Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for April, 2010

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted by MEC on April 30, 2010

Alex doesn't want me to make the bed.

Posted in Alexander the Great, Friday Cat Blogging, Uncategorized | 7 Comments »

What Digby Said, Pete Peterson Edition

Posted by Phoenix Woman on April 29, 2010

This entire Salon piece by Digby is worth reading, and so you should click on the link and do so.

But if you need one single juicy passage to sum it all up, you’d be hard pressed to beat this one:

These rich bastards are telling people who work hard their whole lives that they have to “sacrifice” their meager public pension to refill the Treasury that these same rich bastards have looted — and which they continue to refuse to help replenish, despite the fact they are still swallowing fire hoses full of money. This, after the middle class in this country just suffered the biggest loss of wealth since the Great Depression as a result of these riverboat gamblers playing with the economy like it was their favorite Baccarat table in Monte Carlo. Chutzpah doesn’t even begin to describe it. Sociopathy is more like it.

If they can’t do the right thing, the least they could do is slither off into the darkness to count their winnings. Instead, these arrogant jerks are out there lecturing everyone about “sacrifice” while they buy off every government official in town to make sure they aren’t among those who have to heed that call.

It’s sick.

Indeed. Jane Hamsher has more.

Posted in 111th Congress, Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

While Republicans fiddle, home burns

Posted by Charles II on April 28, 2010

Learn about the financial crisis here. There’s a downloadable book that looks to be extremely good.

What ultimately comes out of the Senate–and it’s clear that the Republicans are very near caving– depends on letters and phone calls we make NOW. If a second leg to the financial crisis unfolds, as I think is possible, serious regulation might be all that saves us from long-term economic pain.

Posted in financial crisis, mortgage crisis | 2 Comments »

You can now get employer-based health insurance for adult children up to age 27

Posted by Charles II on April 27, 2010

From the White House:

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provides that health coverage under an employee’s children under 27 years of age is now generally tax-free to the employee, effective March 30, 2010. The Internal Revenue Service announced today that these changes immediately allow employers with cafeteria plans –– plans that allow employees to choose from a menu of tax-free benefit options and cash or taxable benefits –– to permit employees to begin making pre-tax contributions to pay for this expanded benefit. Please see the press release below, the IRS Notice, and this White House Blog Post for more information (also posted below).
Thank you,
White House Office of Legislative Affairs

See details below the fold
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Good Things, health care | 4 Comments »

Unequally yoked

Posted by Charles II on April 27, 2010

Via Roubini, I became aware of an interesting issue that’s simmering in Asia. You may know that American soldiers are about as popular in Okinawa as they were in 1945. Aside from the problem common to quartering troops of providing them sexual outlets, which has in the past led to several anti-American explosions, US facilities create headaches for an area that has developed rapidly since the facilities were built. The Japanese would like all American troops off Okinawa. The US is refusing to go, creating a very awkward situation between ostensible allies. First, John Pomfret, WaPo:

Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada presented U.S. Ambassador John V. Roos with a proposal to settle the dispute, telling him that Japan was moving toward accepting significant parts of a 2006 deal to move the Futenma air station from the center of a city of 92,000 to a less populated part of Okinawa, the sources said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue….

The U.S. alliance with Japan is the centerpiece of American policy in Asia and has been a foundation of security in the region for decades. As the alliance has wavered, concern has spread across the region, with officials from South Korea to Australia expressing worries about the future of the U.S. security role.

The meeting Friday followed a brief and blunt tete-a-tete between President Obama and Hatoyama on April 12 during the prime minister’s visit to Washington for the Nuclear Security Summit. During the 10-minute encounter, Obama told Hatoyama that the two countries were “running out of time” and asked him whether he could be trusted. Japanese officials were so taken aback by the toughness of Obama’s tone that they did not draw up a written record of the words exchanged between the two leaders, sources said.

Next, Edward Wong, NYT:

The Chinese military is seeking to project naval power well beyond the Chinese coast, from the oil ports of the Middle East to the shipping lanes of the Pacific, where the United States Navy has long reigned as the dominant force, military officials and analysts say. ..

China’s naval ambitions are being felt, too, in recent muscle flexing with the United States: in March, Chinese officials told senior American officials privately that China would brook no foreign interference in its territorial issues in the South China Sea, said a senior American official involved in China policy….

Japan is anxious, too. Its defense minister, Toshimi Kitazawa, said in mid-April that two Chinese submarines and eight destroyers were spotted on April 10 heading between two Japanese islands [at a guess, Miyakojima and Kume, off Shanghai] en route to the Pacific, the first time such a large Chinese flotilla had been seen so close to Japan. When two Japanese destroyers began following the Chinese ships, a Chinese helicopter flew within 300 feet of one of the destroyers, the Japanese Defense Ministry said.

Japanese territorial waters

If the Chinese wanted to guarantee an American presence in Japan, sending warships through Japan’s territorial waters without pre-agreement probably accomplished that. On the other hand, if Obama wanted to guarantee that the Japanese government would change hands, asking the prime minister if he could be trusted, probably achieved that.

Posted in Japan, Obama Administration | 3 Comments »

The flames lick ever closer

Posted by Charles II on April 27, 2010

John Ross is an experienced observer of Mexico. While I suspect that there’s just a bit of wishful thinking in this, there’s no doubt the odds of an explosion in Mexico have been rising ever since the stolen election of 2006. But his allegation that the goal of US immigration policy is to force Mexico to privatize PEMEX and hand over its security to the US are sobering. If so, it shows what a disastrous turn our foreign policy is taking. We cannot provide real security for tens of millions of Americans… but we want to handle it for all Mexicans? Insane.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: And you spoke about the Mexican Revolution a hundred years ago. A hundred years before that, 1810, the war of liberation from Spain.

JOHN ROSS: Right.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Every hundred years—what’s in store for 2010?

JOHN ROSS: Well, it seems that the Mexican metabolism kind of explodes into social conflict on the tenth year of the century—1810, 1910, 2010. Will the revolution come again? I’m not the only one concerned with this. The Wall Street Journal ran an article on January 15th asking the same question. Their sense was that it wasn’t going to happen.

Objectively, at this moment, Mexico is overripe for social upheaval. The best social economists are telling us that four out of every ten workers who had a job don’t have a job now. That’s 40 percent unemployment in the formal sector. And millions of Mexicans have never had a job. They’ve always just sold in the street.

The situation in the countryside, I think, is very dangerous. … [US dumping of corn] put 1.8 million farmers off their land. They could no longer compete in the internal economy. Each farmer has five in his family, so we’re talking about ten million people no longer on the land. And these are figures from 2004.

And generally, the movement has been to the north, to come to El Norte and cross the border and find work. Well, you can’t cross the border now…..that safety valve, which has traditionally been the way that younger Mexicans have been able to get out of this very difficult situation, is now closed down. …

Whether there are subjective forces to move in 2010 against the government is another question. And it takes, I think, a pretty deep analysis to figure out who’s out there and who’s not. Armed groups are generally not very demonstrative of what they have until they’re ready to move.

AMY GOODMAN: John Ross…the effects of the immigration laws and the war on drugs?

JOHN ROSS: Well, certainly, I always assume—these are hot-button issues in the US press—immigration and drugs. Washington uses these issues to pressure Mexico, to win concessions, and they’re not necessarily concessions in terms of the drug war or immigration at all. They look at security, and they look at economy, and basically energy, you know? Washington wants to see Mexico privatize its oil industry, PEMEX. And so, they utilize this pressure that comes from immigration, comes from the drug war, in order to win those concessions.

Washington wants greater control over Mexico’s security apparatus, so they use things like the ASPAN, the security and prosperity agreement, to be able to—which would integrate security forces throughout the entire continent under Washington’s control. They use things like the North Command, which now penetrates Mexico’s airspace, because Mexico has been declared the southern security perimeter of the United States.

So those are the two aims of Washington at this point: to gain control over the Mexican security apparatus and the privatization of PEMEX. And all of this Mexico bashing that comes out of immigration and comes out of the drug war is really directed at that. And that’s how the White House has operated in Mexico as long as I’ve been there and much longer than I’ve been there. (emphasis added)

Posted in Mexico | Comments Off on The flames lick ever closer

What Happens When People Don’t Take Rubella Seriously

Posted by Phoenix Woman on April 27, 2010

In a discussion of PBS’ upcoming Frontline episode “The Vaccine War“, a commenter mentions that her anti-vaccine sister-in-law was stupid and selfish enough to bring her daughter — who had rubella — to a Christmas party without telling anyone present that the daughter had the extremely contagious disease. Oh, and the commenter was pregnant at the time. Luckily, she got tested to see if she still had any immunity left from the childhood rubella vaccine she’d got thirty years previous, and the tests showed that the immunity was still there, but barely.

How lucky was she? Nearly seventy years ago, before there was a rubella vaccine, Gene Tierney was also pregnant, and also exposed to someone with rubella:

In 1942 [Tierney’s husband] Oleg Cassini became a United States citizen and served in the U.S. Army. Between routine film assignments for Fox, Tierney spent much time with Cassini at his Fort Riley, Kan. Army post, and later in Washington D.C. when he was stationed there. In 1943 Tierney gave birth to their child, Daria, who was born prematurely, severely retarded, and was eventually institutionalized. Much later, in a nightmarish twist of fate, Tierney learned that a female Marine had ignored quarantine orders to meet her idol during hostessing duties at the Hollywood Canteen. That was how the star contracted German measles late in her pregnancy – an innocent kiss from an admiring fan who wanted an autograph.

“Everyone told me I shouldn’t go,” the starstruck woman told Tierney years later at a tennis match, not realizing what she was responsible for, “but I just had to go.you were my favorite.”

Sadly, little Daria paid the price, and so did her mother. Many believe this cruel irony brought about a troubled emotional life later on. It also served to inspire a story (never authorized or sanctioned by Tierney) dramatized in 1980 as an Agatha Christie whodunit called “The Mirror Crack’d” starring Angela Lansbury, Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, Kim Novak, Tony Curtis, Geraldine Chaplin and Pierce Brosnan.

Or, as Tierney herself later said:

Fate played a terrible trick on me just before the birth of my first child, Daria. It was war time, 1943, and I went to the Hollywood Canteen to meet the soldiers and sailors. A female Marine who was there told me she had skipped quarantine that night just to come and meet me. A year later, I met the same girl again on the tennis courts at a friend’s home in Hollywood. She reminded me of the night she had broken quarantine.

“I got the German measles,” she said. “Did you get them, too?”

I just said, “Yes, I got the measles.” I didn’t tell her that, in the meantime, I had given birth to a retarded child because of it.

The story would inspire an Agatha Christie novel, The Mirror Crack’d.

Posted in science and medicine, vaccines | 4 Comments »

Just Keep Diggin’ That Hole There, Boys

Posted by Phoenix Woman on April 27, 2010

First, we saw the worthies of the Republican Party of Minnesota’s SD 42 branch put their collective feet in a gopher hole with this poll, as documented by PZ Myers:

President Obama called the new Arizona bill banning illegal immigration “misguided”. Do you agree?

Sí, señor! 22%
No Way, José! 77%

But after PZ sent his readers to go mock it, the poll was suddenly changed to remove the overt racism — and to provide for only two “yes” answers:

Courtesy of La Figa

The Republican Party of Minnesota: You either agree with us, or you REALLY agree with us. You have no other choice.

Posted in Minnesota, racism, Republicans, Silly Republicans, wrong way to go about it, WTF? | 2 Comments »

Honduran dictatorship, day 90/updated

Posted by Charles II on April 26, 2010

RAJ reports on Pretendisent Lobo’s Rainbow Tour of New Orleans, complete with apparently fictional award. More important, Pretendisent Lobo has now basically admitted that he was in favor of the coup, something that could cause Washington acute embarrassment, since they like to bill him as the curative of the coup.

The president of Congress, Leonel Hernandez, says that when they took over, the country was broken, like a pasture.

Revistazo interviewed Gerardo Chevez, journalist with Radio Progreso, on death threats. He said that he has spent seven years exposing corruption and detailing poverty without any threats of the magnitude that he has gotten for covering the coup. There’s one puzzling line in a death threat that seems to read, “We’re doing away with the checks, and next are the priests.” I think it’s supposed to read doing away with Chevez, and next the priests.

Vos el Soberano appears to be functioning normally again, after apparently being hacked.

Candelario Reyes Garcia of Santa Barbara says he has been harassed and apparently targeted for assassination. He got visited by a couple of vehicles filled with heavily armed paramilitaries, who told him that shooting a communist dog like him was the best example for the “cabrones” of the resistance.
________________________________________________
Via Adrienne, COHA slams the pretense of democracy in Honduras, especially the dismissal of assassinations of journalists as a “crime wave.”

Via Adrienne, the Jesuits have issued a communique: “Father Melo [Ismael Moreno] has been subjected to death threats by unknown people…Gerardo Chévez, reporter for Radio Progreso, is also receiving threats related to his broadcasting work with the radio”

Anne Marie O’Connor of The Washington Post woke up for long enough to notice that journalists are being massacred in Honduras. But she didn’t stay awake long enough to read her own article. She quotes Carlos Lauria of CPJ to say that the murders are “the work of hit men, very professional.” and Jose Miguel Vivanco oif HRW to say that Pretendisent Lobo “has shown little willingness to solve a pattern of threats, harassment and attacks on grass-roots leaders, unionists and priests since the coup.” but she keeps saying that they were reporting on organized crime, leaving the clear impression these are drug killings. O’Connor refuses to say that they were pretty much all pro-Resistance, and that any reporting on drugs they did was more about government corruption. That allows her to remain asleep… but for how much longer?

It’s almost becoming respectable to criticize the dictatorship. Kevin Casas-Zamora of Brookings says:

President Lobo’s record of implementing these agreements is mixed. He made a commendable effort to integrate a national unity government and played a decisive role in pressing for a controversial but necessary amnesty for political offenses. Another key clause of the agreements, i.e. installing a Truth Commission to inquire into the events before and after June 28 has proved more problematic, however. The concern here is the adamant opposition from very influential right wing sectors, closely linked to Micheletti, to allowing the Commission to investigate the human rights abuses that took place after June 28. These abuses have been documented and denounced by the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR), among many organizations.

Mr. Casas-Zamora is also nodding off, not noticing the pile of dead bodies. Part of the blame for this falls on the IACHR, which has been remarkably conservative in ascribing blame for the murders. Still, Isis Obed Murillo is kind of hard to overlook.

From Adrienne, Mario Ardon-Mejia explains that “this government stubbornly perpetrates the continuity of the coup d’etat for numerous reasons:” And he lists them.

Posted in Honduras, Latin America | 3 Comments »

Busted!

Posted by Phoenix Woman on April 25, 2010

In which Goldman Sachs puts it foot in it WRT the “cherry-picked” e-mails:

My absolute first thought when I saw the “cherry-picking” complaint was of Richard Nixon and the Watergate Tapes. I am not a lawyer and as always, just might be an idiot but it sure looks to me that Sen Levin and staff found what can be very close to the “smoking gun.”

Pass the popcorn. This oughta be good.

Posted in big money, capitalism as cancer, gravy train, greed | Comments Off on Busted!

 
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