“The Americans” non-values

May 1st, 2015

Please read my latest article, “The Americans” non-values.

UPDATED:
Alison Gopnik asks, Can loyalty to a country or an idea ever justify deception and murder? It can, if you have no moral compass.

Venezuela: Electricity rationing because of . . . global warming

April 30th, 2015

The country with (allegedly) highest oil reserves is starting to ration electricity.
Venezuela to Begin Nationwide Power Rationing
Persistent heat wave causes a surge in demand for air conditioning

Shaky power supply is one of many problems facing Venezuela as the resource-rich South American country reels from an economic crisis and a cash crunch partly due to lower oil prices. Frequent blackouts in the interior of the country have stoked accusations of mismanagement and insufficient power grid investment by the government, which nationalized the electricity sector under the late leftist leader, Hugo Chávez.

But authorities in Venezuela, which relies on hydroelectric turbines for two-thirds of its power supply, say climate change is to blame.

“This is, of course, linked to global warming and the excessive industrialization of capitalism, which never stops, nor has ever stopped, for the effects that it can have on the climate, on society and on Mother Earth,” Mr. Arreaza said.

The blackouts have been going on for a couple of years, but the rationing is new.

Talking from both sides of the mouth, they ask that you get a generator, to use up more Venezuelan gasoline that the government insanely subsidizes to a consumer price of $0.002 a gallon, because, capitalism causes global warming or something,

Vice President Arreaza also made a bizarre call for the use of “autogenerated” electricity to reduce demand on the government’s plants. “Both the public sector as well as large [private] consumers should opt for autogeneration,” he said in the statement announcing the new plan. “That is to say, that they use their own equipment and plants to generate electricity, especially in peak hours, and not use the National System.”

Venezuela is probably netting less than US$20/barrel on its heavy, low-quality oil. It needs oil at $151 a barrel to balance its budget.

Another Venezuelan export, cacao, can’t generate revenues because the government cancelled export permits.

Again, Communism doesn’t work.

Chile: Bachelet lifts a page from the Clintons

April 30th, 2015

Michelle Bachelet’s son, Sebastián Dávalos, who had to resign his post as his mother’s sociopolitical director, stands accused of corruption after procuring a US$10 million loan to flip a property the day after she won the second round,

Davalos is accused of promising Bank of Chile executives the government’s ear in return for a CHL$6.5 billion (US$10 million) loan for Caval Ltd., a company half-owned by his wife, which previously held assets of under $8,000. The loan was used to purchase land for a housing development that was later sold at a $4 million profit.

Maybe he thought he was related to Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Bachelet insists she will not resign, and, lifting a page from the Clintons, promises she is moving on, to work on behalf of the folks:
Chile’s President Vows to Tackle Corruption, Rewrite ConstitutionMichelle Bachelet says overhaul will make political financing ‘completely transparent’

The president said the anticorruption measures will be complemented by a new constitution. The government is expected to start work on the new constitution in September, Ms. Bachelet said. The current constitution was implemented during the military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet.

This rewrite was a campaign promise; Bachelet intends to use proceeds from the mining industry to pay for propaganda social programs, which currently the Constitution does not allow.

Bachelet’s popularity rating is currently 32%. The economy is sliding as investment and growth drop following her tax increases. She’s going to end school vouchers.

And Putin’s been invited.

What could possibly go wrong?

Don’t rebuild

April 29th, 2015

Read my latest, Don’t rebuild.

UPDATE:
Related: I have been to some of the locations mentioned in this article, Smashed, looted and burned by the mob – inside the destruction of Baltimore as shopkeepers tell how they fled burning shops and one says he called police 50 times – and nobody came

Minnesota men heading to ISIS via . . . Mexico?

April 29th, 2015

Minnesota men arrested in terror probe were headed to Syria, officials say

Several Somali American men were charged by federal officials on Monday after a 10-month investigation into their alleged efforts to join Islamic State terrorists overseas.

The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested six men in Minneapolis and San Diego who officials said tried to provide support to leaders of Islamic State terror cells.

Zacharia Yusuf Abdurahman, 19; Adnan Farah, 19; Hanad Mustafe Musse, 19; and Guled Ali Omar, 20, were arrested in Minneapolis. Abdirahman Yasin Daud, 21, and Mohamed Abdihamid Farah, 21, were arrested in San Diego after driving from Minneapolis.

Daud and Farah were planning to pick up passports and then cross into Mexico, where they would board a flight to the Middle East, federal authorities said Monday.

It would be interesting to find out who their point man was in Mexico, especially regarding those passports.

In a lighter mode, Paco Almaraz poked fun (in Spanish) at the jihadists-to-be:

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In other jihadists news, the Gitmo alumni now in Uruguay aspire to graduate into moochers:
Former Guantánamo detainees protest in Uruguay to demand aid from US
Refugees who were given shelter in Uruguay after being detained and tortured have been protesting outside US embassy for days with calls for living assistance

“We want to speak with the Americans,” Adel Bin Muhammad El Ouerghi, a Tunisian, told the Guardian. “We are in this situation here in Uruguay because of them: they sent us here. We want to receive help from the American government: a house, a job, money for our everyday costs, like food, clothes, transport and such day-to-day expenses.”

Adel Bin Muhammad El Ouerghi is also named Abdul Bin Mohammed Bin Abess Ourgy in some reports.

You may want to play the World’s Smallest Violin while reading The Guardian article.

The Gitmo Six reportedly have turned down job offers and dropped out of Spanish language lessons.

Puerto Rico: Calling Dr. Cardona Harper

April 29th, 2015

A Puerto Rican doctor, Fernando Cardona Harper, Medical Director of the 150-bed Sheer Memorial Hospital in Banepa, Nepal, talked to El Nuevo Día about the desperate conditions in the town of 35,000 people.

Read the full article in Spanish here.



Cuba: How’s that “easement” going?

April 28th, 2015

Pres. Obama announced on December 17, 2014 an easing of U.S. relations with Cuba

that will engage and empower the Cuban people.

Four months and a few days later, how’s that working out so far?

Castro police arrest more than 100 Ladies In White, other activists as they leave Havana church

The Ladies in White have been attacked continuously every Sunday since Dec. 17.

How about the conditions of political prisoners?

Cuban secret policeman to hunger striker’s mother: ‘If he dies, it’s not our problem’

The Dec. 17 WH website statement was titled A Failed Approach.

Prescience.

Latin America: Why there’s no light at the end of the tunnel

April 28th, 2015

Vast natural resources, great human capital, and yet, LatAm wallows in corruption and crime. This is not likely to change for the foreseeable future.

Why?

Belen Marty writes about one reason why:
LatAm’s Socialist Countries Rival World’s Worst in Institutional Quality
Zimbabwe, Libya Outrank Venezuela in Dismal Scoresheet for Bolivarian Republics

Latin-American countries with governments that claim to be pursuing a “socialist” agenda come out the worst in the latest Institutional Quality Index published by Argentina’s Freedom and Progress Foundation, with several regional nations ranking alongside countries such as South Sudan, Zimbabwe, Eritrea, and Gabon.

Argentina, governed between 2003 and 2007 by the late former President Néstor Kirchner, and by his spouse President Cristina Kirchner since 2007, has fallen the most in the rankings over the last 10 years, dropping 50 places to occupy position 137 out of 193 surveyed nations. In 2014 alone, Argentina fell several places to be rated worse than China, Uganda, and Lebanon.

Hugo Chavez’s legacy lives on,

Taking the same long-term view, the index shows how other regional countries have slid dramatically in the quality of their public institutions. Bolivia is down 99 places, Argentina by 33, Ecuador by 81, Venezuela by 75, and Paraguay fell by 61 positions, all since 1996.

Communism doesn’t work: Cuba takes the cake at 192, one notch above bottom-ranked North Korea, even after US$300million and 3 million tourists last year alone. Let’s pause for a Capt. Louis Renault moment.

The report, authored by academic Martín Krause, takes an average of eight indicators used by recognized international organizations. Among them are the Index of Economic Freedom (Compiled by the Fraser Institute and the Heritage Foundation), Doing Business, the Rule of Law (the World Bank), and Corruption Perceptions (Transparency International).

The report, which you can read here in Spanish, concludes,

En definitiva, aquellos países que tienen una buena calidad institucional o aquellos que la han mejorado, en particular en relación a las instituciones de mercado, y dentro de ellas aquellas que protegen la inversión y la actividad emprendedora, muestran un mejor desempeño económico y, con ello, ofrecen más oportunidades de progreso a sus habitantes.

[My translation:]
Definitely, the countries with good institutional quality or those which have improved it, especially in regards to market institutions, and within those, the ones that protect investment and enterprise, show better economic performance, and, along with it, offer their citizens more opportunities for progress.

The Hezbollah camps Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

April 27th, 2015

While the U.S. media distracted itself with news about Bruce Jenner and tried to ignore Hillary Clinton’s corruption, the big news story of the week came via Emili Blasco: Nicolas Maduro negotiated with Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah for Hezbollah training camps in Venezuela. See also Venezuela, el principal nexo de Hezbollah en América
A lo largo de los años, Tarek El Aissami ha desarrollado una red financiera sofisticada y de múltiples niveles
(more posts on El Aissami here).

ARGENTINA
Cristina Kirchner and Vladimir Putin cuddle up over oil – and bitter feelings for Britain
Argentina and Russia signed a a “strategic partnership” that included oil and gas deals, after Ms Kirchner visited Moscow and the Kremlin

BRAZIL
The ghost in the Planalto
Dilma Rousseff is in office but no longer in power

Thankfully, it is hard to imagine suicide or a coup. It is also hard to see Ms Rousseff, a tough former urban guerrilla who survived torture, resigning. And Brazilian law holds that a president can be impeached only for political or common crimes committed during her current term of office—though whether that rule would necessarily exempt any malfeasance during her first term is not clear. So far nothing ties Ms Rousseff to corruption; some would like fiscal irresponsibility to be impeachable, but probably it is not. It is for Mr Cunha to decide whether to start impeachment, and he is one of 52 politicians being investigated over alleged illegal donations from Petrobras.

Brazil’s Petrobras Reports Nearly $17 Billion in Asset and Corruption Charges
State-run oil company writes off $2.1 billion of alleged bribe payments

Images of transgender prisoner whose face was ‘pulverized’ by police after they stripped her and shaved her head spark outrage in Brazil

CHILE
Chile volcano ash cloud reaches Brazil; some flights canceled

COLOMBIA
Colombian Physicians Get the Final Go-Ahead for Euthanasia
18 Years of Legal Limbo Over with New Regulatory Protocol

Cobweb explosives, #FARC’s latest method discovered by Fudra [armed forces]

COSTA RICA
Scientist in Costa Rica discovers new species of glass frog
Brian Kubicki discovers the Hyalinobatrachium dianae glass frog species in Costa Rica’s Talamanca mountains

CUBA
Giving Obama Cover on Cuban Weapons Shipment

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo visits Cuba

ECUADOR
Ecuadorian Activists Want Nothing Less than Universal Marijuana
Cannabis Ecuador: “With or Without Prohibition, There Will Always Be Drug Use”

MEXICO
MEXICAN AUTHORITIES RECOVER STOLEN RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL

NICARAGUA
In Paradisiacal Nicaragua, Contemplating a Canal. Paradisiacal?

PANAMA
Panama, reputed to be region’s top money laundering hub, toughens up legislation

PARAGUAY
Paraguay preps bond tap in buoyant market

PERU
Protester killed in Peru during rally against Southern Copper project

Peru library to preserve Vargas Llosa’s vast literary treasure

PUERTO RICO
S&P downgrades Puerto Rico debt to ‘CCC+’ from ‘B’

URUGUAY
Ex-Gitmo detainees protest at US embassy in Uruguay, demand financial support

VENEZUELA
Should Venezuela be on the List of Terrorist States?

WATCH: ROGUE MANGO ATTACKS VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT NICOLÁS MADURO

Woman who hit Venezuela leader with mango rewarded with new home
Woman who threw mango at Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro promised new home

The week’s posts and podcast:
Colombia: How are the FARC negotiations going?

Sunday tango at the gazebo

En español: Unidad de quemados #217

Oh look, the guy behind the Clinton uranium deal was also the guy behind the Clinton FTA deal

Argentina: Hitting new lows on the #Nisman murder

Venezuela: Maduro negotiated for Hezbollah training camps in Venezuela

Chile: Here’s the kaboom!

Alinsky wears high heels

Venezuela: Censorship all around

Cuba: Strawberries can get you jailed

Argentina: Prosecutor drops #Nisman’s case

Bolivia: Dumb. And dumber.

Podcast:
Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela & other US-Latin America stories



Colombia: How are the FARC negotiations going?

April 27th, 2015


It’s not just the negotiations, it’s everything else (emphasis added),
Devilish Dealmaking in Colombia
The FARC terrorists repay President Santos’s peace negotiations by executing 11 soldiers.

Days later the government denied rumors that Mr. Santos will now seek special powers, via a referendum, to negotiate and seal a deal without congressional or public review. Colombians I talked to expect the president to try just that, noting that he is running low on time and credibility.

Mr. Santos didn’t help last week when he released a Chinese ship carrying an undeclared weapons cache, which had been seized in Cartagena in early March. The Da Dan Xia’s bill of lading claimed it was carrying grain. But according to press reports Colombian authorities found 100 tons of gunpowder, 2.6 million detonators for bullets, 99 “projectiles” (rocket-propelled grenades, to venture a guess) and 3,000 artillery shells—in other words, the stuff of guerrilla warfare.

Once freed, the floating armory went to Cuba, which according to China had ordered the low-tech hardware. But then why the false documentation and why won’t the Colombian government say what the ship was delivering to Colombia?

Borrowing a page from their Cuban Communists hosts,

The FARC rebels aren’t much for negotiating. They say they won’t go to jail for atrocities, they won’t turn over their weapons, and they won’t give up the wealth and land they acquired at gunpoint.

Santos went on TV to talk about the peace process (video in Spanish), essentially calling for peace at all costs,

Outside, a crowd gathered to boo him.