Robert Reich Stops Refraining   Recently updated !

Robert Reich has a Facebook post in which he declares the he is not refraining anymore.

Meanwhile, many American Jews who have refrained from speaking out against the right-wing radicalism that has taken hold in Israel – a radicalism that rejects a “two-state solution” and continues to build new settlements on the West Bank, and which we believe imperils the future of Israel — are now feeling emboldened to do so. Aipac does not speak for us. House Republicans do not speak for us. Billionaires do not speak for us. We have been silent for too long. — Robert Reich

I agree even though I am not among “many American Jews who have refrained from speaking out against the right-wing radicalism that has taken hold in Israel.” I mean I am not among the set who has been refraining.

I am surprised at how many American Jewish Liberals are fans of Netanyahu, when they would be strongly opposed to him if he were an American politician of the far right wing or perhaps Tea Party. The right wing is where he would be if he espoused his positions as an American politician.

Here is a bit of BBC propaganda that I picked up from one of the comments to Robert Reich’s post. The YouTube post explains the context.

Uploaded on Apr 11, 2008

This clip is from episode one of a British-made documentary from 2002 titled ‘The Age Of Terror’, and examines the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on 22nd July 1946 by Zionist-Jewish terrorists, in which the south wing of the hotel, then occupied by British civil-military authorities, was bombed killing ninety-one people. Twenty-eight of the victims were British, forty-one Arabic, while seventeen were Jewish.

I have heard all the justifications for this episode from fellow Jewish parents, teachers, and assorted other folk. All I ask is that as you watch the video and repeat all those stories you have been taught, just for a moment listen to your own justifications. Now think about what your reaction would be if the people posing as Arabs to carry out this attack were, in fact, actually Arabs.

Austerity Kills: Economic Distress Seen as Culprit in Sharp Rise in Suicide Rate Among Middle Aged   Recently updated !

Naked Capitalism has the article Austerity Kills: Economic Distress Seen as Culprit in Sharp Rise in Suicide Rate Among Middle Aged by Yves Smith.

I’m surprised, but perhaps I shouldn’t be, that a recent study hasn’t gotten the attention it warrants. It points to a direct connection between the impact of the crisis and a marked increase in suicide rates among the middle aged. This link seems entirely logical, given how many citizens found themselves whacked by a one-two punch of job loss or hours cutbacks combined with the sudden plunge in home prices. Normally, a last ditch course of action for most middle and upper middle class income members in the pre-crisis days, when things got desperate, was to sell you (sic) house and cut costs radically by moving into a much more modest rental. But that option vanished in all but the most stable markets (as in some flyover states that the subprime merchants ignored) due to home price declines trashing equity for all but those with small or no mortgages.

It doesn’t seem like so long ago when every debate about capitalism versus socialism would end up at the point where the capitalist would say, “And the final point is to look at the suicide rate in Sweden. It must be socialism that causes it to be so high.” If you are a defender of capitalism and foe of socialism, don’t tell me you never used that argument. If you can’t remember, then you have worse problems than I thought.

It looks to me like a big dose of some Bernie Sanders’ socialism right now would do a world of good.

Nancy Pelosi in Cuba: ‘Great enthusiasm’ in Congress to end embargo   Recently updated !

I just received an email from Rep. Jim McGovern about the trip reported in the Politico article Nancy Pelosi in Cuba: ‘Great enthusiasm’ in Congress to end embargo.

Here is Jim’s letter.

Congressman Jim McGovern

Friend —

Last week, I visited Cuba with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and six of our colleagues in Congress. I continue to believe President Obama’s December 17th announcement calling on our countries to improve relations – something I’ve advocated for many years – was historic and long overdue. Our new policy will improve the quality of life for Cubans and allow Americans to more freely travel and ultimately do business with the island.

Our delegation met with Cuban government officials, members of Cuban civil society, Catholic Cardinal Jaime Ortega and ambassadors from other countries who serve in Cuba. Our discussions were candid and our topics of conversation included human rights; removing Cuba from the U.S. “terrorist list” (a list they do not belong on); the formal establishment of embassies in Havana and Washington; Congressional action to lift the economic embargo; and future commerce between our two countries.

It’s time for a more mature relationship between our countries. The old approach – of confrontation and accusations – has failed miserably. We must support the Obama administration and the Cuban government to continue to make progress. There are hardliners in both our countries who want to derail any progress and seem to be nostalgic for the Cold War.

I would urge you to support those in Congress who embrace a new approach of engagement and reconciliation.

Thank you for your support,

Paid for by the Re-Elect McGovern Committee.

Pink Martini Live Portland 2006   Recently updated !

In a totally unrelated Facebook post, I started talking about Pink Martini.  I found the following YouTube video, which I don’t want to lose.

Is it any wonder we loved Portland, Oregon so much. A fifteen minute ride from our house, and we could see performances like this. Pink Martini being a homegrown favorite in Portland, we had many chances to see them in many different venues.

WikiPedia has an interesting biography of Thomas Lauderdale. We first heard him at a theater club performance at the Portland Museum of Art in 1995.

U.S. Geological Survey: Fracking waste is the primary cause of the dramatic rise in earthquakes

The Daily Kos has the article U.S. Geological Survey: Fracking waste is the primary cause of the dramatic rise in earthquakes.

The U.S. Geological Survey has backed-up what scientists have been suggesting for years–that deep injection of wastewater is the primary cause of the dramatic rise in detected earthquakes:

I thought that this article would be a nice complement to my previous posts Ohio stiffens regulations after concluding that fracking caused earthquakes and EPA to natural gas companies: Give details on ‘fracking’ chemicals.

It is now approaching 60 years since I first read about this problem.

Three Minutes Of Terror for The Koch Brothers As Bernie Sanders Storms Sunday Show 2   Recently updated !

Politicus USA has the story Three Minutes Of Terror for The Koch Brothers As Bernie Sanders Storms Sunday Show.

Bernie Sanders is the last person that the Koch brothers want to see on a network Sunday morning show. Sen. Sanders (I-VT) did more damage to the Koch conspiracy to buy control of the federal government in three minutes than almost anyone else could have done in ten.


The hype in the article is way over done, but the video clip isn’t bad. Bernie Sanders still didn’t get a live appearance. At least George Stephanopoulis didn’t get a chance to muff this one.

Notice that as soon as the reporter got into the mix, the video veered away from substantive issues and went right to the horse race aspects.

Did the GOP Just Give Away $130 Billion of Public Property?

The Nation magazine has the article Did the GOP Just Give Away $130 Billion of Public Property? by Rep. Alan Grayson.

In December, two Republican senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, pushed Congress and the president into giving away what could amount to over $130 billion in public property.

That’s enough to provide every single unemployed American a minimum-wage job for an entire year. That’s enough to pay for a year of tuition at a public institution for every college student in the US.

And yet the GOP big-shots call themselves “fiscal conservatives”! “Fiscal conservatives,” my you-know-what.

I’m talking about the huge giveaway to the mining companies Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton in the Defense Authorization Act. It was splayed across ten pages of the bill, pages 441 to 450 (out of 697).

If you read the rest of the article, you will see why I am always touting Alan Grayson as one of the key progressive Democrats in Congress.  The House Democratic leadership just does not give him the respect (and power) he deserves. That reason alone would be enough to explain why I don’t give the House Democratic leadership as much respect  as  they might earn if they were only more interested in getting stuff accomplished than in getting along with the Republicans.  Bipartisanship be damned.  Doing what’s right trumps bipartisanship.

Hundreds of Palestinians forced to flee as Israel opens dams into Gaza Valley   Recently updated !

Your News Wire has the story Hundreds of Palestinians forced to flee as Israel opens dams into Gaza Valley.

More than 80 homes have been flooded and hundreds of Palestinians forced to evacuate after Israel opened the gates of several dams on the border with the Gaza Strip. Water levels reached more than three meters.

Also reported by Al Jazeera in the article Gazans flee floods caused by Israel’s dams opening.  Juan Cole also has an article Hundreds of Palestinians flee as Israel opens dams into Gaza Valley.

Hundreds of Palestinians were evacuated from their homes Sunday morning after Israeli authorities opened a number of dams near the border, flooding the Gaza Valley in the wake of a recent severe winter storm.

Honest Reporting claims to debunk the story in the article Dam Busted: Palestinian Lie Exposed.

Of course, this story has made the rounds of anti-Israel social media. It is, however, easily debunked as a complete lie. As the Spokesperson’s Office of the unit of Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) relayed to HonestReporting:

The claim is entirely false, and southern Israel does not have any dams.

I am certainly no expert on the dams of southern Israel, and whether or not they do exist, and whether or not they could impact Gaza.

I did find an Israeli web site Gaza Border: Courage and Determination along Israel’s Gaza Border.

One of their photos (with their caption) is:

Nir-Am Reservoir looking into Gaza

I don’t know if this reservoir has any dams qualified to be non-existent in southern Israel, or whether this or other dams could be related to the story about floods in Gaza. Perhaps someone could carry my research a little further to see if there is any truth in any of the sides of this story.

Warning: There may be some sarcasm in what follows.

DNC Report Says Blankety-Blank Democrats Need a “National Narrative Project.” No, They Don’t.

Naked Capitalism has the article DNC Report Says Blankety-Blank Democrats Need a “National Narrative Project.” No, They Don’t by Lambert Strether.

Call me crazy, but how about, instead of shoveling more walking around money at “Democratic strategists” to write a [blankety-blank] narrative, Democrats come up with a coherent set of policy proposals that would deliver concrete material benefits to the 80% who don’t, and don’t dream of, taking the Acela from South Station or Penn Station down to Union Station? And then go to war on with it. That’s what the Republicans did. “Vote yourself a farm” worked for Lincoln; why not Democrats?

I have posted on this idea before.  One example is in the previous post U.S. economic growth soars, reaches 11-year high.

I have been saying all along on this blog that the Democrats don’t tout their accomplishments enough in the face of all the negativism from the Republicans.  However, I was talking about real accomplishments that need the touting.  You can’t make this stuff up and think people will buy it.  You have to tout real accomplishments that people can see.  You can’t sell them stuff that their own experience tells them is not true.

If the Democrats continue to live in La La Land, they are never going to win majority positions in our government.


Documents Reveal Fossil Fuel Fingerprints on Contrarian Climate Research   Recently updated !

Inside Climate News has the article Documents Reveal Fossil Fuel Fingerprints on Contrarian Climate Research.

The gist of the article is in the caption to their cover photo.

Wei-Hock Soon, known as Willie, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, is honored by the Heartland Institute at its annual event of global warming denialism. Newly released documents show that Soon has collected more than $1 million in funding from fossil fuel interests in recent years, told fossil fuel executives his papers are “deliverables” in return for their funding, and granted a major utility pre-publication review and anonymity.

I think there are similarities between the contract that Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Willie Soon had with American Petroleum Institute (API), Southern Co., ExxonMobil, the Charles Koch Foundation, and others and what I used to see in my industry’s contracts with Universities.  In the case of the semiconductor industry’s support of university research, I was not aware of blatant attempts to influence international government policy by controls on what was published.  However, the point of the funding was to promote research in areas that would help the companies’ future success.  Of course, in those days, there was also very significant funding from DARPA (the USA’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration).  So whatever defense industry needs were provided a tad of counter balance (perhaps) for what the general semiconductor industry wanted.

The fundamental difference between this petroleum research and the semiconductor research that I experienced is that the semiconductor industry had a fundamental desire to figure out how things worked and how to produce software to help design integrated circuits.  Our industry did not have any need nor desire to disprove someone else’s science.

That is not to say that we didn’t suspect some companies of publishing the results of their own internal research only when they had already moved on to better technology and methods.