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Month: August 2016 (page 1 of 4)

Opinion: Apple, taxes, and just punishment

800px-Apple_Headquarters_in_Cupertino photo Joe Ravi

Margrethe Vestager reminds us of the purpose of the European Union. Only she ? as European Commissioner for Competition ? can act against tax-avoidance schemes employed by individual member states looking to cozy up with multinational companies. Ireland?s tax favors for the computer giant, Apple, may not have broken its own country?s laws, but they do violate European competition regulations. Without the EU, Ireland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and other countries could continue to shamelessly offer advantages to particular companies over others with unfair tax policy. A common, single market is the only bulwark against tax fraud.

It?s a positive development that the European Commission is now firmly standing up to tax schemers, regardless of criticism from Ireland or the United States, which seeks to protect American business interests. Amid refugee and Brexit drama, the EU is demonstrating to upstanding taxpayers and average businesses that it stands for law and reason.

Legal action against Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and four other member states comes a little late. Tax-saving schemes, often dubbed ?double Irish? or ?Dutch sandwich,? have already been in place for 30 years. The European Commission only woke up two years ago, when Luxembourg?s massive tax advantages were revealed. Its preliminary investigation extends to all 28 EU states ? that?s how far-reaching suspected tax avoidance goes. More than 300 companies are expected to be affected in Luxembourg alone.

Apple in Ireland is the fourth-largest company required to pay back tax, following Starbucks in the Netherlands, and Amazon and Fiat in Luxembourg. Caught red-handed, Ireland and Apple are seeking to reverse the 13-billion-euro ($15 billion) back payment ordered by the European Court of Justice, but they stand little chance before the court. Contrary to the Irish finance minister?s claim, the decision will have no effect on the fiscal sovereignty of member states.

Ireland doesn?t want the $15 billion back, which it could have put to good use during the financial crisis. It almost went bankrupt at the time and had no qualms in receiving nearly $80 billion in EU bailout money. A country that artificially lowers its tax revenue should have no claim to easy financial rescue.

Ireland should not have been able to cut its 12.5 percent tax rate to just .005 percent, least of all just for Apple. That is the unfairness the European Commission is now calling out.

Slowly and following hard negotiations, finance ministers are turning the page. They want their tax authorities to be able to automatically exchange information with each other about tax schemes. This will allow member states to keep an eye on each other, however the information will be withheld from the public.

Over the longterm, the single European market needs to develop a single tax system that sets the same conditions for people and companies. This, however, is something member states are far from creating; instead they sometimes use their tax rates to compete with one another. In the meantime, finance ministers want to at least form a common basis for corporate taxation, including a minimum corporate tax rate.

It?s a slow process, but there would be no progress at all without the EU. That?s all the more reason why we need it.

Source: dw.de

(Photo: Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California, by Joe Ravi. Creative Commons licence CC-BY-SA 3.0)

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Bulgaria to enable restrictions on movement of asylum applicants

Harmanli refugee centre March 2014 photo EC Audiovisual Service

Bulgaria?s Cabinet approved on August 31 changes to State Agency for Refugees regulations that will enable restrictions on the movement of applicants for international protection and asylum.

A Cabinet statement said that the changes to the regulations were consistent with amendments to the law on asylum and refugees.

The changes will make it possible to put an applicant for international protection in a gated State Agency for Refugees centre.

In effect, the changes means that some applicants may have freedom of movement and others may not.

Bulgarian media linked the changes to a large-scale brawl in the Harmanli refugee centre between hundreds of Iraqis and Afghans this past weekend. The groups, who reportedly had been drinking alcohol, had to be separated using high-powered water hoses. The police presence at the camp has been stepped up after the incident. A curfew for the asylum-seekers was announced.

The head of Bulgaria?s State Agency for Refugees, Petya Purvanova, announced the measures proposed by the agency after an emergency meeting with the administrators of the Harmanli camp, senior officers of the regional police directorate and representatives of local authorities.

The introduction of zones of movement is part of targeted emergency measures.

For foreigners registered in Sofia, their movement will be restricted to the municipality. Restrictions will be announced for those in other centres. The zones will enter into forces after the legislative changes have been approved.

Purvanova said that EU legislation provides the possibility to identify areas of movement. The only requirement is that candidates for protection are not restricted in their access to hospitals, schools and other social services.

Someone caught outside the area to which they are restricted will be sent immediately to a gated centre.

Reports said that it was possible that once the new rules were in force, those who initiated the brawl in Harmanli would be sent to gated centres. Those who were involved are currently under arrest and will face criminal charges.

Purvanova, however, denied that the legislative change had been provoked by the incident at Harmanli on August 28.

?We clearly realised, looking at statistics in recent months, that this needed to happen. Obviously, the situation requires some closed centres,? Purvanova said.

She said that the changes would have a preventative effect, because asylum-seekers would not know that if they did not respect law and order, they would be put in such centres.

At Harmanli, bringing alcohol into the camp has been forbidden, and stones and pieces of wood that could be used in a fight have been removed.

(Archive photo of the Harmanli refugee centre, in 2014: EC Audiovisual Service)

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Hitchhiking race: First German team reaches Bulgaria

hitchhikers

A hitchhiking race from Germany to Bulgaria is about to end. The first of six teams reached the village of Tsigov Chark, in the Rila mountain range, right next to Lake Batak. The winners messaged the other teams via the event?s website, saying ?Come down here fast. We need you to help us remove language barriers?.

In this hitchhiking race, it is not all about speed, but rather collecting points, which are given out for mastering challenges. After each hitchhiking day, participants had one day off, in order to relax and get to know new surroundings.

The six teams had left Germany on August 19th, taking different routes towards Bulgaria.

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The Cops and the Kids

The clashes between police and demonstrators began as calculated maneuvers by The National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, and the Youth International Party. The strategy was to confront the Chicago police, and thereby demonstrate that America was a police state. It ended as a full-blown insurrection of middle-class people against that state.

For the people who took part in this, the Democratic Convention was irrelevant; for them, politics is in the street. They either will be in the streets in increasing numbers from now on, or they will be returning to live the underground existence of the 1950?s over again, leaving politics to the police.

The Chicago police department, not Mayor Daley, was the clear winner in the street fights. And the officers knew it. After they beat up the demonstrators Wednesday night, they were exultant. Where the youngsters had once made fun of the police, the officers now took to openly taunting the citizens?any citizen. Out of the debacle in Chicago, the police have emerged as an important political force. No candidate in America can run from now on without coming to terms with the police.

The city refused to give either the mobilization (mobs) or the yippies (yips) permits for their gathering. Instead they tried to run them out of town.

Plainclothesmen were assigned to tail both Rennie Davis and Tom Hayden, the two mobs leaders. Others followed Paul Krassner and Jerry Rubin of the yips. This was good humored for a time; Krassner had a tail advise him where the best food was. Then on Sunday evening in Lincoln Park, near the lake in northern Chicago, where the yips were headquartered, Hayden and Davis tried to slip the dicks by running off into the darkness. By mistake, Hayden ran across the two officers, who threw him up against the side of a police car. Hayden yelled for help and a small crowd gathered. ?We?re going to get you, you son-of a-bitch,? the dicks told Hayden, then they freed him.

Monday afternoon, the yips again gathered in Lincoln Park and Hayden and Krassner discussed plans for the Miss Yippie contest and the Yippie Olympics which Krassner was especially keen to begin. Hayden was talking to a group of people when he noticed the two dicks who had nabbed him the evening before approaching with a small convoy of paddy wagons and officers on motorcycles. They came right up, collared him and threw him into the paddy wagon and drove off before anybody could make a move.

On the way to the stationhouse, one of the officers turned to Hayden and pleasantly said to him, ?We?re going to get rid of you, you son-of-a-bitch.? At the police station he was taken to a room, and while awaiting processing with others, was told to sit on the floor. As he waited a number of officers stopped off to pass the time of day. ?If you guys want to kick the shit out of the cops,? one of them said, ?we?ll kill every one of you.?

?We?ll spray you fuckers with submachine guns,? said another.

?Phew,? said a third, holding his nose. ?God, do you stink.?

(The police were especially angered by the radicals? slovenly dress and body odors. ?Animals,? they said in disgust.

?Pigs,? replied the yips. ?Oink, oink.?)

Shortly after Hayden was taken, the yips gathered, and after hoisting Red and Viet Cong Hags, marched downtown to the police station. They were led by a sporty looking fellow with a plaid jacket and a peace dove button pinned on it. He walked along with a black man dressed in green pants and sporting a McCarthy button. Both these characters were dicks.

At first the police were badly outnumbered and flustered as they ran along to catch up with the march. But they soon recovered their verve and dashed into the marchers and hauled out a lad. Pinning his arms behind his back, they threw him into a paddy wagon. A mild-looking man wearing glasses rushed up to protest. A policeman knocked off his glasses and sprayed some mace in his face. As they marched into the city, an air of insurgency swept through the crowd. Gail Carter of Berkeley, wearing a black beret, was hoisted onto a boy?s shoulders, where she chanted, ?Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh,? and ?Dump the Hump.?

The marchers finally reached the police station, which was guarded by what looked to be several hundred officers; then they went over to Grant Park, which is opposite the Hilton Hotel, the convention headquarters. There they clustered around the statue of General Logan, a Civil War hero. A couple of boys climbed up on the statue and decked it with the Viet Cong Hag. This angered the police, and several hundred of them formed a skirmish line. The officers charged at the statue, laying their billies to any youngster in the way. The youngsters rushed off from the statue in another direction, yelling, ?Here come de pig. Oink. Oink. Pig. Pig. Oink. Oink.?

Meanwhile, Miss Carter approached the line of police, and going up to each man in the manner of an inspecting officer she paused, looked him hard in the eye, and said, ?And you. What about you? I care for you. You know what I am saying. What do you feel in your heart? Or are you afraid to say what?s in your heart?? A group of plainclothesmen took her picture with a polaroid camera. But the films wouldn?t develop properly and they fell to quarreling among themselves on that score and quite lost track of Miss Carter, who wandered off elsewhere.

Later that evening, the police charged into Lincoln Park, spraying tear gas into the yippies and others who had barricaded themselves in. The officers beat up the reporters and anyone else they could lay their hands on. Meanwhile, Hayden was charged with disorderly conduct for sitting on the grass and was bailed out. About midnight, he was about to enter the Hilton Hotel when a house dick recognized him and ordered him away. Coming away from the hotel, Hayden spotted two tails coming down the street. Seeking to avoid them, he walked across the intersection. At that moment, another plainclothesman, standing up the block, recognized Hayden and yelled out to the officer directing traffic, ?Get him. Stop him.? A dick grabbed Hayden from behind and threw him to the pavement. More police converged. Hayden yelled, ?What have I done? I haven?t done anything.? But he was hustled off to the police station. An attorney who managed to see him there said the police wanted to charge Hayden with aggravated assault, but this was later dropped and he was charged with simple assault for spitting on a police officer. Bail was set at $1,000.

Hayden was released from custody about 3:30 that morning. On leaving the station house with a handful of reporters and friends, he quickly ran into another car carrying plainclothesmen. At an intersection both dicks jumped out and said, ?Hello, we?re police officers, can we help you fellows?? After examining a White House press pass, they retreated. About an hour later, Hayden decided to go underground.

Tuesday evening, the yips, mobs, McCarthy youths and a lot of other people gathered to celebrate LBJ?s birthday at the Colosseum which is a few blocks down Lake Michigan from the Hilton. There they listened to Jean Genet and William Burroughs berate the police. Draft cards were burned. Rock bands played. David Dellinger gave out the usual stuff about the movement. Paul Krassner gave LBJ the finger. Then the crowd joined in singing Happy Birthday LBJ, and ?Fuck you, Lyndon Johnson.?

At the end of the evening?s entertainment, Rennie Davis said the plan was to disperse in small groups, then gather in full view of the television cameras at Grant Park. There they could greet the returning delegates.

It was midnight. The police were lined up on both sides of the street in front of the Hilton. A small band of people from Lincoln Park had already arrived and were waiting for the others from the Colosseum to march up. Scattered among them were the usual lot of plainclothesmen, doing their best to look like hippies but, as usual, chattering about the unwashed smell of the slobs they were sent to observe. Standing among them was a man with a porkpie hat and with a neat mustache. He chatted amiably with another fellow who appeared to be listening to the convention on a small transistor radio. Both looked rather like the artificially got-up detectives. But they weren?t. The man in the hat was Hayden and his companion wasn?t listening to the convention; he was tuned to the police radio bands, following the cops? movements. Here among the police was the mobs? field communications headquarters.

?The real convention is in the streets,? another said.  

As the throng from the Colosseum flitted into the dark of the park, an air of expectancy grew. The police brought in buses full of fresh men and lined them up two deep. People began to chant, ?Peace now, peace now,? and then to burn draft cards before the television cameras. They yelled ?Fuck you, LBJ,? ?Fuck you, Daley.? More police were marched up. Helicopters circled overhead. Now word was coming over the transistor radios that the police had once more cleared Lincoln Park, using tear gas, which in addition to forcing the yips from the park, had gotten into drivers? eyes and stalled traffic on the highway. The crowds were moving through the streets stoning cars, and a group began to march towards Grant Park. More police were lined up before the Hilton. They were five deep in some places. They quietly moved in behind the park and on both sides of it. A police officer walked among the apprehensive reporters, suggesting they might better watch the scene from across the street. The convention adjourned. Buses carrying delegates were returning and the crowd, now numbering about 3,500, yelled at them, ?Peace now?; ?Join us, join us.?

First a few, then more, opened the bus windows and made the V sign at the crowd. There were cheers. ?Join us, join us,? went the chant. Fires were lit in the park. Now across the street in the hotel room lights were flashed on and off, giving the SOS signal. McCarthy youths began appearing at the windows, waving and calling out support. First one, then another came out on the street. ?I didn?t feel comfortable in that hotel with the pigs protecting us from you people,? an Alabama challenge delegate said. ?The real convention is in the streets,? another said.

Although the gathering was pretty placid, with only a brief scuffle now and then, the police seemed increasingly edgy. At about 3 a.m. the first units of the Illinois National Guard were brought in. They got off their jeeps with rifles at the ready, and the police were marched off. The Guard commander, Brigadier-General Richard Dunn, tried to speak on his own microphone. But the crowd leaders suggested he come over and speak on theirs, instead. Dunn tried to do so, but was drowned out as Peter, Paul and Mary began singing, ?If I Had a Hammer.? Finally, Dunn was able to say that the National Guard didn?t want to bother anyone. He retired to his jeep, which looked a little like a rabbit hutch, covered over with mesh wire for the commander?s protection.

The insurrection was full-blown by afternoon. Ten thousand people gathered at a band shell in the park, some distance from the hotel. When a youngster ran down the American flag, the police charged in swinging. One group of people wanted to go to the amphitheater, another to the Hilton. Both were blocked by troop movements which closed the bridges out of the park. To get out of the park, people walked north past the barricaded bridges. They milled around for a while, then seized upon one bridge which was still open to traffic, and blocked it. The police moved in, firing tear gas barrages to break up the crowd. The gas spread back into the city, choking people in the streets and hotels. The demonstrators now split up and moved back through the different streets toward the Hilton, grouping finally on Michigan Avenue and marching on the hotel. Medics moved through the crowds, dampening handkerchiefs with water to fend off tear gas. Waving their hands in the ?V? sign, chanting ?Peace now, peace now,? an enormous crowd marched on the hotel. The crowd came up against the police lines in front of the Hilton, milled around the edge of the hotel, held from below by the police and on the side by the military. It was about 8 p.m. Then the police charged, moving in skirmish line, columns and two and three man groups.

They hit the lines of marchers, clubbing down a man and then pulling him out for the arrest. A group to the south of the hotel fell back through stalled traffic before the police attack. The automobiles confused the officers and reduced the force of the attack. But suddenly 50 other officers burst out of a side street, hitting the march flank and driving the youngsters across the street against a wall. There they charged them, beating them indiscriminately.

A group gathered across from the hotel in the park. The police charged into it, beating people at will. They would pull them out into the street, fight them and then throw them into the paddy wagon. Others watching this from the Hilton grabbed anything they could find and threw it out the windows at the police.

The hotel was filled with nearly hysterical people, older women infants, youngsters with blood streaming down their faces, girls crying.

At McCarthy?s headquarters, on the Hilton?s fifteenth floor, frenzied youths ripped up the sheets for bandages. The hotel manager was furious that his sheets were being torn and twice he sent the police up to raid the McCarthy headquarters. The hotel management refused use of the hotel elevators to some people. The police sealed off the hotel and wouldn?t let injured people enter.

Outside, the police continued forays into the crowd, beating and clubbing the people to make them disperse. The streets in front of the hotel were completely cut off. There was a no man?s land around the side entrances where people darted in and out.

Vicious as this attack was, the demonstrators came back to Grant Park by midnight in large numbers. Thousands of people continued to gather there under the rifles of the troops, into the small hours of the morning. The lights flicked on and off in the hotel in support, but efforts to get the major candidates to come down and speak to the people ended in failure; Senator McCarthy wanted to go, but the Secret Service men dissuaded him.

That night there was a new group of people there from the South Side of Chicago?white youths?and they stood behind the police lines to support their boys. ?Fruit,? they yelled at a reporter wearing a checked coat. ?Ya fuckin? coppa. Fruit.? Long into the night, these two groups of Americans faced each other.

Following out their scheme to promote a continuing confrontation between growing numbers of people and the police?they figured that the Chicago officials would respond by bringing in more police and troops, and so make clear to all those looking on that Chicago was an armed camp and America was a police state?the radicals talked enthusiastically about little acts of violence, like a stink bomb in the hotel, or dirty words on some walls, to provoke the police and manipulate the liberal McCarthy youths into their own ranks. In effect, the idea was to simulate a little guerrilla war. By Wednesday night, it was clear that everyone?McCarthy youngsters, reporters, radicals, yips, well-to-do people walking their dogs, delegates to the convention, even some blacks?all sorts of people who had never heard of Tom Hayden or David Dellinger, were caught up in an insurrection in the streets. There were no real leaders. They came and went, sometimes carried out bleeding, sometimes arrested, sometimes off in a corner plotting. It made no real difference; to the crowds in the streets, it didn?t matter who was at the microphone. Nobody manipulated these people. On Tuesday night they waved the Viet Cong Hag and yelled, ?Fuck you, LBJ?. By Wednesday night, after they had been beaten by the Chicago police, held off by armed troops, gassed, they still came back to Grant Park in great numbers. At last they confronted the armed forces occupying the city, not with the Viet Cong flag, but with the American flag.

Chicago smelled of revolution. 

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Beach Energy Reports Second Consecutive Full-Year Loss

August 29th, 2016 8:30am Posted In: Natural Gas News, News By Country, Corporate, Exploration & Production, Financials, Natural Gas News Asia, Australia

Australian Beach Energy has reported a net loss for the second straight year. On August 29 the company said its net loss for the year that ended on June 30 stood at A$589mn (US$444mn) compared with A$514mn reported in the previous year. Total revenue weakened 23% to $558m impacted by low oil prices.

 Cooper basin shale gas drill rig (Credit: Beach Energy)

Production during the year was 9.7mn barrels of oil equivalent. Oil accounted for 53% and gas and gas liquids for 47% of its output. Total oil production was 5.2mn barrels, up 12% on last year thanks to successful completion of the merger with Drillsearch, new wells brought online and various field development projects.

Gas and gas liquids production was 4.5mn boe, down 1%. Beach said its merger with Drillsearch provided full ownership of key Western Flank oil and gas permits, additional gas and gas liquids exploration acreage, and expected annual pre-tax cost savings of up to A$40mn. The average realised oil price decreased to A$60/b, down A$30/b from the previous year.

In the fiscal year 2017, production is likely to be higher than what was achieved in FY16, with guidance in the range of 9.7mn to 10.3mn boe, Beach said.

Shardul Sharma


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Sinopec’s H1 Profit Declines 22%

August 29th, 2016 9:15am Posted In: Natural Gas News, News By Country, China, Corporate, Exploration & Production, Financials, Natural Gas News Asia

China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) has reported a 21.6% drop in net profit for the six months that ended on June 30 as international oil and natural gas prices remained low.

For the first six months of 2016, company?s net profit was yuan 19.9bn ($2.98bn), down from yuan 25.4bn a year earlier. Sinopec?s total turnover was yuan 879.22bn, 15.6% down year-on-year, it said August 28. In the first half of 2016, the operating profit was yuan 35.1bn , down 13.3% on the previous year. Sinopec’s results were only a tad better than those of two other Chinese state owned energy firms PetroChina and Cnooc who respectively reported a 98% decline in half-year profit; and its first H1 loss in more than a decade.

Production in the first half of 2016 was 218.99mn barrels of oil equivalent. Domestic crude production was 128.38mn barrels while overseas production was 25.79mn barrels, and total gas production was 388.69bn ft³.

Sinopec fuel station (Credit: Sinopec)

Fuling shale gas field development

Sinopec said it will press ahead with development of Fuling shale gas field in the second half of the year as well as speed up key capacity building projects, optimise production and sales, and intensify reservoir assessment in west Sichuan and northeast China.

In the second half of 2016, it plans to produce 147mn barrels of crude oil, of which domestic production will account for 125mn barrels and overseas production will account for 22mn barrels. Natural gas production is expected to be 421.2bn ft³ during the period.

The company expects oversupply conditions in global oil market to continue in the second half of the year. ?China?s economic growth is expected to be steady in the second half of 2016, which will drive the growth of domestic demand for refined oil products and petrochemical products. The consumption mix of oil products shall continue to change, and demand for chemical products shall be gradually going for more high-end products. Yet over-supply in the international oil market is likely to persist, and international oil prices will stay at a low level,? it said.

http://www.naturalgaseurope.com/natural-gas-world-magazine

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Cesar Millan: Expat dog whisperer to mesmerise Sofia

Cesar millan

Cesar Millan turned from a refugee and illegal immigrant (of the kind Trump wants to get rid of) to an expat, a successful dog whisperer and entertainer. He is literally living the American Dream. When he went to the United States from Mexico in 1990, he had absolutely nothing and did not speak a word of English. It is pretty much the exact opposite now.

Millan will be at Arena Armeec in Sofia on March 23 2017, but he won?t be hitting the stage alone. His four-legged, fellow pack members will be there too.

His new show is entitled ?Once Upon a Dog?.

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Why Clinton Is Hitting Trump on Outsourcing

Had Hillary Clinton been looking for an easy hit, she could have hammered Donald Trump for his alleged mafia ties, his business failures, or his sordid personal history. She could have trotted out scammed Trump University students and wounded investors. But of all the rich material Clinton has at her disposal, she has been attacking Trump on something much less obvious: outsourcing.

On Wednesday, the Clinton campaign released its second Trump-the-outsourcer ad in the last month. ?Shirts? features Robert Kidder, the owner of New England Shirt Company, who tells us his Fall River, Massachusetts, factory has been in business since 1883. ?Trump?s products have been made in 12 other countries because he says there?s no place in America that can make them. Well, there is,? Kidder says, as images of the factory and its workers flash by. ?Donald Trump says he?ll make America great again, while he?s taking the shirts right off our backs.?

Clearly, Clinton learned something from the failures of Trump?s foes in the GOP primaries. Their ad strategy, such as it was, involved throwing the kitchen sink at Trump, and they failed to make a dent. For now, at least, the Clinton campaign has chosen a central lone of attack for its commercials and stuck to it. Earlier this month, during the Olympics, Clinton flooded the airwaves with ?Some Place,? her first ad about outsourcing. Now she?s running ?Shirts? on broadcast TV in seven key swing states.

The consistent focus makes sense. But why is outsourcing the theme? The obvious explanation for these ads is that Clinton is weak with white working-class voters?most worryingly in the key Rust Belt swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania. (According to a recent Monmouth poll, for instance, Clinton is up narrowly in Ohio. But Trump has an 8-point edge among white voters in the state and a 24-point lead among white men.) While most campaign ads are designed to reinforce preexisting notions about the candidates, these outsourcing spots are more aggressive, designed to persuade them that Trump?s self-created image is outrageously false.

?Some people might say that Donald Trump is looking out for the average guy,? says Travis Ridout, a political science professor who studies campaign advertising at Washington State University. ?These ads make you stop and think. Is that really the case??

That?s the idea, anyway: In living rooms across the Rust Belt, people are learning that Trump has hopscotched across 12 countries in search of the cheapest places to manufacture his line of luxury dress shirts, suits, ties, and accessories. It?s a classic political maneuver: Hit your opponent where he?s perceived to be strong, and try to undermine his strengths.

The effort to soften up Trump?s populist brand is not just about winning on November 8?it?s also about all the election days to come.

But there?s a larger purpose to these ads?and a larger problem that is inspiring the Clinton campaign to run them. Trump represents a threat to the Democratic Party that goes beyond the slim chance he?ll carry Ohio and Pennsylvania and win in November. Trumpism is endangering the Democrats? already shaky claim to stand for working people?s interests?not just in 2016, but over the long haul. With her outsourcing ads, Clinton isn?t just trying to win back some white-working class voters in Pennsylvania and Ohio. She?s trying to rescue the Democratic Party?s brand advantage.


In the past, Republicans have made it easy to paint them as enemies of American workers?never more so in 2012, when they nominated Mitt Romney. That summer, the Obama campaign hammered the message home with a series of ads claiming Romney had shipped jobs overseas. ?Come and Go? focused on how he ?shipped jobs to China and Mexico.? ?Revealed? called outsourcing ?Romney Economics.? A third ad from July, ?Believe,? claimed Romney ?supports tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.? To reinforce this barrage on the airwaves, Obama took a ?Betting on America? bus tour through Ohio and Western Pennsylvania.

The strategy helped Obama hold on to enough white working-class votes to carry Ohio and Pennsylvania. Romney did his part as well, of course, with his insistence that ?corporations are people, my friend? and his damning remarks at a fundraiser about the ?47 percent.? But none of it halted the long-term slippage of white-working class support for Democrats, which first became a problem during the Reagan era. Obama?s share of this vote declined nationally from his first campaign to his second, from 40 percent to 36 percent.

Effectively painting Romney as an outsourcer helped pump a little life into the old, somewhat faded party brands: The Democrats representing working folks, the Republicans standing for Wall Street financiers and the one percent. But Trump?s campaign has further upended those perceptions?among white Americans, anyway. His populist appeal has given him a massive lead among white working-class voters nationally: Around 58 percent of white voters without a college degree support him, while only 30 percent support Clinton.

That may not spell doom for Democrats in November, even if Clinton?s outsourcing attacks can?t move those numbers. But Trumpism will live on after the campaign even if Trump himself fades from the political scene?and threatens to alter Americans? common, shorthand image of the GOP. The Republican nominee is the one going to West Virginia and donning a miner?s helmet, promising (magically) more coal jobs. He?s the one yelling the loudest for jobs to remain in the United States, for clothes to be made in the USA. (?Remember we used to have ?Made in the USA??? he asked voters in North Carolina, which has had huge losses in manufacturing jobs in recent decades, in March. ?You don?t see that anymore.?) He?s the one who, in the finale of his convention acceptance speech, told white working-class voters, ?I am your voice.?

However ludicrous the notion of Trump as vox populi may be, it?s working, at least for some. To make matters worse for the Democrats, their nominee is the furthest thing from a populist. She?s a political insider, and a wealthy one to boot. After so many years in the limelight as the epitome of a political insider and establishmentarian, remaking Clinton?s image to be more ?regular-white-guy friendly? would prove difficult, if not downright impossible. The only option is to undercut Trump?s claim to populism.

Fortunately, his mile-wide hypocrisy (good luck finding that ?Made in the USA? label on Trump ties!) makes a fat target. And the Trump campaign is allowing the outsourcing attacks to sink in: For the last month, Clinton has been on the air all but unopposed, while Trump was busy bickering with the Khan family and shaking up his campaign leadership for the second time this summer. He released his first televised ad only this week, a spot about the two Americas?but not the kind John Edwards meant: one safe and secure under Trump, the other overrun by immigrants with criminal records. The ad does nothing to counter the claims that Trump has shipped jobs overseas, and it?s not even running in many markets?he has spent just $72,000 in Ohio and $78,000 in Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, as my colleague Jeet Heer pointed out this week, Clinton has spent $17 million in Ohio and $6 million in Pennsylvania.

The outsourcing attacks could conceivably help Clinton win in November?and win big, if they boost her in Ohio and Pennsylvania. But Clinton and the Democrats have something much bigger at stake. The party?s claim to be ?of the people??white people included?rests largely on the public?s perception of the other guys as enemies of the people. The effort to soften up Trump?s populist brand, to make him just one more big-money Republican out to screw the people, is not just about winning on November 8?it?s also about all the election days to come.

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Hoegh Lines up Clients for Next FSRUs

Hoegh Gallant and rival FSRU BW Singapore are shown moored at Ain Sokhna on Egypt’s Red Sea coast. Alongside each FSRU is a LNG tanker unloading (Photo credit: Hoegh LNG)

August 25th, 2016 3:00pm Posted In: Natural Gas News, LNG, News By Country, Gas to Power, Norway, Egypt, Infrastructure, Corporate, Political, Regulation, Investments, Financials, Natural Gas News Europe

Norway-based Hoegh LNG expects to receive bids from six shipyards to build its next floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) and it sees up to three possible clients willing to charter it when completed in early 2019.

The Bermuda-registered shipowner said August 25 that its profit after tax was $3.5mn, down from $6mn year on year.

Higher 2Q earnings were mainly due to Höegh Gallant being deployed throughout 1H 2016 ? it began commercial operations in Egypt in April 2015 ? and lower business development costs, in part because it ceased work on developing new floating liquefaction projects in February 2016.

Its FSRU (floating import terminal) project in Colombia is on schedule and due to start commercial operations in 4Q 2016. This will be Hoegh?s sixth FSRU project. Under a contract with local SPEC, Hoegh LNG will be paid 50% of the charter hire from June 2016 until the regas trial starts in the fourth quarter, spread over the first ten years of the contract. The ship to be used, Hoegh Grace, is on a spot charter to trader Trafigura in the meantime.

Hoegh said it tendered in June for a seventh newbuild FSRU and expects to receive bids, based on an early 2019 delivery, from six international shipyards with a view to deciding on them in 2H 2016. It has three possible clients whose expected start-up dates match FSRU-7?s 2019 delivery. Once a contract for this FSRU-7 is secured, Hoegh plans to place an order for its next purpose-built FSRU.

Also August 24 Hoegh announced for the first time that it will convert a ship into an FSRU ?in order to capture additional business opportunities with a start-up at the end of 2017 and in 2018.?

Penco LNG FSRU project, previously named Octopus, reached important milestones when all permits were issued by Chilean regulatory authorities in July and August. Scheduled delivery by Hoegh is in 1Q 2018 and is likely to be its eighth FSRU venture, the company said August 25. The project ? which includes a 640-MW gas-fired power plant ? is 50%-backed by US marketer Cheniere Energy.

http://www.naturalgaseurope.com/natural-gas-world-magazine

Terminal developers still have a choice of FSRU providers, but shipowners expect demand to rise until 2020 as LNG output grows. (Source: Hoegh LNG)

Only 10% of the 150mn metric tons/yr additional LNG liquefaction capacity due onstream between 2016 and 2020 has so far entered the market, said Hoegh LNG, eyeing continuing growth in the FSRU segment. This bullish outlook, which echoes that of Monaco-registered GasLog last month, contrasts with the currently bearish market for LNG tanker charters ? which remains the bread-and-butter activity of all LNG shipowners.

Mark Smedley


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Pertamina Buys Stake in French Independent

August 26th, 2016 5:00am Posted In: Natural Gas News, News By Country, France, Corporate, Mergers & Acquisitions, Exploration & Production, Natural Gas News Europe, Tanzania, Indonesia, Vietnam

Indonesian state Pertamina completed its acquisition of a 24.53% stake in French independent Maurel & Prom, it was announced late August 25.

The stake represents the entire M&P shareholding held by Pacifico, owned by French businessman and M&P chairman Jean-Francois Henin.

A joint statement by Pertamina and M&P said that the 24.53% stake was valued at ?201.2m and noted that the block trade was completed for ?4.20/share, on top of which a ?0.50/share earn-out is payable if the Brent crude oil price remains above $65/b during 90 consecutive trading days in calendar 2017.

Pertamina said on August 1 that it would offer the same terms to buy the rest of M&P, if the French firm’s directors give a “favourable reasoned advice” on such a friendly bid following advice from their independent expert, Ledouble. Such a takeover would put M&P’s market value at 100% at about $1bn.

One of the world’s largest LNG exporters, Indonesia’s Pertamina also has international upstream operations in Algeria, Iraq and Malaysia. M&P has upstream production in Tanzania (gas), Gabon and Nigeria, plus exploration interests in Myanmar, South America and Canada.

Denie S Tampubolon, senior vice president of Pertamina’s upstream business development, joins Maurel & Prom’s board (Photo credit: Pertamina)

M&P’s board accepted Emmanuel de Marion de Glatigny’s resignation and appointed Denie S Tampubolon as new director representing Pertamina. He is senior vice president of Pertamina’s upstream business development. France’s M&P said it will continue to develop its current operations while also functioning as an arm of Pertamina in implementing the latter’s international upstream growth strategy.

Tampubolon was quoted by an Indonesian research unit August 24 saying that Pertamina aims to obtain equity rights in its first Russian upstream oil and gas blocks by end-2016 in the framework of an agreement initialed with Russian state Rosneft in May 2016 that included a feasibility study into possible construction of a $14bn oil refinery at Tuban in East Java. 

http://www.naturalgaseurope.com/natural-gas-world-magazine

Mark Smedley


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  Natural Gas World welcomes all viewpoints. Should you wish to provide an alternative perspective on the above article, please contact editor@naturalgasworld.com Kindly note that for external submissions we only lightly edit content for grammar and do not edit externally contributed content. 

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