Wednesday 22nd of September 2021

paving pot holes...





















The White House and a bipartisan group of senators agreed on Wednesday on a far-reaching infrastructure bill, and Democrats were pressing to schedule a vote to advance it as soon as Wednesday evening, paving the way for action on a crucial piece of President Biden’s agenda.



“We now have an agreement on the major issues, and we’re prepared to move forward,” said Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio and a lead negotiator for his party on the infrastructure measure.

Touring a truck manufacturing plant in Pennsylvania, Mr. Biden was upbeat about the emerging deal, telling reporters, “I feel confident about it.”

The proposal was expected to fill in the details of an outline the group triumphantly announced at the White House in late June,but spent weeks haggling over as they toiled to translate it into legislative text while keeping their fragile coalition together.

According to a fact sheet released Wednesday afternoon by the White House, the resulting bill would provide about $550 billion in new federal money for roads, bridges, rail, transit, water and other physical infrastructure programs.


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public moneys, private ownership...


LET’S BUILD INFRASTRUCTURE is preparing to launch formally in Washington, D.C., next week with a six-figure advertising blitz focused on pressing lawmakers to use privatization, rather than taxation, to pay for the infrastructure proposals debated in Congress.

The organization touts public-private partnerships and a process known as “asset recycling,” in which the government finances new construction and repairs by selling or leasing roads, bridges, water utilities, parking lots, and other infrastructure assets to private contractors instead of paying for them with public funding. The private operators in turn recoup costs by adding tolls or increasing user fees, such as water bills or parking fees. 


The new group, helmed by two former mayors, Republican Mick Cornett of Oklahoma City and Democrat Michael Nutter of Philadelphia, has published virtually no information about its supporters on its website or how it’s paying for the wave of television advertisements.

There is scant information about Let’s Build Infrastructure anywhere on the internet. The website was registered anonymously in June and leaves no trace about its funding sources. Cornett and Nutter have not responded to requests for comment.

But a trail of evidence, including social media posts as well as nonprofit business registration and lobbying documents, suggests that toll road operators are affiliated with the pro-privatization push.


In 2019, Hans Klinger, a registered lobbyist for toll road operator Cintra, the U.S. subsidiary of the Spanish infrastructure conglomerate Ferrovial, S.A., served as director of a nonprofit called Invest in Texas Roads Now. The group promoted a partnership to build six new tolled lanes on an expressway near Dallas on Interstate 635 and four on Interstate 35 in Texas.

The website for Invest in Texas Roads Now now redirects to Let’s Build Infrastructure, and the two groups share the same website language, header graphic, and logo design. 

Klinger, who did not respond to a request for comment, was the first and only person to retweet the Twitter promotion for Let’s Build Infrastructure before the group was unveiled in Politico this week. Black Diamond Strategies, the consulting firm for which Klinger serves as a partner, is registered to represent Cintra on issues related to transportation public-private partnerships. 


Cintra has faced controversy over the years over its management of U.S. toll roads. In Indiana, the company more than doubled the rate for cars paying cash to drive the Indiana Toll Road, from $4.65 to $9.40. The 75-year lease to operate the road raised eyebrows at the time. But plunging traffic, in part from the high toll costs, led to bankruptcy for the project in 2014. 

The company again faced a backlash in North Carolina after the Interstate 77 Express project, which gave a consortium led by Cintra the ability to collect toll money for 50 years in exchange for building and operating the lanes. Motorists have complained of uneven pavement, confusing lane design, and Cintra’s “dynamic tolling,” which uses congestion factors to hike tolls from a maximum of $7 to as high as $10.

The Cintra-promoted group is appearing just as Senate negotiations around the role of public-private partnerships in infrastructure have hit a critical point. Dueling proposals for the size, scope, and financing of the infrastructure legislation are working their way through Congress. 


Many Democrats have converged on a plan that is financed through a mix of IRS enforcement, a higher capital gains tax for high-income individuals, a higher marginal tax increase on high-income households, and a mix of income taxes for corporations. Those funds will be used to directly pay for an expansion in broadband, electric vehicle infrastructure, upgrades to airports and ground transportation, and other investments.

But a rival proposal, backed by Sens. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, released a bipartisan outline that relies less on taxes and more on the type of public-private partnerships that would benefit firms such as Cintra. The Biden administration readout of demands from the senators explicitly lists “public-private partnerships, private activity bonds, direct pay bonds and asset recycling for infrastructure investment” as key for financing the alternative proposal.  


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the teleprompter did it...

This article from the New York Times to take with a bit of salt::::::::::::::::


How Biden Got the Infrastructure Deal Trump Couldn’t...


Gus: Yes why? Trump wanted to do THE SAME THING, but the Democrats opposed anything Trump was trying to do... Now the Teleprompter (Biden) is doing THE SAME THING and made a deal with a few Republicans who would have had bad faith to refuse to do what Trump was going to do for them... So the tone in the "liberal" media is that of "Victory" for Biden (Victory to the Teleprompter without which Biden would be completely lost)... Will most of the cash disappear anyway without a single pothole fixed?...



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oils ain't oils...

In the crude oil market, there are various types of oils... These have influenced the types of refineries for extracting (cracking) various products. Some processes can only be achieved with some types of crudes, thus the importance of matching the crudes to the refineries... Hence:


Russian oil exports to the United States have surged 23% this year, overtaking Mexico and making Russia the US’ second-biggest crude supplier after Canada.


Russia exported a record-breaking 26.17 million barrels of crude oil and petroleum products to the US market in May 2021, surging almost 2.5-fold year-on-year with oil supplies alone increasing by 65 times, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported this week.


According to Russia’s Federal Customs Service records, the United States bought almost one-fifth of the country’s total heavy-oil exports during the first five months of 2021, making the US Russia’s largest buyer of heavy-oil products.

The previous record was set in 2009, when Russia delivered crude oil and petroleum products to the US totaling 25.08 million barrels.Canada still tops the list of petroleum exporters to the US with 125.75 million barrels delivered in May this year, while Mexico comes in third with 22.56 million.

Russia has become an appealing source of petroleum products for US fuel producers as it offers semi-refined oils such as Mazut 100, which has perfect qualities for American refineries used to processing thick crude from Venezuela and the Middle East. However, exports from these destinations have decreased due to sanctions on Venezuela and output limits set by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). This gave Russia the opportunity to take over the short-supplied US market.

The US is increasing purchases of Russian crude while at the same time continuing to target the country's energy sector with sanctions. The latest was a failed attempt to stop the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which will supply Europe with Russian natural gas. However, Washington has not issued any sanctions that would ban US companies from buying Russian crude, which effectively allows them to boost purchases.


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rocket engines...


MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The United States has approved the purchase of a new batch of the Russian-made RD-181M space rocket engines, a spokesman for the Russian space agency Roscosmos, Vladimir Ustimenko, said on Tuesday.

"The US government has approved the contract between NPO Energomash [Roscosmos subsidiary] and US Orbital Sciences LLC company. This means that there will be new supplies of engines and new launches of American rockets with Russian ‘hearts’," Ustimenko said on Telegram.

The deal gives hope for the possible normalisation of relations between the countries, where business and efficiency will play a more important role than momentary decisions, which are not related to cosmonautics, Ustimenko added.

The RD-181M engine is an export variant of the RD-191M used in Russian carrier rockets. The RD-181M is used in the first stages of the American Antares expendable launch systems aimed at transporting Cygnus cargo spaceships to the International Space Station.


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senate stuff...


Around the time of the enactment of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, in March, the political commentariat devoted a lot of airtime and column inches to a telling question: What lessons had President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party learned from the Obama era? Congressional Democrats passed the relief bill on a party-line vote. Watering it down to achieve bipartisan support would have been a “mistake,” Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, said at the time, one that Democrats would not be making again. The administration only had so much time, after all, to try to pass the most pro-worker labor reforms in a generation, or to put an end to congressional malapportionment.

Well, now it’s August, and Congress has not passed either of those things (or a serious climate bill, or major health care reform, or immigration reform). Instead, we might soon get a larger than usual bipartisan highway bill, if the Senate manages to pass it before heading off for recess.

What may appear to be an imminent victory for bipartisan deal-making was in fact a drawn-out demonstration of how broken the Senate is as an institution. The Senate (with the White House’s support) wasted months cajoling and rehabilitating a handful of key Republicans only to pass a smaller version of something Democrats could theoretically have passed entirely on their own. Moving the bill forward only looks like a victory if one accepts the sclerosis and dysfunction of the Senate as a natural obstacle to be overcome with cunning and patience, not a self-imposed limitation on effective and responsive governance.

The Democrats, of course, have the slimmest possible Senate vote margin, and the party’s right flank — Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema in particular — made it clear that they did not support eliminating the Senate’s de facto 60 vote requirement for legislation. Mr. Biden’s full infrastructure plan would not have passed with 51 votes the day after the Covid relief bill even if he had tried to do it that way.

So the White House, early on, threw itself into trying to hash out a bipartisan bill (and then, they promise, a more ambitious reconciliation attempt) with the gusto of a group very used to brokering bipartisan megadeals that (more often than not, in recent history) fall apart at the last moment. Any White House effort to get two Democratic senators, Mr. Manchin and Ms. Sinema, on board without also bringing along at least 10 of their Republican friends was quickly thrown aside. In fact, as White House insiders told political reporters last spring, holding extended bipartisan negotiations that fall apart at the last moment was the plan for winning the support of Mr. Manchin and Ms. Sinema.


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