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Energy Department Turns Off the Lights at Overseas Climate Office

 

Energy Department Turns Off the Lights at Overseas Climate Office

This post first appeared on BillMoyers.com.

Teeside Offshore Wind Farm. (Photo by Paul/ flickr CC 2.0)

As if withdrawing from the Paris Accords wasn't enough, the Trump administration just went one better and closed an office dedicated to international cooperation on climate change and clean energy tech. The Office of International Climate and Clean Energy might have been small — all of its 11 employees have been given pink slips — but it had an important function. According to its still extant website, the office was "the focal point for international climate change and clean energy activities." The site goes on to say that the office "also develops and implements international climate and clean energy initiatives consistent with administration policy objectives." Secretary of Energy Rick Perry was at a premiere event, The Clean Energy Ministerial, when the president announced the decision to drop the Paris agreement.

Brad Plumer has the full story at The New York Times:

The office is the only one in the Energy Department to have “climate” as part of its name.

The Trump administration has scaled back the federal government’s involvement on global warming on a number of fronts, scrubbing mentions of “climate change” from a variety of agency websites and unwinding climate regulations at the Environmental Protection Agency.

Closing the Office of International Climate and Technology could make cooperation on clean energy with other countries much harder, said Graham Pugh, who headed the office from 2011 to 2014. While both the State and Energy Departments still have separate programs to engage with China, Brazil and other countries, the office being eliminated specialized in applying the agency’s technical expertise to other nations’ efforts to advance clean energy projects.

The Department of Energy has responded to the Times story, saying that closing the office solved redundancies and that Secretary Perry remains committed to working with other nations on clean energy issues.

  Read more installments in our series "While He was Tweeting" — keeping an eye on Trump's wrecking ball.





Your Health May Be in Susan Collins’ Hands. And That’s Not Good News

 

Your Health May Be in Susan Collins’ Hands. And That’s Not Good News

Courtesy of 

This post first appeared on BillMoyers.com.

Susan Collins says she’s disturbed.

That’s not exactly news. The Republican senator from Maine is frequently disturbed. She was disturbed by the Benghazi raid; by the Republican shutdown of the government in 2015; by the “cruel comments” of Republican nominee and now president Donald Trump; by political polarization; and most recently by Republican plans to repeal Obamacare and strip tens of millions of Americans of their health insurance.

To be disturbed when nearly all one’s Republican colleagues are sanguine about injustice is not a bad thing. Collins, though, could have something to say about this last matter, Obamacare, beyond hollow expressions of concern. When the 13-man cabal of her fellow Republicans, who have been crafting a new repeal bill, finally emerges, she could announce that she will refuse to vote for any bill in which Americans would lose their insurance. She could say that Trump’s cruel comments are nothing against the cruelty of putting poor Americans’ lives at risk. She could say that since Obamacare provided insurance for millions, she is going to side with the Democrats against her own party.

Because Senate Republicans have only a three-vote majority margin, this wouldn’t necessarily be hot air. She could say all of these things, but I would wager that she won’t do any of them. In the end, Susan Collins is likely to retreat and join the conservatives in trashing health insurance.

Of course, that is not how she is portrayed in the media. Collins is often introduced as Exhibit A of Republican moderation, a throwback to the way things used to be in Washington when the GOP had Jacob Javits, Clifford Case, Ed Brooke, Kenneth Keating, Charles Mathias, Lowell Weicker and other empathetic lawmakers in its ranks, reaching across the aisle. In truth, Collins is no anachronism. For all her apparent personal compassion, she may well be Exhibit A of what is wrong in Washington: the triumph of party ideology over common decency, conscience and even political expediency. Collins knows better…
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Mueller v. Trump: The Ultimate Lawsuit

 

Mueller v. Trump: The Ultimate Lawsuit

Courtesy of 

This post first appeared on BillMoyers.com.

Eventually, Trump is likely to fire special counsel Robert Mueller. Trump’s repeated statements about the Russia “hoax” — along with his apparent attempts to influence the FBI’s investigation — warrant a close look at the process by which he could do so. Equally important are the limited ways to stop him. Whether by design, inadvertence or a combination of both, Trump and his minions — including Newt Gingrich and Trump’s lawyers — have been laying the groundwork for what could become America’s defining moment.

  The Rules and the Players

To stop the investigation, Trump’s cleanest path requires that one of his loyalists occupy a Senate-confirmed position in the Justice Department’s chain of command. With Attorney General Jeff Sessions' recusal, the power to end the inquiry has now landed in Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s lap. But Sessions’ recusal also gave Rosenstein the authority to appoint a special counsel. When he tapped Robert Mueller for the job, it was a game-changer.

Under the Justice Department’s special counsel regulations, Trump can’t fire Mueller directly. Only the attorney general can pull the trigger for “misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest or for other good cause, including violation of departmental policies.” For now, that determination rests with Rosenstein. If he drops out, next in line are Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand and US Attorney Dana Boente. After that, things get murky, because the Senate has not confirmed any other Justice Department official. That’s important because without Senate confirmation, even temporary advancement to departmental leadership is problematic.

  Step 1: Clearing the Board

As the FBI’s Russia investigation intensified, so would have Trump’s desire for DOJ loyalists whom he could direct to end it. That might explain Trump’s curious about-face involving Manhattan’s US Attorney Preet Bharara. In November, Trump had personally asked Bharara to remain on the job during his administration. But on March 10 — a week after Sessions’ recusal from the Russia investigation — Trump made…
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    batman/learner/GILD  here you go: https://seekingalpha.com/article/4083493-take-note-hint-gilead-sciences-just-dropped







Uber gets a backseat driver as Kalanick exits top job

 

Uber gets a backseat driver as Kalanick exits top job

Courtesy of John ColleyWarwick Business School, University of Warwick

File 20170621 30205 kmt8d5

TED Conference/Flickr, CC BY-NC

As the ride-hailing company Uber lurched from one clumsy mess to the next, it had appeared that CEO Travis Kalanick would somehow ride out the storm. His recent resignation is an admission that the company needs to explore new avenues.

I wrote recently about tech CEOs who had protected themselves from the usual pressure from shareholders, and were able to freely dictate strategy and culture. I’m happy to say that Kalanick’s departure from the top job (he will stay on the board) signals that there is indeed a line to cross where even disenfranchised investors can assert their power. It is not hard to see why: Uber is facing up to some tough decisions.

Aside from the rows around a damaging corporate culture, news that rival Lyft has increased its share of the US ride hailing market from 17% to 23% is rapidly destroying investor assumptions about this industry. Uber investors have stumped up US$12 billion in the belief that this is a winner-takes-all market. That now looks not to be the case.

This is great news for the customer as low fares are likely to persist. Uber investors had been funding incentives to both customers and drivers in the hope that both would stay put once the incentives stopped. Evidence is beginning to suggest otherwise. Uber’s 2016 losses, largely driven by the funding of incentives globally and from the development of driverless car technology, were US$2.8 billion.

Losing its grip? Jeramey Lende/Shutterstock

Flawed model

So where did that winner-takes-all belief come from? Well, investors had looked at Amazon, Facebook and Google. The first mover in those cases developed a large customer base attracted by an increasing number of suppliers. In turn, suppliers found access to large numbers of customers and had no motivation to go elsewhere. The software simply does the matching.

An Uber customer…
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Trump questionnaire recalls dark history of ideology-driven science

This was written in December, 2016.

"A dark time is coming to American climate science. Trump’s mob of climate change deniers has begun its march on our present-day observatories. Like the scientists in “Nightfall,” we must do our utmost to ensure that after the coming eclipse, “the next cycle will start off with the truth." ~ Paul N. Edwards

Trump questionnaire recalls dark history of ideology-driven science

Courtesy of Paul N. EdwardsUniversity of Michigan

Image 20161213 1629 wbsibj

J. Robert Oppenheimer, often called the ‘father of the atomic bomb’ who chaired the ancestor of today’s Department of Energy, had his security clearance revoked during the ‘Red Scare’ of the 1950s. AP Photo

President-elect Trump has called global warming “bullshit” and a “Chinese hoax.” He has promised to withdraw from the 2015 Paris climate treaty and to “bring back coal,” the world’s dirtiest, most carbon-intensive fuel. The incoming administration has paraded a roster of climate change deniers for top jobs. On Dec. 13, Trump named former Texas Governor Rick Perry, another climate change denier, to lead the Department of Energy (DoE), an agency Perry said he would eliminate altogether during his 2011 presidential campaign.

Just days earlier, the Trump transition team presented the DoE with a 74-point questionnaire that has raised alarm among employees because the questions appear to target people whose work is related to climate change.

For me, as a historian of science and technology, the questionnaire – bluntly characterized by one DoE official as a “hit list” – is starkly reminiscent of the worst excesses of ideology-driven science, seen everywhere from the U.S. Red Scare of the 1950s to the Soviet and Nazi regimes of the 1930s.

The questionnaire asks for a list of “all DoE employees or contractors” who attended the annual Conferences of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – a binding treaty commitment of the U.S., signed by George H. W. Bush in 1992. Another question seeks the names of all employees involved in meetings of the Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Carbon, responsible for technical guidance quantifying the economic…
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This is Your Nightmare Scenario

 

This is Your Nightmare Scenario

Courtesy of 

What would happen if stocks crash? What would that do to people’s retirement plans? How would that change the way young people think about stocks? And what would it do to our country?

The cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings ratio now reads 30 for just the third time ever. The two previous times it printed a three handle, not only were future returns lower, but they preceded major market tops that would define a generation of investors.

The chart below shows the CAPE ratio and the S&P 500 (log). This visual tells a lot of stories, but for the purposes of this exercise, I want to focus on the two previous valuation spikes in red, which were followed by two stock market crashes in gray.

2

The CAPE ratio is great for setting return expectations, but it’s terrible at anticipating the end of a bull market. For example, the CAPE passed 30 in June of 1997 and would ultimately peak at 43.5, two and a half years later. Over that time, the S&P 500 gained 84% (TR) and the NASDAQ Composite gained 228%!

The most reasonable statement one can make regarding the CAPE ratio at 30 is that we should expect lower future returns. And if we’ve learned anything over the last few years, it’s that expected returns do not equal realized returns, and expensive markets don’t have to crash in order to reach some sort of equilibrium. After all, it’s not as if there are 350 instances when the indicator hit 30 and 350 crashes followed. There were only two. Now three. The jury is still out.

Following the election and the rapid acceleration of stocks, a friend of mine took his 401(k) to cash. I have two other friends who recently purchased homes which they’re renting out. They both expect they’ll get a better return from their real estate than they would in the stock market. These are anecdotal observations, but the chart below confirms that Millennials aren’t too enamored with equities. And this is at all time…
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Opposite Day

 

Opposite Day

Courtesy of Joshua Brown

This is backwards. It’s also the reason God sent financial advisors into the world.

Unless the bulk of these millennials are on the verge of buying their first home (doubtful), they should have no more than a few months’ salary in cash and very little fixed income exposure.

But they think they’re being prudent by going the other way around. Kids, listen up – a lot of you are going to live to 100. Start investing as though you’d like to have some money left once you get there.

And I don’t really understand what’s going on with that “Alternatives” bucket. Most alternatives are actually an alternative to retirement in my experience. And the lines on my forehead should tell you I have quite a bit of experience in this realm, in the roughest sense imaginable.

I’m not offering any financial advice here, just common sense.

Chart via Bank of America Merrill Lynch





What happens when the federal government eliminates health coverage? Lessons from the past

 

What happens when the federal government eliminates health coverage? Lessons from the past

Courtesy of Simon HaederWest Virginia University

File 20170623 17499 1tb4buv

Larissa Pisney of Denver protests outside the Aurora, Colorado offices of Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colorado) to show her displeasure with efforts to dismantle the ACA. David Zalubowski/AP

After much secrecy and no public deliberation, Senate Republicans finalized release their “draft” repeal and replace bill for the Affordable Care Act on June 22. Unquestionably, the released “draft” will not be the final version.

Amendments and a potential, albeit not necessary, conference committee are likely to make some adjustments. However, both the House version – American Health Care Act (AHCA) – and the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) will significantly reduce coverage for millions of Americans and reshape insurance for virtually everyone. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is expected to provide final numbers early the week of June 26.

If successful, the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act would be in rare company. Even though the U.S. has been slower than any other Western country to develop a safety net, the U.S. has rarely taken back benefits once they have been bestowed on its citizenry. Indeed, only a small number of significant cases come to mind.

My academic work has analyzed the evolution of the American health care system including those rare instances. I believe historical precedents can provide insights for the current debate.

Providing help to mothers and infants

The first major federal grant program for health purposes was also the first one to quickly be eliminated. The program was authorized under the Sheppard-Towner Maternity and Infancy Protection Act of 1921. It provided the equivalent of US$20 million a year in today’s dollars to states in order to pay for the needs of women and young children.

Sheppard-Towner, which provided funding to improve health care services for mothers and infants, was enacted after a long debate in Congress amid accusations of socialism and promiscuity. Interestingly enough, the act may have passed only due to pressure from newly voting-eligible women.


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Not just for the poor: The crucial role of Medicaid in America’s health care system

 

Not just for the poor: The crucial role of Medicaid in America's health care system

Courtesy of Simon HaederWest Virginia University

File 20170607 5408 1s5sis7

Nurse Jane Kern administers medicine to patient Lexi Gerkin in Brentwood, New Hampshire. Lexi is one of thousands of severely disabled or ill children covered by Medicaid, regardless of family income. Charles Krupa/AP

Despite many assertions to the contrary, Senate leaders are now saying they want to vote on the replacement bill for Obamacare before the month is out.

Front and center is the planned transformation of America’s Medicaid program, which covers 20 percent of Americans and provides the backbone of America’s health care system.

As a professor of public policy, I have written extensively about the American health care system and the Affordable Care Act.

Living in West Virginia, perhaps the nation’s poorest state, I have also seen the benefits of the ACA’s Medicaid expansion since 2014.

To understand how the ACHA’s proposed changes to Medicaid would affect people and our health care system, let’s look more closely at the program.

What is Medicaid?

Created in 1965, Medicaid today provides health care services for 75 million Americans. It is jointly administered by the federal government and the states. The federal government pays at least 50 percent of the costs of the program. For particularly poor states, the federal government’s contribution can exceed 75 percent.

Medicaid was initially envisioned to provide medical assistance only to individuals receiving cash welfare benefits. Over time, the program has been significantly expanded in terms of benefits and eligibility to make up for the growing shortcomings of private insurance markets, including rapidly growing premiums and increasing rates of uninsurance.

Like all health care programs, spending on Medicaid has increased dramatically since its inception in 1965. Today, we are spending about US$550 billion annually. This compares to about $300 billion in 2007.

What does Medicaid do?

As Medicaid evolved, it has become more than just a program for America’s poor. Indeed, it is the largest single…
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Phil's Favorites

Sports, Stocks, & the Magic Quadrants

 

Sports, Stocks, & the Magic Quadrants

Courtesy of Wade, Investing Caffeine

Picking stocks is a tricky game and so is sports betting. With the NFL and NCAA football seasons only a few months away, we can analyze the professional sports-betting industry to better understand the complexities behind making money in the stock market. Anybody who has traveled to Las Vegas, and bet on a sporting event, understands that simply choosing a game winner is not enough for a casino to pay you winnings. You also need to forecast how many points you think a certain team will win or lose by (i.e., the so-called “spread”) – see also ...



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Biotech

We have a vaccine for six cancers; why are less than half of kids getting it?

Reminder: Pharmboy and Ilene are available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

 

We have a vaccine for six cancers; why are less than half of kids getting it?

Courtesy of Electra D. Paskett, The Ohio State University

Early in our careers, few of us imagined a vaccine could one day prevent cancer. Now there is a vaccine that keeps the risk of developing six Human Papillomavirus (HPV)-related cancers at bay, but adoption of it has been slow and surprising low.

Although it’s been available for more than a decade, as of 2014 only 40 percent of girls had received the full three doses of the vaccine, while only ...



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ValueWalk

Bad ROIC Drives Bad Valuation Analysis

By David Trainer. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Return on invested capital (ROIC) is not only the most intuitive measure of corporate performance, but it is also the best. It measures the amount of profit generated for every dollar invested by a company, and has clear links to valuation. No wonder the top buy-side investors increasingly want companies to tie executive compensation to ROIC.

Unfortunately, many investors still rely on...



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Digital Currencies

Bitcoin Buyer Beware

Courtesy of Zero Hedge

Entrepreneurs have a new trick to raise money quickly, and it all takes place online, free from the constraints of banks and regulators. As Axios reports, since the beginning of 2017, 65 startups have raised $522 million using initial coin offerings — trading a digital coin (essentially an investment in their company) for a digital currency, like Bitcoin or Ether.

One recent example, as NYT reports, saw Bay Area coders earn $35 million in less than 30 seconds during an online fund-raising event...



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Insider Scoop

Marveling At Multi-Factor ETFs

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Related This Goldman ETF Keeps Growing Getting Smarter About Smart Beta Related ...

http://www.insidercow.com/ more from Insider

Chart School

Russell 2000 at Rising Support

Courtesy of Declan.

There wasn't much to say about today, but the one index which caught my attention was the Russell 2000. The index caught a bounce in demand at the rising trendline and also did enough to recover the 20-day MA. Traders looking for pullback opportunity could take a look at the Russell 2000. Stops on a loss of 1,397.


The Nasdaq is primed for a move to challenge 6,350. Today's doji marks indecision just below 6,250 but if it can push above this price level it would likely trigger a spate of short covering. Technicals hav...

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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of June 19th, 2017

Reminder: OpTrader is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

 

This post is for all our live virtual trade ideas and daily comments. Please click on "comments" below to follow our live discussion. All of our current  trades are listed in the spreadsheet below, with entry price (1/2 in and All in), and exit prices (1/3 out, 2/3 out, and All out).

We also indicate our stop, which is most of the time the "5 day moving average". All trades, unless indicated, are front-month ATM options. 

Please feel free to participate in the discussion and ask any questions you might have about this virtual portfolio, by clicking on the "comments" link right below.

To learn more about the swing trading virtual portfolio (strategy, performance, FAQ, etc.), please click here ...



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Mapping The Market

Frontier laid off state Senate president after broadband vote it didn't like

Courtesy of Jean-Luc

Speaking of FTR – not nice people…

Frontier laid off state Senate president after broadband vote it didn’t like

By Arstechnica.com

Broadband provider Frontier Communications recently laid off the West Virginia state Senate president after a vote the company didn't like—and yes, you read that correctly.

West Virginia does not have a full-time legislature, and state lawmakers can supplement their part-time government salaries ($20,000 a year,&...



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Promotions

NewsWare: Watch Today's Webinar!

 

We have a great guest at today's webinar!

Bill Olsen from NewsWare will be giving us a fun and lively demonstration of the advantages that real-time news provides. NewsWare is a market intelligence tool for news. In today's data driven markets, it is truly beneficial to have a tool that delivers access to the professional sources where you can obtain the facts in real time.

Join our webinar, free, it's open to all. 

Just click here at 1 pm est and join in!

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Members' Corner

Robert Sapolsky: The biology of our best and worst selves

Interesting discussion of what affects our behavior. 

Description: "How can humans be so compassionate and altruistic — and also so brutal and violent? To understand why we do what we do, neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky looks at extreme context, examining actions on timescales from seconds to millions of years before they occurred. In this fascinating talk, he shares his cutting edge research into the biology that drives our worst and best behaviors."

Robert Sapolsky: The biology of our best and worst selves

Filmed April 2017 at TED 2017

 

p.s. Roger (on Facebook) saw this talk and recommends the book ...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Brazil; Waterfall in prices starting? Impact U.S.?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

Below looks at the Brazil ETF (EWZ) over the last decade. The rally over the past year has it facing a critical level, from a Power of the Pattern perspective.

CLICK ON CHART TO ENLARGE

EWZ is facing dual resistance at (1), while in a 9-year down trend of lower highs and lower lows. The counter trend rally over the past 17-months has it testing key falling resistance. Did the counter trend reflation rally just end at dual resistance???

If EWZ b...



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All About Trends

Mid-Day Update

Reminder: Harlan is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Click here for the full report.




To learn more, sign up for David's free newsletter and receive the free report from All About Trends - "How To Outperform 90% Of Wall Street With Just $500 A Week." Tell David PSW sent you. - Ilene...

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