Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Fortune Refuses To See The Obvious

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.

Boom.

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.

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Dismissal of case against Ferguson cop based on perjured testimony

Posted by Charles II on December 16, 2014

William Bastone, William Goldberg, Joseph Jesseli, The Smoking Gun (via Shaun King):

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.

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The Good News Thread

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.

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Solar Roadways Gets A Nice Writeup From the US DoT

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:

FHWA-SolarRoadways

“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.

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Scotland’s Wind Power Alone Is Enough To Power All Its Homes

Posted by Phoenix Woman on December 9, 2014

http://www.juancole.com/2014/12/independence-scotland-renewable.html

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Ukraine links

Posted by Charles II on December 6, 2014

Stephen Cohen on John Batchelor

Apparently Yanukovych didn’t steal the gold.

SDP German Foreign Minister distances himself from Merkel position

Top ministers in Ukrainian government are foreigners

US-born Natalie Jaresko became finance minister, Lithuania’s Aivaras Abromavicius economy minister and Aleksandre Kvitashvili – from Georgia – health minister. Hours before the vote in the parliament that installed them, all three were granted Ukrainian citizenship by President Petro Poroshenko.

The move is part of a fresh anti-corruption drive in Kiev.

That’s weird.

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Chalk Up Another One For Bluestem Prairie

Posted by Phoenix Woman on December 1, 2014

The best blogger in Minnesota (and one of its five top journos, I don’t care what she says) has scored another scoop — and counted another coup:

A press release announcing resignation of Big Stone County Republican Chair Jack Whitley has been posted without comment on the Jeff Backer for MN House Facebook page. Clinton, MN., and Republican activist Brent Jacobson (pictured above) will serve as acting chair until the county unit elects a new chair in March 2015.

After Bluestem Prairie broke the story of Whitley’s extreme anti-Muslim status post on his personal Facebook page, Whitley faced what the Minnesota Daily called “near-universal condemnation” for calling for the mass murder of Muslims gathered at Mecca.

Sally Jo does things like this all the time. You should toss her a few coins, if you can.

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Amy Brendmoen Just Cost Saint Paul $800,000

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 30, 2014

I knew Ms. Brendmoen was bad news even before she rode into office on a tidal wave of money from groups that aren’t known for backing liberal or progressive candidates.

But not even I ever dreamed that she and her boyfriend Mike Hahm would illegally force the eviction of a good long-term tenant, Black Bear Crossings, from the Lake Como Pavilion — and cost the city of Saint Paul $800,000 when the tenant proved to know his rights.

Here’s the Strib’s take on the affair:

St. Paul’s parks director and a City Council member knew that a Como Park food vendor had years left on its contract with the city before another vendor could take its place.

Yet, along with other city officials, they chose to challenge the contract anyway — touching off a messy legal dispute that ended with the city paying the vendor $800,000, a near-record legal settlement.

What parks and recreation director Mike Hahm and Council Member Amy Brendmoen knew about the city’s contract with Black Bear Crossings is shown in e-mails and other papers obtained under the state Data Practices Act.

The documents — thousands of pages of court records, letters and e-mails — don’t spell out exactly what caused city officials to stop encouraging co-owner David Glass’ plans to renovate the cafe, and to demand instead that he produce the business’ accounting records in what he interpreted as a move to intimidate him.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press fills in the details:

In legal filings, Glass said that city finance planner Tom Russell and Parks and Rec operations manager Gary Korum had been “effusive in their praise” when they’d asked him to renew his lease for 10 years in 2009. He said they called the five-year lease with a five-year option to renew “a de facto” 10-year agreement.

An Oct. 11 letter from Glass’ attorney to the city attorney’s office spells out repeated instances in 2011 and 2012 in which Glass says that city officials — including Hahm — asked Glass to take over concessions at either the Como Golf Course or the Phalen Banquet Hall. Each time, Glass said no.

Then, in April 2013, council member Brendmoen visited Black Bear.

In public statements last year, Glass said Brendmoen offended him by asking seemingly challenging questions about the coffee shop’s American Indian decor.

The following month, city officials began making repeated requests for the coffee shop’s financial records. Glass responded by hiring an attorney. The records were handed over in August 2013, but officials said the paperwork was unclear and incomplete.

Brendmoen and Hahm, the city’s parks director, are now dating, leading Glass’ supporters to criticize their role in the decision to terminate his lease five years early. At least one council member, Dan Bostrom, has called for Hahm’s resignation over the handling of the case.

David Glass is now running for Amy Brendmoen’s job as the City Council representative from Ward Five. He’s got my vote, that’s for sure.

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St. Louis Cops Invaded Coffeeshop, Then Teargassed Peaceful #Ferguson Protesters

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 27, 2014

http://youtu.be/DqepHZ9Hi2E

Yet another story that you will never, ever hear about in American mainstream media:

Police deployed in riot gear fired tear gas directly at a coffee shop in St. Louis early in the morning on Tuesday.

The scene unfolded just hours after an announcement by St. Louis County prosecutor, Robert McCulloch, that a grand jury had found no “probable cause” to indict white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for killing an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, on August 9.

Rachel O’Leary, who is the Deputy Executive Director for Field Organizing for Amnesty International USA, was in MoKaBe’s Coffeehouse in the Shaw neighborhood with some members of a delegation of human rights observers. About 1 am—or just after—tear gas was fired.

“We noticed police behaving strangely,” O’Leary recalled. “They were squatting down in a group, and we couldn’t figure out what was happening. We were watching this out the window.”

A couple of people ran around the corner “from off of Grand” and a “militarized vehicle” followed quickly behind them. The vehicle shot a projectile at people who were running. The police then “turned their guns,” which had tear gas canisters, and “fired directly on the coffee shop,” according to O’Leary.

When the protesters who could still walk came out to yell at the cops for teargassing them, the cops teargassed them a second time.

Oh, yeah: There were children inside, as Amnesty International (which has observers on the ground there, including the coffeeshop) noted.

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So What Do You Think Of Your Handiwork Now, Lanny Davis?

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 19, 2014

Only a few years ago, Honduras had an increasingly functional democracy and a leader, Manuel Zelaya, who cared enough about his people to try and make sure they had something resembling a living wage. It now has, thanks to a coup whose chief propagandist was none other than Lanny Davis, slid down into the depths of neofeudalism and narcostatehood.

All because the rich pricks who pay Davis’ fees wanted to keep forcing their workers to make t-shirts for US export for pennies a day.

There have been untold thousands of tragic murders and other atrocities in the years since Davis’ golpistas kidnapped and deposed Zelaya. Almost none of the Latin American stories about them have been translated into American-English-language media, and it’s not because the US has a shortage of Spanish speakers.

The following set of murders has only slipped past the US’ media gatekeepers because one of the victims was a beauty pageant celebrity:

The bodies of Honduran beauty queen Maria Jose Alvarado, 19, and her sister have been found nearly a week after the two women disappeared.

Ms Alvarado and Sofia Trinidad, 23, vanished on Thursday after being seen leaving a party near the northern city of Santa Barbara.

They were shot and their bodies buried in a field by a river, police say.

Two men have been arrested, and one of them has reportedly confessed to killing and burying the women.

Ms Alvarado had been due to compete in the Miss World contest in London.

Honduras is now the most violent country in the world, a state it achieved as a result of the coup Lanny Davis worked to install and protect.

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