Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Archive for August, 2009

Honduras Coup, Act III, Day 35

Posted by Charles II on August 27, 2009

Another day of light posting.

Update: Via Nell of A Lovely Promise, the first real good news in weeks. The professional staff of the State Department has (according to an unnamed source) recommended declaring this to be a military coup, requiring the cut-off of all aid, including Millenium Challenge. I take this to mean that the professional staff may be irritated enough with Secretary Clinton to leak their recommendation, making it very difficult for her ro stall much longer. (Honduras Oye, however, thinks this is just a trial balloon; I don’t think so.) In addition:

The president of the Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernandez, called for Honduras to be suspended from the Central American Free Trade Agreement with the United States as a means of putting pressure on the de facto government.

That would truly wound the coup. On the other hand, PJ Crowley did not go much beyond the very narrow confines of previous official reaction. He said that State had “taken stock” of the OAS meeting. Translation: we are aware that the coupistas once against rejected any negotiation. He said that there were many other steps State could take, which means nothing. Senator John Kerry has also spoken against the rejection of the OAS.

RAJ has two posts that deserve to be read. One describes the money that is at stake from BCIE and BID banks, how it flows to infrastructure projects and hence to the wealthy. The second deals with additional sanctions and where they will bite. Radio Globo is reporting that bank accounts will be frozen, and they read off Micheletti’s Wells Fargo, Houston account number.

Employees of the Anthropology and History Institute (INAHIHAH) have seized the old presidential palace. Micheletti is floating the idea of resigning in favor of installing another illegal pretend-president. The NY Times called Micheletti’s offer underwhelming.

Teacher leader Bertin Alfaro says that 2,000 Hondurans are training in Nicaragua for a possible armed resistance. Last we heard, they had no guns, but this is still worrisome.

Via Sandra Cuffe, video with subtitles on women in the resistance.

Channel 36 remains off the air. I also couldn’t get Radio Progreso. Telesur is consumed with the concerns about the military bases in Colombia and has almost nothing about Honduras. Reporting through Chiapas Indymedia is a thin trickle. Many websites such as RightsAction haven’t updated in days. This is a very dangerous situation for human rights.

I finally found the archive of Noti-Nada, the voice of the wealthy, sort of in the style of Billionaires for Bush.

Robert Naiman has a diary on DK regarding the recommendation to declare it a military coup.

Two months of resistance.

Via Sandra Cuffe on Twitter: two young men, one 16 years old, were shot to death.
Congressman Marvin Ponce, his arm broken by the dictatorship
(Image of Congressman Marvin Ponce from El Libertador).

AP confirms that the Central American Bank for Economic Integration is suspending loans to Honduras and may freeze them completely. In yesterday’s diary, the coup threatened the bank with withdrawal of its funds as a response.

Laura Carlsen has a piece on the women’s movement. One excerpt:

The question of the elections slated for November has created another deadline for definitions of September 1, when candidates must be registered and President Zelaya has sworn to return to the country. Feminists in Resistance has a clear position to boycott any coup-sponsored elections, but some other parts of the movement and the international diplomatic community have been more ambiguous.

Carlsen has another piece on living under authoritarian rule:

But few people outside Honduras really understand what it means to live in a society where the institutions are in the hands of the same people who broke with the rule of law…. The week of Aug. 17-24, I accompanied an international delegation for Women’s Human Rights Week in Tegucigalpa and got a chance to see firsthand the morass of contradictions that arise when institutions made to uphold the law and protect human right are run by leaders of an illegal military coup….Despite public and documented accusations of abuse in custody, no charges have been filed or investigations opened against the security forces. Instead, the 24 men and women going before the judge have to answer to a slew of charges including robbery, vandalism, arson and sedition.

The problem of impunity for the powerful and harsh application of the law to the powerless is a worldwide problem. In Honduras, the power imbalances are simply larger and more widespread.

Posted in Latin America | 3 Comments »

Solar Roadways: Paving The Way To Energy Freedom?

Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 27, 2009

Remember when I mentioned the Solar Roadways concept? Imagine — instead of giving up giant sections of our countryside to solar arrays, we could make solar arrays out of already-paved land, namely roads.

It’s getting closer to reality:

Solar Roadways today announced that it has been awarded a DOT contract that will enable them to prototype the first ever Solar Road Panel.

The Solar Roadways will collect solar energy to power businesses and homes via structurally-engineered solar panels that are driven upon, to be placed in parking lots and roadways in lieu of petroleum-based asphalt surfaces.

The Solar Road Panels will contain embedded LEDs which “paint” the road lines from beneath to provide safer nighttime driving, as well as to give up to the minute instructions (via the road) to drivers (i.e. “detour ahead”). The road will be able to sense wildlife on the road and can warn drivers to “slow down”. There will also be embedded heating elements in the surface to prevent snow and ice buildup, providing for safer winter driving. This feature packed system will become an intelligent highway that will double as a secure, intelligent, decentralized, self-healing power grid which will enable a gradual weaning from fossil fuels.

Replacing asphalt roads and parking lots with Solar Roadway panels will be a major step toward halting climate change. Fully electric vehicles will be able to recharge along the roadway and in parking lots, finally making electric cars practical for long trips.

It is estimated that is will take roughly five billion (a stimulus package in itself) 12′ by 12′ Solar Road Panels to cover the asphalt surfaces in the U.S. alone, allowing us to produce three times more power than we’ve ever used as a nation – almost enough to power the entire world.

This is just so fabulous I can hardly wrap my mind around it.

Posted in economy, energy, environment, solar, sustainability, transportation | 8 Comments »

Honduras coup, Act III, Day 34

Posted by Charles II on August 26, 2009

A day of very light posting.

Just to confuse things, Oscar Arias has proposed a Constitutional Convention for Costa Rica.

From Tiempo: A woman, shot 5 times, and her seven-year old daughter, shot 8 times, in Belen, Gualcho upon leaving church. There is no known motive.

Visas are not being issued, but who is it really hitting? According to a transcript linked by Greg Weeks (via Nell of ALovelyPromise), it’s not hitting businessmen because they have multiple entry visas. And since tourist season is ending, it’s not affecting tourists. And it’s not affecting people seeking emergency entry. This led Jose de Cordoba of WSJ Mexico to say: So it’s basically tourist visas. And what – how many would you be putting out? I mean, the tourism season is over, but school is about to begin. So I don’t think that it’s a big impact. I think it’s a minor action to make a lot of noise, but really very little, it seems to me. the spokesman also took pressure through trade off the table because CAFTA prevents such measures (Ed: unless, of course, the United States wants it not to). Subsecretary Christopher Millen promised more pressure but refused to specify of what kind. Maybe State will think unpleasant thoughts about the coupistas. The former head of the Central American Bank of Integration (BCIE), Federico Alvarado and the head of the business council, Almicar Bulnes are apparently threatening BCIE with withdrawal of funds, which they apparently think will put the bank into default. Unfortunately, Tiempo provides no context. According to La Prensa, BCIE has taken a pause to decide whether it will continue distributing funds in Honduras.

The FIDH, a Spanish human rights organization represented by Judge Baltasar Garzon (who pursued Pinochet) stated that there is political persecution and systematic repression. The Cardinal met privately with the business council, COHEP. Deal cutting?

Update. Via Magbana at Honduras Oye, The Real News has 10 minutes of Al Giordano. Two takeaways:

  • there were 40,000 people at the recent concert
  • Channel 36 is still down
  • I don’t think that the Frente (anti-coup front) is absolutely opposed to elections as Giordano says. But they are justifiably suspicious and some are absolutely opposed. I also think Giordano is wrong in thinking that leaders like Zelaya and Clinton are irrelevant. Leaders are rallying points who help to give a political movement focus. They provide a human face to the goals and aspirations. This cuts both ways. Many Americans probably can’t bring themselves to believe that things are so bad in Honduras because Hillary and Barack are in charge. And if Zelaya is not allowed to return, how will legitimacy ever reappear, short of a complete collapse of the Honduran government and a reconstruction de novo? But of course over-dependence on leaders is why the US social movement of the 1960s petered out.
    From the news ticker at Honduras Oye

  • President Zelaya has announced he will hold a press conference, tomorrow, Wednesday, to address the outcome of the OAS mission’s trip to Honduras.
  • El Frente Nacional has announced that, in light of Micheletti’s refusal to agree to the San Juan Accord, they accept the challenges ahead of them especially the restitution of constitutional order
  • Report from Honduras en Lucha that a new assault against Radio Globo is underway. Also reporting that the golpistas have sabotaged Maya TV’s audio function.
  • * The DA promises to investigate the attack on channel 11
    * The United States “continues to study” what kind of coup this has taken place.
    * Chairwoman of UC Berkeley Anthropology Rosemary Joyce has started a petition by scholars and academics to protest the intellectual vandalism of the Honduran regime as it attempts to re-write history. She also has a blog, Honduras Coup 2009, frequently quoted here.
    * Separately, a petition of support for Dario A. Euraque has been started.
    * Feminist International Radio Endeavour (FIRE) has documented the rise in violence against women since the beginning of the coup; there were 51 murders in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula in July alone vs 312 throughout Honduras in all of 2008; this is said to be a 60% increase. And the violence is more generalized than murder: “Women appear to be targeted in a specific more sexually aggressive ways, ranging from verbal obscenities and threats to being grabbed or beaten on their breasts or buttocks, had batons jammed between their legs, to more extreme forms of torture and rape while in detention centers…”

    Posted in Latin America | 2 Comments »

    Ave Atque Vale, Senator Kennedy

    Posted by MEC on August 26, 2009

    Ted Kennedy was a champion not only for the right of all Americans to health care, but for the full range of human rights. He was a mighty defender of American values. He played a major role in passing, among other laws, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 (eliminating immigration quotas based on national origin), the National Cancer Act of 1971, the Federal Election Campaign Act Amendments of 1974 (establishing public financing for presidential elections), the COBRA Act of 1985, the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Ryan White AIDS Care Act in 1990, the Civil Rights Act of 1991, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, the Mental Health Parity Act in 1996 and 2008, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program in 1997, and the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act in 2009.

    Beyond his political achievements, his political presence was an inspiration to liberals to fight for the right of all people to a decent life. The greatest tribute we can give to Senator Kennedy is to stand up and keep fighting.

    Posted in Edward Kennedy | 5 Comments »

    Heh Heh Heh

    Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 26, 2009

    I’ve never been a big fan of Whole Paycheck — both because of their CEO’s politics and his desire to drive local, better stores out of business — so when said jackass CEO, John Mackey, wrote an editorial in the Wall Street Journal that attacked health care reform, I was pleased to see it finally trigger a hard-core boycott of Whole Foods.

    How hard-core? Enough to seriously damage the brand’s reputation. And enough to set off calls for Mackey’s removal.

    Mackey’s got away with so much for so long that he thought he was untouchable. He thought wrong.

    Posted in food, health care, rightwing moral cripples | 2 Comments »

    Tom Coburn: Heartless Liar

    Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 25, 2009

    Go here to see him lie to one of his constituents about her husband’s brain cancer. traumatic brain injury*

    Then go here to see him lie about the Veterans Administration.

    We need a Dickipedia entry for this man.

    *Thanks, Spot!

    Posted in health care, liars, Republicans, Republicans acting badly, Republicans as cancer, rightwing moral cripples | 8 Comments »

    Honduras coup, Act III, Day 33/Updated

    Posted by Charles II on August 25, 2009

    Update2: Radio Globo is doing a very skit called Notinada (“from the nation where nothing is happening”) with helium voices and a very funny impression of Hugo Chavez, who says in sonorous tones that the people of Bolivar and Morazan are going to arise… bit by bit… and flood the US with Honduran fast food. I don’t catch most of the references, but I wish our politics had some of the humor that Honduras has mustered. The theme song of the resistance (“they are afraid of us because we have no fear”) is very touching and an achievement in non-violent resistance. Remember the days when the right in the US was spreading TerrorTerrorTerror and people who called bulls–t were called…terrorists.
    Update: Potentially very good news. Via RAJ at HondurasCoup2009, the State Department may be on the verge of acting. Reuters:

    The United States said on Tuesday it will temporarily restrict issuing U.S. visas in Honduras, raising pressure on the government that took power after a June 28 coup to step down.

    The State Department, which has repeatedly condemned the military coup that ousted President Manuel Zelaya, said that from Wednesday it would only provide visa services to potential immigrants and emergency cases at its embassy in Tegucigalpa.

    Human Rights Watch:

    The finding by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of widespread abuses in Honduras should compel the international community to take firm action, such as targeted sanctions, to resolve the country’s ongoing crisis, Human Rights Watch said today.

    The commission released a report on August 21, 2009, showing a pattern of serious violations under the de facto government, including excessive use of force, arbitrary detention, sexual violence, and attacks on the media, as well as several confirmed deaths and possible “disappearances.” The commission also documented an absence of effective legal protections from abuse.

    And according to RAJ, Radio Globo says but without sourcing that the State Department may be considering the following: Refusal to recognize any elections, suspension of all aid, a worldwide freeze on the bank accounts of the coupistas, suspension of remittances from Hondurans in the US (on which Honduras is dependent), stripping preferential trade status from Honduran products. Believe it when you see it, not before.

    They shall not pass!

    They shall not pass!

    (Image from Honduras en Lucha)

    On Radio Globo, a speech by Micheletti (at about 1PM, the announcer says afterwards) whining that Honduras is desperately poor and deserves respect from the people and organizations in whose face he has been spitting. His closing: “May God bless America and may God bless Honduras.”

    Magbana at Honduras Oye links us to a Alexander Main and Jake Johnstonpiece at the CEPR. The US suspended Millenium Challenge fund within days of coups in Mauritania and Madagascar and in the case of election irregularities in Nicaragua– and has done nothing after 57 days since the kidnapping of President Zelaya.

    Al Giordano:

    Update II: Radio Globo reporter Eduardo Maldonado is reporting, live, his eye-witness account of members of the Honduran military brass and the top chiefs of the National Police who recently arrived a building near Morazan Boulevard in Tegucigalpa and are meeting inside “on the third floor.” The radio is also reporting that the Catholic Church hierarchy and various Chambers of Commerce have determined to back the San José solution of reinstating Zelaya to the presidency “regardless of the stance of the Micheletti government.” Looks like the visa suspension is peeling away some inner layers of the coup onion rather rapidly. Something’s up. And we’re here monitoring the situation. Developing…

    Belen Fernandez:

    According to the Padre [Fausto Milla], Zelaya told a story during the meeting about an incident that reportedly occurred in 2006, involving a longstanding deal with Texaco, Shell, and other fuel companies in which the Honduran government paid them an extra three cents for every dollar’s worth of gas imported. In Padre Fausto’s version, Zelaya had asked the companies if they intended to maintain a monopoly on fuel imports or if any old “Juan or Pedro” could import, as well. Texaco and Shell had denied having any problems with Juan and Pedro’s entrepreneurial endeavors.

    Slapping his knee, Padre Fausto reenacted the emphatic interjection he made to Zelaya at that point in the exiled president’s story: “¡Allí comenzó el golpe!”—“That’s where the coup began!”

    Brother John has a remarkable three dimensional portrait of the Cardinal of Honduras, in which he identifies the Cardinal’s fear of a socialist takeover and an insult from Hugo Chavez as the likely motivators of the Cardinal’s unwillingness to recognize that what has taken place is a coup. Still, that simply exemplifies the problem raised in 1 Tim. 3: small flaws in people in positions of leadership are magnified by the power they hold. Take the power away from the coupistas, and they might well be be-than-average people. Give power to the average person and flaws that seemed minor suddenly become unbearable. But that’s not an excuse for the Cardinal, who I think should have gotten a bit of a clue from seeing that all nations of the world called this a coup. When all the other cars on the highway are traveling the other direction, you might want to check your lane.
    The fifty ninth day of resistance (per Radio Globo).
    The Front against the Coup has called for global action.

    A broadcast tower of Channel 11 came under attack by (according to La Jornada eight) armed, masked men. They arrived by pickup, grabbed a guard and threw him to the floor. They took the janitor’s cell phone, damaged a radio with which he communicated with the studio and pointed weapons at his head. They also damaged transmitters for Radio Globo and Channel 36. Channel 36 still appears to be down, but I’m getting a stream from Radio Globo as well as Radio Progreso.

    Friday, from 4-7PM, there will be marches for Honduras in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Houston, Hudson County NJ, Los Angeles, and Raleigh NC. Contact information here.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Latin America | Comments Off on Honduras coup, Act III, Day 33/Updated

    Cash For Clunker Payments “Delayed”? Probably Not

    Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 25, 2009

    Kossack Paradox13 explains:

    Most companies I work with pay on a “net-30” or even “net-60” basis. One major corporation actually has a “net-90” policy. That means they do not pay the bill until 90 days after they get it. The CARS program was put into place on July 31. It’s now August 25th. That means the longest a bill could possibly be outstanding is about three weeks. I guarantee the dealerships involved have “net-30” payment policies for invoices, maybe more. In response to concerns raised by Congress, among others, the government has hired more people to process claims and is extending the deadline for rebate submission (the latter in response to problems with the website dealerships are to use to submit claims). All of this has been done within the first few weeks of the program. Most private companies would be proud to move so fast.

    Rather than being an example of inefficiency and ineffectiveness, the CARS program has been a model of government action and solutions. Each issue that has been reported is a manifestation of a lesson learned, not a new and persistent problem.

    Of course, most car dealers are Republicans, so they may have a wee bit of an ideological reason to push this meme, true or not.

    Posted in automobiles | Comments Off on Cash For Clunker Payments “Delayed”? Probably Not

    But I Couldn’t Look, Having Read The Book

    Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 25, 2009

    The general take on the film Julie and Julia is that the parts with the effervescent Julia Child (Meryl Streep) in postwar Paris are infinitely better than the parts with the modern-day whiny Julie Powell (Amy Adams). I suspected that would be the case, having read Julie Powell’s book, which lent its name to the film. I was trying to pin down what irritated me — and pretty much everyone else — so much about Powell’s character especially as compared to that of Julia Child, and I think Laura Shapiro’s review of the film for Gourmet magazine finds it:

    Meryl Streep’s deep, detailed evocation of Julia in the new Nora Ephron film, Julie & Julia, has the power of the original to win every heart in the crowd. As you might expect, she inhabits Julia beautifully—the size, the voice, the physical mannerisms—but to me it’s even more impressive that she gives an account of Julia’s character very much in tune with Julia’s own sense of herself. “I am continually trying to keep ‘ME’ out of as much of my relations with people as possible, and transfer a full interest to you/them, which automatically…makes me a more lovable person to them, and them to me,” Julia wrote to Paul in 1946, shortly before they were married—quite a good description of what it was like to have an ego that expressed itself most pleasurably in generosity.


    Streep captures that vitality, and she also captures the dignity and civility that accompanied it. Julia was entirely modest beneath her buoyant good humor; and it’s clear in every inch of Streep’s personification that this woman is never going to carry on like a me-me-me celebrity, no matter how famous she gets.

    In short, I sat there in the movie theater beaming like a lunatic during approximately half the film. The other half is a different story—literally. Ephron based her film on two books about Julia that have nothing whatever in common, starting with their treatment of Julia. One is Julia’s own memoir, My Life in France, which she wrote with her great-nephew Alex Prud’homme. This describes the years in which she discovered Paris, food, and her life’s work, ultimately producing Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The second is Julie Powell’s book Julie & Julia, which describes the year Powell (played in the film by Amy Adams) lived in Queens, N.Y., and discovered her true self by making every recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, blogging as she went. There’s no question that Powell had a great idea for a blog. What she didn’t have was anything interesting to say about cooking her way through Mastering. Her writing is hollow, narcissistic, and unforgivably lazy—qualities so foreign to Julia that it’s not at all surprising that she once said she couldn’t abide Powell’s work.

    Yup, yup and yup.

    Posted in food | Comments Off on But I Couldn’t Look, Having Read The Book

    New Toy from NY Fed

    Posted by Charles II on August 24, 2009

    See who is going broke! (via Calculated Risk). Mortgage delinquencies, auto loans, bank cards– all in an easy-to-use color-coded chart here.

    Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on New Toy from NY Fed

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