Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Rolling Jubilee Well Into Third Year, Sky Hasn’t Fallen Yet

Posted by Phoenix Woman on February 22, 2015

One of the more interesting things about the critics of Occupy offshoot Strike Debt’s Rolling Jubilee program is that they keep warning of Big Problems Lurking Just Around The Corner.

Well, it’s been over two years now since the Rolling Jubilee was started, and the insinuative warnings are still coming, even as there is no evidence that any of the Big Problems have ever come to pass.

And, yes, we would know very, very quickly if any Big Problem did come to pass, because all of the members of the right-wing, Occupy-hating corporate puke funnels that dictate America’s news diet (as well as creating the right-wing email smears that your nutty uncle sends to everyone in his mail contacts list and his Facebook friends list) would be all over this before you could say “gold bug”.

One thing the critics of the Rolling Jubilee like to do is to complain that the program doesn’t strike at the root of the debt crisis. One finds it surprising that all these super-smart and super-honest critics (well, maybe, um, not so much) are for some strange reason ignoring what the Rolling Jubilee’s creators have been saying about it all along, as in this November 27, 2012 article in The Nation (an article that’s linked to on the Rolling Jubilee homepage, by the way):

The Rolling Jubilee was not designed to be a feasible, long-term solution to the debt crisis in and of itself. Instead, it is a “bailout by the people, for the people,” a chance to offer others support and solidarity where the government has failed them. While critics like Yves Smith and Doug Henwood have focused on the limits of this tactic, what interests us are the possibilities this experiment opens up, the good will that is fostered, the conversations that it sparks and the new ideas and action plans that are percolating. Who knows where the jubilee will roll next or what its impact will be? Regardless, organizers are well aware that the result of debt cancellation, even on a mass scale, would be negligible unless it was coupled with a far deeper restructuring of our economic system. That is the prize our eyes are on, and that’s why Strike Debt chapters are now springing up in cities all across the country.

And in fact, the Rolling Jubilee stopped accepting donations as of December 31, 2013, so the program is being wound down in any event, having served its main purpose of bringing attention to America’s true debt crisis.

But even as Phase One (the Rolling Jubilee) is being wound down, Phase Two is about to be initiated:

Strike Debt is wrapping up the Rolling Jubilee project. [Strike Debt spokesman Thomas] Gokey estimates it has enough money left to buy two or three more debt portfolios before it exhausts its funds.

And then ….. the debt fairy morphs into a debt demon.

In what should make veins in the blue blood community run even colder, the group plans to move on to organizing “debt strikes” in which selected groups of debtors who share a common debt or creditor strategically stop payment in an effort to force creditors to renegotiate a yet-to-be defined “unjust” debt by, for example, reducing the principal or interest.

“It’s a waste of time to work through a political system bought and paid for by industries,” Gokey said. “We need to organize mass resistance.”

Whether trying to destablize the credit system is a good idea is debatable. And whether enough consumers would buy into the idea of a strike to make it effective, considering the huge risks involved to them personally, remains to be seen.

But it certainly should get people talking.

And getting people talking is indeed the whole point. Changing the terms of debate paves the way for eventual and long-lasting success; in fact, success — especially enduring success — is not possible unless the terms of debate are changed.

When Occupy first started in the fall of 2011, the debt being talked about the most was the debt or deficit the Federal government was running up, and the people doing the talking were all right-wingers and corporatist types who wanted to keep doing the main thing that created the debt, which was to cut taxes on rich people and big businesses. Occupy abruptly stopped that in its tracks, and the “deficit hawks” have never been able to regain control of the national dialogue since.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Rudy Giuliani: My Thug Felon Daddy Made Me Love America

Posted by Phoenix Woman on February 21, 2015

Rudolph Giuliani, of course, knows no shame, or the man known as “Noun Verb 9/11” would have died of it long ago.

That being said, I am circulating this Wayne Barrett piece from the New York Daily News, in the hope that enough people see it to put paid to any further fantasies Giuliani might have about reviving his political career, not to mention his White House dreams:

Rudy Giuliani knows a lot about love.

Ask Regina Peruggi, the second cousin he grew up with and married, who was “offended” when Rudy later engineered an annulment from the priest who was his best man on the grounds, strangely enough, that she was his cousin. Or ask Donna Hanover, the mother of his two children, who found out he wanted a separation when he left Gracie Mansion one morning and announced it at a televised press conference.

Or ask Judi Nathan, his third wife, whom he started dating while still married to Hanover and New York mayor. In two SUVs, he and an entourage of six or seven cops traveled 11 times to Judi’s Hamptons getaway at a taxpayer cost of $3,000 a trip. That’s love.

Rudy knows so much about love that he declared the other day that President Obama “doesn’t love you” and “doesn’t love me” at a private party of GOP fat cats.

There’s more:

Giuliani went so far as to rebuke the President for not being “brought up the way you were and the way I was brought up through love of this country,” a bow no doubt to the parenting prowess of Harold Giuliani, who did time in Sing Sing for holding up a Harlem milkman and was the bat-wielding enforcer for the loan-sharking operation run out of a Brooklyn bar owned by Rudy’s uncle.

Though Rudy cited Harold throughout his public life as his model (without revealing any of his history), he and five Rudy uncles found ways to avoid service in World War II. Harold, whose robbery conviction was in the name of an alias, made sure the draft board knew he was a felon. On the other hand, Obama’s grandfather and uncle served. His uncle helped liberate Buchenwald, which apparently affected him so deeply he stayed in the family attic for six months when he returned home.

Again, if only Rudy Giuliani could feel shame.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

Elections In Greece, India, The UK, France: Why Are US Media Relatively Quiet About Them?

Posted by Phoenix Woman on February 10, 2015

It’s a funny thing, American media coverage of the politics of other nations. The US press (and especially its TV networks) will always let you know when right-wing parties and politicians do well, but almost never when lefties do well – unless it’s to, as in the case of Greece and the Syriza victory, sternly lecture the winners on the alleged dangers of “going too far”.

That’s why I’m willing to bet that, if you get most of your news from network TV or drive-time radio, you likely don’t know that India’s much-vaunted turn to the economic right just got 180ed yesterday, with bellwether elections in New Delhi (h/t chandu):

NEW DELHI: Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party has swept the Delhi assembly polls, winning 67 wins out of the 70 assembly seats, about two and a half times the number they won in the last election. The AAP chief won the New Delhi seat, defeating BJP’s Nupur Sharma by more than double the number of votes.

This is the highest share of seats won in the history of Delhi elections.

[…]

For the AAP, a young party born in 2012, this is a dream win. It has proved that an alternate politics can be viable. And its victory in Delhi, because of the city’s prominence as India’s capital and its nursery of ideas, will resound across the country.

For the Congress, this adds to the string of its recent failures. If the inability to win a single seat in Delhi, a city it ruled for 15 years till 2013, doesn’t prompt change in the party organisation, it’s unclear what will.

You may also not know that the Tories are in big electoral trouble in the UK, with Cameron likely to lose his PM job before the year is out.

Or that French president Francois Hollande, a Socialist, has seen his popularity, as low as 12% in November, rise to 40% last month (a huge amount for a country that doesn’t use a first-past-the-post electoral system), though it’s leveled off to the mid-thirties since then. The Charlie Hebdo attacks were credited for this, though his numbers had already started to rise in December, before the attacks. (Regardless, both he and the Socialists are now popular enough to beat back the far-right National Front in a recent by-election.)

Fascinating.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

2003 Redux, Except Iran’s Been Subbed For Iraq

Posted by Phoenix Woman on February 4, 2015

Even as the increasingly shocking and desperate actions of the doomed Sunni Wahabist grifters formerly known as ISIS clearly demonstrate where the world’s real antiterror priorities lie, those who want us to line up against Russia, Iran, and Syria are stepping up what I increasingly think of as their “yellowcake game”.

Exhibit A: The demonzation of Iran, of which the most sickening development has been the hideous effort to promote the MEK-dictated garbage of the late Argentinian prosecutor Alberto Nisman:

Nisman’s rambling and repetitious report cites statements by four members of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which is the political arm of the MEK, as the sources for the charge that Iran decided on the AMIA bombing in August 1993.

The primary source is Reza Zakeri Kouchaksaraee, president of the Security and Intelligence Committee of the NCRI. The report quotes Kouchaksaraee as testifying to an Argentine Oral Court in 2003, “The decision was made by the Supreme National Security Council at a meeting that was held on 14 August, 1993. This meeting lasted only two hours from 4:30 to 6:30 pm.”

Nisman also quotes Hadi Roshanravani, a member of the International Affairs Committee of the NCRI, who claimed to know the same exact starting time of the meeting – 4:30 pm – but gave the date as Aug. 12, 1993 rather than Aug. 14.

Roshanravani also claimed to know the precise agenda of the meeting. The NCRI official said that three subjects were discussed: “The progress and assessment of the Palestinian Council; the strategy of exporting fundamentalism throughout the world; and the future of Iraq.” Roshanravani said “the idea for an attack in Argentina” had been discussed “during the dialogue on the second point”.

The NCRI/MEK was claiming that the Rafsanjani government had decided on a terrorist bombing of a Jewish community centre in Argentina as part of a policy of “exporting fundamentalism throughout the world”.

But that MEK propaganda line about the Iranian regime was contradicted by the U.S. intelligence assessment at the time. In its National Intelligence Estimate 34-91 on Iranian foreign policy, completed on Oct. 17, 1991, U.S. intelligence concluded that Rafsanjani had been “gradually turning away from the revolutionary excesses of the past decade…toward more conventional behavior” since taking over as president in 1989.

Ali Reza Ahmadi and Hamid Reza Eshagi, identified as “defectors” who were affiliated with NCRI, offered further corroboration of the testimony by the leading NCRI officials. Ahmadi was said by Nisman to have worked as an Iranian foreign service officer from 1981 to 1985. Eshagi is not otherwise identified.

Nisman quotes Ahmadi and Eshagi, who made only joint statements, as saying, “It was during a meeting held at 4:30 pm in August 1993 that the Supreme National Security Council decided to carry out activities in Argentina.”

Nisman does not cite any non-MEK source as claiming such a meeting took place. He cites court testimony by Abolghassem Mesbahi, a “defector” who had not worked for the Iranian intelligence agency since 1985, according to his own account, but only to the effect that the Iranian government made the decision on AMIA sometime in 1993. Mesbahi offered no evidence to support the claim.

Nisman repeatedly cites the same four NCRI members to document the alleged participation of each of the seven senior Iranians for whom he requested arrest warrants. A review of the entire document shows that Kouchaksaraee is cited by Nisman 29 times, Roshanravani 16 times and Ahmadi and Eshagi 16 times, always together making the same statement for a total of 61 references to their testimony.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Andrew Sullivan: The Modern-Day Hearst

Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 30, 2015

Mark Ames reminds us that Andrew Sullivan’s journalistic atrocities aren’t limited to his championing of the bigoted Bell Curve:

Briefly: In 1991, PBS’ Frontline ran an investigation making a strong case that top Reagan officials cut a secret deal with Ayatollah Khomeini’s agents during the 1980 election campaign, in which the Iranians promised to help Reagan defeat Carter by holding on to the American hostages until after the elections, and in return, the Reagan Administration would arrange secret arms shipments to Khomeini for his war with Iraq. Carter was unable to work out a deal with Iran; Reagan won the election; and the hostages were freed during his inauguration ceremony; and the secret arms shipments to Khomeini became the Iran-Contra Scandal.

By late 1991, the evidence of an October Surprise was so great that a Congressional committee was formed to investigate. That’s when 28-year-old Andrew Sullivan hired Steve Emerson — recently named one of America’s five most influential promoters of Islamophobic hate propaganda, cited twice by Anders Breivak in his manifesto — to “debunk” the reporting on the October Surprise with a cover story headlined “What October Surprise?” that relied on invented evidence later exposed as fake and disowned even by Emerson.

Despite the fact that Emerson’s hit piece was later exposed as based on fraud — or, as Emerson claimed, a mistake he blamed on his research assistant — nevertheless, Emerson’s hit-piece remained out on the market long enough to succeed in its goal of smearing one of the great journalism scoops of the past few decades, scaring away everyone from Congressmen to journalists from seriously pursuing it any further. As media watchdog FAIR wrote back in 1993:

Sadly, such tactics have had their intended effect on the conventional wisdom. The October Surprise is now a laughable non-story, and a deep chill blows over any press investigation of recent covert history.Washington Monthly editor Jon Meacham summed it up in a recent unrelated story (7-8/93), when he dismissed a persistent media factoid as “like the October Surprise: enduring yet wrong.” Ironically, in media circles, it is Steve Emerson’s dismissal of the October Surprise that turned out to be enduring–even though much of his evidence turned out to be wrong.

The result, as Frontline investigative journalist Bob Parry wrote, “scared the Senate into backing away from a full-scale October Surprise investigation and the House acted as if it would only go through the motions before clearing Reagan and Bush.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

IRENA: Renewable Energy Coming Of Age Sooner Than You Think

Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 25, 2015

— the International Renewable Energy Agency — has some good news for us all:

The cost of generating power from renewable energy sources has reached parity or dropped below the cost of fossil fuels for many technologies in many parts of the world, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) revealed in a new report today.

The landmark report, Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2014, concludes that biomass, hydropower, geothermal and onshore wind are all competitive with or cheaper than coal, oil and gas-fired power stations, even without financial support and despite falling oil prices. Solar photovoltaic (PV) is leading the cost decline, with solar PV module costs falling 75 per cent since the end of 2009 and the cost of electricity from utility-scale solar PV falling 50 per cent since 2010.

“Renewable energy projects across the globe are now matching or outperforming fossil fuels, particularly when accounting for externalities like local pollution, environmental damage and ill health,” said Adnan Z. Amin, Director-General of IRENA. “The game has changed; the plummeting price of renewables is creating a historic opportunity to build a clean, sustainable energy system and avert catastrophic climate change in an affordable way.”

Report highlights:

In many countries, including Europe, onshore wind power is one of the most competitive sources of new electricity capacity available. Individual wind projects are consistently delivering electricity for USD 0.05 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) without financial support, compared to a range of USD 0.045 to 0.14/kWh for fossil-fuel power plants.

The average cost of wind energy ranges from USD 0.06/kWh in China and Asia to USD 0.09/kWh in Africa. North America also has competitive wind projects, with an average cost of USD 0.07/kWh.

Solar PV module prices have dropped 75% since 2009 and continue to decrease.
Residential solar PV systems are now as much as 70% cheaper than in 2008.

Between 2010 and 2014 the total installed costs of utility-scale solar PV systems fell by as much as 65 per cent. The most competitive utility-scale solar PV projects are delivering electricity for USD 0.08/kWh without financial support, and lower prices are possible with low financing costs. Their cost range in China, North America and South America has fallen within the range of fossil fuel-fired electricity.
Solar power prices are dropping rapidly in the Middle East, with a recent tender in Dubai, UAE, falling to 0.06USD/kWh.

Renewables are competitive, even when integrating high shares of variable renewables into the electricity. When damage to human health from fossil fuels in power generation is considered in economic terms, along with the cost of CO2 emissions, the price of fossil fuel-fired power generation rises to between USD 0.07 and 0.19/kWh.

For 1.3 billion people worldwide without electricity, renewables are the cheapest source of energy. Renewables also offer massive gains in cost and security for islands and other isolated areas reliant on diesel.

Thanks in large part to the clear business case for renewables, a record high of 120 gigawatts of renewable energy was added to the global energy mix in 2013, with similar additions forecast for 2014. Renewable energy accounted for 22 per cent of global electricity generation and 19 per cent of total final energy consumption in 2013.

“Now is the time for a step-change in deployment for renewables,” said Mr. Amin. “It has never been cheaper to avoid dangerous climate change, create jobs, reduce fuel import bills and future-proof our energy system with renewables. This requires public acknowledgement of the low price of renewables, an end to subsidies for fossil fuels, and regulations and infrastructure to support the global energy transition.”

The report goes on to explain that renewable energy price improvements are not universal, and that costs range widely according to resources and the availability of financing. Offshore wind and concentrated solar power (CSP) technologies are in earlier stages and deployment costs remain higher than those of fossil fuels. These technologies will however become more cost-competitive in future, especially where low-cost financing is available.

Download the full report at: http://www.irena.org/publications

– See more at: http://www.irena.org/News/Description.aspx?NType=A&mnu=cat&PriMenuID=16&CatID=84&News_ID=386#sthash.ViWoQSEh.dpuf

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Would you baptize an extraterrestrial?

Posted by Charles II on January 25, 2015

An interesting thing on BookTV: Would you Baptize an Extraterrestrial?

And speaking of which, What The Onion is to politics, The Eye of the Tiber is to the Catholic Church.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Saudi Arabia Gets A New King

Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 22, 2015

His name is Salman, and he might not last too long:

I lived for over thirty years in the Arabian Gulf, eight of which were spent in Riyadh, the Saudi capital. If I learned nothing else during those three decades it was that in the Arab World, the only way any decision is taken is by consensus. Compromise in the sense that we in the west are familiar with it quite frankly does not exist. And it makes no difference what level you are talking about, whether at government level, ministerial level, tribal level, family level, or in a corporate office. The arguments continue ad nauseum until such time as one decision is accepted by all. You can’t have a 6-5 decision, the majority rules, and the decision is made — and accepted — by everyone, whether on winning or losing side or not.

As for what happens if something befalls King Salman, he has already appointed Prince Muqrin as Crown Prince, a post which generally includes commander of the National Guard and the Ministry of Defense portfolio. Muqrin, based on what I heard of the man when I lived there, was judged to be pretty clear-headed and reasonable. How he is now, thirty years later, I have no way of knowing, but in any event, there is a clear path to a further succession. The problem is what happens after he passes away. I think the sons of Abdulaziz have just about passed their sell-by date. The question: Do they drop down one or even two generations to find another king? That’s where the rubber hits the road, I’m afraid.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Stay Outta Small Planes, Papa Frank: Saint Oscar Romero Edition

Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 12, 2015

If Pope Francis’ sermons on inequality, his demoting dorks like Burke, his efforts to close Gitmo, and his working with President Obama to thaw relations with Cuba didn’t suffice to to convince folks that there’s a new sheriff in the town of Vatican City, how about this courtesy of Charlie Pierce?

While I think the process of Making Saints is rife with corruption and medievalism, it does occasionally serve to remind us who the real heroes were, and who the real monsters were.

Archbishop Romero was assassinated while serving Mass in El Salvador in 1980 by Right-wing death squads. His murder came a day after he had said in a homily that soldiers should obey God’s commands and put down their guns. Archbishop Romero’s Cause was opened at the Vatican two decades ago but was delayed for years as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith studied his writings, amid debate over whether he had been killed for his faith or for political reasons. In 2013 Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family and official promoter of Archbishop Romero’s Cause, said the process had been “unblocked.”Last year Robert Mickens of Global Pulse said that Archbishop Romero will “almost certainly” be beatified in 2015, and that Francis may skip the beatification and canonise him in San Salvador.

Gee. It was “blocked” for two decades and suddenly, it became “unblocked.” Wonder who could have been “blocking” it.

We all know who blocked it: The guy who was John Paul II’s right-hand man and who later became Pope in his own right, Benedict XVI.

We all who know who unblocked it: Francis.

I still wish he’d do more to end child sex abuse by clergy, and that he’d get a more realistic view of women. But he’s light-years ahead of every other Pope not named John XXIII.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Occupy Safety: An Answer To NYPD Stupidity

Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 11, 2015

In one of the few instances of conservatives ever supporting a union, FOX News and the rest of the GOP/Media Complex are cheering on the NYPD FoP leader Pat Lynch’s coup attempt against the democratically elected mayor of New York City.

The latest move of Lynch has been to remove large numbers of cops from the poorer neighborhoods, in what’s called a “slowdown”.

Occupy should step into this gap. It would embarrass the cops even further.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »