Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

War-messed regards from Mariupol

Posted by Charles II on August 19, 2015

Stephen Cohen on The John Batchelor Show, via The Nation:



Nation contributing editor Stephen F. Cohen and John Batchelor continue their weekly discussions of the Ukrainian crisis and new US-Russian Cold War. Heading this installment are mounting signs that Kiev may be planning a renewed military assault on the rebel strongholds of Donetsk, Lugansk, and other Donbass areas. If so, Cohen points out, this raises two large questions. Since Kiev alone cannot hope for a military victory and would likely suffer a crushing defeat, is it counting on US/NATO support. And if such support is forthcoming, will Russian President Putin have any choice except to send in his own forces, resulting in war between the United States and Russia?

Posted in international, Russia, Ukraine | Leave a Comment »

Maybe Latino Lives Matter will get on this

Posted by Charles II on August 19, 2015

Jonathan Marshall, The Consortium:

Exclusive: As Secretary of State in 2009, Hillary Clinton helped a right-wing coup in Honduras remove an elected left-of-center president, setting back the cause of democracy and enabling corrupt and drug-tainted forces to tighten their grip on the poverty-stricken country, as Jonathan Marshall explains.

The Obama administration has expressed sympathy for anti-corruption movements in Central America, but has yet to acknowledge its failure to protect democracy in Honduras against a military coup in 2009, which set the stage for that country’s current crisis.

Bowing to pressure from conservative Republicans in Congress, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton refused to condemn the ouster of leftist President Manuel Zelaya in 2009. By her own admission, she began plotting within days to prevent him from returning to office.

Her recently released emails show that she sought help from a pro-coup lobbyist for Honduran business interests to establish communications with the new military-backed president. She also approved the continuation of U.S. aid to the illegitimate new regime, blocked demands by the Organization of American States for Zelaya’s return, and accepted subsequent presidential elections that were condemned by most international observers as unfair and marred by violent intimidation.

So, perhaps Latino activists could be as aggressive in asking Hillary Clinton about her role in the Honduran coup as Black Lives Matters has been in asking Bernie Sanders how his administration would handle racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

Posted in 2016, Democrats, Hillary Clinton, Honduras | 2 Comments »

Would pumping sea water inland to create lakes be a possible solution to sealevel rise due to global warming?

Posted by Charles II on August 19, 2015

Would pumping sea water inland to create lakes be a possible solution to sealevel rise due to global warming?

This is a question I asked Bill McKibben three years ago. He said he’d look into it. I never got an answer.

I think it would serve three purposes:

  1. it would lower the sea level. Each inch of rise will produce roughly 1 million refugees. Sea level rise could wipe out ports, reducing our manufacturing capacity. Railroads would also be impacted.
  2. it will cool continental interiors by evaporation, and increase rainfall. These are important because warming and drying in the continental interior reduces agricultural productivity, increases forest fires, and otherwise worsens our problems.
  3. it could help to recharge aquifers, and perhaps accelerate the cleansing of fracking pollution.
  4. it could be used to generate electricity.
  5. if the salt were returned to the ocean, it would prevent a drop in ocean salinity, which is itself a concern in sea level rise.

Now, it’s geo-engineering on a massive scale. Geo-engineering is inherently dangerous. Could aquifers be contaminated by salt water?

How much land area would it require?

Wouldn’t the energy costs of pumping water uphill be hugely expensive? Indeed, wouldn’t the whole thing be simply too expensive?

These aren’t easy questions. Certainly the right way to deal with global warming is to reduce carbon and methane emissions, reduce wasteful consumption, etc. But the death grip that the oil industry has on this country’s politics is so total, and the ideas of the corporate geoengineers are so crazy, that we have to be prepared with our own answers.

We simply can’t be told that things are too expensive. The annual costs of global warming are estimated to be 250B in 2025– and rising. We can afford anything we can imagine, if it will solve the problem.

We can’t be told that it would take too much energy. Global warming = having too much energy.  All that’s left is the technical problem of harnessing it.

We can’t be told that the lakes have to be below sea level as the Director of the Purdue Climate Change Center suggested. The Great Salt Lake is almost a mile high. Salt lakes can be above sea level. They just have to be contained. Not easy to do, but a technical problem.

Oh, and by the way–the underground water around the Great Salt Lake is just fine.

We can’t be told that it’s impossible to move that much water. Nature did it when it created the Totten Glacier. It’s merely a technical problem for us to copy her.

So, could such lakes be built?  The surface area of the earth is 200 million square miles. Oceans are roughly 70% of the earth. So, a 10 foot rise in sea level is 265,000 square miles of water. That represents a land area roughly 500 miles on a side. That’s about twice the size of the Gobi desert. So, we could build one lake half a mile deep.

If even that seems impractical, suppose we built the lake just 500 feet deep. That would be 2 feet of the 10 feet of sea level rise. And every inch is a million or more refugees and billions in damage. To stop that one inch would be a lake only about 5 feet deep.

Ironically, the Chinese are already doing it. An American atmospheric scientist envisions the rise of oceans as a potential goldmine in farming salicornia bigelovii. Or shrimp. Or other crops that love the ocean.

And yet when one raises the thought, in America, it’s shouted down, as it was on Eschaton, where I broached it. Or it vanishes into Bill McKibben’s e-mail folder.

It’s getting embarrassing to be an American, where “big ideas” means coming up with new ways to laugh at Donald Trump.

Posted in climate change, global warming | 4 Comments »

Diaoyu Islands: a pro-Chinese view

Posted by Charles II on August 16, 2015

China Daily (XinHua News):

The short feature [Diaoyu Islands, the Truth, by Chris D. Nebe] holds the view that “the real Diaoyu Islands conflict goes from the so-called administrative rights of the United States. After the Second World War, instead of returning the islands to China, the United States claimed ‘administrative rights.’ In 1971, America gave the islands back to Japan, ignoring China’s long-standing claim.”

In the last part of the film, Nebe asserts that “America can quell the tension by encouraging his Japanese ally to return the Diaoyu Islands to China and apologize to Chinese people for the war crimes of Imperial Japan.”

A lot of it is re-hashing Japanese war crimes, which indeed should never be forgotten. It takes 30 minutes to get to the meat of the issue.

Nebe’s view is that hundreds of years ago, envoys of the Chinese emperor discovered the Diaoyu, and that the Chinese of that era were not rapacious imperialists, so they deserve the islands. But there’s no evidence that I know of that the Chinese were interested in the islands before they became important with regard to claiming offshore oil, fisheries, and shipping lanes.

My own view is that this region should be declared a world site dedicated to rescuing the people displaced by global warming. Japan became an aggressive empire in large part because it lacked resources and feared being overwhelmed by the American and Russian empires. China was weak and therefore easily devoured– as had done the western powers before them.

Now China is becoming strong, and increasingly imperialistic. There is clearly fear of Chinese hegemony in Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Phillipines, Vietnam, and other Asian nations. Will China do the right thing and seek a solution that reassures its neighbors? Or will it continue to press to gain absolute control over territory in order to exploit resources and control shipping?

Posted in China, Japan, resource wars | Leave a Comment »

The harvest

Posted by Charles II on August 16, 2015


Let’s just say that, in this part of the north 40, things did not go as planned.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Hydropower From City Water Lines

Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 14, 2015

This system, currently being used in Riverside, California, and Portland, Oregon, is a brilliantly good idea:

Gregg Semler, president and CEO of LucidEnergy, said his team originally went into the business of hydropower by looking at ways to capture energy from streams. But they soon realized that it was difficult to predict the flow of a stream, and that generating hydropower could be environmentally degrading. Pipes, on the other hand, are existing-man made infrastructure, so equipping them to be power producers doesn’t present any environmental concerns. They also pump water daily at a fairly constant rate, which allows for a consistent flow of energy.
“What’s really interesting about Lucid is this is a new source of energy that’s never really been tapped into before,” Semler said. “You take the best of hydroelectricity and put it in the pipe.”

Riverside’s small-scale pilot project is working so well that the city uses it to power its streetlights. Portland’s project is a bit bigger: four turbines in fifty feet of pipe produce enough power to run 150 homes.

The system can’t work in all pipes, as it relies on gravity to work. But it can work in enough situations to be a valued part of a municipal energy infrastructure.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

The U.S. Justice system

Posted by Charles II on August 13, 2015

Ed Pilkington, The Guardian:

Chelsea Manning, the US army soldier serving a 35-year military prison sentence for leaking official secrets, has been threatened with indefinite solitary confinement for having an expired tube of toothpaste in her cell and being found in possession of the Caitlyn Jenner Vanity Fair issue, according to her lawyers and supporters.

Now that makes sense.

Somewhere in a galaxy far, far away.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

The Digital Domesday

Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 10, 2015

I’d been waiting for this for ages:

Open Domesday

That’s right, kiddies – the UK’s oldest public record is online, obviating the need to plunk down a few grand for the printed copies.

Poring over it is great fun.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

The Digital Bodleian

Posted by Charles II on August 8, 2015


Parabeik-from digital Bodleian

From Jonathan Jones The Guardian

Posted in Just for fun | 1 Comment »

No one could have foreseen this

Posted by Charles II on August 7, 2015

Heather Stewart, The Guardian:

Fresh evidence of the dramatic impact of the Greek debt crisis on the health of the country’s finances has emerged, with official figures showing tax revenues collapsing.

As talks continued over a proposed €86bn third bailout of the stricken state, the Greek treasury said tax revenues were 8.5% lower in the first six months of 2015 than the same period a year earlier. The bank shutdown that brought much economic activity to a halt began on 28 June.

Public spending fell even more dramatically, by 12.3%, even before the new austerity measures the prime minister Alexis Tsipras has been forced to pass to win the support of his creditors for talks on a new bailout.

To recap: public spending fell and tax revenues fell. In Keynesian theory, this is understood as a decline in demand causing a decline in sales, incomes, and other taxable events. To Austerians, this is proof that the degree of austerity was insufficient.

Posted in economy | 1 Comment »

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