Recommended reading for Easter: The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes

March 20th, 2015

Good literature is when it goes beyond the printed word to exalt the better parts of our human souls. The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes is great literature.

Read my review at Da Tech Guy Blog.



Today’s must-read: What Nisman Said About Iran UPDATED

March 19th, 2015

Read Richard Horowitz’s article at World Policy Institute, What Nisman Said About Iran in full.

It starts with Nismam‘s own words,

“It can be said with certainty that the highest-echelon Iranian government officials were directly responsible for the AMIA attack . . .We will show that said officials made the decision to carry out the attack, defined the manner in which it was to be implemented, and instructed the terrorist organization Hezbollah to carry out the operation in its capacity as a mere instrument, in this case, of the will of the Teheran government . . We will also show that for Iran’s leaders, there was nothing unusual or exceptional about the realization of an attack of this nature. To the contrary: an analysis of the information that has been gathered in this case shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that the realization of acts of terrorism abroad was not the outgrowth of an unusual foreign policy instrument, but was instead based on the principles of the Iranian revolution of February 1979, the ultimate goal of these principles being to propagate Iran’s fundamentalist view of Islam throughout the world.”

The Nisman Report (2006)

Related:
‘If Argentina wants our support we will give it’
Israeli Agriculture minister tells the [Buenos Aires] Herald Iran is the main sponsor of international terrorist attacks

And, may I remind you? Iran no longer on Terror Threat List.

UPDATE:
An excellent resource on Nisman and his investigation: AlbertoNisman.org



Venezuela: Was Iran behind the colectivos?

March 19th, 2015

From the [pdf file] WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF
JOSEPH M. HUMIRE
CO-AUTHOR
IRAN’S STRATEGIC PENETRATION OF LATIN AMERICA
BEFORE THE
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
SUBCOMMITTEE ON THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE (WHEM)
SUBCOMMITTEE ON THE MIDDLE EAST & NORTH AFRICA (MENA)
HEARING ON
“IRAN AND HEZBOLLAH IN THE WESTERN
HEMISPHERE”


To most, the Venezuelan government’s ability to brutally stifle student protests, is a capacity developed by the Cuban regime whose intelligence and military direct many aspects of Venezuela’s national security apparatus. While mostly true, this excludes another vital player that has enhanced Venezuela’s foreign internal defense, the Iranian paramilitary force known as the Basij.

In April 2009, the current Iranian commander of the Basij paramilitary force, Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi, accompanied then-Iranian Defense Minister Gen. Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar on a high-level visit to Caracas at the invitation of then-Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his foreign minister (now President) Nicolas Maduro. Gen. Naqdi’s role in these high-level meetings was to serve as an advisor to Venezuela’s Ministries of Defense and Interior to aid in training their civilian militias, known as the infamous colectivos’. Years later, the results of this advisory support are evident on the streets of Venezuela as the colectivos’ tactics are a step-up in its previous capabilities, to include new clandestine communication and infiltration/espionage techniques.

Gen. Naqdi, who previously served as the Iranian Police Force’s counterintelligence chief, has a long list of human rights violations dating back to the 1999 student protests in Iran.

Venezuela: Keeping the money in Andorra wasn’t such a good idea

March 18th, 2015

Andorra?

Yes, Andorra, the money laundering center.

The story is like something out of Chavistas en el imperio, only that the money was stashed in Europe and not the U.S.:
Andorra: CEO of bank accused by US of money laundering is arrested, will appear in court

The Treasury Department said BPA managers helped launder money, including $2 billion allegedly siphoned from the Venezuelan state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA.

It also said one unnamed high-level BPA manager accepted “exorbitant commissions” to develop shell companies that helped launder the Venezuelan company’s money.

Related:
How Russian, Chinese gangs use a tiny European state to wash ‘dirty’ cash

En español: Carmen Aristegui y Joaquin Vargas en la UdQ

March 18th, 2015

Related:
Mexican Journalist Fired by Radio Station
A Mexican radio station has fired journalist Carmen Aristegui, whose investigative team broke an alleged conflict of interest story involving the acquisition of a mansion by the wife of the country’s president.

Oh, for the days when silence was golden!

March 18th, 2015

Hearing this,

and reading about Starbuck’s #RaceTogether scheme, whereby baristas will impose upon you a script talk to you about race, made me yearn for the days when silence was golden.

Iran no longer on Terror Threat List. Many in LatAm will be happy.

March 17th, 2015

This week’s “smart diplomacy” news:
U.S. Omits Iran and Hezbollah From Terror Threat List

An annual security assessment presented to the U.S. Senate by James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, has excluded Iran and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah from its list of terror threats to U.S. interests, despite both being consistently included as threats in previous years.
. . .
In a previous report from January 2014, Clapper included Iran and Hezbollah in the ‘Terrorism’ section, writing that both “continue to directly threaten the interests of U.S. allies. Hizballah [sic] has increased its global terrorist activity in recent years to a level that we have not seen since the 1990s”. Iran was also given its own sub-heading in the ‘Terrorism’ section of such assessments in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Any evidence that Iran and Hezbollah have changed their ways?

No; instead,

“I think that we are looking at a quid pro quo, where Iran helps us with counter-terrorism and we facilitate their nuclear ambitions and cut down on our labelling of them as terrorists,” says [professor of political science at Northeastern University and member at the Council of Foreign Relations Max] Abrahms.

In the wake of Alberto Nisman‘s death, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect some smiling faces in Argentina. As you may recall, a congressional committee had invited him to testify [in 2013] about Iran’s spy network in Latin America and its alleged role in a plot to bomb John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.

Last December, the government fired a powerful spy chief who was Nisman’s lead investigator. The prosecutor retaliated with a bombshell: He accused the president, her foreign minister and other political figures of conspiring to absolve the accused Iranians in exchange for commercial deals. Iranian diplomat Mohsen Rabbani, a top suspect in the 1994 attack, participated in secret talks, according to Nisman’s criminal complaint.

Argentine spies “negotiated with Mohsen Rabbani,” an indignant Nisman said in a television interview on Jan. 14. “Not just with the state that protects the terrorists, but also with the terrorists.”

The Argentine government denied his allegations.

Indeed, back in 2006,

Nisman charged senior Iranian officials and leaders of the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah with plotting the AMIA attack

Some others at the Tri-border area will be happy.

Let’s not forget Venezuela, which for years has been helping Iran dodge UN sanctions and use Venezuelan aircraft to ship missile parts to Syria. The monthly flight allegedly

flew from Caracas carrying cocaine to be distributed to Hezbollah in Damascus and sold. The plane then went to Tehran carrying Venezuelan passports and other documents that helped Iranian terrorists travel around the world undetected.

Of course, the regime in Cuba, where Hezbollah has established a center of operations in Cuba in order to expand its terrorist activity and facilitate an attack on an Israeli target in South America, is already happy.

Related:
The Terror-Crime Nexus

Sing it!

Today I play the WSV for Vox’s chili peppers

March 17th, 2015

The World’s Smallest Violin plays for Vox:

The Vox people are bemoaning this:

Why?

Because The Economist’s chili pepper cover gets Hispanic Americans all wrong (h/t: Joshua Treviño)

This week’s issue of the Economist reduces the vast diversity of Hispanic Americans to a single fruit: chili peppers.

The administration’s flagrant violations of the Constitution, the push to favor illegal aliens over anyone who’s a legal immigrant (I can go on all day) don’t fire up Vox’s belly, but chili peppers do.

To which I say, “suck it up, buttercup.”

(h/t: Joshua Treviño)

Venezuela: El Mundo finally catches up on Derwick

March 16th, 2015

Venezuela blogger Alek Boyd has been investigating Derwick Associates’ connection to Venezuelan officials’ money laundering for years. Today Spain’s El Mundo’s front-page story catches up as The world is shrinking for Derwick Associates

One of Spain’s newspapers of record, El Mundo, published in its front page today about corrupt officials from Venezuela using the subsidiary of a little bank in Andorra to launder billions of dollars. The news may come as a surprise to some. Readers of this and other blogs of mine will, I hope, share a feeling of vindication with me today, for as extraordinary as El Mundo’s decision to name names is, we have known this for a while. In fact, I alerted Spain’s money laundering authorities (SEPBLAC) about it in April 2012.

Read the whole thing.

Brazil: Will the protest matter?

March 16th, 2015

Anti-Rousseff protests draw 1.5 million across Brazil

About 1.5 million protesters hit the streets across Brazil on Sunday in a major show of anger against leftist President Dilma Rousseff, who faces crises from a faltering economy to a massive corruption scandal at state oil giant Petrobras.

Many called for the impeachment of Rousseff, less than six months after she was narrowly returned to power in the most bitterly fought presidential race since the end of a military dictatorship in 1985.

The biggest demonstration took place in Sao Paulo, where a million people rallied — according to police estimates — many in the distinctive yellow and green of Brazil’s national football team. The city — South America’s biggest, and Brazil’s business and industrial hub — is a stronghold of opposition to Rousseff.

Peaceful demonstrations also took place in 83 cities and towns around the country, including major protests in the capital Brasilia and in Rio de Janeiro.

Watch Tens of Thousands Demand Brazil President Rousseff’s ImpeachmentThe Guardian, of course, refers to them as “Rightwing demonstrations,” since demanding transparency and an end to corruption is clearly not a leftie “thing,” and Dilma is definitely a leftie.

Indeed,

The latest protests coincide with the 30th anniversary of the year in which Brazil’s military dictatorship ended and democracy was restored. In recent days, Brazilians have debated whether the demonstrations would mark a milestone for democratic expression and free speech or, conversely, signal the country’s unwillingness to obey the verdict of the ballot box when times turn tough.

Will the protests make a difference? Only if the people of Brazil are deteermined to strengthen the institutions that guarantee transparency and the rule of law.

Until then, no.