Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Posts Tagged ‘good news’

Good News You Likely Haven’t Heard From CNN Or The NYT

Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 30, 2014

Here’s some good news you probably won’t hear from most nationally-focused US media:

— Sam Wang of the Princeton Election Consortium (aka the guy who got all the 2012 Senate races right along with the Presidential race) has been saying that the Democrats have at least a 70% chance of keeping the Senate (today’s current snapshot gives them a 75% chance, with a longer-range Election Day forecast of 65%). How does he do it? By using poll data and not “secret sauce” (aka pulledoutmyass.com). (And the only reason I know about this is because of the cartoon in this Daily Kos post.)

— Mitch McConnell, who has been in a very tough race with Democratic candidate Alison Grimes, just took a big blow when his campaign manager, Jesse Benton, resigned today. Seems that back in 2012, when Benton worked for Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign, he was involved in getting Kent Sorenson, then an Iowa state Senator, to switch his endorsement from Michele Bachmann to Ron Paul, a move which Sorenson, on pleading guilty to Federal bribery charges Wednesday, says the Paul campaign paid him $73,000 to make. (Benton, by the way, is married to Ron Paul’s granddaughter, Valori Pyeatt.)

A town in West Virginia, where King Coal normally rules without question, has developed a useful funding model for converting to solar power.

So what’s the good word in your parts this week?

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Gar Alperovitz: There Is Good News

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 12, 2013

From a comment made by Gar Alperovitz in the course of a discussion of his new book, What Then Must We Do?: Straight Talk About the Next American Revolution:

What Then Must We Do (hereafter WTMWD) suggests that two important trends are emerging in the United States; and that it is important not to confuse them:

The first is a trend of decay, pain, and growing inequality: Thus, the top 1% has increased its share of income from roughly 10% to roughly 20% over thirty years; CO2 emissions have gone up 30% since 1970; poverty has increased, not decreased; in many cities Mayors have privatized (as David Dayen points on); etc., etc. etc.

WTMWD holds that the trend of decay reflects a systemic crisis in the nature of our corporate capitalist system, not simply a political crisis. The problem is institutional not political in the narrow sense:
Quite apart from globalization, race and many other factors numerous studies have shown that labor union strength has been necessary to keep corporate power in check worldwide—and it is the decline of union membership over the last several decades from 34.5% of the labor force to the 11% range (6.6% in the private sector) that is one of the most important sources of the decaying trends. Labor no longer has the political power to “counter” corporate political power.

The (currently dominant) trend of pain is well known; the fact that it derives from deeper institutional and systemic sources is less often stressed.

WTMD points out, however, that in significant part precisely because of the pain arising from this situation something else has quietly begun to develop throughout the United States—and it is also a trend involving institutional change. The press has done little to cover this trend; not surprisingly the public and many writers know little about it. Reporting on the new developments is one of the main things WTMD does. This quiet, slower moving trend involves the democratization of ownership at many different levels. Thus there are 10,000 employee owned companies; 130 million co-op members; 5000 neighborhood corporations; thousands of “social enterprises, etc. (Little of this is covered by a beleaguered press with little capacity to report on local realities.)

Though many cities (trend #1) have privatized services; hundreds of others (trend #2) have created public internet companies; 750 are now making money through companies set up to turn methane from garbage into electricity; still others are setting up publicly owned utilities; public land ownership (land trusts and real estate development around mass transit exits) is becoming another way for cities to develop ownership, etc. etc. etc. In some cities (most dramatically Cleveland) sophisticated and large scale worker co-ops are being bolstered by the purchasing power of large hospitals and universities, etc.

Still other “blockages” and “reversals” have occurred: Precisely because of the difficulties Chicago has had with privatization, New York scrapped plans to privatize parking meters earlier this year. Both Pennsylvania and New Jersey stopped attempts to privatize major public toll road operations; an effort in Pittsburgh to go forward with a proposed privatization of its parking system was blocked. A few months ago in Cincinnati a private concession plan was abandoned in the face of opposition, etc. By establishing direct public ownership of areas surrounding transit station exits, public agencies in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, and other cities earn millions capturing the increased land values their transit investments create.

There are also profound problems building up in connection with health care and banking, problems which WTMD suggests are beginning to point towards long term, slow moving new possibilities: Vermont is likely to be the first state to create a single payer health system; California passed it twice (vetoed by Arnold Schwarzenegger); etc. Numerous states have seen legislation introduced to create state banks like that of North Dakota; etc.

The core argument of WTMD is that the first trend of pain and decay flowing from the collapse of labor is not likely to be reversed by traditional politics: it reflects underlying institutional power shifts.

The new argument of the book is that the slow build-up of many forms of democratized ownership offers longer term hope of a counter-trend that also involves institutions, but institutions different in nature from unions—and that such institutional shifts begin to suggest a new basis for progressive political power.

The book clearly states that we do not know how far the new trend can be pushed, but that in addition to traditional political activism, it is important to self-consciously develop the new trend so as to bolster progressive politics wherever possible, since the old institutional basis of progressive politics—labor unions—is now in decay.

It also points out that more and more Americans—particularly younger people—are actively exploring various ways to develop what is increasingly termed the “new economy.” And it suggests that growing social and economic pain is building up in ways that appear increasingly to force this choice: either build in a new direction, or the pain will continue.

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Good News For The Planet: China Quadrupling Domestic Solar Installations

Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 5, 2012

China’s largely doing this to absorb excess solar-panel production so global solar panel prices don’t keep dropping (they’re currently at 87 cents a watt, competitive with coal), but it’s still a good thing that the world’s biggest user of coal, the world’s dirtiest form of energy, is going to seriously ramp up its commitment to domestic solar usage:

China, the biggest supplier of solar power panels, quadrupled a domestic installation goal for sun- derived energy projects to 21 gigawatts by 2015 to help absorb excess supply of panels and support prices.

The target includes 1 gigawatt of solar-thermal power plants, Shi Lishan, deputy director of the administration’s renewable energy division, said by phone today. The plan will be issued “soon,” he said.

China had planned 5 gigawatts of capacity in the five years through 2015 and 20 gigawatts by 2020. The government has considered an increase since last year as solar panel makers led by Suntech Power Holdings Co. and Trina Solar Ltd. suffer from cuts in European subsidies and a global supply glut that drove prices lower.

“With a significant tumble in photovoltaic prices, the timetable for mass use is ahead of time,” said Lian Rui, a senior analyst for the research company Solarbuzz. “The new target is still very conservative; we expect the installation to surpass 30 gigawatts.”

Considering China’s energy consumption now stands at 389 gigawatts, getting domestic solar installs up to 21 gigawatts may not seem like much, but remember that a little over a decade ago China had no solar industry at all, much less any domestic solar installations. Combined with the growth of domestic wind power (which itself currently stands at 40 gigawatts and is planned to be at 100 gigawatts by 2015, 200 gigawatts by 2020, 400 GW by 2030, and 1,000 GW by 2050), China could soon lose its title of “world’s biggest coal user” to the US, from whom it only recently took that not-very-honorable status.

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Russell Pearce, SB-1070 Author, Just Lost His Recall Election

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 8, 2011

As sad as it is knowing that the conservative backers of a “personable” Reaganesque marionette have likely succeeded in using their money and their scare mailers to buy themselves what they hope will be the first of many St. Paul City Council seats — and that this will embolden them to go after other truly progressive targets, such as Dave Thune, in the next set of elections — my mood was lifted a touch upon seeing this news:

In a stunning blow to the Tea Party movement, a huge turnout in Mesa’s conservative LD 18 overwhelmingly voted out Arizona’s hardline State Senate President Russell Pearce in a historic recall election today.

As the self-proclaimed “Tea Party President,” Pearce’s national role as the figurehead for punitive immigration measures also turned the recall election into a referendum on the state’s notorious SB 1070 “papers, please” immigration law, which Pearce had made the hallmark of his legislative career.

According to the Maricopa County Recorder Elections Department, Republican moderate and SB 1070 opponent Jerry Lewis overcame the Pearce campaign’s series of dirty tricks and election war chest to win 53.4% to 45.3%. in a contest that divided the city’s influential Mormon Church.

That’s amazing.

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