Multiple choice quiz time!

1. Please study this photo of a non-routine traffic stop:

stopped-by-pigs.jpg

The above man will survive this encounter because:

a) he’s white

b) the pigs are black

c) the pigs are actual pigs, not cops. And calling cops “pigs” is an insult to actual pigs.

d) all of the above.

The reason I posted this, of course, can be found by simply googling “Ferguson”. Or following this tweeterhash, if you have the stomach.

The “most moral army in world” shits all over Gaza. Literally.

just-defending-ourselves.jpg

Israeli troops may have (momentarily) withdrawn from the Gaza Strip, but they haven’t really left it. Traces of them still cling to everything they’ve occupied, and not in a good way:

When Ahmed Owedat returned to his home 18 days after Israeli soldiers took it over in the middle of the night, he was greeted with an overpowering stench.

He picked through the wreckage of his possessions thrown from upstairs windows to find that the departing troops had left a number of messages. One came from piles of faeces on his tiled floors and in wastepaper baskets, and a plastic bottle filled with urine.

If that was not clear enough, the words “Fuck Hamas” had been carved into a concrete wall in the staircase. “Burn Gaza down” and “Good Arab = dead Arab” were engraved on a coffee table. The star of David was drawn in blue in a bedroom.

[...]

A handful of plastic chairs had their seats ripped open, through which the occupying soldiers defecated, he said. Gaping holes had been blown in four ground-floor external walls, and there was damage from shelling to the top floor. There, in the living room, diagrams had been drawn on the walls, showing buildings and palm trees in the village, with figures that Owedat thought represented their distance from the border.

“I have no money to fix this,” he said, claiming that his life savings of $10,000 (£6,000) were missing from his apartment. But at least it could be repaired, he acknowledged, gesturing through the broken glass at a wasteland stretching towards the Israel-Gaza border 3km away. “Every house between here and there has been destroyed.”

Charming. Didn’t any of their mothers toilet-train these little terrorists? Couldn’t they at least find a bathroom to do their business in? Did they wash their hands afterwards, or just wipe them down on the curtains? And where were their superior officers when these bandits robbed Ahmed of his life savings? Sucking hummus made by settlers in the Occupied Territories off their thumbs, no doubt.

Yeah, these guys have all the maturity of a diaper-dragging two-year-old. It’s a wonder they can hold a rifle straight. Doesn’t give me much confidence in their ability to wage “surgical” strikes if they can’t even clean up after themselves. Or be trusted to leave a cash stash where they found it. Land is not the only thing these guys are in the business of stealing, it seems.

And how does this “most moral army in the world” treat the children of Gaza? Like this:

Half an hour’s drive north, a similar picture was found at Beit Hanoun girls’ school, taken over by the IDF following the ground operation. Broken glass and rubble littered the floors and stairs. Tables and desks were covered in the abandoned detritus of an occupying army: hardened bread rolls, empty tins of hummus, desiccated olives, cans of energy drinks, bullet casings. Flies buzzed around the rotting food.

Here too, said the school’s caretaker, Fayez, who didn’t want to give his full name, soldiers had defecated in bins and cardboard boxes, and urinated in water bottles. “You will be fucked here” and “Don’t forget it’s time for you to die” were chalked in English on blackboards.

The Guardian notes that the new school year is slated to begin in a little over two weeks. Not much time to repair the damage and clean up the mess, in other words. Assuming that Israel doesn’t start bombing all over again, and smash that school to rubble this time, those girls will be seeing that those “moral” Israeli soldiers are all slobbering for the chance to rape and kill them. And they’ll also be smelling the lingering stench of their ordure.

The Guardian also notes that “The Israel Defence Forces did not respond to a request for comment.” Could it because they haven’t yet made up a hasbaratic “explanation” for why their brave, brave boys felt compelled to shit all over innocent people’s homes and schools?

Golly, talk about leading by example. Yep, that squeaky-clean “only democracy in the Middle East” is sure adept at persuading those barbarous Arabs of its nobility and virtue!

Manuel Zelaya speaks out: “The president of Honduras is John Kerry”

zelaya-waving.jpg

This man is the last true democratically elected president Honduras has had. Five years ago, he was deposed in a violent military putsch, backed to the hilt by Washington. Manuel Zelaya was sent into exile, very much against his will, and even more so against the will of the Honduran people. Ever since then, there’s been a campaign to silence all critics of the US-imposed puppet régimes (there have been three so far) in the wake of the coup. Sham elections have not been enough to buy off the populace, and criticism has been growing. This year, things came to a head when child refugees from Central America, thousands of them, began arriving at the border with Mexico, unaccompanied by adults, but often in possession of their birth certificates and other documents identifying them and their countries of origin. Honduras is heavily represented among those lands, and if you wonder why, let the last real president of the land explain it all to you:

A short time after the fifth anniversary of the coup d’état that brought down his government, former Honduran president Manuel Zelaya spoke with Miradas al Sur about the current situation in Honduras and Latin America.


Manuel Zelaya only began to be affectionately called “Mel” by large parts of the population of Honduras in the second half of his mandate as president there. Until then, and for a good part of the peoples of Latin America, he had only been the progressive face of the Honduran Liberal Party, one of the traditional axes of power in the Central American country. But as of 2008, his way of wielding power began to turn toward the creation of a state closer to the humble folk, and more disposed toward solidarity with the popular sectors not only of his own land, but of all the Caribbean. Zelaya put conservative noses out of joint, and even those of his own comrades, upon confirming the leftward turn of his government, with a 60% minimum wage increase and an explicit turn toward 20th-century socialism. That same year, and hand in hand with Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela, Honduras formally entered into Petrocaribe and the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA). “Petrocaribe is a commercial alliance. ALBA is an alliance of Latin American integration. I entered into both. Those countries who want to establish another system for a world which is still possible, must join ALBA. Not just Petrocaribe. That is more for business dealings,” Zelaya explained.

But while a good part of Latin America and the Caribbean was drawing closer to “Mel”, there were some in Honduras and the United States who grieved for politicians like Zelaya, and even more for those who preceded him. So it was that on June 28, 2009, the armed forces, backed by the supreme court of the nation, carried out a coup d’état which did away with the progressive profile of Honduras. “The result of the coup was that the security apparatus or the economic apparatus or the economic system began to be 99% directed by policies designed in Washington,” said the former president. “And, lamentably, they are policies of the most reactionary right-wing elements in the United States, very sectarian groups of the far right. After the coup, narcotrafficking and crime increased. The exploitation of the transnational mining firms is deepening, the privatization of all public services such as roadways, ports, telecommunications. They’ve even privatized things that belong to civil society and the state, such as collecting customs duties. And one of the most classic forms that the North American right has for controlling our countries is militarism. Now, here, soldiers have been substituted for the police. They’re substituting for the powers of the state in all matters and have given them extraordinary powers, as if we were living in a de facto dictatorial state. The separation of powers disappeared. There’s just one power of state, which the president wields over the military. If we review all the indicators of the land, we will find that everything has deteriorated from the coup to the present. The internal and external debt has quintupled. In five years, they’ve managed to indebt the country like it was in the 1960s, and it’s the largest debt in our history. The murder rate has converted us into the most violent country on the planet. We were a small and peaceful country. We are the poorest society in Latin America. We have always been at some level of poverty, but never like it is now. The president of Honduras is not Juan Orlando Hernández; he was imposed by way of a fraud. The presidnet of Honduras is named John Kerry, and his policies are those of the United States.”

Following his removal from office, and after several months in exile, Zelaya joined the National Front of Popular Resistance, which became the party of Freedom and Refoundation (LIBRE), over which he presides today. In November of 2013, LIBRE participated in the presidential elections with Xiomara Castro, Zelaya’s wife, as candidate, reaching second place and breaking up the historic bipartisanism of the National Party and the Liberals.

A few weeks ago, Zelaya himself denounced that he had been repressed, along with all his party, at the doors of the National Congress.

“That incident is just one more proof of the militarization of the land, and its absorption in neoliberal politics,” Zelaya pointed out. And with respect to this point, he emphasized that “we have to get back to calling it neoliberalism. Because neoliberalism in itself was the monetary and fiscal control of a society, but now it has advanced in military politics, in looting and exploitation, in diseases, epidemics, pestilence, death. Now it’s a neoliberalism of disaster which is being applied here. We were expelled from the congress at bayonet-point, and with tear gas, because one of the characteristics of the governments of force is that they don’t accept the opposition. For them, the opposition has to disappear, and for that reason, they have to limit our access to the media. There is an exaggerated media blockade today in Honduras. We have no option to defend ourselves practically in any media outlet. Everything is against us. But we ourselves have grown stronger. We are much stronger than before, especially because the popular consciousness has grown in recognizing what affects us. We understand that the United States won’t go away; what we need is to have honest, respectful relations with them. Which is what we don’t have right now, because those currently governing [in Honduras] are those who duck their heads and bow down to serve Washington’s orders.”

In effect, as well as having an enormous weight in Honduran internal politics, the United STates are now the centre of a very deep international debate which affects Central American societies. In the last months, the phenomenon of child migration toward the northern country has taken on a worrisome importance, to the point where the affected countries are trying to begin joint actions to deal with it. In June alone, it is estimated that 2,000 Salvadoran, Honduran and Mexican children crossed the border into the United States every week.

“The problem is that the great powers were born of migration, but don’t want to recognize the migrants of the 20th and 21st centuries,” said Zelaya. “They are products of migration, but they close themselves off in an anti-historical nationalism because emigrating is a right, not a crime. We all have that right because we were born in a world which is shared among all, in one human race. Those who managed to get to those nations are telling them to take their children. And now they’re hunting those children without pity. Now the powers are on display before the world. Because first they deny their parents the right to be legalized, and now they’re persecuting the children. Just as at the time when Jesus was born, they’re ordering them to kill all the children who were born then so that no messiah can emerge. Worse than the persecutions of the holocaust. They’re persecuting children, torturing them, denying them the right to reunite with their families. This is not a humanitarian crisis, it’s a humanitarian crime of the neoliberal model against the poor of Latin America and Africa.”

Translation mine.

I have to admit that Mel Zelaya didn’t really appear on my radar until he joined the ALBA, which is the late Chavecito’s baby and which has been going from strength to strength even now, after his death. At first Mel seemed like just another too-conservative-for-my-liking leader, but when he began to demonstrate that his heart was in the right place and his feet were headed in a good direction, I was sold. Not only was Mel the last real president of Honduras, he was also unequivocally the best. Under him, the socioeconomic profile of that poor little country was beginning to rise. Poor people were getting access to social services that had been denied them before: doctors, schools, hospitals. Literacy was going up; poverty rates were beginning to fall. And all that, which should have been terrific news, was greeted by Washington in the kind of doomsday-prophet tones you’d expect in the advent of a Category 5 hurricane about to make landfall along the eastern seaboard.

Which, of course, the ALBA was. A hurricane of promise, hope and rapid improvement. A hurricane of mutual aid and regional autonomy. Countries that used to rely abjectly on foreign “aid” from the US and elsewhere began to stand up on their own feet, and walk unassisted. That was bad news for those who used to turn obscene profits from the poverty and dependency of those little Latin American lands. They were used to taking advantage of those poor, ill-educated, highly dependent folks — as cheap labor, cannon fodder for proxy wars, and houseboys to the empire. The fact that those same people were now becoming aware that they could be so much more than that did not sit well with Washington. Hence, the coup.

It gives me no satisfaction to see blowback arriving in the form it has taken. Child refugees are the most helpless and vulnerable of them all. Along the way, who knows how many have been robbed, raped, beaten and killed? The ones we hear about arriving in Texas and Arizona are the lucky ones, the ones that made it through in one piece.

Honduras is embroiled in a civil war, although the US media won’t report that. And the death squads that we thought had died out with the evil 1980s? They’re back with a vengeance. That’s why so many desperate Central American parents are sending their kids to the country which, in a massive and humorless irony, is the author of their misfortunes.

When will it all end? When democracy is restored in Honduras, of course. But for that to happen, first the sham “democracy” installed by Washington must be trashed and kicked to the curb. The last real president of the land has not finished his mandate, and the three impostors who were tapped to “replace” him know this full well.

So do the people of Honduras, and they are absolutely furious that their will has been trampled under the boots of a fascism that everyone except the “freedom-loving”, “democratic” country behind it is willing to call by its right name. Little wonder that they are willing to give up even their own children to place the problem back at the door of its source!

World Cup corrupto flees Brazilian justice

world-cup-facepalm.jpg

Once more, a big black eye on the World Cup, and a big facepalm for Brazil…and a headache for Interpol:

Raymond Whelan, director of the official ticket distribution site of the 2014 World Cup, Match Services/Match Hospitality, and accused of heading an illegal ticket-resales ring, is a fugitive from justice, according to the Civil Police of Rio de Janeiro.

“Teams from the 18th Police Precinct, co-ordinated by commissioner Fabio Barucke, were in the Copacabana Palace Hotel late this afternoon to carry out a judicial order to take Whelan into preventive custody. According to the commissioner, the Englishman fled the hotel and is considered a fugitive,” says a statement from the commissioner’s office.

Whelan was arrested on Monday, July 7, along with other suspects, but was released a day later on bail. Whelan was beneficiary of a writ of habeas corpus and, after paying a fine and handing over his passport to the authorities as a promise that he would not leave the country, he left the station without setting a date to make a new statement.

On the afternoon of Friday the 11th, the Rio de Janeiro judiciary received a denunciation from the prosecutor’s office and decreed prison time for 11 accused individuals who had participated in the ticket-sales ring, Whelan among them.

For that reason, they went looking for Whelan…but he had already left the hotel.

The authorities indicated that the Briton had also left his suitcases behind and exited through a door exclusively for employees, according to images captured on closed-circuit TV.

“He is considered a fugitive,” said commissioner Fabio Barucke, who confirmed that Whelan’s name is on the list of persons being sought by Interpol.

In a press release, the Briton’s attorney, Fernando Fernandes, stated that the defence had reviewed the judge’s decision to hand down a new prison sentence, and claimed that Whelan had done his part and would promise to collaborate with the investigations, but did not mention his whereabouts.

Match Hospitality is the company selected by FIFA to sell World Cup tickets in packets reserved for businesses and to provide hotel reservations for the soccer players of the different teams and the directors of the soccer organization.
The municipality closed 20 streets from midnight Saturday and reserved 1,650 agents to direct traffic; as is customary, the fans could only reach Maracaná Stadium by public transit.

According to the prosecutor general’s office, the 11 accused will answer for offences of associating to commit crimes, illegal resale, active money laundering and corruption, and fiscal evasion.

On Wednesday the 9th, Match Services rebuffed, with harsh words for the Brazilian police, all the accusations, and assured in the form of a press release that Whelan’s arrest was “arbitrary and illegal”.

Match also deemed illegal the “leaking to the media of recorded fragments of private conversations”, in which appears that they are negotiating exclusive ticket sales in the Copacabana Palace, the hotel in which FIFA maintained its “headquarters” during the World Cup.

The clandestine purchase of tickets for the final match, whose prices reached up to 12,000 euros, has become a matter of great importance in Rio; a significant portion of Argentine fans arrived in Brazil without tickets to the match.

Police operations against illegal ticket-sellers (Argentine citizens among them) during the tournament have made life difficult for resellers, who are now more vigilant against becoming entangled in “Operation Jules Rimet”, in which the police have already analyzed half of the 50,000 telephone conversations recorded with judicial authorization, between Whelan and the suspected #2 man in the plot, the Algerian businessman Lamine Fofana, who operated a network of some 30 persons.

5,000 heavily armed military police worked on the eve of the match, attentive to what might happen after the Brazil-Netherlands match in the zones most populated by Argentine fans.

One off the police’s concerns are the “barrabravas” (Argentine soccer hooligans), 53 of whom have been taken into custody and deported back to Argentina by Brazilian police. The great majority of them belonged to a list of 2,100 violent fans who were barred from entering the stadiums in their country, and which the Argentine government handed over to their Brazilian counterpart before the World Cup began, as part of a co-operation agreement for the security of the event.

Translation mine.

Riddle me this: How does a man who surrendered his passport to Brazilian police still manage to slip out of the country? Were the police really that incompetent, given the high security in general — and the value of this prisoner in particular? My guess is that Ray Whelan was prepared in advance for just such an eventuality, and had a backup — possibly fake — set of documents prepared for the occasion. Either that, or someone was bribed to look the other way. If the Brazilian police could detain and deport a record number of Argentine soccer hooligans, there’s no reason they couldn’t keep him in custody without bail, along with the other 10 accused corruptos they had. His high rank should be no excuse.

Meanwhile, we’ll just have to wait for his oily little head to pop up again somewhere. Now taking bets on where and when that will be…

Sad meme of the day

brazil-germany-meme.jpg

Sadly, I was doing this, too…and I’m German! I only caught the tail end of the match, which I half-watched on the little kitchen TV while I prepared some snow peas from my garden for the freezer. I did NOT feel like celebrating when I saw the final score, either. I was really, sincerely embarrassed by what reeked of overkill. And my heart ached for the Brazilian fans, too. They were too sad to riot, and I honestly think the police could have done without all the light-flashing paddywagons outside the stadium. (Really. Do they think their own people are uncivilized? Ugh. Arrest some foreign hooligans already, you guys.)

But you know what else embarrasses me as a German? THIS.

Ray Whelan, confidant of Sepp Blatter and director of the company with the exclusive right to sell packages of World Cup tickets, spent last night in a police station, accused of heading an illegal ticket sales ring.

The director of Match Hospitality was arrested at the Copacabana Palace hotel in Rio de Janeiro, the same where all the FIFA heads are staying. This as part of a police investigation in which 11 other persons have already been detained. After paying a fine and surrendering his passport, he was let go.

Whelan, who is not an employee of FIFA, acted as the visible head of Match, a company based in Switzerland and controlled by the Mexican brothers, Jaime and Enrique Byrom. In 2007, Match paid 240 million euros to FIFA for the exclusive right to sell World Cup tickets and travel packages for the 2010 and 2014 tournaments, many of them for VIP clients.

According to police spokesman Fabio Barucke, the investigation took place without the recognition or the co-operation of FIFA. Days ago, also as part of Operation Jules Rimet, Mohamadou Lamine Fofana, executive director of Atlanta Sportif, a business which had signed an agreement with Match for the World Cup, was arrested. It appears that the Algerian businessman is one of the key players in this illegal trafficking network.

It bears recalling that in 2012, Match admitted that the sale of local concessions had already permitted it to recoup its 240 million euro investment, and that from then on, a profit margin was guaranteed. A few weeks later, FIFA renewed its contract with the Byrom brothers, who will also administrate the tickets sales for Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022.

The ties between FIFA and the Byroms date back to the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, even though it was not until eight years later that they began to collaborate as an official agency. One of the principal investors of Match Hospitality is Infront Sports and MEdia, whose executive director is Philippe Blatter, nephew of the FIFA president.

FIFA spokesperson Delia Fischer lamented what had happened, and assured that “anyone who commits a crime will be sanctioned, no matter who it may be.”

Her declaration came at a time when it became known that Philippe Blatter is owner of a business with a minority stake in Match Hospitality.

Several days ago, the Rio de Janeiro police arrested 39 people for illegal buying and selling of tickets around Maracaná stadium during the the quarter-final match between France and Germany.

Translation mine.

Sepp Blatter, of course, is German, as is his nephew. FIFA’s corruption is much talked about in general, and his blunders in particular. And this latest disgrace, though unrelated to today’s bloodletting on the pitch, is just terribly painful. It’s things like this that make me ashamed of even that tiny common thread I hold. The lovely, warm-hearted Brazilians deserve better than this from FIFA, after all the millions and billions of dollars that they themselves invested in the hosting of the event…and all the blood they’ve shed in making it happen.

Right-wing Mexican politicians arrested for sexual assault in Brazil

world-cup-facepalm.jpg

Well, well, well. What have we here? A couple of hooligans, natch. But these are not just any soccer-stadium creeps. These guys have some pretty high connections in Mexican government:

Four Mexican soccer fans face a sentence of up to eight years in Brazilian prison for aggressively touching the private parts of a Fortaleza lawyer’s wife, and later assaulting her companion, who tried to defend her, according to the Military Police of Ceará state.

Among the detainees are Sergio Israel Eguren Cornejo and Rafael Miguel Medina Pederzini, former assembly members of the PAN party, as well as Angel Rimak Eguren Cornejo and Mateo Codinas Velten.

Sergio Eguren Cornejo and Rafael Medina are currently members of the Directive Council of the PAN in the Federal District. Medina is also a member of the Benito Juárez delegation.

The incident occurred on Monsenhor Tabosa Avenue, close to the Fan Fest located near Iracema Beach, around the time the Mexican team was eliminated by the Dutch following a controversial decision.

According to a press bulletin from the state of Ceará, Pederzini and Eguren tried to escape after the fact. The aggressors did not get away, as they were detained by citizens and soldiers.

According to Brazilian law, the Mexican assailants must face justice in Brazil. If they are sentenced, diplomatic channels could be opened for them to serve their time in Mexican prisons.

Translation mine.

The PAN is Mexico’s mainline right-wing party. So this is a big embarrassment for Enrique Peña Nieto and his government, of course. It’s also a big black eye for diplomatic relations between Mexico and Brazil.

More than that, though, it’s emblematic of the way men in power treat women in general, and women from outside their national and social milieu in particular. Conservative men, in particular, are real perverts that way. They, more than anyone, see themselves as above the law and entitled to any woman they can buy or just lay hands on. And Brazilian women, as I posted the other day, have a huge sexist stereotype working against them, so they are especially vulnerable right now.

In this case, at least, the woman’s social status will help her somewhat. She’s a lawyer’s wife, meaning she’s surely a lot better off than most of the Brazilian women and girls who are being sexually attacked by locals and foreigners while the World Cup is on and aggressions run high. Poverty and low social status mean that most of the rapes and sexual assaults occurring during the tourney will go unreported and unremarked, especially among the prostituted (most of whom are extremely poor). Access to legal aid is difficult, if not impossible, for them. After all, you can’t expect much justice if you don’t have the money to hire a lawyer…or better still, a lawyer for your spouse.

No, of COURSE misogyny is not a problem anymore. Silly ladies!

misogyny-hamster.jpg

Awwww. Isn’t that a cute widdle hammy-wamster? It sure is. A pity that what it stands for isn’t nearly so adorable.

Yes, folks, I’m talking about misogyny today. The M-word. The one that half the population fears, and the other half doesn’t seem to know exists.

The half of the population that fears it isn’t all women. Some lucky ladies are so privileged that they can’t even see misogyny, much less how it affects them, how narrowly it circumscribes every aspect of their lives. The half that fears it is a mixed bag of genders, but what we have that the other half doesn’t is the wits to recognize the monster behind that cute widdle fuzzy golden face. And to dread it, knowing that we are up for one helluva fight.

What must it be like to live on the other side? The privileged side, the one that doesn’t even see the problem? The side that is mostly, but not all, male? The side that has internalized misogyny so the boys will like them better?

Well, here are some clues.

How about the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons, who don’t seem to see a problem if a religious doctor privileges private “conscience” over a woman’s basic human right to complete medical care? Ontario is a big province, and not all of us live in cities where, if one doctor refuses to treat us, we can simply flip through the vast phone book until we find another who will. In rural and northern areas, women often have to travel many miles just to see a doctor at all. What happens if that doctor is one of those who say “Nope, I don’t do abortions or birth control, because God won’t love me if I do”? Where else do you go, when you have to get on a small airplane and fly hundreds of miles south just to see THAT useless halfwit?

Why, you just go home, to your kitchen, like a good little lady. Stay barefoot and pregnant and out of sight. That’s where you go.

But wait, that’s how it is for the half of us with the wits to know and fear misogyny. We’re still trying to figure out how that other half lives. The kind that says we belong in concentration camps and that only a few of us should be kept alive, in semi-starvation, for breeding purposes. Can’t forget about them, can we? After all, they dominate our world, whether we realize it or not.

Oh yeah…about that concentration-camps thing. Did you know Elliot Rodger’s grandfather was among the first to photograph the victims of Bergen-Belsen? I only found that out today, while looking for links to insert in the above paragraph. But wow, that’s one helluva clue. I can see through this that to live on the other side is to be possessed of a very twisted and minimal sense of human decency…and no sense of irony whatsofuckingEVER.

And for those who think there’s no connection between a young suicidal megalomaniac, Nazi death camps, and doctors who refuse to treat women as fully adult, autonomous human beings, capable of making their own medical decisions and with a right to expect doctors to abide by them, let me remind you here and now that the Nazis didn’t believe in abortion either. And that they rewarded women for bearing lots of children, Quiverfull-style.

My own paternal grandmother got a Mother’s Cross for having four children — and the irony of that hit home when my grandpa dared to complain about how Germany had gone to shit since the Nazis were in power. He got called up on the carpet by the Gestapo, and the first words out of the officer’s mouth were “Sie haben vier Kinder…” (“You have four children…”)

It was a straight-up death threat. The Gestapo man was saying, in not so many words, that if my grandpa wanted his four acceptably-German children to live, he’d better shut the fuck up about the Nazis. If he’d made good on that threat, my dad would not be here today, and neither would I.

And, mind you, these were the same Nazis who set up “life camps” for unwed mothers to spawn the next generation of “pure”, “Aryan” denizens of the “Thousand-Year Reich”.

I’m sorry, I’m not doing a very good job at all of getting how these misogynists think, am I? It’s all hurting my poor widdle lady-brain. And so early in the morning, too.

Guess I’d better toddle off to my kitchen and start cooking lunch, now.

“The Price of the World Cup” — dead children?

A Danish journalist has uncovered some shocking allegations about how the Brazilian cities where the World Cup matches are currently underway have chosen to “clean” their streets of homeless people, especially street kids. It forms part of an overall critical look at how the neo-corporatist World Cup agenda has run roughshod over the locals in those cities. Everything from cablecars being built over favelas where people have lived for decades, to insufferable gentrification, to allegations of death squads roaming the streets, gets an airing here. It really puts the lie to the common canard that Brazil is a “racial democracy”, since most of the suffering has been borne by the poor and non-white people of the land.

And the allegations of state-sanctioned murder squads, if true, signify a shocking holdover from the days of the US-backed military fascist dictatorship that seized power in a not-so-bloodless coup in 1964 and later murdered the legitimately elected president, João Goulart. The same that also kidnapped and tortured the current president, Dilma Rousseff, when she was a young Marxist guerrilla. Those kidnappers, torturers and murderers cut their teeth on homeless people even before the coup that unseated Goulart, receiving instruction in their ugly craft from US police and military officers and spies. And their methods clearly live on in the municipal police and armed forces of present-day Brazil. Remember this?

Dan Mitrione, the police torture instructor discussed in this short clip, was fictionalized slightly (as “Philip Michael Santore”) for the movie State of Siege. Before his posting to Uruguay, where he was captured and eventually executed by the Tupamaro guerrillas, Mitrione spent time in Brazil…and there is a memorably horrifying scene in that same movie showing naked men — beggars yanked off the streets — being tortured and electrocuted on stage in a massive lecture hall filled with military and police officers. Those same officers have not been cleansed out of the Brazilian police and armed forces; on the contrary, their methods have survived and flourished with complete impunity. In other words: In Brazil, Dan Mitrione still lives.

Every Brazilian who’s been asked about how they feel about the World Cup seems to say the same thing, whether it’s expats interviewed by the Deutsche Welle in Germany, or my Brazilian friends here on the other side of the pond. They love soccer, but they hate the World Cup and all the upheaval it brings, from gentrification to an uptick in child prostitution on the streets…and of course, death squads. All agree that the money spent on building and renovating big stadiums was a waste, and that it should have gone to social programs. Healthcare, education, social housing. And that street people and favela dwellers should not have been expelled and killed, as they apparently have been. But it would appear that local mayors — or perhaps we should say, local death-squad capos — disagree. Bullets are so much cheaper than giving some “worthless” street kid an education, food, a home, and a good job. Somehow, human beings just don’t merit that kind of consideration when there are big bucks at play on the soccer field.

It is shocking that a president who was once a victim of this same insanity could turn a blind eye to its continuation four decades later. Let’s hope that Dilma finally does something about this. Just don’t look for anything to start happening while the World Cup is still on.

The ironies of the Venezuelan opposition, part 52

leopoldo-jesus.jpg

Howdy, folks, and welcome to another episode of “As the Irony Burns”. In today’s installment, Prettyboy Leo’s got some apologizing to do. To whom? Well, Jesus Christ, for one. And Gandhi. And Nelson Mandela. And oh yeah…Chavecito’s ghost, too, since he ironically owes him big-time for what he’s proposing here:

Extremist opposition leader Leopoldo López said in an interview that his situation is similar to that lived by such historic personages as Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and the disciples of Jesus.

“What I’m suffering today is the same as what the disciples of Jesus suffered, and the freedom fighters. I draw strength from the testimonies of Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, and Leonardo Ruiz Pineda,” said the Venezuelan neo-Nazi leader.

The director of the terrorist cells of Voluntad Popular was interviewed in his jail cell at Ramo Verde by El Nacional, following a hearing that determined that there is sufficient proof to bring him to trial for the events which occurred before, during and after February 12.

After 111 days in jail, López maintains that there are no reasons for engaging in dialogue with the government.

“I know the dialogue won’t go anywhere, and for that reason we decided not to participate…It is a conviction that we are in dictatorship and one doesn’t negotiate with dictators,” López told the newspaper.

López’s line concerning the Revolution remains clear and of radical tendency, as one can see from the following declarations:

“The streets will remain active until we come out of the dictatorship. Let no one doubt it…I hope that my comrades who fell into the trap of dialogue responsibly assume the frontal route of confronting the dictatorship until we dislodge it by the popular, democratic and constitutional way. If they close off all the institutional paths, which in effect is occurring, we’ll have to call for a constituent assembly, as the Constitution establishes.”

In addition, the far-right leader took advantage of the interview to threaten the female judge in charge of his case, Adriana López, who considers it pertinent, due to accusations and proofs presented, to place him on trial. “History will pay her back for that decision,” he said pointedly.

Translation mine.

Can you beat that? Putschist Prettyboy is actually calling for a constituent assembly, as set forth in the Venezuelan constitution. That would be the Bolivarian constitution that Chavecito put in place, and which was ratified by a direct majority vote of Venezuelans themselves. The same that the putschists are actually trying to do away with. Maybe that’s why this cartoon is so apt:

leopoldo-mandela.jpg

“Comparing myself to Mandela was a bad idea; they could give me 27 years in jail!”

And that would be the one and only thing he’d have in common with the real Mandela, ironically enough.

Q. What do the Venezuelan opposition and Justin Bourque have in common?

gun-nut-shirt.jpg

A. Oh, only this:

Yesterday in Moncton, a small city of about 70,000 inhabitants on the east coast of Canada, a young Canadian, 24 years old, carried out a massacre, murdering three police officers and wounding two more. While the police were searching for him — because they hadn’t been able to catch him yet — the people lived in terror, not knowing where or when he would reappear to kill someone else.

The same thing happened during the many weeks in certain cities in Venezuela during the attacks on the part of the opposition between February and May of this year, when young oppositionists took the streets, indiscriminately attacking and killing members of the security forces, and innocent people, terrorizing them.

The similarities are really suprising.

One newspaper says that the 24-year-old Canadian was in the habit of uploading photos and texts related to US militias, armed anticommunist and racist groups of the far right, in the manner of fascist political parties of the Venezuelan opposition and their armed groups. And photos of Sarah Palin, a US political leader, racist and anticommunist, of the extreme right, in the manner of Venezuelan opposition leader María Corina Machado.

But the most intriguing thing the newspaper says is that the young Canadian had it in his head that Russia was going to invade Canada. This makes no sense. Russia has no interest in invading Canada — that’s a fantasy on the part of those racist, anticommunist groups of the far right, and people like Sarah Palin — and if for any reason, the young man thought that Russia was a communist country, and wanted to invade Canada for that reason, that young man is very much mistaken.

Russia is not a communist country, and most people with half a brain know that, but due to irrational hatred for communism on the part of certain criminal groups, and extremist anticommunist racist militias, the minds of many young people are being filled with fantasies and lies, creating in them fear, panic and paranoia as well, which could change at some time — and has changed — into indiscriminate violence.

In parallel to the above, one of the most important slogans of María Corina Machado, and almost all the Venezuelan opposition, is that Cuba will invade Venezuela, and for that reason they have to get rid of this government, in whatever way they can. That’s totally illogical, it’s a fantasy invented by the Venezuelan opposition. How could a country so small, and with so few weapons, think of invading a country as large as Venezuela, which has many weapons? And why would they want to invade Venezuela if we are collaborators and allies? Could it be that the Venezuelan opposition believe that Cuba will invade Venezuela to turn it into a communist country?

The truth is that neither Chávez, nor Maduro, nor any Chavista I have ever heard speaking, has ever talked of trying to transform Venezuela into a communist state; that would be totally ridiculous. Generally, what we Chavistas want is not communism as such, and much less the Cuban style or that of the old Soviet Union, but rather a state which is more just and equitable, more feminist, and not machista; more humanistic, more empathetic, which is to say, more socialist. That’s all. And that has nothing to do with ay imaginary Cuban communism invented by brain-sick opposition leaders like María Corina Machado, or other misbegotten leaders of the Venezuelan opposition, who keep teaching lies and fantasies to young opposition menbers, creating in them as well hatred, panic and paranoia, which could turn at any moment — and has turned — into indiscriminate violence.

The similarities are truly surprising.

Just as Sarah Palin and other racist, anticommunist groups of the US far right have contaminated the soul of the young Canadian of 24 years, leading to gratuitous violence, María Corina Machado and other racist anticommunist far-right groups of the Venezuelan opposition, who make up the majority of the opposition, also follow the principles responsible for the poisoning of the spirits of many young Venezuelans, bringing them as well to that gratuitous violence.

Translation mine.

That was Oscar Heck talking, BTW. He’s of Canadian extraction himself, so he knows a thing or two about the similarities between fascists here and fascists there. His bio states: “Born to a French-Canadian father and an indigenous mother, he came to Venezuela for the first time during the 1970s, where he worked as a missionary in the barrios of Caracas and Barlovento.” In other words, he’s had four decades to observe the conditions on the ground in that country. And ample cause, considering the poverty he’s seen and worked amid, to support the Bolivarian Revolution.

And yes, I agree with him; Justin Bourque has all the hallmarks of an NRA-influenced fascist. His Facebook page shows him to be quite the paranoid gunsucker. Teaching children to fire guns, as he repeatedly endorses, is just what the Nazis did, too; they had gun-clubs in the Hitler Youth. The irony is that he came of age during the era of Stephen Harper, a head of state who couldn’t be less like Chavecito or Madurito if he tried. And whose holy crusade was to abolish the long-gun registry…thereby making it that much harder for the RCMP to know where Bourque got the guns that killed their officers. To say that the police in this country are sour on Harpo is putting it very mildly. Not because they’re such redder-than-red communists themselves, though; the RCMP has a long history of spying on anything to the left of, well, the Conservatives. Harpo’s party, that is. And for decades, they’ve made a point of infiltrating every leftish group, from environmentalists and Native activists to the various socialist parties, and even spied on Tommy Douglas himself. There’s certainly an authoritarian history in the RCMP, but it leans hard to the right, not the left. So there’s another layer of irony to this madness. The cryptofascist cop-killer wanted RCMP officers dead, but in truth, he has more in common with them, insofar as anticommunist paranoia goes, than he could ever have dreamed of.

Which brings us to the Venezuelan opposition. If you’ve been following this blog, particularly the 50-odd entries detailing their various ironies, you’ll know just how deaf they are to their own ironic fascism, and how much they ARE the very thing they claim to be against. They scream about a lack of free speech on the 95% of the nation’s media that they outright own. They call for putsches and assassinations just about daily, which is illegal here in Canada, BTW. They import paramilitary goons from neighboring Colombia to help them with their coup attempts. Their hooded thugs terrorize the streets with guns imported from the good ol’ US of A (thanks again, NRA gunsuckers!), and they have the gall to claim there’s no public safety or order there. They kill Chavistas, and they have made countless attempts on the lives of their two Bolivarian presidents, not to mention countless lesser politicians who supported them. And they have the temerity to claim they are the ones being repressed? Yeah. Spot the ironies, they are thicker than blackflies on the ass of a New Brunswick moose.

And so are the similarities between them and this guy.