Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Too big to flail: US endorses Japanese brinksmanship on Senkaku/Diaoyu island dispute

Posted by Charles II on April 22, 2014

Justin McCurry, The Guardian:

Barack Obama is expected to offer guarded support for Japan in its bitter territorial dispute with China over a group of islands in the East China Sea, as Washington seeks to reassure its Asia-Pacific allies of its commitment to regional security in the face of an increasingly assertive China.

In a sign of how anxious Japan has become over potential threats to its thousands of outlying islands, it began its first military expansion in more than 40 years at the weekend, starting construction of a new base on the southern island of Yonaguni, which is located near the Senkakus.

In a move likely to cause alarm in Beijing, Obama is expected to reach an agreement with the Philippines on better access to the country’s airbases and ports for the US air force and navy, more than 20 years after the US closed its huge naval base in Subic Bay.

Obama’s visit to South Korea will centre on security ties….

In Malaysia, where Obama will be the first sitting US president to visit since Lyndon Johnson in 1966, Obama will attempt to strengthen ties with the leadership despite concerns over its treatment of opposition politicians.

Now, I think that Japan and China should agree to let these islands be a world property, whose resources will be used to make whole those impacted by global warming. Both should have a right of free commercial passage through the area, and make an agreement that there would be no military vessels except in response to outside intervention (by, say, pirates). That would be a slight irritant to China, which doesn’t want to have any restrictions on its military movements, but it would demonstrate good faith. But that is not what is happening. Japan is forward positioning its military and the US is lining up with Japan. This will go a long way toward helping re-form the ties between China and Russia. Other than that, I see little that a formal, public tilt toward Japan will accomplish.

Posted in China, Japan | 2 Comments »

Iran Nuclear Deal Is Working, Despite Bibi’s Babblings

Posted by Phoenix Woman on April 22, 2014

Poor Benjamin Netanyahu. He’s running out of reasons to murder tens of millions of Iranians:

In September 2012, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stood at a United Nation’s podium with a cartoon bomb warning that the world had to stop Iran before it completed “the second stage of nuclear enrichment necessary to make a bomb.”

The prime minister can rest a bit easier now. We have stopped Iran from completing that second stage.

[...]

The International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, confirmed last week that Iran had effectively eliminated that “second stage” of uranium enrichment, as required by the interim deal negotiated between Iran and the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China. And news reports over the weekend hinted that a second path to the bomb may be blocked as well.

Of course, this won’t stop Bibi — or his good friend Sheldon Adelson — from stamping his feet.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Wisconsin GOP to vote on secession

Posted by Charles II on April 21, 2014

They have seceded from reality, anyway. Daniel Bice, Journal Sentinel:

To secede or not to secede.

That will be the question for Wisconsin Republicans at next month’s convention.

Earlier this month, the party’s Resolutions Committee voted in favor of a proposal that says the state party “supports legislation that upholds Wisconsin’s right, under extreme circumstances, to secede.”

A version of the so-called “state sovereignty” resolution was first OK’d last month by one of the state GOP’s eight regional caucuses as an assertion of the state’s 10th Amendment rights. The measure also calls for ending all mandates that go “beyond the scope of the constitutionally delegated powers of the federal government.”

The resolutions, Murphy [sic; probably should be Krueger] said, express the feeling of many Republicans that they’ve had “enough of big government.”

[4th Congressional district Vice Chair Michael]Murphy agreed, saying the country is in dire straits financially and the federal budget needs to be brought under control. He suggested that the resolutions are in keeping with the ideas of the founding fathers, who he asserted “seceded” from Great Britain.

“If that’s crazy talk,” Murphy said, “I would be happy to carry that as a badge of honor.”

Posted in Republicans acting badly | 3 Comments »

The obvious question that no one asked (Keystone XL)

Posted by Charles II on April 19, 2014

State Dept. Briefing, 4/18:

MODERATOR: Good afternoon. Thank you for joining us. Today [Senior State Department Official One] will provide an update on the application – the presidential permit application review for the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline. [The official] will be referred to as Senior State Department Official One from here on out. We are also joined by [Senior State Department Official Two], who will be referred to as Senior State Department Official Number Two.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Thank you very much. All of you have received a Media Note with the basic substance of the issue that we wanted to discuss today, so let me give some clarifying or complementary information.

Regarding the 2.5 million new public comments, they are indeed unprecedented. In response to the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement that the Department published in March of last year, we received 1.5 million comments. Usually on some form of a pipeline application there may be less than 100 comments. We are concentrating our resources to review the public comments that we receive. We are proceeding to ensure that we review those comments and appropriately reflect them in the draft Record of Decision, which will eventually result in recommendations.

As far as I can tell, the State Department did not list how the comments were running. But one can guess: despite the fact that a majority of Americans support the pipeline, almost certainly a majority of Americans who know what bitumen is are opposed. Fiercely. And so when the State Department says that they will “review and incorporate all of those,” they are lying.

And that would explain why two public officials, talking about a matter of public record, are so cowardly that they gave a press conference metaphorically from behind a curtain. A curtain provided for them by our free press.

Shame.

Posted in environment, Oil, State Department | Leave a Comment »

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted by MEC on April 18, 2014

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted in Alexander the Great, Friday Cat Blogging | 3 Comments »

The other Chris Christie

Posted by Charles II on April 16, 2014

New Mexico, best known as the state which most Americans think is a province of Old Mexico, has produced possibly the only Republican politician capable of appealing to Hispanics: Governor Susanna Martinez, who keynoted the Mitt Romney coronation. Martinez has now made the news, and not in a good way. Andy Kroll, MoJo:

Despite numerous requests, the governor and her aides declined to comment for this piece. But previously unreleased audio recordings, text messages, and emails obtained by Mother Jones reveal a side of Martinez the public has rarely, if ever, seen. In private, Martinez can be nasty, juvenile, and vindictive. She appears ignorant about basic policy issues and has surrounded herself with a clique of advisers who are prone to a foxhole mentality.

As district attorney, Martinez displayed the kind of hard-driving tactics that would come to define her. She was known for demanding harsh penalties, and didn’t hesitate to lock up defendants awaiting trial. (In 2012, the county said that Martinez’s office was partially responsible for an incident in which a mentally ill man named Stephen Slevin was left in solitary confinement for nearly two years without trial, and later agreed to pay a $15.5 million settlement.)

Martinez struggled to stand out. Her fundraising was mediocre, and she lacked the wealth to self-finance like her main rival, a former Marine colonel and state party chairman named Allen Weh. Weh believed the job was his, according to an email McCleskey sent to campaign staffers, and at one point suggested Martinez was better suited for lieutenant governor. “What a narcissistic grandiose ‘tool’!” she replied.

But things began to turn around as major party figures from outside the state put their weight behind Martinez. In May 2010, Texas megadonor Bob Perry and his wife, Doylene, cut the first of several checks that would eventually total $450,000, making them her biggest individual donors by far. And then, on a Sunday morning just two weeks before the primary, Sarah Palin rolled into Albuquerque at the behest of the RGA. As “Start Me Up” pumped out of the hotel ballroom speakers, Palin walked onstage with Martinez and declared to a crowd of 1,300 screaming fans, “You have a winner right here.”

Listening to recordings of Martinez talking with her aides is like watching an episode of HBO’s Veep, with over-the-top backroom banter full of pique, self-regard, and vindictiveness. As Martinez and her campaign staff rewatched a recent televised debate, Martinez referred to Denish, her opponent, as “that little bitch.” After Denish noted that the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce had given her an award, McCleskey snapped, “That’s why we’re not meeting with those fuckers.”

In a September 2009 email mentioning one of Martinez’s 2010 primary opponents, a former state representative named Janice Arnold-Jones, McCleskey wrote: “I FUCKING HATE THAT BITCH!” And in yet another debate prep meeting, Kennicott mocked the language skills of Ben Luján, a former state House speaker and a political icon to New Mexico Latinos: “Somebody told me he’s absolutely eloquent in Spanish, but his English? He sounds like a retard.”

What had Yates especially concerned was the growing evidence of business as usual from a governor who’d campaigned as a good-government reformer. In late 2011, the state awarded a 25-year lease worth an estimated $1 billion to a company largely owned by a pair of major Martinez backers, the Downs at Albuquerque, to operate a racetrack and casino at the state fairgrounds. To hear critics tell it, the bidding was rigged: Martinez met with the donors privately during the campaign and again during the selection process. The governor-appointed bid committee was stacked with McCleskey allies, and leaked files show the Downs’ attorney emailing with administration staffers to secure votes on the fairgrounds commission. Andrea Goff, a former Martinez fundraiser, has said McCleskey pressured her to get her father-in-law, who served on the commission, to switch his vote. “Everything about the whole process was controlled by the governor’s office,” Charlotte Rode, a Martinez appointee to the commission, told me.

I thought the Nixon story made it clear that if you’re going to be a vindictive, grandiose psychopath, it’s wiser not to have a record of your private comments on tape. It remains to be seen whether her presidential aspirations have been dented as badly as Chris Christie’s, that other corrupt vindictive, juvenile ex-prosecutor.

Alex Pareene of Salon had a great comment:

I do not mean, in any way, to diminish the reporting of Kroll and Mother Jones, but it seems, from the outside, that this piece happened because someone with access to a lot of documents and recordings decided to send those documents and recordings to a venue that would make sure to post them in the most damaging and complete form possible. (The Times, for example, would’ve produced a similarly comprehensive profile with this material, but it would’ve been headlined something like “Unanswered Questions Linger Over Influence of Adviser to New Mexico Governor.”) That right there is a good indication that something is terribly wrong in the office of the governor of New Mexico: Vindictive behavior leads people to do things like leak all your shit to Mother Jones.

Posted in 2016, Republicans acting badly | 3 Comments »

Test for Heartbleed

Posted by Charles II on April 11, 2014

As you may know, a very basic vulnerability in the Internet has been discovered, one that may have permitted passwords to be stolen for up to two years. Kaspersky has recommended a test for servers here. The default is for Internet Exploder, but there is also a variant for Firefox and Chrome:

Luckily, there is a long list of popular websites that were checked against the vulnerability. Good news: PayPal and Google are unaffected. Bad news: Yahoo, Facebook, Flickr, Duckduckgo, LastPass, Redtube, OkCupid, 500px and many others was vulnerable. Get ready to act if you have an account on those vulnerable sites

Here’s a list of vulnerable sites.

Before you change passwords–which is what you need to do–make sure that the patch has been applied.

It would really help if the NSA would devote itself to fixing the Internet rather than spying on Americans. They’re the first ones to know about vulnerabilities, when they’re not creating them.

Via Ars Technica, an interview in the Sydney Morning Herald with the software developer who is responsible for Heartbleed:

Dr Seggelmann, of Münster in Germany, said the bug which introduced the flaw was “unfortunately” missed by him and a reviewer when it was introduced into the open source OpenSSL encryption protocol over two years ago.

“I was working on improving OpenSSL and submitted numerous bug fixes and added new features,” he said.

“In one of the new features, unfortunately, I missed validating a variable containing a length.”

After he submitted the code, a reviewer “apparently also didn’t notice the missing validation”, Dr Seggelmann said, “so the error made its way from the development branch into the released version.” Logs show that reviewer was Dr Stephen Henson.

Dr Seggelmann said the error he introduced was “quite trivial”, but acknowledged that its impact was “severe”.

Posted in computers and software, NSA eavesdropping | 1 Comment »

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted by MEC on April 11, 2014

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted in Alexander the Great, Friday Cat Blogging | 3 Comments »

Was Turkey behind Syria sarin attack?

Posted by Charles II on April 8, 2014

This story is a few days old, but it’s possibly one of the more important foreign policy stories of the year. Seymour Hersh has published an article in the London Review of Books that suggests that the poison gas attack in Syria that killed so many people may have been instigated by Turkey using a Salafist Al Qaeda affliliate, al-Nusra. Here’s the Democracy Now interview:

AMY GOODMAN: In your piece, you mention the leaked video of a discussion between the Turkish prime minister, Erdogan, and senior officials of a false flag operation that would justify Turkish military intervention in Syria. … Sy Hersh, could you explain what the Erdogan administration’s support for the rebels, the Turkish support for the rebels, has consisted of and where the U.S. now stands on this?

SEYMOUR HERSH: Well, … al-Nusra [Salafist terrorist] groups have been inside Turkey buying equipment. There’s also reports that they’ve also received some training from the Turkish intelligence services, which is very—is headed by a man named Fidan, who is very known. There’s reports, wonderful report in The Wall Street Journal recently about Fidan’s closeness not only to Erdogan, the prime minister and the leader of Turkey, but also to the most radical units. And so is Erdogan. They’re all supportin… the more fundamental groups inside Syria. And so, we know they supply training. We know also there’s a—there’s, I guess you could call it, another rat line. There’s a flow—if you’re going to send the chemicals that, when mixed together, meddled together, make sarin, they flow—that flow comes from inside Turkey. A sort of a paramilitary unit known as the gendarmy—Gendarmerie and the MIT [Milli Istihbarat Teskilati] both are responsible for funneling these things into radical groups. There’s actually a flow of trucks that brings the stuff in. And so, Turkish involvement is intense.

Why is this important news? Turkey is a NATO ally. Turkey has nuclear reactors; though it does not have such weapons, it wouldn’t be too hard to divert some material. It would be a real problem if Al Qaeda developed a foothold inside Turkey.

More here.

Posted in Conflict in the Middle East, Syria, Turkey | 4 Comments »

A Tale of Two Scandals

Posted by Phoenix Woman on April 5, 2014

This is a tale of two scandals currently playing out in America. Both involve state-level politicians.

One of these scandals, the corruption one concerning California state senator Leland Yee, has penetrated the awareness of the national media, resulting in stories in Huffington Post, Forbes, and the New York Times. It will probably be prominently featured on FOX by the middle of next week, and on the other networks soon thereafter.

The other scandal, the sexual molestation one concerning Bill Kramer, the Majority Leader of Wisconsin’s State Assembly, has drawn sitting US Senator Ron Johnson into its vortex, and could shake up the corridors of power in that state. But aside from mentions in Daily Kos and Politico, there has been nothing to date in any non-Wisconsin media on this scandal.

Nothing.

Now, what was that again about a “liberal” media?

(Crossposted at MyFDL.)

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

 
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