Archive for April, 2011

Saturday tango: Mónica Paz and Julián Althabe

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

Mónica Paz will be in the East Coast during May. She’s the best.


Iranian cleric recruiting for Islam across Latin America

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Last Monday I wrote about Mohsen Rabbani, the Iranian cleric recruiting for Islam in Brazil.

However, the Iranians are not limiting their activity to Brazil:
HACER continues on the story (emphasis added),

Along with the recruits in Belo Jardim, youth from Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Mexico traveled to Iran. The group’s ties to South America go beyond recruitment. The Federal Police has information that Rabbani came to Brazil a few times in recent years. In one of those visits, almost three years ago, he used methods that could cause a diplomatic crisis. The extremist embarked in Tehran bound for Caracas, Venezuela. From there, he entered Brazil illegally. Operated by Iran’s state airline, the Tehran-Caracas flight was called “Aeroterror” by intelligence officials for allegedly facilitating the access of terrorist suspects to South America. The Venezuelan government shields passenger lists from Interpol on that flight. Professor Rabbani’s movements were being monitored. The idea was to detain him in Brazil. Notified, the Federal Police set up an operation, but the order to execute this operation took a while, due to a complicated discussion about the political implications. Once again, the extremist escaped.


Zetas crossing the border, spreading drug war into US

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

While drug czar Gil Kerlikowske is “all about prescription drugs“, Mexican drug gang the Zetas are spreading their reign of fear here in the US

Trained as an elite band of Mexican anti-drug commandos, the Zetas evolved into mercenaries for the infamous Gulf Cartel, bringing a new wave of brutality to Mexico’s escalating drug wars. Bolstered by an influx of assassins, bandits, thieves, thugs and corrupt federal, state and local police officers, the Zetas have since evolved into a well-financed and heavily armed drug smuggling force of their own.

Known for mounting the severed heads of their rivals on poles or hanging their dismembered bodies from bridges in cities throughout Mexico, the Zetas have easily become the most feared criminal gang in Mexico — where 35,000 people have been killed in a continuing drug war. Everyone is a potential victim: men, women and children.

The Zetas are deadly,

Over the past few months, Mexican authorities have unearthed more than 140 bodies from mass graves in the state of Tamaulipas. Many of the victims were kidnapped off buses and killed when they refused to work for the Zetas. Tamaulipas, in northeastern Mexico, is across the border from Brownsville, Texas.

The gangs continue to expand,

The U.S. Homeland Security Department has said that Mexican drug cartels, including the Zetas, have infiltrated 276 U.S. cities and represent the nation’s most serious organized-crime threat.

The US State Department has a $5million reward for Zeta kingpin Heriberto Lazcano-Lazcano; not that anyone’s rushing to claim it,

U.S. authorities said Lazcano-Lazcano has a vast arsenal at his disposal, including helicopters, armored vehicles, AK-47 assault rifles, AR-15 semi-automatic rifles, MP-5 submachine guns, 50-mm sniper rifles, shoulder-fired missiles, grenade launchers, bazookas, armor-piercing ammunition, plastic explosives, dynamite and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Gang members wear body armor and ballistic helmets, and launch attacks in military uniforms and military-style vehicles.

The Zetas, seeking to grab a larger portion of the $25 billion cocaine, heroin and marijuana market in the United States, are estimated to have between 1,000 and 3,000 hard-core members and 10,000 loyalists across Mexico, Central America and the United States. Authorities said the gang has organized a sophisticated supply and distribution network operating through established territories.

It will continue to get worse.

Again, border security is national security.

Drudge had the above link followed by
Obama Hails Those who ‘Came Across the Rio Grande’…


Failing Bolivia

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Bolivia, a blighted land, has become more so under Evo Morales’s tenure,
Chavez-style Economics Fail Miserably in Bolivia
Jaime Daremblum, Costa Rica’s ambassador to the United States from 1998 to 2004, writes that Bolivian president Evo Morales (pictured) slavishly follows Hugo’s playbook, with similarly disastrous results.
(h/t Silvio Canto)

He has weakened the rule of law, undermined democracy, and nationalized a significant portion of the economy while seeking to implement an ambitious land-redistribution agenda. Bolivia has the second-largest natural-gas reserves in South America. Yet Morales nationalized the industry in 2006, with predictably negative consequences. Last summer, the president of the Bolivian Chamber of Hydrocarbons told the Financial Times that his country’s natural-gas reserves were shrinking “because there have not been any significant investments in the past five years.”

Indeed, through nationalization schemes, price controls, and other anti-business measures, Morales has chased away both domestic and foreign investors. As Bolivian economist Waldo López said last year, “The government has a foreign-investment phobia, and its nationalization processes and the lack of clear rules are creating lack of confidence.” The World Bank’s 2011 “Doing Business” survey ranks Bolivia 149 out of 183 economies, behind even Sierra Leone and Syria. It is the poorest nation in South America, and among the very poorest in the entire Western Hemisphere.

Why should this matter to the USA?

The United States has more than a passing interest in Bolivia’s future. After all, the country is a major cocaine producer. Morales expelled the Drug Enforcement Administration from his country back in 2008, and a new U.S. government report says that Bolivia has “failed demonstrably” to combat drug trafficking and meet its international obligations. It has also strengthened relations with the Iranian theocracy. According to the Associated Press, a 2009 Israeli foreign ministry document accused Bolivia (and Venezuela) of providing Tehran with uranium.

As I have posted in the past, Iran is taking a much more active interest in our hemisphere. Add Bolivia to their roster.


Restrepo director and photographer killed in Libya; film playing tonight on PU campus

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Restrepo co-director Tim Hetherington was killed in Libya,

Two photojournalists — Oscar-nominated filmmaker Tim Hetherington and Getty photographer Chris Hondros — were killed on Wednesday after coming under fire in the besieged Libyan town of Misrata.

Hetherington, co-director of Afghan war documentary “Restrepo”, and Hondros were among a group working together on Tripoli Street, a main thoroughfare and scene of fighting between rebels and forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi.

“It was quiet and we were trying to get away and then a mortar landed and we heard explosions,” Spanish photographer Guillermo Cervera said.

Doctors first said that Hetherington had died while Hondros had suffered brain injuries. Getty Images later released a statement saying Hondros had died of his injuries.

Hetherington, who won the 2007 World Press Photo of the Year award, co-directed with Sebastian Junger the 2010 documentary “Restrepo”, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary

Restrepo is playing tonight at 8PM on campus. Attendance is limited to Princeton University students and staff.


“Actually, I’m all here about prescription drugs today, thanks.”

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Over 22,000 people have died in Mexico’s drug war, 3,365 in January through March this year.

El Universal highlights the routes taken by immigrants through Mexico, a trip fraught with danger, as the drug cartels increasingly kidnap and kill those attempting it.

And is the Drug Csar paying attention?

Not so much:

After an event at the National Press Club on Tuesday, asked Kerlikowske, “According to Border Patrol, only 873 [miles] of the 2,000-mile-long southwest border is under effective control. Does that affect your mission to control drugs?”
“Actually, I’m all here about prescription drugs today, thanks,” Kerlikowske said after participating in a panel discussion on the national prescription drug epidemic.

Does that mean “he’s not all there” on other issues?

He made no further comment on the border-drug issue.

That answers my question, then.


Asma in Vogue

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Vogue Mag recently did a puff piece on the fashionable Asma Assad, treating her as if she was married to a guy who invented laser surgery or something while running a wonderful country. Austin Bay pulls the rug right under Vogue’s kowtowing to the dictator’s wife,
Syria: Father-Son Dictatorship Remains in Vogue

Vogue described Mrs. Assad as “young and very chic — the freshest and most magnetic of first ladies,” who “is on a mission … to put a modern face on her husband’s regime.”

But prose lipstick and cosmetic patois cannot camouflage Syria’s blood-splattered legacy and its ongoing horror. Just as the Vogue article appeared in late February, Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution began to shake Mr. and Mrs. Assad’s regime. Two months later, Syria continues to quake. The regime has killed around 200 demonstrators since the end of February, though no one knows for sure, since Assad’s government has restricted access within the country.

Vogue kowtowing to Asma? Swank, baby. The BBC interviewing anti-regime protestors? Suddenly the Vogue mask drops and the Assad regime’s hard face appears.

That hard face has quite a history. Troublemaking in Lebanon, common cause with Iran and relentless war with Israel are part of that history. But the Assads’ longest-running war has been against the Syrian people. Hafez al-Assad, Bashar’s father, ordered the February 1982 massacre in the city of Hama. Regime security forces murdered between 7,000 and 20,000 people; Syrians I know claim that one day the mass graves will be excavated and the 20,000 figure will be ratified.

Bashar took charge in 2,000, after Hafez died. He was a fresh face with a bit of style. But like father, like son, the secret police remained employed and the jails remained filled. Like father, like son, the body count, inside and outside Syria, continued to mount. A U.N. investigation of the February 2005 assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri found evidence of Syrian involvement. Former Syrian Vice President Abdel-Halim Khaddam later told the German magazine Der Speigel, “I am convinced that the order (to kill Hariri) came from (Bashar) Assad.”

Under Bashar, Syria continues to arm Shia Hezbollah and Sunni Hamas. Hezbollah gives Assad a way to exert backdoor control over Lebanon. With Hezbollah and Hamas as allies, together Syria and Iran wage a war of political and economic attrition against Israel.

Bashar, like Hafez, wears the hard face well. Despite secret police intimidation and the mass deployment of security forces, however, demonstrations in Syria have not subsided. Still, 200 killed in 2011 isn’t 1982’s slaughter of 20,000. What gives?

Videos of the protests, taken by Syrian activists, are cropping up on the Internet. New media may have given Bashar’s regime pause. Bashar is clearly not repeating Moammar Gadhafi’s mistake of threatening the mass murder of dissidents. Bashar claims he will lift Syria’s state of emergency. It has been in effect since 1963 — again, like father, like son.

The Vogue article goes on to mention Asma’s “alliance” with the Louvre Museum, as if Asma herself had any personal resources to back up such “alliance”, other than her marriage to a dictator.

Over in Syria, another day, another massacre.

Fresh face on a dictator’s regime? It’s Vogue, babeee…


VIDEO: Why nobody likes Bill Maher

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Jamie Glazov interviews Evan Sayet,


“Cuba without a Castro?” asks Drudge

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

As Fidel Castro steps down, a political shakeup in Cuba?
Delegates since Saturday have debated more than 300 proposals to overhaul the struggling economy. Details on who will fill leadership roles are expected to emerge later today.

Supposedly Cuba Lays Foundation For A New Leader

Cuba on Tuesday made the most significant change to its leadership since the 1959 revolution, naming someone other than the Castro brothers for the first time to fill the second-highest position in the Communist Party and possibly setting the stage for their eventual successor.

The “new” leader is eighty year old José Ramón Machado, an old crony who managed to stick it out all these years without going the way of Camilo Cienfuegos or Che Guevara.

Gives new meaning to “everything old is new again”.

As Ileana Ros-Lehtien said, There Is Nothing New About The Same Old Tired Dictators Oppressing The Cuban People


In Rick Moran’s show

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Talking politics in Rick Moran’s podcast right now. Catch it live, or archived, here.