Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Archive for February, 2010

Is China About To Burst Wide Open?

Posted by Phoenix Woman on February 28, 2010

The sources for this Sydney Morning Herald piece seem to think so:

BEIJING: China’s top expert on social unrest has warned that hardline security policies are taking the country to the brink of ”revolutionary turmoil”.

In contrast with the powerful, assertive and united China that is being projected to the outside world, Yu Jianrong said his prediction of looming internal disaster reflected on-the-ground surveys and also the views of Chinese government ministers.

Deepening social fractures were caused by the Communist Party’s obsession with preserving its monopoly on power through ”state violence” and ”ideology”, rather than justice, Professor Yu said.

Disaster could be averted only if ”interest groups” – which he did not identify – were capable of making a rational compromise to subordinate themselves to the constitution, he said.

Some lawyers, economists and religious and civil society leaders have expressed similar views but it is unusual for someone with Professor Yu’s official standing to make such direct and detailed criticisms of core Communist Party policies.

[…]

The latest edition of the newspaper Southern Weekend broke a two-decade taboo by publishing a photo of a youthful Mr Hu [Jintao, China’s president] with his early mentor, former party chief Hu Yaobang, who was purged in 1987 for his liberal and reformist leanings. But Chinese internet search results for the names of both leaders were yesterday blocked for ”non-compliance with relevant laws”.

A Beijing political watcher said such crackdowns were being led by officials who had the most to hide, which did not include Mr Hu or his allies.

”Corrupt officials have such a high and urgent interest in controlling the media and especially the internet,” he said. ”The more they feel that their days are numbered due to the internet and free information, the more ferocious and corrupt they become, in a really vicious circle leading to final collapse.”

So if conditions are ripe for such a thing, who will rush in to fill the power vacuum?

Signs are pointing to members of the worldwide Chinese expat community, particularly those that left Hong Kong for Southern California and Vancouver prior to the 1997 handover. (It’s no accident that the communities in SoCal where they settled — namely, Arcadia and San Marino, where they joined the long-established Taiwanese immigrant population — have weathered the recent economic storms better than the rest of California; Arcadia’s home prices have even gone up 24% from last year.)

Many wealthy immigrants from China see the possible fall of the Communist Party as an opportunity to root out corruption, as the cost of doing business with corrupt leaders at the local, provincial and national levels is hurting their profit margins. Thus, there is a considerable amount of wealth and power — coming from beyond China’s borders — that is controlled by people who want to facilitate precisely the changes Professor Wu predicts. That wealth and power provides a platform for revolution, one that is potentially strong enough not to need backing from a nation-state such as the US; in fact, the architects of this revolution will want to avoid any official association with any nations, for fear of being accused of being the puppets of foreign powers.

Posted in China, corruption | 9 Comments »

Behold The Power Of Exxon Mobil!

Posted by Phoenix Woman on February 27, 2010

They can bankroll the people who take the hacked and stolen e-mails of climate-change scientists and then lie about the e-mails’ contents — and every single TV network and major paper treats their bankrolled tools’ version of events as truth, or at least as a legitimate way of discussing the subject.

Yet when Bjorn Lomborg, their favorite fake environmentalist and ethically-compromised political scientist masquerading as a climate-change expert, is revealed to be a mass of deceit whose favorite trick is the Ann Coulter method (as shown here and here) of claiming that a footnote cite you’re making backs up your point when it really doesn’t, the TradMed silence is deafening. If it wasn’t for P.Z. Myers‘ passing along this Newsweek article, I would never have known about it. It certainly hasn’t been a story, much less a lead story, every single night on at least one of the networks for weeks on end.

Posted in big money, climate change, energy, environment, evil, GOP/Media Complex, Oil, saving the earth, science and medicine | 7 Comments »

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted by MEC on February 26, 2010

Alexander: “I’m still not moving until February is gone.”

Posted in Alexander the Great, Friday Cat Blogging | 1 Comment »

Nancy Pelosi Steps Up To The Plate

Posted by Phoenix Woman on February 26, 2010

One of the people who acquitted themselves well at Thursday’s Health Care Summit was Nancy Pelosi. After Lamar Alexander started spewing bullpucky about how the Democrats were being so mean and hadn’t compromised and that’s why nothing could get done (and don’t you dare try to get around our obstructionism by using the same reconciliation we gleefully used under Bush!), she came out and said “290 bills I sent to you Lamar, and you just sat there, and you want everyone to start over?” Deflated him like the methane-filled balloon he is.

Then, towards the end, right before President Obama’s closing remarks, she got up and said this:

Mr. President, I harken back to that meeting a year ago. At that time, Senator Grassley questioned you about the public option.

And you said the public option is one way to keep the insurance companies honest and to increase competition. If you have a better way, put it on the table.

Well, I bring that up because we have come such a long way….As a representative of the House of Representatives, I want you to know that we were there that day in support of a public option which would save $120 billion, keep the insurance companies honest, and increase competition.

She went on to bring up the fact that the Democrats had, far from being deaf to Republican calls for compromise, had in fact incorporated the Republican idea of health insurance exchanges into legislation. And after praising a few Republicans such as McCain and Coburn for their suggestions and help, she went after GOP Congresscritters John Boehner and David Camp for outright lying about the health care legislation. And she closed with a delineation of the differences between the Democratic and Republican proposals.

Fabulous, just fabulous.

Posted in health care, Pelosi, Republicans, Republicans acting badly | 8 Comments »

Honduran dictatorship, day 31

Posted by Charles II on February 25, 2010

I don’t want to make these posts more than weekly, but the situation is awful. From Adrienne:

Claudia Larisa Brizuela Rodriguez

Just yesterday, FNRP supporter Claudia Larisa Brizuela Rodriguez was gunned down in her home in San Pedro Sula. Her two young children, ages 2 and 8, witnessed their mother’s murder.

Claudia was the daughter of high-profile Resistance leader and Radio Uno host, Pedro Brizeula. It is believed that Claudia’s cowardly assassination is meant to intimidate not only the FNRP, but also the independent media. Radio Uno hosts, including Pedro Brizeula, have consistently denounced the abuses and corruption of the post-coup governments, and therefore have become a consistent target of threats. Yesterday those threats became violent action.

Please join us in calling the State Department’s Human Rights desk in order to demand that our government not continue to ignore systematic human rights violations….

Dial 202-647-4000 and ask for Human Rights Desk at the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

Posted in Honduras, Latin America | 3 Comments »

Stop Kennedy Smears

Posted by Phoenix Woman on February 25, 2010

Robert Greenwald kindly asks our assistance in stopping an effort by Joel Surnow, the Limbaugh-worshiping guy who gave us 24 (aka FOX’s right-wing wet-dream bogosity-ridden paean to torture), to trash the Kennedy family on the History Channel.

Legitimate historians who have seen samples of what Surnow has planned are aghast. Time to lend your voice to theirs to call for this to be stopped.

Posted in GOP/Media Complex, liars, propaganda, Republicans, Republicans acting badly, Republicans as cancer, rightwing moral cripples, The smear industry, WTF? | 2 Comments »

NPR: Half the news

Posted by Charles II on February 24, 2010

Thanks to Phoenix Woman, this link to NPR on the OAS report, which criticizes Venezuela. I ran through the Executive Summary, and responded as follows (drawn from comments in an earlier thread:

The IACHR (i.e., OAS) report on Venezuela is troubling, even though what it reports pales in comparison to Honduras. Among the troubling findings:
1. Venezuela refused to allow IACHR observers to enter Venezuela.
2. Venezuela does not allow human rights observers to operate freely. Six human rights defenders have been killed since 1997. Some human rights workers have been targeted for prosecution.
3. Some government opponents have been disqualified from elections.
4. Some elected opposition figures have had their powers curtailed.
5. Dissenters have been intimidated, attacked, and even prosecuted, either by officials or by civilian thugs….”criminal charges have been brought against more than 2,200 people in connection with their involvement in public demonstrations”…”between January and August 2009 alone, six people were killed during public demonstrations, four of them through the actions of the State’s security forces”
6. Half of Venezuelan judges lack tenure entirely and are therefore susceptible to political pressure.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Media machine, news media, Venezuela | 4 Comments »

Honduran dictatorship, Day 30

Posted by Charles II on February 24, 2010

Congratulations to RAJ and Adrienne for a job well done. The resolution to the American Association of Anthropologists passed:

AAA Approves Honduras Resolution

Dear AAA Member:

As the Secretary of the American Anthropological Association, I am pleased to report to you the results of our latest ballot initiative. At the most recent annual meeting, a resolution was adopted at the business meeting by a quorum of members. This resolution, in short, asks that the AAA denounce the current human rights violations and support Hondurans that have resisted and continue to resist the June 28, 2009 military coup in their country. The resolution also calls for the support of efforts by progressive forces to facilitate a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the ongoing crisis.

Just over eight percent (8%) of the membership voted on this ballot, and the ballot passed, with 656 members voting in support and 166 voting against. Based on the passage of the resolution, AAA is now committed to urge President Obama and Members of the United States Congress to do the following:

1. Acknowledge and condemn the human rights violations that have been committed by the de facto government in Honduras since the June 28, 2009 coup d’ etat;
2. Give support to progressive forces in Honduras striving to create a real democracy and provide support not received from the international community;
3. Work with allied countries to find a peaceful and democratic solution to the ongoing crisis in Honduras; and
4. Join other Latin American countries in withholding recognition of individuals selected in a subsequent election held November 29, 2009

Voting on the resolution began January 18, 2010 and ended February 19, 2010. Full text of the resolution, along with comments provided by members, is available on the AAA blog at the following URL: http://blog.aaanet.org/2009/12/17/aaa-honduras-resolution-vote-jan-xx/

I thank you for your participation in this process, and I look forward to communicating with you all very soon.

Best,
Debra Martin
AAA Secretary

Getting 8% of anthropologists to vote may in and of itself be a feat.
____________________________________________________
From Adrienne’s site, Arturo J. Viscarra:

Elizabeth Gutierrez Reyes is the coordinator of the National People’s Resistance Front (FNRP) for Puerto Cortés, the port city a half hour to the north of Honduras’s industrial capital, San Pedro Sula. She has also championed maquila workers’ rights through the labor federation FESITRADEH, and the working women’s collective COMUTRA. In 2009, Elizabeth spoke throughout the US regarding the sorry state of labor rights in the Honduran maquila industry.

On Thursday, February 11, 2010, Elizabeth’s 14 year-old daughter [name withheld] was following her usual routine when she was savagely attacked by a group of “well-dressed” adults.

As passengers began to board the bus that takes Elizabeth’s daughter home from school, an approximately 30-year old man in a collared shirt pulled her close to him and said something along the lines of, “Be careful not to scream, or I will kill you.” She noticed that he had a handgun in a holster under his jacket. Once they had their young victim isolated, the gun-toting man and several women dressed in business suits began to assault the teenager while yelling profanities at her. The violent group disparaged her mother repeatedly during the 10-15 minute long assault. The teenager immediately sensed that the ambush was related to her mother’s involvement in the FNRP.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Honduran dictatorship, Day 30

Hillary! (Another triumph for the State Department)

Posted by Charles II on February 24, 2010

As our readers may recall, one of the predicted side effects of the perverse US position on Honduras was that American hemispheric leadership would be damaged.

DemocracyNow:

Latin American, Caribbean Nations Form New Regional Grouping

Latin American and Caribbean nations have agreed to form a new regional body excluding the United States and Canada. On Tuesday, leaders gathered in Mexico backed calls to form an alternative to the Organization of American States. Cuban President Raul Castro said the move would aid regional integration.

Cuban President Raul Castro: “Cuba proposes that conditions are set to advance quickly the constitution of a purely Latin American and Caribbean regional organization that would be formed and would represent the thirty-three independent countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.”

Now, the existence of an alternate organization doesn’t in and of itself accomplish anything. Everything depends on what it does. It doesn’t have the aegis of the UN… yet… so it lacks the legal powers that make the OAS a force to be reckoned with (if the US says so). But this represents a historic shift, of a kind and magnitude that hasn’t happened in a century or more.

Posted in Hillary Clinton, Latin America | 4 Comments »

Hard choices

Posted by Charles II on February 23, 2010

Altschuler, Lim, and Williams, Urban Institute

In August 2009, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected that the federal budget deficit would total $7.1 trillion over the 2010-2019 decade—under current law. That outcome would require the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts to sunset as scheduled in 2011 and Congress to stop “patching” the alternative minimum tax to minimize its bite. If neither of those things happens, CBO says the cumulative deficit over the decade would jump to $11.1 trillion, more than doubling the national debt. Our economy cannot sustain that rate of debt increase. How can we reverse it? This paper poses a simple question: could incremental reforms of the current tax system raise enough revenue to reduce the deficit to an average of 2 percent of GDP over the last five years of the budget window? We use the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center Tax Model to simulate several revenue-raising tax changes, including raising all income tax rates proportionally, hiking taxes only for high-income taxpayers, and either limiting or eliminating itemized deductions to broaden the tax base. We conclude that politically feasible tax increases within the current tax structure cannot generate sufficient revenues to bring federal budget deficits under control….

They conclude:

Reducing the federal budget deficit to a level that is sustainable over the long run will likely require either more comprehensive tax reform or tapping a new source of revenue, such as a value-added tax.

Eeyore says: Yes, we could tax the $#@! out of the middle class. Or pass single payer and end unnecessary wars. Really, it’s such a difficult choice.

Posted in taxes | 4 Comments »

 
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