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May 30, 2008

Quotable: Amy Katz on the falsities of the "free" market

"The problem is not the issue of personal choice--it's the doctrine of personal choice. We are constantly being told that change begins with us, that only we can solve our own problems, that we are the authors of our destinies. I believe that these are, in fact, ideological statements, rooted in a free market aversion to collective action. To get ourselves through the next century, we will need to shake off the phantasm of an exclusively personal destiny and couple our individual choices with real, penalty-laden national and international environmental regulations. To get ourselves through the next century, we will need a collective privileging of human lives and futures over corporate profits.

"In other words, we need to make political change, something we can't do as individuals. And something we can't do without challenging, in a serious and uncomfortable way, the existing order. So yes, let's change our lifestyles and reduce our personal impacts on the environment. It will help to nudge us closer to the world we want. But, at some point (and I would argue that point would be now), to prevent a global environmental breakdown, we are going to have to embark on a course of action that questions some of the fundamental tenets of our economic system.

"The logic of the market is destroying the planet. We will not save the planet by turning the free market on itself and buying hybrid cars. We will save the planet by forcing our governments to mandate real environmental regulations. We will save the planet by refusing to allow the requirements of the market to dictate our health, our preferences, our sense of reality and the course of our lives."

--Amy Katz, editor of The Greenpeace Green Living Guide

Bzzzzzzzzzzzz--STING!!!

Remember all those stories about mysteriously dying honeybee populations? Looks like we've got the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder all figured out, kiddies. Or at least, one very unsurprising chief suspect:

Germany has banned a family of pesticides that are blamed for the deaths of millions of honeybees. The German Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) has suspended the registration for eight pesticide seed treatment products used in rapeseed oil and sweetcorn.

The move follows reports from German beekeepers in the Baden-Württemberg region that two thirds of their bees died earlier this month following the application of a pesticide called clothianidin.

"It's a real bee emergency," said Manfred Hederer, president of the German Professional Beekeepers' Association. "50-60% of the bees have died on average and some beekeepers have lost all their hives."

Tests on dead bees showed that 99% of those examined had a build-up of clothianidin. The chemical, produced by Bayer CropScience, a subsidiary of the German chemical giant Bayer, is sold in Europe under the trade name Poncho. It was applied to the seeds of sweetcorn planted along the Rhine this spring. The seeds are treated in advance of being planted or are sprayed while in the field.

Well, there's a shocker. Pesticides kill bees! Even if they're used on a crop, like sweet corn, that isn't pollinated by insects (corn is wind-pollinated), the pesticides still end up devastating a lot more insects than those they were aimed at in the first place. The pesticides have a nasty way of getting into the air, the air has a nasty way of getting into the bees, the bees have a nasty way of getting into the hive, and the entire hive has a nasty way of ending up dead as a result.

But guess what, kiddies? The makers of the pesticides refuse to take responsibility for what happens when their product produces something other than the intended result:

The company says an application error by the seed company which failed to use the glue-like substance that sticks the pesticide to the seed, led to the chemical getting into the air.

Bayer spokesman Dr Julian Little told the BBC's Farming Today that misapplication is highly unusual. "It is an extremely rare event and has not been seen anywhere else in Europe," he said.

I find that hard to believe. If anyone hasn't seen it happening, I humbly submit that the just haven't been looking. Why limit one's scrutiny to Europe? All of North America has been suffering from declines in bee populations, both domestic and wild, and the local beekeeper from whom my mom buys her honey has complained about it here, too. And yes, the crops in this region are heavily pesticided. The beekeeper's apiary is right near some local apple orchards, and of course, they spray their apples!

But hey, why take my word for it? I'm just one little resident of Southern Ontario. The scientists know more about it than I do.

Clothianidin, like the other neonicotinoid pesticides that have been temporarily suspended in Germany, is a systemic chemical that works its way through a plant and attacks the nervous system of any insect it comes into contact with. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency it is "highly toxic" to honeybees.

This is not the first time that Bayer, one of the world's leading pesticide manufacturers with sales of ¤5.8bn (£4.6bn) in 2007, has been blamed for killing honeybees.

In the United States, a group of beekeepers from North Dakota is taking the company to court after losing thousands of honeybee colonies in 1995, during a period when oilseed rape in the area was treated with imidacloprid. A third of honeybees were killed by what has since been dubbed colony collapse disorder.

Bayer's best selling pesticide, imidacloprid, sold under the name Gaucho in France, has been banned as a seed dressing for sunflowers in that country since 1999, after a third of French honeybees died following its widespread use. Five years later it was also banned as a sweetcorn treatment in France. A few months ago, the company's application for clothianidin was rejected by French authorities.

So much for it "not having been seen elsewhere in Europe". France, last time I looked, was still in Europe. Right next to Germany, as luck would have it. Zut alors!

But still the company protesteth too much:

Bayer has always maintained that imidacloprid is safe for bees if correctly applied. "Extensive internal and international scientific studies have confirmed that Gaucho does not present a hazard to bees," said Utz Klages, a spokesman for Bayer CropScience.

Hey Bayer, I have some international scientific studies that call you a liar.

How about a French government report? Is that international enough for you? Or how about this one, conducted in the US, that finds no significant increase in crop yields for farmers using this expensive toxin? How about what an international beekeepers' publication has to say (again, about what happened in France)?

I could go on, but you get the idea: When only the company producing this stuff says it's actually safe, you really have to wonder if you're not being lied to.

In this case, the lie's been stung. Hopefully, it will get stung to death before the bees die out altogether.

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Che's back!

And he's twice as big as ever:

Che's statue is unveiled in Argentina

Che would have turned 80 this year. That's twice as old as he lived to be. So it makes sense that this statue, which will stand in his birthplace of Rosario, Argentina, is twice life-size.

Not, I hasten to add, that he wasn't a towering figure in life, too.

May 29, 2008

"Autonomous" fascism in Bolivia

Aporrea reports:

Last Saturday, far-right groups attacked, punched and battered a group of peasants who had come to a stadium in the city of Sucre, where president Evo Morales was to deliver 50 ambulances and several thousand homes to local residents.

About 20 Quechua peasants were humiliated and forced to march semi-naked toward the central square of Sucre, where they were forced to kneel and chant slogans against President Morales.

These violent events left 27 wounded, according to local authorities.

Translation mine. A longer version of the day's events, plus backgrounder, courtesy of IPS, can be read at Bolivia Rising.

Aporrea calls Sucre "the kingdom of the Ku Klux Klan in Bolivia"; a somewhat confusing take, since the ringleaders of this violence are not white but mestizo. It is difficult to tell them apart from their victims just by looking; I could only tell who was who by who was standing and who was kneeling; who was yelling triumphantly, and who was silent and miserable; who wore a shirt, and who did not. That's not a whole lot of outward difference. And yet these mestizos identify more with their white ancestors than their indigenous ones, no matter how much their own appearance says otherwise. In Bolivia, it seems, your socioeconomic status is directly dependent on how much European blood you have. Which explains why the local white oligarchy hates the president so; he's a full-blooded indigenous. In their eyes, he's not a popular, elected leader; he's just a dirty Injun.

Here's Nick Buxton's take, from Bolivia Rising:

Whilst in Lima, I talked to Wilmer Flores, a MAS deputy from the Sucre region who recounted how he had been chased from the public square and cornered by a group of students who stamped on him, beat him, shouting "Kill the Indian. Let's kill them all one by one." It was as one of them started with broken glass to try and scratch his eyes out that a policeman happened to pass and the group escaped. His attempts to find his potential murderers have met a brick wall of complicity and evasion from all Sucre's legal authorities.

Watching TV, I noticed that the brutalised campesinos were kneeling in Sucre's central square, in front of the "Casa de Libertad" (Freedom House) from where Bolivia's independence was declared. It was the same square where Deputy Wilmer Flores was seen, chased and almost lost his life. Similarly in Santa Cruz, various attacks have taken place in its main central square.

The choice of location for the Right's violence is no coincidence. It was here in the heart of Sucre that Bolivia as an exclusive state which marginalized its indigenous majority took shape. It is from key municipal and state buildings in Santa Cruz and Sucre that a coterie of privileged families has led a vitriolic backlash against even the possibility of social justice in Bolivia. In Sucre these families, including Jaime Barron, the Rector of the University and the city mayor Aydee Nava have instigated violence, egged on by a rabid media, in an attempt to stop the constitutional assembly last November.

But the use of the public square for repression and exclusion has an even deeper significance. For up to 1952, indigenous people were not even allowed to set foot in squares like that of La Paz. Now more than 50 years later, with the arrival of an indigenous President, the Right is trying to turn back the clock and through violence make it equally impossible for indigenous peoples to cross public city squares.

The roots and nature of racism in Bolivia are complex and deep, but in essence I believe what I am witnessing is a colonial backlash. A hatred sown in divisions from colonial time, that has persisted insidiously in the structures of all power, and one that has got a grip even in those who have indigenous parents or grandparents. All it took was a change in balance of power and a fear of indigenous leadership to unleash a deeply ugly side to colonised Bolivian society. And there have been enough powerful families fearful of losing their privileges to exploit the already latent sore.

It's sick and ugly, is it not? That a group of mestizo kids--part indigenous--could repudiate and humiliate those whose ethnicity they partly share. That they could feel themselves superior to these other indigenous simply on the basis of a jigger of non-indigenous blood. But what does that say about the indigenous part of them? Do they hate themselves only about 50% or so, compared to the 100% hate they hold for their full-blooded brothers and sisters?

Even more shocking, though, is how the Sucre authorities are turning a blind eye. Buxton's essay hints at why: This is a city with a long and ugly history of institutionalized racism. Of course the authorities would tacitly aid and abet these young thugs in their fascistic autos-da-fé.

And of course those local authorities would also harbor a deep animosity toward the federal government of Evo Morales, whose parliament and cabinet are racially mixed and arguably much more representative, as such, than Sucre's own. Evo has made it clear that his government is about social justice, equality and inclusion. That sort of thing sits very ill with the racists, especially since their racism is directly tied to their socioeconomic status, which in turn is intimately linked to the political power they used to possess. The idea that democracy could rob the richest and whitest Bolivians of their inordinate power is deeply threatening to them; they also stand to lose control of the economy as reforms take hold. The largest landowners, if their estates remain idle or if they abuse the peasants and tenant farmers (who are overwhelmingly indigenous), stand to have their properties confiscated and handed over to indigenous campesinos. That of course would be the crowning insult to these people: Not only do they no longer rule the land outright, they will soon no longer even own the land they used to rule as private fiefdoms! Instead, that land would go back to those "dirty Injuns" from whom it was stolen in the first place. Yes, the same people they used to enslave outright, sexually abuse, and generally treat like dirt.

The idea that no people are dirt, and that no one has the right to treat them as such, scares the living shit out of these big racist landowners. Their whole power structure is crumbling. No wonder, then, that they staged this bogus "autonomy" movement. No wonder they hire these goon squads to beat and strip and humiliate indigenous people in the public squares, and to drive around cars bearing Nazi swastikas in an attempt to terrorize the indigenous majority into submission. Pretty soon, that too will have to end. It can't end soon enough.

You can't tell the truth--there's a war on!

See, this is why I call CNN the Chicken Noodle Network:

Anderson Cooper is shocked, SHOCKED to learn that his fellow CNNer, Jessica Yellin, who worked for a time at ABC, was pressured by network execs during her ABC days not to do hard-hitting pieces on the war, the White House, and its scurrying cockroach inhabitants.

Why so shocked, AC? Journalists face this kind of pressure all the time in the corporate media. Remember Jane Akre and Steve Wilson, who used to work for FOX in the "hard-hitting investigation" mode? They did a story on the dangers of bovine growth hormone, and suffered tremendous corporate pressure from Monsanto, the maker of the dangerous (and highly profitable--for them) Posilac BGH--first to shut up, then to alter their story, and when that failed, to get the network to take them off the air altogether. That last one did it; it also turned into one hell of a court battle. It was the most visible, and acrimonious, example of how Corporate America effectively silences the media whenever it gets too close to the bone on anything you're not supposed to examine more closely. You're not supposed to read the fine print, Citizen--you're just supposed to buy, eat, and shut up.

Same goes for the war. You're not supposed to know how this war is as bad for the Iraqis as Posilac is for cattle and humans. You're just supposed to buy it, eat it up, shut up--and applaud on Pavlovian cue when the sign lights up.

I'm sure the Chicken Noodles in the network alphabet soup are also shocked by this latest development. Former White House flack Simple Scotty has written a tell-all, and suddenly he's an unperson:

It's hardly surprising the White House attack machine would furiously mobilize to turn Scott McClellan into a pariah. Now that he's off message, he never existed.

Dana Perino, who graces McClellan's old podium, issued a statement calling him "disgruntled" and wondering what happened to "the Scott we knew."

Well, it stands to reason that Moonunit Perino is shocked, SHOCKED, too. She's highly paid to be just that--shocked by the truth, and eager to cover it up (with her trademark high-speed babble) at all costs, lest she, too, end up an unperson like Simple Scotty, the man who probably said "I dunno" more than anyone else in the history of the White House Press Room. Now we know why he said it--it was the only thing he COULD say without blurting out the truth.

You can't tell the truth, Citizen--there's a war on! If you can't stay on message, don't give any message at all, lest you become an unperson, too.

This is what I call a hearing

Generals Petraeus and Odierno were confirmed, but so was something else:

...the spirit of brave women speaking out for peace. They got THEIR hearing, too.

May 28, 2008

FARCing hell!

I mean really. What else is there to say to this?

Laptop computers have become treasure troves of evidence for Colombian investigators probing crimes committed by far-right militias and leftist rebels.

So many Colombians were dismayed to learn that prison authorities didn't immediately secure laptops and cell phones belonging to most of the 14 paramilitary warlords who were yanked from cells on May 12 and extradited to the United States to stand trial for drug trafficking.

The mishandled evidence has become a national scandal, and the prisons director only made matters worse when he told Colombia's leading newspaper that he had no way of preventing the warlords from continuing to lead criminal networks from their cells.

Oh, I know. I know! How about bombing the fuck out of paramilitary encampments on the Venezuelan side of the border, where Manuel Rosales (the imperial stooge with whom Chavecito mopped the floor in the last presidential election) is said to be harboring them? Then, I'm sure, we can put to rest once and for all the question of whether there is actually such a thing as a bomb-proof laptop (which the whore media won't ask).

And of course, we could also clean up a LOT of right-wing paramilitary narcoterrorist scum that way.

Oh, I know. I KNOW. It's a modest proposal, but it will never happen. And we all know why.

May 27, 2008

Quotable: Barry Nolan on the myth of free speech

"In today's America, speech is only 'free' when you are talking down to someone less powerful that you. Speak 'up' — and look out.

"In your work life, they can fire you, as I found out, for quietly saying something that is widely known to be true. Put a lid on it."

--Barry Nolan, who was fired for telling the awful truth about Bill O'Reilly at an awards banquet where the latter was undeservedly honored for being a professional liar

Let's hear the anti-Chavez screamers explain this

From Aporrea, a little tidbit but a revealing one:

Against the editorial lines from Colombia and Venezuela that claim there is a "close" relationship between the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez Frias, Colombian senator Piedad Cordoba, and the FARC rebels of Colombia, Cordoba confirmed that neither she, nor the Venezuelan leader had known of the death of the historic leader of the FARC, Manuel Marulanda Velez.

"My attention has often been drawn to how they say here that we (Cordoba and Chavez) are the mouthpieces of the FARC, but neither Chavez nor I knew that Marulanda had died...until the last, he did things his own way, he died a natural death," the senator said.

Translation mine.

Did you get that? Neither Cordoba nor Chavez knew that Marulanda had died until after the fact. They had to read about it in the morning papers, same as everybody else. Some "close relations"! I would think that if Chavez had known Marulanda wasn't well, and he really was that close to him, he would have had him flown to Cuba for treatment, no?

This should lay to rest all the media drivel about Chavez financing and arming the FARC, too. Until someone (and not someone pointing to the Magic Laptop, either) can locate the whereabouts of a big chunk of money that disappeared from Venezuela and appeared in Colombia (a large arms cache, ditto), I think it's safe to say that this latest media campaign against the left, like ol' "Sure-Shot" Marulanda himself, has begun to push up the proverbial daisies.

May it rest in peace.

Dubya's "populism"

Dubya, the great Populist

This one's just for Ed in Miami--as a gentle reminder of what populism isn't.

L'affaire Couillard--c'est le Maxime!

Ah oui, cher(e) ami(e), Tante Bina a trouvé beaucoup d'histoires bien scandaleuses pour toi!

Ahem. En anglais:

Maxime Bernier, our beleaguered and blundering foreign-affairs minister, has finally resigned. The reason? His ex-girlfriend, the erstwhile biker babe Julie Couillard, is in fact something of a security risk--a fact that Bernier and the Harper Tories repeatedly denied. When questioned (very politely) on the matter of her questionable ties by the opposition, the Tories cried salaciousness.

And considering that Bernier left confidential documents at her house, there seems to be some validity to the line of questioning on her potential for security risks. Meanwhile, we find out that somebody bugged her bedsprings.

She also accompanied him to his swearing-in spilling major cleavage. And she's now spilling her story.

Who's salacious again?

Now, for a scary thought: I called Bernier on his cowardly putziness regarding torture earlier this year. He's also well known for his out-of-line remarks on Afghanistan. Now I wonder if he and his ex-GF were actually the official conduit for Afghan heroin--the only cash crop Afghanistan is actually cashing in on--to the Hell's Angels. You have to admit Julie's credentials are ideal for the job.

Meanwhile, Maxime is going down in history--like a sack of solid lead bricks.

Quel fromage.

May 26, 2008

Harper, Harris--what's the diff?

Not a dime's worth, apparently, beyond the fact that the one is federal and the other provincial. The one's from out west, the other's from up north. Our "new Conservative" PM is well known for his penchant for recycling right-wing failures from other hardline Conservative governments-that-failed. Apparently, in Harpoland, the fecal matter falls up--just as in BushCo's Amurrica. And my, how the sewage flows uphill here in Ontario lately--more specifically, all the way from Walkerton to Parliament Hill. Meet the New Tory, same as the Old Tory (not to be confused with the respected Red Tory, now alas a Dead Tory).

A certain failed premier of Ontario is obviously the template for the "new Conservative" Harpo. His latest environmentally dubious recycle? None other than a goober from the late and unlamented Mike Harris regime:

Guy Giorno, a principal in the now-disgraced "Common Sense Revolution" led by former Ontario premier Mike Harris, is moving to the top of the Stephen Harper "org chart". News reports say he is replacing Harper's chief of staff Ian Brodie, who was implicated in the spurious leak about Barack Obama's views on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The leak damaged Obama's campaign for the Democratic nomination for US President.

Giorno is a lawyer expert in corporate lobbying. While working for Harris, he had a reputation as a taskmaster who closely controlled what the premier and his caucus did.

Linkage added.

"Closely controlled what the premier and his caucus did"? Hmmm. Sounds an awful lot like Karl Rove.

Only while Karl Rove was only apparent as a bulge on Dubya's back during debates, this guy outed himself with a blast from the ol' blunderbuss:

In 2002, Toronto's NOW Magazine reported on a meeting in that city by a what proved to be a short-lived industry front group called the Canadian Coalition for Responsible Environmental Solutions (CCRES). This organization was formed to oppose the Kyoto agreement on climate change. Giorno worked with lobbying firm National Public Relations, which set up the organization. The CCRES folded less than a year later.

"There were speeches by coalition organizers, and a particularly passionate Ontario energy minister, John Baird, made his anti-Kyoto rallying cry," reported Greenpeace campaigner John Matlow. "Needless to say, the audience was very receptive." Baird went on to get elected federally and to become Stephen Harper's environment minister.

Matlow reported that two days later, Giorno exposed his hand "by sending every MPP at Queen's Park an e-mail suggesting what they might say in op-ed news pieces or letters to their constituents about Kyoto. Then Liberal and NDP members, for whom the missive was obviously not intended, were sent a second e-mail that read, 'Unfortunately, materials from the Canadian Coalition for Responsible Environmental Solutions were sent to your office in error in a previous e-mail. I do apologize for any inconvenience.' "

Oopsie. Well, I did say they were environmentally dubious!

Nothing like showing your hand to the opposition. Too bad the latter didn't run with it--something like the Democrats under Dubya, I'm sorry to say. (Yes, we have cowardly oppositions in Canada, too. The Yanks haven't monopolized that yet.) There was blood in the water after Mike Harris bowed out, but nobody made mincemeat of the Tory government; we suffered through another five years of the same under Ernie Eves, whose only saving grace was that he was blander and more superficially diplomatic than nasty Mike. Damn, we coulda had a non-confidence V-8...Damn, we could have one NOW!

BTW, A Creative Revolution has a hilarious take on it, in which they speculate that these neckless wonders of Torydom might be the Canadians blamed for everything by South Park. Hey, I'm willing to let them take the blame if you are!

May 25, 2008

Yes, I admit it. I'm one of these too.

And so are you, and so is everybody else I know.

I'm talking about people who actually use the Web to read what they want, read JUST what they want, and not bother to give crapitalism its pound of flesh (or hour of eyeball time).

Web users are getting more ruthless and selfish when they go online, reveals research.

The annual report into web habits by usability guru Jakob Nielsen shows people are becoming much less patient when they go online.

Instead of dawdling on websites many users want simply to reach a site quickly, complete a task and leave.

Most ignore efforts to make them linger and are suspicious of promotions designed to hold their attention.

Well, this is kind of a "no DUH"-er. Of course we don't want to sit through a promo spot, you crapitalist techno-dumbasses. When the commercials are on TV, we go pee. When they're taking up space in our caches while we're waiting for what we REALLY came to see, we go through the fucking ROOF! We don't ooh and ahh over the cleverness of the dancing doodads, unless we are knuckle-dragging Missing Links. We do whatever it takes not to be inundated with dumb distractions, and we consider it user-friendly NOT to have whackloads of memory-hogging widgets dancing before our eyes (and making our not-constantly-updated browsers crash).

Of course, it's the language that all this common sense is couched in here that makes me a fine laughing cheena. We are "selfish" and "ruthless" and "hot potato driven". As opposed to how I would put it: efficient, commonsensical, goal-oriented, unwilling to waste time (and/or money) on extraneous crapola.

Charmed.

Say, dear reader, does this remind you of the Great Click-Through Disappointment that heralded the Dot-Com Bust just before the turn of the century? It does me. Back then, apparently, we were supposed to be so enticed by the dancing ad banners at the tops of web pages that we'd forget what we came to read--be it news, poetry, tips on housetraining our pets--and click through to buy whatever was being sold. The site hosting the ad would receive mere pennies (or fractions of pennies) per click. Meanwhile, it was the site that proffered all kinds of goodies that really cleaned up saleswise, assuming they weren't selling what everyone else was, in which case they got eaten up or crushed by the competition.

It seemed to me then, and still does now, more than ever, a bad way to make a buck. Frankly, the number of independent hits I get on this page would not defray web-hosting expenses for me even if every single one of my small but loyal readership clicked through. That's why you don't see any blog-ads here. Well, that and I just plain hate them. They crash browsers, they clutter the picture, and I really don't want to see pro-war t-shirts advertised on this very anti-war site, 'kay?

And then there's the fact that I just plain hate ads. I've gone off TV and magazines over them. I go to the Internets to escape all that.

I guess that makes me a grade-A bitch. Sure, crapitalists have to eat too, but I don't give a rat's ass. If they wanna know how to eat, I'll tell them how to grow their own organic heirloom tomatoes and chard. I'll even tell them how it's done for free, out of the goodness of my heart. But they heavy lifting, especially the spadework and manure shovelling, they will just have to do for themselves. This site is my servant, not theirs.

Pretty Boy Lopez is in trouble

Anyone who's been keeping an unbiased track of Venezuelan electoral politics already knows why Leopoldo Lopez won't be able to run for office again: He's a plain little plug-ugly thug, with a lengthy history of violence. But trust the lamestream media whores to spin it a full 180 degrees from the truth...

Leopoldo Lopez won his last election as mayor of an affluent Caracas district with 81 percent of the vote. Women supporters mobbed him at a recent Mother's Day appearance, posing for photos while he and his wife handed out roses.

But the popular politician's plan to challenge incumbent Juan Barreto, mayor of Greater Caracas, later this year could be thwarted by 26 criminal charges against him — accusations Lopez says were trumped up by an operative of President Hugo Chavez.

He's not alone.

Nearly 400 others — mostly opposition politicians — have been barred from running for office in state and municipal elections in November by Venezuela's top anti-corruption official, a close Chavez ally.

Comptroller General Clodosbaldo Russian made public what critics call a "blacklist" of candidates in February. Though none has been formally charged with a crime, Russian argues that law allows him to prohibit all 386 from running for office while he investigates charges ranging from nepotism to illegally awarding public contracts.

Opposition leaders say they have never seen such a bold attempt to block their candidacies since Chavez took office nearly a decade ago. But as soaring crime and double-digit inflation eat away at Chavez's popularity, many say his allies may be having a harder time riding his coattails into office.

"Chavista candidates can no longer expect to win simply because they're on the president's bandwagon," said Luis Vicente Leon, a political analyst at the Caracas-based polling firm Datanalisis. "The list takes opposition leaders who pose threats in some regions out of the way."

Item #1: Datanalisis is hardly a credible source. Oil Wars has exposed it more than once. So has Venezuelanalysis. Unfortunately, the AP doesn't feel compelled to fact-check; it's content to play stenographer and portray this fraudulent firm as genuine and impartial, when it is neither.

Item #2: High crime rates are Chavez's fault? Oh yeah, right. Venezuela never had crime before he came into office. And isn't it the municipal mayors' job to see to policing? It was until recently, when Chavecito finally decided it was high time to do what these incompetent, crooked bozos could not.

Item #3: Pretty Boy Leo's own record isn't exactly good, either. Not only is he incompetent at policing (the rich municipality of Chacao is also prone to crime, much of it perpetrated, hilariously, by its own police), he's also a criminal himself.

Item #4: Luis Vicente Leon can thunder all he likes about Chavista coattail riders, and one might even concede that there are some (though one will note, as Leon won't, that the Venezuelan public itself is doing the heavy lifting when it comes to weeding them out). But why is he so silent about the "popularity" of Pretty Boy being due solely to his anti-Chavez bias, in a rich neighborhood where such sentiments are a given because Chavecito is in the habit of sicking the taxman on the very people who are the most able to pay, and the least inclined to?

Item #5: In any neighborhood where the voters are populous enough to really matter in the grand scheme of things, Pretty Boy's cute widdle face isn't enough to do it for him. Neither is his Harvard education (which doesn't cut ice with me, either, since Dubya also went to Harvard, and we all know how bright HE is.) And definitely neither is his obvious contempt for the lower rungs of the income ladder. Unlike his co-religionist Henrique Capriles Radonsky, Pretty Boy hasn't even made the effort to show up and campaign in their neighborhoods. Maybe that's because Capriles Radonsky had a grand total of 25 followers in tow (uh, that would be his choir, the one he preaches to), while the residents just thought it was hysterically funny that he was now trying to win them over after his own part in the coup that temporarily destabilized the country and deprived it of a leader those same people elected.

Frankly, I don't see Pretty Boy's real chances being all that great. His popularity doesn't extend beyond the borders of eastern Caracas, and it doesn't take an electoral commission to disqualify him as a candidate; one look at his record will suffice.

Now, when do you suppose the AP will report that?

May 24, 2008

The aptly named Ambassador CROCK-er

...has issued some rosy forecasts for total pie in the Iraqi sky. Behold:

The U.S. ambassador to Iraq said Saturday that al-Qaida's network in the country has never been closer to defeat, and he praised Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for his moves to rein in Shiite and Sunni militant groups.

Ryan Crocker's comments came as Iraqi forces have been conducting crackdowns on al-Qaida militants in the northern city of Mosul and on Shiite militiamen in the southern city of Basra. Thousands of Iraqi forces also moved into the Shiite militia stronghold of Sadr City in Baghdad last week imposing control for the first time in years.

But truces with the powerful Mahdi Army militia that have calmed violence in Basra and paved the way for the Sadr City deployment have been strained in the past two days.

Now, there are a couple of crocks at work here. First of all, the Shiite militias, including the Mahdi Army and Badr brigades, may be Islamist militants, but they are NOT al-Quaida, nor are they affiliated with the so-called al-Qaida in Iraq. Al-Q are Sunnis, or more specifically, Wahhabis with a fundamentalist belief system so extreme that mainstream Sunnis rightly frown on them, particularly since they are imported from Saudi Arabia, not homegrown. And the Shiite militias are all existing Iraqi factions unleashed by the downfall of the secularist Saddam Hussein regime. Ambassador Crocker neatly glosses over all this.

Supporters of anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who heads the Mahdi Army, accused al-Maliki on Saturday of seeking to eliminate their movement and warned that "dark clouds" hang over the truce.

Uh oh. That means defeat is NOT so imminent after all. Score one more against Ryan Crocker.

Al-Qaida fighters or other Sunni insurgents struck back in Mosul on Saturday. A roadside bomb in the city's Sumer neighborhood hit an Iraqi army patrol, destroying a vehicle and killing four soldiers, a police officer said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

Near Baqouba — where a U.S. offensive last year targeted al-Qaida in Iraq — gunmen assassinated a member of the local Awakening Council, a U.S.-backed group of Sunni tribesmen who are fighting al-Qaida. The attack occurred in the village of Had, north of Baghdad, police said.

"...or other Sunni insurgents". Nice vague language there on the part of the reporter. But those who care for clarity, not vagueness, will note that THIS passage doesn't exactly signal defeat for Islamist forces in Iraq, either.

By the way, who authorizes police to speak to the media? Don't count on it being totally up to the local authorities. They're not exactly independent, as the size and fortification of the US embassy compound should make clear.

U.S Ambassador Crocker spoke as he visited reconstruction projects in the southern city of Najaf.

"There is important progress for the Iraqi forces in confronting the Sunni and Shiite militias," he said, speaking Arabic to reporters. "The government, the prime minister are showing a clear determination to take on extremist armed elements that challenge the government's authority ... no matter who these elements are."

"You are not going to hear me say that al-Qaida is defeated, but they've never been closer to defeat than they are now," Crocker said.

Nice bit of hedging there, Ambassador. Unfortunately, it's still another big fat CROCK-er. And "never been closer to defeat than now" doesn't mean much if they are only a hair closer to it than yesterday. There is still a yawning distance there.

The U.S. military says attacks have dropped dramatically — down to an average of 41 a day across the country, the lowest rate since 2004 — amid the crackdowns and truces. The U.S. military, backed by Sunni Arab tribal fighters, have scored successes in battling al-Qaida in Iraq and other Sunni insurgents in western parts of the country.

Oooooooooo, only 41 attacks a day. Yeah, that's progress. BTW, the chocolate ration this week is 30 grams, up from 50 last week. Don't you love Big Brother?

The Mosul sweep aims to dislodge the terror network from its most prominent remaining urban stronghold. The operation has met little opposition, suggesting that many al-Qaida militants fled, intending to regroup elsewhere as they have in past crackdowns.

Closer to defeat? When they've only abandoned one place to resurface in another? Um, yeah. Wake me up when you've actually got a body count, eh?

In Baghdad, three men attending a conference at the offices of the National Dialogue Front, a leading Sunni Arab political party, were killed when a bomb exploded under their car as they left the gathering, police said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press.

Again, note the anonymous, unauthorized police. Who is muzzling them? I thought freedom (of speech and otherwise) was supposed to be on the march over there!

Meanwhile, new tensions over the truces in Sadr City and Basra were sparked when Iraqi troops in Basra fired over the heads of al-Sadr followers congregating in a northern square for Friday prayers. Iraqi police recently banned al-Sadr gatherings there after a large cache of weapons was found nearby.

Iraqi troops were deployed and when those gathering refused to disperse, the police fired rounds over their heads, witnesses said.

Iraqi police in Basra said one person was wounded, but al-Sadr officials contended that one person was killed.

And then we wonder why the truce is so shaky. Shooting at them? Yeah, that sounds like a terrific move. Nothing like a little antagonism to keep that trucey feeling going!

Also Friday, Iraqi and U.S. troops carried out a sweep in two Mahdi Army strongholds of western Baghdad, the Amil and Bayaa districts, arresting around 100 people, police officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press.

Again--note unauthorized police. In whose interest is it to keep them silent?

Iraqi forces in the operation cordoned off a cultural center in Amil where Sadrists were gathering to hold prayers and arrested some worshippers, the officials said.

Sadrist lawmakers denounced the moves saying there was a "nationwide conspiracy against Friday prayers" and a government move to "eliminate" their movement.

It's hard not to concede they have a point. Between the shootings and the raids, you really have to wonder. What kind of Muslim does that to his co-religionists while they are praying? Is prayer time not sacred in Iraq anymore? Or is it just not sacred if you're not in the same corner with a certain oil-thirsty invading force?

Sadrist lawmaker, Aqeel Abdul-Rahman, said the group was still committed to Sadr City truce. "But we see black clouds on the horizon, being brought by the government to rain on the sons of the Sadr Movement," he said.

The Sadrists' angry rhetoric may in part be aimed at warning al-Maliki not to take more aggressive steps against the Mahdi Army in Sadr City, such as confiscating heavy weapons or arresting key figures. The government has said it plans to do so, but has not begun any raids in the district, wary of sparking retaliation.

Looks to me like the Sadrists are more committed to holding up their end of the bargain than you-know-who.

Of course, I can just see Crocker and Co. pushing for harsher actions in spite of everything, so BushCo can go out with a bang in an election year and not be known for all time as the gang that couldn't shoot straight.

If I were Mr. Crocker, I'd leave the diplomatic corps and join a PR firm. He's obviously better at spinning than he is at diplomacy.

The Pinky Show on immigration

So clear that even the mainstream media could understand it. Too bad they won't DEBATE it.

May 23, 2008

The Blair Witch Laptop

Never-before-seen footage from the actual finding of Raul Reyes' computer! Indisputable evidence linking Chavecito to the FARC! Exclusive to Globoterror, the 24-hour crapaganda channel! Absolutely (and I do mean absolutely) unedited!

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Some summit that was in Peru

And for some reason, I found a lot of funny pix from it...and for some reason even stranger, most of the funniest ones had Evo in them. In some funny context or other.

Like this one, in which he's chatting with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel:

Angela Merkel pulls a face at the summit

What do you suppose is going through her mind? My educated guess is it's something like this:

"Scheisse, there's that Chavez-person. I just realized I owe him a big apology. I am SO not looking forward to this."

Did Evo then go on to tell the Chilean president all about that? Could be:

Michelle Bachelet laughing--at something Evo said?

She certainly found SOMETHING funny. Must have been something he said.

La la la la la...

"La-la-la-la-la, looks like Chavecito is about to get an apology from Angela-la-la-la-la..."

Evo can't believe his ears!

"What? The king of Spain STILL won't apologize to Chavecito? I don't believe I'm hearing this."

Mightier than the sword? In Evo's hands it is!

"Yes, it's a pen. And in MY hands, it's really mightier than a sword."

Evo's da man at da summit

"Hey, you guys! You won't believe what Evo did. He got Angela Merkel to apologize to Chavez!"

May 22, 2008

Right in front of the White House!

Dubya can't hide from THIS shame anymore:

Protesters gathered to call for the extradition of the CubanaBomber, Luis Posada Carriles, to Venezuela to face justice for his crimes. How much longer can BushCo pretend not to know the guy, especially since Bush the Elder was this old fart's CIA director back in the day?

May 21, 2008

No, he's not gloating.

Oh really?

Michael Weiner, who egomaniacally calls himself "the Savage Nation", devotes nearly thirteen whole minutes of his gross abuse of the public airwaves to, you guessed it, celebrating the diagnosed brain cancer of Senator Ted Kennedy:

Transcript of his incoherent ramblings at Media Matters.

There's so much wrong with this man that it's hard to know where to begin. But let's make a valiant effort here...

The poor guy's been suffering for years, you know? Unfairly he's been accused of alcoholism, but we see now that it was something much more deep-seated.

Uh oh. I see someone doesn't understand how malignant glioma of the parietal lobe operates. It's not "something much more deep-seated" that causes "suffering for years" and gets one "unfairly accused of alcoholism". Glioma is a fast-moving cancer. Most of those who are diagnosed with it are dead in less than a year. By definition, it can't cause "suffering for years", let alone anything resembling alcoholism or insanity. Until the victim presents with seizures, as Kennedy did, the condition is entirely without symptoms. Which is what makes malignant glioma so devastating. By the time the victim presents with symptoms, it's already too late to hope for a cure, and treatment tends to be about control or palliation instead.

The Wiener Nation repeatedly plays a Dead Kennedys song while jabbering and vomiting at the same time. Classy. He even treats us to the lyrics and his own highly idiosyncratic interpretation of "California Über Alles", fixating on the line "I am not a liberal". Will someone kindly inform him that the Dead Kennedys are a leftist group, and when they say they're not liberal, they only mean that liberals are too watered-down for their liking--and not that they themselves are with the far-right, as the Wiener and his jackboot-licking caller obviously think they are?

But then again, this mistake is kind of predictable. The homophobic Wiener used to hang out with the very gay Allen Ginsberg in his youth, and he's doing his damnedest to make sure everyone forgets it, even if he can't. So it's just like him to twist a cultural reference until it's even more bent-out-of-shape than he is. (And baby, that takes some doing!)

Onwards:

Later in the program, Savage aired a clip of Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) offering a tribute to Kennedy on the Senate floor before describing Byrd as "a senile senator" and "a walking psycho." Savage went on to assert, "For years now, Byrd has been blubbering on the floor of the Senate. For years, I mean, to be honest, Kennedy didn't seem sane to me." He continued, "Forget about the drunk stories and all that -- anybody can drink. The guy sounded like he was off for years, I'm sorry."

Sorry? No, he's not. Weiner, or Wiener, is not sorry in the least. He's glad, because he thinks Ted Kennedy's diagnosis suddenly vindicates his own long-held beliefs about liberal senators of a certain age, which he then extrapolates to liberals in general:

This is running America. No wonder Ahmadinejad's racing ahead with a nuclear weapon. He's afraid of these old men? He's afraid of these men who don't know what they're talking about? They don't know what they're talking about. No wonder Al Gore can receive a prize -- a Nobel Prize for something that doesn't exist. No wonder. Nobody knows what's going on. Either they're senile, or they're bought out, or they're corrupt, or they're crazy, or they're on medication. And we the people are sitting here saying, "The king has no clothes," and the king says, "Off with your head."

Perceptive reader, please note that the Wiener also extrapolates his own grotesquely twisted, much-in-the-minority view to the point where he, a Nation of One, becomes "We the People". Megalomania much?

What's interesting to note, as an aside, is how Michael Weiner--presumably Jewish--has far less hate for fascism than he reserves for its victims:

In February, discussing the death of Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA), the only member of Congress to have survived the Holocaust, Savage stated, "You're not supposed to talk badly about the dead. I generally wouldn't do it. But in the case of Tom Lantos, I'll make an exception. I think he was one of the most -- he was a scoundrel. And I'll tell you why I detested Tom Lantos. The man survived the Holocaust of World War II and used it as a weapon the rest of his life."

Interesting, that. I'm no fan of Lantos either--he was a warhawk when he should have been a war-resister, he rubber-stamped the Hatriot Act, and his idea of what constituted a dictator extended too far into the realms of democracy for my liking. But at least I respect his status as a holocaust survivor and his right to speak out against fascism using, yes, that status as a weapon. Even if I don't go so far as to approve his using it as a justification for a corporatist war.

The Wiener, however, hated Lantos because there was a D after his name--and because Lantos was a bona-fide holocaust survivor while he, Michael Weiner, had not survived bugger-all and therefore had no bragging rights. So what happens? Weiner throws in with the Nazis instead, thus neatly demonstrating how monstrous egos make monsters of those who can't get over themselves.

But perhaps I should give this ugly old whiner the benefit of the doubt. After all, he's of a certain age too, and I'll bet he's been sick a lot longer than the unlucky Sen. Kennedy has:

Long before he became Michael Savage, the radio honcho was born in the Bronx and grew up in Queens as Michael Alan Weiner, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants. His father, Ben, whom those who knew him describe as gruff and profane — and who died of a heart attack in his fifties — was a socially conservative street vendor who worked his way up to owning a small antiques store on Manhattan's Lower East Side.

"Benny had a chip on his shoulder and was always mad at the world, and he was tough on Michael. There was nothing Michael could ever do to please him," recalls Alan Zaitz, who has known Weiner since the two of them were in Hebrew school together as second-graders.

Benny Weiner verbally abused his son and didn't hesitate to embarrass him in front of his teenage friends, Zaitz says: "Michael would have on tight black jeans and a boat-necked sweater and his dad would say, 'I don't like the way you're dressed. You look like a fag,' stuff like that."

Is there a clinical name for a condition that causes an abused kid to turn into his own abusive father after a certain age? If there is, he's got it. A most peculiar psychopathy indeed, and one that can't be ascribed to glioma of the parietal lobe, although I don't doubt that it is highly malignant.

Headline Howler: How do you make a tension swirl?

It defies the laws of physics, if I'm not mistaken. But shhhh, don't tell that to the AP:

Venezuela on Saturday accused 60 Colombian soldiers of illegally entering its territory, as tensions over Venezuela's alleged effort to aid Colombian guerrillas swirl.

Well, at least they got the "alleged" part right. It's an allegation, it's only an allegation, and in the end, an allegation is all it will ever turn out to be. But I'm still trying to visualize a tension swirling, and all I get is a headache. Definitely a bad trip. This is much easier:

Visualize whirled peas, it's easier

Could we do that, please?

Oh crap, you mean he DIDN'T finance you?

Well, there goes another piece of Chavecito libel. And who better to blow it all to shit than "a battle-hardened, one-eyed female commander" of the FARC?

Nelly Avila Moreno, better known as "Karina," denied her bloody reputation during a news conference. She said she surrendered because she was encircled, had a bounty on her head and was spooked by the recent murder of a fellow rebel leader by one of his bodyguards.

[...]

In response to a reporter's question, Avila said she had no knowledge of Chavez arming or funding the FARC.

Asked what the Venezuelan president means to the rebels, she simply said: "We admire Chavez for the way he is."

I guess that explains his success as a hostage negotiator, too. Go figure! No $250 million (or $300 mil, depending who you ask. The crapaganda whores are still unable to keep this one straight.) No guns. No nothing.

Why, the next thing you know, the Three Magic Laptops From Outer Space will be conclusively proven fraudulent, too. Fire up the corn popper, this latest mediatic war on Venezuela should be fun to watch as it falls apart.

PS: It gets better. In Aporrea's version, in Spanish, "Karina" also denies that the FARC had anything to do with Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador. That was another bogus accusation that's been floating around out there, and now it's busted, too.

May 20, 2008

One Colombian who isn't drinking the Kool-Aid

Aporrea reports:

Opposition senator Gustavo Petro called for an investigation today into the 48,055 archives of FARC "#2" man Raul Reyes, killed on March 1 in a military incursion into an illegal guerrilla encampment in Ecuador.

Petro, a member of the leftist Alternative Democratic Pole (PDA) party, declared that he had proof that the archives alleged to be from Reyes' computer were "opened, created and modified by the police between March 1 and 3."

The legislator said that this alteration of computer archives had been established by Interpol.

Translation mine.

It just gets more and more interesting, doesn't it?

Not surprisingly, Petro is a leading investigator into El Narco's paramilitary terror ties. Colombia Journal also has an interesting, fairly recent article featuring his perspective on Uribe's para-politics alongside, of all people, Raul Reyes. If the article is anything to go by, Uribe is NOT vastly popular as is often claimed by the lamestream media up here, and there may well be a big liberal/leftist groundswell going on. And the murder of Reyes takes on a fresh significance--he pointed out that the FARC were not deemed terrorists until after September 11, 2001, when anyone who stood in the way of neoconservatism was suddenly and conveniently rebranded from a communist to a terrorist. As with al-Q, there is always a big to-do about the killing of a "#2 man" in an organization, as though it were a mere matter of decapitation. Meanwhile, the groundswell, which is not terrorism but is treated as if it were, keeps growing, regardless of who at or near the top of an armed movement has been assassinated.

Which means Sen. Petro is by far not the only Colombian refusing to drink the coke-laced Kool-Aid concerning the FARC and their alleged computers. And that makes this a very dangerous time. Colombia has a long, nasty history of being a hard place to be an electoral leftist, and the armed FARC insurgency is a reflection of this, just as surely as are the murders of liberal candidates such as Gaitan, Galan and many others. The Colombian civil war has outlived the Cold War, but it's far from over.

Let's hope Uribe and his thugs don't succeed in their efforts to wipe out the opposition.

May 19, 2008

I wrote Mike Malloy another letter...

...in response to a guy named Ed, from Miami, who tootled all the lines we know only too well from the loco anti-Chavez contingent, plus one new one: "Bush is a populist."

WTF???

Well, I couldn't let that stand, so I fired off:

From: Sabina Becker

To: Mike Malloy (mike@mikemalloy.com)

Subject: Ed from Miami is way off base

Date: May 19, 2008 9:35:29 PM EDT (CA)

Bush is a POPULIST? Bush hasn't a populist bone in his body--he is capitalist to the core. He hasn't given the people ANYTHING they want. Unless the people in question are the owners of big, big businesses who've contributed millions to his campaign war chest. Does that sound populistic to you?

Ed is also wrong about Chavez. He's not a populist, he's a socialist. You know, the economic form of a democrat? Redistribution of wealth, et cetera? That's what Chavez is.

And he's especially wrong about alleged the hatred of whites Chavez is supposedly fomenting in Venezuela--one look at Chavez's government should tell you that. His ministers come in all colors, and some happen to be not only white, but middle class or higher. So are a growing number of his supporters. This "he's a hatemonger" line is a lie.

Plus, no industries have been turned out--except those who'd only exploit Venezuelan resources without paying their taxes or due regard to the environment. Previous administrations looked the other way--"to encourage foreign investment". To me, that sort of behavior is like taping a Kick Me sign on one's own back. Kudos to Chavez for ripping that sign off his country's back.

I've learned Spanish so I can understand what Chavez is really saying in all his speeches, and I have not heard one word of hate coming from him. He's not only an impressive speaker, he's also totally anti-imperialist, which is obviously not the same thing as a plain old hater. Hate does not win love, and Chavez is very much loved. He's made it clear that he is with the people, and that's why he's popuLAR, not popuLIST.

Don't believe the hype coming out of Miami.

Mike read it a few minutes ago. Thanks, Mike!

Simon Romero besmirches himself again

One thing about that Old Grey Lady...she's one helluva madam. Yes, folks, the NY Times is pimping for Alvaro Uribe again. And look: there's one of her working girls now, out on the corner...

Tension between Colombia and Venezuela increased Sunday after Colombia's defense minister rejected an accusation by Venezuela's government that 60 Colombian troops had illegally entered a border region of Venezuela known to be a redoubt for Colombian guerrilla groups.

Yes, folks, that's the incomparable Simon Romero again, parading around in his miniskirt and high heels. Give that man a hand for his prowess at handjobbery!

Now, pay close attention, kiddies. Auntie Bina, a true lady despite her natural red hair and her plebeian origins, is about to teach you something about the difference between journalistic credibility and mere prostitution.

First of all, the Colombian army invaded Venezuela. 60 troops. That's quite an oops. I don't mean oops as in "oops, we crossed the border by mistake"--more of an "oops, we did it again--invaded a sovereign country on orders from Washington via Bogota, and now the neighbors are onto us!" (Remember, kiddies, they've done this time and time again. Rodrigo Granda being just one of the more egregious examples of recent years. They snatched him right off the streets of Caracas without so much as a "Hey Chavez, can we come over and arrest this guy? If not, would you please nab him and hand him over?" That didn't go over so well in Miraflores.)

And then there's the language Romero uses: "...known to be a redoubt for Colombian guerrilla groups". Really? Funny, but the local Venezuelan campesinos didn't "know" it for any such thing. And they know that patch of dirt like the backs of their hands. There are no FARC encampments there, let alone a "redoubt". All that's there are family farms and houses.

This invasion, this violation of sovereignty, isn't an "accusation by Venezuela's government", either. It's documented fact. Just as it's a documented fact that Colombia is a repeat offender when it comes to letting its wars spill over onto neighboring countries' soil, and then, without informing the neighbor governments of its intentions or seeking permission to arrest anyone, it just shoots, bombs and sends commandos in to take whomever it's after. It also has the audacity to demand "explanations" from those whom it attacks, when in fact it owes them explanations and apologies for attacking them.

Nice of Romero not to mention any of this.

The differing accounts of Colombian troop activity in the area are part of a dispute that has been festering for months. The dispute intensified in March when Venezuela reacted to a Colombian incursion in Ecuador by saying it would respond with military force if Colombia pursued Colombian rebels into Venezuela.

"A dispute that has been festering for months"? Uh, nice job of minimizing things there, Simon. Actually, the Colombian civil war has been going on for some 60 years now. And the fact that it routinely spills over the borders doesn't cause you any concern, unless the neighboring countries dare to say boo, is really an incredible bit of sangfroid on your part.

Anyone who's read up on Venezuelan history should know by now that Venezuelan troops have had to be stationed in the border regions for many a decade. Among them was a young army officer named Hugo Chavez. Perhaps you've heard of him? His job was making sure that Colombian guerrillas, soldiers and paramilitaries didn't invade Venezuela or hide out there. This is the same Chavez who later, as duly elected and constitutional president, ordered troops and tanks to the border to guard it against further incursions of the sort. I don't think he honestly cared whether the invaders were military, paras, FARC or ELN; I do, however, have good reason to believe he has the best interests of his fellow Venezuelans at heart. There have been many cases in recent years where large land-owners in the region have used Colombian mercenaries to kill and menace Venezuelan campesinos trying to farm the land that was redistributed to them by the government of Venezuela. Chavez is trying to make sure no Venezuelan lives get lost to the Colombian conflict, or to the mercenaries it has inevitably spawned. Would that big Venezuelan land-owners were so conscientious, but they see campesinos as essentially disposable. And if the peasants get uppity, it's off with their heads!

The same is also true of the Venezuelan oligarchy in general. Like Colombia's narcopresident, they are aligned towards Washington, not their own country. They have no loyalty except to the Yankee greenback. So they have no problem recruiting Colombians to their dubious cause of unseating a democratically elected ruler who does not rule on their behalf but that of all Venezuela.

What amuses me, though, is this:

Tension resurfaced last week after Interpol verified that computer files recovered by Colombian forces in the Ecuadorean raid had not been altered. The files refer to military and financial support by Venezuela of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, a group classified as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.

Independent proof of such support has not emerged.

Romero must have hated having to actually write something true for once. There is, indeed, no independent proof that Chavez has been supporting anyone other than those whom he has supported openly. And that would not be the FARC. His most intimate connection to them has consisted merely of negotiating for the release of hostages, preferably in exchange for the release of leftist political prisoners in Colombia. No money or offers of money have been linked to those negotiations.

I bet Romero also soiled himself a bit having to write this:

In the latest episode, Venezuela's foreign minister, Nicolás Maduro, said Saturday night that Colombian troops had been detected Friday in Apure State in western Venezuela, about 875 yards from the Colombian border. In a rare written protest, Mr. Maduro asked Colombia "to immediately cease these violations of international law."

Mr. Maduro said the troops, a battalion from Cubará Military Base in Colombia's Arauca State, had been quickly told to return to Colombia.

On Sunday the Colombian defense minister, Juan Manuel Santos, denied Mr. Maduro's assertion. "There was no incursion," Mr. Santos said in comments broadcast on Colombian radio.

"I looked into it and they were not doing anything," Mr. Santos said of the Colombian troops.

But the Venezuelan information minister, Andrés Izarra, contended Sunday on state television in Caracas that Venezuela had photographs of the incursion.

This should make Romero throw up in his mouth a little:

Video in Spanish, from VTV's current affairs talk show, "Dando y Dando". Communications minister Andres Izarra and former oil minister Ali Rodriguez join hosts Tania Diaz and Aristobulo Isturiz to unravel the Colombian lies. I wonder if Simon Romero has seen this; somehow, I doubt he has.

"Not doing anything", eh? No, of course they weren't. They were just invading Venezuela, no biggie--nothing they hadn't done before, many many many times. I guess, if you're a Colombian defence minister, "not doing anything" means something most people wouldn't think it meant. And if you write for the New York Times, your job is not to question or investigate such preposterous statements, but simply dutifully take down whatever you are told by the Powers That Be--whether in Washington or Bogota.

Or to do for fascist Colombian presidents what Monica did for Bill Clinton; same thing.

Quotable: George W. Bush on Jews

"You know what I'm gonna tell those Jews when I get to Israel, don't you Herman?...I'm telling 'em they're all going to hell."

--Dubya, to Austin American-Statesman reporter Ken Herman.

May 18, 2008

Headline Howler: Since when is El Narco a Venezuelan?

Check out this story: "Rival demands Chavez clarify rebel links".

Then check out the photo they stuck on it:

El Narco, Uribe--a Venezuelan since when?

The story is about pathetic, mush-mouthed Manuel Rosales, the guy who got maybe a third of the vote in the last Venezuelan election despite heavy financial support and cheerleading from Gringolandia. But as you can see, that ain't him. That's another US puppet altogether.

Still, it's not an honest mistake, but a definite Freudian slip. Aporrea reports that Rosales is awfully chummy with El Narco. According to journalist Jose Vicente Rangel, formerly Chavecito's VP, Rosales recently attended the Festival de Vallenato in the paramilitary-controlled region of Valledupar, Colombia, and was seen leaving with El Narco.

What do you suppose they were up to? Just kinky sex, or something much more nefarious?

BTW, very nice of the AP not to report what's really going on in the Venezuelan opposition. They are in fact leaderless and very much at sea. They don't even need Chavecito to make them loco; they just are.

May 17, 2008

Rafael Correa's bombshell

The Ecuadorable One has some interesting revelations he'd like to share with us, and Aporrea is happy to oblige:

The president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, assured on Saturday that he has information that the computers which Bogota claimed to have recovered from the FARC encampment bombed on March 1, in reality had never been there.

"We don't care in the least what Interpol says or doesn't say, or what the Colombian government says or doesn't," said Correa in reference to the international police organization's pronouncement that the FARC computers had not been manipulated.

"We have information that those computers were not in the camp, but had come into the hands of Colombian intelligence much earlier," said Correa, without giving more details, during his weekly radio program, broadcast this Saturday from Lima.

He added that in the supposed documents that Bogota claimed to have extracted from the FARC computers were various contradictions, such as those related to the dates on which the FARC allegedly financed his own electoral campaign.

The president related that in the supposed documents, there was mention of a Colonel Brito connected to the money received from the FARC.

"Thank God there is no Colonel Brito who was director of the Alianza Pais party, nor is he a member of my government," Correa said.

Translation mine.

Smart Goodlooking! I knew he wouldn't fail to make hash of the vomit that's been floating around the mediasphere about the Three Bomb-proof Laptops from Outer Space, and all the alleged financing that's alleged to have gone back and forth between the FARC, Ecuador and Venezuela--allegedly.

Now, I'd like to know: when did they get their hands on those putes? Via whom? And who faked the data?

Questions, questions. Who's got an answer?

PS: Smart Goodlooking also offered to resign if anyone proves he has actual links to the FARC. That's what I call confidence--and cojones.

And this is why I call him El Narco

Colombian journalist and former TV anchorwoman Virginia Vallejo, now living in Miami, has written an explosive tell-all book about her lengthy affair with drug lord Pablo Escobar, titled Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar. Here, in an interview with a Brazilian TV reporter, she reveals Escobar's corrupting connections with a man you may recognize today. He used to be the mayor of Medellin, the cocaine capital of Colombia and the murder capital of the world. Later, he was the governor of the state of Antioquia. Today, Alvaro Uribe is the president of the land.

Video in Spanish and Portuguese.

Escobar's thugs murdered at least three presidential candidates who refused to take his drug money, including the liberal, Luis Carlos Galan. His saying was "Plata o plomo"--silver or lead. Bucks or bullets--those were your choices if you crossed paths with him. If you didn't take his money and do him favors, you were a dead man. He later crossed over into outright terrorism--exchanging bullets for bombs. Virginia Vallejo, fearing for her life, broke off all relations with Escobar and fled to Miami, where she sought and received federal protection.

And Alvaro Uribe, who is the US's "ally" in the "War on Drugs" today, was far from being the enemy of this feared and powerful drug lord. On the contrary, they were very buddy-buddy--to the point where Escobar lent him a helicopter after the death of his father (at the hands of the FARC, his pet hate today--whom Uribe, ironically, accuses of being "narco-terrorists", with nary a peep about his own considerable past in narco-terrorism.) Uribe, in his gubernatorial capacity of okaying aviation licences in his state, handed them out like Halloween candy to Escobar's lackeys. Guess what use they were put to. And all this while the crack-cocaine epidemic in the US raged at its height, and the War on Drugs made no progress. Gee, is it any wonder?

And Escobar's thugs were not the only ones who enjoyed impunity under Uribe. The right-wing paramilitaries, whom the drug lords and large landowners alike employed to terrorize whole communities and suppress the left, also benefited from Uribe's official string-pulling and lever-pushing.

Isn't Uribe a fine one to call the FARC "narco-terrorists", when some of his closest friends and allies...would fit that description even better?

May 16, 2008

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Chavecito gets all nationalistic on us

Yes, I know the hour is late. But this will still squeak in under the bar!

Lost amid all the crazy-ass talk of miraculous laptops and what they do or don't demonstrate, a little bit of happy news. Chavecito recently nationalized, or rather re-nationalized, the crucial steel company SIDOR.

Chavecito with SIDOR workers celebrating nationalization

The workers, with whom he appears here, were more than happy. This is something they've been pushing for a long time.

A few random thoughts about laptops, Interpol and Colombia

Pulling a red rabbit out of Raul Reyes' alleged computer

(Translation: "Uribe attempts to deflect attention from himself by attacking Chavez...'And we pulled this red rabbit out of the computer. Chavez sent it to the FARC!' As Anibal Nazoa said, 'In Plan Colombia, you can see from a mile away that the gringos think we're all fools!'" Meanwhile, the computer's mouse wisely decides to skedaddle.)

There's been a lot of fuss in the media lately about some computers which allegedly survived a bombing raid on March 1 in Ecuador. Here is a random sampling of what's been running through my head concerning the kerfuffle:

1. Does a truly bomb-proof laptop design even exist? When I did a Google for the terms "bomb-proof laptop", the best I could come up with was "near bomb-proof" and "virtually bomb-proof" in terms of existent technology. "Virtually" and "near" aren't good enough when we're talking about the real world, though, specifically a bombing raid in the jungles of Colombia. Most of the "bomb-proof" links were simply for putes that aren't supposed to crash (which, I'm sorry to have to tell you, even the best ones will do--on your desk or on your knees, under the most gentle everyday usage.)

And even the most impressively tested putes I could google up aren't actually bomb-tested. Even the most expensive cars go through crash testing, don't they? Can't they at least drop a live grenade on these fuckin' things to see if they actually survive a blast? Until they do, don't count on me being overly impressed by a manufacturer's careful-careful lab-testing to "simulate" the conditions of a war zone.

2. When Interpol's representative in the FARC laptop case, Ronald Noble, gave a press conference in Bogota, Colombia yesterday, the bulk of his discourse consisted of bragging on Interpol's eight-decade track record (was that really necessary?) and his own credentials (ditto), and salivating all over the wonderfulness of the Colombian authorities (whose corruption and ineptitude are the stuff of legend out here in the larger world). When he finally got around to talking about the alleged laptops of Raul Reyes, Noble said he couldn't talk about the "classified" contents. In fact, he couldn't talk about the contents of the alleged laptops at all. There was so much stuff in there that it was impossible for him to do so:

Using sophisticated forensic tools, INTERPOL's experts determined that the eight seized computer exhibits contained more than 600 gigabytes of data, including 37,872 written documents, 452 spreadsheets, 210,888 images, 22,481 web pages, 7,989 email addresses, 10,537 multimedia files (sound and video), and 983 encrypted files.

In non-technical terms, this volume of data would correspond to 39.5 million filled pages in Microsoft Word and, if all of the seized data were in Word format, it would take more than 1,000 years to read at a rate of 100 pages per day. To break the 983 encrypted files, INTERPOL's experts linked and ran 10 computers simultaneously 24 hours a day / 7 days a week for two weeks.

Wowie zowie! How on Earth does one man generate 600 gigabytes of encrypted data? No wonder Noble couldn't talk about the contents of it. It's kind of hard to imagine that one man, or even one small army, could be responsible for quite that much. But how could they examine the data and pronounce it "authentic" without a close reading, I wonder?

3. How about doing a mock bombing raid, with exact duplicates of all the equipment Raul Reyes allegedly had, placed as he would have placed it before retiring for the night, and then bombed as it was bombed on March 1? See if other computers, memory sticks, etc. of the same make and model as those "found" would survive such an impact. If they don't, the case is blown apart as surely as the casing.

Naturally, I'm not about to hold my breath for them to do this for the benefit of the court, as would be done in any other murder case where ballistic evidence is involved.

4. How come there was just one laptop at first, and now suddenly there are THREE? Do laptops, like bunnies, multiply if left to their own devices? Did they pull two more of them out of the same hat they pulled the first one from? Or did someone, somewhere, realize that if one laptop didn't make an impressive enough case, three might at least help to create some confusion and diversion?

5. The computer was not mentioned in the media, so far's I can see, until two days after the raid. Strangely, as the friendly BoRev guy points out, for two days the Colombians failed to follow the international protocols for handling such evidence. Guess which two days those were.

6. If the data is truly "authentic", why would an Interpol representative NOT talk about it in detail? Why classify it? Shouldn't the public have a right to see exactly what's got FUX Snooze screaming that Hugo Chavez "supports terrorists"? Or is it classified exactly for the opposite reason--that it proves nothing of the sort? Maybe it's classified because it proves only that the data is all faked, and the computer(s) in question never belonged to Reyes?

I mean, it's not as if the Colombian army isn't known for its habit of planting evidence against people it wiped out, after the fact. Just as it's not a secret that the whore media tends to swallow absolute bullcrap wholesale.

7. Why did the Colombian narcopresident, Alvaro Uribe, not answer a Telesur reporter's questions about the laptop and the discrepancies and inconsistencies in the Interpol report? Surely not because Telesur is a relatively unbiased multinational channel, with no vested interest in painting Chavez as a devil or the FARC as terrorists? Or because the reporter's questions were too probing for Uribe, who must stay on Washington's message at all costs?

8. Why are actual scholarly experts on Latin America cautioning against the very kind of interpretations that the whore media and the Pentagon pundits are pushing?

9. There was a group of Mexican students in the FARC encampment in Ecuador, doing scholarly research on the guerrillas. Only one of the Mexicans survived, and she has been offered refuge in Nicaragua because she is living under constant death threats--from Colombia. Why do you suppose that is? Maybe because she can supply details not only of the FARC's activities in the days leading up to the massacre, but also of the illegal bombardment itself?

I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Lucia Morett can also identify--or not--the computer(s) Raul Reyes is alleged to have used. That's another thing I'm sure El Narco's nasty and ultra-violent government would like to forestall, the way they're forestalling deeper inquiries into their own narco-paramilitary governing style by permitting the US to extradite paramilitaries and jail them on drug charges so they can't testify against Alvaro the Arrogant.

Golly, I wonder what they would say if the duct tape were removed from their mouths.

May 15, 2008

Violating Godwin's law, with chutzpah

Ohmygawds, don't you just love what Dubya said about Barack Obama in the Israeli Knesset today?

"Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals," said Mr Bush in his speech.

"We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is - the false comfort of appeasement."

This from a man whose own grandfather banked for Hitler, thus violating federal law. I shit you not.

Worst. Godwin. Violation. EVER.

May 13, 2008

Real terrorism in a nutshell

But of course, the US has the adults in charge of the government, so none of this would EVER happen. Right? RIGHT???

May 12, 2008

Chavecito calls it right again

Angela Merkel emerging from Bush's bum

I don't care if the current German chancellor is a woman. I have scant respect for her at the best of times, because she is not an uppity woman. She licks Bush's butt. And do you know what the implications of that are?

Ask Chavecito, if you're still unsure. He knows!

"Ms. Chancellor, you can go to ...," he said, pausing for effect and eliciting giggles from the audience, a group of military officers, cabinet ministers and government officials. "Because she's a woman I won't say anything else."

The leftist leader, who famously called U.S. President George W. Bush "the devil" at a United Nations assembly, slammed Merkel for calling on Latin American leaders to distance themselves from Chavez.

"She is from the German right, the same that supported Hitler, that supported fascism, that's the Chancellor of Germany today," he said.

Chavez said he could confront her about the statements if he attends an upcoming summit of heads of state from Europe and Latin America in Peru.

"Maybe I'll say something to her and she'll get mad and say 'why don't you shut up?'" he said, referencing Spanish King Juan Carlos' 2007 admonition of the loquacious Chavez that touched off a bilateral dispute with Spain.

Chavez on Sunday called Colombian President Alvaro Uribe a "liar" who "shouldn't even run a corner store."

In the past, he has called U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld "one of the dogs of the devil" and then-President of Mexico Vicente Fox the "lap-dog of the empire."

Meekness is a despicable trait when you've got a bully fixing to take over the world. But what's downright inexcusable is holding that bully's coat and urging him on, as she has done.

Of course, it's also nothing new; the "freedom-loving democrats" of Europe and North America also cheered and held the bully's coat when Franco overthrew a democratic government in Spain. And Chavecito was right to peg a certain former Spanish prime minister as a fascist, too--even if it got him a "shut up" from the king of Spain (who was enthroned by said fascists himself, and was therefore understandably touchy about the subject.)

I hope Chavecito never shuts up. People need reminding of certain salient facts from time to time.

PS: How timely. Aporrea just reported that the current Spanish PM, just out of the blue, demanded Chavecito's respect in the face of arrogant royal disrespect, AGAIN. Anyone else royally charmed by this interesting turn of events?

One more way Cuba kicks gringo ass

Yes, they're making progress on gay rights faster than the "freedom-loving" US of A. And guess who's in the vanguard of this fight? Yes, it's ANOTHER Castro...

President Raul Castro's daughter, Mariela, is organizing Cuba's second anti-homophobia festival this week to boost public awareness of the country's long-marginalized gay community, this time with the approval of her dad's government.

"There's political support for this educational strategy. It's the best thing that's happened to us," Mariela Castro said about the backing the National Center for Sexual Education (CENESEX) she heads is receiving from Cuba's Communist Party.

She said Raul Castro, 76, "is helping us a lot ... not only because I'm his daughter, but because I've earned his respect by working at my job carefully."

A teacher and mother of three children, Mariela Castro, 46, took over from her late mother, Vilma Espin, in running Cuban Womens' Federation (FMC) after she died in 2007, and has headed CENESEX for the past 14 years.

[...]

For as long as Cuba's communist revolution began nearly 50 years ago, Mariela and her mother have been busy trying to whittle away at the country's machismo tradition.

The week-long festival in Havana and six of Cuba's 14 provinces, aims to increase public awareness about gay rights through television programs, movies, theater, debates and book fairs, culminating with the International Day Against Homophobia, on May 17.

Besides the educational efforts, Mariela's group is also busy reforming Cuba's Family Code and has proposed in parliament a bill on freedom of gender -- the right to choose one's gender, and the right to "legal union" for gays.

The legal union issue is an effort to sidestep the Catholic Church's determined opposition to gay marriage rights.

Sex-change is another controversial issue in Cuba, after the country's first operation in 1988 raised such an outcry that the procedure was put on indefinite hold.

"We're getting ready a team of surgeons from Belgium" to restart transgender operations, Mariela told reporters, adding that 30 such procedures have been approved by health authorities.

Say what you like about the Brothers Castro, but they have my respect for actually putting their money--and their family ranch--where their mouths are. The late Vilma Espin, too, deserves esteem, since she, like they, was born into a wealthy family but refused to remain an old-timey oligarch. She devoted her life instead to levelling the playing field in a most un-bourgeois way.

Nice to see that Mariela is carrying on the family tradition.

Billo blows his stack

Bill Oh-Really can't do news without a teleprompter. What a trouper!

Yeah, he really is that chummy guy he presents himself as on FUX Snooze. And look, isn't that a pig flying by?

May 11, 2008

A green-eyed view of Havana

A BBC report on the organic-garden revolution in Cuba:

The obvious order and beauty of the gardens belies all the anti-Cuban propaganda from those who would starve this island nation out of its sovereignty and into the arms of capitalism. It is, in fact, a study in sustainable culture. A person on the 100 Mile Diet could easily and happily do it in Cuba. The people there may not have a plethora of consumer goods to choose from, but they are healthy, they are far from starving, and they know their onions--literally--when it comes to self-sufficiency.

If the garbage can fits...

...stuff David Horowitz in it. His "Campus Crusade for Fascism" is so over.

It's David Horowitz Awareness Time!

I'm guessing his real objection to this 'toon is that it's too accurate.

When they don't sign their names, what does it say about what they have to say?

The reason I ask that long-winded question is this "opinion", which is presented as if it were fact, in the National Pest, Canada's would-be paper of record:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has been accused of many things: squandering his country's oil income, suppressing opposition media, using his army to intimidate the citizenry. Now, documents recovered from computers belonging to FARC, the drug-funded Leninist insurgency based in Colombia, suggest Mr. Chavez may be actively undermining the sovereign government of its western neighbour. If so, the Western Hemisphere may be about to gain its first internationally designated state sponsor of terrorism.

Specific details of the file trove were scarce until The Wall Street Journal went to press on Thursday with a front-page story on the contents. In it, U. S. intelligence sources provided with copies of the documents claim that they appear to be authentic and that they contain damning details of high-level co-operation between Mr. Chavez and FARC. Colombia is still awaiting the results of a forensic audit of the files by Interpol. But at least some of the publicly known content of the document trove has been confirmed. (In a particularly absurd twist, FARC chose to disavow the existence of high-level contacts with the Venezuelan government … by issuing a communique on the Web site of the Venezuelan information ministry.)

The activities described in the Colombian FARC files should arouse the highest indignation wherever the ideal of nonintervention between sovereign states is still taken seriously. Certainly it would take a great deal of nerve on the part of Mr. Chavez's supporters on the North American left, who have been screaming continually about the sacred inviolability of Saddam Hussein's Iraq, to ignore the revelations. An e-mail from 2005 confirms the long-suspected presence of a FARC operations base inside Venezuela. Other e-mails apparently describe Venezuelan intelligence efforts to smuggle shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles and rocket-propelled grenades into FARC hands. Mr. Chavez's personal involvement is confirmed throughout.

The beneficiaries of all this red solidarity are formally considered a terrorist organization under the laws of Canada, the United States and other senior democracies. Founded in 1964, FARC has a black history of atrocities that includes terrorism, executions, hijackings, assassinations, kidnap-pings and torture. The group is, in short, an enemy of democracy and order in Colombia, and of the human race generally. Providing aid to FARC would be the most sordid crime to date in the annals of Chavismo. And if Interpol confirms the truth of the Journal report, the legitimacy of the Venezuelan government should climb to the top of the agenda for both Canadian and U. S. lawmakers.

That's it. There's no name attached. It's not even labelled an editorial, which as I understand it, is the only thing in a newspaper that can go unsigned. Whether that is simply a "noble journalistic tradition" (journalism, that mug's game, has "noble traditions"?), or whether, as here, it's just convenient to cover the author's ass when he is spouting shit, either way, it strikes me as cowardly. If you're going to iterate an opinion, at least show your face and sign your name to it. That way, we know who to peg for an untrustworthy source.

Not, I hasten to add, that the National Pest is a source to be trusted in general; it was Conrad Black's bastard offspring, and now it's been adopted by the neo-con Aspers. Anyone relying on it for the news or anything of life-changing import will end up as brainwashed and brain-dead as a viewer of FUX Snooze.

But this article, cast as opinion but laying out its statements as if they were facts, also nicely skirts Canadian libel law. Clever work on the part of the editors, but again: Cowardly. If they're going to say such horrible, untrue things about the head of a sovereign country, they should own up, man up--and lawyer up. Never mind that this is "opinion", there is no defending anything in it. The fair comment provision demands that opinions be based in fact. The fact that no one from the media has seen or shown the Magic Laptop, that no one has seen or shown the public the documents it allegedly contains, and so on, should tell you something. Namely, that it is irresponsible to comment on it as if it were factual, never mind slamming the democratic president of Venezuela as a "red terrorist".

Perhaps we should start filing this "news" paper, and the crapaganda-mongering WSJ, under Fiction, alongside Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Gulliver's Travels, etc. It would be the honest, factual thing to do, no?

May 10, 2008

Don't breathe the air, don't drink the water...

Stop Mad Cowboy Disease

...and whatever you do, don't eat the fuckin' burgers. You never know what could be in 'em, especially at the rate inspections are going.

The Bush administration on Friday urged a federal appeals court to stop meatpackers from testing all their animals for mad cow disease, but a skeptical judge questioned whether the government has that authority.

The government seeks to reverse a lower court ruling that allowed Kansas-based Creekstone Farms Premium Beef to conduct more comprehensive testing to satisfy demand from overseas customers in Japan and elsewhere.

Less than 1 percent of slaughtered cows are currently tested for the disease under Agriculture Department guidelines. The agency argues that more widespread testing does not guarantee food safety and could result in a false positive that scares consumers.

"They want to create false assurances," Justice Department attorney Eric Flesig-Greene told a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Mmmmm, all-American beef. Just watch out for the Mad Cowboy Disease.

A little music with your dinner, monsieur?

Just in time for another holiday...

...the lamestream media dredges up Chavecito's dreary, teary ex...again.

How convenient: last time she shot off her mouth about him (claiming, dubiously, that he abused and threatened her), they dug her up on Valentine's Day. Now it's Mother's Day, and she's claiming he threatened to take their daughter away from her.

Talk about a sense of occasion, eh?

You gotta hand it to them: they sure know how to hand it to her. "It" being the script for her pathetic bids for attention, dumbass. Because as everyone in the lamestream media should know but doesn't, if he were really suing to take her daughter (who is also his) away, there would be an actual report of legal papers filed.

And if he really abused her, wouldn't she have to prove it in court, too?

And yet, strangely, no papers have been filed. For any of these things. Ever.

Say! You don't suppose the media is shitting all over him again as part of yet another pre-coup crapaganda campaign, do you?

Nah. Of course we know they would never do that.

May 9, 2008

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Do they look threatened to you?

Since there's been so much to-do this past week with bogus "autonomy" in Bolivia and all, and the elite of the lamestream media are still sounding the death knell for Evo Morales and his government, here, have a look at this:

Evo and his veep aren't worried

Do he and his veep, Alvaro Garcia Linera (at left) look at all worried to you?

Evo sure eats hearty, for an allegedly threatened leader

Hell, I don't think Evo is even off his feed.

Mmmm, mmm...Evo!

And I don't blame him. That spread looks finger-lickin' good.

(Pssst, lamestreamers: When you gonna report on the recall referendum that Evo just willingly signed on for, huh? I bet he's not losing sleep over that one, either.)

May 8, 2008

Ecuador to enter ALBA?

Could be! From Aporrea:

The president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, announded that next week, his country will decide whether it will join the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA).

[...]

"We will make the decision next week. I don't see any problems with entering into the ALBA," Correa said, adding that he lamented that his government had not given it "the attention and priority it deserves."

Translation mine.

Damn, one more reason to adore the Ecuadorable One. As if we needed more.

Bolivia NOT falling apart after all. Film at 11

Santa Cruz may want to suck on this:

The national electoral commission (CNE) in Bolivia ratified the revocation of two autonomy votes, those of Pando and Tarija, for the 1st and 22nd of June respectively, on Thursday. The decision stood even though representative Jeronimo Pinheiro, the vice-president of the CNE, did not sign on.

According to commission president Jose Luis Exeni, representative Pinheiro was present during a meeting this past May 2. However, the representative, from Pando Department, "decided not to vote", claiming to be "under great pressure from his region, especially the Prefect, Leopoldo Fernandez."

The electoral authority said that Pinheiro's action constitutes a "grave violation" of electoral process, and informed that the correct procedure would be that those representatives not in favor, vote against.

Translation mine.

That giant smacking sound you just heard was a big fat bitch-slap to the so-called "autonomy movement", the one that the lamestream media in the English-speaking world (especially Andres "Narcissist Leninist" Schloppenheimer) claim is gonna be the death of Evo. Well, guess what: He's still alive and well, and keeping his promises unimpeded. And he's more popular than ever, I'll bet--leaders with cojones and a predilection for keeping their promises generally are.

Venezuela and Ecuador are watching this especially closely, for reasons of their own. However, seeing as the Santa Cruz vote was an absolute shambles, with no OAS observers, obvious evidence of fraud and mass cremations of pre-marked "yes" ballots (uh, those would be the fraud), plus this latest news that the Tarija and Pando votes have just been shredded, it looks bad for those with the treasonous intentions.

And from where I sit, it looks downright hilarious. These "autonomy" guys, for all their Nazi trappings and intimidation tactics, are a nasty, drunken gang that can't shoot straight. Too used to snorting coke, living like feudal lords and abusing indigenous women and not used enough to actual democracy, I guess.

Watch this and hold onto your head

Because it just might explode from the sheer incongruity and hilarity of it all:

Bill Oh-Really, race-baiter extraordinaire, tries to distance himself from his fellow hatemongers (Limbaugh and Hannity), as does Dick "Election Fucker, Toe Sucker" Morris. Is it just me, or does the Little Dick sound EXACTLY like Templeton the Rat?

May 7, 2008

KBR = Kid Buggering Rapists

From the color-me-SO-not-surprised files, a little something on the kind of people who are eligible not only for hiring, but RE-hiring by Kellogg, Brown & Root...

In 2006, while working in Iraq for the U.S. military contractor now known as KBR, Ira L. Waltrip was caught in possession of suspected child pornography and fired, according to a federal court affidavit.

He returned home to Lampasas and by the end of 2006, the affidavit said, was rehired to work for the company, previously a subsidiary of Halliburton known as Kellogg, Brown and Root.

Last month, while working as a KBR bus driver in Baghdad, Waltrip, 48, was again discovered with suspected child pornography, including some pictures of prepubescent children engaged in sex with adults and some pictures of Waltrip with nude females who "appear to be young teenagers," according to the federal affidavit.

Today, in U.S. District Court in Austin, where Waltrip has been charged with possession of child pornography, U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Pitman appeared dismayed that Waltrip was rehired.

"He was rehired by that employer and participated in the same behavior . . . and then may have possessed child pornography he produced," Pitman said in explaining his decision to order Waltrip detained without bail.

And why am I not surprised, like the judge was? Well, KBR has long had a sexual assault problem. Which I guess is not such a problem from the viewpoint of KBR, since they are out of all legal reach, whether in the US or in Iraq. They're officially unaccountable, and the victims, by contract, have no legal recourse. Which means they've been raped more than once--first physically, then by the system.

So no, it's not surprising at all that a kiddie-porn nut would be rehired by this corporation. They have utter contempt for all law, even that of common decency.

And besides, the pedophiles, like the rapists, serve an important purpose for the KBR corporatocracy: sexual psychopaths help "soften up" Iraq, Afghanistan and whatever other countries where KBR operates by implementing the shock doctrine. Like all manner of torturers, they terrorize their victims into passivity and compliance--so that, it's hoped, the entire country will succumb to wholesale corporatocracy without a peep.

And who is more easily traumatized and silenced than a vulnerable, impressionable child?

No, I'm not surprised. Not in the least. Except, maybe, that it's taken this long to uncover one of these sick bastards.

One, two, three, four...

...let's have a CLASS WAR!

On second thought, says the National Pest, maybe not. Too bad for them that Linda McQuaig, Conrad Black's pet hate and Terence Corcoran's nemesis, is on the case. And, unlike Corcoran, she doesn't like to make lies and damn lies out of statistics:

So last week the Post was quick to denounce a Statistics Canada report revealing rising inequality, even accusing StatsCan of setting off a "class war". StatsCan's offence was to document the fact that the earnings of middle-class Canadians have stagnated since 1980. Meanwhile, earnings have risen at the top, while earnings of the poor have declined.

It's not that the StatsCan report was inflammatory. It went out under the heading "Catalogue no. 97-563," with the stirring title: Earnings and Incomes of Canadians Over the Past Quarter Century, 2006.

StatsCan's knack for dull presentation perhaps explains why the venerable institution has been able to survive and assemble much important information, even though its data sometimes embarrass its political masters. (For this, retiring Canadian chief statistician Ivan Fellegi deserves considerable credit.)

But it's easy to see why the Post is nervous about information on rising inequality getting into the hands of ordinary Canadians.

Ordinary Canadians might also be interested to learn that in the post-war years of the 1950s, '60s, and '70s, most Canadians experienced real increases in their incomes.

Neil Brooks, a tax professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, notes that during this era the share of income received by the richest 1 percent actually declined — from about 20 percent in the early part of the century to about 7 or 8 percent by 1980. The rich didn't like this, and have been waging a kind of class war ever since, convincing governments to impose "neo-conservative" policies like lower minimum wages, tighter monetary policy, less social insurance protection, open markets and shifting the tax burden from capital to labour.

The results have been grim for many Canadians, but spectacular for the rich, particularly the very rich. During the last quarter century, the richest 0.01 percent of Canadians saw their real incomes rise on average from $2.9 million to $5.9 million — an increase of $3 million!

Those defending the neo-conservative policy package typically argue it's been necessitated by "globalization" — even though many European countries have avoided this path and are competing nicely in the global economy.

Yes...and among them, you can count France and Germany--two particularly singled out for bashing by the right, and not just for their refusal to take part in Operation Iraqi Looting. Was it fair? Not according to any really serious analysis, mind you, but the headlines told a different story for fucking years. (Still do, especially where multinationals smell blood in the water but aren't able to get in on the feeding frenzy. That's why they have pet journalists to do the savaging for them.) The fact that Germany and France are still the strongest countries economically in the European Union is due, in no small part, to the fact that they do NOT meet IMF and World Bank criteria for "tiger" status. (What good is being a tiger if you end up eating your young?)

But the countries that have escaped the worst of the savaging, like Sweden for example--are doing incredibly well. (For those who sniff, just remember where you last bought a cheap piece of furniture. IKEA, yes? Now consider why they can bring you such cheap stuff: a strong social welfare system and highly unionized workforce. Surprise!)

The sad fact is that macroeconomic "growth" usually doesn't translate to anything meaningful on the ground, unless by meaningful you're thinking of dog shit on the bottom of your shoes. Or bidnessman's urine on the top of your head--the only thing that really trickles down in trickle-down economics.

Yeah, I think it IS time for that so-called class war (which ain't nothin' but social justice by an uglier name). The mixed economy is in danger of being yanked back to where things were before the crash of '29. Do we really wanna go through THAT age of fools' gold again? In Canada? Come on. We're better than that!

May 6, 2008

On behalf of all Canadians, I apologize...

...for the rude, snotty dickweed we have for a prime minister. Canadians are a polite lot in general, but you'd never know it to look at our PM. The Harper Index, a progressive news site that follows the foibles of the Stiffy, has a list of folks he's snubbed (which is sure to grow as time keeps on slipping-slipping-slipping into the future), and there are some doozers on it:

Bono, the international rock star and AIDS activist, was snubbed by Stephen Harper at the G8 summit, who said he was too busy to discuss the African AIDS crisis with him. "Meeting celebrities isn't my shtick," Harper said. "That was the shtick of the previous guy."

Black History Breakfast Clubs were snubbed by Harper on a scheduled visit to Ottawa in February, 2007. While students from an inner-city breakfast club in Toronto had the opportunity to tour Parliament, Harper stayed far away from the quick, scheduled hello. He failed even to send an MP in his place to the event, scheduled as part of Black History Month. Every other political party with seats in Parliament sent a representative to greet the visitors. Present were the deputy leader of the Liberal opposition party, Michael Ignatieff, and prominent NDP MP Olivia Chow, who is the wife of NDP leader Jack Layton.

[...]

Climate scientists. Nobel Prize-winning scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were snubbed by the Harper government when it boycotted a celebration for them staged in February 2008 on Parliament Hill, hosted by the Swedish ambassador, and featuring speeches from all party leaders except Harper.

[...]

Johnson-Sirleaf, Ellen, the Liberian president and the first woman elected as a head of state in Africa, and who Time Magazine named as one of the top 100 people shaping the world today, got passed over for an official welcome from Harper when she visited Ottawa earlier this month. She met with foreign affairs minister Peter MacKay, but was overlooked by Harper, who met with Russian goalie Vladislav Tretiak the same day.

I fail to see how a hockey player could be more important to him than the president of Liberia, unless this somehow ties in with the African AIDS relief thing or the Black Breakfast Club thing. I can well believe that Harpo is racist. The Conservative party has an ugly tendency to attract racists, especially from out west (where Harpo, a former Reform Party member, hails from); its campus arm in particular has that waft of Eau de Nazi.

His dismissal of climate scientists is also pretty much in line for someone who takes his ill-mannered cues from the Repugs south of the 49th Parallel. Although, knowing Harpo, he will continue to dress up his unoriginal attitude with a bogus "Made in Canada" label.

How gauche can you get?

She didn't set out to be an uppity woman...

...but Mildred Loving, just by marrying her childhood sweetheart, broke a color barrier fifty years ago:

Loving and her white husband, Richard, changed history in 1967 when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld their right to marry. The ruling struck down laws banning racially mixed marriages in at least 17 states.

"There can be no doubt that restricting the freedom to marry solely because of racial classifications violates the central meaning of the equal protection clause," the court ruled in a unanimous decision.

Her husband died in 1975. Shy and soft-spoken, Loving shunned publicity and in a rare interview with The Associated Press last June, insisted she never wanted to be a hero — just a bride.

"It wasn't my doing," Loving said. "It was God's work."

One can credit whomever one wants. But whether she saw a loose brick and kicked it deliberately, as Rosa Parks did, or whether she dislodged it just by stumbling across it--Mildred Loving, she of the appropriate married surname, brought down a wall which was shoddily built, served an immoral purpose, and could no longer be allowed to stand.

She will be missed.

Stupid Sex Tricks: Pete gets burned by same-sex marriage

Who needs homophobes to set gay rights back a century when you've got flaming nutcases like a certain former Dead or Alive singer?

When he flashed his engagement ring on the sofa with Richard and Judy, pop star Pete Burns told of his happiness at the prospect of becoming the latest celebrity to marry his male partner.

But now, just ten months after the big day, the singer has split from Michael Simpson, saying civil partnerships do not work and that he was happier being married to a woman.

[...]

He told The Mail on Sunday he had been "optimistic" about his civil partnership, but now he says: "I learned the hard way. It's a total joke."

Burns accused Simpson, 40, of being unfaithful and admitted he felt disillusioned. Burns added that some gay couples had "open marriages" where the partners could be unfaithful.

He said: "There's a lot of promiscuity in the gay community. I don't understand why they take that union. How low is their self-esteem?

"One's on Hampstead Heath meeting men, the other one's hiring rent boys. "Surely marriage is throwing anchor and saying, 'This is where I'm staying, I've made my choice and this is all I want because I've been on the up and down escalator, through the revolving door and I want to stand still.' That's what I expected."

Gee, Pete. Sounds to me like you both messed up, and not just the one who messed around. Especially if this is any indication (warning: link not for the squeamish.)

Maybe, if you want to "throw" anchor for real, you need to find a good harbor first. My best friend and his hubby did--20 years ago!

May 4, 2008

Santa Cruzin' for a bruisin'

Tweety tawt he taw a coup d'etat. He did! He DID tee a coup d'etat!

You did, Tweety...you DID tee a coup d'etat!

Roto-Reuters UK and the Washington Whore Post are both cheerleading quite blatantly for Evo's opponents, undoubtedly to soften up us gullible anglophones for the "inevitable", undemocratic outcome of a deeply antidemocratic, unilateral (not to mention illegal) "referendum". Gee, where have we seen this before?

Too bad for this cutesy little media offensive that some of us can read Spanish, and one of us has seen fit to translate...this:

Unofficially, the illegal separatist vote on Sunday in Santa Cruz has registered a 75% abstention rate, according to ANMCLA Bolivia and Mario Silva, host of the Venezuelan TV program La Hojilla, who was in Bolivia as part of a special VTV report on Bolivia.

At the same time, some in Santa Cruz celebrated the supposed victory in the illegal referendum. Exit polls claimed that the Yes option had won with 85% of the votes, but did not report how many voted, nor the percentage of abstentions.

Translation mine.

It's probably just as well that the Bolivian electoral council won't be certifying this farce.

Another Aporrea article reports multiple instances of boxes full of pre-marked ballots found in voting centres. And here is one of the pre-marked ballots, in the hands of someone who, judging by the color of his skin, would probably not mark it in favor of an ethnic-cleansing Croat and his slave-plantation buddies:

A pre-marked ballot in the illegal, fraudulent Santa Cruz referendum

It's not hard to imagine that the result of the "autonomy referendum" of two years ago, in which four states voted in favor of this charade, was also fraudulent, and probably by the same means.

It's also not hard to imagine how so few denizens of Santa Cruz got such inordinate, unearned, undeserved power. My educated guess is they got a little help from their Uncle Ned in Washington. The fact that the US ambassador to Bolivia spends more time in Santa Cruz hobnobbing with wealthy landowners than in La Paz conferring with the president should tell you something very unflattering about the landowners--and Philip "Balkanizer" Goldberg himself.

Plus, the paltry amount USAID spent on humanitarian aid in the recent floods ($250,000) compared with its bogus "pro-democracy missions" (mucho, mucho millions) tells you where THEIR priorities lie. Of course they love the paid-off local bottom feeders who own the big haciendas and banks. Who do you think is willing to sell off Bolivia nice and cheap to Gringolandia, with no interference from the pesky, taxing federales?

I predict the would-be separatists will come away from this with a black eye once the fake triumphalism dies down. No country other than the US will want to do business with the blatantly racist, dictatorial "Media Luna" vendepatrias. Argentina, Chile and Brazil--Bolivia's nearest and richest neighbors, all governed by varying shades of progressives--have already made it clear that they will deal with none other than Evo Morales when it comes to oil, gas and other Bolivian export goods. The governors of the Media Luna can rant about "autonomia" all they want; when the rubber hits the road, though, it's still not their shot to call.

This exercise in demockery was not only a fraud, it was utterly without merit, and the future will prove it null and void.

Alan Keyes is an abortion

Yes, you read correctly. He says so himself:

There are two flaws in his logic:

1) If "they kill you", why ain't he DEAD?

and

2) If pregnancies are all invited, why don't they show their papers at the door--to confirm that their presence was in fact requested, as real invitees must do?

And this vindicates "creation science" HOW?

Giving new definition to the term "God botherer", we have the luvverly folks at "GodTube", who think it's not enough to merely broadcast themselves; they have themselves conflated with "Him":

Strangely, though, there's nary a biblical reference in this video treatise. Just a reference to some (alleged) Chinese philosophy comparing fruits and vegetables to various parts of the human body.

The variety of fruity comparisons here is impressive. Carrots are compared to eyes, tomatoes to the heart, avocados to the womb, grapefruit to the breasts. I can't help noticing one glaring omission, though: Why no comparison of zucchini to penises? After all, squash and pumpkin seeds are supposed to be great for helping to maintain male reproductive health, fertility and sexual potency!

Actually, I notice another glaring omission here: a comparison of creationists to vegetables, period.

May 2, 2008

Festive Left Friday Blogging: This is what Democracy looks like!

Evo is looking a wee bit rumpled lately. But still cute!

Hmmm, Democracy is looking a wee bit tousled lately. Considering he's just narrowly managed to avert a coup, though, he's entitled to look as rumpled as he damn well pleases.

And besides: tousled is sexy. Especially when you've just been nominated, once again, for a Nobel Peace Prize.

May 1, 2008

It must be 4:20 somewhere

It's Happy Hour somewhere!

Praise the lord and pass the brownies!

The largest study of its kind has unexpectedly concluded that smoking marijuana, even regularly and heavily, does not lead to lung cancer.

The new findings "were against our expectations," said Donald Tashkin of the University of California at Los Angeles, a pulmonologist who has studied marijuana for 30 years.

"We hypothesized that there would be a positive association between marijuana use and lung cancer, and that the association would be more positive with heavier use," he said. "What we found instead was no association at all, and even a suggestion of some protective effect."

[...]

Earlier work established that marijuana does contain cancer-causing chemicals as potentially harmful as those in tobacco, he said. However, marijuana also contains the chemical THC, which he said may kill aging cells and keep them from becoming cancerous.

I don't know why, but reading that just made me laugh uncontrollably. Shit, I'm even starting to find science-wonky stuff like this entertaining.

Got anything for the munchies? I'm starving, man.