Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

GOP Prez Candidates Won’t Condemn Terrorist Who Killed Three People Yesterday

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 28, 2015


The same Republicans who are busy demonizing Syrian refugees based on the “proof” of what turned out to be a forged passport on one of the Paris attackers – and who still happily talk up the debunked videos that slander Planned Parenthood – have yet to say Word One about the man who shot up a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs yesterday, killing three people.

UPDATE:  Ted Cruz finally steps forward.  Of course, he (or one of his aides) did so in a quick Tweet that avoids mentioning his embracing violent antichoice zealots, as referenced this C&L piece (Source: Right Wing Watch):

In a press release yesterday, Sen. Ted Cruz announced that he had received the endorsement of Troy Newman , the radical anti-choice activist who runs Operation Rescue, saying he was “grateful” for the endorsement of Newman, who “has served as a voice for the unborn for over 25 years.”

“We need leaders like Troy Newman in this country who will stand up for those who do not have a voice,” Cruz added.

It is remarkable that Cruz is touting the endorsement of one of the most radical anti-choice activists in the country. In a movement that has increasingly embraced softer rhetoric about “women’s health” in order to pass incremental measures restricting abortion rights, Newman is a holdover from the no-holds-barred activism of the so-called “rescue” movement of the 1980s and 1990s.

Much as Cruz recently tried to court an extremist pastor who believes the government should execute gay people, he is now hailing an activist who authored a book criticizing the U.S. government for failing to treat abortion providers as murderers who should be put to death.

Newman argued in his 2003 book, “Their Blood Cries Out,” that the biblical duty of government “rightly involves executing convicted murderers, including abortionists, for their crimes in order to expunge bloodguilt from the land and people.”


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Minnesota nice

Posted by Charles II on November 26, 2015

Abby Simons and David Chanen, Strib:

A Mankato police officer said he got a phone call about 1 a.m. Tuesday from an old high school friend.

The man on the other end of the line was Allen Lawrence “Lance” Scarsella III, who confessed that just two hours before he had shot five people at a protest outside the Minneapolis Police Department’s Fourth Precinct station, according to court documents.

He remains in the Hennepin County jail, along with Nathan Gustavsson, 21, of Hermantown, Minn., and Daniel Macey, 26, of Pine City, Minn., who turned themselves in. On Wednesday, police also announced the arrest of Joseph Martin Backman, 27, of Minneapolis, on suspicion of assault.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

In which Turkey loses its mind

Posted by Charles II on November 25, 2015

Kareem Shaheen et al., The Guardian:

Vladimir Putin has called Turkey “accomplices of terrorists” and warned of “serious consequences” after a Turkish F-16 jet shot down a Russian warplane on Tuesday morning, the first time a Nato country and Moscow have exchanged direct fire over the crisis in Syria.

Ankara and the Kremlin gave conflicting accounts of the incident, which appears to have occurred in an area near the Turkish-Syrian border straddling Iskenderun and Latakia.

The Turkish military said it scrambled two F-16 fighter jets after a plane entered Turkish airspace in the province of Hatay at 9.20am on Tuesday, warning it to leave 10 times in five minutes before shooting it down.

Russia’s defence ministry, in a series of tweets, confirmed that a Russian Su-24 had been shot down, but insisted the plane had never left Syrian airspace and claimed that fire from the ground was responsible.

Richard Engel of MSNBC said on Rachel that Turkey’s story did not make a lot of sense. He did clarify that the Turks are backing up anti-Assad Turkmen fighters. The US said that the aircraft were in “Turkish airspace for a matter of seconds.” What Turkey did may (or may not) have been technically legal, but it’s the kind of thing that only nations that are at the brink of war do to one another. The US has trespassed into Russian and Chinese airspace and there have been very few instances where they took such extreme measures against us.

When Vladimir Putin used the phrase, “accomplices of terrorists,” he posed the question that should be on the minds of US policy makers: is Turkey our ally, or is it so focused on dumpling Assad that it’s willing to put ISIS in power.

Additional links:

Turkey has spent years allowing jihadist groups to flourish – so beware its real reasons for shooting down a Russian plane

Turkey Provokes Russia with Shoot-down

Posted in Turkey, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

NYT: We were wrong to support a police state

Posted by Charles II on November 20, 2015

New York Times Editorial Board

Mass Surveillance Isn’t the Answer to Fighting Terrorism


It’s a wretched yet predictable ritual after each new terrorist attack: Certain politicians and government officials waste no time exploiting the tragedy for their own ends. The remarks on Monday by John Brennan, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, took that to a new and disgraceful low.

In June, President Obama signed the USA Freedom Act, which ends bulk collection of domestic phone data by the government (but not the collection of other data, like emails and the content of Americans’ international phone calls) and requires the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to make its most significant rulings available to the public.

These reforms are only a modest improvement on the Patriot Act, but the intelligence community saw them as a grave impediment to antiterror efforts. In his comments Monday, Mr. Brennan called the attacks in Paris a “wake-up call,” and claimed that recent “policy and legal” actions “make our ability collectively, internationally, to find these terrorists much more challenging.”

It is hard to believe anything Mr. Brennan says. Last year, he bluntly denied that the C.I.A. had illegally hacked into the computers of Senate staff members conducting an investigation into the agency’s detention and torture programs when, in fact, it did. In 2011, when he was President Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, he claimed that American drone strikes had not killed any civilians, despite clear evidence that they had. And his boss, James Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, has admitted lying to the Senate on the N.S.A.’s bulk collection of data. Even putting this lack of credibility aside, it’s not clear what extra powers Mr. Brennan is seeking.

In fact, indiscriminate bulk data sweeps have not been useful.

The intelligence agencies’ inability to tell the truth about surveillance practices is just one part of the problem. The bigger issue is their willingness to circumvent the laws, however they are written. The Snowden revelations laid bare how easy it is to abuse national-security powers, which are vaguely defined and generally exercised in secret.

In truth, intelligence authorities are still able to do most of what they did before — only now with a little more oversight by the courts and the public. There is no dispute that they and law enforcement agencies should have the necessary powers to detect and stop attacks before they happen. But that does not mean unquestioning acceptance of ineffective and very likely unconstitutional tactics that reduce civil liberties without making the public safer.

A version of this editorial appears in print on November 18, 2015, on page A26 of the New York edition with the headline: Mass Surveillance Isn’t the Answer.

Maybe this is the beginning of the NYT becoming a newspaper, rather than an organ of government.

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

Corruption at high levels: misappropriation of funds for the disabled

Posted by Charles II on November 17, 2015


Thirteen Presidential Appointees (ten Obama, three Bush) are embroiled in a multi-billion dollar corruption scandal being probed by the US Department of Justice and four Inspector Generals. The appointees oversee the federal government’s $3billion a year “AbilityOne” program which is meant to pay for the employment of more than 50,000 disabled people–the largest such program in the United States. Most of that money, $2.3 billion a year, is funneled through the non-profit SourceAmerica to more than 1000 other designated partner organizations. This subsidised disabled labour is then placed (for a fee) with government and industry. Most of the labour is pushed to the military sector, including the DoD, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin & Boeing–who are also “patrons” of SourceAmerica. It is alleged that nearly half of the $2.3billion a year does not go to the severely disabled, but is rorted by pushing the money to corruptly favoured placement organisations that recruit the able bodied or the mildly disabled instead of the mandated 75% severely disabled. The result is billions in tax payer funded labour subsidies and increased profits for the placement organizations.

The 26 tapes are recorded conversations between Jean Robinson (Lead Counsel of SourceAmerica) and Ruben Lopez (CEO of Bona Fide Conglomerate Inc., one of the placement organizations) that discuss the alleged corruption.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Yes. Imagine.

Posted by Charles II on November 16, 2015

In memory of all the recent  victims:

Let us imagine a different world.

Never was this more needed than today. A little background on the pianist here (h/t pentimenti)

Posted in terrorism, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Recycling the Great Pacific garbage patch

Posted by Charles II on November 16, 2015

Arthur Neslen, The Guardian (h/t Doug, Eschaton):

A crowdfunded 100km-long boom to clean up a vast expanse of plastic rubbish in the Pacific is one step closer to reality after successful tests of a scaled-down prototype in the Netherlands last week.

Further trials off the Dutch and Japanese coasts are now slated to begin in the new year. If they are successful, the world’s largest ever ocean cleanup operation will go live in 2020, using a gigantic V-shaped array, the like of which has never been seen before.

The so-called ‘Great Pacific garbage patch’, made up largely of tiny bits of plastic trapped by ocean currents, is estimated to be bigger than Texas and reaching anything up to 5.8m sq miles (15 sq km). It is growing so fast that, like the Great Wall of China, it is beginning to be seen from outer space, according to Jacqueline McGlade, the chief scientist of the UN environmental programme (Unep).

The Ocean Cleanup project aims to do the technology part with a floating barrier as long as the Karman line that reaches from the sea to outer space.

Posted in environment, Good Causes | 1 Comment »

Solar Roadways Update: The SR3 Is Ready For Its Closeup

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 15, 2015


Here’s the latest update from Scott and Julie Brusaw at Solar Roadways:

These are the first prototypes of our new SR3 panel. You can see that the mounting holes have been eliminated, which gives us 25% more solar gain over SR2. We are now going to use edge connectors, which also will simplify installation. That change and others have helped us cut costs. Cost is still a moving target and will continue to come down over time as we take on more and more of the manufacturing in house.

As promised during our Indiegogo campaign, we’ve purchased equipment for manufacturing and testing and learned many ways to become more efficient during these last months of R & D.

Logos or other designs are now possible in the center of the panel (ie the SR3 and our moose), for customers who want that. Most panels will be like the one in the middle. And we hope you are all noticing all the new colors – customers will now be able to exactly match their theme colors and have great fun with holiday decorating!

This could be what saves us, folks. In so many ways.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Play Blastar!

Posted by Charles II on November 14, 2015

Enjoy a video game from 1984.

Was designed by Elon Musk.

Posted in Just for fun | Leave a Comment »

Groundhog day

Posted by Charles II on November 13, 2015

(Image from IMDB)

Fourteen years ago, I wrote two pieces about the attacks of 9/11 and our response to them. They contained their errors, of course. But in the wake of the Paris terror attacks of today (not to mention the attack in Lebanon), I wish so very much that the most important message in them had been heard. I want to quote Stop the Spin once again:

The greatest failures, however, have been in the pig-headed approach by US (and Israeli) foreign policy in addressing the very real problems that fester in the Muslim world…. Republicans have committed evil deeds in preventing the resolution of the Palestinian crisis in Israel, perhaps the worst of which was George Bush advisor Richard Perle urging Israeli delegation to walk out during the 2000 presidential election for the [19]. That act, so profoundly disloyal to the United States, was but one of many examples of collusion between the far right of this country and religiously intolerant, i.e., anti-Muslim elements in Israel. But the problem is far broader than the right-wing of this country. Both political parties have supported autocratic regimes, including Kuwait, rather than giving preference to nations willing to institute democratic reforms. If we are not a beacon of hope for the world, who will be? As CIA Analyst Raymond Close has said,

“What worries me most, in the final analysis, is that our attacks on the targets in Afghanistan and Sudan [in 1998] were reminiscent of what we call “vigilante justice” in American folklore. This kind of policy weakens our leadership position in the world and undermines the most effective defenses we will have against the terrorist threat: a commitment to the rule of law, dedication to fairness and evenhandedness in settling international disputes and a reputation as the most humanitarian nation in the world.” [20]

Finally, there is the question of whether a “war” will defeat terrorism. Major General Julian Thompson notes the obvious difficulties of the terrain [25]. Legal analyst Jonathan Turley says, rightly, that war is something that states engage in and that declaring war on bin Laden merely magnifies him [26]. A declaration of war does not facilitate anything except the usurpation of Congressional powers by the president. This effort — to undo Constitutional protections and strip the American people of legal safeguards to their rights — is well underway. By so doing, they have poured the blood of sacrifice of American patriots from Nathan Hale to Martin Luther King, on the ground. It is a sorry truth that our elected officials would probably rather turn this nation into an armed camp than admit that they made mistakes.

The defeat that the terrorists cannot endure is a defeat in the court of Muslim public opinion. Terrorists should be treated as criminals, albeit criminals with massive firepower. If possible, they should be captured and tried for crimes against humanity. The United States should take steps to redress massive injustices in Muslim lands, including the slaughter in Indonesia, which we facilitated [27]. To reprise Raymond Close’s penetrating words: “[T]he most effective defenses we will have against the terrorist threat [are] a commitment to the rule of law, dedication to fairness and evenhandedness in settling international disputes and a reputation as the most humanitarian nation in the world.

See also Tangled Web, where I pointed out that the constant Republican attempt to undermine a Democratic president and undercut basic rights such as the right of assembly instead undermined our efforts to combat terrorism, and weakened us as a nation.

Now, 14 years later, we are still allied with regimes that support Al Qaeda and ISIS, notably Turkey and Saudi Arabia, as well as autocratic regimes that create the repressive conditions for Salafism to prosper, such as Egypt. We are undercutting our real allies against ISIS and al Qaeda, Iran, Russia and Syria. We have made no progress in stabilizing governments on the African continent, where wars rage in a dozen countries. We have yet to address any of the causes of grievance in the Arab and Muslim worlds. Indeed, we aggravate the grievances by keeping Guantanamo open and by subjecting Arabs and Muslims (not to mention random persons of color) to harassment.

Sure, the terrorist actions are a way of fighting back because Syria is getting pretty hot.

Groundhog Day only ends when we start thinking.

Posted in Conflict in the Middle East, terrorism | 2 Comments »

%d bloggers like this: