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September 30, 2008

Wanna hear something that'll totally twirl your turban?

Here's your moment of Zen for today. A former banker talks about the necessity for socialism in light of the Wall Street debacle:

I wish this one came with English subtitles, but so far, it's just in Spanish.
All I can say is, WOW. Just...WOW.

They walk among us...

Who are they? Well, they look normal enough. It's what they DO that's not so normal:

Police are looking for a suspect after a woman says another woman poured a liquid on her and told her she was going to set her on fire.

"She came in the store and I came out from behind the counter and I greeted her she asked for bath salts."

That's how Crystal Basler Payne, owner of The Country Goddess, says her Saturday on September 13th started. Payne says things went wrong when she started ringing up the sale.

"And I turned to look at the register and I turned back and that's when she threw the kerosene on me," Payne said. "She had it in a Dante water bottle."

Payne says at first it didn't register what was going on until she saw the lighter.

"She actually had the lighter at that point and she was flicking it, the lighter, in front of me and the lighter wouldn't light."

She began screaming for her life and ran for the front door. But she never made it, she says she lost her footing and fell in front of a stack of posters.

"She said 'Be still and let me light you on fire.' There was no emotion in her voice. At no point did she yell," Payne said.

What do you bet that this woman will never be charged with terrorism?

Yes, we are glitching. Thanks for noticing.

You HAVE noticed, yes? Good.

Well, here's the story: My best friend and geekus maximus has helped me improve this site with the latest edition of Movable Type. We did it to help secure the blog against hackers exploiting weaknesses in the original version I was using.

Unfortunately, the latest edition of Movable Type could use some improvements of its own, such as being able to recognize entries created with Tinderbox, which I use to write my entries before uploading them here. It currently doesn't, and we're both still scratching our heads trying to figure out how my last six entries could disappear into the ether (though they still show up on the post count, they aren't counted as current entries, so I can't categorize them or make them show on the main page anymore either), my blogroll became such a mess, and the mysterious date of "December 0000" has shown up in my monthly archives (I suspect that's where the "missing" posts were disappeared to, probably by the Chilean DINA or its Movable Type equivalent.)

For now, it looks as though I'll have to generate my posts on the "write entry" page of MT, which will take some getting used to. It's kind of sad to stop using the old Tinderbox Trainblogging template, which has served me so well up till now, but until we get this glitch straightened out, it looks like I'll have to post the "lame" way. Grrrr.

September 29, 2008

El Ecuadorable's big win

Latin America's cutest president turned out in one of his groovy embroidered shirts to thank the people for what was, in the eyes of anyone in the know, a foregone conclusion:

He's got at least 66% so far, according to exit polls. Auntie Bina ventures to predict it will go even higher--close to the 70% mark, as Evo did recently during his recall referendum in Bolivia.

Hey, do you suppose it's got something to do with their both being good-looking guys who wear mega-cool shirts?

Headline Howler: Another Reuters schmuxtaposition

Oh lordy-loo. You just can't make this shit up:

"Let the U.S. empire end and let a great nation and great republic rise from the ruin ... It's time to shout 'Liberty!' again in the United States," Chavez said, calling for a new government to be free of the "dictatorship of the elite" such as big banks and corporations.

Critics accuse Chavez of running an authoritarian, Cuban-style regime in oil-rich Venezuela.

Of course, said critics aren't named, nor is any proof offered to bolster their accusations; we're meant to assume that it's all self-evident, and that they're too numerous (being, like, everybody but Chavecito himself, if certain lazy wire service reporters are to be believed). But the problem is, those unnamed critics follow right on the heels of a statement by the Big Guy His Own Self which kind of makes them, and the reporters of Reuters, all look like, well, schmucks.

Sarah Palin: Snubbed in Paraguay

Putin Rears His Head! Oh NOES!!!

So, the Lipstick Pig Woman got out her presidential kneepads for a certain Paraguayan ex-bishop. Only, sadly (or rather, happily--for him!), Fernando Lugo told her to keep 'em and her lipstick to herself:

Paraguay President Fernando Lugo, while attending both the United Nations General Assembly meetings and the Clinton Global Initiative, shared with friends over dinner some of the other meetings he had been having in New York.

He met this head of state. . .and that head of state. . .and so on. . .

. . .but then the room went silent and then broke into subdued laughter when he confided that he was approached about meeting with GOP Vice Presidential candidate and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

President Lugo turned the meeting down.

Ha, ha...suck on THAT, Paliness. You may be able to suck up to Dubya's coke dealer Numero Uno for some ersatz foreign policy experience, but that's about it. The rest of Latin America has no desire to be trotted out to showcase your nonexistent talent and experience.

September 28, 2008

Quotable: Adolfo Gilly places Bolivian racism in a nutshell

"In that domination, being a full citizen means being white or an assimilated mestizo. To become a citizen, an Indian must stop being Indian and see themselves and be seen as being white; break from their concrete historical community, that of the Aymaras, the Quechuas, the Guaraníes or another one of the many indigenous Bolivian communities; and enter as a newly-arrived subordinate into the abstract community of the citizens of the Republic. The Indian does not expect that the Republic will change and be like his people. Instead, it is required that these people change their men and women, renounce their identity and their history and be like the Republic of the whites, the rich, the educated, the Spanish-speakers — where, for everyone else, the inerasable color of their skin will forever condemn them (those men and women) to second-class citizenship. That is the nature of this domination."

--Adolfo Gilly, at Ukhampacha Bolivia

September 27, 2008

Chavecito drops another bombshell

He says that if he were a person of any power in the US, he would follow Ecuador's example and convene a constitutional assembly--democratically elected--to write a new constitution.

And if that sounds shocking, remember--the original US constitution was not written by a democratically elected assembly, nor was it ratified by the general populace. Yet it's being held up, still, as a model for democracy around the world, while the democratic constitutions of Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador are being demeaned from none other than Washington, DC?

The mind boggles.

September 26, 2008

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Evo at the UN

I get the feeling that I'm not the only woman who likes this humble honey...and as proof, I present these shots taken at the recent UN meeting:

Evo and Michelle Bachelet at the UN

Michelle Bachelet's body language tells me all I need to know about how she feels about Evo. I guess he charmed the pants off her when he negotiated that sea route with Chile.

Evo and Cristina Kirchner at the UN

Ditto Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, of Argentina. I sure hope Néstor's not jealous!

Chavecito anti-American? Shyeah, right.

Unfortunately, the man's own words, taken straight up, undercut every bullshit thing that's ever been said about him (usually by people mistranslating him or taking him out of context, or just plain old making shit up). So here he is in his own words. You be the judge as to whether the president of Venezuela hates the US:

"I don't talk to the candidates, the candidates are out looking for votes," emphasized President Chávez upon being questioned about his position with regard to the latest declarations of Barack Obama and the use of his image in the campaign ads of Republican John McCain, and in response to the comments made about his government by the US presidential candidates.

"I want to repeat something, this time from Beijing--we have nothing, nothing, nothing against the United States as a people. I'm not anti-US, no, I'm anti-imperialist," said Chávez. "Whoever tries to manipulate anything to get votes is another matter. But I don't respond to candidates. If McCain wins, if Obama wins, fine, I'll be ready [to talk with him], and not just me but all of us in South America, all of us in Latin America and the Caribbean. The only thing we ask of the new president of the United States is that he respect our peoples, nothing else."

Translation mine. Linkage added.

BTW, I learned Spanish expressly so I could get him right. The nice side effect of this is that it helps me also get Evo right, and El Ecuadorable, and the presidents of Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile, and...well, you get the picture. Right?

PS: Check out the AP's lame-ass version of this same quote. See what I mean? If you don't know Spanish, the corporate media will shut you totally out of any true understanding. And leave a bunch of skanky-ho right-wing blogs to fill in the gaps with bullshit spackle. Ugh.

September 25, 2008

I've been IncaKola'd!

Cowardly Lion receiving Courage award

Shucks, folks, I'm speechless again.

Otto has also added me to his blogroll (muchas gracias!), which is the first time I've been blogrolled by a finance wonk, to my knowledge anyway.

And he really made my day with this hot 'n' juicy shot of El Ecuadorable, too.

PS: I've now been linked at BoRev, Bananama Republic, and VenCentral as well. Somehow, this just makes me feel so...vindicated for all the months my Bayly/Antonini translation has languished sans commentary. Thanks, folks...and you're all now blogrolled!

More non-evidence of nonexistent coup plots in Venezuela

Carl Gustav portable rocket launchers

Just a little innocent military hardware that could bring down a presidential plane. Nothing to see here, move along folks...

Don't you love all these dastardly, nefarious things that are not happening down there? From Aporrea, the latest:

On Tuesday, Venezuelan security agencies confiscated four grenades and a portable Carl Gustav launcher, of 700 metres' range, during a raid in the state of Zulia.

[...]

The information was supplied on Wednesday by the Popular Power Minister for Internal Relations and Justice, Tarek El Assaimi, who emphasized that the finding was the product of intelligence projects of security organisms since last week, when a recording of a conversation concerning details of an assassination plan against President Chávez between certain active and retired military personnel came to light.

The domiciliary visit also resulted in the detention of two persons, civilians, whose identity El Assaimi has not revealed for reasons of strategic order.

[...]

"Remember that in that recording, the militaries talk of blowing up the president's airplane, and this launcher we found is for bringing down aircraft. It has a great destructive power, and can practically destroy a military tank. I don't believe that anyone would be so foolish as to think that this cannon, with its 700-metre range, was going to be used for shooting deer, or that they just found it lying around under a tree," El Assaimi said.

Translation mine. Linkage added.

Ha ha ha, that Tarek, what a kidder. What a card! Of course that "cannon" was just a deer rifle that some bozo carelessly left under a tree. What else could it be? Certainly not more evidence of a dastardly plan to kill Chavecito before the regional elections, in which the PSUV is expected to win and win big!

And no, of course the gringos are not behind this either. Just as they weren't behind any of the other coup plots throughout Latin American history, ever. Perish forbid.

September 23, 2008

Stupid Sex Tricks: Consent is WHAT???

No shit, some lame-ass homophobic pervert actually said this:

Investigators said their two-year probe into allegations of child pornography and abuse focused on convicted tax evader Tony Alamo and his ministry, described by its critics as a cult.

Alamo claimed in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Saturday that the investigation was part of a federal push to legalize same-sex marriage while outlawing polygamy. He also said for girls having sex, "consent is puberty."

Funny, up where I live, you have to be past puberty before you can consent. Maybe this strange manner of inducing anatomical maturation is an Arkansas thing?

Quotable: Wajdi Mouawad on art and politics

"Now, as one functionary to another, this is the second thing that I wanted to tell you: no government, in showing contempt for artists, has ever been able to survive. Not one. One can, of course, ignore them, corrupt them, seduce them, buy them, censor them, kill them, send them to camps, spy on them, but hold them in contempt, no. That is akin to rupturing the strange pact, made millennia ago, between art and politics."

--Wajdi Mouawad, "An open letter to Prime Minister Harper", at The Wrecking Ball

Legal eagles shit on HRW

From Aporrea, one of those things that make you want to crow...or just watch somebody else eat it:

Attorneys belonging to the American Association of Jurists rejected the content of the report on human rights in Venezuela presented by José Miguel Vivanco, the director of Human Rights Watch, on Monday.

On the VTV program Dando y Dando, the jurists advised that the sources mentioned in the report were all based in stories from opposition media and NGOs, as well as references to private institutions.

Carlos Chacón, president of the association, said that the report is politically motivated and that the executive secretary of Human Rights Watch is a member of the CIA directorate and that the government of Venezuela is in their crosshairs.

[...]

For his part, the vice-president of the organization, Ernesto Amezquita, emphasized that this precedent would serve to unmask many "self-styled human rights institutions" who have made a business of this topic and who "sell themselves to the highest bidder".

Translation mine.

BTW, if you haven't yet read Michael Barker's excellent exposé of HRW, who's in it and who's behind it, now would be a good time. I frankly wasn't surprised to find out that the infamous Ford Foundation is a major contributor. The Ford Foundation has long used "human rights" in Latin America as a mask for their corporate founders' distinctly antidemocratic, anti-rights activities, and of course, their ties to the CIA as well.

September 22, 2008

Schloppenheimer: pigeonholing Lugo, or trying to (and failing)

Pigeons in pigeonholes

Gotta love that Andres Oppenheimer (she said, dripping heavy sarcasm). The Miami Herald's resident narcissist-wankerist was down in Paraguay this week to ask stupid questions of the new president, Fernando Lugo, and to get some sensible, if frustratingly (for the Schloppenheimer, anyway) nuanced answers:

Another newspaper, Ultima Hora, said that same day that Lugo "has once said that his model to follow was the government of (Uruguay's President) Tabare Vazquez. But he's looking more and more like Hugo Chavez."

When I read him that paragraph, Lugo laughed and asked, "In what? I believe that the governments that ... could be a guiding light to us are those of Uruguay and Chile. They are serious governments. With that, I'm not saying that others aren't serious, but these governments have taken economic and political measures that could serve as examples."

Asked about the political crisis in neighboring Bolivia, which has already resulted in more than 16 deaths, Lugo fully supported Bolivian President Evo Morales and seemed to put all the blame of the bloodshed on the four opposition state governors who are resisting what they say are Morales' unconstitutional measures to impose his socialist revolution.

But, on the other hand, Lugo distanced himself from Morales' and Chavez's claims that the U.S. "empire" is backing the opposition governors in an effort to destabilize Bolivia. "Many have remained stuck in the mindset of the 1970s, of seeing the empire behind even the smallest things that happen in the country. I don't see things that way," Lugo said.

I think Lugo forgot a word that should be tacked onto the end of that last sentence: YET. Just wait and see, Lugo...as soon as you start to make real progress in Paraguay, you, too, will be victim to the Empire's use of local proxies in an attempt to unseat you and replace you with someone more amenable. It should behoove you now to look at where Paraguay's greatest assets lie, and make note of who's sitting on top of them, because that's the best indication of who the proxies will be and where they will come from. You've already seen one sector show its hand--the right-wing element in the Paraguayan military. There will be others; you can bet on it.

Aside from that, though, it's hilarious to see the Schloppenheimer trying to draw artificial lines through South America--you're either with Chavez, or you're with "us". No Latin American president actually sees it that way, not even Chavecito himself. He'd be more than happy to have better relations with the US, but by now he knows exactly how many times they've tried to oust him. And so does Evo. And so will Rafael Correa of Ecuador, as soon as things really start rolling towards the referendum to ratify the new Ecuadorian constitution. There will be disruptions, they will come from the right-wing oligarchs of Ecuador on the surface of things, but underneath it all, you will see evidence of a gringo hand. Every Latin American leader who has tried to reform his or her country in any serious, fundamental way has seen the gringo hand. And that's not just some "mindset of the 1970s", it's the sad fact of how it's always been, ever since the Monroe Doctrine was written.

In the end, the gringo hand will fail; the artificial lines through Latin America won't hold. Progressive leaders in the region, whether "radical" or "moderate" (such silly, meaningless designations Washington imposes), use integration and solidarity to help each other resist interference and clientelism. They all respect each other's sovereignty; what a concept! Chavecito is happy to help Ecuador and Paraguay, whether they join the ALBA or not; Lula of Brazil is happy to enter into joint oil ventures with PDVSA, with no political impositions either way; Chile is on good terms with Venezuela and Bolivia; Honduras has joined the ALBA even though it's not a socialist country. Any attempt to charge Chavecito with socialist imperialism in the region will fall flat under a hail of derisive laughter. He doesn't even attach political strings to the cheap oil he provides to low-income areas in the US! All he stipulates is that it go directly to benefit the poor, and the local authorities see that it's done. It makes Big Oil wail and gnash its teeth, but the locals, regardless of their political inclinations (or lack thereof), appreciate the help.

The fact that the US has turned its back on anyone it can't exploit--or tried to overthrow anyone who gets in the way--hasn't exactly turned the locals in favor of the gringos, either. But don't look to Andres Oppenheimer to report that. His job is to draw artificial lines through Latin America, and to make you foolishly believe in them.

There they go, with their tails between their legs...

...singin' doo wah ditty ditty dum ditty doo...

Two Human Rights Watchers expelled from Venezuela, boo fucking hoo

José Miguel Vivanco and Daniel Wilkinson, on their way out of Maiquetía Airport in Venezuela, en route to São Paulo, Brazil, looking like two walking peptic ulcers.

So, some people are wringing their hands about how Venezuelan foreign minister Nicolás Maduro just flat-out told the guys from Human Rights Watch that the door's over there, and not to let it hit 'em where their mamas done split 'em? And oh, how bad this looks on Venezuela? Like it confirms every bad thing HRW has said?

Listen, it confirms nothing. Vivanco has repeatedly fudged up the facts on Venezuela, and his expulsion from the country he loves to insult is not grounds for any grief; it's only really an embarrassment for Vivanco himself, and a black eye for HRW, which was cruising for a bruising. The entire National Assembly of Venezuela, as well as a substantial majority of the citizenry, is behind Minister Maduro on this. Sure, he might come off a little legalistic and overzealous on this one, but trust me, nobody's gonna miss Vivanco. (Except, maybe, a few escualidos who sucked up to him in the hopes that he would go on tootling their party line and helping them overthrow a legitimate president.)

Here's a little out-take from Walter Martínez's excellent VTV show, Dossier, in which the expulsion of the two little lackeys is chronicled step for step:

Note that nobody's human rights were violated in the making of this video. (CNN's Spanish channel lies about them having been "assaulted".) The two were politely instructed to pack their bags. They even got some help with the packing from the immigration-service agents who came to read out the charges against them and escort them out to Simón Bolívar Airport. No one touched a hair on their heads. They were given to understand what was going on, and they complied and went quietly. This is "confirmation" of Venezuela's "lack of human rights"?

As Roy Chaderton, Venezuela's ambassador to the Organization of American States, says, "Human Rights Watch are human-rights mercenaries. Many human rights organizations denounced human-rights violations in Latin America, the murders of nuns....But at the moment the continent democratized politically, if not economically, human-rights bureaucrats began to appear. They were paid a good salary to occupy themselves on the subject of human rights....They became human-rights mercenaries. They put out many "reports" to receive economic benefits...and they became mafias....They did not complain to Washington about the terrible massacre that was the Caracazo, because it did not interest them."

Host Walter Martínez notes that Vivanco has a lifetime seat as director-general of HRW's Latin America bureau. What the hell kind of position is that from which to attack "weak separation of powers" and the supposed quasi-dictatorial plans of Chavecito to remove term limits so he can run for office and be elected as often as the people want him for president? Seems to me that HRW is not even a weakly democratic organization. It's a top-down dictatorship, and it presumes to dictate, from a script written in Washington, what a "true democracy" looks like.

This should come as no surprise. I've heard that Vivanco, a Chilean citizen, had nothing to say about the considerable human rights abuses in his own country during the coup and dictatorship (first of a junta, later of Augusto Pinochet). The reason? He was totally down with the whole sordid thing. The abuses never touched him, after all. Human Rights Watch was notably silent then, too...probably because the dictatorship shared their anticommunist attitudes. (Remember, HRW started as "Helsinki Watch"--an organization dedicated exclusively to what lay behind the Iron Curtain.) Only once the possibility of a prosecution for the fascist general came up, did HRW tentatively begin to squeak about him. Strange, no?

Oh, and get this: Vivanco & Co. think Alek Boyd, the mad Pinochetist of London, is a credible source for their "report". This, even though Boyd is known to be full of violence fantasies and absolutely devoid of any semblance of democracy. They also cite heavily from the opposition media--who can best be described as less than credible sources. Little wonder Al Giordano of Narco News refers to the group as "Human Rights Botch".

No, no one will miss these punks in Venezuela. On the contrary, the refrain most likely to be heard there now is "Good fucking riddance!"

September 19, 2008

So, there was no coup plot against Hugo Chavez? Riiiiiight.

And all these military traitors are just a malign coincidence, I'm sure:

Alberto Nolia of VTV, the Venezuelan state channel, plays back some recorded conversations between what sure sounds to me like a bunch of conspirators. Here's my translation of what they were saying:

Wilfredo Barroso: At the level of communications and control of TV stations, of transmissions in the first moment. Destroy those of the government. But the others, which aren't of the government, those need to be maintained because you have to keep a route of information to the people.

[...]

Eduardo Báez: Yes, but it would be good if you could transmit out of country.

Labarca Soto: Exactly. That's why this will reach out of country. And Globovisión also reaches out of country.

Carlos Alberto Millán Millán: Those are friendly forces.

Wilfredo Barroso: In December, we'll ask the gringos to help us with some satellite stations.

Eduardo Báez: We have to be very careful about the dates. Right now there's a group that's tracking the entire agenda of Chavez from September 15 to October 15. No, there won't be elections. Those elections will be postponed afterwards, get it? They'll be done...after those guys clean up the CNE [National Electoral Council of Venezuela], then they'll call elections, okay?

Be calm, have faith, okay?

Well, Sparky, wouldja look at the time. Or rather, the date stamp of this entry. We're right there now, in between September 15 and October 15--the dates in which the military coupmongers were supposed to be "following" the day-to-day activities of Chavecito, whom they no doubt meant to capture and/or kill. What a lucky thing that all of this bunch, except for Eduardo Báez Torrealba, the guy doing most of the talking, have been captured. Báez is still at large, having "valiantly fled".

So, there you go...the "democratic" Venezuelan opposition, or at least the military arm of it, in all its "democratic" glory. They love democracy so much, they'll cancel the upcoming regional elections in November--oops, my mistake, they'll "postpone" them. Once, of course, they've "cleaned out" the National Electoral Council, the CNE--presumably, replacing all those rotten fair and impartial types with fine, upstanding putschists sympathetic to their unique vision of "democracy".

And they're so committed to freedom of speech and information, they'll kill all broadcast channels linked to or sympathetic to the state, leaving only the corporate media, such as Globovisión--that paragon of journalistic integrity, the Venezuelan equivalent of FOX. And when that job is done, they'll ask the gringos to help them set up satellite channels--presumably to tell the world that once more, Venezuela is safe for totalitarian capitalism run amuck freedom and democracy!

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Back to life, back to reality

Well. Now that Evo's basically shown the Media Luna-tics who's the president of the republic, it's back to work...

Evo at work, doing good

...which, in Evo's case, means showing up to be doused in confetti and draped with streamers, and to open construction on an agricultural water system in rural Chuquisaca. This particular project will benefit 240 families, and help make Bolivia self-sufficient in food. Which just happens to be one of Evo's bigger projects, right up there with land reform (which is being done to the same end, BTW.)

No doubt the lamestream media find this aspect of Evo's job very boring and unsexy, because they never report on it. There's nothing about it to upset the North American bourgeoisie, you see. In fact, it makes Evo look like a bigger and better do-gooder than USAID, which apparently has nothing better to do in Bolivia than finance bogus "democratic" opposition groups. Just as in Venezuela.

Nope, we can't have Evo look like an effective president getting worthwhile things accomplished, because that would ruin everything for USAID, the patron saint of fascism democratic opposition everywhere!

September 18, 2008

Stupid Sex Tricks: There once was a man from Aberdeen...

...who craved a used screwin' machine.

Himself he amused.

The thing, he abused.

And the vendor? She found him obscene:

Warning: Serious man-boobs. May frighten your cat.

Guess I'm not the only one who hates bad editorials

Bad reporting, bad editorials--bad journalism!

Look who else can't stand 'em:

The Venezuelan ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), Roy Chaderton, denounced before the organization the racist and coup-mongering editorial published on Tuesday in the Washington Post and criticized the biased coverage which CNN had given the situation of violence and subversion which Bolivia has been experiencing in the last few days.

Translation mine.

A couple of days ago, I ripped that editorial, and so did BoRev (also taking issue with CNN's coverage, which I've been boycotting onnaccounta it's horseshit). Looks like now, it's official: Bad editorialists no longer get a free pass from ambassadors to the OAS.

Mind you, the WaHoPo and the Chicken Noodle Network, if they give this denunciation any coverage at all, will probably claim it's due to Venezuelan and Bolivian "noncompliance" in the drug wars. Or some other totally pulled-out-of-an-ass reason.

September 17, 2008

Bob Woodward loves him some death squads!

God Bless Our Death Squads

There really is no 'ho like an old 'ho...who cut his teeth (or learned to shield them, rather) at the WaHoPo. Eh?

The dramatic drop in violence in Iraq is due in large part to a secret program the U.S. military has used to kill terrorists, according to a new book by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bob Woodward.

The program -- which Woodward compares to the World War II era Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb -- must remain secret for now or it would "get people killed," Woodward said Monday on CNN's Larry King Live.

"It is a wonderful example of American ingenuity solving a problem in war, as we often have," Woodward said.

Ingenuity, schmingenuity. This is an old tactic, actually. It was first perfected, to my knowledge, in Guatemala during the 1950s, after the place was reconverted to banana-republicanism. The problem was that democracy had broken out, and the natives had gotten all uppity and didn't want to make the United Fruit Co. happy anymore as good little slave laborers. Solution? Genocide. Only, of course, it was disguised as "antiterrorism"--all "terrorists", conveniently, being of a liberal or leftist persuasion, and in favor of land and labor reforms. Or anything else that might actually succeed in digging the locals out of the mire of perma-poverty.

The only real thing that's changed, in all this time, is the locale of the banana-republicanization. And the language of the locals. Otherwise, no hay ningún diferencia.

What the 4th Fleet is up against

Walter Martínez analyzes the recent flight of Russian TU-160 strategic bombers from Venezuela. The planes circled the Caribbean, then flew down the coast of Brazil before turning back to Venezuela. Total flight time was 6 hours. The planes invaded no one's airspace, flying over neutral waters only, but the message was clear: They can cover the entire area which, just by coincidence, happens to be where Dubya's newly resurrected 4th Fleet is to be patrolling. They can do this quite easily.

And the reason isn't hard to see: the TU-160, which has no equal in American technology, was designed during the Cold War era to patrol the entire Arctic. It can easily penetrate Canadian airspace without being detected on NORAD's pipsqueaky radars, and from there, it's just a short hop south to targets in--guess where.

What a lucky thing the Russians seem disinclined towards nuclear war nowadays, eh?

A little song for the prefect of Pando

My fellow Canuck, Kim Stockwood, says it so much better than I ever could. (Dishonorable mentions also go out to Philip Goldberg, Patrick Duddy, and all the Media Luna-tics.)

September 16, 2008

The Antonini case--a "garbage operation"

Revolter at BoRev calls it Valijagate. But we of the jet set just call it bullshit!

Why would Chavecito shake hands with this fat slimebag?

Story from YVKE Mundial:

On August 4, 2007, [Guido] Antonini was taken into custody in Buenos Aires with a briefcase stuffed with $800,000 US. Antonini, according to a campaign directed by opposition media against Cristina Fernández and Hugo Chávez, was trying to finance Fernández's electoral campaign with funds from the Venezuelan state oil firm, PDVSA.

President Chávez said that the case has been a script badly performed from the start. "You recall that he (Antonini Wilson) said he had lunched that day with me. I said to check it out...and it turns out that Mr. Antonini did try to enter Miraflores Palace that day. He couldn't, so the plan failed, but it was in the script. The script failed!" said the president during a press conference at Miraflores.

Translation mine.

Readers of this blog may also recall that I translated, in full, an article by Jaime Bayly some months ago, in which the Peruvian writer revealed that Guido Antonini Wilson, the "pudgy goodfella", is in fact a Miami mafioso, not an agent of the Venezuelan government. He may well be an agent of some other government, though--and I'm not talking about Argentina.

Well, Jaime Bayly is in the videos too. Have a look--he once again reveals that Antonini hates Chavecito's guts. Strange, then, that such a man would claim to be an agent of his, eh?

Chavecito's right--this whole business is nothing but a garbage operation. And that's a polite way of putting it!

How they killed the campesinos at Porvenir

This is what occasioned that emergency meeting of the Unasur leaders--the Porvenir massacre in Bolivia, perpetrated by an opposition prefect who has since been captured and now faces at least 30 years in prison.

Video and story from YVKE Mundial:

A video disseminated by Channel 7, the Bolivian state station, reveals how paramilitaries and assassins in the service of the prefect of Pando, Leopoldo Fernández, conducted the massacre of defenceless peasants in the Tahuamanu River.

The images show how the peasants drowned in the river, trying to cross it while armed men shot at them. "There are some more Indians" can be heard at least twice, coming from one of the persons on the shore of the Tahuamanu, while machine-gun bursts ring out.

The video, compiled by Televisión Boliviana in Cobija, also shows a man, presumably a medic, who says, "Listen, it's terrible, that's a shotgun, we're attending to the people, but really, this situation has passed its limits. This is terrible, it's the worst, we have no security at all."

While the video runs, one of the probable killers, whose hand you can see, says ironically, "They're scared", while his companions keep firing. "There are plenty of hidden Indians here," says another paramilitary, while the victims desperately swim towards the other shore of the Tahuamanu River, fleeing the gunfire.

Translation mine.

I guess this explains why the body count was so imprecise, and why it took a couple of days to get to the bottom of it (assuming, of course, that we have seen the bottom of it yet). Recall that the death count jumped from an initial toll of eight to fourteen, fourteen to sixteen, and sixteen to thirty. The explanation? They were fishing all those bodies out of the river.

Maybe they still are.

Chavecito's "Blue Period"

A painting by Hugo Chavez

Actually, this one's called "The Yare Moon". It was recently auctioned off to raise funds for the PSUV's latest electoral campaign. Chavecito painted it while in Yare Prison after his failed coup attempt of '92.

The caption under the barred window reads "The Mill of the Gods grinds slowly!"

I'm guessing this was the actual view from his cell. And look! There's a guard tower, and some scraggly weeds in the yard, and those hooky concentration-camp-things that they hang barbed-wire fencing off of, too.

Same old story, same old song and dance, my friend

Autonomist or coupmonger?

Cartoonist Carlos Latuff nails what's really going on in Bolivia. Just change the "Brazilian" to "US" and you'll understand what's going on in the US media, too.

What do you bet Juan Forero* wrote this garbage in the WaHoPo today? It smells like his poison pen at work:

IT BECAME clear long ago that President Evo Morales's attempt to import Hugo Chávez's model of authoritarian socialism to Bolivia had polarized his country along ethnic and geographic lines -- risking its disintegration, or civil war. Rather than compromise, Mr. Morales only intensified his efforts to force through a new constitution concentrating power in his own hands and privileging highland indigenous communities at the expense of the rest of the country. The result is that Bolivia stands at the brink of a civil conflict that could destabilize an entire region.

Notice that the unsigned editorial (the last refuge of journalistic scoundrels? You bet!) takes the blame-Evo tone to set the scene for what's happening down there right now. It's also blowing out of proportion a situation which is not at all as you're being led to think; the fact that the army has been sent in to retake the public sectors from the autono-fascists is not being reported, nor is the army's arrest of the fugitive prefect of Pando (that's law and order, folks!), nor is the fact that the South American Union, Unasur, is firmly behind Evo, who is emphatically NOT out to "destabilize an entire region". So who IS out to destabilize the region? Take a wild guess; they appear nowhere in this piece, but they are behind it!

The next paragraph is only half-factual...

One of the five provinces that have rejected the president's policies is now occupied by the army under martial law after fighting that has killed as many as 30 people in the past few days. Militants on both sides are resorting to force. In the province of Santa Cruz, anti-government demonstrators have sacked and occupied government offices. Anti-Morales forces have also interrupted deliveries to Brazil of natural gas, the country's most valuable export. Opposition governors deserve blame for tolerating -- at least -- violence by their supporters.

...and 100% obscurantist. Note how a massacre perpetrated by the opposition in Pando is boiled down (reductio ad absurdum) to "fighting" and "militants on both sides". No, cowardly crapagandist, the culprits are known, and Aporrea has their names up already. It's not "militants on both sides", it's militants on ONE side--the "autonomist" side. The opposition prefects in question don't deserve blame for "tolerating" violence, but for ORDERING it. And the recently booted scumbassador from the US, Philip Goldberg, also deserves blame for aiding and abetting it. But do you think he gets a mention here?

Yet Mr. Morales remains Bolivia's chief provocateur. Emboldened by his victory in a recall referendum in August, he attempted to schedule another referendum on his constitution, which would greatly increase his own authority. He ignored the fact that opposition governors also won reconfirmation in landslides -- and that the constitution itself was illegally ratified by a rump assembly from which the opposition had been excluded. Instead, Mr. Morales launched another of his anti-American campaigns. He ordered U.S. aid workers to leave a coca-growing province where they had been working on development programs, then expelled the U.S. ambassador, a respected professional, on the spurious grounds of fomenting rebellion.

Oh yes, he does, but of course, he's out of context too. Top-secret meetings with the fascist prefects in the middle of the night, with the media locked out, are not the hallmark of the "respected professional", but of a SPOOK, people. Goldberg is the chief provocateur in fact, but the finger of blame gets pointed right at Evo. Who, of course, is portrayed as the Monster of the Coca. Never mind that Bolivian coca barely ends up in gringos' noses anymore (and that the marching powder all comes from do-no-wrong Peru and Colombia); the vast majority of it is used in legitimate medicinal and traditional ways. Shit, what are all these unsexy facts when Evo must be demonized at all costs?

Notice, too, that they get all the facts about the new Bolivian constitution wrong. The constituent assembly was not a "rump", it was the more-than-half remaining after the "autonomist" traitors (who were elected to do a job, people!) tried to sabotage it by not showing up for work. They figured that if they fucked off, the project would be fucked up, and things would revert to the same old same old. They figured wrong; this constitution got written without them, and it will pass without them too.

And of course, yesterday's Unasur meeting is also taken completely out of context, and the actual happenings ignored, while Washington's usual suspects get castigated:

A summit meeting of Latin American leaders in Chile yesterday was trying to lay the groundwork for a negotiated settlement. For that to happen, Mr. Morales will have to accept that he cannot impose his agenda on the eastern half of Bolivia but must work toward the constitutional compromise that he previously rejected. Mr. Chávez is doing his best to escalate the crisis, even threatening to intervene militarily in Bolivia. But the United States has leverage, as well. Bolivia receives more than $100 million annually in American aid, and some 30,000 jobs in South America's poorest country depend on the renewal of trade preferences that expire in December. The administration and Congress should link the trade concessions to an accord between Mr. Morales and the opposition that ends the use of force by both sides and preserves a liberal democracy.

Sadly, I expect no better from the Washington Whore Post anymore. "Liberal democracy", like "liberal media", is an utterly meaningless term nowadays.

Is it any wonder the locals now have no use for the US's "democracy", just as I have no use for its mainstream media--except maybe as something to mock, ridicule and piss on? Which is, when you think about it, exactly what they do to other countries' actual democracy?

*I've since been informed that it wasn't Forero, it was that other ignorant dickweed at the WaHoPo--Jackson Diehl. Figures. If it wasn't the shitty hack, it was the hacky shit.

The truth about Pando

This ought to put to rest once and for all the notion that the Bolivian opposition is peaceful and nonviolent:

Walter Martínez of the VTV program Dossier spells it all out. Video in Spanish, but don't let that deter you; the pictures speak for themselves, especially the last one (of the Cruceñista bully-boys in the Nazimobile. Yes, it's real!)

When they force the feds to send in the army to secure the airport, public buildings and pipelines from the racist "autonomists", there can be no talk of "dialogue" and "compromise" anymore. This is a state of emergency, people. The fascists have killed at least 30 people so far in one town in the department of Pando alone in the last few days. They are not interested in democracy OR dialogue. They only want to overthrow a legitimate, highly popular president, whom they hate because he's not white, and they are willing to do whatever they think it will take, including violence and efforts to starve out the "shitty Indians" and anyone else who supports "Evo, Evo cabrón". And not the slightest humanitarian consideration troubles their consciences because they don't have any. They don't care how much they smash to shit, as long as they get their way.

This is treason, and it is an insult to democracy. I think that's ample justification for sending in the army.

September 15, 2008

Unasur meets in Chile

And the support for Bolivia and Venezuela was unmistakable:

Video in Spanish. Note the Chilean demonstrators (who are mostly white and middle class!) chanting "Uh, ah, Evo no se va" and "Chávez, amigo, el pueblo está contigo!"

Proof, in case anybody needed it, that the Bolivarian movement cuts across color and class lines, while the oligarchies are busy trying to draw them in the ever-sinking sand.

September 12, 2008

Quotable: Lynda "Wonder Woman" Carter on Sarah Palin

Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman

These bracelets deflect bullshit too, bitch!

"Don't get me started. She's the anti-Wonder Woman. She's judgmental and dictatorial, telling people how they've got to live their lives. And a superior religious self-righteousness … that's just not what Wonder Woman is about. Hillary Clinton is a lot more like Wonder Woman than Mrs. Palin. She did it all, didn't she?

"No one has the right to dictate, particularly in this country, to force your own personal views upon the populace — religious views. I think that is suppressive, oppressive, and anti-American. We are the loyal opposition. That's the whole point of this country: freedom of speech, personal rights, personal freedom. Nor would Wonder Woman be the person to tell people how to live their lives. Worry about your own life! Worry about your own family! Don't be telling me what I want to do with mine.

"I like John McCain. But this woman — it's anathema to me what she stands for. I think America should be very afraid. Very afraid. Separation of church and state is the one thing the creators of the Constitution did agree on — that it wasn't to be a religious government. People should feel free to speak their minds about religion but not dictate it or put it into law.

"What I don't understand, honestly, is how anyone can even begin to say they know the mind of God. Who do they think they are? I think that's ridiculous. I know what God is in my life. Now I am sure that she's not all just that. But it's enough to me. It's enough for me to have a visceral reaction. And it makes me mad.

"People need to speak up. Doesn't mean that I'm godless. Doesn't mean that I am a murderer. What I hate is this demonization of everybody but one position. You're un-American because you're against the war. It's such bullshit. Fear. It's really such a finite way of thinking about God to think that your measley little mind can know the mind of God. It's a very little God that way. I think that God's bigger. I don't presume to know his mind. Or her mind."

--Lynda Carter, as quoted in Philadelphia Magazine

You can't fire me, I quit!

Ha ha...someone please tell Washington that they can't expel an ambassador...

A U.S. official said Friday that the United States is considering expelling Venezuelan ambassador in retaliation for the expulsion of the U.S. ambassador to Caracas.

The move came after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced on Thursday his decision to expel U.S. ambassador Patrick Duddy and ordered him to leave the country in 72 hours.

Chavez announced the decision to oust the U.S. ambassador hours after saying his government had uncovered a plot to overthrow him and detained a number of conspirators.

...who's already been called home:

Chavez recalled his ambassador to the U.S. and said he won't send another envoy to Washington until after the U.S. presidential elections in November. Both Chavez and Morales have accused the U.S. of backing opposition movements in their countries.

"The U.S. is behind the plan against Bolivia, behind the terrorism," Chavez said at a political rally for candidates of his United Socialist Party of Venezuela. "We're committed to being free. Enough crap from you Yankees."

Bloomberg, at least, is nice enough to quote Chavecito correctly, albeit using the milder form of the word he said. The NY Whore Times extends no such courtesies, preferring obfuscation and defamation instead:

"When there is a new government in the United States, we'll send an ambassador," Mr. Chávez said, using an expletive to refer to Americans.

Stay classy, Old Grey Harlot.

For those interested in what was actually said, in Spanish, here 'tis:

He says "Enough shit from you Yankees." About time somebody did! He should have said that on April 14, 2002, right after they damn near killed him.

Festive Left Friday Blogging: No more diversions!

A catchy ode to the President of Ecuador and his putting a stop to all the bullshit and getting the house in order.

September 11, 2008

Yankee Go Home, times two

So...Evo has ordered Philip Goldberg to pack his bags, and in solidarity, Chavecito has done the same with Patrick Duddy:

President Chavez announced today that he has decided to send home the US ambassador, and has given him 72 hours to leave Venezuelan soil. This measure corresponds to that of the Government of Bolivia in response to interventionist actions by the US ambassador to that country, in conjunction with a coup plot.

Translation mine.

Of course, it bears remembering that this is not about drugs or drug-war co-operation (or lack of same, to hear the lamestream media's kvetchy take.) It is all about coup plots currently in motion, and yes, both Venezuela and Bolivia have 'em. The last time fascists felt this emboldened in Venezuela, they turned out to have some major support coming from Washington. I don't imagine it's any different now, nor that it's any different for Bolivia.

Now, I just wonder what El Ecuadorable is thinking, watching all this unfold. Will he make it a three-fer? Auntie Bina's spidey-sense says he just might.

That Hugo Chavez--so paranoid!

Um, yeah. So Chavecito's always banging on about coup plans and other magnicidal nefarious plots being hatched against him? Well, now we know he's not exaggerating or just making shit up. A little birdie sent Mario Silva, the host of VTV's La Hojilla (The Razorblade), a secret recording of active and retired military commanders getting up to some serious insubordination:

According to Aporrea, these recordings include the voices of a vice-admiral (Millán Millán), a retired national-guard general (Wilfredo Barroso Herrera), and a brigadier-general of the air force (Eduardo Báez Torrealba), who is heard saying: "The most important thing is, now we have a pilot with a thousand hours of flight in an F-16, and the others are instructors who will launch the planes." They also talk of plans to take the presidential palace, Miraflores. Incriminating stuff, if you understand Spanish!

This is Mario Silva's last appearance on La Hojilla before the regional elections, to be held on November 23; he's running for governor of the state of Carabobo, and he's hugely popular, so he's practically a shoo-in. The opposition? Clearly not, or else they wouldn't have to resort to schemes like this, using the military to launch a fascist coup.

Oh, and according to Silva, the infamous ex-general Raul Baduel--now an opposition candidate--is also in the coup plot up to the eyeballs. Hey, gotta give the gringos their $1.2 million dollars' worth, right? Especially since neither he nor Chavecito's ex stand a hope in hell of winning, even in the petty factional popularity contests the oppos are holding to pick "unity candidates" amongst themselves in lieu of actual, democratic primaries.

September 10, 2008

WSJ turns self inside out over Chavez, unions

I can has chiropractor?

Ha, ha...the poor Wall Street Journal. When it comes to Venezuela, it doesn't know which part of its britches to soil first. Should it slam unions, the usual conservative suspect for every economic thing that goes wrong anywhere? Or should it slam Hugo Chavez? Or--oh, this is good--should it slam him for making unions so dangerously uppity in Venezuela?

The president's own policy spurred the growth of powerful unions. Now the policy appears to have spiraled out of control. State-owned companies, including some recently nationalized by Mr. Chavez, are groaning under the pressure of union demands. Higher wages are feeding inflation and discouraging business investment.

"There's no equilibrium between management and the unions. I'm afraid they now have all the power," said Eduardo Gómez, head of Conindustria, a business group that usually opposes the president.

See the dilemma? Suddenly, Conindustria (which is a cousin of Fedecamaras) finds itself supposedly in the same boat as Chavecito. And yet, it's not:

The last time the state intervened to resolve a strike, it also sided with the workers. It ended up seizing the company, steel maker Sidor, after management refused to give in to the union's demands.

José Rodríguez, a leader of the steelworkers' union, called the nationalization "a great success." He said, "We always thought that the company should be in state hands."

Some unions are now using the threat of government expropriation as a card in talks with the management of private companies. "That's a nightmare for any company," said Conindustria's Mr. Gómez.

Horrors! It turns out that the state and the unions aren't at each other's throats after all, and Conindustria is NOT out to sea in the same small dinghy with big bad Chavecito while the sharks of the unions circle! Instead, the unions put pressure on for nationalization...and the state, embodied by Chavecito, LISTENED TO THEM!

In other words: the private sector is in that dinghy all by itself, out to sea with no land in sight. Democracy and the will of the working class prevailed at Sidor. Oh, the horror. The HORROR!

Now here's another dilemma for the WSJ: What is this whole thing saying about the virtues of the private sector, supposedly the sun and the air as far as the economy is concerned?

Private-sector growth has slowed to a near standstill, despite a huge influx of oil revenue in Venezuela. The private sector contracted 0.5% in the first half of the year, while the public sector expanded 22%.

The government has been calling on businesses to boost investment but doesn't recognize that "companies are choking" because of the union unrest, said Robert Bottome, head of Caracas-based economic publication Veneconomia.

What? You mean they don't have boundless energy and innovation after all there in the godly, Christ-like private sector? They can't just grow by themselves, as they claim they can? A little unimportant thing, like, oh, say, THEIR WORKERS, is "choking" them by simply not lying down and taking shitty wages and poor working conditions, the way they used to in the Good Old Days of Unfettered Capitalism (TM)? The days when Foreign Investment was pushed as a panacea for jobs and growth are well and truly over? And the glorious private sector is NOT the answer to everything? Oh mercy me! The public sector has expanded, call the Waaaambulance!

But wait, the funniest bit is yet to come...

At Sidor, labor protests have persisted even after the government took control of the company, with some workers making demands the government says it can't meet. Operations at the steel mill have been disrupted because of the disputes, which involve outsourced workers who want to join the company's payroll.

"Do they want to bankrupt the company?" Mr. Chávez asked recently, referring to Sidor. "Some unions just don't understand."

His response has been to try to centralize the unions mushrooming throughout the country under an umbrella organization close to the government. The man for this task is Labor Minister Roberto Hernández, a veteran communist leader. "The working class cannot play its decisive role in the revolution if it's not united under the same flag," Mr. Hernández said recently, addressing striking workers at the GM plant.

Well, wouldja look at that. An umbrella organization of revolutionary trade unions--run not by the "communist" Chavez, but an ACTUAL, capital-C Communist from the Venezuelan Communist Party, the PCV! And even funnier, the WSJ can't sneer at this whole idea because it's the only thing (maybe) keeping those uppity unionists in line.

The fact that it's keeping them in line with Chavecito and his revolution is surely the funniest part of all. The only thing we need now is for the WSJ to admit that socialism really IS good for capitalism!

September 9, 2008

Guilt by association, or, Let's all soil ourselves over that evil Hugo Chavez yet again!

Some days, the media are just too transparent. Get a load of what pooped in my e-mail box today thanks to Google Alerts:

The Russians Are Coming! Cuban Missile Crisis Part Deux! No shit, Reuters actually spells it out! And Turkey's most popular news site, Hürriyet, is most explicit about the supposed details. The Los Angeles Times headline is more coy about it, and the AP's headline coyer still, but you can tell they're all soiling themselves over the prospect of a new Cuban Missile Crisis. And they're all hoping you do, too. (That's their job, boobie. Do you suppose they'll ever mention that mysterious resurrection of the Fourth Fleet and what it has to do with all this?)

Meanwhile, the Financial Times and the Times of London both cleverly manage to tie Chavecito to the dictator of Libya, completely ignoring the fact that Shoe Queen Condi has also extended the old boy an olive branch, calling him (once deemed a terrorist by her very own State Dept.) an "ally in the War on Terror". Surely that's not all about oil? Oh yeah, wait...it is!

And back at the ranch, Reuters UK has decided to extend the Magic Laptop smear from Chavecito to former justice minister Ramón Rodríguez Chacín. The evidence? Well, of course, the bogus data on The Laptop No Missile Could Fry. And the fact that Rodríguez hugged some FARCers and called them "compañero" during a humanitarian handover in the jungles of Colombia, which he had helped to broker along with Chavecito and Colombian senator Piedad Cordoba. Yeah, that's right, he didn't show enough hostility by way of gratitude for the safe handover of the prisoners. And he always wears that red shirt! That means he must be a commie-pinko terra-ist, too.

September 8, 2008

How Cuba deals with hurricanes

Lying as it does at the heart of the hurricane hot zone, Cuba has ample experience in dealing with tropical storms. Yet, in stark contrast to its equally hard-hit neighbors, it suffers few deaths. Maybe this is why:

They are much better prepared than Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and other Caribbean hurricane hotspots. They have no qualms about ordering and executing mass evacuations, and they even supply food and medical care to the displaced. They are better prepared even than the US--which, one would think, being bigger and richer, would have more money and better planning at its disposal. But, as Katrina has shown, that notion is a fallacy. Where there is no government will to intervene and protect the citizenry, there will be thousands of needless deaths. The only reason Gustav didn't kill as many as Katrina is because this time, the authorities--chastened by the beating their image took over the catastophe of Katrina--actually got their act together reasonably well and arranged evacuations ahead of time.

Do you think they absorbed the lesson? Cuba learned it long ago, and puts it to work every time there is a hurricane.

September 7, 2008

Quotable: Gloria Steinem on Sarah Palin

This isn't the first time a boss has picked an unqualified woman just because she agrees with him and opposes everything most other women want and need. Feminism has never been about getting a job for one woman. It's about making life more fair for women everywhere. It's not about a piece of the existing pie; there are too many of us for that. It's about baking a new pie.

--Gloria Steinem, in the Los Angeles Times

September 6, 2008

Spanish TV lies about Georgia-Ossetia war, too

You can clearly see in this video that the footage was taken with a camera phone by Georgian troops on the attack in mainly-Russian South Ossetia (an ethnic cleansing mission, according to the Spanish subtitling about midway through), but the Spanish TV anchorwoman claims it's Russians attacking Georgia. The Georgians are shooting at Ossetian civilian buildings, but of course it's being made out as yet another example of the bloodthirst of the Russians!

Where have we seen this before?

CNN got the story oh, SO wrong.

So did FOX...and when a 12-year-old tried to set them straight, they cut her (and her aunt) off abruptly.

September 5, 2008

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Comes with ramen noodles!

Who says slackers are couch potatoes? When it comes to politics, Michael Moore knows what it takes to pry them out of apathy, and he's not afraid to use it:

If you're in Canada or the US, you're in luck: this one will be downloadable for free on September 23. Go here to sign up.

September 4, 2008

Awwww. Bolivian fascists so cute!

Bolivian fascist youth with spiked clubs

"We're gonna fuck you up, you shitty Injuns!" So chivalrous!

Once more, the racist opposition of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, is on the march, and defending its honor...by attacking pre-emptively:

"The only thing these kids swere doing was defending a lady who was at a peaceful rally when she was attacked by some punks who wanted to assault women," he said. That's how Branko Marinkovic justified the attack with bats, rocks, kicks and punches by his followers on humble women. One of them is in a coma, and a youth is now disabled, as a result of the violence of August 29.

The "civic leader" said he was "pleased" that the youngsters had attacked a peaceful march called by the Santa Cruz Workers' Central, led by Lucio Vedia, in celebration of the setting of the date for the constitutional approval referendum.

Marinkovic called the march a "provocation", and called the marchers "hordes and hosts of violence".

He also accused the government of refusing to sit down to a dialogue on "creating autonomous departments by law and through the new Constitution".

"The Government never had any intention of giving us autonomy or never intended to install a real democracy in Bolivia", Marinkovic insisted.

Translation mine.

Oh. So that's what this is about?

Bolivian thugette assaults an indigenous woman

Shit, I just thought it was more of the same old racism--fine young fascist thugs and thugettes beating up on anyone they saw in indigenous dress. Why? Just because those are the very people most likely to be supporting Evo, the new constitution, and anything else that stands in the way of the illegal "autonomy" these fascists want so they can keep all the money in the hands of a select few...like, oh, say, Branko Marinkovic, the ethnic cleanser from the Balkans.

But of course, Branko's ambitions are not going to amount to much. Remember, Santa Cruz is very divided...and only some city folk and large landowners are with Branko and against Evo. So this violence is not surprising. They are the losers and they are resorting to losers' tactics: gangs, violence, intimidation, overt fascism.

But silly me--according to Branko, they were just defending ladies, not attacking them. Awwww, so cute!

September 3, 2008

Mike Malloy does Sarah Palin

...so to speak:

Actually, it's Mike's wife, Kathy Bay, doing Palin. That's why this "Idaho-born Alaskan" sounds suspiciously like a southern belle.

Hey, the higher the hair...

Stupid Sex Tricks: Whaddya know...

...it really does cure acne! No, it's not sex, but it's related:

Number One Plus, a water-based lubricant produced by health organisation Population Services International (PSI), is an excellent cure for acne, 29-year-old vendor Tep Kemyoeurn told news agencies.

"After I used it for three days, all of my acne dried up and went away," she said. "Many people believe in it," she added.

Khen Vanny, 29, from Phnom Penh, said women of all ages have taken to using the lubricant to get rid of spots.

"It is very effective. Some people don't believe in it but people who do really get a good result," she said, adding: "My youngest sister and my aunt use it too."

What a pity this stuff wasn't being sold as an acne cure when I was of an age to need it. But then again, going on the Pill did the same job for me.

September 2, 2008

Debbie Schlussel: rough 'n' ready, 'n' wrong, wrong, WRONG!

A month ago today, right-wing idiotess Debbie Schlussel totally soiled herself over the horrible murder of young Tim McLean on a Greyhound bus near Neepawa, Manitoba.

Now, what some random twat says about senseless violence might not matter so much to me had she not seen fit to use that incident as an excuse to impugn the honor of all Canadians, and on ideological grounds, no less:

While I do not know if it has anything to do with nationality, I'm struck by what I can imagine was a bunch of scaredy-cat people (in this case, socialist Canadians), who didn't want to risk of themselves to help this innocent victim of a brutal murder.

Okay, bitch, put 'em up. And don't give me that "I won't fight because I can't, I'm just a tiny woman" crap. You want to show us how much bigger and badder you oh-so-capitalist Yanks are? What's the matter, too scared? Well, don't worry, we don't really want to beat on your ass--we're too busy laughing our asses off at you for how wrong you got every last detail of this story.

Let's start on the "Canadians are cowards" angle. Not only did the victim himself put up a fight, thus saving the lives of his fellow riders, there's now a story out on CBC that a trucker named Chris Alguire, who hadn't been on the bus at the time of the killing, later intervened:

Alguire grabbed a snipe, a metre-long bar used to help secure loads on his truck, and immediately ran to the bus and assisted the bus driver, who was holding the vehicle's door closed.

"Basically I [got] everybody to a safe spot. They were pretty upset already, so I had them directed to the back of the bus, behind the cargo trailer, so they could no longer see what was happening inside," he said.

He told other passengers who wanted to help or were worried about their safety where they could find other tools in his truck to protect themselves, in case the suspect tried to exit the vehicle. Later, the bus driver boarded the bus, and Alguire followed.

"The bus driver had stepped onto the bus and then I had to get onto the bus and step in front of him … because I took it into my own hands to protect all the people as best I could. That was my mission," he said.

He saw McLean's head being severed, then retreated off the bus and helped again hold the door shut until RCMP arrived.

Yeah, we socialist Canadians are such pussies.

Other significant details: The cannibal killer was no Muslim jihadist, he was a Chinese Christian immigrant--and a mental patient, probably paranoid schizophrenic, who should have been hospitalized. He was in such a bad way that he begged the judge to kill him at his hearing.

Too bad you and your minions are too cowardly to come up and spout your crazy-ass shit to our faces, Debbie. But maybe it's just as well. Thanks to conservative tax-cutting, we don't have enough psychiatric beds up here for poor souls like Vince Weiguang Li, never mind you and your fellow flying monkey rightard keyboardists.

A prophet in her own country

Amy Goodman's arrest yesterday at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, may be just a sideline in the US, but in other countries, it's big news. Aporrea, the popular Venezuelan news portal, made her story top of their headlines today.

Why the hoopla? Because Amy, along with Democracy Now co-host Juan Gonzalez, was the first US journalist to interview Hugo Chavez on US soil. (She and Juan followed it up two years ago with a similar, hour-long interview of Chavecito's good friend and ally, Evo Morales of Bolivia--another first.)

Suffice to say that while the US mainstream media largely ignores the work of Amy and her colleagues, it does not go unnoticed in Latin America--where she has a large fan following simply because her handling of the news is so evenhanded--and because, unlike most US-based reporters, she does not report what Washington wants people to see, but what is actually going on. That kind of thing is hugely appreciated in any maligned, misunderstood part of the world.

McCain tied to 9-11 via PNAC

Notice, too, how he doesn't answer the young man's question (which is highly pertinent) but bypasses it to tout his work (with Joe Lieberman) in establishing the 9-11 commission, instead.

And this is the man who would lead the US?

September 1, 2008

Taking the streets in Argentina

A toxic, energy- and water-gobbling mine in the Argentine province of Catamarca drew protesters to the streets of the provincial capital on August 28 in a good old-fashioned escrache:

Well. That didn't take long!

Barely in office for two weeks, and already the new "moderate leftist" president of Paraguay is smelling something rotten in his country. You know you're a real leftist when...

President Fernando Lugo denounced a meeting which he characterized as "conspiratorial", which he blamed on retired general Lino Cesar Oviedo, and asked the citizenry to be alert "towards coupmongering intentions in the antidemocratic sectors".

[...]

"My government will not permit mockery of the people's sovereignty. And those who plan on implementing conspiracies will face all the measures the Constitution puts in my hands," the ex-bishop added.

Lugo revealed that Gen. Maximo Diaz, liaison between the Armed Forces and the Congress, was driven by the chauffeur of Enrique Gonzalez, the president of the senate, to Oviedo's house, where he met with the Electoral Justice minister, Juan Manuel Morales, the Inspector General, Ruben Candia Amarilla, and Lelis Olmedo, a lawyer and friend of Oviedo.

"General Diaz was consulted by General Oviedo to find out what is the opinion of the armed forces regarding the Senate crisis. Diaz answered that the military is institutionalized and may not have an opinion about political issues, and left immediately," Lugo said. "As president of the republic, I will not allow the armed forces to be used for sectarian interests."

Wooooo, them's fightin' words. From a man of peace (and until not so long ago, the cloth), such tough talk means he knows there will be no grace period for him, as there was for Chavecito in Venezuela, back in the early days of his presidency. Back then, the opposition thought they could ingratiate themselves and buy Chavez, but when the big guy proved incorruptible, they went for his jugulars.

With Lugo, they already know the gig is up, because this guy dedicated his entire career as a bishop to helping the poor. Now that he's in a position of real political power, he'll be pulling out the stops to do what he was more limited in doing as a churchman. And this speech is more evidence of just that.

What it also shows, rather interestingly, is that at least one top-ranking general in the Paraguayan military takes his job and his charges seriously, and, unlike his Venezuelan counterparts of 2002, refuses to be sucked into the plot. If they were sending out feelers to see if they could corrupt him, they got their answer right there. As with President Lugo himself, it is a firm NO SALE!

For Paraguay, this bodes very well. For BushCo, the Moonies and the toy ranch that Jenna was there to buy, well...not so much.

Leftist prayers in Paraguay: Lugo, Chavecito and many more!

The leftists that pray together, stay together. Lugo (in white) and Chavecito attend Mass together in San Pedro, Paraguay, on August 16.

Something is very wrong with this picture

From Aporrea, some shocking facts about soap operas in Mexico:

Each episode of the soap opera "Fire in the Blood", one of the most-watched in Mexico, contains an average of 50 scenes of violence against women, according to a study presented by an association of Mexican non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The tracking, which ran for ten episodes between July 14 and 25, detected a total of 498 scenes "in which various forms of violence against women occurred or were justified", according to the study, conducted by the Citizens' Council for Gender Equality in the Media.

Of the 498 scenes, 313 enacted acts of psycho-emotional violence, 66 physical violence, 17 femicidal violence, and 5 sexual violence, according to the EFE news agency.

"The soap opera in question promotes and justifies violence against women in all areas, from the family circle to couple relations," said Ofelia Aguilar, representative from the Mexican Family Planning Foundation.

Aguilar also criticized "Fire in the Blood" for transmitting "an idealized conception of love, of a conservative and traditional form", for presenting "machismo and violence as something natural", and for depicting women as either "docile and long-suffering" or "vengeful and ambitious."

Translation mine.

Looks like Mexican soap operas suffer from the same syndrome that always repelled me when it came to soaps up here, too: namely, sexism being presented as normal, natural, desirable, and just part of a fun, entertaining, exciting drama.

I'm sure that if this coalition monitored the North American counterparts of "Fire in the Blood", they'd get similar results. Remember the ultra-contrived "Luke and Laura" storyline of General Hospital? Remember all the "debate" in the tabloids about whether it was seduction or rape, as if there were any similarity or overlap between the two (when in fact there is none)? And remember how Laura later fell in love with her attacker and married him? This loopy formula is "normal" in soaps. It has been copied countless times, and the controversy it invariably generates is just another way of hooking viewers.

But behind all the "raciness" of rape-as-hot-sex, there's a profoundly conservative message pervading the soaps: Women are either "good girls" (passive, self-sacrificing and obedient) or "bad girls" (who refuse to play by the traditional rules, and are therefore considered fair game for all kinds of psychosexual punishment--which they get.) There is no moral framework of respect for the right of all women not to be violated. Even the "nice girls" are open to attack, thanks to their passivity and naiveté. And once attacked, they become "damaged goods", i.e. "bad", and therefore have re-violation to contend with. This, too, is "normal". It is just another dramatic hook for viewers.

Against such a backdrop, violence against women invariably becomes a male prerogative in the soaps. In fact, it's even portrayed as "exciting"--if she struggles, she must be overcome. That just increases the artificially jacked-up erotic tension around what would, in real life, be an unquestionably ugly situation with no eros or drama about it. It reaffirms the macho status quo, the unspoken subtext: Real men attack women, and prevail until the woman submits. Then, the woman belongs to her assailant.

How do you suppose this plays out in real life? Well, let's just put it this way: psychological warfare against women is a given, rape is as much a tool of war as ever (if not more so), females are routinely pitted against each other in politics, and in a rape case, it's still all down to "he says, she says", with the "he says" half being the one that prevails--unless the victim is an 80-year-old nun with a dozen bullet holes in her.

I could go on, but you get the picture.