My latest article at Da Tech Guy On Da Radio Blog Latin America: What was missing from the SOTU
Please go read it and hit Da Tip Jar.
Faustam fortuna adiuvat
American and Latin American Politics, Society, and Culture.
My latest article at Da Tech Guy On Da Radio Blog Latin America: What was missing from the SOTU
Please go read it and hit Da Tip Jar.
Lachlan Markay writes in the Washington Free Beacon on The Correa-Khamenei Axis
Ecuador pumping up its relationship with Iran and Syria, experts say
Correa, who began his third term as president on Friday, reaffirmed Ecuador’s alliance with Iran.
“We would ratify it a thousand times over,” Correa said of the alliance during his inaugural address, according to a translation of the speech.
Iran’s vice president for international affairs, who attended the inauguration in an official capacity, said the two countries “have elite people and revolutionary governments and we are happy that the ‘Citizens’ Revolution’ — the slogan of Ecuador’s president — can live on,” according to a report from Iranian state-owned media.
Correa also expressed support for the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which also sent an envoy — its former ambassador to Venezuela — to Correa’s inauguration, according to the Syrian Arab News Agency.
Iran’s relationship with Ecuador appears to be mirroring its arrangement with Venezuela, according to Joseph Humire, executive director of the Center for a Secure Free Society, who has called Ecuador “one of Iran’s largest money-laundering hubs in Latin America.”
As you may recall, The Ecuadorian Finance Co., Inc. (COFIEC), a bank that was seized a decade ago by the former Deposit Guarantee Agency (AGD) would be the legal vehicle used by the Ecuadorian state to conduct financial transactions with Iran. The purpose is to help Iran evade sanctions.
Additionally, two years ago, Deutsche Welle was reporting that Ecuador had become the new hub for international crime.
says a judge, after much to-do over garbage mishandling by a former guerrilla who’s mayor of Bogota:
Mayor’s Firing Should be Postponed: Colombia Chief Prosecutor:
Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez Ordered Gustavo Petro’s Removal
Colombia’s chief prosecutor is urging President Juan Manuel Santos to postpone a controversial decision by the inspector general to fire Bogotá’s left-leaning mayor over alleged mismanagement of trash collection, saying the decision’s better left for courts or voters.
And here’s the thing,
The fate of the mayor of the city of eight million is being closely watched in Havana, Cuba, where Colombia’s government is engaged in 13-month-old peace talks with the country’s main Marxist rebel group FARC. A key outcome of any peace deal would likely include allowing leftist rebels who lay down their weapons to run for political offices, including that of mayor.
In other Colombian news, front-page, WaPo, finally, a bit of good news:
The 50-year-old Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), once considered the best-funded insurgency in the world, is at its smallest and most vulnerable state in decades, due in part to a CIA covert action program that has helped Colombian forces kill at least two dozen rebel leaders, according to interviews with more than 30 former and current U.S. and Colombian officials.
The covert program in Colombia provides two essential services to the nation’s battle against the FARC and a smaller insurgent group, the National Liberation Army (ELN): Real-time intelligence that allows Colombian forces to hunt down individual FARC leaders and, beginning in 2006, one particularly effective tool with which to kill them.
That weapon is a $30,000 GPS guidance kit that transforms a less-than-accurate 500-pound gravity bomb into a highly accurate smart bomb. Smart bombs, also called precision-guided munitions or PGMs, are capable of killing an individual in triple-canopy jungle if his exact location can be determined and geo-coordinates are programmed into the bomb’s small computer brain.
In the Colombia-Venezuela border town of Maicao, which is also near the Caribbean and has a free-trade zone and the third-largest mosque in the Americas, Hezbollah financing evolves beyond Colombia’s Muslim communities
Today, Hezbollah is the most powerful political movement in Lebanon — and its influence stretches all the way to Maicao. Each year, millions of dollars of drug money are laundered in Maicao, where some community members openly proclaim their support for Hezbollah. Recent U.S. Treasury Department actions have slowed the flow of cash to terrorist groups, but financiers have fled and new networks have reconstituted that are harder to identify.
This mirrors, as Spain’s ABC has reported, chavismo’s alliance with the FARC Colombian guerrilla becoming an essential factor of the illegal trade,
The way it works is a money launderer today may work for 5-10 different drug trafficking groups. Those groups in turn pay taxes or fees to terrorist groups to operate in their territories, proliferating terrorism and violence in Colombia and the Middle East. Likewise, sympathizing launderers may make sizable voluntary donations to Hezbollah.
The article states,
The launderers may not even realize they are ultimately funding terrorism organizations.
And yet, “the conversation switches to Arabic when it involves transferring drug money to terrorist groups abroad.”
It makes perfect sense for Maicao to be a location for this:
I wonder how this fits in with the FARC negotiations in Havana, considering the links to Colombia’s FARC, El Salvador’s FMNL, and their connection to Hezbollah.
The assassination was being plotted by the Farc’s Teofilo Forero Mobile Column, under the command of a rebel known as Paisa, said Mr Pinzon.
As you may recall, just last week the Colombian government had announced a “fundamental agreement” with the FARC, but we don’t know the details.
The FARC have not disarmed, and have continued their attacks.
If you think things are going to get bad in NYC, wait until you see this:
Colombia, FARC agree on rebels’ future if peace signed
Colombia’s government and Marxist FARC rebels reached a “fundamental agreement” on the guerrillas’ future in politics, one of the thorniest issues addressed in peace talks in Cuba, according to a joint statement on Wednesday.
The FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, has been fighting the government in a jungle and urban conflict that has killed more than 200,000 people in the five decades since it began as a peasant movement seeking land reform.
The partial accord may pave the way for FARC to enter Colombian politics, which chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle said would provide a “new democratic opening” and cement peace after an end of conflict.
As you may recall, Santos had said that he favored granting unelected guerrilla leaders seats in Congress and special treatment in the justice system.
No wonder the FARC were out celebrating on a catamaran yacht the other day.
Apparently “The two sides are unlikely to reveal many details of the agreement” for the time being. Kevin Howlett asks,
For many, the central consideration under “political participation” is whether the FARC top brass will be allowed to stand for election.
Will the FARC be given seats in congress?
And, if so will they be given to Timochenko, Ivan Marquez and the rest?
Without answers to these questions any accord seems largely cosmetic.
For now, the visuals are not that good, PLO scarves included:
Linked to by Gates of Vienna. Thank you!
The government is an advocate for coca growers. The Iranian presence is increasing. And reports from the ground suggest that African extremists are joining the fray.
Bolivian President Evo Morales, who is also the elected president of the coca producers’ confederation, and Vice President Alvaro García Linera, formerly of the Maoist Tupac Katari Guerrilla Army, began building their repressive narco-state when they took office in 2006.
Step one was creating a culture of fear. Scores of intellectuals, technocrats and former government officials were harassed. Many fled.
With the opposition cowed, President Morales has turned Bolivia into an international hub of organized crime and a safe haven for terrorists. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has been expelled. United Nations data show that cocaine production is up in Bolivia since 2006 and unconfirmed reports say that Mexican, Russian and Colombian toughs are showing up to get a piece of the action. So are militants looking to raise cash and operate in the Western Hemisphere.
The Tehran connection is no secret. Iran is a nonvoting member of the “Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas” ( ALBA ). Its voting members are Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
Read the whole thing.
Former Marine Kevin Scott Sutay, an American vacationing in Colombia, was taken hostage last June by the Marxist-drug guerrilla FARC.
Jackson inserted himself in the matter two weeks ago during a global forum of black leaders in Colombia, when he called on the guerrillas to free the American.
Jackson, speaking in Havana where he met on Friday night with Colombian rebel commanders who are in Cuba for peace talks with the Bogota government, said he hoped to arrive in Colombia within a week to facilitate the release of Kevin Scott Sutay.
“We accept this obligation and opportunity to render service to Kevin Scott, his family and our nation,” Jackson said. “We have made contact with the State Department urging them to contact as quickly as possible the nearest of kin of Kevin Scott because his release is imminent.”
Jackson is on a private visit to communist-run Cuba that is being hosted by the Council of Churches.
Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos has rejected proposed mediation by US civil rights activist Rev Jesse Jackson over a rebel-held hostage.
Mr Santos said only the Red Cross would be allowed to be involved, because he did not want “a media spectacle”.
“Only the Red Cross will be authorized to facilitate the release of the North American kidnapped by FARC. We won’t allow a media circus”:
Solamente Cruz Roja será autorizada para facilitar entrega de norteamericano secuestrado por las FARC. No permitiremos espectáculo mediático
— Juan Manuel Santos (@JuanManSantos) September 28, 2013
Reaching new heights of hypocrisy, The Farc say they want to free Mr Scott to boost peace talks. Well, it’s their hostage, they’re holding him, release him, then, if they’re so keen on “boosting peace talks.”
This post honors three heroes of September 11, 2001: a father and two sons. Two died, one survived.
May they never be forgotten.
Joseph Angelini Jr., age 38 of Lindenhurst, NY, died heroically on September 11, 2001 in the World Trade Center terrorist attack. He was a New York firefighter with Ladder Co. 4
October 22, 2001
Joseph Angelini Jr. may have lived for the New York City Fire Department, but he didn’t hang around when his tour ended.
“Gotta get home to the kids,” he’d tell the guys in Manhattan’s Ladder Co. 4 before heading to the 6:33 p.m. train to Lindenhurst.
Angelini’s wife, Donna, has scheduled a memorial service for today to help 7-year-old Jennifer, 5-year-old Jacqueline and 3-year-old Joseph Angelini III to finally understand that he won’t be coming home anymore.
“My son asks everyone he sees in uniform, ‘Did you find my daddy, did you find my daddy?’” Donna Angelini said Friday.
The seven-year department veteran followed in the footsteps of his father, Joseph Angelini Sr., 63, who was the senior member of Brooklyn’s Rescue Co. 1 and also perished in the World Trade Center attacks.
The younger Angelini, 38, was assigned to a house that protects New York’s theater district. Its motto: “Never miss a performance.”
But at home, he was a cook, craftsman and avid gardener who grew pumpkins, zucchini, eggplants and hot peppers and filled the house with the smells of pizza and focaccia.
“He was the air in my lungs, and now that air is taken away from me,” Donna Angelini said. “I keep waiting for him to come off a 24 [hour shift] and come through the door and say, ‘You wouldn’t believe what happened to me today.’”
Angelini also is survived by his mother, Anne, a grandmother, Mary, sister Annmarie Bianco and brother, Michael, all of Lindenhurst; sister Mary Angelini of Washington D.C.; and by seven nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held today at 11 a.m. at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church in Lindenhurst.
– Elizabeth Moore (Newsday)
Joe’s father, Joe Sr. also died that day:
The Veteran and His Son
Joseph J. Angelini Sr. and his son, Joseph Jr., were firefighters, and neither survived the twin towers’ collapse. “If he had lived and his son had died, I don’t think he would have survived,” said Alfred Benjamin, a firefighter at Rescue Company 1 in Manhattan who was partnered with Mr. Angelini for the last six months.
The elder Mr. Angelini, 63, was the most veteran firefighter in the city, with 40 years on the job. He was tough and “rode the back step” like everyone else. His 38-year-old son, who worked on Ladder Company 4 on 48th Street, was on the job for seven years.
“If you mentioned retirement to Joey, it was like punching him,” Mr. Benjamin said. Joseph Jr. was proud of his father’s reputation and tried to copy him any way he could, said Joseph Jr.’s wife, Donna.
And they never gave up their tools. “Think about climbing 20 stories with bunker gear, ropes, hooks, halogens and other different types of tools and somebody wants to borrow a tool — no way,” Mr. Benjamin said. “You ask them what they need done and you do it for them. You carried that tool all the way up there, so you’re going to use it. If they thought they were going to need a tool, they should have carried it up. Joey Sr. always said carry your own weight. He always carried his.”
Joseph Jr. applied to the department 11 years ago. He got called seven years ago. “It was the proudest day for my father-in-law. It was a great opportunity,” said Donna Angelini. “His father was a firefighter and he wanted to be one, too.”
Mr. Angelini, who had four children, taught Joseph Jr. carpentry. Often they worked on projects together, including a rocking horse. Joseph Jr., who had three children, had started building a dollhouse for one of his daughters. Unfinished, it is sitting on his workbench.
A brother, Firefighter Michael Angelini, was there as well, but, in a move that probably saved his life, left when asked to help carry out the body of the Rev. Mychal Judge, the fire department’s chaplain.
Between Funeral and ‘Pile’
September 21, 2001
Michael’s choice: remain with his mother, Anne, in Lindenhurst and support his family during the wake, today, and the funeral, tomorrow, for his father, New York firefighter Joey Angelini, 63; or, return to The Pile to continue searching for his missing brother, New York firefighter Joey Angelini Jr., 38.
Michael, 33, knew yesterday that his mother and Joey Jr.’s wife, Donna, his two sisters and his nieces and nephews needed him, needed a strong, grown, male Angelini nearby, perhaps as much or more than he needed to be nearer his brother. “It’s hard to figure out what’s the right place to be in,” he said, already having decided to stay with the family. “I want so much to go back there.”
Michael works for the Fire Patrol of New York, which operates under the New York Board of Underwriters, protecting the interests of insurers during and in the aftermath of commercial property fires. Wearing the same firefighting gear, except for the distinctive red helmet that denotes Fire Patrol, he responded to the World Trade Center disaster last Tuesday morning, as did his father, a 40-year FDNY veteran assigned to Rescue 1, and his brother, of Ladder Co. 4 in the Theater District. “We were all in the same area, and none of us knew it,” he said.
In the lobby of one of the stricken towers, a fire supervisor suddenly ordered him out of the building. They passed firefighters who had just encountered the body of department chaplain Father Mychal Judge. Michael helped carry Judge away. “… but then my officer grabbed me and said, ‘Let’s go!’” he said. “We ended up a block or two north on West Murray Street.”
Michael entertained a slender hope that his brother might have finished his tour early and gone home. He suspected otherwise, and he learned later that afternoon that Joey had done what his father would have done and what so many other firefighters did who were supposed to be ending their tours at 9 a.m. They went to work.
Once a jokester and a partygoer, Joey Jr. had undergone personality changes increasingly noticeable to Michael during the past seven years, since he had joined the department and Donna gave birth to the first of their three children, Jennifer. He had worked previously as an electrician with the Transit Authority. “I didn’t want him to leave Transit,” said his mother, “because they were about to make him a foreman. But, for some reason, he switched over to the fire department.”
“Since then,” Michael said, “I saw him taking on more and more of my father’s traits. Before, we used to go out a lot, he and I. He was silly, funny. Now, getting him to go out was like pulling teeth. I tell old stories to guys he worked with, and they’ll look at me like I’m talking about somebody they don’t know. He had become so, like, straight. He just wanted to be with his family. He was showing more and more of that integrity, that seriousness, like my father.
“Three things were important to my father: his family, the church and the department, and I’m not sure in what order. My father was honest to a fault, religious. I remember walking back from the store with him. I was only little. He realized that the counter girl had given him 30 cents too much in change, and we had to walk all the way back. I mean, it was almost ridiculous. Joey was becoming more like that. It was good to watch, but it’s hard to live up to.”
The elder Angelini was in special operations that morning, and Michael hoped he too might have been sent elsewhere, but he really knew better. His father was legendary in the department for loving the work, for loving “to get dirty,” for loving “making a grab [rescuing somebody],” for routinely walking out of a mostly extinguished inferno and lighting a cigarette while younger firefighters lay sprawled around him, exhausted.
Earlier this year, at a Holy Name Society communion breakfast tribute for his 40th anniversary as a firefighter, the short, wiry, gray-haired Angelini resisted efforts by his fellow firefighters to get him to wear more of his medals. “They convinced him to put on maybe a third of them,” Michael said. “Then he said, ‘Stop. I’m tired of pinning these on.’
“He kept them in the back of a drawer, in a box,” Michael said. “He didn’t tell us about half of them. He didn’t talk about what he did. You would be eating dinner across from him and notice that he looked dif- ferent, like, strange, and then you would realize that his face was all red, and his eyebrows were completely gone, and his hairline had receded. He was burned. You would say, ‘What happened to you?’ And he would say, ‘Aw, something flashed over me.’
“At the site, all week, guys were joking about him finding a pocket and eventually walking out. They said to me, ‘He was probably buried in a void, and as soon as he runs out of cigarettes he’s gonna come walking out.’”
Rescue workers found the body of Joey Angelini on Monday. He had been listed as missing since the day after the attack. Joey Jr. still is missing. After tomorrow’s funeral Mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Lindenhurst, Michael probably will return to the site.
–Ed Lowe (Newsday Columnist)
The Veteran and His Son in Portraits of Grief
What the hell?
The president of Colombia is not insisting that the Marxist–Leninist narco-terrorist guerilla that has murdered thousands disarm immediately?
Colombia Santos: Farc ‘to keep weapons until referendum’
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has said the Farc rebels would be allowed to keep their weapons until a peace agreement was ratified.
Mr Santos said no-one could expect the rebels to give up their weapons before a peace accord had been given final approval in a referendum.
He added that a ceasefire would be implemented once a deal was reached in talks under way in Cuba.
There’s not going to be a referendum until at least Marcht next year.
Considering that last month the FARC rejected the referendum proposal, while continuing to attack the Colombian army (two weeks ago they killed 13 soldiers), one must pause and wonder, what is Santos thinking?