— The Erimtan Angle —

Archive for May, 2014

Saudi Princesses in Captivity & Misogyny All Around

‘Living in a royal palace may sound like a dream for many – but for the four Saudi princesses it turned into a nightmare. They have been living in isolation for 13 years after falling out of favour with their father, King Abdullah. RT has again spoken to the women (30 May 2014)’.

But misogyny is not just a Saudi vice, today’s popular culture appears to be very much based upon the male prerogative and the suppression of women. The recent killing spree in California gave us a taste of what it is like to be a woman-hating and frustrated white male unable to live up to his ideals. Here is the always bubbly yet always-perspicacious Laci Green talking about Elliot Rodgers, offering ‘an analysis of the recent massacre in Isla Vista and its media fallout. She begins by reviewing the statements Elliot Rodgers made which clearly outline his motivation and intentions for the massacre: not being able to have sex with women. She goes on to address the role that violent masculinity and misogyny played in his actions, two conversations that are surprisingly thin in the nationwide media. She argues that by calling this only an act of psychosis, we fail to address the bigger problem of entitlement, male socialization, and violence motivated by misogyny’.

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Redacted Tonight: Lee Camp on RT

‘Redacted Tonight with Lee Camp is comedy news with a punch. This weekly satire show tackles all the news stories mainstream media won’t tell you about. With reality now seeming like a Shakespearean comedy, perhaps only comedy can truly bring truth to the people. Comedian Lee Camp and a talented cast find out what’s UNDER the black ink! (28 May 2014)’.

‘In this episode, Lee Camp bites into Monsanto, which makes him ill, and John F. O’Donnell gets molested by the tentacles of the billionaire Kochtopus. Obama ends the War in Afghanistan with something other than peace, Chilean magician Papas Fritas makes $500 million in student debt disappear. Sam Sacks examines NSA reform – and by “reform,” we mean ”business as usual.” A second Deutsche Bank video against boasting bankers is mysteriously leaked, and speaking of leaks – radiation is leaking in New Mexico. Tennessee brings back a shocking punishment, and more! (30 May 2014)’.

On the WebWire, we can read that “Lee Camp has been seen on ShowTime’s The Green Room, Good Morning America , Countdown with Keith Olbermann and more. [Mister Camp] has been a contributor to The Onion and a staff writer on The Huffington Post. George Carlin’s daughter Kelly says Camp is one of the few keeping her father’s torch lit. Bill Hicks’s brother Steve says Camp is one of a handful of comics with Bill’s passion and message”.[1]

 

[1] “Lee Camp’s new TV Show “Redacted Tonight” premieres May 30th on RT America” WebWire (30 May 2014). http://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=188299#.U4mG55NrP4g.

Politicking with Larry King: Matt Taibbi

‘Journalist Matt Taibbi joins Larry to examine inequality in the U.S. justice system. In his new book, The Divide-American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap. Taibbi says white-collar criminals walk, while the poor get locked up in record numbers (2 May 2014)’.

In the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal, the blogger, journalist, and libertarian political pundit Matt Welch, who is also a co-host of ‘The Independents’ on the Fox Business Network, reviews the book as follows: “[w]hen the polemicist who made Goldman Sachs synonymous with a “vampire squid” writes a book called The Divide, with a subtitle that references “the wealth gap,” one may reasonably anticipate some undergraduate-style fist-shaking about income quintiles and the predatory rich. But one would be wrong. Matt Taibbi’s The Divide is primarily concerned with the grotesquely unequal application of American justice, between the too-big-to-jail Wall Street elite and the too-poor-to-fight minority underclass. “The cleaving of the country into two completely different states—one a small archipelago of hyperacquisitive untouchables, the other a vast ghetto of expendables with only theoretical rights,” Mr. Taibbi maintains, “is a terrible story, and a crazy one.” The characterization is typically overwrought, but the general indictment is broadly correct”.[1]

Welch’s statement that Taibbi’s “general indictment is broadly correct” does strike me as somewhat condescending . . . but juxtaposing the harsh prosecution of the “small, family-owned Chinatown operation . . . called Abacus Federal Savings Bank” to the lenient treatment received by “Countrywide, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, AIG—each of which, eventually, signed non-prosecution agreements with the Department of Justice” seems like an illustration of an injustice that is more than just “broadly correct”.[2] And the fact that “large banks” and “their executives” were essentially immune from prosecutions in the aftermath of the 2008 financial meltdown. In his book, Taibbi traces the origins of the Too Big To Fail (TBTF) mantra to a “1999 Justice Department memo written by a then obscure lawyer named Eric Holder” that read that “Prosecutors may take into account the possibly substantial consequences to a corporation’s officers, directors, employees, and shareholders”, employing the loaded phrase “collateral consequences”.[3] Funny how things work out sometimes . . . and in conclusion, here is Welch positing that “at heart The Divide is a face-slap, not a legal brief. Though Mr. Taibbi doesn’t couch it in these terms, his warning is all about moral hazard, in two senses of the phrase. When swindlers know that their risks will be subsidized, and their potential crimes will be punishable only through negotiated corporate settlements, they will surely commit more crimes. And when most of the population either does not know or does not care that the lowest socioeconomic classes live in something akin to a police state, we should be greatly concerned for the moral health of our society”.[4]

 

[1] Matt Welch, “Book Review: ‘The Divide’ by Matt Taibbi” The Wall Street Journal (11 April 2014). http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303456104579489582963112764.

[2] Matt Welch, “Book Review: ‘The Divide’ by Matt Taibbi”.

[3] Matt Welch, “Book Review: ‘The Divide’ by Matt Taibbi”.

[4] Matt Welch, “Book Review: ‘The Divide’ by Matt Taibbi”.

Solar Roadways or the Path to the Future???

On Sunday, 25 May 2014, the New Zealand-based reporter Adrien Taylor states that a “company in the United States has raised more than $1 million to start making roads entirely out of solar panels. They say the panels could produce three times the electricity the US needs, and a New Zealand scientist says there’s potential for the technology here too. It may seem like science fiction, but the Solar Roadways project wants to make energy-generating roads a reality . . . Scott and Julie Brusaw have received more than $1 million in internet crowdfunding to begin production of their solar panel road system”.[i] The IndieGogo campaign was started on ‘Apr 21 and will close on May 31, 2014 (11:59pm PT)’.[2]

The dedicated IndieGogo page tells us that “Solar Roadways is a modular paving system of solar panels that can withstand the heaviest of trucks (250,000 pounds). These Solar Road Panels can be installed on roads, parking lots, driveways, sidewalks, bike paths, playgrounds . . . literally any surface under the sun. They pay for themselves primarily through the generation of electricity, which can power homes and businesses connected via driveways and parking lots. A nationwide system could produce more clean renewable energy than a country uses as a whole (http://solarroadways.com/numbers.shtml). They have many other features as well, including: heating elements to stay snow/ice free, LEDs to make road lines and signage, and attached Cable Corridor to store and treat stormwater and provide a “home” for power and data cables. EVs will be able to charge with energy from the sun (instead of fossil fuels) from parking lots and driveways and after a roadway system is in place, mutual induction technology will allow for charging while driving’.[3] 

Additionally, the following information can also be found on IndieGogo page: ‘ Solar Roadways has received two phases of funding from the U.S. Federal Highway Administration for research and development of a paving system that will pay for itself over its lifespan. We are about to wrap up our Phase II contract (to build a prototype parking lot) and now need to raise funding for production. Our glass surface has been tested for traction, load testing, and impact resistance testing in civil engineering laboratories around the country, and exceeded all requirements. Solar Roadways is a modular system that will modernize our aging infrastructure with an intelligent system that can become the new Smart Grid. We won the Community Award of $50,000 by getting the most votes in GE’s Ecomagination Challenge for “Powering the Grid” in 2010. We had the most votes again in their 2011 Ecomagination Challenge for “Powering the Home”. On August 21, 2013, Solar Roadways was selected by their peers as a Finalist in the World Technology Award For Energy, presented in association with TIME, Fortune, CNN, and Science. Solar Roadways was chosen by Google to be one of their Moonshots in May of 2013. Solar Roadways was chosen as a finalist in the IEEE Ace Awards in 2009 and 2010. Solar Roadways has given presentations around the country including: TEDx Sacramento, Google’s Solve for X at Google’s NYC Headquarters, NASA, Keynote Speaker for the International Parking Institute’s Conference and much more . . . Solar Roadways is tackling more than solar energy: The FHWA tasked us with addressing the problem of stormwater. Currently, over 50% of the pollution in U.S. waterways comes from stormwater. We have created a section in our Cable Corridors for storing, treating, and moving stormwater. The implementation of our concept on a grand scale could create thousands of jobs in the U.S. and around the world. It could allow us all the ability to manufacture our way out of our current economic crisis’.[4] Yes, it is true . . . it just sounds to good to be true, or does it???

The New Zealand solar energy researcher Dr Justin Hodgkiss throws a spanner in the works by saying “[i]f the roads got dirty then the cells [wouldn’t] work”.[5] And that means that a dedicated clean-up crew would have to be on call 24/7, or more jobs in the offing, which cannot be all that bad . . . perhaps. The journalist Taylor. for his part, says that the “Solar Roadways team concede their system would be expensive, but say it would pay itself off through energy production and lower maintenance than traditional roads. And with the amount of money that’s been pledged to their project, it’s clear they’re not the only ones who think it’s worth investing in”.[6]

 

[1] Adrien Taylor, “Backers pledge more than $1M for solar” 3 News (25 May 2014). http://www.3news.co.nz/Backers-pledge-more-than-1M-for-solar-roads/tabid/417/articleID/345694/Default.aspx.

[2] “Solar Roadways” IndieGogo. https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/solar-roadways.

[3] “Solar Roadways”.

[4] “Solar Roadways”.

[5] Adrien Taylor, “Backers pledge more than $1M for solar”.

[6] Adrien Taylor, “Backers pledge more than $1M for solar”.

Boko Haram: Inside Story, November 2011

‘Al Jazeera‘s ‘Inside Story’ asks what motivates the Islamist group’s increasing violence in Africa’s most populous country (8 Nov 2011)’.

 

Obama’s Africa: Africom in Action

“In the Now we look at the scope of US military presence in Africa. Plus, regional expert Ayo Johnson says America’s recent military deployments to Nigeria and Chad is about securing US national interests not girls’ safety (22 May 2014)’.

In 2011, President Obama sent U.S. troops to Uganda, supposedly to look for Joseph Kony and the LRA but in all likelihood,[i] it was a move more to do with the recently-discovered oil wealth in Uganda . . . Anissa Naouai is correct in talking about a trend. Getting down to the nitty-gritty, CNN’s Faith Karimi and Catherine Shoichet report that the “United States deployed 80 members of its armed forces to Chad to help in the search for the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls, the White House said Wednesday [, 21 May 2014]”.[2] A written statement published by the U.S. Army states the following: “These personnel will support the operation of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft for missions over northern Nigeria and the surrounding area. The force will remain in Chad until its support in resolving the kidnapping situation is no longer required”.[3] And Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby also piped in from the peanut gallery, saying that “These [soldiers] are not combat infantry troops that we put into Chad . . . These are folks that are there to support the reconnaissance mission”.[4]

 

[1] “U.S. Troops in Uganda: LRA or Oil???” A Pseudo-Ottoman Blog (15 Oct 2011). https://sitanbul.wordpress.com/2011/10/15/u-s-troops-in-uganda-lra-or-oil/.

[2] Faith Karimi and Catherine E. Shoichet, “80 U.S. troops in Chad will aid search for abducted Nigerian girls” CNN (22 May 2014). http://edition.cnn.com/2014/05/21/world/africa/nigeria-violence/.

[3] Faith Karimi and Catherine E. Shoichet, “80 U.S. troops in Chad will aid search for abducted Nigerian girls”.

[4] Faith Karimi and Catherine E. Shoichet, “80 U.S. troops in Chad will aid search for abducted Nigerian girls”.

Renewable Energy in Turkey: A World Bank Project

In today’s world such institutions like the IMF (or the International Monetary Fund) or the World Bank have become common currency, popping up at regular intervals in the global news cycles, and not just because of DSK’s philandering proclivities. The Bretton Woods Project, a UK-based NGO challenging the World Bank and IMF while promoting alternative approaches, announced in 2005 that “[c]riticism of the World Bank and the IMF encompasses a whole range of issues but they generally centre around concern about the approaches adopted by the World Bank and the IMF in formulating their policies, and the way they are governed. This includes the social and economic impact these policies have on the population of countries who avail themselves of financial assistance from these two institutions, and accountability for these impacts. Critics of the World Bank and the IMF are concerned about the ‘conditionalities’ imposed on borrower countries. The World Bank and the IMF often attach loan conditionalities based on what is termed the ‘Washington Consensus’, focusing on liberalisation—of trade, investment and the financial sector—, deregulation and privatisation of nationalised industries. Often the conditionalities are attached without due regard for the borrower countries’ individual circumstances and the prescriptive recommendations by the World Bank and IMF fail to resolve the economic problems within the countries. IMF conditionalities may additionally result in the loss of a state’s authority to govern its own economy as national economic policies are predetermined under IMF packages. Issues of representation are raised as a consequence of the shift in the regulation of national economies from state governments to a Washington-based financial institution in which most developing countries hold little voting power. IMF packages have also been associated with negative social outcomes such as reduced investment in public health and education. With the World Bank, there are concerns about the types of development projects funded. Many infrastructure projects financed by the World Bank Group have social and environmental implications for the populations in the affected areas and criticism has centred on the ethical issues of funding such projects. For example, World Bank-funded construction of hydroelectric dams in various countries has resulted in the displacement of indigenous peoples of the area. The World Bank’s role in the global climate change finance architecture has also caused much controversy. Civil society groups see the Bank as unfit for a role in climate finance because of the conditionalities and advisory services usually attached to its loans. The Bank’s undemocratic governance structure – which is dominated by industrialised countries – its privileging of the private sector and the controversy over the performance of World Bank-housed Climate Investment Funds have also been subject to criticism in debates around this issue. Moreover, the Bank’s role as a central player in climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts is in direct conflict with its carbon-intensive lending portfolio and continuing financial support for heavily polluting industries, which includes coal power”.[1] As a result, the World Bank’s current project in Turkey might seem surprising: “Renewable Energy Project”.

On the dedicated website, the World Bank announces that the “project objective is to increase privately owned and operated distributed power generation from renewable sources, without the need for government guarantees, and within the market-based framework of the new Turkish Electricity Market Law. The project has the following two components: Component 1) The SPDF is a term lending facility which will be established and will be operated by the two financial intermediaries (Fls). The two Fls selected are: (a) Turkiye Sinai Kalkınma Bankası (TSKB) – the Turkish Industrial Development Bank (private); (b) Turkiye Kalkınma Bankası (TKB) – the Turkish Development Bank (Government) The World Bank loan for the SPDF will be on-lent from Treasury (the Borrower) to the Fls. The Fls will utilize the SPDF to provide long-term debt financing to private sponsors of renewable energy projects. The SPDF is intended to leverage equity investment from local private developers, export credit financing and other financing for the construction and operation of qualified renewable generation projects. Component 2) In order to support the implementation of the Project, Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources (MENR), General Directorate of State Hydraulic Works (DSI) and General Directorate of Electric Power Resources (EIE) will undertake various institutional development activities. These activities will be financed through internal sources and grants. The World Bank and the Government will work together to obtain the required grant financing for these activities. The principal institutional development activities that will be pursued include: (a) Renewable Energy Development Capacity: For the immediate to medium-term (next 2-3 years) there is a substantial potential pipeline of projects which are at an advanced stage of development by private sponsors. (b) Legislation for Renewable Energy Resource Development: Apart from the Electricity Market Law (EML) and the MENR-DSI Regulation on Principles and Procedures for Obtaining a Water-Use Rights Agreement, Turkey does not have a specific and comprehensive law for renewable energy resource development. (c) Mechanisms for Public-Private Hydropower Development: With the implementation of the new Electricity Market Law (Law No. 4628), the responsibilities for developing new hydropower generation will tend to shift towards the private sector”.[2] And this just seems like a perfect project for Turkey’s AKP-led government that is keen to privatize the nation’s assets and encourage the private sector to run things, as recently vividly illustrated in the Soma mining disaster.[3]

Turkey’s Prime Ministry Privatization Administration announces to the world that “[w]hen it comes to ‘Privatization in Turkey’, we are talking about a comprehensive and a radical programme. 15 years ago, it was just a controversial idea. Now, it is a national policy implemented by every government an supported by public opinion. Total income from privatization implementations over US $ 10 billion. Every step brings us closer to a stronger and more competitive economy. That’s why, we call it very important privatization”.[4]

 

[1] “What are the main concerns and criticism about the World Bank and IMF?” Bretton Woods Project (23 August 2005). http://www.brettonwoodsproject.org/2005/08/art-320869/.

[2] “Renewable Energy Project” The World Bank (2014). http://www.worldbank.org/projects/P072480/renewable-energy-project?lang=en&tab=overview.

[3] C. Erimtan “The Soma mine disaster or privatization gone wild in Turkey” Op-Edge (16 May 2014). http://rt.com/op-edge/159420-erdogan-turkey-mine-disaster/.

[4] “PRIVATIZATION IN TURKEY” Prime Ministry Privatization Administration. http://www.oib.gov.tr/index_eng.htm.