Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Archive for July, 2009

Honduras, Act III, Day 9/Update 2

Posted by Charles II on July 31, 2009

Update2: Via Al Giordano, we learn that the US may have given an ultimatum to the coupistas, and that the coupistas have responded by threatening to expel US diplomats. A Honduran court has also issued new arrest orders for Zelaya, based on:

  • an allegation that he falsified public documents
  • allegations that he abused public office
  • an allegation of fraud
  • The order was given to the head of the Preventive Police, Salomón Escoto, and signed by judges José Humberto Palacios Guifarro and Janeth Morazán.

    Radio America says the curfew remains in place in Paraiso and parts of Choluteca, but was lifted in the rest of the nation. For some reason, they headlined this, “Curfew Lifted in Honduras.”

    On Tuesday, President Zelaya flies to Mexico to meet with Calderon, says Tiempo.

    Laura Carlsen has an important post. Just a couple of excerpts:

    coup has gone into its second month. Either the diplomatic sanctions were not strict enough or the coup leaders have hidden sources of support that have led them to believe they can buck the rest of the world.

    Both of these explanations are demonstrably true, and we can add to that a high dose of delusional thinking on the part of de facto regime that does not seem to understand its own dilemma. As documented here before, international rightwing forces have backed the fall of Zelaya since before the coup and continue to provide expertise and likely considerable financial resources. U.S. so-called “democracy promotion” programs including the National Endowment for Democracy, USAID and the International Republican Institute have also funneled large amounts of cash to Zelaya opponents. The Honduran oligarchy controls a huge percentage of national wealth and now has exclusive control over the national budget. Given the high degree of corruption in the country as a whole, it probably has some more shady sources as well but that remains on the docket for further investigation…

    Honduran social organizations have rejected the failed mediation and we have entered the third stage of the drama, where growing popular resistance faces off with increasing repression. The potential for more violence grows each day, as shown in the terrible attack on demonstrators in El Durazno, Tegucigalpa yesterday

    Update: If you’re in NYC, you can meet Adrienne Pine at the Bluestockings Bookstore Sunday, August 2nd, 7-9pm

    She’ll also be in other cities:
    Saturday to Tuesday, Aug. 1 – 4: New York City, NY
    Wednesday and Thursday, August 5 – 6: Boston, MA
    Friday and Saturday, August 7 – 8 : Chicago, IL


    From Honduras Resists
    (Image from a report by Wendy Cruz at Honduras Resists)

    Another couple of days of light blogging.

    Adrienne Pine has a translation from Oscar:

    They say that when beasts are cornered they become more ferocious, and that is what is happening in Honduras. The gringo visas of high officials in Micheletti’s administration that were canceled a couple days ago, the permanent curfew in a quarter of the country as a response to the presence of Zelaya at the border, the gringo ambassador Llorens’s visit to president Mel in Managua are making the regime desperate, and they are releasing all the monsters they have been caging for so long.

    Machetera has a very long post, the first of two parts, dealing with Otto Reich’s role in the coup:

    Reich’s history in U.S./Latin American relations is a repellent one. He has worked tirelessly in support of the U.S. economic blockade of Cuba, helped the anti-Cuban terrorist Orlando Bosch find shelter in the United States, and produced domestic anti-Sandinista propaganda for the Reagan White House, through the State Department Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America. In that post, he worked with a right-wing front group called Citizens for America to spread that propaganda throughout the U.S. press….[As a Bush appointee to State who could not survive hearings] Reich busied himself supporting the unsuccessful 2002 coup against Hugo Chávez in Venezuela and the successful 2004 coup against Jean Bertrand Aristide in Haiti.

    I’m sure Reich would be annoyed that Machetera didn’t include many more of his misdeeds. At any rate, this article explains one of the main lines of attack on Zelaya, the allegation that there was corruption at Hondutel.

    Micheletti has complained that the meeting between US Ambassador to Honduras Hugo Llorens and Honduran President Manuel Zelaya is “meddling” (lit. an “intromission”). Credit Llorens, though: verbally, at least, he’s being very strict in his diplospeak in dismissing the coup. Plus he traveled to Nicaragua, a mark of respect for Zelaya.

    Listening to Radio Globo is depressing. People are reporting their injuries. Now Mrs. Zelaya is speaking. Hard to understand over the noise, but she sounds like she’s on point.

    Michael Fox has an article nicely illustrating the hypocrisy of the Clinton State Department. Diana Barahona posts a squib from Eva Golinger pointing out that revocation of diplomatic visas is a slap on the wrist: the people can travel on tourist visas. However, I think that since the Honduran ambassador is a Zelayist, they might find their touring to be a bit more limited than she thinks. Barahona also posts an interview by James Petras that claims that Zelaya is sowing “defeatism” by dealing with the US. Petras should be pretty well informed, but this strikes me as the opposite. This is theater on a very large stage. Zelaya knows that the US has betrayed him. But he’s trying to maintain pressure on the regime and he knows that if he disses the US, his support from Europe will fall off. He is using the US’s hypocrisy to restrain it. Via parsley44 at DK, a couple of articles (one, and two) on why US actions have been a betrayal.

    Posted in Latin America | Comments Off on Honduras, Act III, Day 9/Update 2

    Cross Your Fingers

    Posted by MEC on July 31, 2009

    The sausage-making has been even more unappetizing than usual, but the latest report is that the House’s health-care bill retains a “strong public insurance option”.

    Liberals, moderates, and conservatives negotiated late into the night Thursday to reach a deal that would restore some subsidies to help low-to-middle income people pay their health insurance premiums, would preserve a strong public insurance option, and would cut drug costs more deeply.


    The last-minute agreement mollified liberals who were outraged by a deal Waxman struck earlier in the week with conservatives known as the Blue Dog Democrats. Friday, lawmakers from both camps joined him to say they were now in accord.

    I admit to feeling smug that it was the liberals being mollified for a change, and not the people who are trying to prevent any serious reform.

    Posted in Congress, health care | 5 Comments »

    Friday Cat Blogging

    Posted by MEC on July 31, 2009


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

    Honduras Coup, Act III, Day 8

    Posted by Charles II on July 30, 2009

    Al Giordano has the news that the regime has turned to bloody repression:

    The ANSA press agency would report that here, in Cuesta de la Virgen, the coup regime’s show of force against the nonviolent blockaders wrought a toll of 156 arrests, including three seriously wounded.

    In the same hour, Radio Globo … reported that the violent repression against the pacific demonstrators was not an abberation restricted to Cuesta de la Virgen. Today’s crackdown had been ordered nationwide.

    The late Roger Abraham Vallejo Cerrado, teacher

    Roger Abraham Vallejo Cerrado, 38, secretary of the San Martín high school, who had participated in a different anti-coup demonstration in Tegucigalpa, received a bullet wound to the head. That is him in the photo. Another 88 arrests and 25 wounded was the body count from the illegitimate state repression on this same road, at El Durazno, five kilometers from the capital. [Cerrado later died.]

    Among the arrested today were presidential candidate Carlos Reyes, beaten violently by the coup soldiers, left with a broken arm and a bloodied ear, and also arrested was national union leader Juan Barahona.

    The news team of Venezolana de Televisión (VTV) was physically attacked by the police, TeleSur reports.

    VTV reports the man’s name as Roger Soriano Vallejo and they call him a teacher.

    The New York Times found space for exactly 78 words on this.

    TeleSur adds that the people attacked included women and children, who were beaten severely on the head and on the body.

    The word is getting out. Adrienne Pine reports there were protests in Philadelphia. They went after the Inkwire. Good for them. It would be nice, though, if we could get the Philadelphia blog consigliere to mention this story.

    Before the violence was reported, Chancellor Patricia Rodas insisted that the US had to intensify measures.

    Greg Grandin’s asks whether the coup is over [The murders of today make it clear that it’s not.] He says that Zelaya’s return could stimulate growth in the movements in civil society, including an alliance between unions and campesinos to strengthen political movements. He says that potential coup plotters in other countries, notably Guatemala, are probably discouraged. Also, he says that it strengthens the reality-based community in the State Department. He sees this as South America coming to Washington’s rescue. I see the US response as weak, transparently insincere, and inspiring only of contempt by the world. South America will likely

    Radio Globo has been interviewing presidential daughter Pichu. In the film above, father and daughter sing.

    Amy Goodman did an interview of Zelaya. He didn’t answer a lot of her questions, but he was very precise in his comment about the role of the Catholic Church:

    PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] The Church is divided. The cardinal, the only cardinal before the Vatican in Honduras, conspired with the coup leaders. He betrayed the people, the poor. He took off his robes to put on a military uniform. And with his words, he really contributed to the assassinations that have taken place in Honduras.

    He also alleged that the coup received strong support from the right wing in the United States.

    RAJ has a translation of a blog post that claims to be from military officers and expressing deep dissatisfaction with the coup. I wouldn’t bet on it representing widespread opinion. However, Zelaya points out the obvious, namely that junior officers could handcuff Romeo Vasquez Velasquez any time they want. In the same Telesur article, Zelaya has invoked the martial rhetoric of “a citizen’s army.” The use of this kind of language is dicey, and will be used against him.
    Karen Spring of Rights Action says:

    After visiting a detaining station in Danli (20 km?? from the border), Dr. Almendares described the experience of fifty-one people that were being detained, including Rafael Alegría, a well-known leader of the resistance movement, “There were almost forty people in a small room. This is another way to torture the people. It’s a horrible thing, forty people, where there is no space, no water, nothing. It was hell in general. They don’t give them legal counsel. They are putting children in prison; women cannot go to the bathroom. This is another way to terrorize the people.”

    The Radio Globo appears to be down. In Telesur, Micheletti promises that he will not interfere in the power of the state. The guy who runs Dossier, Walter Martinez is taunting CNN that CNN works at desks, while at Telesur, journalists have an office.

    Posted in Latin America | Comments Off on Honduras Coup, Act III, Day 8

    Al Giordano Is In Honduras

    Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 30, 2009

    Wow. Just — wow.

    Help Al finance his trip (and whatever baksheesh he might need to get past golpista-controlled border police) here.

    Posted in heroes, Latin America, media | Comments Off on Al Giordano Is In Honduras

    Not About Racism At All, Nope

    Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 30, 2009

    Even as the news media rushes to defend the Boston-area cop who illegally arrested Professor Henry Louis Gates from charges that his actions were in part racially motivated, and to attack anyone (such as President Obama) who dares criticize the arrest, this little fact is uncovered:

    An officer in the Boston Police Department has been suspended after allegedly writing a racially charged e-mail about Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. to colleagues at the National Guard, a law enforcement official said.

    The law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Officer Justin Barrett referred to the black scholar as a “jungle monkey’’ in the letter, written in reaction to news coverage of Gates’s arrest July 16. Barrett was suspended Tuesday, pending a termination hearing.

    I can’t wait to see the groundswell of support for this guy from fellow racists claiming that neither he nor they are racist. Paging Lou Dobbs! Paging Glenn Beck!

    Posted in GOP/Media Complex, news media, racism, rightwing moral cripples | Comments Off on Not About Racism At All, Nope

    Glenn Greenwald Dissects GOPolitico

    Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 30, 2009

    Go read the whole thing. It’s lovely.

    Oh, okay, here’s a snippet therefrom:

    On Monday, I espoused my theory on Twitter about the birth of Politico, which led The Columbia Journalism Review to compare that thesis to the much different Politico-birth mythology created by its Editor-in-Chief, John Harris. Some mischevous Politico editors seem to have wanted to take my side in that dispute, as they today provide a perfect illustration of what I meant. Just compare this:

    CQ Politics, July 27, 2009:

    As they gear up for the 2010 midterm elections, Democrats appear secure in their House majority they won with a big gain in 2006 and reinforced with another advance in 2008. . . .

    CQ Politics’ election analysts found 100 congressional districts with races where either major party stands a chance of winning the seat. That includes three true tossup seats, many districts that are only slightly competitive and some highly competitive. . . .

    The only three contests in which CQ Politics rates an advantage to the challenging party are all for seats now held by the Republicans and targeted by the Democrats:

    Politico’s screaming headline today: “Backlash: Dem Dangers Mount

    So why is Politico so bizarre? Greenwald explains:

    There are many motives for publishing “GOP-on-the-rise” stories.  It’s virtually certain to generate a Drudge link, Politico‘s holy grail.  It ensures appearances on GOP-friendly cable news and radio talk shows.  It solidifies relationships with dirt-peddling right-wing operatives who drive mindless scandals and distractions in a Democratic administration.  And it earns a gold star and pat on the head from right-wing polemicists in the never-ending quest of establishment journalists to prove they are not part of The Liberal Media, the goal which Mark Halperin openly embraced on his knees while pleading with Hugh Hewitt, Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity to stop thinking that he is One of Them, when he was hawking the book he co-wrote with Politico‘s Harris.

    But as commonly as this GOP-loving storyline is spewed by establishment media figures even when all evidence negates it, Politico stands heads and shoulders below the rest.  It’s hardly hyperbole to say that infecting our discourse with this GOP-resurgent claim is one its principal strategies, if not purposes.  Throughout the 2008 presidential campaign, they ran multiple stories “reporting” that Democrats were in serious trouble (“GOP strategists mull McCain ‘blowout'”) — particularly due to national security issues, especially Iraq, which would single-handedly win the election for John McCain even as polls reflected record levels of hatred for that war.  And today’s GOP-caressing inanity was preceded just days ago by Politico‘s cover story announcement that “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is one of the most despised political figures in the country,” featuring quotes along those lines from the highly representative Michelle Malkin and Rush Limbaugh.  All of that is consistent with Politico‘s control by a long-time, hardened GOP operative.

    That says it all better than I can.

    Posted in GOP/Media Complex | Comments Off on Glenn Greenwald Dissects GOPolitico

    Honduras Coup, Act III, Day 7/Updated

    Posted by Charles II on July 29, 2009

    Update: An interesting piece from two weeks ago by Jules Siegel at HuffPo (Association for a More Just Society). The money quotes:

    I found that the legal and logical deficiencies [in the case against Zelaya] were so obvious that no neutral observer could conclude that Manuel Zelaya received anything remotely resembling due process. …No one in all the discussions I’ve read so far has been able to come up with a single statement in which President Zelaya mentions continuing in office. [emphasis added]

    TR-Honduras says that El Paraiso is surrounded by thousands of supporters to defend Xiomara.

    According to TeleSur, Zelaya formally asked the US government to freeze the bank accounts of the coupistas. He accused Micheletti of theft on a grand scale and said that international intelligence agents had been involved in the coup. He added two names to the four whose visas had been lifted: Ramón Custodio López, Human Rights Commissioner and ex-chancellor and Obama-basher Enrique Ortez Colindres. Adolfo Leonel Sevilla, Minister of Defense was one of four cabinet-level figures whose name had not surfaced.

    Rafael Correa of Ecuador said the Honduras coup was a warning.

    RAJ of HondurasCoup2009 alerts us that Ginger Thompson of the NYT is reporting that “President” Micheletti is telling Arias that he would accept the “San Jose Accord” if he could, but he is not really in charge. My suggestion is to lift all the visas and freeze all the bank accounts of the coupistas and see who comes forward to negotiate. Nell points us to the Foreign Policy blog, which mentions the name of Richard Lugar as one of the people Zelaya has been trying to negotiate with. The Tuxtla conference denounced the coup, reiterated that Zelaya is president, and endorsed the “San Jose Accord.”

    Carlos Salinas of El Pais has an interesting piece, with a terrible and misleading headline. The headline is that Zelaya is organizing a “militia” in the mountains of Nicaragua. But this is not what the article says. He is, as everyone knows, trying to find a way to return to his native country. Some Hondurans have crossed into Nicaragua at Las Colinas (near the Las Manos crossing in the state of Paraiso). They have organized themselves under the names of notable Hondurans. If they can achieve a critical mass, they want to walk back into Honduras… presumably with Zelaya in their midst… but in a peaceful manner. Five anti-Sandinista Nicaraguan deputies tried to deliver a letter to Zelaya telling him that he is persona non grata but were blocked by Sandinistas. Other oppositionists are headed to Tegucigalpa to talk with Micheletti.

    RAJ has sifted the documents uploaded by the Honduran Supreme Court. Here is what he found among the claims.

  • The Supreme Court said Zelaya apparently could fire the general, but that he did it the wrong way.
  • Two different “arrest orders” were posted. One was not on letterhead and had an illegible signature (probably of Jose Tomas Arita Valle) and ordered the Rene Antonio Hepburn Bueso, a Lieutenant Colonel on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to place Zelaya “under judicial authority” by means of a raid executed during proper hours (6AM-6PM) and take a statement. The other was addressed to Romeo Vasquez, and orders Hepburn Bueso to “capture” Zelaya and “and place him under the command of the corresponding authority for supposedly being responsible for the commission of the criminal deeds” (similarly by means of a raid during proper hours). There are different offenses listed as the cause of the action.
  • “none of the three different versions of orders for June 28 actually called for ‘judicial detention’, a euphemism for arrest”
  • the Supreme Court never issued a ruling about the crimes imputed to Zelaya
  • The latter is the strongest proof possible that there was no due process.

    Mike Farrell of M*A*S*H fame has a great editorial, saying in part:

    Former Ambassador Robert White, now President of the Center for International Policy and an expert on the region, says the solution is simple: all Secretary Clinton need do is have U.S. Ambassador Hugo Llorens call a press conference in Tegucigalpa and, with the OAS representative at his side, read the OAS resolution and state that the return of President Zelaya is firm U.S. policy. Then he can stand back and “watch the coup regime unravel.”

    Instead, Honduran citizens are dying in pro-democracy demonstrations and others are murdered or disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Failing to restore a stolen presidency makes a mockery of Obama’s words at the Summit of the Americas. So what keeps Secretary Clinton from denouncing this theft of government and demanding the return of the elected president?[via commenter Lucidamente at Narconews]

    Justice Tomás Arita Valle says that no one has officially notified him that him his diplomatic passport had been lifted. José Alfredo Saavedra says they took away his diplomatic passport, but he has his tourist passport. They’re treating him with lots of respect and I am being invited to meetings with various international missions that come to this country. La Jornada notes the low bar which Hillary at last dragged her feet over: in the last ten years, the US has cancelled the passports of 100 Honduran politicians for corruption. Micheletti boasted that no gringo was gonna tell him what to do.

    Posted in Latin America | 5 Comments »

    The Most Important Stimulus Money?

    Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 29, 2009

    There’s a very good case to be made for the stimulus dough the Department of Energy is about to dish out:

    One of the hottest cleantech funding programs created as part of the stimulus package is close to producing some of its first winners. When we spoke with the Department of Energy back in May about the $2.4 billion in grants for advanced battery manufacturing for plug-in vehicles, we learned that the agency planned to notify awardees sometime in July — as in by the end of this week — and dole out the grants by September. While DOE Deputy Secretary Jen Stutsman told us at the time that delays were a possibility, depending on the number and completeness of applications, she confirmed with us this week that the agency “will be making all of the announcements soon.”

    More than 100 companies have lined up for the so-called Electric Drive Battery and Component Manufacturing Initiative’s $2.4 billion, which is set to be divided into just 32 to 35 or so grants in seven different categories. The bulk of the money — $1.2 billion — will go toward manufacturing facilities for battery cells and packs, with grants of $100 million to $150 million supporting seven to eight projects.

    This is the big bottleneck for realistic (and affordable) electric cars with a range beyond that of a typical daily commute.  Furthermore, improved battery storage is a way to take some strain off the grid.

    Posted in automobiles, economy, energy, environment, industry, infrastructure, sustainability | Comments Off on The Most Important Stimulus Money?

    Say Hello To Big Bucks Baucus

    Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 28, 2009

    If any of you feel like visiting Big Bucks Baucus, the Enemy of Health Care Reform, and saying hello, he’ll be at a Jon Tester fundraiser early next month:

    U.S. Senator Max Baucus & U.S. Senator Jon Tester

    Invite you to join them for the
    2009 Sieben Ranch Barbecue & Hoedown

    North of Helena, Montana
    A benefit for Senator Jon Tester

    Saturday…August 8, 2009…5:30PM

    Delicious Barbecue…Montana Brews & Wine

    Live Country Music by Shodown

    TICKETS COST – $50 per person, CHILDREN under 12 are free

    Sign on as a 2009 Sieben Ranch Party Sponsor & receive tickets to attend the Sponsors’ Reception

    Held at 4:30PM on August 8th in Helena, MT

    Platinum Level Sponsorship –$1000 contribution
    Receive 5 Sponsors’ Reception tickets & receive 10 tickets to the Hoedown

    Gold Level Sponsorship — $500 contribution
    Receive 2 Sponsors’ Reception tickets & receive 5 tickets to the Hoedown

    Reserve your tickets today!

    Anyone interested in asking Max Baucus why he opposes the public option? You know what to do.

    Posted in health care | Comments Off on Say Hello To Big Bucks Baucus

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