Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Chinese Take Out?

This week we explore just how far the corporate-owned-and-operated state will go to put profits over people's lives. The propaganda machine to push a controversial taxpayer-funded bailout in Ohio is fired up--but will it be the taxpayers who are burned before all this is through? Our guest blogger Coast Watcher investigates.
Chinese Take Out?
by Coast Watcher

The controversial House Bill 6 that passed through Ohio’s state house recently has drawn flack from all quarters, some of them unexpected. What else would ally the Sierra Club with billionaire Charles Koch, both of whom decried the bill as a corporate bailout?  

HB6, enacted in July, gives $150 million annually for the private energy company First Energy Solutions. The company, which recently declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy, stated that without this publicly funded bailout they would have to close the decrepit and increasingly dangerous Davis-Besse and the Perry nuclear power plants. Decommissioning the plants is a process that will take anything up to or beyond sixty years. What makes the bill unprecedented in national history is the fact that the State of Ohio will fund the bailout not only with public tax money but by also cutting funding for renewable energy strategies.  

Naturally such a move has drawn a lot of protest, not least from environmental action groups. A petition currently circulating calls upon the state government to overturn HB6 and restore renewable energy programs.  

This is where China supposedly comes in.

Supporters of the bailout who call themselves Ohioans for Energy Security have commissioned a series of attack ads aimed at crippling the petition. An ominous voice-over intones “The Chinese government is quietly invading our American electric grid. Now they’re coming for our energy jobs.” Images of marching soldiers of the Chinese army and Chinese President Xi Jinping appear on the screen. The commercial ends with the warning “Don’t sign the petition allowing China to control Ohio’s power.”

The TV ad is backed by a flyer mailer like the one shown above. The Chinese flag is prominently displayed. There's no doubt Red Scare tactics are being employed.

So where does this fear of China stem from? A spokesman for Ohioans for Energy Security, Carlo LoParo, said loans made to natural gas plants in Ohio by state-controlled Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd. give Beijing local influence. “If reactors close and gas plants sell more power in the region, Chinese banks will have significant control over Ohio’s energy grid,” LoParo said in a statement. “It’s fair to point out that they’re heavily financed not just by foreign lenders, but by a foreign government,” LoParo said in the interview. He declined to say who funded the ads and flyers.

Accusations that the group is funded by dark money have been leveled at the group by Gene Pierce, a spokesman for Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts, the organization gathering signatures to repeal the law. The notion that the financing of gas plants is tantamount to taking over the power grid is far-fetched, he said. “Lending money is not the same thing as having a controlling interest,” Pierce said.

For those who remember the attack ads and mailers run by corporate polluters against the Lake Erie Bill of Rights (LEBOR) will find the current program of propaganda eerily familiar. In that campaign of misinformation Big Business in the shape of oil giant BP tried to convince the people of Toledo that having clean water was not in their best interests and that the activists trying to save Lake Erie were out-of-state extremists who wanted to hurt people rather than help keep the city's drinking water supply safe.

That campaign, of course, failed, costing British Petroleum-North America a tidy $307,000.  

When the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant opened in the 1970s there were numerous concerns about safety. Those concerns still apply, especially as the plant has suffered a number of close calls, any one of which would have laid waste to the entire western basin of Lake Erie, including all the communities along its shores and deep inland. One of the tactics used by the bankrupt First Energy Solutions to keep politicians in line is to tout the fact that the company employs more than 600 workers and supplies about 90% of Ohio’s power. Plant officials insist that Davis-Besse can run for at least 20 more years if it continues to get funding.

However, this short video from four years ago demonstrates how the 2019 taxpayers' bailout was in the making all along and proves that the aging nuke has serious--and possibly catastrophic--problems:


The fact that workers can only spend a maximum of fifteen minutes per day within the confines of the reactor building through the dangers of prolonged exposure to radiation is conveniently omitted. The company and their tame politicians continue to say that the energy produced by the plant is clean.

Common sense would call for the nuclear plants to be decommissioned immediately, and full funding for renewable energy solutions restored and expanded. Renewables can more than take up the slack in power demand, and will do so with far less impact on the environment. Far more than 600 workers will be required to expand the clean energy program of wind turbines and solar panels. Only the corporate money-grubbers and their political lackeys continue to resist the push of history. 

As the punch and counter-punch between supporters of HB6 and its detractors continues, I can only hope the public will ignore the blatant propaganda aimed at preventing them exercising their democratic right to decide where their tax dollars are spent and sign the petition.

Related article:

BIO: Coast Watcher is keeping an eye out on the aging nuke plants First Energy wants bailed out. There are no evacuation plans in place to protect the millions who live within a hundred mile radius of the two plants should they melt down. There's no plan on what would happen to all the radioactive fallout that would land in Lake Erie, either. China? We don't need to worry about China--we need to worry about the lobbyists who threaten our very existence with a possible China Syndrome!

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It's time for Congress to take action on gun control
The petition to Congress reads: "Enough is enough. We need real gun control now."
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It's time for Congress to take action on gun control
The statistics are chilling. There have been 38,000 incidents of gun violence in 2019, with 20,000 people injured and 10,000 people killed.1

Trump's white supremacy fuels far too much of this violence, but we can't blame it all on Trump when we have a Congress full of politicians too afraid to act.

Congress comes back into session next week after a recess filled with mass shootings and daily acts of gun violence. Every single member needs to get the message loud and clear that their constituents expect them to act.

Tell Congress: Thoughts and prayers are not enough. It's time to pass laws to help stop gun violence. Click here to sign the petition.

Tragic mass shootings have become all too common – and they're getting deadlier. Since the fall of 2017, we have had four of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history.2 And while these mass shootings receive more media attention, we cannot forget the gun violence that strikes people, families and communities across the country on a daily basis.

Earlier this year, after a gunman shot and killed 50 people at two New Zealand mosques, it took lawmakers just three days to pass legislation banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines.

Republicans are mainly to blame for keeping gun control from becoming law and exacerbating the growing crisis of white supremacist terror, but we cannot let either party off the hook. In August, 48 House Democrats sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi demanding that she bring them back into session to address the gun violence crisis and pass a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines.3 She did not listen. Speaker Pelosi has a responsibility to show that Democrats are willing to take bold action to keep us safe while Republicans hide in fear of the racist NRA. We have to demand she lead and make sure every Democrat in Congress knows what we expect. And we have to keep putting Republicans on notice too. 

Every Republican, and especially #MassacreMitch McConnell, needs to hear from constituents demanding an end to politics as usual when it comes to gun violence.
We'll deliver your petitions to every member of Congress when they get back to Washington this week. The more people who sign, the greater our pressure will be. Can you add your name?


Thanks for everything you do,
Heidi Hess, Co-Director CREDO Action from Working Assets
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  1. "Gun Violence Archive 2019," accessed Sep. 2, 2019.
  2. Dave Lawler and Orion Rummler, "The deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history," Axios, Aug. 4, 2019.
  3. Cameron Joseph, "EXCLUSIVE: House Democrats Demand Pelosi Bring Them Back to D.C. to Address White Supremacy," VICE, Aug. 6, 2019.

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