Advertisements

Nicolás Maduro es Encantador y Persuasivo! Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro Threatens to Jail Opponents

venz

Caracas (AFP) – Venezuela‘s President Nicolas Maduro threatened on Friday to jail his political opponents if they follow through on their vow of launching a legislative trial to remove him from power.

Shrugging off a partially-observed strike which the opposition called to raise pressure on him, the socialist president went on the counterattack.

Maduro sharpened the tone in a volatile political and economic crisis that has sparked food shortages and riots in the South American oil producer.

“If they launch a supposed political trial, which is not in our constitution, the state prosecution service must bring legal action in the courts and put in jail anyone who violates the constitution, even if they are members of Congress,” Maduro said in a speech Friday.

Friday’s strike was called after authorities blocked a bid by the center right-dominated MUD coalition to hold a referendum on removing Maduro from power.

After that move, the crisis heated up this week. Opposition lawmakers vowed to put Maduro on trial and exchanged accusations of coup-mongering with the mustachioed president.

Friday’s strike seemed to be only partially observed.

In the capital Caracas and cities such as Maracaibo and San Cristobal, the streets were quieter than normal but public transport was running and banks and some schools opened as usual.

Clashes broke out in recent days between riot police and pro- and anti-government protesters around the country.

Maduro earlier threatened to break the strike by sending the army to take over firms that took part in it.

The center-right coalition’s latest move to pressure the unpopular leftist leader came after anti-government protests drew hundreds of thousands of people on Wednesday.

Maduro vowed to respond forcefully. Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Socialist Utopia: Venezuela’s Food Shortages Trigger Long Lines, Hunger and Looting

Venezuela-long-line

Violent clashes flare in pockets of the country as citizens wait for hours for basics, such as milk and rice.

LA SIBUCARA, Venezuela— Maolis Castro and Kejal Vyas report: Hours after they looted and set fire to a National Guard command post in this sun-baked corner of Venezuela earlier this month, a mob infuriated by worsening food shortages rammed trucks into the smoldering edifice, reducing it mostly to rubble.

“In past years, when oil prices were high, Venezuela’s leftist government flooded markets with subsidized goods ranging from cooking oil to diapers. It gave citizens in border towns like La Sibucara not only access to cheap supplies, but also a source of income as many people trafficked products—including nearly free gasoline—to neighboring Colombia, drawing handsome profits.”

The incident was just one of numerous violent clashes that have flared in pockets around the country in recent weeks as Venezuelans wait for hours in long supermarket lines for basics like milk and rice. Shortages have made hunger a palpable concern for many Wayuu Indians who live here at the northern tip of Venezuela’s 1,300-mile border with Colombia.

Nat-guard-wsj

“We are going very hungry here and the children are suffering a lot.”

—María Palma, 55, of La Sibucara

The soldiers had been deployed to stem rampant food smuggling and price speculation, which President Nicolás Maduro blames for triple-digit inflation and scarcity. But after they seize contraband goods, the troops themselves often become targets of increasingly desperate people.

“Food-supply problems in Venezuela underscore the increasingly precarious situation for Mr. Maduro’s socialist government, which according to the latest poll by Datanálisis is preferred by less than 20% of voters ahead of Dec. 6 parliamentary elections.”

“What’s certain is that we are going very hungry here and the children are suffering a lot,” said María Palma, a 55-year-old grandmother who on a recent blistering hot day had been standing in line at the grocery store since 3 a.m. before walking away empty-handed at midday.

National-Guard-WSJ

“If people aren’t outside protesting, they’re outside standing in line for goods.”

—Marco Ponce, head of the Venezuela Observatory of Social Conflict

In a national survey, the pollster Consultores 21 found 30% of Venezuelans eating two or fewer meals a day during the second quarter of this year, up from 20% in the first quarter. Around 70% of people in the study also said they had stopped buying some basic food item because it had become unavailable or too expensive.

gettyimages-sanders

An authentic socialist candidate soars in popularity in the U.S., the citizens of Venezuela are feeling the Bern

“They’re committing treason against our country, taking food and crossing the border.”

—National Guard Gen. Manuel Graterol

Food-supply problems in Venezuela underscore the increasingly precarious situation for Mr. Maduro’s socialist government, which according to the latest poll by Datanálisis is preferred by less than 20% of voters ahead of Dec. 6 parliamentary elections. The critical situation threatens to plunge South America’s largest oil exporter into a wave of civil unrest reminiscent of last year’s nationwide demonstrations seeking Mr. Maduro’s ouster.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

“It’s a national crisis,” said Marco Ponce, head of the Venezuela Observatory of Social Conflict, noting that unlike the political protests of last year, residents are now taking to the streets demanding social rights. Read the rest of this entry »


Do Other Countries Have Donald Trumps?

trump-finger

Of Course They Do

Adam Taylor writes:  As America stumbles its way through the early stages of Donald Trump’s unlikely and uncomfortable bid for the presidency, some here are wondering what exactly Trump says about the nation.

“Do other national cultures create men like Donald Trump?” Atlantic writer Jeffrey Goldberg asked on Twitter. “Asking for the United States.”

Goldberg probably asked that question in jest, but there may be real concern behind it. To many, Trump’s political career seems to combine three ugly undercurrents of US politics: the outsize role of money, the never-ending campaign season, and America’s embrace of reactionary celebrity figures.

So do other countries really have their own Donald Trumps? Well, yes, of course they do. When Goldberg asked his question, there was a flood of responses from foreign readers, who pointed to their own rich and rude political figures. Some comparisons don’t quite seem fair (you may dislike Dominique Strauss-Kahn or Nigel Farage, but their faults and virtues are different from Trump’s), many, many other suggestions did seem apt.

Trump is a product of American society, but he’s not unique. His mixture of murky wealth, extreme arrogance and vulgar chauvinism can be found all over the world, albeit with local spins. Here are just a handful of the world’s other Donald Trumps.

Silvio Berlusconi

Silvio Berlusconi. Photo: Remo Casilli

Silvio Berlusconi. Photo: Remo Casilli

One of the best-known examples of a foreign Trump might be Silvio Berlusconi, the business magnate who was Italy’s prime minister for about nine years in total. Berlusconi, like Trump, espoused an entrepreneurial spirit but soon became better known for his misdemeanours and odd behaviour: One time, he hid behind a monument and jumped out to scare German leader Angela Merkel, shouting, “Coo-coo” (“She enjoyed it,” Berlusconi later said). Like Trump, he even has an intriguing hairstyle….(read more)

Clive Palmer

Silvio Berlusconi. Photo: Remo Casilli

Silvio Berlusconi. Photo: Remo Casilli

Clive Palmer, an Australian billionaire, certainly creates Trump-size headlines. He has plans to construct a replica of the Titanic. He wants to open his own “Jurassic Park.” He has accused his political opponents of being funded by the CIA. He has called Chinese officials “mongrels” (and later apologised).

The similarities between the two go beyond headlines and money, however….(read more)

Chen Guangbiao

Chinese billionaire Chen Guangbiao. Photo:LUCAS JACKSON

Chinese billionaire Chen Guangbiao. Photo: LUCAS JACKSON

China is a country full of very rich people, and often these very rich people have deep political ambitions. However, it’s possible that Chen Guangbiao is the only one who can match Trump for sheer arrogance.

There are numerous examples of how big Chen’s ego is, including his audacious and doomed attempt to buy The New York Times and his insistence on singing at media events. Perhaps the best example of Chen’s ego, however, is a business card he handed to me in 2013….(read more)

Vladimir Zhirinovsky

Vladimir Zhirinovsky. Photo:AP

Vladimir Zhirinovsky. Photo:AP

While Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the loud-mouthed Russian politician who founded the Liberal Democratic Party in 1990, may lack the business credentials of Trump (his background is in the military), he has a habit of making statements that suggest a kinship with the American businessman.

For example, he suggests arming every single person in Russia so they can kill birds….(read more)

Tomio Okamura

okamura_tomio1

Tomio Okamura, photo: Filip Jandourek

In many parts of Central and Eastern Europe, business success and political populism mingle, creating fertile grounds for local variants of Trumps. Read the rest of this entry »


Camille Paglia: What a Woman President Should Be Like

Foto: TomCabral/ SantoLima Data: 13-11-2010 Ass: Fliporto 2010 em Olinda - PE. Na foto Camille Paglia.

“Most of the American electorate has probably been ready for a woman president for some time. But that woman must have the right array of qualities and ideally have risen to prominence through her own talents and not (like Hillary Clinton or Argentina’s President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner) through her marriage to a powerful man.”

Camille Paglia writes: Why has the U.S., the cradle of modern democracy, never had a woman president?

Incredulous young feminists, watching female heads of state multiply from Brazil and Norway to Namibia and Bangladesh, denounce this glaring omission as blatant sexism. But there are systemic factors, arising from the Constitution, popular tradition, and our electoral process, that have inhibited American women from attaining the highest office in the land.

The U.S. president is not just chief executive but commander-in-chief of the armed forces, an anomaly that requires manifest personal authority, particularly during periods of global instability. Women politicians, paglia-faceroutinely focused on social welfare needs, must demonstrate greater involvement with international and military affairs.

“The protracted and ruthlessly gladiatorial U.S. electoral process drives talented women politicians away from the fray. What has kept women from winning the White House is not simple sexism but their own reluctance to subject themselves to the harsh scrutiny and ritual abuse of the presidential sweepstakes.”

Second, the president has a ceremonial function, like that of the British royal family, in symbolically representing the history and prestige of the nation. Hence voters subliminally look for gravitas, an ancient term describing the laconic dignity of Roman senators. The president must project steadiness, sober reserve, and deliberative judgment. Many women, who tend to talk faster and smile more than men, have trouble with gravitas as performance art.paglia-book

[Order Paglia’s book  “Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars” from Amazon]

Third, the complex, coast-to-coast primary system in the U.S. forces presidential candidates into well over a year of brutal competition for funding and grass-roots support. Their lives are usurped by family-disrupting travel, stroking of rich donors, and tutelage by professional consultants and p.r. flacks. This exhausting, venal marathon requires enormous physical stamina and perhaps ethical desensitization to survive it.

[Read the full text here, at TIME]

In contrast, many heads of state elsewhere ascend through their internal party structure. They are automatically elevated to prime minister when their party wins a national election. This parliamentary system of government has been far more favorable for the steady rise of women to the top. Read the rest of this entry »


Dozens of Headless Mutilated Reptiles Found Dumped in Washington Woods

Unknown-5

 – TOUTLE, Wash. — Dozens of headless and mutilated alligators, lizards and snakes were found dumped in the woods in ToutleKPTV reports.

“It feels evil. It feels like something evil happened.”

The Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office is now involved in this investigation. The dumping happened around Shaylee Anttila’s stomping grounds.

Unknown-3

“I like adventuring and exploring and finding new roads and trails,” she said.

On a dirt road path near her home that Anttila has walked hundreds of times, she made a disturbing discovery.

“It feels evil. It feels like something evil happened,” Anttila said.

Unknown-1

Anttila says that during hunting season, people have dumped animals and garbage in the woods near her property, but she’s never seen anything quite like this.

“Somebody brought them here and did something terrible to them.”

“My dogs ran right through here, and I caught them right about the tip of the snake skin,” she said.

It was the smell that hit her first.

Unknown-4

“It smells awful, like dead, like lots of dead,” Anttila remembered.

Then she saw the carnage.

“Most of it was guts. There was a big snakeskin, huge, maybe stretched out 10 feet long – big, huge, looked like a boa constrictor, I would say,” Anttila said.

She found several dozens of dead snakes, most gutted and skinned. She then looked deeper into the woods.

Unknown-2

“You could see lizards from the road, big lizards about the length of my arm,” she said.

About five lizards and five alligators from our count, most of them without their heads, some with their guts hanging out.

“Somebody brought them here and did something terrible to them,” Anttila said. Read the rest of this entry »


Oldest Known Globe Depicting the Americas, Fashioned from Ostrich Eggs, 1504

globe-1504

Oldest known globe depicting the Americas, made on two lower halves of ostrich eggs, 1504


Government Tells Agents to ID Which Immigrants Not to Deport

Featured Image -- 59789


GLOBAL PANIC OF 2014 REACHES CHINA: Freakishly Large, Bizzare Flying Insect Found in Sichuan Province, Experts Say

giant-bug-china-gallery

World’s largest flying aquatic insect, with huge, nightmarish pincers, has been discovered in China’s Sichuan province

Large enough to cover the face of a human adult, this scary-looking insect is also known among entomologists as an indicator of good water quality.

(CNN) – According to the Insect Museum of West China, local villagers in the outskirts of Chengdu handed over “weird insects that resemble giant dragonflies with long teeth” earlier this month.

barack_obama-panic

“Let me be clear. This species was not found in our hemisphere. It was found over there, in China.”

Several of these odd critters were examined by the museum and found to be unusually large specimens of the giant dobsonfly, which is native to China and Vietnam.

 "I think the media is overreacting. I can kick that bug's ass"

“I think the media is overreacting. I can kick that bug’s ass”

The largest one measured 21 centimeters (8.27 inches) when its wings were open, according to the museum, busting the original record for largest aquatic insect held by a South American helicopter damselfly, which had a wingspan of 19.1 centimeters (7.5 inches). Read the rest of this entry »


Meet Venezuela’s Useful Idiots

Photo by Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

Photo by Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

Defenders of the Venezuelan regime would never allow the White House to arrest opposition leaders and shut down unfriendly media outlets. So why the double standard?

Dictatorship and Double Standard

Michael Moynihan writes:  At the southernmost point of Central Park, on a small strip of sidewalk abutting 59th Street, hundreds of Venezuelans swarmed a statue of Simon Bolivar, the Caracas-born liberator of South America and a figure now most commonly associated with the bolivarian revolution of Hugo Chavez and his rechristenedBolivarian Republic of Venezuela. But it’s an association that when mentioned inthis crowd produces furrowed brows and narrowed eyes, quickly followed by a rapid-fire recapitulation of Chavez’s many crimes.

“Duarte was merely cataloging the massive shortages of basic goods (rice, milk, toilet paper) that have crippled Venezuela in recent years, not engaging in a bourgeois, fascist bakeoff.”

The necessary symbolism of the meeting point trumped practicality: the crowd quickly swelled, spreading like an inkblot from the small patch surrounding Bolivar into a lane of midtown Manhattan traffic. They banged pots. They shouted slogans about the Cubanization of their patria, from which many are exiled. They carried signs detailing spiraling crime rates (23,000 murders last year), many plastered with grim photos of those abused and murdered, and others with mordant slogans (“In Venezuela everything is scarce, except bullets”).

We are far from the bloody streets of Caracas; these protesters are ringed not by heavily armed and body-armoured National Guardsman, but are politely attended to by a handful of paunchy and bored New York City cops. There was no threat of violence here–with the single exception of a slobbering, toothless, and possibly blotto Spanish speaker who, while ambling past the crowd, shouted something that drew the ire–and very nearly the flying fists–of a man with a large Venezuelan flag tied around his neck–the anti-Chavez superhero.

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Oliver Stone Says Protesters in Venezuela are ‘Sore Losers’

Asked for his thoughts on the recent protests, Oliver Stone described the students as “sore losers.”

…Chavez successor, Nicolas Maduro, won a narrow election in 2013. But this came after former President Hugo Chavez announced he would alter the Constitution so he could be President for life and then announced he would rule by decree without any input from legislators…

Read the rest of this entry »


Hong Kong Customs Nets Record Cocaine Haul, Seizing 60 Kilograms of the Drug

Hong Kong customs seized a record haul of cocaine at its international airport this week, foiling two passengers who tried to smuggle 58 million Hong Kong dollars (US$7.5 million) worth of the drug in their luggage.

One 35-year-old man arrived Tuesday from São Paulo, Brazil, after transiting in Beijing with 48 kilograms (105 pounds) of cocaine wrapped in quilts inside his suitcases, the largest amount ever seized from an individual passenger in the city’s history. A 22-year-old female traveler on the same flight was also discovered to be carrying 12 kilograms of cocaine inside false compartments of four backpacks stowed in her suitcase. They two were arrested and charged with drug trafficking.

Not including Tuesday’s cases, customs officers have seized more than HK$50 million worth of cocaine at the airport this year, found sewn into jacket linings or stuffed into shopping bags and laptop cases. On Monday, airport customs officers found about HK$1.92 million worth of the drug inside layers of silicone rubber, which were in turn tucked inside handbags, two cushions and a wall map shipped by air mail from Uruguay.

Read the rest of this entry »


10 of Americas Most Dangerous Roads

The United States may not have anything like Bolivia’s “death road,” but for highway deaths per capita, the World Health Organization ranks the U.S. as much more dangerous than most northern European countries at 11 highway deaths per 100,000 population per year—three times the death rate of the U.K. These are some of our deadliest stretches of pavement.

BY PHIL BERG

I-10 in Arizona

Although Interstate 10 runs the entire width of the U.S., the 150-mile stretch from Phoenix to the California border is particularly dangerous, with this section through lightly populated desert seeing up to 85 deaths in a single year, according to the website i10Accidents.com. The entire state death toll in Arizona is only about 700 for all roads in an average year.

MORE via 10 of Americas Most Dangerous Roads.


Hugo Chavez’s legacy: How his economically disastrous, politically effective ideology will haunt the country he ruined.

Even before Hugo Chávez died, he had become a ghost. A strange, unfamiliar quiet had fallen on Venezuela for weeks as people waited to hear the voice of the president who had been part of their daily lives for nearly 14 years. That’s because Chávez spoke to Venezuelans constantly. In his first 11 years in office, he addressed the nation, on average, every two days. His remarks, usually improvised, typically ran more than four hours. If you add up these talks, which all radio and television stations were required to broadcast, they would amount to 54 full days.

And then there was silence. Venezuelans last heard their president on Dec. 8 when he announced that he was returning to Havana for his fourth operation to treat a recurring bout of cancer. He wouldn’t return to Venezuela until Feb. 18, slipping into a military hospital in Caracas in the middle of the night. (His advisers later admitted that his ability to speak had been impaired by a tracheal tube that had been inserted to assist his breathing.) Chávez had made the trip home, but he never truly returned. He was present but could not be seen. The eerie quiet was only broken with the announcement, delivered by Vice President Nicolás Maduro late Tuesday, that the 58-year-old president was dead.

What has Chávez bequeathed his fellow Venezuelans? The hard facts are unmistakable: The oil-rich South American country is in shambles. It has one of the world’s highest rates of inflation, largest fiscal deficits, and fastest growing debts. Despite a boom in oil prices, the country’s infrastructure is in disrepair—power outages and rolling blackouts are common—and it is more dependent on crude exports than when Chávez arrived. Venezuela is the only member of OPEC that suffers from shortages of staples such as flour, milk, and sugar. Crime and violence skyrocketed during Chávez’s years. On an average weekend, more people are killed in Caracas than in Baghdad and Kabul combined. (In 2009, there were 19,133 murders in Venezuela, more than four times the number of a decade earlier.) When the grisly statistics failed to improve, the Venezuelan government simply stopped publishing the figures…

More — from Slate Magazine

(via Instapundit)