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November 30, 2009

Stupid Sex Tricks: Anybody for a little refried sausage?

Mexican cooking just got a whole lot spicier, thanks to someone who is VERY hearing-impaired:

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Don't you just love closed captioning sometimes?

Exclusive! New drug developed in Gringolandia!

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Its commercial name, in English, is Idongivadam, and it's apparently related to Damnitol and Fukitol. According to Globoterror,

It is made from the extract of a plant grown on the island of Borneo, and mixed with opium from liberated Afghanistan and a tiny dose of supermarijuana from various domestic plantations in the states of Ohio and Arkansas.

Side effects include slight dizziness, pains in the neck, excessive intestinal gas, post-coital hallucinations, talkativeness, uncontrolled laughter, nightmares, urinary inhibition, heart palpitations, pain in the left arm, oppression of the chest, pre-infarct, post-infarct and rigor mortis.

Just the thing for the oppos in Venezuela and Bolivia who have trouble accepting the will of the uppity peasants. Hooray!

November 29, 2009

Short 'n' Stubby: All Honduras, all day long...

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Most of these links are in Spanish, so if you don't understand, don't worry. I'll précis them very precisely...

Mel sez these illegitimate elections are a farce and that "the people will say no to the dictatorship". He also sez that the country is "militarized". But he's just the legitimate president who didn't get to finish out his term because of a nasty-wasty military putsch, so what does he know?

Chavecito sez it's all a farce too. Also sez the coup was planned in the US, and that all of Obama's talk of hope 'n' change was hypocrisy as far as LatAm is concerned. But he's just Mel's ALBA ally, the legitimate president of Venezuela who fought back a nasty-wasty military putsch, planned in the US, in 2002, so what does he know?

Mel's daughter, Hortencia, sez she's not surprised that the US is supporting this armed electoral farce. But she's just "La Pichu", the daughter of the legitimate president who didn't get to finish out his term because of a nasty-wasty military putsch, so what does she know?

Latin American press agency Prensa Latina sez "elections" under a military dictatorship are a bad precedent. Also that Mel sez the military betrayed him by taking orders from a "very voracious elite", which controls the congress (that's where Gorilletti comes in; he's just a crappy congressman). Also that indie candidate Carlos H. Reyes has dropped out, refusing to participate so as not to legitimize the coup. "No Mel, no election", basically. But he's just a candidate with integrity, so what does he know?

Venezuelan press agency ABN sez Gorilletti's thugs violently repressed a peaceful march today in San Pedro Sula. Honduran reporter Daisy Bonilla denounced the beatings and tear-gassings. But she just lives there and has to brave this kind of repression every day, so what does she know?

Oh, and here's some pix 'n' video of that. Whaddya know?

ABN also sez that voter absenteeism has now reached more than 50%. Let the people decide!--and anyway, what do they know?

Patria Grande sez that 800 US "experts" and as many as 5000 reservists are working the "election". Also that some 10,000 tear-gas grenades and 5000 launchers for same have been deployed so the people can decide freely and without a hitch. But of course, it's not a "democracy" without a heavy gringo/military presence. I keep forgetting. What would I know? I only live in a country where this shit never goes down on election day.

Al Giordano of Narco News sez state employees were forced (at gunpoint? wouldn't surprise me at this rate) to attend a "campaign rally". Also that human rights workers from abroad have been constantly subjected to menaces and surveillance by the military, and have been observing consistent, systematic abuses. En inglés, semi-liveblogged. Enjoy! (Muchas gracias, Big Al @ BoRev.)

TeleSur sez the Honduran resistance is denouncing "menaces, captures and raids". Also that the streets are anything but festively electoral. But they're only the democratic citizen resistance against the nasty-wasty military putsch, so what would they know?

In Brazil, Lula sez he's not gonna play nice. Ain't gonna rethink his government's position, and certainly ain't gonna recognize the outcome, no matter what. But his embassy only gave shelter to the legitimate president who was ousted in a nasty-wasty military putsch, so what does he know?

YVKE Mundial sez 65% abstention, not representative. Whaddya know, Mel was right--the people said no.

And yet, according to BoRev's liveblogging, there is now a new "president". Bloomie sez it was "peaceful", but they never left the oligarchic neighborhoods, so they really wouldn't know. Auntie Bina wonders what drugs Bloomie's reporter was on when he filed that dreck. Probably the same hallucinogens as these obscurantist assclowns. Surely not the tear gas that still hangs thick over Tegucigolpe...

So, what can we gather from all this? Basically, all the English-language whore media got this farce deliberately and dreadfully wrong. Who got it right? The World Socialist Web Site. Bill Van Auken predicted a gunpoint election, and he nailed it. Call me a commie, but I've seen the pix. The man knows his stuff.

Auntie Bina predicts more protests, and more violent repression, still to come, because the nasty-wasty military putsch isn't really over, it's just changed the face of its figurehead. Go ahead, tell me there is something I don't know.

Economics for Dummies: Why Bank of America fired a good employee

Listen to this young woman, and you will learn a lot. First off, you will learn what integrity really is; secondly, you will learn just why there is a credit crisis. (Yes, IS. Not WAS--IS. It's still there, and we may not have seen the worst of it yet.)

You will also learn a lot about human suffering and how money ties into it.

Finally, you will learn what integrity is NOT, and why Bank of America doesn't have it. When you praise somebody to high heaven even as you're firing her, you've got major cognitive dissonance going on. And you've lost a big chunk of your soul. Good luck getting it back, BoA people, you're gonna need it.

Fortunately, this lady has hers intact.

More Music for a Sunday: Buffy Sainte-Marie takes on greed and wins

"No No Keshagesh", from her latest record, Running for the Drum. You can hear Buffy talk about this song and so much more with Amy Goodman here.

This Buffy really IS a vampire slayer!

Music for a Sunday: Calle 13 no se calla

Ever hear a rap song quite like this? No? Well, now you have!

November 28, 2009

Quotable: Montana Wildhack on "good" and "bad" US-Americans

"Good Americans don't question the essential superiority of America. Many Americans boast that they have no desire to even travel to another country. They believe that it is a sign of patriotism to wallow in ignorance of the rest of the world. Not all Good Americans are quite that patriotic. Some are open to the possibility that there might be other places in the world that are nice to visit. Really open-minded Good Americans think that, if one is quite adventurous, one might even live in another country for a year or two.

"Bad Americans not only think that it is possible to be happy in another country, they're open to the possibility that there might be things about other countries that are actually nicer than America. Bad Americans would give up their right to own an assault rifle for the right to see a doctor without taking out a loan. They think that public transport shouldn't just be for people who are too poor to own a car."

--Montana Wildhack, at the UK Guardian

Wanker of the Week: Singularly stupid edition

A little mood music, maestro...

Yes, kiddies, this week's post is gonna be a little different. This one will consist of only one wanker, but I'm sure you'll agree with me that this wanker has it coming.

Bright and early on Monday morning, when I usually start gathering links for this list, I opened my e-mail box and found six messages from the same address. They were all helpfully labelled spam by my mailbox, but they hadn't been plonked by my blogware. (This is a problem I've had quite a bit with the latest edition of Movable Type; I've since managed to figure out what was the matter with the anti-spam function, and to set the filter for more aggressive action. Some still gets through, but I'm seeing fewer repeat offenders. That's progress, I guess.)

Now, this didn't upset me much--at first. I was only mildly annoyed, because I figured that they would be the usual spammy pseudo-comments, the kind that peddle Viagra or its clones. There was, by coincidence, another spam from an entirely different spammer also waiting to be marked as such. So I prepared to flush them all en masse from my comment-management page.

But then I took a closer look and realized that I wasn't dealing with the usual crap merchants. Whoever had sent these messages, they had targeted not just any random viewer, but me and whoever reads my blog. They had all landed on this entry--fittingly titled Vampire Bat Report. The entry--which briefly mentions the murder, by terrorists, of Evo Morales's elderly, defenceless aunt--had attracted a bat from no less vampiric a place than good ol' Transylvania. The IP number from which the troll wrote is 89.133.131.83, which I traced to Budapest, Hungary.

Those who've been reading me regularly will recall that since April, I've been tracking and translating news items (starting with this one) about the Bolivian federal police's excellent work in busting a terror cell composed of foreign mercenaries. That's where the Hungarian connection ties in. The mercenaries happened to be led by a Bolivia-born Hungarian national who had also been given Croatian citizenship after participating in the Balkan conflicts of the early 1990s--a conflict in which Croatia split off from what was then still Yugoslavia. (He was working as a mercenary then, too.) The cell's objective was to spark a civil war, which their wealthy fascist financiers had hoped would enable the wealthy eastern part of Bolivia, known as the Media Luna ("Half Moon") to separate from the rest of the country--much like Croatia from Yugoslavia, in other words.

Unfortunately for them, but very fortunately for Bolivia as a whole, it was an epic fail--the federales surprised the heavily-armed mercenaries (who had the charmingly paranoid habit of sleeping with their guns) in a hotel in lovely downtown Santa Cruz in the middle of the night. A shoot-out ensued, and three of the mercenaries were killed, including their Bolivian-Hungarian-Croatian leader; two more were arrested and are currently awaiting trial. The arrested men have named several accomplices, who in turn have fingered the cell's financiers. (You can read more about one of them, and their prominent spook pal--a former US ambassador to Croatia, as it happens--here.) The separatists' hopes have been further crushed by the refusal of any legitimate international organization to recognize the Media Luna as a nation. And worst of all for anyone who still thinks balkanization can happen, there is the salient fact that Evo Morales--the most popular elected leader in all of Bolivian history--is popular throughout the country. Even in the Media Luna, he is extremely well liked by indigenous and white people alike. He is on his way to an easy re-election, which he will probably win by an even wider margin than his original election in 2005.

Now, given that backgrounder, you can pretty well guess that the opposition are getting desperate. El Duderino has already noted that they have resorted to violence, knowing that none of their candidates are popular enough to make inroads against Evo. In Bolivia, that means beating up on anyone they can find who has a brown face and is dressed in some traditional indigenous fashion. It also means anonymous death threats, and other assorted forms of intimidation...

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Which leads me rather nicely to this troll and what it's been trying to do around here since early Monday morning.

In case you can't read Spanish, and you're wondering just what the troll had to say, it's all bullshit. I won't bother to translate or rebut it; it's not worth the trouble. I left the guano up just so people can see it (if they can read Spanish, and they're of a mind to witness someone else's mental breakdown), but closed the entry to prevent more of the same.

Well, it didn't.

The troll, being the persistent little shit-stain it is, found other entries to leave its crap on. All of them had to do with Evo or the terror cell in one way or another. It pasted in what appears to be an English translation of the same shit that appeared in the six original spam posts. When I made it plain that I had seen and removed it, and saved the notification e-mails for evidence purposes, that's when things got truly nasty--and personal. The troll went berserk, posting all kinds of vile abusive drivel, and claiming, even more vilely, to be the mother of one of the dead would-be assassins. A sampling of its hysteria follows:

Bolivia and the shameful "president" Morales, a homicidal killer assasin feel soon a "hands of justice"!

Muerte a asesinos!
JUSTICIA!

* * *

Sabina C. Becker!
You uneducated biach!

I wish for you: the cruel, brutal death of your child!
Soon!

I wish for you: the cruel, brutal death of your child!
Soon!

I wish for you: the cruel, brutal death of your child!
Soon!

God help me!
Mother of Árpád assassinated!

Now, that just stinks to high heaven--a real grieving mother, one would think, would withdraw to heal, not cyber-stalk complete strangers and the president of Bolivia with death threats and intimidation and ineffectual curses. (I can just picture some old, wrinkled woman in a babushka saying that, in the same tone as she might say "Gypsy, ptuh!")

I removed all of these troll-posts except that one, which you can see here. That one was left, I later found out, using a forged Hotmail address; I had contacted Hotmail to let them know of the abuse, and they notified me that the address didn't exist. Sort of tells you something about the character of Internet trolls, doesn't it?

The troll also repeated the invective on Powers & Morrison, a progressive news site that syndicates me. I received the following notification, one of two, again, by e-mail:

You immoral, uneducated biatch!

I whish you a death of your child very soon!

I whish you a death of your child very soon!

I whish you a death of your child very soon!

Megátkozlak, dögölj meg, Isten engem úgy segéljen!
Dögölj meg, és a gyermeked is!

Classy, no? This is who Branko and Rubén hire to do their dirty work, intimidating complete strangers. Gotta love 'em.

And don't you love how this "moral, educated" person can't even spell what it so courteously calls me? (It's B-I-T-C-H, and it stands for Bina In Total Control Here--bitch!) Yeah, God's really gonna reward them for that.

That was one; the other was a bunch of links to putrid oppo sites from Bolivia not worth reproducing here, full of false charges and dirty disinformation. I'm not going to bother disseminating any of that dreck. Oh yeah, and more charming Hungarian invective, which rolls off me like water off a duck, seeing as I don't speak a word of the language and couldn't care less what this classless cretin chooses to call me. (If this person were truly educated, s/he might recall that Hungary wouldn't ever have gotten paprika if not for the indigenous people of the Andes--particularly Bolivia. They were the first ones to cultivate the stuff, which is certainly not native to Hungary. And s/he wouldn't be such a fucking racist, either.)

The final message from The Mother of Arpad the Assassin was this one:

Sabina, you disgusting whore, be a damned! I coming! You come with me into the cemetary! Be a damned you and your child, your family!

All your base are belong to us! Booogaboogabooga!!!

Yeah, whatever. You can go to the cemetery if you want; I'm staying right where I am. Your silly threats don't scare me any more than your shrieks for "justice" (that is, MURDER) move me. The Europarliament isn't listening to you, either. They are in Bolivia right now, observing the elections, which I can tell you will show no irregularities, just a decisive win for the man you futilely execrate here. The yelling of a lunatic is just a lunatic's yelling, at the end of the day.

Except for the one from the forged Hotmail addy, the droppings were all left by someone writing from this address: fiuka1@yahoo.com. So far, Yahoo has not been able to confirm or deny the existence of this account; they tell me there's a problem with the headers (surprise, surprise).

I do not believe that this person is who they claim to be, but on the slim chance that they are, they should be thoroughly ashamed. This is conduct entirely unbecoming. And yes, I dug out that vile crap explicitly to shame them. I do not believe in letting people get away with anonymous intimidation on the Internet no matter who they are. (Plus, I'm hoping that some English-speaking Hungarian cop sees this and acts accordingly. I'm going waaaayyyyy out on a limb and guessing that harassment and death threats are against the law over there, too.)

Finally, another little musical dedication. If this person is really Hungarian, there's a better than average chance that they understand German...

Good night, and may you get arrested, whoever you are. Maybe then you'll finally get the psychiatric help you so obviously need.

Short 'n' Stubby: A little bit of this, a little bit of that...

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Some small odds 'n' ends I couldn't go longer about:

Craig Murray, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, heartily sympathizes with Richard Colvin, the Canadian diplomat who found Afghanistan to be no better. He also demolishes all pro-torture arguments very nicely. Thanks to Rick B. at Ten Percent for this one.

In light of the current situation in Dubai, Johann Hari's highly observant piece from a few months ago in the UK Independent is worth revisiting. What say ye now, O ye detractors?

Honduras Coup 2009 says don't believe the hype; the "election" slated for tomorrow is a farce. Yeah, we kind of knew that already. But they have all the details on what makes it one. Essential reading!

LatAm's cutest president (and best foreign-trained economist) says South America won't recognize the outcome of the Honduran farce no matter who "wins". Why? Because everyone knows who's gonna lose. Trust the man, he knows a thing or two about making a once-unstable country governable. He got himself re-elected in a country famous for overthrowing presidents mid-term!

Eva Golinger exposes yet another shocking congressional cover-up over Colombia. Your taxpayer dollars at work, USA.

The IMF and Inter-American Development Bank are now lining up to praise Evo--for taking their advice and trashing it. El Duderino's got the goods.

Amy Goodman's plight has even made the news in Venezuela. I am REALLY hanging my head over this one!

Why is Roger Federer promoting lung cancer? Inquiring minds want to know.

And finally, if you like the little bumper-sticker on my right-hand column that says "I Support the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms", you can get a copy of it for your own site courtesy of Broughton Bob in BC. Don't know what the Charter's all about? Here ya go.

Faceless Facebooker singles me out for "honors" re: Honduras

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Christ, this character almost sounds like another candidate for Wanker of the Week. Unfortunately, my slate's already full, but I thought I'd share with you what some random wacko plunked in my Facebook inbox for no apparent reason:

Liberty Heights November 28 at 12:07am

Subject: Honduras is happy with Mel out of power.

I'm sorry that you have taken it upon yourself to criticize the situation and people of Honduras, i guess you do no believe in freedom against political bullying. Even in the United States there is a process to remove unqualified people who are breaking the law from office, its called impeachment. Manuel Zelaya was trying to annul our constitution. Are you familiar with Mel Zelaya's corruption? I have read your blog, and it seems that you have a personal interest in helping Zelaya. Did you know about the massacre on his property where a Colombian priest, and American priest, and several nuns were murdered at Zelaya senior's order? Los horcones. We are having elections, they have been planned for over 4 years, with the same candidates that we chose Democratically, to incite violence against people wanting to express their right to vote is unlawful, aswell as morally and ethically wrong. Even President Obama, has said he will recognize the elections, aswell as Peru, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Japan, and other Democratic nations. I guess you have never lived in a violent country that seeks peace, Blessed be the peacemakers. I support President MIcheletti, because he stood firm, our Democracy was strengthened, only 33% of the population voted for Mel, that in no way is the majority.

Best wishes, please understand that we are all entitled to our opinions, but false accusations will not bring peace to our situation, it seems that you are deliberately misleading your readers bias media links and false information.

My response to the troll, whose profile I could not access (hmm, funny dat):

Excuse me, but who the hell are you, and how do you "know" all this? I want names and dates, REAL ones, not just random nutjob accusations. Put up, or STFU, you anonymous coward.

I'm not exactly waiting with bated breath for a response. I don't know this person from a hole in the ground, but I know the general pattern of trolls like him all too well. They shoot a lot of highly questionable shit, but they don't come out with real hard facts--and when challenged, they flee--or level ridiculous accusations and insults. They hide behind easily discarded fake identities, too. Which, as you can see from above, this one has already done...

Since the troll has chosen to go long on lies and short on facts, I figured I might as well give you all a few real ones to chew on:

Zelaya was elected with a little over 50% of the vote, not 33% as this troll asserts. He was in the last few months of his term when the coup occurred, and he was not looking for re-election, much less to amend the constitution in favor of it; in any case, he would not have been in power when the constituent assembly would have been convened. What he WAS doing, was seeking a referendum to see if the constitution should be amended. (The vote would likely have gone for the "ayes", as this constitution was written in the not-so-democratic 1980s by the same bunch of thugs currently usurping Zelaya's office--some wanting to abolish term limits for themselves and their chosen guy, some dude named Suazo. And the day Mel was spirited out of the country was the day the plebiscite should have gone down. Funny dat!)

The "constitutionalist" excuse for Gorilletti's putsch has been debunked ad nauseam here, so don't anyone try to toss it up on this blog OR in my Facebook inbox. I'm not buying.

The whole world is condemning this coup, not just little old me. Some of the most vocal condemners are Latin American experts who know of what they speak.

The massacre in question was blamed on his father, who was later pardoned and who himself pointed the finger at the military. Given that the Honduran military of the 1970s was extremely fascist and had a nasty habit of just such killings, it lends credence to his assertions and makes his pardon plausible. Those generals were not in favor of liberation theology. They were, however, entirely in favor of killing peasants and throwing them down some landowner's well, and then blaming him. (Don't tell me you've never heard of killers deflecting blame before.)

The same military, incidentally, is responsible for having dragged this legitimately elected leader--son of their scapegoat--out of bed and shipped him off to Costa Rica in his pajamas. Funny, no?

And yet we are supposed to believe that this same military, acting on the command of putschist dictator Gorilletti (NOT "President Micheletti", as he is not anybody's president), did the "democratic" thing.

Oh yeah, and Honduras is NOT "happy with Mel out of power". A substantial majority want him back. How 'bout them apples?

And now I'm supposedly the one who's against freedom and democracy for declaring myself in favor of the restoration of elected leaders, and for being against military coups and unelected power-grabbing by law-breaking thugs like Gorilletti. That's fucking rich.

Someone has clearly been taken in by a carefully orchestrated media campaign (very ably dissected here.) Your humble scribe, however, is not so gullible. She is waiting for this troll, who ought better to be known as Depravity Depths, to explain himself HERE, and not try for ham-handed intimidation and high-flown bullshitting in the late-night "privacy" of my Facebook mailbox...if he can.

And in the meantime, she's off to bed.

UPDATE, 9:04 am: The troll responds with boring predictability:

Debate with Real Hondurans, you are the only one insulting people. http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/group.php?gid=37294115190

Just as I thought. It's not interested in debate. It only wanted to lecture me and throw up an oligarchic "peace" group in my face. My response:

Not interested in your astroturf. If you can't refute me with real facts, you have no business claiming to represent anyone. And your hiding behind a fake identity and using this bogus group to lecture me (as if only oligarchs in favor of a fascist were "real" Hondurans!) is only a further sign of your weakness and lack of facts.

Don't bother replying, I'm blocking you from now on. Hasta la vista, bozo.

Most. Boring. Troll. EVER.

November 27, 2009

Economics for Dummies: All you need to know about FOX Business Channel

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Basically, it's all distraction--economic dipshittery plus tits.

Any questions?

A big embarrassment for my home and native land

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Amy Goodman talks to the CBC about her unexpected detention at the border. See Raw Story for video of the whole interview with CBC's Kathy Tomlinson.

I'm rarely ashamed to be a Canadian, but today is different. Today, one of my personal heroes and role models, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, was detained at the border. She was coming to British Columbia to speak out against war and promote her book, but that's not how the uniformed stormtroopers saw it:

Goodman says Canadian Border Services Agency officials ultimately allowed her to enter Canada but returned her passport with a document demanding she leave the country within 48 hours.

Goodman, 52, known for her views opposing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, told CBC News on Thursday that Canadian border agents asked her repeatedly what subjects she would cover at scheduled speaking engagements in Vancouver and Victoria.

Goodman said she told them she planned to speak about the debate over U.S. health care reform and the wars in Asia.

After much questioning, Goodman said the officials finally asked if she would be speaking about the 2010 Olympics.

"He made it clear by saying, 'What about the Olympics?'" said Goodman. "And I said, 'You mean when President Obama went to Copenhagen to push for the Olympics in Chicago?'"

"He said, 'No. I am talking about the Olympics here in 2010.' I said, 'Oh I hadn't thought of that,'" said Goodman.

"He said, 'You're saying you're not talking about the Olympics?'"

"He was clearly incredulous that I wasn't going to be talking about the Olympics. He didn't believe me," Goodman said.

See, this is the paranoia that goes with having a conservative government. Harpo & Co. are already under siege. The war in Afghanistan was never popular here, but Canadians being dutiful troop-supporters, the criticisms have all been very muted. Rather than do the really bold thing and declare NATO a relic of the Cold War past, Harpo has chosen to kiss ass and lick boots in Washington. And keep sending Canadians to die in a country that has been the downfall of every foreign power ever to invade it. (Alexander the Great is said to have died at Kandahar, which is supposedly named after him. Canadians are currently in the Kandahar province. Every so often one of them comes home in a box, and the region remains ungovernable. So, why are we there?)

And the Olympics are a special point of paranoia. The actual risk of terrorism in Canada is almost nil, and the likelihood of anything disrupting the games is vanishingly small. It would have been absolutely zero if we were not at war in Afghanistan against a phantom menace that never menaced us before. When he made Bowling for Columbine, Michael Moore was struck by how laid back we were, and how little gun crime we had as a result. That's Canada for you; we are not a nation of paranoiacs. We're proud of our warm hearts and cool heads. We take special pride in our love of peace, and have sent peacekeepers on every mission that the UN has called upon us to do so.

But since Harpo & Co. run a minority parliament, and they are constantly in danger of being toppled by a non-confidence vote, it stands to reason that they want to keep up every possible façade that says "Look how well we Tories can do things". And of course, what bigger one than the Vancouver/Whistler Olympics of 2010? Never mind that the Games are not their brainchild, and that the bid was won under a previous, Liberal government. Nor that the logistical masterpiece that is the longest Olympic torch run in history is going off without a hitch. (It's also none of their doing.) No, Harpo's selling point is the security angle, and he's playing it to the hilt. In other words, once again, he's appealing to a very un-Canadian sense of paranoia, not pride.

And that paranoia is why I'm not proud to be a Canadian today. When an innocent person like Amy Goodman, who has much in common with the best of Canadian values, is stopped at our border simply for being outspokenly anti-war (which I am too!), and accused of trying to foment terrorism against the Vancouver Olympics, all I can do is hang my head and wish that all these assclowns could be tossed out of office tomorrow.

Peacefully, of course.

PS: A Creative Revolution's own Pale Cold was on the Daily Kos with this, and a host of other things that suck about the situation. Don't miss it!

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Has Evo been taking fashion tips from Mel Zelaya?

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Looks like the real president of Honduras isn't the only progressive Latin American leader who can carry off a cowboy hat and vest...

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And it's perfect for singing karaoke on the campaign trail, too. (What do you bet the song will be "We Are the Champions"?)

November 26, 2009

Luladinejad!

Pepe Escobar goes on a real tear with the Ahmadinejad visit to Brazil:

And as usual, he nails it.

The whore media? Still clueless...

Oh noes! Lula says nice things about Iran, too!

And what things they are...

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva plunged into Middle East conflicts today, saying Iran has a "decisive role to play" in the region after a three-hour meeting with its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

With Ahmadinejad seated beside him in the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Brasilia, Lula said Iran can help heal divisions among Palestinians, as he expressed support for a "viable and dignified Palestinian state" to be established alongside a "secure and sovereign Israel." Ahmadinejad has called for the destruction of Israel and questioned the Holocaust.

"I work for the building of peace in the world," Lula said. "I defend peace in the Middle East. I defend the Palestinian state and that all may live in harmony."

[...]

"It won't work to leave Iran isolated," Lula said. "If Iran is an important actor in this strife, it's important for someone to sit with Iran, to talk with Iran."

Lula reiterated that the UN should lead peace negotiations in the Middle East after saying last week that the U.S. is responsible for the crisis.

In his radio address, Lula said he'll seek to stage a soccer game between Brazil's national team and a joint Israel- Palestine team to help further the peace process.

"I've had a dream for the past three years, to organize a peace game in a neutral stadium, of a mixed team," Lula said. "This would be an extraordinary achievement for Brazil and, above all, a very important sign for peace."

Auntie 'Bina is hereby bracing herself for the shitstorm of "Lula bad, Lula terrorist, Lula islamofascist" which is sure to come any minute now...

Any...

minute...

now...

Well? It's been three days. Is no one going to slag Lula for pulling a Chavecito?

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Happy Amurrican Thanksgiving!

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Anyone for a slice of poo penis with autumn foliage garnish?

November 25, 2009

El Narco is nervous

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Hey Alvaro, are you scared of the big bad popular man next to you?

At least that's the impression I get, from this little item I found in Aporrea:

In a surprise move, the government of Colombia announced the cancellation of a visit by president Alvaro Uribe to the Summit of the Amazonian Countries, just after the president of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, host of the summit (in Manaos), declared that it would be a favorable time for a meeting between Uribe and his Venezuelan counterpart, Hugo Chávez.

The government of Colombia confirmed last week that Uribe would be attending the summit, prior to a climate converence of the United Nations in Copenhagen, between December 7 and 18, according to the AFP news agency.

It is expected that in the next few hours the Presidency of Colombia will make public a letter by Uribe in which he will be excusing himself.

Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa, who is on an international tour, will not be attending, and neither will Bolivian president Evo Morales, whose country will be holding elections.

Translation mine.

El Ecuadorable (currently in Belgium, charming the royal pants off the king, while Foreign Minister Fander Falconí stands in for him) and Evo (closing out his electoral campaign in Potosí) both have sound reasons for missing this summit, which they would otherwise unquestionably attend, both having parts of their countries located in the Amazon Basin. But how about El Narco?

Well, maybe it's because Chavecito has made clear his displeasure--or rather, the collective displeasure of all Venezuelans--at not only those seven bases being handed over to the gringos for spying and terrorism purposes, but also the illegal footbridges that enable smuggling and paramilitary incursions (and which were recently destroyed, with no harm to any person or legitimate structures, by the Venezuelan army.)

Chavecito is, as you can see, much bigger (and handsomer) than El Narco. Maybe that's why El Narco can't look him in the eye anymore...it's because he's scared of him. And worse, he knows Chavecito is right. Little wonder he doesn't want Lula shoving the two of them together. He's petrified!

Chavecito won't beat him up, of course--he's way too nice to hit a little shrimp with glasses. But Alvarito still knows he'll be going home awfully butthurt if he gets so much as a stern talking-to from our man in red. And so will his imperial string-pullers.

November 24, 2009

Wow, who knew?

Chavecito is a LOLcat!

chavecito-invisible-binox.jpg

(Actually, this doesn't surprise me a bit. He's a Leo. We're born hams.)

Economics for Dummies: So simple, a teenager can understand it...

So, why can't the big banks, international conglomerates and other fat leeches?

protest-in-michigan.jpg

University students in Michigan protesting the cutting of grant and scholarship money.

Investment in the future? Capitalists don't care--unless they can draw huge profits today. If these students aren't working their butts off at low-paying McJobs, what good are they? Improving their brains will only make them demand better pay somewhere down the line. Can't have that, can we?

November 23, 2009

Bolivian terror cell update: Branko and Rubén are now wanted men

ruben-branko2.jpg

Gee, Rubén and Branko, you're looking kinda scared. Maybe because the federales have the goods on you?

From Bolivian news agency Erbol, the latest:

The Chamber of Deputies, who yesterday approved a report from the parliamentary commission investigating the terror cell dismantled last April 16 in a Santa Cruz hotel, recommended that Branko Marinkovic, former president of the Comité Pro Santa Cruz, and Rubén Costas ex-civic leader and departmental prefect, be investigated in connection with the same case.

Both were cited by witnesses during the investigation as presumed financiers of the irregular activities of the terrorist group, which was headed by the Bolivian-Croatian-Hungarian, Eduardo Rózsa Flores, who died in the antiterrorist operation.

The document, which in the next few hours will pass to the Public Ministry, calls for the Ministry of the Exterior and Interpol to aid in the extradition of those involved with the armed cell, who have fled the country over the course of the investigations.

Among them are Alejandro Melgar, Hugo Achá, Luis Hurtado, Lorgio Balcázar, Alejandro Brown, Ronny Hurtado, Juan Carlos Velarde, Enrique Vaca and Orlando Justiniano.

The investigations proved that the attempted putsch in Santa Cruz was financed by individuals and groups wanting the eastern territory to secede from the rest of Bolivia. The parliamentary commission began its investigation last April 21, six days after the police operation which neutralized the terrorist cell.

In that operation, along with Rózsa Flores, a Hungarian-Croatian, Magyarosi Arpád and an Irishman, Michael Martin Dwyer, were also killed. Detained were Mario Tadic (Bolivian with Croatian passport) and Elöd Tóásó, a Hungarian.

Translation mine.

Heh, how timely. This comes just a few hours after I was spammed this morning (on this entry, now closed) by some right-wing troll from Hungary (wait till Saturday and you'll see who makes Wankers of the Week!) who doesn't want to believe that the beloved Magyarosi Arpád was a terrorist who died in a shootout. Sorry to disappoint you, dude, but he was:

magyarsi-arpad-terrorist.jpg

Since when do innocent victims of evil communist dictators pose cockily with assault rifles and pal around with well-known right-wing mercenaries like Eduardo Rózsa Flores? And since when do they take money from the likes of Branko Marinkovic and Rubén Costas--well known fascist putschists both?

Shoulda stuck to folk music, kiddo. Your life might not have been so exciting, but at least it wouldn't have ended so soon and so messily at the hands of justice...

EDIT, 9:42 am: The Hungarian spammer has struck again, as anticipated. And get this: It claims to be the would-be assassin's mother. Yeah, RIGHT. Amid all those fascist lies about Bolivia? I don't believe a word of it. On the off chance that the mother part is true, I can only say this: You did a lousy job raising your son. Should have taught him that right-wing fanaticism, TERRORISM and mercenarism will get him very deservedly killed. Sic semper imbecilis!

BTW, your SPAM e-mails (replete with calls for the assassination of the legitimate, elected president of ALL Bolivia!) are in a folder marked "ABUSIVE". Do I need to spell out that uttering death threats against anyone is a crime? One more strike, and Interpol will hear from me--and receive forwards of everything you left behind. Take a hint--cease and desist.

Second update, 11:50 am: Troll strikes third time unlucky. Comments closed, and worse on the way for you, spamtard!

Who killed Rafael Vargas?

Someone from The Wizard of Oz, apparently.

Unintentionally revealing photo du jour

bermudez-falconi.jpg

The handshake between the respective foreign ministers of Colombia and Ecuador, Jaime Bermúdez and Fander Falconí, as they announce the reopening of embassies in each other's lands. Notice a hint of tension in there? Something a little off about the smiles? That's because relations are still tense as a result of the March 2008 bombing of Ecuador by Colombia (with US "help", natch). That, and the fact that Bermúdez, like his boss, is a nasty little shit who's all too willing to let the gringos in so they can fuck up the entire region.

Caption suggestions welcome. What say, good people?

November 22, 2009

Sometimes, these quizzes really do work!

Check out what I scored on this Facebook quiz:

You are German...

You are precise yet romantic, efficient yet dreamy, friendly yet somewhat suspicious of others. You rarely smile, but when you do it's very meaningful. You like it best when there is a group consensus, and yet you are easily annoyed by the slowness and/or stupidity of others. Sometimes you think that if only you could live on an island or move to some wonderful place far away, everything would be better, and if you can't realize this dream you often lose yourself in books/vacations/recipes/sports -- anything for an escape! All in all, however, you make your peace with life, and have many old friends.

BTW, this is all true. Right down to the fact that I'm German. Never mind that it drew this conclusion by asking me some rather inane questions; the point is, it worked. Jawohl!

And now, a little musical interlude:

Auf Deutsch, natürlich.

Music for a Sunday: On a sobering note

A Toronto rapper you might soon be hearing a lot more from. BTW, I met his dad at a book launch for a "dystopian novel of hope" last Friday night; he used the song to introduce his reading. Two very cool, socio-environmentally conscious guys imparting the same lesson. Let's hope the "End of Days" can still be averted, if our actions are concerted...

November 21, 2009

Wankers of the Week: Unpardonable turkeys edition

Remember this? A whole bunch of dead turkeys don't, ha ha...

Yes, by all means, pardon the turkey if you're so inclined (or not!)...but don't you dare pardon any of these fowl evildoers, gentle readers...

1. Sarah Fucking Palin, for the umpteen hundred and umpty-umpth fucking time. What is it this time? Well, she's facile, disingenuous, vain, stupid as sailor's shit...and those are just her good points. She's also petty and vindictive, and oh yeah, didja know she refused to shake Ollie Stone's hand...because it had touched the hand of a competent, non-quitting, real leader? Oh, the HORROR! At this rate, her parvulum opus will be in the remainder bin before the Macy's parade is over.

2. Lynn Fucking Vincent. The Paliness's uncredited ghostwriter (her name appears nowhere on the cover of the screed she pooped out on you-know-whose behalf) is a closeted homophobe who doesn't have the guts to come right out and say it. All she can do is shuck, jive and prevaricate, just like her "collaborator". And act all hurt when no one believes a word of it.

Well, duh--her "some of my best friends" defensiveness should be mocked, because it deserves it. Would a true friend of the gays write something like this?

The homosexual ethos depends on an abandonment of truth ... [T]he gay quest for "civil rights" bears little resemblance to the struggles of blacks and suffragists, whose eventual liberation benefited society at large. Instead, it calls up the American communists of the '50s and '60s who, in order to advance the radical interests of a narrow group, created a spurious "victim class," then convinced America that theirs was the side of justice.

That, my friends, is vintage Lynn Vincent. That's what she really thinks of "some of her best friends". Lovely, isn't it?

(PS: Guess who her REAL best friends are. No, srsly. Guess!)

3. Kate Fucking Moss. "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels"? Big words from a coked-out prune who's afraid to taste anything.

cocaine-katie.jpg

Nice nose, Katie. Bet it got you a lot of modelling work.

4. Dino Fucking Babic. You know you're a serious wanker when you kill your own mother...for catching you wanking. Now, the whole world knows!

5. and 6. Sharon Fucking Cook and Barbara Fucking Boisvert. ZOMG nudity! Oh, the HORROR! Most of us are glad kids are reading, and yes, comic books qualify as such. So an 11-year-old wants to read some rather mature material--so what? If she can't handle it, she'll close the book and bring it back, and that will be that. Censoring library books by keeping them out of circulation--now THERE's some scarifying shit!

7. Adam Fucking Studdard. Dude, you may be Sheriff Joe Arpaio's deputy, but stealing is still stealing--even if "the law" does it!

sheriff-joe.jpg

8. Rush Fucking Limbaugh. ZOMG a TRIAL! For a TERRORIST! Due process! Oh, the HORROR! (What is this, a DEMOCRACY? HERESY!!!)

9. Bill Fucking Kristol. ZOMG a TRIAL! For the FORT HOOD SHOOTER! Due process! Oh, the HORROR! What is this, etc.

10. Shimon Fucking Peres. Worst Political Prognosticator EVER. If you think Venezuela will "soon get tired" of Chavecito, you obviously haven't seen his latest poll numbers. Bet they're better than yours, Shim-Sham. PS: You don't get to vote in those polls, so don't waste your breath pretending you can, or telling others how they should vote. And what's this shit about Venezuela's freely elected (and very hard-working) parliament being "not a serious government"? Coming from someone whose own "popularity" rests not on fair redistribution of oil money or any of the other benefits of the state, but on displacing and bombing Palestinians (and babbling disingenuous bullshit about it all), that's fucking RICH.

BTW, here's the reception he got in Argentina this week:

Ooooooo....owwwwwww. Ha, ha.

(Special thanks to Utpal for pointing out to me that Peres is also the Father of the Israeli Nuke. No, I'm not kidding.)

11. Levi Fucking Johnston. Posing for Playgirl, but NOT going full-frontal? I cry FOWL!!! Er...foul...er, let's tar and feather the knave. And save your money for fireman charity calendars, ladies and gay gents.

12. Fucking Blue Cross. 12-year-old kid in need of prosthetic arm...won't be getting one, because Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan charges an arm and a leg, and won't pay out for either anymore. That's right, private insurers ration care. Shocking, huh? Yeah, that "public option" is just looking more and more fascist all the time.

13. All the right-wing fuglies acknowledged (first names only!) by that faux-folksy cowardess, Sarah Fucking Palin, in her ghostwritten fucking book. Among the "journalists" she's on a first name basis with are a shock-jock who makes jokes about her cancer-stricken rival, an apologist for marital rape, and a misogynist who freeps any woman who dares to protest the poor, oppressed Paliness. She sure knows how to pick the wieners--er, winners--doesn't she?

palin-book-bin-to-bin.jpg

(The book might become an accidental bestseller, though, for sheer novelty value--a current Internet game is to see how many self-contradictory whoppers you can find in its pages. And other fun shit like that.)

14. Whoever the fuck threatened the Port Huron (Michigan) Times-Herald with "another Fort Hood". For what? For criticizing a teabagging local politician. Yeah, those teabags are just all class. And they wonder why sane people call them the Yanqui Taliban?

15. BTW, that teabagging politico? That would be Candice Fucking Miller. I think you'll agree that she's worthy to be listed here when you look at the company she keeps. (Not to mention her anonymous fans who phone in those oh-so-classy death threats to newspaper offices.)

16. Peter Fucking MacKay (and all the rest of the SupposiTories on Parliament Hill). Covering up what Richard Colvin repeatedly told them about prisoners the Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan had handed over to the notably corrupt Afghan "authorities", who tortured them? That has got to be the most unpardonable thing of all. These so-called elected officials of ours were in a position to do something to stop it, and they FAILED. Time to get our forces the hell out of Afghanistan before they become complicit--knowingly or not--in more of the same, or worse. The only way to do that is to sweep these lowlives out of office for good and never elect another one.

And finally, the "Little Big Man" troll from San Jose, California, IP # 17.184.103.123. Little PENIS Man would be more like it. Funny how they always wait until an entry has rolled off the front page before shitting on it, eh? Yeah, that takes guts. You can e-mail him here (assuming it's not fake) to let him know what you think of his big, brawny courage. (His real ISP is Apple Computer Inc., BTW. Tsk, tsk. Looks like the "lulz" on you, Inhumano, pal!)

Good night, and get stuffed.

Transgender hate-murders on the rise

...and they are extremely violent, as the statistics in this video show:

Most of the victims are female; an indicator of just how dangerous it is to be a woman, and particularly one who wasn't born a girl but who became one with medical help. The problem is especially acute among the economically disadvantaged, as these are likely to be the ones who can afford the least amount of gender-realigning treatment. Sexist cultures also play a huge part. Women, transgendered or otherwise, are easy targets in machista societies, particularly in Latin America. The transgendered are particularly vulnerable, however, if their appearance isn't fully feminized--it's that much harder to blend in and escape the notice of a rabid machista. Some of these women died when their boyfriends found out (who knows how?) that they were not born girls. Strange and sad how suddenly love can turn into hate...

A large number of those listed here were in Brazil, but what jumped out most at me was how many have died in Honduras--SINCE THE COUP. These women were human rights activists. They died alongside a lot of others--feminists, lesbians, leftists--anyone who stands up to the Gorilletti dictatorship, in other words. I don't think that's a coincidence, do you?

Not-so Stupid Sex Tricks: A cool way to stop global warming

Can you guess what it might be? Here's a hint:

condom-earth.jpg

And here's the scoop:

The planet's population is expected to surge to 9.2 billion from the current 6.7 billion by 2050, and many fear that such unprecedented growth will push Earth's temperatures, and thus the weight-bearing ecosystem, beyond the "breaking point."

The heaviest population growth is expected to occur in the developing world, where women do not have easy access to reproductive health services and are giving birth like jackrabbits.

India, for example, a major condom giveaway notwithstanding, is preparing for a 50 percent explosion in its numbers by 2050, topping off at 1.6 billion, thus surpassing its bursting-at-the-seams neighbor China as the most populated place.

"Women with access to reproductive health services," the UN agency said Wednesday at a conference in London, "have lower fertility rates that contribute to slower growth in greenhouse gas emissions."

Of course, as the picture strongly hints, the responsibility for lower fertility rates should not be that of women alone. Gentlemen, do your part. Don't be a fool--vulcanize your tool! (And don't forget to reduce consumption of emissions-producing fuels, either. Yes, whitey, I'm talkin' to YOU.)

A very familiar story from Colombia

Gabriel González, a Colombian human rights activist, faces false charges of leading a guerrilla group. He's far from being the only one. Under El Narco Uribe, anyone who expresses dissent with his right-wing authoritarian government is very likely to be slapped with the same stigma. They are also likely to be murdered by right-wing paramilitaries with ties to the Uribe government.

Remember this the next time you hear an Uri-beastie babbling on about El Paraco's commitment to "peace" and "democracy". Colombia is not peaceful. And since leftists are killed there as a matter of nauseating regularity, one can't call it a democracy either. In a real democracy, you don't get killed for being a partisan of something other than the ruling party (or parties).

November 20, 2009

Festive Left Friday Blogging: A song of solidarity

"Bases of Infamy"--a beautiful statement against war and imperialism!

Crazy warmonger Chávez proved wrong again...

...by a Catholic priest from Nicaragua, no less...

miguel-descoto.jpg

Story by Aporrea:

"President Chávez is right with his idea that we have to prepare ourselves for war," affirmed the ex-president of the General Assembly of the United Nations, Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann, at the inauguration of the Leftist Parties Encounter in Caracas, Venezuela.

During the event, organized by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), D'Escoto assured that the installation of seven US military bases in Colombia constitutes "a hand-over of an entire country's sovereignty to imperialism."

"It is cynical of Colombia to say that Chávez has a bellicose attitude. It is time to put our feet on the ground and realize what are the true intentions of the United States and their interference in the peoples of Latin America," D'Escoto said.

There is a dictatorship in the United States, and a demonstration of it is the politics of the Obama government, which promised change during the presidential campaign, which it has not brought about, according to D'Escoto, a Catholic priest and former Sandinista foreign minister from Nicaragua.

"President Obama is well aware of what will happen to him if he follows the route of 'change' he promised," D'Escoto said.

Translation mine. Link added.

Notice that D'Escoto did not say that Obama was the dictator, but if anything, the dictated-to. This is quite clear to anyone who's been following his actions--or lack of them, rather--regarding Latin America. Virtually everyone working in that sector of the State Dept. is a BushCo legacy. Their line is corporatist: Any Latin American government not willing to sell out to big business from abroad, and more specifically from the US, is to be deemed "hostile" and "bellicose".

You will not hear those words from His Barackness, of course, or even from Hillary Clinton herself, but from the lower-level flunkies--sorry, "specialists" and "spokespersons". (I almost wrote "spookspersons", and I'm sure that slip was not just of my fast typing fingers, but of a Freudian nature. Heh, heh.)

It's very tempting to think that a guy who promises hope 'n' change will actually follow through when it comes to LatAm, but I would never bet on it. Every successive US administration for over a century has done nothing there but deepen and further the capitalist exploitation. They will never get the message that it's time to start treating the locals with respect and dignity; that it's time to start talking to them as equals; that it's time to negotiate in good faith, not with the old ever-failing "carrot and stick" approach.

It's certainly not for lack of trying on the part of sovereign governments; every reasonable approach they've taken to initiating dialogue has been studiously ignored and even flat-out rebuffed, with insult added to injury. For example, Chavecito's been in office for ten years; when he began his reign, Bill Clinton was still president of the US. What did the latter do? Tried to dictate (through a State Dept. flunkie named Peter Romero, of course) that Chavecito could have nothing to do with Fidel Castro if he wanted to meet with Clinton at the White House. The 'Cito's response? A very polite, diplomatic, but unequivocal fuck-you. He called the flunkie, Romero, back and told him that he was speaking to the president of a sovereign nation called Venezuela, and that as president of Venezuela, it was his prerogative to associate with whomever he damn well pleased, and that if Bill Clinton didn't like it, too effin' bad--he was going to Havana, with or without Washington's blessing. Romero backed down, and Chavecito got to meet with both Fidel AND Bill Clinton--the latter, not through a full state visit (oh no, never that, not after meeting with Fidel) but rather, through the back door. The meeting was "informal". How informal? Clinton didn't even bother to put on a suit. Shoot, who needs that when you're "only" meeting the elected president of Venezuela--a serious and seriously popular man--for a grand total of fifteen minutes?

And if you think that's bad, remember--Dubya had no time for the 'Cito whatsoever. He did, however, have time for this chirpy chupacabra of the opposition, named María Corina Machado:

machado-bush.jpg

...who got herself a full-dress state visit even though she is not and never will be a head of state anywhere in Latin America, much less in her native Venezuela. She is insanely rich, but all her dinero will never buy her an ounce of credibility. She is, at best, a media-friendly figurehead for the oligarchy. And yet Dubya saw fit to see her, but not the actual, elected president of Venezuela.

See what I mean by insult?

So now we're hearing all this blah-blah from Washington about how those seven bases really belong to Colombia, how Colombia is really in charge of them, and the US troops are "only there to help". Um, "help" with what, exactly? The War on Drugs is as abject a failure as ever, and is only growing more farcical by the year (especially when you consider how much more effective anti-drug police agents in Venezuela and Bolivia have been since Chavecito and Evo kicked the DEA the hell out.) Does anyone seriously believe that drug production and smuggling will be lessened by the presence of gringos? It's not exactly a secret that the CIA was the US's numero uno drug-running agency right around the same time that cheap, plentiful crack cocaine started devastating inner-city black communities all over the US, just twenty or so years ago. Remember that? Gary Webb wrote about it, and the only criticism I have is that he was entirely too modest in his scope. This problem was way bigger than he reported it. (I recommend this book for a fuller view of the big, ugly picture.)

Anyhow. Anyone with an eye can see that it's not about drugs at all. Colombia is, as Chavecito says, not sovereign. How can it be, when its own president is deeply enmeshed with the right-wing paramilitaries and known even to the State Dept. as an old friend of the late drug lord Pablo Escobar? Does anyone seriously believe that this cat has changed his stripes?

And another thing: Who seriously believes that the gringos are going to take orders from Colombia? US militaries take orders only from their higher-ups in Washington. They're not under the command of Bogotá. These guys are there as intermediaries between the Pentagon and the Colombian army. It will be Colombia co-operating with Washington, not the other way around.

And suddenly, it makes all the sense in the world that Chavecito's bombing bridges being used by Colombian smugglers and paramilitaries to sneak into Venezuela. It also makes sense that he's calling on soldiers and civilians alike to be vigilant against Colombian incursions on Venezuelan soil. It makes sense that he would reject "mediation" by the US in the alleged dispute with Colombia (this dispute is not with Colombia, it's with the US!) And it makes sense that he's mulling a law to make it possible for the Venezuelan military to shoot down any aircraft known to belong to Colombian drug smugglers. This isn't bellicosity; it's prudence. It's also an exercise in national self-defence and sovereignty. And it's something that no foreigner has any right to criticize, much less mischaracterize as Washington has been doing--just as much by crapaganda hacks of the Obama administration as by those of its predecessors.

The pattern is already clear in how they're treating the Honduras coup--Obama is no better than Bush where LatAm is concerned.

In other words: Damn that crazy Chavecito, he's right again!

November 19, 2009

More fun with Wikileaks: David Irving gets popped

antifa-swastika.jpg

Looks like the best tool in the anti-fascist arsenal just might be the Internets, after all. Look who's the latest to get leaked on Wikileaks:

Attached is an email message database for the controversial holocaust historian David Irving. The email addresses used by Mr. Irving are focalp@aol.com and info@fpp.co.uk. The data was passed to WikiLeaks by an anti-fascist hacker.

The leak went public on November 14--the day Irving was slated to speak in New York City. No word on precisely where. This secrecy was apparently what prompted the hacking, according to the Phoenix New Times (and the leak itself). In the process, it turns out that his buxom blond assistant, Jaenelle Antas, who even posted to Stormfront on his behalf (iiiiiiiiick!), is getting fed up with the way he treats her:

You asked for more advance notice if I wanted to flounce out--I am considering it. You were very well behaved on this whole tour up until this past week when you have been snotty, rude, and disrespectful towards me. This is exactly the same way you behaved last summer and the very reason I flounced out then.

I don't care if you are frustrated, angry, stressed out, tired, or whatever--treating anybody the way you have been treating me is unacceptable. I bend over backwards to help you out on this tour, doing jobs that last year you would have done yourself, and not just making bookings, but also doing things like driving, helping you secure funds to reprint books and locating second-hand books. The only thanks I usually get are long whines about how something isn't exactly perfect.

Why would anybody in the world want to work with or even be friends with someone who is acting the way you have been acting lately? You like to say you treat me better than anyone else does, but the truth is, lately you have treated me worse than anyone else ever has. It hurts my feelings, it makes me angry and resentful, and it makes me question whether or not I should be doing this job anymore.

Hmmm. I wonder if this speaking engagement was one of the bookings she speaks of. Probably is!

And speaking of the engagement, here's a message revealing the probable venue:

*Hello "J" or David Irving,

Venue for New York City on Saturday Nov. 14, from 6-10PM or 7PM-11PM 4 hour
minimum:

Catholic Kolping Society
165 East 88th Street
(Between Lexington Avenue & 3rd Avenue)
New York, NY 10028

Should not be more than $300.00--Will know exact cost later...Call me anytime: 917-974-6367

Peace.

Michael Santomauro

Editorial Director

Call anytime: 917-974-6367

ReporterNotebook@Gmail.com

"Peace"?

Oh boy, somebody is in for major embarrassment now. He's the "editorial director" for this slimy revisionist site. You can read more about him and the kind of bogus "hidden history" he espouses here. And here is another interesting indictment of his character, and that of those he pals around with and/or inspires to new heights of paranoia.

And surprise! He's on Stormfront, too. So much for his playing-both-sides denials that he's an antisemite. You don't find anyone there who's not one.

BTW, the event was cancelled when the Kolping Society got wind of what was really going on. Looks good on ya, Michael.

And here are some other major embarrassments for you to peruse and chuckle over:

NJ list for tomorrow incl latecomers

From: Focalp@aol.com

To: xxxxxxxxxxx@hotmail.com

Date: Fri, Nov 13, 2009 12:00 am

[Attachment] NJ_list_incl_latecomers_12.11.09

Darling J, you are so efficient and beautiful. Please work your magic on (a)
attached list (b) me

That's from Irving to his lovely assistant. I wonder what he meant by (b)...

Question about this Saturday in NYC

From: Allen Rouse

To: focalp@aol.com

Date: Thu, Nov 12, 2009 12:37 pm

Hello Mr.Irving,

My name is Allen Rouse and my wife and I will be attending your talk this Saturday in NYC. I am part of the media group at Stormfront, I do a weekly program on Stormfront Radio called "The Staropramen Show", Staropramen is my username there. I would like to know if it would be possible for me to videotape the talk on Saturday for Stormfront. Don Black, SF's proprietor has informed us that a major overhaul is being done to the site in the coming weeks which will include our own video hosting capabilities and it would be nice to have this talk for this new feature. I look forward to meeting you and enjoying your always brilliant and informative talks.

Yours truly,

Allen Rouse/Staropramen

Uh oh, looks like somebody's been outed! Heh heh heh. (This one was apparently also at the NYC engagement--or rather, hoping to be.)

And here's one that frankly creeps me out:

Larry D---- [xxxxxxxxxx@hotmail.com] has written:


I enjoyed your Houston lecture very much and was glad to see that you were well, especially because you have been through quite a bit since I saw you in Idaho
some four years ago. I have been a fan for years, but I found particular
interest in last night's talk due to the fact that I have just embarked on a new
career in Military Intelligence. I find myself referencing WW2 with each new
concept I learn in training, resulting in [I believe] a better understanding of
the material than my peers who do not study history. For this knowledge of WW2, I thank you. Your books are quite compelling and have been my favorites.

Your lovely assistant mentioned that she will send a copy of your web-archives
on disk, just as you agreed to do for another gentlemen in attendance last
night. I thank you (both) very much.

Your tour of Rastenburg looks as if it is a one of a kind event. I do hope that
things go well enough in order for you to have a second one; I will be unable to
go to this one, as I will still be in training. Perhaps I can follow your trip online.

Kindest Regards,

The signature says he's a second lieutenant in the US Air Force. Uh, USAF? You may want to vet your officers more closely. Just a friendly suggestion.

You may also want to take a closer look at this one, while you're at it:

Montgomery,AL Visit

From: xxxxxxx@aol.com

To: Focalp@aol.com

Date: Tue, Oct 20, 2009 2:18 pm

Will be out of town in Gulf Shores, AL playing in a golf tournament during your
visit. I look forward to your new WW II book.

Sorry I am going to miss this visit. I will send a donation to Key West to help
with expenses.

Two questions:

1.If I could arrange it, would you be interested in speaking at the US Air Force
top professional military officers school the Air War College located here in
Montgomery at Maxwell AFB on some future visits? The college has about 300
colonels/ lieutenant colonels in attendance. I was a senior faculty member at
the College when I retired.

2. What did you think of Pat Buchanan's book "Churchill, Hitler, and the
Unnecessary War"?

Respectfully,

The signed name (and home address) is that of an Air Force colonel in Alabama. Yeek. If this he's on active duty, he should definitely come to the generals' attention, no?

Here you go, Generals dear--check 'em all out for yourselves: That Wikleaks link, again...

I stripped the major identifiers from them here, but you can find the uncensored versions there without undue difficulty. Happy hunting!

And maybe it's time to consider just what the ramifications of protecting Nazi nonsense under the rubric of "free speech" really are, eh? After all, didn't your forces fight against this during World War II? Be a damned shame if it ended up destroying what you've pledged to defend, no?

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November 18, 2009

Cops Behaving Badly, or Stupid Sex Tricks? Part D'oh!

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Poor choice of tats, dude. That man in uniform, he looks like he's looking forward to some hot cop-on-crook action...

November 17, 2009

Cops Behaving Badly, or Stupid Sex Tricks?

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Your choice, folks...

Robert James is suing in federal court, naming Deputy Daron Rhoads, wildlife officer James Tunnell and a third unknown officer in the suit. The suit says Rhoads pulled James over on a traffic stop on Nov. 13, 2007, and took him into custody after finding two unsecured firearms in the cab of his truck.

Tunnell was then dispatched and began an investigation into illegal hunting activities, which led to a search of Rhoads' home, according to the complaint.

While James was handcuffed in the cruiser, the complaint says the officers spent roughly four hours searching the home.

While there, the suit claims the officers seized his girlfriend's sex toys, turned them on and left them in plain sight "for James to see that they had found them," and did the same with pornographic video tapes they found.

It also claims the officers seized James' weapons and ammunition from secure locations in the home and "lined them up in different and insecure locations all throughout the house."

Finally, the suit claims the officers "placed a hat, Christmas lights and goggles on deer antlers that were affixed to James' wall."

The more I read tales like this, the less inclined I am to think that the police are any town's "finest".

Seen at a demo in Venezuela...

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"The only thing left for me to hand over to the gringos is my @$$."

Stay classy, Alvaro!

Oh, NOW they come out and say it...

Before I barf, first, a little mood music from an appropriate group:

I want you to cryyyy...I want you to cryyyyyy...I want you to waa-waa-waa, waa-waa-waa, cryyyyyy...

Ahem. Now, the news...

The federal agency that assesses health hazards at sites designated for Superfund environmental cleanups said Friday that it had reversed its conclusion that contamination at a former United States Navy training ground in Puerto Rico posed no health risks to residents.

As a result, it said, it plans to recommend monitoring to determine whether residents of the island of Vieques, the site of decades of live fire and bombing exercises, have been exposed to harmful chemicals and at what levels.

"Much has been learned since we first went to Vieques a decade ago, and we have identified gaps in environmental data that could be important in determining health effects," Dr. Howard Frumkin, director of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, said in a statement posted on the agency's Web site late Friday afternoon. "The gaps we found indicate that we cannot state unequivocally that no health hazards exist in Vieques."

Ahem. In plain English, that means that yes, Vieques IS contaminated, as the locals have been saying all along. And it also means that no, Uncle Sam won't be doing shit about it yet again. "Monitoring" is not cleaning up, it's sitting on one's hands and waiting to see how many kids turn up with birth defects, how many people come down with rare cancers, immune disorders, etc.

And yes, I'm sure they will see something turn up:

In a finding in 2003, the agency had said that levels of heavy metals and explosive compounds found in Vieques's soil, groundwater, air and fish did not pose a health risk.

The action on Friday is a vindication of the 9,300 residents of the small island off the mainland of northeastern Puerto Rico, who are pursuing claims against the United States government for contamination and illnesses. Puerto Rico's health department has found disproportionately high rates of illnesses like cancer, hypertension and liver disease on the island. In their claims, residents assert that the illnesses are linked to pollutants released in Navy exercises that continued until 2003.

"...heavy metals and explosive compounds found in Vieques's soil, groundwater, air and fish did not pose a health risk."

In what strange parallel universe would that be the case? Oh, of course...that would be BushCo's! Science, as we know, isn't in the Bible, so for them, none of this is real.

And of course, the Puerto Rican health department's findings don't count. Why? Because it's full of Puerto Ricans, duh!

And you wanna know the punchline? Well,

The Environmental Protection Agency has said hazardous substances associated with ordnance may be present in Vieques. In 2005 the training ground was designated a Superfund site, giving the E.P.A. the authority to order a cleanup by the Navy.

The Navy has begun removing hazardous unexploded munitions from its old training ground, but its practice of detonating them in the open air has sowed more fear among residents.

So, the EPA orders them to clean it up, and the navy goes in and blows it up. Meaning, that shit gets scattered far and wide! Thanks, Navy! Git 'er done!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go do just what the song says, and waa-waa-waa.

November 16, 2009

Islamist zealots: An endangered species?

Get set to see fewer of these guys on the streets, as former zealots see the light...

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Hey neo-con warhawks, don't feel too smug--you're in deep shit too. Why don't ya chow down on this...

I began to hear about a fragile new movement that could just hold the answers we journalists have failed to find up to now. A wave of young British Islamists who trained to fight - who cheered as their friends bombed this country - have recanted. Now they are using everything they learned on the inside, to stop the jihad.

Seventeen former radical Islamists have "come out" in the past 12 months and have begun to fight back. Would they be able to tell me the reasons that pulled them into jihadism, and out again? Could they be the key to understanding - and defusing - Western jihadism?

Go. Read the whole thing (which is too long to excerpt and comment on here). Then come on back and tell me exactly why you still believe anyone should be making war on Afghanistan and Iraq. Your phantom menace, the thing you're depending on to keep recruiting cannon fodder at home, is now eating itself.

And considering that they were an extreme minority within Islam all along, it should hardly come as a surprise that the majority of Muslims reject them. Just as a majority of westerners reject neoconservatism.

Both sets of extremists--your days are numbered.

Stupid Sex Tricks: Good answer, good answer!

epic-answer-fail.jpg

Mmmmmkay, it's an epic fail. But the teacher's cool for not making an issue of the "shit"!

November 15, 2009

Music for a Sunday: Folkies, North and South American...

Yep, I'm still on a folkie kick...take it away, Kate 'n' Anna!

Better learn to dance, or at least keep your balance on a floating log, fellas...you never know when it might come in handy.

And now, for something completely different, from Raíces de América:

The style could hardly be more different, but the basic theme is the same: The humble, in the end, come out on top.

November 14, 2009

Wankers of the Week: Forgettance Day edition

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Yes, I know--a little late for Remembrance Day. Just like those below. Somebody, please, give these people a dose. Maybe then they'll remember not to be such fucking wankers:

1. Mika Fucking Brzezinski. Looks like she inherited one thing from her old man: a knack for giving out turds highly polished to look like brilliant advice. (His "advice" to Jimmy Carter is what turned Afghanistan into the ungovernable hell-hole it is today.) Her "great life advice" for young women and girls? Get married, make babies before you're thirty-five (because everyone knows your ovaries will dry up overnight once you're past that sell-by date, right?), but don't worry about having a career in place to support those costly kids first (or to fall back on should your marriage fail), because jobs are easier to find than husbands.

So, what's Mika's problem? It's multifold: She forgets that decent, well-paid jobs are actually almost impossible to find now (unlike men, who comprise half the world's adult human population.) She also forgets that anything that takes away your "edge" (such as waiting to re-enter the workforce because you preferred to be married and have kids) is gonna make it that much harder to get anywhere, much less where you want to be. She also forgets that some of us heard all this "advice" and rolled our big brown eyes at it more than 20 years ago!

2. Mark Fucking Noonan. For forgetting that TORTURE DOES NOT WORK. Read about this remarkable interrogator if you don't believe me. He found out something that should be required reading in every high school history class: Reliable intelligence can only be obtained if you question people with humanity and respect. He got truthful answers out of them every time. Something which Noonan--apparently suffering from historical amnesia, as well as just plain being a right-wing dumbass--has conveniently forgotten. Or maybe, like a "good" torture victim, he's just programmed to spout junk automatically. You know what they say--Garbage In, Garbage Out!

3. John Fucking Boehner. Lemme see if I got this straight: Ol' Man-Tan has spent 19 years squatting in the United States Congress, and he thinks a healthcare bill is "the greatest threat to freedom I've seen" in all that time? Either he hasn't seen much, or he's forgetting something--like, oh, say, the USA PATRIOT act.

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4. Rupert Fucking Murdoch. He must be getting senile in his old age, because he's forgotten that you can't own the entire fucking Internets, much less make 'em pay you for your crap.

5. and 6. and 7. Gary Fucking Jackson, Cofer Fucking Black, and Erik Fucking Prince. How much blood money is Blackwater paying to Iraq? Not nearly enough. Bastards are still turning a tidy profit. Bet they've forgotten the names of all the Iraqis they've killed...if they even knew them to begin with!

8. Lanny Fucking Davis. He still doesn't remember who's the real president of Honduras. Or that elections called by a dictator are not democratic. Or that he himself is a fucking douchebag.

amnesia-deja-vu.jpg

9. Pat Fucking Robertson. He forgets that Islam IS a religion, and a rather large one at that (covering about one-sixth of the Earth's population, give or take a bit.) He also forgets that his brand of "Christianity" is NOT a religion--it is fascism, and a not-so-"fringe political movement" in the US. Hmmm, let's see how he likes being treated to a taste of his own medicine for a change.

10. Orly Fucking Taitz, yet again. No, the trashing of her stupid "birther" lawsuit hasn't deterred her from airing her convoluted stupidities and bogus "evidence". She still forgets that having Hussein for a middle name does not make one a Muslim. She forgets that Barack Obama was in fact born in Hawaii. She also forgets that she could end up getting her racist ass deported back to Moldova if she keeps this nonsense up. There's also the question of how legitimate her law licence is, and she forgets that as well.

11. Alexander Fucking Wiens. Finally, we know who "Alex W.", the murderer of Marwa al-Sherbini, is--because he's now a convict. He insists that "his actions were not premeditated and that he had no xenophobic motivation." O RLY? Then why did he call her a terrorist (for wearing a hijab) and bring a knife into the courtroom when she sued him for harassment? Seems to me he's forgetting those salient little details...

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12. Sarah Fucking Palin, AGAIN. This time, she forgets that her "death panel" assertions, long debunked, are true only for Big Insurance. She's also forgotten that "bogus" does not mean what Bill and Ted used to think it meant! In fact, she forgets an awful lot of things, and so does her ghostwriter, who also can't fact-check for shit.

13. Col Fucking Allan. For forgetting that women and minorities are human beings with equal rights, and also for forgetting to keep his tiny, shrivelled dick in his pants.

14. Abby Fucking Johnson. Someone forgot why she was pro-choice and worked for Planned Parenthood. Conveniently fast, at that. Was it really a road-to-Damascus conversion, has she got Stockholm Syndrome, or was she an infiltrator all along?

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15. Carrie Fucking Prejean, again. Liar, liar...how does the rest of it go? I bet she forgets. She doesn't remember that the Bible doesn't say anything about boob jobs, either way, but it does say a great deal about vanity. She also forgets that acting like a complete fucking snotball isn't pretty!

16. The fucking hypocrites at the RNC. Who knew that they liked elective abortion--well enough to buy insurance from a provider that covers it? Or did they just forget to read the fine print?

17. The fucking IOC. For forgetting that women are equal to men under Canadian law--and really, denying them the ski-jump? How many other events use that venue, anyway?

18. The snotty fucking "pro-lifer" (note the quotation marks) who trolled here claiming to be a Jew and a nurse (see "her" e-mail addy.) Yeah, right. If you were what you claim to be, you would have to know your medicine AND your history better. You forget that the Nazis were VERY "pro-life", to the point of ordering German women to breed, and kidnapping children they deemed "adoptable". Many modern-day adoption agencies, especially religious ones, take remarkably similar tactics. And no, Jews looking to adopt were not exempt either. They, too, have been guilty of wanting perfect white babies to adopt at any cost. Yeah, preach to me about "eugenics"...I'm sure you know all about it. Enough to confuse abortion with genocide, like I've never heard THAT one before. Pray tell, where does it say that abortions will be provided to wipe out any given ethnic group? Or that the purpose of abortion is the same as that of the Lebensborn--to provide only perfect little white "Aryan" babies? Come on "Marie", show me the evidence (hint: NOT from a "pro-life" historical-revisionist site)...or just shut the fuck up. Your choice! You wouldn't want to make this list again, would you?

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And finally, the apologist for the Uruguayan dictatorship who shat on this entry here, yesterday morning. He claims he knew what it was like, but he forgets some rather obvious things because he defends those evildoers. Which makes me wonder where he's really from. You could write to him and let him know what you think of his rudeness at the e-mail addy he so courteously left, but I doubt you'd get an answer from the anonymous coward; my spidey-sense tells me the addy's fake.

BTW, he's writing from 139.78.127.124, which my IP locator tells me is in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Say, dude, does Oklahoma State University know that you're using their computer system to defend fascism? Would you like them to know? Because I can certainly get in contact with their administrators at any time. And my fingers are very itchy, thanks to the fact that I'm reading the most interesting book right now.

And I'm in no mood to suffer you fascist fools gladly.

Good night, and get fucked.

Cops Behaving Badly: Now how do you follow a story like this?

With lots and lots of munchies, how else?

Teh Heterostoopid: If you can't spell it...

...are you even worthy to practice it...

marridge.jpg

...let alone get to define it?

November 13, 2009

Festive Left Friday Blogging: It ain't all gloom 'n' doom for Mel...

For all the disociados out there who think that the real president of Honduras is crazy, holing up in the Brazilian embassy even as the clock winds down on his reign, I have some sad news:

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He's obviously doing fine, physically and mentally. He's in excellent spirits, and even sang Happy Birthday for a supporter this week.

Which I guess is as polite and graceful a way of flipping fascism the bird as it gets.

Lou Dobbs photoshop du jour

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Well, if FUX Snooze doesn't take him, he can always go into porn.

Keith O. eviscerates Lou Dobbs

Have I mentioned yet how very much I love Keith Olbermann?

He makes Lou sound like a cross between Dracula and Sesame Street's Grover. And he's got some job-search tips for the old chupacabra, too...

November 12, 2009

Attention, whomever it may concern...

Gav's blog has lost its virginity.

Congrats, amigo, you're in excellent company. I assume nothing I say about their lacklustre performance offends them, since they never write back. Lord knows I've tried.

Boo fucking hoo...

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November 11, 2009

This just in from CNN...

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...via Democracy Now:

Lou Dobbs Resigns From CNN

The controversial TV anchor has resigned from CNN amid a campaign to force him off the air due to his reporting on Latinos and immigrants.

(rubbing eyes)

Can it be?

Is it true?

I have to check this out further...

Dear Goddess, it IS true. TIME just posted an article on "departing CNN anchor Lou Dobbs", 30 minutes ago.

Good riddance to a journalist gone bad. Publicly subscribing to anti-immigrant AND birther nonsense means he's no longer competent to report.

Plus, let's not forget that racists loved him. And the feeling is definitely mutual.

Adios, cabrón.

Quotable: Howard Zinn on the true meaning of Remembrance Day

"Let's go back to the beginning of Veterans Day. It used to be Armistice Day, because at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, World War I came to an end...Veterans Day, instead of an occasion for denouncing war, has become an occasion for bringing out the flags, the uniforms, the martial music, the patriotic speeches...Those who name holidays, playing on our genuine feeling for veterans, have turned a day that celebrated the end of a horror into a day to honor militarism. As a combat veteran myself, of a 'good war,' against fascism, I do not want the recognition of my service to be used as a glorification of war. Veterans Day should be an occasion for a national vow: No more war victims on the other side; no more war veterans on our side."

--Howard Zinn

Stupid Sex Tricks: Finally, a way for guys to compensate...

...that doesn't involve vehicles OR firearms:

Some willingness to look dorky, however, IS required.

November 10, 2009

The day Mississauga became a ghost town

Since I'm on a Gordon Lightfoot kick today, I might as well include another apt song of his to introduce this entry and set the emotional tone:

Thirty years ago today, the local nighttime news was filled with some of the scariest scenes I've ever watched. A Canadian Pacific train, number 54, en route from London, Ontario, had derailed near Mississauga, just west of Toronto. Several tankers were on fire. The contents were styrene, toluene, propane, caustic soda, and chlorine--any one of which could cause a nasty explosion if set alight.

The cause of the Mississauga wreck was seemingly small and insignificant, but it's something a trainman overlooks only at his peril. A wheel box on the 33rd car in the 106-car train had run dry of oil and overheated. Locals seeing it pass thought the train had already caught fire; the hot box was smoking and giving off bright orange sparks. As the train passed the level crossing at Burnhamthorpe Road, the axle broke and the wheels went flying, tracing a fiery arc in the air. The undercarriage of the crippled car then sagged toward the rails, eventually snagging on a switch and collapsing near Mavis Road.

The chemical tankers behind the damaged car were ruptured as they slammed into one another and then fell off the tracks. A column of flame more than a kilometre and a half high erupted into the night sky. People from as far away as 100 km could see the fire burning. Towns as far as 10 km away felt the shock waves from the blast.

In the caboose, conductor Ted Nichol was thrown against a stanchion. He looked out the window, saw the orange-and-white column of flame ahead of him, made a quick attempt to contact Pruss by walkie-talkie, then leapt out of the still-moving train, CP 54's cargo manifest in hand, and ran for his life.

Then CP 54 came to a grinding halt, followed by a second explosion.

Brakeman Larry Krupa, 27 years old at the time, took a life-saving action: he got dangerously close to the fire in order to release the brake-line couplers of the 27th car, which was the last one standing--thus freeing the front end of the train, and saving his life and that of the engineer--his own father-in-law, Keith Pruss, 52.

Then came a third explosion, so massive that it was seen as far away as Kingston, Ontario--and Buffalo, New York. Pruss and Krupa got the unharmed remainder of the train--27 cars and three locomotives--out of the area as fast as they could. The shock wave knocked down everyone standing within a kilometre radius of the scene.

Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion was 58 at the time. She got little rest that night as she made sure the first few thousand evacuees were safe in their designated disaster relief centres, then drove to Mavis Rd. to see how the fire crews' work was progressing.

Meanwhile, the first police officer at the scene, Constable Doug Rielly, who had stopped his cruiser just 400 feet away from burning cars, was trying to disperse a crowd of about 300 people who had gathered to watch, oblivious to the danger. The gawkers were none too happy to see the uniformed party-pooper, and came at him with threats and cursing. Rielly called for reinforcements. That got rid of the gawkers.

And it was a good thing, too. As Carsten Stroud wrote in "City in Flight", published in the March 1980 edition of the Canadian Reader's Digest, all of them could have ended up cremated on the spot:

Of all the disaster workers, the firemen were exposed to the greatest risk for the longest time. Struggling with bulky hoses each time they approached the fire to change the streams, they knew that sudden, violent death was at their elbow. They had all seen a training film of propane tanker fires in the United States. In one, a tanker explosion killed a camera crew 2500 yards away. These Mississauga firemen were less than 500 feet from a tangle of propane tankers already ablaze.

Emphasis as in original.

Compounding the danger of the propane fire was the tanker loaded with 90 tons of liquid chlorine "somewhere in the middle of the inferno at the Mavis Road crossing." Writes Stroud: "If it ruptured or blew up, an enormous spill of chlorine gas would bring agonizing death to everyone it enveloped." It was an extra layer of fear on top of what the firefighters were already experiencing as they strove to bring the propane blaze under control.

Luckily, the city had been prepared for just such an emergency. Mississauga did not even exist on the map until 1974, when three smaller towns, which had remained separate for over a century, were amalgamated. Any residual separatist sentiment was melted that night in the heat of the fire. Hazel McCallion, elected as mayor in 1978, had every right to feel proud of how her city was coming together in the hours and days of adversity. As an ever-expanding series of concentric circles were evacuated around the disaster zone, she oversaw the movement of 225,000 people. Not one of them was harmed--save the mayor, who sprained an ankle in all the bustling, and kept hobbling on from duty to duty regardless.

Eventually the fire crews brought the propane fires down. But the cars were still too hot to handle, and the chlorine tanker was leaking. Several firefighters inadvertently inhaled some of the gas; one, John Engel, then 33, had to be hospitalized. The danger was far from over.

Writes Stroud,

As it turned out, only about 20 tons [of the liquid chlorine] remained. Experts concluded that over 70 tons had indeed leaked out in the first six hours after the derailment. Normally, it would have moved across the ground and collected in valleys and hollows; there, it would have turned into deadly gas. Instead, because of the propane explosions around the tanker, hot air currents had propelled the chlorine thousands of feet high. This had saved Mississauga.

Given that chlorine was one of the most feared gases of World War I trench warfare, the danger Stroud describes would have been horrific if a comprehensive evacuation plan had not been in place. For nearly a quarter-million citizens to be moved out of harm's way is quite the logistical achievement, and it went off without a hitch. Luck was also with Mississauga in that the explosions carried off most of the chlorine to a level where it could do no harm, and would eventually disperse in the air.

It was five days before the authorities gave the all-clear, and the people of Mississauga could finally return to their homes.

Mississauga has become a textbook case in how to handle large-scale emergency evacuations. Until Hurricane Katrina flattened New Orleans in 2005, in fact, it was the single largest peacetime evacuation in North American history. Hazel McCallion is now 88, and still mayor of Mississauga, never having been defeated at the polls. Her nickname is "Hurricane Hazel", and she remains a feisty old bird--a real pistol. I have a hunch she won't leave City Hall until they carry her out, feet first. Fortunately, she is extremely popular--her popularity cemented, no doubt, by the terrific way she handled the disaster!

And yes, the explosion was visible from my own town, too--it lit up the night sky, though none of us could see the column of flame. It was the talk of my middle school for several weeks.

My own favorite memory of the whole shebang, however, has got to be this weird little New Wave song by Eva Everything and The Gas, recorded in a studio in Toronto--aptly named "Great Shakes" because of its proximity to the railroad tracks. It's very rare and I couldn't find any video of it, but I remember it well from the news footage at the time. While looking for it, I found out that Eva Everything has since become a science writer and has a quirky, fun-looking book out. She also has a Facebook page, here. It would be fun to see her wacky song YouTubed, if anyone can find it and the news footage of the explosion.

Meanwhile, because I too now live right next to some CP tracks (in a house I find myself often referring to as "Great Shakes"!), I find myself watching the trains a lot. And on the neighboring CN tracks, too. Lots of tankers go by on the rails every day; hundreds, maybe thousands per week. Yet, strangely, I'm never afraid, even though I know full well what might happen. Maybe it's because the Mississauga disaster has made everyone more vigilant since then--and no one more so than the trainmen who, like Keith Pruss and Larry Krupa, have to handle vast tonnages of dangerous materials every working day. Who knows how many times they've gone to bat against corporate execs who are too often tempted to cut corners--and who try to influence parliamentarians into allowing safety lapses for profit's sake? The trainmen are the unsung heroes of our railroads, and I hope they never let up.

The gales of November came early...

A well-made tribute to the 29 sailors who went down 34 years ago in the most famous Great Lakes wreck of all time--that of the Edmund Fitzgerald. They all came from the US, but because they went down in Canadian waters, the empathy for their families and friends is shared across the border. This song is a Canadian classic.

"Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours?"

I can't think of a more haunting line in any ballad than that. This song is so eerie, in fact, that one night a few years ago I actually heard it in my dreams, pitch-perfect right down to the steel guitar that echoes the wailing of the north wind. I woke up in a flash, unable to get back to sleep. The Witch of November had come stealing, all right--and with her, she took my nerves.

But this song is more than just a haunting ballad. It's also accurate in many concrete details. The Edmund Fitzgerald, as the lyrics say, carried 26,000 tons--26,116 to be precise--of taconite (iron ore) pellets, bound for the US Steel mills in Detroit. The account of the disappearance is in line with the actual events (although the dialogue, especially between the cook and crew, is probably poetic licence, since the last words via radio from the ship's captain were a terse "We're holding our own"). It happened so quickly that no one could quite believe it. And after the sinking, there was much confusion for years as to what could have caused it; there were so many conflicting theories. At the time the song came out, the cause was still unknown.

But Peter Unwin, author of The Wolf's Head, a compendium of history and folklore of Lake Superior, seems to have cracked the mystery once and for all. I'll let Unwin lay out the facts, and draw my own conclusion in a bit:

At seventeen years of age, the Edmund Fitzgerald was a neglected and ailing vessel. It had also taken its blows. In 1969, in a serious grounding, the ship suffered damage to its bottom and internal superstructure. A year later, it collided with the S. S. Hochelaga and sustained damage above the waterline. Three times the ship suffered injury above the waterline in collisions with the lock walls at Sault Ste. Marie. Welding cracks in the ship's keel area were discovered in 1969 and again in 1973. The Fitz also had an unusual bow action, what [Captain] McSorley called "that wiggly thing"--in hard weather the bow of his carrier flipped to one side and took forever to return. "If she starts to do the wiggling thing, let me know. This thing scares me sometimes," he told a mate. His stated opinion of his own ship was that it was "not as great as you might think."

In five years its hull had been damaged five times. In that condition, bruised, possibly sailing with a loose keel and its twenty-one hatch covers held down by a minimum of clamps, it headed full speed into the worst storm to strike Lake Superior in more than half a century.

[...]

Despite the circumstances on that dreadful night, of all the ships on Superior only one sank, the relatively young Edmund Fitzgerald. It is possible this massive carrier had been sinking for hours, that as its captain ploughed hard into the mounting waves, it was sinking. With every nautical mile, the ship slipped another degree below the surface. Even with pumps spewing thousands of gallons per minute, the ship was sinking. Inch by inch the distance between Superior and the spar deck decreased. What had once been compartments filled with air were now filling with water, tons and tons of water, coming from the top, perhaps from below.

[...]

From the time the ship was built in 1958 to the time it disappeared in 1975, the United States Coast Guard allowed the Edmund Fitzgerald to load an extra three more feet of cargo. A single inch of increased draft on a ship that size meant an extra 130 long tons per trip. Multiplied by forty-five trips per year and then the ship's lifetime of perhaps fifty years, that inch translates into millions of dollars.

Year by year the Edmund Fitzgerald was riding lower in the water. In 1958 nautical engineers had concluded this ship could be safely loaded in winter to 24 feet 6 inches. In 1973 the Fitzgerald's load line for the critical late-fall sailing season was increased a full 20 inches. Fully loaded, it now floated closer to the bottom of Lake Superior than it had the year before. When the Fitzgerald left Wisconsin for the last time on November 9, it was cargoed to a draft of 27 feet 2 inches forward, and 27 feet 6 inches aft, low enough that a twelve-foot wave would board it. A fifteen-foot wave hurled three feet of water across the deck. A thirty-five-foot wave like the ones encountered on November 10 put the deck nearly twenty-five feet beneath the surface of Superior.

After the investigation the Coast Guard's first recommendation was to rescind its own reduction in freeboard brought about by changes in 1969, 1971, and 1973. The Lake Carriers Association issued its own report in which it complimented itself on its safety record through the years, and demanded that no changes be made to current load-line regulations: the Edmund Fitzgerald had struck a shoal and sunk.

Just a shoal? Hardly.

It was greed that sank the Edmund Fitzgerald. Greed that kept the Fitzgerald in such poor condition; greed that left so few clamps on the hatches, allowing water to seep in from above; greed that kept raising the load line above what the engineers had decreed, time and again; greed that sent the vessel out on its final voyage when winter weather was already setting in, and the shipping lanes would be closed by law in a matter of days. And in the end, the shoal otherwise known as greed cost 29 lives, plus a highly-valued ship--once the biggest "laker" in the world--plus 26,116 tons of iron ore that has never been salvaged.

And who would salvage it? Who would dare brave the fury of the world's greatest lake? Is anybody that foolhardy?

I was born in Northern Ontario; I lived there for the first ten years of my life. I was a little girl when the Fitzgerald sank. I don't have any personal memories of the sinking. But I do have a visceral memory of what Superior is like; by concidence, burned in my brain not long after that fateful sinking.

It's clean, unbelievably big, deep blue, ruggedly beautiful, and full of excellent fish, the freshest I've ever tasted. I remember one family trip we took there; I remember wandering along its shore, picking up handfuls of rusty-brown agates, and jade-green, water-smooth pebbles (epidote, according to my gold-prospecting rockhound dad.) My senses were singing. Eventually, the lure of the big water was too much for me to resist; I took off my sandals and waded in.

And suppressed a scream.

It hurt horrifically for a minute or so; then my feet went numb. I dropped my rocks and stumbled out, teeth rattling in my head, my legs dead below the knee. It felt as though I'd been in it forever, but I had been in for much less than five minutes. It was the height of summer, and Lake Superior, inviting as it looked, was in fact bone-hollowing cold.

In an instant, I grasped the macabre horror of what awaited anyone unlucky enough to get caught by its rough waves. And they were rough--even on a calm day, you could feel them sucking at you like a live thing, hungry for a human sacrifice. Even wading in the shallows, you felt it. I was maybe nine years old at the time, and I've never forgotten.

Now, just imagine what it must be like in early November, as fall gives way to winter, and freezing rain turns to sleet and snow. Imagine that great blue water turning a flinty, taconite grey, tossed by hurricane-force winds. Imagine it coming in 30-foot-high swells. How long do you think a ship's crew would last, if they went down in that?

"The waves turn the minutes to hours" is an understatement. Seconds would feel like eternities. Death might not be long in coming, but it would still be long enough that its utter horror would be inescapable.

Lake Superior--Gitchigami, its Ojibwa name, means "Big Water"--is not to be trifled with. Nor is its power to be underestimated. Like all the Great Lakes, it is so large that it can create its own weather and climate patterns--a trait otherwise limited mainly to oceans. "The gales of November come early", all right--and nowhere more than on Superior. Pushing through a last shipment of heavy iron ore pellets--an oversize one, at that--at such a time, really is the worst kind of hubris. Were I the owner of a vessel like the Fitzgerald, I would never take such a risk. No amount of money to be made would be worth the loss, especially with a lake as legendary for its hunger as Gitchigami is.

And, pagan that I am, I would probably feel compelled to propitiate the Mishipashoo--the legendary feline water-spirit of Gitchigami--with regular rites of bonfires, native-style drumming and chanting, and prayers for mercy. (Not to mention binding-spells against human hubris--a sentiment far too easily felt when confronted with such a large body of navigable water, daring one to brave it...)

Here's a nicely-done metal cover of the Gordon Lightfoot song:

It's missing the piercing intonation of the steel guitar that rang with such eerie clarity through my dreams one night, but I think it still does justice to the ballad.

PS: Read here about the efforts of a Fitzgerald victim's nephew's efforts to save the ship that tried to rescue his uncle and 28 crewmates. It's a very moving story. I hope that even if the Arthur M. Anderson doesn't continue to sail as a working "laker", it will still be preserved for its historic value. Perhaps it could be turned into a floating museum in honor of those lost on Lake Superior--the human sacrifices, counted and uncounted, of Gitchigami.

November 9, 2009

Berlin Wall/German Reunification: Still believe in the Evil Russians?

Then you're about to get a nasty surprise. Svetlana Savranskaya of the National Security Archive in Washington, DC, has some news for you:

Mikhail Gorbachev didn't need no Ronnie Ray-Gun telling him to tear down that wall; he was already doing his part by refusing to resort to repressive measures of any kind. He deserves a lot of credit for letting things progress peacefully. My respect for Gorby just keeps on growing. (And so does my contempt for that shameless usurper, Boris Yeltsin.)

Meanwhile, here's how the Germans (not U2, NOT MTV) celebrated the 20th anniversary in Berlin today:

Three generations of German women give their views of history and what the fall of the Wall means to them. They don't say what the western media expects to hear, let's put it that way!

An English-language Russian channel gives a nuanced, thoughtful, artist-friendly view with a few interesting surprises of its own. (Dmitri Medvedev speaks German! Who knew?)

I especially love how the "domino wall" was a collaborative work of art--thousands of children painted it, expressing themselves freely. Some are from divided countries, such as Cyprus, where a wall between Greeks and Turks still stands. A much more fitting tribute than a walled-off, profit-mongering, "free" concert that relies on the personality cult, adulation and passivity, no?

Stupid Sex Tricks: They both wanted a pony

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And in their respective ways, they both got one.

How Venezuela sees Obama

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This mural, on Bolívar Avenue in downtown Caracas, says it all: Obama is a toy of the imperialists, "totally manipulable".

Better work on that image, Barack...and no, a PR campaign won't cut it. These people aren't stupid!

Berlin Wall/German reunification: Still believe in the myth of the "freedom-hating" communist East?

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Prepare for another big shocker, then. This landed in my mailbox yesterday:

Washington, D.C., November 8, 2009 - Just before the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago, even the hardline Czechoslovak Communist leaders called for the opening of the German border, according to documents from high-level archives in Berlin, Bonn and Prague published for the first time in English and posted on the Web today by the National Security Archive at George Washington University. Czech police try to stop wall jumpers

Compiled and edited by Czech historian Vilem Precan and translated by Todd Hammond, the documents show that waves of East German refugees fleeing to the West through Czechoslovakia (more than 62,000 just in the period from November 4 to 10, 1989) so alarmed the Czechoslovak Communist authorities - who previously had resisted the reforms under way in Poland, Hungary and in Moscow - that they asked the East German leadership on November 8 to allow its citizens to go directly to West Germany, in effect to open the border.

The documents posted today include the secret diplomatic exchanges between the West German foreign ministry and its embassy in Prague where thousands of refugees took shelter, between East German diplomats in Prague and their bosses in East Berlin, between Czechoslovak diplomats and Party officials and their counterparts, and eyewitness accounts by dissident Charter 77 spokespeople about the refugee crisis.

The posting also includes contemporaneous photographs of the scene at the West German embassy in Prague, Czech police attempting to prevent refugees from scaling the embassy walls, the tent city that arose in its courtyard, and rows of abandoned Trabant cars in the streets of Prague.

The detailed essay by Vilem Precan, "Through Prague to Freedom," that accompanies the documents cites the Czechoslovak government's demarche to East Berlin on November 8 as "a kind of ultimatum" that forced the East German Communists into a rapid "modification of rules for permanent exit" - a reform famously announced and flubbed by an East German Politburo member at a press conference on November 9. The statements by Gunter Schabowski led Western TV reporters to declare the Berlin Wall open when it was not, but the televised news brought crowds of East Germans to the checkpoints in East Berlin that evening who eventually forced their way through and made the media reports ultimately accurate.

I've never been to Prague. My mother and grandmother passed through it once, though--on their way out of northern Yugoslavia in 1944, as displaced persons, fleeing the Russian invasion. Their memories of that great artists' city were anything but golden; the Czech authorities robbed them blind. They literally came out of there with nothing but the clothes they wore. Ordinary locals weren't terribly friendly to the German-speaking refugees passing through, either, even though these ethnic Germans had nothing to do with what those other Germans were doing to Eastern Europe. If they didn't know a word of Czech, how could they explain that their family had lived in Yugoslavia for some 200 years? Well, they couldn't--and no one was listening anyway. All too soon, the mistrust became mutual. My mom says a lot of women from the DP camps were raped by "partisans". Even little girls, which my mom and aunt were at the time, were not safe. The Batschka-German refugees huddled in fear, and were only too glad to leave as soon as the opportunity presented itself, if not sooner. From Prague they went on through Silesia; my mom's family ended up in the countryside in Bavaria. None of them ever went back to Prague again, not even to visit--not even when it became fashionable for Germans to do so again.

So it comes as some surprise to learn that the Czechs--and their hardline communist leaders, at that--later became allies, however inadvertent, to Eastern Germans wanting to go west. It's one more irony for wingnuts to break their teeth on--and one more proof that the West, not the East, stood to profit more from the continuance of the Iron Curtain and the Wall. It's also the ideal bookend to my post from the other day. There's a real wealth of surprising information there, folks, so here's that link again. Go read!

November 8, 2009

Stupid Sex Tricks: Why I'm glad my parents are computer illiterate

Even gladder that they don't know what Facebook is:

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And gladdest of all that they've never heard the term MILF.

Music for a Sunday: Lunatics Anonymous, that's where I belong

A two-fer hit from a great old Canadian arena-rock band. Listen closely and you'll hear how to really pronounce "Toronto".

And just to mash things up a bit, here's another great song from another great Toronto (pronounce it correctly, now!) band with a similar name, but a rather different style:

Yep, that's rockabilly. When's the last time you heard anything half so cool on your radio?

And could the lack of music like this be the reason radio is suffering lately?

November 7, 2009

Wankers of the Week: They wank among us edition

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Halloween was over a week ago...or was it? These wankers gross the bejesus out of me even now...

1. Virgil Bradley Fucking Tetherow. No, I'm not going to call him "Reverend", much less "Father Gabriel", even if everyone else does. Men who get in people's faces about abortion are obnoxious and hateful enough. But men who dress up as priests while hiding a huge hard-on for kiddie porn under their vestments? Sounds to me like the anti-choice harassment is just their way of ensuring a steady supply of future victims.

2. Dick Fucking Cheney. Last week it was "Don't dither", this week it's "don't recall". Sounds to me like the Big Dick should be under psychiatric evaluation, since 72 separate incidents of inability to remember, under FBI questioning, surely must constitute some kind of diagnosable dementia. Which in turn makes me wonder: How in hell was this man ever cleared to take public office in the first place? As I recall, there are stringent health requirements.

3. Stephen Fucking Harper. Treading shamelessly on the toes of Prince Charles? Stay classy, Harpo.

4. Dani Fucking Ayalon. Always with the "Venezuela harbors Iranian terrorists" line. Doesn't that schtick ever get tired? I get so sick of hearing it trotted out every fucking day. The relationship with Iran is strictly business, and also may have something to do with both countries being non-aligned (which is rather more than one can say for Israel.)

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5. Doug Fucking Hoffman. When you call Glenn Fucking Beck your "mentor", you're a surefire winner, right? Wrong. Haha!

6. Carrie Fucking Prejean, again. This time, she's literally a wanker...caught on tape, no less. More proof, in case you needed it, that beauty pageants are not and never were about being a true role model. Don't they vet their contestants any better than that?

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7. John Fucking Varley. Excuse me, what was it again that Jesus said about rich men, camels and eyes of needles? I guess someone forgot that part of his catechism.

8. The entire fucking board of Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. They got the flu shot early. Meanwhile, those who should have been getting it, like this boy, are getting the virus instead--and some are getting awfully dead. Meanwhile, everyone else is getting awfully nervous. I wonder what hospital boards do anyway that's so all-fired important as to justify this kind of queue-jumping. My suspicion is NOT BLOODY MUCH!

9. This fucking wanker here who thinks he knows the "truth" about the flu shot. Um no, he doesn't--he is not a doctor. He has no knowledge of epidemiology or microbiology. And using the flu death of a child to push crackpot anti-vaccination theories is as wankish as it gets!

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10. and 11. The Fucking Medcan Clinic and Queen's Fucking Park. Excuse me, but Ontario is a single-payer healthcare province. Queue-jumping for a tidy profit is killing people. (Of course, Medcan's CEO is a Tory fundraiser. Figures.) Do we really need a flu epidemic to drive home the fact that executive-perk medicine is dead wrong? Come on, McGuinty Liberals, crack down on these fuckers already--or be accused of complicity.

12. George Fucking Hutchins. GOP racist extraordinaire and ugly-ass-website king, no doubt about it. Hot quote: "America is a Great Nation, due to our Diversity; but ONLY WHEN, This Diversity is VOLUNTARY." Also: "To DEFEAT OBAMA-NATION, we must take a close look at all of the "Social Engineering" contained in the so called 1964 Civil Rights Act, and remove this "Social Engineering" contained in the so-called 1964 Civil Rights Act."

By "Social Engineering", he means EQUAL RIGHTS FOR BLACKS AND WHITES. That means he is a FUCKING RACIST IN ALL CAPS, DUH. (I have no idea what he means by "VOLUNTARY Diversity", but I have a hunch it's along similar lines.)

Oh yeah, and scroll waaayyyyy down past all the multicolored mispunctuated ungrammatical large-font whorish hideosity, and you'll see this:

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Just in case you needed further confirmation on the whole racist thing. (You're welcome. Now if you'll pardon me, I need to go rinse my eyeballs with sterile saline solution. Teh Racist Stoopid, it BURNS.)

13. Simon Fucking Romero. Honestly, this one deserves a lifetime membership on the Wankers list. He can't even "report" two freaking paragraphs on swine flu deaths among the natives in the Venezuelan state of Amazonas without blaming it on Big Red You Know Who...and his expulsion of a cult backed by the CIA. (PS: Excellent satire here.)

14. Every fucking wanker who laughed at Dr. Carolyn Bennett, MP, here:

Given that Dr. Bennett was a full-time practicing physician before entering politics, I think it only fair that her concerns about the flu pandemic--stemming from a working knowledge and prior direct experience of the subject at hand--be addressed with something other than Tory derision. Don't you?

(Yes, I realize this happened last week. But it only came to my attention now. I don't believe it's ever too late to address a wanker's blatantly cavalier attitude, especially not if the wanker--or jerk-circle of wankers--is a repeat offender. And I want to make sure it doesn't get lost in the shuffle, especially not when the wankers want to try for a majority government. It's this contempt for the public's well-being that should be remembered come voting time. So sue me.)

15. Andrew Fucking Coyne. H1N1 a "non-crisis"? Tell it to the parents of the "freakishly unlucky" (and previously healthy) boy who died of it. For that matter, tell it the president of Ecuador, who lost his (previously very healthy!) security chief--a "non-priority" group member--to the disease. For anyone to claim that a contagious disease which can kill the healthy within two days is a "non-crisis" is a distinct display of non-intelligence.

And no, Andrew, I don't believe your case of foot-in-mouth was "freakishly unlucky", because you had time to sit down and think about every word before you wrote it.

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And that's it for this week's wankapedia. I only wish it were shorter. As with all things wankish, that's because to see even a little of it is to see too fucking much.

Good night, Mrs. Calabash, and I hope you get your flu shot soon.

Stupid Sex Tricks: Could this be why they're going extinct?

This kakapo, an endangered species of flightless parrot, gives us a clue as to why there are so few of his kind left: They're damned annoying!

Somebody, please, find him a lady kakapo before nature journalists also become an endangered species!

Berlin Wall/German reunification: Still believe in the myth of the "freedom-loving" capitalist west?

A short history of the Berlin Wall. The very fitting song is "Wind of Change", by the Scorpions--a German band. Who the hell needs those fucking U2 poseurs and their new, CAPITALIST wall of shame?

Sometimes, it pays to be on the Internets bright and early of a Saturday. Look what just landed in my mailbox, from the National Security Archive in Washington:

Washington, DC, November 7, 2009 - The fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago generated major anxiety in capitals from Warsaw to Washington, to the point of outright opposition to the possibility of German unification, according to documents from Soviet, American and European secret files posted on the Web today by the National Security Archive.

Solidarity hero Lech Walesa told West German chancellor Helmut Kohl on the very day the Wall would fall that "events in the GDR [East Germany] are developing too quickly" and "at the wrong time," that the Wall could fall in a week or two (it would be a matter of hours) and then Kohl and the West would shift all their attention and aid to the GDR, leaving poor Poland "in the background." And indeed, Kohl cut short his visit to Warsaw and flew back to Germany as soon as the news arrived of the breach of the Wall.

British prime minister Margaret Thatcher earlier had told Soviet general secretary Mikhail Gorbachev that "Britain and Western Europe are not interested in the unification of Germany. The words written in the NATO communique may sound different, but disregard them." Top Gorbachev aide Anatoly Chernyaev concluded that Thatcher wanted to prevent unification "with our hands" and not her own.

Gee, what a surprise. All these "freedom-lovers", from Lech Walesa to dear old Maggie, were really opposed to reunification, because it interfered with their own glorification. Color me so shocked!

Well, not quite. Being German myself, I know full well that the German people--MY people--always wanted reunification, ALWAYS opposed the building of the Wall, and that on both sides of the divide, they were chomping at the bit to get the damn thing down again. The wall was the work of politicians, not the people. The people, regardless of ideology, did not EVER want it. It literally pulled families and friends apart; it was not merely political, but deeply personal for an untold number of Germans. It was a trauma that stayed with many of them for decades, and even now, the psychic wounds it left still run deep. There is even a saying that describes that trauma, in German: Die Mauer im Kopf--the wall in the head.

This confirms what I've always felt in my gut to be true--that when reunification happened, as it inevitably would, it would not be the work of any leader, communist or capitalist--it would be the doing of the German people. (Duh--who do you think was chipping at that wall the entire time?)

On a related note, I was watching a documentary last night on Vision TV about a group of Germans--let's not draw any artificial lines between West and East, because THEY didn't--who undermined the whole thing by laboriously hand-digging a tunnel from West Berlin into the East Zone, less than a year after the Wall went up. It started out as the work of a handful of people, then grew to more than forty diggers as word of mouth spread clandestinely through West Berlin that a tunnel was being dug. Many of the newcomers did not know the original diggers personally; they had simply heard a rumor and had to find out, first, if it were true; then, what they could do to help the project, and finally, get their families across too. The project was the subject of an NBC documentary that later won several awards; the crew was able to film the tunnel construction in progress, thanks to some wheeling and dealing and a $50,000 cheque. (Incidentally, the West Berlin CIA station soon learned of the project, too--but did nothing to help it in any way, although they surely must have had some construction experts on hand somewhere. All they did was spy, spook and sit on what they knew. Yeah, talk to me some more about how THEY were defending freedom from the big red menace of communism...)

One of the stories really caught at my heartstrings. A man from the east had managed to duck through the wires of the fence that preceded the wall, but his pregnant wife and small daughter had to stay behind, because the soldiers patrolling the fence had just shot another runner dead. This man was one of those who later joined in the digging; he actually dared to face arrest for trespassing when he found the place where the tunnel began and nosed around trying to see if it was real. The diggers feared the worst; they thought he was a spy. But when it became clear that he only wanted to reunite with his family, the West Berlin police let him go, and the diggers, after a long argument, were persuaded to let him help with the tunneling. In the meantime, his wife gave birth; their son was four months old before they were finally able to crawl through that filthy, waterlogged tunnel to the west with a group of others. The NBC cameras caught one muddy, matted-haired figure after another, emerging from the dark and climbing the ladder to safety and hugging their loved ones. The women's clothes and high-heeled shoes were ruined; their stockings were shredded at the knees. The babies were crying.

What this story made clear to me was that the wall, right from the start, was a terrible mistake--and that a small but determined group of people were able to undermine it even before it was fully built. For many months they sacrificed time, energy, money and so much more to build their tunnel, reconnecting what a wall had divided.

Another thing that I realized--but only now, as I sat here writing this--was how nobody in the documentary talked about which was better, communism or capitalism. Stands to reason--none of them cared! All they wanted was to be together with their families, to live and work in peace, without political police of any stripe breathing down their necks. Freedom, for them, was independent of theoretical ideologies; what mattered was that they were the masters of their own lives. One could truly say that these were the first Germans to punch a hole in the wall, more than 25 years before it finally fell.

This is why it's so instructive to unpick the hypocrisy of the "pro-freedom" leaders who claimed credit, quite undeservedly, for the fall of the Wall. If the Western leaders had wanted to, they could have demolished that wall, sabotaged its building, dynamited it repeatedly. They did nothing! And for a very good reason: The Wall was worth more to Reagan, Thatcher, Walesa, etc. when it stood than when it fell. They didn't stay away from it because demolishing it would have unleashed World War III; that's just a convenient excuse. It would have done no such thing. No, the Wall gave them something to point to, something that would silence their own critics--especially those of the repressive Reagan and Thatcher administrations. It was something that they could point to and say, "Don't call US oppressive--THOSE people are worse!" In its way, the Wall served the capitalists; it granted them bragging rights. It also gave them a convenient smokescreen on which to project their false visions of freedom.

But with the Wall gone, so too was capitalism's last bulwark, although nobody seems to have thought of that at the time. We were being carefully (and falsely) instructed to see it as capitalism's hour of triumph. While the media hype focused on how the poor oppressed East Germans could finally buy whatever consumer goods they wanted, the uncomfortable truth has emerged only slowly over the years that they lacked the means--that capitalism costs too much. The physical wall is gone, but there is still an economic wall around the east-zone of Germany; the place is economically retarded. And no, communism can't take all the blame for this one. If capitalists really cared, if they were as industrious and hard-working as they claim to be, and if their ideology was worth all the trees killed to print it, the deficit could have been made good within a decade. That hasn't happened. The trickle-down economics so touted by Reagan/Bush and Thatcher have failed to bring about the "rising tide that lifts all boats". The little boats of Eastern Europe still sit, slowly rotting, on mud that will not float them anywhere.

And yes, die Mauer is still very much im Kopf.

So the next time you hear some wingnut blatting on about how Ronald Reagan was a saint, how he brought down the wall, just keep this in mind. The real freedom-seekers of Berlin weren't out in front of the wall with megaphones; they were digging quietly underneath it, sometimes with their own bare hands. They served no ideology, because no ideology served them. They did not wait for capitalism to save them. They put in the sweat equity all on their own, with no expectation of any gain except a little freedom and unity. (A quarter-century later, again, it was ordinary Germans who did the hard work in bringing the Wall down.) The media, the CIA, the western governments, all merely stood by and watched--and, hypocritically, applauded. Later, they turned this humble independent effort into self-serving propaganda. They basically left the refugees to risk their lives and muddle through--literally--on their own.

A fine lot of freedom-defenders they turned out to be!

Lugo: Not stupid. Dissociated Press: VERY.

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Lugo with one of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo. It's his habit of standing with the victims, not the perpetrators, of fascism that's gaining this peace-loving padre so much bad press...

Remember how, a little over a year ago, I blogged that the (then newly inaugurated) president of Paraguay was exercising prudence against the possibility of a military coup? Well, he's taken things up a notch:

Paraguay's new army, navy and air force chiefs were sworn in Thursday, a day after President Fernando Lugo fired top commanders amid a swirl of rumors about possibilities of a military coup.

Lugo made no public comments about his military shake-up, but opponents said the timing of the moves--a day after Lugo denied rumors of a military plot to unseat him--was disrespectful to the military and could even be part of a plot to seize more power.

"These fired chiefs will now be seen as coup-plotters in the eyes of the public," complained retired Gen. Mario Soto, who commanded the military for Lugo's predecessor Nicanor Duarte.

Earlier in the week, Lugo responded to a reporter's question by denying he faces any risk of a military coup, though he said there could be small groups in the military that are linked with politicians or that could be used for political purposes.

Colorado Party politicians, who still dominate Congress despite losing the presidency to Lugo for first time in 61 years, suggested without offering evidence that Hugo Chavez of Venezuela could be guiding Lugo's hand.

"Lugo is pushing a Chavista plan that consists of creating chaos in the country, ordering a state of emergency and assuming all the powers," suggested Sen. Juan Carlos Galaverna.

Opponents of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya made similar allegations before his country's military shot up his house and sent him into exile in June, prompting a still-unresolved constitutional standoff.

Me oh my. Don't those generals come off all whiny and babyish? Why should they care how the public sees them, unless there might actually be some validity to the image? Paraguay's military still has a strong fascist element. It also has a penchant for collaborating with the gringos, as I noted in earlier entries, and it would be foolish to deny it--especially in the boneheaded way the author of this piece--taken from a Taiwanese news site, of all places--puts it:

But Paraguay's military is hardly the powerful force it was under Gen. Alfredo Stroessner's long dictatorship, which ended in 1989.

Retired Gen. Luis Benitez told The Associated Press recently that the air force is now just a symbolic force, with no functioning war planes, and that the other armed forces also lack fighting power.

The armed forces' budget has steadily shrunk in recent years, and its arsenal is now largely obsolete. The 1992 constitution declared that Paraguay renounces war.

The posture worries some military figures and politicians in Paraguay because most of the country's neighbors are upgrading their weaponry.

Um, one doesn't need airplanes to launch a military coup against a sitting, elected president--see Chavecito, see Mel Zelaya. The case of Salvador Allende was exceptionally dramatic; he died not of the airborne bombing of the Moneda palace, but of a gunshot to the head. In reality, all you need for a coup to succeed are rifles that work and men enough to fire them, and the Paraguayan army surely has plenty of those.

The oh-so-worried "military figures and politicians" in the final paragraph are unnamed, and that too is hinky (not to mention shitty reporting). Maybe that's because the "concern" is grossly misplaced. Nobody in any neighboring country is making noises about invading Paraguay. In fact, international relations in South America, with the exception of Peru and Colombia (both governed, badly, by right-wingers), are going very smoothly. Lugo is on good terms with all his fellow leftist presidents.

No, if Lugo has anyone to fear, it's the very people he moved to eliminate--the generals he inherited from predecessors. These guys trained in the Stroessner era, which ended only 20 years ago. Many are graduates of the School of the Assassins (under whatever name it currently skulks about). Paraguay is still a very precarious civilian democracy. If Lugo, their first-ever leftist president, has information that these officers are plotting against him, he is perfectly within his rights to remove and replace them. In fact, he can do it even if there is no plot. That IS part of a civilian commander-in-chief's job, last time I looked. And given what he's got to deal with, in terms of oligarchs and vendepatria media barons stirring up unrest and looking to the military to "save" them from the socialist taxman, I'd say it's only prudent for him to take preventive action.

In other words: Lugo 1, AP "journalists" 0.

PS: Oh look, they're backpedalling already. Too funny!

November 6, 2009

Stupid Sex Tricks: What a dickhead!

...literally.

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Yummy, yummy...

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I don't know what those golden-brown tubular things around Evo's neck are, but they sure look nice and crispy. And they're making me hungry. Mmmm, mmmmmmm.

November 5, 2009

Time to end this war, NOW

FUX Snooze, as usual, gets it wrong. The shooter's cousin sets them straight.

When an army doctor busts in and starts shooting the place up in order to prevent the deployment of his comrades to Afghanistan (and himself to Iraq), what would you call it--"crazy", or something else?

Sources said Maj Hasan had been due to be deployed to Iraq shortly and was an army psychiatrist. He is believed to have been in his late 30s and from Virginia.

It was reported that he did not want to go to Iraq.

Hmmm. That might be a clue. Not wanting to go to Iraq is actually an act of sanity, not this:

Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison said: "Our dedicated military personnel have sacrificed so much in service to our country and it sickens me that the men and women of Fort Hood have been subjected to this senseless, random violence."

"Senseless, random violence".

Uh, nice cover-up job you're doing there, Senator Warmonger. What better way to salve your guilty conscience (complicit in both wars) than to shut down all further inquiry by declaring this to be just another of those random acts of senseless violence that, for some unexplained reason, keep arising in the United States more than anywhere else.

Unfortunately, there's the fact that Fort Hood happens to be a treatment centre for PTSD. And the shooter happens to be a psychiatrist who treated PTSD patients. And as we peaceniks know only too well from prior history, PTSD is an inevitable outcome of war. Is this a manifestation of PTSD in a doctor whose job was to treat it, or is it something else?

No, I don't feel hateful, angry or vengeful towards him; he's hurting too. What good would hate do? I hope he survives his injuries, if only so he can have a chance to explain why he did it. And if he's sick, I hope he gets help. Whichever way this goes, I suspect we'll hear a lot of things that some people still don't want to believe about the War on Terra.

And meanwhile, I can just smell the warmongers cranking up the ol' hate-machine once again. Fuck them--fuck them all. It was their cheerleading and their repression of protest that enabled both wars, and I hold them criminally responsible for it...and all its consequences.

Including, yes, THIS one. Because there is no doubt in my mind that it IS one.

PS: US News reports that there was a new military mental-health policy implemented just five days ago. Could this be a clue?

November 4, 2009

Isn't it romantic?

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The bells are ringing for Uncle Sam and his gal, Colombia. But guess who objects to this unholy matrimony:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Colombia became a "colony" when it granted the U.S. permission to expand its military presence in Colombian territory in an accord signed on October 30th, the details of which became public on Tuesday.

"Colombia decided to hand over its sovereignty to the United States... Colombia no longer governs its territory," said Chavez in a televised meeting of his Council of Ministers. "Colombia today is no longer a sovereign country... it is a kind of colony."

Nyeahhhhh...mean Chavecito party-pooper!

So, what are the terms of this mésalliance, anyway?

The ten-year accord grants the U.S. access, use, and free movement among two air bases, two naval bases, three army bases, and "the rest of the installations and locations" in Colombia, in accordance with Colombian law.

The bases and any enhancements carried out on them by the U.S. remain the property of Colombia. Meanwhile, U.S. military, civilian, and diplomatic personnel, contractors, ships and planes working under the accord are exempt from customs duties, tariffs, rent, taxes, and most inspections of its cargo, according to the deal.

In addition, the accord grants diplomatic immunity to U.S. personnel. To reinforce this immunity, "Colombia will guarantee that its authorities will verify, in the least amount of time possible, the status of immunity of the personnel of the United States and their dependents who are suspected of criminal activity in Colombia, and will turn them over to the appropriate U.S. military or diplomatic authorities," the accord states.

No, that doesn't sound a bit like an abuse of power just waiting to happen!

Meanwhile, what are Colombians making of all this? By the sounds of things, a break for the Venezuelan border:

It is estimated that by the end of 2009, 301 Colombians will be entering the country daily. The migration from the neighbouring country is no longer the same as that experienced in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, when one person per family group migrated.

Colombian families are now collectively mobilizing to Venezuela in search of the realization of a quality of life that is impossible for them to find in their home country, given the economic conditions in which they are forced to live as a result of the armed conflict.

"...a quality of life that is impossible for them to find in their home country, given the economic conditions in which they are forced to live as a result of the armed conflict."

Sit back and let that sink in for a moment, kiddies. That's what El Narco's policy--totally in line with the Washington Consensus--is doing to ordinary Colombians. It's forcing them to flee to Venezuela, where life is ten times better at the very minimum.

And it's not hard to imagine why, either. Let's tally up the reasons, shall we?

Venezuela doesn't have a fifty-plus year civil war still raging.

Venezuela doesn't have a president with a penchant for falsely labelling his opponents terrorists.

Venezuela doesn't have a president who likes to kill his "terrorist" opponents--or at least, stand by with hands in pockets, whistling, while the killings go on unabated.

Venezuela doesn't have puppet strings from Washington attached at every appendage.

Venezuela isn't loaning any of its military bases to the US.

Venezuela isn't improving its economic figures at the expense of its people.

That last one is especially significant when you consider this:

According to figures divulged by the investigation, conducted in 16 states with a sample of 136,600 Colombians, people arrive in bulk because it is cheaper to live in Venezuela.

The reasons for the migration of 75% of those citizens are overwhelmingly economic.

According to Tanus, "the war consumes the entire budget (of Colombia) and people have to go find other means of life in other countries. Seventy-five % moved for economic reasons, but basically these reasons are a product of the development of the war, of the social conflict, because some of those 136,600 people are heads of families who come from areas where the Colombian armed conflict has unfolded."

"...the war consumes the entire budget (of Colombia) and people have to go find other means of life in other countries."

Yeah, I'm just loving El Narco more and more every day, reading stuff like that. So busy spending the country's entire budget on war, nothing's left over for public services anymore. Meanwhile, life gets prohibitively expensive. What to do but move to Venezuela, where the living is cheaper (thanks to Chavecito and his missions) and there's no war to eat up the national budget, so these new immigrants will have no problem settling in, finding doctors, schools, etc.?

One day, Colombians will want a divorce. The question is, will they have to wait the whole ten years before this bad marriage is annulled, or will they have to wait even longer?

In the meantime, Colombia's loss is Venezuela's gain.

PS: Oh look, TIME has published yet another TIME-ly hit piece. Trying to debunk the facts again. I feel so sorry for the CIA, it's really got its media work cut out for it here!

Vince Bugliosi wants to prosecute Dubya

A trailer from an upcoming documentary, laying out the hows and whys of the case. Bugliosi is the man who put Charles Manson behind bars, so if anyone knows how to prosecute a criminal who persuaded others to murder for him, it would be he.

Racist concern troll is out of a job

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Awwww...

A Louisiana justice of the peace who refuses to marry interracial couples resigned Tuesday, after weeks of calls for his ouster from civil rights groups and several public officials, including the governor.

Keith Bardwell quit with a one-sentence statement to Louisiana Secretary of State Jay Dardenne: "I do hereby resign the office of Justice of the Peace for the Eighth Ward of Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, effective November 3, 2009."

Gov. Bobby Jindal called Bardwell's resignation "long overdue."

[...]

When questioned, Bardwell, who is white, acknowledged he routinely avoids marrying interracial couples because he believes children born to them end up suffering. In interviews, he said he refers the couples to other justices of the peace, who then perform the ceremony, which happened in this case.

"There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a marriage," Bardwell said in an October interview with The Associated Press. "I think those children suffer, and I won't help put them through it."

Bardwell didn't return repeated calls Tuesday to comment about his resignation, which followed calls for his removal from officials including Jindal and U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.

Too bad, so sad. Now he'll have to find some other outlet for his misplaced concern for the chee-uldrun.

And you thought Dubya looks like a chimp?

That ain't nothin'. Look what Pooty-Poot looks like...

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And to think some people consider him a hot head-of-state? Pshaw.

What is this Israeli general doing in South America?

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Meet Brigadier-General (ret.) B. Ziv, International Man of Mystery...and mercenarism. Prensa Latina (via Aporrea) has some very pertinent questions as to what he's been up to in Colombia...and what he could be up to in Peru:

The possible hiring of an Israeli mercenary, B. Ziv, as an advisor in the war against "narcoterrorism", was decried in Peru by a human-rights activist and a military analyst.

At the same time, the commanding general of the Peruvian army, Otto Guibovich, without denying the hiring of the retired Israeli general, admitted to having contact with persons experienced in contra-insurgent warfare. The daily newspaper, La Republica de Perú, reported that the most recent sightings of B. Ziv "located him in Colombia, where he advised the armed forces of that country in the war against the FARC."

The director of the Association for Human Rights (APRODEH), Miguel Jugo, doubts that a person with the history of Ziv, denounced for massacres of civilian Palestinians, could help bring down narcoterrorism.

Defence expert José Robles said he was surprised at the possibility that Ziv's services would be engaged as an advisor of the repression of a faction of the Shining Path militants operating in the central valley of the rivers Apurímac and Ene (VRAE).

Robles said that contracting the Israeli general would be an affront to Peruvian officials and that the experiences of Ziv in Palestine and Colombia would be of little use in the VRAE region, where conditions are totally different.

Robles added that another inconvenient fact is that the Israeli military is not exactly known for its respect of human rights, but rather the exact opposite.

Former defence minister Antero Flores Aráoz, who was replaced last July, denied any knowledge of Ziv and asserted that during his time as minister, no foreigner was contracted as a repressor in the VRAE region.

Meanwhile, General Guibovich reiterated the promise that the armed forces and police would put down all "narcoterrorism" in the high-risk VRAE region in a "definitive and implacable" manner.

In a televised interview, Guibovich made that announcement in spite of critics who accused officials of having failed in an offensive to control the VRAE, where the military has suffered more than fifty losses in a single year.

On the subject of the Israeli mercenary B. Ziv, the government of Alan García maintains total silence. The chief of cabinet, Javier Velásquez, agreed with the defence minister, Rafael Rey, in arguing "security reasons" for not revealing why the government kept contracting this person.

"In the first place, the strategy we are developing for confronting narcotrafficking and terrorism, for obvious reasons, cannot be made public [...] we can neither confirm nor deny; but it is a strategy which by nature should be absolutely reserved," said Velásquez, when asked by the Peruvian newspaper La Primera about the contracting of B. Ziv and an Israeli military team for $12 million.

The Israeli press confirms that the company run by the retired brigadier-general, B. Ziv, trained troops in the Georgian army, which last year was embroiled in a confrontation (which it lost) with the Russian Federation. In 2002, Ziv directed the Givati Brigade, which invaded the Al Amal refugee camp in Gaza. According to reports, a large number of civilians were injured or killed. Ziv alleged that there were terrorists in that location.

Translation mine.

I had never heard of this Ziv character till now (gee, I wonder why), so I did a bit of googling. It wasn't easy to find anything on him, secretive type that he is, but here's a blog entry that names him as one "Israel Ziv". You'll note that the Colombian connection is confirmed:

Military links between Israel and Colombia date back to the first five years of 1980, when a contingent of the Colombia battalion "... one of the worst violators of human rights in the western hemisphere, received training in the Sinai desert from some of the worst violators of human rights in Middle East," according to the U.S. investigator Jeremy Bigwood (who) observed that the training of young Colombian paramilitaries could not have been done without the express permission of the highest authorities of the Israeli defence forces.

In those years, landowners and ranchers of the Caribbean region of Uraba and Magdalena Medio (among them Uribe) were not satisfied with the "inefficiency" of the army in its fight against the guerrillas of FARC and ELN for which, in 1983, a group of "young idealists" went to Israel, not exactly to study "agrarian socialism" of the chosen people.

Of land-owning family, Carlos Castaño was then 18. Six months later, filled with "patriotic fervour", he returned to Colombia and tried to apply blindly what he had learnt in Course 562 imparted by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). He went back to the Bombona battalion but, disillusioned, concluded that the army was not killing "seriously".

Together with his elder brother Fidel, Carlos organised the death squad Los Tangueros, a name taken from his ranch, Las Tangas. In My Confession he declared: "In fact, I copied the concept of armed 'self-defence' from the Israelis". In his interviews (to Spanish journalist Mauricio Aranguren Molina), Castaño emphasised the relations he cultivated in Course 562 with an Army Colonel, Aflonso Martínez Poveda, and "other men of the Colombia Battalion".

The serial killer comments abundantly about the "firmness of Zionism... that has always been ... defeating terrorism... from there I was convinced that it is possible to defeat the guerrillas in Colombia". Castaño died in 2004 and recent history remembers him like how he was: one of most bloodthirsty Colombian paramilitaries.

Of course, the notion that Zionism is "anti-terrorism" falls apart with just a cursory look at Israeli history--remember Irgun and the Stern Gang? Terrorists all...but since they won, they've been recast as "freedom fighters". It stands to reason that their ideological descendants would be eager to export this successful brand of terrorism to any government with ready cash to spend. Colombia would be one such; another would be Peru, deemed "investment grade" by international know-nothings in pinstripes for its government's obvious willingness to take leaves from the Colombian book, but no useful lessons. Heaven only knows why anyone in Peru would want to import the Colombian civil war (now in its fifth decade--or is it the sixth? I've lost count), but it seems that nothing succeeds like failure, at least in South America:

Not only was Castaño trained in Israel, but also Salvatore Mancuso, the other "historic leader" of the (paramilitary) AUC currently in prison. From about the Nineties, Mancuso organised the paramilitaries of Convivir, financed by Alvaro Uribe, then governor of Antioquia (and now the President). In an interview with Margarita Martínez of Associated Press (13/02/02), the paramilitary boss bragged of "... not executing more than three persons at the same time". The 'security' company Spearhead, headed by the retired Israeli Colonel Yair Klein, started to train paramilitaries in Puerto Boyacá after the ceasefire of May 1984 signed by President Betancur (1982-86) and the secretary of FARC.

[...]

Klein's paramilitary model turned out to be a 'success'. Beyond the brilliant massacres of poor urban and rural people, four presidential candidates were assassinated. Enthused with the results, Klein filmed the training. The broadcast of the film by ABC News led to a global scandal. More than the Israeli professionals, the film showed known Australian mercenaries and British ones of the Special Air Service. The errant operative was getting in the way of the growing importance of the Colombian-Israeli economic relations like the purchase of 14 Kfir combat aircraft in April 1988. In February 1989 the Israeli paper Yediot Ahronot recognised the "possible participation" of Israelis in drug trafficking.

But wait! Aren't they supposed to be there to STOP drug trafficking, and put an end to the fighting? Why have they escalated both?

Oh, probably for the oldest reasons in the book. First, there's money in it...LOTS of money. And like all good members of the Military-Industrial Complex, Israeli mercenaries and arms traffickers have no interest in derailing their own gravy train. So it stands to reason that they'd play both sides against the middle: terrorism in the name of anti-terrorism, drug-trafficking in the name of the War On Drugs. It's a brilliant strategy for keeping the cash flowing, and what is cash flow if not a mercenary-terrorist-arms-dealer's raison d'être?

Which brings us neatly back to General Ziv, and what he's doing down there, bungling the jungle:

The official presence in Colombia of Israel Ziv, retired IDF general, represents a qualitative leap in the war plans of Uribe and his Defence Minister Juan Manuel Santos. Engaged for the moderate sum of $10 million, Ziv could well have collaborated in the attack against FARC in Ecuadorian territory. His experience gives him away: in October 2002, as head of the Givati Brigade, Ziv invaded the refugee camp of Al Amal (Gaza). Infantry troops, tanks and armoured vehicles caused a massacre in which the old, the disabled, women, children and babies died.

General Ziv is on the payroll of Counterterrorism International and is member of the Task Force on Future Terrorism (FOTFF), created in June 2005 by the Office of Homeland Security of --Israel? No, of the USA. FOTFF operates under the orders of Secretary Michael Chertoff and Lee Hamilton, director of the ultra-conservative Woodrow Wilson Centre, nest of academics, psychologists, businessmen and 'intelligence' experts.

In Colombia, Ziv's operations base is in Tolemaida. He meddles at the highest level. The Defence Vice Minister Sergio Jaramillo described as "precious" the Israeli help. "They are like psychoanalysts to us: they raise issues we had not thought about."

Ah, but of course. There it is again, the real hand pulling the marionette strings in Israel and Colombia: As usual, it's Washington. Home of the MIC and all its subsidiary corporations...including, as it turns out, the Israeli army and all the "security" firms that have been spun off it under the auspices of the private sector.

Let's keep an eye on this one, kiddies, I've a hunch we haven't heard the last of him yet.

November 2, 2009

Venezuela, Peru: Compare and contrast...

...the way they treat their indigenous:

This 24-minute documentary (in Spanish) concerns an incident among the Yukpa in the Sierra de Perijá. You can read an English account about it here, in Venezuelanalysis.

What struck me about this video is not so much what happens in it, as what doesn't happen. The soldiers of the Venezuelan army and national guard show up, along with officers of the federal criminal-investigative police (CICPC--the Venezuelan equivalent of the FBI, roughly.) The investigation into the shootings seems to have gotten bungled somewhat, and a cacique (chief) was apparently detained by mistake, but what's really notable is that no further violence breaks out, even when members of the community confront the uniformed men with machetes. The arguments put forth by the Yukpa are vehement and emotional, but they don't escalate into a more serious conflict. There seems to be some sort of attempt at respectful, constructive dialogue going on--uneven, but it's an effort. The soldiers don't repress the indigenous with gunfire; the police don't round everyone up and disappear them arbitrarily. While the situation is not a total victory for human rights, it is a mark of real progress that the repression of the Fourth Republic is not in evidence here.

And for some real perspective on how things have progressed (and continue to progress) in Venezuela, why not compare this incident to the current situation in Peru? You can follow one particular case--that of Hunt Oil, currently illegally encroaching on indigenous territory--here at Otto's blog, or here at El Duderino's. Both are keeping a running tally of what promises to become a most explosive situation, with echoes of another recent massacre of Peruvian indigenous people--that of Bagua. You'll note that the Peruvian government doesn't hesitate to send out the troops to fire indiscriminately on the indigenous, nor to repress protests, however legitimate and peaceful, with deadly violence.

Somehow, this comparison makes you think, no? Or at least, it should. Next time you hear another ignoramus pontificating about how "fascist" and/or "communist" Venezuela has gotten over the past ten years, just bear in mind that it's not the Venezuelan government killing indigenous people. Unlike in that oh-so-"democratic" Peru, where everything is apparently for sale--including virgin rainforest territory that is supposed to be protected from the depredations of the gringo. And when it comes to actual fascists facing criminal prosecution in Venezuela, it should be noted that Peru doesn't hesitate to harbor them.

Why the Peruvian government favors foreign criminals (who contribute nothing materially or culturally) over the rights of innocent natives (who do contribute, in a major way) is a mystery I have yet to hear convincingly explained--just as I have yet to hear any legitimate proof that Venezuela has taken a turn for the authoritarian!

November 1, 2009

Dame Pa' Matala violently attacked in Aragua

This just in...

In the early morning hours on Sunday, the members of the musical group Dame Pa' Matala were victims of an act of violence, when four armed men assaulted the vehicle in which they were travelling after leaving last night's concert, "A Song for the People", in La Carlota, Caracas.

[...]

Guitarist William Alvarado told Radio Nacional de Venezuela (RNV) that the incident occurred in Tejerías, in the state of Aragua, where the vehicle was hit by bullets.

Translation mine.

This band is strongly Chavista, so it may be an act of political violence or intimidation. They are well known for their appearances on La Hojilla.

More later, as more facts become known.

Music for a Sunday: So, you thought Halloween was over?

Grace Jones says it isn't...until SHE says it isn't:

And who am I (or you, or anyone) to argue with Grace Jones?

PS: Speaking of unarguable, Calle 13 gave a free concert last night in Caracas. El Residente slapped shut the mouths of the Globomojón buffoons (who were speculating on what his next "controversial" t-shirt would say) by going shirtless. Well played, sir. Video here, for anyone interested in hot-torso shirtless action and funky raggaetón.