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August 29, 2008

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Rafael Correa in the oilfields

Jayzus. Do we really need more proof that El Ecuadorable is one smoldering dude?

El Ecuadorable and Chavecito in the oilfields of the Faja

And the 'Cito isn't exactly chopped liver, either. But then, we already knew that.

August 28, 2008

Finally, Juan Forero commits something akin to journalism...

...with a lengthy piece on the parapolitical murders in Colombia.

Too bad I beat him to the punch. More than once, I might add.

And even worse, he still doesn't connect all this to Alvaro Uribe, let alone Washington. The most he'll say is that the paras were "often working closely with army units". Under whose command, Juan? Spit it out. Oh come on, spit it...

Oh, fuck it. He says it's the Colombian government exhuming the bodies. I guess that somehow makes them heroes now. As if all the language about the Uribe administration being "feted from Washington to Paris for its recent success against Marxist guerrillas" weren't enough to give Forero's true sympathies away.

Possums, don't hold your breath waiting for Juan to connect any dots here. You might end up dead for real.

Meanwhile, Hugh Bronstein of Reuters gets a little closer to it, but he too shrinks away from naming Uribe's real, much deeper connections to the drug/parapolitics scandal. At most, all he'll mention is Uribe's creepy-ass cousin. He has yet to peruse Virginia Vallejo's book, I see.

Oh, and Bronstein sticks in a "Bogota-based analyst" taking dig at Venezuela there, too, claiming it has "problems with drug-trafficking and kidnapping". Damn right it does--it sits right next to Colombia. And since the border's not sealed and Chavecito would only take flak from Washington if he tried to control it, well...I think you can connect the dots, yes?

Venezuelan Beer Chicks for Progress

Er, make that AGAINST READING. From Aporrea, a shocking report on the mental calibre of one of that country's top spokesmodels for mindless alcohol consumption:

Norkis Batista, a young Venezuelan actress who played "Victoria Guanipa" in the RCTV International adaptation of "La Trepadora" by Romulo Gallegos, made these statements in an interview published in the April 2008 edition of the magazine "Waiting Room".

[...]

Waiting Room: Did you take time to read the novella by Romulo Gallegos and see how closely it resembled the adaptation by Ricardo Hernandez Anzola?

Norkis Batista: No. I don't like to read. I only do it when there's a script in front of me. The story by Ricardo Hernandez is distinctive. It's modern. It's not old, but more futuristic.

Waiting Room: Didn't it make you curious to read it so you could learn more about your character?

Norkis Batista: Reading a book is a step back, not forward.

Translation mine.

So much for Venezuelan culture, arts and literature. Romulo Gallegos was one of that country's greatest literary figures, but according to a woman who is not much more than a figure (with more makeup on it than clothing, especially when she's peddling Polar beer), reading him is "backward".

Here she is, (cough) acting in the movie mentioned above:

Apparently, YouTubers prefer her nude scenes. I guess it would be a shame to waste all that silicone.

Two "prestigious" Chavez-haters get owned by a Russky

Yes, folks, I'm talking about those two once-notable authors, Mario Vargas Llosa and Carlos Fuentes, who have both decided to keep their names in the news by turning their pens to machetes in the name of right-wing hackery.

Since it's currently fashionable in certain circles to bash Chavecito for everything from his impoverished background to his military career to his friendship with Fidel to, yes, his nonwhiteness--well, when talent deserts you, you just gotta turn your hand to something, and why not something fashionable? It's either that or the bottle of Victory Gin (and I wouldn't put that past either one of these sour old boys, either. Hey, it worked out fine for Christopher Hitchens--he gets to crapagandize and drink himself insensible with the proceeds.)

Now, Russia doesn't have a notable journalistic tradition that I'm aware of. (Mind you, Pravda may not be the best thing to go by on this one.) No more than it has a lengthy and illustrious history of parliamentary democracy. But I can see I shall have to visit Tiwy.com more often, because this is one Russia-based news site that strives to get things right.

Case in point: Nil Nikandrov's excellent piece on the two writers-turned-crapagandists. Nikandrov definitely seems to have Vargas Llosa's number--and on speed-dial, at that:

Once Llosa tried to sit in the presidential chair of Republic of Peru himself, but he lost the elections and was so grieved that gave up his Peruvian citizenship and became a Spaniard. One can think that his constant attacks on Chavez are provoked by hidden jealousy: this «ordinary lieutenant colonel» used to pass through the trials of national elections and won them with confidence, whereas he, Mario Vargas Llosa, famous all over the world writer, «the Peruvian No.1» of modern times, went on the rocks in the country, which he glorified by his pen.

Actively making his «image» of fighter for freedom and democracy in Latin America, warning the peoples of the continent from «expansion of the Bolivarian revolution by means of petrodollars of Chavez, Llosa pursues one more goal, personal. He, for a long time and without success has a claim for a Nobel prize in literature, and in his 70 odd years strives to get it as a worthy completion of his literary career. The conservative nature of the Nobel prizes committee is well known, hence and a lengthy «turn to the right» of the writer, who used to be considered if not a «leftist» but, at least, a fellow traveller.

The English is a little fractured, but I think you get the picture. Since Vargas Llosa lost an election (to Alberto Fujimori, no less), he flipped Peru the bird and fucked off for Spain. Embittered by his failures in politics both leftish and presidential, he now attacks anyone successful whom he sees as an upstart, particularly if that guy is a non-white leftist. Meanwhile, he also keeps gunning for that Nobel Prize, any which way he can. Strangely, his shots keep missing the target, boomeranging, and hitting him in the foot! Not only is the Nobel eluding him (going, alas, to such notable, unwavering leftists as Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nadine Gordimer and Jose Saramago), but so too is all political credibility. Poor Mario, shall we throw another tantrum (and an inkwell to go with it)?

Meanwhile, Carlos Fuentes fares no better:

And now, when again [Vargas Llosa] managed to get points by «exposing creativity on the Chavez topic» there appeared a new obstacle on the road to the prize — this time in the person of another writer, - Mexican Carlos Fuentes. He also regularly criticises Chavez and «in the name of protection of democratic ideals» and in order to appear in international press more often.

The reason is still the same: active demonstration of conservatism, accusation of populism, castrism and communism — are strategically vital for struggling for the prize. Prudent Fuentes succeeded in getting additional points having written a rapturous preface to the book about the antipode of Chavez — Venezuelan oligarch Cisneros (P. Bachelet, «Gustavo Cisneros, World Business Man» Gustavo Cisneros. Un empresario global). Glorification of oligarchs, heroes of neo-liberal super-business — is a Deed with a Capital Letter. Neo-liberal policy brought Latin America an impoverishment, degradation of social programs, aggravation of contradictions, plunder and absorption of weak national economies by transnational companies.

Admirers of Fuentes got angry and bombarded him with letters: how could you do this? One of them, clearly not a chavist, wrote: «Mister Carlos Fuentes, you'd better deal with your own favourite Mexico, which, unfortunately, is situated too close to the United States. Their government condemned our people to poverty and suffering, and, as a result, to illiteracy, loss of historical memory and obedience. Of course, you live very well. You are not obliged to follow the Christian commandment — love your neighbour (Venezuelan or Mexican people) as yourself. Tomorrow you may desire to convince us that Bush or Blair deserve the Nobel peace prize, senor Gustavo Cisneros — the prize in the field of economics, and you, I don't argue, in the field of literature. But do not forget that among other laureates of the prize there go your predecessors - Jorge Amado, Cesar Vallejo, Julio Cortazar and all those who died but did not sell, pawn their honour and their art in order to become imitators of businessmen».

Ouch. How'd you like to have your honor impugned like that?

Nikandrov pinpoints what's the matter with both men rather neatly: Perceiving a hard-to-starboard turn in regional politics (a turn steered, with deadly calculation, by Washington, using various proxies throughout Latin America), the two writers, each in his own labyrinth, decided it was better to go along to get along, and write whatever was likely to get praised and published in the English-language media. In other words: neo-con rightist crapaganda. Real democracy, development and the fight against poverty could all go hang; the main thing was to demonstrate that one was "pro-freedom" in the sense that was most pleasing to Washington, even if that "freedom" eventually left bloody footprints all over the rugs of the presidential palace. And heaven forfend that anyone should have a good word to say for Fidel Castro, the elephant in the Latin American living room!

No wonder Vargas Llosa's presidential bid failed. Such cowardly pandering may get one published, all right, and even rather well paid, but that's about as far as it goes. If either of them thought that they could pull an Evita and land real power and prestige after prostituting themselves, they were mistaken. Both Vargas Llosa and Fuentes have been passed over for the literary Nobel, notes Nikandrov, and seem likely to remain so. Especially since they have taken up right-wing pamphleteering for fun and profit.

Moral of the story? Opportunism may pay, but only in the short term. In the long run, discerning people will recognize you for the pathetic hack you are, and simply stop reading you altogether. And writerly honor, once lost, is like youth: you can try to fake it all you like, but you can never get it back.

August 27, 2008

PetroEcuador arrives in Venezuela

Sure beats having ExxtortionMobil back, I bet...

The Ecuadorian state firm, PetroEcuador, will commence operations in Venezuela, where it will exploit crude alongside its Chilean counterpart, ENAP, according to Ecuadorian minister of Mines and Petroleum, Galo Chiriboga.

Chiriboga announced that PetroEcuador and ENAP will join Venezuela's PDVSA in joint operations in the oilfield of Ayacucho de la Faja del Orinoco, a vast region in eastern Venezuela where the government of Hugo Chavez assumed control of the petroleum operations about a year ago.

The minister said that the joint accord will be signed this Friday in Caracas, on the occasion of an official visit by president Rafael Correa to Venezuela.

The three state firms will create a joint venture to certify the reserves of the Ayacucho oilfield, which, according to information from Caracas, has 39 wells and reserves totalling 14 billion barrels.

Chiriboga pointed out that the operation in Venezuela will permit Ecuador to increase its national reserves "at times when the majority of wells in Ecuador are in decline."

Translation mine.

You know what that means--stability in oil prices and supplies for Ecuador, great at a time when the new constitution is going to a vote and it's very likely the Ecuadorian oligarchy will try the same shit their Venezuelan counterparts did in the winter of 2002-3. This should head 'em off at the pass.

Gasp! More petro-solidarity in Latin America! The horror. The HORROR!!!

I guess I know what I'll be doing for Festive Left Friday. Yup, you guessed it--blogging pics of two of my favorite smart goodlookings signing oil accords!

August 26, 2008

What? There IS a conspiracy afoot in Bolivia?

Tweety smells another coup attempt brewing in Bolivia!

You don't say!...Well, actually, Bolivian news agency ABI does say, and so do I, translating:

The prefect of Santa Cruz, Ruben Costas, secretly met on Monday with the US ambassador to Bolivia, Philip Goldberg. The meeting comes nine days after Costas's radical speech, in which he insulted President Evo Morales and announced a series of measures that skirt the edges of the constitution.

Although there was no official mention of what the two discussed, the meeting occurred amid the beginning of the measures with which Costas and his colleagues of the so-called "Media Luna" region sought to put pressure on the Morales government, which was ratified with two-thirds of the popular vote at the polls (67.4%).

According to a report by the Gigavision network, the encounter took place in the Prefectural Palace, a location where the press was barred from entering.

The TV report informed that the Costas-Goldberg meeting went on for at least an hour and 30 minutes, and proved the encounter had taken place with images taken before and after.

And here is one of those images:

Ruben Costas and Philip Goldberg meeting in Santa Cruz

Note the caption: "No details given of the meeting".

Now, would a perfectly above-board meeting be so goshdarn secretive as to lock out the media and give no details of what was said? If you think it could, you must be drinking some bad Kool-Aid. El Duderino has already noted some of Costas's more egregious hijinks leading up to the referendum, and following it too. Now it appears that Goldberg was not only aware of what was going to happen; for all we know, he handed Costas the playbook for the next steps at that hush-hush meeting. Why else the auspicious timing?

And besides, it's not as if they haven't done this sort of thing before.

AP hits Venezuela with the Stoopid Stick...AGAIN.

And this time, it's all about Teh Stoopid in Venezuela. Or at least, AP would slyly insinuate that Venezuela is the one with the stupidity problem.

Mysterious deaths among the Warao "Indians" along the Orinoco river, which just so happens to be Venezuela's richest oilfield region. AP seems to have fingered bat rabies as the culprit, though the (US-based) medical researchers they cite only say the natives "described symptoms consistent with" the disease. Meanwhile, you really have to wonder what stupid questions the AP reporter asked of the Venezuelan health minister to get her to respond like this:

Perez said it was irresponsible to suggest there has been a lack of government help. She said officials have repeatedly visited the area this year to investigate.

Of course, the AP prefers to put the accusation of no-government-help in the mouths of "some indigenous leaders", without naming or quoting a single one. Translation: Venezuelan government too stupid to look after those Injuns they claim to care so much about.

Then there's this odd little snippet:

Javier Hernandez manages the small zoo at Caracas' General Francisco de Miranda Park. He said Monday that 29-year-old Erick Arrieta violated park rules by letting the Asian python out early Saturday.

The biology major was found strangled to death, with a snake bite on his left wrist.

Translation: Venezuelan students too stupid to look after Asian pythons.

And then there're these two items about how Venezuela is supposedly "not co-operating" in the War on Drugs. Translation: Venezuelan people too stupid to stop gringos shoving Colombian coke up their noses.

Here's a novel thought for the AP: Why isn't the US government addressing the demand side, without which the (COLOMBIAN) supply side of this problem wouldn't exist? Translation: AP too stupid to get onto the real story.

August 25, 2008

Yep, he's been bought...

Oh, color me shocked, SHOCKED...at the latest from Aporrea:

On his Sunday program, ex-vice president Jose Vicente Rangel asserted that the general-in-chief, Raul Isaias Baduel, visited Bogota around the end of July, where he "met with Pedro Carmona and the Colombian defence minister, Juan Manuel Santos."

Baduel's agenda, according to Rangel, included "a meeting with an association of retired military leaders, in which former generals Juan Salcedo Yora and Manuel Monnet were present." According to Rangel, these men "have international arrest warrants out against them for crimes against humanity."

Also, Rangel said, Gen. Baduel addressed a conference against the Venezuelan government at Sergio Arboleda University in Bogota, where he met with members of an NGO "which is continually taking shots at Venezuela and its national government."

Here's Rangel on his TV show, discussing that and more:

Baduel's disgraceful conduct is the second item in this clip.

So, the once honorable, oh-so-constitutionalist general has been meeting with wanted criminals--in addition to receiving money from where he shouldn't? His formerly sterling reputation doesn't need any tarnishing from without; he's doing a terrific job of pissing all over it himself.

At this rate, he can stop wondering why he can't siphon off the "Bolivarian, but..." vote. Nobody votes for a traitor--least of all one who consorts with the very business dictator whom he once stood up to!

August 24, 2008

Disco that doesn't suck

"I Wouldn't Want To Be Like You". The Alan Parsons Project.

Suck my gas valve, bitches!

From Aporrea, another example of Evo's cojones in action.

The president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, ratified on Saturday that he would not permit the opposition prefects and "civic organizers" to close gas valves for any reason. For this reason, he instructed the Armed Forces to guarantee security to all natural-gas installations and prevent any assaults on the economy of the Bolivian state.

The far right, according to President Morales, "are already meeting now in the Bolivian Chaco to try to take over the valves. That's an assault on the Bolivian people." He informed the hundreds of delegates meeting for the second consecutive day in the national assembly of the National Coordinator for Change (Conalcam) that he had spoken with various ministers and vice-president Alvaro Garcia Linera, with whom he resolved to guarantee security for gas ducts and valves.

"This intended takeover of the valves is not an action against Evo Morales, nor the government, but against the Bolivain people," he added. He was referring to the decision of the "civil society" directors of the Media Luna region, who had threatened to take over all oil and gas wells and initiate an indefinite blockade of the roads, starting on Monday, August 25.

The gas-producing provinces of Cordillera, Luis Calvo and Gran Chaco, in the departments of Santa Cruz, Chuquisaca and Tarija respectively, announced a blockade of all roads in the Bolivian Chaco region, which borders on Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. The three regions contain the largest natural gas reserves in Bolivia, estimated at 1.36 trillion cubic metres.

Translation mine.

As you can see, these fascists are not only keen on cutting Evo's throat (and that of every other indigenous person in Bolivia), they also have no problem shooting themselves in the foot. Because of course, the gas-producing provinces all border on the three countries most likely to be purchasing gas from them. So who's this blockade going to hurt? You guessed it--the very people who are hoping to ultimately cash in on it. (Remember, Brazil and Argentina will not do business with anyone but the federal government of Bolivia when it comes to gas, and neither, I suspect, will the newly leftist, pro-poor government of Paraguay, whose stated mission is to lift its own indigenous out of the same poverty the Bolivian neighbors are now fighting.)

I guess I could further translate Evo's remarks as a "suck this, bitches!" to the opposition.

Of course, what you get when you suck a gas valve is suicide a la Sylvia Plath. Maybe that's what Evo was alluding to when he said the fascists are "agonizing". Hey, if they're in a world of hurt, I say put 'em out of their misery. Bolivia can surely get along without them!

Fine young hooligans, Ecuador edition

Is this any way to show respect for your president, political opponents, and senior citizens?

"Student" opposition demonstrators in Ecuador shout obscenities and accusations of homosexuality, make rude gestures, and assault anyone unlucky enough to get within striking distance. Fortunately, prominent oligarchic ringleaders are all named and pictured clearly, so if you're ever in Guayaquil, you'll recognize them.

Pay special attention to the stinkfingers, the crotch-grabs, the flying projectiles (they're not eggs, they're rocks), and the various other ways of saying "we don't give a fuck for democracy", in the video above and this one:

One little chica even has the nerve to claim she was demonstrating "peacefully" when she was caught on video doing just the opposite--attacking the police physically.

And if you find them very similar to their Venezuelan counterparts, pat yourself on the back for your perceptiveness: they're following the exact same playbook. They're trying to provoke violence on purpose, so there is a pretext to attempt a violent removal of President Correa. Exactly as the oppos in Venezuela are trying to do with President Chavez. What a coinkydink!

August 23, 2008

Bomb, bomb, bomb...

...bomb, bomb Iran:

Guess who!

Now, who could this be?

Guess who this is...

Hmmmm...his cap says "Venezuela", so clearly he's from there. And he's wearing a red t-shirt with famous communist faces all in a row. He must be a Chavista, right?

Um, sorry. No.

According to Aporrea, this is Henrique Capriles Radonsky, the treasonous right-wing mayor of the municipality of Baruta, spotted on a recent trip to Beijing. Apparently he thought he was going incognito. But in fact, he's violating the conditions of his release from prison four years ago. And the fact that Capriles Radonsky was jailed for attacking the Cuban embassy in Caracas during the coup of '02 surely makes his t-shirt that much more ironic, no?

August 22, 2008

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Aw, crap!

Since the BoRev dude has already scooped what I was planning to post for you today, I guess I'll just have to make do with yet another week of yummy Evo pix...

Evo waves to supporters

Sigh. Life is so hard.

But hey, maybe it's just as well that it's Evo again this week, because look at how much of Bolivia is behind him:

Map showing just how much support Evo has

All that blue is the pro-Evo vote. (See Otto Rock break it all down here.) Suddenly, that "half-moon" region that's supposedly against him is but a very flimsy sickle, no?

August 21, 2008

Call the Waaaaaaambulance...

Waaambulance

....because while her husband semi-languishes in jail, Barbara Amiel is having a crisis.

She has been shunned by other wealthy families in this exclusive area of Florida, and is hardly seen outside her mansion.

One of the few with whom she has remained in contact says: 'Barbara's presence on the social scene is absolute zero. She did not have that many friends here to begin with, but with her husband in jail she has even fewer.'

At the Palm Beach Daily News, one reporter who covers the social scene in Palm Beach told me that Amiel's name was no longer on any of the regular invitations that are sent out.

'She was always considered something of an outsider, who did not participate in the charitable scene. Now she is even more so.'

She will not have endeared herself to former friends and associates either with her recent activities. In a rancorous and self-serving article in a broadsheet newspaper last week, Lady Black unleashed her fury on both the American criminal justice system and those she still insists abandoned her and her husband in their hour of need - the 'rats who left the ship' as she calls them.

She went on to denounce her husband's 'judicial murder', as well as the treachery of his former colleagues.

Her husband had, she wrote, been 'baselessly smeared, wrongfully deprived, falsely accused, shamelessly persecuted, innocently convicted and grotesquely punished'. If, she asks plaintively, the rich and well-connected cannot get justice, 'what chance for anyone else?'

Please, people, try not to laugh too loud at that last howler. Lady La-de-Da's silk-upholstered fainting couch is already sopping wet. And why not, since her dear husband has been adverbially verbed in every vile, cruel, baseless way...

Oh, who'm I kidding--that's the funniest thing I've heard in this whole affair since the word "guilty" came down!

Don't worry, Babs--the rich and well-connected can and do get justice once in a while, despite their billions and all the lawyers they can buy. I do agree that poor, dear Conny just hasn't gotten quite enough, considering all the people he's swindled and screwed and sold false news to over the last three or four decades. He should be getting twenty to life (whichever comes first).

It is, however, nice to know that in the meantime, he's learning a thing or two about how the other half 99.999999% lives:

It is now just over five months since Black - now inmate 18330-424 - arrived at Coleman for the start of his six-and-a-half-year sentence, clutching only his spectacles, his sleeping tablets and a tube of lip salve (the latter two being immediately confiscated).

He had hoped his stay would prove a short one, remaining optimistic about a hearing before the Appeal Court in June. Alas for Black, it was unanimously rejected, in a decision that described some of his conduct at Hollinger International, the company over which he presided, as 'ridiculous'.

[...]

According to other prison sources, Conrad has been 'stunned' by the lack of education of his fellow inmates.

'Conrad remains very snobbish, despite having the same daily routine as all the other prisoners,' said a source. 'He said he was shocked by how uneducated most of his fellow inmates were.

'It was a surprising thing to say, given that many of his fellow prisoners are hispanics and blacks from very poor communities who did not even graduate from senior school.'

No matter, since they now have 'Lordy' to bring some of his sparkling intellect and insight to bear.

Of late, Conrad has been holding lectures in American history which have been attended by both inmates and guards alike. The talks have been so successful - and entertaining - that they have been moved from the library to a bigger venue within the prison to accommodate demand.

It is perhaps just as well he remains busy, given that the U.S. prison service does not much allow for leniency when it comes to early release, and Black is likely to serve at least 85 per cent of his sentence, making him past 70 by the time he regains his freedom.

Heh...maybe he will get life after all--or something close enough to it. And in the meantime, just imagine what a fine public education he'll be getting--all of it in the realm of social studies, and all about what makes and keeps people poor and downtrodden.

Mind you, I'm not sure how much of these valuable lessons will sink in. After all, His Nibs was shocked, SHOCKED at the education level of his fellow inmates. Speaks volumes, no?

Who writes these dumbass editorials?

More tired old "21st century socialism looks just like 20th", courtesy the Financial Times.

More tired old "Chavez is a dictator", courtesy the Richmond Times Dispatch.

And in the grand (tired) old tradition of unsigned editorials, the authors are not named (to protect the guilty, of course.) It would be nice to know, for a change, to whom one must hand back their lying ass. Accountability is such a buzzword these days, so why not there?

Well, at least one truly outstanding Brit twit has the courage to put his name and his tired, defeated old mug at the top of his even more tired, defeated old stupidities at the UK Telegraph. He maunders on about how marriage has "crumbled" since 1979 (really? then why all the married couples, including my parents, who are still together for over 40 years now?) He also rambles about the misleadingness of the Gini coefficient, which is actually rather reliable. He blathers on about how poverty is "elective" and based on "dependency" (name one person outside a monastery who has freely chosen poverty, sir). Oh yeah, and he calls Venezuela "Marxist", as though Simon Bolivar were just some equestrian statue covered with pigeon droppings. Could it possibly get more tired and derivative?

This old dobbin is just ripe for the glue factory; his carcass is hanging by a thread, but it's still a lot more coherent and less crumbly than his brittle arguments about how the rich lift up the rest of us, just by virtue of their "wealth creation". Gee, haven't thirty-odd years of fascist-imposed neoliberalism proved as much?

But hey, let's give him the No Bull Please Prize for this pronouncement:

The poor cannot improve their lot unless the wealth producers are also doing so on a significant scale. In any society where the rich are getting poorer the breadline population, at least in the long term, will suffer appallingly.

It really takes brains to shit out something like that.

Oops, let me reshuffle that a bit: It really takes something to shit brains out like that!

Seriously. It's as if the Great Depression never happened, because all those multi-millionaires (who were either born with it, or who were born with much of it and then made more just playing the stockmarket) were just jumping over each other in the race to help out the poor sods, eh? The ones, you know, who'd lined up outside soup kitchens or were selling apples instead of doing the jobs they'd trained for, or riding the rails because, well, they just chose to be poor? All those lost jobs probably just vanished because those doing them suddenly decided to abandon holy matrimony and become bums. And why did they become bums? Because of socialism. Or that even greater evil, Keynesian "redistributism". (Never mind that neither one was implemented until long AFTER the Depression had taken hold, and in direct response to the said Depression.)

Here's something that may seem hard to believe, but it's true: Wealth cannot be created, it can only be reshuffled. (Sort of like my two sentences above, get it?)

To say wealth can be created where none was before, and only by the already wealthy, is like saying that matter can be created out of non-matter by those who matter; it's bullshit. It's scientifically proven to be impossible, and I don't care what God or mammon you believe in to think otherwise. Matter and energy are contiguous, as Einstein says, but that doesn't mean that someone can just "create wealth" by working. You might as well believe that you can spin straw into gold. The world's hardest workers are slaves, literally, and they predictably have nothing to show for it. And say, have you ever seen the impressive, Apollonian physiques of stockbrokers? Now THOSE are hard workers! They all look like shapeless heaps of unbaked dough that just keeps on a-risin'. And they "make money" (read: redistribute toward the idle rich, or more accuately, STEAL) hand over fist just by lifting a phone and spouting junk into it. Not much energy expended or work going on there, mate.

See, the world's supply of money is just like air in a loosely-filled balloon; it's finite and enclosed. When the balloon is squeezed (by the Invisible Hand of The Market?), the distribution of air is uneven. Wherever all the air is concentrated, the balloon bulges; elsewhere, it's squeezed to a shrivelling. But the air that's in the bulges doesn't "trickle down" to fill the air-starved places, because the Invisible Hand is squeezing it. Let go of the balloon (free it from the Invisible Hand!), and presto: the distribution evens out. It's so simple a child of five could understand it. (Quick, fetch me a child of five, said the Marxist, the Groucho Marxist.)

The fact that this soi-disant eminent historian doesn't grasp it makes me despair of humanity and the wisdom that supposedly comes with age. It's little wonder that kids all think grown-ups are stupid and old people are dodderers. So many of them are, and so many of those who are, hew firmly to conservative principles even when reality contradicts them on all points.

A pity that stupidity doesn't physically hurt them, or they'd have some incentive to choose not to be stupid.

August 20, 2008

What? No mourning for lost capitalism?

Nope.

Backed by national guard troops and cheering crowds, government representatives moved in on three Cemex plants at the stroke of midnight Monday, the end of a 60-day deadline set by President Hugo Chavez for imposing state control over Venezuela's largest cement maker.

Chavez has long criticized Venezuela's private-sector cement makers for high prices and tight supplies that he says have hampered government efforts to build housing for the poor. Pro-nationalization supporters who had gathered outside a Cemex facility in eastern Venezuela sang the national anthem while fireworks exploded overhead, according to news reports.

Of course, this being reported in the Denver Post, someone still felt duty-bound to note for the sake of "fairness and balance":

But Mexico's ambassador to Venezuela, Mario Chacon, made his displeasure clear. Chavez's hard line with Cemex, one of Mexico's most admired companies, has irritated the conservative administration of Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

"As a government, we respect Venezuela's decision, but we are obligated to look out for the interests of our companies," Chacon said. "We believe there has been discriminatory treatment against Cemex, and we don't understand why."

Good job, D-Post. Now go back to sleep. You've got a Dem convention coming up to report on. And you need your beauty rest, especially since you got scooped on the secret prisons in your city, built specially for the occasion.

August 19, 2008

Yep, that Catholic church is sure progressing...

What century is this again?

Rev. Sergio G. Roman sounded the alarm against miniskirts in an online publication to prepare Catholics for a church family-values forum next year in Mexico City.

"When we show our body without prudence, without modesty, we are prostituting ourselves," wrote Roman, a Mexico City priest.

Uh-huh. Well, if some guy's gonna take a woman's outfit as an indicator that she's one of those women, the least he could do is name what he's willing to pay, and for what. And he could learn to take "no" for an answer.

Yeah, folks, it's the old "she's asking for it" canard again. They never get tired of repeating it, no matter how tired the world gets of hearing it, but here's something new going on in ol' Mexico: now, they're getting lambasted for it.

Mexican newspaper columnists lampooned the article, and women's rights advocates have assailed it.

Women dressed in miniskirts and low-cut shirts have rallied at the doors of Mexico City's Cathedral during Sunday Mass, carrying signs that read: "Clothed and naked, I am the same."

Guadalupe Loaeza, a renowned Mexican social commentator, said she worries the priest's statements will be taken seriously and make it acceptable to blame the victim.

"It gives rapists permission to say, 'Well, she had on a miniskirt,'" Loaeza said. "What the church says has credibility — that's why this type of statement is so dangerous."

Bingo.

While Islam has now outstripped Catholicism for status of world's largest religious denomination, the RCC still the biggest church in Christendom, with the largest number of adherents. So how many men, hearing that kind of very conventional sermon, get the message: Hey, it's okay to rape, as long as she looks like a floozy?

The big problem with that logic is, exactly what does a "floozy" look like? Does she wear bikinis? Miniskirts? Jeans and t-shirts? Baggy, flowered housedresses? A burqa? A nun's habit? Diapers? Females in all these outfits and many more have been raped. Some are too old to be deemed sexpots; others, too young. And some are even religious.

Now, what would it have cost the priest to address that--and tell the men in his church that Jesus respected all women, even "that" kind? Not a blessed thing. But still, he just had to reach for the Stoopid Stick and start swinging it.

Of course, the backlash against his conventional stupidities also drew a predictable response:

The archdiocese says the news media have twisted Roman's words and that the article was meant only to provide "moral guidance for the Catholic community."

Oh really? Then why not provide some real moral guidance, by telling the men that it is their duty to respect women no matter how they look?

I don't hear anyone telling men to dress modestly or suffer the consequences. But guess what women have been hearing in Jamaica?

A police superintendent in Jamaica called on women last week to dress with greater modestly to curb rapes on the island.

After an 8-year-old girl was gang-raped by five men at a market in Montego Bay, Steve McGregor blamed rapes this summer partly on girls wearing short shorts and tiny bathing suits.

Yup, the same old same old.

Listen: I was a well-brought-up German girl; I'm a quiet, well-behaved woman. And still, I've been hit on by complete strangers even when covered from chin to toes. In a puffy coat and baggy jeans, yet. No shit, it happened to me in downtown Toronto, about 7:30 one evening. I was walking down to a local pub, not looking right or left, catching up with a group of friends who'd gone on ahead. Then some clown pulled up beside me in a car, slowed down, opened the passenger door and tried to get me to hop in.

I flipped him the bird.

Yeah, I know, that's not ladylike. But get serious: dressing and acting like a lady never saved a lady. You have to do what works. And that rude gesture worked even if nothing else did! I was covered up; my clothes didn't show my shape; I was walking with my head up and eyes front, not making eye contact with any stranger. And yet some stranger still thought he could buy me. Where did he get the message that lone women walking...must be for sale?

Oh, from his parish priest, probably. Or his pastor, or his rabbi, or his imam, or his dad. Or the police chief. Or from some dork behind the bike sheds. Or wherever else guys hear stupid old myths in lieu of a comprehensive sexual education.

I don't give a shit where he heard it; I just wish he'd heard the truth. And the truth is that unless a woman explicitly offers it, you have no right to assume that she is asking for it!

Or to put it another way, as we chanted at I don't know how many Take Back the Night marches: Yes means yes, no means no, however we dress, wherever we go!

What's good for GM ain't so good for Venezuela

Found something interesting and curious at Aporrea and just had to translate:

"For 60 years, we of GMV have been working with Venezuela and its people; it's our fundamental job to think of this organization as a great human team, which has the right to exercise its functions to contribute to the well-being of the country, of business, of its families, and ourselves." (El Nacional, Page 1-21, Sunday, August 17, 2008)

Some older workers will recall that during the first administration of Rafael Caldera, General Motors had an assembly plant in La Yaguara, Caracas--surrounded by high electric fences and watchtowers with reflectors, in order to defend itself against guerrilla attacks.

A rebellious worker, detained by company security and the National Guard, was incarcerated and tortured for several days in a dungeon on the premises, before being handed over to the DIGEPOL, the infamous political police of those days. When he was finally freed, the worker took his case to the Ministry of Labor whose head, Tarre Murzi, ordered an inspection of the GM plant.

The Ministry inspectors weren't allowed to enter, on the grounds that GM was a US business, so the Ministry had no jurisdiction over it. The minister, indignant, called a press conference to which, strangely, no one came. When a second such conference was similarly boycotted by the official and private media, Tarre Murzi took up the embarrassing matter with President Caldera--who, true to his "principles", fired the minister.

Leftist mythology? This case was registered and documented in the Social Communications thesis of UCV graduate Rosa Elena Casañas, an excellent professional who is far from being a Chavista, titled "The Penal Responsibilities of Journalists". And it's not the only abuse committed by transnationals in Venezuela with the repugnant complicity of the lackey-governments of the Fourth Republic.

Today, General Motors is embroiled in a nasty labor conflict, and it's natural that it defends its own interests. But it's undignified and disgusting that this business avail itself of the services of private media, who are always attentive to and complicit with imperialism and the oligarchy, to paint itself as the victim of violence and try to make us believe that they are "working with Venezuela and its people". They should drop the philanthropic mask and comport themselves as serious businesspeople in a serious country. In Bolivarian Venezuela we call things by their right name, and juridical security is for everyone. If they don't like it, let them go to Colombia, whose "juridical security" is for the bosses and lets them get away with the murders of workers and unionists.

Thus wrote Eduardo Rothe. Now, let Your Humble and Obedient chime in.

Can anyone imagine such a lot of baloney being cut up and tossed around up here in Canada? The logical equivalent of this would be, say, the appropriate minister under Brian Mulroney taking the case of workplace abuse to that feckless PM, and getting sacked. And all the media, from the excellent, publicly-funded CBC on down to the wretched sack-of-pond-scum that is the private CanWest Global network, or (even lower) that tacky right-wing tabloid, the Toronto Sun, would just mysteriously fail to report on GM's abuses. They would also not show up (twice!) at the ministerial press conference, censor anything that reflected badly on GM and, oh, say, the Mounties (who would be complicit in the tortures at GM's Oshawa plant). Instead, these illustrious media would place themselves at GM's service to publish, with a straight face, drivel like that shit from El Nacional which I translated above.

You can't imagine that happening in Canada, can you? No, of course not, you say. Canada has laws against that.

Well, then, imagine this: All that and much, much more happened in Venezuela. Venezuela used to have no laws against all that, and much, much more. There were no laws against GM building up its local assembly plant as an armed fortress, complete with electric fences and guard towers (christ, just like Kingston Pen!) No laws against GM having a dungeon on the premises, where unruly workers and uppity union organizers could be tortured at the whim of the management. And certainly no laws preventing the same detainees from being further tortured by the National Guard and those sinister Gestapo-like federales, the DIGEPOL. And no laws preventing the government from demanding censorship of it all in the news media.

Well, today, I imagine, Venezuela does have laws against pretty well all of that, including any presidentially mandated censorship of the press. Case in point: the above-mentioned shitty drivel from "GMV"--General Motors of Venezuela. They're allowed to dictate absolute bullcrap to the media, who in turn are allowed to publish it, even if it is a bald-faced lie that would make any thinking person break out in huge belly laughs of disbelief. And Chavecito couldn't censor it even if he wanted to. Which he doesn't. From all I've seen, he's amused at what asses the media make of themselves, and thinks that if anything, their wacky antics deserve the widest airplay possible, so people learn to discern all the ways in which they can lie to the public. With a straight face, of course.

But you know something? They would never be able to get away with that in Canada. Up here, we have laws against publishing false news, just as we have laws against teaching false history (such as, say, "The Nazi Holocaust never happened.") We also have human rights tribunals whose job it is to investigate human rights abuses in school, on the job, between landlords and tenants, etc.

What I find hysterically funny is all the free-speechers up here defending bullshit just like that which the Venezuelan opposition routinely spews, and attacking our human rights tribunals, whose job is also to stand up for their rights. It's as though for them, the right to babble and lie supersedes all other rights, including the right to peaceably assemble (eg. in unionizing a workplace), the right not to be discriminated against on racial or religious grounds, and the right not to get the shit beaten out of one's ass by an employer's hired goons. You're not allowed to say boo about genuine evil, but you are supposed to feel sorry for a punk like Ezra Levant, who advocates openly for religious persecution of Muslims and then, when called on his shit, cries that he is the one being persecuted. (He's strangely consistent about his love for "free speech", too!) Or for a nutter like Malcolm Ross, who never met an antisemitic lie he couldn't teach to impressionable high-schoolers as if it were gospel (and who also cried persecution when called on his bullshit).

Funny how so many free-speechers defend these liars and bigots, but not anyone whose human rights are under real attack, whether here or abroad. You'd think they had something against human rights, would you not?

But you know what? I'd like to hear how those free-speechers talk if they were subjected to a genuine tyranny, as Venezuela was under the "democratic" Rafael Caldera. Let them go to work for GM in Oshawa...and, if they try to agitate for better working conditions (which, please note, is a proper and legitimate use of free speech!), let them be thrown in a dungeon on the premises. Let them face several days of interrogation and torture, as that poor luckless Venezuelan worker did. And then, when a government minister charged with preventing such abuses tries to take up their case with Harpo, let him get sacked for being jurisdictionally out of line (because GM Oshawa is owned by the General Motors Corporation of the US).

And then let's hear the free-speechers squall! That is, if the "freedom-loving" media deign to listen to anyone other than General Motors. Which I suspect would not be the case, if those "freedom-lovers" got what they're actually clamoring for.

Yoo-hoo, lamestream media...

...I think you dropped something. Namely, all mention of a tyrannical Latin American president--in PERU!

In view of the protests of 60 ethnic groups from the Amazonian jungle against official decrees, the Peruvian government declared three provinces and one municipality in state of emergency on Monday.

According to a resolution published in the official journal El Peruano, the state of emergency was declared to keep the peace after at least nine people were injured during some encounters between the police and the natives.

The measure provides the suspension of constitutional rights which prevents the exercise of certain rights like the freedom of assembly and movement, and gives the police authority to arrest and carry out raids without a warrant.

The state of emergency comprises the provinces of Bagua and Utcubamba, the north of the Amazon and Datem del Marañon, Loreto in the west, and the municipality of Echarate in the southern region of Cuzco.

Well, looky there. Alan Garcia ruling by decree--and not within limitations of constitutionality and basic human decency like Chavecito, either. He's tyrannizing over the indigenous, in particular.

Now: For the entire last 18 months, when Chavecito had power to legislate by decree, there was not a single state of emergency in Venezuela, despite lashings of violence from the opposition which could, legitimately, have resulted in a crackdown. Contrast that with the situation in Peru, where people routinely get their heads busted open for simply protesting!

But will the major media mention it, let alone in the context of tyranny in Peru, the way they often do Chavecito, who has not a scrap of actual tyranny to his name? Noooooo. At most, they only cite this approvingly as an example of his "law and order" program at work. (And get this: they make out like it's the "Indians" who are at fault.) No mention of the suppression of constitutionality. Not a peep from Andres Oppenheimer, Mary Anastasia O'Grady, Simon Romero or any other crapaganda-cranker about tyranny. Couldn't be because Peru's tyrant, like Colombia's, passes muster with Big Crapital, while Venezuela's democrat doesn't...could it?

Nahhhhhhhh...of course not.

August 18, 2008

Jeremy Scahill has a YouTube channel!

If you ever wanted to know about US mercenaries and just how low they can go, this is the guy who wrote the book. It's called Blackwater, and it's not pretty, but it's one compelling read. It will wake you right up to the dangers of privatizing everything--including the worst of the worst, namely war. So far, Blackwater and all its false fronts have been immune from prosecution, but that could all change if the government of Iraq manages to cut enough of its puppet strings.

Let's hope so!

Long live Yolanda the Boliviana!

A few weeks ago, El Duderino had this little snippet of film up on his blog about the Fighting Cholitas of La Paz, Bolivia. A little later, he posted a link to the Guardian article profiling some of them. Today, I open my mailbox to find...the latest National Geographic. And in it, what to my wondering eyes should appear but a report on those selfsame cholitas, their skirts and braids flying as they pulverize the baddies and take on sexism and poverty singlehanded?

And if you doubt whether Aymara women in billowy skirts and bowler hats can rassle, you should see the trailer. These badass Bolivianas could crack Hulk Hogan's nuts and spook the shit out of Jesse Ventura.

No doubt about it--between the cholitas, the beautiful Altiplano, and of course Evo, Bolivia has definitely arrived.

Strangest. Act of God. EVER.

Of all the odd places for God to show his celestial wrath, this one in Venezuela has to take the cosmic cake:

Jesús Martinez was walking in the rain by the Plaza del Obrero, in Punto Fijo, Falcón, when he saw lightning strike the cathedral, according to the daily Ultimas Noticias' Sunday business edition.

The stroke, according to the report, fell on the church steeple and shattered the head of the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus which had kept watch over the city for more than 50 years. It was three o'clock in the afternoon and it had been raining in the city for over an hour, amid strong winds and electrical discharges.

"It's nothing to be afraid of, these are things of nature. Now we have to evaluate the damage and rebuild the statue," said priest Eladio Bedoya of the parish church of Our Lady of Coromoto, Cathedral of Punto Fijo.

Translation mine. Picture of the church at the link, probably taken before the lightning strike.

Must be the evil influence of Chavecito

How else to explain these Peruvian poll numbers?

Or the success of Evo in Bolivia, which just seems to keep on growin'?

Or the fact that El Ecuadorable has now come out as a socialist?

Or the big celebration as Fernando Lugo of Paraguay becomes the latest leftist teddybear to join the South American picnic?

Yep, it can only be the doing of the usual big red-shirted suspect. After all, Hurricane Hugo has sucked in pretty much any part of Latin America that isn't nailed down by Washington. Or at least, so you'd think to read what all the crapaganda whores are saying. They seem to be having tremendous difficulties with the concept of popular will, no?

August 17, 2008

Oh, those "pro-life" Catholics!

First, they made an attempt on the life of the president of Ecuador:

Thankfully, El Ecuadorable emerged unhurt from this oh, so Christian riot--which broke out as the newly written constitution of Ecuador is about to go to a popular vote of ratification. This constitution promises to be a human-rights milestsone for Ecuador. If it passes, it will grant greater reproductive rights to women and civil unions to same-sex couples. It is very likely to pass, which is what's got these people all riled up. But I guess the duly elected president is not a person and therefore has no right to life any more than women and gays do, or his life would not have come under fire.

And I also guess equal rights don't sit so well with those devout, life-loving churchgoers down there. The church is THE main opponent of the new constitution--probably because it stands to lose a tremendous amount of the control over the lives of citizens that it used to enjoy. Similar things have also happened in Bolivia and Venezuela, so this was all predictable. Funny how civil rights always bring the whited sepulchres out in violent "protest" of what promises to be a popular new constitution!

And up here, in the guise of "caring" medical doctors, the whited sepulchres are trying to go on imposing their sexist "conscience" in such ways that it ruins the lives of women who don't share their beliefs:

Doctors across Canada are now allowed to opt out of such things as prescribing birth control or morning-after pills or doing abortions when it goes against their conscience. Physicians are also allowed to refuse to do referrals in such cases.

But a new draft proposal from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario could change that for doctors in the province.

[...]

Rene Leiva, a Catholic family doctor in Ottawa, and a former board member of the Canadian Physicians for Life, said if the new rules were adopted it would make it nearly impossible for him to operate in the province.

"This would put a burden on physicians like myself to conform to a view that basically puts my conscience under somebody's else's power," said Dr. Leiva. "And the key aspect is moral integrity and the right of physicians to act in a way that does not harm the patient."

Of course, Dr. Leiva, who is a man, doesn't seem to realize how much this egotistical, god-playing sexism can harm a woman. I guess calling it "conscience" changes everything--except, of course, the basic facts, which are that birth control does not harm women, abortion does not harm women, and being free to choose does not harm women. In fact, all those things can help women by making them more autonomous, giving them greater freedom to pursue happiness--which, in turn, ought to be excellent for any families they might later have. The only thing that is hurt by these things is the privilege of men trying to control women by using pregnancy as a weapon.

Frankly, that privilege deserves to die.

I'm all for holding members of the medical professions accountable as scientists. And if that means they can't impose their "consciences" on me or any other woman, so much the better. All patients have rights, including the right to be treated with dignity and respect by their doctors. Even if the doctors personally disapprove of the patients' lives and choices, they owe it to their patients to set those attitudes aside and behave as scientists.

If someone like Dr. Leiva cannot behave as a scientist, maybe he had better find a new profession and leave medicine to those who can practise it without harming the patient through the unwanted imposition of their so-called "conscience".

August 16, 2008

And this is why I call them SupposiTories

Looks like the "new" Conservative federal government up here is getting old awful fast. They're a minority, but they bully like they're the only game in town, and a Globe & Mail editorial calls them on it:

Last year, the governing Conservatives prepared a secret handbook on how to disrupt parliamentary committees and create chaos. No mere pamphlet, the book ran to 200 pages.

It instructed committee chairmen to select blatantly biased witnesses and tutor them in advance. It gave the chairmen pointers on how to obstruct parliamentary business, to storm out of meetings if necessary.

Team Harper never expected its opus to be made public. But the media got hold and the headlines poured forth - "Tories blasted for handbook on paralyzing Parliament" and the like.

Liberal Ralph Goodale noted how it was rather peculiar to see the government getting its knickers in a knot over a dysfunctional, chaotic Parliament when, in fact, "the government's deliberate plan is to cause a dysfunctional, chaotic Parliament."

We thought the Grits were bad, chimed in the New Democrat, Libby Davies. But these guys, she said, were taking the gutter stuff to a new level. "They've codified it."

Not only have they codified it, they've also been putting it to detestable use:

In committee, Conservative campaign director Doug Finley showed his version of contempt for the process, demanding that he, and only he, would dictate when he would testify. He finally had to be forcibly removed from the hearing room. For their part, Conservative MPs ignored summonses to testify.

Then the Prime Minister came forward in Newfoundland to say he might have to force an election because opposition-induced obstructionism was plaguing his governance. The Commons, the aggrieved PM declined to mention, was so full of barricades throughout the spring and early summer that it passed almost every piece of legislation that the Conservatives proffered.

Contempt of court (or the parliamentary equivalent) apparently carries no penalties if you're a Tory. These freaks should all be impeached. Not least, for their contempt of the people who put their useless butts into Parliament:

The Conservatives may be correct in saying the Liberals have also shifted campaign moneys around to their advantage. But, as Tories have admitted, they did more of it. And their deeds were being done in the middle of the 2006 campaign - a campaign in which they were repeatedly promising to clean up on the Liberal act.

Facing a slumping economy that is threatening to worsen, Stephen Harper appears to want an election badly - so badly that he'll dip into the hypocrisy pool on another count. The government has made a commitment - a good one - to having fixed election dates. It has repeatedly denounced a system under which a prime minister can set the date willy-nilly, at his own choosing. But now Mr. Harper seems set on doing that very thing.

At this rate, "Conservative" will become synonymous with "party of hypocrites and chutzpah"--assuming, of course, that it hasn't been for a long time already.

Bring on the election, bitches.

Who flung dung?

I'll give you a hint: It's some Venezuelan opposition types, showing their true colors: brown, brown and BROWN. And stinky.

From YVKE Mundial, some choice video:

Some young hooligans protested the final legal decision to disqualify some deserving candidates by dumping cow manure all over the sidewalk outside the Comptroller General's offices in Caracas on Wednesday.

Yes, you read that right: They threw bullshit all over the place.

Somehow, that just so describes them to a tee, no matter how they protest, no?

August 15, 2008

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Why is this man laughing?

Evo laughing--and why not?

Damn, Evo...those are sure some dimples you got there. Wonder what made 'em pop. Surely it's not the fact that you've got an over two-thirds majority in your referendum now, and still counting? Or maybe the fact that the Media Luna-tics can't face defeat, even when it's staring them in the face?

Perhaps our cheeky cholito is just laughing over the thought of having to lend them a Jaws of Life so they can pry their buttocks apart and extricate their heads. I know that would have me in stitches, were I in his shoes...

August 14, 2008

Alan fiddles while Pisco burns

Alan Garcia--dancing, I think

Alan Garcia finally takes his doctor's advice and starts his new aerobics program. Maybe he'll finally lose some of that weight.

Crikey, what is up with the president of Peru? Dancing around like a marionette while Pisco is still in such rough shape? And the LatAm president who's actually done something helpful there is not himself but evil, wicked Chavecito--who, if Reuters says true (and you can never be too sure with English-language wires these days), is only doing it to prop up the chances of his Peruvian pal, Ollanta Humala?

At this rate, the Peruvians probably wish they had voted for Ollanta in the first place. At least he wouldn't look so ridiculous trying to dance.

August 13, 2008

Cowardly bullies of the Venezuelan opposition

Jayzuz. What is it with all these right-wing shit disturbers? They get people all riled up, and then they don't even show up to their own demonstrations? Case in point: Two rather prominent Venezuelan business leaders who keep trying to topple an elected president. From Aporrea, a parliamentary moment of truth:

Dario Vivas, PSUV deputy of the National Assembly, denounced Miguel Henrique Otero, owner of the newspaper El Nacional and spokesman of the "2D Movement" for having left the country for Puerto Rico after having called for demonstrations against the Enabling Laws and in support of disqualified candidates.

Vivas showed a video of Otero abandoning the country from Maiquetia airport, and said that the departure took place the day before the demonstration which Otero had called for in a furious manner, causing indignation in those who had seen him leaving the country after having called on citizens to "take the streets" and "not recognize the Enabling Laws" in the name of the "2D Movement, a supposed group of opposition intellectuals.

Vivas denounced Miguel Henrique Otero for publishing a call to mobilize "for the Fatherland, for the disqualified, and against the 26 Enabling Laws" in his his own newspaper. But then "he caught a plane, boarded on Saturday, and headed for San Juan, Puerto Rico, in the company of a young woman named Antonieta." Apparently, Otero returned a few days later.

Deputy Vivas compared the behavior of Otero to that of Carlos Fernandez, who was president of Fedecamaras in 2002 during the oil lockout headed by the opposition. Fernandez called for a demonstration on the last day of the year against the government--at the same time as he was celebrating New Year's Eve in Aruba.

Translation mine. Video at the site.

Fat chance that we'll ever see an Otero or a Fernandez on the frontlines along with the "students", taking a bullet from their own side in the name of "the fatherland". These guys are more than content to call the shots from a safe distance--like oh, say, as far away as Aruba or San Juan, Puerto Rico. What sort of person does that make them?

The video the Miami Mafia doesn't want you to see

cubainformacion.tv

"Armando Valladares: from false invalid poet to business speculator".

According to Aporrea, this video got yanked from YouTube on the grounds that it is "false and defamatory". I watched it and can't for the life of me see what would be false or defamatory about it. If anyone's false and defamatory here, it would be Valladares; after all, why would a former policeman under Batista, anti-Castro bomb-planter in Havana, and later darling of the freedom-loving Reagan administration, lie?

Sheesh. Most disabled people I know tend to stay that way, especially if their problem is a pair of bad legs that lands them in a wheelchair, as Valladares insists happened to him (which, according to a book he wrote for the US Information Agency, resulted from malnutrition and mistreatment after his imprisonment for, get this, dissent. Yeah, that's right, bombing Havana for Batista is just "free speech".)

In all current pictures of him, Valladares looks remarkably hale. He is still able to stand and walk. A miracle of non-socialized medicine, no doubt. Either that, or Fidel must be the Second Coming of Christ, because so far's I know, Jesus was the only guy ever to tell a paralytic to get up and walk, and actually get results. Because, you see, the main condition of Valladares' release was that he walk onto the plane that carried him out of Cuba. Apparently, he managed to summon up the ability right in time!

BTW, in case you're wondering, the video was ordered yanked by the so-called Human Rights Foundation--that organization run by ex-Venezuelan no-'count Thor Halvorsen, whose sole purpose seems to be the defamation of Cuba and Venezuela. Certainly it hasn't upheld human rights worth shit, or the Iraqis might now be free of occupation, and Afghanistan ditto. But then again, I guess Iraqis and Afghans aren't human, so they don't have rights. Problem solved!

Oh, and apparently Vcrisis nutjob Alek Boyd is in on the yankage, too. He's now decided to join forces with the un-thundergodly Thor. Surprise, surprise.

Jeez, what is it with all these bogus "human rights activists"? Are they all trying to out-Kissinger each other in their quest for a Nobel peace prize, or what?

August 11, 2008

Letters from the Evil Dead

Strange things dead paramilitaries write...and stranger things they reveal. From Aporrea, a little note that will make you believe that there IS life after death, especially for crime and scandal in Colombia:

The ex-colonel of Colombian police, Danilo Gonzalez, who was assassinated in 2004, ordered the murder of former presidential candidaate Alvaro Gomez Hurtado, and the kidnapping of Venezuelan businessman Richard Boulton.

This, according to a letter from the late paramilitary chief Carlos Castaño, which was revealed today.

The letter from Castaño, also killed four years ago, and published by the weekly magazine Semana, also accuses Colonel Gonzalez of planning the kidnap of architect Juan Carlos Gaviria, brother of the former Colombian president and ex-secretary of the Organization of American States, Cesar Gaviria.

Castaño, who was one of the founders and principal chiefs of the right-wing paramilitary AUC group, made the accusations against the colonel in a letter dated August 2002, which was addressed to Boulton.

The Venezuelan airline businessman was kidnapped July 15, 2000, at his hacienda in Venezuela, turned over to the AUC in Colombia, and freed two years later, although at first he claimed to have been in the power of left-wing Colombian guerrillas.

Carlos Castaño affirmed in the letter that the murder of Gomez Hurtado and the kidnappings of Boulton and Gaviria were part of a strategy by Col. Gonzalez to convert Colombia into a "narco-state" and an international refuge for criminals.

"This colonel headed a crazy project for various years: they called it 'Plan Burma'. They tried to involve the maximum possible number of persons and members of institutions of the State in narcotrafficking (...) and they would implant a narco-regime in Colombia," wrote Castaño.

Alvaro Gomez Hurtado, various times a presidential candidate with the Conservative Party and son of president Laureano Gomez (1950-53) was assassinated on November 2, 1995, as he was leaving a class he had been teaching at a university in Bogota.

Juan Carlos Gaviria, brother of former president Cesar Gaviria (1990-94), was kidnapped in 1996 by an unknown group and freed 70 days later.

Later, it was established that the kidnap was planned by the supposed guerrilla chief Hugo Antonio Toro, alias "Bochica", who left prison in exchange for the freeing of Gaviria.

Both incidents occurred during the reign of liberal president Ernesto Samper, who governed under the accusation of having financed his electoral campaign with some $6 million US from narcotraffickers of the Cali Cartel.

Castaño wrote that the objective of the "Bochica" episode was "to keep Ernesto Samper in the presidency."

According to Castaño, the AUC spent $5.7 million a month to maintain themselves, and some 70% of their income came from narcotrafficking and the rest from theft of fuel from the State, extortions and kidnappings.

Translation mine.

Just a gentle reminder, folks...Alvaro Uribe has close ties to the AUC. And yes, he was also closely connected to Pablo Escobar, the late drug lord, to the point of rubber-stamping pilots' licences from the department of Antioquia for Escobar's flyboys.

And just think, this is who the US is propping up with their dinero and their push for a "free" trade agreement. Aunt 'Bina predicts that if that deal ever goes through (ha, ha, dream on!), the main stuff of trade will be Colombian nose-powder for gringo dinero...only this time, it will be easier to smuggle, and the DEA will be content to pin the tail on uncompliant Venezuela instead of ultra-complicit Colombia, comme d'habitude.

August 10, 2008

No comment?!

Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties, commenting has been turned off until further notice. According to my best friend, who's also my geek support, the comments function in my software has developed a glitch (or been victim of a hack?) that causes mysterious, empty "core" files to appear and clog up the server when the commenting is turned on. We'll be upgrading to a new version of Movable Type soon, which we hope will fix the matter. In the meantime, all comments are off. Sorry for the inconvenience!

Why Evo's gonna win

He's got massive support--not only from the majority of Bolivia, but also from Venezuela (which lent Bolivia oil-drilling equipment), from Bolivians living/working in Spain, and from the indigenous peoples of Ecuador, who are watching Bolivian events with great hope for similar developments at home:

On the other hand, the opposition are getting desperate, and violent--so much so that they broke into and robbed a MAS party office:

Some of them don't even know what they're marching for, only that they're marching against "that shitty Indian". Yet they call all this "peaceful and democratic". Pathetic!

These fascists are clearly people who couldn't find their own asses with both hands and a flashlight. If they ever manage to extricate their heads from there, will someone please let me know?

August 8, 2008

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Evo gets in shape for Sunday

Soccer skills come in handy in other fields, too. Here's Evo, honing his ass-kicking technique on the pitch:

Evo kicks ass!Evo demonstrates his butt-kicking technique

Come Sunday, he's going to be putting it to good use. That's when our high-stepping hero shows the prefects of the Media Luna how to hold a real referendum--legal and legitimate--and win it, too.

August 6, 2008

Yon-Yon's big yawn-yawn

Poor Yon Goicoechea. Such a cute young guy, such high hopes attached...and what are they coming to? A few months ago, the Cato Institute paid him half a million dollars to spread neoliberal/neocon/neofascist crapaganda and astroturf all over Venezuela. Playboy's Venezuelan edition also obligingly gave him huge fanfare (between pictures of silicone-stuffed bunnies, natch.) Do you think they're getting their money's worth? Aporrea doesn't:

Yon Goicoechea, opposition youth leader and student at Andres Bello Catholic University, said on Wednesday during an opposition demonstration that the movement he heads is disposed toward "setting this city on fire" if the State doesn't backtrack on the decision of the Comptroller General to uphold the disqualifications of some 270 would-be political candidates on the grounds of irregularities in the exercise of their duties.

Draped with a Venezuelan flag like a superhero's cape, Goicoechea declared on Globovision that "this Chavismo, which is filling our city with trash, deaths and blood, is impossible to sustain. People need to solve their problems by way of votes. They want to solve their problems the peaceful way. They want to solve their problems by way of justice.

"What are they looking for? That the people set this city on fire?" he continued. "What are they looking for? They're looking for violence! If they don't catch on and let Venezuelans express themselves freely at the polls...if they don't let us demonstrate our enormous non-conformity with the government by way of regular channels, then they must be looking for us to burn up this city. What's the matter with the government? Don't they care that the disqualified candidates are suffering human rights violations?"

Translation mine. Link added.

My, oh my. Yon-Yon makes it sound like all of Caracas is about to go up in smoke just because 272 would-be candidates, most of them notably crooked, criminal or corrupt, and more than half of them Chavista (!), have been disqualified by the Comptroller General from standing for election. Yet witness what actually went on in the background to all this fiery rhetoric from the Caped Crusader:

A small group of oppositionists marched on Wednesday outside the offices of the Defender of the People in rejection of the supreme tribunal's decision. However, the great majority of Caracans continued on their daily rounds, even though young opposition students, who are on vacation right now, intended to create some kind of violent uprising.

Only "a small group of oppositionists"? Gee, that's kind of at odds with the "enormous non-conformity" that Yonny-boy insists is the true sentiment of Venezuelans. If most are with him and not Chavecito, wouldn't they be out demonstrating alongside him and his student hordes, bringing the country to a grinding halt? They could, you know. If they wanted to. Certainly their bosses would be only too happy not only to give them the day off, but probably bus fare to Miraflores, too.

And if it turned into a riot that trashed and burned the streets of the capital? Hey, as long as it gets rid of the big brown guy in the red shirt, it's all good. Wasn't that the idea back in April 2002, too? There were trash and burning objects strewn all over the streets then, along with dead bodies. Interesting, isn't it, how Yon-Yon alludes to that in his speech about "filling our streets with trash, death and blood"? The oppos would certainly know about that; they never miss a chance to do it.

Remember, this fits into a larger pattern. Yon has done this before, and he's used the poor parts of town as his pawns.

And I bet the "good" folks at Cato know all about that, and couldn't care less that Yon-Yon is violating human rights in his super-heroic efforts to uphold the so-called human rights of his noble co-religionists. Hey, it's not as if Cato cares about human rights in earnest; its mission is not humanitarianism, it's capitalism. And the neoliberal capitalist order of old depended on corrupt officials; it was how they kept the oil money flowing into the coffers of Corporate America, the World Bank, the IMF, you name it. So of course Cato has no problem with rewarding corrupt candidates and their cohorts--including useful idiots like Yon Goicoechea.

The fact that none of the disqualified are oppressed, imprisoned or being menaced with death just slides right by all these fake democrats of the opposition and its US cheerleaders. All they are being denied is the privilege of running for elected office because there are questions about their records. Anyone who's not squeaky clean, anyone who's under suspicion, doesn't get to run--gosh, that just sounds so terrible, doesn't it? Damn Chavismo, how antidemocratic to deny the corrupt their privileges!

But hey. If Cato and Co. are all rah-rah for Yon-Yon, in spite of all the zits on his soul, at least ordinary people in Caracas aren't fooled. They had better things to do than stand around listening to some young golpista draped in a flag, and they went right on doing them. To them, Yon-Yon isn't some champion of human rights; he's just another paid-off local bottom feeder. In other words: Same old shit from yesterday, being recycled as roses today. Yawn, yawn.

August 5, 2008

McCain courts Miami

Wow, talk about CHEAP...

He insinuates that Obama forgot Latin America. That's not quite true--Obama's a sucker for the whole Monroe Doctrine thing--but it's very easy to accuse him of not talking about Latin America when you are doing the exact same thing yourself!

Racism, branded on the skin

Video (in Spanish) about the prevalence of racism in Venezuela. It's a fact much denied by the upper classes (who are overwhelmingly white), but when seen through "black" eyes, it becomes impossible to miss. Example: A group of young blacks makes the journey into the rich Eastern Caracas district of Chacao, which prides itself on its "security", to go nightclubbing. The doorman won't let them in--on account of age (he says). Yet right in front of them, a much younger group of whites has no trouble getting in, without so much as a request for ID. Yet the doorman denies that race had anything to do with it; he even trots out the "some of my best friends are" line which is a well known cover for all kinds of discrimination (you'll probably recognize it from up here, too).

This is just one of many instances of blatant racism and denial that you'll encounter throughout this 40-minute documentary. In another, a very notorious incident which took place several months ago, a white Televen talk show host and her guest, an Italian woman, make blatantly racist remarks about the "laziness" and "criminality" of the typical Venezuelan (who is not white!), while another guest, a black comedian, just sits there and takes it. You can see the hurt on his face, as clear as the palmprint from a slap. There are also snippets from opposition websites and forums in which President Chavez's face is photoshopped to look like that of an ape, along with more blatant racism. (It's very common among the oppos to refer to non-whites, especially their own president, as "monkeys". It's also common for them to deny, almost in the same breath, that their remarks have anything to do with racism!)

But the part that got to me the most was when the young narrator calls out her grandmother--who is clearly black--and the latter shows off her wedding photo. Talk about photoshopping! It's as if all possible traces of Africa were expunged from the picture; bride and groom have lightened complexions, and their features and hair are carefully "neutralized" to look as little afrodescendent as possible. This, along with all the advertising images of white, blond models selling everything from makeup to candy, all the whiter-than-white beauty queens, makes clear just how prevalent and ingrained the racism is. When you can't "look nice" on your own wedding day without trying to look as white (in other words, as much like the "pretty" models) as possible, you know you live in a racist society.

And only when the denial stops can the real work of change begin.

El Narco's gonna want him dead

Hebert Veloza, alias HH, in the hands of Colombian federal police

Hebert Veloza, formerly known as "HH", in the hands of the Colombian authorities.

From Aporrea, a shocking revelation by a Colombian paramilitary leader, one that will surely put "El Doptor Varito" in an awkward position (as if he could get any more pretzel-like):

Ex-paramilitary chief Hebert Veloza, alias "HH", admitted that he and his men committed more than 3000 killings between 1994 and 2003. Veloza confirmed in an interview given to the daily El Espectador that there were ties between certain politicians, members of the Colombian military, and police with the AUC paramilitaries. He also said that with his extradition to the US, "the victims will go on not knowing the truth."

The man formerly known as "HH" recognized that in the massacres his organization committed, "more innocent than guilty people died, but that's war."

Veloza entered the AUC in 1994, when he was 28 years old. He received several months of training at a hacienda in the Cordoba department before committing his first "operation" at the end of that same year. Although he assures that during his training he was not taught to dismember bodies--as many paramilitaries are known to have done with their victims--he admits to having "decapitated many as a strategy to promote terror".

Veloza admitted that in their fight against leftist guerrillas, his forces counted on direct and indirect aid from the high commands of the Colombian military and police, especially in the banana-growing region of Urabá. He says that "all the senators, representatives or politicians who've been mentioned" in the "para-politics" scandal said that the guerrillas were their enemy. All of them are "compromised because they have ties to the rightist paramilitaries".

Recently Veloza handed over to the judicial authorities a USB drive which presumably belonged to Carlos Castaño, and which contains information revealing paramilitaries' plans to infiltrate Venezuela and make attempts on the life of president Hugo Chavez.

Translation mine.

We can see more and more, as stories like this come out, just what a slimy little snake Alvaro Uribe really is. Remember, Uribe's ties to the paras are not exactly a secret, although he's doing his best to try to clamp a lid on it all. Hence all these extraditions for paras on piddling drug charges.

But if what Veloza says is true (and the odds that it is are good, because it tallies with what respected human rights groups have long said), then this could really be explosive, because Venezuelan authorities have long known about a Colombian paramilitary connection to the various coup attempts against Chavecito, especially the more violent ones. Should it ever come out in court that Uribe has been trying to assassinate Chavez, using the paras as proxies, it will be the end not only for Uribe's political career, but will also put relations with Washington into a deep freeze for Venezuela. After all, just as the paras are Uribe's proxies, so Uribe is Washington's proxy. Nothing that any of them do comes without approval--tacit or explicit--from there. And if you still don't know why Washington is waging a proxy war on Venezuela, using Colombia to provide plausible deniability, you're truly dead from the neck up.

August 2, 2008

Another young Ecuadorian attacked in Spain

El Ecuadorable is so not going to like this:

Translation follows:

The Spanish civil guard is investigating a video made on a cellphone in which one can see the beating of an Ecuadorian teenager by a Spanish girl. The hair-raising recording was taken on July 25, in the Colmenarejo neighborhood of Madrid.

In the video, the aggressor's friends can be heard egging her on amid laughter. The phrases "kill her" and "hit her hard" are repeated several times.

According to sources, a group of girls between 14 and 16 years old lured the Ecuadorian victim, Maria Jose, to a vacant lot. Once there, Belen, one of the teens, began to punch and kick her all over her body, up to the head.

"Kick her in the head" can be heard as the aggressor drags the South American victim to the ground by her hair. Also, while the victim lies semiconscious, Belen keeps hitting her.

The video circulated on cellphones throughout the town, until one person recorded it onto a CD and brought it to a police station.

This isn't the first time this sort of thing happened in Spain; in October of last year, a 16-year-old from Ecuador got beaten up on a train in Barcelona by a racist thug, aged 21, who called her a "piece of immigrant shit" and told her to go back where she came from. It comes at around the same time two Gypsy girls in Italy drowned before the indifference of hundreds of beachgoers at Naples, amid a climate of anti-Gypsy sentiment perpetrated by the right-wing government of Silvio Berlusconi. Racist, xenophobic and anti-immigrant sentiment are all on the rise in Europe, and the new anti-immigrant legislation tabled by the EU has only made it worse. Economic migrants will now have to fear that gangs of thugs like these will act with impunity, seeing themselves as doing a job that the police won't or can't.

Gonzalo Gomez attacked by anti-Chavez thugs

This just in, from Aporrea:

Just minutes ago we were informed that Gonzalo Gomez, co-founder of Aporrea and currently a member of the Regional Political Committee of the Capital District of the PSUV, was attacked by followers of Leopoldo Lopez and the opposition party, Un Nuevo Tiempo. The incident occurred in Colombia Street in the populous neighborhood of Catia, Caracas.

Gonzalo Gomez was on his way back from an event in support of the victims of April 11-14, 2002, when he encountered a group of UNT supporters. The member of the Aporrea editorial team said to his companions that they reminded him of those who had been the authors of the coup d'etat and the killers of innocents in April, 2002.

Upon hearing this, an intolerant member of the opposition group recognized him and began to assail him physically, hitting him in the mouth. While trying to defend himself, Gomez was jumped by various others, who also attacked him and threatened him with death.

Fortunately, the PSUV member emerged in good condition from this situation, despite the blows he received. At the moment he is denouncing the perpetrators before the local police.

Translation mine.

The article ends with a call for calm from a source which the media up here would call unlikely:

This is an appeal to those who defend peace and non-violence before the media, and call those who support the revolution "aggressors" and "savages". Stop these fascist actions and this violence. Today, we have seen that the "aggressors" and the "savages" were not the revolutionary people but those who, from day to day, keep trying to impede the advance of the social justice which the less fortunate have been clamoring after for so many years.

No reasonable person could disagree that social justice has been a long time coming to Venezuela, or that anyone who stands in its way is the real savage.

But of course, I fully expect to see the media here, taking their cues from El Nazional and El Luniversal, report this incident only as a case of Chavista provocation and attack, if they report it at all.

August 1, 2008

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Coffee break anyone?

BoRev reports that CITGO has just branched out into serving something rich, dark and Venezuelan in its coffee shops. And no, it's not fuel--at least, not of a petrochemical nature. Here's some fresh-brewed video for ya:

BTW, I hear Venezuelan chocolate is also pretty damn fantastic. Will CITGO consider carrying cocoa, I wonder?