US gas-fired electricity generation overtakes coal + Obama’s new EPA regs

Generation by fuel

The war on coal” might have just witnessed another battle in April as the latest “Electric Power Monthly” data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show total natural gas-fired electric generation in April surpassed coal-fired power generation for the first time in history.

And here is the link to President Obama’s plan to fight climate change.

Overdue.

TPP talks crash and burn — not every nation willing to rollover for Obama

Pacific Rim trade ministers have failed to clinch a deal to free up trade between a dozen nations after a dispute flared between Japan and North America over cars, New Zealand dug in over dairy trade and no agreement was reached on monopoly periods for next-generation drugs.

Trade ministers from the 12 nations negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would stretch from Japan to Chile and cover 40 percent of the world economy, fell just short of a deal on Friday at talks on the Hawaiian island of Maui…

The result frustrated negotiators who had toiled to cross off outstanding issues and made significant progress on many controversial issues.

Three sources involved in the talks told the Reuters news agency that a last-minute breakthrough had been viewed as unlikely due to issues with dairy and auto trade and a standoff over biologic drugs made from living cells.

Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb said the problem lay with the “big four” economies of the United States, Canada, Japan, and Mexico. “The sad thing is, 98 percent is concluded,” he said.

Failure to seal the agreement is a setback for US President Barack Obama, given the trade pact’s stance as the economic arm of the administration’s pivot to Asia and an opportunity to balance out China’s influence in the region…

Obama promised oil income to Canada and Mexico, agricultural income to Canada and Mexico, monopoly power to US Pharmaceutical giants and American Tech firms. Japan as our pet stalking horse on the Asian side of negotiations was promised continued niche protections which would help keep Abe’s political party in power. Everyone else was supposed to line up in tidy little rows and nod their bobbleheads. Especially those nations like Australia with Conservatives holding power.

Didn’t happen.

If this doesn’t happen before the end of the year, the TPP is probably dead. An election year in the United States guarantees no legislative approvals more radical than Congress voting for baseball, motherhood and apple pie.

Prepare for five months of carrots, sticks, butt-kissing and bribes.

Germany, not Greece, should exit the Euro


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The latest round of wrangling between Greece and its European creditors has demonstrated yet again that countries with such disparate economies should never have entered a currency union. It would be better for all involved, though, if Germany rather than Greece were the first to exit.

After months of grueling negotiations, recriminations and reversals, it’s hard to see any winners. The deal Greece reached with its creditors — if it lasts — pursues the same economic strategy that has failed repeatedly to heal the country. Greeks will get more of the brutal belt-tightening that they voted against. The creditors will probably see even less of their money than they would with a package of reduced austerity and immediate debt relief.

That said, the lead creditor, Germany, has done Europe a service: By proposing the Greece exit the euro, it has broken a political taboo. For decades, politicians have peddled the common currency as a symbol of European unity…

Now that the idea of exit is in the air, though, it’s worth thinking beyond the current political reality and considering who should go. Were Greece to leave, possibly followed by Portugal and Italy in the subsequent years, the countries’ new currencies would fall sharply in value. This would leave them unable to pay debts in euros, triggering cascading defaults. Although the currency depreciation would eventually make them more competitive, the economic pain would be prolonged and would inevitably extend beyond their borders.

If, however, Germany left the euro area…there really would be no losers.

A German return to the deutsche mark would cause the value of the euro to fall immediately, giving countries in Europe’s periphery a much-needed boost in competitiveness. Italy and Portugal have about the same gross domestic product today as when the euro was introduced, and the Greek economy, having briefly soared, is now in danger of falling below its starting point. A weaker euro would give them a chance to jump-start growth…

The disruption from a German exit would be minor. Because a deutsche mark would buy more goods and services in Europe (and in the rest of the world) than does a euro today, the Germans would become richer in one stroke. Germany’s assets abroad would be worth less in terms of the pricier deutsche marks, but German debts would be easier to repay…

Perhaps the greatest gain would be political. Germany relishes the role of a hegemon in Europe, but it has proven unwilling to bear the cost. By playing the role of bully with a moral veneer, it is doing the region a disservice. Rather than building “an ever closer union” in Europe, the Germans are endangering its delicate fabric. To stay close, Europe’s nations may need to loosen the ties that bind them so tightly.

Say “Amen!”

Countdown to poor health


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The infographic suggests drinking of coke to get relief from thirst never replenish the body, but in fact it further dehydrates the nutrients system that helps in building strong bones and teeth.

As a nation, as a culture, we have generations of successful advertising which convinced folks to negatively affect their health with this crap.

#Karmadillo

A Texas man was wounded after he fired a gun at an armadillo in his yard and the bullet ricocheted back to hit him in his face…

Cass County Sheriff Larry Rowe said the man, who was not identified, went outside his home in Marietta, Texas, at around 3 a.m. local time Thursday morning. He spotted the armadillo on his property and opened fire.

“His wife was in the house. He went outside and took his .38 revolver and shot three times at the armadillo,” Rowe said.

The animal’s hard shell deflected at least one of three bullets, which then struck the man’s jaw, he said.

The man was airlifted to a nearby hospital, where his jaw was wired shut, according to Rowe.

The status of the animal is unknown…”We didn’t find the armadillo,” the sheriff said.

Har.

HT to Ricky Gervais for the headline. :)