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April 30, 2009

Is Alan Garcia off his meds?

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"Coooomrades, in this historic and revolutionary moment, we call on you to take up the anti-imperialist fight..."

"No, no! You already gave that speech. Now you have to say: Gentlemen, we call on you to take up investment in privatizations and concessions..."

"Mr. García, you're on!"

There has long been some speculation that a certain large Peruvian leader is...um, how to put this delicately?...not a well man upstairs. Today, I found a news story on Aporrea that seems to confirm a certain degree of schizophrenia:

Alan García, the president of Peru, said on Tuesday that he did not want to affect relations between his country and Venezuela, but he approved the asylum request of opposition leader Manuel Rosales because he considered him to be "menaced" by the Venezuelan authorities.

However, he said in a press conference that "we have a friendly position toward the government of Venezuela, which is a democratic government whose character is undeniably popular, and for that reason, we do not want any circumstance to alter our good relations with Venezuela, and we will go on seeking that objective."

Translation mine.

Yep...it's just as I suspected. The man not only eats two breakfasts (as Otto has it), he has two personalities. And they're at odds with each other. How else to explain his characterizing Venezuela on the one hand as a popular democracy, and on the other as a place where the opposition is "menaced" (by criminal charges, not political ones)? And how else to explain his strange willingness to shelter corruptos and crooks?

UPDATE: Peruvians have turned out in force to protest this crazy-ass decision. Too bad these sane folks don't form the government.

April 29, 2009

The video the Cruceñistas don't want you to see

Thanks to commenter Boris, from Bolivia (yes, I checked--his IP is definitely from there!), I've been alerted to this video:

It was posted to YouTube two days ago. It's got news footage of Evo's floating parliament on Lake Titicaca, intercut with the grainy, choppy video from the terrorists' cellphone camera. The perps are clearly identified on the video, and it's subtitled (in Spanish only) to indicate what they were saying. It's quite clear that they were hoping to blow up the vessel on which the parliament was held, by swimming underneath it in "frogman" (scuba) gear and planting plastic explosives on its bottom. Eduardo Rózsa Flores, the Bolivian-Hungarian veteran of Croatia's separatist war, appears to be the ringleader, or at least the guy with the biggest mouth, because he seems to be doing most of the talking. Mike Dwyer was definitely present at the planning meeting (he's identified in the clip), so one can't say that he had no idea what was going on. And neither can one say it about the other guys, including Elöd Tóasó, whom the Hungarian ambassador seems to have mistaken for an innocent adventurer in over his head. Sorry, guys, they all knew what they were doing, and the proof is in the pictures.

Thanks again to Boris for letting me know about this--it's highly incriminating, wouldn't you say?

UPDATE: Bolivian police have released the names of two people who were, apparently, bagmen for the financiers of the terror cell. Their names are Hugo Achá and Alejandro Melgar, alias "Superman" and "El Lucas", respectively.

UPDATE #2: El Gaviero notes that "El Lucas" may refer to Luke Skywalker, from the Star Wars franchise. I think this one should have called himself "Darth" instead, and maybe "Superman" should change his moniker to "Lex Luthor" while they're at it. In any case, though, the excellent Bolivian federales are their kryptonite!

Swine flu: How profitable at such an opportune time...

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Maybe Tamiflu should be called RummyFlu?

How profitable? Very, according to YVKE Mundial and Telesur:

The transnational drug companies Roche and GlaxoSmithKline are the only two laboratories that produce oseltamivir and zanamivir, used to treat patients with swine flu. Oseltamivir, produced by Roche under the name Tamiflu, is the same drug used to treat avian flu; zanamivir, sold under the name Relenza, is produced by GlaxoSmithKline.

What is not so well known is that Roche and Glaxo were both close to bankruptcy just before the outbreak. The latest indicators from the Zurich stock exchange show that Roche lost 8.47% of its share value, while Glaxo, in just the first quarter of 2009, lost 1.5%. According to analysts, this is evidence of a steep drop for the companies.

As the number of persons ill with influenza climbs, however, Roche has announced that only 3 million doses of Tamiflu, recommended by the World Health Organization, are available. The Swiss pharmaceutical firm said that it would be prepared to send the WHO that number of doses, which, along with the 2 million it already has, would be enough for 5 million affected people.

The possibility that these two multinationals required a production boost to reduce their losses and increase their profits cannot be ruled out, and at this time, there could not be a more opportune moment for it.

Translation mine.

Just another of the many things that make you go hmmmm...

And here are some more:

The Australian province of Queensland reports "massive demand" for Tamiflu, even though so far, no cases have been reported in Australia. The reason for the panic? New Zealand's flu count is 11 probable cases, all of them students who recently travelled to Mexico, with another 56 suspected. That was enough for the NZ government to make Tamiflu available over the counter. NZ has 1.2 million doses on hand, going for NZ $75 per course. Cha-ching!

Meanwhile, in the US, major pharmacy chain CVS is also stocking up. Its share price is on the rise, compared to rival Walgreens, which isn't reporting increased sales and IS reporting a 29% share price drop. Hmmmm.

And looky here! Bloomberg reports that Roche has boosted Tamiflu production and is "in touch" with governments. How very opportune.

But ooooo, spoiler alert #1: India is making a generic version of the drug. Spoiler #2: The Toronto Star reports that Tamiflu is no guarantee that you won't get sick, that you will have a shorter recovery, or even that the flu won't kill you. What is it a guarantee of? More profits for its manufacturers, Roche and Gilead. Cha-ching!

Meanwhile, Singapore reports that it has "enough" (one million doses, or a quarter of the population of Singapore) in stock, while Trindad and Tobago, much closer to the disease's epicentre, don't have any. Cha-ching!

Nasty story of the day: A Mexican student in New Zealand was refused Tamiflu. Now is that any way to treat a visitor?

But the clincher headline of the day has got to be this one from the UK Telegraph: "Pharmacies cashing in on swine flu fears". Cha-ching!

Bolivia terror plot: The UJC connection

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Just a bunch of fine young Cruceñista boyz, out cruising for chicks in a majorly pimped ride. Think these punks got lucky?

Well, kiddies, we knew THIS was coming, did we not? Now ABI confirms it: the Santa Cruz chapter of the Hitlerjugend was also involved in the plot to try to kill Evo, Alvaro and several other leading Bolivian politicians.

On Tuesday, police apprehended an advisor to the ultra-right-wing Santa Cruz Youth Union (UJC), Juan Carlos Gueber Bruno, suspected of having ties to the foreign mercenary cell broken up last month in the City of Santa Cruz.

Gueber Bruno, also known as "Comandante Bruno" in UJC circles, was arrested near his home in Villa Cotoca on suspicions of having supplied weapons to the group led by Eduardo Rózsa Flores.

[...]

Gueber Bruno, 49, acted in 2008 as an activist of the Comité Pro Santa Cruz.


Translation mine.

Well, well. Not only does he have ties to the UJC, but to Branko Marinkovic's band of not-so-young hooligans, too. This just keeps getting more and more interesting, no? It just keeps circling around and around Branko. Do you suppose this is who the "wealthy financier" of the group was, the one that was alluded to in the previous post?

April 28, 2009

Portrait of the Terrorist as a Young Gun Nut

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Elöd Tóasó, Hungarian/Romanian would-be assassin, posing with a sniper rifle last December at the Hotel Buganvillas, Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Too bad it didn't have a magnifying mirror instead of a high-res telescopic sight, so he could take a peek in and realize how stupid he looked.

Strap yourselves in and fold up your tray tables, folks. It's time for another bumpy ride on Air Terrorcell!

Elöd Tóasó, the 29-year-old Hungarian-Romanian apprehended in an antiterror operation on April 16 in Santa Cruz, was the "communications link" of the international mercenary terror cell dismantled by the police, and was tasked with spying and telephone tapping.

In reality, far from being a "young adventurer" in search of a daily living, as described with paternal innocence by the Hungarian ambassador in La Paz, Matyas Józsa, Tóasó received military training in Bucharest, along with the Irishman, Michael Dwyer, who was killed in a hotel in Santa Cruz in a firefight with Bolivian police two weeks ago.

Tóasó, who appears in a photo published by the independent Cochabamba newspaper Opinión holding a sniper rifle with a high-precision telescopic sight, became a mercenary under the influence of Michael Dwyer and also that of the Hungaro-Croatian Bolivian Eduardo Rózsa Flores, leader of the mercenary cell.

The picture was taken in the middle of last December in the Hotel Buganvillas, one of the most exclusive in Santa Cruz, where the armed group stayed for more than two months at cost to a third party, currently unknown, whom Rózsa Flores described in an interview in Budapest last September as "the Bolivian financiers" and providers of the weapons.

According to the management of the five-star hotel, the terrorist group booked in the Buganvillas under false identities.

Tóasó, who was taken captive in the raid two weeks ago along with Jorge Tadik, a Bolivian ex-military man trained in Bolivia but with Hungarian roots, even convinced the ambassador of his own country that he was just an innocent adventurer, in spite of the evidence shown by a video of the conspirators making assassination plans.

"This man, to me, is far from being a terrorist. Young, 29 years old, who made mistakes, and I believe they invited him to come here offering to pay him this and that, but he didn't know what lay in store...I believe that this man had no money, because the financial crisis has hit Hungary hard too. We're very badly off, so this stems from the fact that our people have no money. He was young, and looking for adventure, and accepted something I don't think he thought through," said the Hungarian diplomat, trying to intervene on behalf of his countryman.

In Hungary, Tóasó was known to have belonged to the so-called "Szeklers", who consider themselves to be direct descendants of pure Hungarians, according to Opinión.

Along with Arpad Magyarosi, Tóasó joined the far-right paramilitary "Szekler Legion", which went to war in Croatia for separatist causes in the 1990s.

Translation mine. Linkage added.

Yeah, just another cute young dreamer, like that Irish dude, who supposedly got in over his head and couldn't possibly have been a baddie. Looks to me like he damn well knew what he was doing, and didn't care as long as the rich "Bolivian financier" supplied plenty of money, guns and ammo. (And BMWs, as Mike Dwyer bragged to his friends back home. Which, incidentally, do NOT come cheap in Bolivia, even if you're only renting. Sorry, Mike's friends, your ol' buddy was definitely mobbed up.)

The open question remains as to who that "financier" was, but my spidey-sense tells me Branko Marinkovic has got to be feeling the noose closing in on him by now. The government of Bolivia has sent troops to guard the Brazilian and Paraguayan borders of Santa Cruz, since it's known that the weaponry and Jorge Rózsa Flores both got in through Puerto Suárez, on the border with Brazil. If I were in that gummint, I'd make sure that Branko had no means of leaving the country, lest he pull a Burusas and seek "political asylum" in Peru, too.

PS: For another portrait of a deranged Hungarian from the inside of his cracked skull, I recommend this piece in the Irish Times. Fancy a racist fascist calling Evo, who has never said one prejudiced word against whites, a Nazi! Pot, say hi to kettle over there in the funhouse mirror...

PPS: Andras Kepes, look for a subpoena from the Bolivian government in your mail this week. They're not impressed with you for interviewing that Flores crackpot and then sitting on it instead of informing the authorities of a terror plan. That makes you look kind of complicit in it, dude.

PPPS: A German-language blogger in Ireland is asking the same questions in his blog as Otto, BoRev and I are tackling, respectively, in ours. He's also found the "actual" website of the Szekler Legion to be "under construction", although it wasn't last week. Go to his link if you wanna see screenshots of the icky place before it was taken down for "construction".

PPPPS: And finally, don't worry--these Szekler whackjobs aren't the scariest Hungarians out there by a long shot. Click here to see who is.

Actions have consequences, gordito!

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All right, so the government of Peru granted political asylum to an obvious crook on the flimsiest grounds ever. Now, they're about to reap the consequences of their incredibly ill-considered actions:

The Venezuelan government, in an official communiqué, rejected the asylum granted by the Peruvian government to the fugitive from Venezuelan justice, Manuel Rosales. According to the communiqué, "the Government of Peru decided to grant political asylum to Manuel Rosales, in a decision which constitutes a mockery of international law, a severe blow to the fight against corruption, and an attack against the people of Venezuela."

Previously, the Chancellor of Peru, José Antonio García Belaunde, informed that his government had decided to grant political asylum to Rosales, in spite of the latter having been accused of corruption, and who fled the country without facing the charges against him. "The Peruvian government, true to its historical tradition and in co-operation with international law, has decided to grant asylum to the citizen Manuel Rosales," said the chancellor during a meeting with the exterior-relations commission of the Peruvian congress.

Rosales met with other Venezuelan fugitives who fled the country over non-political offences and who received asylum in Peru, among them the leader of the illegal oil lockout of 2002-3 Carlos Ortega, and the ex-governor of Yaracuy, Eduardo Lapi. Lima also granted asylum in 2003 to two retired military leaders who participated in opposition protests in the Plaza Francia in Altamira, Caracas. Some press accounts claim that Nixon Moreno, ex-student leader accused of sexually assaulting a police officer and attempted murder of another officer, may also be in Peru.

The communiqué released today by the Venezuelan government states:

"As is well known to public opinion, the judicial authorities of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela sought, via regular channels, an international order for the capture of the Venezuelan fugitive from justice, Manuel Rosales, accused of corruption and illicit self-enrichment, which led to an immediate 'code red' alert from Interpol.

"Interpol Peru asked Venezuelan authorities for the necessary documentation to detain Manuel Rosales; the documentation was handed over last Sunday, April 26.

"In spite of the weight of evidence [against Rosales], the Government of Peru decided to grant political asylum to Rosales, in a decision which constitutes a mockery of international law, a severe blow to the fight against corruption, and an attack against the people of Venezuela.

"In light of these facts, the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has decided, in protest, to immediately return to Caracas its ambassador in Lima, to suspend of all diplomatic proceedings of the ambassador to Peru, and to re-evaluate its relations with the government of that country."

Translation mine.

Translated from the officialese, that's a major bitch-slap to El Gordo. Which should come as no surprise, given that he's been a major bitch. While unpopular even with his own people, though, he's still in office, and still thumbing his nose at international law on numerous fronts. Sheltering Venezuelan corruptos, as we can see, is something of a hobby for him.

But at least now, he knows his chronic nose-thumbing isn't going to get him any sympathy in Caracas. Most likely, not in the rest of the Unasur countries, either.

April 27, 2009

Another Bolivia bombshell about to break?

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Sure smells that way. From ABI, two items: First, there's a video out there showing the international terrorist cell in Santa Cruz making its vile plans; now, there's this:

Prosecutor Marcelo Sosa, head of the investigation of the irregular ultra-right group recently dismantled in Santa Cruz, affirmed on Monday that the Public Ministry has in custody a "key witness" who presented the video which showed evidence of the assassination plans made by the Bolivian-Hungarian-Croat Eduardo Rózsa Flores and his international mercenary cell.

"Up to now, this person is in police custody because he could be at risk," Sosa said.

A judicial source says that the witness could appear before the Attorney General in the next few hours.

[...]

Last Saturday, Sosa screened a video in which Rózsa Flores, in his own voice, lamented not having had an opportunity to know the time and place of a meeting in early April between President Evo Morales, Vice-President Alvaro García Linera, and a large portion of the Bolivian parliament in a military vessel on Lake Titicaca, in order to blow them sky-high.

Rózsa also raved about the destructive power of the explosive known as ANFO.

In another videotape made by Hungarian journalist Andras Kepes, the same Rózsa Flores admitted that he had been contracted to provoke the secession of Santa Cruz from the rest of Bolivia.

Sosa announced that he had not yet confirmed the day and hour for the key witness, who had submitted the video of the conspiratorial plans to the authorities, to make his declaration.

The prosecutor also announced that the video made public last Saturday would be subjected to a technical examination by a group specializing in audio. The audio and video recording, made on a cellphone, dispels all doubts over the actions of the terrorist cell and the identities of the two fugitive cell members still being sought by the investigators.

Translation mine. Linkage added.

I haven't seen the video yet; apparently it hasn't been posted to the Internet. I would love to see it when it's finally made public, and will be keeping a weather eye out for it. If you know where it is, drop a line in the comments below. Muchas gracias.

Meanwhile, I'm glad to add that this whole nasty business has had one good result (besides the timely deaths of three of the perps, and the arrests of two): namely, that Evo, Alvaro, members of the National Assembly, and the key investigators of the case have all beefed up their police security. A wise move, considering that a key Cruceñista secret society (I hesitate to call it a masonic lodge, because the real, respectable, and far more open freemasons of Bolivia shun it like the fascistic Typhoid Mary it is) happens to take its name from a very lovely flowering tree native to Santa Cruz, and which just happens to blossom in May. Given that secret societies are just mad about symbolism, it would be more than prudent for the heads of state and investigators to make sure their backs are doubly watched during that merry month of the flowering tree, which is now just four days away.

Why they hate the US, part umpteen hundred and umpty-ump

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When life is discovered on other planets, we already know how it's gonna react to its first Earthling visitors...

If you ever wanna know why Latin Americans keep yelling "Yankee Go Home" or "Gringo maldito", I think I've just found another clue, this time on Gadling:

An Air France flight from Paris to Mexico had to make an unscheduled stop in Martinique when US air traffic controllers notified the jet that it would not be receiving permission to fly over US airspace.

That's right - the plane was not en route to the US, just passing over some of it, on its way to Mexico.

On board the plane was Colombian Journalist Hernando Calvo Ospina, who works for Le Monde Diplomatique.

What makes the whole incident even more interesting is that Air France had only sent its passenger manifest to the Mexicans, but now it is clear that Mexico shares this information with the United States.

Hernando Calvo Ospina has written articles about the United States involvement in Latin America, and is currently writing a book about he CIA. The exact reason for him being on the terrorist watch list is unknown, and we'll probably never know what criteria are used for adding people to it.

I'll bet the "exact reason" has something to do with him writing (a) for Le Monde Diplomatique, which is not only factually accurate but has all the goods on US interference in LatAm, and (b) a critical word about the CIA in anything, anywhere. They're kind of itchy that way.

April 26, 2009

Quotable: Steve Benen on Karl Rove

"You see, in Rove World, the way to avoid becoming a banana republic is to have a chief executive who ignores the rule of law. Then, the chief executive is replaced, and his/her successor must ensure there are no consequences for those who ignored the rule of law in the recent past. No matter how serious alleged crimes, no matter how compelling the evidence, no matter the consequences, if a president believes those who came before him/her broke the law, he/she must not prosecute, or even investigate. If he/she disagrees, the president would be acting like a Latin American colonel in mirrored sunglasses."

--Steve Benen, in the Washington Monthly

'Bina notes: Latin American colonels in mirrored sunglasses were all put there by Karl Rove's predecessors, most notably Henry Kissinger. And of course, they got immunity for their crimes, too. Guess how.

Music for a Sunday: Two by Yaz

Midnight. It's raining outside. What's Bina listening to at this hour? This:

An awesome remix of the '80s classic; the incredibly soulful voice of Alison Moyet and the purest synth-pop backdrop make perfect foils for each other.

A live version of "Don't Go", proving that they don't need no stinkin' studio engineers to make them sound amazing.

April 25, 2009

They don't call 'em "father" for nothing

"Can't you hear my lambs calling?
O Good Shepherd, feed my sheep..."

--Jefferson Airplane, "Good Shepherd"

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No, that's not Beelzebub...but it IS one of his earthly lieutenants, disguised as a man of God. Meet Baltazar Porras, whited sepulchre, skirt-chaser and putschist extraordinaire...

While a massive baby-mama drama swirls in Paraguay around President Lugo, an ex-bishop now accused of having had numerous affairs and love-children, some while still under clerical vows (see Otto and BoRev for more), a far scummier man of the cloth is getting away with the same things (and murder!) in Venezuela. But Bolivarian historian José Sant Roz is on his case, and recently gave an interview about what he found:

Q. On what basis do you say that Bishop Baltazar Porras has had children?

A. Really, Baltazar is a man born to be a socialite, and tales of his dissipated lifestyle are rampant throughout the state of Mérida. In the year 2000, Giandoménico Puliti, who was lamentably killed by assassins with a bullet to the head, and I were gathering information for the book "Bishops and Demons". We visited with many local priests to get to know the church in Mérida from the inside. We can't reveal the names of these priests, who are meritorious and have had nothing to do with politics. Nevertheless, all of them agreed that the conduct of Porras was the furthest thing from that of a spiritual man who cared for his parishioners. On the contrary, his passions were bullfights, soccer and partying. His "pastoral visits" consisted mainly of frequenting the homes of the rich, sprinkling holy water in banks and resorts, and travelling all over Europe. A priest with close ties to him told us that Baltazar Porras had a son, conceived while he was living in Calabozo, and that the boy frequently visited the archbishop at his palace. In those days, too, there was a novel out in Mérida by the poet Pedro Pablo Pereira, titled "The Archbishop's Mistress", which treated of Baltazar's life, and I can assure you that it caused a great sensation and impact in all of Venezuela. In it you can find much more information about this point.

Q. How could he lead such a disordered life while acting as Archbishop of Mérida?

A. Baltazar's friends are all guys with no culture, dedicated to partisan politics and mercantile activities. A close friend of his is the ex-governor William Dávila Barrios, along with all those mediocre professors who have been rectors at ULA [the University of Los Andes]. The Mérida bourgeoisie are certainly none of them gentlemen, and all they care about is booze and fine cooking. When I went with Puliti to find out more about these bishops, another priest very involved in the Curia told us that they held orgies there, and added that a group of students were completing a series of procedures to accuse Don Baltazar in Rome. They practically had videos of it! Thanks to all these barbarities, Monsignor Porras lost the friendship of respectable padres such as Hugo Anzil and Ramón Flores.

Q. And do you not believe this son of Porras can come forward to speak out?

A. I doubt it. He has to be very closely guarded, and now he's a man of 27 years of age. He won't talk because Porras doesn't have the power that Bishop Lugo does in Paraguay to give out cushy jobs, privileges and diplomatic missions. He still makes out in public that he is a celibate, while with Lugo, everyone is disputing it because now he is no longer a bishop. And his ex-girlfriends have every right to complain of his ingratitude. Baltazar is only a bishop, who could be of more help to his sons on the quiet from his throne. And surely the mother of this youngster has suffered much. Better to keep quiet about these things. Because if other mistresses and children of Porras were to speak out, immediately the media would mount a brutal witch-hunt against them in his defence, and nothing good would come to anyone who claimed family ties to him. Just imagine, if the media could rip to shreds all the evidence tying Nelson Mezerhane, Patricia Poleo and Bishop Rosalio Castillo Lara to the murder of Danilo Anderson, all this about the mistresses and children of Baltazar would be child's play for them [to discredit].

Q. Do you believe that the Conference of Venezuelan Bishops would defend him in such a grave case?

A. For them, this would be a joke. Remember that today, in the Mexican daily, La Jornada, there appeared declarations from Leopoldo González González the Secretary-General of the Conference of Mexican Bishops, defending the parish priest of Jalapa, Rafael Muñiz López, who is accused of being part of a distribution network for kiddie porn on the Internet. So, what did Mr. Leopoldo González González say to the journalists? Nothing less than this: He assured that such cases "make priests seem more human" to their parishes, causing us to "appreciate" them more, and he very firmly reiterated, "On the contrary, the more human they seem, the more we appreciate them." So, for Conference of Venezuelan Bishops, the case of Porras and his illegitimate children will make him "much more human". Holy shit!

Translation mine. Linkage added.

Holy shit, indeed.

BTW, Porras has something even more infamous to his name than a slew of illegitimate children. He's also one of the many ranking churchmen who appeared at Miraflores Palace on April 12, 2002, to bless the fascist coup against Chavecito with his presence. You can see him in "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised", talking animatedly and smiling with the coup-plotters, at one point even slapping their backs and hugging them. This while fully cognizant that dozens of innocent people had been killed the previous day and night, and hundreds more injured, all in the name of creating an incident that would "render illegitimate" the Chávez government (which was freely elected and, unlike any of its predecessors, fully democratic and not a bit repressive.)

This same bishop, who like so many others comes out fervently against abortion and birth control (to say nothing of same-sex marriage), is not a bit pro-life when it comes to the human rights of Chavistas or anyone else who doesn't parrot the old Fourth Republic party lines. What makes anyone think he'd acknowledge his bastards? He's a much bigger bastard himself, of course, but thanks to his lack of elected political power, he's not fair game.

Unlike Lugo, who established his reputation as a progressive bishop and advocate of the poor and downtrodden, Baltazar Porras is a reactionary conservative fascist, who cares about nothing and no one except maybe, the filthy stinking rich...and Baltazar Porras, of course.

Jesus didn't call guys like Porras "whited sepulchres" for nothing, either.

Cops Behaving Badly: A fascist on Facebook

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Yeah, tell me that the policing profession attracts humanity's finest. If anyone seriously believes that, I've got some lovely ocean-front property in Saskatchewan that I'll sell you for a song.

Meanwhile, the beat(down) goes on:

A police officer is being investigated after allegedly writing on a website that he was keen to "bash some long haired hippies" at the G20 protest.

Pc Rob Ward apparently put the note on Facebook on the evening of 1 April, the first day of City of London protests.

[...]

The police officer's profile page on social networking site Facebook contained a message apparently written by Pc Ward at 2017 BST on 1 April.

It stated: "Rob Ward can't wait to bash some long haired hippys up @ the G20."

Twenty minutes later another Facebook user posted a reply that said: "Dats bad but good in da same way lol [laugh out loud]."

The message was later removed from Pc Ward's Facebook page.

Oh, those London bobbies...such gentlemen.

Of course, all the world knows what later happened at the G-20 protests. Wouldn't it be good for lulz if PC Ward were found to be one of the guys who beat up Ian Tomlinson, who wasn't even protesting, just walking home minding his own business?

Wankers of the Week: Still talking a lot but not saying anything edition

Funny how some songs never get old. Sad how some schticks do. Here's who needs to heed David Byrne's advice this week.

1. Newt Fucking Gingrich. Why is this worthless right-wing relic still around, never mind in the public eye? Newsflash for Mr. Cancer Divorce: the president of Venezuela is not, and never has been, an "enemy of America", but the US government has certainly been HIS enemy, and has been since even before he was legitimately elected. And you want to slam Obama for putting a stop to that? Get fucked...by your CURRENT wife for a change, you slimeball.

2. Stephen Fucking Harper. Hasn't heard yet that Latin America is fed up to the gills with "free" trade which only favors one country (hint: NOT any of theirs). For that matter, hasn't heard that Canada is also fed up--and wants no FTA with Colombia. Isn't listening. Remains tone deaf. Still can't shut up about free trade, free trade, free trade. Embarrassing Canada in general, and this Canadian in particular, soooooo badly.

3. Fucking spammers. They're generating a lot of hot air, literally--and this without actually saying anything anyone wants to hear. Or, in this case, read.

4. Marc Fucking Thiessen. Bad enough that no one from the Bush Mafia is doing hard time yet for crimes against humanity. Even worse is that some of its professional liars (i.e. speechwriters) are saying things like this:

Critics claim that enhanced techniques do not produce good intelligence because people will say anything to get the techniques to stop. But the memos note that, "as Abu Zubaydah himself explained with respect to enhanced techniques, 'brothers who are captured and interrogated are permitted by Allah to provide information when they believe they have reached the limit of their ability to withhold it in the face of psychological and physical hardship." In other words, the terrorists are called by their faith to resist as far as they can -- and once they have done so, they are free to tell everything they know. This is because of their belief that "Islam will ultimately dominate the world and that this victory is inevitable." The job of the interrogator is to safely help the terrorist do his duty to Allah, so he then feels liberated to speak freely. This is the secret to the program's success.

So what does that make the interrogator? A free-speech activist??? Gimme a break. This is the most fucked-up "logic" I've ever seen, and believe me, there's plenty of it out there on the right. I say we waterboard Mr. Thiessen to see how "liberated" HE feels. Perhaps Christopher Hitchens or this Playboy writer will explain his "liberation" to him in greater detail, preferably after he's strapped to the board but before the watering starts.

5. Oh shit, Sean Fucking Hannity has volunteered to be waterboarded for charity. The only charitable thing about that act would be if he were to actually drown, so no one would have to listen to him wanking on the air again! Could he take the Pigman with him while he's at it, please?

6. The Big Dick and Auntie Condi should get to watch before their respective American Water Torture sessions, too.

7. Oh, and Shepherd Fucking Smith doesn't believe it's torture. Let's throw him on a board too. What the hell, one more talking head going bubble bubble bubble...

8. The fucking young conservative anti-greens. Yeah, privatization and "market solutions" work great for the environment; just ask anyone who lives next door to a polluting plant that gets away with it, thanks to that other "free enterprise" greenwash, emissions trading. And if you're gonna get all simple-minded on us and carry signs that say "sorry for breathing", have I got one for YOU:

save-planet-kill-yourself.jpg

9. Whoever the fuck wrote this BushCo blowjob for that gloryhole of fascism, the Wall Street Urinal. Yeah, BushCo kept the world sooooooooooo safe. On whose watch did 9-11 happen again? Who shrugged off the August 6 PDB with a curt "All right, you've covered your ass now"? Who gave the Air Force the order to stand down that day? Who told the CIA to cook fake intel and the FBI to sit on its hands? Who pissed on the US constitution and shat on the Geneva Conventions in the name of "freedom"?

And why hasn't Obama had a 9-11 yet, if the US is so unsafe under him? Anyone at the Wall St. Urinal care to explain me that?

Didn't think so.

10. All those fucking media idiots out there who called Eduardo Galeano's Open Veins of Latin America an "obscure" book. It's so obscure that its author was menaced by about half a dozen US-backed military dictators and other assorted fascists for writing it, and had to go into exile. Yeah. Obscure. Riiiiiiiiight.

And finally, anyone telling me what I may or may not publish on this blog. Newsflash: your geographic location (city, latitude and longitude, NOT street address) and area code, along with your IP number, ARE NOT PRIVATE PERSONAL INFORMATION. Nor is your e-mail address, especially if it's Gmail or Hotmail. I don't know your real name, street address and phone number, much less your "real" e-mail addy, and I don't care to. I do, however, know bullshit when I smell it, and I'm not inclined to be merciful to anyone who comes in here trying to convince me it's roses. If you don't want to be hung up here to dry, don't come in all wet. Fuck you very much, and have a nice day.

April 24, 2009

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Who was da man at da summit?

I'll give you a hint:

ecuadorable-blingee.jpg

Awww, look at that! Even No-Drama Obama adores El Ecuadorable. And, considering that Rafael Correa's slated to win re-election in a landslide in a coupla days, it's always helpful to start off on a good footing with a reigning champ.

So why is he so sexy? Well, El Ec's cojones are everywhere in evidence: he's ruled out a free-trade agreement with the US, and this just days before the election. He's also looking to get a massive discount on a debt buyback, and seems likely to get it because as a former professor of economics, he knows what sticks to hit 'em with; he's also presided over a period of economic growth that must have everyone in Bretton Woods gnashing their teeth; plus, he refuses to make nice with Colombia as long as El Narcoparaco refuses to meet with Ecuador's five conditions for re-establishing diplomacy. That's the confidence of a popular candidate talking, people; learn from it. He's popular for a reason--unlike his predecessor, Lucio Gutiérrez, alias Sucio Lucio (Dirty Lucio), he doesn't promise one thing and then deliver its opposite. When he promised to give 'em the belt, he sure 'nuff whipped it out and let fly. As it stands, he's already bucked the old dismal trend of short-lived Ecuadorian leaders...

Little wonder, then, that El Ec's polling at nearly 50% (meaning he could score an outright win in the first round) compared to Sucio's mere 15. And Sucio, believe it or not, is currently his closest opponent! I'm surprised he's even in the running, considering just what he's up against:

correa-americas.jpg

Love the shirt, too. Now, if we could only get him to ditch the conventional suitcoats in favor of something like what Evo wears: no collar, no lapels, but a few spiffy bits of aguayo contrast trim. Maybe it's just as well that he hasn't gone that route yet, or I would be hopelessly confused and torn as to who's the cuter of the two.

April 23, 2009

When even the Bolivian opposition says it...

...you know it's serious. From ABI, a bombshell:

Opposition deputy Alejandro Colanzi, of the National Unity party, denounced on Wednesday the existence of a "blacklist" of 100 names of political, civic and opinion leaders who were in the crosshairs of terrorists under the heading of "Traitors and Sentenced Enemies".

Colanzi said that the list made the rounds of the Internet on April 12, three days after the attack on the home of Cardinal Julio Terrazas.

"The mailing indicated who was to be identified and treated as an example of the 'enemies and traitors' who participated or collaborated with a government that tried to dismember a people who until now have been tolerant," Colanzi said.

The legislator showed the press a text message that was sent to various political representatives, days before the operation in which Bolivian police broke up a terrorist cell operating in the city of Santa Cruz.

"You can see the death threat made against the President and Vice-President, which says, 'Tell your chiefs Alvaro and Evo that they're going to be eliminated'. This landed on the cellphones of certain persons in Santa Cruz," Colanzi said.

The deputy demanded of the president of the Comité Cívico Pro Santa Cruz, Luis Núñez, that he denounce those who participated in meetings in which it was decided which houses would be burned.

"The 'civico' president must denounce those who have taken part in criminal activities and must tell us that he has not participated," Colanzi insisted.

Translation mine.

I sadly fear that Mr. Colanzi is going to be disappointed on two counts. I doubt very much that anyone from the right-wing Comité is going to denounce any of his allies or cronies--if not because he himself is just such a criminal, then certainly because he fears those who are.

If anyone has access to the e-mailing that he's referring to, BTW, I'd love to see and, if necessary, translate it. Drop a link and/or cut 'n' paste in the comments below.

April 22, 2009

I can has bonus too?

corporate-fat-cat.jpg

Fatty must be working for AIG.

Oh noes! It's raining QUEERS!!!

And they're gonna dance at us!

(Be sure to watch for George Takei, who used to play Mr. Sulu on Star Trek and has since married his boyfriend.)

Why the Big Three need to die, too

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With people like this in charge, would YOU trust a Detroit motor company for your livelihood or that of anyone you know?

Top recipients of federal bailout money spent more than $10 million on political lobbying in the first three months of this year, including aggressive efforts aimed at blocking executive pay limits and tougher financial regulations, according to newly filed disclosure records.

The biggest spenders among major firms in the group included General Motors, which spent nearly $1 million a month on lobbying, and Citigroup and J.P. Morgan Chase, which together spent more than $2.5 million in their efforts to sway lawmakers and Obama administration officials on a wide range of financial issues. In all, major bailout recipients have spent more than $22 million on lobbying in the six months since the government began doling out rescue funds, Senate disclosure records show.

On the one hand, they came in corporate jets to beg for bailouts; on the other, they "somehow" found the money to spend more than $22 million on lobbying. For what, I wonder--more public money with even fewer conditions attached? Probably-obably!

This part is lovely, too:

Administration officials said this week that top officials at Chrysler Financial turned away a $750 million government loan in favor of pricier private financing because executives didn't want to abide by new federal limits on pay.

..."pricier private financing because executives didn't want to abide by new federal limits on pay."

Gee, I guess they must not have NEEDED bailing out after all! If they can afford private financing but don't want to cap their own executive salaries, they must in fact have gobs of cash that they simply don't want to spend on workers, or for that matter, designing and building better cars like those energy-efficient Japanese automakers (whom the Big Three are always whining about) do. (Let's also not forget Chrysler's bullying up here, in which it threatened to shut down and move out if the unions weren't busted. Memo to the CAW: Don't give them any concessions at all. They can afford to give YOU concessions. Don't back down!)

So...why are they spending this lobbying cash that they supposedly don't have, but in fact do? Well...

The reports revived objections from advocacy groups and some lawmakers, who say firms should not be lobbying against stricter oversight at the same time they are receiving billions from the government through the Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP.

OH! Now I get it. They have all that money so they can lobby against stricter oversight. Translation: Execs even richer and less accountable, while workers struggling to pay off their subprime mortgages and loans get kicked to the curb, and car buyers also get gouged. With less oversight, that shit becomes a whole lot more commonplace (see Enron.)

But maybe I'm being too harsh on the Big Three? I dunno...let's let them talk:

But several company representatives said yesterday that none of the money borrowed from the government has been used to fund lobbying activities -- though there is no mechanism to verify that. Financial firms have successfully quashed proposed legislation that would explicitly ban the use of TARP money for lobbying or campaign contributions.

No mechanism to verify that they didn't use the bailout cash to fund lobbying activities? Gee, why should we believe what they say about anything, then? Especially things like this?

GM spokesman Greg Martin said that maintaining a lobbying presence is vital to ensure that the automaker has a say when major policy decisions are made. "We are part of what is arguably one of the most regulated industries, and we provide a voice in very complicated policy debates," Martin said.

Translation: We lobby for less regulation, less oversight, and more money for us, us, US!!! As for you peons, you're screwed, and we're laughing all the way to the bank, behind your back. Meanwhile, to your face, we say all this lovely innocuous-sounding crap so you'll think we're the good guys, out for your best interests when in fact we couldn't have them less at heart. Aren't we clever?

Hey, I have a terrific idea for the carmakers, and all those other big financial firms that got bailout money but are still spending so much on lobbying for even less oversight and regulation than they already get: How about you people all just go and learn to become self-sufficient, as you're always telling the rest of us to do? No bailout money for you. You obviously don't need any. You'll have to learn to manage your own better, and if that means no golden parachutes, corporate jets or other diamond-studded perks, so be it. Cut your profit margins and cut your own executive salaries. You can well afford to. And above all, cut your lobbying to zero. Reinvest all that cash in plants, workers, "green" and fuel-efficient designs--you know, all that unimportant stuff you've been neglecting, but the Japanese haven't? The stuff that makes their cars so much better than yours?

If you do all that, you might be surprised at how suddenly competitive you become...and how much the morale and productivity of the workers suddenly improves. You might even actually find yourselves out of trouble for good, and never having to lobby any government, anywhere, again!

April 21, 2009

Bolivian terrorists: The Argentine Connection?

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Terror cell leader Eduardo Rozsa Flores, caught napping after an intense threesome. So sexy, no? And now you have an inkling of how and why the Bolivian national police got into a shootout with him and his pals.

Well, well, well...what have we here? More potentially interesting stuff on that Bolivian terror cell? And it's better than mercenary beefcake? You don't say...

The government of Evo Morales is investigating the ties between the recently-disrupted terror cell and some Argentine ex-soldiers called "carapintadas" (painted faces), associated with the far right in that country. One of them, Jorge Mones Ruíz, is believed to have met in early April in Santa Cruz with Eduardo Rózsa Flores, the Bolivian-Croatian killed in last Thursday's raid.

Mones Ruíz acted as an Argentine delegate in UnaAmérica, a far-right organization setting itself up against Unasur, the South American Union, in a crusade to denounce leftist governments in Latin America, recruit members, and finance the right-wing in Colombia.

Mones Ruíz was slated to be an intelligence official of the Argentine army in Bolivia during the last dictatorship and prided himself on the recognition of his comrades and his Bolivian ex-comrades. In his recent trip to Bolivia he was accompanied by Liliana Raffo de Fernández Cutiellos, widow of Lt.-Col. Horacio Fernández Cutiellos, who died during the attack on the Regiment of La Tablada by the Movimiento Todos por la Patria (MTP), according to the Argentine daily, Página 12.

The woman visited the ex-prefect of Pando, Leopoldo Fernández, in prison. Fernández is accused of conspiring against the Morales government. She and the major of the Cavalry, who took up arms to keep from being tried for crimes against humanity along with Aldo Rico, had gotten credentials as correspondents for the newspaper Estrella de Oriente (Eastern Star).

Among the objectives for the trip was to meet with another fugitive from justice, for crimes against humanity and who happened to be in Santa Cruz de la Sierra: Luis Enrique Baraldini. Federal judge Daniel Rafecas put out an order for Baraldini's capture some months ago. The daily newspaper La Arena de La Pampa revealed that Baraldini was in Bolivia. This announcement led to a current search on the part of Interpol.

In an article by journalist Nora Veiras, Página 12 reports that the Morales government is investigating the links between the suspected international terrorist organization with the ex-carapintadas and Baraldini.

[...]

For several months the authorities of both countries suspected that Argentine ex-carapintadas had united with factions of the far-right in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Pando and Cochabamba.

The Bolivian minister of the presidency, Juan Ramón Quintana, was in contact with the Argentine ambassador in La Paz, Horacio Macedo, who guaranteed Argentina's help in locating the suspects.

Translation mine. Linkage (in English) added.

Curiouser and curiouser! And most curious of all, I'm not a bit surprised that Argentine ex-military fascists are also suspected of involvement. Why do you suppose that is?

Well, maybe it's because the Argentine carapintadas are among the worst of the worst. Just the mention of their painted faces is enough to strike terror into hearts all over South America. Here's a little info on them from their Wikipedia entry:

The Carapintadas (English: Painted Faces) were a group of mutineers in the Argentine Army, who took part in uprisings during the presidency of Raúl Alfonsín in Argentina.

In December 1986, the Ley de Punto Final (Full Stop Law) was introduced. This law set a 60-day deadline for the victims of the country's Dirty War to file complaints against members of the military and police suspected of human rights abuses.

On April 15, 1987, military personnel headed by Lieutenant Colonel Aldo Rico staged a series of barrack uprisings demanding that the trials of those not exempted under the law be aborted. The mutineers were all seized, but only two arrested.

The Carapintadas revolted again under Rico's command in January 1988 in Monte Caseros. They surrendered a few days later and 300 of the mutineers were arrested.

Another uprising took place in on December of that year, when members of the Albatros special unit, led by Mohamed Alí Seineldín, took control of the military barracks in Villa Martelli. They were later followed by around 1,000 troops of the three armed forces. The mutineers surrendered days later, but only Seineldín and Major Hugo Abete were arrested. Several of the mutineers demands were conceded by the government.

On October 1989, president elect Carlos Menem signed a pardon for a number of detained military men; including 39 held by events during the military government, and 164 Carapintadas. In spite of this, on December 3, 1990 Seineldin again staged an uprising, which ended with several deaths and 300 arrested. A few days later, Menem signed the pardon for all the most important people convicted for misdeeds during the Dirty War.

Hmmm, how interesting. They rose up against Raúl Alfonsín, the interim president of the time, who guided Argentina back to democracy. That's the same Alfonsín that a certain troll here couldn't bring himself to show a modicum of respect for in death. Surely not because he actually made a stab at trying to bring some right-wing military scum to justice?

And of course, there's that name. Aldo Rico. He certainly wasn't the only baddie in the bunch; there were, heaven knows, enough others besides him. But there he is. And the widow of one of his partners-in-crime has been in contact with the scummy ex-prefect of Pando, under the pretext of being journalists. With credentials from a newspaper, no less. They visited him in jail. What do you suppose the "interview" was really about? Surely not to plan some paramilitary terror operations against Evo, similar to those against Raúl Alfonsín back in the day?

Yep, these sure are interesting times, in the most Chinese-curse-y sense of the word. And bound to get more so before this case closes.

Let's get a few things straight here...

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Oh noes! I've been accused of being wrong about something going down in Bolivia, it seems. The accuser gives the e-mail address "bolivia@gmail.com", but a quickie check of his/her IP address (which gets conveniently left in my mailbox, along with the comment) tells me s/he is posting from someplace rather far from there:

General Information

Hostname: 205.160.23.2
ISP: Sprint
Organization: NAVIGANT
Proxy: None detected
Type: Corporate

Geo-Location Information

Country: United States
State/Region: DC
City: Washington
Latitude: 38.9097
Longitude: -77.0231
Area Code: 202

So of course, this person would know what s/he is talking about when it comes to Bolivia, right?

Well, let's dissect what was actually said by the commenter, and see if s/he merits the ban I meted out.*

Here's the post I put up; here's the unedited comment, in toto:

well, what can I say, but that although I expected something better from the same person who scolded me for not showing regret at the passing of Alfonsin, I see that Sabina is simply spewing hate, concerned more about scoring ideological points rather than objectively reporting FACTS.

My guess if that innocent til proven guilty only applies for those who you simpathize with? We can agree that the bolivia/hungarian dude was a nut missing a few screws. However there is absolutely no evidence that they were after Evo. The more likely scenario is that they wanted to fight his regime, but that is far different from an assasination attempt. What is really worrysome is that there is indications that these guys were executed and no gun fight occurred. Some are reporting that their hands were tied as they were shot point blank, but I won't go that far since I was not there. But the pictures and video clearly do not support the govt version of a gunfight. And yes, there is still no evidence what so ever of an plot to kill Evo other than him, and he made that call even before we knew who had been killed.

The first paragraph is a nasty ad feminam attack, no? It's indicative of a grudge-holding mentality on the part of the troll, because I had put that comment out of my mind shortly after chiding this person (on El Gaviero's blog) for being disrespectful to an Argentine former president who recently passed away, and who also happened to be the one to transition the country from dictatorship to democracy. You can get the details on Raúl Alfonsín from Otto and The Mex Files, if you like.

The second is more immediately relevant, and makes some accusations which are pretty ludicrous in light of known facts (no ideology necessary, unless of course you're a spinny 'winger troll.)

First off: No gunfight? That's funny, every major media report says there was one that went on for about thirty minutes. (Here's the Reuters version, for those who still doubt. You'll note that it is NOT Evo-friendly.)

Thirty minutes, people. That's a long time to be shooting it out barrel to barrel. Why would Big Media, no friend to Evo, report that unless it actually DID happen that way?

And what does it tell you about the guys shooting back at the cops? What it tells me is that they were pretty damn heavily armed, is what. Here's another article, with some photos (again, from Reuters, the not-Evo-friendly news agency) showing what the cops found on those guys.

Then there's the "their hands were tied" part. Um, no, they weren't, and here's some graphic (and grotty) proof:

dwyer-corpse.jpg

That's Michael Dwyer's corpse immediately after the shootout, BTW. See how the hands are tied together?

Neither do I.

The tying-up happened, incidentally, when the bodies were being removed from the hotel. That is, only AFTER they were killed (and photographed for the record, as above). They were wrapped in garbage bags, and I'm guessing they had to be trussed up pretty tightly to keep the bags in place and make the bodies easier for the removers to carry. Why garbage bags? Well, either the authorities didn't have any body bags to hand (my guess is they weren't anticipating a need for them, since they conducted the raid in the wee hours, when these guys were presumably sleeping, and they probably didn't expect so much resistance). Or else (and this is less likely) they considered these assassins worthy of nothing better. Either way, get one thing straight: The decedents were NOT tied up and then summarily executed. There was a gunfight, and they lost. Period.

Finally, one doesn't have to have a partisan viewpoint to realize that yes, this is a terrorist incident, and not some cockamamie "freedom fighter" bullshit. When the parliament agrees to convene a multipartite commission to investigate the incident, you can be sure that it's serious.

Finally, there is the "fighting against his regime" bullcrap. WHAT "regime"? We're talking about a democracy here. Evo was elected in December 2005 with 54% of the vote, which might not sound like much until you realize it's the most that any elected Bolivian president in history ever got--and more than double the percentage of his nearest rival. If you're fighting against that, you're fighting against democracy, and that, by definition, makes you a terrorist. If the opposition can't take their defeats gracefully, too bad for them--but that's no excuse to try to overthrow him. The man deserves respect. What else do you think the very democratic concept of "the loyal opposition" means?

One would have to be pretty ideologically twisted to argue with facts like these, but crapagandists in Washington, DC, are as twisted as they come.

And now that we've got this much straight, let's move on to other things. I'll still be following this case as new details emerge, and as justice takes its course with the two who were taken alive. But I will not have any more patience for people trying to muddy the waters with obvious and patent bullshit.

*I don't often do this, BTW. I do, however, make exceptions to my general live-and-let-fly comment policy for spammers and trolls. Spammers get insta-dumped; the trolls get baseball rules--three strikes before the umpire calls 'em out. Since most trolls I get are one-time poopers, I have more fun with a good factual beatdown than banning them, unless they're truly and pornographically obnoxious. In which case I make an exception to the baseball rule, and just delete their comment AND ban them in one go. Since this troll has defecated here more than three times, s/he was overripe for a pulping.

Bolivian terror cell update: illegal entry, and other fun stuff

According to ABI, one of the terrorists killed in last week's raid at a Santa Cruz hotel entered the country illegally at the Puerto Suárez, on the border between Bolivia and Brazil. Who was it? Eduardo Rozsa Flores, of course. The whacked-up ex-journo, movie actor and dubious poet turned rabid Croat separatist already had so many strikes going against him that shit, what was one more?

No word yet on how the other four got in; stay tuned.

So where are all the wingnuts screaming about illegal immigration leading to terrorism? Is it suddenly okay when their fellow fascists do it? Or is it only a crime when some brownish person from Central America does it in order to find a job?

Meanwhile, via The Mex Files, I've found another interesting item pertaining to the three who were killed. Here's a pic of the lone Irishman on the "team", Michael Martin Dwyer:

michael-dwyer.jpg

Yup, the dude was heavily into war games. And yet his family and friends say they never knew, even though so many of the signs were there: guy lives for war games, and allows himself to be photographed in Bolivia, and even posts pix of himself and some other unsavory type in army clothes on Bebo? And his Facebook page lists Flores, of all people, as a friend? With "friends" like that, the guy didn't need any enemies.

Now he's dead, and his loved ones are left to wonder how they failed to pick up on all the scattered clues, and whether there was anything they could have said or done to dissuade him. The answer is probably no, they couldn't. For one thing, would-be assassins don't come right out and say "Hey Ma, I'm gonna go try to kill the president of Bolivia. It's a thrill a minute and the money's great. Hot chicks will dig me!" They might leave a strangely public trail of crumbs, as this one did, but that's about it.

Besides, who'd look at all those clues and seriously suspect that their son, brother or childhood pal was a merc-in-the-making? We all want to think the best of those we love. Something like that can really blind one to the danger signs.

And then, too, the guy was determined to lead a life of crime and macho glamour, and it seems he wasn't about to let little considerations like how his folks might feel if he were to die in "action" give him any sober second thoughts. He could have gone home and stuck to playing paintball and video games, but no, he wanted The Real Thing. He found out the hard way that those who live by the gun, die by it as well. I don't know how long he lived to regret it, or even if he did.

I feel terribly sorry for the homefolks, because they didn't deserve to lose him like this.

April 20, 2009

Why the CIA needs to die a quick and painful death

Michael Hayden, BushCo's man, makes the case for his own and every other torturer's demise:

Gawd, what an ass. I don't know where to even begin ripping him a new one; any old place will do, I guess!

April 19, 2009

Hill-arious pix from the Americas Summit

Well, guess what...His Barackness and Her Royal Clintoness of the State Dept. finally got to meet the man everyone keeps calling their nemesis, in spite of all evidence to the contrary (or a lack of evidence to confirm, same diff.) And, in spite of all the media blahblahblah (and the offshoot dorky misinterpretations by inadvertently funny "moderate" bloggers), things went rather well. By "rather well", I mean they went both ways, for once. Diplomatic relations are about to be restored, as Obama vows to show some respect to LatAm for a change. The capable Roy Chaderton looks all set to be Venezuela's next ambassador to the US, after his OAS stint; relations with Bolivia could also soon return to normal if Obama makes good on his pledge to co-operate rather than dictate (and fergawdsakes, Barack, the best way start showing you mean business is to get rid of your Bolivia advisors, who all have Goni-rhea, and replace them with people who don't ooze neoliberal pus).

Okay. So much for all that serious shit. Now, let's lighten up. What do you suppose was being said here? My educated guesses below...

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"Listen, man, I want to apologize for what you went through under my predecessor. He's the idiot son of an asshole, and I just want you to know I'm nothing like him."

Chavecito's face says it all: Oh man, that is SO good to hear.

Meanwhile, State Dept. sez:

chavez-hillary.jpg

"What? You mean you're NOT an evildoing sponsor of Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaida, and all those others? You really ARE just the president of Venezuela? OhmyGAWD!!!"

So, gentle readers...what do YOU think was being said?

Music for a Sunday: One to plant your garden by

This one's been earworming through my head of late, so I finally gave in. Now it's YOUR turn!

April 18, 2009

Wankers of the Week: Both Sides Now edition

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Memo to those below: When caught, the graceful thing to do is blush. And apologize. If you can't, you're a wanker!

1. Rick Fucking Warren. First this unctuous sack-of-grease loudly and proudly supports Prop H8, then he claims he did no such thing. Even though he's fully on record. And now, as a means of avoiding the question entirely, he's claiming to be sick. With remorse, one hopes. Because now, he's got twice as much to be remorseful for.

2. Stockwell Fucking Day. This fundie freak-scene is so famously dumb that he doesn't even know which way the Niagara River flows. What the hell is he doing trying to drum up trade for Canada in China? Will he be doing it on a Sea-Doo? And most importantly: Does Harpo WANT Epic Fail all over him? Or does he simply not care, because he has already gotten away with the political equivalent of murder--twice?

2 1/2. John Fucking Geddes of Maclean's also deserves a dishonorable mention--for giving Wetsuit Boy this blowjob. No, John, it's NOT his "disarmingly informal manner" that's keeping him around to annoy us like that fucking Energizer Bunny! The only reason Doris is a "political survivor" is because the far-right in this country, taking a leaf from their ideological kin to the south, keeps piling its own trash on top of the roof, instead of kicking it to the curb. And because the media (that would be YOU, John, among others) keep fellating these slimebags instead of reporting accurately and objectively on them.

3. Billy Bob Fucking Thornton. I liked you better as Slingblade, asshole. Now I don't like you at all. And neither does anyone else up here in the Land of the Terminally Polite. How 'bout THEM apples?

4. The Douchebag Defenders of Dubai. Their glorious, self-assigned seven-star experiment in taxless, democracy-free capitalism is sinking faster than a man-made sandbar in a sea of sewage. Which, sad to say, is exactly what Dubai is doing, because, sad to say, that is exactly what Dubai is. So what do they do about it? Take out their rage (in the comments section, natch) on British journalist Johann Hari, who only reported it. Biggest one of all? This Sultan-dude here, who, by way of what he thinks is rebuttal, emits a long string of "I could have written...but I didn't". Which neither defends nor changes the Dubai situation one tittle or jot. If he could have written horrible things about Britain but didn't, then why did he? Because he did. And because he's a douche! And because he, like everyone else in his shoes, doesn't want to admit the blindingly obvious when it comes to the down-side of Dubai. Well, why not? I can admit that there's plenty wrong here in Canada (see above), and as Hari points out, he can do the same about Britain (and has been doing just that, for years). Could it be that some people are tetchy for reasons having nothing to do with reality, and everything to do with ideology? Hmmmm...could be.

5. Jorge Fucking "Tuto" Quiroga. Evo goes on hunger strike for a fairer voting law, which the Bolivian opposition (a real field of dickweeds) refuses to pass, and what does his #1 opponent call it? "A presidential diet". Hey Tuto, why don't you just hold your breath for the sake of a principle? It would do your country a lot more good than your silly snipings at a man whose shoes you're not fit to lick.

6. The Fucking Bishop of Augsburg, Walter Fucking Mixa. There's only one flaw in his argument blaming non-belief in God for the rise of the Third Reich. It's rather a large one. See if you can spot it in the picture below.

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More evidence of the bishop's sanctimonious idiocy here, here, here, here and here.

7. Chris Fucking Brown. Why is any woman going near him, knowing what he's capable of? And why would any woman WANT to? He's not all that, girls. Is there so little self-esteem in the female hemisphere?

8. All these dumb fucks right here:

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Bad news, folks: You bin astroturfed! And you still look as asinine as you did the last time you went in for astroturfing, too:

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(Say, is that the same woman...? Nice dentures, bitch.)

9. And finally: Anyone who tells me I don't know what I'm talking about, especially when commenting on a post where actual knowledge is in evidence. Don't bother trying to drag me down to your level of ignorance. Just fuck the hell off, 'kay?

Summit coverage gets Teh Stoopid

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Oh, let's face it...there ain't NO army of darkness cuter than the Itteh Bitteh Black Kitteh Committeh.

D'you suppose Basement Cat let loose her evil minions at the recent OAS summit? The media probably think so. Or at the very least, they think it's gonna be all Chavecito, all the time (TIME certainly seems to, when not busy STILL promoting the tired old "good left/bad left" dichotomy of BushCo), or all Cuba all the time (various snooze media).

Yep, they've all got Teh Stoopid, and they're giving us the complete idiot's version, banking that we won't know the difference between that and actual, insightful coverage. So what's new? This is why the mainstream media are dying, kiddies--they can't cover anything half decently. They cut out in-depth feature reporting a long time ago, and stuck all the money into fancy real estate instead. To make up for the lack of reporting, they've substituted a toxic blend of gossip and crapaganda, and reaped a harvest of dummies. (I hope Obama's next big move will be to get the CIA out of the news business. They've been in there for way too long already.)

Someone please wake me up when one of them has anything to say that shows they've finally quit spinning, and seriously get what's going on. Like, say, Ben Dangl does.

And in the meantime, enjoy some pics that are sure to make a lot of right-wing media heads explode from the sheer effort of trying to figure out what was really going on.

April 17, 2009

More on the Bolivian would-be assassins, or Sic Semper Terroristis

Yesterday's big news was the story of a clandestine terror cell operating in Bolivia, that's been suspected by police of links to several recent incidents, including a bombing of a cardinal's residence (which he was fortunately not in at the time, as he was in hospital recuperating from heart surgery). Today we find out a bit more about two of the five men who were killed and captured in a dramatic firefight at a Santa Cruz hotel:

The Croation minister of the Exterior confirmed on Friday that Eduardo Rózsa Flores and Mario Tadic, believed to be members of a terrorist cell that planned an assassination of the president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, had Croatian citizenship.

"We can confirm that this case concerns persons registered as citizens of Croatia," said a ministerial spokesperson, who added that nothing was known about their supposed activities in Bolivia.

Bolivian authorities confirmed that Rózsa Flores, whom the Croatian press nicknamed "Chico", died in a confrontation with Bolivian security forces, while Tadic was detained as one of the accomplices.

Croatian deputy Branimir Glavas said that he remembered Rózsa Flores very well. "Eduardo 'Chico' was a journalist and enlisted voluntarily in the Croatian army. He was a good fighter, although nothing about his past was very clear. For us, he was always an enigma," Glavas said.

According to the publication "24 Hours", "Chico" came to eastern Croatia as a journalist, but then quickly became a volunteer soldier. He was wounded in combat on three occasions and received Croatian citizenship and the rank of colonel in the Croatian army.

Translation mine.

Meanwhile, here's a report from the Budapest Times that shows just how schizophrenic some people are when confronted with terrorist villainy among their own:

Zoltan Brady, editor-in-chief of Hungarian literary magazine Kapu, which had employed Rozsa Flores and published several of his books, said he was convinced that the group had not been involved in a plot of any kind. Brady said he had talked to Rozsa Flores two days ago, adding that his colleague had gone to Bolivia in May 2008 "to fight against its communist government" and for the independence of the province of Santa Cruz. "Eduardo lived in the jungle and was involved in regular fights... he was a soldier, a partisan, fighting together with thousands of others in the jungle," Brady said. He also added that he thought that Rozsa Flores and the others had been executed rather than killed in a fire fight.

"Not involved in a plot of any kind", but somehow he went to Bolivia "to fight against its communist government"? Sorry, people, but what he got involved in IS a terror plot, because Bolivia doesn't have a communist government--it has popular, freely elected socialists who are working hard to free it of the tyranny of the old oligarchy. Who, I suspect, are the ones behind all this. Let's face it, this self-styled "conservative, anarchist world revolutionary" (and very self-contradictory!) hero is a terrorist. A conservative cannot be an anarchist, much less a revolutionary. I've met real anarchists, and this one bears no resemblance to any decent one. This one was nothing but a fucked-up fascist, one who used his military training and experience to become a terrorist much like Tim McVeigh.

His blog (brought to my attention by commenter Mihály Kovács) is covered in racist Cruceñista logos and a veritable goulash of other weird and contradictory crap. Its header shows poor grasp of Latin (as well as facts). It's supposed to be Sic Semper Tyrannis, dative plural, not "Tyrannus", which is singular nominative (and a major no-no if you're trying to say "Thus ever unto tyrants" in Latin). If it were up to me, I'd say he should be shot for bad grammar alone. As it is, he got a dose of sic semper terroristis, and it serves him bloody well right.

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Hats off to Evo!

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"Four whole days on hunger strike. Count 'em, bitches. It's four more than any of you oppos would ever do for your country."

Okay, so that's not what Evo was actually saying there. But it's pretty emblematic of his attitude just the same. And his cojones. The man just narrowly escaped being killed by an international terrorist cell, and he's still cheerful and chipper after that. Plus four days of semi-starvation. And that's not all. Get a load of what he said at the ALBA summit yesterday in Cumaná, Venezuela:

"Cuba was expelled (from the Organization of American States) for being Marxist, Leninist, socialist. I want to say to the members of the OAS, here, I want to declare myself Marxist, Leninist, socialist, communist. Now let them kick me out. I want them to expel me from the OAS. It's unbelievable that you can get expelled from the OAS just for being Marxist-Leninist!"

That's what he said (translation mine). Notice he was grinning when he said it. He wasn't serious about being a communist, in other words. But he was serious about something...

Namely, the case for Cuba being reinstated to the OAS, no ifs, ands or buts. And no ideological conditions attached. He's saying that if Cuba's not allowed back in, he wants out. And he's prepared to say he's something he's not, just to prove the point.

That, gentle reader, takes serious gonads.

I suspect that it won't be long before Cuba gets let back in from the cold. And if it does, it will be mainly the doing of Chavecito and Evo. Especially Evo. This guy goes to bat not only for his own people, but for anyone he sees getting shafted. For that reason, hats off to him!

PS: Lugo of Paraguay has chimed in on a similar note. He's mighty pissed at Hillary Clinton for dissing Cuba, and he notes that Mercosur has been around for 18 years and hasn't achieved nearly as much as Chavecito's ALBA has in the far fewer years that it's been in effect. Gonna be an interesting OAS meeting to say the least, kiddies...

April 16, 2009

Quotable: Matt Taibbi on the US peasant mentality

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"But actual rich people can't ever be the target. It's a classic peasant mentality: going into fits of groveling and bowing whenever the master's carriage rides by, then fuming against the Turks in Crimea or the Jews in the Pale or whoever after spending fifteen hard hours in the fields. You know you're a peasant when you worship the very people who are right now, this minute, conning you and taking your shit. Whatever the master does, you're on board. When you get frisky, he sticks a big cross in the middle of your village, and you spend the rest of your life praying to it with big googly eyes. Or he puts out newspapers full of innuendo about this or that faraway group and you immediately salute and rush off to join the hate squad. A good peasant is loyal, simpleminded, and full of misdirected anger. And that's what we've got now, a lot of misdirected anger searching around for a non-target to mis-punish... can't be mad at AIG, can't be mad at Citi or Goldman Sachs. The real villains have to be the anti-AIG protesters! After all, those people earned those bonuses! If ever there was a textbook case of peasant thinking, it's struggling middle-class Americans burned up in defense of taxpayer-funded bonuses to millionaires. It's really weird stuff. And bound to get weirder, I imagine, as this crisis gets worse and more complicated."

--Matt Taibbi, "The peasant mentality lives on in America"

Foreign Policy: the rag that won't let you forget how much it sucks

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Or, for that matter, what douchebags run the thing, or what enema-nozzles write for it. And look what they're exploiting now to prove the point...

Dates are important to Chávez. If he can locate the end of the coup as the beginning of the revolution, then events that came before what's known in Venezuela as "11-A" -- for example, his own failed attempt to topple a democratic government in 1992 -- are buried. More importantly, though, this trick gives Chávez a chance to portray the seven years since 11-A as a Manichaean struggle between the forces of democracy (Chávez himself) and would-be despots (anyone who did, does, or might oppose him). As the Venezuelan strongman moves closer to a complete consolidation of power, this national narrative has become increasingly necessary -- and increasingly strained, too.

In the past 60 days, Chávez has, more than ever, used the imagined threat of overthrow and sedition to justify wide seizures of power. Since the February referendum victory that did away with presidential term limits, and perhaps with an eye to next year's legislative elections, Chávez seems to be looking for excuses to wipe out the opposition -- or, possibly, to bait it until the imagined threat becomes an actual threat, giving further justification to his despotism.

Wow. Spin much there, Mr. Foreign Policy Dreckwriter?

Love the language, too: "imagined threat of overthrow and sedition to justify wide seizures of power". WHAT seizures of power? There haven't been any. He is as limited by the constitution as ever. He won a perfectly legal referendum fair and square, and all it means is that he gets to stand for election more than twice. This is a "wide seizure of power"?

But wait, there's more...

At least that is one theory to explain the severity of the recent crackdowns. In addition to arrest warrants for several top opposition leaders including Manuel Rosales, the jailing of the former general turned critic Raúl Baduel, numerous takeovers of food producers, banks, and ports, as well as the creation of an appointed "mayor of mayors" to eliminate powers of locally elected officials, the state also decided to convict an important group of political prisoners. Click Here!

In early April, choosing a date conveniently close to the anniversary of the 2002 coup, a political court sentenced police commissioners Lázaro Forero, Henry Vivas, Ivan Simonovis, and several others to 30 years in prison on trumped-up charges that they committed crimes against the state on 11-A (Chávez himself only served two years in prison for his own coup). In his televised address April 13, Chávez said it is an act of "subversion" to criticize the sentence given to the police officers, encouraging his supporters to "do what they have to do" to any journalists who question the verdict

"At least that is one theory"--yeah. A kooky, nutty, conspiracy theory with no foundation in fact. It's typical of the Foreign Policy know-nothings to reach for the convenient "OMG he's a communist persecuting his opponents" stupid-stick instead of actually looking at the facts.

Those who've actually been paying attention will recall that Manuel Rosales and Raúl Baduel are both being prosecuted (not persecuted) for massive theft from the public coffers, not political subversion. In fact, Baduel didn't become a "dissident" until it became evident that his stealing was about to get him busted. He robbed the army to pay for his ranch. Manuel Rosales robbed the citizens of Zulia while he was governor to buy no fewer than 11 large properties. This has earned him the nickname of "Robales" (the Spanish verb robar means exactly what it looks like in English, kiddies.)

As for the three police commissioners, the timing of their sentencing may have been a fortuitous coincidence. What's not in doubt is that they are guilty as charged. In fact, Lázaro Forero is known to have been in contact with the US ambassador in Caracas at the time, Charles Shapiro--talking on the phone with him in the midst of the worst gunfight on the afternoon of April 11, when the police under his command, and that of Vivas and Simonovis, opened fire on a large concentration of Bolivarians on Llaguno Bridge. Those police weren't just acting off their own bat; someone was giving them the orders to shoot innocent, unarmed people in the head, neck, chest, abdomen--in other words, shoot to kill.

All of this is good to remember. Especially when you read a Foreign Policy hit-piece telling you how a certain legitimately elected, ratified and highly popular someone is using the memory of it for his own benefit. Are the people of Venezuela supposed to forget who trampled their democracy, or how, or why? Or the fact that a lot of the perpetrators have yet to face justice?

Of course, there are those who keep using the events of 9-11 (note the coded use of dates, surprisingly similar to that obnoxious "11-A" that gets the writer's boxers in a bunch) to further their cause against others, too. One of those others, in fact, happens to be the legitimately elected president of Venezuela, who has often been accused, by Foreign Policy among others, of being a terrorist, or of aiding, abetting, harboring and supporting them. As well as, of course, being a dictator--which he also is not.

And that, kiddies, is how and why Foreign Policy sucks.

Never forget.

Larry Klayman is about to get laughed out of court again

This is hilarious!

Freedom Watch Founder Larry Klayman has sued Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in a U.S. federal court in Miami, FL.

The class action lawsuit alleges Chavez has committed crimes against humanity.

A press release from Klayman Thursday put the suit on par with a boxing match "shaping up to be the legal battle of the century," and referring to it as an "inevitable" battle in the "ring of justice" between "two no-holds-barred fighters" one championing freedom and the other communism.

Klayman's class-action lawsuit names lead plaintiff Ricardo Guanipa, a Venezuelan citizen now living in Miami, as one of the members of the class seeking damages from Chavez and his associates "for assault, supporting terrorism, crimes against humanity, violations of civil and human rights and torture of members of the class Klayman is representing."

"The lawsuit charges Chavez and co-defendants including Ramon Alonso Carrizales Rengifo, Vice President of Venezuela, with conspiring with Colombian paramilitary Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Al Qaeda, and the Taliban in committing atrocities and causing defendants to flee their native country in fear for their lives," according to the press release.

"Members of the class Klayman is representing"? Uh, that would be the Venezuelan oligarchy. Not a very large class, and not one whose rights are in serious jeopardy from anyone but their fascist, gun-happy own (as demonstrated on April 11, 2002). They "fled" to Florida mainly for the shopping. And the only thing they stand to lose in Venezuela is money...to the taxman. (Or to Allen Stanford, who stole a lot more from them than SENIAT stood to receive.)

Oh, and look who else is on the radar. Yup, His Barackness...for "excessive partying". Lemme know how that one goes, assuming it goes anywhere. Like the anti-Chavecito suit, this one's a guaranteed Epic Fail.

But hey, that won't stop Laughable Larry, the man who even sued his own mom.

Meanwhile, let's all enjoy this pic of Larry Klayman, partying (with Cindy Iglesias)!

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Cops Behaving Badly, or Fascism Without Swastikas?

A video that speaks for itself.

Oh, that Evo...so paranoid all the time!

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Does he never stop talking about terror plots the imperialists are hatching against him? Sheesh...

The president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, who is currently on an out-of-country trip, publicly denounced on Sunday the presence of paramilitary cells who are organizing in the state of Santa Cruz, with the objective of destabilizing the government.

This denunciation coincides with an operation conducted on Thursday by Bolivian police, in which three suspected terrorists were killed and an apparent terror cell disrupted.

"We're not asleep at the switch, we know that they're organizing. Now, in Santa Cruz, they're inventing a new pretext for not having national elections. They always want to weaken the government. But their plan to 'exhaust the Indian' failed. What else are the imperial tools in Bolivia preparing, along with the empire outside the country?" Morales asked during a televised interview.

[...]

On Sunday, Morales also said that if anything were to happen to his vice-president, Alvaro García Linera, or to any of his ministers, it would be the doing of the "fascist right wing which is organizing".

On Thursday, the commander of the National Police, Víctor Hugo Escóbar, informed that the dismantled terrorist group "aimed to make an attempt on the life of certain persons in the cities of Santa Cruz and La Paz."

"By way of characteristics, modus operandi, and the quantity of explosives found, we may speak of a terrorist group," Escóbar said.

Translation mine.

Only, as per usual, Evo isn't just talking paranoid woo-woo...he's for real, and so's this guy:

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That's Chief Escóbar. Here's more about the plot he uncovered...

Bolivian police revealed that in the early morning hours on Thursday, they killed three suspected terrorists, two of them Hungarian nationals and one Bolivian. The suspects are linked to various assassination attempts with explosives in the city of Santa Cruz, among them the explosion at the home of Cardinal Julio Terrazas last Wednesday morning.

Police commander Víctor Hugo Escóbar, in a press conference, explained that the suspects "used firearms" and that police responded in kind.

"We regret the deaths of three persons, who have been transferred to the morgue, along with two detainees who were transferred to La Paz in order to continue the investigation," remarked the police chief.

Without giving any close details of the operation and the identities of the dead, Escóbar said that "they are specialists and trained for such ends", and that in the confrontation, "the terrorists launched a bomb" in their efforts to escape.

"We presume that according to the characteristics and the modus operandi we observed developing in the different crimes, that not only the assault on the house of the cardinal but others. The explosive chemicals used lead us to believe that it was the same persons, but we will await a technical report from our specialists," said the chief.

Translation mine.

Paranoid? Shyeah. So paranoid is Evo that they really ARE out to destabilize the country. Just leaped fully formed from his head, they did...

UPDATE #1: The dead and arrested have now been named. Dead are Mayarosi Ariad, a Romanian; Michael Dwyer (spelled in the report on ABI as Duayer Michel Martin), of Ireland; and Jorge Hurtado Flores, a Bolivian. Captured are Mario Tadik, a Bolivian, and Iedad Toazo, a Hungarian.

UPDATE #2: Rubén Costas, oppo douchebag, thinks it's all just a media show cooked up by the government. Of course, it happened in HIS city, on HIS watch; he's the prefect of Santa Cruz! Strange, too, how the timing is so convenient--Bolivia's government just passed a new electoral law so that elections can take place in December. That's why Evo spent four and a half days on hunger strike--the oppos were holding the bill up in parliament. They talk a lot about autonomy, but they can't find their asses with both hands and a flashlight, much less mount a convincing campaign against Evo. The best they can do is recycle neoliberal dogma, which Bolivians have already rejected, and violently, numerous times. Guess who stands to lose big-time in December's elections, and why...

UPDATE #3: Vice-minister Saúl Ávalos has demanded that the right-wing Comité Pro Santa Cruz be investigated for possible links to the terrorists. That's Branko Marinkovic's outfit. Figures that he's never far removed from anything that goes bang, boom or, in this case, bust...

UPDATE #4: Vice-minister of the Interior, Marcos Farfán, reports that the same terrorist group tried to plant a bomb on the military ship that carried Evo, Alvaro and their floating parliament on Lake Titicaca a couple of weeks ago. They also tried to sabotage a ceremony in which Evo handed over land titles to Guaraní natives in Alto Parapetí. You may recall from reading El Duderino that the Guaraní are among the most grievously wronged people in Eastern Bolivia--many have been outright enslaved by large land-owners. This title handover is their ticket to freedom, and the attempted sabotage thereof tells you all you need to know about who the terrorists were working for.

More incriminating video from the Venezuelan coup

VTV journalist Ernesto Villegas shows a video clip taken by a Peruvian reporter team during the firefights of April 11, 2002 in Caracas. In it, in the background, you can see a Metropolitan Caracas police officer taking off a red beret (falsely identifying him as a Chavista) and swapping it for the white helmets worn by the cops.

Recall that the force was, at that time, under control of an anti-Chávez mayor, Alfredo Peña. Recall, also, that the media was full of stories about how "Chávez ordered the Bolivarian Circles to fire on unarmed opposition marchers"! Recall, too, that the media--Venevisión particularly--falsified the events of that day in a big way, showing a group of men firing from Llaguno Bridge. They were, in fact, defending themselves and their fellow Bolivarians on the bridge--against the Metropolitan Police, who were shooting at them from on top of a riot truck below. The opposition march never got within five city blocks of the bridge, and the shooters' handguns only had a range of three, if that. The only thing within that range was, you guessed it, the cops. Who, as the accused men later steadfastly insisted, were not acting as authorities of law and order, but as shock troops for the coup which was underway at the time. They were shooting at unarmed Bolivarian demonstrators, gathered on the bridge, which was just a short distance down Urdaneta Avenue from two government buildings: Miraflores, and the White Palace. The objective of the police and their allies, the rooftop snipers, was clear--to kill and terrorize, and thus clear the road so the oppo marchers could storm the palace.

And, as we can now see from the video above, there was an additional motive: to frame the innocent Chavistas and present them as the guilty party of that day. Looks like that frame is finally falling apart.

April 15, 2009

Ye Gods!

Quick, somebody, pinch me. Pinch me hard. I'm still rubbing my eyes and trying to determine if what I'm seeing is really true:

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"The Castro government has kept the broad support of its people by responding to economic shocks and providing universal access to health care and education. There will be no counter-revolution anytime soon."

Holy. Fucking. SHIT!!!

Cuba is about to be let in from the cold. In our lifetime, kiddies.

That does it, I'm going and getting drunk. See you on the other side of Hangover City. (hic)

Weirdest. Music. Video. EVER.

Well, at least now I know what men's nipples are for. They're for shooting lasers! Now it all makes sense.

Monsanto to Michelle: Please panic, don't go organic

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Ain't no tyranny like that of a good example, I guess. Case in point: Michelle Obama and her organic White House veggie garden. Seems she's not only gotten some corporate panties in a twist, she's given them an Atomic Wedgie. The last thing the pesticide industry wants is for her to grow food for her children without dumping toxic shit all over it:

Did you hear the news? The White House is planning to have an "organic" garden on the grounds to provide fresh fruits and vegetables for the Obama's and their guests. While a garden is a great idea, the thought of it being organic made Janet Braun, CropLife Ambassador Coordinator and I shudder. As a result, we sent a letter encouraging them to consider using crop protection products and to recognize the importance of agriculture to the entire U.S. economy.

You can read the whole letter at the La Vida Locavore link. It's heavy on generalizations and carefully crafted language, but light on honesty and openness. And no wonder. If they said what they really were and what they were really about, they'd never get a hearing.

"CropLife Ambassadors" is their cute euphemism for pesticide industry lobbyists and shills. "Crop protection products" is their cute euphemism for pesticides. Presumably things grow better when covered with toxic, carcinogenic crap.

Well, I know one thing that grows better that way: Big Chem's profit margin. But veggies? Pppppfffft. It's amazing how much you can do without that extra outlay (and without poisoning anyone or anything.) I grow my own veggies--and enough to give away to family and friends--without any pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilizers. All I put on them is mine own humble compost (and the occasional tinfoil wrapper around my tomato stems, to baffle the cutworms). They grow like weeds. And the weeds? Well, some are edible, and those that aren't, are still compostable.

Not only that, but when you don't dump pesticides on your plants, you actually encourage insects to control the pests. Stands to reason: How's a praying mantis gonna eat your pests if it's getting poisoned? And what about the honeybees (and other pollinators, such as bumbles, flies, wasps, butterflies, etc.)?

And there is ample scientific evidence to support the idea that organic is the right way to go, be it for healthfulness, flavor and even--gasp--output. Yes, it's true--organic crops produce better, all around. Who'da thunk? Us organic gardeners, that's who. My full freezer and pantry don't lie. By the time I finish using up last year's frozen ORGANIC tomatoes, I'll have started harvesting this year's new crop!

I'm pretty sure Michelle O. will give this inane missive a quick, polite read-through (perhaps narrowing her pretty eyes with skepticism), and then toss it like the smart lady she is. And then she'll go back to her organic garden, confident in the knowledge that she's growing a better crop. In every sense.

PS: Things just got worse for Monsanto and Co. Germany just outlawed their Frankencorn.

April 14, 2009

Quotable: George Monbiot on the end of corporate impunity

"For two centuries corporations and governments from the rich world have treated the people they encounter overseas as nothing but obstacles to the extraction of resources, who -- when they could not be enslaved to assist that work -- had to be disposed of as expeditiously as possible: by bribery, deception, terror or massacre. The richer the resources a land possesses, the more viciously its inhabitants are treated. Now these inconvenient people might begin to be seen as human beings."

--George Monbiot, "Shell: Corporate impunity goes on trial"

An unsung Venezuelan hero gets his due, in documentary form

Video in Spanish.

"A Coup and a Letter" tells the story of Juan Rodríguez, a soldier of the Venezuelan army, who carried a hand-written message from his president to the people. When Juan realized that Chavecito hadn't resigned, that he was being held prisoner against his will and that of the people, he knew he had to act. Until now, he has remained a largely unsung hero in the rescue of democracy that took place on this day in 2002. No longer.

April 13, 2009

Back to the novel, back to bliss (kinda sorta)

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"Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead."

--Gene Fowler


Well, not quite. If, as I do, you do most of your writing on a computer screen rather than a sheet of paper, you have to stare at some other blank thing while waiting for those drops of blood to form. But the essential process is the same: You sit, you wait, you feel the prickle of something wet and salty coalescing on your brow, and you hope to Goddess it's only sweat and not blood.

Or, if you're lucky, you already have your basic ideas tentatively mapped out on a scratchpad, and only have to sit down and get back to fleshing 'em out, as I did today to the tune of over a thousand words. A thousand words better than the first thousand I wrote in that lost first draft--or "first drift", as I prefer to call it, since that's what it was. It wandered off course a lot. Sometimes it stalled in the doldrums, and I spent countless pages trying to find something to say again that would get my little craft back into the great current. I was often unsure as to whether to steer it into the Gulf Stream or the Benguela.

This time I know where I want it to go, or at least I'm pretty sure I know better. I'm not yet quite at the point of making like Lawrence of Arabia, who exulted when the first draft of Seven Pillars of Wisdom went missing: "I've lost the damned thing!"

But I'm getting close. This first draft is definitely easier. I got out my thousand words in under an hour (and no, writing for eight hours a day at this pace would not result in eight thousand words; it would result in me swiftly losing my mind. Which I need, thankyouverymuch.)

And while the prose is much more unadorned than it was the first time, it's also clearer and cleaner, and also considerably more compressed--which is always better for a novel, because any damned idiot can write purple prose that says nothing for several pages at a stretch. It takes a real Albert Camus, or a Hemingway, to pack a lot into what looks like few words. (I don't know if I'm at the level of them yet, either, but I know I'm closer to it than I was this time last time 'round.)

So this is what you do when you've lost the damned thing: You take time to regroup, rethink, and then...re-write.

And once you get started, you feel stronger, and you rejoice, too. Because this is what you're good at, and you know it's what you're meant to do.

And then, feeling only a little bit paranoid, you'll save the whole thing to a recently purchased flash drive, and hope that the brand-new Time Machine your whole pute is backed up on will also do its duty without fail, and preserve a second backup in the event that this pute, too, should cack out.

And in the meantime, you strive to have confidence that this second first draft will truly be better than the first.

April 12, 2009

Music for a Sunday: The only capitalism I care for

Of course, it's foreign:

April 11, 2009

Wankers of the Week, and other people who can fuck the hell off

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Who's been playing with themselves in public? Who needs to put it away before they get arrested for gross indecency? Well, this week, it is...

1. "Dr." Laura Fucking Schlessinger. You'd think she'd learn to practice what she preached and just shut the fuck up and go back to her kitchen like a good little Hausfrau from Hell. But no. In spite of all the sponsors who've dropped her crappy show, it's still a lucrative cottage industry, this fine art of being a queen bee who hates women. Get a load of this antifeminist wankfest:

For a long time, I was a career woman and that was it. I didn't want to have a baby. But I kept feeling as if something was not there. Then one day, I was watching PBS Nova, and a one-hour program they showed on the creation of a life. I just broke down. At that time, I was 35 and had already had my tubes tied. But in that moment, I realized what was missing: this womanly part of me. So I got married, struggled a bit to get pregnant and finally made it happen after a surgery.

Now, if that's not rubbing salt, I don't know what is. The question is, whose wound is she rubbing salt into--that of people who can no longer afford to work for a living (because their employers dicked them out of everything in the name of profit, including enough money for daycare), or herself at a certain age (by which she should surely have known better than to bawl over some stupid TV show)?

Christ, Laura, you sound like a woman who doesn't do a whole lot of thinking ahead of time. Maybe you should try it sometime, like before you wax all melodramatic again for the Wall Street Urinal--or pose for some of the worst nude photos ever.

PS: That "life" you went out of your way to "create" sure turned out great.

2. Glenn Fucking Beck. Forget the fictional Bush Derangement Syndrome, this pasty doughball has a very real case of Obamamonomania:

This dude is so batshit crazy (and such a lousy, unconvincing crier when he gets "emotional" about his country) that a British comedian basically ate his lunch here:

On the not-so-funny side, he also has a massacre to answer for.

3. Camille Fucking Paglia. Turn up your speakers, kiddies, and hear the grating-voiced shrew of academic wanna-beism get it hilariously wrong once again:

Liberal hosts like to snap and snip and chortle snidely, but they are weighed down by a complacent superiority complex, a paralyzing sanctimony. They mistake irony for wit. The conservative hosts love to rant and stomp and bring down the house. They're doing breakneck vaudeville while liberal hosts are primly stirring their non-caffeine green tea.

Clearly, someone hasn't been listening to Mike Malloy. When he's done cleaning Rush Fucking Limbaugh's clock, maybe he can do hers. It sounds like it hasn't been keeping proper time for quite a while now. Just keeps saying "Cuckoo!" non-stop.

4. Maggie Fucking Gallagher. I was wondering what had happened to this tragic old trout after she took BushCo's money and ran. Well, now we have an answer: She's been busy trying to save poor oppressed heterosexuals' marriages from people who have not the slightest interest in breaking them up. Nice to know that all that taxpayer money has been so well spent. Maybe next time, the good people of the United States might want to chip in and get her one of these instead?

5. This fucking moran right here:

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I don't know what he's trying to say, and I suspect he doesn't either. But I do know this: Freedom of speech is wasted on people who can't formulate a coherent thought, much less spell it out correctly.

6. T. Boone Fucking Pickens. Look, dude: I don't know what you have against state oil companies, much less ones "run" by Chavecito (for the benefit of all Venezuelans, I might add). But if you wanna run your all-Amurrican gas guzzlers on natural gas, be my guest. How fast did you say you could fart, again?

7. Spencer Fucking Bachus. I had no idea this clown was until this week. I wish I still didn't, because he sounds like the reincarnation of Joe Fucking McCarthy.

8. Whoever the fuck thought it would be a good idea to use Canada as a proxy for US imperialism--and the destabilization "democratization" of Venezuela. Not MY home and native land, not with MY tax dollars, and not in MY name you don't, assholes!

9. And finally, anyone who thinks I'm being too hard on these whackjobs. Head out of ass, and fuck you very much.

April 10, 2009

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Chavecito in Japan

The Big Guy's recent trip to Japan was a resounding success on the economic front; he brought a heap of foreign investment in that will surely nauseate the opposition all to hell (seeing as they no longer monopolize the oil industry, and their privatization attempt was constitutionally thwarted. Kiss all that easy dinero goodbye, muchachos!)

But never let it be said that he was all business:

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No matter where he is, no matter what he's doing, no matter how crazy-busy his schedule gets, he always makes the time to make some little one's day. Sweet!

April 9, 2009

Quotable: Helen Keller on socialism

"How did I become a Socialist? By reading. The first book I read was Wells' New World for Old. I read it on Mrs. Macy's recommendation. She was attracted by its imaginative quality, and hoped that its electric style might stimulate and interest me. When she gave me the book, she was not a Socialist and she is not a Socialist now. Perhaps she will be one before Mr. Macy and I are done arguing with her. "

Helen Keller, "How I Became a Socialist"

G-20 death: Lies in the London press

In case you were wondering if British newspapers are as right-wing biased and full of lies as those on this side of the Atlantic, the answer is yes. Watch the video of Ian Tomlinson being hit in the legs and pushed from behind by police. Who goes to his aid? Who doesn't? Then, watch the video of the two young guys who were there as eyewitnesses (and part of the anti-summit demonstration). And after that's done, you might want to refer back to the video of the stricken man collapsing again. You'll see quite clearly that the newspaper was lying to make the cops look better, and the demonstrators much worse, than they actually were.

Cops Behaving Badly: Slugfest in Slovakia

According to this report, the police forced these Romany Gypsy boys to hit one another. Why they did it is still unknown, but I suspect old ingrained prejudice may have something to do with it.

April 8, 2009

Berlusconi's latest cock-up

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Yep, Da Berluscoglioni is one tremendous dickhead. Get a load of what he said to the victims of that horrific earthquake in Italy lately:

Berlusconi told the reporter for the N-TV channel that the homeless quake victims "lacked nothing".

"They have medicaments. They have hot food. They have shelter for the night," he said.

"Of course, their current lodgings are a bit temporary. But they should see it like a weekend of camping."

People are freezing, people are frightened, people have lost everything--but hey! It's just another fun weekend at summer camp.

Can you believe this bastard?

DeviantArt not so deviant after all

You'd think, with a name like DeviantArt, a website would commit itself to uncensored free expression, right?

Wrong.

Take the case of Ben Heine, a Belgian artist. Recently he decided to express what he thought of the Pope's anti-condom stance. Here's what he said:

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And here's what DeviantArt did to his free speech:

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They also banned him permanently. For apparently living up to the site's name all too well.

Apparently, no one is allowed to deviate from the orthodox stance of a celibate old man in a skirt who presumes to tell young people what to do with their sex lives (i.e., not have any until marriage, and then only to procreate without restriction). This is what they call being "pro-life": People are dying of AIDS, and the Vatican's response is to play the ostrich and stick to the same old same old. Even if it costs lives, Jesus must never be portrayed in a condom. He isn't supposed to even have a penis.

So what's the message here? Abortion is a sin and so is birth control, but AIDS is okay, I guess. There's God's love for you, with a vengeance.

Cops Behaving Badly: G-20 goons cause an innocent man's death

This video speaks for itself. The man who died at the G-20 protests wasn't even a protester; he was just walking home from work. And apparently, what brought on his fatal heart attack was an unprovoked assault by police.

The question is, why did they pick on him, of all people?

Bolivian oppos just as slimy and unscrupulous as their Venezuelan counterparts

Well, well, well...what have we here?

The vice-minister of the Interior and Police, Marcos Farfán, denounced former vice-president Víctor Hugo Cárdenas and his wife, Lidia Katari, for having provoked the people of Sank'a Jawira to occupy his rural residence last March.

"On March 7 the media show was planned by Víctor Hugo Cárdenas, and as well, his wife fed the story to Channel A, knowing there was a risk of occupation," Farfán revealed. He explained that Cárdenas put his children's lives at risk, knowing that there was an angry mob which had decided that the residence would be converted into a senior citizens' home.

Despite the heated atmosphere in the community, Cárdenas brought his family to the house. The forces of public order were pushed over the edge by the mob which responded with violence to the provocation of the family, Farfán said.

"Using these events, the ex-vice president Víctor Hugo Cárdenas sought to raise his political profile, much more when he brought a case in Sucre against the Minister of Government, Alfredo Rada, for alleged non-fulfillment of duties," said Farfán.

According to Vice-Minister Farfán, the charges pressed in Sucre are unjustified, because there was a case in El Alto against the alleged authors of the takeover of the house and the attacks on the wife and children of Cárdenas. There was also no "non-fulfillment of duties," because a police contingent was called to the house in dispute.

Translation mine.

Figures that the Bolivian oppos are just as bad as their Venezuelan counterparts--maybe even worse, if this is true. It takes a special kind of bastard to deliberately put his wife and kids at risk of violence which he himself provokes.

I wonder if HRW is planning to scream about this. Somehow, I doubt they'll even get the memo.

April 7, 2009

Gun nuts: You are hereby cordially invited...

...to suck it:

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"It" being the business end of the barrel of your favorite toy, of course.

And if you're planning any violence this week as part of your "assertion of rights", please inflict it on yourselves first, and save the cops the bother. They don't like being party to your suicides. Gives 'em PTSD and puts 'em right off their doughnuts.

It's 4:20 somewhere...

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Maybe on a cancer ward in Spain? Check this out:

Treatment with the active ingredient of marijuana, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), can destroy human and mouse cancer cells by stimulating autophagy, the natural process leading to cell death, according to a report in the April 1 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Maria Salazar, of Complutense University in Madrid, Spain, and colleagues cultured a human glioma cell line (U87MG) and mouse cancer cells, then treated the study cells with THC. The researchers examined treated and untreated cells under electron microscope for comparison. Immunostaining was performed to detect markers for endoplasmic reticulum stress response, a cellular process that stimulates autophagy and cell death. The researchers also examined biopsy tissue from two glioblastoma multiforme patients who were treated with THC.

The investigators found that the THC treatments induced ceramide accumulation, eukaryotic translation and phosphorylation that activated an endoplasmic reticulum stress response in the THC-treated cells, a pathway that led to autophagy. Cells displaying increased autophagy also were observed in the tumor samples obtained from the two THC-treated glioblastoma patients. Conversely, in cells in which the autophagy process was genetically inhibited or inhibited by drugs, the THC was ineffective, the report indicates.

"These findings describe a mechanism by which THC can promote the autophagic death of human and mouse cancer cells and provide evidence that cannabinoid administration may be an effective therapeutic strategy for targeting human cancers," the authors write.

Well! Just reading that made me giggly and gave me the munchies. Think I'll go eat lunch now.

The Ballad of Manuelito Rosalito El Bandito

Haha. Venezuelan corruptos funny!

April 6, 2009

Quotable: Jon Stewart on Rush Limbaugh's tax-evading move

"For years, New Yorkers have done everything in our power to get this guy to leave town. We've passed laws making it tougher for hot dog vendors to sell along the streets, we hold gay pride parades -- there are barely any gay people in the city, but we thought it'd make him uncomfortable, so we shipped them in...We knew he was into drugs, so we cleaned up Times Square."

--Jon Stewart, glad to see the Pigman gone

Economics for Dummies: 18 years old and still oh, SO true...

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Courtesy of Bartcop.

Now, if they only did like the Japanese, who have no oil deposits on or off their shores, and built affordable cars that worked and were fuel-efficient to boot.

But no, noooooo...gringo-boys needed their penis compensators.

BTW, Japan just signed a major oil deal with Venezuela. Guess who's da man in Tokyo tonight?

Q. How can you tell a certain Venezuelan ex-general is lying?

A. His lips are moving:

Venezuelan ex-defence minister Raúl Baduel, ex-general, ex-constitutionalist, ex-Bolivarian and ex-friend of Chavecito, concocts a pile of bovine feces for CNN's Spanish channel. He claims that when he was arrested (on corruption and contempt-of-court charges, not for political reasons), military intelligence officers pointed their guns at his wife (why her, if it was him they were after?); that Chavecito was behind it; and that there needs to be another assembly to rewrite all that evil Bolivarianism out of Venezuela's constitution--in order to salvage democracy. His son made this video. Why? So that the small knot of his supporters down there, and the vast sea of "pro-democracy" rubes stretching from Miami all the way up to here, won't be confused by any pesky facts.

All of which leads me to another Q 'n' A:

Q: How can you tell CNN is trying to sell you a pile of bovine feces?

A: It's live and on air.

Justice 7 years later: The Venezuelan coup of April 11

Video in Spanish; essential viewing for anyone who can understand and who wants to know what really happened that day. The media lies from the opposition side are still flying thick and fast. But in this interview with two of the victims' attorneys, as well as ASOVIC members Dalila Mendoza (who lost her husband in the coup) and Yesenia Fuentes (who was shot in the face by the Metropolitan Caracas Police and nearly lost an eye) we learn much that's of interest and use. For instance, the group of military traitors who made a "practice" video with the CNN correspondent, Otto Neustaldt, that morning, claiming a certain number of dead and wounded in riots, did so not only before any deaths or injuries occurred, but before the opposition leaders even called for their demonstrators to march toward Miraflores--a full 11 kilometres from Chuao where they were originally gathered! If that's not incriminating, I don't know what is--it means that two hours before any shots were fired, the traitors were already announcing their intention to have innocent people killed, just so their own lust for power could have its way.

April 5, 2009

Music for a Sunday: Febreros y Abriles

Mario Silva of La Hojilla introduces a brand-new video from folk-singer Amílcar Briceño of Zulia.

February and April are fateful months for Venezuelans--the Caracazo and Chavecito's failed coup attempt both happened in February, the opposition's failed coup attempt (and the people's subsequent rescue of democracy) happened in April. This song links it all together and celebrates the ongoing struggle to fulfill Bolívar's dream.

Abu Ghraib: Not just a few bad apples

"Torture: America's Brutal Prisons", a British TV documentary in five parts.

This doc shows clearly how Abu Ghraib was not the exception, but the rule--and all the violence in it was a direct import from back in the good ol' "freedom-loving" US of A. Everything that happened in Iraq, happened in the States first. And it is all institutionalized in the prison system, where overcrowding, understaffing and deliberate abuse are all commonplace.

April 4, 2009

Jorge Recio on the Venezuelan coup of '02

In several documentaries of the coup d'état of April 11, 2002, you can see a group of Bolivarian demonstrators on Baralt Avenue in Caracas, picking up and carrying the limp form of a tall young man past a newspaper kiosk as shots ring out nearby. That man is Jorge Recio, a freelance photographer, and he was hit in the back by a bullet from the Metropolitan Caracas Police, who were firing from a riot truck at unarmed demonstrators--Chávez supporters--on and under Llaguno Bridge. Recio was not a demonstrator, however; he was just doing his job, documenting the day's events on film.

Jorge Recio survived, but at a heavy price: he is now paraplegic and confined to a wheelchair. The pictures he took before he was wounded that day tell a story that some in the commercial media and the opposition are still trying to cover up and deny. Namely, that a majority of the injured and fatal victims of that day were supporters of President Chávez, not opposition demonstrators. And also that they were clearly not ambushing an opposition march (which never got within three city blocks of the bridge), but that they were ducking in an attempt to avoid being hit by the bullets coming at them not only from the uniformed police themselves, but from rooftop snipers and other hidden shooters working in collaboration with the police. Recio's pictures remain as key pieces of evidence incriminating the opposition-controlled Caracas police as collaborators in the coup.

Jorge Recio is not the only photographer to fall victim to the events of that day; in total, seven were shot. One, Jorge Tortoza, was hit in the head and later died in hospital. (His murder was also caught on film; in the clip below you can see clearly how his body did a clumsy half-somersault before falling to the pavement.) The opposition tried to claim him as one of theirs, but this lie was debunked by Tortoza's brother Edgar, who works with ASOVIC, a group of Chavista victims of the coup. (The opposition has its own victims' group, one which is less active and vocal than ASOVIC.) Edgar Tortoza reported that his brother's camera was stolen and, when recovered, the pictures found in it were not his. Conveniently for the coup perpetrators, anything incriminating in it was also missing!

Jorge Recio is still a photographer, but his perspective is much more limited now than it used to be. He received rehab in Cuba and says the care was not contingent on political support for Chávez. He now lives in Barcelona, Spain. Here he is, in his own words and pictures:

A few random thoughts on beauty queens

Remember this?

Sadly, it's more representative than exceptional. I shit thee not.

Oh come on, admit it. You know it as well as I do, gentle reader: Beauty queens are twits. It goes with the territory. They don't need no stinkin' depth; they have their looks, and in general, that gets them further than any dumbass has a right to go. They have no time or need to fill their heads with any information more useful than maybe which hairspray gives the best hold without actually looking like industrial-strength lacquer. Or which plastic surgeon does the best nose bobs and/or boob jobs.

No matter what anyone bleats about the brains or talent of any particular Miss, the fact remains that there has never been a Nobelist among them in any field. It's either dieting your way into that winning swimsuit, or saving the world; you cannot do both simultaneously. As Kim Chernin and Naomi Wolf have both eloquently pointed out, you cannot think straight and obsess over every mouthful at the same time. Your brain burns more calories than your thighs, so when you try to slim the one, you end up starving the other that much more. Food for thought, girls!

(And good luck trying to be a beauty queen without dieting; if you dare, you get viciously ripped like this Miss England wannabe.)

That said, I wonder how long it will be before the current Miss Universe, Dayana Mendoza (presumably from Venezuela, but really from Mars) experiences a complete collapse of the skull. Her recent gushy gaffe about Gitmo is just as par for the course as the stupidities of Miss Teen South Carolina in the video. It's also not the first time a Miss Venezuela-turned-Miss Universe has put her foot in it; the first of the line, Maritza Sayalero, visited Chile, chatted up Augusto Pinochet, and thought he was simply divine. (No, I'm not shitting you about that, either.)

I don't like anything where women get judged directly (and let's face it, solely) on their superficial traits. But I have to admit I'm not a total militant about abolishing the beauty pageant, as inane and dangerous as it may be. I mean, we smart goodlookings will always have our smarts to fall back on if our looks fail us (and believe me, they will). What about the dumb ones? If there were no Miss Whatever pageants, whatever would become of the poor, intellectually ungifted Misses? As much as I roll my eyes over the idiocies of these girls, I'd hate to see them on a bread line or blowing creeps for crack near Queen and Roncesvalles.

Fortunately, there's a vast marketplace for female flesh that's been dieted, hairsprayed and surgically altered half to death. Miss Whatever can always find work peddling conflict diamonds, blue jeans sewn by slaves in Singapore, or--glory be!--the jewel of a beach resort that is Gitmo. At least, until her reign is over, whereupon she's free to become a billionaire's bride (or a millionaire's mistress), a soap opera star, a game-show letter-turner, even a high-end call girl...really, the possibilities are limited only by her IQ.

At the very least, she could always serve as the muse for a song like this one.

April 3, 2009

Festive Left Friday Blogging Too: Evo on Lake Titicaca

Beautiful, blue Lake Titicaca is not only the highest-altitude lake in the world, it is now also the scene of the highest-altitude floating parliament ever:

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Here's the story, from ABI:

Tiquina, Bolivia, April 3 (ABI). With various topics on the agenda, an extraordinary cabinet meeting took place on Friday morning aboard a military vessel on a crossing of Lake Titicaca, which lasted more than four hours and was attended by president Evo Morales.

The minister of the Presidency, Juan Ramón Quintana, announced that, among other things, they would be discussing matters related to the implementation of the new Bolivian constitution, which would "take several hours of debate."

[...]

The cabinet meeting also tabled a proposal to campaign for Lake Titicaca to be nominated as one of the seven new wonders of the world in an internet competition. Titicaca heads the list of candidates in the category of lakes, rivers and waterfalls, and the campaign has been simultaneously taken up by the authorities of Bolivia and Peru, who share the waters of the "sacred lake".

I can't imagine a more beautiful or appropriate setting for such a debate, can you?

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Cops Behaving Badly: The Verdict in Venezuela

...is GUILTY, GUILTY, GUILTY as charged for three commanders of the Metropolitan Caracas Police (and eight of their subordinates):

At noon on Friday, sentences were handed down for three commanders and eight officers of the Metropolitan Caracas Police, involved in the events of the coup d'état on April 11, 2002, on Baralt Avenue.

[...]

Commissioners Henry Vivas, Ivan Simonovis and Lázaro Forero received the maximum sentence of thirty years; six of the eight officers received sentences of 16 to 18 years, and two will go free because it could not be proven that they were at the scene of the crime. They have already spent five years in prison, which will be discounted from the respective sentences. Those sentenced will remain in their current cells.

Translation mine.

To get some idea of just what these guys are guilty of, I recommend you see "Llaguno Bridge: Keys to a Massacre", available as a torrent here; watch out for the idiotic trolls in the comments section. You can tell them by their casual use of the word "dictator" and their ignorance of the separation of powers in Venezuela. (Please note that Chavecito is currently in Iran on bilateral business, and therefore has no standing at the trial or sentencing at all. You might also want to see how that "Chávez-owned supreme court" refused to even recognize the events of April 2002 as a coup d'état at all, and still, shamefully, has not changed its mind to this day.)

Here's a small sample of the movie, showing clearly that the police were at fault for at least some of the deaths that occurred that day, and how:

Justice is now served, at least for some. The intellectual authors of the coup, however, are still at large. You can probably find them in Miami; all the scummiest flotsam from Latin America has a funny way of washing up there. Must be those ocean currents I hear so much about!

Festive Left Friday Blogging: GOOOOOOOOAL!

Actually, it was that times six for Bolivia's humble soccer team against, of all people, mighty Argentina under the direction of the revered Diego Maradona. The latter took the defeat graciously, saying, "I think Bolivia played a great game. I believe that any team to go up against Bolivia today would have suffered the same fate as we did" (translation mine).

Evo's remarks were harder to directly translate, but I'd say they went something along the lines of "What a goalfest, daddy-o!"

Meanwhile, here's how the regular fans were taking the news:

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Some were content to paint their faces in the national tricolor, or wear silly hats in it. Others went a bit further to (literally) wrap themselves in the flag:

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BTW, Venezuela's boys in burgundy also did good against Colombia. Suck on that, Uribe!

April 2, 2009

The Panama Deception

An oldie but a goodie. Especially relevant in light of the ongoing deception by the media over Iraq and Afghanistan. For more on how the media screwed the public during the Panama assault 20 years ago, see the FAIR blog's entry on the media's shoddy, shameful coverage of that gorefest--and see how it really is déjà vu all over again.

April 1, 2009

So, how many times have YOUR legs been pulled today?

And by whom?

Well, so far I've had mine pulled by Google, Evo Morales, Sarah Palin, and a bunch of Romanian monks who look just like Fidel Castro.

How 'bout you?

Rackafrackafrickafrack, Chapter 5: Hallefreakinlujah!

So my Time Capsule FINALLY arrived today. Turns out it wasn't shipped from within Canada, or even within North America, but from Shanghai, China. No wonder it took a week to get to me. So much for the "made in California" bit, eh?

Well, one thing hasn't changed, and that's the fact that this device, like all the others, is nutball easy to get up and running. Stick a CD in my Powerbook, plug the thing in to the power supply and plug the Ethernet cable from my hi-speed modem to it, and then get the Network Diagnostics set-up assistant to walk me through it all until finally, the light on the Time Capsule went from flashing amber (indicating something amiss) to solid green (indicating Hallefreakinlujah!)

Plus, one whole terabyte of data storage and backup. No Cloud Beings needed. Suck on that, Bill Gates.

Now, to get writing on that novel again, and back it up to the Time Capsule too. With luck, this draft won't suck like the first one did (although damn, that sucky three-quarters of a first draft had its moments, I must admit.)

And now, even if this computer were to die tomorrow (although it better hadn't DARE!), I won't be quite as lost at sea. Enraged at having to shell out for more repairs, maybe--but data loss won't be so dire.

Dare we hope that with this chapter written, the frickafrack endeth? Let us pray.