January 22, 2008 archive

Four at Four

Some news other than the markets collapsing.

  1. According to The Great Beyond, a blog at Nature, there could be a Climate change trade war brewing.

    Europe and the US could be headed for a trade war over climate change.

    In a speech yesterday José Barroso, president of the European Commission, said he would be ready to force companies outside the EU to buy carbon allowances to ensure that companies inside were not disadvantaged by Europe’s tougher emissions targets (speech).

    While this apparently went down well with the audience (of European businessmen) it hasn’t gone down so well with America.

    Reuters highlights that US Trade Representative Susan Schwab said that an earlier version of the EU plans seemed to be an excuse to close the European market and amounted to something like protectionism. More worryingly, the notes for speech delivered by Schwab last week contains the statement, “The unilateral imposition of restrictions can lead to retaliation, and dramatically impact economic growth and markets worldwide – while accomplishing nothing or worse when it comes to advancing environmental objectives.”

  2. The Christian Science Monitor reports Wind, solar tax credits to expire. “After years of start-and-stop growth, wind-and solar- power industries soared in 2007, thanks to three consecutive years of tax credits that provided a critical lift for both sectors. But whether the fledgling industries can fly without tax credits, due to expire at the end of this year, is a question being debated on Capitol Hill this week.”

    Nearly one-third of all US power capacity added last year – about 5,244 megawatts – was in wind. Overall wind-generating capacity soared 45 percent last year, adding the clean-energy equivalent of 10 large coal-fired power plants, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) reported last week.

    Wind power injected $9 billion into the US economy and now employs 20,000 people directly, the industry says. Plans for at least eight new US wind-power manufacturing plants employing 5,000 workers were announced last year, AWEA officials say…

    Together, today’s tax breaks for wind and solar cost taxpayers a little more than $1 billion annually.

    I think this has been a good investment for America and should be continued.

Four at Four continues below the fold with a story about the Canadian border and the death of thousands of Inuit sled dogs.

Wobblies Strike Starbucks: Let’s Help Them!


IWW Demonstraters at NYC Starbucks (NY TimesPhoto)

The NY Times has the story:

The dramatic battles of the American labor movement were often fought in hazardous settings like the coal fields of Kentucky or the textile mills of Massachusetts.


And so it was that a crowd of about 50 people wrapped in scarves and bandannas against the cold gathered Monday morning outside a Starbucks at the corner of Fifth Avenue and East 33rd Street.

As their breath steamed the air, they chanted and sang. They carried long banners bearing the logo of the Industrial Workers of the World, a union founded in 1905 that has been trying to organize Starbucks workers since 2004.

Red and black anarchist flags waved in the wind, and one woman held aloft a placard depicting a pouncing black cat toppling what appeared to be a venti latte cup emblazoned with a dollar sign.

Typical New York Times.  The labor struggle is supposed to be stuck in the 19th century and resemble Matewan or Hazard or Lawrence.  Give me a break.   This is 2008 and it’s time to organize and unionize the global latte retailer.  And don’t remind me, please, that the Wobblies have been trying to organize Starbucks in NYC since 2004 and haven’t succeeded yet.  Please.  Enough is enough.  It’s time.

Folks, can we help the Wobblies organize Starbucks?  Of course we can.  You’re smart.  You drink coffee.  You probably use their bathrooms and their hot spots.  And you know it’s the right thing to do to help a union organize this industry.  Let’s put our heads together and find ways to help.  Put your ideas in the comments.

Of course, one of the things we might do immediately is stop swilling Starbucks in solidarity until they recognize this union.  There are still plenty of non-globalized caffeine emporiums (emporia?) in Gotham and elsewhere in the world where we can download caffeine.  These coffee purveyors have resisted the uniformity and standardized high priced Starbucks invasion.  Instead of Starbucks we can go instead coffee places that are fair trade, organic, locally owned, non Global.  Wouldn’t that be better?  Wouldn’t we feel better about that?  Wouldn’t we be able to snear at Starbucks consumers for being tools of oppression? Scabs? And so not hip?

I’m sure there are other things we can do.  And folks like me, who are on a de facto Starbucks boycott already and have been for some time, probably need to do something to make our feelings felt.  That’s what the comments are for: ideas to support this strike.

Organize Starbucks Already!  Basta Ya!

Updated (5:24 pm ET): I put this up at orange.  Some of the comments are astonishingly anti union.  This is a surprise and a disappointment to me.  To me, it’s an article of faith and reason that organized workers are in a much better position than unorganized workers.  I thought that was beyond debate, but apparently, it’s not.  Even on allegedly progressive/democratic blogs.  For shame.

‘Winning’ in Iraq; What would that be, exactly?

Joe Johns of CNN asked Hillary Clinton:

Last week, you said the next president will, quote, “have a war to end in Iraq.” In light of the new military and political progress on the ground there in Iraq, are you looking to end this war or win it?

To her credit, Clinton didn’t take the bait, responding well to that inane question:

I’m looking to bring our troops home, starting within 60 days of my becoming president, and here’s why, Joe. I have the greatest admiration for the American military. I serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee. I’ve been to Iraq three times. I’ve met with the leaders of the various factions. But there is no military solution, and our young men and women should not remain as the referees of their conflict.

Barack Obama and John Edwards also said they want to extract US troops and disengage, to a large degree, from Iraq.  There are nuances, different language, different timelines, but none of the Democrats’ Big Three is espousing “winning” in Iraq. Transcript.

It makes you wonder just what might constitute “victory.”  Someone should have asked Joe Johns.  Or maybe John “100-Years-War” McCain or one of the other rabid Republicans would like to take a crack at it.

If victory means getting out alive, it’s too late for nearly 4,000 US troops, and more than a million Iraqis.

Was regime change the goal?  Would that constitute victory?

If so, US troops should have come home after George Bush’s famous “Mission Accomplished” stunt.  Saddam has not only been deposed, but captured and brutally executed.  That shouls make us all feel better, even if it turns our that Bin Laden guy was in another country and is still at large, and that Saddam really wasn’t intent on blowing up the world, or at least didn’t have the capability even if he would have liked to.

A stable and successful Iraq will directly improve the national security of our own country,” said Congressman Joe Wilson (SC-02), Co-Chair of the Victory in Iraq Caucus. “Today, we were grateful to be joined by (USAID) Director (Dawn) Liberi and General (John) Kelly, two officials who recognize the tremendous importance of building a civil society in Iraq and are dedicated to successfully completing this mission. Under their leadership, thousands of brave American men and women are working tirelessly to help ensure Iraqis live in a stable, democratic, and prosperous state.” — Link.

“Stable, democratic and prosperous.”  Waiting for that to come true really could mean a Hundred Years War.  Political progress has been and will remain elusive.

Was access to oil our goal, as some critics claim?  We seem to be able to buy all we want, as long as we’re willing to pay in the neighborhood of twice what it cost a year ago. That hardly seems like victory.

Making money for Halliburton and KBR?  Only the most cynical would suggest that Bush and Cheney started a war to help their old friends and political cronies.  More likely that was just one of the positive side effects, from the Bush-Cheney point of view.  Sort of like collateral damage to the US taxpayers and economy.

But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that funneling tons of money to Halliburton was the goal. Then this administration really has accomplished its mission, and it’s time to declare victory and bring the troops home.

Of Race, Religion, Church and State

Race, religion and the intertwined aspects of freedom, justice and ethical prosecution of due process within a democratic framework seem to always evoke a variety of reactions among people — sometimes violent, sometimes vehement, and sometimes quite touching and sublime.

In addition to the regular interactive dance of race, religion and ethics that we see in everyday life and through our media filtes, we also have a new horizon to explore — the one afforded to us through the use of “new media” such as the blogosphere.

Two examples worthy of your attention and your help with dissemination are now posted over on ePluribus Media. Make the jump for more details.

Meanwhile, There’s a War Going On

Anyone still paying attention knows that one of the keys to the relative decrease in violence, in Iraq, has been the unilateral six-month cease-fire, called by Moqtada al Sadr. And he had been indicating that he would continue the cease-fire, when it expires, next month. That could be changing. As the McClatchy Newspapers reported:

A police raid Saturday on an extremist Shiite Muslim mosque thought to be the headquarters of an extremist cult capped a weekend of violence in southern Iraq, while elsewhere tensions between Iraq’s Shiite-led government and renegade Shiite cleric Moqtada al Sadr continued to escalate.

Iraq’s national security advisor said he was briefly taken hostage Saturday in a Baghdad mosque and implied that his captors were Sadr supporters. Mowaffak al Rubaie was released only after Iraq’s interior minister, who oversees the police, intervened.

In an e-mail to McClatchy, Rubaie said that Sadr’s followers “used the same tactics that they used before on Abdul Majid al Khoei.” Sadrists were accused of fatally stabbing Khoei, a moderate young Shiite cleric who was considered a rival to Sadr, in 2003. A warrant for Sadr was issued in 2004, but it’s never been executed, and he’s denied any involvement.

On Friday, a spokesman for Sadr warned that the cleric might not extend a six-month cease-fire by his Mahdi Army militia, which U.S. officials say has contributed to the reduction in violence in Iraq. In a statement, Salah al Obeidi charged that rival Shiite militias have infiltrated Iraq’s security forces and that some senior security officials remain in their jobs although they’ve been charged with human rights offenses.

“This will force us to reconsider the decision to extend the cease-fire despite repeated public statements in the past that we will,” Obeidi said.

In other words, all the happy talk about the “surge” working may soon come to an end. But it’s all been lies, anyway. As Joe Conason recently wrote:

Rush Limbaugh possibly not supporting any Republican Presidential candidates.

Raw Story now reports on its front page that Rush Limbaugh may not support any of the Republican presidential candidates. It seems that the right-wing political movement is now in its last throes, seeing that there is no clear favorite in the race and none of the current candidates can unite them like Ronald Reagan did.

And Limbaugh is hardly the only gatekeeper who may sit out this race. The Republican Party is controlled by many gatekeepers, including Dobson, Norquist, and many others. Dobson, for instance, has refused to give his blessing to Mitt Romney, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, or Fred Thompson. The fact of the matter is that the social conservatives who provide the boots on the ground only have one candidate — Ron Paul, who meets their purity tests on abortion, gays, gun control, immigration, and taxes. Paul does not have the blessing of one of the key wings of the Republican Party — the defense hawks and neocons, given his opposition to Iraq. However, the fact that he is the only antiwar voice in the GOP and 34% or so of Republicans do not approve of Bush’s handling of Iraq means that he is competitive.

Impeaching Republicanism

On the day after MLK’s day of celebration, I wish to emphasize that the party that is running all white male candidates is…..

The Republicans.

As we enter the next Great Depression…or a recession….or whatever this latest nightmare of Republicans manipulating our economy to the detriment of all but the 1%ers will be called, I wish to emphasize where and from who the pain is going to come from.

The Republicans.

As we start another year of Imperial Adventures in the Middle East, merrily killing brown people and sending our sons and daughters of to die to enrich the oil companies and Halliburton, I wish to emphasize who started this shit, who is continuing this shit, and who has run this shitty and unnecessary war as if they were running some podunk circus where the clowns are all too old and fat from greed to get out of the tiny little …unarmored…clown car.

The Republicans.

How Would Rev. Dr. MLK, Jr. Feel?

Bear with me for posting a Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.-themed diary a day late. Because of the holiday, the libraries where I do my computer work were closed. And last night’s Democrats’ debate, along with other things that have been on my mind, have made me wonder how the Rev Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would feel about…..

VCS Releases New VA and DoD Fact Sheets

I’m sitting out a slight Freezing Rain, that when I left this morning, in the dark and on the country roads, I drove right into.

Instantly blocking All view out my windsheild and caking on my wipers. Turned around, as I was only a few miles from home, hit a few icy road spots on the way but made it back, I drive a Van loaded with tools, not great on icy country roads.

Temps still sitting at 32 so I’m going to post up the latest Veterans for Common Sense newsletter, it’s another Eye Opener.

Someone may want to take the information and give a more in-depth report, than again maybe not.

The VCS Release:

Pony Party, feels like Monday

This is what we do when Tuesday masquerades as a Monday…..

please enjoy some random video nonsense…

Docudharma Times Tuesday January 23

This is an Open Thread: Phones Lines are now available.

Tuesday’s Headlines: Crossing Mayor Giuliani Often Had a Price: Clinton, Obama reach new level of rancor: Looking Beyond Feudal Politics in Pakistan: Humiliation for Ahmadinejad as veto is overruled: Just the ticket! Painter finds his perfect ‘canvas’ on Paris Métro

In Asia, Global Market Decline Accelerates

Amid fears that the United States may be in a recession, the decline in stock markets accelerated Tuesday morning as exchanges opened across Asia.

Markets in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney all fell farther in the opening hours of trading Tuesday than they had all day on Monday. The Hong Kong market plunged another 8 percent by early afternoon after tumbling 5.49 percent on Monday. In Tokyo, the Nikkei dropped 5 percent, hitting a low not seen since September 2005 and facing its worst two-day drop in 17 years on concern global growth is faltering.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

The muses are ancient.  The inspirations for our stories were said to be born from them.  Muses of song and dance, or poetry and prose, of comedy and tragedy, of the inward and the outward.  In one version they are Calliope, Euterpe and Terpsichore, Erato and Clio, Thalia and Melpomene, Polyhymnia and Urania.

It has also been traditional to name a tenth muse.  Plato declared Sappho to be the tenth muse, the muse of women poets.  Others have been suggested throughout the centuries.  I don’t have a name for one, but I do think there should be a muse for the graphical arts.  And maybe there should be many more.

Please join us inside to celebrate our various muses…

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