I left my heart in Ohio?

What a bizarre story! A heart, suspected to be human, unexpectedly appeared in an Ohio field, next to a parking lot. A plastic bag, containing the organ, was discovered by paramedics who initially threw it away, but, soon after, retrieved it for testing. Here is a quote from the Norwalk Reflector:

About Aug. 25, a North Central EMS crew was parked at the Friendship Food Stores, 175 Milan Ave. Fulton said they parked an ambulance there for the purpose of coverage and at that point, the heart wasn?t there.

The crew then responded to a call.

?After they returned, it was there,? said Fulton, who estimated the time period was about an hour, maybe less.

?It was just a little ways into that field off the parking lot. It was in a plastic bag,? the detective said.

A plastic bag containing a heart was photographed next to a parking area in Norfolk, Ohio. Photo: Norfolk Police Department

A plastic bag containing a heart was photographed next to a parking area in Norfolk, Ohio. The bag appears to have been deliberately placed there to be noticed. Photo: Norfolk Police Department.

Where the organ came from is a complete mystery. Was it previously frozen? Is it from an animal, perhaps a pig, whose heart looks very similar to a human? Why was it there in the first place? The Norfolk police labeled this incident an ?unusual occurrence?. I?ll say!!

The media reports say that an hour passed between the time the ambulance left and returned, suggesting that the bag was placed there during that time. Weird and rather creepy.

We await additional answers. Access the police report here (PDF).

Tip: Strange Frequencies Radio

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Plovdiv District Court dismisses chief architect over ?Tobacco Town? demolition bid

The former tobacco warehouse at 8 Odrin Street, Plovdiv, photographed on August 22 2016, more than five months after an attempt to demolish it. Photo: (c) Clive Leviev-Sawyer

The District Court in Bulgaria?s second city Plovdiv upheld on September 19 an application by the Regional Prosecutor?s Office to remove from office Chief Architect Roumen Roussev, who is facing criminal charges in connection with the attempted demolition of a former tobacco warehouse in Plovdiv?s historic ?Tobacco Town? precinct.

The court agreed that if Roussev remained in office, he could obstruct the invetigation and influence witnesses.

Roussev, along with the representative of the owners of the building in Plovdiv?s Odrin Street, face a series of criminal charges in connection with the March 2016 allegedly illegal attempt at demolishing the warehouse, a monument of culture dating back to the early 20th century when Plovdiv had a key role in the Balkan tobacco trade.

The Plovdiv Regional Prosecutor?s Office announced the court application on September 16, saying that it was being brought in the light of evidence gathered during pre-trial proceedings.

This evidence related to, among other things, the building permit for the Odrin Street property and an ongoing investigation into corruption regarding the issuing of building permits and changing of building plans. The pre-trial investigation was continuing, the Prosecutor?s Office said.

The court agreed that there was objective evidence that the accused, if left in office, could have a direct and indirect impact on witnesses employed in the same office and creat obstacles to the collection of the necessary documentary evidence held by the municipal administration.

The ruling is not final and is subject to appeal in the Plovdiv Appeal Court.

Plovdiv chief architect Roumen Roussev. Photo: podtepeto.com

Plovdiv chief architect Roumen Roussev. Photo: podtepeto.com

Counsel for Roussev said that the decision would be taken on appeal. He expressed astonishment that the application for Roussev?s removal was lodged in September rather than in March, and how it was that only now there was an argument that Roussev could influence staff and obstruct the investigation, although so far there had been no such danger.

Roussev?s lawyer said that Roussev had co-operated fully and voluntarily with the investigation. As a person and as a professional, Roussev had put no pressure on staff regarding the investigation, he said.

The March 2016 attempted demolition caused public outrage in Plovdiv and throughout Bulgaria. The demolition machines were stopped by Plovdiv residents who obstructed them and then by police acting on official orders.

Culture Minister Vezdhi Rashidov has issued an order for the owners to reconstruct the damaged building.

Public outrage about the fate of ?Tobacco Town?, one of the assets that the city pointed to in its successful application to be named European Capital of Culture 2019, flared again when, in August, three other ?Tobacco Town? warehouses were gutted in a huge fire.

A homeless man has been arrested and face charges of arson in connection with the August fires. He denies wrongdoing.

(Main photo, of the Odrin Street warehouse that was the subject of the attempted demolition in March, as seen in August: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)



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Hunting mountain monsters requires hat, beard, torch, TV ratings

Destination America renews Mountain Monsters for season five. Why, when they have never found anything? Well see for yourself, it?s quite obviou$.

The fourth season finale of MOUNTAIN MONSTERS on April 16, 2016 ranks as Destination America?s #1 telecast ever among HH, P2+, and M25-54 in L+3 delivery.

HH is a rating/share based on the number of US households. P2+ is persons aged 2 or more (or total viewers, essentially). L+3 is live plus 3 days to account for DVR watchers. And, males 25-54 is the top demographic of this program ? no surprise there.

How to hunt monsters - with torches. Are pitchforks next?

How to hunt monsters ? with torches. Are pitchforks next?

But note they are just talking about the finale. I didn?t hear about any earth-shattering discovery back in April so I?m just assuming those viewers left a bit disappointed when no monster was found. However, the channel feels confident that many will return.

?MOUNTAIN MONSTERS fans are about as loyal as they come, second only to the AIMS team and their unwavering dedication to finding Bigfoot,? said Jane Latman, general manager of Destination America. ?We hear from devoted viewers every single day wanting to know when they?ll get to see more of their favorite monster hunters, and we?re excited to announce that the wait is almost over.?

Destination America, effectively the Paranormal Channel, says that the guys of AIMS (Appalachian Investigators of Mysterious Sightings ? got to have a cool name/acronym) found evidence of ?more than a dozen different Bigfoot clans? that ?may call the mountain region home.? For the next season, they are going to continue to look for Bigfoot and attempt to trap one. Finding Bigfoot (on Animal Planet) has been at it for 8 seasons and STILL does not have any evidence worth talking about. (So far Finding Bigfoot has not yet been renewed for another season).

Evidence is a funny thing on TV shows. It only needs to be framed in the right way and good enough for people who already are prone to believe in the claim to be convinced. It?s not the same as evidence that is convincing to people who look for evidence to answer a question or reach the most plausible conclusion. Most people do not employ critical thinking skills to such claims and these shows function as entertainment.

Scientists actually working in fields of wildlife biology, primatology and zoology aren?t out looking for Bigfoot. The question of what people are reporting as Bigfoot sightings is a very different area of investigation entirely and is a more productive area. Television shows, especially the ones on networks that appeal to a particular audience segment with lower rates of higher education and worldliness, deal in a simpler narrative.

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Bulgaria?s Special Criminal Court begins hearing first terrorism trial

gavel Jason Morrison

Bulgaria?s Special Criminal Court has begun hearing its first case involving charges of terrorism, laid against three Syrians that prosecutors allege intended to join Daesh and the Muslim Brotherhood.

The three Syrian men, aged between 22 and 25 and who had been given refugee status by Germany, have suspended sentences for illegally crossing the border.

At the court sitting on September 19, evidence against the accused was given by a witness whose identity was not disclosed.

In evidence in the trial, prosecutors are relying mainly on photos in the accuseds? phones and in the phones? messaging systems.

For the full story, please click here.

(Photo: Jason Morrison/sxc.hu)



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Trump?s Racist Birther Gaslighting Strategy Has Taken Over the GOP

At some point before this past Friday, it dawned on Donald Trump and his aides that they couldn?t avoid a rendezvous with his birther destiny before voters go to the polls in November, and that his first debate with Hillary Clinton?what promises to be one of the most watched events in television history?was likely to be the place for it.

Their response to this realization has been one of the purest expressions of Trump?s extraordinary and alarming approach to politics since he launched his campaign last summer. 

Despite the best efforts of  his closest campaign surrogates to put the controversy to bed for him, Trump dismissed their birther-disavowals in a Wednesday interview with the Washington Post last week. He promised instead to take the issue head-on at a time of his choosing, to keep ?the suspense going.? That time turned out to be Friday when he convened the media at his new hotel in Washington, D.C., in anticipation of a major announcement. Instead he forced a captive press corps to endure a nearly hourlong celebration of his hotel and campaign, before falsely blaming the entire birther movement on Hillary Clinton and grudgingly admitting that President Barack Obama had been born in the United States.

Trump used birtherism and other forms of racist agitation to build a political base for himself, and now that these defining crusades are impeding his pursuit of political power, he is trying to discard them in the most contemptuous and brazen possible way. Rather than disavow and apologize for his birtherism, he fabricated a new history in which Clinton had given life to the birther movement and he had merely settled the issue by forcing Obama to produce his birth certificate.

This is top-to-bottom fiction. Whatever ugliness Hillary Clinton lapsed into during the 2008 Democratic primary, she was never a birther, nor were here aides. Trump never once claimed until Friday that Clinton was the inspiration behind his birther campaign. To the contrary, he boasted in 2011 about having given fresh, mainstream life to the birther movement, and continued to suggest Obama might have been born outside the United States until this year.

The Trump campaign is making a bet that it can barrel through the debates without offering an honest accounting of birtherism. That he and his surrogates can gaslight media elites and passive news consumers about Trump?s role in coopting the birther movement, and turning it into an intimidating source of right-wing grassroots politics.

As grotesque as their effort is, and as nakedly as it reveals the Trump campaign?s disdain for media and the news-consuming public, it is not an entirely new strategic innovation. Don?t-believe-your-lying-eyes revisionism has a lengthy pedigree, and a mixed record, in conservative propaganda. And though it is unlikely to prevail in this instance, we?ve never seen it put to use at such a high level of Republican Party politics. The emergence of birther-truthers within the GOP leadership is the most fitting testament to the way Trump and the Republican Party are now one and the same.

There may be no better test of loyalty to Trump, or capacity for independent thought, than whether you?ve done a complete about face from pro-birther or birther tolerant to birther-truther in the past 72 hours.

Pro-Trump Pravda sites like Breitbart, which have fomented birther conspiracies for years, weren?t upset that Trump disclaimed birtherism; they celebrated Trump?s successful attempt to troll the media and his incipient effort to muddy the waters about where this racist conspiracy theory took root.

On Sunday, Trump?s most high-profile supporters fanned out across the Sunday TV news shows to claim, as his campaign manager Kellyanne Conway did, that the Clinton campaign incubated birtherism, and, as his adviser Chris Christie did that Trump ?wasn?t ? talking about [birtherism] on a regular basis.?

These are both lies, and easily disproven lies. But the purpose of the lies isn?t to win an argument, by convincing the masses that the lies are true. It?s to sow enough doubt about the real history of birtherism that voters who might be swayed by the truth?Democrats who aren?t fully aware of Trump?s racism, Republicans who worry that he?s too racist for their comfort, independents who hold Trump and Clinton equally suspect?throw up their hands and decide the issue is a wash.

This isn?t routine politics, but it isn?t new either. Most acutely, we saw a large number of conservative operatives in 2014 and 2015 try to hoodwink journalists into believing that Democrats had designed the Affordable Care Act to fail on purpose. The goal then wasn?t to win the hearts and minds of these journalists per se, but to blur the question enough that conservative Supreme Court justices would feel they were operating within a zone of acceptable debate in striking a fatal blow to the health care law. This effort failed. In his opinion for the court, Chief Justice John Roberts scolded the law?s challengers with a basic factual reminder, ?Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them.? But three other justices were prepared to go along with the ruse.

More pertinently, a faction of conservative revisionists has attempted for years and years now to confuse the public over which party is the historical heir of the civil rights movement, and which is descended from the politics of the Jim Crow South. Now, whenever Trump?s popularity among white supremacists begets a new campaign controversy, his supporters will surface to remind whoever they can that Democrats were the party of Jim Crow and?did you even know??former Democratic Senator Robert Byrd was once in the Ku Klux Klan. This, of course, glosses over the 50 years between when a Democratic president signed the civil rights act, and when the ensuing public realignment, in which southern white supremacists left the Democratic Party for the GOP and northern liberals left the GOP for the Democratic Party, was complete.

Professional historians find this all appropriately silly and most political journalists aren?t tripped up by it. The same holds for birther revisionism, for which Trump and his surrogates have been repeatedly chastised by a press corps that may finally be growing tired of Trump?s efforts to game and lie to them. But that isn?t a great measure of the tactic?s success.

The success or failure of this kind of gaslighting isn?t whether the elites themselves get played for fools, but whether the downstream target audience takes comfort in the existence and durability of the alternate school of thought. It didn?t work on enough Supreme Court justices to destroy the Affordable Care Act, and it hasn?t worked thus far on voters who take racism seriously. But even if the effort fails as it should, it has shown us just how widespread this abusive and contemptuous form of misinformation and racism apologetics has become in Republican politics.

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Global Energy Investment Falls 8%

September 20th, 2016 4:45am Posted In: Natural Gas News, Featured Articles, Security of Supply, Carbon, Supply/Demand, Investments, Natural Gas News Africa, Natural Gas News Europe, Africa, Europe, Asia, Natural Gas News Asia

Set up to monitor oil markets following the 1970s? oil crisis, the IEA now is the emissions watch-dog.

Global energy investment in 2015 amounted to $1.83 trillion, down 8% (in real terms) from 2014, according to a survey published September 14 by the International Energy Agency (IEA). The report said that the drop mainly came from the upstream oil and gas segment.

It also said that “After three years during which the US was the largest destination for investment in energy supply, China retook the top position in 2015, largely owing to the record level of electricity sector investment in China and the decline of US oil and gas investment.?

However, “the rebalancing and slowdown of the Chinese economy, which are curbing the country?s energy needs, are having a major impact on energy investment globally, largely as a result of lower demand growth for oil, gas and coal.” 

The top five spenders in 2015 were China with $315bn, USA with $280bn, falling $75bn from 2014, EU with $140bn, Russia with $85bn and India with $65bn.

Welcoming the report, the head of the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers, Gordon Ballard, said: “In the oil and gas sector, huge investment will be necessary in the next decades, to explore and produce the new resources needed to meet the energy demand that a growing world population will likely generate. 

Charles Ellinas

You can read the full article in Issue 3 of Natural Gas World Magazine. Out Wednesday September 21. Subscribe today. 

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EU indecision on UN Secretary General choice plays to Russia?s advantage

40th plenary meeting of the General Assembly 67th session

The race to replace Ban Ki-moon as United Nations Secretary-General in 2017 is an awful muddle, yet it may still culminate in victory for a well-qualified European.  The current frontrunner is former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres, but European Commission Vice President Kristalina Georgieva seems poised to make a last-minute entry into the race later this month.

Both would be credible winners.  But the contest has cast a harsh light on the EU?s lack of diplomatic cohesion.  The choice of Secretary-General is no trivial matter for Europeans.  From Mali to Syria, UN peacekeepers, mediators and aid officials are struggling to manage conflicts and refugee flows on the EU?s southern flank. But while the Security Council is supposed to start a decisive round of polls to home in on the final choice for the next Secretary-General in early October, EU members remain divided over whom to support.

This is playing to the advantage of Russia which, like the other permanent members of the Security Council, holds the power to veto any candidate.  Moscow has demonstrated an impressive capacity to manipulate UN rules to get its way over the Syrian crisis since 2011, as I noted in an ECFR paper last year, and it is playing a similarly sharp game over the Secretary-Generalship.  The race may climax with President Vladimir Putin making the final choice between Guterres and Georgieva ? or blocking both and forcing the Security Council to hunt for a compromise candidate.

This situation arises from two quirks of UN tradition.  One is a convention that the post of Secretary-General rotates between different regions.  The second is that ?Eastern Europe?, an area consisting of former members of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact, is still treated as a distinct region in UN diplomacy a quarter century after the end of the Cold War.  No Eastern European has ever been Secretary-General.  As the end of Ban?s tenure came into view, a host of politicians and diplomats from the region floated their candidacies, making it difficult for a single European champion to emerge early on.

To continue reading, please visit the website of the European Council on Foreign Relations.

(Photo: UN Photo/Rick Bajornas)



About the Author

Richard Gowan is an associate fellow at ECFR, concentrating on United Nations affairs. He is based at the Center on International Cooperation at New York University, where he works on peacekeeping and multilateral security institutions. He is the associate director of the center?s Managing Global Order programme. Before joining New York University in 2005, he worked as Europe Programme Officer at the Foreign Policy Centre in London. Between 2005 and 2006, he coordinated the development of the first Annual Review of Global Peace Operations, the most comprehensive public domain source of data and analysis on the subject of peace operations. He has acted as a consultant to the UN Secretariat and the UK Department for International Development, he writes frequently for E!Sharp, The Globalist, and other international affairs magazines, and he has broadcast widely on channels such as CNN and BBC.

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The Once and Future Trump

The Republican Party was torn asunder by a populist media personality running a nationalist campaign based on immigration restriction, protectionism, and an anti-internationalist foreign policy. Initially dismissed as a bigoted crank, this upstart presidential candidate managed to humiliate the GOP establishment, led by the Bush family.

This is not just a description of the 2016 elections. It also happened in 1992.

Unlike Donald Trump, Pat Buchanan didn?t win the nomination, but his protest candidacy garnered more than two million votes and intensified fractures in the party that led to defeat in the general election. Buchanan?s candidacy provides a crucial context for understanding not just the roots of Trumpism, but also it?s likely future?even, or especially, if Trump loses to Hillary Clinton in November.

One of the biggest mistakes pundits make about Trump is to treat him as a historical fluke: an outlier who, thanks to a large primary field and his own celebrity, managed to take over one of America?s two main political parties. This fatal error caused everyone from FiveThirtyEight?s Nate Silver to rival candidates to underestimate Trump when he entered the race last year. They believed his meteoric poll numbers would return to Earth, following the same trajectory as Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich in 2012.

Trump decisively won the nomination, yet many still treat him as an interloper who doesn?t represent, or have much in common with, the Grand Old Party?a sort of political Phoenix, the mythical bird that was self-generated with no parentage. Others, like columnist George Will, even flirted with the fantasy that Trump was some sort of deliberate subversive. ?If Donald Trump were a Democratic mole placed in the Republican Party to disrupt things, how would his behavior be different?? he asked in July, and answered his own question: ?I don?t think it would be.?

But Trump is neither a magical bird nor a false-flag candidate. He has a definite lineage within the Republican Party?and if Trump had ancestors, he?ll also have descendants.

To predict the future of Trumpism, it helps to understand why Buchanan and his peculiar brand of right-wing nationalist conservatism (called paleoconservatism) emerged in the late 1980s. American conservatism started splintering at the moment of its greatest political success, after the landslide election of Ronald Reagan in 1984, when all but one state went Republican.

Dissatisfaction with Reagan?s triumph emerged by a peculiar combination of success abroad and stalemate at home. By the late 1980s, it was becoming increasingly clear that the Cold War was drawing to a close as Mikhail Gorbachev?s reform policies deprived America of the foe of five decades. But while anti-communism succeeded beyond expectations, social conservatives like Buchanan couldn?t help but notice that on other fronts, America continued to be liberal: Democrats still controlled Congress and won the Senate in 1986, feminism and gay rights continued to advance, Martin Luther King?s birthday was made a national holiday, and mass immigration?both legal and undocumented?continued to dilute the demographic dominance of the white majority.

As the Wall Street Journal noted in a 1989 editorial, ?anti-Communism has been the glue that held the conservative movement together.? Without the unifying threat of a supposedly global enemy, the right began to splinter. The division was first evident in the battle between the neoconservatives and paleoconservatives. The neoconservatives, many of them former Cold War liberals and as a group skewing Jewish, were internationalists: Even with the USSR on its deathbed, they wanted America to pursue global hegemony and push an agenda of democratization abroad. This internationalism went along with support for free trade and generous immigration policies. Although small in number, the neocons enjoyed ideological dominance thanks to their outsized role in publications like the Journal and think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation.

The paleoconservatives emerged in reaction to the neocon ascendency. Found in small magazines like Chronicles, Southern Partisan, and The Rockwell-Rothbard Report, the paleocons were a motley group made up of anti-war libertarians (Murray Rothbard, Lew Rockwell), Catholic reactionaries (Buchanan, Joseph Sobran) and southern nostalgists for white supremacy (Samuel T. Francis, Thomas Fleming). What united this sundry group was the belief that the ?globalism? of the neocons had to be opposed by a new nationalism based on immigration restriction, trade protectionism, and a foreign policy that included withdrawing from many international alliances and agreements. Paleocons also believed that neocons were too deferential to liberal sensitivity on issues related to race, and were restricted by what Buchanan called ?the limits of permissible dissent.? Or as Trump would put it, ?We have to stop being so politically correct in this country.?

Pat Buchanan was Trump avant la lettre, a proto-Trump who developed in rudimentary form the political themes that would lead the real estate magnate to victory in 2016. In a 1992 speech to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, Buchanan described undocumented immigration as an existential threat because ?a nation that controls its own borders can scarcely call itself a nation any longer.? Twenty-four years later, Trump was warning that unless the immigration system was fixed, ?We are not going to have a country anymore.? In his 1993 book Beautiful Losers, Samuel T. Francis, one of Buchanan?s key intellectual advisors, advocated a foreign policy stance that prefigures Trumpism: ?Economic nationalism and the struggle to preserve national sovereignty and cultural identity are likely to be more important issues for Middle American nationalists than fighting communists, anti-American plug-uglies from the Third World, and international terrorists.? Buchanan even revived the old isolationist slogan ?America First,? as Trump has done in 2016.

There were race and class dimensions to paleoconservatism as well. The paleos thought the future of the right wasn?t in the upscale suburbs. Nor did they think, as many establishment Republicans did, that the party needed to recruit more people of color. Rather, the palecons, especially Francis, argued that working class whites were an untapped electoral resource?one whose anger at decades of economic stagnation could be exploited by a political movement that argued that they were the forgotten Middle Americans, squeezed by the rich elite and the poor. In the words of National Review editor John T. Sullivan in 1991, the paleocons were pushing for a ?newer and less conservative stress on recruiting the discontented and alienated in American society against institutions which are now seen as irredeemably corrupt.?

In retrospect, the terms of this battle, which raged through these publications into the early ?90s, foreshadowed the debate between the #NeverTrump faction and the alt-right in 2016: Neocons accused the paleos of being anti-Semites and cranks, while the paleos responded by saying the neos were establishment shills offering a politics indistinguishable from liberalism. (Interestingly, the very term alt-right emerged from the writings of leading paleo-con Paul Gottfried.)

The neocons won, thanks to their institutional advantage: a stranglehold on the large donors, think tanks, and major conservative media outlets. But the paleocon impulse never fully died, and could be seen flickering in the twenty-first century in the candidacy of Ron Paul (who was much shaped by paleocon fellow travelers Rothbard and Rockwell) and the Tea Party movement. As a much bigger celebrity than Buchanan or Paul, Trump was able to do an end run around such gatekeepers.

Trump has proven that paleoconservatism has a much bigger market than anyone would?ve predicted after Buchanan?s three failed presidential runs. Trump?s version of paleoconservatism, of course, is not identical to Buchanan?s. Trump is a far more secular figure, and while he accepts the GOP?s opposition to marriage equality, he shies away from overt homophobia (whereas Buchanan has described gays as ?sodomites? who are ?literally hell-bent on Satanism and suicide?). But Trump has similarly managed to intuit and exploit deep divisions among Republicans between an internationalist establishment and a deeply nationalist base. The fact that this structural divide still exists in the party, more than two decades since Buchanan?s 1992 campaign, makes clear that Trumpism is not a transitory phenomenon. Just as Trump picked up the core of Buchanan?s politics and put his own spin on it, a future Republican likely will do the same with Trump?s.

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Bulgaria?s Central Election Commission begins registering presidential election candidates

vote voting election podtepeto com

Bulgaria?s Central Election Commission opened on September 19 the process of registering candidates for the country?s November 6 2016 presidential elections.

The registration process for candidates for president and vice-president continues until October 4.

The first day saw the registration, in the name of an ?initiative committee? of Bulgarian Socialist Party presidential candidate Roumen Radev and vice-presidential candidate Iliyana Yotova. The committee is headed by BSP MP Stefan Danailov.

Prime Minister Boiko Borissov?s centre-right GERB party, the largest party in the National Assembly and the majority partner in the coalition government, has not named its presidential candidate but has said that it will do so by October 2, shortly before the deadline for registration.

The third-largest party in Parliament, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, has not yet made clear whether it will register a candidate or, if so, who it will be.

This past weekend, MRF leader Mustafa Karaday said that the party?s founder and long-time leader Ahmed Dogan ?fits the profile? of a good presidential candidate, saying that this profile was of someone who was a unifier, pro-Nato and non-partisan. Karaday said that the party had several potential candidates that fit this profile.

The National Assembly?s fourth-largest group, centre-right coalition the Reformist Bloc, is nominating former economy and energy minister Traicho Traikov for president, with General Subi Subev as its vice-presidential candidate.

The fifth-largest parliamentary group, the nationalist Patriotic Front ? a partner in the coalition government ? has got together with Volen Siderov?s Ataka, one of the two smallest parties in the National Assembly, to nominate a joint ticket of the PF?s Krassimir Karakachanov for president, with Ataka?s Yavor Notev as vice-presidential candidate.

As a footnote, amid a pre-election saga that has seen overall tardiness and difficulty among parties in naming candidates, the PF-Ataka ticket was the first announced among the parliamentary groups.

Georgi Purvanov?s ABC, which matches Ataka in having 11 MPs and thus is the other of the two smallest parliamentary groups, has nominated former cabinet minister Ivailo Kalfin as its presidential candidate. Kalfin was the BSP ?s presidential candidate in 2011, losing at the second round to GERB nominee Rossen Plevneliev.

Nominations by parties not represented in the National Assembly include the joint ticket of socialist splinter party Movement 21 and the National Movement for Stability and Progress of Movement 21 leader Tatyana Doncheva, formerly a BSP MP, as its presidential candidate, with the NSMP?s Mincho Spasov as vice-presidential candidate.

On November 6, Bulgarians are being asked to choose a successor to President Plevneliev, who has said that he is not available to stand for a second term. If no candidate wins a 50+1 victory on November 6, a second round will be held on November 13.

Bulgaria?s constitution says that to be eligible to stand in a presidential election, a candidate must be a natural-born Bulgarian citizen aged over 40 and qualified for election to the National Assembly, and must have resided in Bulgaria for the five years preceding the election. There is a two-term limit. Barring resignation, death, grave illness or impeachment, the President remains in office for five years.

The presidential election vote on November 6 is to be held simultaneously with a national referendum on three questions, including whether voting in elections and national referendums should be compulsory. The National Assembly has already legislated on this issue, making it compulsory to vote in elections and referendums, with the penalty of having the franchise withdrawn if an eligible voter fails to go to the ballot box in two consecutive elections of the same type.

This past weekend, a spokesperson for the Central Election Commission said that voting in the presidential elections would be compulsory, but voting in the referendum would not be, because the referendum was being held on the basis of a public petition.



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Chinese Belgian grid vote looms

September 19th, 2016 11:10am Posted In: Pipelines, Natural Gas News, News By Country, Belgium, Infrastructure, Corporate, Mergers & Acquisitions, Political, Investments, Natural Gas News Europe, EU

China?s State Grid Corp won a tender this year to buy 14% of Eandis, Belgium?s biggest gas and power distribution grids, through its subsidiary State Grid Europe. Shareholders are to vote on the deal October 3, and it is likely to be a lively event.

From the board?s viewpoint, the Chinese choice was a no-brainer. Sgel had easily outbid other tenders such as the Dutch and Australian pension funds APG and Australian Super/IFM by offering ?830mn ($930mn), 71% more than the ?484.5mn book value for 14%.

Eandis operator (Credit: Eandis)

Eandis operates the electricity and natural gas grids and a few district heating grids in about 80% of the towns and villages in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium. Until last year, energy concern Engie owned 21% of Eandis but European Union law requires energy producers and suppliers to dispose of their stakes in energy transport and distribution. Belgian law applies this from 2018. Few of the other shareholders ? towns, villages and the province of West Flanders ? were keen to buy Engie’s shares, however.

Opposition to the deal has become organised and alternative schemes have been put forward, including creating a co-operative, to keep all the profits in Belgium. But Eandis needs to invest and nobody else has come forward with such a large sum.

Koen Mortelmans

For more on this and other European energy investment news, please see the forthcoming issue of Natural Gas World, published on alternate Wednesdays.

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