Aletho News


Post office social media surveillance program found to be illegal

By Christina Maas | Reclaim The Net | April 1, 2022

A review conducted by the Postal Service Office of Inspector General found that the Postal Service surveillance program iCOP exceeded its legal authority by surveilling Americans during protests between 2018 and 2021.

In 2021, Yahoo News reported the existence of the secret program, prompting outrage from lawmakers and constitutional experts who noted the program operated without oversight from Congress. Soon after the Yahoo News’ report, Congress requested the Inspector General’s office to launch an investigation into iCOP (Internet Covert Operations Program).

“We determined that certain proactive searches iCOP conducted using an open-source intelligence tool from February to April 2021 exceeded the Postal Inspection Service’s law enforcement authority,” the March 25, 2022, Inspector General report stated.

“Furthermore, we could not corroborate whether other work analysts completed from October 2018 through June 2021 was legally authorized.”

According to Yahoo News, iCOP used sophisticated technology, including facial recognition, to compile reports on protesters. It ran keywords searches for terms such as “protest” on online platforms to collect speech about protests that had nothing to do with the Postal Service’s work.

The House Oversight Committee chair, Rep. Carolyn Maloney said the Inspector General report proves there was cause for concern over iCOP’s activities.

“The Oversight Committee requested this report because of our significant concerns about intelligence activities conducted by the Postal Service Inspection Service’s analytics team related to First Amendment activity,” Maloney said in a statement to Yahoo News. “The Inspector General’s audit makes clear that the committee’s concerns were justified, and that the use of open-source intelligence by the analytics team ‘exceeded the Postal Inspection Service’s law enforcement authority.’”

The report concluded that the Postal Service exceeded its legal authority in monitoring protesters, and stressed iCOP’s activities should have a “postal nexus.”

“However, the keywords used for iCOP in the proactive searches did not include any terms with a postal nexus. Further, the postal nexus was not documented in 122 requests and 18 reports due to a lack of requirements in the program’s procedures. These issues occurred because management did not involve the Postal Inspection Service’s Office of Counsel in developing iCOP or its procedures.”

April 1, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , | Leave a comment

UK Sleepwalking Into Food Crisis As Fresh Produce Set To Vanish From Supermarkets

By Tyler Durden | Zero Hedge | April 1, 2022

The National Farmers’ Union has warned the UK is sleepwalking into a food security crisis. Soaring energy and fertilizer costs have led to an unprecedented situation where growers’ margins have collapsed, forcing many to halt growing operations.

Reuters says because of the inclement weather in the UK. Farmers grow cumbers, plant peppers, aubergines, and tomatoes in vast greenhouses. Greenhouses use natural gas for heat, but after last year’s surge in gas prices exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last month, the crops have become uneconomical to produce.

Trade body British Growers said the average cost to produce a cucumber in Britain before the energy crisis was around 25 pence, which is now more than doubled and set to hit 70 pence when higher energy prices fully kick in.

“Gas prices being so sky-high, it’s a worrying time,” grower Tony Montalbano said.

“All the years of us working hard to get to where we are, and then one year it could just all finish,” Montalbano said.

He noted his 30,000 square meters of glasshouses at Green Acre Salads business, which supplies major supermarkets such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Morrisons, are shuttered because costs outpace market prices. In fact, the farmer would be losing money if he were to grow.

Compared with this time last year, European gas prices are up a mindboggling 500%.

Fertilizer prices have tripled since last year, along with soaring prices for packaging, diesel, freight, labor, and everything related to running a grow operation.

“We are now in an unprecedented situation where the cost increases have far outstripped a grower’s ability to do anything about them,” said Jack Ward, head of British Growers.

With many greenhouses offline, this will inevitably push down the output of produce for supermarkets and result in persistent and or even higher food inflation when overall inflation is at historic levels.

To give an idea of just how bad the situation is, the Valley Growers Association, whose members produce about 75% of Britain’s cucumber and sweet pepper crop, said 90% of farmers didn’t plant in January. Others said they would not grow with elevated gas prices.

“There’s definitely going to be a lack of British produce in the supermarkets,” association secretary Lee Stiles said. “Whether there’s a lack of produce overall depends on where and how far away the retailers are prepared to source it from.”

The UK could increase imports of produce, but countries worldwide are implementing protectionism measures to keep farm goods domestically to mitigate shortages due to the Ukraine conflict disrupting the global food supply.

Like many other countries worldwide, the UK is sleepwalking into a food crisis.

April 1, 2022 Posted by | Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Russophobia | , | 3 Comments

China calls for ‘objective’ analysis of Russia’s claims about US biolabs in Ukraine

Samizdat | April 1, 2022

The international community should provide a “fair, objective and professional” assessment of Russia’s allegations regarding alleged US military laboratories in Ukraine, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said.

In March, Russia shared evidence obtained from laboratories across Ukraine that apparently confirms that Pentagon-funded labs were working on “biological weapons components,” and may have been connected to suspicious outbreaks of dirofilariasis, tuberculosis, and avian flu over the past several years. According to the latest data revealed by military spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov on March 30, Kiev was planning to use drones to deploy pathogens against the Donbass republics, as well as Russia itself.

Speaking at a regular press briefing on Friday, Zhao said the US has still not come up with a “constructive response” to Russia’s statements, and called on the international community to give serious consideration to Moscow’s claims.

He said, as quoted by TASS, that China “would welcome a fair, objective and professional assessment by the international community of the documents provided by Russia on the basis of the UN mechanisms and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction.”

China has consistently encouraged the US to make public all information about its biolabs. Two weeks ago, China’s permanent representative to the UN, Zhang Jun, told the UN Security Council that following the revelation by Russia of the newly discovered documents, “the party concerned should respond to questions, and offer timely and comprehensive clarifications to remove the doubts of the international community.”

Several days prior to that, Beijing disclosed for the first time the alleged number of US-controlled biolabs. Saying that laboratories in Ukraine are just the “tip of an iceberg,” Zhao revealed that the Pentagon “controls 336 biological laboratories in 30 countries around the world.” Noting that the US “has been exclusively obstructing” the establishment of an independent verification mechanism, the Foreign Ministry spokesman called on the US to “publish the relevant details as soon as possible, including which viruses are stored and which research has been carried out.”

The US has long claimed that allegations about military-funded biolaboratories in Ukraine are ‘Russian disinformation’. In March, however, US diplomat Victoria Nuland testified before the Senate that “biological research laboratories in Ukraine” did exist, and that Washington was working with Kiev “to ensure that the materials of biological research do not fall into the hands of Russian forces.”

April 1, 2022 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

The Remarkably Surprising Results of Ending Mask Mandates

A number of states have recently lifted mask mandates after months or years of forced masking – so what’s happened afterwards?

By Ian Miller | March 31, 2022

During the pandemic, an endlessly repeated phrase from experts, media members, politicians and social media pundits has been that it’s “too soon” to lift restrictions.

It’s important to deconstruct the intentions encapsulated in that phrase, because it’s remarkably pernicious.

The implication of the infuriating phrase, “it’s too soon to lift restrictions,” is that restrictions were proven to have had a demonstrable impact on the spread of COVID, which is entirely inaccurate. It also implies that restrictions should be considered necessary or valuable for a virus which will likely infect everyone on earth, possibly multiple times throughout their lifetime.

There’s also the unspoken assumption that restrictions are imposed at no cost; that masking kids in schools, for example, has little to no downside with significant benefits.

The “evidence” used by health officials to justify continued mask mandates has consistently been unbelievably flawed and thoroughly debunked.

We’ve seen the results of masking across the general population and in specific populations:

By pretending that mask mandates ever had any evidentiary basis, that the “benefits” will always outweigh the harms, while ignoring the inescapable reality that COVID will infect essentially everyone regardless of policy, the phrase that it’s “too soon” is profoundly ignorant and extremely disturbing.

Even now, as the Los Angeles City Council voted to end the vaccine requirement for many businesses, they have already set the stage for future mandates:

“I know it feels like we’re out of the woods. It feels like we’re all going back to normal. But there’s new variants and new strains all the time,” he said. “This BA.2 (variant) is spreading and we really don’t know what the variant a month from now or two months are.”

Martinez responded last week by saying, “I agree with you on that,” and noted that the City Council would have to revisit the vaccination mandates “as we learn to live with this pandemic unfortunately.”

Of course, Martinez ignores the unequivocal, inarguable fact that the vaccine mandates and passports in Los Angeles he’s advocated for had zero impact whatsoever on the rate of spread.

April 1, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Science and Pseudo-Science | , | 1 Comment

NY Times Latest to Mislead Public on New Ivermectin Study

The NEJM study chose a much lower dose, 400mcg per day for only three days, less than half the total dose that has been shown to be effective

By Madhava Setty, M.D. | The Defender | March 31, 2022

The New York Times on Wednesday sent an email blast to subscribers with the subject line: “Breaking News: Ivermectin failed as a Covid treatment, a large clinical trial found.”

The Times was referring to a study I wrote about, that same day, for The Defender.

My article called out the Wall Street Journal for its March 18 reporting on the same study — before the study was even published — for its failure to provide an accurate, critical assessment of the study.

The study in question — “Effect of Early Treatment with Ivermectin among Patients with Covid-19” — was officially published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

In it the authors concluded:

“Treatment with ivermectin did not result in a lower incidence of medical admission to a hospital due to progression of Covid-19 or of prolonged emergency department observation among outpatients with an early diagnosis of Covid-19”

The Times did not critique the study itself, but quoted the opinion of Dr. David Boulware, an infectious-disease expert at the University of Minnesota:

“There’s really no sign of any benefit. Now that people can dive into the details and the data, hopefully that will steer the majority of doctors away from ivermectin towards other therapies.”

Yes. Let us dive into the details and the data and see where it “steers” us, shall we?

A closer look at the details

The NEJM study took place in Brazil between March 23 and Aug. 6, 2021.

The study examined 1,358 people who expressed symptoms of COVID-19 at an outpatient care facility (within seven days of symptom onset), had a positive rapid test for the disease and had at least one of these risk factors for severe disease:

  • Age over 50
  • Hypertension requiring medical therapy
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Lung disease
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Organ transplantation
  • Chronic kidney disease (stage IV) or receipt of dialysis
  •  Immunosuppressive therapy (receipt of ≥10 mg of prednisone or equivalent daily)
  • Diagnosis of cancer within the previous 6 months
  • Receipt of chemotherapy for cancer.

Young and healthy individuals were not part of this study.

Both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals were included in the study. The percentage of vaccinated participants in each group was not specified. Note that by choosing not to identify vaccination status as a confounding variable the authors are implying that vaccines are playing no role in preventing hospitalization.

The 1,358 subjects were divided into two equally sized groups that were relatively well-matched and randomized to receive either a three-day dose of placebo or a three-day course of ivermectin at 400 mcg/kg.

The primary outcome was hospitalization due to COVID-19 within 28 days after randomization or an emergency department visit due to clinical worsening of COVID-19 (defined as the participant remaining under observation for >6 hours) within 28 days after randomization.

How researchers were able to conclude ‘no benefit’ despite signs to the contrary

The study’s authors wrote:

“100 patients (14.7%) in the ivermectin group had a primary-outcome event (composite of hospitalization due to the progression of COVID-19 or an emergency department visit of >6 hours that was due to clinical worsening of COVID-19), as compared with 111 (16.3%) in the placebo group (relative risk, 0.90; 95% Bayesian credible interval, 0.70 to 1.16).”

In other words, a greater percentage of placebo recipients required hospitalization or observation in an emergency department than those who received Ivermectin.

The authors of the study broke it down by subgroups here:

As is demonstrated in nearly every subgroup, the Ivermectin recipients fared better than those who received the placebo.

However, these data were not statistically significant given the size of the study.

This is how the authors were able to conclude there was no benefit to ivermectin use in preventing hospitalization in high-risk patients in their study.

Patients were under-dosed, some didn’t follow instructions

As it stands, the study The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal declared as proof of the uselessness of ivermectin in treating COVID-19 is actually quite promising —  contrary to what their headlines told readers.

The dosing protocol advised by the Frontline COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC) includes a five-day course of ivermectin at 600 micrograms per kilogram of body weight for people with risk factors such as those possessed by participants in the study.

Instead, the investigators behind the NEJM study chose a much lower dose, 400mcg per day for only three days. This represents less than half of the total dose that has been shown to be effective in practice.

Furthermore, despite acknowledging that studies have shown some indication that the bioavailability of ivermectin increases when taken with food, especially a fatty meal, participants in the trial were instructed to take the medicine on an empty stomach.

In other words, the patients were significantly under-dosed — and yet a positive effect of the drug was emerging, though not statistically significant given the size of the study.

Also of note, the investigators chose to include emergency room visits with hospitalizations for COVID. Clearly, six hours of observation in an ER is a significantly different outcome than a hospitalization that may last a night or much longer.

When excluding the ER visits from the primary outcome and examining only hospitalizations, the ivermectin cohort had even less risk of an outcome, i.e. the relative risk was 0.84 vs 0.9 when ER visits and hospitalization were grouped together.

Perhaps the most glaring deficiency of the study is the low number of placebo recipients who actually followed the study’s protocol:

Only 288 of 679 participants randomized to receiving the placebo reported 100% adherence to the study protocol. Nearly 400 didn’t.

Why not? We asked Dr. Meryl Nass, an internist and member of the Children’s Health Defense scientific advisory committee.

Nass told The Defender :

“Presumably they knew the difference between ivermectin and placebo, and the placebo subjects went out and bought ivermectin or something else … but whatever they did, they didn’t bother with the pills they were given.

“So, it was not actually a double-blinded trial. Yet the 391 people who didn’t take the placebo but did something else were included in two of the three calculations of ivermectin efficacy anyway.”

So, was this the definitive answer proclaimed by mainstream sources? Nass thinks otherwise:

“I would say that instead, it was a failed trial due to the 391 placebo recipients who admitted they did not follow protocol versus the 55 in the ivermectin arm.”

More questions than answers

Rather than pounding the final nail in the coffin around ivermectin’s utility in treating COVID, the NEJM study raises more questions.

  • What would the effect have been if a higher dose shown to be effective were administered?
  • What would be the benefit of this medicine in patients with no risk factors?
  • How statistically significant would the results have been if more participants were enrolled?
  • Why weren’t more participants enrolled as the study progressed given the emerging benefit of the drug and the absence of adverse events?
  • Why did the investigators define a primary outcome with such different real-world implications (ER visits vs hospitalizations)?
  • With less than 50% of the placebo arm adhering to the study protocol, why were their outcomes included in the analysis?
  • What effect did vaccination status have on outcome? If this is the primary means endorsed to prevent hospitalization, why wasn’t vaccination status mentioned as a confounder?
  • Did the investigators choose to limit the study as it became clear that an Ivermectin benefit would be too big to ignore?

Given these obvious issues with the study, it is becoming even more clear where the real story is: Neither The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times are willing to pursue startling details around how corporate interests are corrupting scientific opinion as reported here.

Instead, these iconic journals chose to report on a scientific study on or prior to the day of publication using misleading headlines backed up by flimsy investigations conducted by journalists with no capacity to dissect the analysis or data.

Here’s a bigger question: Are they incompetent, or complicit, too?

© 2022 Children’s Health Defense, Inc. This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of Children’s Health Defense, Inc. Want to learn more from Children’s Health Defense? Sign up for free news and updates from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and the Children’s Health Defense. Your donation will help to support us in our efforts.

April 1, 2022 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , | Leave a comment

Russia will see record gas earnings this year – expert

Samizdat | April 1, 2022

Russia will have record revenues from natural gas sales this year due to high prices in the spot markets, Janis Kluge, a Eurasia-focused researcher at the German Science and Politics Foundation, told news outlet.

“Almost half of the Russian budget is based on transactions with oil and gas. The state earns enormously from production taxes and export duties. It receives the income in rubles, and the amount is determined by two factors: firstly, by energy prices on the world market and, secondly, by the exchange rate of the ruble,” Kluge says.

According to him, revenue from gas will soar this year, as many of Russia’s gas contracts are adjusting to the rising spot prices.

“The gas price on the spot markets has quintupled within the past year. That means Gazprom will have record revenues,” he said, while predicting that the cost will increase significantly within the next several months.

The situation is similar with oil, Kluge says, which profits from the ruble’s sanctions-induced drop.

“Russia planned the national budget with a dollar-ruble exchange rate of 72, but now the ruble is around 85, much weaker, but with a view to energy exports this is an advantage. If we multiply the oil price by the ruble exchange rate, it shows that Moscow expected revenues of around 4,500 rubles per barrel of oil, but is getting much more, around 7,000 rubles.”

According to him, the profit from energy sales will be enough to cover the impact of Ukraine-related sanctions on the Russian economy, among other things, by halting inflation.

Kluge also believes the costs of the operation in Ukraine are not very high, and economic measures, except for a complete embargo, will hardly “stop the tanks.” And seeing that the Russian Central Bank has been inventive in introducing counter-measures to keep the economy afloat, Kluge predicts that Russia will survive the sanctions and even have a budget surplus this year.

April 1, 2022 Posted by | Economics | , | 1 Comment

German Chemical Giant Warns Of “Total Collapse” If Russian Gas Supply Cut

By Tyler Durden | Zero Hedge | April 1, 2022

CEO of Germany’s multinational BASF SE, the world’s largest chemical producer, has warned that curbing or cutting off energy imports from Russia would bring into doubt the continued existence of small and medium-sized energy companies, and further would likely spiral Germany into its most “catastrophic” economic crisis going back to the end of World War 2.

Company CEO Martin Brudermuller issued the words in an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper just ahead of German officials by midweek giving an “early warning” to industries and the population of possible natural gas shortages, as Russia appears ready to firmly hold to Putin’s recent declaration that “unfriendly countries” must settle energy payments in rubles, related to the Ukraine crisis and resultant Western sanctions.

According to Bloomberg he mused that while “Germany could be independent from Russia gas in four to five years” it remains that “LNG imports cannot be increased quickly enough to replace all Russian gas flows in the short term.”

But in the meantime, Brudermuller described that “It’s not enough that we all turn down the heating by 2 degrees now” given that “Russia covers 55 percent of German natural gas consumption.” He emphasized that if Russian gas disappeared overnight, “many things would collapse here” – given that “we would have high levels of unemployment, and many companies would go bankrupt. This would lead to irreversible damage.” He continued:

“To put it bluntly: This could bring the German economy into its worst crisis since the end of the Second World War and destroy our prosperity. For many small and medium-sized companies in particular, it could mean the end. We can’t risk that!”

The dire warning of coming disaster in the event Russian gas is shut off came in response being questioned over whether it’s at all possible to abandon Russian energy.

Asserting that this issue is not “black and white” – and that the German economy stands on the brink of catastrophe, the BASF CEO said that if this standoff continues to escalate it will “open the eyes of many on both sides”…

Below is the question posed by the newspaper, and Brudermuller’s response:

And what if, for example, Putin’s demand for payment in rubles leads to an immediate stop in gas supplies?

“A delivery stop for a short time would perhaps open the eyes of many – on both sides. It would make clear the magnitude of the consequences. But if we don’t get any more Russian gas for a long time, then we really have a problem here in Germany. At BASF, we would have to scale back or completely shut down production at our largest site in Ludwigshafen if the supply fell significantly and permanently below 50 percent of our maximum natural gas requirement. Minister Habeck has already activated the early warning level of the gas emergency plan.”

Separate sources estimate that at Ludwigshafen alone this scenario would immediately lead to some 40,000 employees being possibly laid off, or at least put on short-time working hours.

He warned further in the interview that many Germans are currently greatly underestimating the consequences of what Russia shutting off the taps would mean… nothing less than a historic crisis:

“Many have misconceptions. I notice that in many of the conversations I have. People often make no connection at all between a boycott and their own job. As if our economy and our prosperity were set in stone.”

He explained that higher prices are already having a huge impact on the food supply given at this point BASF has been forced to reduce the production of ammonia for fertilizer production.

Brudermuller called this “a catastrophe and we will feel it even more clearly next year than this one. Because most of the fertilizers that the farmers need this year have already been bought. In 2023 there will be a shortage, and then the poor countries in particular, for example in Africa, will no longer be able to afford to buy basic foodstuffs.” In a very alarming statement and forewarning, he added: “There is a risk of famine.”

April 1, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Russophobia | | 5 Comments

US warns India not to help Russia undermine dollar

Samizdat | April 1, 2022

A top US national security official has called on India to scale back its economic and military ties with Russia, warning of “consequences” for any nation that helps Moscow avoid the recent wave of Western sanctions.

Speaking to reporters after meeting with Indian officials on Thursday, Washington’s deputy national security adviser for international economics, Daleep Singh, urged New Delhi not to boost Russian energy imports, and to avoid any moves that might “undermine” the US dollar.

“What we would not like to see is a rapid acceleration of India’s imports from Russia as it relates to energy or any other any other exports that are currently being prohibited by the US,” he said, adding that the United States is “very keen for all countries, especially our allies and partners, not to create mechanisms that prop up the ruble and that attempt to undermine the dollar-based financial system.”

While condemning Russia’s “needless war” on Ukraine, Singh said his visit to India was “in a spirit of friendship to explain the mechanisms of our sanctions,” but nonetheless warned that there would be “consequences [for] countries that actively attempt to circumvent or backfill” those penalties.

Asked what those consequences could entail, the adviser declined to elaborate, saying that was part of “private discussions that I’m not going to share publicly.”

Singh’s remarks followed reports that Moscow and New Delhi are currently working out a rupee-ruble payment system, which would allow the two nations to conduct bilateral trade in each others’ currencies. India also recently agreed to buy a quantity of Russian crude oil at a discount, an unpopular decision with the US and some allies, who have embarked on a punitive sanctions campaign designed to isolate Russia’s economy and wreck the ruble.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also visited the Indian capital on Thursday, coinciding with official meetings with Singh as well as UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.

Though American, Australian and British officials have criticized India’s refusal to go along with the sanctions spree, US State Department spokesman Ned Price insisted that Washington is not “seeking to change” any nation’s “relationship with the Russian Federation,” citing India in particular.

“What we are seeking to do, whether it is in the context of India or other partners and allies around the world, is to do all we can” to ensure that “the international community is speaking in unison,” Price added in comments on Lavrov’s trip.

Often portrayed as the “architect” of the US sanctions regime on Moscow, Singh went on to cite growing ties between Russia and China, cautioning that their partnership could have major consequences for India, which has long been locked in a territorial dispute with Beijing along the Sino-Indian border.

“If you set that against the reality that China and Russia have now declared a no limits partnership, and that Russia has said that China is its most important strategic partner, by extension, that has real implications for India,” he said, claiming that Moscow would not “come running to India’s defense” in the event of a Chinese incursion.

April 1, 2022 Posted by | Economics | , , | 3 Comments

Can renewable energy ever replace fossil fuels?

By Paul Homewood | Not A Lot Of People Know That | March 31, 2022

Let me start by stating that I am not pro or anti anything. In a free market, the best technologies, solutions and products automatically come to the fore, without the need for subsidies, regulations and mandates.

If renewable energy is all that is promised, it will do the same.

There is of course no doubt that the cheap, abundant and reliable energy provided by fossil fuels has transformed society and made all of us better off than ever before in so many ways.

We get rid of them at our peril!

So far, our transition to renewable energy in the UK has been painfully slow and extremely expensive. Wind and solar power still supply only 3% of the UK’s total energy consumption after two decades of trying. Meanwhile, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility, subsidies for renewables were expected to cost £12 billion in 2021/22. This actually understates the reality because it does not include all of the indirect costs involved in grid balancing and so on, meaning the true cost is probably over £15 billion.

It is of course true that the recent rocketing of gas prices has reset the agenda. But it is important to note that the current price does not reflect the cost of extracting gas. It is the result of an imbalance in supply and demand. Such imbalances have occurred before, and a normally functioning market would quickly increase gas production, driving prices back down to historic levels.

But even before those price rises, it was being claimed that wind and solar power were cheaper than fossil fuel. However such claims fail to take into account the additional system costs imposed by their intermittency.

Moreover, claims that offshore wind costs are now down to around £40/MWh simply are not supported by the evidence. The claims are derived from the prices agreed for Contracts for Difference, the government subsidy mechanism. However, wind farms are under no legal obligation to actually take up these contracts; they are effectively only options.

Detailed examination of actual company accounts continues to show that the capital costs for building offshore wind farms has not fallen significantly in recent years, and that the true running costs are probably around £100/MWh. To put this into perspective, historically wholesale electricity prices have been under £50/MWh.

Solar power has certainly come down in cost in recent years, but the technology is a dead end here in the UK, because of our latitude. In winter, when demand for electricity is at its highest, our solar farms typically work at only 2% of their capacity.

Solar power certainly has a future in sunnier climates. But even in India, for instance, the government have realised that they cannot run an electricity grid purely on intermittent power. Even their ambitious plans only project that a 11% of their energy will be coming from wind and solar by 2040.

And it is of course intermittency which is the overriding problem here. You can forget about batteries and other forms of storage, as these can typically only supply power for an hour or two. This is useless when the wind stops blowing for days and weeks on end.

Hydrogen is usually wheeled out as the answer to all of our problems, replacing gas needed to back up wind farms as well as heat our homes. However, even the Committee on Climate Change accept that most of the bulk of our hydrogen will have to be made by steam reforming natural gas.

This process is not only expensive, it also wastes a lot of the gas input. In other words, you need more gas to produce hydrogen than you would need if you just burnt the gas itself in the first place. Worse still, steam reforming emits carbon dioxide, so you need to bolt on a carbon capture system adding yet more cost.

All in all, hydrogen made this way would be double the cost of gas in energy terms. But, crucially, you would still need as much natural gas as you do now, and more. Far from replacing fossil fuels, hydrogen increases our reliance on them.

The alternative is green hydrogen, which is made by electrolysis. It is usually suggested that surplus wind power is used for this. However, the amounts of hydrogen which could be produced this way would be tiny, as well as extremely costly given the intermittency of the process.

The bottom line is that we will still need gas, and lots of it, to back up a renewable heavy grid. Indeed, the more renewable capacity we build, the more backup we need.

And that is only considering electricity. We need lots more gas for heating and industrial use.

The biggest problem with using hydrogen, or for that matter electricity, for domestic heating is how you cope with peak demand in winter. On average over the year, demand for gas is roughly double that for electricity. But in winter, peak gas demand is seven times as much.

To get a scale of the numbers, gas consumption peaks at around 350 GW in mid winter. Current government plans target wind capacity of 45 GW by 2035, which on average will produce just 15 GW, and often as little as 2 GW.

You can of course store gas very easily, so that it can be turned on and off when needed. Green hydrogen, most of which would be made during summer when demand for electricity is low, would have to be stored for use in winter, something for which there is no ready solution.

There are plenty of vested interests out there who claim hydrogen is the way forward and call for government “investment”. But what they are really after are the fat subsidies that will come with it.

The simple reality is that we will continue to need fossil fuels for many years to come. In the long term we will have look to develop new technologies such as nuclear fusion, or build small nuclear reactors and the like if we want to decarbonise.

Renewable energy has a part to play, but it can never be the whole answer.

April 1, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | 2 Comments

NATO should have been dissolved after Soviet collapse: China

Press TV – April 1, 2022

China has criticized the eastward expansion of NATO, saying that the US-led military alliance should have been dissolved after the collapse of the Soviet Union more than three decades ago.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a news conference on Friday that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), as a product of the Cold War, should have become history when the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991.

“In the early 1990s, then-US Secretary of State James Baker promised to former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO would not expand even an inch eastward,” Zhao said.

As the initiator and biggest “behind-the-scene planner” for the Ukraine conflict, the US has led NATO to engage in five rounds of eastward expansion in over 20 years, he added.

“The number of NATO members increased from 16 to 30, advancing more than 1,000 kilometers eastward to the Russian border,” Zhao said.

He said that the world does not need a new Cold War, neither does Europe. He called on NATO to reflect on its role in the Ukraine crisis and the security of Europe itself.

NATO was formed in 1949 by 12 countries, including the US, Canada, the UK and France. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, a number of former Warsaw Pact countries switched sides and joined the military alliance. It currently consists of 30 independent member countries, who are committed to protect each other.

NATO’s eastward expansion has long been a concern for world powers China and Russia, who have constantly warned that the move would lead to a war.

Russia has constantly been warning against membership of many parts of the old Soviet Bloc in NATO, especially the prospective membership of Ukraine in the Western military alliance, something that eventually pit Moscow against the Kiev government.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who ordered the military campaign in Ukraine in February 24, has been clear for many years that if continued, the expansion would likely be met with serious resistance by the Russians.

Before the military conflict, Moscow had put forward a set of security proposals to de-escalate the tensions, including a guarantee that Ukraine will not join NATO.

The proposals were rejected.

April 1, 2022 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 3 Comments

NATO bases in Central Asia ‘unacceptable,’ Lavrov says

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stand with officials from Afghanistan’s neighboring countries and the Afghan Taliban as China-hosted talks on Afghanistan concluded in East China’s Tunxi, Anhui Province on March 31, 2022. Photo: Chinese Foreign Ministry
Samizdat | March 31, 2022

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday that any NATO military presence in Central Asia will undermine the security of the Russian-led bloc in the region.

The minister made his comment at an Afghanistan-themed summit in Tunxi, China.

“We believe it’s unacceptable to have any US and NATO military infrastructure, or their Afghan helpers, on the territory of neighboring states, especially in Central Asia,” Lavrov said, adding that “such designs go against the security interests of our countries.”

He added that the existence of Western military sites would contradict the interests of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russian-led regional bloc.

April 1, 2022 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 3 Comments

OPEC+ sticks to modest oil output rises, ditches IEA data

Press TV – March 31, 2022

OPEC and allies including Russia agreed on Thursday to another modest monthly oil output boost, resisting pressure to pump more, and ditched the Paris-based International Energy Agency as a data source in a sign of a hardening standoff with the West.

The group has resisted repeated calls by the United States and the IEA to pump more crude to cool prices that climbed close to an all-time high after Washington and Brussels imposed sanctions on Moscow following its invasion of Ukraine.

“Saudi Arabia will be keen to avoid falling out with Russia by adding extra barrels at a time when Russian production is struggling,” said Callum Macpherson at Investec.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which hold the bulk of spare production capacity within OPEC, have resisted calls for higher output, saying the group should stay out of politics and focus on balancing oil markets.

OPEC+, which consists of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other producers including Russia, will raise output by about 432,000 barrels per day in May.

Global oil supply disruptions are approaching 5 million to 6 million bpd, or 5% to 6% of world demand, according to Reuters’ calculations, as sanctions, conflicts and infrastructure failures hit supply.

OPEC+ has been unwinding record output cuts in place since 2020, as demand has been recovering from the coronavirus pandemic, but not boosting production as fast as the West and other consumers want.

US President Joe Biden’s administration is weighing the release of up to 180 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) and the IEA, a group which includes 31 mostly industrialized nations but not Russia, is set to meet on Friday to decide on a collective oil release.

Brent crude futures were down 6% towards $107 per barrel on Thursday.

OPEC+ has warned the global economy would see a major blow from a prolonged conflict in Ukraine.

“Consumer and business sentiment is expected to decline not only in Europe, but also in the rest of the world, when only accounting for the inflationary impact the conflict has already caused,” OPEC+ said in an internal report, seen by Reuters.

Ditching the IEA

Just as the IEA was working on a new stocks release, OPEC+ decided to stop using IEA’s data, replacing it with reports from consultancies Wood Mackenzie and Rystad Energy.

OPEC+ uses the data to assess crude oil production and the conformity of participating countries with agreed output curbs.

The IEA advises Western governments on energy policy and has the United States as its top financier.

The IEA said in an emailed statement its data and analysis was “rigorous and objective” and its monthly update on OPEC+ oil production would be made available to the public to support transparency.

In February, the IEA surprised the market by revising its baseline estimate of global demand by nearly 800,000 barrels per day, just under 1% of the 100 million bpd global oil market.

Some OPEC+ members have criticized IEA data, saying it has been inaccurate on several occasions. They have also said the IEA has advised against further investment in the hydrocarbons sector. The IEA has predicted reduced future oil demand as the world seeks to shift to lower carbon fuel.

UAE energy minister Suhail al-Mazrouei told an industry conference this week that institutions such as the IEA needed to be “more realistic” and not issue misleading information.

Mazrouei said top producers were treated like outcasts at the COP26 climate conference last year but were now sought out like “superheroes” as supply has waned.

Ahead of the climate conference, the IEA issued a groundbreaking recommendation for no new fossil fuel projects beyond 2021, while Rystad Energy projected the need for hundreds of new oilfields to meet demand.

April 1, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , | Leave a comment