Infrastructure? China trumps Trump!


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❝ President-elect Donald Trump has proposed spending up to $1 trillion over a decade to make America’s infrastructure “second to none.”

Except for China that is.

❝ The world’s second-largest economy has already topped that this year alone, with $1.4 trillion splurged on roads, railways, bridges, telecom networks and other infrastructure in the ten months through October.

❝ Trump’s plan for an “America’s Infrastructure First” policy mirrors China’s build-it-and-they-will-come model, except on a much smaller scale. China has spent about $11 trillion on infrastructure in the last decade — more than 10 times what Trump is proposing…

That building binge has transformed China’s continent-sized economy. Its 20,000 kilometers of high-speed railways account for more than 60 percent of the world’s total, and it’s not done yet, with plans to boost that distance to 30,000 kilometers by 2020. The U.S.? Don’t ask.

To be sure, as a developing nation, China still has much potential for more building compared with an advanced economy such as the U.S…

Not if we’re talking infrastructure. We haven’t been serious about interstate highways since the Eisenhower Administration. That was 60 years ago. The last major new U.S. airport was completed in 1995.

❝ Trump’s plan “does offer the potential of supporting job creation in the short run, more importantly supporting and expanding the economy’s capacity in the medium run,” said Larry Summers, former Treasury secretary…economic adviser to President Barack Obama…

But when it comes to infrastructure, “America First” is actually a distant second.

Trump’s Congressional troops, establishment, tea party or otherwise, probably aren’t likely to temper their contempt for folks who’ve paid up for Social Security and Medicare. They will ignore the salient fact that these so-called entitlements are insurance programs that taxpayers have already paid for. I have no doubt the sleaze patrol from Paul Ryan to Stephen Bannon will ignore any attempt to bring the tax base for corporate barons back to something approaching responsible. They will try to tax the working class to pay for safer transport of profit-making goods and services.

Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In — by Bernie Sanders

❝ When Bernie Sanders began his race for the presidency, it was considered by the political establishment and the media to be a “fringe” campaign, something not to be taken seriously. After all, he was just an independent senator from a small state with little name recognition. His campaign had no money, no political organization, and it was taking on the entire Democratic Party establishment.

❝ By the time Sanders’s campaign came to a close, however, it was clear that the pundits had gotten it wrong. Bernie had run one of the most consequential campaigns in the modern history of the country. He had received more than 13 million votes in primaries and caucuses throughout the country, won twenty-two states, and more than 1.4 million people had attended his public meetings. Most important, he showed that the American people were prepared to take on the greed and irresponsibility of corporate America and the 1 percent.

❝ In Our Revolution, Sanders shares his personal experiences from the campaign trail, recounting the details of his historic primary fight and the people who made it possible. And for the millions looking to continue the political revolution, he outlines a progressive economic, environmental, racial, and social justice agenda that will create jobs, raise wages, protect the environment, and provide health care for all―and ultimately transform our country and our world for the better. For him, the political revolution has just started. The campaign may be over, but the struggle goes on.

As usual, I will be wending my own Leftward way through this life politic. Been this way for over 60 years. May as well keep it up.

For most, early in your life of confronting the conformity of capitulation in the American class struggle – I suggest you at least stay in touch with Bernie. He’s one of the few in Washington worth listening to. Or reading.

Computer simulation demonstrates global 100 percent renewable electricity system


Click to enlargeKalkbult Scatec Solar

❝ A new model developed by Lappeenranta University of Technology shows how an electricity system mainly based on solar and wind works in all regions of the world. It shows the functioning of an electricity system that fulfils the targets set by the Paris agreement by using only renewable energy sources.

The global Internet of Energy Model visualizes a 100 percent renewable energy system for the electricity sector for 2030. It can do this for the entire world which, in the model, has been structured into 145 regions, which are all visualised, and aggregated to 9 major world regions…

❝ The model is designed to find the most economical solution for a renewable electricity system. The model shows how the supply of electricity can be organised to cover the electricity demand for all hours of the year. This means that best mix of renewable energy generation, storage and transmission components can be found to cover the electricity demand, leading to total electricity cost roughly between 55 and 70 euros per megawatt-hour for all 9 major regions in the world.

But the story does not end here. The researchers have ambitious goals to develop the model further. Future upgrades will go from looking only at the electricity sector to showing the full energy sector, including heat and mobility sectors. The model will also describe how to transition from the current energy system towards a fully sustainable one.

❝ According to the researchers the model debunks myths about what renewables can and cannot achieve. One of the myths is that a fully renewable energy system cannot possibly run stable for all hours of the year, due to the intermittent character of solar and wind energy. Another myth is the idea that without large base load generation capacities, such as coal or nuclear plants, an electricity system cannot work. According to the researchers, both of these are incorrect and the facts can be checked from the model.

The core of this effort – for me – is that over time it demonstrates a pattern of initiative that can result in the desired ends, e.g., diminution of greenhouse gases and a path to a healthier environment.

That university researchers have moved this far speaks well for our future. Even with creepy politics slithering into portions of the equation now and then. 🙂

A cluster of politicians, spies, and a Trumpkin – run a casino in the middle of the Pacific Ocean

On a tiny island in the western Pacific, at the end of a duty-free mall wedged between a one-story laundromat and a cell-phone shop, you’ll find what may be the most successful casino of all time.

The awkwardly named Best Sunshine Live hardly looks like a high-roller hub. Construction workers bet $5 or $10 at a time on roulette and baccarat in a fug of nicotine. Clustered in a far corner are a handful of tables for so-called VIP gamblers, which at 8:30 p.m. on a September Saturday are almost empty. A nearby bar has just a couple of patrons.

Nothing about the facility, which opened last year on the U.S. island of Saipan, hints at the money flowing through it — table for table, far more than at the biggest casinos in Macau, the world’s number-one gambling capital. Nor is there any sign of the connections of its owner, Hong Kong-listed Imperial Pacific International Holdings Ltd., which has a market value of $2.4 billion.

It’s a power list that includes a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, a former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and three former U.S. governors, including past chairmen of both the Democratic and Republican National Committees. Behind them all: a Donald Trump protege, Mark Brown, who ran the Republican president-elect’s Atlantic City casino empire and is now Imperial Pacific’s chief executive officer.

With that backing, Best Sunshine is posting numbers that stagger industry veterans. The daily reported revenue for each of its VIP tables in the first half of the year, about $170,000, is almost eight times the average of Macau’s largest casinos. Its 16 VIP tables alone generate revenue that’s more than half of the receipts from 178 high-stakes tables at Wynn Resorts Ltd.’s flagship casino in the Chinese territory, a 20-story palace with three Michelin-starred restaurants.

The revenue figures, or actual wins by the house, are just a fraction of total bets. In September, Imperial Pacific reported a record $3.9 billion in bets at its casino — meaning the 100 or so high-rollers who it says come through its doors monthly each wagered an average of $39 million.

Those volumes of cash are drawing the attention of law-enforcement officials. The U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which is responsible for alerting prosecutors and other authorities of suspicious financial flows, has taken notice of the activity at Best Sunshine…

Nothing new about accusations of money laundering via casinos whether overtly owned by the mob like the old days in Las Vegas or contemporary arrangements stacked with public figures from the world of American politics and covert intelligence. Beacoup funds passing through an operation that can’t even attract regular air flights.

“A legitimate high-stakes gambler wouldn’t want to spend time in this place,” said Greg Hunter, plaintiff in a suit against the Saipan casino law, said of Best Sunshine. “Have you seen it? It’s a duty-free store with a fresh coat of paint and some chandeliers.”

RTFA. A delightful piece of investigative journalism and writing by folks who usually report on economics and high finance throughout Asia for Bloomberg. Impressive.