The ironies of the Venezuelan opposition, part 55

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“All set for the Caracas Music Festival!” (Note the old seven-star flag, being held upside down. The current Venezuelan flag has eight stars. What decade is this, again? With the oppos, it’s always yesterday once more. Shooby-doo-lang-lang.)

Good evening, world, and welcome to yet another fine edition of VenOpIronía. Today’s installment: How to commit auto-suicide. Sounds a bit redundant, yes? Yes, it is — but it’s the only word that fits when this happens:

Hooded protesters gathered on Sunday afternoon at Plaza Francia, Caracas, causing security forces to appear on site and suspend the 6th annual Reading Festival.

The protest was organized by United Active Youth of Venezuela (JAVU), who informed of their activity on Twitter.

The municipal police tried to prevent the demonstrators from blocking Francisco de Miranda Avenue and decided to temporarily suspend the Reading Festival in order to prevent that.

The demonstration was criticized by [opposition] personages such as Leonardo Padrón, Sumito Estevez and Ibéyise Pacheco, generating controversy on the social network.

Leonardo Padrón tweeted: “The protest at Plaza Altamira ruined the close of the Reading Festival, it’s an exercise in sovereign stupidity.”

Sumito “El Cheff” Estevez wrote: “Don’t try to paint the stupidity of these little kids forcing the closure of the fair a few minutes ago as heroic.

“Don’t go to the book fair at Altamira. They just advised me that the guarimberos closed it. Obviously, my two events are suspended.”

Ibéyise Pacheco wrote: “This protest today looks just like an ‘auto-suicide’.”

Clearly, these personages protested because their interests are under attack. They should have screamed to high heaven when 43 Venezuelans fell dead at the hands of these same guarimberos.

Translation mine.

I can’t imagine why a book fair located in an upscale, mostly opposition sector of Caracas could have brought these right-wing hoodlums out to “protest”. Maybe they were hoping to kill their own cultural stars and fob the blame off on Chavistas, as usual?

Oh, probably. Only problem is, they wound up alienating their own.

Suddenly, all the right-wing media figures are scrambling to distance themselves from JAVU. The same who were silent about JAVU’s violence in recent months, when 43 Venezuelans died, are now squealing like piggies because they got their little literary shindig shut down…by JAVU. It’s especially rich that Ibéyise Pacheco, who made something of a name for herself in 2002, calling for a future “without Chávez, of course” every night on the TV news right before the April coup went down, finally got a taste of her own putschist medicine.

And I…cannot stop laughing at the stupidity and ineptitude of them all.

Jian Ghomeshi: Kinky, or hinky?

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“Hey, ladies. Want a piece of this? Better lawyer up, because I am gonna FUCK YOU UP.”

No, Jian Ghomeshi didn’t actually say that to anyone, as far as I know. But that, in effect, is what he said this week, when he announced that he was suing the CBC for $55 million, following a sudden dismissal after 14 seemingly very successful years. And when he posted a 1,586-word Facebook status (yes, I counted) claiming he was just a poor innocent kinkster, being let go by a bunch of sex-negative fuddy-duddies who were afraid of, in his words, a “jilted ex-girlfriend and a freelance writer” wreaking havoc on their family-friendly brand.

On the surface of things, it was a masterstroke in terms of PR and pre-emptive strikes. However much Ghomeshi paid that “reputation recovery” firm for their services, it would appear to have paid off handsomely. The women in question (four of them, initially) were more afraid than ever to go public with their stories, much less press criminal charges. If it were a simple matter of “he said, she said”, then what he said carried the day. Even though there was way more than one she. Even though he’s officially out of the CBC, Jian Ghomeshi is by no means out of power and control.

And of course, right away, his fans only amplified the big noise he made. Reactions ranged from purblind defences of male privilege and sexual-satisfaction-at-any-cost, to an unbelievable amount of very ironic slut-shaming aimed at the women (eight of them now) who have accused him of assault, harassment and stalking. There’s even a Change.org petition (which I will neither link to nor endorse here) to sign for his reinstatement, and it’s racked up thousands of signatures in just a couple of days. Remember the Fukushima tsunami? This was, easily, the media equivalent. The sheer magnitude of his chutzpah, the unheard-of damages he’s seeking in this far-from-litigious land, the avalanche of slut-shaming, victim-blaming and fan outcry combined — well, who wouldn’t be intimidated by all that? And who wouldn’t be cowed into silence and submission?

If one reads between the lines, however, a very different picture emerges. And it is one that bears talking about, and criticizing, rather nicely. It may even spell a turning of the very tide he has tried to steer in his own favor.

For starters, it seems highly unlikely that the CBC would turn their most profitable radio cash cow out to pasture over a little thing like a naughty-naughty kinkster image. Ghomeshi’s radio show, Q, is not only popular north of the 49th Parallel, but also syndicated to some 180 US public-radio stations. At a time of deepening government cutbacks, CBC is keen to keep the cash flowing from wherever they can get it. Letting him go, lawsuit or no, is already costing them money, and that’s not something they’d countenance unless they had a compelling reason to fire him in the first place.

And private matters like a consensual BDSM lifestyle don’t, generally speaking, count as such. Q is, after all, a pop-culture show by and for mature adults. It’s not aimed at small children. The discussions featured on it are not “family” fare. Not everything that CBC does is strictly family-oriented, nor do Canadians expect it to be. We’re a liberal country, and CBC is a liberal network. So the idea that an overt-but-consensual kinkster would be fatal for CBC’s wholesome “family” image simply doesn’t wash.

Also, it’s hardly the first time a CBC radio host has had a brush with sexual controversy. In 2006, Sook-Yin Lee (of Definitely Not the Opera) appeared in the indie film Shortbus (whose focus, significantly, is open sexual experimentation), not only fully nude but masturbating. To an actual, unsimulated orgasm, yet. And while it drew a lot of outrage from the usual pearl-clutchy places, she was not let go. DNTO is still alive and well. After all, Sook-Yin’s erotic movie role had no bearing on her CBC radio antics, which were already pretty irreverent. And, more to the point, she also didn’t go around hitting and choking people, grabbing people’s asses, forcing them to supply sex, and making lewd propositions to unwilling ears.

All of which Jian Ghomeshi stands accused of doing, in and out of CBC’s downtown Toronto broadcast centre. The accusations against him are not about sex, but about violence.

Granted, no charges have been filed…yet. And there is no police investigation…yet. Nobody has even filed civil suit against him…yet.

And yet, and yet.

I’ve perused an eye-glazing number of comments on various websites breaking news of the story. And while the commenters are anonymous, a startling number of them are saying the same basic things: Jian Ghomeshi is arrogant as hell; as he’s grown older (he’s 47), he’s hit on on progressively younger women, the most recent ones a good 20 years his junior; he routinely oversteps the boundaries of propriety too; and yes, physical violence is a prominent part of that. And no, it’s NOT consensual.

A damning pattern, to be sure. And one easily dismissed as just hearsay, not legally actionable, and so forth. But it constitutes a groundswell of sorts, and one that he’ll be absolutely unable to control if it continues to grow, as indeed it has.

But anonymous scuttlebutt commenters aren’t the only ones with the power to undermine his carefully-wrought PR campaign. Sex educators — and specifically, ones specializing in kink issues — are also calling him out. And they’re pointing out the flaws in his argument with the meticulous communicative skills that are vital to their practices. After all, in kink, you have to use your words, safe and otherwise. People can get hurt badly if you don’t. Accidental deaths due to kinky activities are rare, but they have been known to happen. And, all too predictably, the kink community has also seen a number of straight-up abusers hiding behind the kink shield, and thus endangering real kinksters, especially women, in ways that go far beyond just a battering of the community’s reputation. This sort of thing is just what they don’t want, or need, to raise their profile. So whenever a well-known and reputable kinkster says “hell no, Jian’s not one of us, what he’s doing isn’t safe, sane, OR consensual”, you can be sure I’ll chalk up one more point against him on my mental scoreboard. (And yes, I’m keeping one.)

If it ever comes down to a civil lawsuit, or a criminal prosecution in this case, kink educators and writers should be called as expert witnesses. They are undoubtedly the best ones qualified to poke holes in Jian Ghomeshi’s assertions that his troublesome behavior was just a “lite” version of Fifty Shades of Grey. (And for the record, that god-awful trilogy isn’t about BDSM, it’s about physical and mental abuse. Actual kinksters have said as much. Which makes that reference just one more creepy little red flag among many.)

Legal experts like Brenda Cossman, too, are weighing in on where “consensual kinky sex” ends and actual, sexualized violence begins. And what they’re saying points, again, not to sex but to violence. Because in Canadian law, the more extreme forms of BDSM are not treated the same as the lighter stuff. If it can cause serious injury or death, it doesn’t matter if you gave consent beforehand; you have to be able to withdraw it at any time. And this, too, is important; in matters of life and limb, there’s no such thing as no-holds-barred. Some holds are legally barred for safety’s sake. It’s one thing to be open-minded about sexual experimentation; quite another to let one’s brains fall out. And when it comes to the risk of severe brain damage (or psychological harm equivalent thereto), the law errs on the side of barring that hold.

Our law also errs on the side of refusals being non-negotiable safewords, incidentally. No means no; you cannot legally negotiate no, don’t, and stop into meaning “no, don’t stop!” Because there is always a chance that a sub may accidentally forget to say “pomegranate”, “brambleberry”, “palomino”, or whatever. No is a perfectly good safeword to fall back on when you can’t remember anything else.

And if the word NO isn’t respected in kink, where negotiation is key to all interaction and even a weak demurral should spell an immediate halt, then that sets a bad precedent for the non-kinky world as well. Rape culture, which Jian Ghomeshi earlier this year reprehensibly characterized as a mere “debate”, is already so pervasive everywhere. There is no “debate” about it; it is a constant, horrid fact of women’s lives. Do we really need to have a former pop singer turned radio host blurring those lines out of all recognition with a whiny, windy, possibly scripted but definitely douchey manifesto, full of “nutty and slutty” dog-whistles?

Yeah, NO. Because that’s not kinky. That’s hinky.

And that creepy screed, like the rape culture that spawned it, is just downright stinky.

UPDATES:

Looks like Jian is strangely silent now that the first of his named accusers has bravely come forward to tell on him. He issued a terse tweet, but no new manifestos about “jilted girlfriends”. Meanwhile, the big long whine on his Facebook page is losing support by the hour. Cheese with that, Jian?

Also, there is a petition to show love and support for all the women in question. Several leading Canadian musicians have added their names to it; please consider doing so as well. There’s also this one, to Change.org, asking them to take the other ones supporting Jian Ghomeshi down.

Majunche’s not-so-excellent foreign adventure

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Ah, Keanu. Well might you ask. It turns out that the answer may be as simple as that old biblical saying: By their fruits shall ye know them.

So, by Majunche’s fruits, what can we know about him? Well, a certain vice-president of Venezuela has some ideas:

Venezuelan vice-president Elías Jaua denounced on Saturday that the upcoming trip by opposition politician Henrique Capriles Radonski to Spain and the United States is part of a “destabilization campaign” to “interrupt democracy” in Venezuela.

Jaua pointed out that Capriles plans to travel between October 20 and 24 to Spain and the US to meet with representatives of the far right to receive “outlines and financial oxygen to continue the destabilization campaign against Venezuelan democracy.”

Jaua also informed that president Nicolás Maduro has ordered the Legislative Council of the state of Miranda, of which Capriles is governor, to demand explanations of the opposition politician as to why he is absenting himself from his functions for five days.

Jaua, also a former foreign minister, called the claim that Capriles is the most moderate of the Venezuelan opposition a lie, recalling that the governor of Miranda plays a principal role in “a game to interrupt democracy and the plan to destabilize our homeland.”

He also deemed “absolutely irresponsible” the declarations of Capriles over a supposed cutback in the Miranda state budget due to the fact that the price of oil established in the national budget does not correspond to the real prices established.

In this context, Jaua emphasized that Capriles, a representative of the opposition “Democratic Unity Table” (MUD) party, uses such allegations as excuses for not dedicating himself to his duties, such as attending to culture, sport and education in Miranda.

Venezuelan authorities have accused the sectors of the Venezuelan opposition on repeated occasions, supported from abroad, of plotting to launch a coup d’état against the Maduro government.

Translation mine.

It’s already well known that Spain and the US (and the far fascist right of both) have active, vested interests in seeing Venezuelan democracy kicked to the curb. Both were, in fact, found actively backing the coup of ’02. Does anyone seriously believe that they’ve since changed their stripes?

If you do, you might be as big a doofus as Bill. Or Ted.

If you don’t, keep watching Majunche. Or this space, which will certainly keep its eyes trained on him.

Assassination: CONFIRMED.

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Venezuelan justice minister Miguel Rodríguez Torres talks about the Serra case on his radio show. See that bar across the screen? It reads “Assassination Confirmed”. Meaning, the murder of deputy Robert Serra and his girlfriend, María Herrera, was NOT part of a botched robbery or any “ordinary” violent crime. Here are the details, courtesy VTV:

The Popular Power minster for Interior Relations, Justice and Peace, Major-General Miguel Rodríguez Torres, announced that according to investigations of the killings of Robert Serra and María Herrera, there was detailed planning involved.

During his radio show, the minister explained that it was a planned crime. The Scientific, Criminal, and Penal Investigations Service (CICPC) has collected sufficient elements to make possible a reconstruction of the incident. The hypothesis includes the number of individuals involved, how they entered, and how they exited.

“What happened that day, without a doubt, was the doing of someone who wanted to end the life of this important young leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela,” Rodríguez Torres said.

He assured that “there had been a previous stakeout, in order to know exactly what was Robert Serra’s routine, and that of those who accompanied him.” Rodríguez Torres did not specify further details, in order not to alert the criminals.

He also ruled out robbery as a motive for the homicide: “We are 95% certain that they did not come to rob Robert Serra, but exclusively to kill him, because they didn’t steal anything. They didn’t touch his briefcase with his laptop and tablet, and that is an element of value for a normal thief.”

As well, Rodríguez Torres stated that the pronouncements of opposition leaders with regard to the case were self-serving, to “make us see that this crime is imputable to citizen insecurity as common crimes. [They are] trying to justify the unjustifiable.”

Rodríguez Torres recounted all the paramilitary actions that have taken place in Venezuela, planned by sectors of the Venezuelan and Colombian right wing.

He pointed out that the violent acts originated by the Venezuelan opposition began “coincidentally” after Álvaro Uribe Vélez won the Colombian presidential elections in 2002. From that moment, “Henrique Capriles Radonski and Leopoldo López made contact with Uribe to receive advice, directions, blessings and maybe a few other things as well.”

“That same year, López asked Uribe to be his security advisor, and the former mayor of Chacao, Emilio Graterol, contracted his services as police advisor to José Obdulio Gaviria, who is a cousin of [notorious Colombian drug lord] Pablo Escobar Gaviria.”

Rodríguez Torres also recounted how a series of violent events in April 2002 were planned and organized at Plaza Altamira, among them the placing of C4 explosives at the consulates of Colombia and Spain. There were several persons injured, and damage to the infrastructure. “There was participation from the right-wing political sector, and it was a purely terrorist action,” the minister said.

In 2004, 150 Colombian paramilitaries resided at the Daktari ranch, located between the municipalities of Baruta and Hatillo, with protection by local police. “They were led by Comandante Lucas, an assassin for the paramilitary Salvatore Mancuso, who testified in the United States that these Colombians were in Venezuela on the orders of Álvaro Uribe Vélez,” the minister explained.

“This case clearly demonstrates the presence of militarism in our country as a means of trying to rise to power. I name them case by case to remind you of the right-wing leaders and the barbarities they have wrought in this land,” Rodríguez Torres said.

Translation mine. Here’s the video of the minister’s radio appearance:

So we can see that all the key players of the Venezuelan and Colombian far right are involved in this assassination, as they were in the attempt on the life of Nicolás Maduro earlier this year, and in the attempt on Chavecito’s life as well, in April 2002.

Colombian interference in Venezuelan politics goes back at least that far; further, probably, if we examine the life of El Narco more closely, since his own involvement in the far-right politics of his land, and his use of paramilitary terrorism in it, goes back very far indeed. Remember, he’s an old friend of Pablo Escobar, the infamous drug lord killed by the DEA. And as governor of the Colombian province of Antioquia, he signed off on flight permits for Escobar’s drug runners, enabling them to get their wares to market out of country. Since Venezuela was, at that time, very much a point of transit for Colombian cocaine, it’s quite reasonable to assume that a great many of Escobar’s pilots were flying into Venezuela, offloading their drugs at local airports like Maiquetía to be transferred to international flights and ships, and returning to Colombia to repeat the process countless times.

Chavecito’s election in 1998 spelled the end for that, as he was not tame to the interests of the drug cartels or the US. And worse, Chavecito was hostile to the CIA…which we now know, thanks to the great investigative reporting of Gary Webb, was actually behind the crack-cocaine epidemic in the poor neighborhoods (predominantly black) in the US. And of course, the CIA was behind every right-wing “leader” in Latin America, whether “elected” (note the quotes) or simply imposed by coup. So of course it stood to reason that when El Narco rose to the rank of Colombian president in 2002, one of his first acts, however unofficial, would be to send paramilitaries to neighboring Venezuela to “help” the old political ruling classes there regain the power they were about to lose for good. And their role in the April coup of that year is getting harder and harder to dispute, as more evidence arises that they were involved in every act of political unrest that followed on the heels of Chávez becoming president.

We can also see clearly that there are ties between paramilitarism and Chavecito’s last would-be political rival, Henrique “Majunche” Capriles Radonski, as well as Leopoldo López and María Corina Machado. All of them would never be freely elected by the Venezuelan people, so of course they rely on manufactured riots, insecurity, instability and product shortages created by organized hoarding. Which they then crassly blame on the PSUV government. The fact that nobody is really convinced is a major strike against them, and means they will remain unelectable for as long as they live.

It also means that they will go on resorting to criminality, right up to and including murder, in their attempts to bring a legitimate government down.

Little wonder, then, that Robert Serra named them all as intellectual authors of what was to be his own murder, just days before it happened.

Robert Serra names his assassins

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Who says dead men tell no tales? Not I. And not the Argentine journalist Fernando Vicente Prieto, who wrote the following article for the Correo del Orinoco about the recently slain young Venezuelan deputy, Robert Serra:

It’s been 48 hours since they killed Robert Serra and, in the same criminal operation, María Herrera. Robert was a kid, a Venezuelan boy. He was a deputy for four years, and he was only 27. He was the youngest parliamentarian in Venezuela. His killers knew of his unwavering commitment, his firm and potent voice, because he represented the best of a revolutionary youth, prepared to go the full distance.

They thought they killed him completely in that cruel and, at the same time, perfectly rational act. They wanted to kill in him a generation, called by Hugo Chávez to the most difficult and beautiful task. But Robert Serra continues to speak after his death and from there, he points in his eternal gesture at the assassins. They wanted to kill him again and again, and on October 1 — sadly — they succeeded. But not completely.

Even though they killed him 48 hours ago in La Pastora, I turn on the TV and there’s Robert, talking again, and this time of his own death. He’s conversing on the show Zurda Konducta with other guys like him, some dressed like journalists. Robert is waving his hands and speaking clearly. He’s analyzing the moment of the Revolution, describing the job taken on by the youth after Chávez, and suddenly he begins to tell who assassinated him, why, and in what context.

“The country should observe what’s going on. Why was Álvaro Uribe Vélez the first one to come out in defence of Lorent Saleh? Because there are interests directly related, between the paramilitaries he personally directed and still directs in Colombia, and these despicable acts.”

“If we look retroactively at the fallen during the last guarimbas, [we see] a well-aimed shot to the head, with 9mm or high calibre bullets. A well-aimed shot. Not just any shooter has the ability to do that,” says Robert. “Let’s remember what happened in April 2002, with the coup against Comandante Chávez.”

And from that context, he comes back to talking about the present: “And look at this shameless Lorent Saleh, who says: ‘we have the diplomatic façade with this Operation Freedom’.” He is eloquently referring to the leader of Operation Freedom, one of the “peaceful students against Maduro”, as the private media call them.

“He says that, straight up, that crook says ‘we have the diplomatic façade of the altars of the defence of human rights’. And you see how when our state security corps come out to guarantee peace in the land, they are the ones who get converted into victimizers by the opinion shapers. I want to see CNN replay these videos that are coming out now. I want to see that woman-abuser Fernando del Rincón replaying that. I want to see Patricia Janiot. I want to see all of those who have initiated a media campaign against our country,” Robert insists.

He doesn’t stop; he keeps pointing out tactics and responsible parties. He recalls how the paramilitary groups planned to attack discos and bars in San Cristóbal: “Even their own guys,” he exclaims, “so that the social breakdown would be much greater.”

Later, he directly addresses Antonio Ledezma, the right-wing metropolitan mayor of Caracas. “I know you must be watching me,” he tells him. And reads one of many tweets Ledezma immediately put out to defend the paramilitary group.

He also reads out a tweet by María Corina Machado, which cynically affirms that “everybody knows what awaits Lorent Saleh and Gabriel Valles at the hands of the régime”. And Robert accuses: “No! Not everybody knows. You know it, shameless person, because you’re in the plan! You know it, Antonio Ledezma knows it, Leopoldo López knows it, and and Álvaro Uribe knows it, because they’re the ones who are in on the plan to destabilize our democracy. Now many of us know it.”

Robert looks into the camera. With his short, scrubby hairstyle, as always, and his neighborhood boy’s face, intelligent and naughty. Profound. Chavista. With all his life ahead of him. He thumps his chest and warns:

“And I’m certain, I’m certain, that in that macabre list I could be one of the names. Fine, let them do it. But it doesn’t matter. I’m certain that they plan to hold collectives and social movements responsible. What for? To generate the reaction that tells CNN that there is a ‘dogfight’ going on that they have set in motion for the gringos and other countries of the world to demonstrate that there is no governability here, that Nicolás Maduro doesn’t guarantee peace, and so the world’s police, the blessed gringos, have to intervene.”

And Robert goes on explaining, dead now but with his voice full of life: “We have to get to the root of this, my dear comrades. This was born at a party. I have the migratory register of many of them: how they came through Costa Rica, through Colombia, from where we denounce the so-called Mexican party. And what was the Mexican party? A party held in Mexico by a group of Venezuelan ex-bankers, fugitives from Venezuelan justice, who circulated instructions via a political operator named Gustavo Tovar Arroyo to unleash violence in our land.”

“I am convinced that they will banalize this denunciation tomorrow,” Robert continues. “They want to see the body of the president so they can say ‘Ah yes, the Chavistas were right’. And how will they banalize it? They’ll say that this is a smokescreen to cover up the problems of the land.”

The end of the program draws near. I hear [them read out] a tweet from a young right-winger which says: “I wish I had a pistol so I could shoot down all of those guys from Zurda Konducta.” Robert nods as if to say “exactly!” and says: “You see? This is a product of the hatred the right-wing has instilled.”

He adds: “Today history proves Nicolas Maduro to be right when he said: ‘Gentlemen, behind all of this lies the empire, and the hand of Álvaro Uribe’, who is thirsting for blood in Venezuela, a product of his failure in Colombia. He wants to destroy peace in our land and he has absolutely nothing to lose, because he doesn’t even have morality.”

Robert says goodbye. He talks about the importance of the 2015 legislative elections, in which the right-wing will try to take the majority so as later to deal a parliamentary coup, as in Honduras and Paraguay. “To win is to win well. Let’s build a majority with our people. What is at stake for us in the coming year will be the peace and the democracy of our land. Let us carry on the legacy of Hugo Chávez. If they ask this generation what our objective is, it’s not a term in office, comrade. It is to make irreversible the dreams of Hugo Chávez and his legacy in this homeland he built for us.”

Robert Serra. 27 years old. Young Chavista deputy. A revolutionary who never will be silent. Those who have ears to hear, let them listen. Because Robert is still speaking loud and clear.

Translation mine.

So we can see that there is, indeed, a veritable rogues’ gallery of usual suspects behind Serra’s death: El Narco Uribe, the failed ex-president of Colombia, and head of the paramilitary death squads to which Lorent Saleh and Gabriel Valles are now well known to have belonged. Antonio Ledezma, alias “Grandpa Monster”, the reviled right-wing metropolitan mayor of Caracas, and a well-known collaborator in all the violent opposition guarimbas there. And the bottom-feeding right-wing “leaders”, María Corina Machado, alias Maricori, and Leopoldo López, the pretty boy who’s still sitting in jail, safe and sound, awaiting trial for his part in the recent failed putsch against Madurito. And a bunch of bankers, fugitives from justice all, who absconded with money belonging by rights to the Venezuelan people, who are currently squatting in Mexico. Serra names them all. The only person he doesn’t name is the one who pulled the trigger on him. But it hardly matters. He knows who wanted him dead. And he knows that they had the power and the cash to hire a very cold, clever sharpshooter to do their dirty work, too.

And if you wonder why I’m still writing about him in the present tense, it’s because Robert Serra, like Chavecito before him and Che Guevara before him, is the kind of person who never really dies. He left so much of himself behind, even in his short existence on Earth, that it doesn’t matter anymore where his body is. His spirit is the kind that won’t be silenced so soon. And that irony will be the final joke on his killers, because they will fade from existence as nonentities, even though they succeeded — but only partially, as the author of the piece says — in killing him.

Germ warfare, political coups, and the Venezuelan opposition’s latest gambit

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By now, any watcher of the situation in Venezuela is all too familiar with the tactics of the local right-wing — which is to say, pretty much everyone in opposition to the elected president. Start vicious rumors, tell improbable lies, and when that invariably fails, stage a violent “demonstration” in which a handful or so of people end up very conveniently dead. All this to force the hand of Washington, which, as everyone who’s been tracking events in Latin America for several decades knows, is all too happy to get involved in local politics. And when the dust settles, somehow a fascist always winds up in charge down there…or did, until recently. The fact that Washington’s grip is coming loose is the reason why the smell of desperation down there has gotten so strong of late.

And don’t think that the local authorities haven’t picked up on it, either. They have, and they’re not keeping quiet, as this Aporrea piece shows:

Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro announced on Sunday afternoon that physicians from several parts of the world and Cuban experts in bacterial warfare will be arriving in order to investigate occurrences at the Central Hospital of Maracay.

Ángel Sarmiento, director of the local College of Physicians, stated a week ago that eight persons had died there of an unidentified illness.

“We are investigating, friendly physicians from other parts of the world are arriving already, including our sister Cuba, which sent us experts in bacteriological warfare to determine what this fascist right-wing is trying to do in Aragua,” said Maduro, from Bolívar Avenue in Caracas, during a speech celebrating the International Day of Peace.

“Bacterial warfare, psychological warfare, international financial warfare — no and no, they won’t succeed, Venezuela is solid in all aspects of our social, economic, political and financial life,” Maduro declared.

The secretary of health for the state of Aragua, Luis López, denied the existence of any cases related to the Ebola virus, after completing an inspection of the Maracay hospital.

“it is absolutely false that there exists in the Central Hospital of Maracay or in the state of Aragua any case related to Ebola or meningococcemia,” stated López during a press conference there on September 12. “We are appealing for calm in the land, there is no case of that type anywhere in Venezuela.”

Translation mine.

So far, no word on what that mystery killer stalking the state of Aragua could be, but at least, two particularly nasty (and newsworthy) scares have already been ruled out: Ebola virus, and meningococcus.

International assistance, particularly from Cuba, should assure that they will get to the bottom of this problem. Venezuela’s healthcare system still has plenty of room for improvement, to be sure, but it’s already been radically transformed for the better since Chavecito was elected in 1998. The Cubans were instrumental in that, providing doctors in the poorest neighborhoods and bringing the preventive Cuban approach to long-standing problems in the Venezuelan system. And since their own country has been subject to constant coup attempts from Washington and Miami ever since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, it stands to reason that they have had germ warfare on their radar for the longest time, too.

One of the more than 600 attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro was, in fact, a germ warfare program, in which cancer-causing monkey viruses (SV40 in particular) were cultivated, and strengthened with the aid of a linear particle accelerator at the US Public Health Service Hospital in New Orleans. The irradiated monkey cancer viruses were first tested in mice, then marmosets, then African green monkeys, and finally, human “volunteers” supplied by the Louisiana state penitentiary at Angola. The human phase of the testing took place at the East Louisiana State Hospital in Jackson, LA. A number of men transferred from the Angola penitentiary to the state mental hospital in August of 1963 were first subjected to a huge overdose of x-rays to disable their immune systems, then injected with a “soup” containing living cancer cells…and the virus. The first “volunteer” to die of the induced galloping cancer took just under a month to succumb.

The “kill-Castro” project was uncovered in two books: Dr. Mary’s Monkey, by Edward Haslam, and Me and Lee, by Judyth Vary Baker. The first concerns the mysterious death of Dr. Mary Sherman, who headed up the practical part of the operation, and who had access to the linear particle accelerator (since dismantled and mysteriously vanished) at the Public Health Service Hospital. Dr. Sherman’s body was found, badly burned, on a smoldering mattress at her apartment in New Orleans, in 1964 — just hours before the Warren Commission was scheduled to begin local hearings into the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Haslam was unaware of the connections between the two at first, but then he met the author of the second book, who happened to have worked on the project herself as a technician, as well as becoming deeply intimate with Lee Harvey Oswald. Judy Baker was promised entry to Tulane Medical School by none other than Dr. Sherman’s superior, both officially and in secret: Dr. Alton Ochsner, the legendary “Surgeon of the South”. He was famous for his crusade against cigarettes at a time when the smoking habit was still being overtly glamorized in movies and on TV. Had he stuck strictly to his anti-cancer work, he would have gone down in history as an unalloyed hero.

But Dr. Ochsner was not only a cancer researcher; he was also a prominent anti-communist. He was a co-founder of INCA, the Information Council of the Americas, whose mission was to spread anticommunist propaganda (and provide a convenient smokescreen for the CIA, too, as it happens). He was friends with a number of wealthy, right-wing oil men, who generously supplied him with cars, land for his private cancer clinic, and the money to build it. He also treated a number of US-friendly Latin American leaders when they came down with cancer. There was no prominent anticommunist in Latin America or the US south that he did not work hand-in-glove with. And it was his meddling in politics that would wind up leaving him with blood on his hands. For it was he who tapped the not-yet-20-year-old Judy, whom he recognized as having a gift of “serendipity” when it came to infecting mice with cancer, to be the covert project’s technician. It was a brilliant move, strategically speaking; since she was so young and little-known, nobody would suspect that she was the one who developed the means to induce cancer in humans. She could easily be made to disappear from the official records. And for more than three decades, her part indeed remained a well-kept secret.

Judy Vary had started out with the goal of finding a cure for the disease which had killed her grandmother, her friend and mentor Georgia Watkins, and eventually would kill her grandfather as well. But to be able to cure cancer, one first has to be able to cause it in test animals; only that way can one determine the biochemical pathways by which cancer operates. While still in high school, Judy figured out a way to do just that: by irradiating lab mice with high doses of X-rays before injecting them with carcinogens. This would weaken their immune systems so that the cancer-causing agent — be it cigarette tar, other chemicals, or viruses — could take hold. And it was this research that brought her to the attention of various powerful entities: the US military, for one; Dr. Ochsner, for another. And US Senator George Smathers, a liberal anticommunist from her home state of Florida, who pulled strings to get her into university there, as well as mobilizing a great deal of material support from various locally based scientific corporations.

Ultimately, it was Ochsner who would take the reins of the project that ended up ruining Judy’s life, as well as terminating in the assassination of JFK, and the death of the falsely-accused Lee Oswald, who was Judy’s friend, confidant and lover in the summer of 1963. By dangling the prospect of a full scholarship to Tulane Medical School, Ochsner was able to hook the brightest and most promising young cancer researcher in the land right at a time when she was still below the nation’s radar. Prior to the project, a smattering of press clippings, most of them local, had recorded Judy’s meteoric progress as a scientist; after, they dropped off to almost none. The few that did come out, painted her as one who had rejected the feminist goal of becoming a great scientist, in favor of “fulfillment” as a housewife and mother of five. It was a ludicrous sham, but it worked; as long as Judy pretended to be just a “vanilla girl”, in the words of David Ferrie (another undercover scientist of the project), her life was safe. But the cost was terrible; not only did she lose the love of her life in Lee Oswald (whose end is all too familiar to the world), she also lost the chance to fulfill her life’s greatest goal. The girl who set out to cure cancer wound up with a much more dubious achievement to her credit: “eternal death” in the form of a cancer virus that, if the cell culture was cryogenically frozen, could live on indefinitely.

Why mention this? Because if the CIA could enlist top scientists to secretly cultivate a virus that could cause death by cancer within a month, and keep it alive indefinitely as far back as 1963, there is nothing they could not do today where germ warfare is concerned.

And Venezuela, as a “rogue” democracy and the world’s oil-richest nation, is most definitely a CIA target as far as coups and assassinations are concerned. Socialism continues to thrive there, much to the dismay of the oppos and Washington both. The cancer that killed Hugo Chávez has been described as of an “unknown” type. Could it have been descended from the same cancer-causing “chicken broth” that Lee Harvey Oswald tried, without success, to hand off to “dissident” Cubans in Mexico City two months before he was accused of the murder of JFK, in an effort to save his own president by destroying another? It would not surprise me if that turned out to be the case. Just as it would not surprise me to learn that a bacterial or viral agent heretofore unknown was unleashed on purpose in Maracay to destabilize the Venezuelan government. Neither the fascist opposition nor its US puppetmasters are above doing anything to achieve their ends, no matter how ridiculous, or how nefarious. A few propaganda-worthy deaths due to germ warfare are right up their alley, and right in line with their general pattern of misbehavior.

Why isn’t legalized prostitution safer?

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Ah yes. Pity the poor john who got the short end of that stick, eh? He came hoping to pay for the illusion that she was really into the “mutual pleasure” of his escapist fantasies, only to be left cockadroop by the hard realities of her life (complete with “biker boyfriend”!) Instead of “an hour or two” of (poorly) paid schtupping, he left frustrated, and she came away empty-handed. I guess it could have gone a lot worse, though. She could have been raped and/or killed, as well as robbed of whatever paltry few bucks she happened to have lying around. She is at the mercy of guys like him and the “biker boyfriend” — who, for all we know, could have been her pimp. Which is why I don’t feel so bad for this particular entitled — oh sorry, “hard-working” — specimen of manhood. Nor do I feel inclined to praise him for being “merciful” and just walking out without paying. He could have done to her what johns have done to prostitutes since time immemorial. And he could have gotten away with it, too.

And if anyone thinks that legalization of the “oldest profession” (oldest crappy joe job, more like it) would have made a positive difference to that poor woman, maybe you should read all about what’s happened in Germany since exactly that:

Again and again, defenders of legalized prostitution assert that prostitution serves a kind of “channeling” function for society; that all the presumably uncontrollable urges of men can be acted out there, and so women can be protected from rape. Aside from the fact that this attitude makes men into urge-driven idiots who, due to the gladly-invented concept of “blocked urges” then go on to commit crimes — who wants to live with such men, really? — this argument also most profoundly robs prostitutes themselves of dignity, making them into “dumpsters” for that which men cannot act out at home because, we all know, that in the eyes of prostitution-defenders, all wives are per se prudish and frigid and thus drive their husbands into the arms of prostitution. But how do prostitutes defend themselves from this “acting out” by men, which has always come with a potential threat of force? The sex-worker lobby claims that it’s part of the professionalism of prostitutes to recognize dangerous johns and prevent them from doing violence. Should this fail, the prostitute has acted unprofessionally — the man, with all his “blocked urges”, naturally is not at fault.

Since 1988, there have been 51 murders and attempted murders of prostitutes. These are only the incidents that abolitionists have so far been able to research. The list is by no means complete and will be expanded in future. In 1988, a dermatologist from Frankfurt committed one murder and three attempted murders on prostitutes. He was sentenced. In 1993, 16-year-old Mandy of Hamburg was brutally murdered; her killer was only arrested years later. The papers wrote of a “Murder in the Milieu” instead of the murder of a minor. In 1999, 20-year-old Sandy of Chemnitz was brutally mistreated and killed over debts. The list goes on and on, and shows that no type of prostitution is safe, whether on the street, or in a “lovemobile”, or in rental housing, or a bordello. Absolute protection from violent johns cannot exist.

The Wiki “Sex Industry Kills” has collected all known instances of murders, attempted murders, and crimes against prostitutes. It is a gallery of horrors. Murder and rape are among the “occupational hazards” of prostitution.

Prostitution is legal in Germany since 2002. Again and again it gets argued that only legalized prostitution makes it safer for those who practice it. We can see that the number of violent acts against prostitutes has actually increased — which is no wonder, because the number of prostituted persons has also increased. Woman as merchandise — since 2002, she is available everywhere, visible everywhere. Whoever ascribes “blocked urges” to men, must also now acknowledge that they can’t resist this “offer”, and also use force. The cynicism of the “blocked urges” and “channeling” arguments is profoundly inhumane — and also stems from the 19th century. It has nothing to do with “freedom” and “self-determination”; it turns prostitutes into a usable vessel, and men into idiots. The latest attempted murder, of a prostitute in Köln, was just a few weeks ago.

Since the fall of last year, as well, those who fight against prostitution are being blamed for violence against prostitutes — because they point out the risks of prostitution, some people get “ideas”, according to one forum. Again, here there is no responsibility for the doers of the deed; instead, it’s everyone else’s fault. It is in the interests of all those who defend prostitution to make johns out to be friendly customers. The reality shows that many of them are potential violent offenders.

How closely violence and prostitution are intertwined, we can see in reports on crimes against prostitutes. Media reports on the matter teach fear. The Stuttgarter Merkur newspaper wrote, of the murder of 31-year-old Alina Gruso, in 2009: “The motive is completely unknown. Could there be a relationship problem behind it? Because the murder doesn’t follow the usual way prostitutes become victims: No fight about unsatisfactory sexual services, nor over the payment. Even robbery is ruled out. And Alina had no enemies. What then could have driven the killer?” So robbery-murder is a commonly accepted form of violence against prostitutes, as well as rape, which many don’t even regard as a crime.

Countless other crimes took place in the same time frame against prostitutes throughout Germany. Rapes, arson, armed robberies. These crimes didn’t even merit a mention of the victims’ names in the media, for the most part. It’s just “a prostitute”, whereas the entire focus is on the offender. These are almost exclusively johns. Their motive is not just sexual violence, but also extortion and robbery. In January of 2008, three men attacked a woman in Wiesbaden, raped her, robbed her and threatened to come back again. When the woman, who worked in a rented flat, went to police, she was criticized by her colleagues; she had made “too big a deal out of it”. For these men, women who work as prostitutes are just objects that they can mistreat and rob as they please, even up to sadistic torture. In Fürth, a man subjected a prostitute to electric shocks, beat her with cables, stabbed her and eventually cut off one of her finger joints. The man managed to escape unnoticed, but was apprehended shortly thereafter, because there was a security camera in the bordello. In 2010, a john in Mainz-Marienborn raped a prostitute four times and recorded it on video — he wanted to film a successful home porno, and for that he needed “real panic” in the eyes of his victim.

Johns always get violent towards women because they aren’t happy with the “service” they get for their money. One unbelievable case is that of a 51-year-old Stuttgarter, who held a prostitute prisoner in his home and abused her because he was not satisfied with her service. He ordered his mother to call the police because he felt he was in the right. In 2012, a paramedic, a family man, raped a prostitute for hours until she lost consciousness, and threatened her with “real problems” if she went to police.

Even those who defend prostitution know how dangerous it is. Their “safety tips” speak volumes about what prostitution means for those who practice it:

– Women shouldn’t wear long earrings, because they could get ripped out. Also no scarves or necklaces, because these could get used to strangle them.

– No tight skirts or dresses, so they can run away more easily.

– They should carry whistles to call for help.

– Keep defensive weapons close at hand.

– There are also concrete tips: If a woman is being held by the back of the neck, she should kick him in the balls rather than try to pry his hands off.

These and other tips can be found here.

Prostitution kills, that much is clear. The above violent incidents are not “coincidences” or “exceptions”, they are the consequences of a kind of thinking and acting that turns women into merchandise that can be bought and used. Prostitution dehumanizes, and dehumanization is the first step to gruesomeness and violence. Men who attack prostitutes see themselves as customers who have a “right” to this stranger’s body and power over it, and in the event of an emergency, they can use force. A prostitute is a preferred victim for all those who want to grab a couple of euros — because who believes a prostitute? And to square the deal for the offenders, they rape the woman too — taking “for free” what would otherwise cost. Others use prostitutes for their perverse little games, duplicating the oh-so-beloved violent pornos with “real panic in the eyes”, or sadistically abuse them.

Prostitution doesn’t channel any drives, it doesn’t protect anyone from rape. It kills and opens opportunities for offenders to take out their perversions, their misogyny and their violent fantasies where they have the least to fear. Further legalization of prostitution would only lead to women and their lacking “professionalization strategies” being made even more responsible for any violence against them. Because if prostitution is to be a “job like any other”, then the dangers can’t be acknowledged. And above all, the focus cannot be turned on the johns, who must continue to be legal clients and not potential lawbreakers. Prostitution without violence doesn’t exist. Without the degradation of women into objects, sex-buying isn’t possible. This degradation contains dehumanization, and leads to violence, whether out of greed or “blocked urges”, in just one small step. The answer is to ban sex-buying. The day before yesterday, preferably.

Translation mine. Linkage as in original

So you can see that legalization hasn’t made prostitution safer in Germany. Prostitutes are still being attacked, robbed, raped and killed there. If anything, it’s become more common, because the number of prostitutes has shot up so dramatically since legalization.

And crimes against them have been given a gloss of bizarre legitimacy. The murder of a 16-year-old can be written off as a “murder in the milieu” because she was a prostitute; the fact that she was also a minor gets conveniently swept under the rug. If she were NOT prostituted, the story would have been reported so differently; the killer would have been made out to be a heinous, pederastic pervert who must be caught soon, before he does it again. But since she was turning tricks, who the hell cares that he’s a menace to public safety? Even if she WAS under-age, she was still one of Those Women. Nobody gives an under-age prostitute the consideration that would otherwise apply to girls of her tender years. Being prostituted is considered as conferring “agency”, and hence maturity. And if you don’t exercise your “agency” properly, you end up in a world of hurt. Or dead. And the killer might not ever be caught, because you were only a prostitute. Too bad for you!

But hey, that’s the way the “free market” of sex capitalism works, right? Personal Responsibility with a vengeance. Demand drives the market, not supply. Which is why all this “sex-positive” talk of “agency” just makes me laugh sardonically. In case you haven’t twigged to this yet, it’s obvious that prostitution has nothing to do with female sexuality at all. It’s not about what SHE wants, it’s all about what HE wants. If demand drives the market, then those who exercise demand exert control. And since supply doesn’t drive it, those who provide sex don’t actually control the terms of the transaction. No matter how hard the privileged few who run the “sex worker” lobby try to make out that they do. The old adage of paying the piper and calling the tune holds truest of all in prostitution. And if the “tune” isn’t sweet enough, then…well…

See, this is why I can’t buy into the libertarian-capitalist exception that so many of my peers here on the left seem all too happy to expound. It boggles my mind that anyone could be a socialist (and/or anarchist) and not see the contradiction here. How can you be in favor of workers seizing the means of production when you also think it should be perfectly legal for a man to buy a woman and get her to do “sex work” for whatever price he deems fitting — oh sorry, “whatever the market will bear”? How can you be all “no lords, no gods, no masters” on the one hand, and perfectly okay with a man lording it over a woman in such a crassly capitalistic way on the other? How can one talk of breaking the grip of the “Invisible Hand” while turning a blind eye to the death-grip it exerts on the necks of women? Does one need to identify as female in order to see this contradiction clearly?

And conversely: Does one need a penis in order to think there is no contradiction here? Boner, Boner, über alles?

Yeah, I guess that must be it. My ladybits and ladybrain are getting in the way of the complex slew of rationalizations needed to arrive at such preposterous conclusions. Again. Why else would I insist on taking my anarcho-socialism to its logical ends even in the murky area marked S-E-X? Since I don’t have the kind of little head that drains blood (and thinking capacity) away from the big one so efficiently, I just can’t wrap my big head around the way a guy’s little one just seems to take the whole thing over and turn him from a rational, intelligent human being into a sex-crazed rabid baboon.

Antifeminists constantly accuse radical women like me of “misandry”. And yet they fail to see that when they posit men as being led by their dicks, they’re committing a much more real and profound form of man-hating than anything, actual or imagined, that they could ever accuse us feminists of.

Call me a cock-eyed optimist, but I prefer to think of men as coming, like women, from Earth. None of that “Venus and Mars” shit for me. And I prefer to credit them with rationality and intelligence, like us, instead of just a crazy chemical stew of ill-defined and dangerous “urges”.

Above all, I insist that we be allowed to approach sex on an equal footing. Turning it into a pay-for-play transaction destroys the equilibrium, to say nothing of female desire. Money not only can’t buy love, it can’t even buy a half-hearted ladyboner.

But then again, who needs ladyboners when you’re only paying to get your own rocks off? And if you get off on the inequality of it all, why shouldn’t you be allowed to pay for it? After all, inequality is only to be expected when one sex/class is naturally superior, and the other naturally inferior. So goes the sex-capitalist line of reasoning.

And if that line of reasoning seems a bit too crass for you, hey, there’s always prude-shaming. It’s the go-to strategy of the modern “leftist” man who wants to have his capitalism and eat it, too. Or the “empowered” woman who hasn’t fully digested the concept of self-determination. Yeah sure, go ahead and call me “Victorian” because I take an abolitionist stance. Bluster your big head off about my so-called 19th-century morality if it makes you feel better. But here’s the kicker: If you believe that buying sex is the answer to rape and female poverty both, you’re the real Victorian. Because back in the 19th century, there was another mindset that ran parallel to that of enforced prudery for wives and virgins; namely, that of the Necessity of Prostitution. To keep the wives and virgins “safe” and “virtuous”, natch. How else were men supposed to “channel” all those “dangerous urges”? By taking them out on a certain class of women made conveniently available for the purpose.

And that class of women was denigrated and degraded not only in terms of the social discourse of the day, but in the eyes of their own clientele. They were thus easy targets for all kinds of male violence. Remember Jack the Ripper? His killing spree began and ended right at the zenith of Victorian England. During the height of a time of extreme prudery, in other words. And his victims were all street prostitutes from the down-at-heel London district of Whitechapel. “Jack”, whoever he was, was the quintessential Victorian man. He saw prostitutes as a class that was conveniently available for him to use…and abuse. Even to the death. He was smug in his taunting of the authorities, daring him to try to catch him. He was never brought to trial, at least not as the Ripper. For all anybody knew, he remained at large. And no doubt there was a certain smugness in the way the yellow press of the day reported on that, too: with overt sensationalism on the one hand, and a tacit “thank God it’s only them and not nice ladies” on the other. True, prostitution wasn’t legal…but it wasn’t abolished, either. The laws and mores of the day saw fit to ghettoize and exploit it instead of eradicating it. How do we know? Because they only criminalized the women, and not the men who bought, sold and used them. Remember, demand drives the market…and the Victorian authorities weren’t interested in dealing with the demand side. They often WERE the demand side. Why would they act against their own interests? That would have been not just taking prudery too far, but also doing capitalism wrong.

Early anarchists and socialists both opposed prostitution, recognizing it as part and parcel of the hypocrisy of the Victorian-capitalist bourgeois mindset, and their reasoning was not prudish. Read Emma Goldman if you don’t believe me. Or Alexandra Kollontai. And if you don’t have time for that, just remember: It’s not the sex that makes prostitution dirty. It’s the CAPITALISM, stupid!

Prostituted women in Germany are no longer criminalized, as they were in the “good old days” of Kaiser Wilhelm. But are they empowered? No! They still can’t count on the police to protect them. Because the johns have always been legal and legitimate, even when prostitution was not. The legal status of the women may have changed (ever so slightly!), but for the johns it’s the same as it ever was. Those guys could always “discreetly” take out their unsavory “urges” on a certain class of women. The fact that the women are now “legal” doesn’t change a thing, except to make sex capitalism more readily profitable for those running the show. Capitalism wins out over feminism. If the police are not allowed to bust bordello owners and shut the business down, they are also not allowed to arrest johns who don’t play by the official rules…at least not so long as those men are still on the premises. Because when a bordello charges a cheap flat rate for “unlimited sex”, why would they want the cops in there, banging down the doors? That’s bad for business. Makes it look like a House of Ill Repute, nicht wahr? And worse, it scares the johns into realizing that maybe “unlimited sex” has its limits, after all. What a boner-wilter!

Laws are inherently limiting, and that’s just what the sex-capitalists who run the prostitution and human-trafficking networks don’t want. Why else would they throw so much money behind their extensive lobbying efforts to remove all legal limits from prostitution in Germany — including the perfectly reasonable compromises like minimum ages, the right of police to inspect brothels, etc.?

They’re certainly not doing it to protect the women, or else we’d have seen not a single one murdered since prostitution was legalized there in 2002.

Best makeup tutorial EVER.

Ladies! Ever wonder how YOU can cover up everything just to save face? Take a lesson from the NFL and watch this:

Not sure how it works on black eyes, broken noses, or split lips. But it’s worth a try, right?

Masked men protest human trafficking in Germany

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The signs read “For Sale”. But these women are not for sale. And no, this is not a joke, either. One German city is taking creative action against the mega-bordello industry:

The looks of passersby change from amusement to shock as they realize that the young women with the sad eyes in the shopping carts are not a PR gag. They stand for a serious topic: the sale of women in forced prostitution. The actions of Krefeld citizens against human trafficking and forced prostitution began on Saturday in the inner city, and in a short time, gathered 1,650 signatures.

Franziska Feldhoff is one of the signatories. “I’ve known for a long time that human trafficking is shrouded in silence. No one in Germany thinks about it. It’s good that there’s an organization on the streets,” she says. She doesn’t know if her signature will change much. “But there has to be a start. Maybe I can help get something rolling.”

Passerby Denise Hochheim says that there’s a lot not being talked about, including the sale of people. “It’s a purely human topic, the way women and children are treated. The least I can do is sign.”

Walter Voss also signed. “Forced prostitution is not okay. That goes against all human dignity.” He adds: “So that the world’s oldest profession can exist for men who don’t have a woman, in order to avoid overreach.”

Erwin Kaltenbacher and Ute Horn, of the initiative say that their consciousness was awakened by the actions on the Neuen Ritterstrasse. “We were horrified when we saw what was going on there.” They are happy with the strong agreement among the populace. “On Wednesday, we’ll hand the list of signatures to the members of the federal government and the Bundestag. We challenge them to correct the prostitution law — the most liberal in all Europe — as soon as possible, so that forced prostitution is no longer possible in our land.” Among the demands: Authorization requirements for all brothels, no prostitution under age 21, and no solicitation in public.

Meanwhile, half a dozen masked men in black passed through the streets with their shopping carts. Mark Yahya pushes his wife, Karo. “For sale” reads the sign on the front of the cart. “At first people laugh when they see us. One of them asked what I cost. But then their looks change. Lots of them don’t know what to do about it.”

Before Saturday, the initiative had already gathered around 350 signatures. On Wednesday, they’ll deliver over 2000 voices against human trafficking and forced prostitution to Berlin.

Translation mine.

Krefeld is a city of over 200,000 people. Gathering the signatures of 1% of those might not sound like much, but that amounts to a little over one day’s work, and that’s not bad, considering.

Likewise, the demands sound modest, but remember what these people are up against: An extremely powerful pimp-lobby that wants to do away with all regulations, including authorization of brothels and age limits for prostitution. As for public solicitation, it’s so blatant right now that the biggest bordellos actually publish their website addresses in neon on the marquee. Any kid with an internet connection could “visit” and see what’s on offer. Same goes for the johns and their “ratings” fora. It is a public disgrace, and no amount of whitewash can hide it any longer.

And, as the protesters themselves have said, maybe this will get something rolling. As it is, there is a groundswell building in Germany to end human trafficking, because it’s becoming a national embarrassment. Raising awareness of what’s wrong with the picture is just the start.

The “Invisible Men”: Germany’s woman-haters hide in plain sight

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“John #9″ rates a woman he bought for 30 euros: “170 cm tall, long dark hair, early 20s, 5 pounds overweight (which actually doesn’t look so bad), and what a wonder, obviously a Carpathian girl. Wasn’t bad today though, I wanted fucking not conversation. And her German is surprisingly good. Big plus: She washes beforehand, so that’s fine for tongue-action lovers. Blows well, no teeth, no rubber, holds her own well in fucking, but no fingering. You can fiddle with her pussy or her rosette, but don’t put your fingers in! And don’t cum in her mouth, but what can you do? For spoiled clubgoers a zero, but for the street, not so bad.”

As you can see from the above, a fairly typical entry on a German sex-buyers’ forum, the “Invisible Men” are everywhere. Even in Germany, where sex-buying is fully legal, you can find these skulking cowards, taking advantage of the anonymity of the internets to dish on women they don’t really know and don’t care to know in anything other than the strictly biblical sense. Mira Sigel, writing for the anti-fascist feminist site “Die Störenfriedas” (a wonderfully punny name incorporating the female name Frieda with the German word for “peace-disturbers”), has the goods on them:

In the current debate on prostitution, everything revolves around women in prostitution. They are the ones who are fighting the battle over the legalization of prostitution. Johns only speak up, if at all, in the anonymity of the Internet. But the business of prostitution wouldn’t exist if there were no demand from the men’s side. So the debate should actually revolve far more around the men who go out to buy women. If we go by the number of 400,000 prostitutes in Germany (and this number is from the year 2002, so there is no doubt that it has risen in the meantime), then between 1.5 and 2 million men go to prostitutes every day, and so presumably every other man has been to a brothel at least once. Our brothers, husbands, friends and colleagues.

Studies show that the legalization of prostitution and the rise in its social acceptance lead to a rise in visits to prostitutes. In plain language: Where prostitution is legal and affordable, it will also be readily used.

What is the least clear about it is this: The men who go to prostitutes are not Richard Gere from Pretty Woman. Many of them regard the women they use with undisguised disdain. The basis for that, as Julie Bindel already established in the Guardian in 2010, is plain misogyny. A john she asked why he went to prostitues revealed to her that he did not want the prostitute to enjoy it in any way. Then he would feel that he had been cheated out of his money. Also, it didn’t much matter to the men whether the women were forced prostitutes or not. The important thing was that the “service” was right. Julie Bindel’s interviews were part of a study of some 700 johns. The men were also asked what would have to happen for them to no longer go to prostitutes. The answer was was simple: Were sex-buying illegal, and they had to deal with its consequences in their private lives, many of them would shy away from it.

Men go to prostitutes because they can use them. For them, these women are just objects that they can take out their drives on at whim. The fora in which they exchange views are called “Hurentest” (Whore Test) and “AO-Forum”. The men there candidly give their misogyny free rein. Some have photos of the women they have visited as their profile pictures. Semen-smeared faces and red, swollen genitalia are shown off like trophies. The men themselves, naturally, remain invisible. They talk about where they get what for their money. One of the most important subjects: Whether you can also go “AO” — that is, without a condom, and in how many holes. Women who are in pain or pull faces get bad ratings. Before one goes to a woman, the community gets asked if there is any info about her and her “service”. Racism and misogyny are shamelessly aired, and they show how often both these forms of discrimination come up together. There is talk of the “Turkish whore”, or the horny “Thai pussy”, or the “coal bucket” that got “speared”.

Studies show that there is no “typical” john. Men who go to prostitutes come in all ages and social strata. Most are looking for good-looking women who offer pretty much everything and don’t cost much — greed is also good in prostitution. In Germany, it’s socially unacceptable to buy non-organic meat and vegetables, clothes made in Asia, or eggs from battery farms. But in prostitution, it doesn’t matter a bit how poor and exploited the women are, or that they have sex for a Big Mac. The johns see it practically — not much money for “useful services”. For many, it’s important that the women show interest, kiss them, talk with them, and charm them. Obviously they don’t get that for free in real life, so they have to buy the feeling of being desired.

Melissa Farley has made an interesting study comparing sex-buyers and non-sex-buyers. It showed that men who look for prostitutes generally are more inclined to sexual assault, and have less empathy for prostitutes. So, those men who have the most to do with prostitute, are least likely to see the women in it as human beings. Or, to put it another way: Sex-buying brutalizes and intensifies misogyny — quite contrary to the claim that prostitution would save us from rape. Johns choose women according to age and ethnicity (“today I’m gonna treat myself to something Asian”) and travel specifically to other countries to make use of prostitution there. The women should say as little as possible about what’s being done to them; if they are too “engaged”, so it’s said in the fora, they’re just faking everything. Pleasure in sex is not allowed for the women. But if they are in a bad mood or even sad, the johns also rip them apart. 41 percent of johns questioned said that they had had sex at least once with a forced prostitute, and in both groups — johns and non-johns — 68 percent said that most women in prostitution were forced into it. Obviously that, as previously stated, doesn’t put sex-buyers off when it comes to abusing these women.

More and more often, the women also get taken along for private porn videos. For a little extra money, they then find themselves on websites like Tubegalore. The women thus become porn performers, and their videos will haunt the Net forever. There is no exit, and can be none for them under these circumstances.

The johns talk about when and whether a woman is ready for anal sex. Others say just shove it in without asking. Or take the condom off before you cum. It is the johns, whose demand determines the low German prices, whose demand for condomless sex raises the health risks for women. It is the johns whose demand for paid sex ensures that human trafficking is a more profitable business in Germany than drugs or guns. The men shamelessly ask where they can find under-age girls. They get answers right away — openly readable for anyone who visits the fora. The fact that what they have in mind is a crime under several existing laws doesn’t matter. Only the assurance that they won’t catch a disease. For that, there’s a johns’ health forum. What’s up with the women is not important. On the contrary: Their bodies are the subject of degrading exchanges, comments over too-small breasts and flabby butts. On the search for a “wild junkie-fuck”, women get picked up in front of shooting galleries. Their request for someone to buy them a bit of food gets laughed off.

Johns are men who find it acceptable to have sex with others who are not interested, and even in pain or grossed-out. They buy these people for themselves. So the argument that prostitutes only sell a service and not themselves falls flat. The john side clearly sees it differently: For 20, 40 or 100 euros, the woman in question belongs to them. Former Danish prostitute Tanja Rahm made that clear in her open letter to sex buyers:

“When you regularly tried to cross my boundaries by kissing me or sticking your finger in me or took the condom off — even when you knew perfectly well that that wasn’t allowed — you were testing my ability to defend myself. And you took advantage of it when I wasn’t being clear enough or too negligent. You took advantage of that in a sick way the next time you tried to test your own power, and how far you could go in crossing my boundaries. When I finally said no and made clear to you that you shouldn’t come back, when you didn’t accept my boundaries, then you restored your honor by putting me down in my role as a prostitute. You talked down to me, were coarse and threatening.”

The johns’ statements show that prostitution is a patriarchal institution, one of oppression for women, whose sole aim is to make bodies readily available to men. Since we live in capitalism, it is also set up according to capitalistic laws: Money and services and, quite according to the “Amazon principle”, ratings after the fact. The betrayed john is the one who didn’t get enough for his money. The prostitutes themselves, their life stories, their personalities, don’t come up in there at all. No one realizes that they are not merchandise to be delivered to a man, but persons with lives, feelings and perceptions. They travel all over Germany, get passed from house to house so that the men always have a fresh supply of women. They get mistreated, their boundaries continually crossed — and when that goes well, it even gets celebrated in the fora — that is, anal sex without consent or continuation despite whimpering and refusal. The man who goes further is a hero in this community. A rapist, a woman-abuser, quite legally. Because the law allows it. The same man then goes out and meets us, the unprostituted women, with all his judgments, with his victory-feeling in his head. Do we then wonder why rape is practically unpunished and sexual violence is on the march despite all our resistance? How can we believe that we live in a society of equal rights as long as men can legally buy this for 20 euros, in every city, every town, even every village — at the expenses of the women they use there?

Johns don’t care about the merchandise, the woman-product, that they buy. They aren’t paying into a health fund, they aren’t paying taxes, they don’t even care about condoms. They don’t even openly defend prostitution, but the bordello-owners send the women they make money from out in public to do it for them. Johns are customers — that’s what they want to teach us. But the reality is: Johns are woman-haters, woman-abusers. The only way to deter them is to make sex-buying illegal. For johns, women aren’t people, but the means to their satisfaction, and this attitude has become socially acceptable through the legalization of prostitution. Do we want to live in a society in which women are consequently dehumanized?

Translation mine. Linkage as in the original.

You can see here that prostitution in Germany really does deserve to be called sex capitalism. It is capitalistic in the grossest sense, and right down to the last detail. Even the bargain-basement rates for female flesh that literally does everything are no coincidence. Neither is the demand for child prostitution, which logically follows on the heels of its adult counterpart. Why pay 50-100 euros for a grown woman when you can get an under-age girl for half that or even less — and with her, the illicit thrill of being able to cross yet another human boundary? And why bother looking for women who will do it willingly and for free, when you can get girls who won’t — but you can buy the privilege of doing to them what no consenting adult would allow?

The idea that prostitution somehow protects women against rape is nonsense. If anything, it furthers the rape-culture mindset. Men who buy sex tend to think that “every woman has her price”, or that a “whore” is fair game for anything, and are infuriated when that turns out not to be the case. No small percentage of those will still illegally take what they can’t legally buy. The idea that a woman should be willing, and thus demanding of pleasure, is anathema to them. So, they reason, if they’re buying, they may as well get their money’s worth, and really abuse the shit out of her. Under those circumstances, unnegotiated sex acts are the rule, not the exception. Every boundary gets pushed and violated, right up to and including unprotected anal sex. The worst and most painful and dangerous acts are, not coincidentally, also the ones in greatest demand. And the johns on the Internet score them as “victories”. After all, you can’t get that from your average unprostituted woman…unless, of course, you rape her. But really, the only difference between the one and the other is that for the one, money changes hands. A very paltry amount of money. These guys may be willing to pay for the privilege of raping, but they’re cheap as shit and don’t want to pay a penny more than they think a woman is worth. And they don’t think any woman is worth much. No price is ever too low for these guys!

And just think: One out of every two German men has done at least some of this quite unhindered, at least once in his life, since 2002. That’s when sex-buying became legal and the mega-bordello boom began. And no wonder: This sort of thing is not limited to the mean streets of the big cities. You don’t have to travel far from home, if you are a German, to buy sex. Even small towns and villages are home to brothels. There is nothing in the law to forbid it, and local complaints often fall on deaf ears. The town is required to let them do business there if there is demand. And there IS demand. There is always demand. If it’s not from the locals, it’s from the tourists. Sex tourists are “good” for the local economy, especially in small towns! Only if the brothels are found in violation of the health code might they be shut down. (Might is the operative word here. Getting in to run a health inspection is often the hard part, since brothel owners, as I’ve said before, want the police out of the hookering game altogether, and are lobbying hard for just that, right now.)

One out of every two German men is a john. And by that token, very likely, an abuser. Would you marry that, knowing beforehand what you were getting? Would you want to live in a society where rape culture is so easily propagated…and so easily waved aside with a 100-euro bill? Would you want to risk your health and your life sleeping with a guy who regularly pushes for condomless sex with strangers who deal with others just like him, dozens of times a day? Given that there is no “john look”, that there is no one type of men who buys sex, how can you even tell the good guys from the bad? You can’t…and that’s what’s truly scary about all this.

And this, too, is what’s at stake here in Canada, right now. We don’t have mega-bordellos…YET. And I’d wager that few women, if any, would work in one voluntarily. Especially if they knew what’s going on in Germany. And if they were being expected to do more and more for less and less, as the women in the German bordellos must. The demand for paid sex greatly outstrips the supply of willing providers, and always has. And as the overall economy declines, as it is doing, demand for lower prices grows, and the voluntary supply shrinks even further. So human trafficking must pick up the slack, and there is a lot of it.

What does that mean in human terms? You can do the math.

Imagine half of all Canadian men turning out to be just like half of all their German brethren. Go on, I dare you. Take your ulcer pills and think it over. Imagine the Russian mafias, the Yakuza, the Triads, the Hell’s Angels, and Bog knows who all else taking over the local politics of YOUR town, and constantly trying to lure local girls in with totally legit advertising for “waitresses”, “bartenders”, “dancers”, and so on. Can you picture it? Because that’s what goes on in Germany…

And if you find yourself saying “Nein danke”, you can consider yourself in the same boat with half the human race, anywhere, at any time. Because the women of Germany, prostituted or not, want that the least of all.

And their voices are those being heard the least of all, too.