Archive for January, 2013

How badly did Chuck Hagel do? UPDATED

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

The nominee for Secretary of Defense flunked the interview:
“It is very clear from the testimony that Sen. Hagel will not be bringing the potato salad to the next Mensa picnic.”

Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) did an immense amount of danger, disclosing that Hagel would still oppose unilateral sanctions. (How then could he possibly be the defense secretary in this administration?). Moreover, in reading his own words from the Global Zero report, she forced him to squirm, insisting the words she read didn’t mean what they said.

Even more damaging was the brilliant — there is no other word for it — interrogation from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) who challenged him to name one senator “intimidated” by the “Jewish lobby” and to name “one dumb thing” the United States did as a result of that intimidation. He couldn’t. Why did he say those things, then? The result of this exchange was to cast Hagel as a gadfly who speaks rashly.

And then came Ted Cruz,

with the al-Jazeera clips:

First, Cruz played excerpts from a tape of Hagel’s 2009 appearance on al Jazeera, in which a caller suggested that Israel had committed war crimes. In responding to the question, Hagel did not dispute the caller’’s statement. Cruz also pointed to statement by Hagel that Israel had engaged in “the sickening slaughter” of Hezbollah, which sounds a bit like war crimes.

Taken together, these pieces of information show that Hagel regards Israel as a criminal state, or at least is comfortable with that characterization. Hagel tried, with the same lameness he displayed most of the day, to talk away around this conclusion. He stated that both sides — Israelis and Hezbollah — had slaughtered each other. Perhaps Hagel will produce a tape in which he accused the Palestinians of engaging in a “sickening slaughter” of Israelis. Perhaps he will produce a tape (from the period before he was in the running for a cabinet job under President Obama) in which he took exception to the claim that Israel has committed war crimes. Perhaps, but don’t hold your breath.

Next, Cruz played an excerpt from the same interview in which the al Jazeera host read a reader e-mail claiming that the United States has served as the world’’s “bully.” This time Hagel not only failed to take exception and stick up for his country, he said on al Jazeera he found some merit in the claim, calling it “a good observation” (the Washington Post report linked to above fails to report this fact).

Pressed by Cruz, Hagel tried to squirm his way out of this bit of anti-Americanism by misrepresenting both the email and his response. But Cruz brought him back to the text, which makes it quite clear that Hagel endorsed the view that America is the world’s bully.

Paul Mirengoff ask, “Does ‘smart power’ require a smart Secretary of Defense?” and concludes,

Hagel’s testimony is an insult to the intelligence of the Senate and the American people. When he is confirmed, as I assume he will be (probably on a laregly party line vote), the Pentagon will be under the control of less than mediocre thinker and a less than honest man.

We’re in the best of hands.

Cross-posted at Liberty Unyielding.

UPDATE
Remember, Hagel is the guy Obama wants. So is John Kerry.


South American drugs and Islamists

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

The article TRAFFICKING COCAINE IN THE NAME OF ALLAH highlights the terrorists’ sources of income,

But drug smuggling is not new to Africa. Latin American drug cartels have collaborated with Nigerian organized crime groups for decades; shipping heroin from Asia to the Europe and the U.S., and South American cocaine across the Sahara to Morocco, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, and by air and sea to Europe.

Not to be dismissed is Hezbollah, which for decades used its drug trafficking operations in South America’s Tri-border region and Mexico, to purchase used cars in the U.S. then ship them to Western African countries with large Middle Eastern communities. While the criminal activities of these groups are no secret, stopping their money laundering operations is difficult. Last summer’s seizure of $150 million from the now defunct Montreal brunch of the Beirut based Lebanese Canadian Bank, is an exception.

Drug trafficking’s enormous revenues have corrupted many countries in the region, and helped al Qaeda to buy the loyalty of public officials and law enforcement. The destitution of the Sahel region makes it easier.

Read the whole thing.

“When you act like Europe, you get growth rates like Europe”

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Rick Santelli is right, again:

“When you act like Europe, you get growth rates like Europe,” Santelli said. “Our discussions with economists sound like we’re in Europe. They’re always doing the right thing. They’re always thinking they know better, and this the kind of growth.”

“We have become Europe,” Santelli declared. “We are now Europe.”

Bestest recession ever!!!

Cut defense, shrink the economy?

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Straight from that arm of the vast right-wing conspiracy,
US economy shrinks 0.1 pct., first time in 3 ½ years; deep cut in defense spending key factor

And it was unexpected!

Economists said the surprise decrease in the nation’s gross domestic product wasn’t as bad as it looked. The weakness was primarily the result of one-time factors. Government spending cuts and slower inventory growth subtracted a total of 2.6 percentage points from growth.

Looking good!

“Frankly, this is the best-looking contraction in U.S. GDP you’ll ever see,” Paul Ashworth, an economist at Capital Economics, said in a note to clients.

Be happy!


Raul Castro, CELAC president

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

The blinders come off:
Gaddafi was praised by the UN’s Human Rights Councila, and now Raul Castro is president of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States:

Cuba will lead CELAC until early 2014, when Ecuador will take over.

But should we be surprised? After all,

The organization was founded in Caracas in 2011 as a brainchild of the Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. It groups 33 nations of Latin America and the Caribbean but excludes the United States and Canada. Many people see it as Chávez’s challenge to the Organization of American States, which is based in Washington and includes the United States and Canada among its members.

Notch it up as a success of the Cuban dictatorship.

In Silvio Canto’s podcast

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Let’s talk about US-Latin America issues, live now, or archived for your convenience.

Related:
Raúl Castro takes over CELAC presidency amid criticism

BlackHawks over Brickell UPDATED: What the heck is going on?

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Imagine BlackHawk helicopters firing in a high-density, high-traffic area in a major American city. Something out of a movie, done with CGI effects, you say?

Think again,

Shark Tank reports: Blackhawk Choppers Buzz Miami Skyline, Blank Rounds Fired

Last week, an unknown number of Blackhawk helicopters strafed the Miami skyline while numerous residents on balconies overlooking the city witnessed the helicopters actually firing their machine guns with blanks in the vicinity of the Miami Herald Building. One amateur video shot by Atlanta resident Josh Epperson captured the sound of blank rounds being fired.

Government officials can still own assault weapons under the Feinstein bill.

For full paranoia mode, here’s another question: Why is the Department of Homeland Security purchasing 450 million rounds, and why is the Social Security Administration purchasing 174,000 rounds, of hollow-point bullets?

UPDATE: What the heck is going on?
Army drill scares residents on Houston’s south side (h/t Melissa)

The U.S. Army along with other agencies took over the old Carnegie Vanguard High School near Scott and Airport. There were armed men in fatigues, plenty of weapons and what many thought were real live rounds

“I felt like I was in a warzone.” Jerrals said. “It was nonstop. I was terrified.”

Cross-posted at Liberty Unyielding.

Linked by Zion’s Trumpet. Thank you!

UPDATE:
Minneapolis, August 28, 2012,

(reminded by Chris Muir)

“New special ops command in Mexico politically motivated, analysts claim”

Monday, January 28th, 2013

“to bolster President Obama’s reelection campaign”. Imagine that!

New special ops command in Mexico politically motivated, analysts claim

the e-mails, released by WikiLeaks last year, chronicle the political calculations that influenced planning meetings in 2010 between military and White House officials about extending American special forces into Mexico.

At those meetings, held at JSOC headquarters in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, National Security Council members reportedly suggested that the new command — focused on fighting Mexican drug traffickers — could be “a possible window” to highlight Obama’s tough stance on drug violence, just as the White House was ramping up its reelection campaign.

“The matter is being looked at by the NSC as a possible advantage to Obama’s reelection campaign, however, State [Department] is raising objections,” Stratfor analyst Reva Bhalla wrote in a Nov. 2010 e-mail.

“The recent killings of [American citizens] . . . are being viewed as a possible window to ‘spin’ a get tough on drug violence [and] narcos” that would have been a part of the Obama admininstration’s reelection platform, Bhalla wrote at the time.

The decision “will be a political one,” she added regarding the possible creation of the new special operations command.

So, let me get this straight: In 2009,

the Obama administration was ordering gun dealers to sell gunsto individuals the dealers feared were criminals. Despite desparate warnings from Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive (BATF) agents, the guns were not traced. To top it off, Mexican officials were never informed.

U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was murdered with one of those guns, along with 300 Mexicans. Many questions remain unanswered.

And, not letting any crisis go to waste,

the creation of the Special Operations Command-North is timed to bolster President Obama’s reelection campaign? Instapundit asks, I wonder if there’s a “Fast And Furious” tie-in?

At the same time, the PRI is back in power in Mexico, while the

American military trainers attached to the new special-forces counternarcotics hub will school Mexican military, intelligence and law enforcement officials on how to track and target key traffickers within the country’s numerous drug cartels.

What could possibly go wrong?

Cross-posted at Liberty Unyielding.

The Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, January 28th, 2013

ARGENTINA
Documentary (in Spanish):

BRAZIL
Brazil Nightclub Fire Kills at Least 245

Brazil Streetwalkers to Take English Lessons for 2014 World Cup; RELATED: The Proud Winner of the Miss Brazilian Prostitute Title Was Beaming

COLOMBIA
Security in Colombia
Fear of missing out
The second-biggest guerrilla group tries to muscle in on peace talks

Colombian Police Seize Over 4 Tons of Cocaine Bound for Mexico

CUBA
Alan Gross and his descent into hell

All talk
The government fails to promote new leaders—even though hard times loom

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Emails show FBI investigating Sen. Bob Menendez for sleeping with underage Dominican prostitutes – 16-year-olds.

GUATEMALA
Edging back from the brink
A potential “failed state” is clawing its way back to something like normality

HONDURAS
Honduras can’t pay its bills, neglects services

MEXICO
As Deadly Mexican Cartel Loses Control, Heroin and Meth Trafficking Rise

Florence Cassez released in Mexico

PERU
EU-Colombia-Peru Aim for Trade Accord in Effect by First Quarter

Peru on the Right Path to Eradicating Child Malnutrition, UN Official Says

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico Top 10 Most Wanted Captured by NY/NJ Regional Fugitive Task Force

VENEZUELA
More than 50 people have been killed in a prison riot in western Venezuela, hospital staff say. [GRAPHIC PHOTOS] En Uribana ya van más de 50 muertos y 120 heridos (FOTOS)

Chavez Cancer Freezes Venezuela’s Overseas Oil Funding (h/t DP)

Venezuela’s $100 billion oil industry is seeing the first drop in funding in five years from some of its closest partners, as concern mounts President Hugo Chavez’s battle with cancer is creating a political vacuum, people familiar with the matter said.
The government, which for a decade has disclosed credit lines from China when they’re signed, has announced none since April, according to a report released Jan. 13 by the National Autonomous University of Mexico, known as UNAM. Russian and Indian companies are withholding planned investments in Venezuelan oilfields, according to eight oil company executives and consultants who declined to be identified because they weren’t authorized to talk about the matter publicly.

Hugo Chavez Starting More Treatment in Cuba, Hugo Chavez Respiratory Infection: Venezuelan President Overcomes Health Issue

Why President Hugo Chávez’s Twitter Account Went Silent

The Missing President

Chavez is not going quietly

Impunity in Venezuela
The price of justice
A family with a case against the government faces “extermination”

Gustavo Rios, Hugo Chavez Impersonator, Thinks Dictator’s Cancer Is No Laughing Matter

The week’s posts:
South American cocaine’s African routes

Brazil: Barcodes on Rio’s sidewalks

Venezuela: Hugo’s fake picture

Halitophobia! in Spanish, no less

Venezuela: Noelia’s plane seized by the government

Venezuela: Should Chavez give direct payments?

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Mary O’Grady poses the question, If Chávez believes the nation’s oil billions belong to the people, why not give it to them directly?

Mr. Monaldi, along with Venezuelan economists Pedro Rodríguez and José Morales, have a better idea. In a paper published in September by the Center for Global Development, they propose offering Venezuelans a plan to replace many of the government’s social programs and subsidies funded by oil revenue with direct, “universal, transparent and regular payments” to citizens.

The authors argue that this “direct distribution mechanism” (DDM) would be a more equitable way to distribute the wealth from the country’s vast oil reserves, and it would make Venezuelans better off. Marketing the idea to the electorate may be one of the few cards the political opposition has left to play.

Ah, but Hugo’ been giving “regular payments” to the Chavistas, the Cubans, and his other cronies in Latin America.

Meanwhile, in the USA, we’ll be debating Fair vs Fracking for the next 4 years.