study found. Trump plays a significant role in the conversation, according to Macquarie University researcher Julian Droogan.

“Trump is really held up as an example of a defender of white identity by many in this extreme subculture,” Droogan told The Guardian. “However, we also see it being presented in a distinctly Australian way.”

The researchers found that right-wing extremism fueled by social media poses a serious threat to Australian democracy.

“The propagation of extremist narratives online serves to polarize political debate, and to undermine trust in institutions and democracy,” the study asserts. “Social media is playing a key role in the rise of right-wing violent extremism.”

As an example, the authors cite the Christchurch terror attack, in which a Trump-supporting Australian white supremacist livestreamed his massacre of 51 Muslims worshipping in a New Zealand mosque last March.

The researchers call on Australian leaders to work to safeguard the nation’s political system “from these very insidious and ongoing threats.”

The rise in right-wing extremism is reflected in statements from the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation, Australia’s domestic spy agency, which recently revealed that up to 40% of its counter-terrorism cases now involve far-right extremism.

…read more


Avatar of admin

by admin

The Squad questions why death threats against Republican lives are taken more seriously than theirs

October 10, 2020 in Blogs

By Aysha Qamar

Tweets hoping that Donald Trump dies have been circulating on Twitter since last Friday, after Trump tweeted confirming he tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 2. But instead of ignoring them, as Twitter does for many comments and threats directed at people of color, the social media giant retweeted a post mentioning that tweets referencing death wishes are against its policies. “Tweets that wish or hope for death, serious bodily harm or fatal disease against *anyone* are not allowed and will need to be removed,” the post said.

The post quickly garnered criticism, with many accusing Twitter of having a double standard when it comes to threats affecting white individuals and people of color. Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib—known as ‘The Squad’—joined the conversation to express their views on the issue as well. All four women of color serving in the House have faced a number of threats due to their identity and ideology. “So… you mean to tell us you could’ve done this the whole time?” New York Rep. Ocasio-Cortez tweeted in reply to the announcement.

Minnesota Rep. Omar, who has received countless threats as the first hijab-wearing member of Congress, replied to the same announcement with a gif that read, “Excuse me?” Omar has made headlines throughout her fledgling career in Congress for being targeted by Trump, his supporters, and other Republicans for not being American enough. False tweets have consistently been aimed at her, in which she has been depicted not only as burning the American flag but as a perpetrator of the Sept. 11 attacks.

While Twitter claims that anyone who encounters abuse should report it immediately in order for it to be addressed, according to The Hill, Omar has repeatedly taken to Twitter to share death threats, including one in August 2019. The policy is not new and death threats have always fallen under the category of abuse behavior policy on the site. However, disparities are clear when it comes to which posts get removed and flagged, and …read more