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January 31, 2010

Oh Lula, how could you?

This is what vacillation looks like...

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Maybe this is just resignation, or maybe it's an attempt to play peacemaker, but it sure as hell smells like betrayal to me...

The president of Brazil, Luiz inácio Lula da Silva, is studying the different possible ways of recognizing the new government of Honduras, according his advisor for international affairs, Marco Aurelio García.

Lula's objective is to unite with other countries in the region who have recognized the new president, Porfirio Lobo, who won the elections of last November. The results have already been recognized by Colombia, Panama, Peru, Guatemala and Costa Rica, but were rejected by the countries of the ALBA bloc.

According to García, Lula would be disposed to send a favorable signal to Lobo's executive in the next Latin American-Caribbean summit, which will take place in late February in Mexico. "We're evaluating the situation and waiting on the initiatives of the new government", said García to Reuters.

"Brazil should not remain isolated," García added. For that reason, the Brazilian president will wait until the summit in Mexico, in order to see if the countries of the region adopt a common posture with respect to Honduras. "The decision should be taken together," he added, and assured that "there's no hurry."

Or maybe it's just cynical triangulation, or an attempt to have one's cake and eat it, too. Always so many possibilities to leave one guessing, eh?

Contrast that with the unambiguous stance of Lula's counterpart from Ecuador:

The president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, who landed in the Dominican Republic after his trip to Haiti, met on Saturday with the former president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, in the Ecuadorian embassy in Santo Domingo. He insisted that Ecuador would not recognize the recently inaugurated president, Porfirio Lobo.

"We won't legitimize a government whose origin is illegitimate," said Correa, referring to the Honduran presidential elections, which were organized by the "de facto" government installed after the coup d'état which removed Zelaya from office.

However, Correa added that the situation would not mean any kind of break with the Honduran people, according to a press release from the office of the presidency of Ecuador.

"He needs no invitation, he can come anytime he wants," said Correa when asked about a possible visit by Zelaya to Ecuador.

Translations both mine.

This is what solidarity looks like:

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Lula, take note. And don't sell yourself out, because this one will surely come back to bite you after all you did for Mel. Remember whose embassy gave him shelter from the fascist thugs who wanted to kill him? Why, then, make peace with those thugs--or their illegitimate successors--as long as they remain unpunished for their antidemocratic move?

Or, to put it a different way: Lula, how the hell could you give democracy lip service, only to follow it up with a shank in the ribs? How could you even contemplate it?

How to report the news

Charlie Brooker explains the TV formula for making you feel "informed" without actually being it:

Actually, even with allowances for comedic exaggeration, this is all too true.

Music for a Sunday: Guerrilla Soldier

I've been reading Richard Gott's excellent book on some of the guerrilla movements in Latin America lately, so this song is a natural choice for me this week:

Unfortunately, there's no video for this one (except an unembeddable live version which is very fun and concert-y but doesn't capture the real tone of the song, IMO. Plus, Larry's got a pouffy '80s mullet. Eek!)

The guerrilla soldier may be "born in Santo Domingo", but he has more of a universal feel about him; he could be any little guy in Latin America, really. Every time there's a bout with interference from Washington, he springs up somewhere. The US marine "down from his home up in Maine" doesn't seem to have changed much, either. What has changed is that popular sentiment has now swung to the side of the guerrilla, and seems likely to remain there, thanks to education--and a keen, deep-seated personal awareness of imperialism and the collusion of Big Media.

January 30, 2010

For those who like pie...

Warning: Will cause you to laugh uncontrollably. Please finish your drink BEFORE pressing the play button.

Wankers of the Week: January Blahs edition

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Here comes the end of January, legendary month of the blahs. As we bid farewell to it, let us now pause and remember the blah-blah coming from the following wankers...right before we deliver them the obligatory boot to the head:

1. Andre Fucking Bauer. Where have we heard all these stock phrases before? "Hand up not a handout", blah blah blah. "Don't feed stray animals because they breed", blah blah blah. "Culture of dependence", blah blah blah. "Short term pain for long term gain", blah blah blah. Here's a way to deal with all the blah blah blah, voters of South Carolina: Don't give this douchebag a handout by giving him a hand up to the gubernatorial mansion. Don't feed this stray animal, because he breeds. Don't contribute the the REAL culture of dependence--handouts to scum like him from corporations who are throwing millions out of work, and then "investing" that extra cash in this shithead so that he can further piss on and humiliate those who need welfare to survive because there are no real jobs, thanks to his shitty economic policies. And who are now in danger of being made to work for it, at bogus jobs that don't pay a living wage or anything else for that matter, in a state with a long history of slavery and profiteering on human misery. That's a lot of long-term pain for the short-term gains of a few. And, unlike what the Repug candidate says, that's NOT a lot of blah blah blah.

2. John Fucking Moore. Protests are a "numbers game", blah blah blah. Funny, but the real numbers say you're full of wind, John. Here, have a free dinner on me:

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3. And while we're on the subject of prorogation blah-blah, I'd like to feed some crow to whoever the fuck planted these painfully obvious fake protesters. I don't know what's dumber...the Godwin violation, or the fact that they sent their own brownshirts out to do it. In any case, Epic Fail.

4. Jackson Fucking Diehl. "Hugo Chávez's régime is crumbling", blah blah blah. How many fucking times has he said this already over the past decade and been dead wrong? I've lost count. For those who want to see what Chavecito's really up to, here. And for those who want numbers, in inglés, here. Crumble THAT.

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5. Tony Fucking Clement: "All you have to do is vote us out", blah blah blah. Well Tony, we would, except you guys prorogued in order to keep us from doing just that, since we denied you a majority last time 'round. You're also taking blatant advantage of the Libs' vacillation, brought on mainly by Iggy's unpopularity (let's face it, if he were anything other than Harpo Lite, he'd be in like Flynn with the voters.) And if anyone tries that confidence thing, I know just what you're gonna do next...the same as you've already done twice before when something threatened to bring the Harpocracy down. (BTW, you look a downright knob in that pic. Just so's you know.)

6. James Fucking O'Keefe. "Investigative journalist and filmmaker", blah blah blah. Make that "right-wing hack under arrest for illegal wiretap attempt and espionage", ha ha ha. Just don't ask me why he was spying on Mary Landrieu; she's a DINO (a.k.a. Repugnican Lite.)

7. Fucking Harpo. "It should not take a natural disaster to turn our attention to the less fortunate", blah blah blah. "Tragedy strikes those who can least afford it", blah blah blah. "Each year, it is estimated that 500,000 women lose their lives during pregnancy or childbirth", blah blah blah. O RLY? Then why did you shaft your own fellow countrywomen (and children), Stevie Peevie? Oh yeah, I know...NO NATURAL DISASTER.

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8. And speaking of shafting women, how about the anonymous motherfucker who shat this cowardly screed in the National Pestilence? "Radical feminism...has done untold damage to families", blah blah blah. "Women's Studies courses have taught that all women...are victims and nearly all men are victimizers", blah blah blah. "Women's Studies activists convinced politicians that family law was too forgiving of men", blah blah blah. About the only true line in the piece is the last one, which I had trouble getting to because I was too busy cleaning projectile vomit off my monitor. No, we feminists are NOT going away. And when we find out who wrote this piece of shit, we're gonna give him (for it surely IS a him) holy hell.

(UPDATE: Jezebel concurs with my diagnosis--this is one sad old psychopathic dude, full of whine and bluster about his own lost privileges. Nada más.)

9. David Fucking Horowitz. The irreplaceable historian Howard Zinn is barely in his grave, and look who turned out to piss on it. "Absolutely nothing in Howard Zinn's intellectual output that is worthy of any kind of respect", blah blah blah. "A fringe mentality which has unfortunately seduced millions of people", blah blah blah. Y'know what, Dave? The exact same could be said of you right now, while you are living. No wait, I take that back. You haven't "seduced" anyone, let alone millions. You've got what--all of two dozen followers, all of them fellow overpaid right-wing stink-tankers just like you? It doesn't get more fringe-y or unworthy of respect than that. No wonder you're so bitter. You're bound for the worst fate known to Judaism: to die unremembered. But Professor Zinn, I'm glad to say, has left us a rich legacy, for which he will be honored and loved as long as there's anyone left who can read. And what he did with it was not "seduce" millions of people with his "fringe mentality", but fully inform them so that they could in turn formulate their own arguments, independently, to rebut right-wing sausage factories like yourself.

Next time, Dave, pick on someone who can fight back, you fucking coward.

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10. Fucking NPR also deserves blame for #9. "Balance and objectivity", blah blah blah. Where were their balance and objectivity when they produced no fewer than six obits, all laudatory, for William Fucking Buckley--who could, incidentally, be accurately described in the same terms Horowitz used to slam Zinn?

11. David Fucking Brooks. "Force the country to accept common sacrifice", blah blah blah. "Raise taxes on the lower 98 percent", blah blah blah. Yeah, great idea...tax those who are already in debt up to their eyeballs paying for the top two percent to go tax-free! Paging Matt Taibbi, we have a weenie seeking another atomic wedgie in Aisle Four...

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12. Scott Fucking Roeder. "Children in immediate danger", blah blah blah. "Doctor killing justified", blah blah blah. I'm only surprised it took longer for the jury to find him guilty than it took him to say all that ridiculous shit.

13. Rielle Fucking Hunter. "Private and personal", blah blah blah. "Intimate relationship", blah blah blah. Look, lady: If you don't want to be known for all eternity as the woman John Edwards betrayed his cancer-stricken wife with, you can do any one of the following: (a) Don't be that woman (recommended); (b) don't get pregnant, or (c) DON'T TAPE THE FREAKIN' EVIDENCE!

14. and 15. Barbara Fucking Kay and Kathy Fucking Shaidle. All the humorless blah-blah-blah you could possibly stomach, courtesy of Five Feet o' Fugly (to whom I won't link, as I refuse to give a platform to mad cow disease). What's really funny, as one of the Cynic's commenters points out, is that the former chose the latter's site to dump on Antonia Zerbisias for saying Fuck and horseshit in a tweet, when Ms. Five-Feet is full of both to the point where even a drunken sailor would find it embarrassing. (Come to think of it, maybe that's why her site had the dubious honor; the pearl-clutchings of La Kay could not be published in her usual slot at the National Pest because of the Eff Bomb, after all...)

And they think they're "ladies"? Well, here's something ladylike for the both of them:

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Failing that, I suggest carbolic soap: not for their mouths or their dirty, dirty keyboards, so much as their souls. There's a whole 'nother world of fugly in there!

And now, my friends, the moment you've all been waiting for. It's time for the booty call! Bow your heads...or DUCK 'em, as the case may be:

Good night everybody...and wankers, GET FUCKED!

Chilean fascist youth--what charm, what class...

This was taken just after Sebastián "Pinochet Jr." Piñera won by a narrow margin (and the abstention of a third of the Chilean electorate) on the second round on the 17th. Here's how these fine young fascists decided to show their dignity and respect for the other guys...

According to a video on YouTube, these followers are not content with chants such as "Take your seat, take your seat, President Piñera", and let out barnyard noises such as this: "Communists, faggots, we killed your parents because they were lazy."

There was no shortage of hoorays for the ex-dictator, and chants such as "General Pinochet, this triumph's for you". Referring to the coup d'état of September 11, 1973, they chanted: "With Allende we built a big bridge for Augusto [Pinochet] and his heroes to pass over."

Translation mine.

Notice, too, where they chose to give this little serenade. The balcony they're yelling at is decorated with a banner of Che Guevara.

Nothing like a little petty triumphalism to show what you're really made of, eh?

And the comments at the YouTube site tell just how a lot of other Chileans really feel:

"How different is Santiago from Montevideo. In Santiago, we have those nostalgic for fascism, and in Montevideo, a Communist president-to-be. Why don't those buddies in the video come and tour Montevideo with their little songs and slogans--we'll treat them very well, like tourists. HOW BEAUTIFUL IT IS TO LIVE IN MONTEVIDEO!"

"How embarrassing for me to be a Chilean...these people are demented."

"The people of Chile have always been intelligent, in general. They'll realize in four years that this is not the way, nor is it the example the Chileans have given for all of Latin America, and the waters will return to their source."

"What low-class people I see here, how they've lost their dignity, sold themselves for 40 shekels..."

"Thank GOD I'm not like them, and would never make fun of the dead or the suffering of the families of the victims. I'm so glad to be on the side I'm on!"

"How disgusting...oh well...countries get the governments they deserve, and democracy is abiding by the decision of the majority even if they elect a clown for president. I'm ashamed to see these images."

"Disrespectful shits, you don't play around with human lives! And they call themselves Christians?"

"I hope I can remember every one of those faces and meet them on the street."

Translations mine.

Uh-oh. Something tells me Piñera is in for a rough ride these next four years--the comments I selected are very typical of the responses to the video. Those widdle Pinoshitters had better pray that no one who saw and commented on this video will remember their faces. That is, if they still dare to call themselves Christians...

January 29, 2010

Festive Left Friday Blogging: What RCTV didn't want Venezuela (or you) to see

This is the "cadena" (all-station legally mandated broadcast) that RCTV, now reduced to a cable station, refused to show and got suspended for refusing to show. Gee, don't you wonder why they refused? Well, here's a broad hint: The reality you see above doesn't fit with their crapagandic agenda. This is the opening of the "Admirable Campaign" for the Venezuelan congressional elections--a gigantic rally in O'Leary Square in Caracas. As you can see, the Chavistas totally rule; they've got a real campaign going. Admirable? Yep, it's that.

And the oppos? Well...let's just say this is as good as their campaign will get.

The Real News on the prorogation and the Canadian pro-democracy movement

Forget the Harperite lie about prorogation being "routine". There is NOTHING routine about evasion of hard questions about torture. That's the real story here.

January 28, 2010

Short 'n' Stubby: Internautic Trivia Day is hereby declared by your Queen...

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I have a terrible confession, kiddies: The kitty above isn't mine. But she illustrates the concept of "short 'n' stubby" perfectly, being a Manx. It's a natural breed originating on the Isle of Man in Britain; it probably began as a random mutation that just "took", being confined to a relatively small cat population. They're born with either no tail at all, or just a short stub or longish partial tail (and are designated as "rumpies", "stumpies" and "longies", accordingly). The trait is autosomal dominant and lethal, meaning that if you try to breed two Rumpies, you get dead kitties everywhere. But if you mate a Rumpy to a regular tailed kitty of whatever kind, you're full of win and tailless cuteness. (I'd really like to see a Rumpy with Siamese color-points--a Manx-a-mese!)

Anyway. Today is Internautic Trivia Day here, so on with it:

Apple, Inc. has just rolled out its latest Next Great Thing, and already it's a hit with the ladies:

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The best part? No tampon backup necessary.

Chavecito advocates using Twitter! Oh noes! Now the tweeter will be rojo rojito for sure.

BTW, I learned a new Spanish verb the other night--tuitear, meaning either "to use Twitter" or "to tweet". To my knowledge, 'twas Mario Silva what coined it. And no, it's not Mario himself who manages La Hojilla's twit-stream. (Love the Henry VIII costume!)

Nik Kozloff thinks Chavecito said the moon was made of green cheese. Already been debunked by not one, but two of my compañeros. How embarrassing!

Also, Daniel Drezner is a douchey dumbass, and the Venezuelan ambassador to the US has called him on it (scroll to the bottom, the pwnage is a joy to behold!)

But hey: When it comes to nutty conspiracy theories, turnabout is apparently fair play. More than a decade ago, the Yanks thought the Russkies had created a nuclear "earthquake weapon". Now, it's the Russkies blaming the Yanks, the "earthquake weapon" is an ionospheric research project called HAARP (located in Alaska, which, as the Paliness can tell you, is within easy hollering distance of Russkyland), and both sides are putting their wacky words in Chavecito's mouth.

And no, HAARP can't cause earthquakes; it only "talks" to the ionosphere, not the ground. Being located in Alaska, it's actually more in danger of being demolished by an earthquake itself than it is of causing one. It sits near the Pacific "Ring of Fire", which is the largest and most active subduction zone in the world. In fact, despite its formidable appearance and the web of tinfoil hattery that's grown up around it, HAARP's actual use is quite benign. (A pity they don't offer tours!)

And if you really wanna go off the deep end, here's a shocking bit of news: You'll never guess what the Internets are REALLY made of! (Warning: The truth will not only set you free, it is also insufferably cute!)

January 27, 2010

Doonesbury nails the iPad

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God damn, never mind all the other bells and whistles. Just give me those panini!

Chavecito dispels rumors on La Hojilla

Part one of six with the big guy, in Spanish. Click through and watch 'em all. This should officially silence the dipshit rumor mill that's still churning over the cabinet shuffle (you'd think the anglo media never heard of that, though it's a normal part of democracy just about anywhere it exists). The 'Cito always gives viewers their time's worth with charm, humor, compassion and smarts. He expresses his condolences for the two students who died in Mérida; he also introduces his new vice president, Elías Jaua, and new defence minister, General Carlos Mata Figueroa. (His new minister of the environment, Alejandro Hitcher, an engineer who was president of Hidrocapital, doesn't appear on this episode, but is mentioned on Aporrea.)

Chilean ambassador criticizes US military presence in Haiti

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It's not just Evo and Chavecito making this accusation now. Get a load of who else isn't pleased with the blatant US takeover of Haiti:

The United States military was "unnecessarily aggressive" in its operations to aid Haiti after the earthquake, said the Chilean ambassador in Port-au-Prince, Marcel Young, in an interview with the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio on Tuesday.

"They forget that this (Haiti) is a sovereign country and have been unnecessarily aggressive," said Young, when asked what he thought about the arrival of US troops.

The US "has control of the international airport" and set "its own criteria--first their planes land, and then all the rest," said Young.

"The arrival of those troops was overly imposing. Even if it was positive that they re-established air traffic control, judging by the level of military presence their demonstration of force has been excessive."

Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba have accused Washington of "invading" the Caribbean country instead of sending civilian aid, criticisms which disgusted the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton.

Translation mine.

Let's see them try to explain THAT away as just some commie grumbling.

January 26, 2010

Again with the ArsyTV...

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"Those poor little owners of Sambil and RCTV..." Hey, is that sarcasm I hear emanating from the slums?

Once more, the entire English-speaking media world has Teh Stoopid when it comes to Venezuela. Why else would even the Beeb misreport this?

RCTV International was among six cable channels shut for failing to carry Mr Chavez's speeches live as required.

Meanwhile, Vice President Ramon Carrizalez has resigned.

Mr Carrizalez, who also held the defence minister's post, said on Monday that he was stepping down, citing personal reasons.

"My resignation is not the result of any discrepancy with government decisions, and any other version about my reasons for resigning is false and malicious," he said.

Mr Carrizalez's wife, Environment Minister Yubiri Ortega, has also left her post.

Their resignations came as protesters, overwhelmingly students, took to the streets to oppose the decision to take several cable channels off air.

In the capital Caracas, police fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators who were trying to march on the headquarters of the state-run telecommunications agency.

"Freedom of expression is a right that we all embrace, and it must be defended," Alejandro Perdomo,19, told the Associated Press.

"One, two, three, Chavez you're struck out," demonstrators chanted, using sporting terminology in baseball-mad Venezuela to refer to a range of problems, including rising crime, the devaluation of the currency and electricity shortages.

In Merida, a pro-Chavez supporter was killed in clashes, officials said.

Notice some interesting things in there? I did:

1. They linked some unrelated things--namely, two (married) government ministers resigning for personal reasons--to the "closure" (which is actually only temporary and in line with Venezuelan law) of RCTV. Why? This makes it look as though the RCTV situation has unleashed a political crisis in Venezuela. (It hasn't, actually--it's a tempest in a teapot, but you'd never know it to read a typical English report!)

2. They only interview anti-Chávez students, and then in terms that make them look like they're in favor of freedom of speech (more on this bullshit later);

3. They don't devote more than a single line to the death of Yorsiño "Calcibón" Carrillo, whose name they couldn't even be bothered to publish. Yet they had no problem giving a name (and thus, a face and human status) to the anti-Chavista student, Alejandro Perdomo, who is still alive and unharmed. Doesn't that rather trivialize the death of Yorsiño Carrillo, or make it look as if his life is somehow worth less than that of Alejandro Perdomo? It does to me. Shit, even Reuters did better--albeit briefly so.

4. They're treating several unrelated, at times out of government control (such as the drought and the resulting need to ration electricity), irritating but hardly crisis-provoking problems as though these could be the downfall of Chávez. (They won't--his domestic popularity remains at 60% in spite of everything--but again, you'd never get that impression reading the anglo media.) In this, they're taking their lead from the oppos and their media mouthpieces--and the oppo students, who are always being trotted out as cannon fodder to make it look like something horrible and repressive is going on. Meanwhile, when a Chavista dies, it's treated as no biggie.

Some perspective would be in order, no? Well, fortunately, for that, you've got li'l ol' me.

Here's a little video showing just how much freedom of speech the oppos actually have when they claim not to have any:

An unauthorized oppo student demonstration arrives at the headquarters of VTV, Channel 8, the Venezuelan national public TV channel. They demand to be let inside, and in the end, five of them are. They get to speak personally with VTV president Yuri Pimentel. This is, by the way, unprecedented--Chavista students have never been allowed to speak personally with the presidents, managers or owners of any of the private, pro-opposition media in the country. But in the meantime, we get treated to some 20 minutes of oppo whining, overtalking of the channel's legal consultant (María Alejandra Díaz), and ear-torture about how horrible it is, how there's no freedom of speech, how Mario Silva (the host of the popular nightly program, La Hojilla) is calling for violence and should be taken off the air, etc., etc. ad nauseam.

Incidentally, Mario Silva does not engage in "violent discourse", as the oppo kid who hogs the camera above is insinuating. I've been following that show for quite some time, and never heard him say anything to the effect that there should be violence against the opposition. He does, however, not hesitate to point out when the oppos are being violent and/or calling for the death of the elected president:

Here, for example, he shows how Globovisión censors its own reporting when something unflattering to the opposition crops up--namely, a journalist named Oscar Yánez (with white mustache) who makes overt death threats against President Chávez during an opposition media forum. As soon as the talking heads realize what's going on, they get ordered to talk over him. Then, when a woman named Daniela Bergami, general manager of RCTV, gets up on the podium and politely chastises Yánez for his inappropriate remarks, again they cut her off. And then, in the screen behind the talking heads, you can see Yánez get up again, grab the mike from the next speaker, and unleash a barrage of (unheard) insults against her. When the producers of the show realize what's going on, they remove the forum from the screen altogether and replace it with the show logo.

And that's not the only thing the oppo media does; they also use the airwaves to create terror where none exists, by reporting "violence" that isn't actually happening. Sometimes, the end result is unexpectedly funny:

Here, host Nitu Pérez Osuna gets her ideological rug pulled out from under her by a spokeswoman for the private Andrés Bello Catholic University. Pérez Osuna claims that a helicopter belonging to the Venezuelan national guard was firing against the students; vice-rector Silvana Campagnaro denies this, saying that there have been helicopters overhead monitoring the situation, but no shots fired. Other than a few students in the infirmary recovering from exposure to tear gas, there are no injuries to report. Pérez Osuna has to change her tune to one of reassurance, instead of the panic she had set out to create. To her credit, she does it seamlessly!

And finally, here's a little something you're definitely not going to hear from the media up here:

...namely, oppo students thanking the management at evil, wicked, state propaganda channel VTV for receiving them and engaging in friendly, polite discussions.

I'd say they got more than enough freedom of speech there, wouldn't you?

Evo tells it like it is, again

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Jeez, what is it with this man? He has only a high-school education, but I'll be damned if he's not the smartest leader in the region after all. He certainly has an eye for bullshit, and he's not afraid to call it for what it is:

The president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, declared himself on Monday to be "content" over a response from the US government to his criticisms with respect to its growing military presence in Haiti. Morales says that this demonstrates that he was not wrong to question the landing of thousands of US marines in the poorest country in the Americas.

This in response to the recent words of the adjunct ambassador of Washington to the United Nations, Alejandro Wolff, who said that Morales' criticisms were "backward".

The Bolivian president maintains that even today, there are still those who regard Latin America "through that hegemonic principle of submission, as a backyard of the United States." He added, with some irony, that he was "content and happy" with Wolff's criticisms.

"I heard in various media that the United States were to send 12,000 troops, when it would be better to send doctors, nurses and more food to help the displaced," said Morales during a press conference at the government palace. He affirmed that Wolff's response to his comments regarding US military intervention in Haiti proved that he was not mistaken, and assured that his government would defend the sovereignty "not only of Bolivia, but of all Latin America."

Morales also called the US "a dump for delinquents", and considers that the president, Barack Obama, should throw out those who took refuge there, such as the ex-presidential candidate, Manfred Reyes Villa, who is wanted by Bolivian authorities for embezzlement and for his part in a massacre of indigenous campesinos.

"I greatly regret that the Obama government is a dump for the delinquents of Latin America. I don't know how Obama will dignify his country [when] delinquents are escaping to the United States. They should be expelled," Morales said.

Referring to US military intervention in Haiti following the 7.2 magnitude earthquake, Morales called it "inhumane, savage and opportunistic". The January 12 quake destroyed more than 60 percent of the buildings in the affected region, and the UN reports that over 112,250 persons are dead, and another 194,000 injured.

Translation mine. Linkage added, so you can see that he's not shitting about Manfred.

And yeah, what IS it with those guns and soldiers, instead of more medics and nurses? They're already infamous for turning away Doctors Without Borders, so it's kind of hard to dispute Evo's analysis of the situation. And given the policy influence of the Heritage Institute and its odious opportunism, which has been noted here already, it's also hard not to see the Shock Doctrine in action. I don't know if he's read Naomi Klein's excellent book, but even if he hasn't, it's clear that he can see for himself what's really going on.

And even more clear that he's not afraid to stand up and point out the emperor's nudity.

Stupid Sex Tricks: Gotta love those German TVs!

Wow, Grundig is amazing...it intuitively figures out your viewing preferences even before you know how the hell to work it!

January 25, 2010

The Haiti disaster, through Haitian eyes

The Ciné Institute of Jacmel, Haiti, is a young film school, both in terms of its time in operation (only since 2008) and the age of its students. But in spite of the difficult economic conditions in Haiti--and they have never been more so than now--they've been able to produce powerful documentaries of what life is like there since the earthquakes.

I defy any so-called news organization to do better at conveying the human scale of the catastrophe than this.

PS: Speaking of the human scale, read Rebecca Solnit's piece in The Nation. She nails it, too.

Is our Parliament working?

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Canadian Press reports that the Liberals and NDP planned to show up. The National Post says they're there. The Bloc are apparently still at home, and so are you-know-who.

Sigh.

January 24, 2010

Music for a Sunday: João Donato in Havana

The great bossanovista (second only to his namesake and lookalike, João Gilberto) comes to his favorite city and jams with the locals. This is part of a longer documentary, but I'm delighted to hear one of my faves in there--"The Frog".

ALBA solidarity at work in Haiti

Look who's not sitting on their hands--or letting the US dictate to them what aid can or can't get through...

The ALBA countries (Venezuela, Bolivia, etc.) are delivering their convoys through the neighboring Dominican Republic. Smart move, and one that's bound to smart (in the other sense of the word) for the wannabe re-colonizers of Haiti.

January 23, 2010

Wankers of the Week: The Con is Wrong

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I know what you're thinking, gentle readers...the cons are always wrong. Couldn't agree with you more there. And who better to illustrate the wrongness of conservatism than this week's wieners...er, winners...

1. and 2. John Fucking Bracken and Michael Fucking Donison. Shit, why play by the rules and be honest when you're a federal Tory and, unlike your fund-starved rivals, you've got gobs of money to spend on crapaganda? No, better to just label the honest, by-the-book guys as "idiots" and "turds", even if they're your own confederates. The mafia-style vendetta you boys carried on is also a nice touch; reminds me of all the bitchy girls I used to loathe in high school. It just really puts the ass in class, you know?

3. The fucking Vatican. Hating on Avatar just because the big blue natives are nature-worshippers? Well, we know just how the Vatican would have made that movie, because we've already seen the real-life preview right here on Earth--with conquistadors coming to slaughter them all enslave them rob them blind bring them to the glorious light of Christ.

4. Scott Fucking Brown. Really, what else can you say about conservatism and Family Values when Massachusetts' top teabagger (and aspirant to the seat the late Ted Kennedy left behind) has posed nude for Cosmo?

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5. Anyone in Massachusetts who voted for the Naked Douchebag of 1982 is a fucking wanker, too. (Yes, Curling Iron Cretin, I'm talking about YOU.) Not to worry, he won't last long in power; that's obvious. He's no Ted Kennedy! And meanwhile, let's hope that the Mass Dems take something constructive away from this royal fuck-up.

6. David Fucking Brooks. Of all the wankish interpretations of why Haiti is in such deep shit right now, this one's second only to Patwa's. Claiming that Voudou "spreads the message that life is capricious and planning futile" is not only patently false (and contradicted by this news item), it's malicious and racist...and of course, it deliberately obfuscates the real reasons why Haiti is in a world of hurt, reasons I've been blogging for several days running, not to belabor a point or anything. Now where'd I put my David Fucking Brooks Voodoo Doll™?

7. Diane Fucking Finley. Like the entirety of the Tory minority in Parliament, she's drawing a full salary for not showing up to work until March. Maybe we, the taxpayers, should make it less lucrative for HER to sit at home not working? Just a thought.

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8. Helena Fucking Guergis, AGAIN. No, we are NOT pleased with the prorogation. Maybe you are, but you speak for nobody. And you make one helluva mockery of representative democracy when you project your own nonsense on the voters. I hope your riding trashes you in the next election. Which I'm rather hoping will be soon, even if we are all weary of Harpo's lame-assed attempts to get the majority he doesn't deserve and will never have.

9. Joe Fucking Lieberman, AGAIN. You'd think he might learn something from his own unpopularity across the entire political spectrum of Connecticut, but nooooo. Holy Joe thinks he's the example to follow! Never mind that his take on healthcare reform is based on a complete misreading of the will of the people, who not only wanted reform but wanted it to be radical and public, instead of the compulsory corporatism that was shoved down their throats in the biggest fucking bait-and-switch since Hillarycare. Joe's one weak teabag. He's also one big windbag. And one helluva douchebag. Come the next election, he's gonna wind up looking like a post-party piñata.

10. Ezra Fucking Levant. Being a pompous, bigoted little racist turd isn't illegal. But blogging malicious lies and innuendo to propagate one's pomposity, bigotry and racist turdery IS! Gosh, who knew? Uh, lawyers familiar with the concept of libel, that's who.

11. The Fucking SCOTUS. Corporate personhood is now officially the biggest mistake on the planet, because it has led to the most fucked-up ruling EVER. Yes, it's now perfectly legal for corporations to buy themselves a government--lock, stock and barrel. AND to call it Freedom of Speech.

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12. Tom Fucking Munson. Inscribing gunsights with biblical "codes". Yeah, that'll really help win a misbegotten war. Actually, the thing any real Christian would do is melt those fuckers down into plowshares!

13. Charles Fucking Dyer. Not only a teabagging, treason-mongering wanker, but apparently also a child molester. In other words, perverted all around.

14. Glenn Fucking Beck. This much obsession about other people's private parts...is also perverted as hell. Why do I get the feeling the lunatic teabag-in-chief actually has his own gonads in a vise?

15. Whoever the fuck called Christina Hendricks (and her gorgeous butterscotch dress) "big". So she's not a bone rack on heels--big whoop! Isn't it time the fashion fascists quit harassing women who aren't on some ditzy-making diet?

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And finally, to Bobby from Chicago, IP #99.140.166.3. I'm sure you're a great journalist already, Bobby--it must be why you offered nothing to my substantial piece in the way of rebuttal. Only patronizing snark. And of course, you did it again, too...under a different name and fake address, and IP#, 99.135.188.84. But the style is still the same.

You're gonna be one helluva man when you grow up, Bobby, or Barry, or whatever your real name is. Better do it fast, though, because the hot pic you sent me of yourself in action tells me there's not much time left on your clock...

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Good night, Booby--and get fucked!

Short 'n' Stubby: Whose Parliament?

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I wasn't able to make our local anti-prorogation march today, thanks to some stupid self-inflicted foot problems that made donning my walking shoes impossible for a good long while. But that won't stop me from protesting, or making a holy nuisance of myself, in other ways. Like, say, blogging the day's events and articles worthy of reading:

Emily Dee kicks things off with a short but sweet (and to-the-point) video and the good words of Antonia Zerbisias.

So, coalitions with the Bloc Québécois are out of the question, because the latter is supposedly separatist and hell-bent on breaking up Confederation? Funny, Harpo didn't think so himself not so long ago, as The Tyee reported not so long ago...oh, how soon they forget!

Pale Cold at A Creative Revolution sends the pundits to the back of the bus. Fortunately, they don't have far to go--their bus always WAS a short one.

Michael Geist busts the conventional stupidities of the media and political parties both.

So, we progressives hate Harpo? Damn right--he's earned it! And you'll never guess who else does, either.

Even in Oman, they're rallying for Canadian democracy. How's that for a global village?

JJ has some numbers that should depress Harpo to tears. Bad Tory! No majority for YOU!

And if you really want to know what it's all about, Montreal Simon is your go-to guy. He knows this is much bigger than just a widdle prime-ministerial hissyfit that shut down Parliament (twice now).

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January 22, 2010

Quotable: Thomas Jefferson on corporate "personhood"

"I hope we shall...crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and to bid defiance to the laws of our country."

--Thomas Jefferson, letter to George Logan, November 12, 1816

(Kudos to Ryan Blackhawke for posting that to Facebook!)

Stupid Sex Tricks: Ah, university...

...where you learn so much valuable information about life:

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Unfortunately, discretion is nowhere in the mix.

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Evo at Tiwanaku

As you may have heard, a certain Little Injun That Could was recently re-elected by some two-thirds of Bolivian voters. This popular guy is not only a doctor honoris causa several times over, he's now also a recognized spiritual guide. And this is what he said upon receiving the staff of office from indigenous priests yesterday at Tiwanaku, the most sacred site in his country:

Serious stuff, to be sure...but let it never be said that Evo is such a busy boy that he doesn't have time to fit in a little folk-dancing:

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(And if you look really closely, you can see Alvaro also dancing in the background.)

Piñera: schooled again!

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And this time, he gets spanked by a fellow Chilean (see above), one with actual governmental experience:

The Chilean minister of exterior relations, Mariano Fernández, recommended on Thursday that the president-elect, Sebastián Piñera, not give any opinions on international matters as long as his government is not yet installed. This after his exchange of harsh words with the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez.

"I have the impression that it is recommendable that the new government begin to give opinions on international subjects only once it is installed," said Fernández to journalists.

"Don't meddle with us...go govern Chile, do what you have to do there," said Chávez after Piñera criticized "the way in which he practices democracy and the economic model" which Chávez applies.

"I believe we should not expect judgments over the relations of the country in the period between the end of one government and the beginning of the next," Mariano Fernández said.

The minister emphasized that in this transition period, in which an executive will be chosen by the 10th of March, "it is better that the coming government hold off on giving opinions about international matters which are extremely sensitive until it is installed."

Translation mine.

Better listen and do what the good man says, dude...otherwise, Chile could find itself more isolated in the region than mere geography would dictate, and even before you take office.

January 21, 2010

Paul Quarrington, RIP...

Yesterday, I found this song echoing through my head for the first time since...oh, about 1995 or thereabouts, when I was at journalism school and you couldn't turn on a radio anywhere in Toronto without hearing it:

And today, I found out why I suddenly had this little adolescent earworm. Paul Quarrington, singer/songwriter, novelist, and filmwriter, has passed away. He wrote this song along with the Rheostatics, and lobbied for them to be in the soundtrack of the film version of his novel, Whale Music. Until then, no one knew who the Rheostatics were; a damn shame, because they're a fine, still underrated band (and recently reunited just to pay tribute to the ailing writer who once gave them such a big, generous career-boost.)

I still haven't read that book (yeah, I know--shame on me!), and I only saw parts of the movie when it finally came onto TV. But it was big, big news while I was in j-school. All my classmates were talking about it, and this haunting song was everywhere. I still have memories of intoxicating darkroom chemical vapors swirling around my head while this was playing in the background as I did my job as photo editor of my j-school paper. Somehow, it was very appropriate: quirky, funny, poignant, meditative.

I dare you to listen to it and not find yourself absentmindedly singing along with the "ba ba ba ba, ba ba ba ba" chorus at some odd, unforeseen moment...

January 20, 2010

RickRolled, by God...

Well, it certainly beats getting steamrolled by Opus Dei.

Chavecito schools Piñera (and US Dems, too)

Watch the video, and you'll hear a young voice yelling "We love you!" She speaks for a lot of people...

And this is why we love him...

The president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, warned his Chilean counterpart, Sebastián Piñera, not to try to turn his country into another platform of attack against Venezuela, because "we don't meddle with the Chileans."

In a speech during the inauguration of the MetroCable cablecar system of Caracas, the president responded to the declarations of the new president-elect, who expressed his disapproval of the political projects underway in Venezuela.

"It's impossible for me to agree with him, he's a millionaire...we haven't meddled with the Chileans, but this new government should not meddle with us, either," said the Venezuelan president.

[...]

Chávez emphasized that "it is not very recommendable that a man so rich be president of a country, but the people of Chile know what they've done, and we respect that."

Piñera said yesterday that the differences between Chávez and himself "are profound and have to do with the way in which they conceive and practise democracy, the model of economic development, and many other things."

Translation mine.

See, Democrats to the south of me...THIS is how you do things if you want to win elections and keep winning. You stand up to rich right-wingers and their silly notions of how countries have to be run like businesses, and you keep standing up. Like Chavecito. You don't go caving in, running to the right, and falling on your collective ass. You do what the people who voted for you elected you to do. You JUST. STAND. UP.

Opus Dei: A Silent Crusade

Video in Spanish. A 2005 documentary about the secretive cult-within-Catholicism, Opus Dei, and specifically, its inordinate political and economic influence in Chile.

Opus Dei, also known as La Obra (The Work) in Spanish, was founded in 1928 in Spain by a right-wing priest who has since been canonized. This strange sect, which promotes itself heavily as a "personal spiritual path", flourished in Franco's fascist Spain, thanks to its affinity for the authoritarian and reactionary piety of those Catholics who supported Franco. It is active today in many countries throughout the world (and yes, Canada is among them, unfortunately.) But it was particularly prominent--even instrumental--in Pinochet's fascist Chile.

To this day, the sect exercises an influence beyond the proportion of its members in Chilean society, but the influence is curiously lopsided: La Obra favors and rewards the rich, the powerful and the ultra-pious. Its membership is divided into two basic categories: "numeraries", who remain unmarried and dedicate their lives and entire incomes to the "Work", much like nuns or monks but without the habits and convents (many live, instead, in houses largely indistinguishable, outwardly, from ordinary family homes), and "supernumeraries", who typically marry and have large families, and bring their children up to be members of the sect also. ("Supernumeraries", often heading up wealthy and powerful families, are the Quiverfulls of the cult, one might say.)

One can't help noticing in this documentary that the "numeraries" tend to come from much humbler backgrounds than the "supernumeraries", and their positions in the cult tend to reflect this. Dedicated "numeraries" live ascetically, flagellating themselves and mortifying their flesh in order to recall the torments of Christ on the cross. They tend to work in a subservient capacity; many are menials in Opus Dei houses. (Women are disproportionately represented among these; sexism is rampant in the cult, and is excused/enforced with thinly disguised variations on the usual sin-of-Eve twaddle.)

All "numeraries" are taught from an early age not to aspire above the social station into which they were born. "Class warfare" is a mortal sin to the cult, so you will also not find labor unionists among its members--nor, for that matter, anyone espousing free thought and freedom of conscience (the "free market", however, is a notable exception, and reserved for powerful and wealthy "supernumeraries"--after all, they have to maintain the class order, and the coffers of the "Work", somehow).

"Supernumeraries" are not nearly as ascetic, although a certain degree of rigid mental discipline is still there; daily attendance at Mass is de rigueur. Social and political conservatism characterize them. Many are active in business and politics, where they seek to impose their reactionary tendencies covertly. The well-to-do ones are apparently not discouraged, however, from indulging in such blatant worldly luxuries as golf, complete with caddies ("numeraries", by any chance? It wouldn't surprise me...)

As long as there is no movement toward level playing fields, other than for soccer at the expensive private schools, apparently this double standard goes unnoticed--or at least, unchallenged from within the movement. From without, it has been increasingly questioned in recent years (most notably as a result of the runaway success of Dan Brown's novels), to the point where Opus Dei now has "opened its doors" and co-opted the media, turning them into unpaid propagandists for the sect. (You can find a particularly cloying array of pro-Opus videos here. View at your own risk.)

Opus Dei is the polar opposite of the progressive current within Catholicism known as Liberation Theology, and liberation theologians are anathema in all Opus Dei schools and colleges. You will not find, say, Leonardo Boff or Hans Küng on their library shelves, though you'll find a great many other things, including ultra-orthodox works lauding Fr. Josemaría Escrivá, the controversially-canonized founder of the "Work". If you want to know exactly what or whom the Vatican considers kosher, you need look no further than Opus Dei--any theologian who was silenced by the current pope back when he was head inquisitor is automatically excluded from the Opus Dei canon.

What really struck me in this documentary, looking at the members of the organization, is how very cultish they are, and how strangely alike their facial expressions, as though they had beaten all true individuality out of themselves. Their consciences do not truly belong to them; the rigors of their daily practice have seen to that. While they look benign enough on the surface, and talk very earnestly about love for their fellow man, you don't have to scratch very hard to find something scary about them. Even the children already have that fanatical light in their eyes, and that incurious orthodoxy of thought that one can recognize in any cult where extremely controlling leaders tell you how to do everything, right up to and including how to flog yourself with a whip of knotted cords. (That last is a scourge which Jesus himself, a liberationist if ever there was one, only used to drive out the moneychangers from the Temple--an irony utterly lost on the Opus Dei cultists!)

Little wonder, then, that Opus Dei is a thread that ties together capitalism, religious conservatism and fascism. The mental distortions it creates are the very kind necessary to sustain the head-spinning cognitive dissonance it took for Spaniards to accept the dissolution of the democratic Republic, and for so many Chileans to avert their eyes from the blatant human-rights abuses of the oh-so-pious Augusto Pinochet. Like the dying Opus Dei priest who narrates Roberto Bolaño's novel, By Night in Chile, the members of the sect all have a bad case of tunnel vision which, if challenged hard enough by reality but not softened in advance by an ability to question authority, will lead to mental breakdown.

January 19, 2010

Chile election: Piñera wins. Now what?

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"Chile: Right-wing Pinochetist oligarchy in power."

I have a lot of feelings about this, and none of them are what I'd call good:

After winning the second round of the presidential election in Chile by a slim margin, multimillionaire Sebastián Piñera could start to strengthen his enterprises and consolidate his fortune, according to analysts.

During his presidential campaign, the businessman indicated repeatedly that he would sell his 26% stock in LAN Chile Airlines, which would raise his capital to unimaginable levels.

Piñera beat out former president Eduardo Frei, of the ruling Concertación coalition party, with 51.9% to Frei's 48%. He will be the first conservative president to rule the South American nation since the end of the 17-year dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in 1990.

According to a 2004 pact among its shareholders, LAN Chile is controlled jointly by Piñera and the Cueto family, who are heavily involved in the day-to-day administration and business strategies of the airline. Enrique Cueto is executive vice-president of the company, and his brother Ignacio is general manager.

It is likely that Piñera will sell his LAN stock to the Cueto family, who already own 23%.

Piñera is also owner of the Chilean TV network Chilevisión, and has said he would not sell it but would place it in a blind trust instead.

Along with minority stock in various other local businesses, Piñera holds a 13% stake in the Colo-Colo soccer club, which he has also said he would not sell, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Translation mine.

Note that he won on the second round, by a slim margin. That's no indicator of great popularity or enthusiasm for this right-winger (who styles himself "centre-right", always a worse term than "outright fascist") on the part of Chilean voters. Especially not when you consider how many abstained in protest of the lacklustre slate to choose from. Or the fact that he lost on the second round five years ago, to Michelle Bachelet.

The implications of it all, however, are best summed up by this report by Katherine Hite and Peter Kornbluh:

A Pinera victory will mark a major turning point in the post-Pinochet transition, and perhaps a return to power of some of the hardcore rightists who collaborated with the military regime. (Pinera's brother served as Pinochet's Minister of Labor.) For twenty years the Chilean center-left political elite has governed in a stable if cautious approach to Chile's economic and political evolution; the coalition is now paying the price for failing to build and mobilize a mass base. The historically strong political parties that make up the twenty-year governing Concertación alliance have failed to excite or incorporate young people. (Current legislation requires all registered voters to cast ballots, but it is not obligatory to register to vote. Of a total of 12 million potential voters, close to four million, or 31 percent, are unregistered. A law is pending that would make registration automatic and the vote voluntary.)

The museum reflects a similar political dynamic. Bachelet's administration initiated the project with little participation of the human rights constituencies who might have played a role. Still, the existence of the museum is the culmination of a persistent struggle by human rights groups for a major public recognition, in a major public space, of the state terror that took place under Pinochet. Over the past decade, organizations of victims and their families have led successful efforts to establish a range of memorials, which now dot the country. Until now the administration resisted representing the past in any way that would be interpreted by the Chilean right, particularly, as "taking sides."

It's pretty clear to me that trying to paint oneself as a centrist, if one is on the left, is cowardly and will lose you votes--although, as we can see from the first paragraph in the quote, those votes did not automatically go to the crypto-fascist who, being equally cowardly, also tried to paint himself as a centrist. Those votes were altogether lost, by either non-side. (Remember that old saying about what's in the middle of the road?) Abstention, not popular will, decided this election.

Idiotic crowings aside (gosh, who knew that Chile had had 52 years of unbroken leftist rule, even under Pinochet?), this marks no actual turning point in Chile at all. It is a sign only of how badly things have stagnated, and how poorly the Concertación has done when it decided to shut out the true left, which might have become its conscience and backbone. Whoever doesn't stand up, gets run over; it's obvious that that's what happened here.

And no, I don't share this prof's view that it's "ultimately healthy", either. The "dentist", in this case, is well known for his callous disregard for the victims of a butcher he worked with in the past. It is not a "healthy" change by any means--unless one's idea of health is being left utterly toothless, and able to eat only pablum.

Piñera has already gotten off to a bad start, slamming other LatAm leaders whose popularity, unlike his own, is not in doubt, and who do not, like him, have a cloud of conflicts-of-interest hanging over their heads. Not a wise move for one who is the scion of a family of wealthy diplomats; he should watch his language, or he'll find himself shunned, like the luckless Pepe Lobo, when he takes the sash.

If Piñera thinks he can run Chile like a business in which he owns a large block of shares, he's in for a nasty shock. A country is not a corporation, and cannot be run corporate-style; "one man, one vote" still applies. And there are a lot of Chileans who did not vote for him; they are, in fact, the majority.

About all I can foresee at this time, however, are lots of protests. Whether they will generate a true popular leader, as they did in Bolivia, I do not know. Chile doesn't have much of a history for that, other than with Salvador Allende, and we all know what happened to him.

Short 'n' Stubby: Haiti roundup (and ripoffs)

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Global capitalism in crisis? You'd never know it to see how the capitalist world is responding to the situation in Haiti (and no, I'm not referring entirely to charitable donations). Let's have a look at what's going on, shall we?

The IMF seriously expects to get blood out of a stone, according to BoRev. Someone please remind them of what happened when they tried that in Argentina--they've forgotten already.

While locals are short of everything (thanks to that lovely US habit of taking over the "relief" mission--Katrina style), isn't it nice to know that cruise ships are still taking people para-sailing at exclusive resorts, which let nothing trickle down into the local economy (other than the trails of excrement the ships leave behind on the sea, of course?)

Naomi Klein references not only her own intimate knowledge of shockonomics, but also Jeremy Scahill's examination of the role mercenarism plays in global crapitalism and the forcing thereof on people who want none of it.

Lenin's Tomb cuts through some major, MAJOR crap on the "security" front, too.

And whatever you do, do NOT call it an occupation! It'll hurt somebody's feelings.

The Atlantic Wire asks a stupid question, makes it sound like the left is pro-crime--and completely ignores the REAL looters of Haiti (hint: they've been mentioned here a few times already.)

And while we're on the subject of disaster and "looting", remember how this was covered when Hurricane Katrina hit another place which also happened to be predominantly black, French-speaking, and a cradle of Voudou? Seems that whether or not you're a "looter" is contingent both on color and social class. Don't expect to see the Atlantic Wire analyze THAT anytime soon, let alone in any cogent way.

January 18, 2010

Your attention, please...

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Yes, these badges are real, and were worn by security contractors trained by an obscure Hungarian mercenary named Tibor Revesz, at Glengad Beach, Ireland, while "defending" the Corrib Gas Project from the objections of peaceful protesters.

Commenter Ruairi Delaney has asked for signatures on this petition to suspend Shell's infamous Corrib Gas Project in Ireland.

The Corrib project, as some of you may be aware, formerly employed (via a contractor, I-RMS) at least one of the would-be assassins of Evo Morales as a security guard, and is still brutalizing Irish citizens and the fragile coastal environment of the Emerald Isle. It is also notorious for having basically bought out the Irish government.

I've added my signature to the petition, and also joined the Facebook group. If you care about corporations subverting democracy (or trying to), feel free to add your voice.

Haiti: The UNtold story

If you're wondering why aid has so much trouble reaching Haiti, here's a broad and rather interesting hint, in video form. Those who've been trying to "help" Haiti for years have in fact been actively weakening it because the uppity niggruhs keep trying to elect the "wrong" candidate. And when those aforementioned uppities turn out in the streets to protest the obvious foreign interference in their democratic process, guess what happens? Here's another hint...

Criminalizing dissent. It's the Amurrican Way.

And Canada is being dragged along into this quagmire of utter disgrace, as are the Brazilians--who were chosen specifically because of their color and affinity for the Haitians.

January 17, 2010

Amazing! CNN reports positively on Cuban doctors, for a change

Finally, the Chicken Noodle Network reports something in a way that's not so chicken-noodly. Steve Kastenbaum shows Cuban and Cuban-trained Latin American medical crews at work, saving lives in Haiti. They were able to set up their field hospitals in very short order, thanks to the fact that Cuban healthcare has long been geared to providing emergency aid on a large scale; Cuba, like Haiti, is heavily prone to natural disasters, as well as the constant threat of invasion from just ninety miles offshore. They are also used to providing troops and medics to poor countries abroad, such as Angola. The fact that their doctors can provide quality care on a shoestring budget isn't news to me, or to Michael Moore, but it's apparently astonishing to CNN and their usual audience, who have few if any good impressions about Cuban medicine.

Now that the US is finally aware of how dedicated the Cubans really are to nonprofit medicine, will the Venezuelan oppos realize that the Cuban doctors treating the poor in THEIR country are for real?

(Thanks to my friend Corey for directing me to the video.)

PS: By way of contrast, look what El Duderino has found on the way the US is handling their "aid" mission. Leaves a lot to be desired compared to Cuba, no?

PPS: Also, Greg Palast is God.

Music for a Sunday: Haiti

"Haiti is here. Haiti is not here."

Full lyrics, and translation, here.

BTW, these lyrics, referring to racial injustice in Haiti and Brazil, are especially appropriate in light of a scandal concerning a Haitian diplomat in Brazil a couple of days ago:

The Haitian consul in São Paulo, George Samuel Antoine, not knowing that his microphone was open, commented before a journalistic interview that the earthquake "would be good for" his country, because thanks to it, "we are now more recognized". The diplomat blamed the ills of his country on the fact that "every place where there are Africans is fucked".

The consul also blamed the earthquake on macumba, the religion practiced by a majority of Haitians in spite of official Catholicism: "I believe that because of all this practice of macumba, we don't know if it's that. Africans are cursed in and of themselves."

Upon learning that his words, spoken in confidentiality to an investigator, had been recorded, the diplomat became very nervous and excused himself, saying that he could not speak Portuguese very well, and had been misinterpreted. However, he has been living in Brazil for 35 years, since 1975.

By way of apology, Antoine also recalled that his grandfather, born in Africa, was president of Haiti in the late 19th century, and being so nervous as a result of the earthquake in his country, he managed to avoid getting into an argument.

Throughout the interview, Antoine fingered a rosary. "It's to calm my nerves and receive positive energy," he said.

In Brazil, it is hoped that the government of Haiti takes a firm position on the matter, seeing that this is an offence not only against that country, but against all Africans.

Translation mine.

The reason this is so scandalous should be obvious.

In Brazil, as in Haiti, black slavery, though abolished, still works its malign influence to the present day in the form of racism (and in some cases, de facto slavery still).

A great many Brazilians--some estimate a majority--are mulattoes, although the higher up the class order you go, the less African and more European faces you'll see. It is possible for many a middle-class Brazilian to look white and still carry a lot of "black" blood, as Caetano Veloso does. But he is just as much a mulatto as his friend and collaborator in the song, Gilberto Gil, who looks more black.

In Haiti, as El Duderino reminds us, "black" is supposed to be a deracialized term (under the Haitian constitution), and even white-skinned permanent residents of the land are referred to as "blacks", in a radical interracial solidarity and a vehement rejection of the old slave-order of things. When all are black, all are equal, goes the reasoning; no one gets to lord anything over his neighbor, no matter what color. And no one gets to own another person outright, as chattel. To be a Haitian "black" is to be free, or so it should be.

Yet the racism of colonial times persists in the mentality of many. It is an internalized racism, and even a man of known African heritage can and does let it slip from time to time, as Mr. Antoine has done. The fear and mistrust of macumba, or Voudou, plays into this mindset; it is both racist and superstitious, since Voudounsis (practitioners) are largely peaceful and in fact have maintained the religion as a direct tie back to Africa, as well as a means of gaining liberty for Haiti (and by extension, the rest of the Americas). The fact that Voudou is syncretic is also proof of its peaceful nature; it signals a reconciliation of Catholic saints (bequeathed by white colonists) with African spirits, ancestors and deities. Voudounsis pray to both in the same breath and in the same ceremonies; in fact, they recognize that the "two" are one. The power summoned in the practice of Voudou is personal and can also be political, giving the practitioner the strength that a long struggle for liberty demands.

And that's why this internalized-racist statement of Africans being "cursed" and "fucked" by macumba is so offensive. It directly insults the entire Haitian (and Brazilian) struggle against slavery and racism--a struggle that still goes on to this day.

Haiti is here. Haiti is not here.

January 16, 2010

Wankers of the Week: Bad judgment issue

Crank up the mood music, maestro...we need to let people know what kind of judgment is in store for the bad...

Yeah...blast those bastards!

Ahem. And now, order in the court! Oyez, oyez, oyez.

This has been a banner week, if you could call it that, for judges issuing bad decisions. Who knew that so much wanking could go on beneath judicial robes? Well, who but your Aunt Bina, who sits in informal judgment and can pass verdicts, if not sentences. Here's who gets hit with the old gavel this week:

1. Janice Fucking Rogers Brown. Remember when the Geneva Conventions were declared "quaint" by Dubya's legal advisors? Well, that decision has now been ratified regarding Gitmo, which Barack Obama promised to shut down. In-justice Rogers Brown has decided that not only is international human rights legislation "quaint", it's an "old wine skin" which is "ill-suited to the bitter wine of this new warfare." WTF? Since when is drinking allowed in court? And what the hell was in the booze these two out of three judges were guzzling?

2. Whoever the fuck is responsible for issuing this acquittal. Gross human rights abuses are apparently acceptable on a personal as well as a political scale, at least in the UAE--and at least, if you're a sheikh from a very wealthy ruling family, who takes a lot of seriously bad drugs and then claims them as his excuse for beating and torturing some poor bastard, on video, for three hours.

3. and 4. Michael Fucking Conahan and Mark Fucking Ciavarella, AGAIN. Ciavarella's latest episode of kids-for-kickbacks is one that should have him EATING crow, instead of forcing juveniles to count 'em to learn how many months they get sent to the slammer.

PS: Hey judge, count this!

5. BTW, Richard Fucking Caputo, the judge who earlier let Conahan and Ciavarella off the hook for the part in this kickback-sentencing scheme that took place inside the courtroom, is also a major, MAJOR fucking wanker. What part of "abuse of judicial authority" does he not understand?

6. Carolyn Fucking Mellanby. Apparently, if you are a Muslim, protesting war and killing during a military funeral procession in England makes you "guilty of threats". I'm so glad we have Madame Justice Mellanby to clarify that for us, aren't you?

7. Thomas Fucking Griesa. Yeah, freezing the Argentine Central Bank's funds is a terrific idea...if you don't give a shit about the lives, livelihoods and well-being of the people of Argentina. It's also a terrific idea if you want to look like a complete and utter crapitalist dick. Because, you know, all this fiscal juggling and jiggery-pokery, contrary to popular belief, is not all fun and market games. It has real world consequences, and they are devastating. Always nice to see judges so totally unconcerned that their actions could set off massive political instability and another possible military coup in a country with a long track record of just that, eh?

8. Robert Fucking Brown. A group-sex fantasy on the part of a victim does not excuse a gang rape on the part of the perps. In fact, sex and rape are two different things, but this judge isn't learned enough to know the difference. Let's just hope no one ever learns of his secret fantasy of, oh, say, sodomy involving a cricket bat...

9. through 13. The fucking conservative majority of the SCOTUS. Heaven forfend that even a small portion of the country get to see Prop Hate go on trial! I mean, it's only the most important marriage-rights case since Loving v. Virginia, after all. But since it's got to do with Teh Ghey, it has to be censored...because heaven forfend that children learn that gay people actually fall in love and want to get married, not just have sex-sex-SEX! (Or however the conservatard "logic" goes. I learned long ago that anything other than knee-jerk stupidity is not to be expected of these five guys.)

And finally, a non-judicial case of bad judgment à deux:

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Yep, that's Rush Fucking Limbaugh and Marion Fucking Robertson, both hating on Haiti. Neither of them has the guts to say nigger, but you can hear them thinking it every time they open their mouths on anything even remotely to do with race; everything they say about blacks is code-worded racism. And of course, Haiti being overwhelmingly black--and the cradle of independentist revolution in the Americas--these guys have nothing good to say about that impoverished country, and no words of solace or sympathy for its current misery. Neither of these racists can forgive those uppity niggruhs for standing up to bullies and setting a good example to the rest of the continent. And for that, no one should forgive them.

Good night, and get fucked, Rush and Patwa.

Court dismissed. Take it away, boys:

Quotable: Jean-Bertrand Aristide on Haiti and exile

"As we all know, many people remain buried under tons of rubble and debris, waiting to be rescued. When we think of their suffering, we feel deeply and profoundly that we should be there, in Haiti, with them, trying our best to prevent death. As far as we are concerned, we are ready to leave today, tomorrow, at any time, to join the people of Haiti, to share in their suffering, help rebuild the country, moving from misery to poverty with dignity.

"The spirit of Ubuntu, that once led Haiti to emerge as the first independent black nation in 1804, helped Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador attain liberty, and inspired our forefathers to shed their blood for the United States' independence, cannot die. Today, this spirit of solidarity must and will empower all of us to rebuild Haiti."

--Jean-Bertrand Aristide, on Democracy Now!

Teh Heterostoopid: He thinks he's a wit...

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...but he's only half right.

BTW, ladies: The only proper comeback, in a situation like this, is "Take your club and go get it yourself, Captain Caveman!" a go-away. (Thanks, Snarla!)

January 15, 2010

Evo just keeps callin' it...

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Can you spot the parallels in this montage of awkward side-by-sides? Evo can, and he can also make a solid prediction based on it...

The president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, said today that the de facto leader of Honduras, Roberto Micheletti, will become a "second Pinochet", thanks to the decision of the Honduran congress to declare him a member-for-life.

Morales spoke of the matter in a speech in Cochabamba, during the presentation of a book on his political and union struggles by Argentine writer Stella Calloni.

Morales said that after reading reports from Honduras over the decision of the Honduran congress, he immediately thought that Micheletti "is the second (Augusto) Pinochet", referring to what had happened in Chile after a 17-year right-wing dictatorship, headed by the bloodiest repressor of that South American nation.

"Sooner or later, it will be the people who judge," said the Bolivian president.

In Honduras, the head of the parliament, Alfredo Saavedra, awarded Micheletti the "Extraordinary Great Cross With Gold Plaque", and a gold medal, declaring him a deputy-for-life for his 28 years in the legislature and his presidency, designated by the congress on June 28, 2009, after the coup against Manuel Zelaya.

This "recognition" by the majority of the de-facto congress was repudiated by some deputies of the left and rejected by the populace, which denounced it as a strategy to protect the dictator for life.

President Morales, along with the nations of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), the OAS, and the international community, has called various times for Zelaya to be restored to office.

For his part in the Honduran electoral farce, Porfirio Lobo, the "president-elect" as a result of elections rejected by virtually all the American nations, will take power on January 27th in an inauguration ceremony which virtually no one will attend, a fact which Lobo himself complained about recently.

Translation mine.

BTW, word is that Evo will be personally delivering humanitarian aid to Haiti. Stand-up guy? You bet.

Haiti: A three-minute primer

Ever wonder why Haiti is poor? Hint: it's punishment for that slave revolt that led to liberty in 1804, the one Patwa calls a "deal with the devil". Turns out, the devil...was France. (Zut alors!) And the deal...entailed a debt that took over a century to pay back, and still has Haiti mired in a cycle of debts, dictatorships and dependency. Only this time, the devil is the IMF. Whaddya know, it turns out that Satan really IS a master of disguise--and no, his name is not Papa Legba! (Legba is actually syncretized to St. Peter. He is likened to Peter because he opens the "pearly" gates to the spirit world, enabling Voudou practitioners to speak with the saintly figures called loa, and also their ancestors. And yes, I've paid him tribute too--and can attest that he is a beneficent old guy who listens. And he doesn't care what color you are, either.)

BTW, the only things in Avi Lewis's otherwise excellent reporting that I'd take issue with is that problematic "some say" bit (who are these "some"? Don't do like FUX Snooze, Avi--let's see "them" say it on camera!) and the part about Toto Constant "claiming" to be on the CIA payroll (uh, he was.)

PS: Far be it from me to not give credit where due. France has just called upon the Paris Club for debt forgiveness for Haiti. A wise move, and good for the karma. Très bien fait!

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Caption time!

I call this one "When Evo met Bev", but I'm sure you have something better:

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BTW, by way of backgrounder, that's Canada's minister of international co-operation, Bev Oda...who used to be on the Status of Women portfolio before she bobbled it up big-time at Harpo's behest. Bev is there to pledge $28 million CDN to help Bolivia fight poverty.

Captions, please, amig@s!

January 14, 2010

Stupid Sex Tricks: Ask a stupid question...

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See, this is why comprehensive sex education should be mandatory. Not only will it prevent pregnancy in stupid people, it will also save their unborn children from the same worse-than-death fate!

Economics for Dummies: Capitalism, explained succinctly

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"Penalized", by the way, means "with a slap on the wrist, a fine so small that it barely makes a dent in the profits, and can therefore still be read as a reward"--hence the Freudian slip.

And "people", in this case, doesn't mean the people; it means only the top 1% or so, i.e. those who didn't do the actual work, didn't take the actual risk, and didn't frequently lose their actual lives in pursuit of a hypothetical reward for hard work and ambition that never actually came. These "people" were/are actually in the least-risky position of all, namely the top of the pyramid. The other 99%, those who do the actual work, take the actual risks, and frequently lose their actual lives in pursuit of a hypothetical reward for hard work and ambition, aren't people--they're peasants.

Ah, that "civil society" of the Venezuelan opposition...

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Such class! Such manners! Such elegance and eloquence! Such incorruptible parliamentary decorum! Yes, this is the way Venezuela should be governed in the glorious future when it is finally free of that odious "21st Century Socialism", and these are just the people to get rid of that nasty-wasty dictator Chávez...

The elections for municipal-chamber directors in Lagunillas and Machiques, in the state of Zulia, became scenes of confrontation and fist-fighting between members of the parties Acción Democrática, Primero Justicia, COPEI and Un Nuevo Tiempo. All parties were members of the so-called Democratic Unity Committee, according to the Wednesday edition of the Diario VEA newspaper.

In Lagunillas, the brawl between members of Un Nuevo Tiempo and COPEI left 30 persons injured, and a tear-gas canister was launched by the firefighters of Ciudad Ojeda in order to force the evacuation of the building.

Two councillors of the COPEI party and the mayor, Eduin Pirela, of Acción Democrática, were injured in the fighting and were later taken to private clinics.

Similar things occurred in Machiques, where groups of Acción Democrática and Primero Justicia members squared off over a violation of internal regulations of debate, in which the AD members attempted to impose the nomination of one of their members.

These events took place amid calls for the fragmented Venezuelan opposition to maintain unity amongst themselves in order to win seats in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Translation mine.

Looks like they're totally onto a winning unity strategy there. Keep it up, oppos! I'm pullin' for ya. We're all in this together. Keep yer sticks on the ice...hahahahahahahahaha...

Honduras: More shit you couldn't make up if you tried

gorilletti-banana.jpg

They have a strange notion of what constitutes "democracy" down there in the banana republics. De facto dictator Gorilletti, for example, is such a shit that no one in their right mind would elect him, but as Aporrea reports, the putschist Honduran congress has found a neat little way around that:

The Honduran congress designated de facto president Roberto Micheletti a "member for life" on Wednesday, in recognition of his efforts "in favor of democracy" in the Central American nation.

Micheletti attended the session with which the congress closed its four-year constitutional term, and in his speech thanked the legislators for their support during the seven months of his rule.

Micheletti assumed power on June 28, 2009, after a coup d'état against the deposed and subsequently expelled constitutional president Manuel Zelaya, who remains inside the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa as of September 21, having re-entered the country secretly.

The congress, dominated by supporters of the coup, deemed Micheletti "constitutional president" of the republic.

Micheletti, who remains unrecognized as president by any country, assured that he will step down as president on January 27, when the presidency will be assumed by Porfirio Lobo, who won the elections of November 29 and is recognized only by the United States, Costa Rica, Colombia, Panama and Peru.

Translation mine.

Meanwhile, look who won't be attending the inauguration of Pepe Lobo...

The president of Costa Rica, Oscar Arias, announced on Wednesday that he would not be attending the inauguration of Porfirio Lobo, whom he criticized for his "weakness" in not getting de facto president Roberto Micheletti to leave power before the change-over on January 27.

"If he could not convince whomever presided in the de facto government that it would give greater legitimacy to the elections and the succession, accompanied by international authorities and other heads of state, it seems to me that this is a demonstration of weakness," said Arias during a press conference.

The Costa Rican leader said that he has not had any contact recently with the elected authorities in Honduras, but that he had read in the press that Micheletti would remain in power until he handed over the presidential sash to Lobo.

"If Micheletti remains in power until January 27, it seems to me a sign of weakness on Lobo's part. He does not deserve this, nor do the people of Honduras, who need a strong president in order to recuperate [their country's image] from all the criticism resulting from the coup d'état on June 28," Arias declared.

Arias, who attempted to mediate in the Honduran conflict after the expulsion of Manuel Zelaya, recalled that at year's end, he met with Lobo in San José, and recommended to him that he try to get Micheletti to leave office. "I told him he would be well regarded and applauded by the international community if someone other than Micheletti were in charge of the government on the 27th of January, when he [Lobo] is due to receive the sash."

Arias regretted that this would not be possible, and predicted, before confirming that he would not attend Lobo's inauguration, that it "would be a very lonely affair" which, he said, gave him "great pain."

As mediator in the conflict, Arias advocated for the return of Zelaya to power and amnesty for the perpetrators, but none of this took place. Later, he supported the elections in which Lobo won, and asked the international community to recognize the elections and the newly elected government.

Translation, again, mine.

Sorry, Oscar, but the world can't recognize this "election" as anything but a farce, when it was attended by such a small portion of the Honduran electorate and its outcome was so obviously screwed up. Nobody voted Gorilletti into the congress-to-be, and yet there he is, a member for life. What the hell kind of democracy is that?

Obviously, it's a very lame simulacrum, which is probably why Oscar Arias won't be attending the inauguration of his neighbor. He already made a big enough ass of himself trying to mediate a conflict where the putschists were determined to kill the clock, and later trying to get recognition for the bogus election. He probably figures it's time to cut his losses and stay home.

Most of the region's other leaders will be doing the same.

More earthquake footage from Haiti

This was taken by a roadway security camera at the time of the quake. Watch the houses in the background as the shaking starts; they collapse one by one, domino-like, in clouds of dust.

Teh Heterostoopid: Another "daddy" who can't do the math

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Lemme guess, dude...all the oxygen and nutrients that were supposed to be allocated to your brain somehow migrated down to your testicles instead?

January 13, 2010

How to help Haiti

I donated at Avaaz, which puts 100% of the money raised toward recovery and rebuilding. You can too; clicky here.

Friends on Facebook also recommend the Red Cross (click here for Canada), Doctors Without Borders, and this article by Naomi Klein. Because disaster capitalism never sleeps, and neither should those who oppose it.

Haiti earthquake: Some early photos and video

Via Aporrea, two YouTubes. Some photos:

And some video:

Aporrea is also reporting that the UN chief-of-mission in Haiti, Hedi Annabi, has been killed in the 7.3 magnitude quake. The UN building (and that of MINUSTAH) has been destroyed, along with at least one hospital and a prison building (from which several inmates are reported to have escaped.)

Natural disasters hit Haiti harder than anyplace else on Earth because of its poverty; El Duderino reminds us of why Haiti is so poor in the first place, and why it is also so vulnerable to coups planned from just a few hundred miles offshore. (Coups which, incidentally, have disgraced my own home and native land, and shame me as a Canadian.)

In a way, the destruction of the MINUSTAH headquarters seems like poetic justice, since MINUSTAH was originally there to prop up a government that the people of Haiti did not elect, and overstayed its welcome considerably--and under protest. Its real mission is unclear, but its apparent mission is to make sure that the original elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, doesn't get back into office in any way, shape or form. Its stated mission was to distribute aid and fight crime, but it seems to have been complicit in its share of crime and has been less than effective in distributing aid--except to foreign NGOs, of which there is certainly no shortage in Haiti, whatever else is lacking.

And there is a lot more lacking in that little country now.

Meanwhile, Venezuela's response was quick and to the point: They sent doctors and are gathering non-perishable food, clothing, medicines, etc. Solidarity in action, rather than endless preachy words. No wonder the Haitians gave Chavecito a hero's welcome last time he showed up in person. They will again, I'll bet, when they're back on solid ground.

Seguid el ejemplo qué Caracas dió...

UPDATES: Some other Canadian content on this story. A Progressive Bloggers member is worried about her parents, who are currently in Haiti and unaccounted for. Another Canadian citizen in the country texted for help, and got it. Meanwhile, a Canadian nurse is confirmed to be among the dead.

Vargas Loser gets booed in Chile

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Shoulda stuck to what you were good at, Mario...

And he shoulda stayed on the left, too. Then maybe things like this wouldn't be happening to him now:

The heckling of writer Mario Vargas Llosa and the abrupt appearance of the sister of a Mapuche Indian killed by Chilean police marred the opening of the Museo de la Memoria, intended to honor victims of the late Augusto Pinochet's 1973-1990 dictatorship.

Presiding over Monday's ceremony was Chilean head of state Michelle Bachelet, who was imprisoned and tortured during the military regime.

She was accompanied by the other three presidents who have ruled Chile since the return of democracy - Patricio Aylwin, Eduardo Frei and Ricardo Lagos - along with numerous ministers and lawmakers.

Also present was Peruvian-born novelist Vargas Llosa, who has been in Santiago since last week as a guest of right-wing presidential candidate Sebastian Piñera, who has won the endorsement of the acclaimed writer.

Piñera will challenge Eduardo Frei next Sunday in a runoff.

"Get out, get out!" those seated near Vargas Llosa began to shout as he talked to reporters before the event began.

"In an electoral campaign the atmosphere always gets a little tense, but I have the impression that this is a small group and that most people are showing all the sophistication they should in such cases," Vargas Llosa said when asked about the heckling.

Fancy him talking about "sophistication" when the candidate who invited him is a disgusting Pinochet apologist. Yeah, fascism is so "sophisticated". That's why this pompous twat routinely shills for it in Venezuela; I don't suppose he's much different when it comes to Chile. (It bears repeating that Vargas Loser has hated democracy in Latin America ever since he lost a presidential election so badly in Peru. Voters aren't totally stupid, it seems.)

Of course, the neo-cons all love him. They're quite alone in that; no one else cares for sold-out turncoats. Least of all the Latin Americans (and particularly, the indigenous) whom he betrayed.

He deserves all the booing he gets, and then some.

January 12, 2010

Avatar--WTF?

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While everyone else is all agog over how Evo went to see Avatar with his daughter (and loved it), I found something very different regarding that film in Russia:

Soviet sci-fi writer, 76-year-old Boris Strugatsky, has accused Oscar-winning director James Cameron of plagiarism.

One of the authors of "Roadside Picnic" is claiming that the plot of Cameron's latest 3-D sci-fi adventure, "Avatar", has been taken from his "Noon: 22nd Century" novel, released in mid '60s.

"The Americans have borrowed our idea - it's very unpleasant," Boris Strugatsky was quoted as saying. "But I won't take them to court. Or shall I?"

[...]

"Avatar" is set on Pandora, a moon with an Earthlike environment that orbits a gas-giant planet called Polyphemus in the Alpha Centauri-A star system, our nearest stellar neighbor.

Meanwhile, the collection of "Noon Universe" novels written by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky in the 1960s features a number of planets, including Pandora.

[...]

According to the Soviet writer, "Avatar" is akin to an illustration to Strugatsky's books. For instance, their "Disquiet" novel focuses on a biologist, Mikhail Sidorov, who finds himself on Pandora among the native population. In Cameron's film, according to Strugatsky, he has morphed into a former Marine, Jake Sully.

In Strugatsky's books, the inhabitants of the planet resemble dogs, while Cameron's creatures have the features of cats.

Boris Strugatsky (who, along with his late brother Arkady, is a very leading name in Russian SF, BTW) may be mulling suing, but the Communists of St. Petersburg have already taken things a step further:

The organization "Communists of Petersburg" has demanded to arrest the creator of Avatar James Cameron for being "the plunderer of Soviet science fiction". The statement has been published at the official website of the organization.

According to the secretary of Volkhov Department of the Communists of Petersburg Organization, James Cameron "lifted his hand against the creative legacy of the late sci-fi writers Arkady Strugatsky, Ivan Yefremov, Kir Bulychev, and film director Pavel Arsenov, making use of the fact that the dead authors cannot go to the law".

"Cameron deserves a place in prison and not at the Oscar ceremony" - communists of Petersburg claim.

This movie is now one to watch...on more fronts than one, it seems.

(Although, if the illustration I found on FailBlog is any indication, it looks like Cameron may have lifted the plot of Pocahontas, as well--throwing a further kink into the whole matter.)

UPDATE, 11:38 am: Commenter Alexander, below, says this was a hoax, and that Boris Strugatsky has not threatened to sue.

Venezuela presents proof of US aerial incursions from Bonaire and Curaçao

Hmmmm. What's this?

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No, it's not a picture of Jay Jay the Jet Plane. You can probably figure that much out for yourself. It's no joke. But I'll give you a broad hint: This map, with radar tracings taken by the Venezuelan air force, figures prominently in the press conference below:

Story by Aporrea:

On Monday, the vice-president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Ramón Carrizález, presented proof to the citizens of Venezuela and the world that a military airplane from the United States, based in the Caribbean islands of Bonaire and Curaçao, violated Venezuelan airspace. This throws into disrepute the declarations of the ambassador of the Netherlands, who denied this grave instance of violation of international law.

Accompanied by commander-in-chief General Carlos Mata Figueroa, the Strategic Operations Commander, and General of Division Alexis Colina, the Integral Air Defence Commander of the Republic, Vice-President Carrizález said that after the delivery of the note of protest by Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro to diplomatic representatives of the US and Holland, the Dutch ambassador denied the incursion.

"And for this reason, we will show the radar tracings and play the conversation between [the control tower at] Maiquetía Airport and Curaçao, in order to demonstrate before the country and the world that Venezuelan airspace was violated by a warplane which invaded twice from Curaçao, and which was directed by special aircraft belonging to the United States Air Force, which controls these military planes," Carrizález explained.

Carrizález added that on Monday, Venezuela denied authorization to another US military plane, code number 1771, which attempted to ingress in the direction of the state of Falcón. In a change from the previous case, this time the pilot requested, by radio, permission to enter Venezuelan airspace, an unusual procedure by international norms.

"It's the same code number as that of the plane that intruded on the 8th. This time, the pilot requested entry and was denied. This plane was heading northward. It was denied entry because those co-ordinates take time and justification [to file], and because no foreign aircraft can enter our airspace any other way.

"We have demonstrated fully the violations of our airspace by US warplanes from Curaçao," said the vice-president. He added that up to now, there are at least 14 such illegal incursions on record, but due to the lack of radar systems in the past, they could not be documented as in these recent months.

Carrizález said that in 2008, the worst violation came to light, when an airplane left Curaçao, crossed the Caribbean sea and flew over La Orchila, a restricted military zone, and then left Venezuelan airspace, in an apparent provocation.

The vice-president said that on January 8, Venezuelan radars detected, around 1:55 pm, an airplane entering Venezuelan airspace with the electronic transport code number 1771, flying from Bonaire, which twice entered Venezuelan airspace without authorization of any kind.

In the first incursion, the air-traffic controller at Maiquetía communicated with the Control Tower on Curaçao, to ask about this aircraft, but there was no clear or precise response. This recording was presented by the Vice-President to journalists at a press conference.

"The Curaçao operator responded in an ambiguous manner, but in one moment he said that he thought it could be a Coast Guard plane," Carrizález said. "Later, the plane returned to Curaçao." The vice-president added that he wondered how a plane could depart from an airport in those islands and the authorities of Curaçao not know anything about it.

As well, during this first incursion, there was an AWAC plane operating nearby, a radar-equipped craft used by the US to direct war missions, a fact which proves that the pilot penetrated Venezuelan airspace fully aware of what he was doing.

"That plane had enough electronics, and was directed by the AWAC. For this reason, there is no possibility that the pilot was in error," said Carrizález.

Showing the locations on a map of the radar tracings of the two illegal incursions by the US airplane, Division General Alexis Colina showed that in the first instance, the pilot was approximately four miles inside of Venezuelan airspace, and in the second, he flew parallel to the sea boundary, but well within Venezuelan territory, before returning to base in Curaçao upon being intercepted by two Venezuelan F-16s out of Barquisimeto, which forced him to retreat.

"We cannot think of an incursion of this type as an error when the pilot flew for 18 minutes inside of Venezuelan airspace," the general said.

The tracings of the F-16s can also be seen as they fly over the area, defending territorial sovereignty and preventing another incursion.

"With these elements, we can confirm and demonstrate that they are producing incursions into our airspace in order to provoke and test our reactions. At any moment, this could give rise to an aggression," said Vice-President Carrizález. "For this reason, we denounce, with proof in hand, the incursions of warplanes based on the island of Curaçao."

Translation mine.

You can also hear the recorded transmissions between the Curaçao and Maiquetía control towers here, in the second segment of Earle Herrera's current-events show, Kiosco Veraz. (Highly recommended viewing!) It's quite clear that the Venezuelan air force sought clarification from the US operator on Curaçao as to what a US plane was doing in Venezuelan airspace. The operator is vague, and probably intentionally so, just as VP Ramón Carrizález says in the video at the top of this entry.

One thing is abundantly clear: This was no coast-guard flight, and those lame excuses are only being made because the US military has been busted big-time. Given the general pattern of US intrusions and deliberate provocations (14 flights--that's an awful lot of "mistakes" for a country with so much state-of-the-art equipment, not to mention the best-detailed maps of the region!), it's clear that someone is trying to generate a new Gulf of Tonkin incident, in order to turn Venezuela into the next Vietnam. And given that the US and Holland both have major oil interests in the land, it's not hard to see why.

So, now we can see that both the US and the Dutch government have egg on their faces. All the snotty lamestream news outlets can hereby expunge the words "alleged" and "accusation", cut the half-witted denials, and stop making it look like Chavecito is crazy. He's not. But I really have to question the judgment of those who keep sending these planes to invade Venezuelan airspace. Do they want to feel the firepower of those dandy new Sukhois on their ass? It sure smells that way.

I just pity the pilots who are being put through these inane paces. In their boots, I'd protest.

January 11, 2010

Juanes: Opportunistic, anti-Chávez douchebag?

A popular Venezuelan journo-blogger seems to think so, and after reading this, so do I:

Colombian singer/song-writer Juanes seems to be in agreement with those users of the Twitter website who demand the downfall of the government of Hugo Chávez. At least, that's how it looked on Saturday on Juanes' Twitter account.

Juanes has some 293,000 followers on Twitter, who read his writings daily. The Twitter corporation assures that his account is verified and that it really does belong to the Colombian artist.

The singer asked on Saturday, around 1:35 pm: "Anyone from Venezuela here? What's going on? How are things going there?" This generated hundreds of responses, of which Juanes decided to "re-tweet" two. One, by a user named LuisEwando, read: "Juanes, in Venezuela the politicians have allowed themselves to be bought, and only a people's uprising can bring down this oppressive government." Juanes also retransmitted the thoughts of user DavidMorante, who said: "Juanes, everyday there are more governmental restrictions here in Venezuela, but we Venezuelans will never give ourselves away."

On Twitter, people can "re-tweet", or retransmit, messages from other people, something they generally do when in agreement with that user's thoughts and want others to know it. In this case, the 293,000 followers of Juanes on Twitter received those two thoughts, re-tweeted.

Until now, Juanes has maintained a supposed neutrality and has never pronounced openly in favor or in opposition to President Chávez, or his Colombian counterpart, Alvaro Uribe Vélez. He generated much controversy with his "Peace Without Borders" concerts, one of them on the Colombia-Venezuela border in March of 2008, and the other in Havana in 2009.

Translation mine. Linkage as in original.

Here's the screenshot Luigino Bracci took of the tweets in question:

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Be it now known that Juanes is a douche who only does the "peace" thing to raise his own profile (and bank account). He doesn't care that the twits he's re-tweeting are openly calling for the overthrow of a popular, elected president.

So glad I'm not on Twitter, OR a fan of his very mediocre music. I'll stick with real socially conscious rockers, like Ska-P, Dame Pa' Matala and Buena Fe, muchas gracias...

Do bears crap in the woods?

They undoubtedly do...but this dude's not a bear:

And that there ain't no woods.

Srsly, fertilizing a plastic tree? FAIL. What are public washrooms for, again? And are the toilets in them really THAT bad?

January 10, 2010

Music for a Sunday: No time for the killing floor

An extended version of the Guess Who classic. Randy Bachman would later go on to form his own band (and singer/writer Burton Cummings would also end up flying high solo), but his signature heavy, buzzy guitar style is already easy to pick out here.

January 9, 2010

Stupid Sex Tricks: Not the kind of party you want in your pants

Other guys just light their farts on fire. This one couldn't be content until he got a rocket up his ass. Sure hope the blisters were worth it, dude.

Wankers of the Week: Resolutions, schmesolutions!

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I have a terrible confession for you, folks: I don't make New Year's resolutions, and I never seriously did. And no, I don't think I'm perfect; it's a custom I just can't get into.

I don't recommend that anyone else do it either...except maybe these people, who might do a lot better if they'd just resolve to stop being such fucking wankers:

1. Brit Fucking Hume. Yeah, great idea, let's convert Tiger Woods to Christianity. Woo-hoo, "Jimmy Swaggart, Cablinasian Style"! Or, more to the point: Does anyone seriously still believe being "saved" will make any difference, other than to make the sinner more smugly insufferable than he was before? If the mental disciplines of Buddhism couldn't keep him on the level, I can't imagine that praisin' Juheezus--a distinctly unbalanced style, seesawing between sinnin' and repentin'--would do it any better.

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2. John Fucking Linder. Wankonomics in a (wing)nutshell: First, cut taxes on corporations. Then, loosen regulations so that they can downsize, outsource, etc. to the point where one in eight US adults, and one in four US children, depends on food stamps for survival. THEN, blame the victims, saying they must not want to work, and propose the "solution" of more tax cuts. To create more jobs. That don't pay enough to live on. In India, of course.

3. Melissa Fucking Clouthier. Alas for the Internets, there is no quarantine for people with a highly contagious case of Teh Stoopid. And no holistic remedies, either.

4. Thomas Fucking McInerney. Srsly, General, you're a real fuckin' perv. And you must really WANT blowback badly, if you're willing to go to such lengths to radicalize an already stigmatized group of people, who feel--not unjustly--that the western world really IS against them. And of course, you would be a FUX Snooze "analyst". Of course!

5. The Fucking Tea Party Gun Nuts. Ugly people in ugly shirts making ugly threats. With loaded weapons. At an ugly, UGLY demonstration. Presumably, this is to give themselves a "positive" image, although how such blatant intimidation can be construed in anything but a negative way is beyond me. Where the fuck were the police? And why were these fucknuts not in a Free Speech Zone?

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6. Newt Fucking Gingrich. As badly as Obama's mandate has been botched by concessions and attempts at bipartisanship with these fascistic soreheads and blatant vote-buyers, it's nothing compared to how badly this wanker and his tea-party brigade are going to lose this year's midterm elections...and deservedly so. Obama's '08 win is actually proof that Newt's Contract On America was overwhelmingly rejected by the voters, and Newt's the last one to admit it. He still thinks he stands a chance, bwahaha. What I don't get is why Obama still thinks any of these people are worth reaching out to. In his shoes, I'd be flipping 'em the bird. Especially for that "corrupted" bit at the end of Newt's sickly little screed.

7. and 8. Gilbert Fucking Arenas and Javaris Fucking Crittenton. Srsly, guys, gambling's not good for you. Neither is gunplay over a gambling debt. Both make you look like a couple of wankers.

9. Robert Fucking Hintze. Who died and appointed this assclown the judge of what's beautiful and who's not? Dude, pretty is as pretty does, and your business model is FUG-LY.

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10. Paul Fucking Hewson, AGAIN. He made more money than any other rocker last year, but he won't be content until he owns the Internets, it seems. Hey Bono, Courtney Love ate your lunch a decade ago.

11. Andrew Fucking Coyne. Yeah, we're so apathetic up here in the Great North...that when there's an avalanche of popular resentment that buries the Conservatives alive, it catches the most apathetic of us--that would be Tory hubris-heads like YOU, Andy--wayyyyyyy off guard. And forces them to eat their words. (Little salt with that? Some pepper, perchance? Spoonful of sugar? Bwahahahahahaha.)

12. And while we're on the subject of hubris, how about that Julian Fucking Fantino? Looks to me like he's about ripe for an avalanche of popular resentment, himself. My best friend writes:

Fantino is long overdue for a smackdown. Years ago, when he was working in the London Ontario police force, he was the leading man behind a program they had to entrap gay men and put them behind bars. Fantino even crowed about how he got the local newspapers to publish names and photos of the men he'd arrested (regardless of whether they were ever officially charged or found guilty) thus ruining lots of people's lives. That sort of crap would never be tolerated now -- and persecuting a minority group like that would definitely not be permitted either.

Funny how Fantino always has something going against minorities. Then it was gays, now it's Natives. And both groups have long memories when it comes to bigotry and outrage. Karma, baby.

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13. All these flying fuckers right here. People, don't check your good sense along with the baggage when you get on a plane. It's already stressful enough without you.

14. Rudy Fucking Giuliani. Now we know he's senile--he forgets that the biggest terror attack in US history happened on his watch--and Dubya's. Let's just throw him in a room with all these other right wing dunces, and watch them fight over who gets to wear the pointy hat.

15. Joe Fucking Lieberman. Approval ratings in the shitter no matter whom you poll? Say it ain't so, Joe! But don't worry, there's a twelve-step program for that:

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16. Todd Fucking Harris. You know you're toast when even a fawning opportunistic screamer like Tweety--who spent the majority of the past decade with his lips suctioned onto Dubya's scrawny little scrotum like a remora--can pwn you. On national TV, yet.

17. John Fucking Campbell. Most US marines on shore leave in Australia are thankful that the local girls wear so little. Now, thanks to him, the scantily-clad sheilas going to be avoiding anything in a USMC uniform like it's radioactive--or liable to lecture them on "standards". Smooth move, Ex-Lax!

18. Sebastián Fucking Piñera. So it's "not a sin to have worked with Pinochet"? Tell that to the victims of his régime. And this is The Man Who Will Soon Rule Chile! I don't know him, but that's all I need to know in order to know that I hate this fucker already.

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And finally, to the wanking clown who told me to "tone it down". Dude, if this sad little site is your blog (I looked up the domain name on the e-mail addy you dropped), I can see that you like things deadly dull. But that's no excuse for insulting me with distinctly unconstructive criticism. I can do without patronizing bores like you telling me (FYI: 99th percentile IQ, member of Mensa throughout university, two degrees, a dozen languages and counting) that I'm "just not bright enough" to have opinions.

Good night, and get fucked!

UPDATE, 12:46 am: Oh lord, get a load of the Johnny-come-lately from Saskatoon who just jacked off on this thread here. I average at least one personal wanker a week, and the cowards always like to wait until the thread rolls off the front page before they strike. Not a wise move, as you can see--I have no qualms about linking back where and whenever it happens so that everyone else can snicker along at the troll's expense. BTW, the e-mail addy's a spoof...this wackaloon is on Shaw cable, IP # 70.76.69.170. (Anyone also wanna lay odds that the electricity he wasted in berating me was generated with nuclear fuel...MINED IN SASKATCHEWAN?)

January 8, 2010

Dear right wingers: You can stop SHRIEEEEKing now.

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German Muslims protest the exportation of Wahhabism and terrorism from Saudi Arabia; in this case, specifically, to Iraq. Note the date on the picture. Muslims protesting against Islamist terrorism is hardly new or unique, no matter what wingnuts are saying to the contrary.

Dear wingnuts:

You finally got what you've been bellowing for. Muslims just stepped up to the plate to protest Islamist terrorism today.

Now you can just STFU.

Really.

Majed Moughni, a Dearborn attorney, said Sunday afternoon that Muslims need to let the world know that those who would commit terrorism do not represent Islam.

"It's very frustrating to know that these guys are using Islam and committing terror," he said. "Islam stands for peace."

His Facebook group, Dearborn Area Community Members, is calling for local Muslims to hold a protest during the scheduled Jan. 8 hearing in U.S. District Court in Detroit for Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. The 23-year-old was charged Saturday with trying to detonate an explosive device on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Friday. He told federal authorities he was acting on orders from Al Qaeda.

Well, guess what? That protest happened today, and got coverage...even on FUX, which used AP wire reportage (predictably skimpy). Still, for FUX, that's really saying something.

ABC did a bit better, with video.

A local paper, the Dearborn (MI) Press and Guide noted that several Islamic leaders, plus a Muslim woman who was on board the flight that the would-be suicide bomber tried to blow up, also stepped forward to denounce terrorism...in the name of Islam:

Shortly before he appeared in court, Imam Mohammad Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights and other Muslims spoke at a press conference, condemning terrorism in the name of Islam.

Among those with Elahi were Victor Begg, chairman of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan; Imam Mustapha Elturk of the Islamic Organization of North America; and Imam Mohammad Mardini of the American Muslim Center in Dearborn. The meeting was sponsored by the council and was held at the Michigan Round Table for Diversity and Inclusion in Detroit.

Each imam condemned all acts of terrorism as crimes against humanity and supported law enforcement agencies in their efforts to protect their fellow citizens, while preserving civil rights.

Also at the press conference was Hebba Aref, a passenger on the flight from Amsterdam. She, too, spoke against terrorists targeting innocent people.

And just to further shush the shrieeeeekers, look what a group of North American imams also did today:

The 20 imams associated with the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada said this marked the first fatwa by the Muslim clergy declaring attacks on Canada and the U.S. to be attacks on Muslims.

"In our view, these attacks are evil, and Islam requires Muslims to stand up against this evil," the imams said in their fatwa.

Calgary Imam Syed Soharwardy, founder of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, said attacks on Canadian or U.S. soil are essentially attacks on Muslims.

"We are part of this society," he said. "This is my home, and if anybody attacks on Canada, in fact, attacks on my home."

The imams said it is a duty of every Muslim in Canada and the U.S. to safeguard the two countries.

"They must expose any person, Muslim or non-Muslim, who would cause harm to fellow Canadians or Americans," they said.

"It is religious obligation upon Muslims, based upon the Qur'anic teachings, that we have to be loyal to the country where we live," said Soharwardy. "We have no problems in Canada; we can practise our religion freely."

Whoa...Muslim imams using a fatwa to protect western society and religious freedom?

Gee, it sure sounds to me like the imams value the freedom of religion that we all enjoy here in Canada. And it sounds an awful lot like they value their fellow Canadians, too, regardless of religion. It even sounds like they have no problem abiding by the laws of the land!

And above all, it sounds like they ARE speaking out against Islamist terrorism. In fact, they've been doing it for several years already. If you wingnuts weren't shriiiiieeeeking so goddamned loudly, maybe you'd have heard about it.

And if you don't believe me, do your own Google search. Type in "Muslims protest terrorist" or "Muslims protest terrorism". Go on. I dare ya. See how many news links you get. Have fun reading them all.

And in the meantime, just STFU.

Teh Ghey: Koalas haz it...

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And Aussie scientists know all about it. Apparently it's very commonplace among those cuddly critters:

THE two koalas who stole the limelight from tennis great Andy Roddick with an enthusiastic mating session are both female. The same-sex marsupial couple is now famous worldwide after being filmed bonding in the background of a Roddick interview for couriermail.com.au.

The footage went global after the scene was posted on the couriermail.com.au site, and the amused American tennis star put a link to the website on his twitter account.

Brisbane's Lone Pine Sanctuary senior wildlife officer Karen Nilsson said the female koalas, which are normally kept separate from the males, express a readiness to mate by engaging in sex sessions with other females.

"When they are ready to be with a male, one of the things they do to express that is to pretend to mate another female," she said.

"As what happened with Sprite and Saffron, they often start in one position and then swap so they both get a turn."

Awwww...and they're egalitarian, too.

Now how can anyone NOT be for marriage equality after hearing that?

(And all you guys back there in the peanut gallery--yeah YOU, the ones who like to see two hot straight chicks pretending to make out--shut it!)

Stupid Sex Tricks: R U stoopid?

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And this is why I never do random chat, kiddies. So many clueless horny morons...and just their spelling skills alone are a major buzzkill.

Festive Left Friday Blogging: A Canadian journalist in Cuba

Jean-Guy Allard talks about the Canada-Cuba relationship (which is very different from that of the US to Cuba!), as well as his own ties to the island, the Left, and the revolutions going on all over Latin America today. He got his start in Cuba translating to and from the French for Granma; you can hear his Québécois accent through his very fluent Spanish. He takes great interest in what's going on not only there but in Venezuela and Bolivia; he also is watching the situation in Honduras, and ties the coup there unequivocally to US interests. But even if the Left's battles are still largely uphill against that capitalist behemoth which is forever trying to eat us all, he remains cheerful, energetic and an example to us all about what the future can look like if we have the courage to strive for it.

January 7, 2010

Short 'n' Stubby: Shame shame shame

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Welcome to your weather report! Today's forecast calls for ice-cold showers of shame, followed by a blizzard of humiliation and waves of beet-red blushing...

Several trash bags full of new (but mutilated, so as to be unusable) clothes have been found outside a New York H & M store, as well as a Wal-Mart. Just steps away, you'd find homeless people, struggling to sleep on cardboard and snow. What the hell kind of culture is this? Are stores so hellbent on profits, and so begrudging to the needy, that they'd rather cut things up and throw them away than donate them to someone who could use them but can't afford to pay full price?

And what is it with sexual assaults on teenage girls, and racism? Does being indigenous somehow make a girl fair game? Especially if the white man she's babysitting for is a bigwig in the world of sports?

How embarrassing: "CANADIAN ministers, it seems, are a bunch of Gerald Fords. Like the American president, who could not walk and chew gum at the same time, they cannot, apparently, cope with Parliament's deliberations while dealing with the country's economic troubles and the challenge of hosting the Winter Olympic games. This was the argument put forward by the spokesman for Stephen Harper, the Conservative prime minister..." Actually, that's much too kind. Simple Stevie can't walk or chew gum separately, much less simultaneously.

And that's why your humble scribe is hanging her head, face in hand, and shaking it...at the same time.

Barrick Gold disgraces Canada in Chile, too

Part II of a program I posted here yesterday.

This episode takes us to the Atacama Desert of Chile, the driest place on Earth, and the nearby Valle del Huasco, a small strip of green farmland in an arid region. We meet a local priest, who calls citizens to protest against Barrick via his radio show. He can see from the belfry of his church the damage the Pascua-Lama project has already done, and he can foresee what it's going to do in future. It doesn't take a geologist; just living there, watching the damage grow from day to day, is enough.

The Pascua-Lama project, on the Argentina-Chile border, is three times as big as the Veladero one in Argentina. It will affect three glaciers--Toro 1, Toro 2 and Esperanza. Barrick Gold proposes to move these glaciers to the Guanaco Glacier, but this is bullshit, as the second segment shows:

Since when can glaciers be moved by dump trucks? And does anyone take them seriously when water is so important to the extraction of gold? Those glaciers aren't going to be moved, they're going to be stripped.

A sensitive environment like the Andes cannot bear human meddling on such a scale. Five rivers originate from the glaciers in question, and people downstream depend on them for the crops that sustain their lives. Even in such an arid part of the Chilean Andes, there are people who farm for a living, and who don't want Barrick in their backyard--not only for the unsightliness of its open pits, but for the depletion of the glaciers that provide water for their crops, and for the poisoning of whatever water is left--again, with cyanide.

Barrick doesn't much care about this; they present themselves as "socially responsible", but their actions speak louder. They have no problem making a mockery of local indigenous people in the name of public relations. Even more disturbing, they don't have the environmental permits they are required to have by the government. I guess, if you can get the president of Argentina to veto a protective law passed unanimously by both houses of parliament, little things like permits, along with borders, don't matter anymore.

And neither do little things like local people.

'Tis a puzzlement...

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Bartcop asks a pertinent question:

You girls, between Charlie Sheen, the vulgar Pigboy, Eldrick or Chris Brown, who'd you least like to date?

Oh lord, that IS a hard one. All of them are so repugnant in their respective ways:

Charlie Sheen's track record is just bad all around. How many failed marriages does this make? And how many addictive demons that he's obviously not handling? One would have to be crazy even to contemplate dating him. But at least he's not too hard on the eyes, and he IS funny. When he's not roaring away on booze and whatever, of course.

Rush Limbaugh is so repulsive I wouldn't let him within a mile of me. He's Charlie Sheen without the looks OR the talent. He has only one redeeming trait: He's not known to be violent. At least not physically. But his general worldview more than makes up for that. And really, who wants to put up with a guy who holds all women, even beautiful ones, in contempt--much less have sex with an obviously underwhelming specimen like him?

Tiger Woods may not be ugly or violent, and maybe he's not known for putting women down on the air, either--but it's pretty clear to me that something's doing on the drugs front with him, too. And of all four, he is the man most likely to infect a woman with a disease she would be ashamed to take to a doctor. Maybe one that would even kill her. Srsly--in all his exploits, do you recall ANY of the women saying he used condoms? That's some frightening shit right there.

That leaves Chris Brown. I saw the pictures of what he did to Rihanna. You couldn't NOT see the pictures, because they were just absolutely everywhere. And he did that before his twentieth birthday. The earlier they start, the less likely they are to stop. In terms of bad behavioral patterns, he's therefore streets ahead of the rest.

Chris Brown "wins", if you can call it that.

Once more, inevitability happens...

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Hey, if money can say "In God We Trust", then surely a credit card can feature the Almighty Ceiling Cat! After all, She watches you when you masturbate...

January 6, 2010

Short 'n' Stubby: Three Kings Day edition

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It's Epiphany for those on the Gregorian Calendar, Christmas for those on the Julian. Happy whatever--here's what's epiphed for me today:

Carlos in DC has seen the movie Avatar, and relates it to what's going on all over Latin America right now. I hadn't planned to see it, but now I admit I'm curious.

El Duderino's back, and sounding a mite hung over. Musta been one helluva party down there in Bolivia...

Eva Golinger's on ContraGolpe, exposing a nasty CIA front company. Video in Spanish, Eva in Gringo. (Kidding!)

Honduras' putschist general (and car thief in chief) is so busted--or will be soon, unless he flees the country. And yes, it's for unlawfully ousting an elected leader. What do you bet he winds up in either Miami or Lima?

Paul Wells has a novel idea for how to defeat another putschist, bullyboy Harpo: Donate $10 to your party of choice, which of course is ANYBODY BUT THE CONS. Obvious upside: Scares money-hungry Tories shitless. Obvious downside: That money is most likely to wind up in the hands of money-hungry "consultants". Who are more often than not Tories themselves. My humble (and frankly, better) suggestion: Protest early, protest often. Keep their feet to the fire. It doesn't take $10 to let 'em know you're pissed.

The DC Holocaust Museum murderer has died in jail, awaiting trial. Expect cries of martyrdom from all the usual slimy quarters. A fitting memorial would be to take down his loathsome website--I recently learned from this movie that the worst fate, according to Jews, is to go down unremembered when you die. Let's condemn this mo-fo to that, please.

Barrick Gold shames Canada in Argentina

I just happened across this video (in Spanish) today. It was so shocking that I had to view it twice to be sure I had heard everything correctly:

This is Part I of the report, called "Glaciers: The First Veto". It's from an Argentine news show called "Telenoche Investigates", which aired on December 17. In it, we see how vital the Andean glaciers are to Argentina, and how fragile they are in turn, thanks to global warming. These glaciers are not just a pretty white patch of ice on top of mountains; they're a source of water to lands that would otherwise be desert. Thanks to these glaciers, the western regions of Argentina can be irrigated and farmed. The wines of Mendoza, in particular, depend on the glaciers; without them, no grapes would grow. Local people depend heavily on these glaciers for their well-being. And because of the variability of snowfalls--heavy some years, light in others--Argentine climatologists, agronomists and geophysicists all monitor the glaciers very closely. Whatever happens to the glaciers affects everybody and everything for hundreds of miles downstream. For some, it is literally the difference between survival and death.

For this reason, the Argentine parliament unanimously voted to protect the glaciers in 2008. Both houses passed a radical bill that would declare the glaciers and nearby mountain areas off limits to mining. Yet the bill was vetoed at the highest level by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. What happened?

A powerful mining firm, based out of Toronto, is responsible for the veto. Barrick Gold, one of the largest gold miners in the world, pressured President Fernández to veto the anti-mining law. They saw two regions near the Chile-Argentina border, Veladero and Pascua-Lama, which were simply too full of gold and silver to resist. Never mind that local citizen power had previously forced Barrick to abandon a planned Argentine mine project in La Rioja province. Never mind that these regions are ecologically sensitive, being located near the Guanaco Glacier (and several other, smaller ones). Never mind that several regional governors protested the high risk of water pollution and glacier depletion. Barrick wanted to mine, and Barrick got its way. It overrode the Argentine senate and house of deputies, not to mention the will of an entire people, and essentially stuck the president in its vest pocket. And to make sure that no pesky ministers tripped them up, they sent out thugs to threaten a former minister of the environment. Romina Picolotti, who was expelled from the government, tells how she received death threats, and threats against her children. Whom does she blame for these mysterious menaces? Who else but Barrick. The threats followed hot on the heels of her denunciations of Barrick's polluting activities in the Argentine parliament!

But Picolotti has addressed another parliament as well, one with the power to leash Barrick if it wanted to. The Canadian government has been receiving wave after wave of complaints, and not just from Argentina. Canadians are well aware of what Barrick is doing, and are indignant that it is being allowed to continue using our money to fund these projects which not only endanger the very existence of sensitive Andean glaciers, but also to pollute important watersheds with cyanide solution (the waste products of gold extraction; you can read more about that process here.) Canadians know that this probably wouldn't have been allowed here (for obvious reasons), so why in Argentina? And why would one company's bottom line be more important than the well-being of the citizens not only of Argentina, but in the case of the Pascua-Lama project, neighboring Chile as well?

Barrick would no doubt argue that its projects generate jobs and income, and while that may be true for a few, the majority of those adversely affected by its operations see no benefit whatsoever from the gold mines. To be frank, Barrick just does does not have the power that the glaciers do to sustain people's lives. The majority get nothing from Barrick's presence in the region. They receive no jobs, no housing, no income and no social programs. Barrick doesn't feed, clothe or house them, nor does it provide them doctors, nor does it send their children (the same whom they threatened, in the case of former environment minister Picolotti) to school. They probably wouldn't receive any compensation if worse came to worst, either, and one of the dams holding the cyanide pools were to rupture, spilling its highly toxic contents into local rivers and groundwater aquifers. Most likely, the Barrick projects in Argentina would enjoy the same impunity as Union Carbide did in Bhopal, India during the 1980s.

After all, they know how to corrupt a government and bend it to their will.

The second installment of this program will appear here tomorrow.

Because Jeebus loves Teh Stoopid

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At this rate, why send them to school at all?

"Oh noes, they might actually LEARN something..."

January 5, 2010

Venezuela: Commie pinko national studio releases award-worthy film

And here's a sample of it:

That's "Zamora: Free Lands and Men", by Román Chalbaud, a Venezuelan fimmaker. Produced by the national studio, Villa del Cine. And a finalist for the Goya Prize.

Ezequiel Zamora is a 19th-century hero of liberation in Venezuela, one who continued the battle Simón Bolívar began, and one of the "three roots" of Bolivarian ideology as propounded by none other than Hugo Chávez (the other two being Bolívar and his friend/mentor, Simón Rodríguez). His rallying cry, as you can hear in the clip above, is "Tierras y hombres libres"--free lands and men.

Zamora's name is also attached to a Venezuelan peasant front dedicated to reclaiming unused arable lands stolen by oligarchs, and farming them collectively, as in the olden days. They in turn are part of a larger movement toward food sovereignty and self-sufficiency in Venezuela, which until recently had to import as much as 80 percent of its food--not because it lacked arable land or willing workers, but because of all the land grabbing by big owners who did nothing useful with it. Those who wanted to farm were shoved out, forced to either occupy inhospitable lands, or else emigrate to the cities, where they ended up in crowded, miserable slums.

Even today, the war Zamora fought for "free lands and men" is not over, as peasants are still being slaughtered by big land-owners, with the aid of imported Colombian paramilitaries--and in this context we can see why Chavecito considers that the biggest immediate menace to Venezuela hails from Colombia. Those paras are a big part of the problem, and they are more than happy to serve as mercenaries to anyone who can afford them. And who better than the big landowners, who stand to lose what they or their ancestors stole to the very popular land reform programs of you-know-who?

But what am I saying? Everyone knows Chavecito's just a crazy commie pinko, right? And this film is just more commie propaganda (portraying events that were still unfolding while Marx was busy in Europe, penning his manifesto)...right? Right?

(H/t Ceti Alpha, here.)

Epic Inevitability WIN!

Between Facebook and Failblog, it was only a matter of time before Failbooking entered the cyberlexicon. Now that time has come, and there's a Failbooking site, dedicated entirely to epic fails in Facebook screenshots. And here's a perfect example of what they're looking for to fill it:

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LOL--I like you, Hannah, whoever you are.

If you have something this good...er, bad...er, Epic Fail Win...you can send it here.

Teh Heterostoopid: Let's hope Daddy can't do the math

...because someone who captioned this news photo included a rather inconvenient factoid:

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And now we know why so many military marriages break up after the soldier gets back from Iraq, don't we, kids?

(Failing that--let's hope this one was an in-vitro pregnancy.)

January 4, 2010

A Bolivarian communiqué from Holland

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The Bolivarian Circle of Holland expresses its concern over US bases in Curaçao--ostensibly for combatting drug production and smuggling, but plainly with other uses, especially since the Fourth Fleet has been mobilized by Dubya (and not recalled by Obama!) It should also be noted that Venezuela has been doing a much better job of drug interception within its own borders and waters than it ever did when the DEA was in country, US complaints to the contrary notwithstanding. Report from Aporrea:

The Bolivarian Circle of Holland shares the concern of President Hugo Chávez regarding the mobilization of US troops in Colombia and the rest of Latin America.

Today it was announced that the Dutch Antilles were preparing for increased military support to the United States. Curaçao already has US military bases under an anti-drug treaty in the region; a project which has not attained its objectives because it has not reduced the production of drugs, nor the cultivation of raw materials of drug production, nor drug smuggling.

This union between Curaçao, Holland and the United States only serves to increase imperialist war power in the region, creating a menace to progressive governments who are eradicating social injustice.

We are tremendously worried by this new menace. Regional peace is in danger, thanks to the irrational mobilization of US troops under the complicity of its allies.

The influence of the United States in military dictatorships of the past century was first discounted by the media and the allies of those dictatorships. History demands that the truth be told. US support for dictators was real. That fact was established even by the functionaries of the US itself from that period.

The beginning of the 21st century brings new threats of interference by the government of the United States. The 2002 coup d'état in Venezuela is an example of this. The installation of a civilian-military dictatorship in Honduras is another example of this interference. And the internationally-rejected blockade of Cuba is, as well, another show of imperialist interference by the United States in Latin America.

We add ourselves to the call for peace by President Hugo Chávez. We call on the government of Holland to choose peace and not war.

We also call on the European Parliament to begin an investigation into the military mobilization by US troops on the Latin American continent.

We call on the friends of the Bolivarian process to defend this socialist revolution, as well as mobilize for peace in Latin America.

"Let us unite and be invincible"--Simón Bolívar

Translation mine.

This entry, BTW, marks the first new category I've added to this blog for the New Year. It's called Going Dutch, and it will be about all things from the Netherlands, whether cheesy or (as in this case) patently not. I've noticed from my ClustrMap that I have quite a few readers from there, so let's hope they enjoy this new category.

Short 'n' Stubby: New year, new lynx

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Awwww...isn't that a cute kitty?

Project Censored has released its annual list of 25 stories that should have made major news, but didn't. Crapitalism, corruption and repression are the themes de l'année. Ecuador also made the list twice: Once for declaring that nature has rights, and once for telling foreign crapital to go screw. North America and Europe, take note!

Marianne Williamson hits the nail on the head when it comes to voter disappointment with the Dems and their "moderation". Hey Barack, that's NOT "change you can believe in"!

Looking for tips on "greener" living in these recessionary times? Just ask an old-timer.

Looking for your G-spot, ladies? Some researchers say don't bother. I say, Whatever floats yer boat...

A German anti-Nazi hero and founding member of the Kreisau Circle has died. RIP, Freya Von Moltke.

Eva Golinger does it again, exposing some CIA agents recently killed in Afghanistan.

The Robertos sing Happy Birthday to Teochorro. En español.

Glamour has some sound advice for those who've resolved to get healthy this year: Don't lose sleep over your weight; get more sleep and you'll lose the weight. Arianna Huffington concurs, proclaiming sleep to be a feminist issue. I haven't made any resolutions, but I'm all for feminism and anything else that does a body good, so I'll toast to that...with some melatonin, a cup of valerian tea and a round of zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

(And besides, what better time of year to hibernate?)

Farewell, Lhasa...

This morning, I was saddened to learn (via DAMMIT JANET!) that Lhasa de Sela has died of breast cancer.

For those who don't know who she is, she's the closest thing Canada has ever had to its own Mercedes Sosa (who also, sadly, passed away recently.) In fact, she covered a Fito Páez song that "La Negra" Sosa also did, "Yo vengo a ofrecer mi corazón". This cover was used to great effect in the documentary The Take, by Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis, about the struggle of the occupied-factories movement in Argentina. That was my first contact with that haunting voice.

Here's one of her last pieces, which feels hauntingly prescient now:

Sleep well, Lhasa. You are loved and missed.

January 3, 2010

Economics for Dummies: Amen!

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And when you consider that the man's a safety expert, you know it's true. How many CEOs do you know who pay more than cursory attention when the flight attendants do their little takeoff spiel, anyway?

And yet, shockingly, there are people just like him on food stamps. And we place our lives in their hands whenever we fly.

No, I don't get it either.

I hold MY malt liquor better than a panda, too.

And I don't eat, shoot and leave, either.

Music for a Sunday: Pilot

Underappreciated Canadian talent? We haz it...

One of my all-time faves of his. Whimsical, poignant, and full of questions still unanswered as to whether we will survive our own worst innovations. Re-hearing it recently for the first time since high school, I finally realized what it was about. The Manhattan Project and the bombing of Hiroshima. Of course! What bigger fire would we rely on a pilot to deliver us from?

January 2, 2010

Wankers of the Week: Crappy New Year Edition

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Happy Hangover Day! How's everyone's head? Still ringing? Well, now you know what they mean by "ringing in the New Year", eh?

Heh. At least the party's over, so there's nothing left to poop. (Other than the obvious.)

Meanwhile, here's who fucked your Aunt Bina's shit right up from last year into this...and who she's dumping on in return:

1. Mike Fucking Gallagher. Instead of racial or ethnic profiling of criminals, as Mikey-poo recommends, how about STUPIDITY profiling? This wingnut is so fucking dumb, he ought to be behind bars, preferably in solitary--and better still, incommunicado. Failing that, though, I'd like to see him tossed in a large holding cell with a whole lot of wrongfully-accused Muslims who are all too aware of the damage his crapaganda is doing in terms of their innocence. How long do you think he'd last?

2. Karl Fucking Rove. Watch out, ladies--Dubya's old pal Turdblossom just got a divorce, he hit on Randy Quaid's wife, AND he's got a self-important memoir coming out soon. I know you're all just horripilating in anticipation of what this pasty right-wing doughball is gonna do next!

3. Earl Fucking Woods. Yes, even from beyond the grave, this one's an unequivocal wanker. Not only did his multiple affairs scar his son for life, now Tiger's following his bad advice and walking in the old man's straying footsteps--and scarring his own kids for life. Way to go, Grandpa, you dearly departed douche! At this rate, there will be fucked-up Woods kids shambling through life until the end of fucking time.

4. Ivana Fucking Trump. Someone please get Da Donald to buy this woman her own LearJet so no one else will have to put up with her on an already stressful scheduled flight. Kthxbai.

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5. Jim Fucking DeMint. Now we know who to blame for that Christmas Day bomber-wannabe getting on that jet he wasn't supposed to be on. Seems that Jimbo thinks transportation safety is less important than union busting. Yeah, I bet the whole world feels so much safer knowing that underpaid, undertrained, disposable human beings are the ones watching al-Qaida for us, Jim. Viva fucking capitalism, goddamn it!

PS: And viva the racist blocking of qualified nominees, too.

6. Fucking "Bunny" from Parsons, Kansas. Yeah, go ahead and take your damn tree down out of spite over imaginary "death panels". You'd do better to go into a Big Insurance head office and take THEIR tree down, you stupid twat.

7. Tucker Fucking Carlson. Just what the world needs: one more fucking 'winger "news" website. Because the fucking conservative media's just not overcrowded enough with fucking conservatives. And because snotty, superannuated fratboys are just God's gift to us all.

8. George W. Fucking Bush. Yes, even out of power, this wanker somehow manages to fuck up an entire decade. Fittingly, it's terrorism all over again. Even more fittingly, it's BLOWBACK. Merry Christmas, USA--how about a little plane-bombing to fuck up your travel plans and everyone else's in the entire fucking WORLD?

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9. Orly Fucking Taitz. Lady, there's a name for what you're doing. It's called INCITING TERRORISM. It's also called MAKING AN ASS OF YOURSELF. Stop it and shut the fuck up!

10. Peter Fucking King. 100% of Islamic terrorists are Muslims? No fucking shit, Sherlock. But Muslims do not comprise 100% of terrorists, period. Also, the vast majority of the world's billion-plus Muslims have no interest in terrorism and no sympathy for those who perpetrate it. And your biggest domestic terrorism problem is still all those white supremacists, neo-Nazis, Michigan militia lard-asses, Aryan Nations, KKK, gun nuts, doctor-killers, teabaggers, birthers and other assorted wingnut wankers who no doubt heartily agree with you that all Muslims are terrorists. The problem is not "too much political correctness", it's too much political ignorance--like yours, you wanker!

11. George Fucking LeMieux. Self-important blowhard much? Helms-Burton is NOT about "commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law". It is a concerted effort to starve out the Cuban people so that their country can be annexed like another Puerto Rico--or reconverted into the mafia bordello of the Caribbean. And if you're going to talk about "leaders in nations that seek to destabilize the region", better look longer and harder at your own--they're responsible for more of it than anybody else, starting with the Monroe Doctrine.

12. Mary Fucking O'Grady. Clearly, she's caught Teh Paranoid from El Narco. That's what comes of masturbating together!

13. Stephen Fucking Harper. For the second time in a year, our petulant PM has prorogued Parliament for no good cause or plausible reason--other than, maybe, his own well-deserved crappy reputation following him around like a sack of shit. What's the matter, Stevie--afraid of a little thing called DEMOCRACY? (PS: What Heather said.)

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14. Manfred Fucking Reyes Villa. Another wanker who's not only afraid of democracy, he's also afraid of the cops (and the embezzlement charges we just know they're dying to lay on him). So afraid, in fact, that he buggered off all the way from Bolivia...to Washington, DC. Which makes absolutely no sense until you remember that that's where his puppetmasters live.

15. Ricardo Fucking Urbina. Thanks to this less-than-just judge, Blackwater just got off the hook for what it did in Iraq. There are no words for the outrage.

16. Rush Fucking Limbaugh. Of course the Pigman got the best possible care "right here in the United States of America." It's because he was in "socialist" Hawaii! Also, it's because he could afford the best no matter where he went. If he had to go where most of his dittoheads go when they get chest pains, he might not be so sanguine about it all. And of course he wasn't having a heart attack, either--there's nothing in there. Duh!

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17. All the fucking idiots in the media who said this is the end of the decade. Not quite, numbnuts. Since there's no such thing as the Year Zero, we have to count from the start of Year One. That means this is actually just the end of nine years into the new millennium, not ten. The real new decade doesn't start till 2011. So, kiddies, if you're looking forward to a Dickweeds of the Decade post on this blog, you're just gonna have to wait till the end of December. (Yep, I'm a mean, stickly bastardette that way.)

18. All the fucking banks and credit card companies who decided to celebrate the bogus recovery and get the jump on future rules with some very real and present consumer gouging. Too big to fail? Yeah, now we see how they got that way, and also why they're not worth rescuing with even a penny slug from taxpayers. What a way to treat the people who made them so goddamned profitable. There just aren't enough fuck-yous to go around, are there? (But thanks anyway, Courtney Love.)

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And finally, this fucking lamer from Peru, who came late to my party and puked all over himself while he was aiming for me. Sure must suck to be you, dude...you are defending the worst possible president. You're gonna have to do a lot more bending-over and ankle-grabbing down there in Lima next year, I can see that much in my magic crystal ball.

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BTW, I cleaned your vomit-stained shirt for you. And your clock.

Good night, and Crappy New Year!!!

Economics for Dummies: Thanks for NOTHING, Dubya!

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Finally, the WaHoPo decided to tell the awful truth about the first nine years of the Decade from Hell.

My big question is, WHERE THE HELL WERE THEY WHEN THE US ECONOMY WAS BEING RIGGED TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN?

I couldn't agree more

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Heh heh.

January 1, 2010

Of coca, cola, and "collas"

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Aymara women with a pile of dried coca leaves. If these women are farmers, odds are that they chew them while they work, to stave off hunger, thirst and altitude sickness.

Who knew coca was so versatile? The indigenous, or "collas", that's who. And now they're going to give Coke a run for its money--with, among other things, a new soda-pop:

In an obvious play on words, the Bolivian cocaleros have declared war on the the most popular fizzy drink in the world. Yesterday the vice-minister for coca, Jerónimo Meneses, presented Coca-Colla, a new carbonated energy drink made from the "sacred leaf" of the Andes cultivated in the Chapare region.

There, where Evo Morales launched his career as a union leader and later politician more than two decades ago, you will find the majority of the coca declared illegal under Law 1008, in place since the 1980s.

The initiative was proposed by the campesinos. In case there isn't enough in common with the syrup created in 1885 by John Pemberton, the Coca-Colla bottle will have a red label and contain a dark, almost black liquid.

Even though the Coca-Cola Company says it removed coca from the formula in 1929, the Internet is rife with denuciations that "Coca-Cola is still buying coca in Peru."

Even though minister Meneses has already shown the bottle to the press, the authorities admit that the name of the product could be changed.

"It started as a private initiative to produce a coca-based energy drink, but as a state we are interested in the industrialization of the coca," said vice-minister of rural development Víctor Hugo Vázquez. He emphasized various private initiatives already existing in Bolivia, producing teas, syrups, toothpastes, liquors, candies and even cakes made from coca. In fact, one Italian restaurant in La Paz serves coca spaghetti, made from a mixture of wheat flour and "millennial" coca-leaf flour.

The quantity of coca used legally is part of the controversy, which may be resolved by the results of the Integral Study of the Coca Leaf and the national inquiry into the legal use and consumption of the herb, launched in 2009 with the support of the European Union. Not all the cocaleros support an increased level of cultivation; the "legals" do not want the price to drop with increased availability of the herb.

With the newly-elected Congress in favor, the government proposes to increase legal coca-growing to 20,000 hectares, in order to include the campesinos of the Chapare, social base of Evo Morales, in legal cultivation.

Before the Spanish conquest, the coca was part of Andean rituals. After colonization, it became part of the mining economy; chewing permitted workers to stay on their feet in the dangerous shafts, hundreds of metres below ground, and not even the protestations of the Catholic church against the "devil's leaf" were successful in gaining prohibition of it.

Translation mine.

My compañeros have already beaten me to the story, but I thought I'd translate this piece to show a bit more context. And also to add some facts you might not have known about coca.

For one thing, it's true that there is still coca in Coca-Cola. The leaf is still used to provide an extract for flavoring the drink. There is no cocaine, however, since anti-drug legislation prohibited it. But there used to be--in varying amounts, according to Snopes.com. The soda was prepared as a fountain beverage in the early days, meaning that variable quantities of flavoring syrup went into a glass of seltzer water. You might have gotten a very slight cocaine kick from your glass of Coke, or nearly none, at that rate. It would have been indistinguishable in any case from the caffeine buzz you get from the kola nut, which is also still an ingredient to this day. It is very unlikely that anyone would have become a drug addict that way, unless they guzzled the syrup undiluted. And even then, chances are that they'd have gotten a sugary stomach-ache rather than much of a buzz.

Addicts typically injected their cocaine when Coca-Cola was new on the market; later, they rubbed it on their gums or snorted it; later still, with the advent of the CIA's coke importation and crack sales, they began smoking a particularly cheap, nasty form of it as well. There are no recorded cases of addicts ever becoming hooked through simple consumption of a Coke, however; the concentration of the drug would have been much too low.

Cocaine abuse has also taken place in classic crime literature. Back in his day, using cocaine recreationally was not yet illegal, and known cases of cocaine dependence were few, but Sir Arthur Conan Doyle apparently foresaw the dangers of addiction (probably as a result of reading Sigmund Freud, if not from using it himself, as Freud also did). There is even a passage in which Dr. Watson warns his friend against the dangers of using drugs to "improve" his mental acuity.

And yes, cocaine is legal for medical use to this day. There are international conventions in place to prevent cocaine produced for medical usage from being diverted onto the streets. Obviously, thanks to stringent quality controls, it's not produced with as much pollution or toxic crap as the illegal kind, which really befouls the jungles where it's made. It is a good topical anesthetic, and as it is a vasoconstrictor, it also impedes excess bleeding. If you've ever had stitches and the nurse swabbed you with a clear liquid to numb the skin before the doctor took needle and thread to you, you may have been dosed with a small amount of cocaine. It would not be enough to give a buzz or "hook" you, but it's definitely enough to make the procedure quite painless. Cocaine solution is also used to soak cotton pads and swabs for nose, mouth and throat surgeries, again to prevent excess bleeding (which can cause choking) and to ease pain.

Novocaine, a chemical relative, is still widely used by dentists for "freezing". And cocaine's other chemical cousins are found in over-the-counter topical creams and sprays, usually to calm itchy bug bites and nasty rashes. If the active ingredient ends in -caine, you've been exposed to one of coke's relatives. The difference, though, is that benzocaine and lidocaine sold in those strengths are not "buzzy". They are felt merely as "soothing". So don't bother trying to get high inhaling the contents of an aerosol can of benzocaine spray, 'kay?

Coca in its natural state is not enough to give a mosquito a buzz, either. There is so little alkaloid in fresh or dried unprocessed coca that tonnes of it are needed to make just a kilo of cocaine. And believe me, you don't want to know just how much, and how many, polluting nasty chemicals go into the making of that stuff. (How about a snootful of chlorine, acid and kerosene--sounds appealing, eh?)

The sacred leaf is, however, an effective suppressant of hunger, thirst and exhaustion. And whether chewed plain, or with a small pinch of powdered lime made from burnt, crushed seashells, or brewed as tea, it's the only remedy that really works for high-altitude sickness. You can see why the indigenous peoples of the Andes, from Colombia right down to Chile, have used it for as far back as any of their histories go. It makes farming at higher altitudes possible--something it would not have been if not for coca. Use of lime makes coca work better, which may be one reason why the indigenous peoples of Bolivia remain hopeful that one day, their country will again have access to the sea--a ready source of that helpful coca-boosting mineral.

But again, this is not about being stoned all the time. At altitude, coca leaf enables people to live and work normally. Without it, they'd all have whanging headaches and be in a constant state of exhaustion. Is that much human suffering really worth the approval of the ignorant moralists of the northern global elite?

Medical studies have found coca-chewing to be harmless and even nutritionally beneficial, as coca is a good source of many vitamins and minerals--a boon, in other words, to impoverished natives, who are at risk of malnutrition if deprived of access to it. Some studies even suggest, ironically, that coca tea can help wean addicts off not only cocaine, but many other drugs!

I would really like to see more medical studies done to determine if coca also elevates oxygenation of the blood at altitude; I wouldn't be a bit surprised if it did, as this study suggests. What I do know is that it makes symptoms of altitude sickness go away. And seeing as even Pope John Paul II was not averse to drinking several cups of coca tea for that purpose on his trips to Bolivia, the question of whether this medicinal use is moral should now be considered settled, once and for all, in favor of coca.

I have yet to find a picture of the bottle for Coca-Colla (the Bolivian drink) on the ABI site, and I suspect it will undergo a name/packaging change before it hits store shelves, so as to avoid lawsuits from the Coca-Cola Co. I suspect that the main risk associated with it will be the same that troubles Coca-Cola, however--too much sugar and caffeine.

But I wouldn't worry about cocaine in the bottles--and in fact, I'd be relieved that this industrial use, like the coca-flour pastries and spaghetti, puts the leaf to safe and healthy use, preventing its being processed by the tonne into that nasty white gringo nose-powder or those ghetto-wrecking crack rocks that we all know only too well.

Or, as the "collas" like to say, Coca no es cocaina.

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Feliz Año NuEVO!!!

Happy New Year! And because you can't say "Feliz Año Nuevo" without saying "Evo"...well...

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Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you the King of the Andes?

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And not only does he look good in shorts, he can also really keep his eye on the ball.

The Nobel committee may have snubbed him, but he's still man of the year from where I sit.

Prospero Evo, everyone!