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Iran: Best Fixed Election in Recent Years

By: eCAHNomics Sunday July 21, 2013 12:10 pm

The presidential election was held on June 15, 2013. Here is its public face.

There were 680 candidates who applied for president. Filing is costless.

Within weeks, Iran’s Guardian Council had narrowed the choice to 8 candidates. Qualifications are published, decisions seem arbitrary, but process is not secret (unlike U.S. where two candidates are chosen out of view of voters). No internal dissension reported by

Of the 8, 3 were from one party, 3 were from another, 2 were independent. It was expected (presstv is source which I watched regularly during the process) that 2/3 of each of the major political parties’ candidates would drop out in the month of campaigning between the selection and the election.

Didn’t happen. Until it did. At the last minute, 2 candidates from Rouhani’s party dropped out, but the 3 from the other major party stayed in. Then I knew the vote was fixed, since Rouhani would win a plurality and there would be a runoff.

Miracles happen. Rouhani won 50.7% of the vote in the first round, not high enough to be a ‘tell’ but just enough to avoid a runoff. Don’t know how they accomplished that precision. Turnout was 73%, high enough to indicate strong citizen interest in the election but not high enough to suggest manipulation.

Icing on cake: Rouhani is the only one of eight finalists who is a cleric. This is important because it is contrary to the talking point in U.S. that Iranians don’t like the sectarian aspects of their society and election system.

Next step: Rouhani may incorporate U.S. educated Iranians into his cabinet. This puts U.S. into increasingly awkward position in its demonization of Iran. The more moderate Iran’s leadership appears, the more like a kindergartener having a temper tantrum the U.S. looks.

Some pressure is starting to build in congress for genuine (i.e., not agree-to-my-way-before-I-will-talk-to-you) negotiations with Iran.

What is a hegemon to do without a small enemy that can be scapegoated. What hysteria will arise in Israel if U.S. stops upping the ante on sanctions.


Disclosure: I am not informed on Iranian elections. This post reflects observations I had while watching the process from the outside. Experts invited to educate.


Behind the Morsi Coup; Get Out the Word on Sabahi

By: eCAHNomics Sunday July 7, 2013 10:27 am

Hamdeen Sabahi of the Nasserite party

Egyptian President Morsi pulled off one of the worst first year tenures as head of government. He lost domestic support, caving to IMF demands to reduce bread and fuel subsidies to Egypt’s abysmally poor, though he campaigned on the opposite.

That was not the reason for the military intervention. On June 15, Morsi met with radical Sunni clerics to advocate that Egypt invade Syria to overthrow Asad, preventing Asad from mopping up the remainder of Western supported cannibals who tried to deseat him.

Apparently a faction (majority?) of Egypt’s military thinks its job is to defend Egypt’s borders, not invade a brother (United Arab Republic) country.

In a fast moving emergency, the military took action to prevent a disaster, while legality of Morsi’s possible treason is left to slower moving history.

A political figure who does not appear to be a neocolonial tool is Hamdeen Sabahi of the Nasserist party. Sabahi placed third in the first round presidential elections, with 21% of the vote, not much less than the second place military candidate and decent compared to Morsi’s 24%. Nasser was the president who nationalized the Suez Canal and used the fees to create the modern Egyptian state.

Sabahi’s campaign emphasized a one-time 10% Tahrir tax on assets of the wealthy (50 million Egyptian pounds and above) to redress past abuses of the system. This would alleviate some of the near term budget problems. He would reinstate life support systems for the poor, develop infrastructure, social and physical, toward a more sustainable economy.

Sabahi will not be featured in Western press coverage because of his nationalism. Alternative media might do service to Egyptians by advancing his name.

Another word on Morsi. A few weeks ago, he appointed al-Khayat, leader of the 1997 massacre of 62 tourists, to be governor of Luxor province.

Turning POTUS into Puppet

By: eCAHNomics Tuesday June 25, 2013 4:32 pm

From Eisenhower to Obama, an outline, for fun.

Some in geopolitics talk about deep government or secret government. Those are the parts of government that act out of public view, like the U.S. NSC or NSA or CIA. Contrasted with the allegedly open or public government, like POTUS, congress, courts.

Some would argue the tendency over time is for the forces behind the open government to become more powerful.

Here’s an outline of how deep government has turned each successive president of the U.S. into more of a figurehead, bereft of real power.

Eisenhower: term limits
(Nixon, his VP, relentless humiliations)
JFK: assassination
LBJ: resignation over Vietnam
Nixon: Watergate, impeachment, resignation, Vietnam
Ford: Continuity of Government, when Rumsfeld & Cheney took over
Carter: One term, Iran fiasco, Volcker’s Federal Reserve
Reagan: Grade B movie actor
G.H.W. Bush: One term, promoted before public was aware of his incompetence in prior job
Clinton: impeachment, hounded by scandals
W. Bush: content with being a puppet
Obama: narcissist, African-American who would not command the respect of the military

Syria-A Thought Experiment

By: eCAHNomics Friday August 3, 2012 3:54 pm

Does Assad have the authority that Lincoln had to put down a rebellion?

Civilian casualties?
1. Cite a source that is reliable with respect to:
a. How many casualties there have been
b. Which sides have the casualties been on
c. How many have been civilian
d. How many have been foreign fighters, especially al Qaeda

2. Were there civilian casualties during Lincoln’s war?
a. Sherman
b. Since conscription was huge (few wanted to fight in that war; NY draft riots for example), many ‘soldier’ casualties should be counted as civilian
c. Foreign intervention: Not much during Lincoln’s war, though the British Empire nearly entered to help the rebels. Imagine how long the war would have gone on, and how many additional casualties that would have caused.

The U.S. war on Syria is now documented since the front page revelation that Obama signed a statement authorizing arming the rebels.

The plan is modeled after Operation Ajax that the CIA effected to overthrow Mossadegh in Iran in 1953. A difference seems to be that Assad was prepared for it, Mossadegh not so much. A commentator this morning also raised the Nicaraguan example.

Finally, compare the casualties in Syria and Libya, operations run by the west with the support (in Syria anyhow) of feudal Middle Eastern dictatorships, with casualties in demonstrations in Egypt, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, which seem to be more grass roots and the demonstrators are not being armed by outside powers.

Sorry there’s no indentation to make the points clearer. The numbered points should be indented under the topic above, and the lettered points should be indented further under the numbered points. I am told you can’t do that in FDL.

Another Honeybee Update

By: eCAHNomics Saturday June 9, 2012 8:09 am
honey bee on flowers

(Photo: dixit M/flickr)


There have been interesting developments since my prior update , a mere seven weeks ago.

I have been noticing, after a huge store of honey early in the spring and lots of bees coming and going from the hive entrances, that the hive populations have been diminishing. Chris Harp, my beekeeper, came to inspect yesterday.

Indeed, there is almost no stored honey or pollen, no capped brood cells.

Chris did find brand new queens in both hives, who have just started laying, so populations should recover quickly. Once she gets into the swing, a queen will lay 1500 eggs per day. When population is back up to snuff, honey storage will proceed apace. I did see Queen Anne laying eggs, and also workers touching her to get her scent to spread around the hive. That is how workers know which hive to return to even when there are many hives next to each other. I did not watch the inspection of the other hive, as those girls were pissy and I didn’t want to take a chance of getting stung.

I had to start my queen-naming scheme from scratch, as I had run out of Victoria’s (my original queen) female descendants and because of swarming, generations got too confusing. My new queens are Anne and Alexandra, and I will go alphabetically if I can keep track of generations in the future.

Creation of new queen and swarming to create a new colony are the honeybees’ manifestation of the usual spring birth cycle. In a swarm, the old queen leaves with maybe a third of the workers. They might hang out on a tree branch for a day or two while scouts find new house, like a hole in a tree. The swarm settles in and starts building comb. The swarm must leave the old hive with enough nourishment in their guts to get them through that transition.

One might be able to capture a swarm if it is spotted in its hanging out phase, which is how I got my second hive. If one finds the old queen in the existing hive, she can be put into a new hive with her capped brood cells and she will think she’s swarmed.

After a swarm, new queen is born in the existing hive, she goes on her maiden flight, gets fertilized, comes back and starts laying.

That I have so little of anything in my hives now, versus the riches that were there earlier this year, suggests my hives have had several swarms that used up the stored honey. My beekeeping neighbor captured one of them. There is also a pile of dead drones outside one hive, suggesting that they were dragged out to allow more food for about-to-swarm workers.

Multiple swarms in the spring is an unusual event. Two hypotheses are the record warm spring and/or varroa mites. The stronger of the two hives definitely had a varroa problem. Varroa feed inside capped brood cells, so if there aren’t any, the varroa starve. A swarm creates a hiatus in queen’s laying, until new queen can start up again, thereby causing dieoff of mites. The white board under the hive had lots of dead varroa in evidence, which were probably cleaned out of old cells.

Variations of nature, weird weather and how the former and latter interact have created many experiences in my short honeybee keeping experience. Honeybees are one of the more closely watched phenomena of nature and therefore create an important vision of what is happening to the environment in a larger sense.

I’m happy that both hives should recover, although the swarming means that I won’t be able to harvest a lot of honey this year. The hobby is about the bees, not about honey for me.

Pull Up a Chair and Bee Updated

By: eCAHNomics Saturday April 21, 2012 4:55 am

(photo: Vincent Ramos/wikipedia)

It has been exactly one year since my first post on bees.

Here are some of the more interesting experiences of the hobby in that year.


Weather continues to be a challenge. 2011 beat the RECORD precipitation by 10½ inches! Rain washes pollen off the flowers and dilutes nectar, so the girls have to work a lot harder to feed their babies (bee bread made from pollen) and make honey from nectar. Normally nectar water content would have to be reduced by about 80%, mostly by bees fanning their wings. You can imagine how much more exhausting a worker’s short life is when the nectar is more dilute than normal.

This past winter was mild, about tied for warmest on record. My girls had plenty of food, which started them off this season already ahead of schedule. Normally, the queen would start laying again in February, at which point the hive temperature (meaning the temperature around the queen and the brood) must be kept in the 90s, up from the 50s when there is no brood. Had the temperature turned very cold around February, there might have been a problem, but it didn’t so survival was excellent.

A couple of weeks ago, owing to continued warmer-than-normal temperatures, the whole cycle was about a month or more ahead of schedule. In the last two weeks, though, overnight lows have been chilly so swarming/splitting has been delayed.

Reviewing the Royal Lineage

When I acquired my first hive in June 2009, I decided to name my queens after Victoria, as she had a lot of children and grandchildren that I could name future generations of bee queens after. What I failed to anticipate was that a human generation lasts a couple of decades, whereas a bee generation lasts a year. My first naming scheme, then, has already run its productive course.

My bee Queen Victoria (human one was actually christened Alexandrina Victoria) swarmed in early May 2010, before Chris had a chance to split the hive. Human Victoria’s oldest daughter and first child was named Victoria Adelaide Mary, but called Vickie, so I named bee Queen Victoria’s daughter, who then ruled the hive, Queen Vickie. She swarmed in late May 2010, leaving Victoria’s second daughter, now Queen Alice, in charge of the hive.

We captured the second 2010 swarm and that became my second hive.

Pull Up a Chair: St. Patrick’s Day Version

By: eCAHNomics Saturday March 17, 2012 4:55 am

Corned Beef and Cabbage (photo: Jonathunder/wikimedia)

How are you celebrating St. Patrick’s Day (if you are)?

I am for the first time this year, postponed until tomorrow owing to schedule conflict for today.

All the while I lived in Manhattan, I did not attend the parade. I’m not a parade fan. But it is the highlight of the day for the thousands who revel. A major segment of the population of NYC is of Irish descent, stemming from the Potato Famine. Of course, on St. Patrick’s Day, all New Yorkers are Irish.

My participation in this year’s celebration came together by happenstance. Last autumn, my neighbor Noa and I went to pick up the quarter steer we bought to share with a third participant. The couple we bought the organic, grass fed, grain finished beef from, Kim and Charlie, seem to do nothing but husbandry, cook and eat. Over a glass of wine, we discussed how to prepare the various cuts of beef. They gave elaborate instructions for making corned beef out of brisket, which Noa took in her share, while I kibitzed, including mentioning that I expected to be invited for St. Pat’s dinner. Neither Noa nor I had ever prepared corned beef.

As February turned to March, I asked Noa if she still wanted to do it. Yes, and the planning began. She thawed the brisket about 10 days ago, and prepared the brine. I got a phone call. Did I have juniper berries, whole allspice, ground ginger, cinnamon stick? Yes to all. When she arrived to pick up what she needed, I asked: “Whatever happened to borrowing a simple cup of sugar from your neighbor?

I’ll be making the cabbage, new potatoes, and carrots cooked in the braising liquid.

Spinach vichyssoise to start. You can make any color vichyssoise by adding a vegetable of that color.

Surveying the dessert suggestions on the menu page at Food Network, Noa chose bread pudding which I’ll make for the first time. Irish soda bread comes from the bakery.

We’ll serve the dinner with beer. There is a store in town that has beers from breweries all over the U.S. and the world. I enjoy beer, but don’t drink it a lot, and prefer a kind of German lager flavor. Most of the Irish brews the store had were somewhat on the sweet side, so I wimped out with Harps, with a St. Pat’s label for the day.

Irish whiskey and Baileys after dinner, though some might prefer it in coffee instead of straight.

There will be 7 people. My neighbors, an 18 year old young man living with them, parents of one of them (my age!), me and another friend. It is a joint project and will be served at my house. One guest contributed a green table cloth, I bought green napkins and candles.

Some Irish among the guests but it took another friend to inform me that the Irish don’t traditionally eat CB&C. Can’t say that I believed her, but when I got to the Internet, sure enough, she is right. Matters not. Everyone is looking forward to enjoying our meal.

If you don’t have any St. Patrick’s related plans for today or tomorrow, how are you going to spend your weekend? Must be getting spring fever by now. Particularly warm in the east and everything is starting to grow.

Pull up a chair.

Impressions From My 11/9/11 Visit to OWS

By: eCAHNomics Thursday November 10, 2011 12:53 pm
One of the early donation sites at Zucotti (Photo: shankbone, flickr)

One of the early donation sites at Zucotti (Photo: shankbone, flickr)

In my attic, I had 3 sub-zero rated sleeping bags, one of which I’d used about 2 weeks/year for maybe a decade, 30 years ago. The other two were less used. When I returned from backpacking, the equipment was washed and properly stored. All 3 are in like-new condition. Also a stuff sack of winter clothing. The replacement value is probably around $500. (My earlier higher guess turned out to be wrong after I found some prices online; it’s been a long time since I bought camping equipment.) I won’t use them again, so off to OWS we went.

mzchief found out in advance that the drop-off for supplies is in the United Federation of Teachers building at 52 Broadway. Online subway directions were not only clear, but even told you which end of the 600 foot train to aim for (front in my case).

It was a fabulous weather day. Sunny in high 60s.

The drop went smoothly and the guy receiving equipment was friendly and appreciative, especially when I told him that the sleeping bags are winter rated. While I was there, another volunteer brought in a whole bin on wheels full of medical supplies. Many items were piled up in the large room, but I’m sure they’ll go through them quickly once the weather turns nasty.