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.

Canada’s real terrorism problem

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This mosque in Cold Lake, Alberta, was spray-painted by xenophobic vandals. The town is home to an airbase from which CF-18 jet fighters recently departed en route to the war zone of Iraq. The people of Cold Lake have since banded together to clean up the graffiti while the police search for the perpetrators.

Oh, Canada. What’s happening to you?

You used to be such a nice place. Liberal. Socialist, even. And it worked out great for you while it lasted.

You used to be such a livable, lovable place. The country to the immediate south of us may have billed itself the Land of Opportunity, but when it came to real opportunities, we had them beat. Our social safety net ensured that no one got left too far behind by the ups and downs of the mixed economy.

Everyone who came here used to feel so welcome. We got immigrants from all over the world, and they helped make this the most diverse country on the planet. And the most multicultural. And the place where the most disparate people had a chance to coexist peacefully. From Vietnam War draft dodgers to Iraq War refugees, we’ve been enriched by the presence of people who were outcasts in their own lands. And the religious and ethnic clashes of the old country were left far behind, much to the relief and joy of all. Here, it didn’t matter who you were, what you were or where you came from; you were accepted. You were always at home.

And now I feel like a stranger in my own land, even though I was born here.

We seem to have caught terrorism-itis from south of the border. Everyone’s so paranoid now. Instead of waiting to learn what’s going on, we start jumping to false conclusions. The embarrassing truth leaks out too late every time.

Like this week. These past few days saw us “attacked” by two “terrorists” who, it turns out, were something else altogether. One was a paranoid schizophrenic; the other, a drug addict. But since both were Muslims, and chose to attack and kill soldiers of the Canadian army, with a confused mess of ISIL propaganda and madness roaring through their heads, they just automatically got labelled as terrorists. As if they had flown fully loaded passenger jets into the Peace Tower and the banking district of downtown Toronto on a suicide mission co-ordinated from a cave somewhere near the Pak-Afghan border.

The truth is stranger, and sadder, and nowhere near as dramatic as that.

In fact, the “terrorists” were not foreigners, as was initially reported/speculated. They were both native-born French-Canadians. And they both had mental problems that could easily have been treated. This tragedy was totally avoidable, and neither a war nor even changes to our nation’s security systems was necessary to avert it.

Don’t believe me? Let’s look at who these guys were, and how they acted.

Martin Couture-Rouleau was a convert to Islam; he converted only last year. He was not an immigrant. He was not even remotely an Arab, or Muslim by birth. His religious conversion appears to have arisen out of a growing heap of personal problems. Apparently he made enough radical-sounding noises that the RCMP was investigating him, and his passport was revoked, preventing him from travelling to Turkey (and presumably, from there, to Syria to join ISIL forces). He was alienated from his family, and everyone who knew him was bewildered by the recent changes to his personality. He was divorced, and his ex-wife was apparently frightened enough of him to seek sole custody of their child. It was not Islam that had made him that way, though; it was his own schizophrenia. His “radicalization” was concurrent with the worsening of his illness. And his own imam struggled in vain to dissuade him from supporting ISIL or taking up battle — or terrorism — on their behalf.

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was also not an immigrant, although his father was one (from Libya), and his mother a deputy chair at the federal immigration department. At school he was simply known as Mike Bibeau, the big, gregarious good-time guy voted most likely to succeed, especially with the ladies. But drug addiction shortly after his graduation from high school put an end to all that. He was known to police, but only as a petty criminal and drug abuser. His parents are long divorced, and bewildered as to what has become of him. Like Martin Couture-Rouleau, he was alienated from his family; his mother said she hadn’t seen him in five years. In that time, he had fled to BC, looking in vain to escape his addiction (which had shifted from marijuana and PCP usage to crack cocaine). He tried everything from religion to prison to cure himself. He wasn’t jailed long enough to keep him away from the dealers, and the imam of the mosque where he broke in at night to sleep on the floor locked him out. His religious fervor was a direct outgrowth of his efforts to replace one drug with another. At the time of his final desperate acts, he was homeless and so isolated from humanity that even at the Ottawa homeless shelter where he’d taken refuge, he was an outsider.

Neither man was connected to the other, nor to any known terrorist groups. Both were entirely isolated, and more so thanks to their respective mental conditions.

Meanwhile, our social safety net has eroded. Mental health services have faced severe cutbacks in all provinces. People who should have been hospitalized, as much for their own safety as anyone else’s, are instead left to roam the street, helpless and untreated. A few years ago, we were horrified by a beheading on a Greyhound bus; the killer, in that case, was a schizophrenic too, and should have been hospitalized. Not until he’d killed and partially eaten a complete stranger in the thick of a psychotic episode did he finally get the help he needed. If by “help” one means psychiatric incarceration, that is.

Six years after Vince Weiguang Li began his treatment, our mental health system has not improved a whit. It is still chronically starved of funding and professionals. The mental hospitals we so desperately need are still closed, with no new ones opened to replace them. The few still remaining have waiting lists a mile long. Those who can’t afford private counselling and rehab are shit out of luck.

And worse, we no longer have a federal long-gun registry. That’s right; a crime-fighting tool born out of a terrorist attack in Montréal was scrapped by the same wonderful Conservative party that’s also behind all the other rips in our social safety net! The police are thus officially hamstrung. Who knows if we’ll ever find out how Mike Bibeau, who was legally prohibited from owning firearms due to his criminal and drug record, managed to get his hands on the rifle that enabled him to kill Nathan Cirillo, who was standing guard at the federal War Memorial?

Yeah, tell me the Conservatives are not the real terrorists in all this. They’re using the hysteria surrounding these events, even now, to push their own very anti-Canadian agenda. And the sad part is, too many people are all too happy to LET them.

Of course, salient facts like that have escaped the major media, or the myriads of know-nothings who pontificate in the comments sections of their websites. Most of them seem quite convinced that if we only shut our doors tightly enough, ramped up the security high enough, and went to war in enough foreign countries to “bomb them back to the Stone Age” and “teach them a good lesson”, the “terrorist” problem would be best addressed. Never mind that neither of these guys was a foreigner, and that both in fact were born right here.

Or they’re all full of self-righteous Islamophobia, oblivious to the fact that in both cases, imams actually tried to deter these guys from taking the criminal turns they did. And oblivious, too, to the fact that Canadian Muslims are right on the same page with all the rest of us in condemning such attacks, and terrorism in general.

And above all, they’re oblivious to the role that a too-easy access to guns, and a too-hard access to mental health care, played in this whole goddamn mess. They simply cannot and will not see those connections, even though it doesn’t take a brilliant sociologist to draw them.

Oh yeah, and that’s another thing: We’re not supposed to commit sociology in times of terrorism, according to none other than Stephen Fucking Harper himself. Yes, that’s right…the tough-talking macho PM, who bravely, bravely hid in a broom closet while his underlings barricaded the door with spears made from flag poles!

But hey. At least the parliamentary Sergeant-at-Arms, Kevin Vickers, proved that his role is not merely ceremonial, even though his costume may be. Like René Jalbert many years before him, he was the one who engaged a confused, deranged gunman hellbent on wreaking terror. Unlike Jalbert, though, he couldn’t talk the shooter out of it; he ended up having to kill him. “Terrorist” crisis ended, either way.

And all this without recourse to war.

Now the PM’s security detail has modified its protocol so that they can enter the Commons chamber and protect him at all times. That’s fine; at least it doesn’t unduly curtail anyone’s civil liberties. Not so fine, however, is the legislation the government apparently passed on the same day as Martin Couture-Rouleau ran down Patrice Vincent in a fit of psychosis. We’re now facing intrusive, unconstitutional online surveillance under the pretext of “crime prevention”! Yay!

So, now you know. And if this is the last post you see from me, you’ll know why. I’ll have been arrested for committing the supreme terrorist act of daring to think un-conservatively and sociologically, and tying together all the things they don’t want us to understand are related. If you think Martin Couture-Rouleau and Michael Zehaf-Bibeau were crazy (and they were, alas), you ain’t seen nothin’ . My own country just totally outclassed them in the losing-one’s-shit department.

And since it’s already at war in Iraq, too, it’s also outdone them in terms of real terrorism.

Evo’s new diplomatic sweet spot

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Whoa, Evo’s lookin’ good…and I’m not just talking about those stylish threads he’s wearing (although those, too, are fabulous). With over 60% of the vote in the latest Bolivian presidential election, he’s riding higher than ever, and by now, only a fool would doubt that he is very much THE leader of his land. And it looks like Washington is taking notice, too, because now there’s talk of re-established diplomatic relations:

Bolivian president Evo Morales says that respect for the sovereignty of the land and the goodwill of Washington are keys for the re-establishment of diplomatic ties with the United States, given that bilateral relations have been marked by political tensions since 2008.

Bolivia and the US plan to restore ambassadors. “It’s not that we don’t want a new ambassador to come, but that they respect Bolivia. We will respect each other,” Morales said in an interview with public media.

The ambassador should not come to impose, nor to finance political parties of the opposition, Morales added. He was re-elected last Sunday with 61% of the vote, to govern the Andean-Amazonian country until 2020.

A few days ago, the US embassy in Bolivia also expressed its desire to re-establish a relationship of “mutual respect” with the Morales government.

“We hope with interest to work with the government of Bolivia in areas of common interest, in order to establish productive bilateral relations based in mutual respect and shared objectives, for the well-being of the people of Bolivia and of the United States,” said the US chargé d’affaires, Peter Brennan.

Translation mine.

Bear in mind that the last US ambassador to Bolivia, Philip Goldberg, was a spy. He was caught on camera holding clandestine meetings with leading figures of the Bolivian opposition, including the prefects of the then “breakaway” departments of the so-called “Media Luna” (Half Moon, for their roughly crescent shape when taken together; also called “Nación Camba”, for its mostly-white populace). And there is ample evidence that everyone from USAID to the Peace Corps and even Fulbright Scholars (!) was involved in some political interference or other, all of it directed at sponsoring or supporting the right-wing opposition. It was a huge scandal, and it totally blew up in the faces of all involved.

At the time, Evo’s popular support was at a bit more than 50%, and it was thought that it wouldn’t take much to tip things the other way again, to the liking of Goldilocks’s superiors in Washington. Then, in April 2009, a fascist terror cell comprised of half a dozen or so foreign mercenaries and would-be machos, found to have ties to those same opposition politicos, was literally shot to pieces before it could kill Evo, his vice-president Álvaro García Linera, and their cabinet, and who-knows-who-all-else. They had fortunately missed a seemingly golden opportunity when Evo headed up a floating parliament on Lake Titicaca; the cell’s leader was caught on cellphone video moaning about how cool it would have been if only they could have blown that Bolivian navy vessel sky-high, with all the MAS government members in it. Instead, it was the terror cell that got blown up, in a hotel where they were holing up and plotting their moves. The cell’s leader was killed by federal police, along with a couple of others; a couple more escaped; the rest were jailed. And the Media Luna’s rogue prefects went on the lam, where they remain to this day. With that, the opposition got a harsh object lesson on what kind of political gambits will no longer play in Bolivia.

And now, with Evo’s vote count at over 60% and still climbing, Bolivia’s economy likewise on the up-and-up, and no more terrorists in sight, Washington seems to have no choice but to start showing some respect for The Little Injun That Could. So they’re talking of a new, more “mutually” respectful relationship. And it seems that Evo is very well situated to hold them to it.

But you can be sure that no one will be letting their guard down. The huge popular support Evo enjoys is the backing for a very wise, very shrewd and vigilant government, which has already proved its mettle at putting paid to old-style fascist putschist politicking…which, as always, had the backing of Washington. And if anything should happen to Evo, the revolt will make the dramatic response to the Venezuelan coup-flop of ’02 look like a pleasant day’s outing in the park. Bolivian workers, the miners and farmers in particular, have decades of experience in fighting back at any cost, and they are Evo’s key base of support.

Moreover, thanks to Cuban help, Bolivia is now fully literate, politically awake, and therefore that much harder to deceive. There will not be any more docile acceptance of Yanqui interference and military dictatorship, as there was in decades past. The people of Bolivia are prospering, but they are not so prosperous yet that they are totally unprepared to fight, if they must.

And if they must, they WILL.

Majunche’s not-so-excellent foreign adventure

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Ah, Keanu. Well might you ask. It turns out that the answer may be as simple as that old biblical saying: By their fruits shall ye know them.

So, by Majunche’s fruits, what can we know about him? Well, a certain vice-president of Venezuela has some ideas:

Venezuelan vice-president Elías Jaua denounced on Saturday that the upcoming trip by opposition politician Henrique Capriles Radonski to Spain and the United States is part of a “destabilization campaign” to “interrupt democracy” in Venezuela.

Jaua pointed out that Capriles plans to travel between October 20 and 24 to Spain and the US to meet with representatives of the far right to receive “outlines and financial oxygen to continue the destabilization campaign against Venezuelan democracy.”

Jaua also informed that president Nicolás Maduro has ordered the Legislative Council of the state of Miranda, of which Capriles is governor, to demand explanations of the opposition politician as to why he is absenting himself from his functions for five days.

Jaua, also a former foreign minister, called the claim that Capriles is the most moderate of the Venezuelan opposition a lie, recalling that the governor of Miranda plays a principal role in “a game to interrupt democracy and the plan to destabilize our homeland.”

He also deemed “absolutely irresponsible” the declarations of Capriles over a supposed cutback in the Miranda state budget due to the fact that the price of oil established in the national budget does not correspond to the real prices established.

In this context, Jaua emphasized that Capriles, a representative of the opposition “Democratic Unity Table” (MUD) party, uses such allegations as excuses for not dedicating himself to his duties, such as attending to culture, sport and education in Miranda.

Venezuelan authorities have accused the sectors of the Venezuelan opposition on repeated occasions, supported from abroad, of plotting to launch a coup d’état against the Maduro government.

Translation mine.

It’s already well known that Spain and the US (and the far fascist right of both) have active, vested interests in seeing Venezuelan democracy kicked to the curb. Both were, in fact, found actively backing the coup of ’02. Does anyone seriously believe that they’ve since changed their stripes?

If you do, you might be as big a doofus as Bill. Or Ted.

If you don’t, keep watching Majunche. Or this space, which will certainly keep its eyes trained on him.

Open Carry gunbunny gets jacked

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Think you’ll be safer if you’re toting a firearm in plain sight? Think again. This “open carry” gun guy got robbed of his brand-new piece…at gunpoint:

A man practicing his open carry right was robbed of the gun he was openly carrying.

William Coleman III was robbed of his Walter- brand P22 just after 2:00 a.m. October 4 in Gresham by a young man who asked him for it — and flashed his own weapon as persuasion.

Coleman, 21, was talking to his cousin in the 17200 block of NE Glisan St., after purchasing the handgun earlier that day, when a young man asked him for a cigarette, police said.

The man then asked about the gun, pulled a gun from his own waistband and said “I like your gun. Give it to me.”

Coleman handed over the gun and the man fled on foot.

I’m guessing that the thief was NOT an Open Carrier. In that regard, he was smarter than his quarry.

So much for the idea that “an armed society is a safe society”, eh?

Robert Serra names his assassins

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Who says dead men tell no tales? Not I. And not the Argentine journalist Fernando Vicente Prieto, who wrote the following article for the Correo del Orinoco about the recently slain young Venezuelan deputy, Robert Serra:

It’s been 48 hours since they killed Robert Serra and, in the same criminal operation, María Herrera. Robert was a kid, a Venezuelan boy. He was a deputy for four years, and he was only 27. He was the youngest parliamentarian in Venezuela. His killers knew of his unwavering commitment, his firm and potent voice, because he represented the best of a revolutionary youth, prepared to go the full distance.

They thought they killed him completely in that cruel and, at the same time, perfectly rational act. They wanted to kill in him a generation, called by Hugo Chávez to the most difficult and beautiful task. But Robert Serra continues to speak after his death and from there, he points in his eternal gesture at the assassins. They wanted to kill him again and again, and on October 1 — sadly — they succeeded. But not completely.

Even though they killed him 48 hours ago in La Pastora, I turn on the TV and there’s Robert, talking again, and this time of his own death. He’s conversing on the show Zurda Konducta with other guys like him, some dressed like journalists. Robert is waving his hands and speaking clearly. He’s analyzing the moment of the Revolution, describing the job taken on by the youth after Chávez, and suddenly he begins to tell who assassinated him, why, and in what context.

“The country should observe what’s going on. Why was Álvaro Uribe Vélez the first one to come out in defence of Lorent Saleh? Because there are interests directly related, between the paramilitaries he personally directed and still directs in Colombia, and these despicable acts.”

“If we look retroactively at the fallen during the last guarimbas, [we see] a well-aimed shot to the head, with 9mm or high calibre bullets. A well-aimed shot. Not just any shooter has the ability to do that,” says Robert. “Let’s remember what happened in April 2002, with the coup against Comandante Chávez.”

And from that context, he comes back to talking about the present: “And look at this shameless Lorent Saleh, who says: ‘we have the diplomatic façade with this Operation Freedom’.” He is eloquently referring to the leader of Operation Freedom, one of the “peaceful students against Maduro”, as the private media call them.

“He says that, straight up, that crook says ‘we have the diplomatic façade of the altars of the defence of human rights’. And you see how when our state security corps come out to guarantee peace in the land, they are the ones who get converted into victimizers by the opinion shapers. I want to see CNN replay these videos that are coming out now. I want to see that woman-abuser Fernando del Rincón replaying that. I want to see Patricia Janiot. I want to see all of those who have initiated a media campaign against our country,” Robert insists.

He doesn’t stop; he keeps pointing out tactics and responsible parties. He recalls how the paramilitary groups planned to attack discos and bars in San Cristóbal: “Even their own guys,” he exclaims, “so that the social breakdown would be much greater.”

Later, he directly addresses Antonio Ledezma, the right-wing metropolitan mayor of Caracas. “I know you must be watching me,” he tells him. And reads one of many tweets Ledezma immediately put out to defend the paramilitary group.

He also reads out a tweet by María Corina Machado, which cynically affirms that “everybody knows what awaits Lorent Saleh and Gabriel Valles at the hands of the régime”. And Robert accuses: “No! Not everybody knows. You know it, shameless person, because you’re in the plan! You know it, Antonio Ledezma knows it, Leopoldo López knows it, and and Álvaro Uribe knows it, because they’re the ones who are in on the plan to destabilize our democracy. Now many of us know it.”

Robert looks into the camera. With his short, scrubby hairstyle, as always, and his neighborhood boy’s face, intelligent and naughty. Profound. Chavista. With all his life ahead of him. He thumps his chest and warns:

“And I’m certain, I’m certain, that in that macabre list I could be one of the names. Fine, let them do it. But it doesn’t matter. I’m certain that they plan to hold collectives and social movements responsible. What for? To generate the reaction that tells CNN that there is a ‘dogfight’ going on that they have set in motion for the gringos and other countries of the world to demonstrate that there is no governability here, that Nicolás Maduro doesn’t guarantee peace, and so the world’s police, the blessed gringos, have to intervene.”

And Robert goes on explaining, dead now but with his voice full of life: “We have to get to the root of this, my dear comrades. This was born at a party. I have the migratory register of many of them: how they came through Costa Rica, through Colombia, from where we denounce the so-called Mexican party. And what was the Mexican party? A party held in Mexico by a group of Venezuelan ex-bankers, fugitives from Venezuelan justice, who circulated instructions via a political operator named Gustavo Tovar Arroyo to unleash violence in our land.”

“I am convinced that they will banalize this denunciation tomorrow,” Robert continues. “They want to see the body of the president so they can say ‘Ah yes, the Chavistas were right’. And how will they banalize it? They’ll say that this is a smokescreen to cover up the problems of the land.”

The end of the program draws near. I hear [them read out] a tweet from a young right-winger which says: “I wish I had a pistol so I could shoot down all of those guys from Zurda Konducta.” Robert nods as if to say “exactly!” and says: “You see? This is a product of the hatred the right-wing has instilled.”

He adds: “Today history proves Nicolas Maduro to be right when he said: ‘Gentlemen, behind all of this lies the empire, and the hand of Álvaro Uribe’, who is thirsting for blood in Venezuela, a product of his failure in Colombia. He wants to destroy peace in our land and he has absolutely nothing to lose, because he doesn’t even have morality.”

Robert says goodbye. He talks about the importance of the 2015 legislative elections, in which the right-wing will try to take the majority so as later to deal a parliamentary coup, as in Honduras and Paraguay. “To win is to win well. Let’s build a majority with our people. What is at stake for us in the coming year will be the peace and the democracy of our land. Let us carry on the legacy of Hugo Chávez. If they ask this generation what our objective is, it’s not a term in office, comrade. It is to make irreversible the dreams of Hugo Chávez and his legacy in this homeland he built for us.”

Robert Serra. 27 years old. Young Chavista deputy. A revolutionary who never will be silent. Those who have ears to hear, let them listen. Because Robert is still speaking loud and clear.

Translation mine.

So we can see that there is, indeed, a veritable rogues’ gallery of usual suspects behind Serra’s death: El Narco Uribe, the failed ex-president of Colombia, and head of the paramilitary death squads to which Lorent Saleh and Gabriel Valles are now well known to have belonged. Antonio Ledezma, alias “Grandpa Monster”, the reviled right-wing metropolitan mayor of Caracas, and a well-known collaborator in all the violent opposition guarimbas there. And the bottom-feeding right-wing “leaders”, María Corina Machado, alias Maricori, and Leopoldo López, the pretty boy who’s still sitting in jail, safe and sound, awaiting trial for his part in the recent failed putsch against Madurito. And a bunch of bankers, fugitives from justice all, who absconded with money belonging by rights to the Venezuelan people, who are currently squatting in Mexico. Serra names them all. The only person he doesn’t name is the one who pulled the trigger on him. But it hardly matters. He knows who wanted him dead. And he knows that they had the power and the cash to hire a very cold, clever sharpshooter to do their dirty work, too.

And if you wonder why I’m still writing about him in the present tense, it’s because Robert Serra, like Chavecito before him and Che Guevara before him, is the kind of person who never really dies. He left so much of himself behind, even in his short existence on Earth, that it doesn’t matter anymore where his body is. His spirit is the kind that won’t be silenced so soon. And that irony will be the final joke on his killers, because they will fade from existence as nonentities, even though they succeeded — but only partially, as the author of the piece says — in killing him.

Why was Robert Serra murdered?

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Robert Serra (at left, with hand raised) leads a PSUV delegation through a Caracas neighborhood. On Wednesday night, the parliamentarian — Venezuela’s youngest national-assembly deputy — was brutally murdered at home.

On Wednesday night, Venezuela lost a bright, promising young parliamentarian to a vicious targeted assassination. We don’t yet know exactly who did it. But their motive? That’s not in so much doubt…

Young Chavista deputy Robert Serra, assassinated on Wednesday night along with his girlfriend at his home in Caracas, was one of those who, along with the VTV program Zurda Konducta, denounced the videos linking Lorent Gómez Saleh with paramilitarism and with an attempted coup d’état against Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro.

So recounts journalist and Zurda Konducta host Pedro Carvajalino, who considers that the murder of Serra was meant to “demoralize the people”.

In an interview with the Venezuelan News Agency (AVN), in La Pastora, near the home of the murdered parliamentarian, Carvalino, who shared the show stage several times with Serra in the past few weeks, remembered the man affectionately known as “Machine Gun”, for his eloquent and energetic way of speaking.

Carvajalino pointed out that “in the almost two months that [Serra] was on Zurda Konducta, above all on the subject of the videos of Lorent Gómez Saleh and that of the economic battle, he came bringing a political team that very few people could have managed.”

“This was like how Bolívar received the news of when they murdered Sucre,” said Carvajalino, expressing the grief felt not only by the Zurda Konducta team, but also by his comrades and colleagues, over the brutal assassination of Serra. “He always had a close relationship with this neighborhood, in this community. He bought his house here, and led his political and personal life here,” said Carvajalino, emphasizing Serra’s down-to-earth ways.

“The plan to demoralize the people and get a reaction is still going on. They touched a sensitive nerve, a sensitive guy, with close ties to the 23 de Enero neighborhood and here in La Pastora. He wasn’t a guy who went from here to there, like others, one who could have lived in a fancy apartment [elsewhere]. He stayed here in La Pastora.”

Translation mine.

Serra denounced Lorent Saleh, the right-wing Venezuelan “youth leader” terrorist, and his putschist plans. Was that the reason he was murdered? Probably, but it was surely not the whole reason.

Serra was the youngest parliamentarian in the Venezuelan national assembly, and one of the brightest of its rising stars. A Chavista to the core, he showed what he was made of seven years ago when he took on the right wing’s then golden boy, Yon Goicoechea, on a TV talk show, and basically bowled right over him. Serra was just 20 years old at the time. Yon-Yon has since sunk back into obscurity, but Robert Serra kept right on going, from strength to strength…until now.

There is no doubt that the energetic, charismatic and popular Robert Serra stood to be another Chavecito, given time. Of course, that’s why it was all taken away from him by an assassin with a high-powered rifle at his home in the modest Caracas district of La Pastora on Wednesday night. And if you wonder who was behind it, guess what: It’s the same bunch that’s ALWAYS backing the Venezuelan right-wing. And the authorities are onto them, right up to the president himself:

During memorial services for parliamentary deputy Robert Serra and [his girlfriend] María Herrera, Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro affirmed that his government has denounced the existence of multiple terrorist plans, many of them “financed by factors of the Miami far-right and paramilitary groups in Colombia.”

The president said that the opposition has “banalized” and “made fun of” the many denunciations the government has made of their destabilization plans, but that “you can see in the opaque gleam of their eyes an underlying desire for what has happened.

“We have aborted many of their plans before they began, sometimes beyond the borders of Venezuela, many times we detained them before we denounced them. One of them is Lorent Saleh, whom we caught with proof in hand. We have captured others from their networks the same way; I can tell you that recently, in the run-up to this weekend, we detained four different groups which were coming to wreak violence and carry out attacks in the centre of the land, including Caracas.

“We caught them with the evidence, with explosives, I denounced that and I hereby ratify it: Terrorist groups supported by elements of the Venezuelan far-right and Colombian paramilitary groups are behind the plans to bring violence into our land. We have succeeded in dissipating part of those plans, and we will continue to battle for peace in our land.”

The president exhorted the opposition to dissociate itself from the violent groups who have hidden behind political parties, and called upon members of his own party to “close the lines”: “Let us exercise revolutionary vigilance in communities and neighborhoods, the length and breadth of the country. I ask for the collaboration of all Venezuelans, so that together with the intelligence services, we will capture the assassins of Robert Serra and dissipate the terrorist groups. Locating them is a battle for all the people. It is a battle for all the people, the battle against terrorism, against criminal violence. It is a hard battle, elements of the imperial right-wing of Miami are behind this crime. We are close to dealing a heavy blow to this band of assassins and criminals.”

Maduro affirmed that the investigations into the killing of the parliamentarian are advancing, and that it is only a matter of time before the material and intellectual authors are found.

“The proofs are all lined up, advanced, to identify the material authors. And at this point, after having spoken with those directing the investigation, I believe that we are close to dealing a heavy blow to this band of assassins and criminals,” said Maduro.

The president assured that in the hours to come, the government will release further details, and that he personally is watching the development of the investigation. “There will be justice for these criminals, but the greatest justice there could be is that this revolution consolidate itself toward the future, and we will do it for this homeland, the homeland Robert Serra dreamed of,” Maduro exclaimed.

Translation, again, mine.

We know how Robert Serra was killed; we even have a fair idea of why. Now, it only remains to be seen who, exactly, is behind all this. I predict we’ll be seeing a fair number of Usual Suspects, and that their networks will be traced all the way back to Miami, just as Nicolás Maduro has said.

US asked Honduras to harbor old CIA asset, according to former president Zelaya

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Oh, oh. What have we here? Evidence that the United States of Amnesia (see no evil, hear no evil, admit no evil) was actually embarrassed enough about one of its old terrorist employees to try to fob him off on a Latin American country that wanted nothing to do with him? Yup, it sure looks that way…

The former president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, attested today in Ecuador that the United States is exercising a systematic plan of interference in the internal affairs of his land, something he personally witnessed while he was head of state. During the working sessions of the Latin American Progressive Meeting, which concludes today, the ex-leader explained that during his presidential period, the attempts at interference were many and constant, upon which he concluded that the person ordering them in Honduras was Washington’s ambassador.

Zelaya recalled that as soon as he was elected, the first call he received was from that diplomatic representative of the US government, who congratulated him, invited him to lunch, and after sharing a meal, handed him an envelope, to be opened later in his office.

Inside the package was a list of the ministers he was to nominate, who were persons close to him during the electoral campaign, but also infiltrated agents of the CIA.

Another of the initial incidents was that the US ambassador petitioned him for political asylum for Luis Posada Carriles, via the foreign minister. Zelaya described Posada as an international terrorist, author of multiple assassinations. Acceding to the request would have been considered a gesture favorable to rapprochement.

The former president, who was ousted from office via a coup in 2009, finally decided not to give asylum to Posada Carriles. He followed it up later with the resolution to withdraw concessions granted to US oil companies by previous administrations.

“And that is grave, because it is interfering with the economic interests of the imperialists,” Zelaya asserted.

Zelaya commented that because he had not permitted US interference, they began to accuse him of taking orders from the then Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez.

The situation arrived at such a point, he said, that in a meeting with the then president of the United States, George W. Bush, the latter asked him irately if he was giving Chávez what he wasn’t giving Washington.

The Honduran politician said that the decisive moment when the North American government decided against him was when they proposed to him that the city of San Pedro Sula become the site of a summit of the Organization of American States (OAS).

At that juncture, Zelaya recalled, “I accepted, but only if they would derogate the [legal] instruments approved decades ago to expel Cuba from that entity, which happened.

“I only wanted to repair an historic error that way,” Zelaya said, and added that this occurred on June 3, 2009. The coup d’état took place on the 28th of the same month.

Zelaya considers it necessary to analyze not only how subversive forces organize coups to expel progressive governments, but also the later effects of such events.

Relative to that, he mentioned the problems Honduras continues to live through following the coup, where for example violence has increased at impressive levels.

With the presence of the representatives of 35 parties and political movements from some 20 countries, the regional forum has been extended for two days to broach various questions over the progressive struggles of the area, as well as how to strengthen unity in the face of conservative restoration.

Translation mine.

So, it seems that the US interference in Honduras goes a lot deeper than just the coup of June 28, 2009. Even as soon as Mel Zelaya was elected, he was already facing the prospect of having to take instructions from Washington, relayed by the then US ambassador…or else. One of them was which government ministers to name; another was political asylum for the Bush the Elder’s nasty little dog, the CubanaBomber, Luis Posada Carriles (who is still stinking up Miami, predictably, though he is by all accounts a very illegal immigrant). Those two, I’m sure you’ll agree, are pretty damn shocking, and unacceptable to a democratically elected, sovereign head of state. And the third request, relatively benign, was to hold the OAS meeting in San Pedro Sula. That one was the only one Zelaya could agree to…on the condition that Cuba be let back into the OAS, after its expulsion following the 1959 revolution. Of course, as we well know, Cuba is still out of the OAS.

And Zelaya? Well, we all know what happened to him, too. Hustled out of country in his pajamas, en route to the Dominican Republic, in the wee hours of June 28, 2009. A military coup, covered up by a pseudo-democratic “parliamentary” veneer, in which a right-winger docile to all US commercial interests in Honduras was installed as “president”, while death squads dormant since the end of the 1980s were resurrected to wreak havoc and terror on progressive activists all over Honduras, and to silence the most vocal critics of Washington and its new, “democratic” Honduran puppets.

Other interesting notes: The oil concessions awarded by previous governments to US firms, which Zelaya no doubt knew were grossly exploitive and unfair to Honduras. He revoked those, probably with an eye to copying Chavecito’s very successful “sow the oil” scheme in Venezuela. Of course, duplicating an observed success is not the same thing as handing Honduran oil over to Venezuelan government interests! But to Washington’s paranoid mind, the two were one and the same. That no doubt helped seal Zelaya’s unholy fate, along with the equally unacceptable request that Cuba be brought back into the OAS.

It’s things like this that make a joke of the US’s claims to be a supporter of “freedom” and “democracy”, not to mention war criminals of at least two US presidents and their Secretaries of State. When, oh when, will we see them brought to trial in The Hague?