Music for a Sunday: Shine on, winter moon…

Can a samba sound like snow? This one does, to me…maybe because of the way the shakers soften the edges of both Stan Getz’s tenor sax and Laurindo Almeida’s lovely guitar. The one is moonlight, the other the soft waves of the winter landscape.

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Evo blings out

evo-pachakuti

Oh, that Evo. He sure knows how to wear bold patterns, bright colors, and lots of golden bling. And why not? He’s got kind of an important occasion to dress up for here:

Yesterday, Bolivian presdent Evo Morales reaffirmed the indigenous identity of his political revolution, in an ancestral ceremony celebrated in the pre-Hispanic ruins of Tiwanaku, one day before being sworn in at the Legislative Assembly to his third term in office, which runs until 2020.

The rituals, full of symbolism, of the indigenous investiture — the third for Morales since he first took power in 2006 — were witnessed by two heads of state, three vice-presidents and other representatives of dozens of countries, as well as leaders of social movements and indigenous peoples.

“Today is a historic day, one of reaffirmation of our identity, of reaffirmation of our democratic and cultural revolution. We are living the times of Pachakuti” — a return to equilibrium, Morales affirmed at the beginning of his speech.

The president centred part of his discourse in explaining the indigenous cosmovision, but also clarified that having rescued this identity in order to construct a Plurinational State does not signify “a romantic return to the past”, but a recuperation of the legacy in order to combine it with a modernity that does not damage the planet.

Morales has governed Bolivia since 2006, starting his second mandate in 2010, and today, begins his third after having won the presidential elections of October 12 of last year, with the support of 61.3% of the vote in all the land.

The speech ended a series of rituals which began early in the day with a “cleansing” to which Morales was subjected in the museum of the archeological centre and before the monumental Bennet monolith, an effigy of the Tiwanaku culture, which stands 7 metres high and weighs 20 tonnes.

The president’s ceremonial costume, created specially for the occasion, cost about $4,000 US.

The Tiwanaku ceremony, in which the musical and folkloric wealth of the land was on display, concluded with a rhythm and dance parade for the invited guests, who also enjoyed Andean cuisine with a menu including quinoa, trout, surubí fish, and coca leaves. The official beginning of Evo Morales’s third term in office takes place today in the Assembly.

Translation mine.

That all reminds me: Since it’s been confirmed that Evo won with more than 60% of the total vote, and Tuto Quiroga promised that he’d eat his watch if that was confirmed…did the dinner guests get to see him make good on that promise, or not?

Tick tock, Tuto.

The mysterious case of Helric Fredou: Was it really a suicide?

helric-fredou

Isn’t it ironic, and odd, that a high-ranking French policeman, just newly placed in charge of the biggest investigation of his life, should suddenly kill himself the very night after the crime? I’m speaking here of the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, and the police officer in question, Helric Fredou. According to Contrainjerencia, there are ample reasons to doubt official versions of the story, not only of the massacre itself, but also of the alleged suicide of the police chief leading up the investigation. And some of them come straight from the mouth of the late chief’s own sister:

French police commissioner Helric Fredou, who was placed in charge of the investigations over the Charlie Hebdo massacre, and found dead in the Commissariat of Limoges the night of that same day, was trying to make a “very urgent” phone call moments before his death, reveals local independent journalist Hicham Hamza.

“They took away his computers and personal mobile phone from us,” said Fredou’s sister to Hamza, in an interview on the day after the commissioner’s funeral. The interview was published on Friday. “They took everything. It shocked us, but they told us it was standard procedure.”

Fredou, whose name had not even been mentioned in several French dailies of record (but in the foreign press), was to have investigated somebody known to one of the victims, not named officially, but whom Hamza easily identified as Jeanette Bougrab, a high-level state functionary, and member of the right-wing “Union for a Popular Movement” (UMP).

Bougrab appeared in the days after the crime on various news reports as the companion of murdered cartoonist Stéphane Charbonnier, alias “Charb”, and made a series of emotional declarations of an islamophobic nature.

The relationship has however been denied by Laurent, the brother of the cartoonist, in a categorical manner, and by Parisian municipal council member Clémentine Autain, who had ties to “Charb”, and called Bougrab a “usurper”.

In his investigation, Hamza pointed out distinct elements who support doubts as to the existence of the relationship, such as discrepancies in the number of years that they had supposedly been together; previous declarations by Bougrab, a single woman, in which she said that her adopted daughter lamented “not having a father”; Charbonnier being solo at his last birthday party, and a long etcetera.

The supposed companion, whose family took up arms against the National Liberation Front of Algeria in defence of French colonialism in that North African land, is well known for her anti-Islamic diatribes and her membership in Zionist networks of great influence in French circles of power.

As well, the first French public figure who asserted a relationship between Charbonnier and Bougrab was journalist Caroline Fourest, known for spreading falsehoods of a defamatory nature about Islam, with her assertion that the assassins of Charlie Hebdo had forced a surviving employee to recite verses from the Koran — a lie refuted by the employee herself.

All these contradictions and political implications of the murder of Charbonnier were why Commissioner Fredou was investigating, according to Hamza. His death has barely been mentioned by the French press, strangely given the importance of the recent murders for French national security, and perhaps international security as well.

In the few hours of the investigation, said Fredou’s sister, “the day was very tense”, and police from the capital had been sent to Limoges, arriving at the Commissariat around 11:30 in the evening. Fredou “was supposed to redact a report, but there were frictions, I don’t know about what…” the sister explained.

After those frictions, the interviewee continued, “he told them he had to make a very urgent phone call, and when they saw that he hadn’t come back, a colleague went looking for him in his office, and found him dead.” The next day, “people came from Paris to tell us that he had committed suicide,” she said.

Informed of the death at 5:00 a.m., the family had to insist repeatedly before finally being allowed to see the body “at the end of the day”. Even though Fredou had shot himself in the head, according to the official report, “he had a bandage on his forehead. They had opened the side for the autopsy. The back of the head had nothing on it,” said Fredou’s sister.

Helric Fredou had found the bodies of suicides before. After one of them, his sister said, “he said to Mother: ‘I will never do anything like that to you’, that is, kill himself and leave her all alone.”

Translation mine.

So you can see that this is a highly improbable “suicide”. If Helric Fredou, who had attended the scene of several suicides, had promised his own mother that he would never inflict such a horror upon her, it is more than a little suspicious that he would be found dead in precisely such circumstances himself.

There is no reason to assume that the chief was so mentally unstable as to do it, either, according to Hicham Hamza’s own report. It’s a bit messy, being a rather rambling blog entry, but here are the key bits:

Wednesday, January 14, the day after the funeral for Helric Fredou, Panamza [Hamza, the blogger] contacted his sister, who prefers to remain unidentified, to clarify the implication of the police officer, vaguely evoked by the regional press, in the inquest relating to the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Principal extracts from the telephone call:

“Right away, I told myself it’s not possible, that someone blew him away, but we’re not in a movie”: the sister refuses to believe in the terrible possibility of a murder but continues to ask questions about the exact circumstances of the policeman’s death.

“No letter left behind, not even the badge on his desk”: Helric Fredou didn’t leave behind any letter explaining his act. At the same time, he didn’t put his police badge in evidence as he sometimes did with certain of his colleagues who were found dead of suicide.

“He was a calm person, with a great spirit of discernment, according to his trainer”: the sister underlined many times the cool-headedness of the policeman — held in high regard by his trainer because of his perspicacity — and the fact that he was neither violent nor impulsive.

“They took away his computers and his mobile phone, they took it all away from us, that shocked us but that’s the procedure, they told us”: on the afternoon of January 8, the police searched the home of the deceased, in the presence of his mother and sister, before taking away his informatic materials and personal smartphone.

“My mom, who was very attached to him, is devastated. She wants to know how he could have killed himself. He had a bandage on his forehead. On the side, he was trepanned because of the autopsy. On the back of the skull, there’s nothing”: Informed at 5 a.m. of the death, the sister reports having had to insist in order to see the corpse of the deceased. It’s only at the end of the day that she and her mother were authorized to see the body of Helric Fredou.

“My brother himself found two suicides, and he told Mom, ‘I’ll never play a trick like that on you,’ meaning to kill himself and leave her alone. He was not depressive”: In November 2013, Helric Fredou was in fact the police officer who discovered the body of his colleague, Christophe Rivieccio, dead in the same commissariat of Limoges.

“My brother was at home that night, and since he was on call, they called and he went to the commissariat around 11:30…the day was very tense, according to his colleagues…the Paris police were present that night…He had to redact a report, but there were some frictions, I don’t know why…He told them that he had to make a very urgent phone call and when they saw that he hadn’t come back, a colleague went to look for him in his office and found him dead”: This Wednesday night, some police officers went to perform security verifications around a family of the victim of the crime and were debriefed by Helric Fredou. The sister’s witness account brings in two troubling elements: “frictions” arose between the police officers concerning the report (which was never touched), which Fredou was to redact; in this tense context, the man was found dead some minutes after having told his colleagues that he had to immediately telephone someone unidentified.

“Some people from Paris came to tell us how that happened”: the sister underscores that the cadres of the national police were sent the next day to Limoges, expressly, and had to certify that it was a suicide.

Translation, again, mine.

Hamza goes on to say that he attempted to contact the Bougrab family, whom Fredou was investigating at the time of his death, but that the effort was wasted; the mother of Jeannette Bougrab answered the phone, but said only, “It’s none of my business, all that, go away, goodbye.”

He then recounts how Stéphane Charbonnier’s family denied all “relational engagement” between “Charb” and Jeannette Bougrab. Clémentine Autain, close to the clan, calls the former Fillon government secretary a “usurper”. Meanwhile, Bougrab has been all over the media, telling Paris-Match that she had been with “Charb” for three years, before correcting herself and then saying they had been together for “one year”. And on December 15 of last year, she had told Gala magazine that her daughter called Charb “Papa”, and that she dreamed of being married one day, so that her daughter would not have to suffer the ignominy of having a single mother anymore. She has been posing as a widow in all but name since Charb was shot.

And even before then, she seemed strangely prescient about how Charb would die. In her autobiography, published in January of 2013, she wrote:

“In view of the assaults of those who would like to bring back the penalization of blasphemy, I assert the right to make fun of the gods. Long live blasphemy! Long live the secular Republic!

“The latest guardians of secularism are named Caroline Fourest, Élisabeth Badinter, Charlie, that is Charlie Hebdo…Denouncing the heap of religious fundamentalisms, including the Catholic, they take risks for their own security. The life of Charb is in danger from now on. Many security agents assure his protection, since this geek in glasses has become a target of Islamists. An exit identical to that of Theo Van Gogh could be reserved for him: to be assassinated by a God-crazed man in the street.”

Here’s the book page in question:

bougrab-book-extract

And if there is any doubt about Bougrab’s right-wing sympathies, here she is in a video published on October 29 of last year, expressing support for Nicolas Sarkozy on the latter’s own YouTube channel:

Oh yeah, and Caroline Fourest, the name that popped up alongside Charb in Bougrab’s oddly prescient book, as well as claiming that Charb and Bougrab were a couple when they were not? Here she is, making some ugly islamophobic remarks of her own about the Charlie massacre:

“They killed children, they killed teddybears”? “It’s the September 11 of free thought”? Sounds like the kind of shit you’d hear on FUX Snooze. Little wonder she’s not a credible witness to the alleged relationship between Charb and Bougrab, but a very avid propagandist thereof.

Hamza wraps it up with a curious remark:

“It’s up to you, reader-citizen, to break the strange French omertà around the Fredou/Bougrab affair. Right now, nothing allows us to assert that the policeman was killed to shut him up about what he had unexpectedly discovered. Nevertheless, looking at the shadowy circumstances around his death, in a context of political hyper-exploitation of the crime, nothing at the same time authorizes us to draw the hypothesis of an expeditious murder disguised as a suicide for reasons of ‘depression’. A final troubling detail: A man today at the summit of the State has never publicly said a word of compassion about the subject of Helric Fredou, event though he was in regular contact with him in the recent past. From 2010 to 2012, the policeman was central commissioner of Cherbourg. At the same time, the the deputy mayor of the coastal town was none other than Bernard Cazeneuve, the current minister of the Interior, in charge of the inquest into the crime, and a discreet member of the pro-Israel movement.”

A discreet member…as opposed to Jeannette Bougrab, who has been anything BUT discreet about her right-wing, anti-Islam, and pro-Israeli sympathies. Curiouser and curiouser, especially in light of this McClatchy article, which affirms that the gunmen in the Charlie massacre had ties to a “former” officer of French intelligence, who allegedly defected to al-Qaida in Iraq, and that they appeared to have extensive and systematic military or paramilitary training. And France is currently at war with “Islamists” in Iraq and Syria, no doubt much to the pleasure of the right-wing Zionists of Israel…a war whose cause is very conveniently bolstered by the whole freedom-of-speech hullabaloo around Charlie.

No, you can’t draw any solid conclusions about the whole sordid affair just yet. Other than, of course, the blinding obvious: That this story bears watching a lot more closely, and with a very critical eye. But even just this very rudimentary, early bit of connecting the dots reveals a lot of extremely hinky things going on behind the scenes, n’est-ce pas?

Paris is a no-go zone!!!

Panic panic terror terror ISLAMISTS COUSCOUS OMG!!!

As you’ve probably guessed by their accents, those are actually French comedians, making fun of a certain crapaganda network’s perpetually panic-stricken reporting style. Finally, some real material for their satire! Let it never be said that FUX Snooze isn’t good for something.

PS: Shit just got real for Faux Nooz. Looks like Paris will be suing them for broadcasting blatant lies as, you know, actual news. Vive le Paris!

Prostitution ads: Lots of money in ‘em, but for whom?

spanish-prostitution-ads

Spanish prostitution ads from a large daily paper, many offering “Greek” (anal) and “French” (oral) sex, right up front.

You know how we’re always hearing that print media are in trouble, that revenues are down, that they can’t afford quality journalism, fact-checking or even basic copy-editing anymore, yadda yadda yadda? Well, all this crying poor is downright crocodilian, considering how much ad revenue they still rake in, and how not a single newspaper magnate has actually starved to death (unlike the ink-stained wretches who work for them). These days, you’d be lucky to find a paper that isn’t totally eaten up with advertising, to the point where the ads crowd out the actual news stories. Advertising has taken over where subscriptions have left off. Stands to reason: who want to subscribe to a paper that only eats their money by the bushel and kills trees for mediocre reporting at best? One might as well start reading rolls of toilet paper for all the edification one gets. And in Spain, the ugliest side of that deplorable trend is a pornographically explicit exploitation of women, right on the pages of the most important dailies in the land:

Five of the eight national newspapers in Spain are getting rich from prostitution ads, as legislators are trying to crack down on them as illicit publicity.

The newspaper El País makes 112,000 euros a month via two pages of prostitution ads, according to the website Periodismo Digital. In particular, large ads in the paper cost 106.09 euros on weekdays, and 126.25 euros on weekends.

All parliamentary parties have agreed to modify the 1998 General Publicity Law with the objective of terming prostitution ads as “illicit publicity” and to protect minors from this type of advertising.

Illegal activities, among them prostitution, have boosted economic indices in various European lands. Thus, in 2014 alone, the United Kingdom saw a $15 million trade in drugs and prostitution, according to a report by the Centre for Economic and Business Studies.

Translation mine.

Well, at least the government is trying to do something about the problem, even if it is tackling the wrong end of the supply/demand seesaw. For those who want to cry about the “freedom of expression” of “sex workers”, be advised that it’s rare and unusual for a single independent prostitute to have enough cash lying around to cover the daily ad rates cited above. Considering that a lot of the ads in the picture tout services costing considerably less per, I think we’re looking at yet another human trafficking front. Those women would have to service a dozen men a day in order to keep their heads above water. At fifty euros a pop, that means servicing at least three johns a day just to meet the horrendous costs of their advertising, never food, housing, clothing and other basic necessities. That’s a lot of undesired sex; it’s a wonder more of them aren’t found dead from sheer exhaustion.

So it wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn that the ads are not for individual, independent women, but for “escort services” run by local mafias that ferry several girls to and from their calls simultaneously. It wouldn’t surprise me either to hear that those same pimps probably work those girls to death, so to speak, with as many men as call asking for them. Profiteers are funny that way.

And the newspaper owners? They’re laughing all the way to the bank, because in effect, they are pimping the pimps! 112,000 euros a month just for two measly pages of black-and-white ads? 1.34 million euros a year, just from those ads alone — and NOT counting newsstand sales to horny machos just looking for some cheap wank fodder? Cha-CHING!

And suddenly, it all becomes clear as unmuddied water why NOW Magazine, a free Toronto “alternative” paper you can pick up on virtually any street corner, is oh-so-bravely fighting for its “free-speech right” to continue carrying its tiny but plentiful (and therefore, lucrative) “business personal” ads in the back pages. After all, by doing that, they remain “independent”. They don’t need no stinkin’ subscribers. Who needs subscribers, who will only write irate letters to the editor holding one accountable for half-assed reporting, when one can finance one’s operations quite cushily on the backs of anonymous, sexually exploited women? In the end, money is money, no matter who has suffered what abuses in the making of it.

And in the case of prostitution advertising, that money adds up thick and fast. No wonder those who profit from it are so reluctant to give it up. Whatever next? Why, someone might even force those lazy pimps to do some actual journalism!

Music for a Sunday: Some kind of lonely clown

Yes, it’s one of those days; it’s rainy out, and tomorrow will be Monday. It’s a day when nothing will do to get me out of the funk but Karen’s lovely voice and just-right drumming.

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Pepe picks up a hitchhiker

gerhald-acosta

If ever you find yourself forced to hitchhike in Uruguay, don’t be surprised if you have some trouble getting a lift. But when you finally do, don’t be surprised either if your lift turns out to be a rather familiar elderly gentleman:

On January 5, Gerhald Acosta was working, like he does every day, at the cellulose plant of Montes del Plata, south of the River Uruguay, in the southwestern part of the country. But when he arrived they told him that since his identification document was out of date, he couldn’t get in, Acosta told the newspaper, El Observador.

A comrade took him as far as the highway, where in the middle of the austral summer the sun was beating down hard, and Acosta started to walk, thumbing for a ride with the hope that someone could bring him to the nearest city.

“I walked a bit and during that time some 25 or 30 cars passed, and no one stopped for me, which I understand, because that’s what things are like right now,” said Acosta, referring to public insecurity in the land.

Suddenly, a truck with an official licence plate and a car right behind it stopped on the highway, and the driver asked where he was headed.

“I told him what had happened to me, and that I was headed for Juan Lacaze. He told me they could take me as far as (the presidential estate) Anchorena, and that I should get into the truck that was in front. When I got in, I said: ‘I know this woman’. It was Lucía Topolansky (Uruguayan senator and wife of the president), with her dog, Manuela, and Pepe (Mujica) was seated in front. I couldn’t believe that the president himself was driving me,” Acosta said.

“The trip was short, but they were very friendly. When I got out, I thanked them profusely because no one helps anyone on the highway, much less a president,” Acosta added.

“In the end I lost a day of work, but the experience was worth the trouble,” Acosta concluded. His story came to light because he told it on Facebook, along with two photos he took inside the vehicle with the presidential couple, and the comment “The only ones who stopped, really awesome people”.

With his direct style, frank and free of protocol, and progressive laws such as that regulating the sale of marijuana, Mujica — who leaves power on March 1 — has gained a privileged place in the world, which has even seen him nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Translation mine.

So there you have it. Pepe Mujica, quite possibly the world’s coolest president, did it again.

You’d think he does this sort of thing all the time, wouldn’t you?

Posted in Cool Beans, Paraguay, Uruguay. Comments Off »

Venezuela isn’t Charlie, either.

And that’s a good thing, too:

venezuela-not-charlie

“No to murder, no to violence, no to terrorism, no to xenophobia, no to extremism, no to fascism…Look, I’m not Charlie.”

And that’s how you do freedom of speech right…by NOT going along with the blind herd. ¿Entiende?

Posted in Huguito Chavecito, Newspeak is Nospeak. Comments Off »

OMG I WANT THIS SO MUCH WHERE DO I GET ONE…

evo-bobblehead

Ahem. Sorry for the ALL FUCKING CAPS header, but really, can you blame me for wanting one of these?

Hair parted down the middle, big smile, merry eyes, and the index finger pointing forward are some characteristics of “Evo Presidente”, the first of the dolls from the collection by Suri Electronics, which took advantage of the popularity of the Bolivian presidento to export the product to the US and Spain.

“Analyzing all the international selection of bobblehead dolls, we saw that almost all the important personages of the world had their dolls…Our country is at the stage of making things that there already are all over the world. What better than to start with a personage whom everyone on the planet knows?” said the proprietor of Suri Electronics, Gyula Pareja, one of the designers of the satirical figure of Morales, which went on the market in Bolivia a month ago.

The 24-year-old from La Paz started the project with three other partners in June of last year, when they began a series of tests to make the “Evo Presidentes” out of potter’s clay. Now, the products are made from a polyglycine base (a mixture of porcelain and plastic).

“Because we wanted it to come out perfect and with all the details, we worked on the figure for three months. Later we looked for some artisans who could do the job; however, we couldn’t find anyone in Bolivia who could make the quantities we were asking for. That’s why we ordered the doll to be made in China,” where its fabrication took two more months, said the businessman.

The dolls are made by hand thanks to the moldable polyglycine. “Each one of them has small variations which are imperceptible to the naked eye, and they’re painted by hand,” Pareja said.

10,000 exemplars were made, of which 70% are for exportation and 30% for domestic sale. The US and Spain are there is the most demand for these products. Already 1,100 have been sold in Bolivia. “We are patenting the doll, and we are the only producers,” said Pareja, Who added that Suri is now negotiating the exportation of “Evo Presidente” to Argentina.

“We found more acceptance in the international market. Here,” in Bolivia, their sales “are still seen as a political action…we want to emphasize that we are not playing politics, we only want to give the people a bit of humor, and what better way to do it than with a personage so well known in the land?”

Each one is about 20 centimetres (8 inches) high, weighs roughly 250 grams (half a pound) and costs 140 bolivianos locally (a little over $20 US). “75% of that price covers the investment in each doll, and the rest is our profit.” With current sales, the company is “just one step away from recovering what was invested in the entire project.”

Suri Electronics is looking into the possibility of creating a new figure of the president, but in another facet of his life. “We are looking through his childhood photos to copy them and create his caricature,” Pareja added.

Soccer players, artists and this or that other politician, all on the national level, will be sources of inspiration for the next designs. “The international market has gigures of many artists, but none from here. We’re looking at ways of making dolls of artists, but we won’t make them on a large scale, because it would be more difficult to sell them,” said Pareja. He added that the local music group, Awatiñas, is interested in being immortalized. Their interest is still under consideration.

Russian president Vladimir Putin might be interested in Suri Electronics designing a doll after him, said Pareja. “Language is a problem for us. Communicating is complicated, but we are making contact amid our possibilities, and we will do it,” he said.

Translation mine.

Srsly, this thing is right up there with the Chavecito doll on the list of Things I Will NEVER Get Too Old For. And it’s a great likeness, too. Right down to the dimples.

Now, where the hell do I go to buy one? I’m Canadian, I’m good for it! Just take my damn money, already.

Music for a Sunday: I wish they would blow all away

Yup, the January blahs have set in. Here’s the cure, my all-time fave song from this group:

Live or on the record, “North Winds Blowing” really deserves a LOT more recognition than it ever got. It will never NOT be relevant.

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