Daily Archive: 03/10/2015

Mar 10 2015

Tuesday Night Techno

Mar 10 2015

The Ballot Revolution

Greece threatens new elections if eurozone rejects planned reforms

by Helena Smith, The Guardian

Sunday 8 March 2015 14.02 EDT

Greece’s anti-austerity government has raised the spectre of further political strife in the crisis-plagued country by saying it will consider calling a referendum, or fresh elections, if its eurozone partners reject proposed reforms from Athens.

Racheting up the pressure ahead of a crucial meeting of his eurozone counterparts on Monday, the Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, said the leftist-led government would hold a plebiscite on fiscal policy if faced with deadlock.

“We are not attached to our posts. If needed, if we encounter implacability, we will resort to the Greek people either through elections or a referendum,” he told Italy’s Il Corriere della Sera in an interview on Sunday.

Varoufakis was the second high-ranking official in as many days to suggest the possibility of a referendum being held. On Saturday, Panos Kammenos, who heads the government’s junior partner in office, the small, rightwing Independent Greeks party, said such a ballot could be a “possible response” to protracted disagreement with creditor bodies propping up Greece’s debt-stricken economy.



Ahead of tomorrow’s meeting, creditors have signaled that they want Athens to specify reforms with “harder facts and figures” including showing a renewed commitment to the country’s stalled privatisation process. Militants on the far-left of Syriza have made such “asset stripping” a “red line” that they will not cross.

“The country is at war with lenders,” warned the interior minister, Nikos Voutsis, giving voice to the increasingly combative sentiments now colouring relations with creditors. “Every month the leash is getting tighter for us. But we are not going to proceed in this war like happy scouts ready to follow bailout policies.”

With the rhetoric at such levels, Athens is treading a very fine line.



“If the ECB insists on this decision, which in our opinion is not the right one, then it will be taking on a major responsibility,” Tsipras told Der Spiegel before appealing to Draghi by phone on Saturday to change course.

With the current impasse threatening to lead Greece into defaulting on its payments and the spectre of a referendum renewing fears of further turmoil for an economy already blighted by the twin ills of bankruptcy and political uncertainty, Varoufakis’ remarks were quickly described as “irresponsible” by the political opposition.

Former prime minister Antonis Samaras, who now heads the main opposition centre-right New Democracy party, said a plebiscite would be “a very bad development”.

Why yes it will, for Antonis Samaras and his New Democracy party who are highly likely to get their butts kicked.

You may ask, “So what good does a vote do?”  It shows that Tsipras and SYRIZA have the support of the Greek people.

Because the alternative for Draghi, Schaeuble, and Lagarde is that Greece simply repudiates its debt entirely, slaps on capital controls, and the German Banks (who are the ones actually being “bailed out”) end up without even paper suitable for outhouse use as those ephemeral electrons all change to zero.

They can kill you, but they can never force you to do anything.  You’d think the Germans would have learned that.

Mar 10 2015

Not Much Of A Mystery At All

The Conundrum of Corporation and Nation

Robert Reich

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The U.S. economy is picking up steam but most Americans aren’t feeling it. By contrast, most European economies are still in bad shape, but most Europeans are doing relatively well.

What’s behind this? Two big facts.

First, American corporations exert far more political influence in the United States than their counterparts exert in their own countries.

In fact, most Americans have no influence at all.



The second fact is most big American corporations have no particular allegiance to America. They don’t want Americans to have better wages. Their only allegiance and responsibility to their shareholders – which often requires lower wages  to fuel larger profits and higher share prices.



(B)ecause of these two basic facts – their dominance on American politics, and their interest in share prices instead of the wellbeing of Americans – it’s folly to count on them to create good American jobs or improve American competitiveness, or represent the interests of the United States in global commerce.

By contrast, big corporations headquartered in other rich nations are more responsible for the wellbeing of the people who live in those nations.

That’s because labor unions there are typically stronger than they are here – able to exert pressure both at the company level and nationally.



Governments in other rich nations often devise laws through tri-partite bargains involving big corporations and organized labor. This process further binds their corporations to their nations.

Meanwhile, American corporations distribute a smaller share of their earnings to their workers than do European or Canadian-based corporations.

And top U.S. corporate executives make far more money than their counterparts in other wealthy countries.



And because of the overwhelming clout of American firms on U.S. politics, Americans don’t get nearly as good a deal from their governments as do Canadians and Europeans.

Governments there impose higher taxes on the wealthy and redistribute more of it to middle and lower income households. Most of their citizens receive essentially free health care and more generous unemployment benefits than do Americans.

So it shouldn’t be surprising that even though U.S. economy is doing better, most Americans are not.



(W)hen at global negotiating tables – such as the secretive process devising the “Trans Pacific Partnership” trade deal – American corporations don’t represent the interests of Americans. They represent the interests of their executives and shareholders, who are not only wealthier than most Americans but also reside all over the world.  

Which is why the pending Partnership protects the intellectual property of American corporations – but not American workers’ health, safety, or wages, and not the environment.

The Obama administration is casting the Partnership as way to contain Chinese influence in the Pacific region. The agents of America’s interests in the area are assumed to be American corporations.

But that assumption is incorrect. American corporations aren’t set up to represent America’s interests in the Pacific region or anywhere else.

Mar 10 2015

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Trevor Timm: Republicans are mad about Hillary Clinton’s emails. So pass FOIA reform

To all the members of Congress complaining about Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email address while Secretary of State, here’s an idea: pass a law so it can never happen again. Whether you’re a Republican in Congress trying to capitalize on the controversy, or a Democrat trying to put an end to it, why not quickly vote on robust Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) reform in both the House and the Senate? [..]

As John Wonderlich, policy director at the Sunlight Foundation, told me yesterday: Congress can easily “pass clearer requirements governing the use of official email, and create strong oversight and enforcement authority to ensure the law is followed”. It’s also the perfect time to quickly pass the FOIA Improvements Act, which Congress came within a hair’s breadth of doing last December.

Instead of both parties competing over who can be more secretive, like they did in the 2012 presidential campaign, this is also a great opportunity for 2016 presidential candidates to debate about who can deliver the most transparent White House. That doesn’t mean just voluntarily releasing emails you want the public to see – though that’s a start – but implementing lasting policy changes and laws that will change the trajectory of US secrecy law, which has grown out of control in the past decade.

Raúl M Grijalva and Keith Ellison: We won’t just rubber-stamp the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Workers deserve better

Progressives believe that fair trade agreements are possible – but not if the administration follows the old model for negotiations

The United States is currently negotiating with eleven other nations to finalize the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – one of the biggest trade deals in history – which will set the standard for international trade deals for decades to come. America faces a clear choice: will we continue the job-killing policies of recent deals, or will we create a new model for trade that puts working families first?

We in Congress don’t precisely know, because the rules governing negotiations mean we don’t have access to full draft texts and staff cannot be present when we see individual sections. We also cannot provide negotiating objectives for the US Trade Representative. The administration’s request for “fast track” authority is a request for Congress to rubber-stamp a text that more than 500 corporate representatives were able to see and influence.

Robert Creamer: GOP Letter to Iran: Breathtaking Attempt to Sabotage U.S. Foreign Policy, Stampede U.S. Into War

Their action is a brazen, breathtaking attempt to sabotage U.S. foreign policy and stampede America into another war in the Middle East.

While U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to negotiate the most critical elements of a deal to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons and avoid war, the Republicans are actively trying to undermine his efforts to get a deal.[..]

If the Iranians are unwilling to sign a verifiable agreement with the international community to limit the application of their nuclear know-how to peaceful purposes, the U.S. will be left with two horrible options: a nuclear Iran or war.

Unbelievably, these GOP senators are actively discouraging Iran from signing such a deal by arguing that the United States cannot be trusted to keep up our end. That is shocking. It’s like someone interfering with negotiations being conducted by a hostage negotiator by trying to convince a hostage taker not to surrender because he will shoot him anyway.

Paul Buchheit: How to Become a Conservative in Four Embarrassing Steps

Not that we’d want to. But many Americans, perplexingly, have taken that path in the last ten years, as 27 percent of those polled now consider themselves ‘mostly’ or ‘consistently’ conservative, up from 18 percent in 2004. (Conservatives were at 30 percent in 1994. Liberals increased from 21 to over 30 percent in the 1990s and have remained approximately the same since then.)

The language of true conservatives often turns to denial, dismissal, and/or belligerence, without verifiable facts of any substance. There is also evidence for delusional thinking and a lack of empathy. Here are four ways to be just like them.

Dave Johnson: How Our Trade Policies Kill Jobs

Trade is great. We all trade. A lot of us trade labor for money that buys other things. A farmer trades corn for money that buys other things, and so on. No one is “against trade.”

But is anything called “trade” always good for all involved? Imagine you’re a farmer and you make a deal to trade corn and wheat to get money for a new tractor. So the farmer orders a new tractor, but the “trade partner” never buys any corn or wheat. After a while the “trade partner” shows up with a big bill, saying the farmer owes money for the tractor. And then the farmer finds out that the “trade partner” plans to use the proceeds from the sale of the tractor to grow their own corn.

In modern terms, we would say that the farmer was “running a trade deficit.” How much damage do you think that “trade deficit” is doing to that farmer, and the farmer’s ability to make a living in the future? How long do you think that farmer would let that “trade agreement” continue?

John Atcheson: Partners in Stupidity and the War on Terror

Casus belli anyone? So Obama wants Congress to authorize a war on ISIS. They’ll do it, of course, but not before the usual partisan sniping.

So far the “debate” has been a festival of irrelevance. Should it be sun-setted? Is three years right? What about the open-ended authorization for Al-Qaeda from 1991? Does it limit a future President’s options?

Oh, the self-satisfied sagacity of these people. Why, they’ve thought of everything … well almost everything.

Among the things that’s missing in this discussion is the Casus Belli … you may remember the search for the missing Casus Belli just before we hurdled headlong into the Iraqi War – you know, the one that created ISIS in the first place? The one that gave them arms, motivation and a modicum of training?

There’s also no acknowledgement that the “war on terror” approach to terrorism has been a complete, utter and abject failure. In fact, it encourages terrorism as a tactic, and serves as a recruitment tool. Here’s why.

Mar 10 2015

TBC: Morning Musing 3.10.15

I have 4 articles for you this morning – 3 related and the last one just an interesting one.

First, in the wake of the ill advised slap by inviting Bibi to Congress, this is what the GOP Senators did now, pretty much in violation of the Logan Act, not that they’ll be called on it:

Backstabbing Republicans Publish Open Letter To Iran Undermining Negotiations

I am once again shocked, but not surprised, at the lengths Republicans will go to to undermine the President of the United States while he is conducting negotiations with the government of a foreign country.

link to the letter

Jump!

Mar 10 2015

On This Day In History March 10

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

March 10 is the 69th day of the year (70th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 296 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1959, Tibetans band together in revolt, surrounding the summer palace of the Dalai Lama in defiance of Chinese occupation forces.

China’s occupation of Tibet began nearly a decade before, in October 1950, when troops from its People’s Liberation Army (PLA) invaded the country, barely one year after the Communists gained full control of mainland China. The Tibetan government gave into Chinese pressure the following year, signing a treaty that ensured the power of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the country’s spiritual leader, over Tibet’s domestic affairs. Resistance to the Chinese occupation built steadily over the next several years, including a revolt in several areas of eastern Tibet in 1956. By December 1958, rebellion was simmering in Lhasa, the capital, and the PLA command threatened to bomb the city if order was not maintained.

Lhasa Rebellion

On 1 March 1959, an unusual invitation to attend a theatrical performance at the Chinese military headquarters outside Lhasa was extended to the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama, at the time studying for his lharampa geshe degree, initially postponed the meeting, but the date was eventually set for 10 March. On 9 March, the head of the Dalai Lama’s bodyguard was visited by Chinese army officers. The officers insisted that the Dalai Lama would not be accompanied by his traditional armed escort to the performance, and that no public ceremony for the Dalai Lama’s procession from the palace to the camp should take place, counter to tradition.

According to historian Tsering Shakya, the Chinese government was pressuring the Dalai Lama to attend the People’s Congress in April 1959, in order to repair China’s image with relation to ethnic minorities after the Khampa’s rebellion. On 7 February 1959, a significant day on the Tibetan calendar, the Dalai Lama attended a religious dance, after which the acting representative in Tibet, Tan Guansan, offered the Dalai Lama a chance to see a performance from a dance troupe native to Lhasa at the Norbulingka to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s completion of his lharampa geshe degree. According to the Dalai Lama’s memoirs, the Dalai Lama agreed, but said that the Norbulingka did not have the facilities, and suggested the new auditorium in the PLA headquarters in Lhasa as a more appropriate venue. Neither the Kashag nor the Dalai Lama’s bodyguards were informed of the Dalai Lama’s plans until Chinese officials briefed them on 9 March, one day before the performance was scheduled, and insisted that they would handle the Dalai Lama’s security. Some members of the Kashag were alarmed that were not also invited to lead a customary armed procession, recalling a prophecy that told that the Dalai Lama should not exit his palace.

According to historian Tsering Shakya, some Tibetan government officials feared that plans were being laid for a Chinese abduction of the Dalai Lama, and spread word to that effect amongst the inhabitants of Lhasa. On 10 March, several thousand Tibetans surrounded the Dalai Lama’s palace to prevent him from leaving or being removed. The huge crowd had gathered in response to a rumor that the Chinese communists were planning to arrest the Dalai Lama when he went to a cultural performance at the PLA’s headquarters. This marked the beginning of the uprising in Lhasa, though Chinese forces had skirmished with guerrillas outside the city in December of the previous year. Although CCP offcials insisted that the “reactionary upper stratum” in Lhasa was responsible for the rumor, there is no way to identify the precise source. At first, the violence was directed at Tibetan officials perceived not to have protected the Dalai Lama or to be pro-Chinese; attacks on Hans started later. One of the first casualties of mob was a senior lama, Pagbalha Soinam Gyamco, who worked with the PRC as a member of the Preparatory Committee of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, who was killed and his body dragged by a horse in front of the crowd for two kilometres.

On 12 March, protesters appeared in the streets of Lhasa declaring Tibet’s independence. Barricades went up on the streets of Lhasa, and Chinese and Tibetan rebel forces began to fortify positions within and around Lhasa in preparation for conflict. A petition of support for the armed rebels outside the city was taken up, and an appeal for assistance was made to the Indian consul. Chinese and Tibetan troops continued moving into position over the next several days, with Chinese artillery pieces being deployed within range of the Dalai Lama’s summer palace, the Norbulingka. On 15 March, preparations for the Dalai Lama’s evacuation from the city were set in motion, with Tibetan troops being employed to secure an escape route from Lhasa. On 17 March, two artillery shells landed near the Dalai Lama’s palace, triggering his flight into exile. On 19 March the Chinese started to shell the Norbulingka, prompting the full force of the Uprising. According to the freetibet website, on 21 March 800 shells rained down on the palace, including the shelling of the Norbulingka and Lhasa’s major monasteries, slaughtering thousands of Tibetan men, women and children. Combat lasted only about two days, with Tibetan rebel forces being badly outnumbered and poorly armed.

Mar 10 2015

The Daily/Nightly Show (Selma)

Acting Out

Consumer Accountability is tonight’s topic and as near as I can tell from quick Google News scan it refers to the effort by Health Insurers in particular to blame you, as the customer, for making actual Health Care too expensive for them by not shopping well enough for Emergency Rooms while you’re bleeding out.

There is a larger penumbra of references to other ways Corporations are trying to make the purchasers of their products and services responsible when the Companies screw up and deliver defective goods.  Apparently it’s based on the Libertarian idea that bad Companies will eventually be forced to improve their practices because informed consumers will shop elsewhere and it’s your own damn fault if you are maimed by a poorly engineered air bag because every expert automotive engineer knows about that problem so you are either a) too lazy to do your research, b) too stupid to understand it, or c) too cheap to buy a car with a good one.

And probably all three.

Of course, it may mean something else entirely.

Continuity

Booted

This Week’s Guests-

What can you say about John Lewis?  The man is a Giant of the Civil Rights Movement

At the Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church

“Still Work to Be Done”: Rep. John Lewis Returns to Selma 50 Years After He Was Beaten Unconscious, Democracy Now

Well, maybe this- he’s drafted a bill to correct the misguided Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder.  It has only 2 Republican Sponsors in the House, Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin and Gibson of New York (and but a paltry few Democrats) and none at all in the Senate.

The real news below.