Month: July 2017

Orange Is the New Orange: Why Trump Must Resign by Nagasaki/Nixon Day

by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman

Originally posted on August 27, 2012 at Reader Supported News

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ngst, fear, and loathing are the overwhelming emotions six months into the disastrous Trump presidency. Just exactly who or what do we have at the helm of the United States Ship of State, and the little red button that could end life as we know it?

The planet and its leaders are watching in horror as the ship appears to be capsizing. Trump and his fools enrich themselves, all the while gleefully decimating domestic social programs, dooming the environment, and destroying our nation’s relationships around the world.

Simply put, what we have is an international criminal hell-bent on continuing his crime spree within and without his corrupt administration. Making the world safe for oligarchy.

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Casinos, luxury hotels: Money laundering

Let’s see, casinos, pricey real estate, the Russian mob, the U.S. mafia … hmmm. One plus one plus one equals money laundering.

The notorious meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and assorted Russian operatives spawned new allegations and suspicions that the Trump family colluded with Russian intelligence to try to gain electoral victory over Hillary Clinton. The details remain murky but the truth is likely more diabolical.

Not that Clinton wasn’t busy demonizing the Russians and using the Clinton Foundation for political payoffs.

The meetings with Putin’s comrades and Trump’s entourage may indicate the president may merely be a bagman and money washer for the Russian mafia.

This perception is magnified by Trump’s unprecedented refusal to release his tax forms, which may indicate his net worth to be largely in rubles.

Trump has a long history of involvement with the Russian government. Trump’s first visit to Russia was in 1987 at Soviet ambassador Yuri Dubin’s invitation.

Craig Unger’s New Republic article, “Trump’s Russian Laundromat,” essentially argues that Trump’s money laundering for Russian mobsters is what propelled his worldwide real estate empire.

Trump’s closely-held private real estate holdings, according to Unger, provide the perfect resources for illegal money laundering. Unger cites “a flow of highly suspicious money from Russia.” He points out, “Over the past three decades at least 13 people with known or alleged links to Russian mobsters or oligarchs have owned, lived in, and even run criminal activities out of the Trump Tower and other Trump properties. Many used his apartments and casinos to launder untold millions in dirty money.”

Business Insider noted that U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice recently settled a major money-laundering case involving a real estate company owned by the son of powerful Russian government official Pyotr Katsyz, former vice governor of the Moscow region. Katsyz’s son Dennis owns the real estate company Prebezon, which was accused of laundering millions of dollars through New York City real estate when the case was “unexpectedly settled two days before going to trial in May,” according to Business Insider.

The attorney representing the Katsyz family was none other than Natalia Beselnitskaya, who met with Donald Trump Jr. on June 9, 2016, to allegedly disclose damaging information concerning Hillary Clinton. She was described as a “Russian government attorney” in Trump Junior’s emails. Democratic House Judiciary Committee members sent a letter to Sessions inquiring about Beselnitskaya’s involvement in the settlement.

Also in attendance on June 9 was Renat Akhmetshin, described by CNN as “a U.S. citizen lobbyist promoting Russian interests and a former Soviet military officer,” and Aras Agalarov, owner of the Crocus Group, a Moscow-based property company.

The mystery man, or the 8th person who emerged at Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russians, turned out to be Irakly “Ike” Kaveladze, a Crocus Group vice president accused of laundering more than $1.4 billion into the U.S. from Eastern Europe. Kaveladze allegedly used 2,000 shell companies to launder money into the U.S.

Essentially, Trump Jr.’s meeting was a perfect Russian triumvirate representing an alleged money launderer, the Russian military, and a pro-Putin oligarch.

If Trump is to be impeached and his clumsy cover-up of Russian ties revealed, it will be because the laundered money was easy to follow from the election tampering to Putin meddling.

Forget about the Russians, Trump supports American-made election riggers

While Trump’s apparent law-breaking focuses on the Russians, his primary anti-American assault is his bogus Election Integrity Commission led by Kris Kobach, whose Crosscheck program stripped countless non-millionaire citizens from the voter rolls in at least 30 states, critical to putting Trump in the White House. The man who rigged Ohio’s 2004 election, Ken Blackwell, also serves on the Commission.

As Americans, we cannot allow this high-tech Jim Crow destruction of the electoral process to lead to a permanent, one-party dictatorship.

This official lynch mob must be replaced by a national commission to promote universal hand-counted paper ballots and universal automatic voter registration, with legally protected, transparent voter rolls.

At least now the media and establishment have to admit U.S. election systems can be and have been hacked — a fact the Free Press has investigated and reported for over 15 years.

Resign or be convicted

All of this raises the blackmail issue. Which foreign entities, including crime syndicates, have information to compromise Trump and his close personal entourage?

It’s not just the Russian connections we should be investigating. As The New Yorker pointed out, “Throughout the Presidential campaign, Trump was in business with someone that his company knew was likely a partner with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.”

Trump’s “Trump Tower Baku” was a failed luxury hotel project in Azerbaijan, considered one of the world’s most corrupt nations. His partner was Zaya Mammadov, a billionaire oligarch tied to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, who worked as the Azerbaijan Transportation Minister for $12,000 a year.

The Guardian reported in mid-June that “Donald Trump – like Richard Nixon” is now “under investigation for obstruction of justice.” There is already speculation that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is also investigating Trump’s alleged money laundering.

Trump has questioned Mueller’s impartiality regarding the Russian investigation and has contemplated firing Mueller in perhaps his own version of the infamous “Saturday Night Massacre,” when Nixon fired Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox.

Donald Trump must resign the presidency by August 9, the anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki and the resignation of Richard Nixon.

In Trump’s brief tenure, he’s already fired James Comey, the FBI Director, for failing to pledge personal loyalty. Trump went on to try to intimidate Comey by suggesting he might have “tapes” of their conversations. The Washington Post reported that Trump then tried to get CIA director Mike Pompeo and Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats to kill the FBI investigation into Trump’s Russian connections.

Trump’s coverups must stop. If by August 9 he hasn’t resigned, he needs to be convicted, perp-walked, and removed.

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Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of THE STRIP & FLIP DISASTER OF AMERICA’S STOLEN ELECTIONS (www.freepress.org) where Bob’s FITRAKIS FILES are also available. Harvey’s SOLARTOPIA! is at www.solartopia.org, along with HARVEY WASSERMAN’S HISTORY OF THE US.

Ohio’s Anti-Wind Regulation Comes at a Serious Cost

by Harvey Wasserman

July 26, 2017 (originally posted at Progressive.org)

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Wind turbines in Blue Creek Township, Ohio

In the corporate war against renewable energy, a single Ohio regulation stands out.

It is a simple clause slipped into the state budget without open discussion, floor debate, or public hearings.

The restriction is costing Ohio billions of dollars and thousands of jobs.

The regulation demands that wind turbines sited in the Buckeye State be at least 1,125 feet from the blade tip to the nearest property line, about 1300 feet total—nearly a quarter-mile.

Ohio’s setback rule is similar to one in Wisconsin, where progress on wind power has atrophied. Lincoln County in South Dakota just passed a requirement that turbines be at least a half-mile from any residence. And Vermont is pondering a rule change to require a setback of ten times the turbine height, which in the case of a 500-foot turbine would be nearly a mile.

Such regulations threaten to kill wind power, thus protecting corporate investments in nuclear power and fossil-fuel generators. The situation is Ohio is especially egregious.

FirstEnergy, owner of Ohio’s two dying reactors at Perry and Davis-Besse, is now strong-arming the legislature and regulators for $4.5 billion in handoutsto sustain two money-losing nukes whose electricity is far more expensive than what would come from currently approved wind projects, and whose 1,400-odd jobs would be dwarfed by the new turbine construction. Should the wind projects proceed, northern Ohio would be flooded with cheap, clean, reliable electricity that would push the two nuclear “mistakes by the lake,” as they’ve been called, even further outside the competitive pale.

Energy expert Ned Ford, based in southwestern Ohio, estimates it would take seven years or less for new wind construction to fully replace the production from Ohio’s two old reactors, and to do it at prices well below their current cost. A report by the American Wind Energy Association says proposed Ohio wind-energy projects could generate $4.2 billion in private investment, producing thousands of jobs in Ohio-based production, installation, and maintenance while generating billions in local income, much of it for badly stressed farmers.

Together, the cost to Ohio of this regulation adds up to $8.7 billion.

Proponents claim that tall turbines somehow threaten the value of neighboring properties. But the quarter-mile rule would thin out potential turbine installations to the point of making nearly all proposed wind farms economically unsustainable.

Ironically, northern Ohio has one of the world’s most potentially profitable wind regimes. The breezes coming down off the Great Lakes are strong and steady. The land is flat. The area is covered with access roads and established transmission lines. The power source is close to urban areas, such as Toledo and Cleveland, making transmission losses relatively marginal.

Major global wind companies such as Spain’s Iberdrola have long-since won approval for a fleet of Ohio wind farms whose capital investments range into the hundreds of millions, and whose construction jobs would be in the thousands, far outstripping the numbers working at the state’s residual reactors. Hundreds more jobs would come with long-term turbine maintenance.

According to Eric Thumma, director of policy and regulatory affairs for Iberdrola, the regulation “basically zones new wind projects out of Ohio.” That would include at least ten wind farms Iberdrola has had fully permitted since 2014, one of them with 304 megawatts of capacity, plus two more waiting in the wings.

Farmers in the region strongly support wind-energy projects. The footprint of a utility-scale turbine covers up just an acre of land. Farmers who host them lose a small fraction of their agricultural productivity, and access roads to build turbines can temporarily cost some crop space. But in many cases, once the windmills are in, farmers just plough over and plant those strips of soil on the usually safe bet that not much will go wrong.

Once installed, the turbines provide farmers with substantial lease payments that can even exceed what they make from actually raising crops other than electricity.

Ohio also stands to benefit from long-stalled projects slated for the middle of Lake Erie, where steady winds are among the world’s most powerful. Amidst relatively shallow waters, the sites, like those on land, are relatively close to major population centers. But while FirstEnergy beats up the legislature demanding billions in reactor subsidies, capital has been slow to flow to the offshore projects.

Recent attempts to rescind the anti-wind restriction are backed by some of the state’s strongest manufacturing, financial, and commercial interests. According to energy expert Ford, lifting the restriction could allow billions in currently stalled projects, and open the door to more. Even without the ones in the lake, Ford calculates that land-based turbines and solar panels could easily supply all Ohio’s electrical needs and make the state a major energy exporter.

In 2010, under then-Governor Ted Strickland, a Democrat, the Ohio legislature enacted a sweeping mandate in support of renewable energy. It was killed when Republican Governor John Kasich came to power and the GOP gained a death grip on both houses of the legislature. Many Republicans argued then (and now) that “market forces” should determine where Ohio’s energy will come from—while simultaneously demanding the uncompetitive reactors be bailed out and doing all they can to sabotage the influx of cheap renewables.

But according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, Ohio has more than sixtywind-related manufacturing facilities, more than any other state. In 2016, amidst a nationwide green power boom, that industry supported between 2,000 and 3,000 Ohio jobs, more than the 1,400 at Ohio’s two decrepit nuclear plants.

So the death of Ohio’s renewable energy mandate has not only cost it cheaper long-term electric rates and countless installation and maintenance jobs, it continues to cripple the domestic infrastructure poised to produce much of the hardware for the state’s own wind farms.

It’s a lose-lose proposition. The people of Ohio deserve better.

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Harvey Wasserman’s most recent piece for The Progressive is “The Unstoppable Green Power Revolution.” He is author of Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth and co-author, with Dan Juhl, of Harvesting Wind Energy as a Cash Crop.

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