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

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

And here’s the story…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Translation mine.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Especially not if he’s Cuban.

So, THIS happened.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PUA racism at its finest

Seen on the tweeter today:

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

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

Happy Human Rights Day!

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

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

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

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

Translation: TORTURE DOESN’T FUCKING WORK.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cops Behaving Badly: A cartoon that says it all

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

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

Who’s your diplomatic guest there, Maricori?

Well, well. What have we here? US “diplomats” exercising their diplomatic impunity (no, not a typo, nor a misspelling) at a legal hearing for a disgraced Venezuelan right-wing politician? Sure looks like it…

“We have questions: What were you doing there, who invited him, why was the embassy of the United States watching us and giving orders to a mouthpiece?” asked the president of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, upon revealing a video that shows how a functionary of the US government was there as an observer during the appearance of María Corina Machado before the Public Ministry on December 3.

“This is disrespect and interference in the affairs of this land, it is a provocation to the Venezuelan government, they think they can scare us,” commented Cabello during his weekly show, Con el Mazo Dando.

The revolutionary leader exhorted the US government to observe what is going on in Ferguson, “how their police are killing children because they don’t like the color of their skin. These are the godfathers the guarimberos have, we denounce them before the world for their interference…the US Embassy is the CIA, the Pentagon, the same who gave money to Gaby Arellano to finance violent actions,” Cabello added.

Translation mine.

I said diplomatic impunity, not immunity, for a reason. The reason is simply this: US diplomats have a long and storied history of interfering in the internal affairs of countries where they are stationed. Cabello isn’t talking out his ass here; he’s simply stating what every Latin American already knows, and what Venezuelans know all too well. Philip Agee made that clear decades ago when he revealed that the CIA operates out of US embassies and diplomatic installations all over the globe, influencing local politics by covertly “supporting” (really, bribing and influence-peddling) local political parties and NGOs. Not only are they immune from prosecution for what can only rightly be termed crimes, they will never be punished. After all, they’re just following orders…

Was Philip Goldberg punished for trying to balkanize Bolivia, by fomenting a coup aimed not only at unseating Evo Morales, but KILLING him? Nope. He just got reassigned. And promptly fell up when it was his time to get his sorry ass promoted. Once a Company man, always a Company man. The Company takes good care of its loyal employees.

And this unnamed flunkie, whoever he is? Betcha he’ll get a plummy new job too. Having his cover blown on Venezuelan national TV is just a feather in the ol’ fedora for him. They have so much chutzpah, they don’t even care that they’ve been caught red-handed feeding their local trolls, of which Maricori is just one of several. Look for him soon at a CIA station near you.

And it hardly serves to intimidate the Venezuelan government if the CIA’s men-in-country blatantly spy on legal hearings, either. After all, this hearing was a public matter, and was announced several days in advance in the local press. If they think they can paint Venezuelan justice as some kind of star chamber, lacking in transparency, they can think again. These proceedings are all aboveboard.

And in any case, the CIA and the US government have nothing to say about the way justice gets done in Venezuela. After all, it’s not their fucking backyard.

It never was.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[…]

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

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

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

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

Translation mine.

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

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

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

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

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

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

We could all learn from Venezuela’s good example.

Bad news for ammosexuals

Music, Maestro Cummings:

Ah, that was lovely. And now, the news.

First, the sublime: It looks as though John “Mary Rosh” Lott has been definitively debunked, by real scientists not in the pocket of the gunmakers’ lobby. Instead of “More Guns, Less Crime”, it’s “More Guns, More Crime”:

Across the basic seven Index I crime categories, the strongest evidence of a statistically significant effect would be for aggravated assault, with 11 of 28 estimates suggesting that RTC laws increase this crime at the .10 confidence level. An omitted variable bias test on our preferred Table 8a results suggests that our estimated 8 percent increase in aggravated assaults from RTC laws may understate the true harmful impact of RTC laws on aggravated assault, which may explain why this finding is only significant at the .10 level in many of our models. Our analysis of the year-by-year impact of RTC laws also suggests that RTC laws increase aggravated assaults. Our analysis of admittedly imperfect gun aggravated assaults provides suggestive evidence that RTC laws may be associated with large increases in this crime, perhaps increasing such gun assaults by almost 33 percent.

In addition to aggravated assault, the most plausible state models conducted over the entire 1979-2010 period provide evidence that RTC laws increase rape and robbery (but usually only at the .10 level). In contrast, for the period from 1999-2010 (which seeks to remove the confounding influence of the crack cocaine epidemic), the preferred state model (for those who accept the Wolfers proposition that one should not control for state trends) yields statistically significant evidence for only one crime – suggesting that RTC laws increase the rate of murder at the .05 significance level. It will be worth exploring whether other methodological approaches and/or additional years of data will confirm the results of this panel-data analysis and clarify some of the highly sensitive results and anomalies (such as the occasional estimates that RTC laws lead to higher rates of property crime) that have plagued this inquiry for over a decade.

“RTC” = “right to carry”.

Higher rates of robbery, rape, aggravated assault AND murder (not to mention accidental gunshot wounds and deaths) go hand in hand with “right to carry” laws. Who’d of thunk? Guess that puts paid to the whole “if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will carry guns” canard of the NRA & Co. Seems that the more legal guns are, the greater the number of outlaws who find themselves free to carry the same. And consquently, the more powerless the cops will be against them, unless they happen to be better armed. What a coincidence, right at a time when even small-town police forces are starting to look more and more like miniature armies, while weapons manufacturers all rub their hands and yell “Ka-CHING!!!”

And now, the ridiculous. Since carrying a gun creates an automatically greater risk that you will wind up on the outlaw side of things, it’s getting harder to tell the cops from the robbers. Particularly in Ferguson, Missouri, where racism is uniting bigoted ammosexual cops with bigoted civilian ammosexuals like never before:

Some suburban St. Louis gun dealers have been doing brisk business, particularly among first-time buyers, as fearful residents await a grand jury’s decision on whether to indict the police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown.

Metro Shooting Supplies, in an area near the city’s main airport, reports selling two to three times more weapons than usual in recent weeks — an average of 30 to 50 guns each day — while the jury prepares to conclude its three-month review of the case that sparked looting and weeks of sometimes-violent protests in August.

“We’re selling everything that’s not nailed down,” owner Steven King said. “Police aren’t going to be able to protect every single individual. If you don’t prepare yourself and get ready for the worst, you have no one to blame but yourself.”

[…]

Protest leaders say they are preparing for non-violent demonstrations after the grand jury’s decision is announced, but they also acknowledge the risk of more unrest if the panel decides not to issue criminal charges against Darren Wilson, the white officer who shot Brown, who was black and unarmed.

No word on what color most of the gun buyers are, but you can pretty much guess. It’s the same color as most of the NRA’s membership. And all of the KKK’s. Ammosexuality is, when all’s said, a white man’s disease.

All you need to know about yesterday’s US midterm elections

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Given that Repugs have somehow, inexplicably, managed to take control of both houses of Congress, this is in effect what the “people” — or rather, the gerrymandered tentacles of the Kochtopus — have said.

Sorry, US friends.

Posted in The United States of Amnesia. Comments Off »

Further details on the Robert Serra assassination

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It’s been just over a month since Robert Serra, 27, was killed along with his girlfriend, at his home in Caracas. Here are the latest details on the case, via Aporrea:

Until now, Venezuelan authorities have not located the car and the motorbike on which the assassins of Robert Serra travelled, one month ago today. Both vehicles were stolen, according to a judicial source.

Edwin Torres Camacho, the head of Serra’s bodyguard, arrived at the latter’s house, in the Caracas district of La Pastora, on a motorcycle which they had previously left for him at the El Cristo corner. Right behind him on the bike was Padilla Leyva, alias “El Colombia”. In a red pickup truck, Fariñes Palomino (“El Eme”), Carlos Enrique García Martínez (“Tin-Tin”), Jaime Padilla (“El Oreja”) and Daniel Salinas Quevedo (“El Dani”) arrived, according to what president Nicolás Maduro revealed in a broadcast on Wednesday, October 15.

Two functionaries of the Caracas police guarded the street nearby: Raider Espinoza and Eric Romero. They were in uniform and carrying their regulation pistols. They were contacted by the chief of Serra’s bodyguard.

El Colombia’s gang was tasked with committing the homicide. It appears they were paid $500,000 US. The only ones still to be captured are the chief, Padilla Leyva, and “El Eme”, Fariñez Palomino. The rest are already in custody at the headquarters of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN).

Yesterday, the Supreme Tribunal of Justice informed via bulletin that a Caracas control tribunal had ordered the imprisonment of Jaime Padilla “for being presumably connected as co-author in the crime of aggravated homicide, against the deputy, Robert Serra, and his companion, María Herrera.”

Jaime Padilla is unofficially also known as “Johnny Padilla” and “El Oreja” (The Ear). For this, he was also charged with usurpation of identity. Padilla turned himself in to the authorities on October 28.

Translation mine.

So we learn that stolen vehicles were used; this would help to cover the home invaders’ tracks, at least initially. With no rightful owners’ names attached to the truck and motorbike, the identities of the killers would have remained a mystery…that is, had the corrupted bodyguard, Edwin Torres Camacho, not told all soon after his own arrest.

The most explosive detail in this, for me, was the fact that two Caracas police officers were apparently involved. And that they were operating in uniform, carrying their regulation sidearms, guarding the street as the assassination was going down. Ostensibly securing the neighborhood, they actually facilitated a double homicide, and one of the most shocking in recent memory at that. Corruption in the Metropolitan Caracas police is hardly news, and neither is putschism; during the coup of ’02, they were in the command of an opposition mayor, Alfredo Peña, widely rumored to have ties to the CIA and the US embassy. And the current mayor, also an oppositionist, is the infamous “Grandpa Monster”, Antonio Ledezma. It would not surprise me one bit to learn that he was implicated, and that he had okayed the very inappropriate actions of those two police officers (and who knows how many others) on that particular night. I don’t know if he is involved, mind you; I’m just saying that I would put nothing past him, including collaboration in one of the most grotesque and traumatizing political assassinations of all time. And it bears remembering that Robert Serra himself named him, not long before he was assassinated, as a likely intellectual author of just such a crime.