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European Commission rules Poland has to suspend new retailer tax

The European Commission has opened an investigation into Poland?s new retailer tax and issued an injunction stating that Poland has to suspend it as sees the progressive rate of the tax and varying tax-free amounts for different-size retailers as inadmissible state aid. ?The Commission has opened an in-depth investigation into a Polish tax on the retail sector,? the statement said. ?The Commission has concerns that the progressive rates based on turnover give companies with a low turnover a selective advantage over their competitors in breach of EU state aid rules.? For the full story, please visit The Warsaw Voice. (Photo: Carlos Sillero/freeimages.com) Comments comments more info » more...

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The Once and Future Trump

The Republican Party was torn asunder by a populist media personality running a nationalist campaign based on immigration restriction, protectionism, and an anti-internationalist foreign policy. Initially dismissed as a bigoted crank, this upstart presidential candidate managed to humiliate the GOP establishment, led by the Bush family. This is not just a description of the 2016 elections. It also happened in 1992. Unlike Donald Trump, Pat Buchanan didn?t win the nomination, but his protest candidacy garnered more than two million votes and intensified fractures in the party that led to defeat in the general election. Buchanan?s candidacy provides a crucial context for understanding not just the roots of Trumpism, but also it?s likely future?even, or especially, if Trump loses to Hillary Clinton in November. One of the biggest mistakes pundits make about Trump is to treat him as a historical fluke: an outlier who, thanks to a large primary field and his own celebrity, managed to take over one of America?s two main political parties. This fatal error caused everyone from FiveThirtyEight?s Nate Silver to rival candidates to underestimate Trump when he entered the race last year. They believed his meteoric poll numbers would return to Earth, following the same trajectory as Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich in 2012. Trump decisively won the nomination, yet many still treat him as an interloper who doesn?t represent, or have much in common with, the Grand Old Party?a sort of political Phoenix, the mythical bird that was self-generated with no parentage. Others, like columnist George Will, even flirted with the fantasy that Trump was some sort of deliberate subversive. ?If Donald Trump were a Democratic mole placed in the Republican Party to disrupt things, how would his behavior be different?? he asked in July, and answered his own question: ?I don?t think it would be.? But Trump is neither a magical bird nor a false-flag candidate. He has a definite lineage within the Republican Party?and if Trump had ancestors, he?ll also have descendants. To predict the future of Trumpism, it helps to understand why Buchanan and his peculiar brand of right-wing nationalist conservatism (called paleoconservatism) emerged in the late 1980s. American conservatism started splintering at the moment of its greatest political success, after the landslide election of Ronald Reagan in 1984, when all but one state went Republican. Dissatisfaction with Reagan?s triumph emerged by a peculiar combination of success abroad and stalemate at home. By the late 1980s, it was becoming increasingly clear that the Cold War was drawing to a close as Mikhail Gorbachev?s reform policies deprived America of the foe of five decades. But while anti-communism succeeded beyond expectations, social conservatives like Buchanan couldn?t help but notice that on other fronts, America continued to be liberal: Democrats still controlled Congress and won the Senate in 1986, feminism and gay rights continued to advance, Martin Luther King?s birthday was made a national holiday, and mass immigration?both legal and undocumented?continued to dilute the demographic dominance of the white majority. As the Wall Street Journal noted in a 1989 editorial, ?anti-Communism has been the glue that held the conservative movement together.? Without the unifying threat of a supposedly global enemy, the right began to splinter. The division was first evident in the battle between the neoconservatives and paleoconservatives. The neoconservatives, many of them former...

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North Dakota?s Pipeline Protest is About Climate Justice

Over the past months, hundreds of indigenous persons and their allies have gathered near the crossing of the Missouri and Cannon Ball rivers in the ancestral territories of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. Using nonviolent means, their goal is to stop the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) that would connect production fields in North Dakota to refineries in Illinois. Their primary fear is that an oil leak would threaten water quality for many members of the tribal community. On Sept. 9, a federal judge denied the tribe?s request for an injunction to halt completion of the pipeline. But shortly after, federal officials said they would temporarily stop construction pending further review. As a scholar of indigenous studies and environmental justice, I?ve been following these developments closely. The pipeline?s construction has already destroyed some of the tribe?s sacred burial grounds. During protests, the protectors?as many gatherers prefer to be called?have endured violence, including being pepper-sprayed, attacked by dogs, denied nourishment, and threatened by lawsuits. But despite the national attention to this case, one point has gone largely ignored in my view: Stopping DAPL is a matter of climate justice and decolonization for indigenous peoples. It may not always be apparent to people outside these communities, but standing up for water quality and heritage are intrinsically tied to these larger issues. Disproportionate suffering Climate justice?the idea that it is ethically wrong for some groups of people to suffer the detrimental effects of climate change more than others?is among the most significant moral issues today, referenced specifically in the landmark Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Climate scientists, through organizations such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and U.S. Climate Assessment, are finding more evidence of climate change from human activities, such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation. These destabilize the climate system, producing environmental conditions that disrupt human societies, through impacts such as rising sea levels, more severe droughts, and warming freshwater. The same climate science organizations also show that indigenous peoples are among the populations who will suffer more, on average, than other communities from changing environmental conditions. Some are suffering right now. Indigenous communities are among the first climate refugees, having to decide to relocate due to sea-level rise in the Arctic and Gulf of Mexico, as well as other places across the U.S. sphere. This is happening in other parts of the world too. This is an injustice because, as indigenous scholar Dan Wildcat writes in ?Red Alert!,? the suffering is occurring ?not as a result of something their Native lifeways produced, but because the most technologically advanced societies on the planet have built their modern lifestyles on a carbon energy foundation.? DAPL, a 1,172-mile connector of the Bakken and Three Forks fossil fuel basins to major oil refining markets, maintains the carbon energy foundation Wildcat writes of. The protectors, meanwhile, are bringing public attention to the urgency of reducing a fossil fuel dependence. Because indigenous peoples suffer the effects of climate change disproportionately, continuing fossil fuel dependence will inflict more harms in years to come. But there is more to this story, as climate change and U.S. colonialism against indigenous peoples are closely related. While ?colonialism? is not a term many nonindigenous persons typically use even in climate activism,...

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Russian river runs red repeatedly

Several large web outlets have shared the astounding pictures of the Daldykan river in the Russian Arctic city of Norilsk that has turned blood red. And it?s not the first time. Locals have posted the pictures on Instagram that has caused the international concern prompting an investigation by Russian officials. We wonder if it did not make the worldwide press if they would have bothered. The river runs alongside a metal mine and plant. Processing the metals from the ore requires smelters that burn (oxidize) the rock, removing the valuable stuff (nickel and associated rare metals) and leaving concentrated waste, typically consisting of fine-grained iron oxide mixed with water to form a slurry which are dumped into ponds. The waste ponds breach or leak, dumping sediment into the river turning it red. The Verge reported that it happens in other nickel mining areas as well. The sediment eventually settles to the bottom and along banks and the water returns to normal color, as it apparently now has. Instagram brought the vivid event to the public worldwide. Avoid the hype from panic-inducing End Times sites and read the piece from the New York Times that explains that this is caused by lack of strong environmental requirements. The metal smelters in this ore-rich region produce copious amounts of copper, one-fifth of the world?s nickel ? a key alloy in stainless steel ? and half of the global supply of palladium, a precious metal nearly as valuable as platinum. The ore also contains iron, but that red-hued element is far less valuable than the precious metals extracted along with it, and is generally discarded in slurry ponds. That iron slurry is the most likely source of the discoloration in the ?blood river,? environmental groups and Russian environmental regulators said, attributing the red hue to iron oxide, better known as rust. Is it bad? Yes. The high iron and probably very low pH means that conditions in the river are poor for aquatic life; there is almost certainly none of the original diversity of biota present in this river. The water is certainly not potable (drinkable) even though the article notes it?s not dangerous to humans. Iron bacteria probably won?t kill you but it will make you ill. Past red river events were caused by red dye or ink from industrial leaks or discharges. That?s what we have environmental regs for, folks. Don?t knock ?em. (Our waterways usually turn weird colors only on purpose.) More red river valley events: 2011 ? Chinese river runs blood red due to red dye discharge. 2012 ? Yangtze river also in China, red from possible sediment. 2012 ? Beirut, Lebanon. Looks like red dye. 2014 ? Northampton, England. Red ink. Find out here ! Click here for instructions...

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Bulgaria?s Special Criminal Court begins hearing first terrorism trial

Bulgaria?s Special Criminal Court has begun hearing its first case involving charges of terrorism, laid against three Syrians that prosecutors allege intended to join Daesh and the Muslim Brotherhood. The three Syrian men, aged between 22 and 25 and who had been given refugee status by Germany, have suspended sentences for illegally crossing the border. At the court sitting on September 19, evidence against the accused was given by a witness whose identity was not disclosed. In evidence in the trial, prosecutors are relying mainly on photos in the accuseds? phones and in the phones? messaging systems. For the full story, please click here. (Photo: Jason Morrison/sxc.hu) Comments comments These are photos this...

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Petronas expands in Azerbaijan

September 20th, 2016 5:55am Posted In: Natural Gas News, News By Country, Azerbaijan, Press Notes, Caspian Focus, Corporate, Exploration & Production, Political, Ministries, Natural Gas News Europe, Malaysia Malaysia’s national oil company Petronas and Azerbaijan?s state-owned Socar have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to explore, develop and produce hydrocarbons from a block in the Caspian Sea. Petronas Towers (credit: Petronas) Under the MOU, the pair have six months to draft the main commercial terms of a production-sharing agreement for the Goshadash block, Socar said. The Goshadash prospect is 15 km offshore in the north-western part of the Absheron archipelago in shallow water area of 10 to 50 metres depth. The block was a part of broad area that was explored by UK major BP. However, it was not included in the final contract area for the Shallow water Absheron peninsula project, which was signed between BP and Socar December 2014. Petronas holds a 15.5% share in Shah Deniz gas and condensate development and South Caucasus gas pipeline after it acquired the stake from Norway’s Statoil for $2.25bn in 2014.  Azerbaijan desk You can now also follow Natural Gas World directly on your phone or tablet via Google Newsstand and Flipboard. Click  or       Natural Gas World welcomes all viewpoints. Should you wish to provide an alternative perspective on the above article, please contact [email protected] Kindly note that for external submissions we only lightly edit content for grammar and do not edit externally contributed content.  Source and more These are...

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Chinese Belgian grid vote looms

September 19th, 2016 11:10am Posted In: Pipelines, Natural Gas News, News By Country, Belgium, Infrastructure, Corporate, Mergers & Acquisitions, Political, Investments, Natural Gas News Europe, EU China?s State Grid Corp won a tender this year to buy 14% of Eandis, Belgium?s biggest gas and power distribution grids, through its subsidiary State Grid Europe. Shareholders are to vote on the deal October 3, and it is likely to be a lively event. From the board?s viewpoint, the Chinese choice was a no-brainer. Sgel had easily outbid other tenders such as the Dutch and Australian pension funds APG and Australian Super/IFM by offering ?830mn ($930mn), 71% more than the ?484.5mn book value for 14%. Eandis operator (Credit: Eandis) Eandis operates the electricity and natural gas grids and a few district heating grids in about 80% of the towns and villages in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium. Until last year, energy concern Engie owned 21% of Eandis but European Union law requires energy producers and suppliers to dispose of their stakes in energy transport and distribution. Belgian law applies this from 2018. Few of the other shareholders ? towns, villages and the province of West Flanders ? were keen to buy Engie’s shares, however. Opposition to the deal has become organised and alternative schemes have been put forward, including creating a co-operative, to keep all the profits in Belgium. But Eandis needs to invest and nobody else has come forward with such a large sum. Koen Mortelmans For more on this and other European energy investment news, please see the forthcoming issue of Natural Gas World, published on alternate Wednesdays. You can now also follow Natural Gas World directly on your phone or tablet via Google Newsstand and Flipboard. Click  or       Natural Gas World welcomes all viewpoints. Should you wish to provide an alternative perspective on the above article, please contact [email protected] Kindly note that for external submissions we only lightly edit content for grammar and do not edit externally contributed content.  exactly the same WebSite...

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Is FLNG The Future For Offshore Gas?

September 19th, 2016 4:25pm Posted In: Natural Gas News, LNG, Featured Articles, Expert Views, Infrastructure, Competition, Supply/Demand, Investments, Natural Gas News Africa, Natural Gas News Europe, Africa, Europe, Asia, Natural Gas News Asia The low price environment is weighing heavily on the floating gas liquefaction industry. Key issues are the evolution of global FLNG and the real costs. The floating LNG market may have a promising future as Petronas Satu, now on station offshore Sarawak, approaches its start date. But new FLNG deployment will probably occur more slowly than anticipated a few years ago thanks to the prolonged slump in the oil and gas industry and massive cuts in new investments. Any new large, greenfield investments, including FLNG, are under very strict critical review for cost levels, risks and economic returns. LNG price impact The real problem is not FLNG per se but low oil, gas and LNG prices and the slew of new capacity: there are 145mn metric tons/year liquefaction capacity coming into the market between 2016 and 2021, mostly during 2017 and 2018. This is at a time when over the last five years annual LNG demand in Asia has been going down, primarily in Japan and South Korea, faster than demand in India has been rising. Chinese LNG demand also went down in 2015, after years of growth.  Charles Ellinas You can read the full article in Issue 3 of Natural Gas World Magazine. Out Wednesday September 21. Subscribe today.  You can now also follow Natural Gas World directly on your phone or tablet via Google Newsstand and Flipboard. Click  or       Natural Gas World welcomes all viewpoints. Should you wish to provide an alternative perspective on the above article, please contact [email protected] Kindly note that for external submissions we only lightly edit content for grammar and do not edit externally contributed content.  Read the full article online ( external link ) External Link to...

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The DN Deets for 19 September 2016

Back in the saddle, my friends. Here is the first installment of DN Deets*, an update on the activity associated with Doubtful News, your skeptic-at-large Editor, Sharon Hill (@idoubtit), and interesting things you may want to check out. I appeared on this week?s The Skeptic Zone ? the Australian podcast for Science and Reason ? talking about the return of Doubtful News, scary clowns and upcoming events. Direct download of MP3 here. Check it out. Pick up the latest issue of Skeptical Inquirer with my name on the cover with all those other more famous people. I contributed an essay for the 40th anniversary of the magazine on the current state of the skeptical community. Hint: it needs a REBOOT. Those within driving distance to Washington, D.C., join me with the National Capital Area Skeptics on a walking tour of the city highlighting some spooky stories just in time for Halloween. Check out SkepTours and RSVP to join us on the evening of October 20 for the I Ain?t Afraid of No Ghost Tour. Looking for some cryptozoological comedy? Check out the return of (one of my fave actors) Rhys Darby and David Farrier as the put up a new podcast episode of The Cryptid Factor. And don?t take it seriously. Listen here. Also recommended is The Folklore Podcast, a series that has an academic but entertaining flavor with coverage of Victorian ghost hoaxes, black dogs, Slenderman and more. Stay tuned as DN staff gets their shiz together for a new project coming soon. Delays, delays? If you are new to Doubtful News check out a presentation by me from 2014. [embedded content] ?Deets?, meaning ?details?. Definition here. Thanks for joining us. Don?t miss a post! Subscribe by adding your email in the SUBSCRIBE box in the right sidebar or in the footer of the mobile site. Support can be provided via Pay Pal and is greatly appreciated. Click...

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Humber monster surfaces in the media to attract tourists

This week?s media monster is the Humber monster, a Nessie-type creature (aren?t they all) that is being featured in the usual array of tabloids and on clickbait mystery sites. I?m not sure why it?s shown up now (silly summer season?) but I?d bet it?s deliberate. There is no new or good evidence that there ever was a ?monster? or sea serpent in the area. It?s just a good old typical monster tale. The legend of the animal of River Humber in Hull, East Yorkshire, in the north of England, describes the creature with ?a head the size of an elephant?s, six humps and terrifying flashing eyes?. Whatever. There is no animal that resembles that description. Mike Covell of the Museum of Hull has done some research on the topic. Between the years of 1920 and 1936, the Hull press was full of newspaper reports of sea monsters in the Humber and along the East Yorkshire Coast!  For the past decade I have been collating these reports and studying the sightings, which were probably mistaken for whales and porpoises, but they make for interesting reading, especially when you realise that playing a central part in the story, and using the ?Sea Serpent Scare? to boost tourist figures in the Hull Museums was Thomas Sheppard. A more colorful version of Covell?s blog is available here. The legend first appeared in public in the May 1886 Hull Daily Mail. When sea serpents and the Loch Ness Monster were all the rage, Hull capitalized on its own beastie. The Humber monster today follows the same well-worn path of water critters, used to drum up attention and tourism for its host town. Thomas Sheppard, first curator of the Hull Municipal museum, assumed the role (sometime after 1938) that Marmaduke Wetherell made famous at Loch Ness in 1933 ? that is, foot print hoaxer for media attention. Sheppard used an elephant?s foot waste basket to make prints in the shore sand to garner media attention and, ultimately attract interest in the Hull museums. Wetherell had used a hippo-foot umbrella stand to make prints at Loch Ness. Sheppard?s elephant foot is on display at the Hull Museums. So, we can see this story is neither new nor original. It?s the typical local monster template complete with exaggerated headlines that periodically appear during slow news times and the usual guy who wants to bring tourists to town. Google news results today for Humber Monster. In the recent set of articles (all regurgitating the same stuff), Covell, who didn?t seem at all convinced the Humber creature was any unusual animal, is playing along, setting up the ?Humber Monster Watch group to patrol the river?s shores in a new hunt for the monster.? Good luck with that. Note that Hull has been named the UK City of Culture for 2017, a means to improve social and economic benefits for the area. It needs a resident monster tale to make it more dramatic, I guess. information widget more info...

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