Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Archive for April, 2014

Venezuela: Where Rich People Riot Because Poor People Are Joining The Middle Class

Posted by Phoenix Woman on April 29, 2014

This Alternet piece tells you what no major US TV network (or newspaper, or radio network) will dare say about Venezuela:

Before Hugo Chávez became president of Venezuela in 1999, the barrios of Caracas, built provisionally on the hills surrounding the capital, did not even appear on the city map. Officially they did not exist, so neither the city nor the state maintained their infrastructure. The poor inhabitants of these neighborhoods obtained water and electricity by tapping pipes and cables themselves. They lacked access to services such as garbage collection, health care and education altogether.

Today residents of the same barrios are organizing their communities through directly democratic assemblies known as communal councils — of which Venezuela has more than 40,000. Working families have come together to found community spaces and cooperative companies, coordinate social programs and renovate neighborhood houses, grounding their actions in principles of solidarity and collectivity. And their organizing has found government support, especially with the Law of Communal Councils, passed by Chávez in 2006, which has led to the formation of communes that can develop social projects on a larger scale and over the long term.


…According to the prevailing narrative, students throughout the country are protesting a dire economic situation and high crime rate, only to meet brutal repression from government forces. Yet the street violence that has captured the world’s attention has largely taken place in a few isolated areas — the affluent neighborhoods of cities like Caracas, Maracaibo, Valencia, San Cristóbal and Mérida — and not in the barrios where Venezuela’s poor and working classes live. Despite international media claims, the vast majority of Venezuela’s students are not protesting. Not even a third of all people arrested in connection with the demonstrations since early February are students, even though Venezuela has more than 2.6 million university students (up from roughly 700,00 in 1998), thanks to the tuition-free public university system that Chávez created.

A look at recent arrests reveals that the “protest” leaders are really a mixture of drug traffickers, paramilitaries and private military contractors — in other words, the mercenaries typical of any CIA military destabilization operation. In Barinas, the southern border state with Colombia, two heavily armed barricade organizers were arrested, including Hugo Alberto Nuncira Soto, who has an Interpol arrest warrant for membership in Los Urabeños, a Colombian paramilitary involved in drug trafficking, smuggling, assassinations and massacres. In Caracas, the brothers Richard and Chamel Akl — who own a private military company, Akl Elite Corporation, and represent the Venezuelan branch of the private military contractor Risk Inc. — were arrested while driving an armored vehicle in possession of firearms, explosives and military equipment. Their car had been equipped with pipes to be activated from inside to disperse motor oil and nails on the streets, not to mention tear gas grenades, homemade bombs, pistols, gas masks, bulletproof vests, night-vision devices, gasoline tanks and knives.

But don’t ever expect to see this on any US news media most Americans are likely to encounter on a daily basis.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

Solar Roadways Is On Indiegogo

Posted by Phoenix Woman on April 28, 2014

Check ’em out:

They want to avoid “going public” as a corporation, because we all know who’d buy them up. And it wouldn’t be us.

So instead, they’re crowdfunding.

Stop by and drop in a coin or two, if you feel so inclined. The society you save will be your own.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , | Comments Off on Solar Roadways Is On Indiegogo

Plus ça change

Posted by Charles II on April 25, 2014

Sean Hannity learns nothing:

The Bundy standoff in Nevada with the Bureau of Land Management has many Americans questioning the overreach of government and the constitutionality of the government taking/owning land that isn’t for a specific federal purpose. Could the BLM be aiming for Texas be next?

The Bundy case may not be the last we’ve seen from the Bureau of Land Management. As Ben Shapiro writes today in his column, “Like Bundy or not, his situation will not be the last of its kind, so long as the federal government insists on its ever-growing authority, and so long as states and localities refuse to stand up for their citizens.”

Now, the federal government is eyeing 90,000 acres along the Red River lands in Texas. The Attorney General of Texas Greg Abbott wrote a letter to the head of the Bureau of Land Management expressing his concern and asking the department for answers. Keep in mind that the head of this department is a man by the name of Neil Kornze, who used to work for none other than Harry Reid.

Abbott states in his letter: “Respect for property rights and the rule of law are fundamental principles in the State of Texas and the United States. When governments simply ignore those principles, it threatens the foundation of our free and prosperous society.” He says that “the BLM’s newly asserted claims to land along the Red River threaten to upset long-settled private property rights and undermine fundamental principles—including the rule of law—that form the foundation of our democracy.”

Harry Reid himself referenced “the rule of law” in his opposition to Cliven Bundy’s actions, but clearly he fails to see how the rule of law also applies in this way when it comes to private property rights. In essence, we are arguing two sides to the same coin.

Abbott told Breitbart that he’s ready to “go to the Red River and raise a ‘Come and Take It’ flag to tell the feds to stay out of Texas.” Texas Governor Rick Perry has also weighed in, standing along side Abbott in Texas’ defense of private property rights.

I’m with Texas on this one. You don’t mess with Texas.

According to his 4/24 show, in which he interviews Texas AG and GOP Goober nominee Greg Abbott, he is writing a letter to BLM to find out what’s going on. Shoot first, ask later, Sean.

This is what Jim Malewitz of the Texas Tribune says:

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is the latest state official asking that question in relation to a looming U.S. Bureau of Land Management decision about what to do with a swath of federal and American Indian land in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas — including the acreage in Texas along a 116-mile stretch of the Red River.

On Tuesday, Abbott sent a letter to Neil Kornze, BLM director, seeking information about the agency’s plans for the land, some of which North Texans have long considered theirs, using it for cattle grazing and growing crops.

Paul McGuire, an agency spokesman, said the disputed land has not been fully surveyed, and that it hopes a new survey will clear up the confusion about its ownership.

“It’s been mischaracterized in different forms, as if BLM is coming to seize land or take land in some form,” he said. “That is definitely not the case.”

Sean says he wants to move to Texas. He’ll fit right in.

Posted in Fox Noise, paranoia, Republicans as cancer | 1 Comment »

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted by MEC on April 25, 2014

Friday Cat Blogging

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

A Dangerous Efficiency: Social Security “Reform”

Posted by Phoenix Woman on April 24, 2014

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re already familiar with how various persons, in the name of “reform”, seek to destroy the Social Security system.

What you might not know is that one of the areas most heavily under attack is the Social Security disability benefits system. Hearing offices across the nation are slated to be closed and everything will be shunted to a few centralized locations, all in the name of efficiency.

From a recent AFGE letter to the union members among SSA’s hearing office employees:

At a labor-management meeting in Baltimore last month, the draft Future Vision Plan for SSA was revealed and presented to AFGE for comment. On April 16, 2014, you received a message regarding the Agency’s new path for serving the American public in the next 10-15 years. You were each invited to share your ideas through a Vision 2025 forum. This strategic vision plan addresses 5 organizational imperatives of how the Agency will (1) increase electronic service delivery, (2) realign the workforce, (3) develop a workforce with variable, mixed skills, (4) reduce the overall service delivery structure of the Agency, and (5) increase the mobility and agility for the Agency’s workforce. WOW – what does this mean to the employees in ODAR?

As many of you know, for the past several years ODAR has initiated many organizational structural changes in the way we do business, including electronic service delivery. The long range vision for ODAR is really a short range change which will affect you within the next 5 years. Specifically, ODAR leadership this year decided to establish a National Case Assistance Center in Woodlawn, MD, and hire approximately 300 employees, consisting of 90 attorney advisors, 90 law clerks, 60-80 legal assistants, 4 administrative assistants, 4 computer assistants and approximately 30 managers. In addition, there is a planned management action to establish a second National Case Assistance Center in Phoenix, AZ, consisting of 40 employees. The past 5 year history has shown that ODAR’s plan is to have national hearing centers and regional writing and case pulling centers rather than staffing hearing offices or creating new hearing offices. It is clear to AFGE that ODAR leadership plans to eliminate essentially all hearing office positions through a combination of automation, contracting out and utilization of these national and regional centers. In fact, ODAR leadership stated at a meeting of all the unions that if all ALJs would be agreeable to telework 2 days a week, they could hold their hearings in field offices the other 3 days, thereby essentially eliminating the need for hearing offices. If your hearing office is closed, what will happen to you? Will you be forced to make a decision to relocate to a national or regional center, possibly paying your own relocation expenses, in order to continue your employment with ODAR?

Persons wishing to file claims with SSA will no longer be able to walk into their local SSA office to do so, because there won’t be any more local SSA offices. Instead, they’ll have to engage the services of a lawyer and do it over the internet — which is rather ironic.

Here’s why:

The recent Target data breaches to show what happens when third parties, like attorneys, get involved in the transmission of sensitive data; it turns out the Target hack was done via a hack of one of Target’s vendors. The Heartbleed crisis shows that even the things we thought would keep us safe, like OpenSSL, are often the means through which the bad guys can steal our data and our lives. In fact, SSA’s own ODAR website tells claimants not to transmit SSNs or claims information over the internet because it’s not secure!

And so now, in order to save a few bucks, SSA wants to dump decades of sensible protections and convenience for claimants.

This will not end well.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Too big to flail: US endorses Japanese brinksmanship on Senkaku/Diaoyu island dispute

Posted by Charles II on April 22, 2014

Justin McCurry, The Guardian:

Barack Obama is expected to offer guarded support for Japan in its bitter territorial dispute with China over a group of islands in the East China Sea, as Washington seeks to reassure its Asia-Pacific allies of its commitment to regional security in the face of an increasingly assertive China.

In a sign of how anxious Japan has become over potential threats to its thousands of outlying islands, it began its first military expansion in more than 40 years at the weekend, starting construction of a new base on the southern island of Yonaguni, which is located near the Senkakus.

In a move likely to cause alarm in Beijing, Obama is expected to reach an agreement with the Philippines on better access to the country’s airbases and ports for the US air force and navy, more than 20 years after the US closed its huge naval base in Subic Bay.

Obama’s visit to South Korea will centre on security ties….

In Malaysia, where Obama will be the first sitting US president to visit since Lyndon Johnson in 1966, Obama will attempt to strengthen ties with the leadership despite concerns over its treatment of opposition politicians.

Now, I think that Japan and China should agree to let these islands be a world property, whose resources will be used to make whole those impacted by global warming. Both should have a right of free commercial passage through the area, and make an agreement that there would be no military vessels except in response to outside intervention (by, say, pirates). That would be a slight irritant to China, which doesn’t want to have any restrictions on its military movements, but it would demonstrate good faith. But that is not what is happening. Japan is forward positioning its military and the US is lining up with Japan. This will go a long way toward helping re-form the ties between China and Russia. Other than that, I see little that a formal, public tilt toward Japan will accomplish.

Posted in China, Japan | 2 Comments »

Iran Nuclear Deal Is Working, Despite Bibi’s Babblings

Posted by Phoenix Woman on April 22, 2014

Poor Benjamin Netanyahu. He’s running out of reasons to murder tens of millions of Iranians:

In September 2012, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stood at a United Nation’s podium with a cartoon bomb warning that the world had to stop Iran before it completed “the second stage of nuclear enrichment necessary to make a bomb.”

The prime minister can rest a bit easier now. We have stopped Iran from completing that second stage.


The International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, confirmed last week that Iran had effectively eliminated that “second stage” of uranium enrichment, as required by the interim deal negotiated between Iran and the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China. And news reports over the weekend hinted that a second path to the bomb may be blocked as well.

Of course, this won’t stop Bibi — or his good friend Sheldon Adelson — from stamping his feet.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off on Iran Nuclear Deal Is Working, Despite Bibi’s Babblings

Wisconsin GOP to vote on secession

Posted by Charles II on April 21, 2014

They have seceded from reality, anyway. Daniel Bice, Journal Sentinel:

To secede or not to secede.

That will be the question for Wisconsin Republicans at next month’s convention.

Earlier this month, the party’s Resolutions Committee voted in favor of a proposal that says the state party “supports legislation that upholds Wisconsin’s right, under extreme circumstances, to secede.”

A version of the so-called “state sovereignty” resolution was first OK’d last month by one of the state GOP’s eight regional caucuses as an assertion of the state’s 10th Amendment rights. The measure also calls for ending all mandates that go “beyond the scope of the constitutionally delegated powers of the federal government.”

The resolutions, Murphy [sic; probably should be Krueger] said, express the feeling of many Republicans that they’ve had “enough of big government.”

[4th Congressional district Vice Chair Michael]Murphy agreed, saying the country is in dire straits financially and the federal budget needs to be brought under control. He suggested that the resolutions are in keeping with the ideas of the founding fathers, who he asserted “seceded” from Great Britain.

“If that’s crazy talk,” Murphy said, “I would be happy to carry that as a badge of honor.”

Posted in Republicans acting badly | 3 Comments »

The obvious question that no one asked (Keystone XL)

Posted by Charles II on April 19, 2014

State Dept. Briefing, 4/18:

MODERATOR: Good afternoon. Thank you for joining us. Today [Senior State Department Official One] will provide an update on the application – the presidential permit application review for the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline. [The official] will be referred to as Senior State Department Official One from here on out. We are also joined by [Senior State Department Official Two], who will be referred to as Senior State Department Official Number Two.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Thank you very much. All of you have received a Media Note with the basic substance of the issue that we wanted to discuss today, so let me give some clarifying or complementary information.

Regarding the 2.5 million new public comments, they are indeed unprecedented. In response to the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement that the Department published in March of last year, we received 1.5 million comments. Usually on some form of a pipeline application there may be less than 100 comments. We are concentrating our resources to review the public comments that we receive. We are proceeding to ensure that we review those comments and appropriately reflect them in the draft Record of Decision, which will eventually result in recommendations.

As far as I can tell, the State Department did not list how the comments were running. But one can guess: despite the fact that a majority of Americans support the pipeline, almost certainly a majority of Americans who know what bitumen is are opposed. Fiercely. And so when the State Department says that they will “review and incorporate all of those,” they are lying.

And that would explain why two public officials, talking about a matter of public record, are so cowardly that they gave a press conference metaphorically from behind a curtain. A curtain provided for them by our free press.


Posted in environment, Oil, State Department | Comments Off on The obvious question that no one asked (Keystone XL)

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted by MEC on April 18, 2014

Friday Cat Blogging

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

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