Tag Archives: regulation

The upcoming Israeli response to the UN and Obama attacks

Link here. Essentially, the UN and the Palestinians might have literally shot themselves in the foot with their attempts to declare Israel’s presence in Jerusalem and the West Bank as illegal. The article outlines in great detail the long term negative results of the UN resolution last week, all of which we can now expect. I cannot quote it all, but this one quote will give you a taste:

Regarding the international community, the Security Council opened the door for its members to boycott Israel. As a result, Israel should show the UN and its factotums the door. Israel should work to de-internationalize the Palestinian conflict by expelling UN personnel from its territory.

The same is the case with the EU. Once Britain exits the EU, Israel should end the EU’s illegal operations in Judea and Samaria and declare EU personnel acting illegally persona non grata.

As for the Palestinians, Resolution 2334 obligates Israel to reconsider its recognition of the PLO. Since 1993, Israel has recognized the PLO despite its deep and continuous engagement in terrorism. Israel legitimized the PLO because the terrorist group was ostensibly its partner in peace. Now, after the PLO successfully killed the peace process by getting the Security Council to abrogate 242, Israel’s continued recognition of the PLO makes little sense. Neither PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas nor his deputies in Fatah – convicted, imprisoned mass murderer and terrorism master Marwan Barghouti, and Jibril Rajoub who said he wishes he had a nuclear bomb so he could drop it on Israel and who tried to get Israel expelled from FIFA – has any interest in recognizing Israel, let alone making peace with it. The same of course can be said for the PLO’s coalition partner Hamas.

An Israeli decision to stop recognizing the PLO will also have implications for the Trump administration.

In the aftermath of 2334, calls are steadily mounting in Congress for the US cancel its recognition of the PLO and end US financial support for the Palestinian Authority. If Israel has already ended its recognition of the PLO, chances will rise that the US will follow suit. Such a US move will have positive strategic implications for Israel.

Read it all. There is more, all of which is likely to happen, since the Israelis are faced with survival and will need to fight back.

EPA moves to regulate key pizza ingredients

We’re here to help you! The EPA has instituted new costly regulations on the manufacture of the yeast used to make pizza dough and bread.

The Environmental Protection Agency is targeting a key ingredient for making pizza and bread in its latest last-minute regulation before President Obama steps down. The proposed regulation published Wednesday would make the emissions standards for industrial yeast makers much more strict. The EPA said beer, champagne and wine makers, all of whom use some form of yeast, are safe for now. The real targets are those who produce high levels of hazardous air pollutants. It’s not the bread, bagel and pizza makers who are targeted under the rules, but the less than a dozen big plants that produce the yeast needed to produce the valuable bread-based products.

The key quote in the article, however, is its very last sentence:

The EPA is issuing the proposed rule because of a lawsuit it lost in federal court brought by the Sierra Club, claiming that the rule from the 1990s needed to be updated under the Clean Air Act.

This is part of the legal game that the EPA plays with various leftwing environmental activist groups to whom it is an ally. The activists sue, the EPA makes sure it loses or settles out of court, and so the regulations are then essentially written by these environmental groups. It is a racket that must end.

EPA moves to punish Alaskans for burning wood to heat their homes

We’re here to help you! The EPA is about to declare Alaska in violation of the Clean Air Act for burning wood, the only fuel available to them to heat their homes, and thus threaten the state with the loss of all federal funding.

The New York Times reports the Environmental Protection Agency could soon declare the Alaskan cities of Fairbanks and North Pole, which have a combined population of about 100,000, in “serious” noncompliance of the Clean Air Act early next year.

Like most people in Alaska, the residents of those frozen cities are burning wood to keep themselves warm this winter. Smoke from wood-burning stoves increases small-particle pollution, which settles in low-lying areas and can be breathed in. The EPA thinks this is a big problem. Eight years ago, the agency ruled that wide swaths of the most densely populated parts of the region were in “non-attainment” of federal air quality standards.That prompted state and local authorities to look for ways to cut down on pollution from wood-burning stoves, including the possibility of fining residents who burn wood. After all, a declaration of noncompliance from the EPA would have enormous economic implications for the region, like the loss of federal transportation funding.

The problem is, there’s no replacement for wood-burning stoves in Alaska’s interior. Heating oil is too expensive for a lot of people, and natural gas isn’t available. So they’ve got to burn something. The average low temperature in Fairbanks in December is 13 degrees below zero. In January, it’s 17 below. During the coldest days of winter, the high temperature averages -2 degrees, and it can get as cold as -60. This is not a place where you play games with the cold. If you don’t keep the fire lit, you die. For people of modest means, and especially for the poor, that means you burn wood in a stove—and you keep that fire lit around the clock.

The level of stupidity here by EPA’s Washington bureaucrats is almost beyond measure. Worse, they and their liberal supporters still have no idea why it appears a Trump administration might be dismantling much of that EPA bureaucracy.

Republicans consider delaying Obamacare repeal

Failure theater: The Republican leadership is considering a whole range of delays in their so-called effort to repeal Obamacare.

Republicans are debating how long to delay implementing the repeal. Aides involved in the deliberations said some parts of the law may be ended quickly, such as its regulations affecting insurer health plans and businesses. Other pieces may be maintained for up to three or four years, such as insurance subsidies and the Medicaid expansion. Some parts of the law may never be repealed, such as the provision letting people under age 26 remain on a parent’s plan.

House conservatives want a two-year fuse for the repeal. Republican leaders prefer at least three years, and there has been discussion of putting it off until after the 2020 elections, staffers said.

When are these idiots finally going to realize that the voters who put them in office are not Democratic liberals, and specifically want Obamacare repealed, now?

Four richest counties are all suburbs of DC

New census data confirms that the country’s four richest counties are all located in the Washington DC suburbs.

They are Loudoun County, Va., where the median household income was $125,900 in 2015; Falls Church City, Va., where it was $122,092; Fairfax County, Va., where it was $112,844; and Howard County, Md., where it was $110,224.

The Census Bureau treats independent cities such as Falls Church, Va., as the equivalent of a county when calculating its median household income statistics.

Nationwide, the median household income in 2015 was $55,755, according to the Census Bureau. That means the local median household income in each of the nation’s three richest counties—all of which are Washington suburbs in Northern Virginia—are more than twice the national median household income.

I must note the income disparity again. Federal workers routinely earn more than twice as much as the national average. Moreover, it gets worse. Of the top 20 richest counties, 9 are in the DC area.

And the elites in Washington wonder why they seem out of touch? They are so removed from normal life it is as if they live in a science fiction movie. Moreover , this census data illustrates again that all their claims about wanting to help the poor are actually lies. What these Washington bureaucrats and politicians are really doing is lining their own pockets, even as they pick the pockets of people nationwide who are much poorer then them.

How the new Congress will repeal Obamacare

Link here. In order to get the repeal passed quickly under reconciliation, which requires only a simple majority and was the same procedure the Democrats used to pass the law, the repeal will not cancel the entire law. It will allow it to happen quickly, however.

The plan, then, is to move quickly post-inauguration to pass legislation similar to the one they passed this past January, which was vetoed by Obama. That legislation repealed the law’s major spending provisions — ending the Medicaid expansion and getting rid of the subsidies for individuals to purchase insurance on government-run exchanges. In addition, the repeal bill scrapped the individual and employer mandate penalties, eliminated the law’s taxes and defunded Planned Parenthood. If all goes smoothly, such a bill could reach Trump’s desk in short order, as early as February — or weeks after Inauguration Day. Though it’s possible that this could slip as certain details get ironed out, there is a determination, among leadership in both chambers, to move with speed.

…The thinking is that the previously passed reconciliation bill was already pored over by Senate staffers, who considered many different scenarios. What they ultimately came up with repealed much of the law, had the votes, and passed muster with the parliamentarian. Upsetting this delicate balance by adding or subtracting major elements, the thinking goes, would delay the repeal process, potentially significantly. As for firing the parliamentarian (currently Elizabeth MacDonough) though it’s true that her job is controlled by the majority party, doing so is seen as out of bounds. One senior Senate leadership aide described it as “a total Reid move,” by which the aide meant, it’s the type of strong-armed tactic to game the rules that one would expect from former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, that would typically make Republicans apoplectic.

The repeal bill offered here will not change many of the insurance regulations imposed by Obamacare, such as the requirement that insurance companies must accept all customers, even the sick ones. Either Congress will have to revisit this issue later, or we will continue to see the health insurance industry collapse in the coming years.

Obamacare subsidies to go up almost $10 billion next year

Finding out what’s in it: According to a new report, the Obamacare subsidies that are paid to large number of Americans so that they can afford the costly Obamacare health insurance policies will cost taxpayers almost $10 billion in 2017.

The new study estimates that the cost of premium subsidies under the Affordable Care Act will increase by $9.8billion next year, rising from $32.8billion currently to $42.6billion. The average monthly subsidy will increase by $76, or 26 per cent, from $291 currently to $367 in 2017, researchers found.

Currently more than eight in ten consumers buying private health insurance through HealthCare.gov and state markets receive tax credits from the government to help pay their premiums.

Not only can’t we can’t afford the Obamacare premiums, we can’t afford the subsidies either.

Another Obamacare co-op shuts down

Finding out what’s in it: With Maryland’s Obamacare co-op closing on December 8, 20 of the original 24 Obamacare co-ops have gone out of business.

With the near-collapse of Maryland’s co-op — called Evergreen Health — at least 989,000 individuals nationwide have lost their health insurance coverage when the nonprofit co-ops stopped selling insurance to customers, according to TheDCNF’s tally. The losses cost taxpayers at least $2.2 billion in upfront federal loans awarded by the Obama administration to 24 nonprofit co-ops under Obamacare. The co-ops were intended to help keep health care costs down by providing non-profit competition with commercial for-profit insurers. The losses do not include statewide costs where the state or local governments were forced to cover doctor and hospital bills that the failed co-ops could not pay from remaining revenues.

In many cases, those losses were substantial. In New York alone, state taxpayers face at least $200 million in costs owed to medical providers that the bankrupt Health Republic co-op could not cover, according to the Albany Business Review.

The remaining four are all barely surviving, and will likely fail themselves in the next few years, even if the Republican leadership goes chicken and delays the repeal of Obamacare while they haggle over what to do to replace it. What they should do is repeal it outright, and let that very weird and forgotten concept of freedom operate freely. I’ve heard it has worked very well in the past, though unfortunately most elected officials today are ignorant of that history.

New Defense directive permits concealed carry on bases

Change: A new Department of Defense directive, issued last Friday, now permits soldiers and recruiters to carry concealed weapons while at work.

U.S. military personnel can now request to carry concealed handguns for protection at government facilities, according to new Defense Department directive issued last week in response to a series of deadly shootings over the last seven years. While service members already were authorized to carry weapons as part of specific job responsibilities, the new policy allows them to apply to carry their privately owned firearms “for personal protection not associated with the performance of official duties,” the directive says.

It is interesting that this directive was issued while Obama was still president. Apparently, the Trump victory gave those in charge in the Pentagon the courage to make it happen, knowing that Obama would have no power over them stop it, and knowing that Trump was likely to endorse it.

I remain unsure what kind of president Donald Trump will be. What does seem to be happening is that his victory is empowering a lot of people to defy and push back against the leftwing political culture that has ruled the U.S. since the 1960s in ways I have never seen. Should be an interesting four years.

A lawsuit that could end all federal gun regulations

Link here. The case is new, and involves the manufacture of guns by a private citizen wholly within a single state. He was convicted of violating federal laws, even though the state itself, Kansas, had recently passed a law that specifically outlawed federal prosecution for anyone “owning firearms made, sold and kept in the state.”

The only federal challenge to the constitutionality of National Firearms Act to date was U.S. vs Miller in 1939, which was uncontested when neither the defendant nor his attorney showed before the federal court. As a result, we’ve never had these federal gun laws challenged on the fundamental level.

If Cox and Kettler’s attorneys see this challenge through the courts, we can expect it to arrive before a U.S. Supreme Court in several years time. It will be a high court shaped by the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, and the organization that spent more money than any other to help him win the Presidency, the National Rifle Association.

Obamacare Medicaid expansion to overwhelm state budgets

Finding out what’s in it: The 24 states that have accepted the Obamacare Medicaid expansion are about to have their budgets overwhelmed by the much larger numbers of enrollments in that program than was expected.

Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion makes working-age adults with no kids and no disabilities eligible for a welfare program that was costly and ineffective long before Obamacare. The 24 states with a year or more of data available expected no more than 5.5 million would ever sign up, but their expansion enrollment is already 11.5 million – more than double its projected all-time maximum.

Alaska, Indiana, Louisiana, and Montana have not yet released a year of enrollment data, but have all reported Obamacare expansion enrollment higher than their expected maximums, FGA vice president of research Jonathan Ingram and FGA senior research fellow Nicholas Horton noted. “Medicaid expansion already makes welfare for able-bodied adults a higher priority than services for the nearly 600,000 seniors, children with developmental disabilities, individuals with brain injuries, and other vulnerable individuals currently languishing on waiting lists for needed Medicaid services,” Ingram and Horton wrote. “Mounting overruns will soon exacerbate pressure on policymakers to shift even more money away from the truly needy and towards ObamaCare’s able-bodied adults.”

Obamacare expansion benefits are 100 percent federally funded through the end of the calendar year, which has shielded states from billions of dollars in cost overruns since expansion took effect in January 2014. That will soon change. If Obamacare remains in place, states will be on the hook for five percent of their rapidly rising Medicaid expansion costs starting in January. And if President-elect Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress fulfill campaign promises to repeal Obamacare, federal funding for Medicaid expansion could be cut off in a matter of months.

On this issue, at least, there is precedent for congressional Republicans sticking to their word. Last January, President Obama vetoed an Obamacare repeal bill that would have ended Medicaid expansion.

Even if Obamacare is not repealed, these states still face serious budget problems because the cost of this program is, like everything else in Obamacare, far higher than predicted. If Obamacare is repealed, then these states face bankruptcy.

The American city-rural political divide

Though the article at the link focuses on how in this year’s election the Democratic Party has lost its traditional support from white blue collar Democrats, I think it illustrates quite forcefully the increasing political polarization between the cities and the rural parts of the country.

“There are 490 counties in Appalachia technically, which is defined by federal law. Hillary Clinton won 21 counties in that region,” he said. And that is it. She did not win a single county in Appalachia that is mostly white, non-college-educated and has a population of under 100,000 people.

Not one county.

Looking at the map, the 21 counties she won were either college campuses like Virginia Tech, Cornell, Penn State and Mississippi State or counties in major metropolitan areas like Atlanta, Birmingham, Ala., Winston-Salem, N.C., Youngstown, Ohio, and Pittsburgh. And she also won five counties in Mississippi that are nearly majority black. “I went back and looked at the home precinct in Tennessee where I grew up and Bill Clinton wins it, Al Gore gets forty percent, Obama gets 28 percent and she got 18 percent. In short, Donald Trump got 80 percent of that vote,” he said, astounded at the cultural shift among Appalachians.

What does all of this data tell you about America? Todd says it is simple, “There are absolutely no more blue-collar whites in the Democratic Party. They just don’t exist, even the ones who want there to be have recognized there is no room for them,” he said. These voters had stayed with the Democrats forever and now 80 percent of them in Appalachia have voted Republican. “That means they don’t know anyone who voted for her,” he said.

This polarization also explains why it is becoming more common for the choice of the electoral college to not match the popular vote. Democratic voters are increasingly packed into big cities that cover very small amounts of area. The electoral college as well as Congress were specifically designed to prevent such concentrations from dominating elections.

These results also show that the Democrats are not doing a very good job convincing anyone to vote for them outside of their reliable core constituencies. In fact, if anything the policies of the Democratic Party has been repelling everyone away from it, except in those big cities where a large percentage of the voters are their direct welfare clients, dependent on government aid.

Luxembourg establishes its own legal framework for asteroid mining

The competition heats up: Luxembourg on November 11 announced that it is establishing its own legal framework to protect the profits of any private asteroid mining effort.

Because the UN Outer Space Treaty forbids them from claiming any territory in space, this new law essentially says that Luxembourg law will instead be applied specifically to the resources mined. Or to put it in more colloquial terms, “Finders, Keepers,” though it comes with a lot of complex further regulation required to satisfy that treaty.

The draft law also lays down the regulations for the authorization and the supervision of space resources utilization missions, including both the exploration and use of such resources. Whoever intends to undertake a space resources utilization mission will be required to obtain an authorization to do so, for each specific and determined mission. The text sets forth the necessity for a book of obligations for any mission, such as activities to be carried in or out of Luxembourg, to allow government supervision of the activities of operators and regulating their rights and obligations. The legislation is expected to enter into effect in early 2017.

This complexity will cost money unnecessarily, and also require an unnecessary bureaucracy with a great deal of power over the actions of space companies. It illustrates again how really bad the Outer Space Treaty is, and how it will oppress future spacefarers. The sooner the treaty is dumped the better. If we don’t do it here on Earth, I guarantee that the people of space will do it, as soon as they become self-sufficient enough to thumb their noses at the ground-pounders on the mother planet.

Commercial space industry meets to set its own safety standards

Because of legal restrictions that prevent the FAA from imposing its own safety regulations on the commercial space industry, the industry itself is forming its own committee to work out its own standards.

At a meeting here Oct. 24, ASTM International, an organization founded in 1898 that develops voluntary consensus standards for a wide range of industries, agreed to move ahead with the creation of a committee that will work on creating such standards for commercial launch vehicles, spacecraft and spaceports. “It will allow industry to use a 110-year-old process to produce consensus standards,” said Oscar Garcia, chairman of the standards working group of the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC), during a meeting of that working group here Oct. 25. The new committee, he said, “will develop standards and related roadmaps to address activities such as human spaceflight occupant safety standards, spaceports and space traffic management.”

A total of 53 people representing 29 companies and organizations attended that kickoff meeting, said Christine DeJong, director of business development for ASTM International, at the COMSTAC working group meeting. The committee won’t be formally created until after the completion an internal ASTM review process.

This is excellent news. It is far better that the industry voluntarily puts together and imposes its own safety standards than if the federal government imposes those rules. The government can’t possibly know the situation as well as the industry. This will guarantee that those rules will be not only work, but they will be cost effective and will not act to squelch innovation and experimentation.

Obamacare premiums skyrocketing again

Finding out what’s in it: The Obama administration today admitted that Obamacare premiums will skyrocket next year as the number of insurance companies available to consumers continues to decrease.

Before taxpayer-provided subsidies, premiums for a midlevel benchmark plan will increase an average of 25 percent across the 39 states served by the federally run online market, according to a report from the Department of Health and Human Services. Some states will see much bigger jumps, others less. Moreover, about 1 in 5 consumers will only have plans from a single insurer to pick from, after major national carriers such as UnitedHealth Group, Humana and Aetna scaled back their roles. “Consumers will be faced this year with not only big premium increases but also with a declining number of insurers participating, and that will lead to a tumultuous open enrollment period,” said Larry Levitt, who tracks the health care law for the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

The Democrats wrote this monstrous stupid law. They forced it through Congress without a single Republican vote. Everything that has gone wrong since was predicted then, in 2010, by conservatives. Yet today, the public is still voting for these same Democrats.

We truly are facing the coming of a new dark age.

In related news, all the major hospitals in Chicago, home base for Obama and a Democratic Party stronghold for more than a century, have pulled out of Obamacare.

Three GOP offices have now been attacked

The third Republican offices in the past two weeks was attacked today.

An Indiana Republican Party office was vandalized last week after someone tossed two bricks through the window, officials said Monday. That news comes just a day after a Republican headquarters in North Carolina was firebombed. The Sunday blaze injured none, however, a perpetrator also spray painted the message “Nazi Republicans get out of town or else” on a nearby building.

An office in San Antonio used by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign was burglarized on Wednesday, FOX29 reported. Police detained a suspect around 5:30 a.m. and authorities believe that person targeted other buildings in the area, too.

The third case was a burglary, so it might have nothing to do with politics. Nonetheless, it is fascinating how the press and the Democrats always scream that Republican supporters are dangerous and could become violent at any time, incited by the evil words of Donald Trump, but somehow almost all the acts of violence we see are committed against conservatives.

In related news, “We could have died”.

Vanishing Obamacare plans

Finding out what’s in it: More than a million people are losing their health insurance plans this year as insurers increasingly flee Obamacare.

The number above was determined by

At least 1.4 million people in 32 states will lose the Obamacare plan they have now, according to state officials contacted by Bloomberg. That’s largely caused by Aetna Inc., UnitedHealth Group Inc. and some state or regional insurers quitting the law’s markets for individual coverage.

…Nationwide estimates of the number of people losing their current plans are higher. For example, Charles Gaba, who tracks the law at ACASignups.net, estimates that 2 million to 2.5 million people in the U.S. will lose their current plans, compared with 2 million a year ago. Gaba’s estimate is based on insurance company membership data.

For the people losing plans, there are fewer and fewer choices. One estimate by the Kaiser Family Foundation predicts that for at least 19 percent of the people in Obamacare’s individual market next year there will be only one insurer to choose from.

Obviously, the solution is to ask the people that wrote this bad law to fix it. We should all vote Democratic on election day, and help make this disaster even worse!

The first nation in space?

A science research center has announced it is forming an independent nation in space which anyone can join.

If you are 18 or over and have an email address, you can apply to become a ‘citizen’ of Asgardia today. At the time of this writing, more than 4,900 people have signed up, including at least one Popular Science editor. “When the number of those applications goes above 100,000 we can officially apply to the UN for the status of state,” said Ashurbeyli, adding that Asgardians would not have to give up citizenship in their countries of origin.

The group hopes to launch its first satellite in 2017 or 2018. How it will avoid being under the jurisdiction of any other country remains to me a mystery.

Eventually, when there are thriving reasonably self-sufficient colonies in space, circumstances will demand that they declare their independence from what is becoming an increasingly oppressive Earth culture. Until then, declarations like Asgardia are nothing more than publicity stunts that are not going to go anywhere.

The powerless GOP

Obama is imposing an unprecedented number of new regulations in his final months in office, and the Republican leadership says it is helpless to do anything about it.

Data compiled by the Heritage Foundation found that the Obama administration issued 184 major rules during its first six years. The conservative organization, citing regulators’ estimates, says those could come with a price tag of almost $80 billion a year. The American Action Forum, which dubs itself as a “center-right” think tank, concludes that since Jan. 1 of this year, the administration has picked up the pace, finalizing 60 new rules and proposing 60 more at a potential cost of $16.5 billion next year alone.

Republican lawmakers and independent experts expect more to come. But Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas told Roll Call that his party cannot do much because “the framers of the Constitution didn’t give us a lot of tools that didn’t involve a presidential signature to overturn them.” [emphasis mine]

Excuse me, Senator Cornyn, but the framers of the Constitution gave Congress all the power. All you have to do is read the Constitution, a document only 16 pages long (excluding amendments), to find out. One would think a sitting Senator might do that once in awhile.

The problem is that Congress for decades has abdicated its responsibilities to the bureaucratic wing of the executive branch, and in the recent years the Republican leadership has further chickened out when voters demanded that they take some of those responsibilities back. The Republicans could very easily shut the whole shebang down, which might finally force some compromise from the Democrats. Until they do, however, expect no compromise from the left, which keeps getting exactly what it wants.

Feds mistakenly grant citizenship to more than 800 potentially dangerous immigrants

Does this make you feel safer? The federal government has mistakenly granted citizenship to more than 800 immigrants who for many reasons are considered security risks.

The Homeland Security Department’s inspector general found that the immigrants used different names or birthdates to apply for citizenship with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and such discrepancies weren’t caught because their fingerprints were missing from government databases. DHS said in an emailed statement that an initial review of these cases suggest that some of the individuals may have ultimately qualified for citizenship, and that the lack of digital fingerprint records does not necessarily mean they committed fraud.

The report does not identify any of the immigrants by name, but Inspector General John Roth’s auditors said they were all from “special interest countries” — those that present a national security concern for the United States — or neighboring countries with high rates of immigration fraud. The report did not identify those countries.

As I’ve noted many times, the federal government is not only bankrupt, it is today totally incapable of doing any job right. We should stop depending on it for anything. And we should certainly shut the faucet of tax dollars we are presently pouring into it. The discussion should not be what is the right tax scheme is for providing funds to the federal government, but how quickly can we shut as many of its corrupt and incompetent agencies down and fire as many of its corrupt workers as possible.

Federal agencies question establishment of SpaceX spaceport and three liquefied natural gas plants in Brownsville

Two federal agencies are questioning the safety of establishing three liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants near SpaceX’s new spaceport in Boca Chica, Texas.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is reviewing the applications for the LNG export terminals, which plan to take natural gas from the Eagle Ford south of San Antonio, liquefy it and export the LNG to overseas customers.

The Federal Aviation Administration hosted an Aug. 18 meeting to discuss space launch activities near the proposed LNG facilities, according to a FERC filing released on Thursday. During the meeting, FAA officials discussed their role and regulations regarding commercial space launches, as well as the agency’s licensing and public safety requirements prior to the launch of any future mission.

While it makes perfect sense to keep a rocket launchpad safely away from large amounts of liquefied natural gas, I found the article’s concluding paragraphs to be most revealing:

Meanwhile, environmentalists, who were critical of the SpaceX project and oppose the LNG plants, said the launch site is too close to the proposed export terminals. “This announcement should be a wake-up call and warning that putting LNG terminals within six miles of the SpaceX launch site is a bad idea,” Lower Rio Grande Valley Sierra Club Chair Jim Chapman told the Business Journal. “Furthermore, Annova LNG wants to put its facility within the SpaceX launch closure area. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that idea won’t fly.” [emphasis mine]

Note how the environmentalists are essentially against everything. They really aren’t opposed to having these two facilities being placed too close to each other, what they really want is that nothing gets built at all. Most instructive.

Obama meets with health insurance execs in effort to save Obamacare

Finding out what’s in it: Realizing that the next open enrollment period under Obamacare will begin only a week before the election and will present voters with skyrocketing insurance premiums, higher deductables, and fewer choices, Obama met with health insurance execs on Monday to plead for their support.

The two largest insurance carriers, Aetna and UnitedHealth, did not attend, Both have already abandoned most of the Obamacare marketplaces.

The article has a lot of blather about the public relations steps the Obama administration is taking to shore up Obamacare, along with encouraging quotes from some insurance executives. This quote from the article, however, touches on reality, a reality that it appears Obama might finally be discovering. Or to paraphrase Nancy Pelosi’s words, he is finally finding out what’s in it.

But six years after passage of Obama’s signature domestic achievement, the litany of woes afflicting the Obamacare marketplaces is formidable. Enrollment has plateaued at half of what was projected. Three major insurers have largely quit, citing big losses. Double-digit rate hikes are the norm for plans across the country. And roughly one in five Americans may find just one insurer selling plans in their area when they shop for 2017 coverage.

UN Secretary-General declares climate change debate ‘over’

The certainty of politics: In a newspaper interview on Thursday UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared, without doubt, that the scientific debate on human-caused global warming “is over”.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday that his greatest achievement at the helm of the world’s biggest international organization was last year’s climate change accord in Paris, and he expressed open frustration that Republicans in the U.S. continue to obstruct President Obama and to politicize the subject. “The debate on science and the debate on politics as far as climate change is concerned is over,” Mr. Ban told The Washington Times in an exclusive interview. “Still, the Republican Party, they are not convinced.

“There should be no political consideration on this,” he said. “There should be no room for politics to get involved.” [emphasis mine]

I am so glad that this politician, not a scientist, knows so much about the climate field that he can dictate the future research of scientists. I am so glad that this politician, not a scientist, thinks he has the ability to tell skeptics to shut up. And I am so glad that this politician, not a scientist, can demand that skeptics shut up because he wants to keep politics out of science. (Note the irony and hypocrisy here.)

I find it most interesting that whenever anyone raises questions about the theory of human-caused global warming, the response by its advocates is almost never to discuss the actual data, but to tell the questioners to shut up, and to insist the debate is settled, even though the very existence of those questioners proves it is not.

Congressman proposes new legislation to better regulate commercial space

We’re here to help you! In an effort to guarantee that the United States remains compliant with the UN Outer Space Treaty when its private citizens begin flying commercial operations in space, Congressman Bridenstine (R-Oklahoma) is proposing new legislation that would better supervise and regulate the emerging commercial space industry.

Bridenstine explained that his top concern is that a U.S. company will proceed with a plan to put a spacecraft on the Moon or conduct on-orbit servicing or some other new type of activity only to have a “near-peer” country like Russia or China complain at the last minute that the United States is violating the OST. That would put the United States “in a difficult position,” he argues. Therefore he sees the need for “airtight” legislation that sets up a process by which the government authorizes and supervises these private companies. Once a company has gone through the process, the United States can unequivocally demonstrate to the international community that it has, in fact, complied with the treaty.

The Obama Administration has been open to working with these new companies, but he wonders if that will remain true over the long term future. He insisted that Congress “needs to exert its authority and power so that whatever administration comes next or is in place 50 years from now, the process exists” and is not subject to a new administration’s “whims.” He also worried that without a legislative solution, it could become a matter of “executive branch regulation by default.” That opens the possibility of some agency saying no, with no recourse for the private sector.

Read the whole report at the link. If you believe in freedom, competition, and private enterprise, it will chill your bones. At no time does anyone suggest that maybe the United States should simply get out of the Outer Space Treaty, as we are legally allowed to do according to the treaty’s own language. The treaty itself is a very bad law, as it makes it impossible for any private citizen or company in space to be protected under U.S. law, leaving everything instead in the control of United Nations bureaucrats and the polyglot of nations, many quite tyrannical, that dictate UN policy. Bridenstine’s proposals will only make this situation worse, as it will not only keep all control in the hands of the UN, but it will saddle American citizens with further regulations imposed by our own government.

More fraud found in Obamacare

Finding out what’s in it: A new GAO investigation has found that, like its previous reports in 2014 and 2015, it is remarkably easy for fictitious applicants to get approved for both Obamacare and the large subsidizes that go with it.

Our undercover testing for the 2016 coverage year found that the eligibility determination and enrollment processes of the federal and state marketplaces we reviewed remain vulnerable to fraud, as we previously reported for the 2014 and 2015 coverage years. For each of our 15 fictitious applications, the marketplaces approved coverage, including for 6 fictitious applicants who had previously obtained subsidized coverage but did not file the required federal income-tax returns. Although IRS provides information to marketplaces on whether health-care applicants have filed required returns, the federal Marketplace and our selected state marketplace allowed applicants to instead attest that they had filed returns, saying the IRS information was not sufficiently current. The marketplaces we reviewed also relaxed documentation standards or extended deadlines for filing required documentation. After initial approval, all but one of our fictitious enrollees maintained subsidized coverage, even though we sent fictitious documents, or no documents, to resolve application inconsistencies. [emphasis in original]

This report is actually less a condemnation of Obamacare and more a condemnation of the completely incompetent and failed state of the entire federal bureaucracy. They can’t get this job right, but in truth, they pretty much can’t get any job right.

Obviously, we should therefore do what the Democrats propose and give the federal government and its bureaucracy more power and responsibility. That will surely fix things!

Another Obamacare co-op folds

Finding out what’s in it: New Jersey’s Obamacare co-op has been taken over by the state and will fold in 2017.

As noted at the link, “that leaves just six of the original 23 Obamacare co-ops in operation next year.”

In other words, Obamacare is steadily going bankrupt, and in the process it is bankrupting the health insurance business. Before the law, it was possible for individuals to buy at a somewhat reasonable price a catastrophic insurance plan that would cover you in case of disaster but required you to pay for most of your routine health care costs. Obamacare outlawed those plans (obviously, someone was lying when he said you could keep your plan if you liked it). The result however is that everyone is forced to buy at very unreasonable prices the equivalent of those same plans, since both premiums and deductibles have risen so much that everyone now has to pay for routine health care costs.

Obviously, this means we should all vote for Hillary Clinton and the Democrats, because they more than anyone else know how to solve the problem they created. Obviously, voting for the Republicans, who predicted this disaster in great detail and with remarkable accuracy, would be a mistake, a clear demonstration of racism or something. And we wouldn’t want to be called racist by Democrats, would we?

The people directly hurt by Obamacare rises

Finding out what’s in it: A new poll shows that the number of people directly hurt by Obamacare has continued to rise.

Currently, 29% of Americans say Obamacare has hurt them and their family, up from 26% in May, and the highest Gallup has measured to date. Meanwhile, the percentage who say the ACA has helped their family dropped from 22% to 18%. The bulk of Americans, 51%, continue to say the law has “had no effect.” As more provisions of the law have taken effect over the years, the “no effect” percentage has dropped from the first reading of 70%, in early 2012.

Not surprisingly, support for Obamacare, always low, has shrunk as well. As the article at the link notes,

Wait until the next round of open enrollment starts in eight weeks. The number of people who feel the ObamaCare pain is likely to rise even further, especially in places like Tennessee, Minnesota, and other states where premiums will go up 40% or more over 2016.

The fact that in many regions there will be only one or fewer insurance options will help to underline why people increasingly hate Obamacare. Sadly, every one of these failures was predicted by conservatives back in 2010. The Democrats however were too wise and caring to listen. For them, caring is all that matters, even if it means instituting policies that destroy people’s lives.

Update on the Falcon 9 launchpad explosion investigation

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article today describing the investigation into last week’s Falcon 9 launchpad explosion, noting especially how — despite participation by the FAA, NASA, and the Air Force — SpaceX will be entirely in charge of the investigation, in accordance with present law.

The article is clearly lobbying for a change, whereby the government would have more power in these investigations. I personally think a change would be a mistake, that the law as it is now is how it should be. It was their rocket that exploded. Their business model depends on their rockets not exploding. Thus, they have the greatest self-interest in fixing the problem. The other outside players might be helpful, but their presence can only in the long run make things more difficult and slow things down, without making anything better.

The government vs the people of Louisiana

During the recent flooding in Louisiana, it was repeatedly the government vs ordinary citizens as people scrambled to deal with the disaster.

Read it all. The government was repeatedly in the way and working to prevent people from helping themselves. In fact, it often seemed more interested in collecting fees and paperwork than allowing people to be rescued or homes to be rebuilt.

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