It’s that time of year again.
Posted by MEC on December 19, 2014
Posted by Phoenix Woman on December 18, 2014
After nearly two weeks of tanking over various worries — one of the biggest being whether the Saudis’ continued oil dump will cause Russia and various other countries to collapse and/or their leaders to flip out — the stock market had a big day yesterday and a really big day today, and various reasons were posited: The Fed’s not raising interest rates, decent (by Wall Street standards) unemployment numbers, things like that.
But there was something, a something that was announced at around 11:29 am ET yesterday, well over four hours before the 4:00 pm NYSE closing bell yesterday, and the effects of which were still reverberating through the market — and indeed, the entire nation — today:
WASHINGTON — The United States and Cuba have agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations and open economic and travel ties, marking a historic shift in U.S. policy toward the communist island after a half-century of enmity dating back to the Cold War, American officials said Wednesday.
The announcement came amid a series of sudden confidence-building measures between the longtime foes, including the release of American prisoner Alan Gross, as well as a swap for a U.S. intelligence asset held in Cuba and the freeing of three Cubans jailed in the U.S.
President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro were to separately address their nations around noon Wednesday. The two leaders spoke by phone for more than 45 minutes Tuesday, the first substantive presidential-level discussion between the U.S. and Cuba since 1961.
Wednesday’s announcements followed more than a year of secret talks between U.S. and Cuban officials in Canada and the Vatican. U.S. officials said Pope Francis was personally engaged in the process and sent separate letters to Obama and Castro this summer urging them to restart relations.
As Mistah Pierce said yesterday afternoon:
In response to six years of being called a “dictator” for just trying to keep the lights on in the government, he dropped an executive order on immigration right on their heads. Now, in response to six years of being told he was un-American, and a friend to the country’s enemies, he’s handed them the ultimate exploding cigar.
And for those worried about whether the US brand of invader capitalism is going to ruin Cuba, I answer that the Canadians and Europeans and Asians have too strong a presence there to allow the US business community to pull that sort of stunt. They’ve been there for the past fifty-five years; we haven’t been aside from Guantanamo — which thanks to Pope Francis (who brokered the whole normalization thing in the first place, by the way) is about to get a bit emptier and perhaps even close fairly soon.
There is just so much winnitude here it’s measuring off the charts.
Oh, yes… Ferguson Witness 10? Changed his testimony, presumably coached by police, and still “cannot fully recall”
Posted by Charles II on December 17, 2014
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, and, of course, Witness 40 was—the importance of her testimony was that she, and there’s at least another witness, as I recall, Witness 10, who were the ones who said that Brown charged at police officer Wilson. And so, obviously, if her testimony is impugned, then the issue becomes: What about this other witness? And I want to turn to MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell. Late last month, he dissected the credibility of that other witness, Witness 10.
LAWRENCE O’DONNELL: Witness number 10 was working in the neighborhood, and he begins his story to the police with: “I seen the two young guys walkin’ down the street on the same sidewalk that I was on.” Six weeks later, witness number 10 testified to the grand jury and changed his story about where Michael Brown was walking. He said under oath to the grand jury, “I seen Mike Brown and his friend walking down the street closer to the curb, not on the sidewalk.” That is the kind of thing the district attorney was complaining about last night—witnesses changing their stories to fit the publicly known facts.
Here is why witness number 10 was the most important witness to appear in Darren Wilson’s defense. This is what he described Michael Brown doing when Officer Wilson got out of the car and chased him: “[Michael Brown] stopped. He did turn. He did some sort of body gesture. I’m not sure what it was, but I know it was a body gesture. And I could say for sure he never put his hands up after he did his body gesture. He ran towards the officer full charge.” So there’s witness number 10 saying the magic words: He never put his hands up, and he ran towards the officer full charge.
In the grand jury, when the prosecutor asked witness number 10 to describe what he called a “body gesture,” he said, “I can’t say for sure what sort of body gesture. I cannot fully recall. All I know is it was not in a surrendering motion of I’m surrendering, putting my hands up or anything. I’m not sure if it was like a shoulder shrug or him pulling his pants up. I’m not sure.” So, there’s the district attorney’s favorite witness, the only one he quoted last night, saying, “I cannot fully recall. … I’m not sure. … I’m not sure,” within the body of an answer in which the only thing he’s absolutely sure of is that Michael Brown did not do a surrendering motion. In a real courtroom, when a witness begins his answer with “I can’t say for sure,” and then in the body of his answer he says, “I cannot recall fully,” and then says, “I am not sure,” twice within that same answer, that witness observation does not survive cross-examination. But there was no cross-examination in the grand jury room.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Lawrence O’Donnell on his show on MSNBC, Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell. And he went on from there. His final point about [witness] number 10 is that when he was asked by the police how far away he was, he said about a hundred yards—a football field away. When he goes into the grand jury, he says something like 50 yards—he cuts it in half—or 50 to 75 yards. Can he see? Does he wear glasses? None of those questions, because this isn’t a trial. This is a grand jury.
This certainly sounds like a witness who was urged by police or the prosecutor to change his testimony. If there are two witnesses who perjured themselves, then the likelihood that the prosecutor is guilty of having induced witnesses to perjure themselves is significant. Time for federal action.
Posted by Charles II on December 16, 2014
DECEMBER 15–The grand jury witness who testified that she saw Michael Brown pummel a cop before charging at him “like a football player, head down,” is a troubled, bipolar Missouri woman with a criminal past who has a history of making racist remarks and once insinuated herself into another high-profile St. Louis criminal case with claims that police eventually dismissed as a “complete fabrication,” The Smoking Gun has learned.
However, unlike [Dorian] Johnson, “Witness 40”–a 45-year-old St. Louis resident named Sandra McElroy–was nowhere near Canfield Drive on the Saturday afternoon Brown was shot to death.
God help America.
Mexican federal police orchestrated the assassination of 43 students, probably with the collaboration of the army
Posted by Charles II on December 16, 2014
Proceso has a story out on this. The English version by the Guardian says this:
Mexican federal authorities had real-time information of an attack on a group of student teachers by corrupt local police, but did nothing to stop the disappearance and probable massacre of 43 people, according to new evidence published by the news magazine Proceso.
But this is not quite what Proceso says. Anabel Hernandez and Steve Fisher write:
The attack was orchestrated and executed by the Federal Police, with complicity or open collaboration with the Army.
Federal forces participated in the attack against the students of the normal (college) of Ayotzinapa in the night of last 26 Sept in Iguala, Guerrero, during which attack three students died and 43 were disappeared in a series of actions known in real time by the federal government.
Deep in The Guardian’s article, they get around to saying what Hernandez and Fisher said, calling it a “contentious claim.”
What is with the Guardian, that it can’t get its Latin American coverage right? And what is with the US government that surely knows that the government of Pena Nieto is engaged in terrorism?
Posted by Phoenix Woman on December 15, 2014
Because we could all use a little good news:
– Thanks to Ted Cruz and Mike Lee being utter boneheads, Harry Reid was able to push through a few more nominees than he thought he could this week, the biggest prize so far being Dr. Vivek Murthy for Surgeon General. When even David Gergen takes the GOP to task for cowering before the NRA over Dr. Murthy, you know they’ve gone a cower too far.
– The National Labor Relations Board, up and running again after years of Republican and Big Business obstructionism, has made a major move that could help turn the tide back in labor’s favor in America:
The National Labor Relations Board finally issued its long-in-the-works rule speeding up union representation elections. Currently, employers can drag out the election process by withholding information from organizers and with frivolous lawsuits, time they often use to intimidate and coerce workers away from union support.
The new rule, set to take effect on April 15, will cut waiting times between when an election is set and when it happens, put off litigation—often filed by businesses to drag out the election process—until after the election, allow election petitions to be filed electronically (hi there, 21st century!), require businesses to share additional worker contact information with union organizers, and consolidate the post-election appeals process.
Of course the Greed Lobby isn’t taking this lying down, but this is a big step that will be hard to undo.
Posted by MEC on December 12, 2014
Posted by Charles II on December 11, 2014
You can see his speech regarding the CIA torture report here.
He also had some choice words about Obama’s failure to discipline Brennan for lying and refusing to submit to oversight.
Udall was one of the few people willing to tell the truth. So, of course, he had to be driven from office.
Posted by Phoenix Woman on December 11, 2014
The Brusaws have spent about a decade chugging along with their ideas for using paved roads — already-built-upon land, in other words — to get America and eventually the world freed from coal, oil, and nuclear energy.
The US Department of Transportation, via its Federal Highway Administration, has given Solar Roadways boosts at key times. Now it’s given Scott and Julie Brusaw’s brainchild a nice writeup in the FHWA house magazine:
“They have been working diligently to address the many engineering challenges and respond to FHWA technical comments while also marketing themselves and traveling across the country to meet potential investors,” said Eric Weaver, the FHWA research civil engineer overseeing the Solar Roadways contract. “The biggest challenge has been the manufacturing process, which requires hands-on lamination and electronics work on each solar panel, since no facility currently exists that could automate the process.”
Laboratory testing on the textured glass and supporting structure for impact, load and friction showed positive results for function and safety, Weaver said, but field testing is needed to demonstrate the system’s ability to withstand exposure to repeated mechanical and environmental loading while maintaining functional and safety performance.
FHWA’s Eric Weaver is the same person whose words anti-SR sites have been wrenching out of context to make it look like he thinks that SR is a bad idea that could never work. He obviously thinks it’s a very good idea, and worth developing, or he wouldn’t have been featured so prominently in this article.
Posted by Charles II on December 10, 2014
As regular readers know, I encourage media viewers not to trust any outlet, and to be aware of the biases of each outlet. Russia Today (RT) is state-run TV. So is BBC. So is Al Jazeera. And, due to a certain history, so–to some degree– is the New York Times. None of them should be believed credulously. Instead, the reader/viewer has to sift through the biases and figure what topics each source lies about and which ones it tends to be truthful about.
Max Blumenthal and Rania Khalek, Truthdig:
For her public act of protest against Russia Today’s coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukrainian territory and supposedly advancing the agenda of Vladimir Putin in Washington, D.C., previously unknown news anchor Liz Wahl has suddenly become one of the most famous unemployed people in America. After her on-air resignation from the cable news channel, Wahl appeared on the three major American cable news outlets—CNN, Fox News, MSNBC—to denounce the heavy-handed editorial line she claims her bosses imposed on her and other staffers.
Behind the coverage of Wahl’s dramatic protest, a cadre of neoconservatives was celebrating a public relations coup.
At the center of the intrigue is a young neoconservative writer and activist who helped craft Wahl’s strategy and exploit her resignation to propel the agenda of a powerful pro-war lobby in Washington.
[James] Kirchick acknowledged having been in contact with Wahl since August, but cast himself as a passive bystander to the spectacle….
So who was Kirchick, and what sort of commitment did he maintain to “objectivity and the truth?”
In fact, Kirchick was a senior fellow at FPI, the neoconservative think tank that had hyped up Wahl’s resignation minutes before she quit. Launched by Weekly Standard founder William Kristol and two former foreign policy aides to Mitt Romney, Dan Senor and Robert Kagan (the husband of Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland), FPI grew directly out of the Project for a New American Century that led the public pressure campaign for a unilateral U.S. invasion of Iraq after the Bin Laden-orchestrated 9/11 attacks.
Now, I stumbled across this in a very interesting piece by Margarita Simonyan of RT on how that network has been trashed by American media in the service of undermining its Ukraine reporting. In the wake of that effort everyone “knows” that RT is a propaganda outlet–as well I know from the trashing that I saw at the Daily Kos of anyone who dared link RT. There’s no question that Russia is an interested party in Ukraine–they regard it as an existential issue– and that their state-run media reflect that. But one need only mention Judith Miller to recall that our media also serve as stenographers to government. So RT’s reporting should be questioned. But look at what they have presented in defending their journalistic integrity (Simonyan):
* Evidence that one of their employees was bought off or pressured into resigning by well-known neoconservatives
* Evidence that CNN censored its own relentlessly hostile interview of an RT journalist to avoid confronting Christiane Amanpour’s conflict of interest (she’s married to Jamie Rubin of the State Dept.)
* A statement (confirmed in The Guardian) that they were threatened with closure by the British government because their reporting wasn’t truthful (as if this standard has ever been applied to a Murdoch property)
* A claim that even The Guardian has been running an unusual number of stories hostile to RT (See, for example, here)
This is unsettling to anyone who understands that we get at the truth by sifting through the lies that different self-interested parties tell. Even The Guardian, which should be the beacon for press freedom, can publish a piece of trash like Nick Cohen‘s purely ad hominem bashing of RT. Even Christiane Amanpour, who has done a lot of courageous frontline reporting, can be used as a tool by her network to try to discredit another network. Even the British press office, Ofcom, can make an Orwellian threat to silence a news outlet because it says that it lies by contradicting the British government.
If RT is silenced, it will give our own government much more freedom to lie.