Quotable: John Perkins on the cost of war

Glass houses, Your Barackness.

Glass houses.

President Barack Obama’s sharp criticisms of Venezuela’s human rights record and its ties to Iran are heightening tensions with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who on Monday responded by calling Obama a “clown” and telling him to mind his own business.

Obama appeared to stiffen his stance toward Chavez in his remarks, which were published Monday by the Venezuelan newspaper El Universal. Some of Obama’s Republican opponents have also been strongly critical of Chavez, and analysts expect the Venezuelan president could become a popular target of criticism as American politicians feud over foreign policy ahead of next year’s U.S. presidential election.

While Washington has long criticized Chavez, Obama’s remarks were some of his hardest to date. He pointedly raised concerns about what he described as threats to democracy in Venezuela.

“We’re concerned about the government’s actions, which have restricted the universal rights of the Venezuelan people, threatened basic democratic values and failed to contribute to the security in the region,” Obama said in written responses to questions from the newspaper.

Of course, it’s important to consider the source here. El Luniversal is a virulently oppositionist newspaper. It’s backing a “unity table” of failed right-wing candidates. So of course it’s going to go fishing for nasty words from Obama to Chavecito. The embarrassing thing is, His Barackness obliged. And the ‘Cito gave him a prompt pantsing for it:

Chavez wasted little no time in responding. He said on state television, “Mr. Obama came out, attacking us, but that’s not out of the ordinary for us.”

The Venezuelan leader added, “Obama, take care of your own business, focus on governing your country, which you’ve turned into a disaster. Leave us alone.”

Touché! The US still has a major, Repug-corporatist-made recession to dig out of, and His Barackness has been rather slow off the mark to address that. Must be all that hopey-changey bipartisan bending-over and ankle-grabbing.

Meanwhile, in Venezuela, things are going nowhere but up, in spite of the supposed human-rights violations of Chavecito — which, you’ll note, are left deliberately vague by El Luni AND His Barackness. I’m sure there’s a reason for that, too.

And Chavecito has pegged a couple of things very accurately here: All this tough talk comes in a pre-election year. And oh yeah, another thing, too:

Chavez suggested Obama’s stances toward Venezuela are a campaign ploy.

“He’s looking for votes,” Chavez said. Addressing Obama directly, he added: “If I could be a candidate there in the United States, I’d sweep you away.”

Yep: It’s that hopey-changey thing. Chavecito has it for real; he doesn’t need to use it for a campaign slogan.

I bet he’d have no qualms about sending the Bush Crime Mafia to The Hague, either. Unlike His Barackness, the ‘Cito has already lived through one coup attempt, and he’s not afraid of another; he knows from experience that the people have his back. Which is why he can also laugh at the pro-putsch rhetoric coming out of Washington, and why his “I could sweep you” is not exactly an idle boast. Chavecito has already made a thorough fool of Dubya, and he won’t hesitate to do the same to any other US president who pushes his luck.

There are plenty of people in the US who admire that kind of cojones, and who are sick to death of the lack of it in their politicians. They would vote for him tomorrow if he ran there — and if their media could only give an accurate account of his record. Too bad that like the so-called journalists of El Luni, most of the US media are also hopeless hacks.

Who’s the buffoon now, eh?

How Wired missed the real Assange/Manning story

A couple of days ago, Bradley Manning celebrated his birthday behind bars for the second year in a row. He’s still awaiting trial, with no word on when it will begin. But the outcome of the trial looks to be a foregone conclusion already. Wired, which also broke the story about Adrian Lamo turning Bradley Manning in, today claims to have found the definitive link between Manning and the man who published all the shocking classified materials Manning gave him:

A government digital forensic examiner retrieved communications between accused WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning and an online chat user identified on Manning’s computer as “Julian Assange,” the name of the founder of the secret-spilling site that published hundreds of thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables.

Investigators also found an Icelandic phone number for Assange, and a chat with another hacker located in the U.S., in which Manning says he’s responsible for the leaking of the “Collateral Murder” Apache helicopter video released by WikiLeaks in spring 2010.

Until Monday’s revelation, there’s been no reports that the government had evidence linking the two men, other than chat logs provided to the FBI by hacker Adrian Lamo. Assange is being investigated by a federal grand jury, but has not been charged with any crime, as publishing classified information is not generally considered a crime in the U.S. But if prosecutors could show that Assange directed Manning, that could complicate Assange’s defense that WikiLeaks is simply a journalistic endeavor.

The news of the chat logs came on the fourth day of Manning’s Army hearing being held to determine whether he’ll face court martial on 22 charges of violating military law for allegedly abusing his position as an intelligence analyst in Iraq to feed a treasure trove of classified and sensitive documents to WikiLeaks.

Mark Johnson, a digital forensics contractor for ManTech International who works for the Army’s Computer Crime Investigative Unit, examined an image of Manning’s personal MacBook Pro and said he found 14 to 15 pages of chats in unallocated space on the hard drive that were discussions of unspecified government info, and specifically referred to re-sending info.

Pretty damning stuff, eh?

Yeah, I’ll admit it doesn’t look good for Bradley Manning, or Julian Assange either. If you believe that the two of them should be tried for espionage, this certainly seems to bolster that contention. But the real point of the story, which would blow the whole “espionage” theory out of the water, has been missed: It’s not how Manning got his hands on all that data (which we’ve already known about for quite some time), nor how he fed it to Julian Assange.

The real story, the part Wired isn’t reporting, is not the HOW, but the WHY.

And the WHY is no secret. It has already been reported elsewhere, but bears reiterating here. Bradley Manning saw what the US was really up to in its many overseas missions, diplomatic and military, and that it was all rotten. He hated what he saw, and he wanted to make sure everyone, no matter who or where they were, knew what he knew. He didn’t spy for any foreign government; he blew the whistle on his own. He wanted the whole world to know what was really going on in Iraq, because horrible, graphic footage like this…

…was obviously not going to make it onto any nightly newscast.

Mainstream media would only spin that video, at best; at worst, they would censor it altogether. The Internet is the only place that would disseminate a video as damaging to the US’s international reputation as Collateral Murder has turned out to be. And the Internet is the only place where such a video would be mirrored, as many times as needed, so that censorship could never take hold of it.

That’s why Bradley Manning leaked the classified materials to Julian Assange, and why Julian Assange posted it to Wikileaks.

It’s not that the two of them are spies. Spies, by definition, work for somebody else, an outside entity. An outside enemy. Neither Bradley Manning nor Julian Assange can be demonstrated in a court of law to be in the employ of an enemy, so espionage charges would make no sense (although I’m sure the US government is looking to press them anyhow). They were neither working for the enemy nor seeking to BE the enemy. Their only crime, if a crime indeed it was, was exposing the unattractive truth about US foreign policy. A truth which foreign nationals have long known, and which complicit media in the US and elsewhere have long covered up.

And for that awful truth, Bradley Manning may hang. Literally.

I don’t think he did anything wrong, myself. What is wrong with telling the truth, even when powerful interests don’t want it known?

NOTHING.

But there is plenty wrong with what we see in the Collateral Murder video. And if anyone in uniform should go on trial for anything, let it be the as-yet-unnamed helicopter pilots, “Bushmaster” and “Crazyhorse”, who deliberately and coldly killed the Iraqi journalist for Reuters, Namir Noor-Eldeen, and his driver, Saeed Chmagh. And who also fired on innocent Iraqi civilians, including some kids in a van, who stopped to try to help the two wounded men.

And while we’re at it, let’s send the entire Bush Administration to The Hague. After all, they are the ones who sent “Bushmaster” and “Crazyhorse” to Iraq to play real-life shooter games with innocent Iraqis as targets. The war is now officially over. How about prosecuting those who declared it, on a false pretext, and for greed?

Oh yeah, I forgot. High-ranking criminals can’t be prosecuted. And Barack Obama has already (shamefully) taken that option off the table. So unless someone stages a citizen’s arrest of any of those thugs while they’re visiting a foreign country, it’s unlikely that we’ll see any of THEM subjected to the abuses and indignities that have befallen Assange and Manning. Much less any legal prosecution.

The shameful complicity of the US government, corporations, and media in crimes against humanity just never seems to end. And that’s the real story that Wired, like other mainstream sources, will never print.

Economics for Dummies: What’s wrong with the US economy (and how to fix it)

A perfectly simple, couldn’t-be-clearer approach to what’s been billed as an insolubly knotty mess. Too obvious for ya? Then you’re probably a teabag.

And this is why I call him The Big Dick…

harry-whittington.jpg

Five years after the infamous incident of the shotgun, Harry Whittington is still not the man he used to be. And guess who is to blame:


The lawyer shot five years ago by then vice-president Dick Cheney told the The Washington Post Thursday that his injuries from the hunting accident were more extensive than revealed at the time.

Harry Whittington, 82 and still working as a lawyer in Austin, has kept the blood-stained orange safety vest he was wearing when Cheney opened fire, peppering him with lead shot, the Post reported.

He suffered a collapsed lung during the incident and had what doctors believe was a mild heart attack.

Whittington still has about 30 pieces of shot inside his body and speaks with what he describes as “a warble” caused by one that pierced his larynx. Another is near his heart, too deep to remove safely.

Cheney has not apologized in public for the shooting, and when asked by the Post if Cheney had done so in private, Whittington paused, then said sharply: “I’m not going to go into that.”

I’ll take that as a “no”. Because if The Big Dick HAD apologized, wouldn’t Harry Whittington come right out and say as much?


The Post said Whittington was “too gracious” to say Cheney had not said sorry, but also did not dispute he had not received an apology.

Despite this, he told the paper that he regarded Cheney as “a very capable and honorable man.”

“He’s said some very kind things to me,” Whittington said.

Capable and honorable? At what, pray tell? Certainly not when it comes to handling a shotgun. Or apologizing to a friend he damn near killed!

But wait, here comes the pièce de résistance:


After the shooting, Whittington issued a statement saying he and his family were “deeply sorry” for “all that Vice President Cheney and his family have had to go through.”

That’s very noble, Harry, but isn’t it he who owes YOU an apology? Instead, a bunch of White House lawyers tried to make it look like it was your fault, using those words against you.

And Darth Cheney still hasn’t apologized for what was clearly HIS doing. Because if he did, he’d be held liable, no doubt…or thinks he would. This is what passes for friendship in BushWorld.

Accountability: BushCo never had it. They start wars with flimsy excuses and total impunity, so heck, what’s shooting a hunting buddy in the face and damn near killing him? Other than a perfect, emblematic example of the unapologetic assholery of the whole damn bunch?

The Bush Crime Family’s tentacles in Cuba

bfee.jpg

Thought you’d seen the last of Dubya when His Barackness kicked him oh-so-politely out of the White House, and hustled him and his minions onto that chopper to take him back to Crawford where he belonged? Think again. As long as there’s a Bush family, there will be an evil empire of crime and greed. That empire is unbelievably vast, and its tentacles reach all over the place, sucking wealth out of remote locations and leaving the locals impoverished unless they fight back. And one of those places, as strange coincidence would have it, is CUBA–where the locals fought back successfully, and against which, it seems, the BFEE still bears a grudge:


The obsession of the Bush family with Cuba, and its determination to make life difficult for Cubans, begs the question: Is there some secret or “black hole” in the relations of the Bushes with this Caribbean isle?

In reality, there’s no cat to let out of the bag, because the hidden skeleton left the closet some time ago, when there was an investigation and a recounting of the links between the Bush family name and Cuba, conducted by Marcelo Pérez Suárez, doctor of political science, of the Foreign Ministry of Cuba.

From one of his works, we draw the following revealing data:


George Herbert Walker, maternal great-grandfather of George W. Bush, member of the wealthy family headed by Prescott Bush, was a director of seven companies operating in Cuba since 1920. These were dedicated to the production of sugar, distillation of rum, and railroad infrastructure. They were called The Cuba Company, The Cuban Railroad, Cuban Dominican Sugar, Barahona Sugar, Cuba Distilling, Sugar Estates of Oriente, and Atlantic Fruit and Sugar.

These were merged in 1942 into the West Indies Sugar Company, which was nationalized in 1960 by the Cuban revolutionary government [of Fidel Castro].

In 1953, George H. Walker died, but his namesake son, George H. Walker Jr., the uncle of George Bush, took up the reins of those seven companies. That same year, George Bush, father of George W. Bush, entered the oil business and founded the Zapata Oil company in Houston, Texas, creating Zapata Offshore as a subsidiary.

In 1958, Zapata Offshore signed a contract to exploit petroleum deposits 40 miles off the Cuban shore, north of Isabela de Sagua in the province of Las Villas. This venture was cut short by the triumph of the Revolution in 1959.

However, even with the possibility of business and investments with Cuba ruled out, George Bush Sr. remained president of Zapata Offshore until 1966.

Zapata Offshore and its head, George Bush, are both linked to the CIA, as was shown by declassified documents from the US Secret Service. Also because the records of Zapata were destroyed. A good while after 1960, the Secret Service moved to protect George Bush when he began his political career and destroyed all the records between 1981 and 1983, when he began his term as vice-president. There were motives.

What is true is that regarding West Indies Sugar and Zapata, it is very likely that the Bush family, as well as being hurt in its business relations and investments in Cuba, may have maintained some “right” to reclamation after the nationalizations of the Revolution. Recall that many companies have continued to maintain these “rights” up to now, hoping to recuperate the properties or a higher compensation [than originally received], under the complicity of the government and laws of the United States.

Fletcher Prouty, an ex-CIA officer, confirmed in his 1973 book, The Secret Team, that two of the ships used for the Bay of Pigs invasion–the Barbara and the Houston–were renamed and repainted by Agent Bush in the naval base of Elizabeth City, North Carolina, before being sent to Cuba, and that his company, Zapata Offshore, was used as a front.

In summation, there is no “black hole” in the relationship between the Bush family and Cuba. Everything is clearer than water, and there is nothing hidden to investigate.

Translation mine. Linkage added.

Of course, if you’ve been following the BFEE in more recent years (as this site has), you’ll already know that they’ve fallen on harder times since those glory days when they snapped up trouble-ridden Cuban corporations at fire-sale prices and proceeded to profiteer obscenely from the investment. Dubya’s oil companies, Harken and Arbusto, were most notable for drilling dry holes, for losing money, and in Arbusto’s case, for being sold, at a ridiculous profit, to none other than one of the Bin Ladens (another rich and powerful family, this one distinctly Saudi in character. Perhaps you’ve heard of them?) It’s awfully tempting to put two and two together between that connection and 9-11, and a certain CIA daily briefing that Dubya–oddly, considering that he is the son of a former CIA director–brushed aside, not to mention how badly the US military, under Dubya’s orders, flubbed the battle of Tora Bora (the one where a certain tall turban-man named Osama got away.) Don’t you think so?

If you do, you won’t have any problem seeing why Dubya strove so hard (and in vain) throughout his term to starve Cuba out. Actually, his old man came closer to it, which is why you may have seen that brief rash of Cuban bo
at-people
during the so-called “Special Period” between the collapse of the Soviet Union and the mid-1990s, when the Cuban economy began to recover and the trickle of economic migrants ceased. That period of hardship eased, not due to foreign investment (for there was none), nor by any buyouts or reclamations of nationalized corporations (there were none of those, either), but by the Cuban people’s pre-existing self-sufficiency drive, established in the wake of the Revolution. The Special Period deepened and intensified it, and Cuban ingenuity won that day.

The Cuban recovery happened during Bill Clinton’s tenure–at a time when the BFEE, and indeed the entire US right-wing, was doing its damnedest to force that popular, and largely peace-minded, president out of office. Ken Starr and his panty-sniffing, pornographic impeachment drive failed. Even the Elián González kerfuffle could not spark the undoubtedly desired conflict that might have brought things to a head in Cuba. There was nothing for the BFEE to do there, and not later, either. Dubya missed his own window of opportunity when Venezuela struck up the ALBA treaty, with Cuba as its first co-signer. (He had struck out earlier, too, when his oily widdle coup against Venezuela failed in ’02.)

Two rich Caribbean oil treasure troves, and he fucked up in his efforts to get them, as my mom would say in German, under his fingernails. That’s gotta hurt. But it’s quite par for the course; Dubya has the reverse of the Midas touch. Everything he sticks his hand into turns to shit.

Let’s hope that no subsequent Bush gets into the Oval Office, or, in the event that one does, let’s hope he fails as badly as all his predecessors at undermining the sovereignty of Latin America for nefarious BFEE corporate purposes.

How far would Washington go to defend torture and death squads?

Sometimes, it’s just instructive to take a good hard look at the past in order to really grasp what’s going on in the present. Take, for example, the fact that Washington has officially sanctioned torture and the use of death squads during the nearly ten years that the War on Terra has been raging. Dubya even went so far as to get some legal beagles to write him some excuse notes, sparking worldwide outrage. Think it’s anything new? Think again. Here’s the latest declassified bombshell from the National Security Archive, which landed in my inbox yesterday:


Washington, DC, August 11, 2010 – Documents posted by the National Security Archive on the 40th anniversary of the death of U.S. advisor Dan Mitrione in Uruguay show the Nixon administration recommended a “threat to kill [detained insurgent] Sendic and other key [leftist insurgent] MLN prisoners if Mitrione is killed.” The secret cable from U.S. Secretary of State William Rogers, made public here for the first time, instructed U.S. Ambassador Charles Adair: “If this has not been considered, you should raise it with the Government of Uruguay at once.”

The message to the Uruguayan government, received by the U.S. Embassy at 11:30 am on August 9, 1970, was an attempt to deter Tupamaro insurgents from killing Mitrione at noon on that day. A few minutes later, Ambassador Adair reported back, in another newly-released cable, that “a threat was made to these prisoners that members of the ‘Escuadrón de la Muerte’ [death squad] would take action against the prisoners’ relatives if Mitrione were killed.”

Dan Mitrione, Director of the U.S. AID Office of Public Safety (OPS) in Uruguay and the main American advisor to the Uruguayan police at the time, had been held for ten days by MLN-Tupamaro insurgents demanding the release of some 150 guerrilla prisoners held by the Uruguayan government. Mitrione was found dead the morning of August 10, 1970, killed by the Tupamaros after their demands were not met.

“The documents reveal the U.S. went to the edge of ethics in an effort to save Mitrione–an aspect of the case that remained hidden in secret documents for years,” said Carlos Osorio, who directs the National Security Archive’s Southern Cone project. “There should be a full declassification to set the record straight on U.S. policy toward Uruguay in the 1960′s and 1970′s.”

“In the aftermath of Dan Mitrione’s death, the Uruguayan government unleashed the illegal death squads to hunt and kill insurgents,” said Clara Aldrighi, professor of history at Uruguay’s Universidad de la República, and author of “El Caso Mitrione” (Montevideo: Ediciones Trilce, 2007). “The U.S. documents are irrefutable proof that the death squads were a policy of the Uruguayan government, and will serve as key evidence in the death squads cases open now in Uruguay’s courts,” Osorio added. “It is a shame that the U.S. documents are writing Uruguayan history. There should be declassification in Uruguay as well,” stated Aldrighi, who collaborated in the production of this briefing book.

Who was Dan Mitrione? Oh, just the US’s leading torturer in South America at the time. His specialty was the “scientific” use of electroshock as torture, ostensibly for purposes of interrogation. He not only tortured countless innocent people himself (some of them to the point of death), he trained the local police in three countries to do the same. Uruguay was the last; before that it was the Dominican Republic and Brazil. He was portrayed, in a thinly fictionalized form, by Yves Montand in Costa-Gavras’s movie, State of Siege. You can read more about him here and here.

What’s notable about all this is how long ago it happened. Mitrione met harsh justice in Uruguay 40 years ago, and yet it seems like it was only yesterday. We can clearly see a pattern, a striking similarity between how Tricky Dick did things, and how his ideological scion, Dubya, did them. The use of death threats, death squads (organized by the US’s puppet regimes abroad) and torture–can you honestly tell the difference between Uruguay in the late ’60s and early ’70s, Central America in the Reaganite ’80s, and Afghanistan and Iraq over the last ten years? I have difficulty with it, myself.

And no wonder. When it comes to imperialism, not much has changed from one decade to the next, other than the location of the worst manifestations of the disease. For the last 200 years, ever since the cry went up in South America for freedom from the Spanish empire, Latin America has felt that big stick of gringo imperialism coming to supplant the royal sceptre of Spain–here, there, everywhere. Not one country south of the Rio Grande has been immune. Nor, since the discovery of petroleum under its sands, has the Middle East, although it is a more recent target. The brutality has gone through minor variations, but the overall theme is readily recognizable: Whatever Washington wants, Washington gets, and damn the expense–even if the toll is a river of human blood.

And if a more “modern” form of the Spanish Inquisition is required to exact it, so be it. A Dan Mitrione is worth a death squad and the murders of hundreds of local freedom fighters–so runs the reasoning. They will go all the way–literally to the death–to defend their imperial methods.

I wonder what Mitrione-like characters have yet to shake out of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I predict we’ll be seeing several, probably in the guise of “civilian contractors” to give plausible deniability to the military and the CIA. Mitrione was, after all, one who operated under the guise of a police chief, not an intelligence officer, although he was attached to the FBI in 1959, and the State Department as of 1960. He was sent on his first foreign assignment that same year. His plausible deniability: he was training local police in Latin America. In what? Well, what else: interrogation. “The precise pain, in the precise place, in the precise amount, for the desired effect”–that was his motto. Death of the victim was undesirable only because it meant that the torturer had been inept in getting what he wanted out of the poor soul.

Nowadays, it’s waterboarding, not electroshock, that’s in vogue. But the purpose is the same, both superficially and underneath it all. Nothing has changed much in 40 years, or indeed 200.

It’s yesterday once more. Shooby doo lang lang…

Economics for Dummies: Dubya’s Deficit, the gift that keeps on giving

The question is, to whom? Look at this chart and tell me who you think it could be, benefiting from the atrocity and obscenity of the US federal deficit:

bush-deficit-projections.jpg

Anyone got an idea? Bueller???

Happy Birthday, Chavecito…here’s the oppos’ present to you!

lenguachavez.jpg

“The tongue as temple of pleasure”. I shit you not, that’s what the headline says. Do you want to read the whole thing, in Spanish? Or shall I just spare you that unsafe-for-work stuff?

Yes, it’s Chavecito’s birthday today, and the laughs and hate from the oppo whore media just keep on rolling, no matter what day it is. From Venezuelan prog-blogger Okrim, who dug the above jewel out a few days ago, I bring you…convulsions:


The obsession many opponents have with President Chávez is endlessly amazing. If you comment on anything to do with international politics, they compare this event with Chávez, even a suicide attack in a country where the average escuálido has never heard anything from before (such as one in eastern Germany). If you talk about how bad the weather is, they think of Chávez, and how “bad” the entire country is. If you talk about your last vacation, they say they didn’t enjoy theirs because of Chávez (even if they just got back from a Mediterranean cruise). But I confess I’ve never found such a twisted example of obsession than the one I’m about to share with you.

On the ground floor of my apartment building, I found several pages of El Nacional the other day, and idly picked one up to read it. The article was about sex, particularly cunnilingus, that is, oral sex performed on a woman. I read it unawares, thinking–oh, in vain–that I would find none of the classic dissociated editorial line of Miguel Henrique Otero. I was wrong. After a series of explanations of the sexual practice in question, in which the use of the tongue is indispensable, I found the following pearl of wisdom:


“True, there are those who use their tongues to insult, and talk a mile a minute in cadenas [televised presidential speeches, required by Venezuelan law to be broadcast on all channels] but the most privileged know that the tongue represents [...] an infallible instrument to offer and achieve pleasure.”

WTF? What level of dissociated obsession must a person have when talking about sex in the context of televised speeches by President Chávez? You can be sure that the most Chavista woman in the world isn’t thinking of Chávez when the topic of conversation is oral sex. So what strange psychological mechanism is at work in some opposition sexologist mentioning the president in an article on oral sex? Fixation? Obsession? Persecution mania? Common, garden-variety craziness? All of the above?

The strange thing is, this sort of conduct is common in many oppositionists in the most diverse circumstances. They live thinking of the President: on the way to work, at work, at lunch, on the way home, at home, alone, with family, on vacation, and probably–though it’s difficult to prove–even in a coma.

I understand them at the bottom of it all, poor bastards. If I thought about the President in each and every instant of my life, at all occasions and moments, in the face of any comment or situation, the way they do, I would surely hate him too.

Translated, in its entirety, by Your Humble One.

Yow. I know Chavecito is a sexy stud (and so do lots of other women, believe you me), and that his mouth is undoubtedly his handsomest (and most active) feature, but this obsession of his enemies with his tongue is just killingly funny. Even in bed, they just can’t get him out of their heads! What must their sex lives be like, I shudder to ask?

Okrim is right…I’m the most Chavista woman in my hometown, maybe in Canada, maybe even all of North America, and even I don’t think about it that way, at least not by daylight.* Most of the time, when I think about Chavecito’s mouth, I think what hilarious truths have come out of it. He has no qualms making fun of his enemies, or denouncing them either. And he does it with wit and comic flair, which is in itself very sexy. He’s not afraid to get a little goofy; that’s an appealing trait, and no doubt explains a lot of his common touch. He can get along with anyone, and he can make anyone laugh–except maybe those obsessive oppos, who all walk around looking like a chronic case of indigestion, and little wonder.

When I picture myself meeting him, I imagine we’d have a helluva good conversation, in which he ignores my stumbling Spanish and I politely correct his restaurant English (that’s what I call it when someone speaks just enough of a language to be able to order a meal.) And of course, I imagine laughter. Lots and lots of laughter. Laughter is a great icebreaker. And it’s also a great leveller. I certainly don’t think of him as a tyrant; actually, I think of him as someone you could have a beer with, unlike Dubya (who is a dry drunk, and in any case, if you don’t belong to his grandparents’ country club, you will never have so much as a glass of Coke with him.)

Yeah, I guess you could say that’s the secret of Chavecito’s sexiness right there. Women actually LIKE him, as a person, because he likes them–and everyone else, too, unless they give him solid reasons not to. Like, say, Dubya and that failed coup eight years ago, for example.

Liking and likability are two things the oppos don’t have much of, if they have them at all (I’ve never seen any evidence that they did); hence their constant exercising of the bile ducts. Even when the topic is tongue-sex technique, somehow they figure out a way to work their hateful obsession with a capable, likable leader in there! Clearly their mothers never taught them that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar and gall. That’s why I doubt that even a clear, detailed explanation of how to go down on your lady is going to help them much. Either you have it, or you don’t, but you can’t pick it up from reading a trashy newspaper article. Technique is just no substitute for a certain je ne sais quoi, y’know?

So, Chavecito, happy birthday…I can’t give you anything more than my warmest greetings, but that’s okay. You already have everything you need anyway. And those who have too much of all the wrong things and too little of the good stuff, well…they’ll just go on eternally hating your guts for it.

Poor devils.

*I will confess to having had the odd naughty dream about him, though. And Rafael Correa and Evo, too, although not all in one go. I’m not that greedy!

Gee thanks, Dubya–FOR NOTHING. Love, Uganda.

uganda-aids-ad.jpg

A typical USAID-sponsored anti-AIDS ad in Uganda; it tackles sex, not ignorance, and certainly not microbes. This is the “miracle” that was touted so highly just a few years ago. Now look how it’s falling apart


Uganda is the first and most obvious example of how the war on global AIDS is falling apart.

The last decade has been what some doctors call a “golden window” for treatment. Drugs that once cost $12,000 a year fell to less than $100, and the world was willing to pay.

In Uganda, where fewer than 10,000 were on drugs a decade ago, nearly 200,000 now are, largely as a result of American generosity. But the golden window is closing.

Uganda is the first country where major clinics routinely turn people away, but it will not be the last. In Kenya next door, grants to keep 200,000 on drugs will expire soon. An American-run program in Mozambique has been told to stop opening clinics. There have been drug shortages in Nigeria and Swaziland. Tanzania and Botswana are trimming treatment slots, according to a report by the medical charity Doctors Without Borders.

The collapse was set off by the global recession’s effect on donors, and by a growing sense that more lives would be saved by fighting other, cheaper diseases. Even as the number of people infected by AIDS grows by a million a year, money for treatment has stopped growing.

So much for global capitalism and all its miracles. So much for “letting the market take care of it”! The market hasn’t taken care of squat, since it was government money, not the market, that financed the only thing that’s staved off a massive die-off–by providing condoms and drugs.

Then, in 2008, just as Dubya’s reign of terrorism was drawing to a close, so was his experiment in unregulated capitalism. The markets collapsed, and with them, funding for AIDS drugs in the Third World. Now that governmental belt-tightening is in vogue, expect that massive die-off to start at any time. So, thanks for nothing, Invisible Hand of the Deregulated Market. Some fucking miracle YOU made!

And here’s another nothing to thank Dubya for. Even as the markets were being deregulated, hyper-regulation of human behavior was in vogue. Look how that panned out:


And, most devastating of all, old-fashioned prevention has flopped. Too few people, particularly in Africa, are using the “ABC” approach pioneered here in Uganda: abstain, be faithful, use condoms.

Remember that? It was touted out the wazoo just a few short years ago. Here, let me refresh your memory:


After all, it was the ABC approach and a policy of openness inspired by President Yoweri Museveni which helped Uganda perform well in the fight against HIV/Aids compared to other countries.

Many African governments have fared miserably in attempting to counter the HIV pandemic, with devastating consequences.

By comparison, Uganda has performed well in bringing down the HIV prevalence to around 6%. In many parts of the country, it was at least three times as high during the early 1990s.

Alas, that useful message was already being diluted in favor of abstinence (at guess-whose behest):


Until a few months ago, a free magazine promoting safe sex was distributed to secondary schools by a non-profit organisation.

But this recently became controversial and faith-based organisations were concerned the magazine was encouraging sex.

As a result, the magazine has been ditched, and that avenue for getting the safe sex message to the students has now gone.

The head of guidance and counselling at Kitante Hill school, Samuel Along, is concerned that the safe sex message is not getting through.

“I have seen students at the school pairing up. They come and talk to me and I begin realising they have sexually transmitted diseases. And if we have been insisting on abstinence, don’t you think there is a very good possibility they have not used a condom?”

I’d say it was virtually inevitable. The abstinence message is “condoms don’t work, so don’t bother; just don’t have sex!” But how realistic is that in a poor country like Uganda, where prostitution is the only way for so many women (and girls) to make a living?

And let’s not rule out a lack of education; a lot of people who don’t even know what the word “sex” means, are having it. Unsafely, of course. For a living. And their survival job is killing them.


This is a respectable secondary school in the Ugandan capital where there is good access to information.

But the majority of young Ugandans do not make it beyond primary school and in a country where most people live on less than $1 a day, the link between poverty and sex is strong.

Rogers Kasirye works in the slums of Kampala with street children and teenage prostitutes. Poverty has forced many of them into taking risks.

“It is an economic problem. Many of the young people we are working with are surviving on sex, and the only option or barrier they have is the condom.”

Naturally, condoms were the first thing that hit the chopping block when Dubya decided to push his fundamentalist anti-sex agenda:


Whilst churches are pushing the abstinence message, not all religious leaders are happy with President Bush.

Reverend Gideon Byamugisha is HIV-positive and he hopes the US will carefully assess the way in which it influences policy in Uganda.

“We are still hopeful that America, being a strong and well-meaning country, will not go down in history as a country which exported ideas at the expense of people’s free will to choose.”

Unfortunately, five years later, we know the answer. And it is not what the good Reverend had hoped…


Earlier this week the popular American religious fundamentalist Lou Engle took the stage in front of over 1,300 people at Makerere University in Uganda. He was speaking in the country as the organizer of TheCall Uganda, an event billed as “a gathering of fasting and prayer to confess our personal and national sins.”

In reality, the event was a rabid defense of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which seeks to make being gay a capital crime.

Engle’s organization TheCall — which first gained national and worldwide fame as one of the loudest proponents of California’s Prop 8 — denied knowing anything about the Anti-Homosexuality Bill when it was first invited to Uganda. Engle even issued a press release before his event promising that he wouldn’t promote the measure on the stage.

Of course, that was a lie. And the Ugandans fell for it, hook, line and sinker:


Pastor John Mulinde of Trumpet Church, in his prayer, condemned evils in society done by both homosexuals and heterosexuals. He emphasized that homosexuality is in schools, families, and the entire community. He also pointed out that many children are being deceived with school fees from homosexuals and recruit them into the act.

Pastor Lou Engle from America noted that he didn’t know by the time of his invitation to Uganda that there was a homosexuality bill. He went ahead to emphasize t
hat it is the Western World using non-government organizations to promote homosexuality. He warned the youth in the crowd that when America allowed homosexuals freedom it was the end of their nation.

He [Engle] called upon the government of Uganda to be firm and hold on its righteous stand against the evil. He mentioned that homosexuals have penetrated the educational system and Ugandans must be aware of the evil. He also lectured about how God planned marriage only between man and woman and that marriage is for procreation.

Honorable Minister of Ethics Nsaba Buturu was worse. He spoke out against homosexuality, saying that for those who think it’s a human right issue ‘Uganda cannot listen to that nonsense.’ He asked the audience to pray for president Museveni and his government to maintain their firms stand against evil in our society.

Pastor Mulinde then called his fellow pastor to come forward and pray for Buturo and Bahati and the government to continue with their crusade against homosexuality.

US faith-based “aid” in action. See how well that works? While they pray…and prey…people are gonna die either way.

Uganda’s efforts against HIV/AIDS were successful as long as A (abstinence) and B (being faithful) were buttressed by C (condoms). When Plan C was axed, A and B also fell apart. And Kill-the-Gays isn’t going to work any better, given that the vast majority of Ugandan AIDS cases are the result of heterosexual intercourse.

But hey. Between death by homophobia and death by bean counting, I’m sure they’ll have that crisis licked in no time…


According to the Uganda AIDS Commission, the lifetime bill for treating one Ugandan AIDS patient, counting drugs, tests and medical salaries, is $11,500.

Donors have decided that is too much, that more lives can be saved by concentrating on child-killers like stillbirth, pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, measles and tetanus. Cures for those killers, like antibiotics, mosquito nets, rehydration salts, water filters, shots and deworming pills, cost $1 to $10.

Under its new Global Health Initiative, the Obama administration has announced plans to shift its focus to mother-and-child health. The AIDS budget was increased by only 2 percent.

The British government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also said they would focus support on mother-child health.

…if only because one way or another, all the victims will be dead. Because new replacements are constantly being born, and they’re cheaper too. And scratching a hole in the ground for the corpses is the cheapest “solution” of all.

aids-has-no-cure.jpg