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December 30, 2010

Espionage Act: a muzzle for dissent, says Robert Meeropol

Video in two parts; click through for the second.

Democracy Now interviews Robert Meeropol, the younger of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg's two sons, who criticizes the forthcoming prosecution of Julian Assange under the same 1917 Espionage Act that resulted in the senseless deaths of his parents.

I say "senseless" because the espionage trial of the Rosenbergs was clearly a show trial, meant to menace US communists and silence them as the McCarthyite hysteria swept over the country. A previously legal and commonplace political viewpoint would eventually be criminalized; a travesty in a country whose citizens pride themselves on their freedom. I also say "senseless" because the real spy in the case--Ethel's brother, David Greenglass, who worked as a machinist on the "Fat Man" plutonium bomb at Los Alamos and is the source of the secret materials that Ethel and Julius were executed for passing along--testified against his own flesh and blood, and went free. And I also say "senseless" because, ultimately, the materials passed on by Julius Rosenberg to the Soviets were of little worth to them. They already had their own nuclear-weapons program well underway, and the crude drawings of David Greenglass (which carried few technical specifics and were not to scale) were not an infallible recipe for a plutonium bomb. At most, those drawings simply showed them how the Los Alamos scientists had constructed the implosion lenses for the device. Today, in fact, all the information that David Greenglass took down and Julius Rosenberg passed along is readily available to the public in many sources; the best is Richard Rhodes's book, The Making of the Atomic Bomb.

The Rosenberg boys were adopted shortly before their parents' execution by Abel Meeropol and his wife. They took their adoptive parents' surname as protection against the media-driven lynching of anyone unfortunate enough to be related--or simply called Rosenberg. Meeropol is an interesting personage in his own right; he is the author of this song, made famous by Billie Holliday:

An anti-lynching, anti-racist song, the first big hit of its kind, and considered the most influential song of the 20th century. "I wrote 'Strange Fruit'," said Meeropol, "because I hate lynching, and I hate injustice, and I hate the people who perpetuate it." Abel Meeropol was, like the Rosenbergs, a communist, a strong advocate of civil rights, and an anti-fascist. He undoubtedly taught his adopted sons to stand up for what was right, and they do so to this day--denouncing the same senseless hypocrisy that resulted in the deaths of their parents.

December 29, 2010

Oh gag me, part deuxième

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Can you believe this? Even in death, Carlos Andrés Pérez is the stuff of bad soap opera. Courtesy of the indefatigable Cort G., this landed in my e-mail today:

MIAMI (AP) -- A judge has delayed the burial of former Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez amid a family feud over his final resting place.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Gerald Hubbart issued an order late Tuesday to keep a funeral home from burying Perez as planned Wednesday.

His first wife, Blanca Perez, wants him buried in Venezuela. She maintains that she has the right to decide because, while the two were separated, they were never legally divorced. She also claims Perez left no written instructions regarding his remains.

Perez's longtime mistress and secretary, Cecilia Matos, and their two daughters had planned to bury him in Miami, where they live, after a Mass Wednesday. Matos is frequently identified as Perez's current wife, but it is not clear if they were married.

She and her daughters have vowed they will not bring Perez's remains back to Venezuela until President Hugo Chavez, who led a 1992 coup attempt against him, leaves office.

Hubbart did not immediately schedule another hearing, but he granted Blanca Perez's request to prevent the funeral home from taking any action to bury or otherwise dispose of the body until the dispute is settled.

Juan C. Antunez and Juan Jose Delgado, appointed to handle the matter on Blanca Perez's behalf, declined to comment Wednesday.

Perez's family in Venezuela wants him buried there next to his daughter Thais, who died 15 years ago.

Another daughter in Venezuela, Carolina Perez, told The Associated Press she found out about her father's death from Twitter and her family was never consulted about the burial. She maintains that her mother, Blanca Perez, should be the one to decide what happens to her father's remains.

"They're still married, and the law is very clear in Venezuela and in the United States: When the person dies, the one who has the right to reclaim the body is the spouse, and we exercised that right," she said.

Diego Arria, a close Perez ally and his former U.N. ambassador, said both sides have expressed willingness to resolve the situation and he does not believe the dispute will turn into an extended court battle.

He said lawyers for Perez's relatives in Miami and Caracas are discussing the matter and that both sides should agree on when the ex-president's body are to be taken to Venezuela.

Oh my. This is embarrassing. In my first entry on CAP's death I translated "separated" as "divorced", assuming that that had taken place. It hadn't. Either CAP couldn't be bothered, or he was so arch-Catholic and hypocritical that he didn't dare offend the churchmen who tend to side with Venezuela's oligarchy on all issues anyway. Maybe he really was expecting to be called back to the presidency when Chavecito was overthrown!

Plus, seeing as CAP left no burial instructions, it seems very likely that he left no will either. Meaning, more catfights in court to come. Any way you slice it, we have yet another CAP scandal!

Of course, I fully expect the oppos to somehow try to spin this politically as "Chávez's fault". After all, he "drove" CAP into "exile"...only, of course, that happened while the young, yet-to-be-elected Chavecito was still in Yare Prison for leading an insurrection against CAP (who was impeached during the same period), so of course they can't. Chavecito has already said that the Pérez family has a right to bring his remains back to Venezuela for burial, so there's certainly no way they can rightly blame him for this tangle. But it will be entertaining to watch the fireworks anyway.

Popcorn, anyone?

December 8, 2010

In which we "smear" Julian Assange's accuser

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Yesterday, Julian Assange turned himself in to British authorities for extradition to Sweden, to face a number of sexual-assault charges. Since it's for the court to determine whether or not he actually is guilty as charged, let's wait to see how that shakes out. Meanwhile, I'll address some things that started nagging at me as soon as the first feminist analyses of the situation started cropping up on Twitter yesterday.

It's pretty clear to me that battle lines are being drawn in this whole kerfuffle. The discourse has shifted from Wikileaks and Cablegate to Winkyleaks and Condomgate. And it's clear, too, that women are being used--and abused--atrociously here. No, I'm not talking about Julian Assange and what he's alleged to have done to those two women. I'm talking about feminists as a whole; we are being made into inadvertent pawns in the battle over freedom of information. And it seems to me that we're being expected to turn out against Assange--and by extension, against Wikileaks.

I've noted here before that condomless sex, while prosecutable, is not a jailing offence in Sweden; you pay a fine of a few hundred dollars, and that's it. But this case is strange, owing to the high international profile of the accused: the sex charges were pressed months ago, then dropped, and then reinstated. Awfully inconsistent prosecution for an offence generally remedied by a simple fine! And weirdest of all, why is the United States now looking to get involved, when none of the alleged offences happened on their soil? It seems obvious to me that this is all an effort to entrap the man who, for better or worse, is the public face of the Wikileaks organization.

But no, we feminists aren't supposed to remember all that, much less treat it as relevant to the case against Julian Assange. We're supposed to be righteously indignant at his obvious arrogance, and glad that Interpol was mobilized to catch an accused rapist, and deliver the douchebag to Sweden to be held without bail. Pending his extradition to the US, of course; the world's policeman and all-Amurrican good guy, natch.

But if this is how we're supposed to react as feminists, it is utterly ridiculous and an insult to our wits. As Naomi Wolf has humorously noted, this is a very strange and heavy-handed use of the legal remedies fought for--and, in Sweden, won by feminism:

I see that Julian Assange is accused of having consensual sex with two women, in one case using a condom that broke. I understand, from the alleged victims' complaints to the media, that Assange is also accused of texting and tweeting in the taxi on the way to one of the women's apartments while on a date, and, disgustingly enough, 'reading stories about himself online' in the cab.

Both alleged victims are also upset that he began dating a second woman while still being in a relationship with the first. (Of course, as a feminist, I am also pleased that the alleged victims are using feminist-inspired rhetoric and law to assuage what appears to be personal injured feelings. That's what our brave suffragette foremothers intended!).

Well, poor Naomi Wolf--who is serious about issues of rape and withdrawn consent--just can't catch a break for mocking a few of the many absurdities of this case. Other feminists were quick to pile onto her, accusing her of "trivializing rape". Instead of looking at the peculiarities of the Wikileaks timeline and admitting that this is a disproportionate response to a charge formerly considered too weak even to prosecute, they accused her of smearing the alleged victim of one of the alleged attacks.

But what if the alleged victim is not so innocent? What if the alleged attack is part of an elaborate set-up?

We already know that the more prominent woman in question, Anna Ardin, has some very interesting CIA ties. And we know that just around the time the first alleged rape occurred, she tweeted enthusiastically about Assange:

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I screen-capped those from here.

These tweets give no indication that anything untoward had happened. I ran them past my friend Anthony, who lives in Malmö, for a Swede's-eye view. Here's what he said:

The 8/14 tweet caught my attention; Anna wrote that Julian wanted to attend a crayfish party, so she wondered if there were any open seats that night or the following night. A few hours later, she wrote "Sitting outside at 2AM, freezing with the smartest people in the world, it's amazing!"

Ardin later deleted those tweets and locked down her blog.

But let's suppose for the sake of argument that you're convinced that Anna Ardin is just being smeared, and rape trivialized, and so on. The timing? Just a coincidence! The known CIA ties? How dare you play guilt-by-association! Rape is real, how dare "Naomi Effin' Wolf" make fun of it?

No one, least of all Naomi Wolf, is disputing that rape is real, or that victim-smearing is a dirty tactic, a re-victimization on no uncertain terms. What is being disputed here is the case against Julian Assange, which is pitifully weak and certainly doesn't warrant the involvement of Interpol. If it did, legions of human-rights abusers who used rape as a weapon of war would be behind bars by now, rotting deservedly away. You'd think Interpol could easily bust those bastards at Dyncorp, who openly bought child sex slaves in Bosnia and Afghanistan for the raping pleasure of their contractors. (That latter exposé, BTW, comes to the media courtesy of Wikileaks!)

Naomi Wolf was making fun not of rape, but of what is obviously an exceedingly stupid manhunt. And while her tone may be a bit too flip for some people's liking, she's not wrong to laugh at the transparent idiocy of it all. I do too, and so do plenty of other feminists who've been following the Wikileaks saga with interest. Oh, wouldn't it be lovely if Interpol DID chase down every dick who'd ever wronged us? I've got a couple of real lulus for them myself. Let's make a crayfish party out of this shit. You bring the wine, I'll bring the cheese. Share yer stories, girls!

And if that's not ludicrous enough, how about this? We are being asked to believe that two obviously strong women--Anna Ardin, a professed feminist who works for gender equity, and Sofia Wilen, with whom she banded together later to press charges, could not track down Julian Assange to ask him to get tested for STDs. So they were forced to press charges. They apparently had no trouble getting into his pants. So why would he suddenly be too difficult to simply meet for a coffee, like a civilized adult, to discuss blood tests? Gee, what a cad. Maybe he had something to hide?

According to the same Reuters account, Assange claims he had his cellphone turned off for fear that enemies would track him using its signal. Not an implausible reason, since he DOES have enemies in US intel circles, and if they can't track him through technology, ain't nobody can. But he was still in Sweden when the women were allegedly trying to reach him and just urge him to get tested. They could have waylaid him at his hotel, if it was really so urgent. How simple-minded do we have to be to believe that Anna Ardin's blogging about "thinking about some revenge over the last few days" can't be considered evidence that she was up to something more nefarious than simply trying to get him to a clinic?

Okay, you say, that does look bad, but that's still pretty weak. Her blog is now locked down, and it's very likely that she deleted any incriminating bits. Isn't there anything more definite? What about those alleged CIA ties you conspiracy kooks keep nattering on about?

Well, there we have a lot more to go on. A helluva lot.

Via Twitter, I found this article she'd written for the CIA-tied magazine she was working for. Here's Anthony again, translating:

GF's former columnist Anna Ardin has been in Cuba.

Getting to know Cuba is a great political experience and the first thing I would say is that as a foreigner you are extremely discriminated against and constantly pressed for money.

Tourists should always use the hard currency convertible pesos, that is "dollars", which they are called to avoid misunderstandings. All trade with the U.S. dollar was banned in stores in November. A convertible peso is pegged to the dollar and worth 26 Cuban pesos.

Prevented to meet Cubans

You cannot go with the same cheap buses that Cubans use, but must take the tourist taxis, which can cost 20 dollars while the local bus for the same route costs 40 cents of a Cuban peso. Another example is that it is very difficult to live with friends, you always have to pay for hotels or bed and breakfast. The system is almost similar to apartheid!

I'm locked out of the Cuban world and the Cubans are excluded from foreigners - not just financially! Cubans are prevented in many different ways from even visiting the main tourist sites. Foreigners' cars have red registration plates instead of yellow and need not - as the Cubans - to stop and pick up hitchhikers to fill empty seats. In Cuba health care and education are free since the revolution and the Communist takeover in 1959; there are few or no one starving or living on the streets and virtually no need to worry about violence and robbery. But the wages are extremely low.

The salary for the best paid, the police, is $30, a doctor earns about 23, a garbage man 19 and a housekeeper earns seven dollars a month. A beer or a soda costs a dollar, a bottle of oil 2.50, internet for one hour 6, a sports bag 15 and a trip to a neighboring country costs several hundred pesos. Although the prices for most things - except for certain raw materials for food, bus transportation and little else - is in U.S. dollars (that is convertible pesos), the workers get salary in Cuban pesos, which is not always possible to switch.

To survive on these wages seem to be impossible (despite the very minimum required being relatively inexpensive). To save up for a pair of shoes could take half a year, not to mention buying a television or a car, yet many Cubans have this - how? Well, since 1993, it is allowed for Cubans to hold hard currency.

Want to change money

So by drinking or to work with private tourism differs more and more from the crowd. The ones that are excluded from the life you can only live if you have dollars. In that perspective, it is no wonder that in every street corner you are stopped by a so-called jinetero (riders). He asks where you come from, if you want to change money, buy cigars, follow them home to their backyard restaurant or have them as a personal guide to buy them food and clothing. As a woman, you notice nothing of the female counterpart to these, las jineteras, which might more literally ride their tourists for a few days or weeks in exchange for food, clothing and shoes. Or they run around them in their nice cars or pay, to the jinetera or directly to her jineteros - the pimps.

Sex tourism is increasing. Tourism combined with the money that exile Cubans send home accounts for well over half of the currency revenues of the treasury. That the country is so dependent on something that there is not enough of for the whole population, which excludes many and forces people to flee is not sustainable. Cuba needs a new policy. The question is what?

Between Castro or the U.S.

The Social Democratic opposition - Corriente Socialista Democrática Cubana - are trying to show that there is an alternative between the only two clearly presented options, the extremes: that Castro and his gang govern Cuba or the United States does. In a second article I will write more about what the Social Democrats in Cuba think will happen when the now 78-year-old dictator Fidel Castro dies.

Now, this is a load of crapaganda. If you can't smell the CIA's cheap cologne on that, you're hopeless.

Anyone who's really been to Cuba will tell you that it's not as bad as articles like this lead you to believe. The locals are not quarantined from you, or you from them, unless there's some good reason. Working for a CIA-connected crapaganda rag might well be a good reason for the authorities to confine you to your luxury tourist hotel room. But then, if poor Anna Ardin were really so confined, how would she "know" all those appalling details about how the poor oppressed Cubans really live? Unless, of course, she were simply being fed the dubious info by her CIA handlers, in which case she wouldn't even have to go to Cuba to "report" it; she could do it just as easily from home.

And that second-last bit really leapt out at me, too. Interesting focus on sex there for our sex-crimes complainant. Very typical CIA glurge, designed specifically to tweak our most sensitive feminist nerves: Look what that mean old dictator Fidel Castro is making those poor women do! Still more interesting is the lack of hard figures. She claims that prostitution revenues and remittances from "exiles" counts for more than half of the cash in the Cuban treasury. But without numbers and verifiable references to prove it, that all don't mean nuttin', honey.

Of course, it being a CIA rag, hard proof is not really required. Sensationalism is. And the article has that in spades. Just look at the language: "The system is almost similar to apartheid!"--the sky is falling! Oh noes!

Gee, you don't suppose someone who'd write such ghastly goop would have an ulterior motive regarding Julian Assange--whose organization just so happens to have uncovered a lot of embarrassing stuff from US embassies linked to various putsches in various countries allied to Cuba?

Nahhhh. Don't let's connect those dots. Let's just stick to our simple-minded pre-gummed narratives and be good, outraged little bourgeois féministes, huffing at the hacker boogyman and hoping The Hague locks him up for war crimes. Let's accuse those who find odd dirt on Anna Ardin of smearing her, when in fact she seems to have done a fair job of muddying herself. No, no, we can't allow that; let's just view her as a plain and simple victim. And pretend all the Wikileaks stuff is what's extraneous, and that it's not, perhaps, Julian Assange who's really being smeared.

But this feminist can't pretend, and certainly can't ignore the blindingly obvious.

Wikileaks is shining an uncomfortably bright light on things the US doesn't want us to see, and how they are being perpetrated. It's shown incriminating footage of US helicopters firing on innocent Iraqis in Baghdad. It's exposed the way US embassies lie to the citizens of the countries where they are posted, and lie about them as well. Is it really so far-fetched to surmise that Anna Ardin, who lied about Cuba in a CIA rag, just might have been sent by the same CIA to take Julian Assange down, by whatever means necessary? Is it really a smear to demonstrate--not suggest, not insinuate, but DEMONSTRATE--that she is more than a little bit connected to them, just as they are connected to every US diplomatic installation and quite a few seemingly private corporations?

Again, let's look at the timeline.

The first big bombshell Wikileaks dropped was Collateral Murder; this went down on April 5. On July 6, Bradley Manning was charged with leaking the video to Wikileaks. Anna Ardin and Sofia Wilen slept with Julian Assange on August 14 and 17, respectively, while the latter, undoubtedly feeling the heat from the US, was hoping to gain residency and whistleblower protection in Sweden. The encounters were consensual according to both women, and uneventful except for the respective alleged condom disputes. Later, both allegedly sought him out, being worried about catching a sexually-transmitted disease. They couldn't find him because his cellphone was turned off. Then they turned to the authorities to press charges, only to be told it was too hard to prove, and saw the charges dropped. Only to have them reinstated now, of all times. While Bradley Manning, surely by malign coincidence, is also already jailed and awaiting trial--facing 52 years of hard time in the federal pen. He is suspected of leaking the Cablegate documents, as well, although he has not been charged with that.

Would this case have gone anywhere if the man in question were anyone other than Julian Assange, who just happened to have humiliated the US government that spring with that ghastly video release? And would he have been sought for prosecution if he hadn't just gone public with the first of many expected Cablegate releases?

The Swedish prosecutors deny that any pressure was brought to bear on them by the US. Yet just last week, the Swedish government was mortified by the revelation that Sweden is no longer neutral. Who announced it? Wikileaks, via Cablegate. The local US embassy had the gall to write as much to Washington! And I reiterate: The US authorities are now looking to extradite Assange from Sweden. Even with no charges of their own against him. They are looking for a way to do it, some hook to hang those charges on. Doesn't matter if it's as flimsy as the anti-Castro tripe Anna Ardin used to write. It doesn't have to be true. It just has to be sensational enough to get public opinion on side...

Yeah, tell me it doesn't all hang together. Denial, river in Egypt. Cleo, you're up the creek!

It's much easier to go into a "good feminist" (or full-on conspiracy nut) tizzy, I grant you, than to follow complex international developments in a more intelligent manner. It's also safer than to do another smart thing: dovetail one's feminism and freedom-of-information advocacy for the common, global good. Unfortunately, it's also the perfect way to divorce feminism from the much larger international issues that we ignore at our peril. It makes us feminists all look like laughingstocks or Limbaughian feminazis. We inadvertently contribute to our own continued alienation from our sisters in the global south if we fall for that narrative. We also end up setting back our own progress, and theirs.

But we don't have to. This radical, left-wing feminist agrees wholeheartedly with Gloria Steinem: The truth will set us all free. But first, it will piss us off.

Let it.

December 5, 2010

Short 'n' Stubby: Ms. Manx goes all Wiki on us

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Ms. Manx has been watching the whole Wikileaks kerfuffle unfolding with some interest. She would like you to know that she finds this round a LOT more interesting than the bogus "Magic Laptop" incident of two years ago, when it looked like Wikileaks was being made an instrument, however inadvertently, of the State Dept. and its pals in the Colombian army. It seems in retrospect like a pre-emptive strike of sorts...something designed to discredit Wikileaks as a messenger by alienating leftists who might otherwise see it as a valuable tool for exposing government and corporate bullshit, corruption and other ugly things that we're not supposed to see.

But the Stumpy Cat DOES see, and she wouldn't be surprised if something were to come out on Wikileaks showing the Magic Laptop Incident in its true colors. She thinks it mighty significant that the Magic Laptop allegedly survived a missile attack on a FARC camp in the jungles of Ecuador, and wonders why, if it's possible for a scroungy Colombian guerrilla to get his hands on one, the president of the United States doesn't own a bomb-proof 'pute himself. Meanwhile, here are some interesting kitty-nomnoms she's found:

The woman who accused Julian Assange of sexual assault has, shall we say, a rather spotty past. Spottier than Ms. Manx's coat, and that's pretty damn spotty! Did you know she was kicked out of Cuba for working with a local CIA front group? Obviously, her "left-wing feminist" cover is now blown. Ms. Manx wonders if she plans on withdrawing those minor-league sex charges anytime soon. Maybe Julian Assange could send a wire transfer for that $715 US that is the real penalty for condomless sex in Sweden.

But of course, rather than taking the easy way out, Julian Assange plans to fight it. Obviously not in Sweden, though. And given that the US embassy in Stockholm announced that that country is no longer neutral, gee, what a shocker!

Meanwhile, Ms. Manx has learned something truly shocking: Even though cute widdle emo-kid Justin Bieber and his cute widdle emo-kid hair are supposedly a forever-trending topic on Twitter, the truth is that they only get a fraction of the tweetage that Wikileaks does. Yet the #Wikileaks hashtag doesn't show up anywhere in the top trends alongside all the saccharine trash that's supposedly trending worldwide. Neither does the also-popular #cablegate. Is someone gaming the tweeter? A tweepish friend snarks that for a little extra, you can lose the "promoted" label that usually runs alongside paid "trending" tweetage. Maybe, says the Stumpy Cat as she pensively scratches her ears, that's not such a joke.

JimBobby has a work-around that may still be working by the time this note goes to air; give it a try. And if it's not, here's a whole slew of mirrors*, which is growing apace. There are lessons to be learned from all this, sayeth the Manx.

And for serious analysis of the "what it all means" of it all, Eric Margolis is your go-to guy.

* Addendum: Prog-blogging buddy Rick has a mirror site up as well, here.

November 19, 2010

See what happens when you sleep through Media Law 101?

You get pantload everywhere:

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Why do I get the feeling that the above is actually Ezra Levant's grade-school days coming back to haunt?

(Image shamelessly stolen from Law is Cool.)

November 10, 2010

I did not want to write this tonight...

...but something forced my hand.

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There is simply no defence for selling something like this, and yet Amazon.com is doing just that.

There is simply no way that this book could be construed as "mere literature". This is not Lolita. It is not a novel about a child-molester gone 'round the bend, rotting in jail while struggling to justify his "love" for a "nymphet". It is a guide to breaking the law; it is a how-to book on violating the trust and bodily integrity of children. It is not only morally wrong, it's illegal. So the "freedom of speech" excuse doesn't wash.

And if anyone thinks "free speech" = "anything goes", remember who else found out the hard way, this week, that that is NOT the case. I'll remind you that Flip Benham's "Wanted" posters still had a bit of legal wiggle room left in that they did not openly say "kill this abortion doctor". But they really pushed the envelope, and in the opinion of the court that tried and found Benham guilty, they pushed it too far.

This book is not even on the same level as Flip Benham's odious, insinuating posters. It leaves no room for doubt. It even says it is a "guide" to the crime. It may as well be titled How to Rape a Kid.

So, what's Amazon's problem? Just gotta make money at any cost? Sexually abused kids are apparently fair game. Just the cost of doing business with a shitty, drecky smut-peddler. Well, hell...as long as no child of Amazon.com's is made to pay, where's the harm, eh?

I'd be lying if I said this was a complete shock to me. Other legitimate businesses have also taken pedobear cash. When I was at university, many moons ago, NAMBLA had ads in RFD, a magazine for gay rural Wiccans.* It was a shocking and troubling sight. While I knew my gay friends well enough to know they would never answer such ads (my best friend even said, quite emphatically, "If I'm gonna be gay, I'll do it with someone my own age"), it was sickening to know that this organization not only existed, it was disseminating Goddess only knew what information to "boy-lovers".

Even worse, such information as NAMBLA and this sick fuck disseminate is doing direct harm to a lot of innocent people. And no, not all of them are kids. Yes, I'm talking about the LGBT community.

Every progressive straight ally knows, or should know by now, what a nightmarish struggle LGBTs have gone through (and in many places, are still going through) in order to be able to adopt children. A study just released today found that lesbian couples were the least likely, of all family heads, to abuse their children. And several studies have come out showing that children of same-sex parents, whether adopted or biologically related, do not have more psychological problems than those of heterosexual parents. In fact, many are better adjusted!

But the laws of the land often don't consistently reflect that reality. Far more often, they reflect the fear and hatred of the "gay pedophile", a creature that doesn't exist outside the fever-swamp of right-wing indignation. If you're gay, you're a person who prefers consenting adults (or in the case of gay teens, a similar-aged partner) of your own sex--period. You do not go forcing yourself sexually upon children, who by legal definition cannot be considered equivalent, and consenting, to an adult.

In fact, the overwhelming majority of pedophiles are male adults who self-identify as heterosexual. Even men who molest boys often fit this description. It's not a "gay" thing at all.

But trust a pedophile to muddy those waters, the same that my queer friends have worked so hard to clarify.

And trust Amazon not to give a shit, as long as they make a few quick bucks off a self-published e-book. After all, it's not their lives that will be irrevocably harmed by some sick bastard. And it's fair to say, judging by their blithe brushoff, that they don't even feel their bottom line will be significantly affected by all this.

Let's prove them wrong. Let's boycott them (or do what Otto suggests, if you own their stock) until they do the right thing. We owe it to our gay friends, and to their kids, too.

Especially their kids.

*Ironically, RFD's Wikipedia entry notes: "The magazine was founded after a group of gay men in Iowa attempted to purchase an advertisement in the countercultural Whole Earth Catalog about the organizing of a gay-centered commune, Running Water. The editors of Whole Earth rejected the request on the basis that they did not run gay advertisements." Gay ads sure seem tame now, all things considered.

November 9, 2010

This is what cowardice looks like

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Hey, Mike: I see what you did there. Perhaps you'd like the Indiana Attorney General's office to see it, too? That could certainly be arranged. What you did qualifies as cyberstalking under US law, just so you know:

The United States Communications Decency Act was a piece of legislation that imposed heavy punishments upon anyone who:

(i) in interstate or foreign communications -

(A) by means of telecommunications device knowingly -

(ii) initiates the transmission of, any comment request, suggestion, proposal, or other telecommunications which is obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, or indecent, with the intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass another person.

(E) make repeated telephone calls or repeatedly initiates communication with a telecommunication device, during which conversation or communication ensues, solely to harass any person at the called number or who receives the communication.

Emphasis added.

I see at least four points in there that apply to your pissy little tweet: Annoy, abuse, threaten or harass. That IS what you were trying to do, and don't you deny it.

Well, annoyed and harassed I may well be. I'm always disgusted when some titty-baby coward who doesn't even have the guts to debate me like a man goes around calling me a bitch behind my back. But threatened? By someone who can't even properly post the URL to my blog? Ha, ha, FAIL. My personal info is not publicly available, and even if it were, I doubt you'd have the skills to ferret it out.

And who are you planning to distribute it to? Your eight measly followers? Double-ha-ha-FAIL. I can pick up as many on any given day, and real ones, too. DECENT ones. In other words: Not like you. Maybe that's what's got your undescended testicles in a knot? Here's a sure-fire popularity-increasing tip: Try not being such a fucking asshole. You want women to like you? Don't go around calling them bitches. Man up and talk to them, to their faces, CIVILLY, even if you don't agree with what they're saying. If you can do that, there might be hope for you. But threatening to distribute their personal info, which you can't get, to stalkers? Just because you have a small penis? Dude, that's just childish. And pathetic. And oh yeah, ILLEGAL.

Go ahead, Mike, make my day. I dare ya. Got the cojones to comment now, or are you still gonna go the whiny passive-agressive, Angry Inch route?

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October 25, 2010

Congratulations, Team America World Police!

It's been only eight long years of illegal captivity and torture, and finally, you wrung a "confession" out of your designated scapegoat, poor, brainwashed Omar Khadr, he of the batshit-crazy fundie-Islamist family. Feel proud!

Meanwhile, here's a little song, which I'm sure you won't comprehend in the least:

Fair trial? What the fuck is that? Apparently, a thing of the past.

PS: I was saying...?

Uruguay: Fascists are sore losers...

...and they are getting sorer. This gentleman...

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...is the Uruguayan minister of defence. Like his president, he's a former leftist guerrilla who did jail time during the military dictatorship. And he had to fend off a protest recently that appeared to be about one thing, but was really about another:

A group of ex-militaries and their family members confronted the Uruguayan defence minister, Luis Rosadilla, in a march to protest the poor conditions of the Military Hospital, and called him a "liar" and a "Tupamaro assassin", according the local press.

Some 500 people, gathered by the National Union of Retired Members of the Armed Forces (Unir-FFAA), marched on Saturday afternoon to the ministry office to be received by the minister, who during the 1973-1985 dictatorship had spent several years in prison for belonging to the Tupamaro guerrillas.

According to the newspaper El País's digital edition, the minister arrived especially to be on hand to meet the demonstrators, who seemed to arrive in a heated temper, and who had shaken their fists during the march at various motorists along the way.

Upon arriving at the ministry, the ex-militaries changed their chants of "Long live our country and the Armed Forces" to "Free the military prisoners" and "liar", while Unir-FFAA authorities appealed for calm from the group.

As well, the former military members protested the intention of the ruling Frente Amplio (Broad Front) coalition to do away with the Immunity Law, which prevents crimes committed by uniformed military members during the dictatorship from going to trial, despite the fact that the citizens have twice indicated in referendums that they would support such a measure.

While the Unir-FFAA leaders explained to Rosadilla "the emergency situation" of the Military Hospital, which places the medical coverage of its 160,000 users at risk, the angry shouts against the minster interrupted the conversation.

Rosadilla appeared angry, and called the talks over. As he headed back inside the building, the shouts of "Tupa liar", "assassin", "son of a bitch" and "revanchist" grew louder.

Colonel Jorge Puente, president of Unir-FFAA, told the newspaper El Observador that the Budgetary Law approved by the government of president José (Pepe) Mujica, also a former Tupamaro guerrilla, "is destroying" the armed forces.

"Sometimes I can't sleep for thinking it's a Machiavellian plan, but I hope I'm wrong about this and would like to think the authorities understand the importance of the armed forces," said the former officer.

Translation mine.

A "Machiavellian plan"? No, Colonel, that would be what you and yours did during the dictatorship. This isn't really about the budgeting for the Military Hospital, is it? No, of course not. Even an old Tupamaro wouldn't deny his worst enemy decent healthcare, lest he prove to be just as bad as the fascists who once jailed him. That's not what this is about at all. It's a "protest" against popular opinion, which in two separate referenda now has called for lifting the immunity of military repressors and putting them on trial for crimes against humanity. That's what's really at stake. Uruguay, like its neighbor, Argentina, had a dictatorship problem during the 1970s and '80s that has yet to be fully resolved. And what this small bunch of ex-military officers is really protesting against, is the chance that it WILL be resolved...and not in their favor, either. In Uruguay, the military repressed more than just Tupamaros, it jailed and killed a lot of innocent people. And to deny them the chance to seek redress is just perpetuating the problem. Who's the real revanchist here?

October 24, 2010

Copiapó: The fallout begins

Miner Edison Peña is pulled from the collapsed San José mine. He was the 12th man rescued.

The rescue of those Chilean miners was not the end of the story. It was just the end of one chapter. Now the next has begun, and for one trapped miner, it's not pretty:

Miner Edison Peña, 37, one of the 33 who were rescued from the San José copper mine, has been hospitalized for anxiety attacks that will not let him rest.

Peña, known for his penchant for jogging, was admitted to the Atacama clinic of the Chilean Safety Association (ACHS), where he remains under sedation and observation.

"He presented with a severe anxiety attack and we had to sedate him. We are analyzing the reasons for it," Dr. Jorge Díaz, regional director for the association, told La Tercera.

Peña is the first miner to be hospitalized after the medical discharge of the rescued.

In the last few days, the worker showed mental instabilities, anxiety attacks, and a lack of motivation, which caused great concern in the medical team. This, despite the fact that Peña tried to continue his physical training and who had received several invitations to sporting events in the days to come. Because of that, he was discharged and allowed to travel to Santiago, as he had planned to do with his family. In the capital he will continue to receive treatment at the mental health unit of the ACHS.

The attorney representing the 33 miners, Edgardo Reinoso, questioned the discharges that "two or three" of the workers received after their rescue from the San José mine.

"Some of them should not have been released. It's known that some are in a serious situation, a very serious one, from a psychological point of view. We lament that the hospital has released them so quickly. I don't know what will be the outcome of that, but I believe that with at least two or three of them, the job was not well done," Reinoso said in an interview with ADN Radio.

The lawyer did not want to reveal the identities of the workers, but acknowledged that one of the most affected is Edison Peña. "He is very ill and I think that he has not been well treated," said Reinoso.

[...]

The miners "are infinitely grateful to the rescuers, for all that they have done for them, but at the same time they know, and have not forgotten, that they were underground for two months due to somebody's fault, not only that of the owners of the mine, but also of those who authorized the reopening of the mine," said Reinoso.

Translation mine.

Edison Peña is sure to have company in the mental ward before long. He's not the only one in a fragile state of mental health, as his attorney has hinted.

And when you look at the situation of Chilean miners in general, it's not hard to see how something like this could happen.

In the lead up to the rescue, the 300 colleagues of the 33 trapped men were fired from their jobs at the San José mine. They were released without pay, and almost totally ignored by the media.

For many of those whose life experiences are perhaps closest to that of the families of the rescued miners, the rescue was almost certainly bittersweet. Among them are dozens of families in Chile alone who lost mineworker relatives this year, and hundreds whose loved ones have been killed in Chile's mines over the past decade.

According to data from the Government of Chile, between January and August of this year, 31 miners were killed at their workplaces. Eleven of them were killed by machinery. Six died trapped underground. Seven fell to their deaths. Others were squished by falling rocks, electrocuted, asphyxiated or blown to pieces.

On Sept. 7, 2010, four miners were killed on the job in Antofagasta, the next large city to the north of Copiapó, when their work truck collided with a vehicle carrying explosives for the mine. This story went almost unreported in the North American media.

The mines are dangerous all over Chile, indeed all of Latin America, and there's not a country in the world where a cave-in can't happen. But this case stands out, not only because of the incredibly long survival of the miners, but because it's just so blatantly the fault of the mine's owners that no escape races were in place for the miners to use. Were those in place, there'd have been no drama; the miners would have gotten out, and life would have gone on as usual, and their plight would go unremarked. This story IS a story because of one simple safety measure that the owners just couldn't be bothered to spend a few extra bucks on.

It's also going to remain in the media spotlight because of the hideous greed of the owners, and the corruption of the Chilean authorities, who bear a share of the blame for letting them reopen the mine, STILL without the escape routes and ladders they were supposed to install. What do you bet the owners will turn out, in true Chilean capitalist fashion, to be stinkingly rich--and thus, well able to afford not only the escape ladders, but also all the salaries of the workers they refuse to pay?

And it's also going to remain in the news because the spotlight will be on miners like Edison Peña, whose mental recovery is going to take longer, much longer, than it took his own government to rescue him. Mentally traumatized miners used to be invisible, but that all is going to change. It will HAVE to. Let's hope that this uncounted loss of worker-hours will finally be addressed by government regulators in a manner it deserves.

Short 'n' Stubby: Russell Williams roundup

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It was a foregone conclusion that Russell Williams, recently convicted of dozens of break/enters, thefts, plus two sexual assaults and two murders, should be stripped of his military rank. Ms. Manx approves, and wishes his military pension would also be taken away; it's not as if he's gonna have much use for it anyway, seeing as he's serving two concurrent life sentences in Kingston Pen, with no chance of parole for a very long time. Maybe that, too, will come about in due course. Meanwhile, here are some other things the Stumpy Cat approves, in terms of journalism and blogging on the Williams case:

Our friend Elizabeth Pickett has an excellent piece up at Rabble, castigating the sensational coverage of his crimes as a "fetish" gone berserk. And she makes an excellent point:

One thing is clear: the effect of handling the case this way has been to feed into every stereotype about serial rapist murderers and to place Russell Williams as far away as possible from any description of humanness. That way we can file him tidily away in the mental vault we keep for depraved monsters.

Is that to ensure that few of us will be prompted to wonder just how and where he fits on our socially sanctioned continuum of male violence against women? Is that so we don't learn something that would implicate our military institutions, our systems of law enforcement, our courts of law, our legislators, and all of us in a wilful and systematic blindness to the inequities and inequalities that oppress womenfolk every hour of every day of every year in which we live?

Similarly, Your Heart's On the Left takes on the military's culture of machismo. Surely it has nothing to do with this at all? Don't be so sure. Remember, Williams isn't a fetishist, and certainly not a cross-dresser. A psychopath who, in his fantasies, controls others, will naturally gravitate to a job in which he can do just that, unchallenged--and the upper echelons of the air force will cheerfully turn a blind eye to him, as they did here. He fit right in, and had he not been caught, he'd still be using his position of authority to advantage--and killing more women.

Also not to be missed, within the same piece: A mention of "trophy" pictures of a teenager brutally murdered by the now-infamous (and disbanded) Airborne regiment in Somalia. Remember Shidane Arone? Canadians of a certain age can't forget him. Seems that Williams's particular brand of psychopathy (he also photographed the women he raped and murdered, as well as himself in various articles of stolen underwear) was endorsed and sanctioned by the military's culture of machismo and the glorification of violence. Of course, back then, THAT was swept aside as an "isolated" and "aberrant" incident, too. I guess it could look that way, if you forget that rape, torture and humiliation are old and brutal weapons of war. (Just ask the women of the Balkans what they fear most, being killed or being raped by their enemy. Rape was actually included in the "ethnic cleansing" programs that the region is so infamous for.)

The Regina Mom also seizes on the military-machismo aspect. Does it take us women to notice this sort of thing? Apparently, yes. Considering how much it affects us (and women within the military, like Williams's first murder victim, Cpl. Marie-France Comeau), it stands to reason, does it not?

But happily, women aren't the only ones who get it. A few good men also do, like the Chronicle-Herald's Laurent Le Perriès, who notes the connections that cannot be tidily explained away with words like "fetish". He recognizes that our entire culture is pervaded by the idea of rape as a mainstream, virtually "normal" thing, which it ought not to be. Rape is being seen--still--as just an outcrop of sex, when in fact it is the most horrific, lasting and damaging kind of violence there is. The result is a distressing trivialization of the suffering of rape survivors--most of them female. And also slut-shaming and victim-blaming, which add insult to injury, isolating the victim/survivor from the mainstream of society.

And finally, as Antonia Zerbisias notes, as long as all these things are viewed out of their proper focus, we can expect to see a lot more slipshod policing of any crimes of violence against women. All the more reason, then, for us to hold our media and our institutions accountable for their part in cases like this.

October 17, 2010

Pierre Laporte remembered

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Pierre Laporte in April 1970, a few months before his kidnapping and assassination by members of the Québec Liberation Front (FLQ). He was one of two men kidnapped by the FLQ during the October Crisis; the other, James Cross, who was kidnapped before Laporte, was later released. Pierre Laporte was the sole fatality. His son, Jean, has written a tribute to him that I just had to translate and share:

It was 40 years ago, on October 10, that they took my father. It's been 40 years, on October 17, that my father was taken away from me.

For me, the October Crisis is much more than an historic event that the media talk about every 10 years. October 1970 evokes above all the tragic loss of my father, a person I loved and admired. October 1970 completely turned my life upside down, has marked it forever, and the historic recalls continue to haunt the lives of my nearest and dearest.

For the majority of Québécois, Pierre Laporte is the minister who was killed in October 1970. The name might also bring to mind a bridge, a school, a highway...For my family and for me, it's much more. Pierre Laporte was a father, a husband, an uncle, a brother. He was the pillar of the Laporte family. He was also a man much involved in his community, warm and genuine.

Today I'd like to talk about my father, since the historic crisis has had the effect of eclipsing his contribution to our society.

Pierre Laporte was a journalist at the newspaper Le Devoir for 16 years. His work contributed to the defeat of the National Union [party] and the birth of the Quiet Revolution. An ardent opponent to the head of the National Union, Maurice Duplessis, he was the one who revealed the natural-gas scandal and the dubious electoral activities of that government.

Moving from journalism to politics, he was elected four times deputy of the county of Chambly, in 1961, 1962, 1966 and 1970. In the government of Jean Lesage, he was an important member of the team of the Quiet Revolution. He was named minister of municipal affairs and later of cultural affairs.

After the defeat of the Liberal Party in 1966, he became leader of the official opposition. In 1970, he participated in the leadership convention of the Liberal party, which chose Robert Bourassa. He rallied without hesitation around his new chief. After the victory of the PLQ (Québec Liberal Party) in April, he became parliamentary leader and head of the ministry of Labour, as well as Immigration, along with the title of vice-premier.

My father was probably the most nationalistic of the Bourassa cabinet's ministers. He was recognized as a redoubtable parliamentarian, but he was also greatly appreciated by his colleagues, in his own party as well as others.

And then came the October Crisis...

The province of Québec lost a great politician who loved Québec with all his heart, who cherished the French language, who loved action and life. A man who gave years of his life to his province, who fought against social injustices with respect for democracy and who worked tirelessly for the advancement of numerous causes.

The October Crisis led to the useless and sometimes abusive arrests of many citizens. Their families suffered for it. All the citizens touched by these arrests have been able to regain their families, their home lives. But not Pierre Laporte.

Forty years after the October Crisis, is it not time to remember Pierre Laporte as well, the journalist and the man of politics, and to recognize his support for his province and country? It is time to return Pierre Laporte to the place he deserves in history beyond his tragic end, and for that, it doesn't matter what our political allegiances are. In so doing, we say yes to democracy, yes to our freedoms, and no to violence.

It is this which I wish for my father, for my family, and for all those who never want to live through another October 1970.

The October Crisis is uniquely tragic; it is the only time in peacetime Canadian history that the War Measures Act was invoked. The kidnappings of Laporte and Cross were what prompted it. A day after it was formally invoked in Parliament (notably, with the agreement of all opposition parties, including the separatist Parti Québécois), the FLQ announced that they had killed Pierre Laporte.

Would a more peaceful response have saved him? Possibly. But it's hard to know for sure, since the day before the Act's invocation, the FLQ-sympathetic union leader Michel Chartrand had boasted, "We are going to win because there are more boys ready to shoot members of Parliament than there are policemen." The FLQ may well have been planning at least one assassination, a sacrificial murder to show that they meant business; in which case, the pro-Québec but still unity-loving Pierre Laporte's life was probably forfeit no matter what. In an atmosphere of rising pro-FLQ sentiment, with large, well-attended demonstrations in support, it must have looked as though national unity were truly under siege, although the actions of the Parliament (and indeed, of a majority of Québécois, over time) have demonstrated the opposite.

Angry talk is often just that and nothing more. But not so the word of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, who famously said "Just watch me" when a reporter asked him what he was going to do. He promised action, and he delivered it.

Unfortunately, so too did the FLQ--in direct response to those words and the actions that followed them. They delivered the body of Pierre Laporte in the trunk of a car, abandoned in the bush near an airport.

The unity of Canada has often been in doubt, but only during October 1970 was it truly in danger.

October 11, 2010

Where in the world is General González?

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Cue up the "Carmen Sandiego" song. A putschist fugitive is on the loose somewhere on this planet, and the Venezuelan authorities have appealed to Interpol to help find him:

The Public Ministry has asked Interpol to add a red alert on former army general Néstor González González to its database for events that took place on April 11, 2002, in Venezuela.

The request came on Monday, October 11, from assistant national prosecutor Engel Ordaz.

Once Interpol places González González in its database, he can be apprehended in any international seaport or airport he may be passing through.

The retired army general is wanted by Venezuelan authorities for incitement to civil rebellion, which is a criminal offence in the Venezuelan penal code. On July 31, 2006, an arrest warrant was issued, by request of the Public Ministry, via the 19th Tribunal of Metropolitan Caracas.

Translation mine.

You may recall a certain scene in The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, in which the bald guy in the photo above figures rather prominently (from 27:33 to 28:05). This is the larger context of that scene:

Here, González is lying his ass off about the Chávez government on April 10, the day before the coup, claiming it harbors Colombian FARC and ELN rebels in Venezuela, and using that as a pretext for a coup. He's saying the president should resign, and that the military must take this position--"because if they don't, somebody will". This is the part that immediately precedes what we can see in the Irish documentary of the coup; the crapaganda whores of the Venezuelan media happily go along with that hogwash, calling Chávez "an agent of Fidel Castro and the Colombian guerrillas". González is providing the pretext for the military's next move, when a group of putschist generals announce, during the coup the next day, that there have been shots fired by snipers, and that "more than 10 people are dead and 100 injured in Caracas".

Interestingly, they were all working from a prepared script. The generals rehearsed that bit with the help of the same compliant media (among them, CNN) before anyone was shot or killed. Therefore, it is impossible to conclude anything but that certain members of the Venezuelan military high command were in on the coup.

Among them, of course, the selfsame Néstor González González...a wanted man who definitely belongs on Interpol's watch list. If by chance you see him anywhere (probably Miami), you know what to do, don't you?

(And yes, it's a pity the that media who participated in the coup can't likewise be put on Interpol watch lists. They all deserve it too. The last thing they deserve now is an audience, much less one that believes a word they say.)

October 4, 2010

What is going on in Ecuador?

Yesterday morning, as I was checking my spam filter, I fished out an obvious non-spam from a reader from Down Under, which was posted on this entry. I'm going to repost it up top here today, as I don't want it to get lost in the shuffle. I think you'll agree that Luis Cayetano asks a very good question:

Hi Sabina. You said that Correa had actually doubled police pay. Obviously, something different has been said, as you mentioned, in much of the media. Here is the Sydney Morning Herald: "Mr Correa was greeted by cheering crowds and cries of "Viva Ecuador" outside the presidential palace after security forces whisked him out of a Quito hospital that police demonstrating against wage cuts had laid siege to." All the outlets I've read so far, including the progressive Upside Down World, claim that the rebel police were protesting at pay cuts.

Just what the fuck is going on down there?

Luis, I often ask myself the same thing.

I'm pretty sure that the anglo media are all following that false lead about cut police pay because it's the only one they have at present. Right now there's a lot of tangled webs yet to be unraveled, but I'm finding all kinds of interesting clues. And they give me a pretty good idea what the real situation is. Here's one from Jean-Guy Allard in Granma (translation mine):

An odd couple appeared on NTN24, the right-wing Colombian channel affiliated with FOX News. A few hours into the attempted coup d'état in Quito, the CIA agent Carlos Alberto Montaner, a terrorist fugitive from Cuban justice, met with one of the leaders of the failed Ecuador coup plot, former military officer Lucio Gutiérrez, to attack president Rafael Correa.

Montaner opened the show by denigrating the president with fallacies, in his typical fashion: "If they killed [President Correa] there would have been a bloodbath all over the country. Why did they do it? These things don't just happen. This isn't how presidents comport themselves--taking off his tie and defying the police," Montaner said.

Calling the president a "choleric man" and "a person who has to work hard to control himself", Montaner--known for precisely those characteristics himself--accused Correa of having met with the rebellious police officers to provoke them. "He didn't go to seek consensus, nor to converse, he went to destroy them," Montaner accused.

Arrogant as always, Montaner ironically remarked that Correa wanted to give "the image of a president full of testosterone, who is capable of controlling the situation...and this among some people who are very primitive, who have little education. He wanted to awaken their sympathies."

With an uncharacteristic respect for the ousted president Lucio Gutiérrez, calling him "Mr. Ex-President", Montaner asked him with a fine incredulity: "Did you really have the intention of toppling Rafael Correa?"

And the putschist conspirator answered him with great solemnity: "Greetings to all the democratic world. I deny the assertions of President Correa that there was an attempted coup d'état in Ecuador. There was nothing more than a protest by police, a protest by police troops."

Gutiérrez continued with allegations of "the worst economic management by President Correa", and "for this reason, he tried to reduce the police salaries by way of a law."

"We have a president who doesn't tolerate opposition," assured Gutiérrez to his congenial interviewer, then preoccupied himself with the luck of the conspirators: "What will happen to the opposition? And who will speak in the name of the opposition? They're already being persecuted..."

And Montaner added: "That's the problem, there are no international mechanisms in defence of the opposition..."

A marginal figure in media spectacles, Montaner is known for his fanatical support for the most extremist elements of the Cuban-American mafia. Last year, following the coup d'état against the Honduran president, Manuel Zelaya, on June 28, he became a furibund apologist for the dictator Roberto Micheletti, along with US congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and another Cuban-American terrorist and CIA collaborator, Armando Valladares.

Montaner turned up repeatedly in Tegucigalpa to "defend human rights", applauding when the fascist Honduran coup-régime turned its police against demonstrations of the Resistance.

A graduate of the Inter-American Defense College (IADC) in Washington, Lucio Gutiérrez participated, on January 21, 2000, in the coup d'état against Ecuador's constitutional president, Jamil Mahuad. In 2002, he got himself elected president. A popular protest on April 20, 2005, expelled him from power amid a heavy crackdown that caused the death of a Chilean news photographer, Julio García, and left hundreds wounded.

NTN24 is a right-wing news channel, property of the Colombian chain RCN Television, transmitting from studios in Bogotá, Colombia.

Linkage (not in original) added, so you can see just what I'm talking about here.

I find it endlessly interesting that two well-known, long-time putschists like Gutiérrez and Montaner would take advantage of such an opportune time to get their faces out on all the "right" (as in wing) TV outlets. Lucio Gutiérrez, who goes by the well-earned nickname of "Sucio" (Filthy), also showed up on CNN, presumably from Brazil, making the same coup-apologist noises. I was on Twitter as that was going down, and not in front of the TV. But a lot of my Latin-American tweeps were, and a flurry of indignation erupted all over the tweeter as Sucio was blatting. They already knew the man, and they knew that democracy and human rights are to him as French perfumes are to a hog-factory cesspit. A good thing I was NOT in front of the tube, or I'd have been throwing things, too.

Not that there weren't plenty of things for me to throw shit at on the Internet, either; another usual suspect from the CIA crapaganda mill who talks big about freedom and democracy, but doesn't mean a word of it, was hard at it, claiming there was "no coup". Yes, Alvaro Vargas Llosa reared his smirky, useless head so quickly, and issued such slick, pat pronunciations on this still very messy affair, you'd swear he had his material prepared in advance. And he probably did. If you're really in the mood to eat baloney sandwiches, here it is, in English and Spanish.

Of course, anything a Vargas Llosa says nowadays should be rotated 180 degrees if one wants the truth. The day the Vargas Llosas, père et fils, stopped labelling their fiction as such was a bad one for Latin America. You want facts? Read me, I deal in them. (And I don't mislabel my fictions, either.)

So. Here are some more facts:

The history of Ecuador as an "ungovernable" country is rooted in the activities of the CIA. For those interested, and who can read Spanish, Philip Agee's CIA Diary, in Scribd form here, is worth a look-see. (Audio, in English, here.) Anyone who thinks the CIA's days of interfering in Latin America are over, should think again. They will never be over until the CIA is killed and a stake is driven through its heart.

Meanwhile, Mark Weisbrot chimes in with some good analysis:

In June of last year, when the Honduran military overthrew the social-democratic government of Manuel Zelaya, President Rafael Correa of Ecuador took it personally. "We have intelligence reports that say that after Zelaya, I'm next," said Correa.

On Thursday, it turned out to be true. Some analysts are still insisting that what happened was just a police protest over possible benefit cuts that got out of hand. But to anyone who watched the prolonged, pitched gun-battle on TV last night, when the armed forces finally rescued President Correa from the hospital where he was trapped by the police, this did not look like a protest. It was an attempt to overthrow the government.

The co-ordinated actions in various cities, the takeover of Quito's airport by a section of the armed forces - all this indicated a planned coup attempt.

And what could be behind that coup attempt? Weisbrot has some insights:

Despite his enemies in high places, the president's approval rating was 67% in Quito a couple of weeks ago. His government has doubled spending on healthcare, significantly increased other social spending, and successfully defaulted on $3.2bn of foreign debt that was found to be illegitimately contracted. Ecuador's economy managed to squeak through 2009 without a recession, and is projected to grow about 2.5% this year. Correa, an economist, has had to use heterodox and creative methods to keep the economy growing in the face of external shocks because the country does not have its own currency. (Ecuador adopted the dollar in 2000, which means that it can do little in the way of monetary policy and has no control over its exchange rate.)

Correa had warned that he might try to temporarily dissolve the congress in order to break an impasse in the legislature, something that he has the right to request under the new constitution - though it would have to be approved by the constitutional court. This probably gave the pro-coup forces something they saw as a pretext. It is reminiscent of the coup in Honduras, when Zelaya's support for a non-binding referendum on a constituent assembly was falsely reported by the media - both Honduran and international - as a bid to extend his presidency.

Media manipulation has a big role in Ecuador, too, with most of the media controlled by rightwing interests opposed to the government. This has helped build a base of people - analogous to those who get all of their information from Fox News in the United States, but proportionately larger - who believe that Correa is a dictator trying to turn his country into a clone of communist Cuba.

Popular president? Successful shedding of odious debt (a hefty hunk of it, no doubt, contracted by Sucio Lucio Gutiérrez himself)? NO recession, even in the midst of last year's global catastrophe? Doubled social spending? Growth instead of contraction? Holy shit, let's get rid of the bastard! Otherwise, no other Sucio will ever stand a chance! And then the IMF, World Bank, etc., will never get their pound of flesh! Can't ever let Ecuador move ahead, be sovereign or succeed, otherwise all those other little countries will get all uppity. Remember Honduras? Poorest country in Central America until Zelaya started boogying with the ALBA. Then things started to improve. WITHOUT THE GRINGOS! And if word ever got out, the rest of Central America would start clamoring for some of that good stuff, too. And they'd never let the gringos establish military bases on their soil, either...

It's not as if there were any lack of motives, in other words, for a coup. And El Ecuadorable was more than prescient when he predicted that Ecuador would be next, after the coup in Honduras. The same putschist slimeballs and crapaganda-mongers--Montaner, Valladares, Vargas Llosa--all showed up, along with Sucio Gutiérrez. That all is just a little too convenient for mere coincidence.

And if anyone still thinks this was just a police protest against nonexistent "wage cuts" gone out of hand, have I got pix for you:

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Pretty big and businesslike bullets, no? They were strong enough to put holes in the armor of a bulletproofed minivan--the same that Correa sped out of the hospital in. Four of them, at least, damaged the hood and windshield of that vehicle.

And if you're wondering what kind of standard-issue police sidearm they came out of, here's your answer:

correa-guns.jpg

Those newspaper photos were scanned and uploaded and tweeted by Dr. Paula Vernimmen, who was trapped inside the same hospital as her president at the time of the coup attempt.

And yes, it WAS a coup attempt. Planned, orchestrated...and ultimately, fortunately, failed. As will the anglo whore media's crapaganda offensive.

Hope this begins to clear up your questions, Luis. I know it's been illuminating for me!

October 1, 2010

Festive Left Friday Blogging: El Ecuadorable is back!

And Ecuador's military and citizens HAVE his back:

The elation and relief the people must have felt when seeing this cannot be described. But to give you a taste of what the rescue operation was like, and what the rescuers were up against, here's my translation from Aporrea:

The president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, left the hospital where he was sequestered by national police at 9:25 pm, after 10 1/2 hours as a prisoner, in a very difficult military rescue operation.

President Correa left the hospital escorted by bodyguards, after a violent confrontation between the military and rebel police officers, which began at 8:46 pm and lasted until 9:25.

The president's vehicle was allowed to leave in a convoy of various military vehicles which then left the hospital after the president was removed from the scene.

President Correa left the hospital in a wheelchair, with a gasmask on, due to the large quantity of tear gas fired by police around the hospital.

45 minutes is an eternity when you're in a firefight. So far, the toll from yesterday's violence is 8 dead and 274 injured.

And here's an indication of just how serious the situation was. The grey minivan the military rescued him in was armored, and it was a good thing, too. This is what its hood looked like afterwards:

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And here is the windshield:

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Yup, those are bullet holes. Someone fired off four shots at the president. This was not just a protest; they wanted him DEAD.

But luckily for the people of Ecuador, this murder attempt was an epic fail. The military is no longer under the influence of the School of the Americas, though it's obvious the State Dept. has corrupted a certain sector of the police. According to Jean-Guy Allard (translated here by Machetera and cited by Eva Golinger), US "diplomats" are the infiltrators:

The report confirmed that police units "maintain an informal economic dependence on the United States, for the payment of informants, training, equipment and operations."

In response to the report, US Ambassador in Ecuador, Heather Hodges, justified the collaboration, saying "We work with the government of Ecuador, with the military and with the police, on objectives that are very important for security." According to Hodges, the work with Ecuador's security forces is related to the "fight against drug trafficking."

An excuse that will no longer wash, and which will no doubt make for chilly relations between Washington and Ecuador before long. Remember how they demonized Evo when he turfed out the DEA? Remember how USAID got behind numerous coup attempts against Evo AND Chavecito?

One good thing to emerge from all this chaos: It is evident that the nations of South America are no longer banana republics, resigned to whatever dictator Washington picks out for them. They have a taste for democracy now, and the people will lay their lives on the line to defend it. It logically follows that self-rule in all matters, from corporate law to anti-drug operations, will come in leaps and bounds. And when the influence of foreign diplomats is purged out, I think we'll be hearing a lot less about local officials' corruption, too.

Already Ecuador has stopped sending military officers to the School of the Americas; it closed its Manta base to the gringos last year. And not only has this notoriously "unstable" and "ungovernable" country not gone to hell in a drug-filled handbasket, its democratically elected president is going to stay in office as long as the people decreed--with ballots, not bullets--that he stay there. And not one hour less.

We so-called democratic nations can learn a lot from these so-called banana republics.

September 15, 2010

Short 'n' Stubby: Isn't that (law) illegal?

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Ms. Manx is concerned about our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and about existing (old) laws on the books that predate and violate it and really, for that reason, should be stricken. Otherwise, ridiculous things like these can happen:

A man can (and DID) get arrested for practising witchcraft. No shit, there IS one old anti-witchcraft law on the books still here, although it's actually supposed to be an anti-fraud law. That is, you can't do witchcraft for financial gain. Okay, fine...why not strike that law and replace it with one saying you can't do any kind of religious ritual for financial gain? Make it applicable to "faith healers" of all stripes, so that it's truly fair and doesn't single us Wiccans out. Or is that going to cut unduly into the lucrative business of all those televangelists, megachurch pastors, and other charlatans calling themselves Christians?

And what the hell is up with that old World War II law to keep the Germans out? By now it's obvious that Germans are no threat to "public works" (if they were, neither of my parents would be in this country; my dad arrived here in the 1950s, and my mom in the '60s.) So who's the real threat? Protesters? REALLY? Oh come on. Since when has there been a war on protest here? Or...wait. I get it. It's a war on free speech! Suddenly it all makes sense--anything that opposes the G-20 and its brilliant plans to suck the life out of the world is illegal!

Ms. Manx says it's time to strike those ridiculous laws and replace them, if you must, with something that makes sense. And that does NOT violate our Charter, or wink at one group while smashing another.

September 5, 2010

Guess who's gonna lose on September 26?

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I'll give you a broad hint: It's the ones who have no platform, and nothing but stupid gimmicks.

An opposition candidate in next month's Venezuelan legislative elections is holding a breast implant raffle to fund his campaign, he said in a newspaper interview published Friday.

"The raffle is a legal method. We decided on breast implants because we wanted to target a specific public sector," Gustavo Rojas told El Universal.

"Raffle tickets on sale now: win a breast implant operation for yourself or your partner," Rojas announces on his website.

The interview does not mention either the cost of a breast implant operation or how much money Rojas expects to get with the raffle.

This guy is with the right-wing Primero Justicia party. "Justice First" is actually not very justice-oriented, if they have to resort to this kind of sexist pandering. They've resorted to other pandering in the past, promising to clean up the garbage and fight crime. And what did they do when elected?

NOTHING.

The Caracas barrio, Petare, has a Primero Justicia mayor, Carlos Ocariz. His cops are more interested in repressing Chavistas, and the bright yellow garbage bins--the PJ party color--are overflowing, with no sign of a pickup truck in sight.

Guess who's gonna lose the municipal elections of the 26th? The party with the biggest boobs, that's who.

August 25, 2010

The Bush Crime Family's tentacles in Cuba

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Thought you'd seen the last of Dubya when His Barackness kicked him oh-so-politely out of the White House, and hustled him and his minions onto that chopper to take him back to Crawford where he belonged? Think again. As long as there's a Bush family, there will be an evil empire of crime and greed. That empire is unbelievably vast, and its tentacles reach all over the place, sucking wealth out of remote locations and leaving the locals impoverished unless they fight back. And one of those places, as strange coincidence would have it, is CUBA--where the locals fought back successfully, and against which, it seems, the BFEE still bears a grudge:

The obsession of the Bush family with Cuba, and its determination to make life difficult for Cubans, begs the question: Is there some secret or "black hole" in the relations of the Bushes with this Caribbean isle?

In reality, there's no cat to let out of the bag, because the hidden skeleton left the closet some time ago, when there was an investigation and a recounting of the links between the Bush family name and Cuba, conducted by Marcelo Pérez Suárez, doctor of political science, of the Foreign Ministry of Cuba.

From one of his works, we draw the following revealing data:

George Herbert Walker, maternal great-grandfather of George W. Bush, member of the wealthy family headed by Prescott Bush, was a director of seven companies operating in Cuba since 1920. These were dedicated to the production of sugar, distillation of rum, and railroad infrastructure. They were called The Cuba Company, The Cuban Railroad, Cuban Dominican Sugar, Barahona Sugar, Cuba Distilling, Sugar Estates of Oriente, and Atlantic Fruit and Sugar.

These were merged in 1942 into the West Indies Sugar Company, which was nationalized in 1960 by the Cuban revolutionary government [of Fidel Castro].

In 1953, George H. Walker died, but his namesake son, George H. Walker Jr., the uncle of George Bush, took up the reins of those seven companies. That same year, George Bush, father of George W. Bush, entered the oil business and founded the Zapata Oil company in Houston, Texas, creating Zapata Offshore as a subsidiary.

In 1958, Zapata Offshore signed a contract to exploit petroleum deposits 40 miles off the Cuban shore, north of Isabela de Sagua in the province of Las Villas. This venture was cut short by the triumph of the Revolution in 1959.

However, even with the possibility of business and investments with Cuba ruled out, George Bush Sr. remained president of Zapata Offshore until 1966.

Zapata Offshore and its head, George Bush, are both linked to the CIA, as was shown by declassified documents from the US Secret Service. Also because the records of Zapata were destroyed. A good while after 1960, the Secret Service moved to protect George Bush when he began his political career and destroyed all the records between 1981 and 1983, when he began his term as vice-president. There were motives.

What is true is that regarding West Indies Sugar and Zapata, it is very likely that the Bush family, as well as being hurt in its business relations and investments in Cuba, may have maintained some "right" to reclamation after the nationalizations of the Revolution. Recall that many companies have continued to maintain these "rights" up to now, hoping to recuperate the properties or a higher compensation [than originally received], under the complicity of the government and laws of the United States.

Fletcher Prouty, an ex-CIA officer, confirmed in his 1973 book, The Secret Team, that two of the ships used for the Bay of Pigs invasion--the Barbara and the Houston--were renamed and repainted by Agent Bush in the naval base of Elizabeth City, North Carolina, before being sent to Cuba, and that his company, Zapata Offshore, was used as a front.

In summation, there is no "black hole" in the relationship between the Bush family and Cuba. Everything is clearer than water, and there is nothing hidden to investigate.

Translation mine. Linkage added.

Of course, if you've been following the BFEE in more recent years (as this site has), you'll already know that they've fallen on harder times since those glory days when they snapped up trouble-ridden Cuban corporations at fire-sale prices and proceeded to profiteer obscenely from the investment. Dubya's oil companies, Harken and Arbusto, were most notable for drilling dry holes, for losing money, and in Arbusto's case, for being sold, at a ridiculous profit, to none other than one of the Bin Ladens (another rich and powerful family, this one distinctly Saudi in character. Perhaps you've heard of them?) It's awfully tempting to put two and two together between that connection and 9-11, and a certain CIA daily briefing that Dubya--oddly, considering that he is the son of a former CIA director--brushed aside, not to mention how badly the US military, under Dubya's orders, flubbed the battle of Tora Bora (the one where a certain tall turban-man named Osama got away.) Don't you think so?

If you do, you won't have any problem seeing why Dubya strove so hard (and in vain) throughout his term to starve Cuba out. Actually, his old man came closer to it, which is why you may have seen that brief rash of Cuban boat-people during the so-called "Special Period" between the collapse of the Soviet Union and the mid-1990s, when the Cuban economy began to recover and the trickle of economic migrants ceased. That period of hardship eased, not due to foreign investment (for there was none), nor by any buyouts or reclamations of nationalized corporations (there were none of those, either), but by the Cuban people's pre-existing self-sufficiency drive, established in the wake of the Revolution. The Special Period deepened and intensified it, and Cuban ingenuity won that day.

The Cuban recovery happened during Bill Clinton's tenure--at a time when the BFEE, and indeed the entire US right-wing, was doing its damnedest to force that popular, and largely peace-minded, president out of office. Ken Starr and his panty-sniffing, pornographic impeachment drive failed. Even the Elián González kerfuffle could not spark the undoubtedly desired conflict that might have brought things to a head in Cuba. There was nothing for the BFEE to do there, and not later, either. Dubya missed his own window of opportunity when Venezuela struck up the ALBA treaty, with Cuba as its first co-signer. (He had struck out earlier, too, when his oily widdle coup against Venezuela failed in '02.)

Two rich Caribbean oil treasure troves, and he fucked up in his efforts to get them, as my mom would say in German, under his fingernails. That's gotta hurt. But it's quite par for the course; Dubya has the reverse of the Midas touch. Everything he sticks his hand into turns to shit.

Let's hope that no subsequent Bush gets into the Oval Office, or, in the event that one does, let's hope he fails as badly as all his predecessors at undermining the sovereignty of Latin America for nefarious BFEE corporate purposes.

August 16, 2010

Surprise! G20 "security" law is nothing of the sort!

How on Earth does an anti-German war-measures act from 1939, which effectively became null and void at war's end, get dug out again for use against peaceful protesters--nearly 30 years after our Charter of Rights and Freedoms was formally enacted to prevent just such things? Well, apparently it's just for show, because any charges laid under it go poof when it's time to take it to court!

I guess Pierre Trudeau's good old Charter trumps Harpo and his sneak-thievish drive for supremacy after all (and along with him, Dalton "The Enabler" McGuinty.)

Be sure to watch it all. You'll get a chuckle out of the flustered police spokesman, who clearly wasn't expecting any reporters to challenge the official version of the bullshit--much less forearmed with the facts, as Paul Jay clearly was.

August 14, 2010

Surveillance society tug-of-war in Berlin: a small but significant victory

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If you need any evidence of how far Germany has come since the end of World War II, and how far by comparison Canada has sunk, look no further than this interesting little report in the Berliner Tagesspiegel ("Daily Mirror"):

Berlin police president Dieter Glietsch wants police agents to go on videotaping the participants of peaceful demonstrations, despite a court verdict.

He will appeal the court decision, he said on the RBB evening newscast on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, a panel of judges declared the filming of peaceful protesters to be a violation of the protesters' rights. The police may only make videos in the event that a protest turns violent or results in vandalism. The judges based their decision on the contention that such measures would constitute an attack on freedom of assembly, as well as the right to informational self-determination.

Should his appeal fail, Glietsch plans to urge the Berlin House of Representatives to pass a by-law to allow the police to film peaceful demonstrations.

Translation mine.

This fight isn't over yet. But the fact that the court has ruled in favor of protesters over police indicates something important: The Germans have pulled ahead of Canada in allowing peaceful assembly over the clamor of the police/surveillance sector.

Granted that police are all alike, here and there--this one insists he'll get the law remade in his own favor. But still, the court has ruled in favor of freedom of speech and peaceful assembly.

Viewed in light of what happened at the G20 summit in Toronto two months ago, this should tell you something, nicht wahr?

August 12, 2010

How far would Washington go to defend torture and death squads?

Sometimes, it's just instructive to take a good hard look at the past in order to really grasp what's going on in the present. Take, for example, the fact that Washington has officially sanctioned torture and the use of death squads during the nearly ten years that the War on Terra has been raging. Dubya even went so far as to get some legal beagles to write him some excuse notes, sparking worldwide outrage. Think it's anything new? Think again. Here's the latest declassified bombshell from the National Security Archive, which landed in my inbox yesterday:

Washington, DC, August 11, 2010 - Documents posted by the National Security Archive on the 40th anniversary of the death of U.S. advisor Dan Mitrione in Uruguay show the Nixon administration recommended a "threat to kill [detained insurgent] Sendic and other key [leftist insurgent] MLN prisoners if Mitrione is killed." The secret cable from U.S. Secretary of State William Rogers, made public here for the first time, instructed U.S. Ambassador Charles Adair: "If this has not been considered, you should raise it with the Government of Uruguay at once."

The message to the Uruguayan government, received by the U.S. Embassy at 11:30 am on August 9, 1970, was an attempt to deter Tupamaro insurgents from killing Mitrione at noon on that day. A few minutes later, Ambassador Adair reported back, in another newly-released cable, that "a threat was made to these prisoners that members of the 'Escuadrón de la Muerte' [death squad] would take action against the prisoners' relatives if Mitrione were killed."

Dan Mitrione, Director of the U.S. AID Office of Public Safety (OPS) in Uruguay and the main American advisor to the Uruguayan police at the time, had been held for ten days by MLN-Tupamaro insurgents demanding the release of some 150 guerrilla prisoners held by the Uruguayan government. Mitrione was found dead the morning of August 10, 1970, killed by the Tupamaros after their demands were not met.

"The documents reveal the U.S. went to the edge of ethics in an effort to save Mitrione--an aspect of the case that remained hidden in secret documents for years," said Carlos Osorio, who directs the National Security Archive's Southern Cone project. "There should be a full declassification to set the record straight on U.S. policy toward Uruguay in the 1960's and 1970's."

"In the aftermath of Dan Mitrione's death, the Uruguayan government unleashed the illegal death squads to hunt and kill insurgents," said Clara Aldrighi, professor of history at Uruguay's Universidad de la República, and author of "El Caso Mitrione" (Montevideo: Ediciones Trilce, 2007). "The U.S. documents are irrefutable proof that the death squads were a policy of the Uruguayan government, and will serve as key evidence in the death squads cases open now in Uruguay's courts," Osorio added. "It is a shame that the U.S. documents are writing Uruguayan history. There should be declassification in Uruguay as well," stated Aldrighi, who collaborated in the production of this briefing book.

Who was Dan Mitrione? Oh, just the US's leading torturer in South America at the time. His specialty was the "scientific" use of electroshock as torture, ostensibly for purposes of interrogation. He not only tortured countless innocent people himself (some of them to the point of death), he trained the local police in three countries to do the same. Uruguay was the last; before that it was the Dominican Republic and Brazil. He was portrayed, in a thinly fictionalized form, by Yves Montand in Costa-Gavras's movie, State of Siege. You can read more about him here and here.

What's notable about all this is how long ago it happened. Mitrione met harsh justice in Uruguay 40 years ago, and yet it seems like it was only yesterday. We can clearly see a pattern, a striking similarity between how Tricky Dick did things, and how his ideological scion, Dubya, did them. The use of death threats, death squads (organized by the US's puppet regimes abroad) and torture--can you honestly tell the difference between Uruguay in the late '60s and early '70s, Central America in the Reaganite '80s, and Afghanistan and Iraq over the last ten years? I have difficulty with it, myself.

And no wonder. When it comes to imperialism, not much has changed from one decade to the next, other than the location of the worst manifestations of the disease. For the last 200 years, ever since the cry went up in South America for freedom from the Spanish empire, Latin America has felt that big stick of gringo imperialism coming to supplant the royal sceptre of Spain--here, there, everywhere. Not one country south of the Rio Grande has been immune. Nor, since the discovery of petroleum under its sands, has the Middle East, although it is a more recent target. The brutality has gone through minor variations, but the overall theme is readily recognizable: Whatever Washington wants, Washington gets, and damn the expense--even if the toll is a river of human blood.

And if a more "modern" form of the Spanish Inquisition is required to exact it, so be it. A Dan Mitrione is worth a death squad and the murders of hundreds of local freedom fighters--so runs the reasoning. They will go all the way--literally to the death--to defend their imperial methods.

I wonder what Mitrione-like characters have yet to shake out of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I predict we'll be seeing several, probably in the guise of "civilian contractors" to give plausible deniability to the military and the CIA. Mitrione was, after all, one who operated under the guise of a police chief, not an intelligence officer, although he was attached to the FBI in 1959, and the State Department as of 1960. He was sent on his first foreign assignment that same year. His plausible deniability: he was training local police in Latin America. In what? Well, what else: interrogation. "The precise pain, in the precise place, in the precise amount, for the desired effect"--that was his motto. Death of the victim was undesirable only because it meant that the torturer had been inept in getting what he wanted out of the poor soul.

Nowadays, it's waterboarding, not electroshock, that's in vogue. But the purpose is the same, both superficially and underneath it all. Nothing has changed much in 40 years, or indeed 200.

It's yesterday once more. Shooby doo lang lang...

August 11, 2010

A body blow for the Colombia-US military accord

Meet the most odious piece of sneaky-cowardly political interference in the Americas since, well, since the US backed a bunch of putschists trying to overthrow Chavecito:

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It's not dead yet, but damned if there isn't blood in the water now:

La W Radio reports that the Constitutional Court of Colombia has declared will declare* the military-cooperation accord between Colombia and the US inexecutable, since it must first be passed by the Congress before being approved.

The court declared the measure inconstitutional, but left it alive for a limited time. It gave the Colombian congress one year to decide whether or not to approve the accord.

[...]

The military accord produced a crisis between Colombia and Venezuela, after which [Venezuelan president] Hugo Chávez accused the US government of using Colombian territory to attack his country.

Translation mine.

And the crisis unleashed by this odious accord isn't limited to Venezuela or its uppity, mouthy president. Many Colombians don't like it either:

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These people and thousands of others like them have been protesting this accord since it was first announced. Let's hope the Colombian congress hears them and nullifies this bastard agreement, or there will be no peace within Colombian borders, much less between Colombia and its neighbors.

PS: Otto has more, plus some winning snarkage. Go read.

*Translation error fixed, thanx Otto...

July 29, 2010

Short 'n' Stubby: Dude, where are my criminal charges?

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Hidey-ho, folks, it's another G-20 roundup for ya. And here comes Ms. Manx with all the linkies you should clicky...

First up, the Toronto Star's Carol Goar draws up a score sheet for what's been done and what's still doing. Surprise: So far, not a single person arrested has actually had criminal charges laid that stuck. One month later, and it's Protesters 1, Cops 0. Goar's moment of untruth: "Peaceful advocacy groups tarnished their reputation by knowingly providing cover to protestors bent on violence." Carol, shame on you--the cops were not a peaceful advocacy group! I seem to recall at least one video where the peaceful advocacy groups were chastising the vandals. Is that what you call "knowingly providing cover"?

The Star and the Globe are both reporting that environmentalist Dave Vasey, one of the more prominent arrestees (he was singled out early on as a "leader"), has gone to court, only to find the charges against him not even on the docket. Maybe because the "five-metre rule" he was charged under was bogus? Or maybe just because the cops had nothing on him, and they knew it. Their purpose in making the arrest was not to lay charges, but strictly to intimidate Vasey and others (whom they presumed to be his "followers", no doubt), and thus curtail protest. As always, the operative question to be asked in cases like this is Cui bono?--for whose benefit?

That question is certainly topmost in my mind when it comes to this case, of a young Muslim woman being forcibly stripped of her headscarf and sweater. Violation of modesty is a specifically intimidating move when the victim is a Muslim. Was this violation of her person done to discourage her from protesting? It sure smells that way.

And you know things have come to a bad pass when a distinguished scientist and former holocaust survivor like Ursula Franklin looks at the G-20 fiasco and draws inescapable parallels to the fascist ordeal of her youth.

July 25, 2010

Officer Bubbles is worse than you think

How is Adam Josephs, alias "Officer Bubbles", worse than you think? By virtue of the simple fact that he's not the only arrogant asshole on the Toronto police force. By virtue of the simple fact that protest has been criminalized, unannounced, in Canada. By virtue of the simple fact that Courtney Winkels would have been arrested even if she hadn't blown a single bubble. Because protest is illegal in Canada now, duh.

The question is, why did no one announce to the media that protest and community organization are now illegal? Maybe it's because to do so would be to declare that we aren't really a democracy; that martial law is essentially in effect where there is no just cause to implement it; in short, that we have crossed the line into fascism and dictatorship.

That's how Officer Bubbles is worse than you think. He's not just some random asshole in uniform, but a symptom of something deeply and chronically wrong within the system. Were he just a random asshole, he could be easily weeded out. But the fact is, police forces have a predilection for assholes, and not just in Canada. Think Dan Mitrione, the Indianapolis cop who trained CIA-backed torturers in Santo Domingo, Brazil and Uruguay before finally meeting justice at the hands of the Tupamaros in Montevideo. Mitrione got a hero's funeral, but he was no hero; he was a professional asshole in uniform.

Assholes-in-uniform have no compunction about arresting people for no good reason (a bandanna, a backpack full of street-medic supplies, a lawyer's phone number written with a Sharpie on a girl's arm, etc.--not good reasons.) Assholes-in-uniform have no problem doing assholish things as a matter of course. Assholery is their profession. They're trained to see the public as an adversary, an unruly dog to be kept at heel by any brutal means at hand; Josephs' own Facebook page refers to his job as "taking out human garbage" for the City of Toronto, after all.

And there is little question that the G-20 cops were taught to see the protesters as the Enemy, the forces of communism and anarchy, criminals for simply protesting. Human garbage, in other words. That's why no police broke the line; that's why not one of them said "this is not right" when peaceful protesters were corralled in a driving rain for five hours at Queen and Spadina. Not one of them failed to charge when the protesters had completed the last chorus of "O Canada". Not one of them laid down the baton and shield in protest of their comrades' blatantly unlawful behavior.

If even patriotic protest is illegal in this country, then we've come to a bad pass. All the right-wing whining about the "police state" of Cuba becomes ridiculous when viewed in the light of the G-20 in Toronto. In Cuba, when the so-called dissidents of communism demonstrate, they usually get ushered, unhurt, onto buses, and brought home. If jailed, they are still treated humanely; hunger strikers get medical care, even if they are hell-bent on suicide. In Toronto, when dissidents of capitalism demonstrate, they get bones broken, skulls cracked, sexually assaulted, threatened with gang-rape, and herded into Gitmo-like people-pens. Ah, the glorious freedoms of capitalism that we've all heard so much about!

The question no one dares to ask is, If capitalism makes us free, why do capitalists have the greatest number of prisoners per capita, political and otherwise?

Think about it.

Why did the glorious freedom of capitalism need a Dan Mitrione to teach its enforcers to torture not only criminals and so-called subversives, but even innocent people, in order to discourage disobedience? Why did it need him to teach police in three different countries how to electrocute people--not to make them talk, but just "to teach them a lesson" or even "to take out human garbage" by means of death? Mitrione's trainees in Brazil honed their craft on street beggars, after all. Why would anyone want them dead unless they had a human-trash mentality at the bottom of it--a learned mental defect that left them incapable of Christian empathy for those Jesus called "the least of these my brothers"? Mitrione was a devout Catholic with nine children. He couldn't possibly have missed that lesson in Sunday mass; priests teach it all the time as an example of the virtue of charity. Did he simply ignore it? Or did his later training as a professional asshole-in-uniform override it?

Given that Mitrione's mission in Latin America was to roll back all efforts of progressives to establish a more equitable and just state under socialism, and to keep those countries in subservience to the biggest capitalist nation of all, I'll go with the latter option. Right-wing Catholics like Dan Mitrione are taught to override Jesus's true teachings all the time. The disciples' simple, effective practice of holding all property in common, so that everybody is looked after and no one is stuffed while others starve, gets ignored routinely by such people. The message of mercy and loving kindness is obscured by the competing vision of the Old Testament God, the angry punisher, who decreed (via the elite priesthood) that disobedient men, women and even children should be stoned--that is, tortured--to death as an example to others.

Right-wing cops are no different. The basically positive message of community policing, "to serve and protect", is overridden by the human-garbage mentality of the asshole-in-uniform. The police are then no longer the citizenry's "friend and helper" (as the German police slogan would have it), but the friend and helper of the moneyed oligarchy--the sole interest they serve and protect.

The same polite, friendly, quintessentially Canadian cops who cleared the roads in my hometown so our little peace march could proceed in 2003, could nowadays be turned against us. Then, I proudly carried a Maple Leaf, as well as a Stars and Stripes with the stars rearranged in a peace symbol, to show solidarity for neighbors to the south who also opposed the war against Iraq. Nowadays, I'm not so sure I could get away with that. I'm being forced to reconsider whether I want to take part in any open demonstrations at all, even with my country's flag and the national anthem as rallying symbols. If the cops in Toronto could charge a peaceful demo where the protesters waved the flag and sang "O Canada", then no manifestation of free speech and peaceful assembly is immune. We are all subject to the modern equivalent of stoning, without mercy. We are all fodder for the Dan Mitriones.

And that's why Officer Bubbles is worse than you think--it's because he's more common than you think. He's not a random asshole or a bad apple in a basically good barrel; he's just one of a great many, specially selected and trained to think of all the rest of us as human garbage, to be taken out without compassion or compunction.

And that's what makes him so goddamn scary.

July 19, 2010

Who is this "silent majority", and why do they want to shut us up?

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I have always found the phrase "silent majority" irksome. Not just because Tricky Dick used it (and was, of course, lying his ass off when he did so), but because makes no sense. How do you know people who share your smugly conservative views are, in fact, a majority, when they're silent?

You don't, and that's just what makes this phrase so stupid. It takes a lot for granted.

It takes for granted, as Tricky Dick did, that just because a majority of people aren't out there at any given time demonstrating against some huge injustice, that they must therefore be FOR it, rather than against it and unable to do anything about it (like take time off work or travel many miles to go to a demo, say). It takes for granted that people are constantly free to speak their minds publicly, and if they don't, it's because their mind is already made up in favor of the prevailing order, or the ruling class, or whatever trash the TV is trying to sell them.

Of course, that's ridiculous. Not everyone who opposes the G-20 fuckery is going to be able to turn out to demonstrate against it; I'd say that maybe just one opponent in ten made it to Toronto for the big demo, and that's an optimistic number. Fewer still made it to the subsequent protests against police brutality and the violation of civil rights, but that hardly means, as Dalton McGuinty claimed when he appropriated Tricky Dick's phraseology, that those who showed up to speak out were a vocal minority. They were just the few who could afford to spare the time and energy to be there.

More insulting is the notion that the so-called "silent majority" assumed to be in favor of the fuckery has more wisdom and sense on the issues. In fact, those in favor are the ignorant ones. And to anyone who had the nerve to snark on the protesters, claiming they didn't know what they were against, here you go. Chow down on this open letter from someone who WAS there, and who knew full well what it was about:

First, why did we even protest the G20?

The G20 is the meeting of 20 leaders from the 20 richest countries in the world. They meet to discuss and implement economic policies. There is no administrative body, and the G20 is accountable to no one. The one thing that came out of this G20 meeting in Toronto was an agreement on 'austerity measures'.

In a nutshell, austerity measures is another way of saying cuts to public spending in order to bail out banks and corporations, which are the reasons for economic crisis in the first place.

A lot of people have been talking about neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is a cluster of policies or an ideology based on belief in the free market: that the market can best regulate itself, and should not be subject to interference. This includes taking for granted the assumption that capitalism is a good thing and that it's necessary. Capitalist enterprises such as corporations involve increasing profit by whatever means necessary: the responsibility of corporations is to their stockholders, not to those who are affected by corporate policies.

[...]

Neoliberal policies and practices have resulted in the economic crisis that we're currently in the midst of--where folks are laid off work, factories close, or companies move overseas where they can capitalize on more cheap labour to increase their profits.

Rather than questioning the roots and assumptions behind neoliberal policies, the G20 leaders have decided that the solution for neoliberalism, is, in effect, more neoliberalism. Rather than taxing banks or corporations, they are taking public money to bail out these institutions, which are by their nature unsustainable. Put simply, this is taking money from the poor, to bail out corporations and banks, which result in more money for those who own the companies or the people who own a lot of stocks.

This is a big part of why we protest the G20. Because we disagree with a small population imposing policies that make a few richer, while increasing the divide between the rich and the poor, and continuing to harm the majority of the world's population and the environment.

Those who protest are vocal, yes, but they are NOT a minority. Nor do they protest on behalf of a minority. They protest on behalf of the overwhelming, and TRULY silent, majority of the world that is NOT represented by the G-20 and its unethical, unaccountable so-called leaders.

The people Dalton McGuinty and Tricky Dick claimed for their own, as a "silent majority", are in fact the minority. They are every bit as vocal when they say that the "anarchist thugs" who were there "got what they deserved". I certainly don't see THEIR opinion being under-represented in the news, nor in online polls, nor in "official" polls by Angus Reid et al.

In fact, this manufactured opinion has been made to carry the day, because the discourse has been hijacked since before the G-20 summit began. The cops who arbitrarily decided to not let protesters within five metres of the fence were the terrorist musclemen, and the three levels of government who gave the keep-'em-out orders were the same who determined in advance what the tone of the discourse was to be: Everything going on inside the fence good, everyone protesting outside it bad. Everything inside the fence order and propriety, everyone protesting outside it anarchist thug.

Thus was a billion dollar security boondoggle sold to a thumb-sucking public who would, of course, be the ones footing the bill. And thus was said public manipulated into thinking, against all evidence to the contrary, that the cops had done the right thing when they arrested more than a thousand people on no actual charges.

A billion dollars and a thousand arrests for nothing. Nothing, that is, but a vastly unpopular fuck-over of the vast majority of the world's people--with cutbacks and shitty macroeconomic policies already proven by all of Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia not to work. Seems pretty steep, but it's nothing compared to the price the world's exploited people--and yes, Canada has 'em too--are going to pay.

Must keep that majority silent, since they weren't in on the consultation, right? Must ridicule, suppress and just plain shut them up. At all costs.

I propose that the so-called "silent majority" referred to by the Dalton McGuintys and Tricky Dicks of the world be referred to, instead, as the Silencing Minority. Because that is, in fact, what it is.

"It is so much easier sometimes to sit down and be resigned than to rise up and be indignant." --Nellie McClung

July 13, 2010

Conservative "libertarians"--whose allies?

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I was chided by a liberal today for very rudely telling off a gun guy who presumes that his side is the "right" one to be on in the battle for civil liberties here in Canada. I always love it when people supposedly on my side take up for the other; way to prove that "liberals are milquetoast" belief the right holds of you, pal. But you know what? I don't feel bad for telling the the con-job to fuck the hell off. Mr. Gunner had it coming; he was snotty and patronizing, and dared to use that "when I was young and foolish, I thought like you, too" canard on me.

BIG mistake.

You see, I'm not that young anymore. Youthful, yes, and I look young for my years, but I'm not exactly one of those green-haired kids you see at demos and some people think are the only ones that show up. I've already lived three years longer than Che Guevara, who died before he was 40. I don't think of myself as middle-aged, but clearly I'm not a kid, and haven't been one for quite some time. I have been in the struggle for all kinds of human and civil rights in Canada for more than two decades now, starting when I was 20 or so. I may not be a major figure, and I wouldn't go putting on airs of being a veteran, but neither am I just some snot-nosed punk with naïve notions about making the world a better place. I'm old enough to have much clearer ideas than that, and more concrete patience as to how they are to be implemented.

I am in the struggle, and I am committed to it for life. I committed myself to it little by little over more than half of my life to date. Each failure (and there have been many) has taught me something. I know the struggle is not going to be won by grand gestures or any other overnight victories. Time and experience and liberal lashings of extracurricular study have granted me that wisdom. That's why I am vocal about just how much I don't appreciate being patted on my pretty little curly red head by some good ol' Johnny-come-lately with a gun who thinks he's some kind of anti-authoritarian authority, just because he has a penis extension with an ammo clip.

(Or because he wants one and can't have it, thanks to the evil wicked federal government not granting him the privilege of having the supposed means to overthrow it. Same thing, really. Gun guys are all perpetual wannabes. Let them have a deer rifle, and they'll all cry because you won't let them have a machine-gun; let them have a machine-gun, and they'll cry because you didn't let them have a fucking bazooka. Big, fat, perpetually dissatisfied babies they are, at whatever age.)

Anyhow, this all has me thinking: Just because the right-wing flibbertigibbertarians are now joining in our clamor for civil liberties in the wake of the G-20 fiasco, should we on the left seriously consider them as allies?

My gut instinct tells me NO, WE SHOULD NOT. And my gut is not alone in this. My eyes and ears tell me so, too.

Even a cursory look around should be enough to prove my gut check correct. Where were these guys at the G-20 protests? Were they marching? Were they supporting from the sidelines? Were they reporting with cellphones and home movie cameras? Were they blogging and tweeting in support of the jailed?

None of the above.

The right-wing gun-guy flibbertigibbertarians were all conveniently elsewhere. They were not even raising their pipsqueak voices in solidarity from afar, as I was. They would never cheer for a leftist standing up to authority. In fact, I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts that before the G-20, they were all rah-rah for the Harpocrats, because those guys promised to get rid of the long-gun registry and because they hated the Dirty Fucking Hippies, and considered anyone who would protest global capitalist hegemony to be an anarchist deserving to get his or her head bashed in, like that poor soul in London the last time (who was, incidentally, just a passer-by). These guys all had absolutely NO problem with that, other than maybe what it cost and how bad it made capitalism look for just a split second there. But it didn't concern these concern trolls. It was someone else's head being bashed in, not theirs. And it was all happening at a safe distance.

Now that it's all suddenly right here in Middle Canada among us, and the evidence is all out there on YouTube that the cops were heavy-handed on orders from above, NOW all of a sudden they pipe up. Not that I'm unhappy to hear it, exactly--but jeez, gun guys, why so late to the party? Were you expecting to make a grand entrance with your guns, your ammo and your god-awful camo, and proclaim yourselves the saviors of us all?

If so, you're full of shit.

You didn't show up with your guns to the G-20 to clear the line of armored cops away from the people they were beating on. You didn't show up at the jails, either, to blast the thousand-some arrestees free. No Molotov cocktails for you, oh no. That's Black Bloc tactics, pure DFH stuff. You didn't fire a single round in defence of the leftists, not even from a kiddie slingshot. Explain to me exactly how you and your weaponry are supposed to be the God-sent answer to tyranny, again?

Oh yeah, I forgot. The feds, the same ones you voted for because they were right-wing lawn-order types, wouldn't let you buy your widdle bang-bang guns and bring them in. And if you had, you'd have been mown down by the riot squad, not with rubber bullets either, and you knew it. You pissed your pants in fear of it.

Poor babies.

No, I don't trust a conservatard with a gun to fight for the rights I have yet to obtain, because I've already seen how worse than useless they are at merely defending the existing ones. And it's not because these guys have their hands shackled by us mean little lefties, or Big Bad Government, no matter how much they whine to that effect. It's the fault of no one but the cons themselves. These guys are no Che Guevara; to them, he's another Dirty Fucking Hippie. And a commie, oh noes. Those are the worst "authoritarians" of all, to hear the rightards tell it. They think every leftist is Joe Stalin underneath it all, even though there's ample evidence throughout Latin American history that the much-feared leftist guerrillas were in fact the biggest real libertarians of all, while the official Communist parties of the various countries were at pains to distance themselves from Moscow and the guerrillas both, and the guerrillas, in turn, disdained Moscow as too authoritarian and the official Communists as too stodgy, too reluctant to fight for the people, and too busy trying to build their own electoral legitimacy in a fake-democratic system which was blatantly stacked against the Left on all fronts.

But let's not trouble their australopithecine brains with those facts, shall we? The point is, these right-wingers, even when they manage to organize themselves, are no freedom fighters. They couldn't get up even the most half-assed of guerrilla armies. In Canada they have never done so yet, and in the US, they have only succeeded in making asses of themselves. They have much in common with the fascist cops they claim to despise--they eat too many doughnuts, and they LOOK like doughnuts, too. One would think they were cops manqués, and one wouldn't be wrong; they are. And if they ever passed the entrance exams to police academy (which, heaven knows, takes no geniuses), they would turn into the worst kind of cop: the Bullyboy With A Badge, the kind that's hot to crack hippie heads at a G-20 demo. They will never fight for others; they don't really care about the oppressed. Here or abroad, they will only jeer at the poor to "get a fuckin' job", ignoring the fact that most of those wretches already have two or three apiece and still can't make enough to buy a decent house. The only people they will fight for is themselves, although they might pat the likes of me smirkingly on our heads and nobly claim they're doing it for us, because we're too silly and wussy to scream for more and bigger guns. (They think we only scream for ice cream.) Some might even eloquently fool themselves (and a few of us) into believing that there really is some higher purpose to what they're doing.

But at bottom, no, they're not doing it for anybody but THEM. That's why they voted for the Tories in the first place--or local fringe parties who think the Tories aren't right-wing and authoritarian and pro-capitalist enough. It behooves us on the left to remember that. Don't watch their mouths when they talk; watch their feet when it comes time to vote. These guys will never vote for the common good. Pure, unenlightened self-interest is their modus operandi, now and forever.

Don't believe me? Fine, take a good hard look at anyone who ever accomplished anything for civil rights and liberties anywhere. Tell me who they were, what their politics were. Was Rosa Parks a right-wing white guy with a gun, agitating for the right to unlimited guns? No, she was a middle-aged black lady who'd been a staunch, quiet civil-rights campaigner for many years before she simply sat down and stayed put on that bus in Montgomery, and wouldn't budge when Whitey ordered her to. How about Gandhi? Damn, the dude kicked out the British Raj from India without firing a single shot--or even a literal kick! He walked around in white loincloths, not camo fatigues. He organized protests, not armies. And both of these heroes had such a mass following that it was impossible to ignore them. They won in the end, not with bullets but with ballots.

Closer to home, Tommy Douglas--CCF socialist and Baptist preacher--gave every individual in Saskatchewan the right to free healthcare, education, highways and more. His socialist initiatives were so successful that every other province in Canada eventually copied them, even those with conservative premiers. Under Lester B. Pearson, a Liberal, the changes wrought by the leftist Tommy Douglas and his provincial government became enshrined in federal law. Pearson also let the Vietnam-era draft dodgers, conscientious objectors, and peace activists in, and more than 25,000 of them came to call Canada home. All have praised its peacefulness and freedoms; none have tried to import US-style gun-mad politics here. And Pierre Elliot Trudeau--another Liberal--patriated our Constitution from Britain, and appended our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Thanks to those two documents, we are (or were, before Harpo) better off than our cousins to the south, rights-wise. I'll bet you good money that the rightards aren't even remotely familiar with the text of either one. I can tell you this much: Neither the Constitution nor the Charter guarantee ANYONE the right to guns.

And need I remind you that the Underground Railroad ended in Canada, where slavery was abolished long before it was even thought seriously about in the US? I'll give you a broad hint as to why that is: it certainly wasn't Tories, or any other conservatives, who agitated for that abolition. And it's a pretty safe bet that conservatives weren't sheltering any runaway slaves, either.

The entire history of the Americas is rife with conservative oppressors and liberal-to-leftist freedom fighters. There is not one conservative who ever fought for human rights, and not one socialist or true, un-milquetoasty liberal who didn't.

And no, the leftists didn't all have guns. They didn't all need them: Tommy Douglas needed only his pen, some paper and a microphone to become our Greatest Canadian. Even Dr. Ernesto "Che" Guevara, who famously left behind his medical kit and kept his rifle when fighting in the Cuban revolutionary war (which his column won at Santa Clara), would say that it the people's revolutionary consciousness, not his gun, that was his best and most effective weapon in the struggle for human rights. The gun was merely his back-up, a tool for holding off the enemy. It was not the instrument of change; the mind was. It was only when he could make no progress with the people that his revolutionary guerrilla armies failed.

Where no mind for change exists, there can be no revolution; there cannot even be a victorious struggle for one person's rights, let alone the "individual" rights of all. No individual's gun, nor indeed the collective ownership of lots of guns, can change that. The US is lousy with guns; have they overcome the tyranny of Wall Street and the Pentagon yet?

No, because the mind for positive social change is one thing conservatives have never had, and never will. Not even the so-called "libertarians" of the right. Those guys will fall right in behind authoritarians like dominoes, when all's said; the topdog/underdog mindset is all they know. And they want to be topdog; they don't resent authority unless they don't have it to themselves. They don't want to build a world where there are no topdogs or underdogs. They are conservatives, and the only thing they conserve is the old order, in which women and minorities stay in "their" underdog place, and white male topdogs with guns run the show.

No, they are not our allies. They never were, and never truly will be. And woe betide anyone who is lulled by a few nice words from them into thinking otherwise.

"If you tremble indignation at every injustice then you are a comrade of mine." --Ernesto "Che" Guevara, one TRUE libertarian.

Some people just deserve one another

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Hey, kiddies, have I got a story for YOU. Make sure you're sitting down for this one. And have a paper bag handy to breathe (or vomit, as the case may be) into...you're gonna need it!

On Monday, it transpired that journalist Patricia Poleo and student leader Nixon Moreno had decided to marry, after just nine months together. Something that could be called "love in exile" is the relationship between these two Venezuelans.

The event has taken the Venezuelan media community by surprise. It seems to be a fait accompli, and Poleo has moved to Peru, where the student leader is taking asylum, to speed up the wedding because "she wants to be married as soon as possible".

The plans of Poleo and Moreno were confirmed to Marianella Salazar on her radio show [audio in Spanish available at the link]. According to press reports, the couple will make their home in Miami.

Translation mine.

My, this is so SUDDEN! But isn't it sweet that these two exiled lovebirds found one another? Everybody, repeat after me: Awwwwwwwwwwwww!

Only, as you may have guessed, there's a rub to all this. Nixon Moreno isn't really a student leader. Patricia Poleo isn't really a journalist. And neither of them is really in exile. But I'm getting a little ahead of myself, so let's back up this truck a bit.

Nixon Moreno is a wanted man. In 2006, at a violent "demonstration" by oppos in the university town of Mérida, he assaulted a policewoman named Sofia Aguilar. He beat her up, ripped her clothes off, and held a gun on her. He no doubt meant to go further with this sexual assault, but was stopped in time. Rather than submitting to arrest, he fled, then hid out in the Apostolic Nunciature in Caracas. (Yes, that's right, the house of the Vatican's ambassador to Venezuela. They shield perverts under their frocks as a matter of almost routine.) While there, he finally received his political science degree; shucks, it only took him an extra decade of squatting, taking up spaces that could have been occupied by three or four more deserving students! Then, diploma in his fat little hands, he fucked off to Lima, Peru--which, after Miami and Bogotá, is the most fashionable hangout for the scum de la scum of Latin America. He is still a wanted man:

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"WANTED: for murder, sadism, and rape."

And no, he's not a "student leader", he's a GANG leader. Nixon Moreno is a plain old garden-variety thug.

Patricia Poleo is something else. Something even worse. The daughter of oppo newspaper owner Rafael Poleo, she is also wanted by the Venezuelan federales. For what? For a car bombing that killed Danilo Anderson, the hot-shot young prosecutor who just happened to be investigating the coup d'état of April 2002. Anderson was getting perilously close to finding out who ordered all those deaths, both Chavista and oppo, on April 11, when two groups of demonstrators came under fire from rooftop snipers, undercover sharpshooters, and opposition-controlled Metro Caracas police. And it most certainly wasn't the big guy in the red shirt, whom the oppos keep scapegoating for literally every bad thing that happens in Venezuela! So Danilo Anderson had to be stopped somehow, and in November of 2004, he was--with an earth-shaking kaboom that broke windows for blocks around. The investigation has been hobbled ever since. "La Papo", as she is also known, is believed to be one of the intellectual authors of that assassination. (Another media mogul of the opposition, Nelson Mezerhane of Globovisión, who was also a banker, is believed to be her accomplice. He, too, is a fugitive from justice--and recently got a little karmic justice when his bank, the Banco Federal, went under and was taken over by the government. The feds bailed out the depositors--this is how it's done, Your Barackness, take note--but you can bet "El Turquito" Mezerhane won't be so lucky when they finally get their mitts on HIM.)

La Papo has an interesting tendency to leave dead bodies behind wherever she goes. Just in April of this year, her ex-husband, Gastón Alfredo Rodríguez Delgado, was found dead in Apostaderos de Pampatar, on the resort island of Margarita. The 54-year-old, who was the son of two well-known Venezuelan actors, was bound, gagged, and stabbed to death in an apparent home invasion. Just a random robbery gone wrong? Or a targeted killing? Given his past criminal career (he'd done time for various drug-trafficking-related offences in 1989), I'd say the latter.

So, it seems, La Papo, a criminal herself, has a taste for criminal hubbies. Which means that she and Nixon definitely deserve one another. Just like chocolate and peanut butter...if that is not too sweet an allusion for you. And if you should happen to chance upon them in Lima, whatever you do, do NOT approach them; they should be considered armed and dangerous, and turned in to the Venezuelan authorities, pronto.

July 12, 2010

Cops Behaving Badly: G-20 Dickweed of the Day

He threatens to arrest a girl for blowing bubbles. BUBBLES, people. You know, those harmless, rainbow-swirly little things made of soap, water and air? The kind little kids blow all the time, and laugh hysterically over when one pops on them? To this dickweed, though, that's "detergent", and constitutes an "assault".

Are you writing this down, people? Because it's useful information. Next time they come at you with rubber or plastic bullets, tasers, pepper spray and tear gas, you can have THEM charged with assault in turn--all of those things are a LOT more dangerous to the public order than soap, water and air. And I've never seen them used legitimately--or harmlessly--on anyone yet.

Meanwhile, what's the harm in a few soap bubbles? This big wuss sure seems to feel threatened by 'em. Maybe it's because they would pop on him and stain his nice, black polyester uniform. Or leave a spot on his sunglasses, oh dear. How can you intimidate people when you've got soap splotches on your shades? How can you even take yourself seriously?

Yeesh.

Dude really needs to lighten up, or man up, or both. Like the guy off-camera says, a billion of our tax dollars could have bought someone with a better attitude.

BTW, Dr. Dawg was taking names. Apparently, Dick Weed's real moniker is A. Josephs.

A. Hole is more like it.

July 9, 2010

Evo targeted again, this time by a German?

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Uh oh. I'm not liking the look of these. Those are some seriously narrrrrsty weapons, and they come from the home of a seriously sinister man:

Bolivian police detained a German citizen on Thursday after finding large-calibre weapons and military ammunition in his home in the eastern region of Santa Cruz, according to authorities.

At a press conference, Government minister Sacha Llorenti revealed that the detainee has been identified as Dirk Smith, wanted on fraud charges in Germany, which had been seeking his extradition from Bolivia for years.

"We have contacted the German embassy for more information and to confirm whether the extradition request is still in effect. He also has an expired residency permit", said Llorenti.

Police colonel Miguel Gonzales, director of the Special Force Against Narcotrafficking (FELCC) in Santa Cruz, stated that a team entered Smith's home and found the weapons and ammunition.

[...]

Local media report that the police found seven military weapons, two pistols, and more than 300 rounds of ammunition.

Minister Llorenti stated that the accused is linked to a criminal gang headed by an ex-policeman, which assaulted an armored truck in 2001, killing two police officers.

Translation mine.

Smith, BTW, is definitely not a German name. Could be a pseudonym for "Schmidt", though--and I'm gathering that this dude would probably be travelling under a number of fake IDs, seeing as he's a fugitive and all.

I wonder if he's just a common crook, or if he had ambitions to be the next Eduardo Rózsa Flores. With weapons like those, he could go either way, couldn't he?

July 8, 2010

"This ain't Canada": the trauma of the G-20

A young woman who was arrested at the G-20 protests talks about her dehumanizing experience at the hands of the cops. She was far from alone in being grotesquely maltreated. Stories like hers are pouring out, and it's getting awfully hard to deny the ugly picture they add up to. Even rah-rah cop-huggers like the Toronto Sun's Joe Warmington are now waking up to the brutal side of those whose job it is to be enforcing the law, not making it up as they go along, or taking it in their own hands. What the fuck, for example, to make of this?

An incident during the protests on University Ave. -- captured on video -- would be a good one to study.

In it an officer says "this ain't Canada right now" while another one says "this is G20 land." And when a man, who was put in a physical hold by police for no reason clear on the video, said "I don't like to have my civil rights violated" an officer can be heard saying "there's no civil rights here in this area."

Where did these officers get this idea? On their own or from above?

Pertinent questions, and let's hope there are answers. For that, we will need a full public inquiry. Have you joined this Facebook group yet?

In the meantime, DAMMIT JANET! has some very pertinent information for those who were told this wasn't Canada and that their legal rights were thus null and void. Perhaps someone out there can use it--at the very least, to embarrass those who fucked up big-time by uttering those very revealing words. Because the last time *I* looked, Toronto's geography didn't magically change overnight just so the G(oddamn)-20 could grace our home and native land with its presence.

July 7, 2010

G-20: the New Normal



"Suddenly it's repression, moratorium on rights--

What did they think the politics of panic would invite?

Person on the street shrugs--'Security comes first!'

But the trouble with normal is IT ALWAYS GETS WORSE!"


--Bruce Cockburn, "The Trouble With Normal"


Greetings, citizens, and welcome to the New Normal here in Canada! Just when you thought the bad news from the G-20 fiasco had reached its nadir, guess what? "Normal" got worse:

The 57-year-old Thorold, Ontario resident - an employee with Revenue Canada and a part-time farmer who lost a leg above his knee following a farming accident 17 years ago - was sitting on the grass at Queen's Park with his daughter Sarah and two other young people this June 26, during the G20 summit, where he assumed it would be safe.

As it turned out, it was a bad assumption because in came a line of armoured police, into an area the city had promised would be safe for peaceful demonstrations during the summit. They closed right in on John and his daughter and the two others and ordered them to move. Pruyn tried getting up and he fell, and it was all too slow for the police.

As Sarah began pleading with them to give her father a little time and space to get up because he is an amputee, they began kicking and hitting him. One of the police officers used his knee to press Pruyn's head down so hard on the ground, said Pruyn in an interview this July 4 with Niagara At Large, that his head was still hurting a week later.

Accusing him of resisting arrest, they pulled his walking sticks away from him, tied his hands behind his back and ripped off his prosthetic leg. Then they told him to get up and hop, and when he said he couldn't, they dragged him across the pavement, tearing skin off his elbows , with his hands still tied behind his back. His glasses were knocked off as they continued to accuse him of resisting arrest and of being a "spitter," something he said he did not do. They took him to a warehouse and locked him in a steel-mesh cage where his nightmare continued for another 27 hours.

"John's story is one of the most shocking of the whole (G20 summit) weekend," said the Ontario New Democratic Party's justice critic and Niagara area representative Peter Kormos, who has called for a public inquiry into the conduct of security forces during the summit. "He is not a young man and he is an amputee. .... John is not a troublemaker. He is a peacemaker and like most of the people who were arrested, he was never charged with anything , which raises questions about why they were arrested in the first place."

Read the whole thing. It's truly horrendous.

This is just one of the more egregious cases to emerge from the G-20 débâcle. While not everyone there was treated quite this badly, enough of the activists experienced serious psychological effects that they realized they had to do something. That's why they've formed a support group for those traumatized by the violence. (Other support resources can be found here.)

What's worth looking into is why this is happening at all. When did it become "acceptable" for cops to rip off an amputee's prosthesis while falsely accusing him of a slew of illegal acts?

Stageleft tackles this question by examining the National Post's coverage of the story, and the readership's responses to it.

I entered into a discussion about the suspension of generally taken for granted civil rights/liberties at the G8/G20 meetings on a Conservative site and stated as part of the discussion with someone who made no bones about his support for whatever the police did:

As long as there are people like you who defend this sort of police action and attitude the greater the likelihood that you will ultimately become the recipient of it.

The reply came back:

Until it becomes a problem for the average citizen, expect no action on this front.

The thing is, this was a problem for the "average citizen". Hundreds upon hundreds of average citizens were detained in cages in Toronto, not because they broke any law, but because they were caught up in large number sweeps, because the authorities didn't like the look of them, because they weren't deemed cooperative enough by the authorities, or simply because they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Judging from the general response from the blue corner to these sorts of instances the reply I received to my comment should more properly have been, "until it becomes a problem for me, expect no action on this front".

This is precisely the sort of thinking that worries ME. Does it take a Bad German like your humble keyboard-rat to see how similar this is to the way "Good" Germans thought in Nazi times? This "fuck them, as long as I'm all right" attitude is precisely what prevailed then.

It's a good thing I don't own a scanner, or I'd haul out the picture of my grandfather in his SS uniform and post it here. His expression in that photo is the same one I feel stealing over my own face when I'm scared shitless and can't do anything about it. Opa was not a political animal in the least. He was certainly not a Nazi. He had no antisemitic views and no special ambitions. He was just a shoemaker. But because he was six feet tall, had done obligatory service with the Yugoslavian army, spoke three languages (German, Hungarian and Serbo-Croat), and was an "Auslandsdeutscher"--an ethnic German from outside of Germany--he was "offered" the "choice" of joining that "elite" force.

It was, need I say, hardly a choice, unless you really wanted to choose between joining, and watching your family be shot before it was your turn. Opa was married and had three small daughters; the youngest was less than a year old. Who would shoot a baby? The forces of the "New Normal" in the Third Reich, that's who. And it didn't matter if the child was German or not. They were more likely to kill a Jewish baby than a German one--but if the German one had a father who wasn't willing to knuckle down and accept the New Normal, that baby was toast.

And this is what Canadian soldiers were ostensibly sent overseas to fight against in not one but two world wars. This is ostensibly why the Canadians took Vimy Ridge in 1917, when the British and the French--supposedly their "superiors", coming as they did from the two "mother countries"--could not do. This is ostensibly why the Canadians were in those two wars long before the laggards in the United States finally caught the war bug. Canada, we good Canadian schoolkids were taught to believe, cared so much about freedom that its young men were willing to sacrifice their lives--not for their own country, but for others! The world had to be saved from Hunnish imperialism, and saved it was. (Never mind that the real Huns were not, in fact, Germans. The world was saved from those Mongol hordes, and that's all you need to know, eh?)

Only, of course, it wasn't really that. Canada, as a "child of Empire" (yes, that was the actual phrase!), was told it was her duty to go to war for Mother England. It was, in both wars, a battle of imperialisms, not a battle for human rights as the soldiers were led to believe.

Of course, if you said so at the time, you got brutalized in all kinds of ways. During the Great War, pacifists (or suspected "slackers") got the demeaning "gift" of a white feather, often from some anonymous sender, implying cowardice and all kinds of other nasty aspersions on the recipient's manhood. If you weren't hot for war, and ready to jump without even asking how high, you were a nancy-boy. And in World War II, "conscies" (conscientious objectors) were also looked down on as slackers and probable homosexuals, and all sorts of other unmanly things. They were also sent off to labor camps. The fact that Canada, that human-rights beacon (along with its neighbor to the south, and Mother England for that matter) wasn't taking in Jewish refugees (unless they could demonstrate their strategic value, as did the physicists who went to work for the Manhattan Project) was conveniently glossed over. Even today, nobody wants to talk about it much, unless they're Bad Germans--or Bad Canadians--like me.

I bring this history up for a reason. People really badly WANT to think that what happened at the G-20 is some kind of aberration, and that on the whole, Canadian history hasn't been THAT bad. And for them, I guess it hasn't. Were their ancestors among those who got their heads bashed in by Mounties during the general strike in Winnipeg in 1919? Did they, like Tommy Douglas, risk losing a leg for lack of money to pay a surgeon? Were they hired as virtual slave labor by the railroads, like the Chinese, but later made to pay a head tax--no women allowed, lest that Yellow Peril start reproducing here as it did in China? Were they interned during World War II for no good reason at all, like the Japanese-Canadians in Obasan?

I guess not. Unless it touches THEM personally, they just shrug it off. "Security comes first!"

But there's no small amount of self-deception inherent in that position. As Stageleft writes,

They say that, on the whole, we are a more empathetic species than we used to be. That once upon a time we cared about what happened to our immediate families, and then, as we became more urban and technology allowed for better communications we became more caring more about our extended families, and our communities... and then that was extended to people who shared a geographical location like "our country", and ultimately, to those far from us, as we saw (for example) after the tsunami in Indonesia, or the earthquake in Haiti.

Unfortunately that empathy doesn't seem to extend to people who we don't agree with politically, or who experience things that make us uncomfortable.

There are a lot of people who have consciously suspended any empathy towards their fellow citizens because they do not agree with them politically, or because something happened to them that, if acknowledged, means that abuse happened - and this is Canada, a shining example of peace and democracy, possibly the greatest country on earth, and the authorities would never, ever, abuse their authority, because if they did that would mean.......

..... no.... no its better not to think thoughts like that.... if those people hadn't been where they were, even if they had a perfect right to do so, nothing would have happened to them - so whatever befell them is really their fault isn't it?

It's either that. or they're just plain lying.

I've heard it said that a Liberal is a Conservative who just hasn't been mugged yet, if that's the case a "we unconditionally support the authorities Conservative" is a non-authoritarian/anarchist who hasn't yet had their run-in with the police.

-- and as I said, the longer people support what we saw happen in Toronto, the greater the likelihood that it will happen to them as the authorities discover that there are few, if any, consequences for their behaviour.

It's disturbing, isn't it, to think that we have something in common with Nazi Germany, here in Canada, today. But it's true. What happened to the Germans did not come overnight; it didn't swoop down on them all of a sudden. It was a gradual, incremental frog-cooking. What would have been unacceptable if imposed all at once is quite acceptable as long as it only happens to others and not YOU.

Better still if those others are somehow visually identifiable; it makes the shunning, the singling-out, the persecution, so much easier; it also makes it easier to say "won't happen to us". You wore black in Toronto that day? You must be an anarchist, just asking for it. You wore a vinegar-soaked cloth over your face to protect against the gas? That's a bandit disguise! You have an artificial leg? Tough, we're not giving it back. What's the matter with you, can't you hop?

And so on.

The trouble with this "normal" is that it really does get worse. Just ask the Argentines how it went for them when they leaped from the frying pan (the quasi-fascist rule of the inept Isabel Perón) to the fire of the junta:

Of course, the eliminationist rhetoric coming from a lot of conservatives in this country would have us believe that "elimination of all leftist opposition, forever" is a worthy goal. No more of those rock-throwing hooligans in black disrupting our nice complacent corporate-capitalist order, yippee!

Only, of course, there's something a lot worse, something that won't be eliminated when all the so-called hooligans are gone. The real hooligans, the real thugs, are not those seeking to overthrow power, but those looking to seize and maintain it:

...and they will do anything, even stuff a rat up a young woman's vagina in order to kill her and thus maintain their "order". Utter barbarity like this is not beneath them, it is but one of many weapons in their arsenal.

I really do recommend that you watch this movie in its entirety and learn from the Argentine junta. One of the things that should really grab you is the incremental nature of their eliminationist policies. They didn't just make 30,000 victims go poof overnight. They did it little by little. Frog-cooking, as it were. A disappearance here, a random arrest there. Little horrors from time to time would come to light; a refrigerated truck might be found by a roadside, filled with human corpses hanging like sides of beef. Or the infamous green Ford Falcons favored by the Argentine secret police would race through the streets, blaring their sirens; all traffic would hastily move aside to let them by so they could "arrest" another "criminal" or dozen or so. It might seem random, but there was a method to the madness:

"First we kill the subversives; then we kill their collaborators; then...their sympathizers; then those who remain indifferent; and finally, we kill the timid."

--General Ibérico St. Jean, member of the Argentine junta

Gee, what does that remind me of? Oh yeah: this. Only inverted.

But you can see that the order is roughly the same. They don't come for everyone at once. First, they come for the "communists"...

You think this barbarism is just some kind of Argentine thing? Wake up. They got their training in torture partly from the CIA, and partly from old Nazis who emigrated from Germany shortly after the war, when things started to get hot and the big show trials and executions at Nürnberg were starting up. The fact that the US literally helped subsidize this atrocity should stand as proof positive that the so-called "champions of freedom" in this world, whom the right-wing jingoists always hail as heroes, are the worst villains of all.

And yes, it IS fascism when "we" do it. It is no less fascism when "we" do it than when the Nazis terrorized their fellow Germans under Hitler, or the junta its fellow Argentines. I don't care whether your excuse is "order" or "racial purity" or what. IT IS FASCISM NO MATTER WHO DOES IT OR WHY.

Fascism is not an ideology but a methodology. It is the art of frog-cooking. It is a matter of getting the people to accept, by degrees, an ever tighter controlling hand from above.

And that hand is not just the state, but an amalgam of the state and the corporate sector. So all you conservatives and right-wing libertarians can shut the fuck up about the "evils of statism". And fuck you, too, for trying to snatch the banner of freedom from the hands of those who were carrying it back when you were still sitting around with your thumb up your ass, babbling bullshit about "anarchists". If you want to talk intelligently about fascism, you have to accept Giovanni Gentile's definition of the word. Mussolini's speechwriter/ideologue made it abundantly clear that fascism isn't merely the iron heel of the state, and it most certainly isn't socialism, it is corporatism--the running of the state in the same top-down manner as any big business. The state is not the ruler, under corporatism; a dictator, with bundled masses of thugs at his command to enforce "order", is. And corporatism has a lot of self-declared "enemies":

After socialism, Fascism trains its guns on the whole block of democratic ideologies, and rejects both their premises and their practical applications and implements. Fascism denies that numbers, as such, can be the determining factor in human society; it denies the right of numbers to govern by means of periodical consultations; it asserts the irremediable and fertile and beneficent inequality of men who cannot be leveled by any such mechanical and extrinsic device as universal suffrage. Democratic regimes may be described as those under which the people are, from time to time, deluded into the belief that they exercise sovereignty, while all the time real sovereignty resides in and is exercised by other and sometimes irresponsible and secret forces. Democracy is a kingless regime infested by many kings who are sometimes more exclusive, tyrannical, and destructive than one, even if he be a tyrant.

Ah yes. The tyranny of democracy. Why would anyone classify democracy as a tyranny, unless it stood in the way of his own ambitions and held him accountable? People who know how to recognize an autocrat from his earliest baby-steps instinctively reject his rule, voting him out of power or, if he somehow makes it to the parliament, they get their representatives to nullify his influence or otherwise make sure that he goes no further. People who are fully informed would not vote for a dictator, knowing what he holds in store for them. They would, however, be out to overthrow him if he did manage to get the reins in hand. Little wonder Mussolini didn't care for democracy (and neither did his close successor, Hitler, and neither does his more distant one, Harper.) If we accept the Mussolini/Gentile contention that "real sovereignty resides in and is exercised by other and sometimes irresponsible and secret forces", who better to take control than a dictator, commanding the police forces of a nation? That way, the pesky "delusion" of democracy can be abolished once and for all.

Or so the would-be dictators think. The fact that democracy keeps sprouting again from their rubble, like a weed from a salt-strewn roadside, must be terribly galling to them. Why else denounce the democrats as "thugs", even when it's manifestly clear that, as in the case of John Pruyn, there is not the most remote whiff of thuggery about them, and that it's the cops who beat the innocent amputee who are the thugs?

That's another thing about fascism--it has the most marvellous power to reverse things. Black is white, day is night, wrong is right. War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength. And woe betide you if you don't love Big Brother and hate whomever he (who is not a literal he) wants you to hate. Fascism is not definable for what it is, but rather for what it sets itself against.

And its first casualty, as in war, is still truth. That's why an Angus Reid poll found support for the police thuggery appallingly high among ordinary Canadians (who are by no means fascist, and in fact a solid majority aren't even conservative). That's why Dalton Fucking McGuinty has no problem making political hay off the trauma of the people who had to watch all that, but doesn't oppose police brutality or the G-20 tyranny which occasioned it. The truth is that the G-20, and all other elite undemocratic governing bodies, must go. But that's not getting out there. The going narrative is still "THEY are not like US; THEY are lawless, WE are good".

As long as that narrative pertains, "we" do not see "them" in us. We may be momentarily lulled by that warm feeling, but the water all around us is getting hotter. And that puts all us all in great danger. Nazi Germany and fascist Argentina are not so far away after all.

July 5, 2010

G-20 summit: Human rights catastrophe and legal nightmare

fascism-obvious.jpg

Well, actually, now that I think of it...

g20-riot-cops.jpg

Yes, sometimes it really IS that obvious.

Good evening! Here's tonight's G-20 roundup, brought to you by nobody but little old anticorporatist me.

First up, let's go to Tabatha Southey at the Globe & Mail, to see what fascism looks like up close and personal:

An officer threatened to arrest me for standing on the street (I was with a journalist and a photographer who lives in the building that we were in front of), but after two days of the G20 in Toronto, I was almost as inured to that threat as I was to the random searches I saw going on, everywhere, blocks away from the designated high-security zone.

Earlier that day, well before the much-publicized destruction on Yonge Street, I'd been threatened with arrest for "obstructing" a search by trying to take a picture (at a respectful distance) of two young men being searched.

An officer there had tried to grab my cellphone. Other officers had crowded around. They boisterously mocked the psychiatric patients coming out of the mental-health hospital behind me.

When I eventually, after a heated exchange, asked the officer for a badge number, he walked toward me repeatedly, sticking his chest out so that, if I didn't step back quickly, I'd be hit. As he did this, he yelled, "You want my badge number? You want my badge number? You want my badge number?"

I was scared. I didn't get the badge number. It's a tiny story beside many much more alarming ones, but these stories have filled this town up.

Yes, indeed it is. And that's why I can only sporadically include them here. Southey's account is pretty emblematic, though, of what the cops were up to: harassment, threats of violence, and other un-officerly conduct. Were this to happen at any time other than a fucking useless G-20 summit, the cop who did it would be suspended with pay, pending an investigation. So far, none is forthcoming. That's just one of many things that are different here.

The question is, why are they different? Well, here's one possible answer: There will be no investigation of this poor police conduct because the police were, in fact, doing their job:

Canadian state history, despite popular perceptions and mythologies, is replete with examples of the police--municipal, provincial and federal--"doing their jobs" in mass arrests, detentions, beatings, even killings of non-elites from various backgrounds (but particularly against indigenous communities and worker's strikes). Only a short sample would include: the Red River Rebellion, the Northwest Rebellion, the Winnipeg General Strike, the On to Ottawa Trek, the FLQ "crisis," the Quebec General Strike, Solidarity BC, Oka, Gustafsen Lake, Ipperwash, the OPSEU strike of 1995, June 15, Sun Peaks, Six Nations. And on and on so it has gone up to the present. Did the police not do their jobs in these cases?

In all of these instances, people were being restored to their station as the ruling classes saw it. Techniques, dress, language, and certainly public relations have changed. But, at root, the job of the police remains. And that is a job that we should be looking to abolish rather than restore.

...and their job was to brutalize and intimidate people into NOT protesting. And into remaining "down"--cowed, heads ducked, willing to take whatever abuse the ruling classes decided to heap on them, as long as there's still food, water, clothing and shelter in it somehow.

But is that legal, under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms? Dr. Dawg has an excellent video up from The Real News, featuring constitutional lawyer Paul Cavalluzzo. He has some additional questions for the man who led the commissions investigating the Walkerton water scandal and the Maher Arar abduction/torture case:

If I live within an arbitrarily designated "public works area", can Blackwater or a mall rent-a-cop or any other appointed "guard" legally enter my home and arrest me for attempting to deny them entry? Will they be armed?

If I don't consent to being ID'd and searched on my way to work, can I legally be prevented from going to work? I cannot prove this, as it is only anecdotal, but during the Vancouver Olympics, a contractor told me he lost an employee due to said employee being denied passage through Vancouver by the police for the duration of the Olympics for having written an anti-Olympics letter to the local paper that was never published.

If any of the protesters/shoppers/citizens arrested and detained in handcuffs for 24 hours and jammed in a 10 by 12 by 20 foot cage along with 40 other men are not formally charged and given their day in court, will there be no other opportunity to challenge these arbitrary Charter-free zones until the next time they are dusted off for a globalization bunfest?

And finally, why is Chief Bill Blair on the hot seat for having been given these extraordinary powers he didn't ask for when it was presumably the PMO that told the Ontario cabinet to ask for them?

All of this points to the strong likelihood that this wasn't bad policing at all; it was police doing what they were told, which was to maintain "order" (read: oppression).

And this truth is so bad for some to take that even the children and spouses of police officers are now angry and disillusioned:

To think I would see the "trampling" of our collective rights and the right to "free speech" being discarded is devastating to me as a once proud Canadian. The actions of police in arresting and charging those who were peacefully exercising their rights is something I would expect to witness anywhere else but Canada.

The words "the true north strong and free" of our national anthem are now a mockery.

My youngest daughter was a victim of this suspension of our rights. She was arrested and charged with unlawful assembly and obstruct police. This young woman headed the largest ever contingent of university students to post-Katrina New Orleans, on a Habitat build, this young woman slept in -30C temps outdoors to highlight the plight of the homeless, this young woman volunteers with a soup kitchen. This young woman is a dedicated pacifist who would not even kill a bug.

And this young woman is the daughter of a policeman who was on G20 duty. The police officer who beat her with his/her baton would not have known that. Not everyone was an "anarchist" and armed. Some like my daughter were just there to suport their causes in a peaceful, lawful manner.

But here's the rub: Those "special powers" granted to the police? Were not.

Hours after Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair sat in front of a bank of cameras and microphones last Friday morning, defending the powers the province gave police to search, detain or arrest anyone coming within five metres of the G20 summit's security fence, Toronto police received new information: The regulation specified nothing of the sort.

But police, having papered the area with pamphlets outlining G20-related security rules, felt no need to send out a press release clarifying how the regulation in question worked.

In total, police arrested more than 1,000 people over the course of the G20 summit.

A thousand people arrested, essentially, on no legal grounds. For what reason, other than to intimidate and coerce people into having no dissenting opinions to offer? Yeah, tell me it's not fascism.

And yet, some would still have us blame the "anarchists":

And yet we understand today what the bourgeois left, with its stern and pompous little warnings against what it calls violence, will only understand when future generations look back at them in anger. This is why we do not chide any person who, hounded from pillar to post for the crime of wishing to walk in her neighborhood, smashes the icons of our capitalist basilica, our holy of holies, our glass, our possessions, our things.

Is there anything more smug than bourgeois people offering to be scandalized by broken glass? The slightest disintegration of their spectacle unnerves them. "Violence!" they cry.

By violence, they do not wish to indicate the forty thousand children who die each day from hunger and other capitalist depredations. They do not mean the millions of children forced each day into servitude around the world to keep them in cargo. By violence they mean the destruction of objects.

"I agree with peaceful protesting," they say, like they're offering some special indulgence, "but I think it's terrible when there's violence." Oh, thank-you, Pope of Peoria.

It's pathetic. Perhaps an undercover cop at $80/hour breaks the glass of the American franchises or perhaps it's some kid who has understood justice and decided to act. That's not the important question. The real question is: Why is the franchise there destroying the neighborhood and leaving its backtrail of environmental filth in the first place?

To the tongue cluckers we say: Do you think future generations will be as indulgent with you as you are with yourselves, you pompous whitewashed sepulchers? Stop destroying the world, and we'll worry about some plate glass later.

I have seen my ten-year-old attacked in broad daylight on a peaceful afternoon by your police, I have seen the people falling under the horses, I have seen peaceful people dragged down, beaten, and hauled off to face what you call "justice." Shame on you, giving your little sermons against the iconoclasts.

Our group never broke anything, never offered the least resistance except for shank's mare and a few eggs and the art of the skedaddle. I would have stopped anyone from molesting the shop of some small business person. None of us were interested.

I remain absolutely committed to nonviolence (even this little formula will not, I assure you, stand the test of time) and, for strategic reasons, to not spending a lot of time smashing the machine. But I do not think future generations will be grateful for our nonviolence. Your platitudes about violence are your way of avoiding looking at the real violence your system is causing every day. You know you are doing wrong with your commerce, yet you carry on destroying the world. Stop it. Wake up.

And on that note, I'd like to close with a special fuck-you to Hillary Clinton, who calls the government of Venezuela "intolerant" even when evidence is literally under her nose that she and her so-called "allies" are the real bad guys.

Cry me a river, Pepe Lobo!

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"Te-goosey-goosey-galpa--

Knock 'er down and scalp 'er!

Up hers! H' and your ass!

Nobody will halp 'er!"

--from The Sheep Look Up, by John Brunner. Sung to the tune of "Goosey Goosey Gander".

Well, well, well. What have we here? Democracy NOT "restored" in Honduras after all?

A year after the coup that ousted Manuel Zelaya, the new Honduran president warns some want him to be next.

Porfirio Lobo says he is the target of a new plot by some of the same wealthy businessmen who supported Zelaya's removal.

Himself a wealthy rancher who supported the coup, Lobo surprised his own political party when he denounced the conspiracy, warning: "I know who you all are."

The claim -- made less than a month before Monday's first anniversary of the coup -- laid bare the lingering instability of a desperately poor country where a few prosperous families call the shots.

[...]

The violence -- and Lobo's allegations of a coup conspiracy -- threaten to undermine the message the president has spent months selling to the world: that Honduras is a thriving democracy and should be welcomed back into the Organization of American States, which suspended the Central American country after the June 28, 2009 coup.

Oh, cry me a river, Pepe. You and your Yankee bosses know full well that democracy was not restored when you were "elected". You knew it at the time of your farcical "election". Which you would not have won if REAL democracy had existed in Honduras. Well, you had democracy once, but you eated it. You might have had it, if you'd let Mel Zelaya finish out his mandate and hold the Fourth Ballot, the one that would have convoked a constituent assembly to rewrite the Honduran Constitution--this time on DEMOCRATIC lines. But noooo, you had to have your little banana putsch. You had to have the military bundle Mel onto a plane in the dead of night, in his pajamas. And since you're stuck with the OLD constitution, the one written by the generals during the dictatorial 1980s, you're fucked. Suck it up, cupcake--you're not popular, and you're not even really president.

I wonder if that Facebook troll (undoubtedly from Washington, DC) who lamely tried to tell me What Hondurans Really Want is reading this. If you are, "Liberty Heights", take a good goosey gander at this. There's your "democracy". Go live in it, and may a drug gang or some other assassin give your brainless antidemocratic existence the ending it deserves.

July 2, 2010

Cops Behaving Badly: The "Miami Model" at work

No, the Miami Model is not a tall, shapely, ex-Latin American beauty queen. This is the Miami Model, in two minutes or less:

Yeah hi, it's me, banging on about the so-called Black Bloc again. These guys have so much in common with the riot cops, don't they? Both groups are violent, destructive, and hellbent on throwing society into chaos and rendering it unrecognizable. They even seem to dress alike--all in black, sturdy footwear, faces obscured one way or another. One might almost say they were one and the same.

Actually, there are some differences. Anarchists didn't do this--the cops did. Funnily, though, there were some convenient ruffians in the paddywagon to make sure a peaceful demonstrator named Lacy was properly terrorized:

At that point at least two officers yanked me up, including a thug, who may have been a plain-clothes officer, and was a black male wearing a black T-shirt with curvy print on it, about 6'3, perhaps 250 lbs. Photos of this man show a muscular, powerful frame. For the sake of this write-up, I will call this person "Thug A." I later learned that this thug or one of the other thugs may have been named Officer Antonie. Several other thugs, who may have been plain-clothes police, were present. One of them was a tall black man wearing plaid shorts and a white T-shirt, who also may have been a plain-clothes officer. For the sake of this write-up, I will call this person "Thug B."

Please note that none of my attackers ever identified himself as a police officer. They were wearing plain clothes and were driving an unmarked vehicle that looked like a standard soccer-mom minivan. I have no qualms calling my attackers thugs. They never gave me any indication that they were anything but thugs.

I was yanked in an aggressive fashion toward a blue unmarked van. The door was open and the middle seat of the van was folded down. Thug B climbed into the back of the vehicle just before I was flung toward the open door. As I was tossed toward the open door of the vehicle, my right knee hit something which I believe was the edge of the van (the metal lip of the door step). I was pulled into the vehicle, with Thug A roughly pulling my legs into the vehicle.

As I was pulled into the van, another thug, who may have been a plain-clothes officer, was sitting in the driver's seat of the van. For the sake of this write-up, I will call the person sitting in the driver's seat "Thug C." While I was being pulled into the vehicle, Thug C reached back with his right hand and took hold of my neck. Thug C was white with brown hair and a beard and was wearing a black T-shirt and black baseball cap.

As the van began moving and the door to the van closed, the two thugs in the back seat pulled me around so that I was laying face up with my head almost in between the passenger and driver seat. As they were doing so, Thug A was punching me in the stomach, just hard enough to shock someone who is delicate but not hard enough to harm me. As they punched me and turned me over, they said statements such as "stop struggling," and "stop punching." (Again, my hands were cuffed.) I immediately realized that they may be making such completely erroneous statements because we were being recorded, and I loudly stated "I'm not struggling. I am not resisting arrest."

Thug A sat on top of me over my pelvic area. My handcuffs were digging into my wrists. My only goal was to live through the experience without losing my humanity, my spirit, or my presence of mind, to find out where I was being taken, and to find out as much as I could about these thugs, whether they were officers or some sort of private contractors, i.e. paramilitary groups.

Thug B then squeezed my throat with his right hand, digging his thumb deeply into my carotid artery area, on the right side of my throat. He held this for perhaps ten seconds, as Thug A stepped on me, re-adjusting himself overtop of me. I almost passed out at that point as the carotid artery is the chief artery that supplies blood to the brain. At some point during or before this strangulation, I wet myself. Urine seeped into and through my clothing. Darkness almost overtook me, but I held on and I did not lose consciousness.

During this whole time the thugs were calling me names such as: "cunt," "bitch," "whore," and "street trash." A constant barrage of their statements were phrases such as "Look at this street whore." In addition, Thug A was making statements such as, "So you think you can smash up Toronto? Think again, you dirty bitch."

When I did not lose consciousness from choking, Thug B punched the right side of my head with his left fist. This was done at least once, and may have been repeated. I did not lose consciousness, but I began telling them, "I am a good person. I don't know why you are doing this to me. I did not harm anything or anyone."

As I was saying this, Thug A, who had been sitting on top of me, began patting around my skirt. "Why is she wet?" he yelled. Thug B replied that I had "pissed" on myself. Thug A then expressed disgust and began calling me horrible names, and deriding me for "pissing on him." He stopped sitting on my pelvic area and moved further down my legs.

During a large part of this assault, Thug C was reaching back from the driver's seat and pulling my hair very hard, harder than it has ever been pulled. A man in a turquoise-colored shirt was sitting in the passenger seat of the van. For the sake of this write-up, I will call this person "Thug D."

[...]

They roughly turned me over face down. We were quite obviously taking the short ride around the block to the entrance to the jail cell. At some point before we reached the building, the thugs stopped the car in an area that appeared to be a parking lot. Both thugs in the back seat got out. I tried to turn my head to the right to see what Thug A was doing, but Thug A took his fist and brandished it about an inch from my face, saying, "If you move, this goes into your nose." I kept my face down toward the gray van carpet.

Thug A got back into the vehicle, but Thugs B and D must have left. Thug B was still driving. I remained where I was and asked where they were taking me. Thug A said, "We haven't driven very far. Where do you think, you dumb bitch?" Thug A continued verbally insulting me as the van pulled into the PCC.

As I the doors opened to the vehicle, many other uniformed officers were visible in the giant prisoner intake room. I began loudly orating that I had just been assaulted. The uniformed officer who had initially grabbed me, whose face was with mine on all the front pages of the Toronto Star on Monday, June 28, came and sat in the front seat. He asked Thug A who the arresting officers were, asking "me and you?" I gave them a moment to agree on who the arresting officers were, and demanded to know their names and badge numbers. Thug A said, "My badge number will be on the paperwork." I demanded perhaps five more times of both of them, but neither one would tell me.

There were several senior-looking uniformed police officers standing nearby, and I proceeded to orate about how these officers had assaulted me, and that there were some bad, bad police officers working in this department, and that this officer here was one of them. Thug A only complained to the officers that I had "pissed" on him. He asked whether I had "any diseases that he had to worry about." Regardless of the arrogant tone of his question, I thought it was a fair question, and I answered him that I didn't have any diseases I was aware of. I asked him whether he had children, and whether he would like it if they were mistreated for simply taking a photo at a demonstration. I told him that he was a very bad person, and repeated that I am a good person, I've done nothing wrong, and I have harmed nothing and nobody.

What's the difference between a plainclothes officer, a "Black Bloc anarchist" (note quotes; there are, in fact, REAL anarchists who look and act nothing like this bunch), and a plain old thug? Apparently, not a helluva lot.

If you ask the old question, Cui bono? and they all answer to the same effect, you can safely assume they're on the same side.

I also come to grips with the fact that the black-clad mob [protestors] in Toronto has left a lot of people not only in the general public but in the wider nonviolent social/global justice movements in Canada feeling disgusted, demoralized and dispirited. Just the result you want if your goal is to marginalize and stifle dissent. I would suggest that what the 'blocistes' accomplished was what many feminists have termed 'silencing'. While the more numerous non-violent voices were indeed heard on the streets and at Queen's Park (25 000 in the main march!), they weren't 'heard' in the more meaningful, mass sense as loudly as the same reels of destruction overplayed in the media, and the same accounts of destruction and violence witnessed to on the ground by journalists, activists and citizens. The blocistes, in other words, are the most effective tool on the ground for silencing the valid concerns of the broad social movements questioning neoliberalism, corporations, imperialism and war - because like a ball dropped in a glass of water, they take the discursive space away from the broader movements, inviting and indeed compelling the public (through the media, of course) to only focus on the violence of smashing, burning, destroying, throwing, hitting... which are all pointless, repulsive, destructive, and frightening.

Bingo. That's the whole idea, isn't it? To scare people the hell away from even thinking of demonstrating against something they know to be repugnant, repulsive and utterly evil?

Only, of course, it's backfiring. People turned out in force to demonstrate against the arrests and detentions of innocent demonstrators like Lacy. They are bent on showing themselves to be unintimidated by the crude tactics of the Miami Model. They also seem to be overwhelmingly distancing themselves from the Black Bloc. Many are doing so not only out of disgust at the futility of window-smashing, spray-painting and car-trashing, but also out of a suspicion--probably well founded--that every anarchist group resorting to Black Bloc tactics has been infiltrated by police provocateurs.

Even some anarchists themselves are distancing themselves from the rock-throwing vandals. Once more, I refer you to what I blogged in 2007, after three fake anarchists were unmasked as cops in Montebello, Québec. Anarchists--REAL ones--and unionists banded together against the phonies. THAT's what I call solidarity!

Alas, solidarity seems to have taken a real beating lately, along with all the innocent activists. It seems strange to note this, but seven years ago, I was in a peace demo here in my very sleepy, very stodgy, very conservative Southern Ontario town, and not only did the cops NOT beat us up, they gave us an escort, using their cruisers to keep the road clear of traffic so we could march without having to cram ourselves onto a narrow sidewalk!

Ah, the Good Old Days, when the cops were still Good Guys. Now, we can't tell the cops from the robbers, literally, unless we're willing to parse the finer details of their appearance, as well as asking that Latin Question. Something that some of us are apparently unwilling to do...to our detriment, I sadly fear. Give the cops too much benefit of the doubt, and you end up kissing goodbye to your civil rights, one after another, in short succession. Sometimes, as in Montebello, you have to jump to an un-PC conclusion based on "insufficient" evidence, and point out the naked emperor in your midst, or risk losing your own credibility. (That last is being steadily undermined by the major media already--also in cahoots with the cops.)

And on a final note, I offer you a tiny bit of surrealism. An anti-BB site using their name. There appears to be a corporation behind this recent addition to the Internets. Just one more of those wacky little things that make you go hmmm...

June 30, 2010

Authoritarians: Canada haz 'em.

innocence-back.jpg

Ah, yes. I suppose a lot of others will be asking the same thing. Unfortunately, I already know what the answer will be.

Happy Canada Day Eve! Are you looking forward to the fireworks tomorrow, boyz 'n' girlz? That's nice, but trust me, they will be NOTHING compared to what happens when the Toronto 900 get their day(s) in court. How do I know? Oh, a little birdie has been perching on my left shoulder, whispering all kinds of interesting things in my ear.

So what has the little birdie been telling me? Well, here are a few things I heard just today:

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association--that's right, our own equivalent to the ACLU--is going to court on behalf of all those wrongfully arrested (read: ALL arrestees) during the G-20 summit. The suit will target Toronto police and all the other police forces trucked in for the occasion. (Some came from as far away as Calgary and Edmonton. Western fascists--boo, hissssssssss.)

And speaking of police, my friends Pale and Willy would like to know if you have seen a certain burly dude posing as an anarchist. His black duds looked way too new and clean. His shoes look nothing like the grubby sneaks a real anarchist would wear, but a great deal like the sturdy clodhoppers issued to the riot cops. He obviously has regular access to a gym. And that buzzcut? Standard police issue. If you know him, call your local Crimestoppers. In Toronto, that number is (416) 222-TIPS.

Other police beat (and beatdown) stuff: Joe Warmington of the Toronto Sun apparently has a number of unnamed sources in the Toronto police force, and they've told him some very interesting things. At times it makes you wonder who were the bigger victims of this blatant breach of democracy, the cops or the people they corralled. (Read all about the conditions in the jail and then tell me. I think it's no fucking contest.)

Meanwhile, Matttbastard is calling for a public inquiry. As are plenty of others. Five hours in a police corral in the pouring rain out at the intersection of Queen and Spadina does seem like pretty solid grounds. So does the fact that police chief Bill Blair makes up his own laws, lies about them, and then, after days of angry protest, finally admits his guilt. I would call that grounds for dismissal, and certainly for a public inquiry ASAP.

The inquiry should leave no one out. The Ontario government, like Bill Blair, has a lot of unethical (and unconstitutional) lawmaking to answer for (it's now denying its obvious role; what a load of mounted police horseshit). The feds are also far from innocent. I'm pretty sure that Harpo's hate-on for Ontario, and its capital city in particular, led to his sadistic decision to host the G-20 billion-dollar boondoggle there, just so he could see the famously progressive city punished for being the economic hub of the nation. Well, he got his secret wish; Torontonians are now appropriately traumatized. The Shock Doctrine has claimed another societal victim.

But all is not trauma and shock. Among the haul of so-called "weapons" seized by the coppers, there's a full set of medieval LARPing gear. Chainmail, crossbow, the works. Clicky here for a good laugh.

And while you're at it, you may also want to sign the CCLA's petition. Sure to be one of many circulating in the days and weeks to come.

Finally, read what this Saskatchewan blogger, who was there, saw that the major media aren't talking about. And then you'll understand why I feel that bloggers have a better handle on the situation than even the most experienced of the professional journalists who were there. Remember, bloggers don't have to self-censor and sanitize, nor do they have to stick to pre-scripted conventional media narratives. Bodes ill for the mainstream media; bodes rather well for us pixel-stained wretches.

And let's hope it bodes well for our home and native land, too. I'm not feeling that true patriot love this year.

June 29, 2010

Hey gun nuts, take note...

THIS is how you handle a crime in progress. No concealed carry (or any other "carry") necessary:

A would-be looter in Toronto this weekend got foiled by an alert, quick-thinking passer-by...who had no weapon other than a wicked tackle.

THIS is how people with real cojones do it. Not from the safe distance afforded to those with a pussy pistol or a taser, but hands-the-fuck-ON.

And yes, Mark Steyn, this is how CANADIANS do it, you effete ex-Brit twit. Try not to soak yourself again, 'kay?

(BTW, Toronto police, you too should be making a note of this. Where were YOU when this went down? Too busy leaving out decoy cars for your own to trash, I guess.)

June 28, 2010

A few random thoughts on the G-20, Black Bloc tactics and police brutality

I'm not sure what to make of this man. He seems belligerent. Yet he's wearing socialist and peace symbols on his shirt. WTF? Anyway, his situation (which could be street theatre, for all we know) pretty much encapsulates what went wrong in TO this past weekend. How ironic is it that consumerism got thwarted by the thugs of über-fucking-capitalism? Merchants, now you know: Capitalists are NOT your friends. But I'm getting ahead of myself here...and I love the goofy emo kid in there stealing the show, BTW.

Lately I've been hearing a lot of stupid petty bourgeois kvetching about the so-called Black Bloc, vandalism, broken windows, etc. As though a bunch of anarchists (or supposed anarchists) in black were the real culprits at the G-20 summit in Toronto, and all the violence was their fault. Here's a representative sampling of the drivel:

Our first foray today was to attend the Toronto Community Mobilization Network's press conference at 3 p.m., which was barely a press conference: it was in fact an extended chance for TCMN to whine at the press for being unsupportive. (At least when Bill Blair holds a press conference and bullshits to your face, he doesn't need a crowd cheering for him.) It was exactly what you'd expect: cops are bad, we're exercising our legal rights, the people who have been detained overnight are "political prisoners" (by the way, I've rung Aung San Suu Kyi on the phone just now, and she says "drama queen says what?") and on and on--a long-winded stream of the biggest heap of self-righteousness not seen since, well, since the last time I heard Stephen Harper criticize the left wing in this country.

And for all of that, protesters, you still could have come out the good guys today. It would have been so easy. You only had to do one thing, one single goddamn thing: "We don't approve of or condone the Black Bloc tactics and we don't approve of or condone violent protest." There you go. Say that, and you're heroes, plain and simple: people who chose not to let their grievances against the government be tainted by malice, even in the face of ridiculously overwrought police tactics. One lousy sentence; that's all we asked of you. Just show us a little good faith.

But of course it didn't happen--not from the top. We got weasel words worthy of Parliament. "We don't comment on the actions of individuals." "That's not the story here." And the reason for the weaseling out is really simple: organizers don't want to condemn Black Bloc tactics and bandana thugs. The radical protest movement in Canada (and let's call it that for lack of a better umbrella term, to distinguish it from the labour unions and NGOs that vamoosed on Saturday the moment they realized the goon squad had ruined everything) long ago decided that the Black Bloccers are part of the movement and welcome at their rallies, and that the next time they hold a protest the thugs will show up again and they'll break shit again, and the rest will just yell "solidarity" like a bunch of useless assholes.

Care for some cheese with that whine, journo boy? Little caviar on a cracker, perhaps?

Poor babies. How hard it must be to be you, or rather how easy: Just blame it all on a bunch of kids in black, get a few complaints and disavowals from activists in the same piece that directly prove you to be a pontificating jackass (as well as a liar), and just don't dig any deeper. And you wonder why they don't trust you media droids? If this is the best you can do, quit fucking wondering. Your shit is self-explanatory.

The kvetcher who wrote that was working for an LLC blog--that is, one of those corporate mouthpieces dressed up to look like hip, cool, internet-savvy cutting-edge independent whatever. Nothing independent about it, in actual point of fact; any "blog" with an LLC at the bottom is not a real blog. It's a corporate entity, not an independent media outlet, and reflects a corporatist worldview when all is said and done. This reporter is a perfect example of that. His final paragraphs also strike me as representative somehow:

The entire day was a pathetic waste. At the end of it, journalists and delegates partied inside the International Media Centre; the summit was done, they could now go home, and there was free booze to spare, so why not? It'd be a shame to come to the G20 summit and not get hammered by the fake lake.

Actually, in retrospect, the fake lake is honestly kind of nice. It only cost about fifty thousand bucks, not the one-point-two million everybody kept discussing, and it's really quite pleasant to sit in. But when a fake lake is the best part of your day, it's been a worthless day. That's the fault of pretty much every last one of us.

...not to mention disingenuous. That $1.2 million figure included the free booze, which our "alternative" bourgeois journo-boy did not disdain to drink. The "fifty thousand bucks" only refers to the centimetres-deep splash pool proper, but it's still a hefty sum of money for some plastic liner and a little bit of water. There are families in Toronto who manage to live on less than what that glorified splash-pad cost, for an entire year. (Trust me, dude, you don't want to see where they have to do it. There's no "kind of nice" about moldy, roach-and-rat-infested apartments in crime-ridden slums.)

Anyway, this is the kind of opinion you get when people's brains are eaten by corporatism--which, as Mussolini's speechwriter knew, was the essence of fascism. You get a whole lot of bitching about the wrong people, while the real culprits--definitely NOT "every last one of us", as Christopher Robin there says, but just a very very few--get off scot-free.

Oh what the hell...maybe some people just need pictures to help them understand what this was all about.

capitalism-pyramid.jpg

There you guys go. Succinctly put, no?

Notice that the "We Fool You" element is second from the top. They have the clergy, but the press would also fit in that tier. The press is, after all, the ruling class's instrument. Like the clergy, it's their job to justify God's ways to man--"God" being the ruling classes, "man" being the rest of us.

And don't get the idea that the "alternative" LLC "blogs" are any different. Actually, they're just a semi-hip repackaging of the same old thing you'll find in any crotchety old conservative rag. The excerpts I cited above are a prime example. They're full of smug, whiny-assed dismissal of legitimate protest, in case you hadn't noticed. It's like Christopher Robin there was just looking for excuses to dismiss the entire anti-G20 movement.

Which, of course, he was.

Now, why do you suppose he was doing that?

As always, the best question to ask first is that old Latin standby, Cui bono? In other words: Who benefits?

Well, corporatists benefit. That's a given. He wouldn't be writing for an LLC "blog" if not. Look at the pyramid, and remember: This guy is employed by those at the level of "We Fool You".

And after them, there's the ruling class. They like to see attention deflected from the real culprits to a few convenient scapegoats. "We Rule You" needs "We Fool You" to get the ruled masses to accept the rulership of the few.

And above the ruling class, there's...what? Anybody? Bueller?

Now. Let's look again at the middle-to-lower levels of that pyramid. Below "We Fool You" is the face of the oppressor we saw yesterday: "We Shoot At You". And below them are the useful idiots, the parrots we can always trust to squawk along at whatever propaganda "We Fool You" put out, along with "We Shoot At You". Yes, the "We Eat For You" bunch is contemptible as all hell, though very fashionably dressed (and very appreciative of all the free booze being served around the lame, overpriced fake lake. Belly up to the bar, boys.)

I'd say that Christopher Robin, while he writes for "We Fool You", is actually a member of "We Eat For You". Little wonder, then, that he feels compelled to piss on the peons below. What else do the eaters do when full of booze and there's a fake lake lapping at their feet, putting thoughts of pee-pee in their little pea brains? What else--just take a flying whiz at the producers without whom the entire pyramid, including their preening, smug layer, would crumble down.

And it would crumble. If the peons knew who their real enemy was, that is. Which is why "We Fool You" has been so busy this past weekend, tamping down dissent, stroking the bourgeois sense of entitlement at "We Eat For You", and defending and justifying the actions of "We Shoot At You" and "We Rule You". Even if they disingenuously deny it, as Christopher Robin does.

Unfortunately for Christopher Robin and his blame-the-Black-Bloc ilk at We Fool You, LLC, there's video like this one, showing undercover police in action...

...in which, if you look closely at about the 45-second mark, you'll see a masked, black-clad "anarchist" (conveniently marked with an arrow) melt in behind the police line. Something he wouldn't be able to do if he were not, in fact, one of them!

So much for blaming the so-called "Black Bloc". The real blame, a healthy portion of it at least, must fall on "We Rule You" and "We Shoot At You", and not the small radical anarchist element among "We Work For All" and "We Feed All". (The lion's share of the blame goes, of course, to the nameless, faceless entity at the top of the pyramid.)

And now we know why so much money was spent on unregistered security corporations at the Billion Dollar Boondoggle. And also why the same got that quickie licence, while the police got sudden, overnight, secret expanded powers. I'll bet these fake anarchists, put there to stir trouble among the real ones, were in fact the unaccredited security contractors in question. Who needs a real cause for mass arrests and suspension of civil rights when you can just manufacture a bogus one--using the services of a corporation?

Ah yes, "We Rule You" and "We Fool You", "We Shoot At You" and "We Eat For You". We See What You Did There.

And We Are No Longer Fooled.

Why all conservative voters should be ashamed

This, apparently, is what THEY voted for:

Pure, unadulterated human rights abusage. Riot thugs charged a peaceful protest this afternoon at the corner of Queen and Spadina in Toronto (note Steve's Music Store in the backdrop.) There is no excuse for what they did. All the protesters did was sing "O Canada", with emphasis on the words "We stand on guard for thee".

Apparently, they are the only ones who did.

The G-20, as Jesse Rosenfeld astutely points out in the UK Guardian, is an expansion of the failed G-8 in the aftermath of the global capitalist economic collapse. It was all about changing nothing, except maybe for the worse. It's all about capitalist globalization over and above all human rights, dignity and national sovereignty. (Harpo said so himself.)

Rosenfeld, incidentally, was singled out by riot thugs and beaten and held incommunicado for over 24 hours for that. He was one of many journalists to suffer a "detention" for covering the summit--and its many detractors. (There were more detractors than boosters for the G-20 bullshit. Doesn't that tell anyone anything?) Another Jesse, The Real News's Freeston, was beaten up, and two photographers for the arch-conservative National Post were jailed!

Gee, it's as if the "authorities" didn't want the media reporting an uncontrolled, unscripted version of the story, eh?

Well, of course they didn't. That would have been giving too much freedom of speech to the dissenters. And as my friend Sol points out, dissent is now illegal. You can't even march up to the "security fence" to state your viewpoint without being hassled for a fucking ID, for fuck's sake. And this draconian law was passed in secret!

Meanwhile, the going meme in the compliant whore media is that "peaceful protests turned violent". Bull-fucking-SHIT they did! If the media were fully honest, they would come right out and say "Peaceful protests were attacked by fully-armed riot police in an effort to quash all dissent", because that's just what happened! Again, my friend Sol is your go-to guy for what's wrong with this meme.

And of course, this meme is part of a larger strategy: Make all dissenters out to be criminals. Marginalize them all. And if they don't make violence themselves, throw in a few provocateurs and let THEM provide all the necessary pretexts.

There's just one problem with this: Nimble citizen journalists are now blogging. And they can spot the discrepancies with ease. Case in point: These two posts by Dammit Janet. Interesting how provocs wear the same shoes as the cops, no? And even more interesting how the cars deliberately left out to be torched were NOT working Toronto cop cars. (Wrong numbers. Also, one was missing its plates. Hmmm.)

The major media are doing a very half-assed job. Not surprising; their job is to prop up the existing order, not undermine it with too many pesky, incriminating facts. A pity it's all crumbling around them, and the questions are too many, too pointed and too hard to be "answered" with facile lies anymore. The fascism is naked now, and so's the emperor.

The only remaining question is, what are WE going to do about it?

PS: Here is one place to start.

June 16, 2010

Dear islamophobic shrieeeeeekers...

You know how you're always shrieeeeeking at us feminists because we're not shrieeeeeeeking along with you about the evils and horrors of Mooooooozlim (or Mawwwwwwwzlem) "honor" killings coming to these shores, along with those brown immigrants?

the-scream.jpg

Well, you can stop shrieeeeeeeking now. Because two of those people you're so frightened of, and always shrieeeeeeeeking about, have finally admitted their guilt and are going to prison for the rest of their lives.

Yes, the murder of 16-year-old Aqsa Parvez was horrifying. How could a father and brother, who ought to have been nurturing and protecting her, put their hands around their daughter/sister's throat and strangle her instead? The rationale for their crime is culture-based, and yes, horrible, but let's be honest, it is neither foreign nor far removed from that of other domestic femicides in North America:

Media in Toronto and around the world immediately reported and continues to report that Aqsa was killed because she refused to wear the hijab. But it was much more complicated than that.

Parvez felt like he was losing control of a daughter who was failing most of her Grade 11 subjects at Applewood Heights Secondary School. He believed she would be better off attending an Islamic high school.

But at a meeting with her father and school officials on Sept. 17, 2007, she told them she wanted to stay where she was.

A day after the school meeting, Aqsa ran away from home for the first time. Her clandestine exit from her school was orchestrated by school officials and a social worker from Indian Rainbow, a non-profit agency for immigrants. They arranged for her to stay in a shelter.

The familial problems had been obvious a year earlier, when the local Children's Aid Society (CAS) had been brought into speak with her father, once school officials became aware of growing cultural clash between Aqsa and her father, a taxi driver. Life after they had moved to Canada in 2001 was much different than the small village of Pur Miana in the Punjab area of Pakistan.

She told officials she feared she would be beaten, perhaps even killed, if she told her father she didn't want to wear traditional clothing anymore to school, especially her hijab.

Now, after spending several days in a Mississauga shelter, she returned home after receiving a letter from Irim, telling her that her father would give her whatever she wanted so long as she returned home.

For a few weeks, things worked out. But the trouble started again.

During a second round of family mediation in November 2007, Parvez said it would be better for her to quit school and stay home.

She contemplated leaving home again but told a couple of her close friends in November that if "she ever messed up again," her father would "kill me."

She began to cry. "No, he swore on the Qur'an," Aqsa said. "He said he'd kill me if I ever ran away again."

Aqsa left home for the final time on Nov. 29, 2007, and settled in with a Pakistani family, who had a daughter Amal Tahir, friends with her sister Irim. The Tahir household was far less strict than her own home, and she felt safe there.

To her siblings, Aqsa's actions were shocking. Running away from home was unheard of in a Pakistani household, they testified.

In a chilling police interview on the day Aqsa was killed, her mother crying and talking out loud to herself, was recorded as saying she thought her husband was only going to "break legs and arms," but instead "killed her straight away."

"Oh God, Oh God. . . Oh my Aqsa, you should have listened," Anwar Jan said in a police interview room. "Everyone tried to make you understand. Everyone begged you, but you did not listen. . ."

When she asked her husband why he killed her, he told her: "This is my insult. My community will say you have not been able to control your daughter. This is my insult. She is making me naked."

"...you have not been able to control your daughter. This is my insult. She is making me naked."

That's all this boils down to. Aqsa's father was embarrassed because his youngest child, of all people, had decided, just two years shy of legal majority, that she did not want to be so strictly controlled. For a while and in some ways he loosened that grip, but when he saw her making a bid for more freedom, he tightened it again...the final time, right around her neck.

And Mother blames the victim: "Oh my Aqsa, you should have listened..." As though she had not. As though it were only her fault, and not that of her killers--her father, her brother.

It seems to me that Aqsa was the one trying to be heard, and the others were not listening to her. Even her sisters, who obediently said they had "heard nothing" when their baby sister was struggling against the death grip of father and brother!

We can try to blame these things on the Parvez family's foreign origins, but that ultimately won't wash. Patriarchy is pervasive all over the globe. Yes, even here. When a woman gets sexually assaulted, we often hear the question: What was she wearing? Funny how that is never said about men. Does a man with a bulging wallet, one whose outline can be seen through the back of his pants pocket, ever get blamed for being mugged? Should he be? No? Then why women?

I'll tell you why. It's because our society, like that from which the Parvez family came, is still very patriarchal. Women are seen as property, to be traded and controlled. When a young woman marries, does she walk down the church aisle alone? No. Her father escorts her. He "gives her away" to her husband-to-be. The handing over of control, along with the change of surnames, is so blatantly obvious. In our society, women are still, symbolically and in fact, chattel. No muezzins or minarets required.

And yet, the shrieeeeekers who want us feminists to castigate Muslim immigrants for honor killings, take all this patriarchy of their own as perfectly natural. They take it for granted. They do not even see it as patriarchy; or if they do, they say it can't be as bad as what Those People do. Those People force their daughters to wear hijabs, oh noes!

It's always Those People. It's never OUR people.

And when something bad happens among Our People--when an abused white Christian wife asks for a divorce, say, and her husband takes out the shotgun and gives her both barrels in front of the kids, before perhaps taking their lives and/or his own--those same shrieeeeekers are out there, blaming her, claiming she "asked for it", maybe huffing that if she didn't get out sooner it must have been her fault. Those same no doubt are also grumbling about the liberalization of our divorce laws and the existence of a long-gun registry, and what uncontrollable, mouthy jezebels all these teenage girls are nowadays, thanks to comprehensive sex education, condoms and Gardasil shots, and blah blah blabbity blah blah.

And we are supposed to view the Parvez family as some kind of cultural anomaly, some foreign threat, to be kept out by special exclusion laws, no doubt?

No, shrieeeeeekers, it doesn't work that way. Because honor killings are not a Muslim thing. They're a tribal thing, and our own tribe has them too. Only we don't label them as such, because our patriarchy is something we are too deep in denial about to openly admit, discuss and demolish. We call it "stability", "law-abiding", "morality" and many other false, inaccurate things. We even call it "natural order", although we go to unnatural lengths to codify it, institutionalize it and enforce it.

How far do we go? Far enough to blame the victim of domestic violence, just as Aqsa's mother blamed her.

And sometimes, far enough to kill the victim. Or send her back to her abuser, who eventually kills her, and call that "preserving family integrity". It is the same thing; either way we look at it, it results in her death.

And either way we look at it, that's a murder to be prosecuted under the existing laws of the land. No special immigration laws--really, exclusion laws--required.

The death of Aqsa Parvez made it to the news precisely because it is so anomalous. The entire Pakistani-Canadian community is not rife with unremarked honor killings of women and girls. Murders are comparatively rare in Canada. This is not a place where the authorities turn a blind eye when someone is killed. Our grasp of patriarchy may be shaky, but the law is clear at least on what constitutes a murder.

And "honor", that fuzzy concept that varies from person to person and place to place, is not considered an exculpatory factor. Fathers and brothers don't get off here for claiming they could not control a wayward sister-daughter. The law applies to them.

And most imams here exhort their congregations to obey the laws of the land. Which most Muslims do. They even voted against sharia as a potential legal basis for divorce arbitration, which should tell us something: Muslim Canadians want to be part of mainstream society, not outsiders. They want to live by the same laws as we do. They don't want to take us over, outbreed us, or force their laws and religion upon us. They overwhelmingly accept our way of life, our laws, as part of the conditions for living here in Canada. The case of Aqsa Parvez is the exception that very clearly proves the rule.

And that is nothing to shrieeeeek about.

May 31, 2010

Quotable: Craig Murray on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla attack

"A word on the legal position, which is very plain. To attack a foreign flagged vessel in international waters is illegal. It is not piracy, as the Israeli vessels carried a military commission. It is rather an act of illegal warfare."

--Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan

May 17, 2010

Eat THIS, Arizona.

Best cartoon commentary I've seen so far on Arizona's fucking ridiculous anti-Latino law:

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You can learn a lot from Lalo Alcaraz, no?

May 10, 2010

Short 'n' Stubby: Ms. Manx visits Kent State

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Full disclosure: Ms. Manx was still litter-training when Kent State went down. She was also living in Northern Ontario at the time, and hadn't heard of it till much, much later. But she thinks it's still relevant in light of the times we live in (Free Speech Zones of Muskoka, the Stumpy Cat is glaring at YOU.) So it's with how little has really changed in mind that she would like to bring to your attention the following:

Lots of people still haz a bit of Teh Stoopid about Kent State. To wit, USA Today:

...a campus that unwillingly became synonymous with protest...

Uh, try "synonymous with VIOLENT CRACKDOWNS AGAINST protest", lame writer. Every US university campus, other than the most hardcore conservative, was at that time synonymous with protest against the Vietnam war, and universities in general have been so for as long as there have been foolish old farts who make bad policies for younger, wiser souls to protest against. To single out Kent State as a lone anti-war protest hotspot like this is ludicrous. And if you want to know what the biggest institution in the US to protest the war was, get this: It was the military itself.

More stoopid: Robert C. Cheeks, a hard-right-wing Catholic who praised the Kent State murders in the name of "order". The coward has since deleted his crap, but Beliefnet's pagan blogger, Gus diZerega, sets the record straight and delivers a fab-tabulous spanking.

And speaking of fab-tabulous spankings for craven historical revisionists (and all others touting the discredited line about how the National Guard fired on unarmed protesters and bystanders for the sake of "order"), how about this? Scientific analysis confirms that they were ordered by superiors to prepare to fire, regardless of any lack of aggression on the part of the victims. Nixon was not only escalating the war in Southeast Asia, but also on freedom of speech back home. Alan Canfora, one of the wounded survivors of the massacre, is now using this evidence as basis for a new investigation of the crime. Let's hope he succeeds!

And while you're at it, the Truth Tribunal website is a good place to visit and learn about the ongoing search for facts about Kent State. What's truly appalling is that even now, 40 years after the fact, all the facts are still not a matter of public record. Let's hope that changes, too.

Finally, if your blood is easily boiled, don't click this link. But if you can convert that energy to righteous action, DO CLICK IT.

May 9, 2010

Happy Birth Control Pill Day!

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Courtesy of the New York Times, something that isn't whorish, for a change. Gail Collins writes:

This is by way of saying that on Sunday we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the birth control pill. We live in troubled times. [...]

Like a great many of our anniversaries, this one is a movable feast. The Food and Drug Administration actually gave G.D. Searle the go-ahead to market the first oral contraceptive (not counting bees) on June 23, 1960. But the F.D.A. announced its intention to approve the pill on May 9, which also happens to be Mother's Day this year and, therefore, too good to resist.

I can hear all the fundies screeching already. How can one celebrate, on holy, sacred Mother's Day of all days, a pill that made motherhood merely optional, rather than de rigueur as it had been until then? Sacrilege!

Well, I guess the fundies have their piddling little right to be shocked, shocked! that the pesky thing that's been keeping them from filling their quivers is now fifty years old and still showing no signs of dying. They also have a perfect right not to use it themselves. But they have no right to deny it to others.

And there are plenty of others. Women have been trying to avoid compulsory motherhood, and to plan when and if they had children, since time immemorial. Birth control has saved women's lives, and by limiting family size (meaning more food to divide among fewer mouths), has done wonders for the lives and well-being of children, too. Malthus knew it, and had the temerity to say so. Even in the prissy, motherhood-glorifying Victorian era, birth control was a subterranean industry of remarkable proportions:

American women had been limiting the size of their families long before the pill came along. In the 19th century, the fertility rate was plummeting, and ads for everything from condoms to douching syringes helped keep urban newspapers solvent. My favorite factoid from this period is that a company called National Syringe offered a model with changeable nozzles so it could be used for both birth control and watering plants.

Fertility (for plants) and infertility (for the women who tend the plants) in one device! O, the irony.

But wait, it gets even better--and more deliciously ironic:

The powers-that-be believed that the only appropriate form of birth control was celibacy. "Can they not use self control?" demanded Anthony Comstock, the powerful crusader for the Sexual Purity campaign. "Or must they sink to the level of the beasts?"

Comstock managed to get New York authorities to grant him the powers to both arrest and censor, and he bragged that he sent 4,000 people to jail for helping women understand, and use, birth control. He seemed to take particular pleasure in the fact that 15 of them had committed suicide.

One of his targets was Margaret Sanger, a nurse who wrote a sex education column, "What Every Girl Should Know," for a left-wing New York newspaper, The Call. When Comstock banned her column on venereal disease, the paper ran an empty space with the title: "What Every Girl Should Know: Nothing, by Order of the U.S. Post Office."

Sanger was the first person to publish an evaluation of all the available forms of birth control. As a reward, she got a criminal obscenity charge. She fled to Europe to avoid going to jail, and her husband was imprisoned for passing out one of her pamphlets. In the end, he got 30 days, and Anthony Comstock got a chill during the trial that led to a fatal case of pneumonia.

Ha, ha. Pardon me if I don't have even a crocodile tear to shed for the blessed Anthony of Comstock, the martyred patron saint of sex-hatred and censorship. The man who tried to put a chill on women's efforts to limit their family size without celibacy, dead of a chill himself in the glorious golden age Before Penicillin! Too bad there was no pill to save him. One wonders if he'd have been as zealous about trying to stop research and information regarding antibiotics as he was when it came to contraception.

And here's another irony: it's "the level of the beasts" at which you find sex for procreation only. Humans are the among the few animals who don't have an estrus cycle. Meaning, we can have sex at any time, fertile or not. For us, it must therefore serve a purpose, or several purposes, not linked to reproduction. So Comstock was a bad scientist, among all else. There was no Jane Goodall yet to set him straight.

But Margaret Sanger outlived him, and persisted, and today we have her to thank. I thank her, in particular, for the fact that my period, which had gone haywire after an accident, could be made regular again. And for the fact that I bypassed fertility altogether during the so-called peak of my fertile years (which felt like a nadir to me), and was able to get my tubes tied without incident afterward. My own dear mother had six kids, and used birth control to make sure they did not become a dozen or two (or more, Bog help us all).

So even large families can give some thanks to the early advocates of family planning that they're not larger--or living in a house with its own graveyard of lost babies, as was commonplace not so long ago. In Canada, we know the value of our birth control, and we like it...and those of us who know and like it best, thank that true saint from just to the south of us for doing her time in martyrdom so that we could all be free. Blessed be the name of Margaret Sanger!

Meanwhile, just to the south of us, there's still a war a-waging:

And we lived happily ever after. Except that over the last 20 years, protests from the social right have made politicians frightened of mentioning birth control and school boards frightened of including it in the curriculum.

Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, remembers getting a pretty thorough grounding in sex and the ways to prevent pregnancy when she was in school -- back in the days when the raciest thing you saw on television was Rob and Laura Petrie waking up in twin beds on the opposite side of the room. "Kids growing up today watch 'Gossip Girl' and all these shows where every teenager is having sex every day -- and now we don't teach sex education in school," she noted.

Even though 100 million women take the pill every day, to the great relief of 100 million or so of their partners, the terror of mentioning birth control is so great that the humongous new health care reform act has managed to avoid bringing it up at all. Advocates are hoping that when the regulations are finally written, they will require health insurance to cover birth control pills like any other drug. But nobody is sure.

"If the administration would announce tomorrow that all birth control would be free for every woman in America, I think the health care plan would gain 30 points in popularity overnight," said Richards.

And the teabaggers and fundies would be out of a job, out of office, out of all real power. Now THAT would be something to celebrate.

Well, maybe if they could learn to stop protecting the drivel of the local Nazis and concentrate instead on protecting and promoting the REAL freedom of speech--the freedom to teach birth control, among other counter-oppressive things--they might just get something accomplished there. Then kids would learn the facts of life straight and undiluted from real teachers, not trashy TV shows...or precocious friends behind the bike sheds...or the hard way, as their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents often had to.

Let us pray...

May 6, 2010

Cops Behaving Badly: How NOT to search for a paltry amount of pot

Warning: What you're about to see is very disturbing, particularly the part where they shoot the poor screaming dog. Don't click the play button if you're highly sensitive to police brutality or ugly language.

And here's what that was all about...

Police arrested Jonathan E. Whitworth, 25, of 1501 Kinloch Court on Feb. 11 on suspicion of possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of marijuana and second-degree child endangerment.

A police SWAT team entered Whitworth's residence around 8:30 p.m. suspecting a large amount of marijuana at the location, police spokeswoman Officer Jessie Haden said. SWAT members encountered a pit bull upon entry, held back and then fatally shot the dog, which officers said was acting in an uncontrollably aggressive manner.

Whitworth was arrested, and his wife and 7-year-old son were present during the SWAT raid, Haden said. A second dog, which Whitworth's attorney Jeff Hilbrenner described as a corgi, also was shot but was not killed.

And if you're wondering what "second-degree child endangerment" actually means, well, consider what they netted in this ugly sting:

Police discovered a grinder, a pipe and a small amount of marijuana, Haden said. Because the SWAT team acts on the most updated information available, the team wanted to enter the house before marijuana believed to be at the location could be distributed, she said.

"If you let too much time go by, then the drugs are not there," she said.

Or maybe they were never there to begin with, other than the tiny amount that was obviously for personal use, which the cops found. Meaning, maybe this guy wasn't a "distributor" at all, but just an ordinary occasional user.

I would say this raid was a lot more child endangerment that the paltry pot possession in question, wouldn't you?

BTW, here's the latest on that story. It has led to an inquiry, which I would say IS justified. And amply so.

May 4, 2010

How they get away with it, again and again and again

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The headline (just one of many such in recent months) reads "Predator priests shuffled around globe".

The story that goes with said headline is appropriately gut-wrenching, heart-scalding, and just plain horrendous.

But if you really want to know how they get away with such god-awful things, you may want to read this.

And also this.

And then you may want to consider the following:

They do not give a rat's ass about the laws of humankind, other than how to bend them so that those who presume to speak for the laws of God will go on getting away with all the things they do.

They oppose abortion and birth control because those might interfere with the steady flow of new Catholic tithe-payers. Excess births mean more guilt, more shame, and more souls to be picked on in ways that benefit the church, but destroy the souls in question.

They oppose homosexuality for pretty much the same reason. Heaven forfend that two people whose love does not lead to procreation should ever be happy, let alone together! What kind of example would that set for all the excess children? Especially if some of them end up being adopted by such couples? Would they then feel the need to "sacrifice" themselves to the church, to "offer up their lives to God", at painful cost? Of course not! No, better to taboo all such contact, except in the closet context of, say, a monastery, a seminary, or some other place where it becomes a furtive, shameful, guilt-ridden thing, to be spoken of only in whispers in the confessional, if at all.

They slut-shame the victims of the abuses that clergymen commit, so that those victims will not come forward in time to get the abuser arrested and carted off to jail. This is remarkably easy to do when the victim is a small, young, malleable child or teenager. It's a lot harder to do to a vocal, self-confident, fully grown adult, which is why you seldom hear about any cases of clerical sexual abuse of persons over 18. Not that they don't happen, only that the victims don't fit an optimal profile: too young to fully comprehend what's going on, often too small to defend themselves, and too mentally malleable to challenge the abuser or the abuser's warning not to tell. The victim will grow up feeling that s/he was somehow to blame, because s/he "tempted" the "celibate" abuser in some vile, abominable, indecent way that caused him to break his vows.

This is all very convenient for the abuser, who can then go on "giving in to temptation" for as long as he wants, and never pay the consequences. By the time the victim is old enough and knowledgeable enough to realize that s/he has been criminally violated and that there is something to be done about that, the violator will be out of the law's reach. And possibly out of country, too, since the most abusive priests are the ones who get moved around the most.

And all of this is facilitated by the church hierarchy, by its prudery and its myriad unhealthy taboos around sex. And also by its preference to hang on to bad clerics and move them to new parishes, rather than purging them. Priests are "ordained priests forever", instead of being granted licence to preach only for as long as they are competent. They are required to be celibate, which covers a multitude of "sins" which are, in fact, crimes. They are not permitted any healthy outlets for their sexual urges, or their spiritual ones for that matter; the authoritarian structure of the church itself sees to that. Anyone who speaks out from a libertarian perspective is reprimanded or silenced; the Liberation Theologians get treated very differently from right-wing cults such as the Legion of Christ (which proved to be a notorious sexual-abuse ring) or Opus Dei (which is overtly fascist). When a right-wing priest like Marcial Maciel or "saint" Josemaría Escrivá can enjoy so much privilege (Escrivá's writings, in particular, have been instrumental in helping to cover up sexual abuse cases), it's safe to say that the church itself enjoys special immunity, considering itself above the law. Sexual abuse is readily facilitated by the church on all fronts.

And above all, it is facilitated by the fact that the pope, the Catholic hierarchy, the Vatican, everyone who has the power to do something, to change something, would rather do nothing and change nothing. Because to do that, to make church doctrine subject to change, would be to admit that they are fallible, and that goes against Pius IX's doctrine.

They cannot and will not mend their ways. All they can and will do is what they are doing right now: shifting blame, and shifting predators around, and sweeping the resultant mess under the rug time and again. The shame of the victims, combined with statutes of limitations, makes it possible for them to get away with it all.

When you realize that statutes of limitation, which they have actively sought to keep in place, are as dear to the church hierarchy as the power to move abusive priests around (rather than defrocking them, which would remove them from ecclesiastical protection, and letting civil authorities deal with them in the truly appropriate way), then you will stop asking how they manage to keep getting away with the murder of young people's souls.

You will, however, have to ask why they are so far above the law as to have the power to change it--or not permit it to be changed--to suit their own agenda.

May 3, 2010

Viacom = Money Grubbing Hypocrites

Let Mike Mozart (normally a toy reviewer on YouTube) explain to you how "copyright infringement" REALLY works:

So, in summation: If you mash-up or otherwise post to YouTube any material copyrighted by Viacom, even if it's just a tribute and you're not making a cent off it, they can shut you down...but if THEY steal YOUR original stuff off YouTube and post it to their "viral video" site, disguising its true origins and gunking it up with ads that make money for them...well...you're fucked. Unless, of course, you make them feel it whammo in the pocketbook. Be sure to watch toward the end of the video, where Mike tells you just how to do that.

April 26, 2010

Why my boobs aren't quaking today

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Yes, people, you read right: I'm not doing Boobquake today. I'm doing Brainquake instead. I can just hear the chorus already...

"Aw, 'Bina...you party pooper. You spoilsport. You...you...you...HUMORLESS FEMINIST, you. Why aren't you letting your bodacious double-Ds bounce out in the breeze, sticking it to crazy Iranian clerics who are dumb enough to think that immodest women cause earthquakes?"

Well, uh...maybe it's because I don't feel the need to sink to that dirty-minded man's level. He's got Teh Stoopid, and I'm supposed to counter it with more Stoopid? Uh, no. (Besides, I've already mocked him here, in item #5.) How about countering him with a flash of brains instead? You know, like realizing that he might not have been talking about boobs, or legs, but simply showing your hair? That's considered immodest by Iranian mullahs.

Yes, I know. Pathetic.

But it's true. The morals police there can bust you if they think you've got your headscarf on too loose. Or they can make you remove your makeup and/or nail polish if it's deemed too gaudy. Even showing your socks can be a no-no, or at least it was not so long ago. Maybe it is again today, or will be tomorrow; it all depends on the whim of the mullahs.

And that's what's so horrible and scary. The mullahs, not the elected president, are the real rulers of Iran. Even if Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (whom I don't care for, BTW) were to be overthrown tomorrow, those guys would still be firmly in place. It is therefore with regard to them that the real cultural battles in Iran will be fought. It's all very well for us over here to show our tits to salivating dudes and call it rebellion (or just a Girls Gone Wild video--same diff); it's something else to rebel over there, where smaller, subtler, but far more concrete acts on a daily basis must constitute a genuine push-back against the mullahtocracy.

But to understand that, you have to use your brains and read up a bit on Iran. I recommend Azar Nafisi's book, Reading Lolita in Tehran, to give you some idea. Or Betty Mahmoody's memoir, Not Without My Daughter. Those books make all this cheeky western girl-talk of immodesty seem downright dumb.

And that's because it IS dumb. It is, as the originator rather sheepishly confesses, a snarky joke that somehow morphed into a "protest". It has now reaped the inevitable crowd of male gawkers that show up whenever free (as in gratis, not liberated) boobies are in the offing. This is way too frivolous to merit being called a political movement. It's just "woo-hoo, look how rebellious we are!"

Yeah, girls, someone's looking, all right...and it's not the person at whom this fauxtest is being aimed; he can't see you. It's a whole lot of other dudes, who are training their telephoto lenses at your neckline and rubbing their hands (or other body parts) with glee. Which is exactly what the misguided mullah was babbling on about, if you leave out the earthquake bit. So there you go; you're proving him right in an effort to prove him wrong. Feel foolish yet?

But hey, the boobquakers protest, this is all for the sake of science! Okay, girls, let's do some science. (You can cover up now if you like. We won't be needing our boobs for this one.)

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that it's true that an unscarfed head is immodest. Therefore, if the hypothesis is that immodesty causes earthquakes, this hypothesis has already been disproved. You can disprove it at any time, with a simple look around you when you're out in public. How many women do you see who have their hair fully covered? How many do you see who don't? If it's a majority that don't, and the ground isn't shaking angrily underfoot, then you can pretty much take it for granted that the immodesty of these women isn't making seismic trouble after all, eh?

And just look at France. This past week, Sarko banned religious headscarves altogether. Has the ground opened up and swallowed the entire country? Are tremors turning the terre into a trampoline? Non? Well, then, there again is your answer. And no tittaes needed to prove the hypothesis false.

Canada doesn't have a nationwide headscarf ban; Muslim women are free to wear their scarves, or not, as they please (except in Québec). Most women here go bareheaded all year round, even when it's foolish to do so (chills and sunstroke can happen, and for these reasons, as well as fashion, I love my hats!) Does Canada have a lot of earthquakes? No. It hardly has even minor tremors! Even "immodest" Québec hasn't been hit with any big 'uns. So, again: Hypothesis false.

Science class dismissed. Now, let's do some Women's Studies.

The best ones to tackle the sexist stupidity of an Iranian mullah are Iranian women. Does anyone know what they're saying and doing about this? Maybe we should start paying attention to them. I will be. I hear that they are an educated and sophisticated bunch, on the whole, particularly the younger ones. I hope they're criticizing this guy as he deserves. He should be feeling thoroughly embarrassed by his superstitious and outdated view of the world, and all the unwelcome attention it's gotten him. It's one thing to urge modesty; it's quite another to do it with ridiculous, easily debunked arguments. If virtue isn't its own reward, then an earthquake-free existence (or the promise thereof, which is ludicrous in a land as seismically active as Iran) isn't going to cut it either.

And speaking of rewards: What, exactly, are we supposed to be getting out of this whole skin-show, as women? In terms of actual feminist advances, we're getting nada. Unless, of course, you count cheap laughs and bulging male eyeballs as feminist achievements. I don't.

Plus, right-wing pseudofeminist anti-Islamist warhawks are taking up the "cause", too. Do I want to be seen flashing my ta-tas with that crowd of cretinesses? Do you?

And in the end, it's not going to shake things up for us here, is it? It's not going to win us an extra ounce of respect. It's not going to earn us wage parity with a man's dollar. It's not going to get bad laws struck down or modified. It's not going to provide us with birth control that works, or abortion services as needed. It's not going to provide working moms with daycare, or divorced custodial mothers with adequate child support. It's not going to ensure that rape victims get a fair hearing in court. It's not going to keep bar-room baddies from slipping roofies in our drinks. It's not going to level the playing field (and believe me, it's not level, girls.) All it's going to get...is guys ogling us. And the only thing in the world it's gonna rock is some stranger's cock.

Call me a killjoy, but I think we can all do better than that.

PS, ca. 4:10pm: And then along came Femquake....and I joined THAT, too. The nice thing about being a feminist is that you don't have to choose between having boobs and having brains--you're smart enough to know that it's all in how you deploy them.

PPS: And say, how's about we do a QueerIslamicane to this Clay Yarborough dude here in Florida? Since he thinks gay people and Muslims bring hurricanes because they're not his breed of folks, I say it might be worth testing the hypothesis. Everybody dress modestly--women in headscarves, men in turbans--and parade past his office in same-sex couples, holding hands. See if the weather starts getting rough. Too silly? Well, now you know why I didn't do Boobquake. Like I said...we can do better.

April 21, 2010

When Copyright Goes Bad

15-minute documentary on the abuse of copyright by big industry, and the clampdown on creative engagement.

April 15, 2010

Learn from a 12-year-old

Meet Frankie Hughes and her mother, Renée Espeland, as they talk with Amy and Juan on Democracy Now. And then ask yourself: How could two unarmed persons--one, a tiny little minor--possibly be so threatening to an Iowa senator that they were charged with trespassing, and in the mother's case, "contributing to the delinquency of a minor"? And how on Earth is being pro-peace, and using one's right to free speech for a good cause, a "delinquency"?

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!)

January 7, 2010

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.

January 6, 2010

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.

December 31, 2009

Updates to the Herrera child-stealing case

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Marcela Herrera, suspected to be an illegally adopted child of the Dirty War, preparing to submit to DNA testing to help determine her true parentage. Story from Telesur, via Aporrea:

The federal police of San Isidro, Buenos Aires province, Argentina, raided the homes of the two adopted children of Ernestina de Noble Herrera on Wednesday.

Herrera is owner of the Clarín media corporation, one of the largest in Argentina.

With this operation, the police attempted to collect "scattered cells from the bodies" of Felipe and Marcela, the children of the businesswoman. According the the news agency Telam, quoting judicial sources, the procedure was performed on Wednesday morning, in accordance with the order of the judge presiding over the case, Conrado Bergesio.

The same sources stated that the samples would serve to "establish bases of compatibility."

This was confirmed by the attorney of the two young people, Jorge Anzorreguy, who added that the authorities removed "toothbrushes and hairbrushes" from the homes of his clients.

[...]

Ernestina Herrera, the widow of the founder of the Clarín newspaper for some 30 years, said that in 1976, she found two abandoned babies on the doorstep of her house. In 1985, the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo began to receive the first denunciations that the list of children stolen from prisoners of the junta should also include Felipe and Marcela.

The mothers of the disappeared, Estela Gualdaro and Mara Amelia Herrera de Miranda, submitted demands to try to get back their kidnapped grandchildren, suspected to have been taken by the Noble Herrera family. But the case did not become active until, in 2001, the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo entered themselves as plaintiffs.

A year after that, the federal judge Roberto Marquevich detained Herrera de Noble for 66 hours on a charge of falsification of documents for the adoption of her children. Businesspeople, journalists, politicians, unionists, bishops and judges exercised pressure over the detention. In 2003, the jurist was removed from the case and 12 months later, dismissed by the Council of the Magistrature, which allegedly found irregularities in the detention of the most powerful media owner in Argentina.

After the arrest of their adoptive mother, Felipe and Marcela agreed to submit to a DNA test in 2003.

In 2009, the Congress approved a law that made it possible for DNA tests to be performed in the National Genetic Data Bank. However, on Monday, Judge Bergesio ordered that the genetic compatibility tests be done by the Medical Forensics Body.

Translation mine.

Notice that the story seems to have changed a bit from the other day. Now Ernestina Herrera claims she found both babies on her doorstep? And all these powerful individuals "intervened" on her behalf, to the extent of getting a judge fired just for detaining her? The hinkitude is strong in this one.

Watch your back, Judge Bergesio.

December 28, 2009

What child is this?

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Ernestina Herrera de Noble, flanked by adopted son Felipe and adopted daughter Marcela. Both adoptees' natural parentage is now under suspicion.

Or should we say, Whose children are these?

A tribunal has ordered DNA testing on the adopted children of the president and shareholder of the daily newspaper, Clarín, Ernestina Herrera de Noble, to determine whether the children are from parents who "disappeared" during the last military dictatorship in Argentina (1976-1983).

According to adoption facilitators, Herrera found her adopted daughter, Marcela, on her doorstep in May of 1976, while her adopted son, Felipe, was given up by his biological mother two months later.

"However, we have found many irregularities in the adoption process," said Alan Iud, attorney for the association of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo. "In the case of Marcela, two 'witnesses' came forward claiming to be neighbors, but who turned out to be Herrera's chauffeur and a woman who did not live in that neighborhood."

The woman said to be the biological mother of Felipe, on the other hand, "is a nonexistent person", said Iud. "The identity card number given was that of a man, and the name given is false."

Clarín alleged yesterday on its own pages that the case corresponds to a request filed privately by Marcela and Felipe in 2003. Iud denies this. "These tests have been ordered by the Federal Chamber of San Martín in response to a suit filed by the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo and the public prosecutor's office."

[...]

Herrera has been implicated since 2002 in an investigation over falsification of public documents in the process of the adoption of her children. The case was paralyzed because there was not enough evidence to prosecute her or to close the case.

The Clarín director's children must now submit to DNA testing. If they refuse, the Supreme Court has ordered that genetic samples be obtained from their personal effects.

Translation mine.

Certainly the timing of these adoptions alone makes them hinky. The Argentine military coup happened on March 24, 1976; any adoption taking place between then and 1983 has the potential to be a case of child-stealing (as well as murder, since the natural parents of all known stolen children have never been found; the dictatorship "disappeared" them permanently.) Since the two children in question were "adopted" in May and July of 1976, both under highly questionable circumstances, the odds are strong that they, too, are children of the disappeared.

Or to put it another way: Isn't it interesting that the same rich, well-connected, right-wing woman would just so happen to find a "foundling" on her doorstep less than two months after the military coup--and then, two months after that, become an adoptive parent for a second time, to a son whose natural mother had a fake name and a man's ID card? Lightning may strike twice in the same place, but all of that is just a little too coincidental to be a true coincidence.

Legal obstruction of the case pressed by the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, along with the public prosecutor's office, only serves to compound the general smell of rotting fish about the whole affair. The son and daughter--possibly acting on the "advice" of their adoptive mother--have previously refused to come forward and let a doctor swab their cheeks for a few epithelial cells, claiming instead to have had their DNA privately tested. But then there's another catch: They didn't release those purported private test results. Why not, if there is nothing to hide? Wouldn't they be eager to lay this case definitively to rest, instead of obstructing and obfuscating matters further? Such transparent delaying tactics are not exactly a convincing show of innocence.

In the meantime, compulsory DNA testing is now required of all orphans and adoptees generated by the Argentine Dirty War. There are about 500 of them in all, and so far, 98 have been conclusively identified, all with the help of DNA tests. One such adoptee has sued her adoptive parents over the deception in which they participated. It's very likely that she endured psychological trauma as a result of growing up amid what she knew to be a pack of lies. Many Dirty War stolen children have been emotionally and physically abused by their strict, fascistic adoptive parents, and it's very possible that we will hear of other suits like this one.

It's not likely that the Herreras will do the same to their wealthy and powerful adoptive mother, but it will be interesting to see what other bugs shake out of this very creepy family tree.

December 15, 2009

Sexual harassment is a constant problem, say Arab women

This Al-Jazeera report is two years old. So what's changed in the meantime? Apparently, nothing:

Activists from 17 countries across the region met in Cairo for a two-day conference ending Monday and concluded that harassment was unchecked across the region because laws don't punish it, women don't report it and the authorities ignore it.

The harassment, including groping and verbal abuse, is a daily experience women in the region face and makes them wary of going into public spaces, whether it's the streets or jobs, the participants said. It happens regardless of what women are wearing.

With more and more women in schools, the workplace and politics, roles have changed but often traditional attitudes have not. Experts said in some places, like Egypt, harassment appears sometimes to be out of vengeance, from men blaming women for denied work opportunities.

Men blaming women? That sounds awfully familiar. We already know what extreme behaviors that can lead to.

But even in its less extreme forms, sexism is a constant, life-ruining problem--and for the very women who cover themselves up the most, at that:

Amal Madbouli, who wears the conservative face veil or niqab, told The Associated Press that despite her dress, she is harassed and described how a man came after her in the streets of her neighborhood.

"He hissed at me and kept asking me if I wanted to go with him to a quieter area, and to give him my phone number," said Madbouli, a mother of two. "This is a national security issue. I am a mother, and I want to be reassured when my daughters go out on the streets."

So much for the assertion that hijabs protect the virtue of a modest woman. I've long known (from experience, yet) that the worst threat to a woman's safety isn't immodesty on her part, but harassment on the part of a man who thinks he's entitled to whatever he can grab. And that sense of entitlement runs deep and wide in the very countries where women are the most covered-up. Covering isn't protecting them; if anything, it's like a beacon proclaiming to harassers who feel that women have no place in public life: Hey! There's a woman here!

How bad is the problem? Here are some stats:

As many as 90 percent of Yemeni women say they have been harassed, while in Egypt, out of a sample of 1,000, 83 percent reported being verbally or physically abused.

A study in Lebanon reported that more than 30 percent of women said they had been harassed there.

Notice that the stricter cultures have higher rates of reported harassment than those where veiling is less common. Not quite what you might expect if you think modesty is the Great Defender, eh?

Rape and other overtly lewd acts are criminalized, but that doesn't mean much when it comes to "lesser" harassments. And often, culture facilitates things for the harasser, while placing burden after burden on the woman:

Abul Komsan described how one of the victims of harassment she interviewed told her she had taken on the full-face veil to stave off the hassle.

"She told me 'I have put on the niqab. By God, what more can I do so they leave me alone,'" she said, quoting the woman. Some even said they were reconsidering going to work or school because of the constant harassment in the streets and on public transpiration.

Where segregation between the sexes is the norm and women are sheltered by religious or tribal customs, cases of sexual harassment are still common at homes and in the times when women must venture out, whether to markets, hospitals or government offices.

In Yemen, where nearly all women are covered from head to toe, activist Amal Basha said 90 percent of women in a published study reported harassment, specifically pinching.

"The religious leaders are always blaming the women, making them live in a constant state of fear because out there, someone is following them," she said.

If a harassment case is reported in Yemen, Basha added, traditional leaders interfere to cover it up, remove the evidence or terrorize the victim.

In Saudi Arabia, another country where women cover themselves completely and are nearly totally segregated from men in public life, women report harassment as well, according to Saudi activist Majid al-Eissa.

His organization, the National Family Safety Program, has been helping draft a law criminalizing violence against women in the conservative kingdom, where flirting can often cross the line into outright assault. Discussion of the law begins Tuesday.

"It will take time especially in this part of the world to absorb the gender mixture and the role each gender can play in society," he said. "We are coping with changes (of modern life), except in our minds."

And that's precisely where the change needs to happen. In the minds of the men. It had to happen here, and it's still very much a work in progress, as my most recent "Wankers" list confirms. Progressives combat the problem; conservatives protect and entrench it. The obvious answer, then, is not more conservatism in dress or actions; it's progress and social change. And the men are the ones who need to change the most.

Meanwhile, women's self-defence classes (I suggest Wen-Do) are a must. Men tend to think twice about doing it again if a woman lashes back. That alone is a good start to the mind-changing thing. If martial-arts classes for women were offered in Arab countries, I bet they'd be very well attended.

December 14, 2009

Bolivia terror plot: Another Irish connection comes to light

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A heavily armed Michael Dwyer poses with some of his stash in a hotel in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Looks like this Irish cowboy wasn't the only one from his country involved in this...

Via Bolivia's Erbol news service, the latest installment in a continuing saga:

Yasser Mohammed, an Irish citizen detained in Brazil this week by that country's security forces, will be extradited to Bolivia to be processed, says César Navarro, the president of the Multipartite Commission of the Chamber of Deputies which is investigating the terror and separatism case.

In a secret operation co-ordinated by Interpol, involving the intelligence services of Brazil and Bolivia, the Brazilian federal police detained Mohammed on Wednesday in the airport in Brasilia. Mohammed was wanted for his ties to the late Eduardo Rózsa Flores, presumed leader of the terrorist cell dismantled on April 16 of this year.

According to Navarro, the information the Irishman could give is highly important to confirm the terrorist and separatist actions which the Rózsa group had planned to execute.

"This man could be an important link for this criminal group. The declarations he made before Brazilian authorities and his extradition to Bolivia could allow us to reach a new level of fundamental information," Navarro told Erbol.

He said that the foreigner had not been included in the initial investigation, but now, once extradited to Bolivia, the Bolivian Public Ministry could take statements from him to establish his complicity with the Rózsa Flores group.

According to the legislator, the investigation will continue on many fronts, once it was established that the group commanded by Rózsa Flores was not one of just a few persons, but included an "army" of mercenaries.

"Rósza Flores was a mercenary who had many people at his service, with whom he planned the actions to take place in Bolivia," Navarro said.

According to preliminary investigations, the detained Irishman is the one who was in charge of providing large-calibre armaments to the group, whose financing is also under investigation. He was detained in Brasilia as he was about to board a commercial flight bound for Lisbon, Portugal.

Mohammed is also accused of being tied to drug-trafficking and money-laundering.

Early in December, the Brazilian federal police were informed by Bolivian intelligence of the possible presence of the extremist in their country. He remains in detention in Brasilia until his extradition can proceed.

Translation mine.

Interesting. I wonder if he also had ties to Shell, I-RMS and the infamous Corrib gas project, like the other Irishman in the plot, the late Michael Dwyer. Wouldn't surprise me if he did, but so far I've found very little on this dude. There are a lot of terrorism-accused Yasser Mohammeds in the world, and a lot of irrelevant gunk in the Google as a result.

I've a hunch we're about to see some innnnteresting monsters coming out of the woodwork. If these guys were a veritable army, as Mr. Navarro says, there will probably be quite a slew of them coming in the weeks and months ahead. Who, and where they're all from, remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, if any friendly souls reading me in Ireland, Bolivia or Brazil know this chap or know of him, or just have relevant news articles to share, your feedback would be much appreciated.

December 10, 2009

How very convenient...

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Why are these mothers still marching? Because justice has not been served...and their children are still missing.

Isn't it funny how many repressors from the dictatorial age of the Argentine junta are getting away with murder--literally? Look who's going to miss his own trial:

The repressor Alfredo Astiz was admitted to the Naval hospital in Buenos Aires, 24 hours before the beginning of the trial for the Task Force which operated in the Navy Mechanics' School (ESMA) during the last military dictatorship.

Astiz was transferred from the Marcos Paz penitentiary, where he was in preventive custody, due to an apparent complication of a kidney tumor.

The hospitalization of Astiz makes it unlikely that he will be present for the opening of the trial which Oral Tribunal No. 5 (TOF 5) will begin on Friday for 19 repressors, for crimes against humanity committed at the ESMA.

Among the 19 who will be tried, along with Astiz, are Jorge "El Tigre" Acosta, Antonio Pernías, Jorge Rádice, Juan Carlos Rolón, Carlos Capdevilla, and Ricardo Miguel Cavallo.

Among the crimes for which they will be tried are the kidnapping and disappearance of the journalist Rodolfo Walsh, and the French nuns Léonie Duquet and Alice Domon.

The trial against the ESMA torturers has already been suspended twice. The first time, it was postponed due to proceedings for crimes committed in the Campo de Mayo jurisdiction, in which life sentences were handed out to ex-subcommander Jorge Olivera Roverre and ex-colonel Bernardo Menéndez. Three other chiefs were acquitted. Later, the trial was again postponed because one of the tribunal judges had to be replaced.

This Thursday, from noon to midnight, several human-rights organizations will be holding a Resistance March, which takes place every December 10, at the Plaza de Mayo, in memory of the 30,000 disappeared persons.

The 29th march will be headed by the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, HIJOS, families of the disappeared and political prisoners, and Siblings. Among other things they are calling for the living reappearance of Julio López, the witness who disappeared just before the trial of the repressor, Miguel Etchecolatz.

Translation mine. Linkage added.

The comments at the site are full of anger, as well they might be. Alfredo Astiz is one of the most infamous of the ESMA's many foul repressors. Along with the murders of the French nuns, who had worked with the poor in the farming province of Corrientes, he is also known to have infiltrated the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, pretending he had lost a brother to the dictatorship. It was a lie, of course. As was Astiz's later claim that he was "just following orders". One of the leading Mothers wound up being "disappeared" herself; that was Astiz's doing.

Up to now, Astiz has gone largely unpunished. What justice has found him, has been at the hands of ordinary citizens taking revenge the only way they could. According to Marguerite Feitlowitz's A Lexicon of Terror,

The first assault was in the ski resort of San Carlos de Bariloche. Astiz and a female companion were waiting for the bus to take them to the slopes, when the Blond Angel [Astiz] was recognized by a former detainee in the camp called Vesuvius. "All I could see were [the Mothers'] white kerchiefs," said the assailant, Alfredo Chávez, a witness at the trial of the ex-commanders. "Son of a bitch! Killer of adolescents!" he yelled, and punched Astiz in the nose. [...] Encouraged by the [navy], Astiz filed suit. For counsel he retained Pedro Bianchi, the lawyer who was defending Erich Priebke, the Nazi who, until his extradition, lived close to the Bariloche ski resort. The next attack took place in greater Buenos Aires; the assailants this time were two brothers, age nineteen and twenty, taking their dog to the vet. [...] En route, a car pulled in front of them, blocking their way. From behind his window, the driver, Astiz, taunted the boys with an obscene gesture. The captain was recognized by the younger brother. Though this attack was worse, neither Astiz nor the navy reported it to the police. No one came to the captain's defense as the brothers pulled him from his car, hit him so hard in the mouth his dental plate popped out, then bashed in the hood of his vehicle. "Good boys! Kill him!" yelled a woman through the open window of a bus. [...] The boys' father, a devoutly religious man, did not defend his sons' behavior, but offered an explanation that struck a chord with many parents with whom I spoke: "This is what happens after you're obliged to tell your children that justice here doesn't function as it should, that the courts refused to castigate the most horrendous crimes of a horrendous dictatorship."

What the father said explains a lot, does it not?

This is why, in Argentina, there is still so much unresolved. The courts are often stacked with old repressors or their sympathizers; the police and military ranks likewise. Corrupt politicians are as common as dirt. With "authorities" like that, is it any wonder that ordinary citizens are reduced to hauling known repressors like Astiz out of their cars and beating the shit out of them?

And is it any wonder that the HIJOS, the Mothers and Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, the "reappeared" ones, and so many others, hold these big annual protest marches?

Until there is real change in Argentina, this seems to be the form that justice will take--a combination of angry, impulsive outbursts and dignified organized protests that make so much noise that no one could miss them.

(Muchas gracias to Otto for drawing my attention to this story.)

December 8, 2009

Smart on crime means tough on Tories

Don't know who made this video, but I can totally get behind it. It's bang-on...on every point.

December 5, 2009

Economics for Dummies: What Chavecito's bank moves really mean

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"Let's get outta here, buddy--now Chávez is starting in on us, the honest bankers!"

And for those who wanna know what they're referring to, here ya go. Enjoy!

Yes, we CAN...haz torture inquiry

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If you wanna know why I'm happy, read what Jack Layton sent me today:

Parliament passes NDP motion for an Inquiry on torture allegations

Thank you for your email concerning the recent allegations of prisoner
torture in Afghanistan. I am providing this update on our efforts to get
to the bottom of the allegations.

On December 1, Parliament agreed to pass the motion by New Democrat
Foreign Affairs critic Paul Dewar calling for a public inquiry over the
torture allegations. From the start, our Party believed that a public
inquiry was needed. We welcome the support of the other opposition
parties who agree with our position.

It's now up to the Harper Conservatives to do the right thing. In
opposition, Mr. Harper spoke of a government's moral responsibility to
respect the will of Parliament, because it was ultimately the democratic
will of Canadians. We want his government to be guided by these words
and to set-up this public inquiry.

Please find attached my speech in Parliament in support of my
colleague's motion and you can visit the following link to read the text
of the full debate:

LINK 1

Canadians are understandably upset that there is a reluctance to take
responsibility for these allegations. Transferring detainees to those
whom are likely to torture them is a violation of international law.
However, the Conservative government continues to dodge and dismiss all
concerns about the treatment of prisoners. They've concealed evidence,
intimidated witnesses and obstructed the Military Police Complaints
Commission inquiry. We even heard from three Generals who told the
Afghanistan special committee that it wasn't their job to follow up on
the condition of detainees after they were handed over to Afghan
authorities.

It is clear that an inquiry is needed. Mr. Colvin's revelations deserve
to be fully examined. And, if required, the appropriate people should
be held responsible.

New Democrats have been raising concerns about prisoner transfers in
Afghanistan since 2006. For more information, please refer to:

LINK 2

Again, I appreciate hearing from you. Feel free to share my response
with anyone who may be interested. All the best.

Sincerely,

Jack Layton, MP (Toronto-Danforth)
Leader, Canada's New Democrats

There you have it. A little triumph for real Canadians today.

November 4, 2009

Vince Bugliosi wants to prosecute Dubya

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

Racist concern troll is out of a job

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Awwww...

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

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

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

[...]

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

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

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

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

November 2, 2009

Venezuela, Peru: Compare and contrast...

...the way they treat their indigenous:

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

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

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

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

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

October 15, 2009

Burden of proof: Guess who no can carry it

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If you said "teh heterostoopid ghey-bashers", you're right!

A federal judge challenged the backers of California's voter-enacted ban on same-sex marriage Wednesday to explain how allowing gay couples to wed threatens conventional unions, a demand that prompted their lawyer to acknowledge he did not know.

The unusual exchange between U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker and Charles Cooper, a lawyer for the group that sponsored Proposition 8, came during a hearing on a lawsuit challenging the measure as discriminatory under the U.S. Constitution.

Cooper had asked Walker to throw out the suit or make it more difficult for those civil rights claims to prevail.

[...]

The question is relevant to the assertion that Proposition 8 is constitutionally valid because it furthers the states goal of fostering "naturally procreative relationships," Walker explained.

"What is the harm to the procreation purpose you outlined of allowing same-sex couples to get married?" Walker asked.

"My answer is, I don't know. I don't know," Cooper answered.

They don't know what they're trying to stop, yet they still passed a law intended to stop it? Wow. How dumbass is that?

Wait, it gets even dumber:

"There are things we can't know, that's my point," Cooper said. "The people of California are entitled to step back and let the experiment unfold in Massachusetts and other places, to see whether our concerns about the health of marital unions have either been confirmed or perhaps they have been completely assuaged."

So that's why these concern trolls passed a deliberately discriminatory law? Just to "step back and let the experiment unfold"? I call bullshit.

Apparently, so does His Honor:

Walker pressed on, asking again for specific "adverse consequences" that could follow expanding marriage to include same-sex couples. Cooper cited a study from the Netherlands, where gay marriage is legal, showing that straight couples were increasingly opting to become domestic partners instead of getting married.

"Has that been harmful to children in the Netherlands? What is the adverse effect?" Walker asked.

Cooper said he did not have the facts at hand.

"But it is not self-evident that there is no chance of any harm, and the people of California are entitled not to take the risk," he said.

"Since when do Constitutional rights rest on the proof of no harm?" Walker parried, adding the First Amendment right to free speech protects activities that many find offensive, "but we tolerate those in a free society."

Yeah, that reminds me: Why is it okay to burn crosses on black people's lawns, but not let same-sex couples marry? I can easily demonstrate the harm to children that witnessing a cross-burning does, and I'm not even a lawyer. Can the gay-bashers demonstrate the harm that a same-sex marriage would allegedly do?

Moreover, why wait to see what happens in Massachusetts? The article goes on to note that 18,000 same-sex couples were married in California before Prop H8 took effect, and that the courts have ruled that their marriages are valid. Why not look at what happens in California, instead of all the way across the Fruited Plain (pardon the unintended pun)?

I have a fair idea of why they won't. They will do their damnedest to deflect attention away from that salient fact because to admit that those 18,000 California same-sex marriages are valid means there's no harm done to the kids--and indeed, no harm done to anything except maybe old worn-out bigotries dressed up as "traditional family values"!

jim-gay-wedding.jpg

October 13, 2009

Interview with a torturer

An Uruguayan journalist goes face-to-face with one of the three men who tortured him when he was a prisoner during the Dirty War in Argentina:

Video in Spanish, with English subtitles, from Al-Jazeera.

The torturer's name is Héctor Julio Simón, nickname El Turco Julián (Julian the Turk). I had not heard of him before reading this item at Memory in Latin America (a good place to go for backgrounder on all kinds of Latin American dirty war abuses, BTW.)

Like many torturers, "Julián", a convinced fascist and rabid antisemite known for his Hitler salutes, who worked out of the infamous Olimpo prison (among other places), has a strange and uncomfortable relationship to his erstwhile victim. This even though Gerardo, the journalist, has forgiven him and is now only seeking answers--chief among them, the names of the other two, who were truly vicious to him. One, nicknamed "Kung Fu" for his brutal martial-arts style of prisoner abuse, remains unnamed at the end, although Gerardo has managed to find out who the other one, known as "Colores", was.

"Julián", as you can see, can't quite meet his victim-turned-interrogator's eyes. And he's full of excuses and attempts at deflection. But he does let slip a crucial truth: that torture twists the torturer as much as it does the victim, in its own perverse way. After his stint as a torturer ended, Julio Simón's troubles began in earnest; he became jumpy and restless, feeling that no place was safe, and he ended up living out of his car, desperate to hide and unable to escape the demons now eating him from within.

One can see that torture isn't really about obtaining intelligence (ordinary questioning, without coercion, can do it better, as can exercising a lawful search warrant.) Most of the "information" obtained through torture is useless, since a victim will say anything it takes to make it stop. It's about power, about making sure the victim knows that s/he is powerless, and about holding that person's life in the balance, for whatever purpose the higher-ups have in mind--until the authorities decide that the person has learned a lesson and can be let go. Or else the bodies are dumped from planes into the sea to destroy the evidence, as was the case in Argentina. And yes, some torturers are truly sadistic, and enjoy other people's suffering--or have convinced themselves that the victim is not the right sort of person, maybe not even human at all, and is therefore fair game. For them, the power trip is as much a high as any drug.

But what is less well understood is that the torturer, unless he is a complete automaton, can also feel profoundly helpless long after his career as a professional tormentor is over, especially if he is no longer with the military, the police or any other agency where he can go on exercising that inordinate power he used to have. Cut loose from the monstrous machinery that sustained him in his bloody career, he soon realizes that he is illegitimate, without credibility, as well as helpless. He cannot go seamlessly back to a normal life, a family, an innocent job, although he may, for a long time, pretend quite successfully. But there comes a time when the pretense breaks down, and it happens most often to torturers who no longer exist in a state of authority and impunity. Perhaps he knows that whatever he has done, someone else in turn can do to him. The paranoid mindset of fascist times stays with him wherever he goes, long after democracy is restored. In fact, it is then that he will be at his most uneasy. He may fear that his former colleagues, especially the more brutal ones like "Kung Fu", will track him down and kill him if he squeals, as "Julián" does. He may also feel guilt, or even empathy, that he does not want to feel again if face to face with one of his victims, as here. He will do anything to avoid confronting and reliving the past, even when such a confrontation is the only thing that can help him. (To admit the past is to admit one's own role in it--and one's own powerlessness.) He may be a tangled knot of contradictions and attempts at self-justification, scrambling to weave some solid identity out of the torn cloth of his destroyed character. But whatever the case may be, torture has left its own mark on him. No sense of normality is ever possible again after that.

October 12, 2009

Somehow, this doesn't surprise me...

Listen closely to Silvio Berluscoglioni--er, Berlusconi--and you'll hear him confess the reason he got off the hook so many times when he should have landed in the stripey hole:

He says he spent some 200 million euros ON JUDGES, then corrects himself and says "attorneys". Somehow, though, I get the feeling that the original wording is in fact the correct one!

October 7, 2009

An ironic death in Russia

From La Jornada (of Mexico) via Aporrea, an item both ironic and sobering about what has become of Russian glasnost:

Journalists, politicians and many ordinary readers of Izvestia, the daily newspaper which marked a crucial period in Russian history, attended a funeral on Tuesday for Igor Golembiovsky at Royekurovskoye cemetery.

Golembiovsky, a symbol of freedom of expression along with Yegor Yakovlev, of the weekly paper Moskovskiye Novosti, and Vitali Korotich, of the weekly Ogoniok--reached fame in the years prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, and in the 1990s.

Golembiovsky, who died a few days after his 74th birthday, was buried in the same cemetery as Anna Politkovskaya, who was assassinated three years ago by a gunman.

But Golembiovsky, one of the architects of glasnost in the days of Mikhail Gorbachev, did not die of an assassin's bullets; his brilliant journalistic career at an end, sick and marginalized, as a victim of the market economy, the same he had always promoted as a viable alternative to socialism.

In the early 1980s, in the days of Yuri Andropov, Golembiovsky, considered a "problematic" journalist, was sent to Mexico as a correspondent for Izvestia. He lived his first exile there until, at the end of Konstantin Chernenko's reign, with Gorbachev in power, he was able to return to Moscow as bureau chief of that newspaper.

Even during his days as sub-director, in 1990, the new Communist party hierarchs, and above all the most conservative ideological wing, considered Golembiovsky "too liberal" and sent him to Spain. A few months later, he quit as correspondent and asked to return to Moscow to become a columnist for the paper.

On August 23, 1991, two days after the failed coup against Gorbachev, Golembiovsky became editor-in-chief of Izvestia, elected to the post by the same journalists and newspaper workers who, in an assembly, proclaimed themselves independent of the Supreme Soviet, which until then had financed them.

With the help of Boris Yeltsin, whose government he did not hesitate to criticize when in his opinion there were reasons, Golembiovsky led Izvestia to its golden age, with a daily press run of 11 million copies. Unlike some editors, who enriched themselves by appropriating the infrastructure inherited from the Soviet era, Golembiovsky wanted the paper to finance itself as a limited corporation, dividing earnings between journalists and workers, as well as attracting important capitalist partners who, gradually, took control of the enterprise.

In 1997 the powerful lost patience with the criticisms. Golembiovsky, true to his journalistic convictions, considered it worth reproducing an article from the French periodical, Le Monde, which attributed to the then prime minister of Russia, Viktor Chernomyrdin, an estimated personal fortune of some $5 billion US.

The permier flew into a rage and demanded that the corporations Lukoil and the Oneximbank, majority shareholders in Izvestia, fire Golembiovsky. Along with him, a number of journalists left, and a short time later, they founded Noviye Izvestia, a new paper financed by magnate Boris Berezovsky, formerly a member of Yeltsin's inner circle.

But Berezovsky came to grief in a personal confrontation with Vladimir Putin. Golembiovsky had to leave Noviye Izvestia in 2003, after the Kremlin launched a palace coup in its editorial department and several members of the old team abandoned him to his fate.

Still, Golembiovsky found the strength to start a new paper, the Russky Kurier, which soon had to close because it could not withstand the pressures of the authorities, judicial charges on all manner of pretexts, and the growing advertiser boycott launched against it.

All these battles took their toll on his health and, in 2005, after suffering an embolism, Golembiovsky became bedridden, but still remained lucid and interested in the political situation in Russia, without ever losing his irrepressible sense of irony.

As luck would have it, the funeral of Golembiovsky, always in solidarity with critical voices, would coincide with the date on which a lower-court judge in Moscow exonerated the president of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, of all responsibility for the murder of Natalia Estemirova, a human-rights activist from the Memorial organization, kidnapped and executed in the Chechen capital city of Grozny last July 15. The director of Memorial, Oleg Orlov, accused Kadyrov of ordering Estemirova's death, and, in the face of the obvious impossibility of presenting conclusive proof, the judge ordered the organization to publish a retraction on its web page and pay Kadyrov the ruble equivalent of $2.3 million US in damages. Memorial plans to appeal the sentence.

Translation mine.

Aporrea headlined this piece as "Russian journalist, architect of glasnost, dies a victim of the market economy." I'd say that sounds about right.

RIP Igor Golembiovsky, ironic victim of the very policies he had every reason, at the time anyway, to believe would be successful. If only he had known...

October 5, 2009

Justice in the works at last for the victims of the Caracazo, Yumare and Cantaura

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A truck carries coffins of the victims of the Caracazo to a mass grave somewhere in Caracas, Venezuela, early March, 1989.

Venezuela is making major progress in unearthing the truth about several political killings of the "democratic" 40 years of the Punto Fijo era, that false golden age that the oppos are doing their damnedest to bring back. Two of the worst massacres, after the Caracazo of 1989, are those of Cantaura and Yumare from the early- to mid-1980s, in which bodies of the tortured and disappeared were buried in mass graves that, until recently, remained untouched. Here's the latest on the Cantaura massacre investigations:

This Sunday marks the 27th anniversary of the Cantaura Massacre, in which 400 members of the Armed Forces and dozens of officers of the General Directorate of Intelligence and Prevention Services (DISIP), with the help of Caberra and Bronco airplanes from the Air Force, cruelly murdered 25 Venezuelans.

The actions began at 5:30 am on October 4, 1982. They were part of a military operation already underway, whose objective was to destroy a presumed guerrilla camp of the Américo Silva Front, which at the time was in an uprising against the government of then-president Luís Herrera Campins (1979-83).

The victims were all between the ages of 16 and 30, and the majority were shot in the back of the head.

The dead have been identified as follows:

Roberto Rincón Cabrera
Emperatriz Guzmán Cordero
Carmen Rojas García
Sor Alonso Salazar
José Núñez
Mauricio Tejada
Enrique Márquez Velásquez
Carlos Hernández Arzola
Idemar Castillo
Luisa Estévez Arranz
Baudilio Herrera Veracierto
José Becerra Navarro
Eumenedis Ysoida Gutiérrez Rojas
Diego Carrasquel
Luis Gómez
Antonio Echegarreta
Eusebio Martel Daza
Rubén Castro Batista
Nelson Pacín Callazo
Carlos Zambrano Mira
Beatriz Jiménez
Julio Faría Mejía

In response to the families of the victims, the Public Ministry re-opened the case in 2006. To date, 23 new investigations have been conducted, in order to gather sufficient evidence to establish criminal responsibilities in the massacre of Cantaura, in the state of Anzoátegui.

[...]

With these materials, the National Assembly, by way of Reinaldo García, the president of the Human Rights Subcommission, proposed the creation of a Truth Commission to advance investigations into the political killings and disappearances of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

The parliament also designated a commission of deputies to investigate and establish civil and administrative responsibilities regarding the victims, disappeared ones and torture victims of the Cantaura, Yumare and Caracazo massacres, among others.

The commission plans to develop an Organic Law for the Classification and Declassification of Documents and Videos to open the archives of the military and police forces.

Reinaldo García said that, along with the discussion of the Truth and Justice Law, the commission would continue exhuming the bodies of the victims, and would not forget the restitution payments for the survivors and family members.

Translation mine.

For those who can read Spanish, there's an interview here with Luís Machado, one of six survivors of the Yumare massacre of 1986, and a victims' rights advocate. The document can be downloaded in PDF form and comes courtesy of Ciudad Caracas.

And in English, Venezuelanalysis has a progress report on the latest investigations into the deaths of the Caracazo. Official figures from the time of the massacre put the death count at around three hundred, but this is widely believed to be a gross underestimate, with the true number being in the thousands.

To get some idea of the mayhem the Caracazo unleashed, here's a little YouTube (with music from Argentina's own Bersuit Vergarabat):

The lyrics are very appropriate. The chorus goes:

Here comes the explosion
Here comes the explosion
Of my guitar
And your government
As well.

And if you should have any doubt
I've come to grips with what's so hard
If this is not a dictatorship,
What is it?
What is it?

Ah yes, the glorious "democracy" of the Fourth Republic. Who misses it? And is this what lies in store for Honduras under its own current faux-democratic dictatorship? Hell, no--Honduras is living it already.

Se viene el estallido...

September 7, 2009

Hey Branko, come sue me too--if you dare!

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Hey Branko, is this "libel", "slander" or "calumny" enough for ya? Dude, if the shoe fits, wear it and don't send out your lawyer to complain that it pinches:

Branko Marinkovic, businessman and ex-president of the radical Comité Pro Santa Cruz, filed a slander lawsuit on Monday against the vice-minister for governmental co-ordination, Wilfredo Chávez, and a presumed activist for the ruling MAS party, professor Margoli Guzmán, accusing them of linking him to terrorist acts.

Marinkovic's attorney, Otto Richter, told the media that this action would set a precedent, because no government authority or political leader had previously faced such accusations without knowing that they would have to answer for their actions and words before the law.

"Today, Mr. Branko Marinkovic has filed two lawsuits, one against Ms. Margoli Guzmán Rojas, and the other against Mr. Wlfredo Chávez Serrano, for slander and injuries [to his reputation]," said the jurist.

Richter explained that last Wednesday, vice-minister Chávez insinuated that Marinkovic used his influence against the Superior Court of Santa Cruz, with the objective of slowing down investigations into a separatist-terrorist case against the ex-civil society director.

Margoli Guzman is said to have accused Marinkovic of financing the activities of the terrorist cell dismanteld in Santa Cruz this past April.

Marinkovic's attorney asserted that his client "is in Santa Cruz, will stay in Santa Cruz, and will remain in the country" to demonstrate before justice that he had never had any relations with the terrorist group.

"He is not trying to evade any orders, for one simple reason: there is no arrest warrant out against Branko Marinkovic," said Richter, who claims that justice failed because the terrorist-separatist court case is rooted in Santa Cruz, not in La Paz.

Translation mine.

Here you can clearly see just how much arrogance and chutzpah exists in the Santa Cruz "civil society" groups (read: fascist terrorist financiers). They claim it's not really justice because the case against them is a federal rather than a local or provincial one? Surely they jest.

Or maybe they're just running scared, because they know that the government has some real information on them. And to intimidate anyone who speaks out, they're now pursuing this frivolous suit against two very minor players.

Bad news for ya, Branko: The truth is the best defence legally as well as in any debate. These two will get off, because they're only telling the truth, and it is nothing that we don't already know. And if you don't have the truth on your side, all the lawsuits in the world aren't going to change that.

At best, this is just gonna make you look like the rich bully you undoubtedly are.

And if you don't like seeing it told so baldly, you can sue me too--if you think your arm reaches all the way up the Internet into Canada. C'mon, Branko, let's see if you can repossess my used furniture, haha.

PS: Branko's lawyer is lying, BTW. Government minister Alfredo Rada has just made it clear that a warrant for Branko's arrest is in the works. The case against Branko is being made at the federal level because Branko (or his Comité, same diff) is widely suspected of having bribed a superior-court judge in Santa Cruz. So you can kind of see why the case against him can't be carried out locally, eh?

September 6, 2009

Oscar Arias ain't no bad dude

The president of Costa Rica pwns Globovisión:

...or at least, fails to fall into their carefully laid trap. Interviewer Gladys Rodríguez tries to get him to say he "accepts" the putschist leadership of Honduras; Arias ain't biting. He holds firm to what any good democrat would: he says that any elected leader who receives the sash of office from the hands of a putschist would not be accepted by the people, and that the only way to avoid such a disaster is to return the legitimately elected president--that would be Mel Zelaya--to his desk and let him finish his mandate.

Interview in Spanish; pwnage in universal body language.

September 5, 2009

Bolivia terror plot: The Rózsa-Marinkovic "Ustasha Connection"

ustasha-ss.jpg

A World War II-era Ustasha propaganda poster, highlighting the connections between the Nazi SS and local tyrant Ante Pavelic.

From ABI, an in-depth look at the connections behind the attempt on Evo's life this past spring:

Seven months and five days after the inauguration of the progressive government of Evo Morales, the Bolivian-Croatian-Hungarian mercenary Eduardo Rózsa wrote a column for El Nuevo Día, owned by the Spanish media group Prisa and already part of the stock portfolio of Branko Marinkovic, according to a journalistic investigation.

On August 5 of that year, the Santa Cruz-edited daily, published an article on the political situation in the war-torn Middle East, signed by Rózsa.

The article, titled "Mad dogs ravage Lebanon", was published a day before the installation of the Bolivian constitutent assembly, whose 245 members were elected in July 2006.

It is the first evidence that Rózsa, born in Bolivia in 1960 to a Hungarian father and a Bolivian mother but based in Budapest, had turned his eyes to his ancestral country at the moment the Morales government began to implement its agrarian reforms, redistributing cultivable land to disadvantaged peasants and indigenous people.

There are no earlier traces of Rózsa in Bolivia, except for one opinion piece signed by his sister, Silvia Rózsa, written for El Nuevo Día of Santa Cruz.

The article, attributed to Eduardo Rózsa, reveals the first formal contact with the local operators, who deny that they knew him, and which is now being investigated by a judge in Santa Cruz, Luis Tapia Pachi, along with the "Ustasha Connection".

The "Ustasha Connection", crucial to the understanding of European conflicts in the last decade of the 20th century, incorporates concepts such as "ethnic and religious cleansing", and creates humanitarian catastrophes in other parts of the world. It is "the union of fascists with fascists, no matter where they were born, which languages they speak, what color their hair or what religion they profess," wrote Bolivian intellectual Marcos Domic.

The "Ustasha Connection" relates to the civil wars which divided Yugoslavia in the 1990s. It concerns "fascists of whatever type, who attached themselves to post-Yugoslavia Croatia. That is, it has to do with connections before all politics," says Domic.

Rózsa, of whom there is no evidence that he was present in Bolivia between August 5, 2006 and September-October, 2008, entered the country surreptitiously with a group of European mercenaries, veterans of the Yugoslav war, to "gain independence for Santa Cruz", according to his own words to a Hungarian journalist before returning to Bolivia late last year.

"I will enter Bolivia via Brazil and start organizing a militia, based in Santa Cruz," said Rózsa, in an interview now circulating on the Internet.

Rózsa Flores entered Bolivia illegally across the Brazilian border, just as he had told the journalist, Andras Kepes.

"If the federal government won't allow the autonomy of Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz will separate from Bolivia," said the mercenary in Hungarian.

On April 16, 2009, Rózsa, who commanded an armed group seeking to spark a civil war in Eastern Bolivia, was killed in an exchange of fire with the local police in a hotel in Santa Cruz.

That same day, the police found an arsenal in a storage locker at the Santa Cruz agricultural fairground in the city of Santa Cruz, 900 km east of La Paz.

The investigation opened with testimonies by two of the Rózsa cell's mercenaries who had been captured alive, the Hungarian Elöd Tóásó, and the Bolivian-Hungarian Mario Tadic, as well as a local contact, Ignacio Villa Vargas, "The Old Man". Local analysts deduced that this group of veterans of the Yugoslav, Croatian and African wars, were contacted in Bolivia by "fascist Croats, connected with the fascist right-wing in Santa Cruz."

The Public Ministry's investigations point to Branko Marinkovic, who in the second trimester of this year, took over the entire stock of El Nuevo Día.

Bolivian magistrate Marcelo Soza, based in La Paz, heads the investigation and after studying hundreds of files collected from the computers confiscated from Rózsa, summoned Marinkovic to explain his actions in financing the armed cell.

Marinkovic, accused by the government of financing and supporting armed "civil society" groups which, between August and September 2008, occupied airports, blew up gasoducts, and broke into public offices in the districts of Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando and Tarija, with the objective of toppling President Morales, refused to testify about the Rózsa case before authorities of the national judiciary.

Between 2007 and 2009, Marinkovic was president of the politico-business organization, the Comité Pro Santa Cruz, which opposed President Morales.

The agricultural businessman, accused also of holding illegal lands, tried to evade justice by availing himself of some resources proposed by judge Tapia Pachi so that the case would go to trial in the jurisdiction of Santa Cruz, instead of La Paz where the process is currently ongoing.

Tapia Pachi has gained the unfortunate reputation of having archived the proceedings in Santa Cruz against Marinkovic. The government accuses the judge of bowing to the interests of the powerful agricultural-cattle-ranching businessman. The attempt to change jurisdictions was resolved this week by a tribunal which settled the investigation definitively in La Paz.

Quick 'n' dirty translation mine.

The proceedings are still going on, but the use of the word "Ustasha" is significant; the Ustasha were the Croatian Nazis who wrought havoc in the Balkans during World War II. The fascistic connections between the mercenary-terrorist cell and the land-owning business elites of Santa Cruz may well trace their "spiritual" lineage to this feared, reviled local Nazi/separatist movement.

September 3, 2009

Larry Klayman fails again!

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Remember how I predicted that Larry Klayman, right-wing jackass stuntster and bogus human-rights attorney, was about to get laughed out of court?

Well, it happened.

On Monday a U.S. judged dismissed a lawsuit filed against Citgo, a U.S.-based subsidiary of Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA. The company and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez were accused of alleged terrorist acts and human rights abuses.

News service EFE reported that Judge Cecilia Altonaga granted Citgo's request to make the proceeding null and void and also closed the cases against Chavez, Vice President Ramon Carrizales, Foreign Affairs Minister Nicolas Maduro and four other officials.

The petitioner of the lawsuit against Chavez, journalist Ricardo Guanipa, failed to follow an order to notify all of the defendants. Through his lawyer he managed to notify Citgo, which responded with a request to annul the case, but not Chavez and the other officials.

[...]

In the lawsuit, Freedom Watch asserted that Citgo resources were being used by Chavez to "support terrorism and other crimes against humanity, including death threats, arrests, torture, and murder." Freedom Watch was seeking US$5 billion for punitive damages.

On its website, the NGO calls Chavez a "terrorist communist dictator" and claims that he has supported the "Colombian FARC, a Marxist-Leninist group of terrorists, the Taliban, Hamas, Hezbollah, Middle Eastern Arabic terrorist states and others bent on destroying Judeo-Christian and western civilization and freedom."

The organisation says it will "bring [Chavez] to justice in a Miami court for his crimes, not only to compensate his victims, but to set an example for the Obama administration."

For those who claim this was only dismissed on a technicality, wake the fuck up. They couldn't put this through even in a Miami court, under an ex-Venezuelan judge! The burden of proof is on the plaintiff, and they (meaning Guanipa and Klayman) couldn't prove anything. This was just a show trial at best. And it looks like their little sideshow flopped.

I found this part particularly hilarious:

According to Aporrea.org, Guanipa used to work with Radio Marti, a U.S.-financed station that transmits to Cuba against the government there, and Radionexx, a private Venezuelan station that has called for the overthrow of the Chavez government and for the president's assassination.

Radionexx stopped operating at the beginning of this year, because, in the words of its operators in an interview published on Elbrollo.com, "It's useless, this country doesn't want to understand."

(Emphasis added.)

simpsons-haha.jpg

Yeah, the country "doesn't want to understand" because it's happy with its democracy and doesn't want fascism back, dumbass!

Meanwhile, guess who else is (probably) feeling the Schadenfreude right about now:

Chavez responded to Freedom Watch's accusations in April by laughing and saying, "It's the kind of strange news that comes out everyday."

Yes, it certainly is. Ha ha! Joke's on you, Laughable Larry. Can't wait to read your latest self-serving press release. Bet it won't make the "news" like the last one did! BTW, where the hell did your sad widdle website go? I got a "server not found". Funny dat!

PS: Speaking of ex-Venezuelans and terrorism, looks like Luis Posada Carriles might just be in deep doody now, too.

August 31, 2009

Debunking the myths about Chappaquiddick...and Mary Jo

ted-kennedy-neckbrace.jpg chappaquiddick-accident-site.jpg

Left: Senator Ted Kennedy, age 37, attends Mary Jo Kopechne's funeral. Note the neck brace inside his collar. Right: The scene of the accident at Chappaquiddick, showing the direction Kennedy's car was travelling on Dyke Road just before it skidded off the bridge.

One of the not-so-guilty pleasures of being a true-crime buff (along with all the other persons I am) is that it compels me to take an interest in the actual particulars of a story, not just what the media circus has chosen to make of them.

I've seen the blogosphere, like the media, dissect this drunk-driving accident nine ways till Friday. Lots of passion, little coherence, and all too often, facts get beaten out of shape before being sacrificed on the pyre of ideology. End result: Huge disservice done not only to the memory of the late US Senator Ted Kennedy, but also to the memory of Mary Jo Kopechne, the young woman who drowned in Kennedy's car that night. Can you stand to see one more wingnut masturbating over Mary Jo's grave? No? Then how about self-styled feminists and progressives--usually too smart to do such things--falling into the selfsame 'winger trap, slamming Ted Kennedy as just one more rich bastard who threw a not-so-rich young woman (metaphorically speaking) under the bus?

No, I don't want to go there, either. So let's go back to that unlucky night on purely factual grounds this time, with Mel Ayton's excellent Crime Magazine piece, The Bridge at Chappaquiddick. I think it will go a long way toward debunking a lot of persistent myths, innuendos, rumors, and just plain lies.

MYTH: Ted Kennedy and Mary Jo Kopechne were having an affair.

FACT: Not bloody likely. According to Ayton:

An RFK aide described Mary Jo as "an unworldly girl." Others who knew her said she was a young woman with a good character who had been committed to her work, full of high idealism, and excited that the Kennedys would regain the White House in the 1968 presidential election.

Mary Jo called herself a "novena Catholic." Her friends described her as a young woman who was seriously committed to her faith. She did not smoke and rarely drank. Everyone who knew her testified to the fact that she was a woman who was almost prudish in her dislike of obscene language and sexual impropriety.

Furthermore, at the time of the incident, Mary Jo Kopechne had been unofficially engaged to be married to a career foreign service officer -- a fact overlooked by those authors who tried to blemish her character by insinuating she had been single, free and willing to engage in a sexual relationship with Sen. Ted Kennedy. There is no evidence that this allegation is true. The only person who can answer it is Ted Kennedy and he has stated on numerous occasions that nothing happened between them.

It is significant that, while other details of Kennedy's recollection varied (we'll see why in due course), that one in particular did not. He categorically denied it every time, and so did anyone else who knew the both of them. Nobody has ever been able to offer concrete proof of an affair, because there was none to be had. Doesn't stop the wackaloons from speculating, though.

MYTH: Ted Kennedy murdered Mary Jo Kopechne to cover up an affair and/or pregnancy.

FACT: See above, and add "why the hell would he dirty his own hands (and risk his own life) to kill her if he was rich enough to pay a hitman?" The doctor who examined the body at the scene found no evidence of a pregnancy, either. There was no autopsy, which might have put the final kibosh to this rumor, but this was not Ted Kennedy's doing; her own parents asked that there not be one. Ironically, they made this request because they had heard that the autopsy would be done only to determine whether Mary Jo was pregnant!

However, someone else in Ted's life at the time was pregnant: his wife, Joan...

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...who went with him to Mary Jo's funeral, as we can see in the picture above. Sadly, she miscarried soon after--probably as a result of stress from the incessant media hullabaloo about the accident.

MYTH: Ted Kennedy didn't care that Mary Jo was killed.

FACT: Since only he was privy to what was going through his own head that night, we have to rely on eyewitness accounts of his behavior in the aftermath of the accident. And all of them suggest that not only did Ted Kennedy care very much, he was badly broken up about it--to the point of hysteria. According to Ayton:

During their post-accident journey to the ferry, Kennedy kept saying to Gargan and Markham that he expected to see Mary Jo walking down the road. According to Gargan, Kennedy was rambling and verbalizing irrational thoughts - behavior that is consistent with individuals who are suffering from shock. Gargan said, "Sen. Kennedy was very emotional, extremely upset, very upset and he was using this expression... "Can you believe it, Joe, can you believe it, I don't believe it, I don't believe this could happen. I just don't believe it." Markham told the inquest that Kennedy was, "sobbing and almost of actually breaking down and crying. He said, 'This couldn't have happened, I don't know how it happened...What am I going to do?'"

[...]

On the Monday before Mary Jo's funeral, Kennedy telephoned the Kopechnes a second time. Joseph Kopechne said, "I could see he was trying to tell us about the accident but I still couldn't understand him. He was still sobbing, still so broken up he couldn't talk."

The shock was physical as well as emotional; Kennedy sustained a concussion and neck injury when the car flipped onto its roof. After emerging from the vehicle (he could never remember how he had done it, a probable sign of amnesia), he momentarily reoriented himself and made several attempts to rescue Mary Jo, but was forced to give up. The current in the pond was just too strong, and he was injured and exhausted, as well as emotionally labile and confused. Only then did he begin to make his way back to the cottage to seek help.

But here's the main thing: would a guy who didn't give a shit attempt "seven or eight times", in the Boston Globe's words, to rescue Mary Jo, whom he did not even know all that well? And would he be upset and crying, as Kennedy was? Would he have attended her funeral, as Kennedy was photographed doing (see top of this entry)? According to several accounts, Ted Kennedy even went so far as to approach Mary Jo's parents, offering to pay for the funeral. They turned him down, preferring to do it with savings they'd set aside to pay for her wedding. The one thing he did that was even remotely suspect was not to call them with the news right away. Given that he was in a state of shock and confusion, as well as horror and remorse, it's not surprising that it took him several hours to work up the nerve.

Oddly, though, her parents seem to have understood this, because they didn't appear to harbor any rancor toward him:

As Mary Jo's mother stated, "No matter how you look at it, it was an accident. What hurts me deep is to think that my daughter had to be left there all night. This is why we had so bitter a feeling toward Markham and Gargan...I think Kennedy made his statement when he was still confused. In the state he was in, I do believe he couldn't think clearly. I think he was taking all this bad advice, and it just continued for days."

Notice she said "Markham and Gargan"--Kennedy's aides, not himself. She blames them for giving him bad advice, but not him for taking it, because he was in a confused state.

And if he really didn't give a shit about Mary Jo, doesn't anyone suppose her parents would have noticed--and been extremely bitter toward him? She was, after all, their only child.

MYTH: Ted Kennedy just walked away from the scene of the accident. He should have been charged with leaving the scene, at the very least.

FACT: See above; he did remain for as long as it took him to realize that he could not get Mary Jo out of the car. After that, he had to rest a moment; then he made his stumbling way back. He was so confused that he did not see the Dyke House along the road he had just driven down. Ayton again:

Kennedy's lawyers were remiss in not challenging the prosecution's charges that Kennedy was guilty of leaving the scene of an accident. They failed to make reference to Kennedy's injuries and the inevitable mental confusion that usually follows because they believed a plea of mental impairment would have damaged Kennedy's political career. James E.T. Lange even ventures that the sworn testimony of two doctors could have been used to clear Kennedy. He does, however, believe that Kennedy was guilty of the "wrongful death" of Mary Jo and "reckless driving."

What injuries did Ted Kennedy suffer that might have impaired his mind?

Dr. Robert Watt, trauma specialist at Cape Cod Medical Centre, examined Kennedy and reported that the senator had suffered, "a half-inch abrasion and haematoma over the right mastoid, a contusion of the vertex, spasm of the posterior cervical musculature, tenderness of the lumbar area, a big spongy swelling at the top of his head." Dr. Watt diagnosed concussion.

When a person is hit on the head hard enough, the soft brain tissue collides with the hard inner surface of the skull creating a brain injury. Invariably, this disrupts electrical activity in the outer areas of the brain where memories are stored. And this disruption prevents memory from forming not only of the traumatic event itself but also of the time before that event.

Later Kennedy was examined by Dr. Brougham at Cape Cod Hospital where he underwent X-ray examination that showed a straightening of the cervical vertebrae. Dr. Brougham diagnosed acute muscular spasm, confirming cervical strain. Both doctors said that Kennedy's mental confusion had a definite physiological basis.

The medical reports state that Kennedy had suffered from traumatic amnesia that includes retrograde amnesia and post-traumatic amnesia, both of which are nearly always present in head injuries. Retrograde amnesia covers the period before the trauma and the trauma itself. Post-traumatic amnesia is a period of confusion and memory loss following the trauma.

Kennedy's head injuries, which caused his befuddlement, would account for his later testimony and confusion about the timing of events when he left the cottage. It would also account for the numerous witnesses who testified to his depressed, confused and forgetful state of mind in the days and weeks following the accident. His father's nurse, Rita Dallas, believed he should have been given psychiatric help.

This would undoubtedly also explain why Kennedy had so much trouble keeping his story straight. Which leads us to...

MYTH: Ted Kennedy lied.

FACT: When you can't remember in precise detail what happened because you've been thumped on the head and had your neck badly wrenched, not to mention that you're in shock and confused, would it be fair to call you a liar? NO? Well, then, think of how Ted Kennedy must have felt, being hounded by the media on this point every time he was up for re-election. He recollected the night's events to the best of his ability. Unfortunately, his ability was impaired by the head injury he received. Not receiving proper psychiatric care at that crucial moment can't have helped much, either.

MYTH: Ted Kennedy tried to cover up Chappaquiddick.

FACT: Actually, if anyone was guilty of a cover-up, it was his aides, Markham and Gargan; Mary Jo's own mother felt that they gave him bad advice. And so did Rose Kennedy, Ted's mother, according to Ayton:

Kennedy became distraught; his behavior during the next few hours strongly suggests a man who was confused, frightened and in shock. As he later confessed in his television broadcast his thoughts were jumbled. And this is entirely consistent with the injuries he suffered. [...]

But it was Gargan and Markham who had the faculties to make a rational decision in the early hours of the morning. Despite their positions as subordinates of the senator, they should have taken complete charge. Instead they retired to the cottage after Kennedy jumped into the water at the ferry landing. In any event, reporting the accident to the police would not have saved Mary Jo's life. The time span was too short.

Kennedy believed he did everything in his power to save Mary Jo and, given his medical condition, he was probably correct. He placed full blame upon himself for his recklessness. And he never blamed Gargan and Markham who had been in a much better position, both physically and mentally, to handle matters. As Ted Kennedy's mother Rose was to say, "I didn't understand why Joey Gargan or Markham did not report the matter to the police even if Ted did not have any sense enough or control enough to do so -- especially when the body of the girl was in the car... That is what seems so unforgivable and brutal to me..."

Failing to report the incident immediately? Sounds like the sort of thing two solicitous subordinates would do to keep their already controversial boss out of trouble, and his name out of the papers. They did not do so at his request, however, and his self-blaming behavior suggests that far from wanting to cover anything up, Ted Kennedy was prepared to take full responsibility even when he was in no fit condition to do so. Perhaps this is why their effort to downplay the incident backfired so spectacularly. His physical and mental state at the time was not good, but his willingness to take responsibility suggests to me moral strength, rather than the moral weakness more typically ascribed to him. He knew he'd made a mistake, and was man enough to own up to it.

And again: Mary Jo's parents can't be left out of the equation. Their reluctance to speak ill of Ted Kennedy speaks volumes as to how they saw the situation. They steadfastly maintained that he had bad advice from Gargan, in particular. All the shrieking wingnuts who scream about "poor forgotten Mary Jo", oddly, forget who her parents held to blame more than anything for the shambles--and it wasn't Ted Kennedy.

Strangely, though, the media and the wingnuts all give the parents of the deceased woman the shortest shrift of all. Partisan? Yep. But they sure weren't biased in favor of Ted Kennedy. Which leads me to my final myth of the night:

MYTH: The liberal media covered up for Ted Kennedy.

FACT: According to the March 1980 Reader's Digest, here are the "liberal" media's actual editorial positions on the issue of Chappaquiddick:

The Boston Globe: "The most famous traffic fatality of the century will almost certainly play a part in the selection of the next President of the United States. It should. Chappaquiddick was not just an auto accident. Many Americans suspect, not without reason, that Kennedy's handling of its aftermath is another case of a politican stonewalling. And they wonder whether Kennedy would lie to the American people in a more public crisis."

The Wall Street Journal: "...his ability to function as President depends no little on whether the nation feels he is a man it can trust to explain his actions fully and frankly. Without this trust, national leadership is ultimately impossible."

The New York Times: "There ought to be no hesitation to rake over this puzzling affair. If Mr. Kennedy used his enormous influence to protect himself and his career by leading a cover-up of misconduct--and the known facts lead to that suspicion--there would hang over him not just a cloud of tragedy but also one of corruption, of the Watergate kind. And as we know from Watergate, there is no graver question for a President than whether he can be trusted to respect the law."

And that's how the "liberal" media saw it in the year that plaster saint, Ronald Reagan--accused rapist and known philanderer--won the White House. Yeah, they really covered up for Ted Kennedy just great, didn't they? So much that they were leading the bayonet charge against him and his reputation. They even went so far as to accuse him of "Watergate corruption"!

Unfortunately, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, sometimes there's no "there" there, and sometimes an accident...really is just an accident. Chappaquiddick was an accident--terrible, tragic, painful for all those involved--but it really was just an accident. There is nothing to be inferred from it. But the fact that it cost Ted Kennedy his larger political ambitions, and relegated him to becoming an undignified sideshow even in death, is without a doubt the real scandal of Chappaquiddick.

August 30, 2009

Yay

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I would argue that this guy should never have gone to prison at all (he's a hero for doing what he did!), but hey--at least he's getting out:

An Iraqi journalist jailed after hurling his shoes at former President George W. Bush will be released next month after his sentence was reduced for good behavior, his lawyer said Saturday.

Muntadhar al-Zeidi's act during Bush's last visit to Iraq as president turned the 30-year-old reporter into a folk hero across the Arab world amid anger over the 2003 invasion.

He has been in custody since the Dec. 14 outburst, which occurred as Bush was holding a joint news conference with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

He was initially sentenced to three years after pleading not guilty to assaulting a foreign leader, then the court reduced it to one year because the journalist had no prior criminal history.

Defense attorney Karim al-Shujairi said al-Zeidi will now be released on Sept. 14, three months early.

"We have been informed officially about the court decision," al-Shujairi told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "His release will be a victory for the free and honorable Iraqi media."

Off early for good behavior? Sentence reduced for having no priors?

Well, shit.

What he did was nothing but good old-fashioned freedom of speech. In the Arab world, it's customary to show the bottom of your feet--or the soles of your shoes--to anyone you hold in absolute contempt. This gesture was less an assault than it was a harangue, especially since neither shoe hit its target. I think he was being jailed to send a message to anyone else who might be considering telling King George the Dubya, in no uncertain terms, where to get off. And the message was: Don't even think about it.

This ruling, while welcome, is just a good end to a bad situation. It would have been a real victory for press freedom in Iraq if he had never been taken into custody in the first place, but of course, nobody--not even the "War President" and self-styled liberator--was willing to let Iraq's supposed newfound freedom actually go that far!

August 29, 2009

Why have we not heard of Marwa al-Sherbini?

First, a bit of backgrounder, courtesy of al-Jazeera--the only major English-speaking network to have given this shocking murder story ANY coverage:

And now, I weigh in.

When I googled for Marwa's story, to find out the particulars, I got this blog post at the top of my search. The post is excellent in itself; I have no problems with it. What bugs me is that the very first comment it got...is THIS:

All hate crimes are horrible. Yet you perceive this with blinders on. Most Muslim women murdered in Europe are murdered by their father's or husband's in honor killings. How many women have been murdered for wearing a veil? One. How many have been killed for refusing to? Hundreds if not more. Also, hate crimes like this have happened in Europe and the USA where it was the Muslim who was the perpertrator. I live in Seattle where a Muslim opened fire on a Jewish Center last year killing one and seriously wounding four. Why didn't the Muslim media report on it?

...which sounds to me like it's just a hair away from justifying the exact racism and bigotry that led to Marwa's death in the first place. "They do it to (fill in the blanks), so tit for tat." The "why didn't the Muslim media report on it" bit is also a sweeping generalization: How does this "jane doe" know they didn't? Can she read Arabic? Has she scoured the "Muslim media" for the report she claims did not exist? My educated guess is that she doesn't know, can't read Arabic, and hasn't done a damn thing except fire off at the keyboard to diminish the impact of a death that should not be minimized under any circumstances. Very slick work on the part of "jane" to deflect people's attention from the horrific facts of Marwa's death. (Happily, lots of other readers--including Muslims who DO follow the Arabic-language media--take her to task for her lies.)

This tendency to minimalize the violent deaths of those who don't blend in with Western society fits right in with what I blogged two days ago, about the Canadian government being willfully and selectively blind to the abuse perpetrated against Muslim Canadians abroad. It amounts to undeclared institutional racism. In Germany, similar things are happening, and on local soil. Since I am the daughter of two German immigrants myself, this touches me where I live. I cannot afford to be blind to this sort of thing. After all, I blog the news that goes unreported or underreported here.

And yes, Marwa's death is big news. I am ashamed to say that it is news to me, totally unknown until today. A full two months after it occurred. How could this be?

Marwa's murder occurred in eastern Germany. That's significant in itself, because the "Eastzone", as it's called, has lingering socio-economic problems dating back to before reunification. Ingo Hasselbach, an East German who used to be a leading neo-Nazi in the area, wrote extensively on those problems in his memoir, Führer-Ex. Kids disaffected by the failures of sovietism (not to be confused with socialism, or even communism) and further disenchanted by the failed economic promises of capitalism, have a high risk of becoming the very thugs their parents and grandparents were rightly taught to abhor. Eastern Germany still lags behind the western three-quarters in terms of jobs, education and health. It is, in short, a perfect storm of the circumstances that breed fascism and xenophobia. And it has the violent crime statistics to prove it.

Moreover, Marwa's murderer was a Russian national (claiming German ethnicity). No doubt he came to Germany in hopes of finding better prospects than were in store for him back home (post-Soviet Russia is in even worse shape than East Germany.) He landed in the depressed Eastzone--and, predictably, found nothing. Meanwhile, there was Marwa, right next door. Another immigrant, but with a difference: She had a job, an education, a growing young family. She had much to live for; she had, in short, a future. Something the murderer did not have.

But what really galled him, I'll bet, was that Marwa was a Muslim. She wasn't acting like a "proper" second-class citizen. She wore her headscarf openly and didn't try to look assimilated. How dare someone like that behave as if she belonged? (Which she did?) To his twisted reckoning, she must have been a terrorist--someone out to impose Islam on the west. The sort of people the shitty racist "anti-jihad" pundits, like Mark Steyn, are always "warning" us about.

Or maybe not; maybe he just called her that because of pure spite and resentment. Possibly it was the product of all this and more. Whatever it was, she took him to court for it. And right there, in the courtroom, in front of everybody, he stabbed her to death. 18 knife-thrusts in all.

Marwa's death caused a huge outcry in Germany as well as in Marwa's native Egypt (and throughout the Arab/Muslim world), but news of it somehow failed to make it across the big pond. Meanwhile, the media here were all over the death of Neda, the Iranian woman killed during protests against the Ahmadinejad government, literally like flies on a carcass. Why was Neda's story so much hotter than Marwa's?

Maybe it's because the anti-jihadis were quick to seize on Neda's death as proof that Islam is inherently evil and murderous. After all, those who killed her were believed to be agents of the so-called Islamic Republic. Visibility is also an issue, albeit a secondary one; Neda's death was caught on camera and broadcast via Internet, but Marwa's wasn't. The anti-islamists therefore had more graphic "evidence" to exploit. But most of all, I think it's because Marwa was killed by an obvious islamophobe, while Neda was killed by an alleged islamist. Apparently, a Muslim who kills is a worse person than a killer of Muslims--so runs the logic, no?

Now, why is it worse for a killer to be Muslim than white, presumably Christian, etc.? The antis would probably justify their unequal consideration by saying it's because those people are all violent, all terrorists, all out to impose their religion on the west by force. The fact that nothing of the sort has happened makes no nevermind to them. "They're just lying in wait", is the standard response you're likely to hear. "They're still plotting it, still waiting for all you dhimmis to fall in line before dropping the hammer."

Well, there's a fine bit of projection. And you're just as likely to hear it coming from the slimeballs at Stormfront, where the lying-in-wait, the plotting, and the hope that conditions will ripen into favorability are all running rampant...among the very people who are out to exterminate anyone who doesn't "breed" correctly.

What makes all these rightard bloggers and pundits any better than those neo-Nazis? What makes them any better than the kind of person Ingo Hasselbach was before he saw the light and left the movement? The fact that Mark Steyn used to be Jewish (he's now a Catholic)? Gimme a fucking break. Adolf Hitler probably had Jewish ancestors too, and he was definitely a practicing Catholic. Does that make him any less of an antisemite, any less a murderer of Jews?

As far as I'm concerned, if you're on the right-hand side of the political spectrum and you subscribe to or defend this kind of beliefs, this attitude that "they" are out to oubreed "us", you fit right in with the neo-Nazis. Why not go on over there and join them in earnest? They're looking for recruits. I'm sure they'll be happy to have you. And it will be easier for me to identify you if I can see a swastika tattooed right there on your big dumb forehead.

But if you're really NOT a racist, and NOT a bigot, and you find those swastika-wearing thugs abhorrent, then you'd better wake up and speak out. Wake up to the death of Marwa al-Sherbini. Speak out against bigotry. Wake up to the fizzing brew of insanity and inhumanity that got into the killer's blood. Start using free speech for its true purpose--denouncing--and stop defending racist and fascist blather on the grounds of freedom of speech simply because they're "unpopular". They're not, in fact. They're very popular indeed, as anyone who's been on the receiving end of the brutal end product of such speech could tell you...assuming s/he lived to tell the tale.

Marwa al-Sherbini did not.

August 28, 2009

Another nail for the imperial coffin

Or should that be a screw? You know, the kind they put to people when torturing them?

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Moral high ground: guess who no haz it.

According to the report, written by the CIA's former inspector general, John Helgerson, one CIA interrogator told Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks that "We're going to kill your children" if there was another terror strike on US soil. Another interrogator allegedly tried to convince Abd al-Nashiri, who allegedly devised the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000, that his mother would be sexually assaulted in front of him, a claim that the operative has denied.

[...]

US laws on torture forbid threatening a detainee with death. The report said that at least Mr al-Nashiri was hooded, handcuffed and threatened with a gun and a power drill. Another detainee was forced to listen to a gunshot in a nearby room, with the aim of making him think that a fellow detainee had just been executed.

Emphasis added.

The nice part is, this is all happening because citizens who believe in human rights for everyone did a little screw-putting of their own:

Mr Holder's decision was bolstered by a recommendation from his Justice Department's ethics office to reopen nearly a dozen alleged abuse cases. "I fully realise my decision ... will be controversial," Mr Holder said last night.

As Mr Holder reopens investigations into the actions of CIA interrogators, human rights groups and many Democrats are urging him also to focus on the Bush-era officials who, they claim, authorised the abusive methods. They are particularly focused on the Bush-era Justice Department lawyers who wrote legal guidelines for the CIA in 2002, redefining torture to allow techniques such as waterboarding, which simulates drowning, and severe physical abuse.

"The important thing now is that any action doesn't focus solely on the people who carried out the torture, but on the people who gave the orders and who wrote the legal memos which facilitated torture," said Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU.

Of course, they did it without torture.

There's a valuable lesson or two in here. Let's see if those who need it will learn it.

August 27, 2009

Shaming us all as Canadians

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I have this shirt, BTW. And there is a very good reason why I have it...

As a Canadian, I am deeply ashamed.

I am ashamed of how, for all that we pride ourselves on our multiculturalism, when push comes to shove--when people from a culture the rest of us barely understand (if we understand it at all) are mistreated abroad--we, as Canadians, seem all too happy to shrug our shoulders and let it happen--that is, until the mistreated ones are forced to fight back to the point where we are all, collectively, embarrassed. And only then do those with the power to do something about it finally do the right thing. But they tend to do it in a too-little-too-late sort of way. And it's all because of the culture--or more correctly, cultures--of the mistreated ones.

Yes, people, I'm talking here about Canadian Muslims. People with names like Suaad Hagi Mohamud, or Abousfian Abdelrazik, or Maher Arar, or even Omar Khadr. They are all very different from one another, but they all have one thing in common: they are Muslims.

Well, actually, they have something else in common, too: They were neglected and/or shat upon by our own government precisely because they are Muslims.

Ever since 9-11, it's been hard to talk about Islam--what it really means, what it doesn't. It shouldn't be. There are over a billion Muslims in the world, and how many of them are hardcore, far-right, plane-smashing-into-buildings jihadists? As I recall, it only took 19 of them to pull off the infamous events of that day in 2001, plus a couple of paymasters wiring cash back and forth.

And there was not a vast conspiracy of the entire world of Islam behind them, no matter what any scaremongering turd from the punditocracy (or any screeching fruitbat from the blogosphere) says. Out of a billion or more people, only a few hundred or thousand have gone in for terror training; fewer still actually pulled off an attack. A great many one-time terror trainees have chickened out, and some have even informed on their erstwhile comrades.

But even these (who far outnumber the actual suicide bombers) are a very small subset. The majority abhor all terroristic behavior, calling it un-Islamic, and rightly so. Most of the world's Muslims in fact live by the laws of the land, even when those laws are secular, and they have no interest in imposing Sharia on non-believers--through terror or otherwise. Here in Canada, there was widespread misinterpretation of some proposed changes to Ontario's faith-based divorce arbitration law--changes that would have been inclusive of Muslims, but definitely did not impose "backdoor Sharia", as the screamers all feared it would. (The point later became moot when the Ontario goverment scrapped the proposal, mainly in response to pressure from all the screamers.)

Who was the real terrorist in Ontario's divorce-arbitration kerfuffle? Surprise: Not the Muslims. It was the screamers. They hijacked the debate with fear, loathing, and ultimately, sabotage. How very civilized, humanistic and Western of them! What a great example to the Muslims of the world...in how NOT to do things. It also must have confirmed every one of their suspicions that we are just as xenophobic and bigoted up here as any redneck south of the 49th Parallel. Not exactly a point of pride for any of us, unless you're a screamer--in which case you're chronically oblivious to how much of a shit you look to everyone else.

And all this screaming came out of the woodwork after 19 men crashed some jets on a bright September day. Just 19 of them, and what a panic they unleashed. It's crazy! The truth should be head-thumpingly obvious: The overwhelming majority of Muslims are not terrorists. But they are all being treated as terrorists by our government, and 9-11 is to blame. The fires of 9-11 have blinded half the world to what the other half is really thinking.

It doesn't help, either, when our government or its agents, in their zeal to root out terror plots, actually end up helping to foment them. They have done it either directly, as in the case of a group of misguided young men who planned a local 9-11, or indirectly, as when they agreed to go along with NATO and fight Unocal's pipeline wars in Afghanistan (thereby putting us on the shit list of precisely such groups as the one I just mentioned). Whether as entrappers or entrappees, our government just embarrasses the hell out of me whenever it pulls this thoughtless crap.

But what embarrasses me most is when our government willfully permits Canadian citizens, who just happen to be Muslim, to be abused abroad. Every one of the four Canadians I mentioned earlier was subjected to maltreatment ranging from unlawful imprisonment to torture. And had they been white Christians, it is very doubtful that they would have gone through any of that. Whatever one thinks of Islam (and I for one am very uncomfortable with the brand subscribed to by Omar Khadr's bat-shit crazy family, and relieved to know that it is actually very uncommon), one ought to realize that tolerating the imprisonment and torture of others simply because they're of a different religion is to perpetrate the same form of persecution that you are accusing that religion of doing!

And when you start with the persecution of one religion, where does it all end? You'll notice that on the t-shirt I posted above, there are symbols of not only Islam, but most of the world's other religions as well. There's a good reason for that.

Shortly after 9-11, the Hindu Samaj Temple in Hamilton, Ontario, was fire-bombed. Apparently the vandals who bombed it mistook it for a Muslim mosque. The fact that Hinduism and Islam have very little in common was no deterrent to the bombers--they saw brownish people in baggy clothing wandering in and out, and since the place looked faintly "exotic" and Eastern, well, what more reason did they need? Any religion that didn't conform to the Judeo-Christian canon was automatically suspect. A clearer case of panic-driven religious persecution would be hard to find.

And Hindus were not the only non-Islamic religious group to suffer. Sikhs also bore the brunt of the hysteria, thanks to the fact that traditionalist Sikh men wear turbans. And Jerry Falwell blamed pagans--uh, that would include little red-haired Wiccan ME--for angering God into "letting" 9-11 happen! I have icons and scriptures of many different religions kicking around my place. So you can kind of see why I'd get touchy enough to buy a shirt like that, eh?

And of course, me also being a Bad German, I'm rather keen on what Pastor Niemöller said. It was true then, and it's still true now; just substitute "Muslim" for "Jew".

Have we really progressed so little since the Middle Ages that we let this prejudice blind us to the rights of Muslim Canadians? I hope not. But with the way my own government has been acting (or NOT acting) toward them, I think you could forgive me for not holding my head as high as I'd like to (even when I'm wearing my bad-ass shirt). This selective blindness to injustice against Canadians abroad shames us all. And it shames us all as Canadians.

PS: Great minds, etc.

August 23, 2009

Another day, another march in Venezuela

Venezuela's got a new education law in the works--the Organic Law of Education ("organic", in this sense, refers to any law with a direct constitutional basis). To hear the screaming lamestream media up here tell it, there is widespread opposition to it. But what they keep neglecting to say is that the support for this new law is at least twice as widespread, as this march in favor (photographed by Arturo Alejandro for Aporrea) demonstrates:

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Just to give you some idea of the size of the crowd.

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Uncle Sam was there!

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So were these Peruvians, carrying their flag.

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This guy told the photographer he used to be an Adeco (supporter of the old Acción Democrática party, which is now but a shadow of its former self, thanks to four decades of corruption, murder, torture and toadying to the bankers.) He has since seen the light, as his appearance demonstrates. He's even got a pocket-size Chavecito figure!

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"Ask the DEA and you'll see--Uribe, the empire's fool, is the US's Narcotrafficker #82."

No shit, the lamestream media up here has even reported that.

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Simón Bolívar ¡PRESENTE!

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And of course, no Chavista march would be complete without a larger-than-life cut-out of Chavecito. This one has arms that move, doing his signature palm-punching victory salute.

Finally, here's some video to show how peaceful this demo was:

So what were the oppos up to, you wonder? Well, they too turned out for their own little march. But they weren't having nearly as much fun, though apparently not for lack of firecrackers:

They threw rocks and bottles at the police, who were not carrying guns. Funny how those people just can't ever seem to have a march without violence breaking out. And even funnier how the lamestream media up here can't seem to report that part for shit.

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."
--attributed to Mahatma Gandhi

August 22, 2009

Ugh

Ryan Jenkins is even more grotesque than I had originally thought. Get a load of this:

When Jasmine Fiore's body was found in a Dumpster in Buena Park, Calif., Aug. 15, her fingers had been cut off at the second knuckle and all of her teeth had been pulled out. But authorities were still able to identify the swimsuit model from the serial numbers on her breast implants.

"We actually have had several cases where we identified the victim or the defendant in that way," Orange County District Attorney spokeswoman Susan Schroeder tells PEOPLE. She says implants carry serial numbers "because of the potential for recalls."

Yeah, in Orange County just about every female over 16 has a boob job, so I can see how that would happen.

But--ugh!--the mutliation of the body is something you could only call sadistic--or, if you're acquainted with criminal minds, you might call it sadistically devious. The killer seems to have taken great pains to make sure his ex-wife couldn't be identified by the more usual means--fingerprinting and dental charts. Unfortunately, he forgot all about her gazongas. Those are a lot harder to rip out, especially if you're in a hurry to get across the 49th Parallel.

But still, point taken: Ryan doesn't like women, no matter how much he likes to schtup them. (He was in treatment for sex addiction, but they somehow missed the misogyny that was fueling the rush.) I'm sure he got a perverse pleasure out of disfiguring a pretty girl who had the audacity to deny him his every want and whim, all the more so since she was safely dead and unable to stop him anymore. Do I need to remind you that with misogynists and thrill killers, it's the power, not the sex, that is the real addiction? And that rape, killing and dismemberment are the ultimate demonstrations of power and control?

BTW, if this is to be believed, the killer is apparently having a killer time in the clubs somewhere, most likely in Vancouver. Which is just a double ugh. So, ladies, here's his picture again:

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And here's another, so you can know just what expression you're likely to see when you encounter him:

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Would you buy a used car from him? No? How about a new condo? Look into his eyes, and ye shall know all.

And if he approaches you ANYWHERE, politely excuse yourself and CALL. THE. POLICE!!! If it's him, there could be a nice reward in it for you. (Besides the satisfaction of knowing you've helped save other women from a similar fate, of course.)

PS: Big boos to the Dissociated Press for misreporting that Jenkins was chased by the US coast guard. Only halfway down the piece do they finally get to the critical part where coastal authorities on both sides of the border say no, there was NOT a chase. Come on, guys, can't you get even THIS story right?

PPS: No, he wasn't arrested in Toronto, either. But word is his dad owns property in Honduras. I wouldn't trust the putschists currently in charge there to put much effort into extraditing him, though, if he does show up--treaty or no treaty. They've kind of got their hands full trying to make out like they, too, are not sadistic killers.

August 19, 2009

Quotable: Eduardo Galeano on terrorists

"Is justice right side up?

"Has world justice been frozen in an upside-down position?

"The shoe-thrower of Iraq, the man who hurled his shoes at Bush, was condemned to three years in prison. Doesn't he deserve, instead, a medal?

"Who is the terrorist? The hurler of shoes or their recipient? Is not the real terrorist the serial killer who, lying, fabricated the Iraq war, massacred a multitude, and legalized and ordered torture?"

--Eduardo Galeano, "Is Justice Right Side Up?"

August 18, 2009

So, Afghanistan is "free" and "democratic" now, eh?

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That's what all the nutters keep telling us the GWOT is about--freedom, democracy, and oh yeah, an end to the burqa for Afghan women. So, I would love to hear them explain this:

Afghanistan has quietly passed a law permitting Shia men to deny their wives food and sustenance if they refuse to obey their husbands' sexual demands, despite international outrage over an earlier version of the legislation which President Hamid Karzai had promised to review.

The new final draft of the legislation also grants guardianship of children exclusively to their fathers and grandfathers, and requires women to get permission from their husbands to work.

[...]

Islamic law experts and human rights activists say that although the language of the original law has been changed, many of the provisions that alarmed women's rights groups remain, including this one: "Tamkeen is the readiness of the wife to submit to her husband's reasonable sexual enjoyment, and her prohibition from going out of the house, except in extreme circumstances, without her husband's permission. If any of the above provisions are not followed by the wife she is considered disobedient."

The law has been backed by the hardline Shia cleric Ayatollah Mohseni, who is thought to have influence over the voting intentions of some of the country's Shias, which make up around 20% of the population. Karzai has assiduously courted such minority leaders in the run up to next Thursday's election, which is likely to be a close run thing, according to a poll released yesterday.

So...Unocal's man in the 'stan has been sucking up to some very unsavory but influential mullahs for votes, it seems. And yet this guy is supposed to be the answer to the Taliban and its brutal repression? Seems to me that it's just the same old shit from a different asshole.

My best friend, who sent me the link to this article, attached a commentary I think is worth quoting:

In one of Sheri S Tepper's novels (I can't remember which one) when first contact came with aliens the aliens were a galactic confederation that told Earth they had an opportunity to join the confederation. In order to join, they had to meet specific criteria -- basically ensure human rights for all citizens and prove they were being enforced.

They were told that if humans couldn't get their act together by a given deadline, then not only would they be rejected for membership in the confederation, but they would also lose any protection from being considered "open season" hunting grounds for any of the predatory species in the confederation. (The predator species were not permitted to hunt any species that was a member of the confederation.)

I wish I could do something like that to people like those who would deny others basic human rights. Like magically change their genders, so that the men would have to live under the very restrictions they are putting on women.

I don't remember which Tepper novel it was either (I suspect I haven't read it), but I can totally get behind that idea, as terrifying as it sounds. If this is what it takes to whip humanity into shape, then let the aliens have at it. This planet has lagged behind on human rights long enough!

August 12, 2009

A picture Lanny Davis is hoping you won't see

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Manuel Zelaya (in cowboy hat), the real president of Honduras, arrives in Brasilia for a meeting with his Brazilian counterpart, Lula--who still, for some odd reason, sees nothing legitimate about the coup in Honduras, no matter what crazy language the mongers (like Lanny Davis, and others) try to wrap it up in.

Hey Lanny (who may be well reading this, because someone at the State Dept. certainly is), here's a question for ya: If he's no longer a legitimate president, why are those men in uniform saluting him?

EDIT: Oh look, Lanny sent a response, in picture form:

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Guess that answers MY question.

August 10, 2009

One more oppo kvetching-point gets shot down in Venezuela

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Yep, it's that old "insecurity" thing. The opposition claims Chavecito isn't doing enough about violent crime, especially in the densely-populated lower-class neighborhoods of Caracas. (Never mind that some of them elected oppo mayors, supposedly to address this problem. Said mayors have yet to get around to it. Hell, they have yet to clean up the garbage--another problem they said they would tackle.)

Some even accuse him of fomenting it himself, absurdly--and even more absurdly, this quack-pot theory gets picked up by the English-language media abroad (Rory Carroll's impotent little spit-take for the UK Guardian being a typical case in point.)

Well, Chavecito's done something about THAT particular, seemingly intractable problem--and after just one week of implementation, it seems to be bearing some remarkable fruit:

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, in 21 neighborhoods in the capital, no homicides took place, thanks to the national-guard troop deployment called Caracas Segura 2009.

So said the chief of Regional Command No. 5, General Alírio Ramírez, during a press conference on Monday, in which he gave a report of the progress of the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) participating in the security mission.

"Of the 28 neighborhoods of Caracas, there were zero homicides in 21 of them on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. And in other neighborhoods, homicides were down 40%, compared to the previous week," said the general.

The deployment consisted of 2,200 members of the GNB spread out over 28 neighborhoods.

Translation mine.

Zero homicides in 21 neighborhoods. This in a city where dozens used to die in street fights or domestic violence, often drug-, gang- and alcohol-related, on any given weekend. In fact, Caracas used to register more homicide victims on any given weekend than there were in any given year in Toronto!

Think of that the next time you hear some oppo-monkey screeching and flinging feces over supposed "violence", "insecurity" and "kidnappings" burgeoning under Chávez in Venezuela--there have been rashes of the latter recently, to hear some people tell it. Something tells me, though, that as long as the national guard is on patrol in those neighborhoods, we're gonna be seeing a helluva lot less of all the above--unless the oppos get better at lying!

Oh Rory, have I got a story for you...oops, I forgot. I've already scooped you, and I'm not even stationed in Caracas, nor am I boozing it up with the traditional ruling classes on the Guardian's dime. I'm just literate--and not blinded by pro-corporate or elitist political prejudices. How embarrassing!

August 6, 2009

Venezuela: What? No new media law? Then why all the fuss?

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So here I am, sifting through the junk in my inbox, still stupidly wondering why I'm getting garbage like this, or this, or this. When I know full well that the truth about Venezuela's alleged "new media law" is this:

In response to private international and national media claims that Venezuela is discussing a media law which denies freedom of expression and punishes journalists, National Assembly members said that no such law proposal exists, only a discussion around how to combat the "media dictatorship" and "media terrorism."

The president of the media commission in the National Assembly, Manuel Villalba, said on Tuesday that a proposal for a law with 17 articles, as claimed by some media, doesn't exist and that rather, the Attorney General, Luisa Diaz, had presented ideas to the National Assembly, which are being debated, but that there is no consensus around her proposals.

"It's not official," Villalba said, explaining that no law had been formally presented or proposed. "All this just confirms that there are media owners who are systematically disseminating false opinions," he said.

"No such law proposal exists."

What? You mean Hugo Chávez is not gagging the media? And he's not ruling by decree on this one? That means the Committee to Protect Journalists is lying to us, too!

"Only a discussion around how to combat the 'media dictatorship' and 'media terrorism'."

A discussion? Gee, that sure sounds a lot like someone is using freedom of speech!

"There is no consensus."

What? Pluralism?? In Venezuela??? Holy fucking shit! That means it must be...gasp...shudder...A DEMOCRACY!!!

"It's not official."

But...but...but...the Associated Press keeps telling me it is! Why would they do that? Do they not know that lying, like libel, is illegal--and unethical?

"There are media owners who are systematically disseminating false opinions."

Oh. Oh. OH! Now I get it. This isn't really about free speech, is it? No, of course not. It's about media ownership of the airwaves--which by their very nature are actually public, not private--and with them, the ownership of people's minds. That changes the debate considerably, wouldn't you say?

Hang on, there's more:

Legislator Rosario Pacheco said that so far the draft that they have of the law considers media crime the publication of false, manipulative or distorted information that causes "harm to the interests of the state" or that threatens "public morale or mental health." The assembly has discussed a maximum penalty of four years prison.

Journalist Asalia Venegis told Venezuelan Television (VTV), "This law project... incorporates everything that is unequivocally expressed in the Law of Journalist Practice and the Code of Ethics, which establish a series of perspectives over what the treatment of the news and the role of the journalist should be."

Diaz also suggested the law should focus on protection for journalists who are coerced into putting their name to, or writing articles that they don't believe. Therefore, she said, rather than going against freedom of expression, the law should "promote safe and true freedom of expression that reaches everyone and doesn't attack the peace of the citizens."

Further, she said in Article 20 of the Constitution, everyone has the right to freedom of expression, so long as they don't violate the rights of others or attack the state, the health of other people, or the public morale.

"Incorporates everything that is unequivocally expressed in the Law of Journalist Practice and the Code of Ethics."

Meaning, this proposed (not yet official!) bill not nearly as new and restrictive as it's been made out to be. That law and code both predate the Bolivarian Republic, by the way.

"Should focus on protection for journalists who are coerced into putting their name to, or writing articles that they don't believe."

Now who could those be? Surely not those who were told, as Andrés Izarra was by his bosses at RCTV during the coup of '02, "nothing pro-Chávez on screen"? (Izarra quit his formerly cushy job, rather than practise shitty journalism.)

"Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, so long as they don't violate the rights of others or attack the state, the health of other people, or the public morale."

I wonder if the media barons know that. Because it seems to me that THEIR notion of freedom involves an awful lot of violating the rights of others, attacking the state, injuring the health of others, and wrecking the public morale.

Especially those at Globovisión, which has come under fire, and deservedly so. Their presstitutes have done everything from stealing confidential documents to deliberate provocation to...well, shit like this:

A small group of people identified with Lina Ron's pro-Chavez United for Venezuela Party (UPV) were filmed firing tear gas into the Globovision offices and clashing with police in La Florida, before making their getaway on motorcycles early Monday morning.

The attack occurred a day after Diosdado Cabello, head of Venezuela's telecommunications agency (CONATEL), announced the closure of 34 private radio stations for operating illegally or violating regulations.

Globovision, a virulently opposition television channel is loathed by grass-roots Chavez supporters, particularly for its involvement in the 2002 coup that briefly ousted the democratically elected Chavez from power. Many groups call for the channel to be taken off air.

While making clear that the government is willing revoke Globovision's broadcasting license due to its continuous violation of Venezuelan law, Chavez said, "These types of actions do damage to the socialist revolution, because they are counter-revolutionary."

Is Lina Ron merely a hot-headed would-be revolutionary suffering from an excess of zeal, as she appears, or is she something worse--a ringer for the opposition? Many Bolivarians think that Lina Ron could be an infiltrator; she's been called up on the carpet more than once for her "undisciplined" actions. It's amazing that she could have received so many prior warnings (from none other than Chavecito himself!) and still keep doing what she's doing; such "activism" on her part plays right into Globoterror's hands. (They insist that it was Chávez himself who sent her and her band of brigands to tear-gas them, which is a blatant lie. He would have to be an idiot to give orders of that nature, and anyone who's observed him in action, even if they don't like him, would still have to admit that the man is far from being dumb.)

Whatever Lina may be, it is not her right, or that of any other street-level activist, to provoke or intimidate even the worst TV station in Venezuela; it is the government's job to revoke its license (an action which is more than warranted, even under pre-Chávez laws) and turn its signal over to another station that will use it more responsibly. The last thing that anyone needs is to try to put out Globoterror's fires with gasoline.

In the meantime, the debate over whether there should be a new media law, and what it should entail if proposed, is still going on. As is Globoterror's on-air régime, which is still untouched--for now. You won't get that from anyone in the major media up here, and I leave it to you to guess why.

August 4, 2009

Avigdor Lieberman under fraud investigation

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Avigdor Lieberman tells us the exact size of his member.

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

Israeli police today recommended that the hardline foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, be indicted on corruption charges.

A police statement said that having completed their inquiries, detectives believed there was sufficient evidence to bring Lieberman to trial on charges of receiving bribes, fraud, deception, breach of trust by a public servant, money laundering, obstruction of justice and tampering with a witness.

According to the Ha'aretz newspaper, Lieberman and his associates are suspected of establishing several companies, some of them shell companies, in order to launder millions of shekels and funnel them into his pockets.

One of those companies was allegedly headed by Lieberman's daughter Michal. Police have investigated whether Lieberman continued running these alleged operations even after becoming a public official. In April ‑ days after being sworn in as foreign minister ‑ Lieberman was questioned for more than seven hours over the allegations against him.

The attorney general must approve the recommendation from the police before Lieberman is formally charged and it could be weeks or months before a decision is made. Police say the investigation began in 2006 and covered events going back to 2000. The combined maximum sentence for the alleged crimes would be 31 years in prison.

Oh, nice. When the right-wing fuck up, they really fuck up, don't they.

And this is the schmuck who presumes to tell us that Venezuela and Bolivia are full of terrorist infiltrators, drug smugglers and other assorted scum? And the media just blindly believe him? What else is this putz going to say in his monumental arrogance?

Well, check out the purty mouth on him:

"For 13 years the police have conducted a campaign of persecution against me," he said. "Only an appeal to the high court, which demanded a halt to the judicial torture of me and my family, obliged the police to conclude the investigation."

But of course, right-wingers are never criminals. Oh noooooooo.

Except, of course, as the passage I cited above this one shows, the investigation has concluded, all right--with the recommendation that charges be pressed. Meaning, Avigdor's not off the hook. In fact, all his troubles are just barely beginning. At the very least, it means he will have to step down as foreign minister in order to stand trial.

For Latin America, meanwhile, the implications are that they won't have to put up with any more false accusations out of him, because he's got some pretty damn real ones against himself to contend with. It can also only hurt his party in the next election, and I rather hope it does.

And I'll bet the Iranians and Palestinians would sleep a lot more soundly, too, knowing that the man with the most power to hurt them is going to be out of commission for as long as 31 years.

July 26, 2009

Spike Lee does the Wrong Thing

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Oh, lordy, lordy, good Gordie. What is it with all these Yankee Doodle Dumbasses flying down to Venezuela to pontificate--unimpeded and, strangely, unarrested--about how there's no free speech in that country? Or that free speech is under attack there? Or (insert other ignorant "free speech" blather here)?

Yes, folks, it's happened again. This week's booby-prize winner is none other than Spike Lee--of whom, frankly, one expects much better things than this:

The director didn't directly refer to the dispute in Venezuela, but he said there are "no circumstances" under which news media should be silenced.

Visiting to screen his 1989 film "Do The Right Thing" and met with fans to discuss race relations, his career and the late Michael Jackson, Lee said he is "a firm believer in freedom of speech."

"It's my opinion that there are no circumstances where the media should be shut down," he said to loud applause. "I'm not talking about any country specifically, but globally."

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Of course, he would have to pick Venezuela, of all countries, to say that.

And of course, he would have to say it right as Globovisión--Venezuela's shittiest right-wing commercial channel--is coming under well-deserved fire for lying to the people, and for advocating treason and assassination and fascism. (It was one of four major TV channels all advocating for the coup of April 2002, just so's you know. All of which are still broadcasting, although one--RCTV--is now limited to cable and satellite. Its public-airwaves licence was not renewed, owing to numerous violations of Venezuelan broadcast law--many of them dating back long before Chavecito.)

And of course, he would have to say it, coming as he does from a country that has yanked broadcast licences for much, much lesser offences than Globovisión's crimes, as well as busting its own people for exercising their own free speech. (I'm not talking here about racists and Nazis--their speech, ironically, is protected as "free". I'm talking about pacifists. I'm talking about feminists. I'm talking about leftists. I'm talking, in short, about everything that isn't a racist or a Nazi in the US.)

So, here's MY free speech, freely exercised in defence of the right thing, and in denunciation of bullshit:

Hey Spike, why did you say that in Venezuela? What a dumb-ass thing to do. Why don't you go say that in Honduras? It's a much more appropriate venue. They're throwing Venezuelan journalists out of there for exercising not only their freedom of speech, but for supporting it in transmitting the voices of ordinary Hondurans, too. I'm talking here about the journalists of VTV and Telesur, the only channels in all of Latin America that have the cojones to call the coup by its right name, and to transmit pictures the "freedom-loving" coupmongers don't want the rest of the world to see.

For that matter, Spike, if you wanna see how free-speechy your own country really is, just run down Pennsylvania Avenue screaming "Death to the president!" at the top of your lungs. See how far you get with it.

Or, hey...just yell "FIRE!" in a crowded theatre, preferably while one of your own films is showing. See how much applause you get for that exercise of your lungs.

Are those things legal where YOU live, Spike? No? What a surprise.

Where I come from, uttering death threats isn't protected speech. Neither is racism, or sexism, or any other form of bigotry. Nor is yelling "fire" when there's no fire in the building. Here in Canada, stations have lost their broadcast licences for failing to comply with national broadcast standards.

And believe it or not, I'm 100% okay with all of that. I don't consider any of those things to be infringements on my freedom or anyone else's. Where I come from, the right to swing a fist ends where the next person's nose begins. Up here, only the Nazis scream "fascism" when someone deprives them of the privilege (which is not a right) of oppressing others. Which is quite an irony when you think about it.

But such is life in a free country, and Venezuela is, after 40 years of fake democracy, finally free. It has been for the last ten years, when the people themselves rewrote and ratified its constitution. It was they who decided it was a crime to threaten an elected president with death, a crime to forcibly remove him from power and spirit him out of the country, a crime to openly advocate for those things. In that, they've gone your country and mine one better. They exercised their freedom of speech to create, protect and defend their own democracy. They have a perfect right, therefore, to remove from the airwaves any station that offends against that democracy. That shit is NOT free speech, unless you're a fascist or an idiot.

So, Spike, how's about you think about it? Inform yourself as to what's really going on in Venezuela, compare it to what's already happened to various stations all over North America and Europe (without any "free speech" hullabaloo!), and if you're gonna talk about a free press, do it in Honduras. Or in Colombia. That's where the real crying need for free speech is right now.

Go on, Spike. Do the right thing for real.

PS: YVKE Mundial reports that Spike "would like to meet President Chávez". Funny how that never made it into the Dissociated Press's very slanted (read: anti-Venezuelan) piece. Hmmm, do you think someone's using him for propaganda? And Spike, maybe you should do like you said to the Venezuelans to do--attack them using your own voice. Would be a good idea, no?

July 22, 2009

What the lamestream media STILL isn't showing about Honduras

The National Front of Popular Resistence to the Coup D'état is still going strong, holding assemblies. As you can see, this one was a packed house. These Hondurans are totally opposed to any "reconciliation talks" (which the lamestream media are touting as some kind of Great White Hope) between the legitimate government and these phonies who just antidemocratically installed themselves, with no popular consultation. And they're right: since when can there be any "reconciliation" between those who were democratically elected, and these illegal usurpers? That shit wouldn't fly in North America or anywhere in Europe, so why should Latin Americans have to put up with it?

July 11, 2009

Putting the "Ho" in Honduras

Or maybe the "O-ho!", depending on who you ask. Here's something innnnnnteresting I found at YVKE Mundial:

In the demonstrations taking place today in Tegucigalpa, capital of Honduras, and in the popular organizations, members of the teaching profession, union leaders, and people in general called for the immediate restoration of the legitimate president, José Manuel Zelaya. One of the slogans chanted by the demonstrators referred to a truth seldom mentioned in the national and international media, but which everyone knows well in this Central American country.

Deputies and politicians are now accusing Zelaya of trying to consolidate his stay in power and seeking to modify the Honduran constitution--which is considered "treason against the Homeland" there. The deposed president, kidnapped and violently extradited by a sector of the military, tried without success to hold a popular, non-binding referendum, which was interrupted by the coup d'état on the 28th of June.

The proposal put forth by Zelaya differed greatly from what happened in 1985 when the then-deputy, Roberto Micheletti, called for a constitutional referendum to extend the mandate of the then-president, Roberto Suazo Córdoba.

Specifically, on October 24, 1985, two years after the approval of the prevailing constitution, various parliamentary deputies tried to introduce a proposal calling for a constituent assembly, and for that they solicited the suspension of various constitutional articles, the same which today serve the de facto authorities to legitimize the removal of Zelaya. These articles are numbers 373, 374 and 375, referred to as the "mechanisms for reform and defense of the Constitution".

Translation mine. Emphasis added.

Betcha you had NO idea that this Micheletti guy was such a two-faced little fucker, eh? Accusing Zelaya of doing what he himself tried to do in 1985, presumably for a leader much more to his personal liking. That's called projection, kiddies. I find it appalling, but not a bit surprising, that no major English-language news outlet has broken that rather crucial part of the story. To hear them tell it, he's just the interim de facto blahblahwhatever. You learn nothing about him.

In fact, you probably know very little about this whole story if you pay attention to the lamestream anglo media. They didn't report the earlier probable attempt on Zelaya's life, after all. You might be forgiven for thinking this coup was really bloodless (when in fact, nothing could be further from the truth.)

But if you can read Spanish, or if you come here regularly for the innnnnteresting monsters I find and translate, you're in a helluva lot more luck. Because now, I think, you have some idea of why this verrrrrry innnnnnteresting piece of graffiti has appeared in downtown Tegucigalpa:

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Gee...is someone calling someone a human rights abuser???

While we're on the subject of human rights abusers, Otto has more here. (Oh hell, why not read his, El Duderino's and BoRev's great golpistaramas while you're at it? I'm still playing catch-up on this whole god-awful buggery.)

June 6, 2009

Wankers of the Week: The "pro-life" killers of Dr. Tiller

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No shit, kiddies, this is how they really "think". And this is how they see women. Nice, innit?

Christ, what is it about abortion that brings out the wankers, baying for blood from women and doctors? Whatever it is, they were sure out in force this week, and their ugly side wasn't far below the surface. In many cases, it was right out front and proud. Just like a wanker's you-know-what. Here's who gets bitch-slapped for public obscenity by your Auntie Bina this week, kiddies...

1. Bill Fucking O'Reilly. For demonizing Dr. George Tiller, an abortion provider from Kansas who was recently murdered. IN CHURCH, no less. Of course, he's pretending he had nothing to do with it. What does one expect from a cowardly wanker like Mr. Oh-Really, or any other of his bed-wetting, loofah-abusing, woman-harassing, shit-stained ilk? They'll never man up and admit their share of responsibility, as Frank Schaeffer has done, for the general psychopathy of the right-wing fringe.

1 1/2. Juan Fucking Williams. Uncle Tom covers Billo's blotchy bully ass. Talk about compounding one's moral cowardice.

2. Randall Fucking Terry. See above, and add shameless mooching. Cthulhu will surely eat HIM hot and crispy one day...soon, I hope and pray. (Hey, it's commensurate to the crime. Just as he says.)

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3. Scott Fucking Roeder. Yeah, I know--why is the stinking assassin third on the list? Because he didn't come by his murderous attitude just out of thin air. See the two (and a half) entries above. And add extra wanker points for his fascist militia membership. His ex-wife even confirms that his extremism was part of the reason she ended up divorcing him, and that it's also why his son, now 22, has as little as possible to do with his dad. Nice guy all around, eh?

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4. All the fucking Twitter-shitters, freepers, etc., etc. ad nauseam who are applauding this crime. Are they nuts? YES. And they're also quite typical of the anti-abortion movement, no matter what anyone says. They deeply believe that all women who have sex are jezebels who must be punished for it--with pregnancy, among other things. And if a woman chooses not to stay pregnant (i.e. punished for sex), they scream for blood. Hers? Her doctor's? It hardly matters to these thugs, as long as someone is killed to atone for the act. "Pro-life" is a misnomer for these people; they clearly have no problem with the murder of medical professionals. Especially if those medical professionals also happen to deliver babies, not just abortions. And, more significantly, if they also practice adoption, as Dr. Tiller did. They also can't admit that Dr. Tiller did what he did out of a deep compassion for women in a serious bind. Are you people ashamed of yourselves yet? You should be. You're not pro-life, but the man you love to hate was. And now he's dead--thanks in no small part to all of you fascist WANKERS.

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5. Whoever the fuck is responsible for this defamatory website. You've got wanker written all over you. Why don't you put your OWN name to it, you cowardly asshole? (EDIT: According to an anonymous benefactor commenting below, Wanker #5 is Stuart Bensch, of 1007 W Padon Avenue, Blackwell, Oklahoma 74631. Please direct all correspondence accordingly.)

6. Fucking Google. When I did a search for the phrase "George Tiller delivered babies", just to see if in fact he did (as many abortion providers do, surprise), the search left the crucial word, "delivered", out. WTF does Google have against people seeking complete, accurate information on an ob-gyn? Try it yourself and see--it WILL leave the "delivered" out unless you re-run the search asking it to leave it in! And even then, good luck finding non-Christofascist stuff. A right-wing-biased search engine? Don't look so shocked, kids. The world is full of right-wing bias, and it is the root of all evil. I already suspected something seriously amiss from what pops up in my "Hugo Chavez" Google Alerts. "Don't be evil" is apparently just an empty slogan to these wanks.

7. Anyone who refers to late-term abortion by the inaccurate term "partial birth". There is no such procedure, except in the fevered brains of the Amurrican Taliban. The overwhelming majority of "late-term" abortions are second-trimester, and are done only in the case of a fetus that isn't viable anyway. There is NO "partial birth" about it, and NO sense pretending that there is. Read this and get the facts!

8. Anyone who thinks that it will "save babies" to kill a doctor for Jeebus. No, it won't. Women who are going to abort, are going to go to any length they have to, even if it kills them. And if you don't believe me, maybe you should read what Dr. Garson Romalis has to say about his own near-death experience at the hands of one such walking freak-scene. It left him unable to deliver babies, which he did on a regular basis, as well as providing abortions, BEFORE he was shot! (Thanks a lot, James Charles Fucking Kopp. Why do you hate babies, James Charles?)

9. Anyone who thinks that abortion is a "holocaust" and that it's the sort of thing a Nazi would do. WRONG. The Nazis were against abortion. They were also most explicit in their "KKK" rule for women. This coincides remarkably with the Religious Reich's own role-modeling for females. They not only rewarded "good" German mothers-of-many with crosses, they actually forbade women to refuse to have children! And let me repeat, this rat-eaten assassin-of-doctors, like many others, was a fundie who moved in some pretty Nazified circles. So, if you're "pro-life" for religious reasons--congratulations! You have something major in common with fascists:

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The Nazi Mother's Cross--the ultimate symbol of "pro-life" Christianity!

10. Bruce Fucking Murch. Figures that a Quiverfull cultist would celebrate something as heinous as this. They care precious little about the women, and much more about keeping 'em barefoot and you-know-what, in the name of raising an army for Jesus, and for fighting the so-called culture war. For some reason, this whole whacked-up theology has a funny way of backfiring on itself and breeding radical feminists instead. Gee, I wonder why!

And finally, anyone who thinks this CRIME will put an end to abortions anywhere. No, it won't. It won't even shutter one clinic! After a period of mourning, Dr. Tiller's clinic will be open next Monday...and practicing good medicine, providing a needed service to women in a bind. Meanwhile, your "hero" Roeder will be rotting in jail, and this time, he won't be getting out on any technicality. The law is clear--this is NOT justifiable homicide. This is first-degree MURDER, by definition--because there was malice aforethought. This is a legal definition which applies to all doctor-killings, but NOT to abortions. (When's the last time YOU saw a woman have an abortion simply to torture her own fetus? Oh, only about NEVER. Abortion is, therefore, not murder--QED.)

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And no, I don't need you wanking in my comments section here. None of your comments will be published, and anyone who tries it will be insta-banned (and your e-mail will be saved to be forwarded to the appropriate authorities if you threaten me in any way).

Your hate speech stops here, bastards. Now go and get a life.

June 3, 2009

Tree falls in forest. No one hears it. Therefore...

Oh fucking hell. Look what just happened in Peru!

Alan García, alias President Twobreakfasts, has just sent in the riot cops to seize a TV station for nonpayment of debts. The station is off the air in the meantime.

Funny how HE can do that and no one calls him a tyrant...but if a certain guy in Venezuela refuses to renew a TV station's on-air licence because it has a history of broadcast-standards violations (including porn, and incitement to a fascist coup, among other things), suddenly that elected Venezuelan leader is a dictator.

No, I don't understand it, either.

UPDATE, 10:40 am: Otto has more.

May 24, 2009

One more reason to despise Microsoft

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...as if we all needed one.

Microsoft, the informatic giant founded by Bill Gates, has decided suddenly to cancel its Messenger service to those countries against which the United States maintains a commercial embargo.

Among those affected are Cuba, Iran and North Korea, who have all openly rejected the policies of the US. Also included are Syria and Sudan.

Right now, all cybernauts of those countries trying to log on to the popular Windows program have begun to receive the error 810003c1, which prevents them from going online in Messenger.

"Microsoft has cut Windows Live Messenger IM for all users in countries embargoed by the United States. Microsoft will no longer be offering service for Windows Live in your country," reads the support page in Windows live when anyone looks up the error in question.

Translation mine.

Fortunately, there's an easy way around this: Simply change your settings so that it says you're not in an embargoed country, such as Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria or Sudan. Tell them you're a Canadian. Problem fixed--embargo lifted!

Being a Mac user, however, I prefer to just go on avoiding them and all their endless bugs-disguised-as-features...and feeling damned smug about it.

May 21, 2009

Some US citizens who get it...

....and who are out to make sure a certain deeply despised Bolivian ex-president feels it:

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"Goni: Human rights abuser fleeing justice in Chevy Chase"

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"The US harbors terrorists"

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"Human rights abuser living in Chevy Chase"; "...do you feel safer?"

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"Goni be gone!"

Looks like they might get their wish, too. Thomas Shannon, the US Undersecretary of State (for Western Hemispheric affairs) was in Bolivia today, talking with Evo up close and personal. One of the topics that came up was--drumroll please--the prospect of extraditing Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, so that he can face trial for the murder of 63 Bolivian protesters in person (instead of in absentia as is the case right now).

Does this mark a sea change in the US's stance on Bolivia? Let's hope it does.

PS: Otto reports that Branko Marinkovic is feeling a little, um, downhearted. Maybe he met with Shannon too--and got the bad news that Obama-ma doesn't intend to support him in his little fascist crusade to take Santa Cruz back from the uppity Injuns?

May 17, 2009

Maracaibo goes to hell, in true paramilitary style

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Ever since Manuel Rosales fucked off to Peru, falsely claiming he was being "persecuted", the city of Maracaibo, Venezuela, has been effectively without a mayor. But even when Burusas was still in the city, he was apparently either grossly incompetent or flat-out criminal, if this story is any indication:

"Commando-type men arrived, armed to the teeth, and shoved us against the wall. They told us that if they saw us talking on the corner again, they would fuck us."

So says Francisco (name altered to protect the privacy of the 17-year-old), who was threatened with death along with six other young people by a suspected "death squad" in the Lomitas del Zulia sector of the Francisco Eugenio Bustamante parish, population 93,967, on April 24 at 8:00 pm.

A total of 11 sectors are alarmed at the presence of a violent group that is trying to take the law into its own hands.

Francisco says that days before the men came to the neighborhood, the residents of Calle 60B-1 in Lomitas del Zulia were shocked to find a leaflet stuck in the doors of their houses, warning of a "social cleansing" due to the rise in juvenile delinquency in Maracaibo.

Panic took hold in the zone as people recalled the threats of the "death pamphlets" which circulated in the city and other muncipalities over the last two months.

Francisco recalls that the six armed men got out of a grey Ford Fiesta Power and corralled him when he was conversing with a group of other boys. "One of them wanted to leave on his bicycle, but they pointed a pistol at him and frisked him to see if he was armed."

A neighbor intervened, and assured that the boys were all right and asked that they be left alone. "Then they went away. But if we see them again in the street, we won't respond," said one of the boys, in a hoarse voice.

From then on, the residents changed their routine. They live in fear of the men who threatened them with death.

The same thing happened a week before, in the Libertador neighborhood of the same parish, when several hooded men shouted at passersby that they would kill "delinquents and drug traffickers", according to Adolfo Jacobo, a Maracaibo taxi driver.

"20 days ago, a friend showed me a flyer that some guys were throwing around in the streets, saying they would kill criminals, never mind if it took the lives of any innocent people," said a resident of Avenida 95 in the same neighborhood, who declined to be identified. He added that as of that moment, the neighbors all locked themselves indoors after 7:00 pm, for fear of "being caught in a shooting."

"We are worried about the lack of (police) patrols. Now we can't even stand in front of our houses because of the insecurity and the threatening pamphlets," said Eduardo Rincón, an electrician from Lomitas del Zulia in eastern Maracaibo.

His version coincides with that of Commissioner Jotny Márquez, chief of the CICPC-Maracaibo, who questions the crime-prevention work of the regional police because crime rates have risen.

In the José Antonio Páez neighborhood, near Lomitas del Zulia, people are also alarmed by the appearance of the pamphlets.

Aura Medina, a 47-year-old housewife, said that after the leaflets were distributed, several suspicious cars were seen passing through the neighborhood during the night. "We're afraid that they will do what they did to those young guys, and take people from their houses and kill them," said Medina, referring to a case of some young people who were taken from the La Chinita neighborhood, in the southern part of the city, last April 18.

Families of the victims have joined the CICPC and the Ombudsman's office in calling for justice for their loved ones. "Right now, we know that they called several municipal police officers to testify who were involved, and we hope they will clarify what happened," said Aída Rodríguez, mother of Jender Soto, who was killed by gunfire.

A spokesman for the CICPC informed that five members of the Maracaibo police were called to give statements about the occurrences. However, a tribunal source denied, for the time being, that the officials were directly involved in the murders.

The pamphlets found in Maracaibo were of the same content as those which circulated in Colombia in 2008.

Translation mine.

It seems pretty clear what's going on. Colombian paramilitaries have been a problem in western Venezuela for years, because that region borders on Colombia. And right-wing politicians, too, have been western Venezuela's bane for the same amount of time. It seems only logical to suspect that the two are somehow connected; the paras "provide security" to the rich, corrupt right-wingers, and do so by menacing the poor. They also seem to have had some collaborators among the Maracaibo police, and this even when Giancarlo Di Martino, a member of the PSUV (Chavecito's party) was mayor of Maracaibo and trying to get a handle on the situation. Do the PoliMaracaibo respect no authority unless it's that of a fascist enabler? Sure smells that way.

It doesn't hurt, either, to recall that Colombian paramilitaries have been found to be involved in several failed coup plots against Chavecito--always hired at the behest of those same right-wing political figures who pose as heads of "civil society" and NGOs, and who are constantly screeching about political persecution when the law starts catching up to them.

So, when will the Dissociated Press, the Old Grey Whore and the WaHoPo write about the truly persecuted in Venezuela--the residents of neighborhoods terrorized by these right-wing commandos, operating illegally at the behest of poor, persecuted Manuel Rosales? Don't hold your breath, kiddies, they're still busy painting Chavecito as the villain on whose shoulders all of this somehow must fall.

May 12, 2009

Bolivia terror plot: The Argentine connection, revisited and confirmed

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This is what they fear, kiddies...indigenous Bolivians fighting back against fascism.

Via ABI, I came across this report in Argentina's Página/12. It's shocking, explosive, highly relevant to what I've written about in here previously--and worth translating in its entirety, which I did:

"I was present in Beni (northern Bolivia) with an Argentine cell of eleven ex-carapintadas ("painted faces", notorious paramilitaries), along with ex-militaries who had been on missions in the Balkans. The above-mentioned 'Argentine cell' maintained contacts with sectors of the 'far right', opposed to the current Bolivian government, in Santa Cruz and Cobija, department of Pando."

The information, dated May 4, received by the Argentine Chancellery from the embassy in Bolivia and which was received by Página/12, indicated that "business owners and landowners of Santa Cruz de la Sierra requested the presence of the ex-militaries with the objective of training them in self-defence in case of their eventual imprisonment by the Bolivian authorities."

The pieces of the puzzle are beginning to fall into place following an investigation into a group of suspected terrorists, led by Eduardo Rózsa Flores, "Hero of the Balkan War", which was dismantled by the Bolivian National Police last April 16. President Evo Morales denounced the group for planning his assassination.

Last April 21, we reported that the vice-president of Bolivia, Alvaro García Linera, had communicated with the Argentine ambassador in La Paz, Horacio Macedo, to ask him to collaborate in the control of the border regions "due to the presence of Argentine activists in certain regions of Bolivia". At that time, there was mention of the travels to Bolivia of retired major Jorge Mones Ruiz, one of the "carapintadas" who between 1987 and 1991 took part in armed uprisings to demand impunity for repressors [active during the time of the Argentine military junta, 1976-83].

The new report states that "Mones Ruiz had been in contact with the late suspected terrorist/mercenary Rózsa Flores and with [Luis Enrique] Baraldini", another comrade-in-arms and fugitive-from-justice for his actions during the illegal repressions in La Pampa, and currently based in Santa Cruz under a false name. Mones Ruiz was assigned to Bolivia as an intelligence official of the Argentine army during the last dictatorship, and liked to boast of the recognition of his Bolivian comrades.

The ex-carapintada was seduced by his links to the ultra-right in Latin America. In '87, the Military Circle published his book, in which he outlined his expertise on the formation of commando groups against the revolutionary processes in Central America. This year, Mones Ruiz found anchorage in the so-called UnAmérica, an NGO claiming to be a counterweight to Unasur, the organization to which all the South American heads of state belong. Leftist governments, particularly those of Bolivia and Venezuela, were the focus of the efforts of the committee, led by the anti-Chavista Venezuelan, Alejandro Peña Esclusa.

Mones Ruiz showed his notions in various formats, but with the same obsession. With another of his carapintada comrades, Breide Obeid, he formed the "Conjunto Patria" (Homeland Alliance) and began to sing his own lyrics in all kinds of encounters. More academically, he published various books, among them "Argentina--without a future?". He studied the "new dangers" and broadcast himself on Web pages on subjects such as "misrule and institutional bankruptcy, attacks on businessses, price controls, energy crises, the 'Papeleros' case, citizen insecurity, corruption, 'twisted' justice, widening of the gap between rich and poor, 'crooked' legislators, social violence, forgotten military commanders, police forces with fewer rights than delinquents, etc., which are generating the conditions for structural changes that society demands." A hyperactive man, last year he began to show up during rural meetings and stir up conflict.

The violent entry of the police into the fourth floor of the Hotel Las Américas, which ended in the deaths of Rózsa Flores (Bolivian-Hungarian-Croatian), Arpád Magyarosi (Romanian of Hungarian origins) and Michael Dwyer (Irish), and the arrests of Mario Francisco Tadic Astorga (Bolivian with Croatian passport) and Elöd Tóásó (Romanian-Hungarian) exacerbated the virulence of the Bolivian opposition. President Evo Morales is looking for re-election next December 6, and read the actions of these transnational commandos as proof of a cabal with plans to assassinate him. Throughout this minefield, there are footprints of the same personages.

Five days after the sting in the hotel, the Hungarian Television Network broadcast an interview by journalist Andras Kepes on September 8, 2008, in which Rózsa confirmed that he was bound for Santa Cruz de la Sierra at the request of persons who asked him to form a "self-defence group" in the region and that if there was no peaceful coexistence with the rest of the country, they would seek independence. The newspaper El Deber, of Santa Cruz, stated that "the 49-year-old assured that his mission 'had legal backing' because the decision to organize his militia had the authorization of the Council of Santa Cruz. The president of the Departmental Assembly, Juan Carlos Parada, assured that he knew nothing about it and that he did not know which of the councils or assemblies of Santa Cruz had sought permission. According to Rózsa, a group of political opposition members contacted him about a year and a half earlier, from Santa Cruz. His principal mission was to defend the region against supposed armed indigenous groups and militias. "We were convinced after a few months that there was no peaceful coexistence and, in the name of autonomy, decided to proclaim the independence of Santa Cruz and create a new country," said Rózsa.

Rózsa recorded the interview as a kind of last will and testament, to be distributed only in the event of his death. The strange personage who had been a militant of Opus Dei, converted to Islam and was hailed as a "Hero of the Balkan War", ended up recruiting mercenaries to defend the Bolivian ultra-right. His participation in the Croatian war established ties with Latin American soldiers who found in these militias a sought-after niche in which to develop their competence as armed commandos.

The detailed report before the Argentine chancellery tells that businessmen and landowners in Santa Cruz de la Sierra appealed to the ex-militaries "with the objective of being instructed in self-defence in case of possible imprisonment by official organisms and various affiliates, including the taking of private lands by social entities such as the MAS"--alluding to the Movement Toward Socialism party led by President Evo Morales.

The "model" of Brazilian landlords who installed virtual death squads to counteract the landless peasant movements demonstrates what the reactionary secessionists of the rich regions of Bolivia had in mind. The "Human Rights Foundation of Bolivia", under the offices of Victor Hugo Achá, was a school in the strategies and objectives of UnAmérica, according to the report.

On April 30, prosecutor Marcelo Sosa announced that Achá would be called upon to testify, in order to corroborate the testimonies of various detainees in the case. The president of the HRF had gone to the United States one week earlier and announced that he would no return until he received legal guarantees that he would be able to defend himself against the accusations. However, in a telephone conversation with a local channel, he admitted that he had conversed on more than three occasions with Rózsa but, obviously, denied any ties with the militia organized by the Bolivian-Hungarian-Croat.

According to the daily La Prensa, of La Paz, Juan Carlos Gueder, recently arrested, declared: "There was another person with ties to the political field, to be assassinated in Bolivia, but I don't know his name either, because there are other people who should be coming forward here. Mr. Hugo Achá should show his face." Gueder assured that he HRF director had met with the suspected terrorist group. Gueder was given house arrest in exchange for collaborating with the judicial authorities.

On May 1, the Bolivian president said that if the organization had not clarified its links with "the terrorists, it would be expelled from Bolivia, as had already occurred in Venezuela. The Comité Pro Santa Cruz, a leading light in the opposition which repeatedly tried to destabilize the Morales administration, called an assembly to decide what to do against the advances of the investigation into ties between its businessmen and the suspected terrorists killed in the Hotel Las Américas.

This is how the sectors of UnAmérica act--an organization in which the Argentine paramilitary Mones Ruiz preens himself as secretary, and which says it will present a denunciation before the Inter-American Human Rights Court, accusing the Morales government of being responsible for the massacre of Pando. The objective is to counteract the report approved by Unasur which landed in prison, among others, the prefect of Pando, for racial persecution and racist murders committed by the ultra-right.

Links added.

So, another piece of the puzzle is indeed falling into place, and it's a large one. This Argentine fascist, a self-styled defender and apologist of repressors from the junta, is not surprisingly a big wheel in the fascist plot against Evo. He has ample experience in fascism in Bolivia, too, as he was a liaison between the Argentine junta and its counterpart, the Bolivian military dictatorship of the era. (Recall that Bolivia was the victim of several military coups beginning in 1964, and did not regain democracy until 1982, one year before the Argentine junta fell.) It seems natural that Mones Ruiz would therefore have abiding sympathies for fascists in Bolivia, and possibly even ties stretching back to his time in country the first time around. It would not be at all hard for him--whom Página/12 also characterizes as being "nostalgic for other times" and "frankly putschist"--to cheerfully become part of an antidemocratic plot to pull Santa Cruz out of Bolivia and install an authoritarian para-government, however illegally. To him, it would be just like the "good old days" of impunity and repression both there and in Argentina!

The name of Luis Enrique Baraldini has also come up here before. According to this report, Baraldini is currently in Bolivia. (He's also wanted by Interpol for human rights violations in Argentina, so if you've seen him, you know who to call.) Baraldini is of the Santa Cruz horsey set; he's a judge in equestrian events, and also currently runs a "school of equine therapy", presumably catering to disabled children, which may well be a front for something less pleasant--or at the very least, a way of covering his multitudinous sins. He may be using his mother's surname, Pellegri, as an alias (how macho, hiding behind Mama's skirts). He also was decorated by the Bolivian military for his "services"--a major WTF? until you consider that he, too, was operative during the days of military dictatorship, and undoubtedly, like Mones Ruiz, was sent by the higher-ups in Buenos Aires to "help" the poor, beleaguered unpopular generals maintain their death grip on that impoverished but still fractious country! Alas, it was an epic fail. Bolivia is now democratic and ruled by an uppity Injun. How lucky for him, then, that there has been mostly impunity for Argentine repressors since the return of democracy to Bolivia in '82 and Argentina in '83, otherwise he'd be in a world of hurt. (Well, it's still not too late to call Interpol if you've seen him. Or the Bolivian federal authorities, who I'm sure are more than a little interested in him again, though in a markedly different light, by now.)

And of course, there's that weaselly little UnAmérica thing again, too. Too bad it's totally illegitimate, and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights is likely to throw out its charges with a loud belly-laugh. Unasur, not UnAmérica, holds the legal cards. The declarations of this right-wing astroturf group are therefore no more legitimate than the "autonomy" declarations of the Media Lunatics (which were so preposterous that no respectable international observer wanted to be caught dead at their illegal referendum, much less dignify it with the stamp of approval.) I don't imagine that the smarmy Twat From Caracas and his little astroturf-roll will fare any better either; no one's about to grant them immunity from prosecution in exchange for testimony since they're clearly in this plot up to their collective, beady eyeballs.

I've lost count of how many points this makes for Evo's side, but I know for sure that the oppo count is still 0. Apologists for fascism, the ball's in your court now...but I doubt you can return THIS serve convincingly. You haven't done all that well with any of the previous ones.

Bolivia terror plot: The smoking gun(s) of forensic evidence

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So, there are still those who think the three dead mercenaries shot by the Bolivian police were innocent, and that they were executed in cold blood, rather than killed in a firefight? Well, now the ballistic evidence is in, and guess what it says...

Experts from the Institute of Forensic Investigations (IDIF) found gunpowder residues on the hands of the suspected terrorists killed on April 16 in a confrontation with an elite unit of the Bolivian federal police in the Hotel Las Américas, according to judicial sources.

"The IDIF report indicates that there were gunpowder residues on the hands of Eduardo Rózsa Flores, Arpad Magyarosi and Michael Martin Dwyer," said prosecutor Marcelo Soza, head of the investigation.

[...]

Soza said the IDIF findings constitute evidence that the deceased fired at the police during the confrontation in which they were killed.

Translation mine.

There WAS a firefight, and these guys were killed because they were shooting at the police. Any questions?

May 11, 2009

Another big drug bust in Venezuela

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Néstor Reverol (in red) shows off a whackload of Colombia's most lucrative export--which won't be making it out through Venezuela this time.

So, Venezuela needs the DEA back, eh? Heh...

The director of the National Anti-Drug Office, Néstor Reverol, announced the confiscation of 1,981 kilograms of drugs, which were divided into 1,912 blocks, last Saturday in the early morning hours. The drugs were confiscated by the municipal police of Pedro Gual, the Bolivarian National Guard, and the CICPC.

The operation also resulted in the detention of three persons, one Colombian and two Venezuelan, at a ranch called "La Guardia", in the Panapo sector of Cúpira in the state of Miranda. The detainees are currently in the custody of the Public Ministry.

A boat by the name of Ave Fénix, registered in Pampatar, was also seized.

Reverol called the operation "another heavy blow" for the trafficking of drugs. "We hereby confirm the commitment of the Venezuelan state in its frontal assault on the trafficking of illicit drugs," Reverol said.

Reverol reported that in another operation, conducted on Sunday afternoon by the National Guard, 830 kilos of marijuana were seized in a truck with a false bottom. The operation took place in the Buena Vista sector of Monte Carmelo, Trujillo.

"It is important to emphasize that to date, we have confiscated 18,488 kilograms of illegal drugs, and arrested 2,050 persons who are now in the custody of the Public Ministry," Reverol said.

Translation mine.

Looks like Venezuela and Bolivia both are doing better at antidrug policing by themselves than they ever did with the DEA in the house. Now why do you suppose that is?

Meanwhile, on a related note, check out THIS bit of drug-related pwnage:

A rational expert shoots down a former drug czar.

Heh, heh...and just for emphasis and good measure, heh.

May 9, 2009

Bolivia's loss is Peru's shame

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This cartoon...it just never gets old, does it?

If the government of Peru was looking for a way to cover itself with even more disgrace than it already has, well, guess what...IT FOUND IT. They're not only taking crooks from Venezuela, but Bolivia, too:

The government of Peru granted asylum to a minister of the former president of Bolivia, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, who was facing trial by the Bolivian supreme court, according to Agence France-Presse.

Two other functionaries of the Sánchez de Lozada regime are also seeking asylum in Peru.

[...]

The concession on the part of Lima takes place at a time when legal proceedings have opened against Sánchez de Lozada, who is accused of the killing of 67 Bolivians in the repression of a popular insurrection in the cities of El Alto and La Paz, which preceded his removal from office in October 2003.

The charges, pressed by the victims' families, will be heard by the Supreme Court on May 18. Along with Sánchez de Lozada, currently a fugitive in the United States, they involve several of his ministers: Carlos Sánchez Berzaín (Defence), Jorge Torres Obleas (Haciendas), Yerko Kukoc (Interior), Mirtha Quevedo (Popular Participation), Jorge Berindoage (Hydrocarbons) and Guido Añez (Agriculture).

Sánchez Berzain is a fugitive in the United States, as are Añez and Berindoage.

Kukoc is seeking asylum in Peru, and according to sources, Quevedo is also trying for asylum.

The Bolivian Minister of Legal Defence, Héctor Arce, called upon the Peruvian government to reject the asylum bids of Quevedo, Torres and Kukoc, reports AFP.

[...]

Kukoc, who fled to Buenos Aires on the night of October 17, 2003, and returned to Bolivia a month later, when Sánchez de Lozada's successor, vice-president Carlos Mesa, was in power, was tried for the illegal possession of nearly two million bolivianos withdrawn irregularly from the Central Bank a few days before the fall of the deposed leader.

Unable to convert it to dollars, Kukoc gave the money to a friend in Santa Cruz, at the Santa Cruz airport where Sánchez de Lozada embarked, along with his family and Sánchez Berzaín, on a flight bound for the United States.

[...]

Christian Zanabria, an activist of the Human Rights Assembly of Chuquisaca, denounced several magistrates of the Supreme Court on Friday for trying to halt the trial of Sánchez de Losada, who was also cited for inflicting economic damage on the state during his first administration, between 1993 and 1997, when he privatized most of the Bolivian state industries, including the strategic ones.

Zanabria also denounced Quevedo's defence attorney for trying to halt her trial.

"We have been informed of two incidents on the part of Quevedo, who asked for annulment of responsibilities, with the justification that there were procedural flaws and that there was no meeting between the parties," reported the activist.

Zanabria warned that, with such a pretext the Supreme Court could "give the green light" to halting the trial of Sánchez de Lozada.

Translation mine.

Yep, Peru now has Goni-rhea in addition to a bad case of Burusas.

And of course, the biggest crook-harborer of all is still...drumroll please...THE UNITED STATES. How many national disgraces from Latin America are hiding out there now, some of them with close ties to Washington? I've lost count. For a country that supposedly values democracy and swears it will prosecute terrorists, it's sure not doing much to keep its own house in order.

UPDATE: Mirtha Quevedo has just piped up to confirm that she is in Peru, and wants a "fair trial". Why is she acting like she won't get one? Answer: Because she will, and that's just what she doesn't want.

UPDATE #2: Bolivia's ambassador to Peru denies that there are any political persecutions going on in Bolivia. Unfortunately, the same is true not only there but in Venezuela--and the truth hasn't stopped El Gordo from providing asylum to the scum de la scum from there, has it now?

UPDATE #3: Evo has finally weighed in, basically asking the Fat One to stop harboring crooks. Evo, stop being so damn polite and just kick his ass all over the soccer pitch, already!

May 8, 2009

Bolivia terror plot: An attorney's intriguing revelations, and some more intriguing revelations about the attorney

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No translation required, I trust...

My, oh my, oh my. Something mighty interesting is going down in Bolivia, no? Here comes your latest installment, kiddies:

Denver Pedraza, the defence attorney for the Santa Cruz Youth Union (UJC) members Carlos Gueder Bruno and Alcides Mendoza Masavi, implicated in the activities of a presumed terrorist cell dismantled in Santa Cruz, linked Senator Walter Guiteras to the suspected trafficking of weapons in 2006, which were to be used against the government.

"Senator Guiteras, of the Podemos opposition party, was one of the persons allegedly trafficking weapons through the zone, via one of his properties," Pedraza revealed in an interview with a local TV station.

Pedraza named a family, the Farfáns, as suspected ringleaders of an organization which trafficked weapons in the department of Beni, although he did not specify a precise location of the property in question.

"This terrorist event has a name and surname. As of 2006-7, a great many weapons entered Bolivia, especially in the departments of Santa Cruz and Beni," Pedraza said.

[...]

Pedraza also revealed that as of 2006, when the weapons began coming into the country, and in 2007-8, "the 'lodges' Toborochi, Caballeros del Oriente, and a group of members who ran the companies CRE (electricity), COTAS (telecommunications) and SAGUAPAC (water) began to react [against the Morales government]."

[...]

Pedraza said that these "lodges" immediately organized, and that there was a hunger strike in Santa Cruz, "and then the idea arose among some people there to kill Dr. Hugo Salvatierra, who was Minister of Agriculture, and Dr. Chato Peredo."

These declarations come as the Public Ministry investigates events relating to a terrorist cell which operated in Santa Cruz, which intended to divide Bolivia and made attempts on the life of President Evo Morales. In previous declarations made last week, Pedraza had already made known that he possessed much important information relating to the terrorism case, and asked to meet with President Morales.

Translation mine.

You'll want to read what Otto has found about the Toborochi and Caballeros Del Oriente "lodges" mentioned above, which are shunned like lepers by mainstream, respectable Bolivian freemasons for reasons all too compelling. There is some extensive and damning documentation (at the moment, in Spanish only) on these two very shady secret societies. If more on them comes to light later on, I'm going to translate key bits and post them here, as I agree with Otto that they are significant--they appear to have provided cover for some serious terrorist plotting and other criminal activities as well.

Meanwhile, I'm doing the old Googly-moogly on Denver Pedraza, the attorney for these two accused, who are suspected bagmen and/or weapons suppliers to the cell. Here are a few things I've found so far:

According to a May 1 news item on a Canadian Bolivia solidarity site, Pedraza is himself under corruption charges. The charges stem back to when Pedraza was district chief of DIRCABI Santa Cruz, the district directorate of the national registry, controller and administrator of confiscated property. For this reason, according to the juridical director of the Ministry of Government, Rubén Gamarra, Pedraza "has no moral authority to summon any governmental authorities"--this in reference to his wanting to meet with Evo. Instead, he's been asked to hand over the information to the Public Ministry to be processed according to established legal procedure.

Pedraza was made district chief of DIRCABI Santa Cruz on July 21, 2006, and fired just nine months later, after Alfredo Rada, the Minister of Government, found irregularities in his management of the office. Pedraza is accused of having taken a confiscated car and then crashed it in a state of intoxication. Several bottles of wine were found inside at the scene. It wasn't the only confiscated car he took, either--he is accused of having given two armored vehicles, a Fiat and a Citroën, worth $50,000 US apiece, to the mother of a man charged in a drug-trafficking case. He only returned one--"totally dismantled". The other is still unaccounted for. Yet another confiscated vehicle, a Suzuki, was also "irregularly used" and involved in a traffic accident; Pedraza was found to have ordered the transfer of some persons in it, and to date has not paid for the repairs incurred as a result of the incident. He also rented out a confiscated building, on the corner of San Aurelio Avenue and Segundo Anillo in the city of Santa Cruz as a billboard for large advertisements. The renters were charged $700 US for a year's use of the space. This money did not go to DIRCABI, but to Pedraza's own pocket, even though he had been fired. Several pieces of confiscated jewelry were also found to be missing from the safe at DIRCABI headquarters, and Pedraza later admitted that they were in "a secure location", and returned them after they were found in his home!

Gee, he sounds like quite the character, doesn't he? But nonetheless, he's entirely par for the course if you're talking about crooked bigwigs in the city of Santa Cruz, which has no shortage of those. (Why do you think so many of them are banding together in clandestine "lodges" to kill Evo? Among other things, he's cracking down on corruption. Duh!)

According to this piece in the very right-wing (and smelly) Bolivian news site El Deber, Pedraza claims there are persons in the federal government and the National Police linked to weapons trafficking. Could this be what he wanted to meet with Evo about? Or is he accusing Evo, and trying to drag him into court? This might explain why his "requests" for a "meeting" were rejected on the grounds of his lack of moral standing. Oh, and get this: Pedraza claims to be a MAS supporter (that is, of Evo's party, the Movement Toward Socialism)! He also points the finger at Alfredo Rada (mentioned above), and Major Johnny Tapia, former federal police officer (and head of Delta Squadron) and currently chief of police in Plan 3000, a mostly-indigenous suburb of the city of Santa Cruz. Tapia of course denies it, and I have yet to see anything worth crediting pertaining to charges against Rada, either. The same piece also uncritically characterizes the far-right astroturf group, the "Human Rights Foundation", as "apolitical", which is the dirtiest joke I've heard all week. (I did say El Deber was smelly, did I not?)

BTW, I'm looking for the video in which Pedraza gives the interview mentioned in the ABI article at the top of this piece. If anyone knows where I can find it, drop me a note in the comments section and I'll post it here so you can see him for yourself and judge how trustworthy/noteworthy/whatever you find him.

April 28, 2009

Actions have consequences, gordito!

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

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

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

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

The communiqué released today by the Venezuelan government states:

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

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

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

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

Translation mine.

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

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

April 27, 2009

Another Bolivia bombshell about to break?

tres-bombshell.jpg

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

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

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

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

[...]

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

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

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

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

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

Translation mine. Linkage added.

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

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

April 25, 2009

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

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

--Jefferson Airplane, "Good Shepherd"

baltasar-porras.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Translation mine. Linkage added.

Holy shit, indeed.

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

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

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

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

April 21, 2009

Bolivian terrorists: The Argentine Connection?

armed-thug.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[...]

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

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

Translation mine. Linkage (in English) added.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

General Information

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

Geo-Location Information

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

dwyer-corpse.jpg

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

Neither do I.

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 16, 2009

Larry Klayman is about to get laughed out of court again

This is hilarious!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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April 6, 2009

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

A. His lips are moving:

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

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

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

A: It's live and on air.

Justice 7 years later: The Venezuelan coup of April 11

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

April 3, 2009

Cops Behaving Badly: The Verdict in Venezuela

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

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

[...]

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

Translation mine.

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

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

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

March 28, 2009

So...Bolivia "needs" the DEA, eh?

Heh.

After discovering a gigantic cocaine-refining laboratory, the Bolivian anti-drug police revealed that they have also broken up a powerful international criminal ring operating in the country.

"We are sure that we have disarticulated a truly powerful gang, considering the value of this laboratory. It's easily worth more than a million dollars, and if we add to this the cost of the confiscated drugs, plus the airplane and various other supplies, it all adds up to two million dollars," said the director of the Special Force Against Drug Trafficking, Oscar Nina.

The police chief stated that this organization was composed of Colombians and Bolivians, who operated the laboratory discovered in the region of Chiquitanía, in the eastern department of Santa Cruz.

Colonel Nina indicated that the police officers verified the installations of the factory, catalogued as the largest found in the last ten years, and quantified the qualities of the gigantic cocaine-refinement laboratory.

"We have determined that it is a highly sophisticated laboratory where they used state-of-the-art technology, for the fabrication of the drugs and for the recycling of the substances used for the refinement of cocaine paste," Col. Nina said.

Translation mine.

How often did this happen when Bolivia "co-operated" with the gringos? All I heard back then was how they had to "intensify" the fight against coca-growing, and how it wasn't working no matter how many times they ramped things up. Also, when Bolivia turfed the DEA out, there were moans about how it would be a disaster to the fight against drugs. Not to mention that that damn Injun, Evo, used to be a coca grower before he became president--and thus, Washington's worst nightmare. Oh noes!

Now it turns out that coca growing is not the problem and neither are Teh Injunz, duh...cocaine refinement and smuggling are. And an even bigger duh is how Bolivia is succeeding better in the anti-cocaine fight when it's no longer being "helped" by the DEA. Gee, why do you suppose that is?

Hillary Clinton has also finally admitted what most of us have known for years--that the demand side (you know--crackpipe, injection needle, powdery gringo nostrils?) is also a problem. Therefore, I think an award is due to her:

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Wear that hat well, Hill.

March 25, 2009

Whatever is to be done about that whole AIG thing?

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Great minds often think alike. Not necessarily in lockstep, but sometimes two different (and equally excellent) people come to the same conclusion. Take, for example, one of my long-time journalistic heroes, Joe Conason:

The popular urge to claw back the bogus bonuses paid by American International Group is irresistible and fully justified, but should the Treasury someday retrieve every single bonus dollar, that total of $165 million will make no difference to anyone except a few disgruntled traders. From the jaded perspective of the financiers, the uproar over the AIG bonuses may provide a welcome distraction from far more important (and lucrative) abuses in the world's offshore tax havens.

[...]

According to the Government Accountability Office, nearly all of America's top 100 corporations maintain subsidiaries in countries identified as tax havens. As the GAO notes, there could be reasons other than avoiding the IRS to set up branches in places such as Singapore, Luxembourg and Switzerland, where taxes are light or nonexistent and keeping clients' illicit secrets is considered a matter of national pride.

But what reason other than evasion could there be for Goldman Sachs Group to set up three subsidiaries in Bermuda, five in Mauritius, and 15 in the Cayman Islands? Why did Countrywide Financial need two subsidiaries in Guernsey? Why did Wachovia need 18 subsidiaries in Bermuda, three in the British Virgin Islands, and 16 in the Caymans? Why did Lehman Brothers need 31 subsidiaries in the Caymans? What do Bank of America's 59 subsidiaries in the Caymans actually do? Why does Citigroup need 427 separate subsidiaries in tax havens, including 12 in the Channel Islands, 21 in Jersey, 91 in Luxembourg, 19 in Bermuda and 90 in the Caymans? What exactly is going on at Morgan Stanley's 19 subs in Jersey, 29 subs in Luxembourg, 14 subs in the Marshall Islands, and its amazing 158 subs in the Caymans? And speaking of AIG, why does it have 18 subs in tax-haven countries? (Don't expect to find out from Fox News Channel or the New York Post, because News Corp. has its own constellation of strange subsidiaries, including 33 in the Caymans alone.)

When the cost of these shenanigans was last estimated two years ago, the U.S. government's annual loss in revenue due to tax avoidance by major corporations and super-rich individuals was pegged at about $100 billion -- considerably more than a rounding error, even today. But of course that is only a rough assessment, as is the estimate of $12 trillion in untaxed assets hidden around the world. Nobody will know for certain until the books are opened and transparency is established.

Now take another--Linda McQuaig:

Don't get me wrong: I'm not against tarring and feathering those AIG guys who helped destroy the world economy with their financial manoeuvres, and then received million-dollar bonuses to undo their own handiwork.

But focusing just on them is like just going after the crude thugs who unleashed dogs on Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib, without noticing that their actions were the product of a climate of lawlessness and vengeance fostered by the White House.

Similarly, for several decades now, the financial and corporate elite has championed an unbridled capitalism, and pressed for the removal of crucial regulations needed to protect the public. It has also championed an ethos of greed that justified extraordinary compensation, and very low tax burdens, for those at the top.

In this climate -- with regulations stripped away, an intense fanning of the flames of acquisitiveness and the prospect of ever-larger bonuses dangled in front of them -- are we surprised that some Wall Street types unleashed their inner dog in ways that took little account of the public interest?

...and that took a beeline for all those offshore banks where transparency is a dirty word?

Offshore banks and other tax shelters should finally be called by their right name: ACCOMPLICES.

Last time I looked, aiding and abetting a crime was a crime unto itself, and an accomplice is held guilty right along with the main perpetrator. The laws of many a land all agree on this point. They wouldn't let a band of gangsters on a ghetto street get away with murder--so why allow it in the financial district?

The answer, I suspect, is because the banksters know how to bury a body where it won't be easily found. And where better than in a convoluted, opaque foreign banking system? Especially when the country where the accomplice-bank is located plumes itself on its "discretion" and "safety"?

Of course, those countries where the accomplice-banks squat are invariably small. Small geography, small population, small resources, small tax base. They don't produce much because they don't have much to produce with. And so it leads to a certain smallness of mind, as well. Particularly when it comes to cash. After all, if you ain't got money comin' in from anyplace else, shoot, why not take it from a well-heeled overseas crook? Especially if that crook dresses in Armani, Zegna, and every other trendy international name in the lexicon? Such things lend an awful lot of glitter and panache to a place that's home to just three inbred farmers and one cross-eyed cow*...

So of course it should come as no surprise that the infamous Stanford Bank would have its centre of thievery highway robbery offshore banking in Antigua, an island with a population of no more than maybe 100,000 souls.** And of these, how many pay taxes? How many make enough that anyone would levy taxes on them? And if collected, what good would that piffling amount of tax income do? The parliamentarians would all have to take second jobs at that rate. And how many jobs are on that island to begin with?

Obviously, political alternatives (such as communal rule, for example) aren't being considered. So it's little wonder that the local politicos, despite their insistences to the contrary, don't run a very tight ship where banking and transparency are concerned. And as long as that money keeps flowing, nobody worries much.

Until it all jumps up to bite them in the ass. Which, as bad luck would have it, is now the case. Allen Stanford was running an elaborate Ponzi scheme--who knew?

Well, the Antiguan authorities should have known--had they been keeping track. Which they weren't. After all, their little island nation had a reputation to uphold. And that reputation was not for transparency and integrity; it was for "discretion". Integrity and transparency don't pay the bills, much less build glitzy tourist attractions for all those foreign sun-seekers! What does? Cold, hard, foreign cash.

And, as the old Roman saying has it, Pecunia non olet. Money has no odor. Even if the way it was gotten stinks to high heaven, somehow that cash always manages to smell sweet...***

But let's not bog down in the question of whether money smells. I can tell you what stinks to the highest heaven, and so can my fellow Canadian:

Greed had become the new black. No one even seemed embarrassed to show it. As Barbara Amiel once said, "I have an extravagance that knows no bounds." This wasn't something she cooed privately into the ear of her husband, but rather boasted publicly to fashion magazine Vogue.

Of course, any attempt to critique greed or the unbridled capitalism that accommodates it is quickly dismissed. Resistance is pointless, we're told. Greed is simply natural -- as basic to the human condition as jealousy, anger, pride, pimples.

Linda McQuaig nailed it. The root of the problem lies not with any individual corporation, or any single small country specializing in offshore banking. The problem is greed, and more specifically, the way greed has been entrenched in our cultures and enshrined in our laws. Gordon Gekko's downfall in Wall Street should be proof enough that the man is wrong about the nature of the beast: Greed is not good. Greed kills. Greed wrecks entire economies, and not just in small countries; big ones are just as vulnerable. In fact, the bigger and more interconnected and globalized the economy, the more the old saying holds true: The harder they fall.

Unfortunately, it seems that a lot of real-life Wall Streeters never watched that movie to the end. They don't read good books, either. And they sure don't read what Joe Conason has written...

Whatever the accurate accounting proves to be, it is certain to exceed hundreds of billions annually worldwide. That is money every country will need badly for years, to repay debt, finance reconstruction, and fund services, as the world economy struggles to revive itself. Even in the developing countries, where incomes are much lower and billionaires tend to be scarce, the annual revenue loss could be as much as $50 billion -- enough to meet the U.N.'s Millennium Development Goals (if only the money were not stolen by local elites and wired away to numbered accounts in tax havens).

None of these tax havens could exist without the connivance or at least the cooperation of the world's most powerful governments, which remain dominated by financial industry lobbyists even now.

It sure looks hopeless at the rate things are currently going, does it not?

But wait...Linda McQuaig hasn't just nailed the problem of shrugging one's shoulders at greed, she has also unearthed some pretty earth-shaking stuff about who the real Atlases are that hold this world aloft:

[T]he late economic historian Karl Polanyi noted that resisting the rapacious effects of the unregulated market is also natural, perhaps even more basic in humans.

Polanyi pointed out that the rise of capitalism centuries ago was so disruptive to the lives of ordinary people -- who were forced into mines and factories after losing their rights to the common fields -- that it produced a counter-reaction aimed at controlling the market.

Indeed, Polanyi argued that while capitalism was a carefully planned set of laws designed by the financial elite, the reaction to capitalism -- protests, unionization, political agitation -- was a natural set of responses that emerged spontaneously from the masses.

The impulse to resist unbridled capitalism -- with its resulting extreme inequality and economic domination by the rich -- is basic and has persisted throughout the centuries, according to Polanyi.

It culminated in the rise of the social welfare state in the early decades after World War II -- an era in which the market excesses of the 1920s were reined in by financial regulation, and tax and spending policies led to greater social equity. In both the U.S. and Canada, there was real growth in the incomes of the middle and lower classes.

And you'll note that all that was done without telling the common people to invest, much less in offshore banking.

Free-marketers are always telling small countries to take harsh medicine (poison, really) to "cure" what ails them financially. This socialist scribbler would give the same advice, but a different kind of medicine. Mine would kill only the crooks (big ones especially) and cure the economy.

Ready for a dose?

* With the exception of the Channel Islands. Jersey and Guernsey are noted for their excellent milk cattle. (Where did you think those breeds originated?) Would that dairy farming were still their main industry today!

** For comparison's sake, there are at least that many people in Kingston, Ontario, where I went to university. And that's a small Canadian city. There are over two million in Toronto, where I went to journalism school. I'm sure even little old Kingston has more coming in from property taxes alone than Antigua does from all of its taxes combined.

*** With the exception of the Yankee greenback. My US friends often complain about the stinky ink used to print their currency. You'd think, with all that wealth kicking around, that someone would invest in a dye that doesn't smell like Ah-nie Schwarzenegger's sweatsocks. Unfortunately, that message hasn't yet trickled down!

March 24, 2009

The indigenous people's holocaust

AMERICAN INDIAN Holocaust

How did Hitler learn genocide and eliminationism? By taking his cues from what happened in North America.

This concerns mainly what happened in the US, but in Canada it was not much better. Up here, we didn't have a Trail of Tears, but the Catholic and Anglican churches organized "residential schools" whose ostensible purpose was to educate the "Indians", but whose real purpose was to de-indigenize them--basically, to turn them into a lesser class of white people, to strip them of their native culture and languages. Many inmates in those "schools" suffered physical, mental, emotional and sexual abuse at the hands of the clergy people running them. Alcoholism, drug abuse and suicide are the inevitable fallout from such a holocaust.

And also, as Bruce Cockburn sings, "the local Third World's kept on reservations you can't see". Here, as in the US, the indigenous people were often shunted off to the worst land--the good farmland was set aside for white settlers. And if oil or other valuable minerals were found under the land they were on, guess what happened. Land-claims cases are before courts in several provinces, and many of them don't end well for the natives. Usually, it's the corporate sector that wins--"mineral rights" trump human rights, it seems. Even something as presumably simple as getting an ancestral burial ground back can turn into a decades-long nightmare. And on rare occasions, that too ends in death for the unlucky natives, who are still seen as second-class citizens by the authorities, and especially police, who can get trigger-happy and, in any case, don't need much to trigger their own racism.

What's weird, though, is that all this racism has spawned some unexpected blowback: some natives think that the international Jews are behind their troubles, instead of drawing the more obvious and correct conclusion (it's the gentiles, folks). Such was the case of David Ahenakew, who made headlines with some really stupid, bigoted remarks and who has since had a steep learning curve to climb. (Apparently, during his post-war military service, he met some old Nazis in Germany who filled his head with rubbish.)

But he's not the only one; a few years back, I met members of a prominent Mohawk family of artists, and apparently they subscribe to something frightfully similar! I was horrified and nauseated and heartsick about it for days, wondering how such talented and obviously intelligent people could fall for such a stupid lie. It's a no-brainer that instead of hating the Jews, they ought to be identifying with them instead, and looking for common ground.

After all, both peoples have suffered strikingly similar fates.

March 22, 2009

Equal rights for all: Coming soon to Venezuela?

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Let's hope so! From YVKE Mundial, a hot story about a bill currently before the legislature:

The Organic Law for Gender Equity and Equality, which establishes legal cohabitation rights for same-sex couples, is about to go to a second reading in the National Assembly.

Deputy Romelia Matute presented the proposal and added that the project is in the process of consultations and that she has met at various times with members of the gay community who asked that an article be included which permits legal union of two persons of the same sex.

"We have decided to call it 'cohabitation associations'," explained the parliamentarian. "This will permit two persons of the same sex to unite legally and will have juridical and patrimonial effects, as in many countries such as Mexico and Spain, among others."

Article 8 of the law before the National Assembly states: "Every person has the right to exercise their sexual identity of preference, in a free manner and without any discrimination. In consequence, the State shall recognize the associations of cohabitation between two persons of the same sex, by mutual agreement and free consent, with full juridical and patrimonial effect."

In this way, a same-sex couple legally united can share their worldly goods, such as apartments, cars, and similar. In the event that one partner should die, the surviving partner retains the right to all shared possessions. Legal separations and the consequent division of goods would take place in a manner similar to that between a divorcing couple or a dissolving business partnership. A homosexual person may include their legal partner in medical insurance policies, among others.

Translation mine.

The deputy goes on to say that gay-rights activists are prepared to put up a fight if the measure doesn't pass. The reason, she says, is that for centuries, gay Venezuelans have found themselves obliged to marry persons of the opposite sex, even if they didn't love one another. A definite case of contra natura, one would think, although the church and state have long insisted that it's being gay that's unnatural, not marrying for convenience rather than love.

What's nice about this organic law proposal is that it recognizes gays as being different by nature, and unable to change--and therefore, that it goes against their rights to force them to choose opposite-sex unions or remain forever alone. The church and a lot of other conservative traditionalists won't like it, any more than they liked Galileo for saying "Eppur si muove", but...the world is round, and it turns, and it orbits the Sun.

And in Venezuela, it has just done another significant turn.

February 25, 2009

Ashy thoughts for a Wednesday morn...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It's a great deal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Translation mine as well.

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

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

February 11, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 22, 2009

Obamarama is off to a roaring start

The closing of Gitmo within a year is a great move on the part of Hopey; so's this:

It's only his first day in office, but President Obama has already signaled a serious commitment to transparency and accountability in government. The President ordered federal agencies in a memorandum released today to approach the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) "with a clear presumption: in the face of doubt, openness prevails."

[...]

This statement is almost certainly meant to address a controversial memo issued by John Ashcroft in the wake of 9/11, which ordered agencies to disclose information only after considering all possible reasons to withhold it, and assured them that government lawyers would defend their decisions in court unless they had no "sound legal basis." Many open government advocates believe Ashcroft's policy effectively gutted the FOIA over the past several years. Today's memo doesn't explicitly reverse that policy, but directs the incoming attorney general to issue new FOIA guidelines to agencies "reaffirming the commitment to accountability and transparency."

Emphasis added.

Excellent news indeed, especially in light of the struggles of Eva Golinger and Jeremy Bigwood to break the news of interference in Latin America by the so-called National Endowment for Democracy (which Hopey might want to think of closing for good, if he's a committed small-d democrat). Secrecy plays majorly into the NED's activities, and no wonder: it covers a multitude of antidemocratic sins. Would the US public like to know that their tax dollars were being put not toward hospitals, schools and highways, but into the subversion of democracies abroad, specifically the healthiest democracies in South America?

Which brings me to another point: Hopey really, REALLY needs to get to know Chavecito and Evo better. A LOT better.

January 5, 2009

Goodnight, Half-(assed) Moon

buenas-noches-luna.jpg

From ABI, some interesting recent developments regarding the so-called "Half Moon" of anti-Evo fascist prefects...

The Executive Power and five prefects agreed on Monday to put forward a referendum on autonomies for the departments of Chuquisaca, La Paz, Cochabamba, Oruro and Potosí, whose voters did not approve this system of territorial administration in the referendum of July 2, 2006.

[...]

In the autonomy referendum of 2006, the departments of Santa Cruz, Tarija, Beni and Pando were subjected to an autonomous regime, even though their prefects attempted to impose it unsuccessfully and unconstitutionally.

Ouch! Was that a pwnage for the "Media Luna" prefects, who did not show up to this meeting? I think so, in light of this other ABI piece:

On Saturday, the Executive Power anticipated the failure of the so-called "Media Luna" in its intent to prejudice the meeting of prefects on January 5, and guaranteed an autonomous State after the constitutional referendum.

"It's a strategy bound to fail for the opposition prefects, because now we are discussing the implementation of autonomies in the democratic autonomous regions", assured the minister of labor, Walter Delgadillo.

[...]

Delgadillo lamented that the prefects of Chuquisaca, Savina Cuellar; of Beni, Ernesto Suárez Sattori; of Tarija, Mario Cossío; and of Santa Cruz, Rubén Costas, refuse to sign on to the Framework Law of Autonomies, when in those regions, except for Chuquisaca, the demand for autonomy came through the vote of local residents.

Translations mine.

Of course, the named prefects were invited, but they didn't show. As usual, they're shooting themselves in the feet. Oh well, things went on without them, and more productive meetings are expected to take place this coming Wednesday.

Goodnight, Media Lunatics. Hope you enjoy your impotence.

PS: Speaking of impotence for the Media Lunatics, get a load of the latest survey results. 65% approval for the new constitution, and only 16% against. The 25th is going to be very interesting for the fascists, in a Chinese-curse sort of way.

Personally, I'm enjoying watching this "half moon" crumble like the rotting green cheese it is.

December 29, 2008

Teh Stoopid: Phil Gunson haz it!

laffing-interwebz.jpg

Yes, Phil...the Interwebz iz laffing at yew. Especially a certain auburn-haired lady in THIS widdle corner. And here is why.

The surprise electoral defeat last month of Hugo Chávez's candidate for mayor of Caracas -- and the consequent change of city government -- has helped cast light on some of the more unsavory activities that went on under outgoing Mayor Juan Barreto.

One result is that a large, though so far undetermined, number of hired gunmen may suddenly be out of a job.

The gunmen, belonging to armed political organizations loyal to the leftist government, are thought to be among some 4,000 city employees who have failed to show up for work since the new mayor, Antonio Ledezma, was sworn in two weeks ago.

''Altogether, we've found more than 9,000 employees on short-term contracts,'' said Richard Blanco, a top city official. "We're carrying out an investigation to find out who and where they all are."

Oh me, oh my. Sure smells to me like Philsy-wilsy has been smoking the wacky tobacky. Or something more crack-y. I'm not the only one to have noticed how quick he is to reach for the glass-pipe-o-stoopidity. Here's a key snippet from Narco News about him...

...Gunson has an undisclosed conflict of interest, or at least the appearance of a conflict of interest (all journalistic codes of ethics prohibit such nondisclosure), with the key source that he quoted last April 11th to blame the still unsolved sniper assassinations of that day on supporters of the government of President Hugo Chávez in Venezuela: His source for that uncorroborated statement - part of the justification for the coup d'etat - was Eurídice Ledezma, who Gunson has told sources (but did not disclose in his article) was his former girlfriend; a rapidly pro-coup reporter in Venezuela, also - coincidentally? - a vocal defender of Dictator-for-a-day Pedro Carmona.

You really MUST read the whole piece; it's hilarious, and Gunson (egotize much?) gets hung out to dry big-time. I wonder if this Ledezma woman he was boinking back then could be one of his "undisclosed" sources for this one, too. Seeing as she shares a surname with the new mayor of Caracas, whose alias among locals is "Grandpa Munster" (or, less kindly, "The Vampire"), the likelihood is high. Certainly the political proclivity is the same; both are putschists. As is, for that matter, Phil Gunson!

BTW, it's also ever so nice of Phil to mention that there are criminals in the Metro Caracas police. Yes, there certainly are...and were on April 11, 2002, as well, when an opposition mayor (i.e., one of the same political persuasion as the current mayor-elect) was in control of the force. He ordered them to fire on people demonstrating peacefully. As luck would have it, those peaceful demonstrators were Chavistas...demonstrating on and below Llaguno Bridge. In fact, most of the casualties of that day's violence were Chavistas. A fact I'm sure Phil Gunson finds too inconvenient to be worth mentioning, since he is a known partisan with known partisan ties.

Oh dear, was that a pwnage? Yes, dear reader, it was. And there's more to come, too...

If Gunson is serious about his crack-brained contention that there were "armed thugs", i.e. Tupamaros, on the police force in Caracas, maybe he should read this piece in Venezuelanalysis. It seems that the actual Tupamaros are not actually cops on the payroll of city hall; they're freelance vigilantes, unaffiliated with any gummint, defending and policing areas where the uniformed cops won't go, namely the po' folks part of town. (Maybe it's no surprise that uniformed cops won't go there; those are the same parts that said cops used to go into and beat people to death with impunity, back in the good ol' "democratic" days of the Fourth Republic. They can't get away with that shit there anymore, especially not with Tupamaros keeping an eye on things.)

I found this passage particularly instructive. See if you can tell me why, dear reader:

Among Chavez opponents, the Tupamaros are viewed as Chavez's armed thugs who indoctrinate residents at political meetings. But most observers agree that the Tupamaros have their own agenda and are difficult to rein in. Chavez's loosely-defined "Bolivarian" movement is inspired by South American liberator Simon Bolivar. Chavez has focused on U.S. imperialism, Latin American integration and peaceful social justice. The Tupamaros, on the other hand, prefer a rapid and radical nationalization of the country's resources.

"We are Marxist-Leninist. He is Bolivarian," said Chino, in describing their differences.

To be sure, the Chavez government maintains an ambiguous relationship with the Tupamaros and other ultra-leftist groups. Far-left views have often been criticized by Chavez for their lack of "revolutionary discipline," which he says feeds the media images that help the political opposition.

At the same time, there are signs of rifts between the Tupamaros and the government over their illegal role as neighborhood vigilantes.

Since the slums are overrun with crime and the police force is too ineffective, corrupt and overstretched to control them, the government has tolerated vigilantism, observers say. But the government has recently showed the willingness to send in the military when Tupamaro members clash with the police.

Oh, fuck. I think I just blew Phil's whole thesis right out of the water there with that one.

Pwnage accomplished. 'Bina calls it a night!

December 17, 2008

Quotable: Arundhati Roy on anti-terror laws

"Anti-terrorism laws are not meant for terrorists; they're for people that governments don't like. That's why they have a conviction rate of less than 2%. They're just a means of putting inconvenient people away without bail for a long time and eventually letting them go."

--Arundhati Roy, "The Monster in the Mirror"

November 25, 2008

Bank Eat Bank: Why bailouts are making a bad thing worse

The untold story behind the use of taxpayer money to prop up big, bad banks as they carry on business as usual.

November 23, 2008

Live like a bastard, die like a coward

On the one hand, this is definitely good riddance to bad rubbish. On the other, it's also a case of justice delayed--and now, with the suicide of the criminal, DENIED. From Argentina via Aporrea:

My translation follows:

BUENOS AIRES, November 22. The Argentine repressor, Mario Ferreyra, killed himself with a gunshot to the head moments before prison officials arrived to take him into custody for crimes against humanity during the junta dictatorship of 1976-83.

Ferreyra, known as "El Malevo" (The Ruffian), was a commisar of the northern province of Tucumán, where he was accused of taking part in a clandestine torture centre.

The Tucumán police informed that this afternoon a group of officers arrived at the accused's house to detain him, but he, upon seeing them, climbed onto the roof and shot himself. He died shortly after being taken to hospital.

In various previous interviews, Ferreyra had made clear that he would never hand himself over, nor permit anyone to take him to jail, and that he would do whatever it took to avoid it.

In 1993, Ferreyra was sentenced to life in prison for the shootings of three men, with whom he had gotten into a bogus "confrontation". The investigators demonstrated that the ex-commissar had arrested the men illegally, abducted them, and killed them. Upon sentencing, Ferreyra staged a movie-like flight from justice, but later turned himself in and was soon set free thanks to a reduction of his sentence awarded by another repressor, Antonio Bussi, former governor of Tucumán.

You can see from the video that Ferreyra really fancied himself as a macho. Yet he died as a coward. What a coincidence, considering that he also lived as one.

November 22, 2008

OMG, there goes Honduras!

Jayzus, what is it with all these little Latin American countries suddenly getting the itch to rewrite their constitutions--democratically? It all started with Venezuela, a little under a decade ago. Then Bolivia and Ecuador saw what good things happened and said "Gimme som'a dat!", and before long, they had caught constitutional fever too. Now the epidemic is spreading to...HONDURAS? No shit, folks, it's happening:

The president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, announced today that there would be a plebiscite held in conjunction with the general elections in 2009. The plebiscite concerns the possibility of convening a Constituent Assembly in 2010.

The Assembly will write a new constitution to replace the one dating back to 1982, "without dissolving the National Congress" (parliament) or changing the executive faculties during the process, Zelaya explained in a press conference shortly before travelling to the Dominican Republic.

The president, whose rule runs from 2006-2010, said he had discussed his initiative with directors of the governing Liberal Party and the opposition National Party, the two largest in the country, but clairified that these had only been conversations.

He explained that the first step will be a decree which he will deliver to the parliament, in the coming January, which will convene the plebiscite at the same time as the elections of November 29, 2009. At that time, Hondurans will elect a new president, three presidential designates (vice-presidents), deputies and mayors, and will vote over constitutional reform.

Should the "yes" vote win, said Zelaya, the convening of the assembly will correspond with the government to be installed on January 27, 2010, when the handover of power is to take place.

Zelaya said that his government will promote the "yes" and argued that it is necessary to "revise the juridical framework of the Constitution of the Republic, and put the country in order."

"What we want are clearer laws, mandates totally congruent with the reality that will allow the country a juridical, political, social, economic, and cultural order in which we all know the rules of the game," he remarked.

Translation mine.

Of course, the opposition claims that this is Zelaya's way of trying to stay in power past his allotted term, which expires in 2010, and that he's imitating Chavecito. Well, what if he is? He also added Honduras to the ALBA, which may be why you don't hear a lot of gloom and doom economic stories coming from there lately. The Honduran economy stands to benefit hugely from economic integration and co-operation with Venezuela's, which is doing pretty damn well lately, even with the cost of oil supposedly falling (heh, heh--not for long, ye gloaters, winter is coming to the Northern Hemisphere, and guess who is still Venezuela's Numero Uno customer?)

So, if Honduras wants to take a leaf from Venezuela's political playbook, too, why not? By the sounds of things, they need a new constitution anyway--to help them investigate those human rights abuses of the Reagan era--committed, with John Negroponte's "help", around the time the old constitution first came into effect.

And in any case, it should get under the old Cold Warriors' skins to see yet one more Latin American country get too autonomous for their liking. When is that ever a bad thing?

November 13, 2008

Stupid Sex Tricks: How not to get a divorce

Rule #1: Don't accuse your estranged spouse of anything you aren't sure s/he actually did. Especially if medical testing is involved:

A Manhattan lawyer who sued his estranged wife for allegedly giving him herpes didn't get it from her, court papers say.

White-shoe attorney Frederick Tanne, 47, filed suit against his wife of 22 years, Amy Tanne, 46, earlier this year, charging her straying had left him with Herpes Simplex Virus 2, an STD that caused him to suffer "pain, suffering, emotional, mental, psychological and physical injuries and loss of enjoyment of life."

In court papers filed yesterday, Amy's lawyer, Thomas Mullaney, said his client had a blood test last month and "presented as 'negative' for HSV-2, more commonly known as genital herpes, with which Mr. Tanne is allegedly infected."

BTW, this is why no-fault divorce (or the term "Irreconcilable Differences") was instituted. Basically, it was designed to save the divorcees a lot of heartache, headaches--or in this case, acute pains of the wallet due to major stupidity.

November 12, 2008

Quotable: Keith Olbermann on same-sex marriage rights

October 4, 2008

Money as Debt

Okay, class, here's your weekend assignment:

Watch this 47-minute video. Don't mind the cheesy animation; pay attention to the very simple lessons contained therein. If you do, you might just end up understanding the whole US (and world) credit crisis that ended up costing the US taxpayers such a mint (literally) this Black Friday.

You may also end up understanding why I keep returning to such economic oddballs as Chavecito's ALBA, fair trade, and other non-monetarist harebrained schemes that just might work like gangbusters--literally.

(Thanks to Corey for the video link!)

September 27, 2008

Chavecito drops another bombshell

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

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

The mind boggles.

September 23, 2008

Stupid Sex Tricks: Consent is WHAT???

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

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

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

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

Legal eagles shit on HRW

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

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

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

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

[...]

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

Translation mine.

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

September 22, 2008

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

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

Two Human Rights Watchers expelled from Venezuela, boo fucking hoo

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

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

Continue reading "There they go, with their tails between their legs..." »

August 21, 2008

Call the Waaaaaaambulance...

Waaambulance

....because while her husband semi-languishes in jail, Barbara Amiel is having a crisis.

She has been shunned by other wealthy families in this exclusive area of Florida, and is hardly seen outside her mansion.

One of the few with whom she has remained in contact says: 'Barbara's presence on the social scene is absolute zero. She did not have that many friends here to begin with, but with her husband in jail she has even fewer.'

At the Palm Beach Daily News, one reporter who covers the social scene in Palm Beach told me that Amiel's name was no longer on any of the regular invitations that are sent out.

'She was always considered something of an outsider, who did not participate in the charitable scene. Now she is even more so.'

She will not have endeared herself to former friends and associates either with her recent activities. In a rancorous and self-serving article in a broadsheet newspaper last week, Lady Black unleashed her fury on both the American criminal justice system and those she still insists abandoned her and her husband in their hour of need - the 'rats who left the ship' as she calls them.

She went on to denounce her husband's 'judicial murder', as well as the treachery of his former colleagues.

Her husband had, she wrote, been 'baselessly smeared, wrongfully deprived, falsely accused, shamelessly persecuted, innocently convicted and grotesquely punished'. If, she asks plaintively, the rich and well-connected cannot get justice, 'what chance for anyone else?'

Please, people, try not to laugh too loud at that last howler. Lady La-de-Da's silk-upholstered fainting couch is already sopping wet. And why not, since her dear husband has been adverbially verbed in every vile, cruel, baseless way...

Continue reading "Call the Waaaaaaambulance..." »

August 19, 2008

What's good for GM ain't so good for Venezuela

Found something interesting and curious at Aporrea and just had to translate:

"For 60 years, we of GMV have been working with Venezuela and its people; it's our fundamental job to think of this organization as a great human team, which has the right to exercise its functions to contribute to the well-being of the country, of business, of its families, and ourselves." (El Nacional, Page 1-21, Sunday, August 17, 2008)

Some older workers will recall that during the first administration of Rafael Caldera, General Motors had an assembly plant in La Yaguara, Caracas--surrounded by high electric fences and watchtowers with reflectors, in order to defend itself against guerrilla attacks.

A rebellious worker, detained by company security and the National Guard, was incarcerated and tortured for several days in a dungeon on the premises, before being handed over to the DIGEPOL, the infamous political police of those days. When he was finally freed, the worker took his case to the Ministry of Labor whose head, Tarre Murzi, ordered an inspection of the GM plant.

The Ministry inspectors weren't allowed to enter, on the grounds that GM was a US business, so the Ministry had no jurisdiction over it. The minister, indignant, called a press conference to which, strangely, no one came. When a second such conference was similarly boycotted by the official and private media, Tarre Murzi took up the embarrassing matter with President Caldera--who, true to his "principles", fired the minister.

Continue reading "What's good for GM ain't so good for Venezuela" »

July 20, 2008

Don't stop Bill C-51, stop the hysterics!

Lately, I've been hit with a spate of petitions to sign and YouTubes to watch, all claiming that a certain bill currently before the House of Commons will make it illegal for you to grow garlic or take Vitamin C. Most of the well-meaning but ill-informed souls who keep sending me this stuff haven't actually troubled to read the bill.

But trust me, folks, it's worth the trouble to read. It will calm your spinning mind and slow your palpitating heart, all naturally. Bill C-51 is not going to send the feds out to confiscate your comfrey or take away your tulsi. It doesn't grant them that power. What it does is require that all patented natural health products sold in stores receive identification numbers, similar to the system already in place for drugs, and health product companies will have to be licensed--i.e. pass muster as safe and reliable--with Health Canada before their products can be placed on store shelves.

Contrary to the C-51 naysayers' hysteria, this does NOT mean that "70% of all natural products could disappear from store shelves"--a nice round figure, which I suspect is vital if you're pulling things out of your ass. What it means is that most existing products which are known to be safe and reliable, will stay right where they are, and instead, anything new and/or potentially risky will be more closely monitored. C-51 will also facilitate the recall of anything found to be dangerous, or just plain not living up to its manufacturer's claims. I can't imagine anyone having a problem with that, can you?

Continue reading "Don't stop Bill C-51, stop the hysterics!" »

June 25, 2008

Aww, too bad!

What a shame. Lord Blah-Blah has to serve out his full sentence:

Conrad Black's conviction on fraud and obstruction of justice charges has been upheld by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals.

The court said today that defence lawyers' arguments weren't strong enough to topple Black's conviction.

Black has been at a minimum-security prison in Florida since March serving a 6 1/2-year sentence.

Minimum security, such a light sentence--and he still appealed it? What a self-important wanker.

June 23, 2008

Why the EU wants to punish economic migrants

From Deutsche Welle, the German satellite TV channel, an interesting passage buried well down in the piece:

The Return Directive raises hackles not only because of possible human rights infringements, but because the remittances sent home by illegal workers to their poor countries of origin -- for example Ecuador and Bolivia -- are an important source of income there.

Last year, immigrants in Europe, the US and Japan sent money back to their families in Latin America and the Caribbean amounting to just under 43 billion euros ($66 billion), the EU Observer online newspaper said.

It is more than the region receives from foreign direct investment or development assistance combined.

"...more than the region receives from foreign direct investment or development assistance combined."

Sit back and let that sink in for a bit.

Okay?

Continue reading "Why the EU wants to punish economic migrants" »

June 22, 2008

It's not just Evo or Chavecito...

...it's all of Mercosur rejecting that draconian, disgusting European "Return Statute"--you know, the one that deprives undocumented immigrants of all legal rights, including recourse to an attorney before the country they're in decides to boot them out--after a prison stay of up to a year and a half?

On Friday, the Common Market of the South (Mercosur) and its associated countries expressed their "firm repudiation" of the discrimination supported by the European Union's directive of return for irregular immigrants, approved this past week by the Europarliament. The law decrees incarceration of 18 months for the undocumented.

"The governments of the participant and associate states of Mercosur deplore the approval on the part of the European Parlilament of the "return directive", announced a communication from the Argentine Chancery, which heads the South American union at this time.

Argentine diplomatic sources say that the EU's measure will be debated at the Summit of Heads of State of Mercosur, which will take place on July 1 in the Argentine city of Tucumán.

Continue reading "It's not just Evo or Chavecito..." »

June 16, 2008

Pre-wedding pants checks in Paraguay?

This has all the makings of a farce.

A couple jailed on suspicion of having a same-sex wedding was freed Monday after a doctor determined that the groom is a hermaphrodite. Prosecutor Jose Planas ordered the couple jailed after their civil wedding Friday, when the priest scheduled to perform the religious ceremony the following day said he received a call saying the groom, Jesus Alejandro Martinez, was actually a woman.

Same-sex marriages are illegal in Paraguay, and news of the arrest became the talk of the nation.

Continue reading "Pre-wedding pants checks in Paraguay?" »

June 8, 2008

One more "tyrannical Hugo Chavez" myth shot down

By HIMSELF, no less!

Video in Spanish. Chavecito publicly declares he will rectify potentially dangerous errors in the proposed new Intelligence Law, which will completely overhaul the old secret police (DISIP) and military intelligence (DIM) services. As he noted, the old intel organs were often used by the government (and Washington) against the citizenry. He refuses to let that happen again.

This is consistent with his unwillingness to turn the army out to fire on protests and demonstrators (in stark contrast to what his kosher-with-Washington predecessors did on numerous occasions.) Which dates back as far as 1989, in the wake of the Caracazo--the use of the Venezuelan army to violently suppress protests against a president gone power-mad. Chavecito, fortunately, was sick at the time, and therefore not sent to fire on his fellow Venezuelans. He swore never to do that himself, and he kept that vow--even during the coup of '02, when the army could have been sent to kill every coup-plotter at Miraflores, but wasn't--and didn't. (They merely arrested a few key figures and let the rest go, as the Chavistas outside the palace cheered and shouted--and lynched nobody.)

Holy crap, a president who actually listens, is accountable, and corrects his own mistakes. How many more times does he plan to make the lamestream media look like jackasses when they hype a bogus story? This is getting to be a habit with him, and it must be stopped, lest Venezuela begin to look like a radical democracy!

June 3, 2008

Bugliosi makes the case against Dubya

The California prosecutor (and author of Helter Skelter) who brought the Manson Family to justice has a new book out:

...in which he makes the case for prosecuting Dubya as a war criminal.

I think it has merit.

May 11, 2008

When they don't sign their names, what does it say about what they have to say?

The reason I ask that long-winded question is this "opinion", which is presented as if it were fact, in the National Pest, Canada's would-be paper of record:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has been accused of many things: squandering his country's oil income, suppressing opposition media, using his army to intimidate the citizenry. Now, documents recovered from computers belonging to FARC, the drug-funded Leninist insurgency based in Colombia, suggest Mr. Chavez may be actively undermining the sovereign government of its western neighbour. If so, the Western Hemisphere may be about to gain its first internationally designated state sponsor of terrorism.

Continue reading "When they don't sign their names, what does it say about what they have to say?" »

May 8, 2008

Bolivia NOT falling apart after all. Film at 11

Santa Cruz may want to suck on this:

The national electoral commission (CNE) in Bolivia ratified the revocation of two autonomy votes, those of Pando and Tarija, for the 1st and 22nd of June respectively, on Thursday. The decision stood even though representative Jeronimo Pinheiro, the vice-president of the CNE, did not sign on.

According to commission president Jose Luis Exeni, representative Pinheiro was present during a meeting this past May 2. However, the representative, from Pando Department, "decided not to vote", claiming to be "under great pressure from his region, especially the Prefect, Leopoldo Fernandez."

The electoral authority said that Pinheiro's action constitutes a "grave violation" of electoral process, and informed that the correct procedure would be that those representatives not in favor, vote against.

Translation mine.

That giant smacking sound you just heard was a big fat bitch-slap to the so-called "autonomy movement", the one that the lamestream media in the English-speaking world (especially Andres "Narcissist Leninist" Schloppenheimer) claim is gonna be the death of Evo. Well, guess what: He's still alive and well, and keeping his promises unimpeded. And he's more popular than ever, I'll bet--leaders with cojones and a predilection for keeping their promises generally are.

Venezuela and Ecuador are watching this especially closely, for reasons of their own. However, seeing as the Santa Cruz vote was an absolute shambles, with no OAS observers, obvious evidence of fraud and mass cremations of pre-marked "yes" ballots (uh, those would be the fraud), plus this latest news that the Tarija and Pando votes have just been shredded, it looks bad for those with the treasonous intentions.

And from where I sit, it looks downright hilarious. These "autonomy" guys, for all their Nazi trappings and intimidation tactics, are a nasty, drunken gang that can't shoot straight. Too used to snorting coke, living like feudal lords and abusing indigenous women and not used enough to actual democracy, I guess.

April 30, 2008

A legal precedent worth noting...

...wherever you are. In this case, it's Australia punching a big, fat hole in the Religious Reich's anti-gay agenda:

Christian organisations in all states and territories may have lost the right to discriminate against gay people despite religious exemptions in anti-discrimination laws, legal experts claimed this week following a landmark ruling against the Uniting Church's Wesley Mission.

Homosexuality as an intolerable sin was not a doctrine of Christianity, the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal ruled last month, because there were many dissenting views on the subject among Christian groups generally, and specifically within the Uniting Church.

As long as gay-friendly congregations like Metropolitan Community Church exist, this ruling means Christian organisations don't have a license to legally discriminate against gays, Brisbane lawyer Stephen Page said.

"Religious exemptions are worded almost identically across all state and territory anti-discrimination laws, so I'd expect other commissions to start citing this case," Page told SSO.

"Christian religious schools in the ACT, NSW, Victoria, SA and WA would not be able to use religion as the reason that gay and lesbian students can be prevented from bringing their partners to the school formal."

The Tribunal rejected the welfare agency's right to refuse a gay couple seeking to become foster parents as the laws only allowed exemptions for religions, and there was no "religion of Uniting Church".

Um, would the phrase "suck it" be too vulgar to use in this context? Or would it be only too apropos?

April 14, 2008

I wonder if they'll scream about THIS decree...

Given the Venezuelan opposition's penchant for screaming about everything that Chavecito does, and everything he doesn't do, I wonder how they'll react to this. Especially since he has just decreed what sounds to me like a pretty good solution for the problem they've long been clamoring to have fixed:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez promulgated the Organic Law of Police Service and National Police by presidential decree Wednesday, creating the legal framework for a single, integrated, national "revolutionary police of the People," after nearly 6 years of legislative debate and public consultation. Chavez passed the law under the 18-month law-decree authority that the National Assembly had given him last year for this purpose.

Continue reading "I wonder if they'll scream about THIS decree..." »

April 9, 2008

Televen has a cow, man

Homer Simpson watches Venezuelan private TV. Explains a lot!

From the But We're Doing It For The Children! files:

Venezuela has forced U.S. cartoon "The Simpsons" off its airwaves, calling the show a potentially bad influence on children, and filled its morning slot with reruns of the beach-and-bikini show "Baywatch."

"The Simpsons" satirical take on a dysfunctional American family had been shown, dubbed into Spanish, on the Televen network at an 11 am slot.

"Today I believe they started broadcasting something else," said a spokesman at Venezuela's broadcasting regulator Conatel. "They were infringing many things in the television and radio social responsibility law."

Conatel said it started proceedings against the morning airing of the show after complaints from viewers.

Televen has replaced the long-running and popular cartoon with "Baywatch Hawaii," late seasons of the "Baywatch" series that made actress Pamela Anderson a household name.

Please hold the jokes about Pam's silicone udders somehow being more wholesome children's entertainment than The Simpsons. (Which, I agree, is not a kiddie show; you need an adult brain and sense of humor to appreciate it fully. But at least it's not built around a massive, hoo-honkin' pair of fake titties.)

What's really ridiculous here is that Televen's action is somehow being shoved off onto all of Venezuela, or else CONATEL or the government, I'm not sure which. (You're probably not sure either, eh?)

What I am sure of, is that this apparent confusion is not an accident. After all, the petulant actions of one anti-Chavez channel must not be held accountable in the lamestream media up here, no matter how patently ridiculous they are. Especially since all this petulance and immature fake-boob fetishism came in response to the complaints of actual, TV-aware Venezuelan parents.

D'oh.

April 2, 2008

Somebody's boilerplate is missing a few screws

Dubya waterboards Ms. Liberty

Poor John Yoo. Once BushCo goes, he'll be out of a job, I'll bet. And what do you suppose he will have to white out from HIS résumé before he starts sending it out again?

The Justice Department sent a legal memorandum to the Pentagon in 2003 asserting that federal laws prohibiting assault, maiming and other crimes did not apply to military interrogators who questioned al-Qaeda captives because the president's ultimate authority as commander in chief overrode such statutes.

The 81-page memo, which was declassified and released publicly yesterday, argues that poking, slapping or shoving detainees would not give rise to criminal liability. The document also appears to defend the use of mind-altering drugs that do not produce "an extreme effect" calculated to "cause a profound disruption of the senses or personality."

Continue reading "Somebody's boilerplate is missing a few screws" »

March 20, 2008

ExxtortionMobil is simply pathetic

And they should fire their corporate spinmeister, too. Here's what he said in response to yesterday's decision against his company:

Exxon Mobil spokesman Alan Jeffers said the company has no plans to appeal the ruling and that the judge based his decision on jurisdictional issues.

"The important thing, from our perspective, is the court did not question the merits of our underlying claim," he said.

And here's proof that he's talking out his ass:

Judge Paul Walker noted that such freezing orders are rare and occur in cases where there is "usually compelling evidence of serious international fraud."

"In the present case there is no suggestion whatever of fraud on the part of (Petroleos de Venezuela SA) or any entity or person associated with it," Walker said in a summary of conclusions released by the court.

During the court case, Walker also signaled that he agreed with PDVSA's argument that the case didn't fall under British jurisdiction since it isn't a British company and has no assets, businesses or bank accounts there.

No, that doesn't sound like he's questioning the merits of ExxtortionMobil's case at all. Actually, it sounds an awful lot like he's just saying they're a pile of shit.

March 18, 2008

Memo to the US: This is how you handle bad presidents!

My American friends, it's time to take yet another lesson from Venezuela. This one, in particular, may interest you...

Venezuelan prosecutors have summoned former President Jaime Lusinchi to appear in court next month to face accusations in the 1986 killings of nine people.

The attorney general's office said in a statement Friday that Lusinchi has been called to appear in court on April 1 "for presumably being linked to the act."

Continue reading "Memo to the US: This is how you handle bad presidents!" »

ExxtortionMobil fails!

Exxon holding up Venezuela

(Translation: "Gimme everything you got under your belt." The belt in question is the Orinoco Belt, a region rich with extra-heavy crude oil.)

Pardon me for the Schadenfreude, but this is just too sweet...

Continue reading "ExxtortionMobil fails!" »

March 8, 2008

Stupid Sex Tricks: ...and the right to lie

What's worse: Screwing around on your spouse...or lying about it?

Um, how about lending your boyfriend your cellphone, only to have him call up your estranged hubby to insult him?

Continue reading "Stupid Sex Tricks: ...and the right to lie" »

February 23, 2008

You know you've come a long way when...

...a gay pastor who broke the same-sex marriage barrier gets positively reported in the redneck-conservative Toronto Sun!

The Order of Canada was awarded for the first time to a gay activist at Rideau Hall yesterday.

Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean presented Torontonian Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes with the country's highest civilian honour for his long-standing work as a gay rights champion.

"About 27 years ago, I was fasting to protest the police actions around the bathhouse raids," Hawkes, 57, said in a phone interview. "And to see how far we've come, that Canada is the first country in the world to give its highest award to a gay activist."

Continue reading "You know you've come a long way when..." »

February 8, 2008

One more black eye for the Jesus Lobby

See what happens when you stand in the way of progress...but haven't got a leg, either of law or logic, to stand on?

A DEVOUT Christian who resigned as a family magistrate over the Government's refusal to allow him to opt out of cases in which gay couples adopt children has had his human rights challenge dismissed.

Andrew McClintock sat on the family panel of Sheffield Magistrates Court for 20 years before recent legislation enshrining the right of same-sex couples to adopt.

The 63-year-old went to court over the Lord Chancellor's refusal to allow him to continue in his role on the family panel, whilst "opting out" of cases involving same-sex adoptions.

He claimed the refusal discriminated against him for his Christian beliefs and said there was also a risk to any children involved because there was little research about the potential effects of such actions.

Today, after already lossing his case before an Employment Tribunal, and again before an Employment Appeal Tribunal, his legal campaign hit the buffers at London's Appeal Court.

Lord Justice Mummery said Mr McClintock's challenge was not a case of pure religious discrimination as was claimed. Although he had religious objections to the new family policy, his concerns focused on the alleged lack of research into the effects on children of gay adoptions.

Aha, there's the rub: there is, in fact, no shortage of research into the effects of gay adoption on children. The problem is, this ever-growing heap of research overwhelmingly points to the fact that gays are just as good at parenting as straights. And furthermore, that children adopted by same-sex parents don't turn out any worse than children adopted by conventional straight couples. There is also evidence showing that there's a crying need for adoptive families, and that straights, by implication, aren't stepping up to the plate--this, as their gay counterparts who want to adopt are being debarred though their parenting capabilities are no longer in question. Even the "they'll be tormented by peers because they have two moms/dads" argument doesn't wash because the more commonplace gay couples are seen to be, the more accepted they will be--yes, even as parents. And by logical extension, the homophobic bullies will be more isolated and ridiculed for their intolerance--and more visible for who they are. So any attempt to play the anti-gay-adoption card (including this cheap, literal attempt) will just end up backfiring on the player.

Long story made short: the only thing gay parents can't do that straight parents can, is conceive their children the old-fashioned way. And an awful lot of gay parents have still managed to do that--by living in the closet for waaaaaay too long. Volumes of research have also been written about the psychological ramifications of that--as have a number of comedies.

Personally, I find the "religious persecution" argument hysterical. There was a time when the Christians could claim it legitimately, but it was 2000 years ago, and Roman emperors were throwing them to lions for the sheer hell of it. Nowadays, apparently, it's enough just to find yourself suddenly and inexplicably contradicted by science, logic and all that other inconvenient cal. No more lions necessary. Even better, before anyone charges you with religious persecution (be it the Muslims, the Jews, the Witches, the atheists or the homo-sex-you-alls), why not just pre-empt them by claiming they're the ones doing it to the Christians?

And in other news today: Earth found to be spherical, rotating upon an axis, and revolving around the Sun! Sky falls for creationists! Ship of Fools falls off edge of planet! Film at 11!

February 5, 2008

Q. Why does Stormfront hate human rights?

A. Because Stormfront hates everything and everyone except their fellow neo-Nazi whackjobs, duh.

What's really funny is that they're now holding up two people they would otherwise look upon as sworn enemies as champions of their, uh, "right to free speech".

A Liberal MP is being hailed as a poster boy for free speech on a white supremacist website.

Victoria MP Keith Martin was praised Friday on stormfront.org, a website that proudly displays the logo "White pride world wide" and links to radio addresses by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.

Martin earned the dubious distinction after giving notice that he plans to introduce a private member's motion calling on the government to repeal Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

[...]

The extreme right adherents at Stormfront were clearly thrilled to find a member of the Liberal party, which introduced the act and prides itself as the party of the Charter of Rights, joining their crusade.

"The sordid Soviet-style reign of terror by the Canadian Human Rights Commission is now out in the open," declares Paul Fromm in a posting on the website.

"The CHRC reign of thought control looks like a drying pool of vomit on the dirty floor of some dingy dive. Yes, it stinks and good men are beginning to speak up."

Fromm, a controversial anti-immigration and free speech activist who has been linked to neo-Nazi groups in the past, predicts it "may be easier" for Conservative MPs to back the motion because it's being introduced by a Liberal of "white and Indian (India) parentage."

The website urges readers to join a campaign to pressure their MPs to support Martin's motion.

For Martin, receiving praise from a white-supremacist group was both unwelcome and ironic.

"I'm a brown guy," he quipped in an interview.

Wait a second, you say--that's just one of them. Who's the other?

Continue reading "Q. Why does Stormfront hate human rights?" »

January 20, 2008

Sibel Edmonds tells all (that she legally can)

And boy, is it ever hot stuff.

THE FBI has been accused of covering up a key case file detailing evidence against corrupt government officials and their dealings with a network stealing nuclear secrets.

The assertion follows allegations made in The Sunday Times two weeks ago by Sibel Edmonds, an FBI whistleblower, who worked on the agency's investigation of the network.

Edmonds, a 37-year-old former Turkish language translator, listened into hundreds of sensitive intercepted conversations while based at the agency's Washington field office.

She says the FBI was investigating a Turkish and Israeli-run network that paid high-ranking American officials to steal nuclear weapons secrets. These were then sold on the international black market to countries such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Continue reading "Sibel Edmonds tells all (that she legally can)" »

January 9, 2008

Philip Agee has died

And of course, since this happened in Cuba, we only get to hear about it after the fact...

Former CIA agent Philip Agee, a critic of U.S. foreign policy who infuriated American intelligence officials by naming purported agency operatives in a 1975 book, has died, state media reported Wednesday. He was 72.

Agee quit the CIA in 1969 after 12 years working mostly in Latin America at a time when leftist movements were gaining prominence and sympathizers. His 1975 book "Inside the Company: CIA Diary," cited alleged CIA misdeeds against leftists in the region and included a 22-page list of purported agency operatives.

[...]

Agee's U.S. passport was revoked in 1979. U.S. officials said he had threatened national security. After years of living in Hamburg, Germany — occasionally underground, fearing CIA retribution — Agee moved to Havana to open a travel Web site.

The site, cubalinda.com, is designed to bring U.S. tourists to Cuba, offering package tours and other help that is largely off-limits to Americans because of the U.S. trade embargo. Agee opened the site in 2000 with European investors and a state-run travel agent as his partners.

There was no mention of Agee's death on the site Wednesday.

Continue reading "Philip Agee has died" »

January 3, 2008

Chavecito is crazy...

...like a freakin' fox.

The move that puzzled and angered so many of his supporters (read Aporrea.org if you don't believe me; the right-hand column is full of them lately), turns out to be not only not outrageous, but in a strange way, ingenious:

Continue reading "Chavecito is crazy..." »

December 31, 2007

One more case of deep prostration

From the Halifax News, some important information about the difference between Canadian privacy law and that of our neighbors to the south--a difference that is now being eroded due to the push for "deep integration":

Individual privacy is best protected in Canada and under threat in the United States and the European Union as governments introduce sweeping surveillance and information-gathering measures in the name of security and border control, an international rights group said in a report released yesterday.

Canada, Greece and Romania had the best privacy records of 47 countries surveyed by London-based watchdog Privacy International. Malaysia, Russia and China were ranked worst.

Both Britain and the United States fell into the lowest-performing group of "endemic surveillance societies."

"The general trend is that privacy is being extinguished in country after country," said Simon Davies, director of Privacy International. "Even those countries where we expected ongoing strong privacy protection, like Germany and Canada, are sinking into the mire."

Continue reading "One more case of deep prostration" »

December 15, 2007

See how they love one another?

Oh, those Christians. Specifically, those right-wing Republican Christians. Rather than joining hands around their hard-fought-for public manger scene in a show of seasonal brotherly love, it seems they are now about to eat each other alive, according to FireDogLake. The cause? Mitt Romney and his apparent need to pander to those all-importand "evangelical" voters. Suddenly, his doing so is cause for alarm in the punditocracy.

Four short years ago, the party was openly courting those people, and even crediting them with its success in stealing winning the election. And we were up to our eyeballs in "news" stories, and plaudits from the pundits, proclaiming them to be the grand influence in US politics.

My, how things change. All of a sudden, those evangelicals are poison to the party they so faithfully carried water for. And the pundits can't trip over their tongues fast enough, trying to disclaim them even as the candidates are still doing the old song-and-dance for them.

Continue reading "See how they love one another?" »

December 13, 2007

Richard Pombo's ba-ack...

The Horse's Ass

...and for some strange reason, the above image was the first thing that came to my mind after reading this:

Continue reading "Richard Pombo's ba-ack..." »

December 7, 2007

Isn't amnesia a disability?

And given that the president of the United States is apparently suffering from it, doesn't that make him unfit for office?

US President George W Bush has said he has "no recollection" of the existence of video tapes of CIA interrogations and the plan to destroy them.

The CIA says it wiped two tapes of interrogations of al-Qaeda suspects to protect the identities of its agents.

But human rights groups accuse it of destroying evidence of practices that may be tantamount to torture.

And most importantly: if he is unfit for office, isn't it time to remove him and all his administration too, for aiding and abetting a criminally negligent dictator?

Oh, you think I'm exaggerating when I call him a dictator? Exaggerate THIS:

Continue reading "Isn't amnesia a disability?" »

Uppity women in India!

A pink posse in a poor part of the country! Why not? Especially when the need for street-fighters for social justice is so pressing...

They wear pink saris and go after corrupt officials and boorish men with sticks and axes.

The several hundred vigilante women of India's northern Uttar Pradesh state's Banda area proudly call themselves the "gulabi gang" (pink gang), striking fear in the hearts of wrongdoers and earning the grudging respect of officials.

The pink women of Banda shun political parties and NGOs because, in the words of their feisty leader, Sampat Pal Devi, "they are always looking for kickbacks when they offer to fund us".

Two years after they gave themselves a name and an attire, the women in pink have thrashed men who have abandoned or beaten their wives and unearthed corruption in the distribution of grain to the poor.

They have also stormed a police station and attacked a policeman after they took in an untouchable man and refused to register a case.

"Nobody comes to our help in these parts. The officials and the police are corrupt and anti-poor. So sometimes we have to take the law in our hands. At other times, we prefer to shame the wrongdoers," says Sampat Pal Devi, between teaching a "gang" member on how to use a lathi (traditional Indian stick) in self defence.

Continue reading "Uppity women in India!" »

December 3, 2007

A pyrrhic victory for Operation Pliers, and a strategic retreat "por ahora"

Okay, something funny happened on the way to the polls in Venezuela yesterday. Not funny ha-ha; funny peculiar. The crapaganda whores seem to have been right in their loopy predictions for a change--it WAS "too close to call" (which it wasn't the last two times Chavecito or something he'd legislated was put to a popular vote, though the media kept insisting it would be, and that he would lose, when he won by a landslide.) And when the dust settled, the anti-Chavez side apparently had won. Which they haven't done since 1998.

But in spite of their loud obnoxious celebrations, this is a pyrrhic victory for them. And on a number of points, which I'll address one by one here.

Firstly: The NO faction didn't win by much, and according to Tariq Ali, they were better served by confusion and abstention on the part of Chavistas than by any merits of their own:

Continue reading "A pyrrhic victory for Operation Pliers, and a strategic retreat "por ahora"" »

November 27, 2007

Who died and made Fedecamaras king?

The arrogance of these people just knows no bounds. I wonder if the reporter for the Canadian Press agency wasn't chuckling when s/he wrote this:

Fedecamaras, which counts thousands of large and small businesses among its members, rejected Chavez's constitutional overhaul as an "illegal act" in mid-November, and has since called on Venezuelans to oppose its passage in a Dec. 2 referendum "by every possible legal means."

First of all, what gives THEM the authority to pronounce on the legality of a constitutional reform? Do they still think they write the law in Venezuela, and the government's duty is to rubber-stamp it? Apparently they do. Which is why they oppose those reforms--the reforms were written by not only Chavez, but the National Assembly, and some of them directly undermine the unelected power of the business sector, which is led by Fedecamaras.

And secondly, what is "every possible legal means"? The only way the reforms can be defeated is by VOTING. Anything else is NOT legal. Empty rhetoric? Hey, no one farts it like business leaders. Empty barrel, loudest noise, blah blah.

But what really makes me giggle over all this is how the CP reported this as if Fedecamaras had any moral standing left. I wonder how hard it was to keep a straight face while noting the following:

Continue reading "Who died and made Fedecamaras king?" »

November 26, 2007

Fine allies Dubya has, part umpteen

Oh, Saudi Arabia. The problem with that country isn't the general insanity of its theocracy--it's where to start. A few posts ago, I blogged about a rape victim getting punished for being a victim. Now, it gets even worse--the authorities have decided to heap defamation on top of abuse and humiliation, no doubt in an effort to make themselves look better.

Saudi justice officials say a woman who was sentenced to prison and flogging after she was gang-raped has now confessed to an extramarital affair.

The case of the unidentified woman, 19, drew international criticism after an appeal increased her 90-lash sentence to 200 lashes and six months' jail.

The justice ministry statement rejected "foreign interference" in the case.

It insisted the ruling was legal and that the woman had "confessed to doing what God has forbidden".

Continue reading "Fine allies Dubya has, part umpteen" »

November 25, 2007

How right was Clara Fraser...

...when she wrote that profit is unpaid wages?

Well, in the case of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce alone, she was right to the tune of at least $600 million. And bear in mind that when this was written, the loonie was still BEHIND the greenback.

Not no more, it's not.

Loonie kicking sand on George Washington

October 31, 2007

Oh those uppity Chilean women!

They dare to defy the Catholic church? And to order pharmacies to fill orders for the Morning-After Pill? What next, a female president?

Oh wait. They have one already. Never mind...

The Chilean government has warned pharmacies refusing to sell the morning-after contraceptive pill that they could face stiff fines or closure.

Major pharmacy chains have not been selling the pill recently, arguing they could not buy stocks locally.

The government responded by importing supplies and said the stores now had no excuse for not selling the pill.

Continue reading "Oh those uppity Chilean women!" »

September 25, 2007

Just the facts, man, just the facts...

Keith Olbermann envisions what would happen to Larry Craig if his story were a "Dragnet" episode.

September 24, 2007

No funding for fundie schools in Ontario!

What? Someone doesn't want funding for all religious schools in Ontario, and even wants the Catholic system removed from public funding???

The Ontario government should stop funding Catholic schools, according to the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

Progressive* Conservative Leader John Tory has caused an uproar in the province with his plan to extend government funding to all faith-based schools that meet criteria.

It has become the most controversial issue in the election campaign.

Continue reading "No funding for fundie schools in Ontario!" »

September 23, 2007

SupposiTory takes aim at Native people

It's not hard to guess who he's really targeting here, is it?

Anyone directing, participating in or financially supporting an illegal land occupation in Ontario would face harsher penalties under a Progressive Conservative government, leader John Tory said Sunday as he paid a visit to one of the province's current cauldrons of aboriginal unrest.

Tory took his election effort to this southern Ontario community, where Six Nations protesters have been occupying the site of a now-moribund housing development since February 2006, to denounce the way Premier Dalton McGuinty's government has handled the conflict.

John Tory: not racist. Honest, Injun!

Headline Howler: Too little, too late, too bad!

Mary Mapes's article in the Huffington Post is a riveting read--not only because it exposes the cowardice inherent in the corporate news world, and not only because it exposes the scum-suckers that populate Rightard Blogistan, but also because of a single sentence that made me want to beat my head against a wall.

Here it is:

In retrospect, I think the real problem with this story is that it ran three years too early.

Continue reading "Headline Howler: Too little, too late, too bad!" »

September 9, 2007

Irony escapes them

You can't make this up.

Police said Sunday they have broken up a cell of young Israeli neo-Nazis accused of a string of brutal racist and anti-Semitic attacks, videos of which were played on television to a stunned national audience.

The eight suspects, all immigrants from the former Soviet Union in their late teens or early 20s, are seen in the videos kicking victims on the ground to a bloody pulp, hitting a man over the head with an empty beer bottle and proclaiming their allegiance to Adolf Hitler with a Nazi salute.

Continue reading "Irony escapes them" »

August 22, 2007

It's just as I thought.

Fortress North America, a.k.a. the Security and Prosperity Partnership? It's a fascist power grab. And just as it worked out all peachy for PNAC, the Reichstag Fire 9-11 provided the perfect pretext for these people to create a three-way Anschluss between us, the US, and Mexico.

For anyone naively thinking this will lead to warmer and fuzzier trilateral relations, I have bad news: it won't. Our borders will not be easier or safer to cross for business, shopping, pleasure, or just spending time with relatives on the other side; they will be meaner and nastier and far more nerve-wracking. Already, Canada's border guards are armed and dangerous; meanwhile, Mexico is getting an apartheid fence and a passel of racist pottymouths and useful idiots from El Norte to "defend" the boondoggle from the Yanqui side while the corporatists keep laughing all the way to the bank (having built a portion of it using the very people they claim they are trying to shut out).

What it all means: Canada and Mexico will still be on the ass-end of the "free trade" sodomy, only this time it will be a much harder, nastier bum-fucking than ever before. But at least we're united in one concrete way. After all, we're both taking an unfair amount of blame for terrorism--never mind that 9-11's triggermen got in quite legitimately through US international airports, NOT across our borders! How about that...they were LEGAL aliens.

Now, kindly 'scuse me while I scope around for some Scope. I think I just threw up in my mouth. No, don't send me any get-well cards. I'll be okay. It's a logical reaction to the devil's brew of racism, fascism and corporatism we're all having jammed down our throats.

August 6, 2007

How to enable a tyrant

How else but with a "free" trade agreement?

Congress will give priority treatment to approval of a trade pact with Peru when it reconvenes in September, the head of the House Ways and Means Committee said Monday.

"It is a priority when we return to the Congress in September," Rep. Charles Rangel, a Democrat from New York, told reporters after meeting with President Alan Garcia.

Continue reading "How to enable a tyrant" »

July 29, 2007

Stupid Sex Tricks: Blame the gays (again!)

I think this is satirical, but it's strangely depressing anyway.

July 25, 2007

Stupid Sex Tricks: How NOT to prevent AIDS

From Indonesia, an unfortunate meeting of First World technology with Third World thinking...

Lawmakers in Indonesia's Papua are mulling the selective use of chip implants in HIV carriers to monitor their behaviour in a bid to keep them from infecting others, a doctor said Tuesday.

John Manangsang, a doctor who is helping to prepare a new healthcare regulation bill for Papua's provincial parliament, said that unusual measures were needed to combat the virus.

"We in the government in Papua have to think hard on ways to provide protection to people from the spread of the disease," Manangsang told AFP.

What exactly is a monitoring chip supposed to do to stop AIDS, anyway? Will it pipe up to remind the infected carrier to use a condom when s/he is about to knock boots with a new partner? And if no condom is forthcoming, will it then bleep and shout "ATTENTION, ATTENTION, THIS PERSON HAS HIV, DO NOT SLEEP WITH THIS PERSON"? And if that warning goes unheeded, will it then send a distress call to the local Gestapo to haul the naughty fucker away to the nearest concentration camp?

July 19, 2007

Lord? Ha, ha.

One more comedown for Conrad Black, coming right up: NDP member of Parliament, Charlie Angus, has moved that he be stripped of his Snowflake.

"Your felony tarnishes the reputation of the Order of Canada, so end of story," Angus said in an interview yesterday.

"We need to maintain the integrity of the office. People who are chosen for the Order of Canada represent the best and the most noblest of our aspirations," he said.

Continue reading "Lord? Ha, ha." »

July 18, 2007

An opportunity for Evo...

Will he take it? Story from Aporrea:

27 years after the bloody coup d'etat of Luis Garcia Meza, relatives of the victims are demanding that President Evo Morales declassify the archives of the State, the armed forces and the police, and demand that the criminals no longer be hidden "in the apparatus of power."

Human rights activists presented the Bolivian congress with a law project proposing the opening of those secret archives, along with the creation of a Commission for Truth and Justice in order to clarify facts and responsibilities concerning the violation of human rights between 1970 and 2005.

Continue reading "An opportunity for Evo..." »

July 16, 2007

30 years for Lord Fraudulent of No Fixed Address?

Oh, let us pray...

U.S. prosecutors are expected to ask that Conrad Black be given a virtual life sentence of at least 30 years in prison, sources familiar with the case told the Star, even though a government lawyer suggested in court last week that the 62-year-old fraudster might face 15 to 20 years behind bars.

A 12-member jury convicted him Friday on three counts of mail fraud and one count of obstruction. Each fraud count carries a maximum five-year sentence while the obstruction charge, related to Black's removal of documents from his Toronto office in May 2005 despite a court order to the contrary, carries a possible 20-year term.

Continue reading "30 years for Lord Fraudulent of No Fixed Address?" »

Oh darn, there's that Peruvian tyrant again!

Alan's back, run!

(Translation: "Alan's back, let's get out of here!")

And now he's got the entire country on strike against him, not even one year after taking office for the second time in his very checkered career. This has got to be some kind of record.

Continue reading "Oh darn, there's that Peruvian tyrant again!" »

July 12, 2007

Pirates of the Great North?

Well, actually...no. Michael Geist and Daniel Albahary explain why Canada is NOT a pirating country:

...and lay out who's REALLY behind those bogus charges and cries of rip-off. (Surprise, surprise: it's Big Industry. AGAIN.)

July 5, 2007

Greg and Bobby's excellent presentation

Greg Palast (of the BBC) and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (of Air America radio) dissect the ills of America today, in a meeting in New York on May 1 of this year:

Greg unravels how the Republican Party destroyed democracy in the United States, while Bobby explains the need for reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine, rips corporatism, and diagnoses the diseases of the major media (which are also infecting Canada, albeit on a somewhat lower level--but still alarming.)

Worth quoting from Bobby: "80% of Republicans are just Democrats who don't know what's going on!"

Well worth an hour of your time...after all, what's on TV? Glorified game shows? Paris Hilton's latest stupidities? That diaper-wearing NASA astronaut/stalker getting her panties in a bunch?

July 4, 2007

So nice to know so little has changed!

Oh Brazil. I thought this sort of thing was supposed to have ended...in 1888!

More than 1,000 labourers have been freed in Brazil by the government's anti-slavery team.

They were said to be working in inhumane conditions on a sugar cane plantation in the Amazon.

An ethanol-producing company which owns the plantation has denied allegations of abusing the workers.

Continue reading "So nice to know so little has changed!" »

June 13, 2007

Censored by YouTube--but why?

Luigino Bracci, a popular Chavista blogger (El Espacio de Lubrio), has had his YouTube channel killed. The reason is not what you might expect. Luigino published neither an incitement to violence, nor hate speech, nor pornography, nor a recipe for Molotov cocktails. His no-no? Posting a debate originally broadcast on the Spanish TV channel Antena 3, in which a Globovision "journalist", invited to a panel discussion, got her past handed to her:

(Video posted by Radioaporrea. Watch your backs, folks, you might be next.)

Continue reading "Censored by YouTube--but why?" »

June 12, 2007

More untold news about TV licence revocations

You better kiss my boots for this, people, I had to go all the way to Cuba to get it.

(Well, all right--to Granma.)

Throughout the world, many countries have adopted sovereign decision to not renew [broadcast] concessions or to allow them to expire. For example:

Peru, in April 2007, decided to shut down two television channels and three radio stations for incompliance with its Radio and Television Law, expired licenses and utilization of non-homologous equipment.

Say, who is the president of Peru? A communist? Nope...Alan Garcia. The "neo-liberal" darling of the newspaper neo-cons.

Continue reading "More untold news about TV licence revocations" »

June 2, 2007

It's not RCTV--it's the oil, stupid!

Holy Me, What the Me Are We Gonna Do???

Shh...we don't use no bad fucking language around here, kapister? This site is censored, after all. It must be; after all, I'm a pro-Chavez socialist, therefore I must have something against free speech!

Oh, bullshit.

An opinion writer at Aporrea.org, Ivana Cardinale, has pinned down the real reasons why the US is so "concerned" about all those nationalizations--and the non-renewal of broadcast licence to a right-wing TV station whose main contribution to Venezuelan culture has been its soap operas. Here's a snip:

Continue reading "It's not RCTV--it's the oil, stupid!" »

May 29, 2007

The airwaves are hotting up in Venezuela

RCTV is off the public airwaves (ding, dong!), but don't cry for it...there is nothing on it worth saving, if Stephen Lendman's latest excellent report on Venezuelanalysis is any indication:

Along with the other four major corporate-owned dominant television channels (controlling 90% of the nation's TV market), RCTV played a leading role instigating and supporting the aborted April, 2002 two-day coup against President Chavez mass public opposition on the streets helped overturn restoring Chavez to office and likely saving his life. Later in the year, these stations conspired again as active participants in the economically devastating 2002-03 main trade union confederation (CTV) - chamber of commerce (Fedecameras) lockout and industry-wide oil strike including willful sabotage against state oil company PDVSA costing it an estimated $14 billion in lost revenue and damage.

This writer explained the dominant corporate media's active role in these events in an extended January, 2007 article titled "Venezuela's RCTV Acts of Sedition." It presented conclusive evidence RCTV and the other four corporate-run TV stations violated Venezuela's Law of Social Responsibility for Radio and Television (LSR). That law guarantees freedom of expression without censorship but prohibits, as it should, transmission of messages illegally promoting, apologizing for, or inciting disobedience to the law that includes enlisting public support for the overthrow of a democratically elected president and his government.

In spite of their lawlessness, the Chavez government treated all five broadcasters gently opting not to prosecute them, but merely refusing to renew one of RCTV's operating licenses (its VHF one) when it expired May 27 (its cable and satellite operations are unaffected) - a mere slap on the wrist for a media enterprise's active role in trying to overthrow the democratically elected Venezuelan president and his government. The article explained if an individual or organization of any kind incited public hostility, violence and anti-government rebellion under Section 2384 of the US code, Title 18, they would be subject to fine and/or imprisonment for up to 20 years for the crime of sedition.

They might also be subject to prosecution for treason under Article 3, Section 3 of the US Constitution stating: "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort" such as instigating an insurrection or rebellion and/or sabotage to a national defense utility that could include state oil company PDVSA's facilities vital to the operation and economic viability of the country and welfare of its people. It would be for US courts to decide if conspiring to overthrow a democratically government conformed to this definition, but it's hard imagining it would not at least convict offenders of sedition.

Continue reading "The airwaves are hotting up in Venezuela" »

May 10, 2007

Breaking Ranks: US soldiers resisting war in Canada

My home and native land has a long, proud history as a place of refuge for the persecuted, the downtrodden, and the people of conscience. When black Americans fled slavery on the Underground Railroad, Canada was the end station. They followed the North Star to get here, literally. A hundred or so years later, the Vietnam War drove tens of thousands of men to flee the United States yet again--this time from the non-racial slavery that was the military draft. Many of these war resisters became permanent citizens.

Today, our country's reputation as a refuge is under attack. While the people of Canada are as open and welcoming to war resisters as ever, our government is not. There is craven cowardice in Ottawa as politicians seek to tie their fortunes to Dubya's foul star. Why they are doing so, heaven knows; I suspect greed and corporate graft. This is a corporate war, not a war of liberation or against terror, that is being fought over Iraq. Yet too many of our members of Parliament are too cowardly, too deluded, or just too stupid to speak out. They underestimate the true nature of the Canadian people, who are staunchly opposed to this war--and who welcome the soldiers who have said no to it as well.

May 6, 2007

The Future of Food

A scary but utterly important film on the dangers of genetically modified foods and what we can do to stop their deadly encroachment on our tables, our fields and our lives. More information can be found at the filmmaker's website.

April 28, 2007

Will the international media call THIS president a tyrant?

Alan's back--let's get out of here!

Hmmm...I wonder. Seeing as Alan Garcia of Peru isn't making any noises about socialism, unlike a certain Chavecito of Venezuela, I can't see it happening. Can you?

Peru's parliament has granted emergency powers to President Alan Garcia in order to deal with drug trafficking and organised crime.

Congress overwhelmingly approved the move but around 20 Congressmen walked out of the session before the vote.

President Garcia has promised not to abuse the powers, which are valid for the next 60 days.

He will only have the power to rule by decree on nine specific types of crime, most of which relate to trafficking.

Continue reading "Will the international media call THIS president a tyrant?" »

April 19, 2007

And now, a few words about school shootings

As the Boomtown Rats once sang, the lesson today is how to die.

Call it Death by Second Amendment. Or Death by Insanity. Either way, it works out to about the same thing. Isn't the practical definition of insanity a dogged habit of making the same mistakes repeatedly, yet still expecting a different result each time? When you follow a pattern, the outcome tends to be true to pattern. So if you follow a pattern of insanity, guess what your outcome is.

I hauled out my DVD of Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine today, dusted it off and gave it a spin. This was not just some morbid fascination. I wanted to see what, if anything, can be gleaned from it now, five years after its original release and eight years almost to the day after Columbine, to apply to this latest bloodbath. I'm also poring over my old copy of Elliott Leyton's Hunting Humans: The Rise of the Modern Multiple Murderer, originally published in the 1980s, to see what there is in there that might shed a light.

As luck would have it, there's plenty. Because not much has changed in those years, except for the worse. The Virginia Tech shooter fits right into the same dreary pattern that has characterized school shooters for decades. In fact, he IS the pattern. On steroids.

Bearing that in mind, let's now recall Bowling for Columbine.

Continue reading "And now, a few words about school shootings" »

April 6, 2007

CubanaBomber Death Watch: Should I stay or should I go now?

Cue the Clash, because if Luis Posada Carriles goes there will be trouble, and if he stays it will be double.

Or is it the other way 'round?

Oh, whatever. Cue the Clash, dammit.

The United States government has appealed against a ruling to release a prominent anti-communist Cuban exile, Luis Posada Carriles.

A judge in Texas ruled that Mr Posada, now a Venezuelan national, should be freed pending an immigration hearing.

Mr Posada, 79, has been detained in the US since May 2005 after illegally entering the country.

A former CIA employee, he is wanted in Venezuela and Cuba over the downing of a Cuban airliner in 1976.

Continue reading "CubanaBomber Death Watch: Should I stay or should I go now?" »

March 26, 2007

Quotable: Conrad Black's father on life, the universe and everything

"Life is hell, most people are bastards, and everything is bullshit."

--attributed to Conrad Black's father, George, on his deathbed; if true, goes a long way toward explaining why Black fils turned out the way he did

Hey Chuck Norris: Shut up and sing, dammit!

Grab your barf bags, folks. Chuck Norris has reared his weaselly little head, and given me one more reason to utterly despise him:

Continue reading "Hey Chuck Norris: Shut up and sing, dammit!" »

March 24, 2007

Pokin' the Bear

A little musical interlude featuring the inimitable pipes of the imbecilic Pigman, Rush Limbaugh.

BTW, Rush, I know some hungry polar bears who would LOVE you for lunch.

February 17, 2007

CubanaBomber Death Watch: How long till the mistrial?

Or, failing that, the sudden disappearance and/or death?

An anti-Castro Cuban militant is to face trial in the US in May, charged with lying to immigration officials.

Luis Posada Carriles has been held in an immigration detention centre in Texas since 2005 after crossing the border illegally from Mexico.

Both Venezuela and Cuba want to put Mr Posada on trial for allegedly masterminding the bombing of a Cuban jetliner in 1976 that killed 73 people.

Continue reading "CubanaBomber Death Watch: How long till the mistrial?" »

February 12, 2007

Neil Young sticks it to BushCo

All the reasons why Bush, Cheney and the entire vile bunch MUST be impeached.

January 17, 2007

Remind me again: Why did Saddam hang?

Hmmm...for the killings at Dujail, no?

Good thing for certain Westerners, then, that he didn't get a chance to be tried for THIS, too:

(Hat tip to my friend Corey for the link.)

Continue reading "Remind me again: Why did Saddam hang?" »

January 15, 2007

Two more reasons to condemn the Iraq hangings

One of them basically because it's too grotesque for words.

Iraqi officials have shown journalists video footage of the hanging of two of Saddam Hussein's aides, during which one of the men was decapitated.

The film shows Barzan Ibrahim - Saddam Hussein's half-brother - and Awad Hamed al-Bandar hanged side-by-side.

Barzan, former intelligence chief, and al-Bandar, former head of Iraq's Revolutionary Court, were convicted over the killing of 148 Shias in 1982.

The government said Barzan's beheading was accidental.

Continue reading "Two more reasons to condemn the Iraq hangings" »

January 14, 2007

Prisoners of Katrina: A must-see documentary

"Katrina blew the system apart, and made it so that we were so disconnected, we simply could not function."

Who are the bigger criminals--the inmates, or the authorities?

What is worse: the crimes that put people in jail, or a system that makes disproportionate sentencing commonplace?

This video will totally invert your preconceived notions about good and bad.

January 9, 2007

Many, many more reasons to condemn Saddam's hanging

And, according to the London Telegraph, they are all Shia.

Saddam Hussein's execution has inspired a gruesome cycle of revenge, with scores of Shia Muslims found hanged from lampposts in Baghdad.

The residents of the city's Haifa Street will long remember the events of Sunday morning. As shop owners raised their shutters and stall holders set out their stock, three minibuses roared to a halt.

Gunmen jumped out and pulled blindfolded prisoners on to the street. Ropes were tied to lampposts and electricity poles. Those hostages who resisted were shot. Others who were still alive had nooses tied around their necks and were then suspended in mid air to choke to death.

All were left hanging, and the victims received little sympathy from those who witnessed the events.

Continue reading "Many, many more reasons to condemn Saddam's hanging" »

The horror...the HORROR!

That evil Chavecito. He's out to undo all the good work the IMF's faithful servants did in days of yore (she said, dripping with heavy sarcasm)...

President Hugo Chavez has pledged to nationalize key Venezuelan companies, as part of plans to transform the country into a full socialist state.

Mr Chavez said he wanted to see major Venezuelan power and telecoms companies come under state control.

He also called for an end to foreign ownership of lucrative crude oil refineries in the Orinoco region.

Continue reading "The horror...the HORROR!" »

January 5, 2007

Yes, rich girls do THAT, too.

How do you think some of them got so rich in the first place?

For years, Lisa Ann Taylor's neighbors suspected something was going on behind the doors of her white-columned, million-dollar mansion in one of suburban Atlanta's most exclusive neighborhoods.

Scantily clad women were seen posing for photos in the driveway. Cars and trucks came and went at all hours. And there were loud parties.

Despite repeated calls to police about the suspicious goings-on, there was no evidence of a crime. That is, until six weeks ago, when authorities were tipped off to a Web site showing Taylor — a former Penthouse Pet of the Month — sprawled topless on an ottoman and brazenly advertising services ranging from $300 one-hour photo shoots to "dream dates" that included a one-hour "show."

Continue reading "Yes, rich girls do THAT, too." »

Judge Rehnquist: Thug on drugs

Well, this was a shocker. Heh.

Newly-released FBI files have given more details on William Rehnquist's dependence on strong painkillers while he was a US Supreme Court judge.

Mr Rehnquist, who later became chief justice, is said to have been taking up to three times the prescribed dosage.

When he stopped taking Placidyl, he suffered withdrawal symptoms. The records say he tried to escape from hospital in his pyjamas.

Continue reading "Judge Rehnquist: Thug on drugs" »

January 4, 2007

Too little, too late, Too Stupid!

If you ever wonder why so many people are calling Dubya "Too Stupid to be President", here--have a clue-by-four:

US President George W Bush has said he wished the execution of ex-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had been more dignified but insisted that justice was done.

Mr Bush said he expected a "full investigation" of the way the execution had been carried out.

But he said Saddam Hussein had been given justice that "the thousands of people he killed had not".

Continue reading "Too little, too late, Too Stupid!" »

January 3, 2007

The ugly truth leaks out

Damn the Internets. First you get this, and then this:

The Iraqi government has launched an inquiry into unofficial mobile phone footage showing the execution of former leader Saddam Hussein.

The mobile phone footage showed he exchanged taunts and insults with witnesses at his hanging on Saturday.

Continue reading "The ugly truth leaks out" »

December 29, 2006

This just in...

Saddam Hussein has been hanged.

And this is going to resolve...what?

Certainly not THIS:

December 4, 2006

If they talk about morals, cover your breasts and run!

Because, as we all know, the biggest lechers are those who preach the loudest.

Polish prosecutors are investigating claims that Deputy Prime Minister Andrzej Lepper employed a woman on condition that she had sex with him.

A former local councillor for Mr Lepper's Self Defence party made the claim in the Gazeta Wyborcza paper.

Mr Lepper denies he had sex with the woman and says her claim is "insane".

The BBC's Adam Easton says the scandal will embarrass Polish PM Jaroslaw Kaczynski, elected last year promising a "moral revolution".

Continue reading "If they talk about morals, cover your breasts and run!" »

November 11, 2006

Germany wants a piece of Rummy

I think I may have to start holding up my German head again.

This might just make up for 12 DISASTROUS years of Nazism--and certainly tells me that someone has learned history's lessons well:

Donald Rumsfeld, who quit as US defence secretary this week, may face criminal charges in Germany for alleged abuses in Guantanamo Bay and Iraq.

A complaint has been launched by the US-based Centre for Constitutional Rights, representing a Saudi detained in Cuba and 11 Iraqis held in Baghdad.

German law allows the pursuit of cases originating anywhere in the world.

Continue reading "Germany wants a piece of Rummy" »

Impeachment: "off the table", but...

(Note: I just created a new category here--BushCo Death Watch. I have a feeling there will be many entries in it as this administration goes lame-duck. I retroactively added two more entries, seeing as the death watch has actually been under way since the elections four days ago and the fallout began almost immediately thereafter.)

I admit it, I was (and still am) mad at the Congressional Democrats for not wanting to utter the unspeakable I-word, even though there is more than enough to warrant proceedings. But here are a couple of heartening items I just had to share.

First, from Democracy Now, a prominent former Congresswoman and the author of The Pentagon Papers are spearheading a citizens' drive for impeachment. Here, Elizabeth Holtzman and Daniel Ellsberg tell why they're doing it, as well as the historic background of the Nixon resignation and the failed attempt on Bill Clinton:

Continue reading "Impeachment: "off the table", but..." »

October 26, 2006

The anti-woman, pro-death movement wins one in Nicaragua

This is absolutely disgusting. Not to mention unenforceable, unless the state becomes a willingly complicit murderer of women:

Nicaragua has approved a sweeping new law banning abortions, even in cases where the mother's life is at risk.

The national assembly approved the bill by 52 votes to none, and the bill is now likely to be signed into law.

Continue reading "The anti-woman, pro-death movement wins one in Nicaragua" »

A tortured silence

Two items on something we're not supposed to talk about. Shhhhh...shhh, the word of the day is TORTURE.

First, from the UK Guardian:

According to a secret intelligence report, the CIA offered to let Germany have access to one of its citizens, an al-Qaida suspect being held in a Moroccan cell. But the US secret agents demanded that in return, Berlin should cooperate and "avert pressure from EU" over human rights abuses in the north African country. The report describes Morocco as a "valuable partner in the fight against terrorism".

Continue reading "A tortured silence" »

Minutemen make monkeys of themselves

A couple of days ago I blogged on a certain noteworthy Zapatista demonstrating just how easy it is to get past a Minuteman (pronounced "myNOOTman", as in very small and not well endowed) patrol.

Well, today, Raw Story has revealed confirmation as to just what fools these myNOOTmen be--and how foolish they want you and me to be:

The Minuteman Project sent out a press release late Tuesday evening hyping their Web site, which is showcasing 1,000 documents allegedly obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request to the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) by World Net Daily columnist Jerome Corsi. Most widely known for his longtime attacks on Democratic Senator John Kerry's military record, Corsi also co-authored a book about the Minuteman "battle" to secure America's borders.

SPP was launched in March of 2005 as a trilateral effort by the United States, Canada and Mexico to increase the security and improve the quality of life of North Americans through greater cooperation and information sharing. Many conservative critics view the trilateral initiative as a threat to U.S. sovereignty.

"The documents give clear evidence that the Bush administration has created a 'shadow government,'" Corsi said in the press release.

Corsi claims to have "hundreds of pages of e-mails from U.S. executive branch administrators who are copying the e-mail to somewhere between 25 to 100 people, a third of whom are in the U.S. bureaucracy, a third of whom are in the Mexican bureaucracy and a third of whom are in the Canadian bureaucracy."

"They are sharing their laws and regulations so we can 'harmonize' and 'integrate' our laws into a North American structure, not a USA structure," Corsi said.

In plain English, I believe that translates to BOOGAboogabooga! Evil Canadians! Evil Mexicans! We should be dominating them, but instead, they are dominating us! And they do it by pretending to be collaborating with us!

Raw Story continues:

The documents can be viewed on the Minuteman Project's Stop the Security and Prosperity Project page, but there's no mention of any particular "smoking gun" which could proves the contention that the White House has created a shadow government. The anti-immigration group appears to consider the mere existence of communications among bureaucrats from the three countries as proof of their assertions.

One series of letters show U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez writing to North American Steel Association leaders in all three countries thanking them for their "suggestions on enhancing the competitiveness of the steel industry" in North America ....

"The North American industries' recommendations for launching a North American steel strategy were well received and formed the basis for the Committee's discussions on a program of work going forward," Gutierrez wrote to assorted Steel Association chairmen and presidents.

A RAW STORY examination of documents related to the "steel strategy" as presented at the Minuteman Web site did not turn up anything untoward.

But Corsi maintains that the "documentation he received is missing key pieces."

"We received very few actual agreements, though many are referenced," Corsi said. "Many of the work plans described lack the work products which the groups say they produced."

Translation: We got nuttin', but we're still soiling ourselves with fear.

Yes, folks, things is mighty desperate in Wingnuttia right now. They are soiling themselves with stuff they pulled out of their own asses.

(Not that they hadn't always, but they're really reaching for it this time.)

October 23, 2006

Making monkeys of the Minutemen

Not that they needed much help, since they are all flying monkeys already. But the ever obliging Zapatista, Subcomandante Marcos, recently demonstrated just how stupid they are...and how futile it is to try to fence off the US/Mexico border:

Subcomandante Marcos crosses the border without permission

Narco News has some insight into what he's really up to.

September 14, 2006

This is why you should promise NOTHING to gun nuts

...no matter how badly you want to be elected. (Yes, Tories, I'm talking to you. Clean out your ears and pay attention!)

The last thing Canada needs is easier access to guns, because things like this have an ugly tendency to happen in countries where gun use is under-regulated.

Police in Canada have named the gunman who went on a shooting spree in a Montreal college, killing a young woman, as 25-year-old Kimveer Gill.

Gill, from Montreal, wounded 19 others in his gun rampage before being killed in a shootout with police.

Continue reading "This is why you should promise NOTHING to gun nuts" »

July 29, 2006

A few more chickens come home to roost

How's this for karma being a bitch?

An obscure law approved a decade ago by a Republican-controlled Congress has made the Bush administration nervous that officials and troops involved in handling detainee matters might be accused of committing war crimes and prosecuted at some point in U.S. courts.

Senior officials have responded by drafting legislation that would grant U.S. personnel involved in the terrorism fight new protections against prosecution for past violations of the War Crimes Act of 1996. That law criminalizes violations of the Geneva Conventions governing conduct in war and threatens the death penalty if U.S.-held detainees die in custody from abusive treatment.

Continue reading "A few more chickens come home to roost" »

June 29, 2006

Another Liberal not worthy of the name

You can always tell who the cynical power-jockeys are up here in the Great North. They gravitate to the party most likely to get them elected, even when they have little or nothing in common with the values implicit in the party name. These infiltrators are almost laughably transparent, but it's never stopped any of them from trying it yet, even when they get their pee-pees whacked by their constituents in the end.

Take the once-dominant Liberals (please!). There used to be a sub-group within the party calling themselves "Liberals for Life", even though they were neither. What they should have called themselves was Closet Conservatives Against Choice, which is a far less catchy thing to call oneself, and also far less likely to get votes. But at least then, they'd have been honest. What I don't understand is why they weren't in the Tories all along, since their ideology would have fit and then they'd have been in power, where they could have wrought a helluva lot more havoc. (Plus, in the end, they'd have gone down a bit earlier on the same ship with their ideological soulmates instead of continuing to infest an already rat-ridden-enough party.)

There's a reason I'm bringing this up. Here it is:

On June 21st, Parliament saw first reading of a private member's bill by Liberal MP Paul Steckle to re-criminalize abortion. Bill C-338, "An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (procuring a miscarriage after 20 weeks of gestation)", would restrict later abortions performed after twenty weeks.

The bill would allow exceptions to save the woman's life and "to prevent severe pathological physical morbidity of the woman." Otherwise, anyone who "uses any means or permits any means to be used" to perform an abortion past 20 weeks would be subject to penalties of a prison term of up to five years, and/or a fine of up to $100,000.

Continue reading "Another Liberal not worthy of the name" »

June 13, 2006

Gitmo North: UNACCEPTABLE!

This is not the US.

This is Canada.

So why is THIS happening--here?

Continue reading "Gitmo North: UNACCEPTABLE!" »

What purpose does a blackout serve?

Occasionally, it serves to protect a potentially innocent person's identity; sometimes, the family of a perpetrator, especially when s/he is related to the victim of the crime.

However, in this instance, one really has to wonder...

Continue reading "What purpose does a blackout serve?" »

June 3, 2006

If the Founders didn't ban it, why do so now?

Just when you think BushCo had run out of gas for good and sure (check out Dubya's latest approval ratings--remind you of anyone?), they pull a rather predictable rabbit out of the hat (or should I say, habit out of the rat?)--appeal to the "base". In this case, it is definitely the Hardcore Stupid:

President Bush will promote a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage on Monday, the eve of a scheduled Senate vote on the cause that is dear to his conservative backers.

The amendment would prohibit states from recognizing same-sex marriages. To become law, the proposal would need two-thirds support in the Senate and House, and then be ratified by at least 38 state legislatures.

It stands little chance of passing the 100-member Senate, where proponents are struggling to get even 50 votes. Several Republicans oppose the measure, and so far only one Democrat - Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska - says he will vote for it.

Continue reading "If the Founders didn't ban it, why do so now?" »

June 1, 2006

Who wants to marry a millionaire?

I don't! Especially after reading this:

A woman has won $2.1m (£1.1m) from a Los Angeles dating agency after she failed to meet a millionaire.

Anne Majerik, 60, paid Beverly Hills matchmaker Orly Hadida $125,000 (£67,000) to meet affluent men who wanted monogamous relationships.

But she claimed Ms Hadida failed to deliver on her promise by only introducing her to inappropriate men.

Continue reading "Who wants to marry a millionaire?" »

April 24, 2006

Kenny Boy is in the dock

Finally.

Do you suppose this is why the compliant media has trotted out yet another "Osama" tape?

Continue reading "Kenny Boy is in the dock" »

April 19, 2006

Naomi, you should know better!

The ongoing saga of the Duke University lacrosse team and the black stripper accusing them of sexual assault sure is manna for all the woman-hating wingnuts out there. Not to mention the self-hating women among them. Just look this pile of drivel that's turned up in the good old Wall Street Journal lately, under the unlikely section labelled "Taste":

If you have attended college any time in the past 20 years, you will have heard that if a woman is forced against her will to have sex, it is "not her fault" and that women always have the right to "control their own bodies." Nothing could be truer. But the administrators who utter these sentiments and the feminists who inspire them rarely note which situations are conducive to keeping that control and which threaten it. They rarely discuss what to do to reduce the likelihood of a rape. Short of re-educating men, that is.

Continue reading "Naomi, you should know better!" »

March 31, 2006

Fat Tony's "Vaffanculo" moment has consequences for the wrong person

It's always so lovely to see when church authorities have their priorities straight. Take, for example, the case of a freelance photographer working for a diocesan newspaper and SCOTUS judge Antonin "Fat Tony Vaffanculo" Scalia:

A freelance photographer has been fired by the Archdiocese of Boston's newspaper for releasing a picture of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia making a controversial gesture in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Sunday.

Peter Smith, who had freelanced for The Pilot newspaper for a decade, lost the job yesterday after the Herald ran his photo on its front page. Smith said he has no regrets about releasing it.

"I did the right thing. I did the ethical thing," said Smith, 51, an assistant photojournalism professor at Boston University.

Smith snapped the photo of Scalia flicking his hand under his chin after a Herald reporter asked the conservative jurist his response to people who question his impartiality on matters of church and state.

Continue reading "Fat Tony's "Vaffanculo" moment has consequences for the wrong person" »

March 28, 2006

Kenny Boy--getting off easy?

Sure looks that way...

US prosecutors dropped a number of charges against former Enron chief executives Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling as they rested their case on Tuesday.

Mr Skilling now faces 28 cases of fraud, conspiracy and insider trading, while Mr Lay faces six counts of conspiracy and fraud.

The defence is due to start making its case next Monday.

Continue reading "Kenny Boy--getting off easy?" »

March 27, 2006

Judge Scalia's rotten judgment

The problem with Fat Tony Scalia isn't that he's an arrogant, undignified prick unworthy of his seat; it's where to start enumerating the proof. Take, for example, his most recent episode of injudicious behavior:

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia startled reporters in Boston just minutes after attending a mass, by flipping a middle finger to his critics.

A Boston Herald reporter asked the 70-year-old conservative Roman Catholic if he faces much questioning over impartiality when it comes to issues separating church and state.

"You know what I say to those people?" Scalia replied, making the obscene gesture and explaining "That's Sicilian."

Continue reading "Judge Scalia's rotten judgment" »

March 23, 2006

Um, Condi...do you know what you're holding?

It's called a charango. Guess what the green bits are!

It's called a charango, and you'll never guess what the one you've got your hands on is made from!

Continue reading "Um, Condi...do you know what you're holding?" »

March 13, 2006

Call it Slobocide

...because that's what it is.

A Dutch toxicologist said Monday he found traces of an unprescribed antibiotic in Slobodan Milosevic's system earlier this year after the former Yugoslav leader did not respond to blood pressure medication given at the U.N. detention center.

Donald Uges said he found traces of rifampicin, an antituberculosis drug that "makes the liver extremely active" and thus breaks down other medications very quickly, possibly taking away their effectiveness.

Continue reading "Call it Slobocide" »

The right to choose...deadbeat daddydom?

Talk about polishing a turd with a legal gloss:

Contending that women have more options than they do in the event of an unintended pregnancy, men's rights activists are mounting a long shot legal campaign aimed at giving them the chance to opt out of financial responsibility for raising a child.

The National Center for Men has prepared a lawsuit — nicknamed Roe v. Wade for Men — to be filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Michigan on behalf of a 25-year-old computer programmer ordered to pay child support for his ex-girlfriend's daughter. The suit addresses the issue of male reproductive rights, contending that lack of such rights violates the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause.

The gist of the argument: If a pregnant woman can choose among abortion, adoption or raising a child, a man involved in an unintended pregnancy should have the choice of declining the financial responsibilities of fatherhood. The activists involved hope to spark discussion even if they lose.

Continue reading "The right to choose...deadbeat daddydom?" »

February 16, 2006

A blonde moment at the voting booth?

Oh, this is just too funny...

She may be smart enough to earn millions from her acidic political barbs, but when it comes to something as simple as voting in her tiny hometown, hard-core conservative pundit Ann Coulter is a tad confused.

Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections records show Coulter voted last week in Palm Beach's council election. Problem is: She cast her ballot in a precinct 4 miles north of the precinct where she owns a home — and that could be a big no-no.

Coulter, who owns a $1.8 million crib on Seabreeze Avenue, should have voted in Precinct 1198. It covers most homes on her street. Instead, records show, she voted in Precinct 1196, at the northern tip of the island.

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February 4, 2006

Creeping fascism doesn't get much creepier than this!

It's deja vu all over again...or in this case, seeing as it has to do with things heard rather than seen, deja entendu. If you think the current crop of fascists in the White House only bulldozed the remnants of the Clinton Weimar Republic recently, you need to read this:

Senate Judiciary Committee hearings begin Monday over [George W.] Bush's authority to approve such wiretaps by the ultra-secretive National Security Agency without a judge's approval. A focus of the hearings is to determine whether the Bush administration's eavesdropping program violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the 1978 law with origins during Ford's presidency.

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January 15, 2006

Yup, Alito's an activist judge...

And I have some very nice old poopy to prove it...

A suspected Japanese terrorist was secretly working with Libya to detonate bombs at three sites in Manhattan, including a Navy recruiting office, when he was arrested last April, a federal prosecutor said today.

New details involving Yu Kikumura, convicted in November without offering a defense, emerged as prosecutors and defense lawyers prepared for his sentencing Monday in U.S. District Court in Newark.

In a confidential presentencing memorandum, the government charged that Kikumura is a member of the Japanese Red Army who was secretly working with agents of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi seeking retaliation for the 1986 U.S. bombing of Libya, according to Samuel A. Alito, U.S. attorney in Newark.

Continue reading "Yup, Alito's an activist judge..." »