Festive Left Friday Blogging: Today, we are ALL barbudos!

Yesterday, Contrainjerencia brought footage of the three remaining members of the Cuban Five coming home. You want to talk joyful reunions now, or would you rather just group-hug first? Awwwwww…

And here’s the story…

On Wednesday, the president of Cuba, Raúl Castro, received the three Cubans newly freed by the United States, Antonio Guerrero, Gerardo Hernández and Ramón Labañino, at Havana International Airport, as seen on local TV.

The leader appeared very happy, embracing the three agents several times, and he told them: “Proud of you for the resistance you showed, for your valor and the example that represents for everyone.”

Castro had informed at mid-day of the liberation of the agents, and of US contractor Alan Gross, imprisoned on the island since 2009, and of a US spy of Cuban descent, whose name was not revealed, in the same TV broadcast in which he announced the normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States, after half a century of confrontations.

“General, we’re still emotional, we can’t get the words out, but above all, thank you,” said agent Gerardo Hernández, a graduate in International Relations who had been sentenced to two life sentences plus fifteen years in prison.

Especially emotional was the embrace between Hernández and his wife Adriana Pérez, who could not visit him in the US because Washington never granted her a visa.

For his part, Antonio Guerrero, who had been sentenced to 22 years in prison and five years’ probation, said: “Tell the Commander-in-Chief [Fidel Castro] that we’re here to go on doing what needs to be done.”

Recall that Guerrero, Hernández and Labañino were part of the group of five Cubans who were arrested in 1998 and sentenced in 2001 by a court in Miami, the last bastion of anti-Castro sentiment.

Cuba recognized them as agents, but specified that they were not spying on the United States, but on anti-Castro groups who were plotting terrorist attacks against the island, and the Cuban parliament declared the Five to be “Heroes of the Republic of Cuba”.

Translation mine.

What can I say but that it’s lovely that they’re finally all home, together again with family and friends? And that more than a decade and a half of injustice has finally been put right. There was never the slightest shred of evidence that the Five were spying on the US government or its military. The only way one could come to such a harebrained conclusion is if one accepts the notion that the batshit-loopy anti-Castro ex-Cubans of Miami as undeclared legislators, or US military/espionage agents — a conclusion the US authorities have strenuously denied even while taking advantage of their fanaticism for Washington’s ends.

Certainly the CIA’s role in the formation and training of everyone of those groups is no secret, though there have been all sorts of inept attempts to cover it up. The US military’s ties to the groups are likewise evident if one looks hard enough; where else would they get such distinctly non-civilian weaponry as bazookas?

But since the US government doesn’t want to admit that these ugly terrorist groups are their boys, well…they can’t have it both ways, eh? And in fact, the FBI was watching the terrorists, too, and even receiving information from various Cuban agents — loyal to Castro! — who had infiltrated the terror groups. The fact that they then turned on their helpful informants and put them in prison for over a decade is shameful, and it reflects badly on the Bureau, which has apparently changed little since J. Edgar Hoover’s day.

Was the FBI taking orders from someplace else? I don’t know, but I have my suspicions. It’s either that, or they completely bungled their job. Either way, it looks bad on them.

And either way, it’s good that now, the Cuban Five are free, reunited…and HOME.

And if Tony Guerrero’s words are any indication, they’re ready to get back to work at what needs doing — and there is sure to be plenty of that. You really can’t keep a good man down.

Especially not if he’s Cuban.

Economics for Dummies: The real reasons for the lifting of the Cuba blockade?

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This is Puerto Mariel, Cuba. It looks pretty sleepy from the air right now, but don’t be fooled. What you’re looking at there is actually a sleeping giant with the potential to shake markets as far away as New York, if Telesur’s report (via Contrainjerencia) has anything to say. And if it reawakens before the Yanks come in with their suitcases full of money…

Mariel was built by Brazil and Cuba, during the government of Dilma Rousseff, with an investment of 957 million dollars, meaning that Brazil would become Cuba’s greatest economic partner.

In 2011, Brazil and Cuba obtained a combined market of $571 million, which surpassed the markets of China and Venezuela.

The port, which received $682 million from the National Development Bank of Brazil (BNDES) is considered to be one of the most modern ports, compared to those of Kingston (Jamaica) and Freeport (Bahamas). It has the capacity to receive large ships of the “Super Post Panamax” class.

Another benefit of the expected economic improvement of the Caribbean island, and especially for Brazil, is the geographic zone, which lies near the coast of the US, just 150 kilometres away; and it is from there that Brazilian companies could export to the US.

Translation mine.

Could this be what put a fire under the gringos’ butts? Oh, possibly. And if not that, there’s always a good chance that it would be that sweet, sweet, offshore Cuban crude oil that’s got them thinking that maybe, just maybe, an ideologically motivated anti-socialist blockade might not the the best thing for their capitalism, either:

Under the current embargo, Cuba cannot access U.S. oilfield equipment for both drilling and environmental protection. The embargo prohibits the exporting and re-exporting of items that contain more than 10 percent American components under the De Minimus Rule under Sections 734.4 and 736.2 (b)(2) of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR). What is particularly interesting about the embargo is the fact that Washington refued to allow an exemption for U.S. oil spill prevention and response companies even though the Obama Administration was very concerned about potential oil spills from drilling operations located relatively close to the U.S. – Cuba maritime boundary in 2012.   

Of course, with Venezuela firing up a plan to help Cuba exploit that oil itself, and with PDVSA’s significant presence in Cuba already, and with their access to equipment not of US provenance, well…that would put quite the crimp in the US’s blockade, not to mention any hopes Gringolandia’s oilmen might have of a future right to exploit those considerable offshore reserves!

And with Chavecito’s ALBA being nearly ten years old now, that means there’s been plenty of time for Cuba to strike up good mutual economic relations with not only Venezuela, but a number of other Latin American countries as well.

No wonder Gringolandia is out in the cold when it comes to the oilfields. And no wonder they want in now, before big, bad, socialistic-progressive Brazil and other Latin American countries gobble up all of that yummy, yummy Cuban economic pie.

So, THIS happened.

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Cuban students celebrating the release of the remaining three members of the Cuban Five — Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero — who were freed and arrived on the island today. They are now with their families, and according to all local reports, are well and enjoying an emotional reunion. Two others, René González and Fernando González (no relations), have already been released — the former in 2011, when he was paroled, and the latter in February of this year, when he completed his sentence.

All five men were accused and convicted of espionage, although none of them were what one could properly call spies; all were antiterrorist agents of the Cuban government, and had uncovered terrorist plotting on the part of right-wing anti-Castro organizations in Miami. Rather than receive their shared information with the gratitude it deserved, the FBI colluded with the wrong side, and sent them to prison instead. It was one of the worst miscarriages of justice in international history, and today it was finally put right. The US has straight-up admitted that its anti-communist Cuba policy has been an epic failure, and is now seeking normalized relations with its island neighbor. Hence the freeing of the three remaining members of the Five, in exchange for Cuba releasing USAID agent Alan Gross, who has been imprisoned there for five years. It’s a nice goodwill gesture on both parts, and one dares hope it will lead to a whole lot more in future. (I, for one, would really love to see the permanent closure of Gitmo. Get on it, you guys!)

Meanwhile, actual spies and terrorists who have never been punished are still walking free. Chief among them is an ugly old coot named Luis Posada Carriles, a.k.a. the CubanaBomber. Before September 11, 2001, he was the author of the worst airline terrorist incident in history, along with the late Orlando Bosch; together, they planted a bomb on a Cubana jetliner that killed 73 civilians. Posada is still stinking up the gutters of Miami, despite being in the US illegally. He remains a national embarrassment, and one that’s gone studiously unaddressed by at least two administrations. Will he now be handed over to Venezuela or Cuba, both of whom want him for crimes against humanity? No word yet; stay tuned. If His Barackness is smart, he’ll hand the old motherfucker over. Two countries have been waiting long enough to finally bring him to justice, so here’s hoping he picks one. (I’m guessing he’ll pick Cuba, since the current policy in Washington is still to punish Venezuela by isolation and sanctions for not selling all its oil to the Texas barons for a song. Venezuela is no more isolated than Cuba — in fact, it’s been THE key player in bringing Cuba back into the Latin American fold — so this is just way too fucking funny.)

Meanwhile, in Colombia, something even more momentous has happened: The FARC have announced a unilateral, indefinite ceasefire, following the news of this sudden thaw in US-Cuban relations. Given that they’ve been at war with various more or less right-wing governments there for over 60 years, pretty much ever since the Bogotazo, this is HUGE.

Oh yeah, and did I mention that they came to this decision, and made this announcement, during a peace summit in Havana? El Narco must be steaming like a well-brewed cup of coffee, having been denied his victory in office, and having failed at his repeated putsch attempts ever since. All those paramilitaries and peasant massacres and false positives for nothing, boooooo hooooooooo.

So yes, Cuba is the big winner today, and on multiple fronts. The US has admitted that its unnaturally prolonged Cold War isolationist policy has failed. The bulk of Latin America, with one or two shameful exceptions (ahem, Colombia and Peru) has pulled behind Cuba, offering solidarity and fair trade through the ALBA alliance, as well as Mercosur. The dire climate of the post-Soviet Special Period, which the Miami mafia terrorists were hoping to capitalize on at the time the Cuban Five infiltrated their various rats’ nests, is long gone. Cuba is still surviving and thriving, albeit on a modest scale. They’re exporting doctors and educators and locally-made medicaments, and receiving Venezuelan oil (and Venezuelan oil expertise, too, as Cuba is sitting on some very promising offshore deposits that it’s looking to tap into).

Moreover, they have the political support of all the key Latin American leaders, while those who have tried to isolate Cuba remain isolated themselves, and are looking increasingly foolish for having done so. The Cuban government remains as it is, despite all US talk of “freedom” and “democracy” and “change” (note the quotes, there for a reason). Not one elected Cuban leader has been sacrificed in the making of this deal…and yes, they are all elected! This island nation will not end up like Puerto Rico, annexed and stripped of rights in exchange for — what, exactly? Creeping gringoization? The privilege of housing US naval bases? The fun of having to clean up after them, as the Puerto Ricans have had to do with Vieques?

Nope. Can’t happen. Won’t happen. The test of time has been stood. The Revolution has triumphed. Cuba is still Cuban, no matter what.

And that’s the way it’s going to stay, whatever comes next.

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Evo is full of win, again

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Well, hi there yourself, Evo! You’re looking mighty good lately. And so is Bolivia. Probably because there are fewer hungry, malnourished and food-insecure people there now:

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will present a certificate of recognition to Bolivian president Evo Morales in 2015 for reducing hunger by half in Bolivia.

According to the newspaper Cambio, regional FAO representative Crispín Moreira said that they look forward to the presentation on World Food Day, next October 16.

Moreira considers Bolivia to be “an exceptional case” in Latin America since it succeeded in reducing the number of persons suffering from hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity from two million to one million.

He emphasized the elaboration of a legal project, the implementation of programs, and the distribution of resources in favor of the production of foodstuffs.

Moreira also applauded the Bolivian government’s strategy of incentives for food farming, which improved the productivity of peasant farmers, reduced the immediate needs of the vulnerable population through programs of social protection, and contributed in lowering extreme poverty to 17 percent.

The FAO is a United Nations organization specialized in directing international activities aimed at eradicating hunger throughout the world.

Translation mine.

Imagine that. Extreme poverty down, hunger reduced by half, without any imposed conditions from foreign capital. And on top of all else, Bolivia is winning the war on drugs, too…without any help from the DEA. And Bolivia also has a satellite working in orbit, with plans for another to be launched soon. Without any help from NASA.

Gee, it’s like home-grown solutions really do work for local problems! Who’d of thunk it?

PUA racism at its finest

Seen on the tweeter today:

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Yes, that’s right. One of Julien Fucking Blanc’s little ass-barnacles is calling for all of Japan to be wiped out just because they won’t let him in to teach hapless morons how to sexually assault Japanese women with shouts of “Pikachu!”, “Pokémon” and, no doubt, “Sushi!”

(Thanks to Rudderhouse for alerting me to this one.)

Happy Human Rights Day!

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“We will impose sanctions on those who defend human rights!” Once more, a Venezuelan cartoonist — this time, it’s Uncas — hits the nail on the head.

And in honor of Human Rights Day, here’s another fine example of how the US doesn’t lead when it comes to human rights, it just crushes them underfoot, like Orwell’s boot stomping on a human face forever:

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence today released the executive summary of its long-awaited “Study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program,” describing in more than 500 pages a dysfunctional agency so unprepared to handle suspected terrorist detainees after 9/11, that the CIA bought into private contractors’ proposals for torture, and then lied to Congress, President Bush, the Justice Department, the public, and to itself about the purported effectiveness of the program.

The Senate release includes a 6-page foreword by committee chair Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), a 19-page list of 20 specific Findings and Conclusions, and a 499-page Executive Summary which details the development of the torture program after 9/11. The longest single section of the Summary, from page 172 to page 400, eviscerates the CIA’s “eight primary CIA effectiveness representations” along with 12 “secondary” ones by showing either there was “no relationship” between the cited success and detainee information “during or after” the CIA’s use of torture, or that such information was otherwise available and even obtained prior to the use of torture.

Translation: TORTURE DOESN’T FUCKING WORK.

Also, THE CIA IS THE SAME EVIL BAND OF JACKALS AS IT WAS WHEN IT PLOTTED TO KILL JFK. IT HASN’T CHANGED ONE FUCKING IOTA.

And in addition to that, CAPITALISM + TORTURE = REALLY FUCKING EXPENSIVE MURDER MACHINE THAT DOESN’T EVEN FUCKING WORK.

Oh yeah, and on top of that, LIES, LIES AND MORE FUCKING LIES:

Including 2,725 footnotes to specific CIA documents, the Senate report shows a pattern of repeated factual inaccuracies by CIA in communications with the Justice Department (to get legal cover for the program), with the White House (including false information inserted in the President’s Daily Brief and one of President Bush’s major speeches), with the Congress (Appendix 3 starting on page 462 provides more than 30 pages of false statements in testimony by former CIA director Michael Hayden), and even inside the Agency itself.

THIRTY FUCKING PAGES OF BULLSHIT FROM MICHAEL FUCKING HAYDEN ALONE, PEOPLE. And it doesn’t end with him, either:

The report cites CIA documents showing CIA officers at the secret detention sites repeatedly protested the torture program — one interrogator called the program a “train wreak” [sic] and wrote “I intend to get the hell off the train before it happens.” But higher-ups, including CIA directors George Tenet, Porter Goss, and Hayden, overruled objections and kept the program going until President Obama ended it in 2009. The head of CIA counterterrorism operations, Jose Rodriguez, even reprimanded CIA officers at one site for their protests, warning them to refrain from using “speculative language as to the legality of given activities” in CIA cables.

It’s not a question of who fucked up, at this point; the list of those who didn’t fuck up is infinitely shorter.

Of course, none of this comes as any great surprise to me; BushCo was a veritable fuck-up factory. It churned ‘em out assembly-line style, from start to finish. There is nothing that Weak ‘n’ Stupid touched that didn’t turn to ca-ca. Appropriately, for someone descended from royalty, ol’ Dubya sure does have the reverse Midas touch.

And there is no doubt in my mind that every torturer-jack of them belongs in The Hague, and locked up shortly after. But don’t take MY word for it…

A U.N. human rights expert said a report that the U.S. Senate released on Tuesday revealed a “clear policy orchestrated at a high level within the Bush administration” and called for prosecution of U.S. officials who ordered crimes, including torture, against detainees.

Ben Emmerson, United Nations special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, said senior Bush administration officials who planned and authorized crimes must be prosecuted, along with as CIA and other U.S. government officials who committed torture such as waterboarding.

“As a matter of international law, the U.S. is legally obliged to bring those responsible to justice,” Emmerson said in a statement issued in Geneva. “The U.S. Attorney General is under a legal duty to bring criminal charges against those responsible.”

Unfortunately, THAT’s not going to happen. Practically the first thing His Barackness did upon setting foot in the Oval Office was to amnesty all these war criminals, torturers and murderers. Translation: NO HOPE OF A FUCKING PROSECUTION EVER. And, by the way, that’s illegal:

International law prohibits granting immunity to public officials who have engaged in acts of torture, he said.

“The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorized at a high level within the U.S. government provides no excuse whatsoever. Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal accountability,” Emmerson said.

Torture is an international crime and perpetrators may be prosecuted by any other country to which they might travel, he added.

Incidentally, that’s the very reason Henry Fucking Kissinger no longer sets foot outside of US soil. There’s an international warrant out for his arrest, for war crimes dating all the way back to the Vietnam War.

His Barackness would be well advised to reverse that amnesty now, if he doesn’t want to become complicit — and a war criminal, and suffer the same fate — himself. But — oops! — it’s already way too late for that.

Happy Human Rights Day, indeed, my US friends. How does it feel to live in a country where that phrase has become totally meaningless?

Cops Behaving Badly: A cartoon that says it all

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Venezuelan cartoonist Vicman captioned this one “Meanwhile, in the land of liberty…”

You know you have a racist cop problem when Latin Americans, who have had their own problems along precisely those lines, can tell who’s the Kluker among your police ranks. And when they, who have historically been the racially policed (all the way from Washington, DC!), are now laughing and pointing at you.

Montréal Massacre: The truth that no one wants to know

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“Je lutte contre les féministes!”

So said Marc Lépine, Gamil Rodrigue Gharbi, expressly declaring war on feminists before he opened fire. These words have often been misquoted or mistranslated as “You’re all a bunch of feminists”, “I hate feminists”. In fact, they mean “I am fighting against feminists”. This is just one of many truths that have been distorted, ignored or outright whitewashed in our memories of that horrible day.

25 years ago today. A full quarter-century. Has it really been that long? For me, the crime of the Canadian century happened only yesterday. No matter where I am, no matter what day it is, what time of year, for me it will always be December at Queen’s University, whenever I think of those names, that night. I will always feel the cold and damp of the ever-present Kingston slush leaking into my boots, will always smell the snow in the air, will always feel the strangled need to cry as I head to the vigil, to class, to my volunteer work at the Queen’s Women’s Centre. I, who can’t forget, wonder how anyone else could fail to remember.

And yet, fail they do. They fail all the time. Our politicians, our media, they fail us, the women of Canada.

A few days ago, Peter MacKay, our so-called justice minister, stuck his foot in it big-time when he said that “we may never understand” why Marc Lépine did it. In actual fact, only he himself may never know that. He, and maybe the rest of the willfully ignorant, predominantly male morons who comprise the conservative government and its voting bloc. And they may never know it because they just don’t want to know it. They are idiots, they don’t belong in power, and they must not presume to speak for the rest of us.

All other Canadians know the truth all too well. Days after it happened, letters were already pouring in to media outlets all over Canada, and especially Québec, decrying the massacre for what it was: not the random act of a lone madman, but a specifically political act of terrorism. Protests and vigils were organized on university campuses across the land. Feminist women, and a few perceptive, allied men, could already see the truth, and they weren’t having any of the media’s carefully organized, cleverly worded whitewash. None of them were fooled by the conventional “wisdom” that Canadian women had already achieved all that they wanted, that life was fine and fair now, and that feminists should just pack it all in and go home to their kitchens…so to speak.

The women on Lépine’s hit list — oh yes, he had one — know it all too well, too. They were his actual, intended targets. They were meant to become examples of “what happens to feminists when they go too far”. The fact that they did not may be due only to Lépine’s instability and ineptitude; he was apparently almost as poor a terrorist as he was a student. Instead, it was a completely unrelated group who paid the price: the women who were admitted as engineering students to the Polytechnique, taking what Lépine fancied was his rightful place in a profession which is still, to this day, heavily dominated by men.

Did any of them call themselves feminists at the time? I can’t speak for the dead, but I do know that at least some of the survivors said that no, at the time, they were not, although they believed in equality of the sexes, and believed that feminism’s work was done. They were examples of how feminism had succeeded, because they were beneficiaries of female progress and believers in equal opportunity. And yet, also, they were victims — unwitting exemplars of how much of our society’s complacency works against that same progress. They just wanted to fit in, to be accepted; they conceded to the patriarchy without realizing how at the time, or how much. They were not then feminists. But they are now, because now they see the need. Far from sending them to sleep, the shooting was a wake-up call for them. The Massacre drove home to them that there was and is a need for feminism, because women are not free yet, and neither are they treated as men’s equals.

Worse, we are losing ground; the long-gun registry was scrapped, and human-rights protections that women have fought for over decades are being eroded away by creeping conservatism, neo-traditionalism, and ultra-capitalist economics that push the underclass ever further down. If feminism has accomplished all its goals, as is so often insisted by media and “men’s rights” groups, why is there still so much misogyny — enough to kill, not only in spectacular mass form, but on a small, steady, day-to-day basis?

Maybe it’s because our supposedly liberal, enlightened society is still largely an Old Boys’ Club. And maybe because that club is jealous of its power and control, and will do all it can to preserve it; just look at how long the struggle for pay equity has been going on. Maybe because women getting legal personhood, abortion rights, the Pill, the vote, an education, and some limited right to pursue a career, isn’t enough to combat it. Maybe because the scant handful basic, partial concessions of rights we have been able to get have actually served, in the minds of sexist men, as provocations, as proof that we’ve “gone too far”, as “danger signs” that a matriarchy is about to replace the existing “benevolent” patriarchy, and as “evidence” of a “need” to put women back in “their place”. (Note all the quotes; they’re there for a reason.)

And yes, the Montréal Massacre was aimed at doing exactly that.

I know all this because I have a little purple book in front of me on my desk right now. It’s called, simply, The Montréal Massacre. It was compiled by Louise Malette and Marie Chalouh, and translated by Marlene Wildeman for Gynergy Books. I bought it in the early 1990s, and I have yet to finish reading it, because its intensity keeps knocking the wind out of me. It is a collection of letters, essays, newspaper articles and poems, written in the immediate aftermath of the massacre, and it puts the lie to all the conventional narratives. Some of the writers are well-known Québec feminists, others ordinary people who were moved to write letters to the editor because they could not stomach all the bullshit and the lies. All are deeply, darkly critical of the mainstream narrative, of the silence it enforces.

Some note how the francophone media’s language around the victims was absurdly masculinized; the murder victims were not, as the media put it, étudiants, masculine/generic, but étudiantes, female students. Not all were engineering students; Barbara Klucznik was a nursing student. And not all of them were students, either; Maryse Laganière was an employee of the Polytechnique’s budget department. So the “student” appellation was not entirely accurate. The one and only thing the dead all had in common was that they were female. By erasing the gender of the dead, the media whitewashed the fact that the massacre was a gender-specific act of terrorism. (Even in the English-speaking media, where gender-specific noun endings are largely passé, a subtler form of erasure was the order of the day. And at least one journalist now feels guilty about her own unintentional part in the whitewash. It as, after all, quite the Old Boys’ Club in there. And, like the Massacre victims, she just wanted to fit in.)

Several of the writers also note that the media expressed curious sympathy for the killer while ignoring his blatant motives, preferring to portray him as mentally ill, an abused child of a wildly unstable father, and pitiable, rather than as a conscious political actor. Why can’t he be all of those things? they ask. For he WAS all of those things. Being mentally ill, abused and pitiful does not render a person apolitical, nor should it obscure that person’s political motives. Being political does not make one cold, mechanical, divorced from one’s own abused and abusive past, either. Such oversimplification serves the public interest poorly; feminists know that all too well. They’ve had to battle similar erroneous perceptions from the get-go.

Above all, the writers of that little book decry how quick the patriarchy was to fling its mantle over everything, to declare it “incomprehensible” and deem all protest “inappropriate”, “disrespectful”, etc. All FEMINIST protest, that is. If a man spouted blatant sexism to “protest” all the “rampant feminism” that supposedly provoked the killer, why, that was quite all right. The voices of the privileged class were welcome to have their say, over and over and over, ad nauseam. The underclass? Shut up, you bitches, the men are talking. Go home. Make sandwiches. Be thankful that we let a few of you in as tokens, and be quiet. Don’t demand more.

Even today, we’re still fighting the carefully orchestrated ignorance that fell like a shroud over that late afternoon. And it’s like trying to swim through an ever-spinning turbine to get at the truth, to be able to tell it and not be silenced.

I can still remember watching the mass funeral on TV, seeing the Catholic priests swinging their incense-burners over the caskets as they were paraded by. It was a literal smokescreen being cast before our very eyes, a metaphor made real. And oh, how nauseated I was by it all. I can remember thinking, quite clearly, how ironic and horrific and yet strangely appropriate this was; patriarchy had killed those women, and now it was burying them, too. And of course, it decreed forgetfulness, mealy mouths, empty words, lip service in lieu of honesty and action, much smoke but no fire. The victims were “innocent”, and much was made of that innocence and guiltlessness. They did not deserve to die — everyone agreed on that — but they were also not allowed to be women. They were not allowed to be acknowledged as victims of sexism, of patriarchy, of gendercide.

People still don’t want to know why those 14 women were really killed. They’re very curious to know who they were, but not so curious as to why they had to perish. They think that it’s enough to put faces and life stories to the names, and not inquire any further into the killer’s motive for destroying them. Worse, in their efforts to “put the tragedy behind us”, they’ve buried Marc Lépine’s suicide-note-cum-manifesto and hit list, so that it can’t be analyzed and criticized, and so that its contents cannot be properly understood. Who benefits from that? The Menz Rightzers. The MRAs. The “manosphere”. The patriarchy. They’ve already claimed him as their hero-martyr-saint. They have websites set up as shrines to him, and have cultivated them for years. They consider his words to be a kind of holy writ, a truth bomb in the war against feminism. They preserve his ramblings while the rest of us are unable to find the full text of those words on any site that isn’t unsavory, that isn’t dedicated to hating women and calling for their wholesale enslavement and destruction, that doesn’t repulse us and send us fleeing for our sanity’s sake.

Think we don’t need feminism anymore? Think again. This is why we need it, people:

25 years have gone by, and in those 25 years, the message to be silent, to bury the dead women “respectfully” by forgetting the meaning of their deaths, has only grown louder. But if we want to actually make progress, we have to talk about them, analyze, criticize, tear open the hypocritical crypt, and blow away the ashes, dust and smoke that surround it. We have to scrub away the whitewash from the sepulchre, and acknowledge what’s really inside. Otherwise, we’re only doing the terrorist’s work for him, and erasing women from the picture. Not only from the past, but our present and future, too.

Venezuela has free treatment for HIV/AIDS. Do you?

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Via Aporrea, some more good news you won’t hear from your mainstream media about Venezuela and its evil, evil socialist government. For the tens of thousands of Venezuelans who have contracted HIV or are ill with AIDS, the government is taking care of them all the way:

In Venezuela there is the political will to protect persons with HIV/AIDS throughout the land, said Asdrúbal González, co-ordinator of the National Human Rights Network, on VTV’s breakfast-hour program, El Desayuno.

González stated that in Venezuela, 43,000 persons with AIDS get free anti-retroviral medication and integral attention in general, thanks to the National Public Health System.

González emphasized the actions of public institutions, such as the People’s Ombud, in defence of those living with AIDS, and the Law for the Promotion and Protection of Right to Equality of Persons with HIV/AIDS and their Families, approved by the National Assembly this year.

This law condemns all forms of discrimination against this population, with an eye to assuring that they get to exercise all their rights, duties and responsibilities without any discrimination.

Yesterday was World AIDS Day, a date chosen, says González, due to the first [known] case of the disease being diagnosed on this date in 1981.

[…]

González was emphatic in expressing to the public that they must leave behind fear and taboos, and seek information related to this illness, in order to avoid discrimination. He also emphasized the importance of any person at risk of contracting the virus to get the ELISA test, one of the most effective at detecting HIV.

González explained that HIV/AIDS can be transmitted through vaginal or anal sex, contaminated blood transfusions, contact with needles, syringes or other sharp objects, as well as from mother to fetus during pregnancy or childbirth.

He added that in the Hugo Chávez Frías Maternity and Children’s Hospital, located in the Caracas district of El Valle, the National Human Rights Network has its head office, where they are holding days of information, prevention and awareness about the disease.

“Our message is: Protect yourself, always use condoms, HIV does not discriminate, and we call upon you to become more aware every day of the persons who live with this condition,” González said.

Translation mine.

It’s important to note that AIDS has in fact been around much longer than initially thought. The first cases of a mysterious wasting illness, then known as “cachexie de Mayombe” in French, were seen in the Congo region of western-central Africa during the 1930s. Since the disease, as doctors now know, has a long lag time, of as many as 10 or 15 years between initial infection and outbreak of full-blown AIDS, it is suspected that the disease first spread from chimps to humans around 1915, when the Trans-Congo Railroad was being built through the region. The importation of rifles, which coincided with the building of the railway, made hunting of simians for bushmeat easier, and it is likely that a hunter butchering a chimp got SIV-contaminated blood in a cut, becoming the first human casualty of what until then was only a mildly infectious monkey virus. Since prostitution accompanied the railroad work camps, the virus was soon spread to women, who in turn passed it along heterosexually to other men. Poor sanitation in hospitals and clinics, and the common practice of recycling used needles, also contributed to the spread of the virus. The dark, purplish skin lesions of Kaposi’s Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer previously afflicting only elderly men, eventually became a common sight in the Congo region among younger adults.

The first European cases of the disease occurred as early as the 1950s, when sailors coming ashore in western Africa visited local brothels. At least one man is known to have passed the disease along to his wife, who then passed the virus along to their daughter during pregnancy. All died of a mysterious wasting illness whose symptoms match those of AIDS. The girl was just nine years old.

In 1976, a Danish doctor doing charity work in what was then called Zaire became the first known European non-sexually-transmitted casualty of the disease herself. Due to poor conditions in local hospitals, she was forced to operate without gloves. A needle-stick or a small scalpel nick was all it took for a patient’s infected blood to transmit the virus directly to her. Ironically, considering how AIDS later became known as the “gay plague”, the doctor was herself a lesbian — but her life partner, a nurse who stayed in Denmark, remained uninfected. It may now be regarded as a classic example of how this African disease favors blood-to-blood contact.

Also ironically, the real “Patient Zero” of the North American AIDS epidemic was not that infamous bathhouse-cruising gay flight attendant, as was commonly reported, but more likely a prostituted heterosexual woman in San Francisco, who was also addicted to heroin. Needle-sharing was extremely common in those days, the late 1960s to mid-1970s; it was typical to see junkies with various strains of viral hepatitis, which they had caught the same way. It seems likely that the AIDS virus initially spread much like Hepatitis B and C in North America among city-dwelling junkies, who, if prostituted, later passed it along to johns, who in turn spread it to others, much as in the railroad camps of the Congo. Since junkies can be of any sexual orientation, it’s not much of a stretch to assume that a gay junkie may have carried the virus, initially contracted through needle-sharing, to his own community, where it later spread via the sexual-transmission route. Unfortunately, that man’s name may never be known; junkies tended to die very unregarded deaths, and still do.

And while it’s no longer talked about very much, Haiti was another early western centre of AIDS transmission. The explanation? After Belgium gave up its colonial claim on the Congo, and Belgian colonial officials left the land, their empty offices had to be filled by French-speaking blacks as a condition of decolonization. Enter the Haitians, who were substantially more educated than the locals, and more capable of filling those public service offices. They, too, undoubtedly had liaisons with locals infected with the virus, and wound up carrying it back home to Haiti, or across the water to Florida and New York. Haitian immigrants were an early “risk group” that is no longer being singled out, as the broader North American epidemic has eclipsed that of tiny Haiti.

AIDS does not discriminate. It doesn’t care if you are gay or straight, use drugs or don’t, are black or white, or anything else. AIDS is not a “gay plague”, but a disease with African roots dating back to the colonial era. Its global transmission demands global action, and Venezuela is stepping up to the challenge by making it a true public health issue, and providing free medication, with no discrimination between those who can afford to pay and those who cannot.

We could all learn from Venezuela’s good example.

Big bordello raid in four countries over human trafficking concerns

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Police vans outside the “Paradise” bordello in Stuttgart, Germany. This was not the only big bordello they raided; there were three others. But they hadn’t come to arrest the girls and women inside; instead, they were after those who had brought them there. Here’s the story, as told by EMMA:

On Sunday evening, 900 police officers swarmed four megabordellos, “model” homes, offices and cars all over Germany, Austria, Bosnia and Romania. They arrested two women and three men, one of whom is believed to be the press spokesperson of the “wellness” bordello “Paradise”, in Stuttgart.

The raid was organized by the city authorities and state criminal prosecutor’s office of Stuttgart, Organized Crime Division. It has to do with human trafficking and pimping, as well as betrayal.

Several of the arrested persons are suspected of having forced women under the age of 21 into prostitution, using the “loverboy” method. Men get very young girls to fall in love with them, and then send them to work on the “stroll”. First they claim to be in need, then they use force. (These women are also designated “voluntary” prostitutes under the old prostitution law, because they are doing it “for love”.)

One of the 15 persons in the crosshairs of the police belonged to the biker-style gang “United Tribunes”, of Stuttgart and Bosnia. During the raid, a pistol was also confiscated.

The accused are being held responsible “for recruiting and keeping guard over the young women”, according to a police press release. “On the basis of extensive communications, there is also the suspicion that investors have been led to invest in megabordellos under false pretences. The monies thus obtained were not just used for FKK [nudist] clubs, but also private purposes.”

Such megabordellos include the “Paradise” in Stuttgart and the “Wellness Oasis for Men” in Saarbrücken, which the owner, Jürgen Rudloff, and his “business manager”, Michael Beretin, opened in July, under heavy protest by FEMEN. The megabrothel on the French border extends over 4,500 square metres, has 30 rooms, and as many as 50 prostitutes per day. Today, it is one of 123 (!) brothels in Saarbrücken, the “prostitution capital” of Germany. No wonder that SPD mayor Charlotte Britz, as well as CDU state governor Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, signed on to EMMA’s 2013 appeal against prostitution.

The principle of these “sex factories” — of which the Rudloff/Beretin team runs five — is for women as well as johns to pay admission, between 60 and 79 euros. The women pay an additional 25 euros in taxes, plus 23 euros for an overnight stay (most of them have no homes of their own). That is to say, they have to serve at least three johns in order to cover their debts to the bordello’s owners. And even then, they still don’t have a cent for themselves, never mind their pimps.

Just this past summer, “press spokesman” Beretin bragged to [German tabloid] Die Welt of his five megabordellos, their “family atmosphere, spotless cleanliness, retreat rooms, security personnel, and above all: transparent co-operation with the authorities.”

Today, the authorities seem to see it differently.

The mega-raid in the German red-light milieu, which is extensively ruled by organized crime, comes at just the right time: Right now, the grand coalition in Berlin is seeking advice toward a new prostitution law. The CDU/CSU party is for it, the SPD is still unsure.

Social Democrats, who once claimed to speak up for the rights of the rightsless of this world, still hesitate to sign on for raising the working age of women in prostitution to 21, for monthly health inspections, as well as requiring registration for the hundred-thousands of foreign poverty-prostituted women in Germany. Maybe this raid will finally bring the SPD to its senses.

Translation mine.

So, as you can see, German authorities are getting mighty tired of looking the other way (and just raking in the tax revenues) while mafias and biker gangs truck in women and girls by the thousands from poverty-ridden Eastern Europe to service these cheap bordellos. Cheap, that is, for the johns; for the women, as you can see, it’s horribly expensive. When you have to service three men just to cover the brothel’s expenses, and you haven’t even made a dent in your “debt” to your traffickers (who, of course, claim to “love” you, which has got to be the ultimate betrayal), well…it’s not a life that anyone would choose voluntarily. Even the crappiest normal job is infinitely preferable to this; it might not pay much, but neither does it demand much.

In prostitution (or rather, sex capitalism), which is far from lucrative for most of the women and girls working the German bordellos (and very lucrative, by contrast, for their owners), it doesn’t pay at all…and it costs an arm and a leg. There’s a huge demand for cheap sexual servicing, fed by an anything-goes porn culture which normalizes brothel-creeping for men. So there’s a constant demand for more girls, more turnover, more fresh meat.

For how much longer will this go on? Nobody knows…yet. But it seems the writing is on the sleazy wall. And no one who truly cares for the rights of the so-called “sex workers” can afford to turn a blind eye to the misery that brought these women and girls into this unsought-for line of work.