Scotland gets its own PSUV

scotland-flag

A united left party for Scotland? Och aye:

The new electoral pact, anchored around the Scottish Socialist Party and the grassroots Scottish Left Project, will meet representatives of Greece’s ruling party Syriza in Edinburgh today, as well as members of Spain’s left-wing Podemos movement.

The gathering is expected to discuss tactics for the 2016 election, when the new Scottish anti-austerity coalition hopes to return Socialist MSPs through the regional list system.

The development comes just days after Quebec Solidaire, the radical coalition in Quebec’s National Assembly, agreed to give its support to the Scottish alliance.

Delegates unanimously backed the move at their conference in Montreal last week, at which Scottish trade union activist Cat Boyd spoke on the Left’s post-referendum revival.

And yes, that IS a Canadian connection there. We have at least as many Scots here as there are in Scotland, it seems.

And this unite-the-left move gives a boost to those on this side of the pond, as well:

Amir Khadir, a Quebec Solidaire National Assembly member, said: “Austerity, whether British or Canadian, has left the vulnerable behind and impoverished ordinary people.

“But there is hope, as Cat Boyd reminded us about the struggle of ordinary people in Scotland and how Yes voters said Yes to a new and different country.

“The rising momentum behind the Scottish Left Project gives us hope and courage to fight for justice at home and solidarity abroad.”

Having a united left party puts Scotland not only on a par with Greece and Spain, but also Venezuela, whose ruling party, the PSUV, is the example to follow. When Chavecito first became president in late 1998, he was backed by Venezuela’s many small leftist parties, as well as his own, called the MVR (Fifth Republic Movement). This coalition broke the four-decade-old Fourth Republic duopoly of the “liberal” AD and the religious-conservative COPEI, which was put in place by the Punto Fijo pact after the ouster of Venezuela’s last military dictator, Marcos Pérez Jiménez. Prior to that, there were many leftist parties and splinter movements breaking off of each from time to time, but with no single presidential candidate to back, they lost to the corruptos of the ruling class every time. No matter how unpopular an AD or COPEI candidate was, he could still roll right over the leftists, even though their combined numbers were greater. It took an outstanding candidate — Hugo Chávez, already a national hero since his failed uprising in 1992 — to change all that. He later united all but a few of his leftist supporters in one party, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), while in office. (The Venezuelan Communist Party, the PCV, supported him and still supports his successor, Nicolás Maduro, but would not come under the PSUV umbrella, preferring to retain a separate party identity. Splinter factions of various other pre-existing left parties also chose to go their own way; their lack of power and conviction speaks for itself.)

If the yet-to-be named Scottish left party manages to follow Venezuela’s example and get behind a candidate who is intelligent, brave, and serious about unity, like Chavecito, it should have nowhere to go but up. In spite of wankers like this:

Scottish Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone said: “It’s no surprise to see this group modelling itself on a party currently presiding over the most chaotic economy in Europe.

“I’m sure they can come up with enough of their own crazily damaging ideas without getting input from other radical left-wingers.”

That’s right, Alex, sneer while you can. You won’t be able to work up the energy once one of them has taken your seat!

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Quotable: Meryl Streep on losing patience

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Nudity blamed for earthquake, AGAIN…

mount-kinabalu-tourists-stripping

Tourists on Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia, stripping down…very much against local law.

Hey! Remember the Boobquake of a few years back, when some silly mullah in Iran blamed women’s “immodest dress” for causing earthquakes in that land (which happens to be located on a number of major geological faultlines, and therefore, is prone to earthquakes no matter what)? Well, something happened in Malaysia recently that is kinda-sorta like that, and this time, it’s immodest foreigners being blamed:

Rescuers recovered the bodies of 11 more climbers from Malaysia’s highest peak on Saturday, a day after it was struck by a strong earthquake, bringing the total number of dead to 13.

Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan blamed the tragedy on a group of 10 foreigners who “showed disrespect to the sacred mountain” by posing naked at the peak last week. He said a special ritual would be conducted later to “appease the mountain spirit.”

According to a police report, the two Canadian tourists involved in the incident are Lindsey Petersen and Danielle Petersen. Along with two Dutch and a German national, they broke away from their entourage and stripped naked before taking photos at the mountain peak on May 30, officials have said.

Five of the tourists are believed to still be in Malaysia and will be barred from leaving on the offence of gross indecency, police have said.

Actually, silly naked tourists did NOT cause this disaster. Malaysia, like Iran, is situated on top of a VERY geologically active bit of the Earth’s crust, where several tectonic plates are in conflict with one another. This particular hotspot is one of the most volcanically active areas on Earth.

So it’s not too surprising that local natives, who probably don’t have a whole lot of modern geophysical knowledge at their disposal, would have evolved a set of beliefs and superstitions about the frequent earthquakes and volcanic activity that rock their homeland, causing death and destruction. And if the spirits and deities of the mountains aren’t appeased, so the logic goes, bad things happen. Or if uppity foreigners come in, all ignorant of local customs, and offend them — same thing.

Of course, nudity and immodesty don’t cause earthquakes. The ground under our feet doesn’t care what we wear. We could all go starkers anytime we wanted and it wouldn’t make a difference. The only thing that does make a difference is whether your particular patch of dirt is located on or near a massive subduction zone.

But try telling that to the local authorities of Malaysia, who are already none too keen on foreigners coming in and doing idiotic stunts on sacred ground just for the sake of some forgettable postings on Instagram or Facebook. These bozos came with the intent of creating some transgressive memories for life, and got a LOT more than they bargained for, thanks to the worst timing ever. But even if their timing didn’t suck, they still would have landed in deep shit. Why tempt a government that is already itching to prosecute foreigners for the slightest infraction? YOLO is the philosophy of the Hardcore Stupid.

Meanwhile, Mark Morford has the sanest take on the whole loopy tragedy. Read it, and if you take anything at all away from this incident, let it be that you, as a visitor in another country, should still be mindful and respectful of local customs…whether you agree with the beliefs behind them or not.

Aside from local customs, you should also be aware of the dangers if you’re travelling in a region known for its geological hazards, as Malaysia is. Scaling the highest mountain in the region on a lark, only to get blamed for an earthquake, is a seriously stupid way to round out your bucket list.

If you don’t end up kicking the bucket prematurely, that is.

The Harper Legacy: empty monuments, nothing for native women

mother-canada

Meet “Mother Canada”. If you’ve never heard of her, you’re not alone. She’s a figment of Harpocratic imagination, with no real basis in Canadian culture or history. And she’s supposedly meant to honor the veterans and the dead of World War II. But those whom she’s meant to please aren’t so impressed:

“It’s vulgar and ostentatious. It doesn’t do anything for veterans or definitely not for the people who are dead,” says Valerie Bird, a 93-year-old Second World War veteran.

And environmental experts are even less enthused:

“It will be a huge scientific loss to the whole Canadian scientific community if this project goes ahead.”

The statue by the Never Forgotten National Memorial Foundation, dubbed Mother Canada, would be 30 metres high and feature a woman with her arms outstretched toward Europe. The plan also includes parking for 300 vehicles, a restaurant, souvenir shop and an interpretive centre.

Howard said the complex isn’t compatible with Parks Canada’s mandate to preserve and protect the land for future generations. He believes it will deter visitors who are attracted to the region and the Cabot Trail for its geography and natural beauty.

“It will go right over the most precious part of the geological formation,” he says. “There’s nothing like it in national parks before. They’ll do a lot of damage by Christmas, unless we stand up now.”

But hey, guess who loves it? Yup, Cons with a fetish for war…and European immigration:

Lewis MacKenzie, a retired major-general, is one of the prominent backers of the project. He said the location is ideal because it may have been one of the last parts of Canada seen by people leaving for the First World War and the Second World War, and one of the first seen upon their return.

“The design, when you see it, is extremely attractive,” he said. “It’s extremely welcoming not only to the souls of those interred abroad, but also for new Canadians. If it’s a spot for reflection, I can’t think of a better one.”

And what about new Canadians coming from Africa, Asia, Oceania, the US, Latin America and the Caribbean? What monuments do they get to see, beyond the arrivals centre of whatever airport they flew in through? Will there be a replica of this statue on every baggage carousel, or what? Somehow, I just can’t see any Mother Canada figures facing west or south. Apparently, people from those directions are less likely to be white, and since we didn’t fight on their behalf during the world wars, but only for England, well…sorry, folks, you just don’t count.

But don’t feel too bad. You’re not the only ones who don’t count for Harpo & Co.:

Federal Conservatives have suggested they will reject calls from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) for both a public inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women and Canada’s implementation of a landmark United Nations document on First Nations’ rights.

On Tuesday, the TRC released a long-awaited report on the shameful legacy of the residential school system. The push for a national inquiry and adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People were both included among 94 wide-ranging recommendations.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has previously ruled out taking both actions and, in question period, hinted its position was unlikely to change.

[…]

Canada was the only country to flag objections about the declaration at a special UN General Assembly meeting in September. Ottawa expressed concern at the time over legal wording that could be construed as giving a possible “veto for aboriginal groups.”

Last month, Conservatives also voted down a private member’s bill from Cree NDP MP Romeo Saganash — a residential school survivor — that sought to align Canadian law with the declaration.

So there you go. Native Canadians, especially missing and murdered women (who were often sold in human trafficking and prostitution) get nothing. No monument, no public inquiry, and certainly no say in what gets done about the injustices done to them over many decades. Nothing. Nada. Bupkus. Zippo. Zilch. Nothing but empty words of “apology” from Harpo, and an even emptier “I already said it, what more do you want?”

And this even though an indigenous child’s chances of dying horribly in residential school were roughly equal to a Canadian servicemember’s odds of dying in World War II, which “Mother Canada” is meant to commemorate.

So, there’s the Harper Legacy in a nutshell. You’ll get hideous monuments to war and Europeanism, and even to the “victims of Communism”. But if you don’t fit Harpo’s narrow, racist definition of a “real Canadian”, you get bugger-all. And a tanked economy, too.

Mother Canada really ought to turn Harpo over her knee and spank him. Too bad she’s not his real mom, eh?

Posted in Canadian Counterpunch, Environmentally Ill, Isn't It Ironic?, Isn't That Racist?, Not So Compassionate Conservatism, Teh Injunz, Uppity Wimmin. Comments Off on The Harper Legacy: empty monuments, nothing for native women »

Cops Behaving Badly: A foretaste of C-51?

Via Canadaland, a little whiff of what the cops have already got cooking for us lowly, democracy-loving peons:

What an interesting* statement from the Mountie! “Attacking the Canadian economy”, just by PROTESTING the Harper government’s piss-poor handling of it? Shades of the 2010 G20 demos in Toronto, when a cop told protesters that “this ain’t Canada right now”.

Meanwhile, here’s what constitutional legal expert Rocco Galati has to say about all that:

Note that Mr. Galati is Italian. No doubt he knows a thing or two about Fascism, just as I, being German, know a thing or two about Nazism.

Of course, only bad Germans complained about Nazism when it became the law of the land. Bad Germans like my grandpa Becker, who was absolutely no leftist. But he was a mouthy man, and he had the audacity to complain about how you could no longer buy decent shoes thanks to that shitty Austrian usurper. And got called up on the carpet by the Gestapo, and received oblique death threats to his four children, of whom my father was the oldest, just for those casual remarks.

The “good Germans”, as we have so often been told, sat on their hands and let it happen. Just as we good Canadians, with nothing to hide, are now being expected to do with C-51…which is not law just yet.

*”Interesting” in the sense of the old Chinese curse, of course.

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

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

el-colombia-extradition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Translation mine.

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

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

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

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

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

Music for a Sunday: One for today’s weather

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Good one!

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FARC peace negotiator killed in Colombian bombing raid

jairo-martinez

One really has to question the Colombian government’s good faith in its negotiations with the FARC. All the time, of course. But especially when things like this happen:

A member of the peace delegation of the FARC guerrillas in Havana, “Jairo Martínez”, was among the 27 rebels killed on May 21 in an attack by military forces in Cauca, southwestern Colombia, the group stated on Wednesday.

“We wish to inform the country and the world that our comrade Jairo Martínez, member of the FARC peace delegation in Havana, who was on a teaching mission of peace in the said front (rebels attacked in Cauca), was among the murdered guerrillas,” said FARC commander Pastor Alape to the press in Havana.

Alape also confirmed that in another military attack in Chocó, on Sunday, commander Román Ruiz, a member of the FARC high command, was killed. The rebel group marked its 51st anniversary of existence under fierce military repression by the Colombian government on Wednesday.

Martínez, 63, real name Pedro Nel Daza Martínez, was a member of the peace delegation but, like other guerrilla chiefs, had returned to Colombia to explain to FARC combatants the extent of the partial agreements reached during the peace negotiations, which began in November of 2012.

Some 40 FARC guerrillas have died in three military incursions as of last Thursday in the provinces of Cauca (southwestern Colombia), Antioquia (north) and Chocó (southwest), weeks after 11 soldiers perished in a rebel ambush in Cauca amid a unilateral truce on the part of the guerrillas.

These attacks, launched after Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos ordered the army to resume bombing the FARC positions following the ambush of April 15, led to the guerrillas suspending, last Thursday, their unilateral truce for an indefinite period of time. The truce had been in place since last December.

Alape requested that the bodies of the fallen guerrillas “be inspected by national and international forensic experts, under the neutral eyes of the ICRC”, the International Committee of the Red Cross, after denouncing that “several wounded (rebels) were killed with gunshots by government troops.”

Martínez had been a member of the peace negotiations during February, 2014.

Translation mine.

No word on why the FARC ambushed government troops in spite of their unilaterally declared ceasefire, but if I had to hazard a guess, I’d say that the fact that the Colombian government had not agreed to a ceasefire of its own, and was probably preparing an attack on the FARC camp in question, had a lot to do with it.

Like I said: You really do have to question the Colombian government’s good faith at all times.

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New putschist plans surface in Venezuela

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[…]

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

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

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

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

Translation mine.

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

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

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