“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.

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.

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.

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.

“El Colombia”, assassin of Robert Serra, extradited to Venezuela

Video of Venezuelan National Assembly president Diosdado Cabello, on his VTV show, Con el Mazo Dando (“Giving it to them with a club”), promising that soon, the Colombian paramilitary thug who murdered PSUV deputy Robert Serra and his girlfriend, María Herrera, last October in their Caracas home, will be extradited to face justice in Venezuela. That extradition took place yesterday, as Venezuelan federal officials arrived at Simón Bolívar Airport in Maiquetía to pick up the trash:

el-colombia-extradition

Meanwhile, it appears that the assassin’s gruesome work was a family affair. From Últimas Noticias, via Contrainjerencia, we learn that the ringleader’s wife and son were in the bloody tapioca up to their eyeballs, too:

The criminal named Padilla Leiva, known as “El Colombia”, who planned and directed the crime against Venezuelan parliamentary deputy Robert Serra and María Herrera, has the distinction of being a bloodthirsty man and also, of having taken the lives of two men in La Yaguara two weeks before the assassination, according to sources linked to the investigation.

According to the source, “El Colombia” and his son, known as “El Eme” (“M”), were the ones who proceeded to kill Serra and Herrera with an icepick and a knife, since the idea was not to make any noise. They stabbed him 20 times in the chest and four in the back. One of the final stab wounds, which penetrated from the side, is considered to be the mortal one, since it affected several vital organs. President Nicolás Maduro said, on Wednesday at a press conference, that first they took the life of the parliamentarian and then, as they were on their way downstairs and out of the house, they killed María Herrera.

The wife of “El Colombia” and mother of “El Eme”, a woman named Neila Palomino, had also taken part, as she was in charge of acquiring the cell phones used in the criminal operation, which were returned once the deed was done.

The source indicated that “El Colombia” was contracted for a large sum of money by another Colombian, linked to Colombian paramilitary gangs. His capture is considered key by the authorities.

According to the source, the group had been contracted to commit the crime against the deputy and the planning of the assassination took place in Caracas more than two months before. There arose the need to buy off one of Serra’s bodyguards and that is when they managed to contact Edwin Torres Camacho, known as “El Poli”, who facilitated for them all movements within the home, the parliamentarian’s routines, the exact location of the rooms, and how to enter. As well as furnishing them with all the information, the day of the crime, Torres was the person in charge of opening the door to the house and letting in the rest of the five criminals.

Torres Camacho, who at the time of the crime was an active functionary of the Caracas police, was at Serra’s wake, attended the entire funeral and even participated in the murdered politician’s honor guard at the National Assembly. He was interrogated on a Saturday night at the CICPC [criminal-investigative federal police] headquarters, after Serra’s burial, along with all the persons who comprised the inner circle of the deceased (bodyguards, assistants and some family members), and later was detained by the SEBIN [Bolivarian Intelligence Service] in the residences of the Housing Mission beside the Los Leones bridge, in the La Paz suburb.

They committed the crime. Six days before the double murder, several of the criminals were on site to corroborate and verify the entire zone, the escape routes, and the means of entering the home.

The day of the crime, Serra was in a political meeting, and that night, when he returned home, he called his brother and invited him to dinner, since María Herrera was cooking.

Almost immediately, the criminals arrived at the deputy’s residence in La Pastora, in a red Ford pickup truck and on a motorcycle.

When the criminals entered the home, they overpowered, bound and gagged the victims before killing them. All of this took place between five and six minutes. “They went directly to kill him,” said president Nicolás Maduro, after showing a video in which one could see the entry and exit of the criminals.

The assassins stole a watch from the deputy, and carried off a computer, maybe thinking that all the closed-circuit TV recordings [from the security cameras] were stored in it. There were other objects of value in the house, such as cellphones, laptops, an iPad, and tablets, which were not removed by the criminals.

When they left, there was a problem, because the keys to the motorbike were not there. Torres Camacho related, in a video shown by the president, that they went three blocks with the motorbike turned off, and later abandoned it and exited the area in a taxi.

Translation mine.

Jesus H. Christ. Imagine being so cold-blooded a contract killer that you’d even take your own young son along to help you overpower, tie up, gag and then stab two good, innocent people to death. Even the Mafia could take lessons in sheer gruesomeness from the Colombian paracos.

And the sheer amount of planning and premeditation needed to commit so grisly a crime in so short a time span is remarkable, too. Two months, or more, just to buy off a police bodyguard, and familiarize themselves with the house and the neighborhood. Little wonder that it only took them five or six minutes, from entry to exit. That’s the mark of professional killers, hired by somebody with an awful lot of motive and means. This was not a botched armed robbery, in other words.

Who hired them? Robert Serra knew who the likely culprits were; he even called them out by name not long before he was murdered. The Venezuelan federal authorities undoubtedly know who they are, too. Several of them are in custody; others are on the run. And they are running scared.

And the fact that they have ties to Colombia can only mean one thing: that El Narco Uribe himself was, and still is, a key player in the plot to balkanize and subdue Venezuela, starting with its westernmost states, which border on Colombia and see a lot of spillover of military and paramilitary anti-guerrilla crime from there. After all, paramilitarism flourished on his watch, as part of his scheme to destroy the FARC. How it must gall him to know that he is out of office, for good, while they are still alive and operating without missing a beat!

Posted in Cops Behaving Badly, El NarcoPresidente, Fascism Without Swastikas, Filthy Stinking Rich, Fine Young Cannibals, Huguito Chavecito, Isn't That Illegal?, Sick Frickin' Bastards. Comments Off on “El Colombia”, assassin of Robert Serra, extradited to Venezuela »

New putschist plans surface in Venezuela

Oho, what’s this? Another putschist conspiracy in Venezuela? ¡Por supuesto! And this little conversation between two big pieces of shit was captured in none other than the jailhouse where the two are currently cooling their heels. Here are the details of what’s being said, courtesy Contrainjerencia:

On Monday, exclusive audio was broadcast in which a conversation between the far-right-wing politician, Leopoldo López, and the former mayor of San Cristóbal, Táchira, Daniel Ceballos, was revealed. The two were making plans to destabilize Venezuela, similar to the violent acts of early 2014, from their respective cells in the Ramo Verde jail in Caracas.

The recording was presented on VTV’s “Cayendo y Corriendo”, hosted by Miguel Pérez Pirela. It reveals step by step the strategy by López and Ceballos to foment new acts of violence with the objective of “turning the country around”.

In the recording, one can hear López calling for a street demonstration on next Saturday, May 30. “Lots of kids are going to throw [a demonstration],” he said, meaning he is ordering young people out as cannon fodder.

Later Ceballos can be heard planning to pitch camps in front of the United Nations office in Venezuela, in order to obtain “some kind of impact” in the National Electoral Council (CNE).

Later, both can be heard plotting how to make “viral” the new protest in the right-wing news media, and proposing to “buy time” by staging a hunger strike of five to ten days.

“We have to figure out where we’re going to put the beasts,” that is, the paramilitaries from Colombia who are already in country, say Ceballos and López during the conversation.

Leopoldo López has been in Ramo Verde prison since February 2014, after handing himself in to the authorities days after promoting and inciting the vandalism and guarimba violence that left 43 dead, with the intent of deposing the legitimate president, Nicolás Maduro.

[…]

In March, members of the Committee of Victims of the Guarimba met with the High Commission of the United Nations for Human Rights, Zed Raad Hussein, and fingered Leopoldo López and other opposition leaders as responsible for the violence that took place in 2014, leaving more than 600 injured and 43 dead.

Ceballos, for his part, went to prison for supporting the violence in the city of San Cristóbal, a locality designated by the right-wing as a bastion to initiate destabilization.

A few days ago, the People’s Ombud of Venezuela, Tarek William Saab, stated in a special interview with Telesur that the opposition is seeking to demolish the democratic institutions of the land, with threats of new demonstrations over the supposed “violation of the rights of López and Ceballos”.

Saab made the statement following the broadcast of video recorded by Leopoldo López, in which López makes a call for violence and announces a hunger strike along with the ex-mayor of San Cristóbal, Daniel Ceballos.

Translation mine.

Well, how do you like that? Prettyboy Leo (who, by now, is showing his age and thus, not such a pretty boy anymore) has decided to pay back Madurito for saving his miserable, no-good life…by trying to kill him all over again. And his ol’ buddy Ceballos, who brought Colombian paramilitaries in through the border state of Táchira and let them terrorize his own city, San Cristóbal, is in on it too.

So, kiddies, long story short: If you see anything about “pro-democracy” demos in Venezuela in the next few days, don’t believe a word of it. They’re not demonstrating for democracy, but against it. As usual. Because the Venezuelan opposition are sore losers for whom democracy means nothing. They showed as much in 2002, when they tried and failed to dislodge the democratically elected (and hugely popular) Chavecito. They did so again last year, trying and failing to dislodge the also-democratically-elected (and also popular) Nicolás Maduro. They did it in October of last year, too, when they brought in Colombian paramilitaries to murder the popular, democratically elected young parliamentarian, Robert Serra of the PSUV. And they’ve got more Colombians in country now, posing as Venezuelans in order to destroy Venezuelans. They fully intend to keep on trying to destroy democracy in Venezuela.

They don’t have a democratic bone in their bodies.

A few random thoughts on the Duggar scandal

duggars-persecution

Would you trust these people to teach YOU morality? If the answer is yes, you just might be a Pharisee.

So, this happened. Finally, after years of parading their nauseating Quiverfull sanctimony on the Internets and TV to the tune of big, BIG bucks, the Duggars are off the air. How come?

Well, it seems that their eldest son, Josh, was a very naughty boy. And a very hypocritical man, too, for years after the fact. And they themselves aided and abetted him by sweeping his abuse — much of it downright incestuous — under the rug. And by throwing his victims — their own daughters — under the bus.

So it’s kind of sweet to see them finally reaping a little bit of what they sowed. And no small relief to know that they’ve been denied at least one major media mouthpiece for their despicable views. I’m guessing that ol’ Jim Bob and Michelle might want to put off trying for Sprog #20 indefinitely now, seeing as their gravy train — or clown car, rather — has screeched to a sudden halt.

But hold your hosannas, folks, because there’s not much to cheer about here.

For starters: Josh Duggar never did any time for his crimes. The abuses in question all took place over a decade ago. For a dozen years or more, several girls have been carrying this heavy secret around, effectively covering for their abuser. They don’t dare speak out themselves, because that would call the entire Quiverfull movement (a cult, really) into question. Because its teachings are heavily to blame for both their molestation and its cover-up.

And then there’s the big question of how they were treated following the assaults. Did they get proper counselling and treatment for the traumas they endured? I don’t know, but somehow I doubt it. Did they get slut-shamed by the all-male cult “headship” for “tempting” him with their budding young bodies? I don’t know either, but I certainly wouldn’t doubt it. For a fertility cult, the Quiverfulls sure do rely a lot on female chastity. And they make sure it’s enforced through a strict, home-schooled “purity culture”, heavy on patriarchal dogma and light on useful knowledge. Their overall education is far from comprehensive (or accurate), so I’m guessing that their sexual education is at best sketchy. Knowledge is power, and the fact that the junior Duggars have been brought up on an unholy broth of ignorance and lies doesn’t bode well for their future autonomy. Unless, of course, they do what a growing number of the Phelps clan have done, and exit the family cult. (Run, Jinger, RUN!)

And then there’s the fact that Josh Duggar has actually done quite well for himself and his own Quiverfull brood in the interim, working for an infamous right-wing stink tank, the Family Research Council. He had to resign when this scandal finally grew beyond all hope of damage control, but the real damage he did while in their employ is still being felt by women and queerfolk. After all, those wingnuts he worked for helped keep Arkansas in the transphobic Dark Ages. And they did it by enlisting Josh’s mom, Michelle Duggar, to record a disgusting robocall about evil, wicked trans people out to rape everyone’s sweet, virginal daughters. It worked, too: Arkansas’s proposed anti-discrimination law didn’t pass.

Never mind that the biggest threat to women and girls is not the imaginary man-in-drag claiming to be a woman so he can break into bathrooms to sexually assault little girls, that “queer” variation on the hoary old theme of Stranger Danger. Never mind that actual cases of women or girls being assaulted by such individuals simply don’t exist. No, let’s all go on ignoring the real threat, that smirking dough-ball in a suit, who pushed crapaganda about phantom menaces while keeping his own very real sex crimes hidden in the old family closet.

Even some otherwise intelligent radical feminists have fallen for that lie, which is a testimony to the insidious power of the Duggars and their ilk. It’s also a testimony to the power of dogma and antiquated ideology. Here’s a pro tip, my rad-fem comrades: If you find your views on gender dovetailing inextricably with those of the Religious Reich, you’re not pushing for women’s liberation anymore. You’re pushing against it, and you don’t even know it.

And here’s another, just for good measure: Trans women are not “really men”, they are really WOMEN. And they’re being abused by the same people who are selling you those dirty lies about their gender. When a trans woman is forced to use the men’s room because she doesn’t “pass”, and she gets assaulted for it, that’s abuse. That’s on all of those who pushed to keep trans people’s rights unprotected. And if you joined in that push, congratulations: You’ve made common cause with the enemies of all women.

You want to liberate women from patriarchy? Great! Then recognize your trans sisters as women. Stop fretting over what’s between their legs. Learn their concerns; you’ll find that they mesh nicely with yours. Bigotries tend to cluster, so a unified front — that’s the real meaning of intersectionality — is needed to combat them. Don’t do the bigots’ work for them! Fight the patriarchy and its dogmas, not the trans women who are their victims.

And if you meet a trans woman in the public toilets, don’t panic. Remember, she’s there for the same reasons you are. You didn’t come to perpetrate a sexual assault? Good, because neither did she. Isn’t it a relief to know that she’s only there to relieve herself, same as you?

And if any man is lurking in the vicinity, waiting for victims, I doubt very much that he’d bother to dress in drag first. Unless, of course, his costume is that of the fine, upstanding family man who can do no wrong. That one fools the whole world, every single time.

Another paramilitary band broken up in Venezuela

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Venezuelan federal authorities are always on the lookout for paramilitaries. And no wonder: Ever since Chavecito rose to power (and Madurito succeeded him), the old ruling classes have had this ongoing problem with actual, functioning, democratically-elected government. They don’t want to fade into irrelevance; they always have to do something to keep their profile up. But since they are terminally discredited, with barely any support even among their upper-class cohort, well…they have a little problem on their well-manicured hands. And to cover up that, they have resorted to creating other problems, big ones, which they can then blame on the Bolivarian government. They hire paramilitaries from Colombia, import them to whichever part of Venezuela they’re looking to create chaos in, and turn them loose on the unsuspecting locals.

There’s only one problem with that little scheme. Namely, that the paramilitaries keep getting busted by those aforementioned, ever-alert federales:

Following operations of dissuasion, prevention and intelligence, the criminal band “Gamma”, which operated in the municipality of Sucre in the state of Miranda, was dismantled, according to the minister of Interior Relations, Justice and Peace, Gustavo González López.

In a press conference at the headquarters of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN), in Caracas, González explained that the criminal organization was dedicated to creating fake identity cards, kidnapping, extortion, robbery, as well as assassinations, drug and weapons trafficking, and intimidating the locals.

In a broadcast on VTV, González stated that the members of the criminal band are now in custody. Among them: Minimo de Jesús González Prieto (head of the gang); Alexis Prieto (lieutenant); Roberto Prieto (chief of logistics), García Granado (chief tough guy), and the assassin. Four other persons are still being sought.

“We are after the financiers, with elements who operated in the same industrial sector of La Dolorita, in Sucre, Miranda, and we are sure that with our criminal and strategic intelligence work, we will continue to escalate until we find all the elements who are linked to the political use of criminal gangs,” said González López.

He added, as well, that other criminal gangs have been identified which operate in Sucre municipality, and reiterated the government’s intention to continue combating paramilitarism.

“Paramilitarism is basically a reaction, a structure of an economic elite, a financial elite, a political elite that seeks to maintain, in a crude and persistent manner, its power by whatever means or form,” said the minister.

González pointed out that the assassinations of political leaders, such as the revolutionary deputy Robert Serra, in October of last year, are not due to common crime, but paramilitarism.

“This perverse manner of attempting to confuse [the people] with the notion that we are in the presence of a small problem of common crime keeps mutating. I want to bring to your attention that this is not a problem of common crime, it is the use of common crime by paramilitaries in criminal gangs with processes,” added the minister.

Translation mine.

And here’s some video (in Spanish), in which the minister — a major-general of the Venezuelan armed forces — talks in detail about the criminal gang, its organizational structure and membership:

As you can see, these are no common criminals, although they may be using common crime as a front. They used fake IDs claiming them to be workers or unionists, but they aren’t. These are highly organized criminals whose behavioral patterns bear an unmistakable stamp of paramilitarism. Their hideout even had a tunnel leading from the bathroom to a wooded area, designed for quick escapes. They’ve also been recruiting local minors — teens ranging in age from 13 to 17 — and possibly have ties to the infamous, Colombian-led group that assassinated Robert Serra, whose members are all currently in custody and awaiting trial. Their crimes serve a blatant set of political interests: namely, those of the discredited old ruling class, who are currently glorified in the media as “the opposition”. And that’s what makes them political criminals.

Posted in El NarcoPresidente, Fascism Without Swastikas, Filthy Stinking Rich, Fine Young Cannibals, Guns, Guns, Guns, Huguito Chavecito, Isn't That Illegal?. Comments Off on Another paramilitary band broken up in Venezuela »

The ugly truth about Baltimore

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Her sign says it all. Photo: Harry Fear.

Whenever I hear about Baltimore — Maryland, that is, as there’s a Baltimore, Ontario not far from where I live — I can’t help but recall this Countee Cullen poem I first read in high school:

Once riding in old Baltimore,
Heart-filled, head-filled with glee,
I saw a Baltimorean
Keep looking straight at me.

Now I was eight and very small,
And he was no whit bigger,
And so I smiled, but he poked out
His tongue, and called me, ‘Nigger.’

I saw the whole of Baltimore
From May until December;
Of all the things that happened there
That’s all that I remember.

The poem is called, simply, “Incident”.

Baltimore, it seems, is characterized by just such incidents. A few days ago, I’m pretty sure, certain Baltimoreans were saying that and other such things to a young black man named Freddie Gray, as they were beating him to a bloody pulp. Quite literally, too, as his spine was crushed in eight places.

Freddie Gray was buried just the other day, and the good people of Baltimore turned out in force to mourn. And to protest, too — peacefully, as good people do. And the protest stayed peaceful, according to The Real News (which is headquartered in Baltimore), until a gang showed up to cause trouble.

Now, this gang is feared throughout the city, but especially so in the black folks’ part of town. Their color is blue. Their badge is in the shape of a shield. You can never miss them coming, because they have flashers and sirens on all their cars. They are heavily armed and known for their violence.

And if your color is black or brown, you run from them on sight. Run like hell. Run like Freddie Gray. You run by instinct, because you know they mean you no good.

Sure, some say that if Freddie hadn’t run, if he hadn’t resisted, he’d still be alive today. But the black folks of Baltimore know the ugly truth about the Baltimore Police Department. They know that even if Freddie had just dropped to the ground, flat on his face with hands behind his back, waiting to be cuffed, they would probably still have kicked the shit out of him. Maybe he’d have lived, but he wouldn’t have come away unscathed. The BPD, the biggest, meanest gang in Baltimore, was out for blood, and they got it.

After all, gangs need to have their blood rites, do they not? Sure they do. And the BPD has sought to gain legitimacy with other big gangs all around the world. Why, they’ve even been to Israel, where a gang calling itself the IDF (colors: white and blue; insignia: six-pointed star) taught them and many others how to rough up rock-throwing little brown kids. And since the IDF has a decades-long history of gang-banging the Palestinians, they were a natural choice for the BPD to go to when it came time to hone their racial violence skills for the modern era. You could see just how much they learned when they turned out to suppress the peaceful protests following Freddie Gray’s funeral just the other day. They even threw rocks right back at those who tried to fend them off, those understandably angry that the cops wouldn’t even let them call for justice in peace.

Yes, the BPD learned a lot from the IDF on how to crash protests and turn them into “riots”. They learned a lot on how to find flimsy pretexts for violence, and even how to generate them if their victims failed to provide one as expected.

You say you don’t mind people protesting, as long as they do it peacefully? Well, neither do I. Only a fascist or a fool would mind! But here’s the rub: As long as police have been a force for protecting the interests of the most powerful, it’s been their habit to turn even the mildest of protests into a free-for-all. To goad people into fighting, then beat the shit out of them. Result: Rioting, looting, a veritable free-for-all. And inevitably, on the heels of such a clash, comes martial law, complete with the deployment of the army (or in the US, the National Guard). Curfews are imposed; armed gangs in green patrol the streets. And these gangs are even more fearsomely armed than the gangs in blue. They have tanks and machine guns, cannons and grenades.

Like I so often say: It’s never a riot till the cops show up. And it’s never a war until the army shows up.

If Baltimore looks like a war zone right now, that’s because it is. Two gangs are fighting for turf supremacy there. But the gangs aren’t black. They are not Crips and Bloods. They are the BPD and the National Guard, they are overwhelmingly white, and they are fighting not against each other, but side by side against a bunch of blacks, mostly young and powerless, with little or no means of self-defence. They are doing their damnedest, in this so-called post-racial era, to keep blacks down. And the best way to do that, it seems, is to keep the old lie of the violent gang-banging black man alive by galvanic reanimation.

The major media — another gang, this one with the colors of the various news channels — aids and abets them in this lie. They show only “rioters”, not peaceful protesters (who still vastly outnumber the looters and shop-burners). They make it look like Baltimore is under siege from a bunch of angry black kids, not from the gangs in blue and green. The mayor comes on to talk of “outside agitators”, and she’s right — there are plenty, but the agitators aren’t in the protests. They’re the gang in blue, whose members all live out of town, often even out of state. They have trained out of country. They have trained in a land of apartheid, to bring back apartheid in their own land.

Today it’s Baltimore. Yesterday it was Ferguson, Missouri. The day before, it was Sanford, Florida.

And in the last 50 years, it appears nothing has changed:

This is footage from the Watts “riots” in Los Angeles in 1965. It could just as easily be Baltimore…just the other day.

“Dear Madame Minister”: A German ex-prostitute’s open letter

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The no-doubt-ironically-named Paradise bordello…just one of several German brothels which were recently raided by police on suspicion of human trafficking.

Think Germany is a paradise for women in prostitution? Think again. A formerly prostituted woman has written to Manuela Schwesig, a government minister in charge of updating German prostitution laws. And what she has to say about the proposed changes is important, but it’s not an easy read:

Dear Madame Minister Schwesig,

I’m writing you today because I can see that the just-unveiled prostitution-law reform proposal has the clear markings of the bordello and pimp lobbies. That’s why I want to ask you to finally confront the reality of the red-light district instead of going on listening to people who keep retelling the fairytale of the self-determined, happy hooker.

I am exited from prostitution, in which I spent ten years. Thus I know well whereof I speak. The reasons for my entry were many: a difficult family origin, in which I was massively and also sexually traumatized by violence against my mother and myself, has had an influence on me, as did the then-widespread fairy tale about the happy prostitute. Also financial need and a lack of social and psychological help played a role.

Yes, if you like, I entered “voluntarily”. I’m one of the oft-cited “voluntary prostitutes”. But what is “voluntary”, Frau Schwesig, when a person traumatized by child abuse comes to this decision? For me, prostitution was a step up, because I had already learned that I, because I was a girl, am so helpless and without rights and am sexually abused. So I could also take money for it right away, and at least secure my own survival.

If you think that I’m a sad isolated case, I must contradict you. In those ten years I met many prostitutes, and there was not a single one among them who was not abused as a child, beaten, or raped as an adult. I have seen a psychic compulsion to keep repeating and repeating the trauma (in prostitution), and self-esteem broken by violence, in so many prostitutes. Of violence in the milieu, of the johns — who do things to us that you don’t even want to think of in your dreams — I don’t even want to start here.

Those are the realities of the milieu, Frau Schwesig, and that’s just the “voluntary” prostitutes. And yes, they too suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, dissociation, drug and alcohol addictions, because they can’t stand it. I really don’t want to talk about the fact that 90 percent of all prostitutes in Germany aren’t even from Germany. Your imagination will suffice to imagine what their life circumstances are.

Last November I wrote an open letter, because I couldn’t stand it anymore that the pro-prostitution lobby tells such fairytales as that of the free, self-determined whore. I’ve linked it for you, in case you’d like to read what it’s really like to prostitute oneself. Why do you hear that so rarely? First off, because the pro-prostitution lobby intimidates us (ever since that letter, I get really nasty e-mails, full of spite and threats), and secondly, because we exited women are too traumatized to speak.

Even non-prostituted women are affected by prostitution, because the johns are their men, and they take what they’ve learned in the brothels — namely, to despise women, to buy them, to torture them — back home to the bedrooms of their own women. Society gets brutalized, Frau Schwesig. It is an endless loop: When prostitution is legalized, the demand grows, because men learn that it’s all right to buy women’s bodies, overstep boundaries, abuse power. Availability grows, which means there is also more forced prostitution. This, again, increases the acceptance of prostitution in society, then demand grows, and so on.

90 percent of all German men have already been in a bordello. Every third one does it regularly. Do you know what goes through their heads, Frau Schwesig? I know, because I lived through it in the whorehouse. The same men, who shake your hands in a friendly way today, will spit in a prostitute’s face tomorrow during the act, get off on her gagging when she has to swallow sperm, and learn to enjoy women’s suffering. Would you like to live in such a society? That can’t be your vision!

There will never be a sexually equal society as long as men buy women and can abuse them. And there is also no “clean” prostitution!

That’s why I’m urging you not to listen to only those in favor of prostitution, who are incidentally mostly being guided by bordello owners. Go a little further into the swamp, and you’ll land among human traffickers and organized criminals. Listen to trauma therapists and exited women, too. The prostitution lobby does NOT speak for us prostitutes and ex-prostitutes! It doesn’t consist of even 100 people, who do not represent us, the 300,000 prostitutes in Germany, but intimidate us and work against our interests!

We don’t want to do this job. We don’t need legalization! We don’t need anyone who claims that we don’t want registration, mandatory condom use, etc.! Yes, we do want those things! And we would like more than anything not to have to do this job anymore. And that the men who abuse(d) us should be punished. We need alternatives, not more entanglement in the destructive, inhumane powers of the milieu!

Dear Frau Schwesig, it’s not so long ago that I left prostitution: three years. I had my first john at 18. Do you know what I would have needed most in the ten years that I was in prostitution, in which I was beaten, raped, retraumatized, despised, dehumanized and sick in body and soul? Help and a sensitized society that don’t expect me to want to “live it up” and even enjoy being abused.

I don’t know any prostitute who does it willingly. I don’t know any ex-prostitute who doesn’t have post-traumatic stress disorder. All the women I know have been wrecked in prostitution.

Please ban this inhuman, undignified prostitution. And if that’s not possible for you, then please rein it in as much as you can. Many thanks for reading my letter.

Huschke Mau.

Translation mine. Linkage as in original.

So there you have it. What’s being sold as a “paradise” is only that for sex capitalists — pimps, human traffickers, brothel owners who charge extortionate daily room rates for the women — and maybe the johns, too, who get to act out all their violent fantasies for increasingly lower flat rates, and maybe take home a whole new bag of ugly tricks to spring on the wifey. Along with a fine dose of the clap, since no one’s stopping them from insisting on condomless intercourse (it’s even advertised on the brothel menu as “AO” — “Alles Ohne”, or “everything without”. The only ones NOT benefiting from all this are, as usual, the women…German and otherwise, prostituted or not. For them, it’s a hellhole. And the government is still not listening.

PS: Huschke Mau’s first open letter is translated here. Scroll down.