Monday, April 10, 2023

Last Call For Mission: Emissions, Con't

The EPA under the Biden administration is expected to announce new auto emission standards this week that would effectively require two-thirds of new cars sold in the US to be electric, something that's sure to draw heavy fire from carmakers, Republicans, and lobbyists.
The new rule would be the most aggressive move so far from the Biden administration to limit auto pollution, which makes up a significant portion of overall US greenhouse gas emissions. To encourage automakers to sell more electric vehicles, the regulation would reportedly set a limit to the amount of emissions an auto company’s fleet of sold cars can produce every year. The requirement wouldn’t specifically mandate that auto companies sell electric vehicles, but that limit would make doing so necessary to comply.

The proposed regulation, first reported by the New York Times, is expected to be formally announced by Wednesday. Given the impact on auto companies’ bottom lines, it would likely result in a battle between the administration, the auto industry, environmental groups, and consumer advocates over the new rules. The regulation would also go through public comment before taking effect and will almost certainly face legal challenges, meaning it could be months before the EPA officially sets the new rules.

The auto industry is likely to maintain that meeting the requirements of the proposal isn’t realistic. Last year, electric vehicle sales were up 65 percent from 2021, but they still only accounted for about 6 percent of all new vehicle sales. Getting EV sales up to the 67 percent in the reported EPA proposal would require, as the Times put it, a “quantum leap.”

The Biden administration has long seemed determined to make such a dramatic jump. In March, the administration announced commitments to expand the federal fleet of electric vehicles and the availability of charging stations. That plan includes placing 500,000 chargers across the nation’s highways and interstates. Earlier this year, the Inflation Reduction Act included an expansion of tax credits for the purchase of new or used electric vehicles. The administration’s actions on EV expansion are part of a larger goal to “put the United States on a path to achieve net-zero emissions, economy-wide, by no later than 2050,” according to the White House.
I'm sure Republicans and the Roberts Court will find a way to say that the EPA actually doesn't have jurisdiction over the environmental impact of vehicles and will scrap emissions regulations completely in the next few years anyway, and should Trump win in 2024, we'll be banning EVs completely.
Of course, as expensive as EVs and new cars in general are, we're going to need a lot more public transportation in America, something that Biden, to his credit, has already signed into law. Red states of course won't have any of it, so at least blue states will have that covered.
Rest of us will be lucky to have flint and tinder.

South Of The War, Durr!

Republicans, especially Donald Trump, are openly saying that the use of military force against Mexican drug cartels is 100% justified and are vowing to strike with air and ground forces if they get control of the country in 2024.
In recent weeks, Donald Trump has discussed sending “special forces” and using “cyber warfare” to target cartel leaders if he’s reelected president and, per Rolling Stone, asked for “battle plans” to strike Mexico. Reps. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) and Mike Waltz (R-Fla.) introduced a bill seeking authorization for the use of military force to “put us at war with the cartels.” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said he is open to sending U.S. troops into Mexico to target drug lords even without that nation’s permission. And lawmakers in both chambers have filed legislation to label some cartels as foreign terrorist organizations, a move supported by GOP presidential aspirants.

“We need to start thinking about these groups more like ISIS than we do the mafia,” Waltz, a former Green Beret, said in a short interview.

Not all Republican leaders are behind this approach. John Bolton, Trump’s third national security adviser who’s weighing his own presidential run, said unilateral military operations “are not going to solve the problem.” And House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Mike McCaul (R-Texas), for example, is “still evaluating” the AUMF proposal “but has concerns about the immigration implications and the bilateral relationship with Mexico,” per a Republican staff member on the panel.

But the eagerness of some Republicans to openly legislate or embrace the use of the military in Mexico suggests that the idea is taking firmer root inside the party. And it illustrates the ways in which frustration with immigration, drug overdose deaths and antipathy towards China are defining the GOP’s larger foreign policy.

Nearly 71,000 Americans died in 2021 from synthetic-opioid overdoses — namely fentanyl — far higher than the 58,220 U.S. military personnel killed during the Vietnam War. And the Drug Enforcement Agency assessed in December that “most” of the fentanyl distributed by two cartels “is being mass-produced at secret factories in Mexico with chemicals sourced largely from China.”

Democrats, meanwhile, are allergic to the Republican proposals. President Joe Biden doesn’t want to launch an invasion and has rejected the terrorist label for cartels. His team argues that two issued executive orders already expanded law-enforcement authorities to target transnational organizations.

“The administration is not considering military action in Mexico,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said. “Designating these cartels as foreign terrorist organizations would not grant us any additional authorities that we don’t already have.” Instead, Watson said the administration hopes to work with Congress on modernizing the Customs and Border Protection’s technologies and making fentanyl a Schedule I drug, which would impose the strictest regulations on its production and distribution.

Gen. Mark Milley, the Joint Chiefs chair, told Defense One in an interview last month that invading Mexico was a bad idea. “I wouldn’t recommend anything be done without Mexico’s support,” he said, insisting that tackling the cartel-fueled drug trade is a law enforcement issue.

But should a Republican defeat Biden in 2024, those ideas could become policy, especially if Trump — the GOP frontrunner — reclaims the Oval Office.
Of course it's a stupid idea and Trump loves it, which means this will become the de facto position of the GOP by the end of spring. You'll have Republicans at the local and state level running on invading Mexico too. 

Mexico's popular president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador rallied more than 100,000 supporters Saturday in Mexico City, attacking the country's right, its "oligarchs" and the United States, just over a year before elections to choose his successor.

The rally marked the 85th anniversary of the nationalization of the oil industry, a key event in Mexican history.

Denouncing US Republican lawmakers' push to send the US military to battle Mexican drug cartels, Lopez Obrador told the crowd: "Cooperation yes, submission, no!"

"Mexico is an independent and free country and not a colony or a protectorate of the United States," he told his supporters, who gathered in the city's famous Zocalo main square.

Mexico could easily cut off trade with the US. I have no idea why the GOP would actually think they could do this, especially with Latin American countries increasingly joining Brazil in the BRICS nation group. This is geopolitical suicide.

The answer, of course, is to not elect Republicans.

BREAKING: Six Dead Including Suspect In Louisville Bank Shooting

Five are dead, six injured after a shooter opened fire at Old National Bank in downtown Louisville this morning. LMPD says the suspect is dead and was a former employee of the bank.
Officers responded to the Old National Bank on Main Street around 8:30 a.m. where they encountered active gunshots, Louisville Metro Police Deputy Chief Paul Humphrey said during a media briefing at 10:20 a.m. Five people were confirmed dead and six people were transported to the University of Louisville Hospital, including two LMPD officers.

Two of the victims at the hospital were in critical condition, including one officer who was in surgery, Humphrey said during an 11 a.m. update. The others suffered non-critical injuries.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear immediately came to Louisville after hearing of the shooting. Speaking at the 11 a.m. press conference, he said that one of his close friends was killed during the shooting and another was injured. He urged those impacted to get help.

"Our bodies and our minds are not meant to go through these kinds of tragedies," Beshear said, who teared up when speaking with the media.
This wasn't a school shooting, this was a bank shooting, where security guards were present, the "good guys with guns" that folks keep talking about, and still six people are dead this morning. Gov. Beshear used this bank for his campaign for Attorney General before being elected as Governor, and as he mentioned, he lost a friend in this shooting. Police didn't prevent these deaths, bank security didn't prevent these deaths, civilians with firearms didn't prevent these deaths. Guns caused these deaths.

Kentucky Republicans of course will offer thoughts and prayers, and they'll do so again the next time this happens at a school or bank or shopping mall or wherever, and the next time, and the next time.

What they will never do is offer legislation to actually address the problem.

Chinese Firing Drill

Chinese military forces off the coast of Taiwan are making it very clear they believe they can take the "rogue province" without a fight, spending the weekend simulating "precision strikes" on the island that would cripple infrastructure and leave Taipei vulnerable to further action.
China's military simulated precision strikes against Taiwan in a second day of drills around the island on Sunday, with the island's defence ministry reporting multiple air force sorties and that it was monitoring China's missile forces.

China, which claims democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory, began three days of military exercises around the island on Saturday, the day after Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen returned from a brief visit to the United States.

Chinese state television reported that the combat readiness patrols and drills around Taiwan were continuing.

"Under the unified command of the theatre joint operations command centre, multiple types of units carried out simulated joint precision strikes on key targets on Taiwan island and the surrounding sea areas, and continue to maintain an offensive posture around the island," it said.

The Chinese military's Eastern Theatre Command put out a short animation of the simulated attacks on its WeChat account, showing missiles fired from land, sea and air into Taiwan with two of them exploding in flames as they hit their targets.

A source familiar with the security situation in the region told Reuters that China had been conducting simulated air and sea attacks on "foreign military targets" in the waters off Taiwan's southwestern coast.

"Taiwan is not their only target," the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity as they were not authorised to speak to the media. "It's very provocative."

Taiwan's defence ministry said that as of 0800 GMT on Sunday they had spotted 70 Chinese aircraft, including Su-30 fighters and H-6 bombers, as well as 11 ships, around Taiwan.

The ministry said they were paying particular attention to the People's Liberation Army's Rocket Force which is in charge of China's land-based missile system.

"Regarding the movements of the Chinese communists' Rocket Force, the nation's military also has a close grasp through the joint intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance system, and air defence forces remain on high alert," the ministry said.

It reiterated that Taiwan's forces will "not escalate conflicts nor cause disputes" and would respond "appropriately" to China's drills.

The security source said about 20 military ships, half from Taiwan and half from China, were engaged in a stand-off near the Taiwan Strait's median line, which has for years served as an unofficial barrier between the two sides, but did not behave provocatively.

China's aircraft carrier Shandong, which Taiwan has been monitoring since last week, is now more than 400 nautical miles off Taiwan's southeast coast and is carrying out drills, the source said.

Zhao Xiaozhuo of China's Academy of Military Sciences told the Chinese state-backed Global Times newspaper this was the first time China had openly talked of simulated attacks on targets in Taiwan.
Meanwhile, Beijing is continuing economic and political warfare in Europe, the latest blow making France an offer it can't refuse

Europe must reduce its dependency on the United States and avoid getting dragged into a confrontation between China and the U.S. over Taiwan, French President Emmanuel Macron said in an interview on his plane back from a three-day state visit to China.

Speaking with POLITICO and two French journalists after spending around six hours with Chinese President Xi Jinping during his trip, Macron emphasized his pet theory of “strategic autonomy” for Europe, presumably led by France, to become a “third superpower.”

He said “the great risk” Europe faces is that it “gets caught up in crises that are not ours, which prevents it from building its strategic autonomy,” while flying from Beijing to Guangzhou, in southern China, aboard COTAM Unité, France’s Air Force One.

Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party have enthusiastically endorsed Macron’s concept of strategic autonomy and Chinese officials constantly refer to it in their dealings with European countries. Party leaders and theorists in Beijing are convinced the West is in decline and China is on the ascendant and that weakening the transatlantic relationship will help accelerate this trend.

“The paradox would be that, overcome with panic, we believe we are just America’s followers,” Macron said in the interview. “The question Europeans need to answer … is it in our interest to accelerate [a crisis] on Taiwan? No. The worse thing would be to think that we Europeans must become followers on this topic and take our cue from the U.S. agenda and a Chinese overreaction,” he said.

Macron is wisely hedging his bets. A full-blown NATO conflict in Ukraine is something France, and the entire NATO alliance, cannot afford, and does not want. Macron doesn't believe Joe Biden can keep walking that tightrope, especially if China comes in for Taiwan.
We could have a second front in this mess very quickly. Secretary of State Tony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin both have their hands full right now.

Things are bad out there, and there's a very good possibility it gets worse.


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