Venezuelan authorities raid Colombian paramilitary camp

Venezuelan authorities sift through the effects found in a Colombian paramilitary camp within Venezuelan territory. It’s yet more evidence of crimes that have been terrorizing Venezuelans from the border regions all the way to Caracas, and significant enough that a high-ranking member of the federal government showed up to clarify to the media exactly what it was all about:

Yesterday afternoon, the Venezuelan vice-president, Jorge Arreaza, toured the “La Invasión” zone near the Venezuela-Colombia border, where the Venezuelan federal criminal-investigative police, the CICPC, had found a brothel and a centre for extortion and kidnappings, used by paramilitary groups.

“Who knows what they did to young Venezuelan or Colombian women, to persons they kidnapped, how many families suffered with those paramilitary groups putting people in this cellar to make them suffer by way of extortion,” Arreaza said.

Arreaza also commented that in said house they had found photographs of various houses in the El Rosario sector of Colombia, as well as an agenda containing amounts, in [Venezuelan] bolivares, for “services” already paid.

He also announced the finding of a metal building which functioned as an explosives factory.

“We found a shack which was used as an explosives factory. Also, there were paramilitary elements such as balaclavas, masks, gloves, computers, cash money, petrochemical materials, and uniforms of groups called the Red Scorpions and Anti-Guerrillas, among other things.”

“These are aspects of the Colombian internal conflict, which have nothing to do with Venezuelan reality. They are Colombian gangs and problems which have been exported to Venezuela, a peaceful territory which should not have been the object of these menaces.”

Finally, Arreaza said that “paramilitarism will not be able to take place in Venezuelan territory, no matter how much the right-wing is against the decisions the government takes in favor of the people.”

Traslation mine.

So it would appear that Colombian paramilitaries are not only being used by the opposition to terrorize the people of Venezuela and artificially inflate the crime rates (no doubt in an effort to make the Bolivarian government look ineffective, which it certainly has NOT been); they’re also human traffickers and sex slavers, as the brothel would indicate. And they’ve been carting women from at least two countries there, as well as other kidnap-extortion victims.

And this is just one finding among several, all indicating that paramilitarism — product of one Álvaro Uribe Vélez, ex-president of Colombia and rabid fascist — has been playing an active role in propping up the increasingly farcical Venezuelan opposition. The finding of the facemasks, one might say, is more than a little symbolic, as the masks of the oppos keep falling off their faces at the most inopportune moments.

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Explosive video implicates Rubio, Ros-Lehtinen in Venezuelan coup attempt

That sonic boom you just heard was the other shoe dropping. One of the suspects in the brutal murder and dismemberment of Liana Hergueta sang like a nightingale for the Venezuelan federal police, and in the video above, he names a veritable rogues’ gallery of right-wing politicians, not only from Venezuela, but from neighboring Colombia, and even from the US. And none other than the president of Venezuela himself was on hand to make the information public to all the TV viewers of the land:

The president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, presented a video in which one of the men accused of dismembering a woman in Caracas, and who has ties to the opposition, states that he received, via intermediaries, money from US Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio, in order to finance the “protests” of 2014.

José Rafael Pérez Venta, who says in the video that he belonged to the opposition parties Voluntad Popular (VP) and Alianza Bravo Pueblo, states that Rubio, as well as fellow Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen sent money to him via a person named Betty Grossi, though he did not specify the amount nor explain how he knew it came from the US politicians.

After naming the US congress members he maintains that “[Ros-Lehtinen] earmarked a certain amount in dollars which she or they sent, sending it in an envelope, or directly to [Grossi’s] account, and [Grossi] made the conversion and handed over the money herself,” Pérez Venta explains in the interrogation video.

Pérez Venta also says he received “a contribution of $1,000” from Phil Laidlaw, whom he identified as a chargé d’affaires from the US embassy in Venezuela, and who, according to Pérez Venta, used Gaby Arellano, a known student leader and VP party member, as intermediary.

He does not explain either, in this case, how he knows that the dollars Arellano gave him come from this supposed functionary.

Maduro said on tuesday, on his weekly TV/radio program, that Pérez Venta, as well as other prisoners, “have served as bodyguards to the principal leaders of the Venezuelan opposition”, and stated that “like this group, we have detected 30 groups trained and financed from Colombia, by the paramilitaries of [Álvaro] Uribe.”

“This group, which was connected to the highest level of right-wing leaders in Colombia, and of the Venezuelan right, had plans to assassinate well-known political leaders, of the opposition right wing, and of the Revolution,” he added.

In the video, Pérez Venta says that, on an unspecified date, he was in the western Venezuelan state of Táchira, where he received “money from Colombia implemented by some people who handled the fabrication of explosives and the location of this type of artefacts.”

He also states that in the neighboring country, he met with Colombian ex-president Álvaro Uribe (2002-2010), as well as Oscar Iván Zuloaga, one of his ministers.

He indicated that the attack on the Public Ministry in Caracas, following the anti-government march of February 12, a date marking the beginning of a six-month wave of anti-government protests throughout the land, was prepared by the VP leader, Leopoldo López, currently in jail for crimes related to the same.

Also implicated are parliamentary ex-deputy María Corina Machado and the metropolitan mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, who is under house arrest following accusations of conspiring.

He also accuses the president and editor of the daily newspaper, El Nacional, Miguel Henrique Otero, of “complete and perpetual financing for the confrontations” which took place in the upper-class Caracas suburb of Chacao.

Translation mine.

Of course, the opposition are all up in arms, as usual, and claiming the government is trying to “smear” them. Hardly! As you can see in the video, the prisoner has not been tortured and is making all his statements freely, without needing to be prompted in any way. (The interrogator’s voice is disguised for security reasons, hence the subtitles.) It’s not the government smearing the opposition; it’s one of their own henchmen pointing the finger back at his bosses.

And those bosses are, as my entry from the other day says, not native to Venezuela. At least two of them are Colombian; three from the US, two of them members of Congress, and the other an embassy official; and lower on the food chain, all the usual suspects of the Venezuelan opposition: Prettyboy Leo, Maricori, Majunche Capriles, Grandpa Monster, and Miguel Henrique Otero, the crappiest newspaper proprietor in all the land. Plus Gaby Arellano, the opposition student leader, as bag-girl and messenger for the gringo financiers and the terror-cell killers.

Bolivarian socialists — a majority of Venezuelans — call their opposition leaders “sinvergüenzas”, meaning shameless people. As you can see, they come by the term honestly…well, as honestly as one can, if one is of the Venezuelan opposition. And honesty is not one of their policies, to be quite honest.

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Venezuelan opposition politicos connected to gruesome murder-dismemberment

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“He was Leopoldo López’s bodyguard — the DISMEMBERER of Liana Hergueta. Roll video!”

It’s always SOMETHING with the Venezuelan opposition, isn’t it? And by SOMETHING, I mean MURDER. Take, for example, this guy…who has a lot more to answer for than just a grisly murder-dismemberment of a woman:

José Rafael Pérez Venta (27), one of those implicated in the case of a dismembered woman, Liana Hergueta (53), stated in his testimony to the authorities that retired general Antonio Rivero trained him when he was working as a bodyguard for opposition leaders, according to the Venezuelan minister of the Interior, Gustavo González López.

Pérez Venta was a bodyguard for spokesmen of the Voluntad Popular (Popular Will) party for several years, the minister pointed out.

Rivero, exiled in Miami, is wanted in Venezuela for his suspected participation in acts of violence which occurred in the early months of 2014.

The minister for Interior Relations, Justice and Peace, Gustavo González López, said on Saturday that there are direct ties between the suspects in the homicide and dismemberment of Liana Hergueta, and military officers, journalists and politicians of the Venezuelan opposition.

“The detainees have given important clues for the effective development of the investigation,” the minister said, assuring that at an opportune moment, he would offer details of the second phase [of the investigation] of the crime, which he called “atrocious and abominable”.

As well, he stated that the man who received the payment in bolivares for the transaction in dollars “has been fully identified”. However, he added, these dehumanizing crimes “are not native to Venezuela”, for which reason it has upset the citizenry and confirmed the activities of paramilitaries [from Colombia] in the land.

González López reiterated that Hergueta and her killer were both on the same side politically, for which reason he emphasized that we must wait for new results from the next phase of investigations to reveal the names of those connected to the authors of the crime, intellectual as well as material.

He said that the Hergueta case is part of a “perverse cocktail” involving three structures: the intellectual authorship of a politician, assassination via paramilitaries, and common crime.

This crime, involving José Rafael Pérez Venta (27), Samuel José Angulo (23), and Carlos Eduardo Trejo Mosquera (28), all arrested, confessed and convicted, is part of a plot which brings together elements not native to Venezuelan culture. “They are inserted, placements from cultures from other countries,” the minister said.

Those involved also appear in photos with opposition leaders. Investigations revealed a relationship between Pérez Venta and a woman who worked in the Metropolitan Caracas mayor’s office, who was fired after speaking of the Hergueta case. González also indicated that according to investigators, there are links between the authors of the crime and the security details of María Corina Machado, Antonio Ledezma, and Henrique Capriles.

In prior declarations, the minister announced that they had found worrisome links between the criminals and highly noted members of the Venezuelan opposition. “We ask ourselves why they were there, who put them there. Currently, Mr. Pérez Venta and Mr. Trejo are revealing important facts about financiers, political operatives, modus operandi, training sites, and all of a scheme which will allow us to reopen and know all we’ve been working on about paramilitarism, narcotrafficking, and dollars.”

He also referred to recent statements from opposition members criticizing the captures of paramilitaries during the operations called “Liberation of the People” (OLP), executed on July 13.

“They, in their imaginations, began to ask themselves absurd things, but they’re incapable of seeing persons at their side who had paramilitary conduct…They were not capable of seeing this person who, upon seeing their political careers threatened by the denunciations of a woman [Hergueta] for fraud, were capable of organizing this atrocious crime.”

The body of Liana Aixa Hergueta González, 53, was found dismembered in her vehicle, parked on Los Manolos Street. Hours before, she was contacted and brought to Apartment 605, where Pérez Venta greeted her. His accomplice, Samuel Sánchez, administered an electric shock to her with a stun-gun. They abused her, asphyxiated her, and later cut up her body with a serrated knife. First they cut off her feet, hands and head, which they put in garbage bags. They put the trunk in a suitcase. They cleaned up the spilled blood with a rug, kitchen towels, and t-shirts.

Translation mine.

So we can see that the Venezuelan opposition will stop at nothing to silence anyone who stands in their way, even if she is on their own side. If she talks to the authorities about swindles and frauds, it’s literally off with her head. That ought to tell you a thing or two about what kind of people these pretty, vacuous people really are. They are repeat losers, relics of the oligarchy that will never rule Venezuela again. And for that reason they are desperate, and totally devoid of legitimacy.

And yes, there are an awful lot of familiar names in there: Sob-Sister MariCori Machado, Antonio Ledezma (alias “Grandpa Monster”), Prettyboy Leo López (currently still in federal pen for his part in the attempted putsch of 2013), and Henrique “Majunche” Capriles, the last man to lose to Chavecito.

And then there’s this guy — ex-general Antonio Rivero — who may be less familiar to some, but whom regular readers of this blog might remember from the violence of 2013, when he was seen instructing the junior astroturf division of the opposition to keep up their violent demos until the US Marines came to dispose of the legitimately elected government:

Of course, that coup failed. They all do, and they all will, because unlike the Venezuela of the Fourth Republic, this one has a real, strong, clean democracy…and it doesn’t take kindly to foreign criminal operatives and their gringo sponsors boogying with what’s left of the old guard.

And it won’t let them get away with murder, either.

PS: Apologies for the different look and wording of this, but WordPress ate my original while I was trying to upgrade to the latest version yesterday. Without a backup, I had to redo the whole thing from scratch. I guess I should be thankful I only lost two entries, but I’m still fuming.

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Leading German mega-pimp plans his exit

I’ve often heard it said that of every ten women or girls in prostitution, eight or nine want out. Apparently, they’re not the only ones. Sometimes, mirabile dictu, a pimp also wants out of the game. Of course, in the case of a certain notorious German one, the reasons for his doing so vary considerably from those of the ladies:

“I’m in negotiations,” says Jürgen Rudloff.

The entrepreneur, who among other things is head of the Paradise megabordello in Leinfelden-Echterdingen, told the Stuttgarter Zeitung on Friday that he intends to sell his “entire business”. By that he means three houses, in Frankfurt, Saarbrücken and Echterdingen. About the negotiations, he’s not saying anything else.

In the trade, they’re talking of some 30 million euros for all three businesses. Leinfeld-Echterdingen is estimated to be worth eight or nine million euros. “I can’t comment on that, as long as talks are underway,” says Rudloff. As for his own business plans for the future, the 61-year-old is keeping that to himself.

That Rudloff is apparently withdrawing from the sex industry is not surprising, as his business is currently under investigation by the public prosecutor’s office. Since last fall, charges have been laid against him and his business manager. Rudloff is alleged to have drummed up investments, but then not used these for the building of other brothels, but for his own purposes. In the local courts, there’s a case concerning human trafficking, sexual exploitation and pimping against two prostitutes at the Paradise club, as well as against a young man. The man is alleged to have claimed to be in love with young women, and thus lured them into prostitution.

The bordello chief, who is currently believed to be living in Switzerland, continually emphasizes that he did not offer his businesses for sale, but that someone had approached him. It allegedly concerns “a large undertaking” that has the necessary capital, but has long had nothing to do with the sex industry.

Also important for Rudloff is to advertise that the interested buyer allegedly intends to continue the existing business. “That is, no one in the houses need fear losing their job, everyone is staying,” says the outgoing boss. After all, he created some 60 jobs in Leinfelden-Echterdingen, so he preens himself. The sale price, at least in the case of the Paradise, concerns only the business and not the building. The building is allegedly rented. “The business revolves around the whole company, with rented and purchased buildings,” Rudloff adds.

Translation mine.

Yes, I can see why Jürgen Rudloff would want out. Last December, I blogged on a raid that took place on Rudloff’s premises in Stuttgart, which was part of a larger police operation against human trafficking and “loverboy”-style pimping, as well as alleged bilking of brothel shareholders (yes, there is such a thing as brothel-investing in Germany!). Rudloff is now a household name for all the wrong reasons, and I suspect it’s only a matter of time before he’s hauled into court himself to answer on pimping and human-trafficking charges. So it’s little wonder that he’s making coy noises about “selling the business”. He’s trying to wash his hands of the whole affair before the investigators can trace it all back to him.

But hey. In a world where pimps routinely refer to themselves, as well as their prostitutes, as “sex workers”, thus blurring the lines between exploiter and exploited, is it really so surprising that a pimp might get fed up, and decide to exit too?

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Quotable: Larry Wilmore on Bill Cosby

“Five words: You. Can. Go. Fuck. Yourself.” PERFECT.

And if you think that’s harsh, you might want to read this.

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Of knockout drops and pudding pops: The “respectability” of Bill Cosby

bill-cosby-pudding-pops

Isn’t this old Bloom County ‘toon prescient? Because yes, there is finally a black man in the White House, and sure ‘nough, he’s a conservative — and fuck all those racist idiot ratbastards who claim he’s a socialist from Kenya. They know nothing about Kenya. Or socialism. (BTW, Bloom County is FINALLY coming back to the newspapers this year, presumably to make hay off Donald Trump’s toupée. Yay!)

Anyhow. Black conservatism, a.k.a. Respectability Politics, is what I came here to rant about this fine morning. And yes, Bill Cosby figures prominently in all that.

About ten years ago, you see, Bill Cosby said something about black kids needing to dress better and act more respectable, so all the totally-not-racist white people would finally start treating them as human beings, instead of the filthy animals they’ve long been made out to be — first under slavery, then Jim Crow, and most recently, drug policing. That latter, by the way, is what spawned the sloppy-pants trend in the first place.

It’s called “sagging” now, but originally it was called jailing, and it all began when black kids started being rounded up en masse and sent to jail for extended periods — often for the kind of simple, small-scale marijuana possession that would get a richer — ahem, more respectable — white kid let off with a warning. In the jails, you’re stripped of anything you might want to hang yourself with, be it belts, shoelaces, or what have you. So you have no choice but to slop around in baggy pants hanging off your skinny hips, and unlaced sneakers too big for your feet. The fashion became an ironic commentary on the futility and stupidity of trying to be “respectable” when nobody respected you, just on the basis of your color alone.

And then Bill Cosby came out with that whole “pull up your pants” shit. Like he hadn’t even been paying attention to what was going on while black kids were being decimated by crack cocaine (which the CIA, by the way, actively allowed to come in, because those cuddly Nicaraguan “Contras” who trafficked the stuff just needed some love!)

It was a stupid thing to say, and it was precisely the sort of thing one would expect of someone who couldn’t bring himself to say the R-word, because those same oh-so-conservative white folks who made the bad drug laws (and let the bad drugs into the ghettoes) had, after all, bankrolled him. And how could Bill denounce something that had basically made him who he is? Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima are fictional figures, based on the old plantation stereotypes of happy, respectable “house negroes”, but Bill Cosby was the real, present-day thing, and he made a lot of boodle pushing Jell-O Pudding Pops. Chocolate AND vanilla!

And now we know that the entire time he was preaching Respectability and shit, Bill Cosby was, in fact, pushing illegal drugs himself. Onto women. Black women, white women, didn’t make no nevermind to ol’ Bill. He liked both chocolate AND vanilla, and he preferred them all to be unconscious when he did…well, whatever it was he did to them that none of them can remember a thing of after he fed them alcohol laced with knockout drops.

When you get dozens of women all describing remarkably similar patterns of behavior, you know something is hinky in Huxtable Manor. You’d think that the word of at least 50 different women would be enough to send him up Shit Creek, but no. Nothing less than an admission of guilt — to buying Quaaludes under seven prescriptions! — was enough to finally convince respectable (cough) folks that yes, Bill Cosby DID rape all those women whom nobody believed.

What’s really shameful was how he got away with such blatant abuse for decades. Even now, Bill Cosby is still not in jail. Because, as Cee Lo Green said, it ain’t rape if you can’t remember shit. Right?

WRONG.

It IS rape when the victim can’t remember what happened between that funky-tasting drink he kept urging her to have (and which she didn’t actually want), and waking up sore between her legs the next morning while he hung around her naked self in his bathrobe, looking all weirdly smug. It is, by definition, rape — because she did not consent to being penetrated. The very fact that her assailant had to administer drugs to make her pliable ought to be a huge red flag.

But the proponents of Respectability are especially hard on women, be they chocolate or vanilla. You can’t prove anything! they say. She took that drink willingly! That means she consented to sex! Women don’t accept drinks from men unless they want to — and if they do, that makes them filthy sluts whom you should never believe!

Wrong again. Wrong, wrong, wrongity-wrong WRONG.

Taking a drink of alcohol — especially one that’s been drugged and urged upon you by a man with ulterior motives — is NOT consent. Only the word “yes”, freely and consciously given, is consent. Only if a man asks if you want to have sex, and you say you do, is it consent. There is nothing difficult or complicated or “grey” about this, people. Anything outside of that simple, clear band is coercion, and that makes these creepy encounters rape. By definition.

But even now, the proponents of Respectability are still trying to spin this to make their misogyny (and their misogynoir) look normal. You see some mighty strange things at the corner of Racist and Sexist, including old married ladies who, even knowing that their husbands have done wrong, still defend him as though their own lives depended on his innocence. Yes, Camille Cosby, I’m talking about YOU here. Being his business manager, as well as his wife, no doubt gives you a stake in his “respectable” image…and also makes you complicit in his crimes, when all’s said. After all, covering up a crime is a crime in itself.

Bill Cosby is no Trayvon Martin. He’s no Emmett Till, either. There is no need to defend him in the name of black kids who couldn’t defend themselves. He is perfectly capable of sticking up for himself if he so pleases. Nobody’s lynching him for crimes he did not commit. He’s still walking free, and still making money off his public appearances, where he routinely tells unfunny “jokes” about how to get women to “have sex with” you by drugging them. And it seems that he will go right on doing so until a warrant goes out for his arrest — or someone flings rotten tomatoes and makes them stick, whichever comes first. Money, and the appearance of respectability it confers, goes a long way toward excusing just about anything, you see. And he’s still making it by the bucketful. In his sleep, even.

Yes, I do believe it is finally okay to loathe Bill Cosby and his fucking pudding pops. And all the racism and sexism that he’s perpetuated in the name of Respectability, too.

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“Behind closed doors”: How domestic violence led to a rampage in Austria

graz-memorial

Another day, another rampage, another vigil. This time, it’s in the downtown pedestrian zone of Graz, where a young man drove at full speed into a crowd…on purpose. What lurks behind such “senseless” violence? EMMA investigated, and found the following:

Just imagining it puts a lump in one’s throat. On a summer day around 12 noon in the middle of Graz, a man flooring it at 150 km/h in a pedestrian zone kills three people. Exactly where passersby stroll and people sit at café tables. He just mows them down with his green SUV, adults and children alike.

Then he gets out and attacks a couple with a knife. Gets back in, and races on through the inner city. Three people die immediately, 36 are injured, some of them clinging to life. “The inner city is like an open wound. It will take a long time to heal,” says Austrian minister of the Interior, Johanna Mikl-Leitner.

The man in question is a 26-year-old truck driver. He grew up near Graz, after leaving war-torn Bosnia with his family as a small boy. He is believed to have suffered a psychotic break on the day in question, according to authorities. But at the same time, he must have planned his crime exactly. Otherwise it would be impossible to explain how he could have backed up for such a distance with his SUV before he hit the gas and then raced toward the people and chased them down in a targeted manner. Psychologist Salvatore Giacomuzzi, of the University of Innsbruck, speaks of “ice-cold calculation”.

The Bosnian man who drove his green SUV into the pedestrian zone is now sitting in the Jakomini jail in Graz. His process has just begun; until now, he was impossible to talk to. So we still know very little.

In the report of the rampage in the Styrian capital city there is, however, another detail that brings a lump to one’s throat. But the fear, in this case, creeps up rather slowly. When local police director Josef Klamminger speaks of a “relationship crime”. The 26-year-old has already previously “shown himself to be violent”. But not in public; behind closed doors at home. In May, he was charged with violence against his wife and two sons in their home. Even before that, the police had been called to the scene several times. Once, the police confiscated a rifle. The wife, according to various media, has fled with the children to Bosnia. According to other press reports, the wife was arrested and interrogated in Graz on Sunday, but had known nothing of her husband’s plans. She had filed for divorce some time ago.

A man very injured in his pride, who is capable of driving his SUV at 150 into a pedestrian zone — what could he be capable of doing behind closed doors, where no one can see him?

Of course, such a rampage doesn’t just create a nationwide shock, but a wave of sympathy for the victims and their loved ones, too. Of course such rampages are followed by expert analyses over violence in general, and the question of what could drive a 26-year-old to do such a thing, and how it could be prevented in future.

But just as naturally, precisely because of its details, this case should become an occasion to talk about a form of violence that, even in 2015, is blanketed in silence and in this case, is directly connected: Domestic violence. Which happens every day, without anyone knowing about it. Which unleashes no national shock or public mourning. Even though thousands, if not millions, are affected by it. All the women, who fall victim to the terrorism of their boyfriends and husbands each and every day: rampagers behind closed doors.

In Austria, on average, an estimated 30 women are killed by their (ex-)husbands or (ex-)boyfriends every year. “Often, the murder is the terrible climax of a long history of violence, and usually, the murderers make their crimes known ahead of time,” according to the Austrian Women’s Help Line Against Violence in their yearly report from 2014. The femicides are “just the tip of the iceberg; the level of reported violence against women is very high and the number of unreported crimes is presumably much higher still.” Of the more than 8,000 callers to the hotline that year, 7,000 were female.

Meanwhile, the Agency of the European Union for Basic Rights found in a Europe-wide study that every fifth Austrian woman over the age of 15 falls victim to physical or sexual violence. Every tenth one suffers violence from a partner or ex-partner. In Germany, it’s no better: Every third woman falls victim to physical or sexual assault, every fifth one within or after the breakup of a relationship. Germany represents the European average with those figures. And this too is in the report: The majority of these victims don’t report partner violence to the police or an aid organization.

Even rampages, according to recent history, are all too often motivated by hatred toward (strong) women. Two examples among many: In Montréal, Québec, in 1989, Marc Lépine opened fire on female students in an engineering school with the words: “I hate feminists!” 25 years later, in Santa Barbara, California, mass killer Elliot Rodger wrote, before his rampage: “I’m the perfect guy and yet you throw yourselves at these obnoxious men instead of me, the supreme gentleman….I will attack the very girls who represent everything I hate in the female gender: The hottest sorority of UCSB.”

Such statements, so far, are not known in Graz. But looking at the depressing details of that rampage, one question keeps coming up: How can we get large violent outbreaks under control, when we ignore the small ones so criminally? It’s not surprising that violence that goes on unhindered for months or years behind closed doors can explode, can at some point break out on a larger stage — such as the downtown core of Graz. Above all, when the lightning rod suddenly disappears. For the wife of the rampager of Graz has dared to do something, that most victims of domestic violence take a long time to do, if at all: She escaped from her tormentor.

Translation mine.

So we can see a number of layers of social trouble at work here. Domestic violence as precursor to violent rampages in the street; the lingering mental torments of the Balkan wars in survivors; the shockingly high number of assaults on women by intimate male partners in both Austria and Germany (and remember, these countries represent the European median for inter-partner violence of this nature); and the prevalence, throughout the world, of spoiled, entitled males exacting a gory “revenge” on women when they don’t get their way, be it in work or in love.

Most significant, for me, is the fact that this man (and presumably, his wife as well) is a survivor of the Bosnian conflict. In the Balkans, violence against women was a weapon of war, and a grotesque means of “ethnic cleansing”. Raping a woman on the enemy side, leaving her pregnant with an enemy’s child — this happened thousands of times. It’s a trauma that has marked and scarred women and girls from the 1990s to this day. Yet as traumatic as it is for the female survivors, none of them to date has gone on a violent rampage. It’s always been their partners. Why?

Could it be, maybe, the fact that their “manhood” was somehow offended by all the mass assaults on “their” women — a reproach against their “failure” to “defend” their “honor” properly? And that ever since that time, they’ve been trying to “get their manhood back” by taking out their rage and controlling impulses on the women, rather than dealing with the unresolved pain of that time in a more constructive manner?

If that’s the case, then it’s little wonder that this one ran amuck when his wife left him. When she escaped his violent, bullying control, she stripped him of what was left of his perceived “manhood”.

The only really surprising thing, in the end, is that this hasn’t happened more often. It’s not as if there’s any lack of motives, means or opportunity. Machismo and sexism are global problems. And that’s why trying to prevent individual rampages like this will probably fail; society is failing to tackle the root causes of male rage and vengefulness. Instead, it’s putting the onus and the blame on women, when it should be teaching men to stop viewing women as “property” that is “ruined” by another man’s hand. Until we collectively make machismo, rage and violence obsolete, we can only expect more of the same.

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Posted in Balkan Yogurt, Bullies, Confessions of a Bad German, Isn't That Illegal?, Law-Law Land, Men Who Just Don't Get It, Uppity Wimmin. Comments Off on “Behind closed doors”: How domestic violence led to a rampage in Austria »

German women take on brothel ads

brothel-ad

Karina Alteweier, a physician assistant in Leverkusen, Germany, points out an example of the kind of advertising she’s fighting in her city. Right next to it, a children’s musical is advertised. The brothel’s name, address, and other details are blocked out, but you can see that a day pass to enter the premises costs 55 euros. That’s dirt cheap, considering what it costs the women and girls who are typically imported from Eastern Europe to service those places (because there are not many German women who would freely contemplate such a job). EMMA interviewed Karina about what she does when she sees such ads…which, by the way, are illegal according to the local vice code.

EMMA: Frau Alteweier, you’ve been fighting for years against brothel advertising in your city. You’ve even gone to the complaint department of the mayor’s office.

KA: Exactly. I informed them there that according to Paragraphs 119 and 120 of the vice code, advertising for brothels is not allowed.

EMMA: How did you get involved against brothel advertising?

KA: One morning in 2011, on my way to work, I saw a huge billboard for the megabrothel “Pascha”, in Köln. My head exploded. I can’t accept that prostitution gets advertised as if it were ice cream — as if it were the most normal thing in the world. For me, as a woman, that’s discriminatory. And what image of women does that give our young people? I’m the mother of a 21-year-old son, and it’s horrific for me to imagine him going to a bordello. When I asked him about it, he got mad and said, “Mama, how can you think such a thing?”

And moreover, what effect must such an ad have on the victims of sexual abuse? For a woman who was abused as a child or a teenager, it must be like a slap in the face to see the sexual availability of women being advertised so casually.

EMMA: What did you do?

KA: I complained everywhere. I even called the police. There, they were very cranky and downright rude. And at the company that rents the ad space, an employee waved me off: “What’s the matter with you, that’s a chic photo!” So I went to the city offices, where there’s always an open ear for me. I also turned to the press. They reported it in a big, critical way. Some of the ads also hung along a school route, and mothers protested against that as well. Then the ads disappeared.

EMMA: The Pascha ads haven’t appeared again since then. But now there’s a megabrothel in Erkrath advertising for some time with the headline “100 Girls”.

KA: It all started with small flyers pasted up on bridges. I also complained about that to the city. So then the city put up signs in various places: “No advertising!” Meanwhile, this brothel has been putting up huge billboards. I counted them. Here in Leverkusen alone, there are at least ten. So then I called the city offices and had those ads taken down too, but it took three weeks. So my complaints have almost always had results.

EMMA: But that’s not enough for you.

KA: No. I don’t want to have to complain again and again every time there’s an ad. I want the city to make clear that it won’t tolerate any brothel advertising, and that ad space must not be rented to brothels in the first place. For that reason, on May 11, I wrote another letter of complaint to the city and asked to make use of my right to speak to the complaint department.

EMMA: How did the department react?

KA: Before the session, they sent me back a letter saying that there is a “changed understanding on the part of the public regarding prostitution”, and that one would have to deal with the advertising on a “case by case” basis. For instance, one would have to see if there were hints of “forced” prostitution, or “prostitution of minors”. As if they would write that on their billboards! Also, there are other cities, like for example Bremen, that don’t allow any brothel advertising at all.

EMMA: How did the complaint department respond to that?

KA: I told them again that advertising for prostitution is illegal, and then read them the corresponding paragraphs. I also told them that I know many people in my area who are not at all tolerant of prostitution, and don’t find this brothel advertising acceptable at all. But some of the department members didn’t listen to me at all, and just talked amongst themselves. They didn’t want to discuss it, either. After my presentation, they decided to keep things as they were. Luckily, a lady from the press was sitting next to me. She was disgusted at their ignorance and offered to write an article about this consultation.

EMMA: Meanwhile, you have the support of equality commissioner Sabine Rusch-Witthorn.

KA: She accompanied me to the sitting at my request, and plans to keep going with the topic.

EMMA: You too?

KA: Naturally! I have so much support. My chief physician and my colleagues all share my opinion completely. Whenever they read an article on the matter in the paper, they say: “You’re completely right, we see it that way too!” And there are always lots of supportive letters from the readers. That affirms and encourages me, naturally. I’m sticking with it; I can’t do otherwise. Every time I see such an ad, my motor starts running again.

Translation mine.

Karina’s battle is uphill, and little wonder: Germany’s bordellos bring in billions of euros a year in gross revenue. There are nearly half a million women in prostitution there, most of them foreigners. It’s a vicious circle: Legalization creates normalization; normalization creates demand; demand spurs traffickers to increase the supply of prostituted persons from out of country; more supply, more normalization; more normalization, more money!

And as long as the brothel operators pay their taxes and the police don’t get too many calls about violence on the premises (even though it happens, and far more often than is mentioned in the media), the city authorities don’t much care what goes on in there. It takes nothing less than the most flagrant human rights abuses, disease outbreaks, and accusations of human trafficking that stick before a bordello gets shuttered. The money apparently matters more than the well-being of the girls, who are typically under 20 and speak little German (or English) beyond what it takes to reel off a price list and negotiate a transaction. It’s a situation where abuse isn’t a glitch, it’s a feature.

And if you think it’s any safer in brothels than it is on the street, read Rebecca Mott’s interview here and find out why pro-prostitution campaigners are so eager to push the “indoors = harm reduction” meme. You’ll see it has a lot less to do with prostituted people’s safety than it does with lack of accountability, and the abusers’ and exploiters’ ability to get away with everything (up to and including murder). Off the street is out of sight, and out of sight is out of mind…or so the pimp lobby reckons.

Of course, as brazen as they are, they reckoned without the likes of Karina and her colleagues, who aren’t fooled by all this defensive, dismissive talk of a “changed morality” in Germany. It’s a bald-faced lie that all German women support prostitution, seeing it as an “escape valve” for “dangerous impulses” that would otherwise lead to rape. Rape is still happening, and in fact is more rampant than ever; unprostituted women are now afraid to walk through red-light districts because drunken brothel patrons often accost them on the street! (Normalization creates demand, remember?)

It’s also a lie that the country is better and happier since prostitution was legalized in 2001. It might be richer in some small parts, thanks to horny foreigners on sex tours, but that’s not an improvement! The wealth is not trickling down. Most prostitutes are desperately poor when they enter, and no better off when they exit. Women are still being assaulted, abused and murdered, and many of them are in prostitution when it happens. The closed doors of the brothel conceal a multitude of crimes against humanity. And the spillover from that reaches onto the streets, too…where prostitution hasn’t exactly abated, either.

These activists, however, know their local laws and are disgusted with the blatant abuses going on under their noses. And they will not stop opposing the pimps’ efforts to turn a profit at everyone else’s expense. Even those with no children to worry about can figure out for themselves what it must feel like to someone who was sexually abused at an early age to see acts similar to those committed against her being “legally” advertised for sale…on a billboard, a wall, or a city bus. To such individuals, the city authorities’ reluctance to step in and stop it must feel like a whole fresh round of abuse.

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Nudity blamed for earthquake, AGAIN…

mount-kinabalu-tourists-stripping

Tourists on Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia, stripping down…very much against local law.

Hey! Remember the Boobquake of a few years back, when some silly mullah in Iran blamed women’s “immodest dress” for causing earthquakes in that land (which happens to be located on a number of major geological faultlines, and therefore, is prone to earthquakes no matter what)? Well, something happened in Malaysia recently that is kinda-sorta like that, and this time, it’s immodest foreigners being blamed:

Rescuers recovered the bodies of 11 more climbers from Malaysia’s highest peak on Saturday, a day after it was struck by a strong earthquake, bringing the total number of dead to 13.

Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan blamed the tragedy on a group of 10 foreigners who “showed disrespect to the sacred mountain” by posing naked at the peak last week. He said a special ritual would be conducted later to “appease the mountain spirit.”

According to a police report, the two Canadian tourists involved in the incident are Lindsey Petersen and Danielle Petersen. Along with two Dutch and a German national, they broke away from their entourage and stripped naked before taking photos at the mountain peak on May 30, officials have said.

Five of the tourists are believed to still be in Malaysia and will be barred from leaving on the offence of gross indecency, police have said.

Actually, silly naked tourists did NOT cause this disaster. Malaysia, like Iran, is situated on top of a VERY geologically active bit of the Earth’s crust, where several tectonic plates are in conflict with one another. This particular hotspot is one of the most volcanically active areas on Earth.

So it’s not too surprising that local natives, who probably don’t have a whole lot of modern geophysical knowledge at their disposal, would have evolved a set of beliefs and superstitions about the frequent earthquakes and volcanic activity that rock their homeland, causing death and destruction. And if the spirits and deities of the mountains aren’t appeased, so the logic goes, bad things happen. Or if uppity foreigners come in, all ignorant of local customs, and offend them — same thing.

Of course, nudity and immodesty don’t cause earthquakes. The ground under our feet doesn’t care what we wear. We could all go starkers anytime we wanted and it wouldn’t make a difference. The only thing that does make a difference is whether your particular patch of dirt is located on or near a massive subduction zone.

But try telling that to the local authorities of Malaysia, who are already none too keen on foreigners coming in and doing idiotic stunts on sacred ground just for the sake of some forgettable postings on Instagram or Facebook. These bozos came with the intent of creating some transgressive memories for life, and got a LOT more than they bargained for, thanks to the worst timing ever. But even if their timing didn’t suck, they still would have landed in deep shit. Why tempt a government that is already itching to prosecute foreigners for the slightest infraction? YOLO is the philosophy of the Hardcore Stupid.

Meanwhile, Mark Morford has the sanest take on the whole loopy tragedy. Read it, and if you take anything at all away from this incident, let it be that you, as a visitor in another country, should still be mindful and respectful of local customs…whether you agree with the beliefs behind them or not.

Aside from local customs, you should also be aware of the dangers if you’re travelling in a region known for its geological hazards, as Malaysia is. Scaling the highest mountain in the region on a lark, only to get blamed for an earthquake, is a seriously stupid way to round out your bucket list.

If you don’t end up kicking the bucket prematurely, that is.

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Cops Behaving Badly: A foretaste of C-51?

Via Canadaland, a little whiff of what the cops have already got cooking for us lowly, democracy-loving peons:

What an interesting* statement from the Mountie! “Attacking the Canadian economy”, just by PROTESTING the Harper government’s piss-poor handling of it? Shades of the 2010 G20 demos in Toronto, when a cop told protesters that “this ain’t Canada right now”.

Meanwhile, here’s what constitutional legal expert Rocco Galati has to say about all that:

Note that Mr. Galati is Italian. No doubt he knows a thing or two about Fascism, just as I, being German, know a thing or two about Nazism.

Of course, only bad Germans complained about Nazism when it became the law of the land. Bad Germans like my grandpa Becker, who was absolutely no leftist. But he was a mouthy man, and he had the audacity to complain about how you could no longer buy decent shoes thanks to that shitty Austrian usurper. And got called up on the carpet by the Gestapo, and received oblique death threats to his four children, of whom my father was the oldest, just for those casual remarks.

The “good Germans”, as we have so often been told, sat on their hands and let it happen. Just as we good Canadians, with nothing to hide, are now being expected to do with C-51…which is not law just yet.

*”Interesting” in the sense of the old Chinese curse, of course.

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