When too much is never enough,
But are they autographed?
Faustam fortuna adiuvat
American and Latin American Politics, Society, and Culture.
When too much is never enough,
But are they autographed?
In contrast with his predecessor, whose food bills exceeded $700/day on average between 1988 and 1995, Sarko’s now saying adieu to the free lunch:
For the first time since French presidents moved into the mansion off Paris’s Champs Elysees in 1874, senior staff members have to pay for midday meals — 8 euros ($10.56) for a three- course repast delivered by white-jacketed waiters.
It’s part of an effort by the debt-laden government to rein in the president’s expenses. The Elysee has produced its first budget as the 54-year-old leader trims overhead. Sarkozy, who has sparked strikes for plans to reduce the civil service, says he hopes to set an example for a more frugal era of government.
Cheaper champagne, too:
Journalists on Sarkozy’s flights are now served a complimentary glass of Piper Heidseck champagne, which retails at 30 euros a bottle, instead of the 156 euro per bottle Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle.
If he included bloggers, we’d be happy with a bottle of Michelob Light.
THE HAGUE, 30/04/09 – In cooperation with various other countries, Dutch authorities have rounded up a big cocaine gang that had links with Hezbollah. Seventeen suspects were arrested on Curacao, the biggest island of the Netherlands Antilles, the Public Prosecutor’s Office (OM) has revealed.
International cooperation between police and judicial services of the Netherlands and the Netherlands Antilles, Belgium, Colombia, Venezuela and the US led to the arrest of the 17 suspects by the Curacao police. They are believed to be part of a drugs and money-laundering organisation with international branches, thought to be responsible for the import and export of at least 2,000 kilos of cocaine per year, according to the OM. “The organisation maintained international contacts with other criminal networks, which in the Middle East support Hezbollah financially”.
In this investigation, launched at the beginning of 2008, containers with cocaine were intercepted earlier in Rotterdam (300 kilos), the Spanish city of Valencia (20 kilos) and the Belgian city of Antwerp (140 kilos). Three Colombian suspects have for some time been in pre-trial custody for their involvement in the Rotterdam shipment, discovered in October 2008.
The 17 suspects now arrested are from Venezuela, Colombia, Lebanon and Cuba as well as Curacao. The organisation shipped containers with cocaine from Curacao to the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Jordan. From Venezuela, drugs containers went to West Africa and subsequently to the Netherlands, Lebanon and Spain. Couriers smuggled cocaine from Curacao and Aruba to the Netherlands as air passengers.
The suspects invested the drugs profits in property in Colombia, Venezuela, Lebanon, the Dominican Republic and in companies on Curacao. “Large sums of money from the drugs trade have become available in Lebanon via underground bankers. From Lebanon, orders are also placed for weapons, which had to be delivered by the drugs organisation from South America.”
Babalu also posted on this atticle from the Lebanon Daily Star, Police link 17 ‘drug traders’ in Curacao with Hizbullah
BEIRUT: Police from seven nations arrested 17 people in the island of Curacao Tuesday suspected of involvement in an international drug ring with links to Hizbullah, Dutch authorities said. “The organization had international contacts with other criminal networks that financially supported Hizbullah in the Middle East. Large sums of drug money flooded into Lebanon, from where orders were placed for weapons that were to have been delivered from South America,” the Dutch prosecution service said in a statement.
The proceeds were allegedly invested in several countries, said the statement, adding that the suspects were from Curacao, the largest of the Dutch Antilles islands, as well as from Venezuela, Colombia, Lebanon and Cuba.
Yet another instance of the connection of drugs, terrorism and the weapons trade.
What is surprising is that the American media has no reports on this.
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In today’s podcast at 11AM, I’ll talk about today’s WaPo editorial, Courting Mr. Chávez
The Obama administration seeks to please a strongman by ignoring his crackdown on domestic opposition. and other Venezuelan news.
Chat’s open at 10:45AM, and the podcasts are archived for your convenience. See you there!
Venezuelan government cuts funds to opposition Caracas mayor
Opponents of Venezuela’s Chávez fight moves to sideline them
A former close collaborator of President Hugo Chávez turned ardent foe was arrested at gunpoint Thursday on corruption charges.
Anuncia una “cruzada” contra el libre comercio y la especulación
Deals Help China Expand Sway in Latin America
Instead of watching the “100 Days Press Conference” last night I watched Lie To Me instead, which is essentially the same thing, only without the show’s motto, The truth is written all over our faces. After Lie To Me it was time for Mythbusters, so of course this morning I read the transcript of the press briefing.
Of course the interesting part is the question and answer session; The questions were,
More government spending in the works, folks.
Surely there were no al Qaeda jihadists before the US engaged in water torture?
Except when proposing legislation to be voted on, unread?
Somehow that answer got diverted into health care, and Pres. Obama ended up with telling Republicans that “simply opposing our approach on every front is probably not a good political strategy.”
As the reporter pointed out, the Freedom of Choice Act would “would eliminate federal, state and local restrictions on abortion.” That includes live-birth and late term abortions.
And then came the enchanted question.
This morning the cable news played the reporter asking that question, and he actually asked with a straight face.
The Love Boat of the Ship of State, “the ship of state is an ocean liner,” which later mutated into a “this big battleship.”
Anyway, more questions on
This is a troubling reply. None of these measures does anything to directly create jobs in any sector of the economy at all. It implies either ignorance or indifference to basic economic principles, comparable to his prior gaffe on “profit-earnings ratios.”
Softball questions, softball answers.
Anyone think of any probing questions on say, why is the CRA still in the books, for instance? Or perhaps, the Dems role in the budget deficit?
Congress controls the purse strings, not the president, and it was under Democratic control for Obama’s last two years as Illinois senator. Obama supported the emergency bailout package in President George W. Bush’s final months — a package Democratic leaders wanted to make bigger.
To be sure, Obama opposed the Iraq war, a drain on federal coffers for six years before he became president. But with one major exception, he voted in support of Iraq war spending.
The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimated his policy proposals would add a net $428 billion to the deficit over four years, even accounting for his spending reduction goals. Now, the deficit is nearly quadrupling to $1.75 trillion.
No questions on that.
In this morning’s WaPo, an adorational article by Tom Shales, Obama’s Enchanting Quizfest, whose downright fellational tone is either a. sincere, or b. camp:
Barack Obama is a truly flabbergasting president. And in a good way — not the way some of his predecessors were. He’s not flabberghastly.
It’ll be kind and say Shales was being camp,
He’s not the student who wears a button that says, “Smartest kid in class,” but clearly he is, at least when surrounded by the White House press corps.
One thing for sure, Shales will get invited to the cool kids’ parties. After all, there’s the time he called Obama president wonderful.
He won’t be joining the Mythbusters any time soon.
The TOTUS, on the other hand, looks at the new foundation.
Ace captured the enchanted moment,
Nice Deb immortalized the moment in a poster.
Yes, everybody is talking about the Mexican swine flu, and ironically I had to delay this Carnival since I was down with a cold.
No need to panic over this flu, but make sure to take any flu seriously.
Final declaration of the Summit of the Americas
Alvaro Vargas Llosa: The Idiot’s Bible
Ahmadinejad no Brasil (link in Portuguese)
Strangeways here we come
Paraguay President asks for forgiveness over paternity claim scandal
Fernando Lugo, the President of Paraguay and a former Roman Catholic bishop, has asked for forgiveness over a scandal in which he is facing paternity claims.
Bayly on Lugo (in Spanish):
And then Fernando Lugo’s brother, Pompeyo, on the rumors about Fernando and the Argentinian chorus girl, plus Alan Garcia’s poncho:
Venezuela – Iran Foreign Relations
Poland ‘to ban’ Che Guevara image
The iconic image of Che Guevara found adorning students’ walls and t-shirts across the world could be banned in Poland under a government proposal to outlaw materials that incite “fascism and totalitarian systems”.
Cyber Attacks and Our Southern Border
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Three hours of flying Air Force 1: $300,658
Scaring the crap out of thousands of New Yorkers on a Monday morning: priceless.
There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s government.
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Voice and video by Steve
UPDATE, Thursday 30 April
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Federal officials knew that sending two fighter jets and Air Force One to buzz ground zero and Lady Liberty might set off nightmarish fears of a 9/11 replay, but they still ordered the photo-op kept secret from the public.
In a memo obtained by CBS 2 HD the Federal Aviation Administration’s James Johnston said the agency was aware of “the possibility of public concern regarding DOD (Department of Defense) aircraft flying at low altitudes” in an around New York City. But they demanded total secrecy from the NYPD, the Secret Service, the FBI and even the mayor’s office and threatened federal sanctions if the secret got out.
And how much did Monday’s stunt cost?
Yes, three hundred twenty eight thousand eight hundred thirty five dollars.
That includes $300,658 for the larger plane, which flew a three-hour mission, and about $28,178 for the F-16 jets, which flew 1.8 hours each, Stein said in an e-mailed statement.
The total includes fuel used in flight, fuel used to power ground equipment used to prepare the aircraft, and ground maintenance, Stein said.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said yesterday’s flyover was “two training missions that became in the end a picture mission” and only Air Force personnel were aboard.
Well, at least you can’t say it was a cheap stunt.
AJ Strata’s commenter Ugly in LA believes that any mission by AF1 and its backup would need the highest clearance. Do any of my readers have any information on whether that is the case?