Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Well, now that rationale for the coup is discarded….

Posted by Charles II on April 24, 2015

The Guardian:

The supreme court in Honduras has voided a single-term limit for the country’s presidency — the issue at the heart of the political conflict that led to the ouster of socialist [sic] incumbent Manuel Zelaya six years ago when he sought to hold a referendum on rewriting the constitution.

The push by the governing National party to make the change, which would permit President Juan Orlando Hernandez to seek a second term, has drawn widespread criticism from the opposition, which notes the same politicians behind it were involved in the 2009 coup against Zelaya.

After the court ruled, [Former president Rafael Leonardo] Callejas announced that he was looking to run for the presidency again.

We were told again and again, especially by defenders of the coup against Zelaya, that the prohibition against re-election was “set in stone,” meaning that Zelaya’s attempt just to have a referendum on the issue was such a serious assault on the constitution that it justified machine gunning the presidential palace, packing him on a plane, and dropping him in Costa Rica.

Now we are told that this same constitutional amendment was just a “stone in the shoe” of ambitious politicians like Callejas.

I hope Manuel Zelaya runs again. That is, if the Supreme Court doesn’t again flip in the wind as other politicians blow on it.

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Argentine Prosecutor Shoots Down A Slander Against Iran And Fernandez

Posted by Phoenix Woman on April 21, 2015

And here we are for another edition of “Shout the Lie and Whisper the Retraction”: Iranian Edition.

A few weeks ago, the death of a (to put it charitably) mentally ill prosecutor threw heavy Western media focus on those claims of his that were calculated to gin up a “let’s nuke Iran” response. Now, as the rational among us expected, his claims have been weighed in the balance and found wanting:

An Argentine prosecutor on Monday dismissed accusations against President Cristina Fernandez that she helped shield Iranian officials allegedly behind the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center, effectively putting an end to a case that had exposed deep divisions in the South American nation.

Javier De Luca, prosecutor before the Court of Appeals, said there wasn’t enough evidence in late prosecutor Alberto Nisman’s investigation to warrant a probe.


The case was rejected by a federal judge in February and then thrown out on appeal by the Federal Appeals court. De Luca’s decision not to present the case to the next level of appeals court means it has effectively reached the end of the line.

Of course, the same news media that heavily pushed Nisman’s allegations didn’t exactly broadcast this from the rooftops, which is why we’re finding this out from HuffPost and not, say, the CBS Evening News.

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Stratfor on the conflict in Europe

Posted by Charles II on April 13, 2015

George Friedman of Stratfor is one of the most interesting analysts out there. Not that I necessarily agree with him, since he’s been spectacularly wrong in the past. But he’s clearly well-connected and, unlike most neo-conservatives, he’s primarily a realist in the vein of Henry Kissinger.

I don’t think that he favors an aggressive strategy toward Ukraine, because he realizes that the U.S. is overstretched with the conflicts in Iraq and Yemen (and Libya and Syria, etc.). But his opinion seems to be that the US is trying to force Germany to choose the U.S. as its ally against Russia, preventing Germany and Russia from forming an alliance of resources and capital that would threaten the U.S. By creating a band of American power across Central Europe from the Baltics through Ukraine, it would make the western Russian fleet impotent and turning it into a distinctly regional power.

(Via Fortruss)

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Lisa Myers, Glass Houses, And False Accusations

Posted by Phoenix Woman on April 6, 2015

So Lisa Myers wants to get all outraged that nobody was fired over the Rolling Stone article where a false rape accusation was allowed to be lodged.

Does the name “Juanita Broaddrick” ring a bell, Ms. Myers?

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Yemen: The War Nerd States What Most US Media Won’t

Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 30, 2015

A handy rule to judge conflicts around the world: If the Saudis are on one side, common decency suggests you take the other.

So it is with Yemen. Most US media depicts Yemen as a typical and naturally Sunni state, which would mean that the Saudis are justified in coming to the aid of its Sunni rulers (who the Saudis helped achieve that rank) against the Shia Houthis, who are suspected of (eeeek!) getting aid from (cue the scary organ music) Iran.

The War Nerd is the only English-speaking person that I know of who is writing at length about the truth behind this – and the truth is that Yemen is, as was much of Saudi Arabia itself up until a few decades ago (and, clandestinely, even today), still heavily Shia despite the worst efforts of its imposed-from-without Sunni government, which the Houthis finally overthrew last year. Here’s a sample from the War Nerd’s latest on this topic, most notably the failure of yet another effort at Saudi-backed cultural imperialism in Yemen:

Dammaj is a little town right in the middle of Saada Province, the heartland of the Shia Houthi movement. And that’s what’s odd about this story, because Dammaj, until recently, was the site of Darul al Hadeeth, one of the biggest Sunni/Salafi religious schools in the Middle East.

“Until recently”—it’s one of those phrases that always means blood and disaster, like “Churchill’s plan for the campaign…” or “You have been accepted for graduate study in our Humanities Program.”

Darul al Hadeeth was always in danger as an outpost of Sunni Salafism planted right in the heart of Zaydi Shia territory. It was founded by a local man, Muqbil al Wadi, who migrated to Najran in Saudi Arabia and converted to Sunni Salafism at a school in Najran founded by Uthayman, one of the biggest 20th century Saudi conservative preachers.

After the Saudis threw him in prison for a few months for suspected involvement in the attack on the Grand Mosque, Wadi came home to Sa’ada in 1979 and started preaching Salafism in Dammaj, a sleepy stream-side village right in the heart of Saada Province. Yep, Saada Province, very heartland of Shi’ite Yemen. Not an easy place to preach Sunni doctrine, especially of the in-yer-face variety Wadi was pushing. This was a brave, if not foolhardy move at micro-level, but at macro-, where we’re all just molecules, it was part of a trend: The Sunni Revival, which might be the biggest historical trend you’re living through, right now.

In fact, the rise and fall of Darul al Hadeeth is really just a small skirmish in the long struggle between the Shia of the southwestern part of the peninsula and the Wahhabi of the Najd. It seems fitting that Wadi was converted from Shi’ism to Sunnah in Najran, because, as I’ve written before, that town has always been front-line for the Sauds’ attempt to change the religion of the Shia of the region.


Most of the kids who swarmed to Dammaj had no idea they were traveling right to the heart of Saada Province, home of the Shia heretics. They were stronger on faith than history. Thanks to a blog called Fear the Dunya, we know a lot about what the Sunni pilgrims who came to Dammaj thought. The blog was put together by a guy calling himself Hassan as Somali. You can hear him preaching on this YouTube video, if you want to get a sense of his voice and style. It’s best in small doses; the whole 36-minute sermon is torture by anybody’s standards, but a few seconds gives you a sense of accent and attitude. He speaks American English fluently, but with an accent; he sounds young, very righteous, very authoritarian, very ordinary. That’s not a bad profile of a Salafist, actually: Young, male, authoritarian, bi-cultural, ordinary in everything else.

And, like a lot of Salafists, good at media. Hassan’s blog, “Fear the Dunya” (“Dunya” means “the Physical World,” or “reality” as unbelievers call it) got a lot of hits, drew a lot of eager pilgrims to Saada Province. He published posts on how to get to Dammaj, what you could expect to pay in rent ($15-30 per month), and a lot of commentary on the Yemen conflict.


The pilgrims memorizing Quranic verses and eating beans in the basement didn’t know it, but Darulal Hadeeth was a sectarian provocation, intended as such from the start. The fact that it endured as long as it did was testimony to Sunni strength at the beginning of the 21st century, but it had to fall eventually.

You can’t say that war started in Yemen in 2004, because it had never really stopped. But “the fighting” definitely stepped it up a few notches that year, as the Houthi militias, recruited from Saada Province itself, started taking their home province back from the Yemeni government and its Saudi ally.

The Houthi out-fought the Government troops easily. By 2009, they had retaken all of Saada Province except the little Sunni outpost of Dammaj, guarded by armed Salafi. The Yemen government, noting that they had a source of eager young Sunni fighters up there, started recruiting students from Darul al Hadeeth. After all, “Taliban” means “students.” And Salafi students are oriented, by their creed, toward action rather than mere bookish solitude.

So when the government needed new soldiers for “Operation Scorched Earth” in 2009, they persuaded hundreds of young students from Darul al Hadeeth to join up. Sixty nine of them died, many more were wounded, and the worst fears of the local Shia were confirmed: They were nursing a nest of Sunni vipers in their Shia bosom.


By 2014, the Houthi were pushing out from Saada, and finally felt strong enough to order all the foreign Salafis out of Dammaj. They were tired of being sniped at, not just literally but verbally, all the time. And it does get tiring, being subjected to that grandiose, repetitious Salafi scolding all the time. So, on January 13, 2014, the soon-to-be-ex government of Mansur Hadi made a deal handing over Saada Province to the Houthi. And for the first time, that included Darul al Hadeeth. Every Salafi inside had to leave, on short notice.

As the Nerd says:

It was as if the sheer power (and money, and guns, of course) of the Sunni revival held Darul al Hadeeth in place against all logic for a third of a century, until the start of the Shia pushback we’re seeing now. And it does give a nice touch of irony to the name that Somali-American gave his blog: “Fear the Dunya.” They were right to fear reality; it caught up with them after all.

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MN GOP Hates Bees And Anything Else That Can’t Sign Checks

Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 26, 2015

It’s a pity that bees don’t have appendages capable of holding pens or clicking keyboards, much less have big bank accounts from which they can use the pens or keyboards to draw out money to hand to Minnesota Republican state legislators like senator Gary Dahms (R-Poisoned Bees). Then they might be able to hold their own against the chemical companies that have captured his interest and his loyalties, causing him to roll back polllinator protections that were created by a more sensible legislature last year:

Unfortunately, the insecticide industry is fighting back, and it won another battle in the war against bees today in the Minnesota Senate Jobs, Agriculture and Rural Development Committee when Senator Gary Dahms (R-Redwood Falls) moved to amend SF1459 so that existing language would be deleted from statute.

“This is loosely drawn language, it’s very vague,” Dahms said. “. . . This was passed in the House last year, and the concern I have is that we’re going to start asking people when they apply for money through Legacy or LCCMR, we’re going to insist they meet this and it’s really going to be hard to do that because the terms and the facts just aren’t there. . . ” (We post the section of statute below).

But it’s not just wildlife habitat will be affected. As a consequence of removing the language, greenhouses and garden stores could market bee-lethal, neonic-treated plants and seeds as “pollinator friendly” to the home gardener.

Go to Bluestem Prairie for the full story, as well as for ways to contact the members of the relevant committee.

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Sequestration’s Last Gasp?

Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 22, 2015

I suspect it’s coming soon:

President Barack Obama on Friday drew a sharp line in the sand before the next big battle over funding the government, pledging his opposition to any bill that does not alleviate the spending cuts scheduled to become law this fall.

“I will not,” the president said in an interview with The Huffington Post, when asked if he would put his signature to legislation that allowed for sequestration to come back in October this year.

“And I’ve been very clear. We are not going to have a situation where, for example, our education spending goes back to its lowest level since the year 2000 — since 15 years ago — despite a larger population and more kids to educate. … We can’t do that to our kids, and I’m not going to sign it,” Obama said.

We’ll soon see.

(By the way: A good way to save money would be to avoid going to war with Iran. Tell your congresscritters that.)

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Cry, the Beloved Country

Posted by Charles II on March 20, 2015

Outsourced to Brother John.

War is Peace in our Brave New Dystopia.

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Ask not for whom the bell tolls

Posted by Charles II on March 15, 2015

Richard Lea and Caroline Davies, The Guardian:

The writer Terry Pratchett, who took millions of readers on a madcap journey to the universe of Discworld, has died aged 66.

The announcement came in typically irreverent manner on the author’s Twitter feed, with a series of tweets beginning in the voice of his character, Death: “AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER.”

“Terry took Death’s arm,” the following tweet read, “and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night.

“I rage at the imminent loss of my friend,” [Neil] Gaiman continued, “And I think, ‘What would Terry do with this anger?’ Then I pick up my pen, and I start to write.””

Old news to my co-bloggers, I suppose. I’m always last to know. But I wanted to say goodbye to one of my favorite writers.

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If A Homeopathic Drug Works, Look At Its “Inert” Ingredients

Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 12, 2015

<font size=”2″>I’ve noted elsewhere that Nelsons Acne Gel, which is surprisingly effective for a homeopathic treatment, has alcohol and tea tree oil among its “inert” ingredients:

Here’s the list of “active” ingredients, making up 9% of the total product: Extracts of organically grown Arnica montana tincture 2.5%, Calendula officinalis tincture 2.5%, Hypericum perforatum tincture 2.5%, Sulfur 6x 1.5%

Now here’s the list of “inactive” ingredients, making up the other 91% of the product: Alcohol, Carbomer [of what?], Methylparaben, Purified Water, Tea tree oil, Trolamine.

You tell me which ingredients are more likely to do a number on acne.

It is true that sulfur would normally be considered a pretty potent anti-acne medicine, but at a 6x dilution — meaning that it’s literally a millionth of what it once was — it’s practically nonexistent in this gel.

Now, I think I’ve found another example of this phenomenon: Traumeel. Once again, alcohol is one of the few ingredients with a possible pharmacological effect to be present in meaningful doses, yet it is listed as an “inert” ingredient:

…Traumeel ointment is 13.8% alcohol. Rubbing an alcohol-based ointment into the skin is likely to produce a cooling effect — exactly what you might be looking for if you’ve got a bruise, injury or swelling.

Want to duplicate the cooling effect of Traumeel ointment? Use pretty much any ointment with a similar percentage of alcohol in its makeup.

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