Maduro goes to the South Bronx

September 25th, 2014

Carlos Eire tells us that Maduro visits Chavistas and Useful Idiots in the South Bronx

Apparently, Maduro found plenty of admirers, both among the natives and the Birkenstock-sandal-Mother Jones-and-Subaru crowd, most of whom seem to revere him as the current incarnation of the spirit of Hugo Chavez.

That, and an influx in millions of dollars in Venezuelan charity and free heating oil; Communists don’t live on Birkenstocks(*) alone.

In a dazzling display of smart diplomacy, the U.S. is copacetic,
Maduro recalls Chávez with trip to South Bronx as country makes bid for U.N. security council seat

Maduro, a year and a half into his term, arrived in New York with unanimous backing from Latin America and Caribbean nations to represent the region on the council beginning next year. The U.S. is uneasy with the nomination but says it has no plans to try to derail the bid, as it did in 2006.
. . .
Venezuela is expected to defend U.S.’ archenemies if it wins a seat on the council.

(*) Disclosure: I own Birkenstocks, too. Comfortable when you need them, and owned by capitalists.

FIFA follies

September 25th, 2014

That’s what I call a goody bag! Football Association dragged into Fifa controversy over £1million worth of watches handed to World Cup nations
Fifa’s ethics committee have confirmed the acceptance of the £16,000 Parmigiani Fleurier timepieces

Telegraph Sport was seeking a response from the FA on Thursday as to whether any of its officials took home a goody bag distributed by the Brazilian Football Confederation in June to commemorate this summer’s World Cup and which contained a watch bought from one of its sponsors.

According to the UK’s Mirror, this is the watch:


That’s $25,000 for your wrist.

Why did Qatar win the bid? FIFA isn’t telling:
FIFA Investigator Wants Report Made Public
Michael Garcia, the former U.S. attorney in charge of investigating the bid process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup, on Wednesday said he wants his report to be made public.

FIFA hired Garcia in 2012 to investigate the bid process, which generated much controversy after Russia and Qatar won the voting to host the next two World Cups. Garcia delivered the report to FIFA’s ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert earlier this month.

Qatar beat out bids from Australia, the U.S. and Japan to host the event in 2022 despite temperatures of up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. Since that vote in 2010, Qatar has been dogged by allegations that it secured the outcome through a series of secret deals. Organizers of the Qatar bid have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

Earlier this year, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said selecting Qatar was a mistake.

Is Qatar building air-conditioned venues?

Will they move the tournament to a season when the temperatures are not as high?

IS QATAR THE FOREMOST SUPPORTER OF THE ISLAMIC STATE’S SUNNI JIHAD?

In other Qatar news,
Qatar quits basketball over headscarf ban

If chosing [sic] Qatar as a World Cup finals venue was bad, Russia’s tournament in 2018 offers a recipe for disaster
Best way of halting Russia expansionism is not travel sanctions – it is the threat of stripping it of World Cup

The more we find out about them, the more delightful the hosts of the 2022 World Cup finals sound.

How endearing is the way they treat their workers – dying in their dozens in death traps masquerading as work places. How refreshing their approach to those who ask questions – at least two journalists have gone missing in Doha in the past six months after attempting to investigate the working conditions of those tasked with building World Cup stadiums. How enlightened is their foreign policy – Qatar is a sizeable financial sponsor of the Islamic State thugs as they go about their business of forcefully returning Syria and Iraq to the Stone Age. What fun it is going to be playing games with them. How relaxed and carefree. And that is before we even mention women’s and gay rights. Or the heat.

There is one thing, though, to be said in favour of Qatar. And it is not an insignificant virtue. At least it is not Russia.

Think Qatar’s losing the 2022 World Cup? Think again

Tenuously related:
Obama’s UN Speech

Blogging on Latin America will resume shortly.


In case you missed them,

September 24th, 2014

madmen_iconYesterday’s podcast in Rick Moran’s show, Cry Havoc! And let slip the dogs of war

This morning’s podcast with Silvio Canto, Jr., US-Latin America stories of the week

Today’s article at Da Tech Guy Blog, Pretty good news from Latin America: the Pacific Alliance

En español: Miley Cyrus en la Unidad de Quemados

September 24th, 2014

“¿Cuantas veces tengo que encuerarme para que sepan que ya soy toda una mujer?”

Mexico: La Tuta’s newest YouTube

September 24th, 2014

Knights templar chief Servando Gómez “La Tuta” (the teacher) has a new one,

Video shows Mexican drug lord paying journalists for ‘good press’

The video, which was published yesterday by Mexican news site MVS, shows two reporters from Mexico’s troubled Michoacan state appearing to accept money from one of the country’s most wanted drug lords, Servando Gomez, leader of the Knights Templar Cartel. The men then discuss a “communication strategy” to improve the cartel’s image and are heard asking for trucks and cameras.

The handoff occurs at the: 22:56 mark

An offer they really could not refuse.

Argentina: What do Pope Francis and George Soros have in common?

September 23rd, 2014

Answer: Cristina is praying to both of them in her fight to avoid paying at all costs.

Since Argentina’s demotion to “unclassified market” status due to stringent capital controls kicked it off the FTSE’s frontier equity index, Cristina’s playing footsie elsewhere.

Enter Pope Francis, George Soros, and Ban Ki-moon.

Pope Francis meets Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, at the Vatican, Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Tony Gentile)©AP

Pope Francis and Argentine president Cristina Fernandez met at the Vatican during the weekend

Argentina appeals to a higher authority in fight with creditors

In New York,

Cabinet chief Jorge Capitanich gave no details on what Fernandez and Soros would discuss. Local media reported Fernandez would be looking to shore up support for her unflinching stance against a small group of investors whose decade-long debt row with Argentina triggered July’s default.

Fernandez is in the United States ahead of the United Nations General Assembly, as relations between Buenos Aires and Washington sour over the role a U.S. court played in Argentina’s debt saga.

“Today’s international agenda begins with a meeting with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and also George Soros,” Capitanich told reporters.
. . .
Soros’ Quantum Partners hedge fund is one of four creditors that sued BNY Mellon in London last month, accusing the trustee agent of protecting its own interest by obeying the court.

I’m not sure what the hey does the Pope have to do with any of this, but you can do great shopping in Rome on a weekend trip.

While Cristina travels in style, the Argentinian government does not have a strategy to solve its domestic economic problems.

Venezuela: Don’t talk about the Chikungunya

September 23rd, 2014

A new turn on government-controlled healthcare:

Venezuela Seeks to Quell Fears of Disease Outbreak
The government is seeking the arrest of a doctor for saying a string of deaths in a Maracay hospital could point to a mosquito-borne disease

A string of deaths in a hospital here has sparked fears of a potent, mosquito-borne disease and led authorities to seek a doctor’s arrest for allegedly sowing panic, leaving residents wondering how to explain their symptoms.

Angel Sarmiento, president of the College of Doctors in Aragua state, told reporters on Sept. 11 that a virus or bacteria may have been responsible for the deaths of eight patients in quick succession at the Central Hospital of Maracay. A ninth patient died three days after Dr. Sarmiento’s comments.

Insisting there was no cause for general alarm, President Nicolás Maduro last week accused Dr. Sarmiento of “psychological terrorism.”

The confusion in Maracay over the deaths—and over who to believe on their cause—shows how difficult it has become to arrive at a rational approach to public health in Venezuela. Part of the problem, doctors here say, is that the silencing of independent media has squelched the flow of information.

“To dissent, to have a position different from the government, leads to a witch hunt,” Dr. Sarmiento said in a telephone interview on Friday. “I am not a terrorist. I am a doctor.” He said he was still in Venezuela but was in hiding because he worried he would face a politically motivated prosecution.

Much of the fear has been focused on Chikungunya, a viral disease transmitted by mosquito bites that has been present in Africa and Asia for decades but only recently spread to the Americas. Though there is no cure for the disease, its symptoms can be alleviated with medication. The disease has killed at least 113 people this year in the Caribbean region, according to the Pan American Health Organization, with the islands of Martinique and Guadaloupe hardest hit.

Two cents’ worth: bring back DDT.


The celebrity junket Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

September 22nd, 2014

LatinAmerI had another Capt. Louis Renault moment this week, provoked by Mia Farrow, of all people. The ex-Mrs Sinatra apparently received from PR firm MCSquared $180,000 for visiting Lago Agrio in Ecuador. Then Ecuador hired another PR firm, Ketchum (Putin’s American flack), to go after Paul M. Barrett for writing a book. Do read Barrett’s book Law of the Jungle, and Judge Kaplan’s 497-page decision, if you haven’t already.

ARGENTINA
Watch: man films attempted gunpoint robbery on GoPro
A tourist travelling to every country in the world captures the terrifying moment an alleged robber points a gun at him in Buenos Aires, Argentina

BOLIVIA
Bolivian President Evo Morales has a dream … to open a barbecue restaurant
Bolivian President Evo Morales is slated to win next year’s election to serve a third term until 2020 but he’s already thinking about life after retiring from politics.

I was hoping for a bakery,

BRAZIL
Brazil cardinal robbed of crucifix at gunpoint
Cardinal Dom Orani Tempesta, archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, held by three armed men as they steal his crucifix and ring

CHILE
Suspect in Chile Bombings Was on Parole

COLOMBIA
Colombia Tightens Borders to Keep Out Ebola

CUBA
It’s official: Raul Castro invited to Latrine Summit

ECUADOR
China and Ecuador Agree to Strengthen Military Ties

Where’s Preet? The unasked question in Chevron v. Donziger

IMMIGRATION
WATCH: Wait’ll You See What Obama’s DHS Boss Just Admitted About Terrorists At Our Border
DHS Secretary Johnson tried to argue that Republicans can be blamed…

JAMAICA
Jamaica on US drug list
Named among 22 major producing, transit countries by President Obama

MEXICO
Mexico Continues Airlift, Clean-Up After Hurricane Odile
State Authorities Report Three Deaths From Storm

NICARAGUA
She survived a plane crash. Now she’s revolutionizing health care in Nicaragua
After narrowly escaping plane’s wreckage, Vivian Pellas seeks to revolutionize medical care for other burn victims in the developing world.

PANAMA
Panama’s Supreme Court Confirms New Trial Against Noriega

PERU
Peru’s economy
Replacing the pilot
, as Alonso Segura replaced for his long-serving boss, Luis Miguel Castilla, on September 14th.

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico’s main barrier for Caribbean trade and exports is logistics

URUGUAY
Guardian puff piece on José Mujica: is this the world’s most radical president?
Uruguay’s José Mujica lives in a tiny house rather than the presidential palace, and gives away 90% of his salary. He’s legalised marijuana and gay marriage. But his greatest legacy is governing without giving up his revolutionary ideals

VENEZUELA
Venezuelan cartoonist ‘fired’ over healthcare satire
Rayma Suprani says she was axed after representing Chávez’s signature as a flatline heartbeat in protest over health system

Venezuela’s economy
Of oil and coconut water
Probably the world’s worst-managed economy

S&P Downgrade Of Venezuela’s Debt To Add To The Noise

Venezuela’s Criminal Gangs: Warriors of Cultural Revolution

Les fraudeurs

The ongoing Damage to the Venezuelan Economy

The week’s posts:
Venezuela: Beyond-the-grave nepotism

Venezuela: What hemorrhagic fever? UPDATED

Argentina: Cristina’s vultures

Venezuela: Celebrities’ ire

Ecuador: Celebrities for hire

En español: Guillermo Padrés en la Unidad de Quemados

Ecuador: If Correa ain’t happy . . .

Is ISIS at the border? UPDATED

Venezuela: What do El Puma & Ricardo Hausmann have in common?

Beethoven goes salsa

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
And now for something completely different

Why the game should stand tall, a review of When the Game Stands Tall


Haiti: Bill Clinton brags while the people suffer

September 22nd, 2014

Mary O’Grady looks at how Bill Clinton Spins His Haiti Intervention
Amid a probe of Aristide, the former president offers a new version of events.
(emphasis added)

Speaking after his wife addressed the Iowa crowd, Mr. Clinton explained his 1994 Haiti intervention: “The military dictator down there was putting tires around people’s necks and setting them afire, in an affectionate policy called necklacing,” he recalled satirically. “I was told that nobody gave a rip about Haiti.” But “we did it and no shot was fired. Nobody got hurt.”

That’s some tale. But as any Haitian knows, it was Mr. Aristide who championed Haitian “necklacing,” aka “Père Lebrun” after a domestic tire merchant. Governing a democracy with a national assembly was more difficult than he had anticipated and he urged his followers to give Père Lebrun to his opponents, as an Oct. 1993 Congressional Research Service report documented.

On Sept. 29, 1991, the military stepped in and kicked him out. It employed its own paramilitary, which also practiced repression—but guns, not necklacing, were its weapon of choice.

Mr. Aristide fled to Washington, where President George H.W. Bush released Haiti’s international telephone and airline revenues to him as the government-in-exile. There was never any accounting for those funds but they reportedly topped $50 million. Mr. Aristide lived the high life in Georgetown and mounted an aggressive and costly lobbying campaign for U.S. military intervention to restore his presidency.

Once Mr. Clinton put Mr. Aristide back in the palace in Port-au-Prince, his supporters picked up where they had left off. Opponents were hacked with machetes, set on fire and gunned down. Money disappeared.

The Clinton administration did nothing to contain these abuses. Instead, a company called Fusion, run by Democrats—including Joseph P. Kennedy II, Mack McLarty, who had been Clinton White House chief of staff, and Marvin Rosen, a former finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee—went into the long-distance telephone business with Haiti Teleco, the government-owned monopoly.

As long as the spin holds, Hillary will ask, “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

Let’s hope the American public doesn’t put the Clintons back in the White House.

Related:
The Hillary Letters
Hillary Clinton, Saul Alinsky correspondence revealed

What does the Hillary-Alinksy letter reveal?

Movies: Schultze, and Caviezel as the Count of Monte Cristo

September 21st, 2014


The Showtime Family cable channel is playing Schultze gets the blues, a delightful movie I reviewed nearly nine years ago>. Here’s my review,

Minimalism comes to life in Schultze gets the blues.

The story starts when Schultze and his two friends Manfred and Jürgen are pushed into early retirement from the salt mines and receive salt lamps as retirement gifts. Schultze spends his retirement days playing the polka on his accordion, gardening (and polishing his garden gnomes), watching his friends fight over chess, riding his bicycle to get around, visiting his mother at the nursing home, and enjoying a beer or two. At the nursing home he meets whiskey-drinking Frau Lorant, who wants him to take her to the casino.

Then he listens to a Zydeco tune on the radio and his life changes completely.

Schultze’s played by Horst Krause, who bears more than a passing resemblance to Curly Howard, if Curly wore eyeglasses and a fedora, and had a deep voice. Not that Shultze is a man of many words.

Director Michael Schorr’s touch is light, slowand I mean slow –, and makes for a very very funny movie. Schultze is a lucky everyman (I was told once that Schultze is a way to refer to a “generic German” guy, and probably not very complimentary, but have never wanted to find out on my own) who manages to break away from his everyday rutine, and, as Amazon reviewer Donald Liebenson said, “While Schultze’s journey comes to a downbeat conclusion, the film manages to end on a lovely grace note”. That note will make you laugh, too.

———————————

I recently watched the 2002 version of The Count of Monte Cristo through Amazon Instant Video.

I read Alexandre Dumas Sr.’s novels and all of Arthur Conan Doyle’s books at the age girls read Nancy Drew’s mysteries (which never really caught my imagination), and have, over the years, watched many of the film and TV interpretations of their works. I’ve watched the 1934 Robert Donat, the 1975 Richard Chamberlain, and the 1999 Gerard Depardieu in the title role as the Count of Monte Cristo (or, as Prince would put it, the sailor formerly known as Edmond Dantes). All were different and good (as long as you suspend belief enough to think 13 years at the Chateau D’If could not decrease Depardieu’s avoirdupois), so Jim Caviezel’s Dantes would complete the set.

I loved the enjoyable, fresh, luscious production, and the very moving performances by Caviezel and Richard Harris. Don’t miss the Count’s grand entrance,