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February 28, 2009

People who seriously need to STFU

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Who, this week, might it be...to feel the wrath, the wrath of me...and the hand of Mr. T? Read on:

1. Scott Fucking Easterling. Where was this oh-so-patriotic questioner of presidential legtimacy when Dubya stole the White House--twice? For that matter, where was this publicity whore when John McCain--born in the Panama Canal Zone, which is NOT United States soil and never has been--made a (fortunately failed) bid for the White House? Funny how these buffoons all had so little to say about that. Listen up, Scotty: You people lost fair and square, and whether you like it or not, you have a legitimate president for the first time in eight years--now suck it. And shut the fuck up!

2. Sarah Fucking Palin--AGAIN. Queen Sarah the Paranoid thinks the media is out to get her--boo, hoo, hoo! They wouldn't say a word if she quit trying to keep her name out there and just went back to Alaska, where her job still patiently waits for her to DO it. Does she think she can avoid all those ethics scandals piling up behind her like so many corpses? Hey Sarah, it won't work. You fucked up, and if you truly believe in personal responsibility, then it is YOUR personal responsibility to go home and clean up your mess, and quit making new ones. And oh yeah: shut the fuck up!

3. Rick Fucking Santelli. If those who are losing their homes in the current crisis are losers, what does that make Big Bidnesses that are too big to fail--but failing precisely because they got too fucking big for their britches? Srsly, dude...the loser is none other than Y-O-U if you go down that road. Perhaps Karma will take notice of you, though, and ensure that you become the next casualty of this recession, jobwise. Meanwhile: Shut the fuck up!

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(BTW, Santelli needs to STFU twice--he's such a bitch-ass whiner!)

4. The Fucking State Department. Riddle me this: How do Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, all democratic, all free from state-sponsored violence and disappearances, get nothing but vilification--while Colombia, the biggest human rights abuser in Latin America (at least this decade), gets labelled a model democracy, and Peru, which also has a lot of human rights problems, is labelled "investment grade"? Srsly, I wanna know: How come human-rights offices get attacked in Colombia and no one at the State Dept. says boo? Could it be because they're too busy attacking Chavecito, Evo and El Ecuadorable--for what, exactly? Whatever their lame excuse is, they need to shut the fuck up and start criticizing those who actually deserve it.

5. Arlen Fucking Specter. Latin America is now pulling ahead of the US on human rights (all but Mexico, Colombia and Peru, of course.) This in spite of the Fucking State Dept. and its stupid fucking reports. Impunity and exceptionalism need to shut the fuck up!

6. Bobby Fucking Jindal. I guess the Repugs figured they'd do better with a non-white guy to rebut Obama in his first big speech to Congress. But why'd they have to pick a complete nimnul like Jindal, the would-be exorcist? This was so pathetic, they even saw fit to comment on it in Venezuela. Oh well...at least the man is good for a joke. But beyond that, he really should...well, you know.

7. Rush Fucking Limbaugh. There are more reasons for this than you can shake a ball gag at, but here's the latest. Rush wants to know why women don't like him? That's the simplest thing in the world: He is a repulsive, loudmouthed, loutish, totalitarian swinebag. Sylvia Plath notwithstanding, the overwhelming majority of women do NOT adore a fascist, "the boot in the face, the brute/Brute heart of a brute like you." And yes, Rush Limbaugh is a fascist. As Mike Malloy so often says, he runs a protection racket for Corporate America. He thinks he "owns" people's minds. Anyone who thinks that, should just STFU--and I guarantee that if the Pigman did that for a change, I might at least contemplate liking him, instead of just flat-out despising him as I do now.

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8. Glenn Fucking Beck. Maybe, instead of spewing ignorance about pot, he needs some medical marijuana to help loosen him up and ease the symptoms of his psychopathy. Or maybe he just needs to STFU. Either one's all right with me, as long as it stops the Walking Hemorrhoid from running off at the mouth.

9. Fucking Iggy, AGAIN. Why is this guy in the Liberal party, anyway? He's just a ReformaTory in a red tie. He is as much a corporate puppet as they are. No way would I vote for him even if he headed up a Lib/NDP coalition--which of course, he won't. To him, a progressive is The Enemy. When's the next leadership convention again? And what would it take to make him STFU in the meantime?

10. Jonah Fucking Goldberg. Again, as with his fascist role model Rush, there are more reasons to shut this fucker up than there is duct tape in the hardware store. But here's an old one that just leapt back up to bite him: His endorsement of pack "journalism". Now that a suspect has finally been fingered in the murder of Chandra Levy, do you think we'll hear any apologies out of Cheeto-Boy over all the baseless bandwagon-jumping?

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11. The Religious Fucking Reich. When you're the biggest porn consumers in the land, all that pro-abstinence preaching either looks ludicrous, or makes sense in a way best described as really, really kinky. BTW, your poster child Bristol Palin has just singlehandedly proved you all to be full of shit, so now would be a really, really good time to STFU.

12. John Fucking Bolton. First the Old English Sheepdog blithely says that the UN should be destroyed, now he's out to demolish Chicago? I don't know what it would take to shut Mr. Milk Mustache the fuck up, but I have a hunch a collapsed building figures prominently in the scenario.

13. Dean Fucking Grose. Best thing to shut HIS big, racist mouth? A watermelon, natch.

And that's it for this week...but don't worry, there'll be more karmic whup-ass next week. Watch this space, and watch your mouths, kiddies.

February 27, 2009

Festive Left Friday Blogging Too: Chavecito phones in

...and recites a poem he wrote to honor his friend and army comrade, Luís Felipe Acosta Carlez, who was ambushed and killed (Chavecito swears it was done by the then-infamous Venezuelan secret police, the DISIP) on March 1, 1989, during the Caracazo:

Video in Spanish; musical accompaniment by "Dame Pa' Matala", a very talented young bunch of hippies.

On a more sombre and elegiac note, today marks the 20th anniversary of the shot that opened the Fourth World War, the Caracazo. This revolutionary event pre-dates the fall of the Berlin Wall by several months, the formation of the Zapatistas by five years, and the Battle of Seattle by nine. Here's the whole story, placed in its proper context (in Spanish, with English subtitles):

"Venezuela Bolivariana", 1 hour and 15 minutes. Enjoy.

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Because we're overdue for more Evo

And who doesn't love Evo?

This is yet another of those "just because" pix:

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Posted just because it's a nice pic of a man who's so very fine...and I like it.

February 26, 2009

Inevitable fallout from the economic crisis

A woman I know at the Unfiltered News Network forum was recently let go from her job. It's a story you're bound to hear ad nauseam from people if you haven't already, but this one got at least a little chuckle out of it, in the form of an e-mail that made the rounds from someone else who also got let go. Here it is in its entirety. Enjoy:

Dear employees,

Due to the current financial situation caused by the slowdown of the
economy, Management has decided to implement a scheme to put workers
40 years of age and above on early retirement. This scheme will be known
as RAPE (Retire Aged People Early).

Persons selected to be RAPEd can apply to management to be eligible for
the SHAFT scheme(Special Help After Forced Termination). Persons who
have been RAPEd and SHAFTed will be reviewed under the SCREW program
(Scheme Covering Retired Early Workers). A person may be RAPEd once,
SHAFTed twice and SCREWed as many times as Management deems appropriate.


Persons who have been RAPEd can only get AIDS (Additional Income for
Dependents & Spouse) or HERPES (Half Earnings for Retired Personnel
Early Severance). Obviously persons who have AIDS or HERPES will not be
SHAFTed or SCREWed any further by Management.


Persons who are not RAPEd and are staying on will receive as much SHIT
(Special High Intensity Training) as possible. Management has always
prided itself on the amount of SHIT it gives employees. Should you feel
that you do not receive enough SHIT, please bring to the attention of
your Supervisor.

They have been trained to give you all the SHIT you can handle.

Sincerely,

The Management

Oh yeah, and if you know anyone in need of this kind of laugh--pass it along, wouldja?

Economics for Dummies: The Greenspan Effect

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Karma also has invisible hands--at least two that I'm aware of. And both have just landed upside this clown's head.

February 25, 2009

More fun, frivolous analysis of the Venezuelan referendum

Popular Venezuelan bloguero Okrim Al Qasal has some interesting insights for us into how last week's referendum to remove term limits from the Venezuelan constitution went. Let's follow his bouncing ball (with segments in bold type and indent translated by Your Humble One):

Of Venezuela's 335 municipalities, the Yes vote took 281, while the No carried 54. Or in other words, in 83.88% of Venezuelan municipalities they voted to remove all term limits, including that of the President of the Republic.

You've already seen that red and blue map I posted, so I won't repeat it here.

Okrim provides us with another map, one showing in which municipalities the vote was 50-60% (yes in red, no in blue):

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...and writes:

90 municipalities that voted Yes were within this margin, and 41 which voted No. Compared with the 281-54 at the national level, in this range the relation is more even. We will see that this near-equilibrium will not repeat itself in larger margins.

Now, here's another map, this one showing where the respective votes carried by 60-70%:

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As you can see, there's a lot more red than blue there! Hmm, whatever could it mean? Tell us, Okrim:

Only seven municipalities voted for No by 60-70% of the vote, against 97 who voted Yes in this same margin!

And if you think that's impressive, wait'll you see the next map:

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This is the map showing where the respective votes carried by 70-80%. Writes Okrim:

In this margin, the No vote won in only two municipalities, while the Yes took 72!

And finally, here's where the vote went more than 80%.

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Take it away, Okrim:

For collectors of curiosities, note that the reddest municipality in Venezuela, in this referendum, has been Antonio Díaz in Delta Amacuro (97.67% Yes), and the most oppositionist is El Hatillo in Miranda (83.14% No).

As we have seen in these maps, the overwhelming majority of the victory was for the Yes side, while the No obtained much more modest ones. That is, of the 281 municipalities that went to the Yes, in 191 it was incontestible, with more than 60% of the vote. Meanwhile, of the 54 that went to No, only 13 achieved a margin greater than 60%.

Or in other words, in 68% of the Yes municipalities, the vote was more than 60%, while in the No municipalities, only 24% carried with more than 60%.

Of the 335 municipalities in Venezuela, 57% voted clearly for Yes, while barely 4% voted as clearly for No. The rest--39%--went for one or the other option more timidly.

How, with such geographically-linked results, could the final vote toll be much more adjusted--in round numbers 55% Yes, 45% No?

If we looked at the extremes, for example, we'd see that Antonio Díaz (Delta Amacuro), with 97% Yes, that is 15,992 votes, while El Hatillo (Miranda), with 83% No, that is 28,657 votes--practically double the number.

This relation can also be seen in other locations. For example, barely four municipalities reached 80% for No, but these were Chacao, Baruta, El Hatillo (Miranda) and Diego Bautista Urbaneja (Anzoátegui). They add up to 218,391 votes. The 22 muncipalities which reached or surpassed 80% Yes added up to 136,776 votes. That is, the 4 municipalities which voted overwhelmingly for No surpassed the 22 that voted overwhelmingly for Yes, by 90,000 votes.

The key, in other words, is the population of each municipality.

No shit, Sherlock.

One of the things that made me chuckle at a leading oppo site (no, I won't link it, they get enough English-speaking traffic already--too much, in fact) is that they used a map that completely distorted the shape of the country to make their "point" that the vote was close. (It wasn't--a 10% spread is pretty damn convincing, unless you, like the oppos, happen to be pretty damn dissociated.)

But it doesn't matter which way they slice it--where Venezuela went red, it typically went very very red, while the spots that went blue, overwhelmingly went a rather pale blue, with only a few small dark hotspots. Refer again to the maps I posted earlier on, they don't lie.

Okrim points out that the oppos like to concentrate their efforts in high-population areas where they are likely to have a greater success; they never even show up to campaign in the sparsely populated "outback" regions such as Apure, Delta Amacuro, etc., where the population has long been neglected by the traditional ruling classes anyway (being as it's predominantly campesino, indigenous, non-white, etc. In other words, not what they call your "quality" folks.)

How to counteract this urban oppo vote-suck? Okrim recommends three things:

a) Bolster support with more aid in the interior, where campesino support is one of the principal motors of the Bolivarian process--and where 213 campesino activists have been killed in the last ten years.

b) Deal with extreme urgency with problems in the urban areas--mainly violent crime, housing shortages, transportation and sanitation, so that the far-right cannot keep winning in barrios and populous neighborhoods. Reactionary sectors have taken advantage of these problems without any scruples whatsoever.

c) Avoid antagonizing sectors of the opposition with inflammatory language. Fidel Castro said it in 2004: there aren't 4 million oligarchs in Venezuela, and there shouldn't be five.

That last one is interesting, no? The oligarchs have successfully gotten the middle classes on their side, and have even made inroads in the barrios, by making out in the media that the opposition are being oppressed by the Revolution (despite an overwhelming preponderance of evidence to the contrary.) It's sad to see how easily those people have been manipulated, and I'm sure a large amount of the No vote is due precisely to that.

BTW, the comments section on this article at RadioMundial is small as yet, but very interesting, too. Writes "Alejandro Bermúdez", from Barquisimeto:

What's missing in this analysis is that in the 2409 electoral centres, which Súmate denounced on Televen for having indelible ink that wasn't, are precisely where the No side won, and now they're lying about it.

In Barquisimeto, in my polling station and in the others around it, they won and the ink wasn't indelible--they switched it. I denounced them and nobody stopped them from doing it.

Something needs to be done in Táchira, Mérida and Zulia, because the (Colombian) paramilitaries vote in and dominate these zones so that they go against the central government.

I don't have confirmation (YET) of any of this, but it wouldn't surprise me if it were true. The opposition has a huge bag of dirty tricks; the Colombian paras and the major media are all in it and have been from the outset. And remember: They still get funding from Washington, too. Keep watching this space, kids, the next few months could shake out a lot of interesting cockroaches from the underside of the oppos.

In the meantime, a ten-point margin of victory is still nothing to sneeze at. Even if the oppos cheated and got away with it, they still lost. The Bolivarian process, in other words, is strong enough to survive whatever they throw at it.

Ashy thoughts for a Wednesday morn...

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I'm not Catholic, so this whole penitential post-carnival thing is kind of opaque to me. Rather than atone for sins (actual or imaginary), I prefer to do the right thing in the first place, if I can. Which means I tend to think before I act. I probably miss out on a lot of fun that way (which kind of also negates the need for Lenten deprivations, at least for me).

But on the other hand, there are some sobering realities to face when it comes to carnivals, and invariably they crop up after the festivities are over. Case in point: this thought-provoking piece from the ABI website, which I decided to translate in its entirety:

La Paz Street, in the northern zone of Oruro, is a hectic place. At three o'clock last Friday afternoon, young people, devotees, dancers and folklorists in general hurried to pick up their costumes and colorful masks, some of them made with natural feathers and the skins of armadillos, a species in danger of extinction.

If you look a little closer, in the market stalls you'll also see rattles, bird crests and bills, plumes, shells and other items made from severed parts of animals en route to extinction.

It's the dark side of Carnaval, the festive Oruro Carnival.

The artisans and embroiderers are aware that the trade in animal parts is prohibited, but in fact there is no law to stop or prevent the killing of wild animals and endangered species.

On one side of La Paz Street, a few metres away from the Flores Tailor Shop, lie the scattered remains of armadillos whose hides are sought after by the makers of dancers' costumes. Each skin costs between 100 and 150 bolivianos on the black market.

The "quirquinchos", as they are commonly known, are in danger of disappearing from the sandy area of Oruro.

The next day, during the Entrada de Peregrinación, and on Carnival Sunday, the Morenada Central and Morenada Comunidad "Cocani", the largest folkloric societies, carry ostentatious rattles made from armadillo hides. The masked dancers wear ostrich feathers which adorned the heads of beautiful women whose hats are also trimmed with peacock plumes.

Where do these animal parts come from? "From La Paz Street," is what you'll hear from a dealer.

Flamingo feathers are sold as some kind of legal product in central bazaars, two blocks away from the Plaza 10 de Febrero, on Adolfo Mier Street in the heart of Oruro. Each one costs between 50 and 70 bolivianos (around $5 US.) Embroiderers make crests, to be worn on the head, for $300 apiece.

It's a great deal.

The mask-makers, also known as "hojalateros", use stuffed condors--a species near extinction, and a national emblem--in the costumes they build for the "diablada" fraternities, such as Ferroviaria, Auténtica, Artística, Urus, and others. Each mask of this type costs at least $300.

But there are also manufacturers whose specialty is condor suits. Each one, made from the feathers of the actual bird, costs ome 250 bolivianos, a little under $30.

Carnival Saturday and Sunday is also observed by the Suris fraternities, who perform a dance from the Andean altiplano as thanks to Pachamama, the Earth Mother. They use the feathers of the suris, birds of the same family as the flamingo and the parihuana. Each suri feather on the dancers' hats is valued at between 20 and 30 bolivianos, around $5 US.

These are some of the extremes incurred by the Oruro Carnival, declared by UNESCO as a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity.

According to Anakarlem Mercado, folklorist and member of the Society for the Protection of Animals and Environments, "a specific law is needed" to regulate the mechanisms for the protection of the lives of animals, whose bones are sold as expensive merchandise in Bolivian folkloric activities.

"The authorities must take into account that Bolivia is one of the countries most rich in biodiversity and for that, we need to have a specific law for the protection of animals, and so prevent the depletion of endangered species in folkloric events such as the Oruro Carnival," Mercado tells ABI.

Mercado reminds us that in Bolivia the Law of the Environment, promulgated on April 27, 1992, is still in force. It regulates hunting and prohibits the indiscriminate trafficking in endangered animal species. It reads, "Whoever introduces, captures, promotes and/or commercializes the products of hunting, possession, stockpiling, transportation of animal or vegetable species or their derivatives without authorization, or those which are declared out of season or reserved, placing the same at risk of extinction, shall suffer the penalty of up to two years' deprivation of liberty."

Just something to think about next time you watch those dancing queens go twirling by in their elaborate feathered costumes.

And here's something else, for those who are dragging themselves out of the sack kind of hung-over this morning:

At least 24 people are dead and dozens injured as a result of the festivities of the Bolivian Carnival, according to the provisional report distributed by the police on Tuesday.

The majority of the deaths occurred as a result of traffic accidents.

Also to blame was the excessive consumption of alcohol and street violence, according to the report.

The police report indicates that the deaths occurred in the departments of La Paz, El Alto, Santa Cruz, Oruro, Cochabamba and Chuquisaca.

Colonel Miguel Narváez, commander of operations, said that in La Paz alone there were five deaths and 74 injured persons reported.

The most notorious case was the death of a retired police general, Antonio Pardo Montalvo, last Saturday in a traffic accident on the road between the cities of Oruro and Cochabamba.

Police reports also indicate that last Saturday, a cyclist was struck on the road to Copacabana, and on Sunday a married couple were killed on the road to Oruro. On Monday, an indigent was murdered in a party at a butcher shop.

"This year there were more accidents than last year. The number of deaths in the city of La Paz was smaller. Of 82 accidents reported, 15 were caused by drunkenness," Col. Narváez reported.

In the Hospital Clinic of La Paz there were 17 persons brought in during the early hours on Tuesday morning, the majority of them with stab wounds or cuts received in brawls, according to Dr. Jaime Mancilla.

"There were 15 patients with cuts in various places, and two suffering from alcohol poisoning," Dr. Mancilla said.

In Chuquisaca, the police reported five deaths between Saturday and Tuesday.

"We must lament the fact that amid the festivities of Carnaval, there were five deaths, among them a girl of 16 who died as a result of an induced abortion," said the commander of police in Chuquisaca, Juan Córdova.

To guarantee the security of the citizens during Carnaval, the police deployed 15,237 officers nationwide.

Translation mine as well.

The induced-abortion death of the teenager is not really carnival-related (it happens all year round, particularly in predominantly Catholic countries where abortion is illegal, birth control hard to come by, and medical resources poor. Countries like Bolivia, for example.) But the drunkenness, violence and the road fatalities are all preventable. As is unwanted pregnancy, come to that.

Prevention beats the shit out of penitence, as far as I'm concerned.

February 24, 2009

Quotable: Jamie Lee Curtis on the credit crisis

"Are we too so drugged as to think that the idea of Corporate greed and avarice and the lies and misdeeds are a new thing? Madoff's Ponzi worked (longer than most) but it worked because people didn't ask questions, they just really liked the returns. Is this new? Did the banks and the mortgage lenders and Feds really just figure out that there was a problem. We are all to blame. We are addicted to the dope of credit and each plastic card purchase sets off the phenomenon of craving for more. Then advertisers and marketers (lobbyists in better suits) and the media tell us we need it and the banks and the credit companies tell us we can have it and boom -- we are all in over our heads."

--Jamie Lee Curtis, "A Fish Called Denial"

February 23, 2009

Rosenmontag!

It's carnival time around the world! Here she is, folks, the lady you've all been waiting for, laid bare. The Chancellor of Germany (and latest Extreme Makeover recipient), Angela Merkel:

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Der Spiegel explains the meaning of those markings on her nude form:

The float shows Merkel before (left) and after she has her "problem zones" lifted, such as the plunging economy and government debt, to name a few.

I guess this explains why her cleavage looks so unexpectedly good. Too bad the rest of Germany's not looking so hot at the moment.

BTW, here's a weird little bit of rare audio for ya:

"Rosenmontag", by A Flock of Seagulls, from the cassette of their album, Listen. It's not available on CD, to my knowledge anyhow.

February 22, 2009

Bad pennies have a habit of coming back...

...in Spain:

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Yes, that's an actual fascist salute. This was taken at an anti-immigrant rally. Apparently Bolivian migrant workers in Spain are facing unprecedented amounts of racist abuse as the economy falters and the nativists blame the migrants. Nothing has changed in the last 70-80 years, it seems; the fascists will always blame "those people", be they brown immigrants or Jews, for problems caused by capitalism.

And speaking of problems caused by capitalism, here's another bad penny come back to clinker around the floor:

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Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Luis Giusti. Hmmm, is that a "The Donald" comb-over I see? Whatever that thing on his head is, it's the very least of what's hinky about him. This is the man who damn near sold Venezuela's oil out from under it during the "petro-apertura" of the 1990s, before Chavecito came and put the kibosh to that tosh. So, what's so hinky? Read on:

Stanford employed trusted figures to sell his investment scheme in Venezuela including respected local bankers. For several years, Luis Giusti, a former head of state-oil company PDVSA and a high-profile Chavez opponent, was a member of the advisory board of Stanford Financial Group.

Figures that he was also one of those who sold those rich would-be tax-evaders on this silly Ponzi scheme. I hope they take it out on his hide in truly spectacular fashion.

February 21, 2009

Dear Mother Earth, please open up and swallow these people NOW.

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Cup of fresh-brewed bile, anyone? Here's who I'm serving it to this week...

1. Silvio Fucking Berlusconi. Careful of the linky, kiddies; it has a nude shot of an ugly old fascist with a comb-over, a bad facelift, a sunken chest, a droopy belly and a VERY SMALL PENIS. It also lays bare the side of him the media normally prefers to hide, namely his evil, evil soul. Which of those is worse, I honestly can't say. Both make me want to take up the fine art of projectile vomiting really, really soon, though.

2. and 3. Lincoln Fucking Diaz-Balart and Ileana Fucking Ros-Lehtinen. How many times have these two congresscruds been re-elected in their respective Florida districts? Her bio says she's been squatting in the House of Representatives since 1989; his, since 1993. Do the math, kiddies; how many terms does that make, respectively? Easily way more than two apiece, given that congressional terms in the US are two years long. And what have they done with the power the sheeple of Florida have vested in them in all that time? Basically, not much besides bitch about Fidel Castro and, in the case of Ileana, call openly for his assassination. And oh yeah, if you clicky that first linky, you'll see them meddling in the latest Venezuelan referendum, which is really none of their fucking business.

4. And while we're on the subject of US representatives who were inexplicably re-elected despite having done nothing but make asses of themselves, get a load of Michelle Fucking Bachmann. I didn't realize there were that many sheeple in Minnesota, but apparently they have them too. My deepest condolences to the people of Minnesota who did not vote for this dumbass. Bet you're wishing for congressional term limits too right about now, eh?

5. Allen Fucking Stanford. On second thought, the Earth shouldn't open up and swallow this scummy sumbitch just yet. First, let the Mexican drug cartels get their pound of his flesh; after all, he stands accused of laundering their money. I'm sure they're not happy that he absconded with it. Whatever they leave of him, the US federales (including the IRS) are welcome to...assuming they can find him. And assuming the Venezuelan authorities don't pick his bones clean first. They've become mighty intolerant of that kind of shenanigans down there of late.

6. Sean Fucking Hannity. For buzzing up Allen Fucking Stanford on his shitty radio show. How ironic is it that this racist swinebag might just finally be strangled with the entrails of a multinational rip-off artist he was paid to plug, instead of his Nazified pal Hal Turner? Oh well, Karma's a bitch, and she can have her way with him any which way she likes. I just hope she leaves some for the vultures.

7. Christopher Fucking Hitchens. Look, I'm as antifascist as it gets, and I'm all for sticking it to the Nazis wherever they are and whatever form they take. But I prefer that it be done in a way that accomplishes something more than a moment's petty individual snickering. And therefore, I must say that scrawling shit on one of their posters while drunk in Lebanon is not the act of a man who is "intellectually ambitious", it's just really fucking stupid. It's also totally fucking typical of Hitch, who apparently didn't learn much from having been waterboarded. Dude, use your head and stop trying to get it kicked in--you're too old, too out of shape, and too drinky to pass for a street-fighting hero anymore. (Plus, you'd look shitty with a green mohawk and cherry Docs.)

8. Sean Fucking Delonas. Cartooning Barack Obama as a crazed chimp, in a country with a long and not-so-proud history of whites referring to blacks as (among other things) "porch monkeys" and "yard apes"? That's worse than tasteless, that's racist. But then again, it's par for the course; Delonas's other cartoons reveal that hate, bigotry and the lowest common denominator are the key elements of his unfunny "humor". He's so crappy that political cartoonist/master blogger Daryl Cagle won't list him on his site. If not for the appallingly far-right New York Post and its touching habit of defending the indefensible, he'd be unemployed. Ain't wingnut welfare grand?

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9. Jamie Fucking Dimon. He got bailed out along with Chase Bank, but he thinks people with mortgages should keep paying "even if they're underwater". If that's his attitude, he should do two things: Give back every cent of his bailout cash, and keep paying what he owed before the bailout. Even if he's underwater. Which I hope is exactly where he finds himself--in cement overshoes.

10. Joshua Fucking Partlow. Because repackaging old, debunked conspiracy theories, which were retracted and apologized for over a year ago, isn't reporting. Unless, of course, you work for the Washington Fucking Post, which has apparently felt a thirty-year need to overcompensate for inadvertently bringing down Richard Fucking Nixon, instead of sticking with the official story about those right-wing Cuban émigré dudes at the Watergate just being "plumbers" and all.

11. Wilmer Fucking Azuaje. First this crazy Cro-Mag accuses the Family Chavecito of all kinds of crooked dealings in their home state of Barinas, Venezuela (including large land accumulations, all so far unproven); then, he busts into a local newspaper office with a bunch of armed thugs, hellbent on destruction, because he doesn't like the way the paper covered the death of his brother (who was shot on Thursday in what looks to be a common street brawl; authorities now have one suspect in custody). And the best part? He blames it on Chavecito, of course! What's his real problem? Whatever it is, I think it's past time that he were locked up for it. Mentally unstable people should not be in parliament.

12. Richard Fucking Perle. First he authors neo-con foreign policy, now he denies that it exists and that he even read it. But his signature is on it, and he is KNOWN to be an author. Where have we heard his kind of denials before? Hint: They wore swastikas there. And it was funnier on this show:

BTW, if you want to read even more fun and damning stuff about Perle, I highly recommend Richard Rhodes's powerful work on the nuclear arms race, Arsenals of Folly. Perle, it turns out, was also a leading policy-pusher for the nuclear wing of the Military-Industrial Complex so rightly damned by Ike Eisenhower. There are so many reasons the Earth should open up and swallow this bastard that it truly buggers belief.

13. Andres Fucking Oppenheimer. Oh joy, the Miami Herald's resident narcissist-lemonist is all sour-pussed about Chavecito's clear victory. Even worse, some people take the Schloppenheimer's work for stockmarket gospel. One word, people: DON'T. He's never been right about anything to do with LatAm yet, and he's not about to start. The same kind of people who would believe him probably also lost money to Allen Stanford's Ponzi-"bank".

14. Allan Fucking Brewer Carias. This is the same creepy creature (from the Black Lagoon?) who dissolved all the democratic institutions in Venezuela during the coup of '02; see him in action here. Why the hell is he teaching law at Columbia University? Do they not value democracy or the rule of law there? I would ask why the NYFuckingT grants this vampire an interview as if he were a real, non-undead human being, but I already know the answer: They applauded that coup and called it democratic. Of course they love him!

And that about wraps it up for this week's bile-o-rama. Tune in next week, same bat channel...

BTW, I heard a rumor that Barack Obama was in Ottawa this week. I must have blinked, because I missed it.

February 20, 2009

Festive Left Friday Blogging: What a popular victory looks like...

...in Caricuao, Caracas:

And here's how it looks in La Carucieña, Barquisimeto:

And this is what the formal part looks like:

All in all, it looks rather lovely.

February 19, 2009

Let me tell you how it will be...

First, a little mood music from the Fab Four:

Now, on with the show.

Via the comments section at BoRev's piece on the Stanford Bank caper, I happened across this little item in Forbes, and in it, this:

A group of wealthy Venezuelans also holds $2.5 billion in assets at Stanford International Bank in Antigua, but their investments are outside the purview of Venezuelan law and will not be protected by Caracas, Banking Superintendent Edgar Hernandez said Wednesday.

$2.5 billion? Whoa. That's a shitload of chump change.

Allen Stanford (recently found by the FBI in Virginia, perhaps planning his great escape) stands accused of absconding with at least $8 billion. That means rich Venezuelans--the educated upper classes, y'know--were dumb enough to hand over to this slimeball more than a quarter of the money he can no longer account for.

Which leads me rather nicely back to our theme song. Why would these chumps stash such a large chunk of change in an offshore bank in beautiful Antigua? Tax evasion, por supuesto. Their chief beef with Chavecito isn't dictatorship or repression; it's the fact that under him, the Venezuelan equivalent of the IRS, SENIAT, has become a highly effective tax-collecting machine. Those who don't pay up, get shut down--just ask the large number of businesses (domestic AND foreign) they've temporarily shuttered for nonpayment.

So of course, it stands to reason that the rich would like to keep their riches away from SENIAT's prying eyes (and fingers.) Hence, Antigua--and Stanford. Perhaps they figured that this gringo would be their perfect accomplice in the tax-evasion game. A jet-setting Texan, after all, would not harbor much fondness for the 'Cito, either...but for money, oh yes. Very much so.

Too much so, it turns out. And guess who lost out? Yep: The old ruling classes.

Too bad they went offshore; if they'd kept that money in the Stanford Bank in Venezuela, they would at least enjoy government protection of their deposits right now. Yep, that's right: The government they hate would actually be serving them, along with all the other Venezuelan depositors in the Stanford International Bank's local branches. Instead, they're out $2.5 billion US. And heaven only knows if they'll ever see any of it again. Painful to contemplate, isn't it?

Escualidos, a word of friendly advice to you: Don't try to evade the taxman. You could end up losing it all to someone far, far worse. The cost of living in a decent country is contributing your fair share to its upkeep; if you do, you also benefit. The cost of not doing so is...well, now you know. The moral of the story? Pay up and knock off the nonsense.

PS: Oh man, it's even crazier than we knew. Now these rich fools are blaming Chavecito for driving them into a fraudster's arms. How fucking nuts can you get?

Referendum results and what they don't mean

si-no-map.jpg

To look at certain maps, you might think that the entire region around Lake Maracaibo (a major oil-producer) was about to separate out and fulfill a certain US ambassador's hope of it becoming "The Independent and Eastern Republic of Zulia", "independent" meaning compliant to US companies' demands for cheap oil, and "eastern" meaning in western Venezuela. (No, I'm not making that up. William Brownfield really did say it.)

However, if you take a by-the-municipality look at the latest referendum results, a very different map emerges:

ven-ref-results.jpg

As you can see, that blue toilet seat around the lake is actually just a bunch of splinters. The majority of the state territory voted, along with the rest of the country, yes in the referendum, meaning "Yes, we like Chavecito; yes, we'd like to be able to re-elect him as often as he'll run". It's never going to be an independent republic, in other words...much less an "eastern" one. So, Mr. Brownfield, go suck it.

That is, if they ever let you in again.

So, what's Chavecito doing with that big election victory?

Taking over the world? Dropping his opposition out of planes over shark-infested waters? Gassing the Jews?

Nope...

...he's going into the cellphone bidness. With a little help from his Chinese friends. The factory is in Paraguaná, Falcón state, and is a joint Venezuela-China venture with a $19.5 million investment by both countries, which will produce a million units a year. This will reduce Venezuela's dependence on imported cellphones, and create jobs locally, as well as strengthen Venezuela/China economic ties.

Yep, he's a real scary dude. Out to conquer Venezuela with electronic gadgetry...made in Venezuela. Fear him!

February 18, 2009

Never underestimate the Power of the Internets

facebook-kitty-lawyers-up.jpg

And while you're at it, don't underestimate the power of a LOLcat, either. Those beasties can eat your soul and poop it out vastly improved--if you are lucky.

But enough about the cats. The humans are still in control of this whole shebang, for whatever it may be worth. Here are a few uneasy pieces about the power of people on the Internets. First, the Great Facebook Spank:

In an about-face following a torrent of online protests, Facebook is backing off a change in its user policies while it figures how best to resolve questions like who controls the information shared on the social networking site.

The site, which boasts 175 million users from around the world, had quietly updated its terms of use - its governing document - a couple of weeks ago. The changes sparked an uproar after popular consumer rights advocacy blog Consumerist.com pointed them out Sunday, in a post titled "Facebook's New Terms Of Service: 'We Can Do Anything We Want With Your Content. Forever."'

Facebook has since sought to reassure its users - tens of thousands of whom had joined protest groups on the site - that this is not the case. And on Wednesday morning, users who logged on to Facebook were greeted by a message saying that the site is reverting to its previous terms of use policies while it resolves the issues raised.

Linkage added; the Toronto Star is a very popular paper up here, but it hasn't yet gotten the hang of this newfangled hotlinking thingie that's all the rage in Blogovia.

And let's not forget the other little bit of power-to-the-people on Facebook, in which an Evo-hater got his hate group pulled. Moral of these two Facebook stories? If enough little guys make a big stink, the big guys listen; sometimes they belatedly pull what ought to be a no-brainer, and sometimes they even back off. Little people of the world, you know what to do now, eh?

But it's not just about backing 'em off; sometimes, it's about busting 'em wide open. Via Otto at IncaKolaNews, I've been watching the scandal of the Stanford International Bank unfold. Otto, modest to a fault, doesn't take personal credit for breaking this one; he credits Alex Dalmady, mainly, for noticing a small detail that all those oh-so-brilliant Hi-Finance types out there in the big bizmedia missed. A small detail that, like a loose thread in a knitted sweater, can unravel the whole thing if pulled.

Well, Alex & Co. pulled it, and sure enough, something big came undone. Stanford International Bank is now in damage-control mode, but they're too late; the nuke has gone off, and now it's all over but the investigations, the lawsuits, the criminal prosecutions, the ruined reputations, and maybe, if we're lucky, even the suicides of the Big Players--you know, the cooling of the crater. Which, like all things radioactive, is gonna take a loooooong time. (That's not economics; that's basic high-school science, kiddies. Go look up Chernobyl, it's a pretty good metaphor. BTW, metaphors are the stuff for ink-stained, wretched English majors like me.)

So, now you know: The Internets are a dangerous place. Not just because they're full of spammers out to sell you "natural" stuff that promises to (but won't) enlarge your breasts/penis/brains/whatever without surgery. Not just because they're full of pedophiles trolling for kiddies to grind into porn. Not just because they're full of ideological wingnuts looking to dominate the world. They're also dangerous--most dangerous, in fact--because they're full of watchful eyes, and some of those eyes are attached to brains that think, and hands that can seriously type up a storm.

Can we finally say that the medium has come of age, now that it's demonstrated itself as a means of revealing truth and sometimes even securing justice?

Guatemala, WTF???--Part 2

More interesting shake-out from Guatemalan prez Alvaro Colom's visit to Cuba:

President Alvaro Colom of Guatemala has apologised to Cuba for his country's role in the failed US-backed invasion at the Bay of Pigs in 1961.

The CIA used Guatemalan territory to train Cuban exiles before their disastrous invasion which was quickly defeated by Cuban forces.

"It was not us, but it was our land," President Colom said in Cuba.

His visit is the fifth by a regional leader in 2009 and supports calls for the end of the US trade embargo.

President Colom's apology was greeted with sustained applause at the University of Havana.

He said he was apologising now as a gesture of solidarity and a sign that times had changed.

"Cuba deserves its own destiny, a destiny that you all built with this revolution of 50 years. Defend it like you have always done."

This is something no one expected to hear (and which, I'm sure, has certain old Miami mafiosi shitting solid gold bricks), but it's great to hear it all the same. Colom is definitely a good egg in my books for saying that.

Interesting, too, the timing of all this: Now that Dubya and Auntie Condi are no longer in office, it seems that LatAm presidents of all kinds are no longer distancing themselves from the socialists and commies, and openly declaring their interest in, and affection for, Cuba.

It really does make you wonder, does it not?

Venezuelan journalists attacked by government goons!

This happened yesterday morning. Where's the IAPA? Where are Reporters Without Borders? Why are none of the Free Speechers denouncing this?

Oh wait...the assaulted journos are from a community station that's not out to unseat a legitimate government. And the government goons? Well, they don't work for the feds. They work for a certain ratty little mayor in Maracaibo. Hmmm, maybe that's got something to do with it?

So, here's the story:

Avila TV reporter Jorge Amorín and cameraman Pedro Quesada show up at a restaurant in Caracas at lunchtime to do their due journalistic diligence and interview Manuel Rosales, a leading anti-Chávez type who also happens to be mayor of Maracaibo (and a former governor of Zulia, and a failed former federal candidate). The interview concerns the wrongful dismissal suit launched by a group of city employees. The mayor is dining clandestinely with some nasty-wasty cronies; one of them is Víctor Ferreres, former president of oppo channel Venevisión, and a leading figure in the failed coup of '02. So this is shaping up to be a rather interesting moment for the journos, and a rather embarrassing one for Rosales.

But Rosales's bodyguards, who have been drinking, push and shove the two young journos. The assault is caught on camera (at one point, Amorín is heard telling them to not touch the camera).

After the assault is aired on the news, a further complication arises: Hooded goons (the same guys who attacked the journos the first time, or compinches of theirs?) attempt to kidnap Amorín. The attempt fails, and Amorín and cameraman Quesada lodge a complaint with the Inspector General's office. They accuse Rosales of ordering an assault on them, as well as the attempted kidnapping of Amorín.

Also among the charges: the restaurant, Casa Cortez, was serving alcohol at a prohibited time (eating establishments are not allowed to serve booze during the closing days of election campaigns, when tensions are running high; it's a measure aimed primarily at curbing drunken violence.) The mayor's bruiseboys had been drinking at that time, which no doubt contributed to their aggression. Nice boss they got, too, letting them booze it up while on duty, and during a "dry" time at that. Clearly, membership in the corruptocratic Venezuelan opposition has its privileges.

So who, besides the public community media in Venezuela, is reporting this? Where are the IAPA, who yelp like scalded dogs everytime one of their private media-owner members finds himself in hot legal water down there? Where are Reporters Without Borders, who might just as well be called Reporters Without Shame for the way they "report" on all things Venezuela? Shouldn't they be raising hell when a bunch of goons attached to a government figure make an attempt on the person of a young reporter just doing his duty?

Or is it just not an incident of government-sponsored violence against the media when the media figure in question happens to work for a public channel, and the government is that of an opposition mayor?

February 16, 2009

Guatemala, WTF???

Jeebus, what is it with all these LatAm leaders visiting Cuba lately? First it's the president of Chile, now Guatemala? What are you all, commies or sumpin'?

Guatemala's President Alvaro Colom is to start Monday his official visit to Cuba by paying tribute to National Hero Jose Marti.

The statesman will lay a wreath at the monument erected to Marti at the Havana's Revolution Square, and attend later the opening of a park in the capital's municipality of Playa.

The first stone of a sculptural project in memory of Cuban Jose Joaquin Palma and Guatemalan Rafael Alvarez, respective authors of the lyrics and music of the national anthem of that Central American country, will be placed there.

After the re-establishment of bilateral relations on January 27, 1998, both nations have developed friendship and cooperation links in sectors like health, education, sports and agriculture.

The first Cuban medical brigade traveled to Guatemala on November 5, 1998, right after the path of Hurricane Mitch, meanwhile the integral health program between those countries officially began on April 29, 1999.

Emphasis added.

My goodness me. That was actually very shortly after Chavecito got elected in Venezuela, was it not? And it was BEFORE he started importing Cuban doctors to look after all the po' folks down there who didn't have any clinics in their neighborhoods--the medical missions of Barrio Adentro didn't get underway until 2004.

You know what THAT means, don't you kiddies?

It means that the "Castro-communism" of Chavecito's Venezuela...got to Guatemala first.

Yeah, all you oppos down there in Venezuela, you really convinced me that you've been invaded by the commies. Can you please explain Guatemala to me now, and why you're not raising Cain over that?

Riots...where are the riots???

Gimme riots! I want RIOTS! After all, I'm a blood-crazed commie (so says Regina from Cameroon, who would know), and I demand VIOLENCE, DAMMIT!!!eleven!!!

Alas, I shall have to make do with this:

...in which the streets of Venezuela are teeming with peaceful, happy, bouncy Bolivarians (at least one of them from Colombia!) celebrating the victory of their president and their democratic constitutional amendment...peacefully.

You hippies. You embarrass me. Srsly.

February 15, 2009

I feel kind of sorry for these guys...

Venezuelan oppos are all pathetic, but the young ones especially so. How many Primeros Golpistas (in the yellow shirts) do you see? However many there are, they're all getting their butts pwned by one socialist reporter from Avila TV:

They've invented a whole new nonword, too: "centrohumanism". It means absolutely nothing, and it convinces no one (intelligent, at any rate), but it sure sounds pretty! And it has none of those dangerous connotations that "socialism" has. In fact, it has no connotations whatsoever, because it has no meaning whatsoever.

February 14, 2009

People who need a good bitch-slap upside the head

fuckoff-neon.jpg

Sorry, but it's just got to be said...and this week, it's just got to be said to:

1. Stewart Fucking Parnell. If you wouldn't eat it yourself, why would you sell it--and let nine people die of salmonella from eating it? Thanks a lot for making me look askance at peanut butter, you slimy fucking motherfucker!

2. Lech Fucking Walesa, again. If you can't tell the difference between a popular Venezuelan president who has been elected and re-elected by and for his people, and a communist dictator, you're a washout. There's a reason the opposition is so weak and fragmented--its leaders are all crooks with nary a viable, democratic or original idea to peg their campaigns on. They can't even hold a decent primary to elect their own party heads! Yet you think they deserve support? It's no wonder you're not welcome in Venezuela. Go back to your potato vodka already, you sorry old walrus.

3. Steve Fucking Austria. For sleeping through history class and blaming the Great Depression on FDR--the man who actually pulled the US out of it. Also for calling him a "socialist", which should come as some surprise to those whose capitalist asses he saved by using Keynesian economics. Hey Steve:

corner-dumbass.jpg

4. Jackson Fucking Diehl. For being too damn lazy or too fucking stupid to look behind any dumbshit (and long-debunked) fairy tale that confirms every bad thing he ever "knew" about Venezuela and its Jews. Crappy journalism skillz: Diehl haz them.

5. and 6. Mark Fucking Ciavarella and Michael Fucking Conahan. Sending kids to prison unnecessarily (and without legal representation) is reprehensible enough, but doing it for kickbacks from a private prison? I'm sorry, but the word simply doesn't exist that's ugly enough to accurately describe the maggoty souls of these two crooks who did just that. Of course, they're Repugs. There's not a privatization that they don't love, and now we can see why. Fuck 'em both, preferably with a splintery broom handle up the ass.

7. While we're at it, fuck their entire party:

The words of this song just keep getting truer and truer over time, do they not?

8. Ted Fucking Haggard. The man's not "het 'with issues'", nor do is he bi. He's a Cleopatra--Queen in Denial. He's also a raving dope fiend. And one day, I fully expect to read news that he's been found stone dead, with his cock still clutched in his cold, dead hand. A fate which generally doesn't stalk those who are here, queer, out and proud.

9. Whoever would drop seriously dumbass shit like this in my comments:

Your a retard! The guy should have shot the dumba$$ cat out of the tree,and the lame cat loving freak of a neighbor. Are you a weird cat lady Becker? LOL your a sad sad fat cunt, god loves fat chicks like yourself.


Commenter name: ????????????
Commenter email address: nospam@canadian.suckwads.ca
Commenter URL: http://www.retards-of-CA.ca
Commenter IP address: 32.160.238.44

and

Becker(media cunt!) if you love SA so much please move their. And love the commie life style, you love so much. Bye Cunt.

Commenter name: Red blooded AMERICAN!
Commenter email address: USA@USA.net
Commenter URL: http://www.cunt-spoter.net
Commenter IP address: 32.160.1.225

Two crappy comments on two old posts in one day--classy.

What do you suppose this one looks like? I have a fair idea:

101st-freeper.jpg

Ahem. Not nice of me, but then again, was he?

As you can see, Mr. Two-Face (who posted via AT & T on mycingular.net) is one and the same sad, sorry little excuse for a pimply-faced pre-adolescent git. Same IP pool, same linguistic shortcomings, same shit, same asshole. Congratulations, you've earned yourself a quick and painful ban, and your IP on display for the world to see (and some cybersleuth to trace a little more deeply than I have here, heh heh). Feel proud, mosquito-dick, because this is as much attention as you'll ever get on here.

And that's it for this week. Y'all come back here, except that last one, of course. Whom I doubt I'll see again, as these cowards love their little shit-'n'-runs.

Ah, the good old days...

...when Venezuela was "democratic". Here's a snippet of a speech by Rómulo Betancourt, the "father" of Venezuela's Fourth Republic and its so-called democracy:

If he sounds like Hitler with a Spanish accent, that's because he pretty much was. He's talking about taking leftist political prisoners, quite openly. Betancourt's Venezuela was a shitty place to be a union leader, much like Colombia today. And, like Uribe's Colombia, if you disagreed with the president, you were The Enemy. The going policy? "Shoot first, ask questions later."

Oh, and Betancourt was apparently bound and determined to stay in office for as long as he wanted to...not, like Chavecito, as long as the people wanted him...as long as HE wanted to. The people could suck a banana as far as he was concerned.

Just think, people...this is what the Venezuelan opposition would like to drag the country back to. Seven stars and all.

Some democracy, eh?

A photo Washington would like to wish away

michelle-fidel.jpg

Michelle, Fidel...Fidel, Michelle. Doesn't Fidel look awfully well? He's supposed to be dead, but he's obviously swell.

Corny rhymes aside, this is real. Check the Chilean government website if you don't believe me.

And if you don't believe that, you can go to hell!

February 13, 2009

Festive Left Friday Blogging: They're here, they're queer...

...and they say YES to Chavecito's amendment:

gay-si.jpg

Why? Because Chavecito's Venezuela includes revolutionary LGBTs. And I don't see any oppos stepping up to that plate, do you? They only use "gay" as an insult.

February 12, 2009

Whaddya know...

I was right about Michelle Bachelet's visit to Cuba. She's hot for their healthcare bod!

The president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, expressed to her Cuban counterpart, Raúl Castro, an interest on the part of her country in learning Cuba's experience with regard to health.

The development of Cuban medicine was one of many topics discussed by the two leaders.

[...]

"The excellent levels of health Cuba has are well known by all. Their vaccines, their technological research, are topics which interest us much in learning from the Cuban experience," said the Chilean president, herself a medical doctor by profession.

According to the agency Prensa Latina, Bachelet is especially enthusiastic about a major bilateral collaboration in biotechnology and neurosurgery.

The memorandum of health signed by Cuba and Chile opens possibilities of bilateral technology exchanges and joint investigations.

Translation mine.

W00T! Can I call 'em, or what?

PS: I bet this vaccine in particular is of interest to her; it would be to me!

A patriotic country song that doesn't suck

Here you go--enjoy. (I promise it will make you cry. Thanks to Corey for sending me the link!)

Conquest of the East

A study in "soft" imperialism. A French documentary with subtitles in Spanish:

Presented on VTV by journalist Erika Ortega Sanoja, with commentary and discussion by US/Venezuelan author-attorney Eva Golinger, and French sociologist Romain Mingus.

This doc is particularly relevant for Venezuelans right now, because the so-called "student groups" agitating against the government are financed and trained by the same US-based groups who backed the "Color Revolutions" in Eastern Europe. These US imperialists think they can simply import the same strategies to Venezuela to get rid of a leader they don't like, but there's a problem: For one thing, Venezuelans aren't stupid. Nor are they amnesiac. They've seen 40+ years of the glories of "democratic" capitalism and rejected it by democratically electing a man sworn to drive a stake through it. For another, Chavecito is neither weak in power, nor unpopular, as were the leaders the "Color Revolutions" (colorful coups d'état, really) overthrew. And above all, they have alternative and public media dedicated to exposing "soft" imperialism, and drawing the obvious lines between the "White Hands" movement and the "nonviolent" student groups ginned up by the colorful coups.

February 11, 2009

Stupid Sex Tricks: What's in this yummy Bolivian soup, again?

El Duderino alerts us to a Bolivian "delicacy" you may want to either seek out or pass on, depending on your sexual whims and/or strength of stomach.

He also suggests a serving of it for Simon Romero, the NYT's resident plagiarizin' fool. I agree, although I suspect he may eat it with rather more relish than most of us would. Y'see, there's something about Simon...

Anyhow, there are times when I'm seriously glad to be a woman, and this is one of them. I have never felt the urge to prove my genderness by eating a soup made from some other creature's ovaries, and I never will.

PS: Whaddya bet Evo's never eaten this soup? He sure as hell doesn't need it.

Men Who Just Don't Get It: The Sheriff and the Judge

I don't know who's the bigger pig here, the sheriff who thinks his badge guarantees him the right to rape--or the judge who doesn't consider him a menace to society:

A former North Texas sheriff pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to sexually assaulting a woman, telling her sex was the only way to avoid going to jail for drug possession.

Former Montague County Sheriff Bill Keating, 62, faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He will be sentenced in May for the civil rights violation.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert K. Roach did not detain Keating, saying he did not pose harm to the community and wasn't a flight risk because of his family ties to the area.

"Did not pose harm to the community"? Funny, but reading this makes me think otherwise:

In the signed plea documents, Keating admitted to forcing the woman to perform a sex act after he and deputies went to her house to arrest her boyfriend in November. The one-term sheriff was defeated in a runoff after the March primary election, and the assault took place before his replacement was sworn in.

Keating and some jail personnel also face state charges related to having sex with inmates and taking illegal substances into the jail, Montague County District Attorney Jack McGaughey said.

Looks like this one was in office just long enough to have figured out how to use his position to ugly advantage. If that doesn't make him a menace to society, I don't know what does.

But then again, I suppose the judge's line of reasoning goes something like this: "Those women were all trash anyway, so they had it coming."

That whole "good leftist/bad leftist" thing...

...got just a tee-tiny titch more meaningless today. From Aporrea, an interesting little note:

The president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, confirmed yesterday in Honduras that she would travel to Cuba "without any type of inhibitions" to make the first official visit in 37 years and with reference to the late president Salvador Allende.

Bachelet, who made a ten-hour visit to Honduras, gave a press conference with her host, Honduran president Manuel Zelaya, where she announced her upcoming visit to Cuba, for which she left yesterday afternoon from Tegucigalpa.

"We have agreed on an agenda between both our governments, and I believe it will be an important visit, since it's been more than 37 years since a Chilean president has been there," Bachelet said, recalling Salvador Allende's visit to the island in 1972.

"Any topic which appears to me to be indispensable to the interests of the country, I will discuss not only with the government of Cuba, but with any government," Bachelet said to the press.

Zelaya and Bachelet signed several co-operation agreements in technology and exterior relations.

Translation mine.

This is doubly interesting. It means that Chile and Honduras both have now shrugged off the "no contact with Cuba" yoke imposed on them more than three decades ago by the Washington Consensus. Since Bachelet left for Havana from Tegucigalpa, it means that Honduras as well as Chile is now in the process of establishing normal relations with Cuba.

What else might it mean? Well, as Chileans have been benefiting indirectly from Cuba's free healthcare system (via Venezuela's health missions, which have provided free transportation to and from Cuba), I suspect Chile might soon be playing host to a number of Cuban doctors in its poorer parts. And I don't think Michelle could just stand idly by, observing Venezuela and Bolivia's resounding success at achieving full literacy with Cuban help, either. Something tells me she'll be seeking help from the Brothers Castro on that front, too.

Above all, it means that Dubya's efforts to drive wedges between the "good" (docile) and "bad" (uppity) leftists of South America have been one hell of an Epic Fail. The terrible truth is, the "good" leftists get along famously with the "bad". Lula has spared Chavecito no praises, and it's obvious that Michelle thinks highly of Evo, if her sea-access agreement with him is any indication.

All in all, it looks like LatAm integration is proceeding rather nicely, and the whole "good leftist/bad leftist" dichotomy is just so much horseshit.

Or, in other words: Latin America is nobody's backyard anymore.

February 10, 2009

Venevisión's subliminal media coup revealed

Yesterday, I noted with some approval how Venevisión, the putschist commercial station, appeared to have mended its ways with regard to Chavecito. Well, guess what, kiddies: there was apparently an ulterior motive to that hour-long interview. See if you can spot it in the background (helpfully highlighted here by Mario Silva on his VTV show, The Razorblade):

Silva notes that the word "NO" appears three times in the oddly placed "folds" of the painted flag backdrop, which also appears to have only seven stars in the blue central band (the new flag has eight; only oppositionists use the old seven-star one.) Once behind Chavecito (the "O" frames his head); once behind the male interviewer, and depending on the camera angle, once behind the female interviewer. The subliminal message is clear: Venevisión wants a regression to the old (seven-star flag) Venezuela, and to get that, they want their viewers to vote NO, NO, NO in the referendum of the 15th.

Unfortunately, how well THAT message will carry in the face of Chavecito's cogent and very lucid remarks remains to be seen. Swami Binananda hereby peers into her crystal ball and predicts that the tactic will backfire, and the oppos will be the ones getting the NO, NO, NO vote instead.

So...about that "anti-semitic climate" in Venezuela...

To hear the lamestream media up here tell it, Venezuela is well down on the slippery slope to being the next Nazi Germany. If it's not Chavecito's cordial relations with Iran, it's that synagogue mishegoss. Apparently all this is "evidence" of an "official policy of anti-Semitism", to hear the Miami Herald tell it.

Well, Miami Morons, I hope you can read and comprehend English, because something about the synagogue thing just came out on Venezuelanalysis that makes you look like feces-flinging monkeys:

A confession by security guard Víctor Escalona revealed that a personal struggle over money was the motive of the crime. Edgar Cordero, a Caracas police officer and bodyguard of Rabbi Isaac Cohen had been denied a loan by the rabbi, so he planned to rob money from the synagogue's coffers, and approached Escalona for assistance, according to investigators from the from Venezuela's national Criminal, Penal, and Scientific Investigations Unit (CICPC).

El Aissami said anti-Semitism was not the motive, but rather a tactic used for two purposes, "First, to weaken the investigation, and second, to direct the blame toward the national government."

El Aissami also detailed other evidence gathered during the investigation that implicated the security guard Escalona. "We observe that the fence was cut from the inside out and there is no evidence that would demonstrate that it was climbed or broken into from the outside," said the minister, pointing to photos of the scene of the crime.

"Another thing we found was that the security guard [Escalona] declared he had been tied up and did not see anything, but we discovered that at one o'clock in the morning he sent a text message to the rabbi's bodyguard [Cordero]," and had been separated from other security guards who were tied up, El-Aissami reported.

And here's minister Tarek El-Aissami, on video, pointing out all that boring evidentiary stuff (for those who can comprehend Spanish, and/or need to see it in order to believe it):

So much for that "climate of anti-Semitism", eh? Turns out, the climate is just plain old warm and tropical down there after all.

Looks like they'll have to gin up some other excuse to stop the referendum, which is now five days away and pretty much a walk-in for Chavecito.

Men Who Just Don't Get It: The Preacher Man from Down Under

I feel for Australia right now. Not only do they have dozens of bushfires and nearly 200 gruesome deaths to deal with, they also have fundamentalist fools who insist on twisting the tragedy to their own ends. Case in point: Pentecostal pastor Danny Nalliah. Not only does he preach for a ministry with a stunningly inappropriate (and downright arsonistic-sounding) name, he also comes to a stunningly inappropriate (and downright arsonistic-sounding) conclusion about what really caused the wildfires:

The Catch the Fire Ministries has tried to blame the bushfires disaster on laws decriminalising abortion in Victoria.

The Pentecostal church's leader, Pastor Danny Nalliah, claimed he had a dream about raging fires on October 21 last year and that he woke with "a flash from the Spirit of God: that His conditional protection has been removed from the nation of Australia, in particular Victoria, for approving the slaughter of innocent children in the womb".

Oh joy, the Holy Spook is a firebug. One who doesn't trust women to make up their own minds about what goes on in their own wombs, at that.

Naturally, there's been a huge outcry about this whacked-up "explanation" of the fires, which are the product of a combined drought and suspected arson. Some of it comes from downright devout quarters:

The former Treasurer, Peter Costello, who sent a video message to an Australia Day prayer meeting organised by Pastor Nalliah this year, was outraged by his remarks on the fires.

"To link the death and suffering of bushfire victims to other political events is appalling, heartless and wrong,'' said Mr Costello, who has lost a Christian friend in the fires.

"Those who have suffered deserve ever support and sympathy. It is beyond the bounds of decency to try to make moral or politcal points out of such a tragedy.''

One would think that with such unequivocal rejection of his theory, a person would sit down and give it some sober second thought. But not Rev. Danny. Nope, he's not merely unrepentant, he's downright arrogant in his insistence that he's right:

Asked by the Herald if he did not believe most Australians would regard his remarks as being in appallingly bad taste, he said today: "I must tell people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear."

He said it was no use "molly-coddling" Australians.

Asked if he believed in a God who would take vengeance by killing so many people indiscriminately - even those who opposed abortion, Mr Nalliah referred to 2 Chronicles 7:14 to vouch for his assertion that God could withdraw his protection from a nation.

"The Bible is very clear," he said. "If you walk out of God's protection and turn your back on Him, you are an open target for the devil to destroy."

Really? That's news to me. I became a Wiccan, stopped calling myself a Christian, and quit believing in devils more than 20 years ago, and I haven't been destroyed yet. Soon after my quiet inner revolution, I and thousands of other Canadians, women particularly, marched for the total decriminalization of abortion here. We got what we called for; the Supreme Court struck down existing legislation, the Parliament passed no new laws, and so there hasn't been a law forbidding abortion here since 1988. That's right: THERE IS NO ABORTION LAW IN CANADA. We are free to terminate a pregnancy if we so decide. Most who do, do so in the first trimester; rarely in the second; almost never (unless the woman's health is at risk) in the third. In other words, we uppity wimmin self-regulate rather nicely up here.

Now, according to Pastor Dan's reckoning, we should all have burned up 20 years ago. But we're still here, and we've had remarkably few deaths by deliberately-set wildfires, all things considered. That's not to say that global warming and climate change haven't touched us in other ways (hello, shrinking glaciers; goodbye, Arctic pack ice!)--but who are we to blame abortion for something so totally unrelated as the loss of polar bears?

And what kind of God would be dumb enough to send his signs in such a ham-fisted way? This is supposed to be the same lord of Israel who guided his chosen people by giving them literal road signs to follow--a pillar of cloud by day, a pillar of fire by night, and a star over Bethlehem to indicate where they'd find their newborn king. Plus, he's supposed to be beneficent and merciful to those who believe in him. Why torch hundreds of people (including those who believe in him!) and then send just one self-important crank a kooky dream to say "I don't like abortion" when he could merely write the message in the sky and save everyone a lot of hassle and ambiguity?

But no, no. We're supposed to believe this pastor dude. He had a dream! Big deal, last night I dreamed of tangles of dirty laundry and leaky plumbing. Oh noes, it's a SIGN! Of what, I'm not exactly sure, but I dreamt it, therefore God must be talking to me!

Except I quit believing in THAT God over 20 years ago, and have never been given a plausible cause to regret it since. I'd rather put my faith in the scientists on this one; they called the true cause of all this horror correctly.

Yep, those Venezuelan oppos sure throw great, big marches.

Bwahahahaha:

What? You want both sides of the story? Okay, here you go--compare and contrast with the Chavecito video here.

And don't say I never give you the other side of things!

February 9, 2009

Pride goes before...uh, what was the saying again?

Whatever it is, it seems to have hit some Middle Eastern plutocrats' paradise or other...

Local police have found at least 3,000 automobiles -- sedans, SUVs, regulars -- abandoned outside Dubai International Airport in the last four months. Police say most of the vehicles had keys in the ignition, a clear sign they were left behind by owners in a hurry to take flight.

The global economic crisis has brought Dubai's economic progress, mirrored by its soaring towers and luxurious resorts, to a stuttering halt. Several people have been laid off in the past months after the realty boom started unraveling.

On the night of December 31, 2008 alone more than 80 vehicles were found at the airport. "Sixty cars were seized on the first day of this year," director general of Airport Security, Mohammed Bin Thani, told DNA over the phone. On the same day, deputy director of traffic, colonel Saif Mohair Al Mazroui, said they seized 22 cars abandoned at a prohibited area in the airport.

Faced with a cash crunch and a bleak future ahead, there were no goodbyes for the migrants -- overwhelmingly South Asians, mostly Indians - just a quiet abandoning of the family car at the airport and other places.

While 2,500 vehicles have been found dumped in the past four months outside Terminal III, which caters to all global airlines, Terminal II, which is only used by Emirates Airlines, had 160 cars during the same period.

Bear in mind that this exodus is of the middle-class real estate professionals. Nevertheless, they are an important keystone in the whole structure. Pull that out, and guess what happens? Especially in Dubai, where real estate--high-priced, glittery, not-for-peons real estate--is the chief industry?

Here, let Hanif Merchant--a real-estate developer (or former one, rather), commenting at Juan Cole's blog, enlighten you:

Currently, Dubai's economy is causing hardship to lot of people. As developers we are also having trouble with our investors. We have had a lot of cancellations which has caused us serious trouble with financial institutions like banks and other private equity investors.

Our companies like Emirates Neon Group better known an ENG Media has recently filed for first bankruptcy protection in the middle east. Our Ruwaad Holding (owners of the Amazulu project) has gone into a definite tail-spin as investors money has been removed totally.

A lot of investor related fraud has also caused us some serious financial hardships.

Yep, those trickle-down economics work great. Especially when they skip a whole tier.

Just imagine what taking a chunk out of the middle of a building all of a sudden does to the structure. Can't picture it? Well, as luck would have it, there's a nice little piece of video showing just such disaster capitalism at work, albeit in metaphoric form:

In this case, the flight is out, not in. But the collapse at the end will be roughly the same, I think.

Venevisión scores a media coup

Let it never be said that I won't give some credit to the media whores when it's due. Venevisión, the opposition channel owned by Gustavo Cisneros, decided to give this healthy-competition thingie a try, and scoop their oughta-be rival but more frequent collaborator, Globovisión (the FUX Snooze of Venezuela). How did they do it? By interviewing no less a personage than the president of Venezuela. Here's the full monty:

The first segment is very short, and deals specifically with the assault on the vandalized Maripérez synagogue, which is starting to reek of an inside job. The next five are the program in its entirety. The public got the opportunity to call in and ask questions of Chavecito themselves. Say what you will about the man, he's not media-shy, nor does he fear the people; he welcomes any chance to talk, always rolls out a boatload of indisputable facts, and makes himself available to anyone who wants to interview him. He entertains and informs all in the same breath. And for once, Venevisión decided to make good use of an opportunity, score an exclusive, and act reasonably non-partisan to boot. Compare and contrast this to the "zero Chavismo on screen" approach they took during the coup of '02.

This how journalism should work, but seldom does on Venezuelan commercial channels. Kudos to Venevisión for laying aside their putschist tendencies and getting it right for a change.

The best the Venezuelan opposition can do

...is pretty much summed up by this video:

They can't answer even a basic question. So they stick to their painfully thin script: "No is No!" And other hysterical yelling.

Of course, if they chose to answer questions rationally, they'd have to reflect on why their so-called leaders have repeatedly plunged the country into misery in their (failed) efforts to get rid of a popular leader who's doing the country a power of good. That would never do. Better just to scream like banshees. And assault bus drivers who refuse to participate in their illegal roadblocks while they're at it.

Stay tuned for the worst they can do. Coming soon to a synagogue and/or papal nunciature near you...

February 8, 2009

Privatized Cities

An Al-Jazeera English report by Canada's own Avi Lewis (spouse of Naomi Klein, who wrote The Shock Doctrine, in which the Sandy Springs story also figures).

Want to see Completely Fucking Clueless in action? Get a load of that Republican dude. He doesn't seem to grasp the most basic concept: Private-for-profit corporatist "government" only works if everyone is rich and can afford to absorb what the profits will cost them. Sure, that might work--for a while--in Sandy Springs, GA, which is a self-selecting rich white monoculture. But in the long run? CH2M Hill had better pray that their corporate governance is sound. And in the privatized, globalized, deregulated economy of BushCo's America, that's not likely to be the case. In any event, taxpayer-funded public servicing is more cost-effective than private-for-profit. If this guy and his ilk want to see more bang for their buck, they should be in favor of good, old-fashioned wealth redistribution through taxes and public services. The fact that they're not, and that this is taking place in the southern US, makes me wonder if the racist component in all this isn't the real reason behind his faulty reasoning. After all, what are Republicans in the South if not old-time segregationist Dixiecrats at heart? And what is their worst fear, as such? Seeing "their" money end up in a non-white neighborhood, enabling non-whites to be something more than virtual slaves a century and a half after Emancipation. Heaven forfend that economics should ever prove white supremacism to be full of shit!

Kitty is a Hopey skeptic

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There's just no pleasing SOME people...

OTOH, it IS worth wondering how he'll get along with the 'Cito. The next Summit of the Americas should give some idea; both are due to attend then. I hope Kitty can hold out till April.

Where was all this on Friday?

Sheesh...sometimes you really have to wait for the good stuff. Here's Evo, yesterday, at the official ceremony marking the coming-into-force of Bolivia's newly ratified constitution:

With special guest appearance by Guatemalan indigenous human-rights champion Rigoberta Menchú, no less. Hmmm, whatever could it mean? Could it be that finally, FINALLY, little brown people will have rights equal to those of the tall pink ones? Nahhhh, of course not. It's just another anti-white racist conspiracy, don'tcha know.

And here's Chavecito, campaigning for a little constitutional amendment--perhaps you've heard of it?

Or maybe he's announcing his candidacy to become a big-league baseball pitcher. Either way, he's got one hell of an arm. And his being a southpaw is the secret weapon, so watch for him to strike the oppos out.

He's also got kind words for AvilaTV, the Caracas community station that's done a lot to unravel the right-wing media lies and general bullshit that prevails in the upper strata of Venezuela.

And for those who like the sound of Ecuadorable cojones, there's a recording here of Rafael Correa, blasting a US so-called diplomat who thought Washington was really in charge of all that goes on in Quito. This is their idea of "co-operation". Sorry--not anymore, little gringo. Chalk up one more progressive LatAm country that takes the word sovereignty seriously, and isn't afraid to kick any foreigner out who doesn't do likewise.

So much for weekends being a time when nothing much happens.

February 7, 2009

Only in Dubai

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Roger Federer and André Agassi play Centrifugal Bumblepuppy on the helipad of the Burj al-Arab. Insanity, thy name is Dubai.

(h/t Cracked)

Random shit and senseless dickweeds

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Who's a bigger assclown than what some other assclown painted on this kitty's rear end? Well, this week it is...

1. Ashton Fucking Dumbass Kutcher. Watch this and learn how NOT to complain effectively, kiddies:

Nice house, shame about the dickweed in it. And no, I'm not talking about the guy building at ungodly hours next door. "I'm gonna lose it on him"--uh, Ashton? If you feel the need to make a crappy, kvetchy video for the whole world to see, you've already lost it. Next time, just buy a $2 pair of earplugs and use them. They worked for Jane Fonda (who is NOT a dickweed), so maybe they can work for you.

2. Kenneth Fucking Dickweed Flottman. Shit, what's a thousand or more dead Kenyans if you have a "political outcome" to "manage" to your "nonpartisan" (i.e. REPUBLICAN) NGO's liking? And to think that we peons here in the "partisan" (i.e. NOT REPUBLICAN) world wondered why Kenya erupted in violence during last year's electoral farce. Well, now we know. It was all that "political outcome management", stupid!

3. Chris Fucking Nazi Kraul. Never mind the "mob rule" (it's called DEMOCRACY) in mostly indigenous Bolivia (which, after 200-some years as a republic, finally has a nice, progressive president who actually looks like the average Bolivian.) How about the mob rule of racists writing in the English-language newspapers? Will we ever get a mainstream media report from South America that doesn't ring a kajillion alarm bells about a backlash against white people that just ain't happening? Not from the likes of this one we won't. And accurate reporting? Perish forbid! That would make it look like someone actually liked those uppity Injuns, and was making an effort to comprehend their situation. And, heaven knows, we couldn't have that. What would all the poor, oppressed white people think?

4. And speaking of poor, oppressed white people, how about that James Alexander Fucking Kluker McQuirter. Neo-Nazi and KKK connections? Ecoterrorism and scams? Way to give Canada a bad name in Panama, DICKWEED.

5. And while we're on the subject of North American neo-Nazis, take a gander at Glenn Fucking Asshole Beck, the latest in a long and skulking line of right-wing America-haters:

This drives Beck to the "edge of insanity"? Dude, trust me--you are long since over the cliff. And your race to the bottom with the Man of the Too-Tight Facelift is considerably less entertaining than watching Wile E. Coyote and Sylvester doing this:

6. José María Fucking Aznar. We always knew he was a neo-fascist, and now we have proof. He actually thinks the invasion of Gaza was justified.

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Guess Bush's butt isn't the only one this dickweed could lick. He's also a Likudnik-licker.

7. And speaking of Fucking Dubya's butt, it seems that we are not through seeing the mooning backside of him yet, nor will we be for quite some time. Check out this chart at Sadly, No!--and then tell me with a straight face that it's all because he inherited a recession from Bill Clinton (which just happened to become apparent as his eight years in office expired???), and that conservatives know what the fuck they're talking about on any fiscal matter under the sun. Can't do it? Then you just might not be an assclown yourself. (At least, not a total one. But if you still believe in the power of Fiscal Conservatism, I have sad news for you.)

8. The reckless shitfuck doctor or doctors who impregnated Nadya Suleman with the octuplets--and also all six of her previous children. WTF is wrong with these people? Can they not tell who is a poor candidate for IVF? Do they simply believe it is not their job to screen for mental as well as physical health risks? Can they not say NO once in a while? Or is there just no red flag that a fistful of borrowed dollars, waved under their noses, won't magically vaporize?

9. BTW, Nadya Fucking Suleman isn't exactly the Virgin Mary, either. I can understand having one or two children, or even three, by artificial fertility measures, but do the words STOP and ENOUGH not mean anything? How about that big one, RESPONSIBILITY? Suppose she had died, leaving all 14 of her children parentless. Yes, it could happen, and in her case, the risk factor was already there. An injury put her on the dole before even her first child was conceived, never mind this litter that put her name in the news. She's also depressive--a condition that childbearing won't fix, but proper psychological treatment can. And please, spare me the "only child in a dysfunctional family" excuse; this sort of thing is only perpetuating the dysfunction, not curing it. Most disgusting is all the money she's looking to rake in now--$2 million at last count. Yes, but what about the kids? For a small sneak preview of what's ahead for them, read up on the Dionne Quints.

10. I'm sure the anti-choice movement considers this woman to be a saint for not undergoing fetal reduction, but that's because they're fucking assclowns, too.

11. And you know who else is an assclown? Anyone recommending the "free market" approach to medicine, especially as pertains to fertility. Yes, Simon Fucking Jenkins, I'm looking at you. This didn't happen in Great Britain, where the system is regulated (too much for some people's liking), it happened in the good ol' USA--the only First World industrialized country where medicine lives in the Third World. Take a good look at India--there's your "freedom", marketmaniacs. And it really DOES equal slavery if you let the market take care of it all.

12. And for a whole room full of assclowns--some free-market, some enslaved-woman, and some (Goddess only knows how) both--how about that Pajamas Fucking So-Called Media concept? Down in flames, you say? Well, gee...considering how lame it was from the very outset, the only wonder is that it lasted as long as it did.

13. Now, just for a little change of pace (or clothes), how about that Andrew Fucking Dumbass Card. Because the casual look is only okay if Repugnicans do it. Or is it because the non-white "help" should never be seen by Their White Lordships without a jacket and tie? Whatever. Obama's the elected president, not the fucking White House butler. He can wear what he pleases.

14. Back to the Wild West of medicine for a moment. Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Sheyla Fucking Dumbass Hershey, the latest candidate for inclusion on Awful Plastic Surgery Dot Com. She couldn't get "enough" silicone for her implants in her home state of Texas, so she's gone to Brazil, where there are no safety regs to prevent her from blowing her breasts up and killing herself in the process. Which boob is bigger--she or her silicone falsies? SHE is. And this doctor can tell you why--from disturbing personal experience.

15. Oh and you'll never guess who else made Awful Plastic Surgery already!

That wraps the bile-spewage for this week. Apologies to Greengeeta for not finding a way to fit Doug Fucking Election Rigger Schoen in there anywhere, but BoRev has all anyone needs to know about him.

February 6, 2009

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Double yum

Yep, another of those "just because" shots. I'm putting this one up just because it's a nice one of two of my favorite smart goodlookings...

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...and I like it.

February 5, 2009

Headline Howler: Born on a pirate ship

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Talk about yer bum steers. This headline has got to be the mother of them all:

"Pirates Make Off With Millions in Booty".

This begs the question: Did they steal J-Lo's backside (reputed to be insured for a billion, with a B, as in butt), or did they stuff the millions up their own?

Oh, and here's the other funny thing from that piece:

The U.S. Navy stood by helplessly, unable to accost the pirates because they still hold nearly 150 other seamen hostage.

Gee, that's an awful lot of buns. So much for the invincibility of the US Navy! Even the Party Posse can't improve their reputation on this one.

Stupid Sex Tricks: Bollywood Condomania!

Not really stupid, actually kind of cute:

The YouTube description reads:

"This is an entertaining and educational video in Telugu on Condom usage, to prevent from sexually transmitted infections and HIV, from Nrityanjali Academy, Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India"

How does one prevent FROM an STI, I wonder? I know how one prevents GETTING them, but once you've got them it's kind of hard to prevent anything.

February 4, 2009

Why the Two-State Solution will fail

A remarkable CBS report presents the unvarnished facts on the apartheid state being built by Israel in the West Bank:

In Part 1, we see how the apartheid has already taken hold--and how the West Bank and Gaza have been intentionally fractured in an effort to gradually appropriate ALL Palestinian lands for settlement by Israel. A Palestinian doctor talks about how he has been edged out of being able to work in Jerusalem, the city of his birth. An apartment building where Palestinians live is routinely occupied by the Israeli army under the pretext of using it (the highest building on the highest hill in Nablus) as a lookout point. If that is the case--if they only use it as a surveillance post--why do the soldiers chase people out of their own homes and bedrooms? Why are the women corralled? Why are the children not allowed back into their own house after school?

In Part 2, we see how unemployment and poverty are being used to drive Palestinians further and further into a corner. Palestinian workers are forced to build Israeli settlers' compounds; Palestinian farmers are locked out of their own lands by the Wall of Shame. The unrepentant, intransigent arrogance of a settler mayor hammers it home. Will candidate Tzipi Livni keep her campaign promises and get the settlers out? The last time this solution was tried, the settlers made a huge to-do that embarrassed the government and weakened its will to evict illegal settlers. Meanwhile, Arabs are still being evicted from THEIR homes. Whatever could that mean?

February 3, 2009

I almost feel sorry for...

...Robert Schuller. Almost...but not quite:

Once one of the nation's most popular televangelists, the Rev. Robert H. Schuller is watching his life's work crumble.

His son and recent successor, the Rev. Robert A. Schuller, has abruptly resigned as senior pastor of the Crystal Cathedral. The shimmering, glass-walled megachurch is home to the "Hour of Power" broadcast, an evangelism staple that's been on the air for more than three decades.

The church is in financial turmoil: It plans to sell more than $65 million worth of its Orange County property to pay off debt. Revenue dropped by nearly $5 million last year, according to a recent letter from the elder Schuller to elite donors. In the letter, Schuller Sr. implored the Eagle's Club members -- who supply 30 percent of the church's revenue -- for donations and hinted that the show might go off the air without their support.

Awwww...too bad, so sad. But wait, you haven't heard the "almost" part yet:

The Crystal Cathedral blames the recession for its woes. But it's clear that the elder Schuller's carefully orchestrated leadership transition, planned over a decade, has stumbled badly.

It's a problem common to personality driven ministries. Most have collapsed or been greatly diminished after their founders left the pulpit or died.

Members often tie their donations to the pastor, not the institution, said Nancy Ammerman, a sociologist of religion at Boston University. Schuller, with a style that blends pop psychology and theology, has a particularly devoted following, she said.

"Viewers are probably much less likely to give when it's not their preacher they're giving to," she said. "There's something about these televised programs where people develop a certain loyalty."

Translation: It's a cult of personality, and when the personality at the head steps down, the cult is in trouble. In the US, the media are quick to denounce democratically-elected "demagogues" elsewhere (i.e. Venezuela), but the unelected real thing at home gets a free pass, especially if the demagogues in question disguise their demagoguery as "religion". That's why I find this passage so...enlightening:

The elder Schuller, who called his weekly show "America's Television Church," founded his ministry in a drive-in theater after moving to Southern California in 1955.

He studied marketing strategies to attract worshippers and preached a feel-good Christianity, describing himself as a "possibility thinker" and spinning his upbeat style into a 10,000-member church and a broadcast watched by millions worldwide.

The church's main sanctuary, the Crystal Cathedral, is a landmark designed by renowned architect Philip Johnson, with a spire visible from afar amid Orange County's suburban sprawl. Thousands make the pilgrimage to see where the broadcast is filmed before a live congregation.

The Schullers consider the church a family business and the younger Schuller's 2006 appointment was sanctioned by the Crystal Cathedral's parent denomination, the Reformed Church in America.

Emphasis added.

If it's a family business, it's supposed to be a profit-generating enterprise, no? At least that's the way I understand it, as the daughter and granddaughter of a couple of mom-and-pop (or pop-and-grandpop) entrepreneurs.

But wait, isn't that kind of at odds with the Schullers' professed religion? It is if you actually listen to what Jesus said.

That's why I have so much trouble feeling sorry for the Schuller clan-cult-Ponzi pyramid. True religions exist, but this "church" isn't one of them, so the fall of its glass spire is as predictable as it is unlamentable. Glass, after all, is modified sand, and sand is the thing the foolish man in the parable built his house on.

BoingBoing gets rolled by Venezuelan oppo; 'Bina rolls back

Look what happens when you take a deliberate misinterpretation of a local event seriously. You get poopy-doo everywhere!

Guido David Núñez-Mujica tells Boing Boing,

On Saturday, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez decreed that February the 2nd, the anniversary of his ascent to presidency, would be a national holiday.

The government said that it would enforce the holiday and close and fine any open store. They are doing that and officers from the equivalent of the IRS, the SENIAT, are closing many stores that opened today. The country is paralyzed, no children at school, no classes at the universities, just because the selfish desires of a tyrant who said two days ago that he intends to be in power until 2049 and that there would be war if the opposition wins.

[...]

The situation here is getting worse every day. Chavez issues crazy order after crazy order and nothing is done. People are tired of this, but they are also afraid to protest.

On Saturday, a synagogue was attacked in Caracas, something that never had happened before in Venezuela. On my way to the university I see walls painted with "killer jews" slogans and "Throw them out". I am sick of this, and I am even sicker that many of my fellow liberals think that this crap is the answer to our problems.

Yo, BoingBoingers? Please note that the guy who sent you this is in favor of globalization (says so right at the head of his blog, helpfully enough.) Considering what globalization did to Venezuela, I have to wonder just where this boy keeps his head. Perhaps it's in some weird orifice not yet known to humanity in general. As luck would have it, he's also into "transhumanism"--that philosophy that holds that we'd all be better humans if we were genetically modified with genes from other species. (AHA! That explains the Venezuelan oppos--they've all been "improved" with recombinant genes from rats and roaches!)

He also characterizes patriotism as "silly, irrational, evil and dangerous"--which is a pretty silly, irrational, evil and dangerous generalization. And oh yeah, he reprinted that "bomb in a turban" toon--another odious generalization comin' right atcha. Apparently his (trans)humanistic views only go so far, and they don't extend to Muslims. Isn't he charming?

Now, for the real news. Apparently our charming, transhumanized oppo hasn't seen fit to explain the situation very well. This is what actually happened on the 2nd:

On Monday, Venezuelans celebrated the tenth anniversary of the inauguration of President Hugo Chávez to his first presidential term. Many Venezuelans consider this day to mark the commencement of the "Bolivarian Revolution," which has brought a new progressive constitution, sustained economic growth, and unprecedented expansion of health care and other social services to this OPEC nation.

Over the past ten years, "Venezuela went from being a disabled nation that was in the dirt, muzzled, and dominated, to being a country in the vanguard of the world," Chávez declared during an event in which each government ministry displayed its decade of achievements on Sunday.

According to the Education Ministry, enrollment in pre-schools has increased from 40.3% to 60%, and in elementary schools from 78% to 93% for males and from 85% to 98% for females over the past ten years. High school graduation rates have increased from 47% to 66%, and university enrollment has increased from 676,515 students to 1.8 million students.

Also, through the educational program called Mission Robinson, more than a million Venezuelans were taught to read, bringing the illiteracy rate down to less than one percent. Last year, the United Nations Science, Education, and Culture Organization (UNESCO) announced that Venezuela is on track to achieve the Millenium Development Goals by 2015.

In health care, the government's unprecedented expansion of a public system of free clinics in local communities has made primary care accessible to nearly all Venezuelans, compared to a decade ago, when one fifth of Venezuelans had access to primary care. Also, infant mortality has dropped from 21 to 13 per one thousand.

Gee, I'd say those 10 years more than merit a national holiday just based on educational and health achievements alone. But wait, there's more:

The re-direction of investments has saturated the agricultural sector, and created considerable growth in the small and medium-sized business sector, said Pedro Morejón, the Minister of Communal Economy, Sunday.

Morejón also highlighted the new training programs in which the government has invested to promote cooperative businesses, social production enterprises, and other new forms of commerce through which Venezuelans "have assumed an important role in their participation and formation of businesses based on social property."

Along with the new types of businesses, the government has opened new spaces for political participation, as well as through the direct funding of tens of thousands of community councils that now manage local affairs in democratic assemblies.

The Director of Venezuela's National Statistics Institute (INE), Elías Eljuri, reported Sunday that domestic credit has increased from 12% to 21.4%, and the percentage of the population working in the formal economy has risen from 45% when Chávez took office to more than 56% today.

This has helped the percentage of people living in extreme poverty to drop from 23.4% to 9.1% over the past ten years, while the percentage in poverty has also decreased from 54.5 to 31.5%, according to the INE.

Poverty down? Small and medium-sized business (including co-ops) up? Wow, that sounds just HORRIBLE!

But worst of all is this:

Overall, the Venezuelan economy grew consistently for twenty consecutive trimesters, following a recession provoked by the U.S.-backed coup in April 2002 and the management-led oil industry shutdown that sought to topple Chávez's presidency in early 2003.

Also, unemployment hit a new low of 6.1% last month, less than half of its peak of 14.6% following the oil strike in 2003.

With these investments and growth, an increase in demand has surged, causing a hike in inflation over the past three years. Overall, annual inflation has averaged 22% during the Chávez presidency, compared to 57.8% during the presidency of Rafael Caldera during the mid-1990s.

N.B.: The presidency of Rafael Caldera is reckoned by some to be a "golden age" of globalization in Venezuela. This although real economic growth was poor, and unemployment and poverty hit record highs at that time, just as Caldera was cutting all programs that could have done anything to help the poor, so that the World Bank, the IMF and transnational oil companies could enjoy more "freedom". Hmmm.

But leaders are not supposed to pay attention to those pesky domestic problems, right? We the People are supposed to take matters in our own hands--and alleviate everything by outcrossing ourselves with, I guess, immortal jellyfish. Meaning, we'd improve by being eternally young--and strangely asexual and spineless. But hey, no more of those "silly, irrational, evil and dangerous" national boundaries, yay! We'll just all swim in the ocean, being pulled hither and thither by every current, wave and tide, gloop gloop. Sounds like a real paradise to me, as long as we don't all get eaten by a baleen whale or something.

Oh, and that "antisemitism" charge? Also falso. But shhhhh, our little transhumanist doesn't want to be bothered with the actual words of the "silly, irrational, evil and dangerous" Chavecito there, either. Too late, I'm posting them anyway.

President Chávez also weighed in on the attack on Sunday. "We condemn the actions against the Synagogue of Caracas, just as we condemn the burning of the Avila, which the oligarchy does not condemn," said Chávez, referring to a recent incident in which opposition students were filmed setting fire to the national park north of Caracas.

"We condemn violence, no matter where it comes from and we will fight it no matter where it comes from," said Chávez.

OhmyGAWDS, he's consistently opposed to vandalism and violence, no matter who's doing it or for what reason! How silly, irrational, evil and dangerous! How...how...how HUMANISTIC!

Gee, maybe our little transhumanist pal should first master that humanism thing, before he starts meddling with that potentially carcinogenic trans stuff. Ya think?

PS: Look what happens when you point out ON BoingBoing that they got rolled: You get banned from commenting further! And they consider Chávez a dictator?