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Sep 2, 2018

Morrison 'not convinced' pulling out of Paris treaty would cut energy prices | Australia news I The Guardian

Katharine Murphy

Scott Morrison says there is no need to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, because that won’t impact electricity prices, and the prime minister has warned power companies they could face a royal commission into their conduct.
With the government still indulging in recriminations after the tumult of the past fortnight, the new prime minister used radio interviews with Alan Jones in Sydney and Neil Mitchell in Melbourne to stake out policy ground and send a message to disgruntled colleagues that they needed to settle down and focus on their jobs.
Morrison declared he was “restoring control” after a fortnight when the parliament resembled “the Muppet Show” and he borrowed a maxim from the American general Norman Schwarzkopf: “When placed in command, take charge”.
Asked how he intended to heal a divided government, Morrison said by getting people “to focus on their job”.
In the two radio interviews on Monday morning, including one with Jones, a Sydney shock jock hostile to Malcolm Turnbull – Morrison signalled he was not inclined to pull out of the Paris treaty because “I’m not convinced changing it makes any difference one way or the other – that’s the bottom line.”
“We met the first round of targets at a canter and this next one is out to 2030. Now, that discussion isn’t going to change anybody’s electricity prices, and that’s what I’m focused on.”
Morrison was asked how he’d bring down power prices. He said the government had already put the power companies on notice, and he was “open” to setting up a royal commission into the industry – an idea Peter Dutton floated before trying to seize the Liberal party leadership.
Guardian Australia was told last week the government was scoping out a royal commission into the power companies, but senior sources denied that was a live option.
Morrison said Monday he was not inclined to pursue a royal commission right now but he added: “I’m open to it and I’ll look at it.”
Morrison as treasurer resisted establishing a royal commission into the banks. On Monday he said Australia’s power companies were behaving similarly to the banks, and he had “failed to understand the pain people were feeling” when they were the victims of poor treatment by the financial services sector – an experience he intended to learn from.
The prime minister said coal-fired power needed to remain “absolutely” in the energy mix “for some time” and existing power stations needed to “remain open as long as possible” because they produced the cheapest dispatchable power.
“[Coal] remains a key source of keeping electricity prices down and keeping the lights on, and I intend for it to stay there,” Morrison said.
Morrison danced around whether a new high efficiency coal plant should be built, noting that new power stations did not produce cheap electricity.
He said he’d “love” to see one constructed on “competitive terms with everyone else, with no subsidies so the money goes where the dispatchable power can be generated”.
“I want the market to invest in these things”.
Morrison said energy prices and emissions policies were separate issues and needed to be treated separately, which was why he had split the environment and energy portfolios when he reshuffled the ministry after he took the leadership.
In his first speech in the energy portfolio last week, the new minister Angus Taylor signalled he wanted to encourage new investment extending the life of existing coal and gas plants, and upgrading ageing facilities, with an objective of boosting supply.
Taylor recommitted the government to pursuing heavy-handed interventions in the energy market cooked up in the last days of the Turnbull government, including “last resort” divestiture powers to break up power companies if they engage in price gouging.
While issuing threats publicly, Taylor has also been doing the rounds of the energy companies to establish a dialogue. The new minister said last week the big interventions would be unnecessary if prices came down. “The simple truth is that if industry steps up and does the right thing on price, government can step back and focus on other things.”

🇬🇹 🌋 Guatemala volcano: Farmers try to recover in the aftermath | Al Jazeera English Video

Pope Benedict, in retired seclusion, looms in the opposition to Pope Francis I Europe I The Washington Post

ROME — Ever since Pope Benedict XVI became the first pontiff in six centuries to abdicate the papacy, transitioning to a life of near seclusion in a Vatican City monastery, there have been questions about how the notion of two living popes would impact the Roman Catholic Church.
The events of last week offer something of an answer.
Although many people hoped to hear from Benedict amid new allegations that a coverup of sexual misconduct reached the highest levels of the church, he has established that an ex-pope should maintain a vow of silence about church matters — even during crises, and even though he is particularly well positioned to affirm or knock down the accusations.
Some Vatican watchers and insiders say the mere fact of Benedict’s 2013 abdication has made the modern papacy more vulnerable, emboldening voices of dissent. They say it’s hard to imagine a letter like the one released last week by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, provoking Pope Francis with a call to resign, without Benedict having created the possibility that modern popes might give up their seats before death.
Try as he might to stay out of the fray, Benedict has been used as a symbol of resistance for a segment of traditionalists who oppose elements of Francis’s reformist papacy and see Benedict’s vision of Catholicism as more aligned with theirs.
“He won’t stop the [Francis] revolution, but his presence reminds you — me, everyone — that another way is possible,” said Marcello Pera, a friend of Benedict and former president of the Italian Senate.
Once known as “God’s Rottweiler,” Benedict was not embraced by Catholics worldwide during his eight-year pontificate. But he won admiration among those who respected the depth of his academic work and his conviction that church teachings shouldn’t bend with the times.
At 91, Benedict still largely resembles the firm theologian who stepped down five years ago, when he leaned into a microphone, offered a brief message in Latin and shocked the Roman Catholic Church. He still dresses in papal white. He chose not to revert to his given name, Joseph Ratzinger. Friends say he is frail — he moves with the help of a walker — but he is mentally sharp. In a letter to the Corriere della Sera, an Italian daily, he said earlier this year he was “on a pilgrimage toward Home.”
Some historians say that, for all of Benedict’s theological work, it is his resignation that will most come to define his legacy. Before his abdication, no pope since Gregory XII in 1415 had been willing to step down. Pope Paul VI had at least considered it, according to a book collecting his letters and documents. But Paul VI, who died in 1978, feared that doing so could open future popes to factional fighting, according to an essay by Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest. Pope John Paul II reportedly prepared a letter of resignation to submit in the event of a debilitating condition; he never used it. Instead, his physical faculties declined painfully and publicly as he dealt with Parkinson’s disease.
In 2013, after eight years as pope, Benedict upended the rules of the modern papacy. He said he was aware of the “seriousness of this act.” He cited deterioration of his “mind and body.” Some close to Benedict have said he feared becoming an incapacitated leader like John Paul II, with whom he worked closely for years. But rumors have lingered about other contributing factors, including the possibility of blackmail or pressure relating to scandals within the Vatican bureaucracy. Benedict in 2014 wrote to an Italian website, Vatican Insider, saying speculation about his resignation was “simply absurd.”
Officially, papal resignations are only valid if or when performed “freely.”
It will take years still to fully account for the ramifications of Benedict’s resignation, but Andrea Tornielli, a veteran Vatican journalist at the La Stampa, an Italian daily newspaper, said even the visual has been striking and disorienting — with two men in papal white inside the Vatican walls.
“It’s kind of a duplication of the image,” Tornielli said. “It’s a total novelty in the history of the church.”
Benedict has sought to relinquish his public life. He receives occasional visitors in his home, where he lives with a cat, is surrounded by books and has a view from the window of St. Peter’s dome. He goes on afternoon walks in the Vatican garden. Official photos occasionally show him meeting with Francis. He has attended public mass infrequently.
Elio Guerriero, a Benedict biographer who has known Benedict since the 1980s, says Benedict is content in his quiet daily life.
“His outlook has become sweeter and more affectionate,” Guerriero said.
Those who have visited Benedict as pope emeritus say he has also tried to avoid fostering insurrection. Four years ago, after a hint that Francis might adopt a more relaxed stance on Communion for divorced Catholics, a small group of cardinals asked Benedict to intervene, according to the mainstream Italian daily La Repubblica. Benedict told them that he wasn’t the pope and shouldn’t be involved — and afterward privately alerted Francis.
Pera, who co-wrote a book with Benedict, tells a similar story about the ex-pope’s unwillingness to talk about his successor’s moves. Pera said he visited Benedict shortly after Francis was elected and brought up his misgivings about the new pope — how he seemed more political, and willing to tailor his teachings to a secular audience.
“I am worried about the church,” Pera said.
“The church is of Jesus Christ,” he remembers Benedict replying. “You shouldn’t be worried.”
Benedict’s personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, has said publicly that Benedict and Francis are not in a “competitive relationship.”
After the release of the Viganò letter, Gänswein did not respond to repeated requests for comment from The Washington Post. He told a German publication that Benedict would not comment, now or in the future, on the letter.
Benedict’s silence in this case has been in keeping with his effort to maintain a low profile. But it’s also noteworthy, because the letter specifically cites Benedict and Francis as knowing for years about the sexual misconduct of a now-disgraced prelate, Theodore McCarrick.
Viganò alleges that Benedict, in 2009 or 2010, privately levied sanctions on McCarrick — the former Archbishop of Washington and one of the most well-known figures in the U.S. church — after years of warnings about McCarrick’s sexual misconduct. The letter also said that Francis “did not take into account” those sanctions and instead made McCarrick his “trusted counselor.”
Some elements of the account do not seem to hold up. The sanctions Viganò describes supposedly banned McCarrick from travel and public meetings, but McCarrick continued to speak regularly and travel overseas.
Two acquaintances of Benedict say he was a feeble manager as pontiff and that even if he had imposed the sanctions he might not have had the wherewithal to enforce them.
“He never had the vocation to rule, to command,” said Vittorio Messori, a friend who met with Benedict last year. “He doesn’t know how to rule.”
Other Benedict allies go so far as to interpret the former pope’s silence as an affirmation of Viganò’s account. The letter portrays Benedict in more sympathetic terms than it does Francis and points out that, as a cardinal, Ratzinger had “repeatedly denounced the corruption” inside the church.
“It would be very easy for Pope Benedict to say, ‘There is an attack on the Holy Father, and I want to condemn this attack,’” said Roberto de Mattei, president of the conservative Lepanto Foundation, a critic of Francis and an acquaintance of Viganò. “Right now, one pope can speak to defend the other. But he hasn’t.”
Despite Benedict’s general silence, or perhaps because of it, some conservatives have latched on to the pope emeritus as a symbolic ally. A mix of academics, journalists and Vatican officials have regularly held conferences aimed at criticizing Francis — and sometimes praising Benedict’s teachings. Viganò spoke at at least one of those events.
In a new book, a compilation of interviews, a forward written by the former president of the Vatican Bank exalts “the greatness of our beloved Joseph Ratzinger.” Among the interviewees are two journalists who consulted with Viganò in advance of his letter’s release.
But even among that crowd that knows Benedict, there is a steady guessing game about what he is actually thinking.
Pera said he has not brought up Francis again in his meetings with Benedict, where they have talked about philosophy and human rights. “The subject is forbidden,” he said.
“So what should I understand from this?” Pera continued. “He probably doesn’t like what is happening. But we don’t know.”
Luisa Beck in Berlin contributed to this report.
Read more

This digest includes 3 new articles: Cash ban only taught Indians not to trust the banking system, Come to the New Orleans conference with GATA and enjoy a money-back guanrantee, Smart Investor magazine in Germany feature Gata's work I Gata I The GATA DISPATCH

Cash ban only taught Indians not to trust the banking system

Submitted by cpowell on 02:14PM ET Sunday, September 2, 2018
India's Cash Ban Failed Even to Create a Bank Savings Culture
By Mihir Sharma
Bloomberg News
Saturday, September 1, 2018

Come to the New Orleans conference with GATA and enjoy a money-back guarantee

Submitted by cpowell on 05:55PM ET Sunday, September 2, 2018
1:58p ET Sunday, September 2, 2018
Dear Friend of GATA and Gold:
GATA Chairman Bill Murphy and your secretary/treasurer will be speaking again this year at the New Orleans Investment Conference, and if you register to attend the conference through GATA, the conference will generously pay us a commission that will help keep the organization going.

Smart Investor magazine in Germany features GATA's work

Submitted by cpowell on 07:07PM ET Sunday, September 2, 2018
3:17p ET Sunday, September 2, 2018
Dear Friend of GATA and Gold: