Friday, December 19, 2008

Rick Warren At Obama Inaguration: Guess Who's Also Mad

Obama's choice of Pastor Rick Warren to lead inovocation has drawn a lot of fire from gay rights groups and liberal democrats.

Looks like a good number of religious conservatives are angry too!

In an interesting twist, plenty of conservatives are mad, not at Obama for inviting Warren, but at Warren for accepting the invitation.

David Brody, a correspondent for TV preacher Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network, reported today that he's been "flooded with emails and most of them absolutely rip Pastor Warren for doing this."

Brody doesn't seem to share their concerns -- he asks, "Why can't a pro-life pastor pray for a pro-choice candidate?" -- but he republished a variety of the angry emails. This one stood out:

"Unless Rick Warren has changed, he is very disappointing in the pro-life cause. Just ask pro-life leaders their opinion. He doesn't like to deal with it at his church. It just seems funny that he is known as 'pro-life' when he largely ignores the subject and teaches others to do the same. I fear God for these 'men of God'. We have lost 50 million babies, and most won't say a word. Reminds me of Nazi Germany or our slavery days. Very few spoke out. It was more comfortable to keep quiet."


Given the disconnect b/w some major media and parts of the evangelical community, this controversy might have started at the same time as the gay rights groups.

Its the A word...

So Warren is not only wrong for delivering the invocation for a pro-choice president, Warren is weak on the abortion issue to begin with.

Given this new wrinkle, a cynical-campaign-PR-spinmaster would try to get a lot of ink on this twist to the story. Puts brakes on the well publicized backlash from some Obama supporters. Warren is seen as well-respected religious leaders caught between extremes, Obama looks like roses to moderates

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Very Cool Video

Patrick Depallier in Ken Tyrrells unique six wheel Tyrrell P-34 doing a lap at Monaco.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Now For Some Weirdness

The Alternate History Theme Park Where Dinosaurs Fought in the Civil War comments needed...

Blago Gets Busted! Bigtime...

talk about blatant influence-peddling, bullying critical media, general corruption, ego-centered paranoia!

No its not Chavez, or for that matter business-as-usual politics of many LA countries regardless of ideology.

Its the wacky reign of Gov. Rod Blagojevich in Illinois busted for trying to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat, shaking down the Chicago Tribune, shaking down business and individuals for contributions among other shenanigans. The federal indictment details all this fun, which has shocked even cynical Chicagoans used to outrageous behavior from politicians. Count Blagola is in for it....

Some wags have already said that US Attorney Fitzgerald should be appointed to the Senate - leaving Illinois polls in peace.

EDIT: For anyone not familiar with the Loop area in Chicago, the US District Court in the Dirksen Center where the governor was dragged in, is directly across the street from where the transition is being run...Actually they are 2 of the 3 buildings in the complex known as the Federal Central , designed by Mies Van Der Rohe.
It is this proximity that explains why the national media covered the Courthouse action so quickly, and ran back to get quotes from the President-elect. And the US Attorneys office and detention areas are also there.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Latin American Finance Ministers - Bolivia and Venezuela get trashed

Latin American business magazine America Economia has a recent special rating Latin American finance ministers, particularly how well prepared they are to deal with the current worldwide financial crisis. 140 prominent professional economists were surveyed, asking them to rate the finance ministers performance based on four criteria: macroeconomic stability; pro-competetivenes/pro-growth strategies; leadership within the government as a whole; and projecting confidence to citizens, the business community and investors.

Rated highest were Chile's minister Andrés Velasco, followed by Mexico's Agustín Carstens, Peru's Luis Valdivieso, and Brazil's Guido Mantega. Among individual categories, Guatemala's minister is rated very high (#3) in the leadership category - which focuses on how well the minister leads "in the economic plans of the government" as a whole, and how he is able to work with the "demands of his colleagues" i.e. the ministers of labor, housing, education, health.

Biggest Losers

Bolivia's El Nuevo Dia (reprinted in Petroleumworld) acidly notes that Bolivia's Luis Arce is ranked at the tail end of the survey alongside colleagues from Venezuela, Ecuador, and Argentina. Coinciding with the countries worst prepared to deal with the current crisis.

Bolivia would probably be rated worse if it weren't for the countries reserves and recent macroeconomic stability. Most Bolivian experts will quickly point out that those are "in spite of Evo", rather than because of Evo. Previous governments fiscal policy choices and macroeconomic policies bear a lot of credit. Gas revenues come largely from investment that Evo has chased away. The pattern continues with Bolivias exports and trade policy, which face an uncertain future due to the Morales government bungling of Andean trade preferences and demoralizing of the export sector. With this kind of incompetence and ideological idiocity from the top, it is hard to see how poor Mr. Arce would make the grade.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

President-Elect.... Picking Strong....

From The Economist

. He has embraced his former nemesis by making Hillary Clinton secretary of state. He has outraged the left by keeping Robert Gates at the Pentagon and making James Jones, a former NATO supreme commander who campaigned for John McCain, his national security adviser. He has reassured the markets by putting Tim Geithner in the Treasury and appointing Larry Summers as his White House economics guru. And he has made history by appointing Eric Holder as America’s first black attorney-general. The Justice Department, which once spied on Martin Luther King, will now be in the hands of a child of the civil-rights revolution.

it must be the hangover of 8 years of Bush's power-hoarding White House, and the Republicans embrace of mediocrity. relief to see people with actual brains and skill getting tapped to run things now. And those on the right whining about "socialism" during the campaign, were so way off it is almost funny...

: the imprint Mr Obama is already putting on history is impressive. He has demonstrated that he is self-confident enough to surround himself with big brains and strong personalities. He is also signalling that he intends to govern pragmatically—changing America’s foreign policy by degrees, not precipitously, and focusing his energies on America’s miserable economy.

As for the whining by some netroots/Daily Kos/ types...get a clue..... Some of the more leftish loudmouths need to figure out that a lot of the rage that ate up a lot of online space was directed at the extraordinarily obnoxious administration, and was not representative of a defined ideological position. Not many people want to resurect the substance or the attitudes of 70's or 80's east-coast liberalism. Our President-elect understands that perfectly.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Drug Wars: Erradication in Colombia and Bolivia

From the New York Times article on the failure of Plan Colombia's goals of erradication.

Despite record aerial eradication, coca cultivation rose by 15 percent during Plan Colombia’s 2000-2006 run, the report said.

It added that cocaine production rose by less — 4 percent — because eradication efforts forced growers to disperse their crops more widely, contributing to lower yields.

In Bolivia, the issue of erradication of coca and fighting trafficking has come up again due to Evo expelling the DEA, as the Economist points out:

The government points out that it is wiping out more than 5,000 hectares (12,000 acres) of coca this year (though the UN reckons Bolivia’s cocaine output rose 11% in 2007)..

Comparing Apples And Oranges

Both countries erradication efforts are often compared by analysts. The Bolivian government itself often cites its "successes" erradicating illegal coca and cocaine production, in contrast to the expensive and allegedly unworkable efforts in Colombia.

In some ways this is comparing apples and oranges. Most of the illegal coca production in Bolivia is centered in one clearly delimited area in Chapare. The area is controlled by growers, organized in unions that happen to be the core of the support of the governing party. You have the curious case of the president as commander in chief of the armed forces (including anti-narcotics units) and at the same time being the elected leader of of the coca growers unions. There has long been a sort of Mexican-standoff in the area b/w authorities and cocaleros, which at least on the surface it looked like coca leaf production was contained and not expanding back to pre-2002 levels.

Colombia on the other hand has coca growing areas - some enormous - spread out over the country. Given the size and topography it is easy for farmers whose crops have been destroyed to literally "move down the road" and replant elsewhere.

Complicating the entire situation is that growing areas are disputed by tens of thousands of guerrillas, paramilitaries and drug smuggling bands. In one sense creating "mini-conflicts" within the larger war in Colombia, over growing/production areas and key smuggling routes. Rents collected finance all the warring parties. The FARC's continued existence owes a lot to taxing coca and cocaine and direct involvement, while the paramilitaries are largely product of drug smuggler money.

It is using these funds that the FARC is able to mount its war against the Colombian state. And this larger conflict acts as a sort of buffer - by denying control of territory and diverting resources - insulating many of the actors involved in the drug trade from central authority. If the government has to focus on FARC guerillas attacking authorities in a given area, drug dealers who go out of their way to avoid authority often can go about their business - more so if they kill guerillas and anyone connected to them on their own dime.

Growing Vs. Production

Given these differences it is hardly surprising that coca production has increased in Colombia and remained more or less constant in Bolivia.

But, if we measure actual cocaine production, it appears that the increases in coca leaf acreage have not yielded a corresponding increase in cocaine production in Colombia. In other words the growers are forced to grow more to provide the labs with raw materials.

On the other hand in Bolivia, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that under this regime, it has become much easier for coca to reach cocaine producers. The cocaleros have become more efficient. Since there is no comparable 'existential' threat to this Bolivian government as the FARC presents in Colombia, there is much less excuse for the Morales government. Or at minimum it shows just how hard it is to show real results in erradicating coca - and cocaine production.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Election 2008: PRESIDENT OBAMA....

Great speech.....

Grant Park in Chicago...David Gergen & Carl Bernstein both made comments on the symbolism.. Site of infamous riots in 1968 Democratic convention...riot in the sense that Richard Daley Sr.'s cops ran amuck beating up protesters. National TV showed hizzoner melting down, while chaos reigns on convention floor in reaction to Grant Park. 40 yrs later it is Richie Daley Jr.'s Chicago that is the site of a historic celebration.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election 2008: Done Deal Baby!!!!

CNN CALLS IT FOR BARACK OBAMA.................Virginia goes Democrat!!!!


A good percentage of the American electorate does right by all of us...

Election 2008: 10 pm eastern.

New Mexico for Barack...Iowa for Barack...

CNN Cuts to McCain/Palin HQ in Arizona...weird scene: Faithful waving red flags and US flags..looks like Nixon visiting China.....Hank Williams Jr sings one of his songs about how he used to booze it up. I think Hank Sr. would be more appropriate for the event...."I'm so lonesome I could cry"....LOL.....

Election 2008: Ohio & PA....W00t!!

F-Joe The Plumber

CNN projecting Barack Obama wins key states of Ohio and Pennsilvania. Taking the blue collar vote....where McCain concentrated his efforts.......


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Christopher Buckley, William F. Buckley's son endorses Obama

Author Christopher Buckley son of the "patron saint of conservatism" William F. Buckley, a self-described "small-government conservative" and "libertarian" on other issues has endorsed Barack Obama for president. The firestorm has caused him to resign from National Review the magazine WFB founded, which is often credited with helping launch the modern American conservative movement.

Buckley describes Obama as a "first-class temperament and a first-class intellect"

on John McCain:

John McCain has changed. He said, famously, apropos the Republican debacle post-1994, “We came to Washington to change it, and Washington changed us.” This campaign has changed John McCain. It has made him inauthentic. A once-first class temperament has become irascible and snarly; his positions change, and lack coherence; he makes unrealistic promises, such as balancing the federal budget “by the end of my first term.” Who, really, believes that? Then there was the self-dramatizing and feckless suspension of his campaign over the financial crisis. His ninth-inning attack ads are mean-spirited and pointless. And finally, not to belabor it, there was the Palin nomination. What on earth can he have been thinking?

On Obama:

Obama has in him—I think, despite his sometimes airy-fairy “We are the people we have been waiting for” silly rhetoric—the potential to be a good, perhaps even great leader. He is, it seems clear enough, what the historical moment seems to be calling for.

So, I wish him all the best. We are all in this together. Necessity is the mother of bipartisanship. And so, for the first time in my life, I’ll be pulling the Democratic lever in November. As the saying goes, God save the United States of America.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Economic Mess - Bailout Nothing New Really

For a historical and global perspective of what the US Govts bailout/rescue plan Britain's The Economist

[H]istory teaches an important lesson: that big banking crises are ultimately solved by throwing in large dollops of public money, and that early and decisive government action, whether to recapitalise banks or take on troubled debts, can minimise the cost to the taxpayer and the damage to the economy. For example, Sweden quickly took over its failed banks after a property bust in the early 1990s and recovered relatively fast. By contrast, Japan took a decade to recover from a financial bust that ultimately cost its taxpayers a sum equivalent to 24% of GDP.

All in all,[B] America’s government has put some 7% of GDP on the line, a vast amount of money but well below the 16% of GDP that the average systemic banking crisis (if there is such a thing) ultimately cost[/B]s the public purse. Just how America’s proposed Troubled Asset Relief Programme (TARP) will work is still unclear. The Treasury plans to buy huge amounts of distressed debt using a reverse auction process, where banks offer to sell at a price and the government buys from the lowest price upwards. The complexities of thousands of different mortgage-backed assets will make this hard. If direct bank recapitalisation is still needed, the Treasury can do that too. [B]The main point is that America is prepared to act, and act decisively.

Basically, the "bailout" is nothing that hasn't been done elsewhere, and the consequences for doing nothing could have been devastating.

Seen this shit happen in the 3rd World with much, much smaller and less complex economies, but the fundamentals are the same.......

one scenario, similar to what happened in East Asia, Russia in the late 90's, which dominoed into South America...

The trouble is that because of its large current-account deficit America is heavily reliant on foreign funding. It has the advantage that the dollar is the world’s reserve currency, and as the financial turmoil has spread the dollar has strengthened. But today’s crisis is also testing many of the foundations on which foreigners’ faith in the dollar is based, such as limited government and stable capital markets. If foreigners ever flee the dollar, America will face the twin nightmares that haunt emerging countries in a financial collapse: simultaneous banking and currency crises. America’s debts, unlike those in many emerging economies, are denominated in its own currency, but a collapse of the dollar would still be a catastrophe.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Are Republicans Getting Dumber???

....Or at least more anti-intellectual as David Brooks argues in the NYT.

[O]ver the past few decades, the Republican Party has driven away people who live in cities, in highly educated regions and on the coasts. This expulsion has had many causes. But the big one is this: Republican political tacticians decided to mobilize their coalition with a form of social class warfare. Democrats kept nominating coastal pointy-heads like Michael Dukakis so Republicans attacked coastal pointy-heads.

What had been a disdain for liberal intellectuals slipped into a disdain for the educated class as a whole.

Republicans developed their own leadership style. If Democratic leaders prized deliberation and self-examination, then Republicans would govern from the gut.

Ultimately, this has meant that the more educated sections of society have been staying away from the Republican party:

The political effects of this trend have been obvious. Republicans have alienated the highly educated regions — Silicon Valley, northern Virginia, the suburbs outside of New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Raleigh-Durham. The West Coast and the Northeast are mostly gone.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Questioning Colombian Hostage Liberation.....As if...

Talk about trying very hard to rain on a parade..

Some on the very goofy left - including the usual Chavistas and FARC fellow travellers, are now claiming that the helicopter rescue of hostages was in fact "staged", that a ransom was paid...
it's clear that the official story has begun to unravel and will require some serious PR airbrushing to keep from falling apart altogether. It's looking more and more like the whole farce was concocted by Uribe

The "evidence"??? Well mostly FARC's own claim that Cesar (hostage "security" guy) was bribed with $20 million bucks. Not quite the Secretariat getting millions for their 4 most valuable and high profile hostage.


Cesar was FLIPPED for $20,000,000.00 chalk one up for Colombian intelligence. For the price of roughly 3 military choppers, military intelligence was able to reach the very security chief for the FARC's high-value hostages and get him to turn on his comrades. Not to mention get him to go to the landing zone with the hostages, surrounded by literally hundreds of men who would kill him and the captives without hesitation should news of his defection leak out.
that is...unless the Colombians also bribed just about every FARC fighter in the immediate vicinity of the pickup point.

At the very least there were a heck of a lot of fooled FARC fighters around that helicopter.

So basically the spin from these idiots at best shows that Colombia's intelligence and special operations personel penetrated a notoriously tight terrorist organization and bribed a top operative to betray the organization and release its most valuable and protected hostages. And mounted a succesful rescue mission that publically humiliated the terrorists.

Seems like a bigtime success..

Some people are just sore losers.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Bolivian Oil & Gas Companies / Professionals migrating to Peru

The Morales governments nationalization process - rather a reversion to majority government control of oil and gas companies has resulted in a precipitous drop in investment and production in Bolivia's once booming gas sector. Neighbor Peru has been agressively courting international partners to boost its own fledgling gas sector based around the Camisea gas fields. With much less than half of Bolivia's gas reserves it has attracted US $3 billion dollars in investment for exploration and production in hydrocarbons a staggering 10 times the $300 million for Bolivia this year.

And another effect has been a brain drain of Bolivian oil and gas professionals, skilled workers and managers to Peru where their expertise is valued highly. La Razon quotes one expert who estimates 800 top industry professionals moving to Peru to take on top managerial and technical positions. In addition, other workers have gone to Peru as employees of multinationals like Respsol YPF.

If that were not enough, several of the most experienced Bolivian companies, like Serpetbol which has have taken up shop in Peru's gas fields. That company billed nearly $60 million dollars in Peru, and employs 1000 workers.

What this exodus of experienced professionals and companies shows is Bolivia's current governments complete mismanagement of its oil and gas sector. Chasing away investors, hurts the entire national hydrocarbons industry, which includes the valuable human capital and 100 percent Bolivian service companies.
All the more glaring due to the enormous boom in price, which allows Peru to pulls in Billions of investments - as well as Bolivian expertise for much less gas than Bolivia has. Bolivia should have billions in investments, a vibrant national industry, operting at higher production levels. After nearly 3 years of Evo, it can not even comply with its Argentina and Brazil contracts. Promised Venezuelan/Russian/Iranian "investments" are more media events. I would be there are more Bolivians working in exploration in Peru, than there are Venezuelans doing the same in Bolivia.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


way hot off the presses. The FARC's biggest captives were apparently freed in one major millitary operation - if this is for real, it will go on record as being one of the most impressive hostage rescues in history. These people were seized and held by some of the most ruthless, sophisticated, well-armed, kidnappers ever seen.

this will be a deathblow to the FARC. They just lost their best negotiating chips.

By FRANK BAJAK, Associated Press Writer 17 minutes ago

BOGOTA, Colombia - Colombian spies tricked leftist rebels into handing over kidnapped presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and three U.S. military contractors Wednesday in a daring helicopter rescue so successful that not a single shot was fired.

Betancourt, who was seized on the campaign trail six long years ago, appeared thin but healthy as she strode down the stairs of a military plane and held her mother in a long embrace.

"Thank you for your impeccable operation," she told top military commanders. "The operation was perfect."

Eleven Colombian police and soldiers were also freed in the rescue, the most serious blow ever dealt to the 44-year-old Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which considered the four hostages their most valuable bargaining chips. The FARC is already reeling from the deaths of key commanders a
nd the loss of much of the territory it once held.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cuba: Has Castro Educated His People??

Education and The Cuban Revolution, educational paradise? Fraud?

First of all, well before Castro, Cuba had one of the most educated populations in Latin America at all levels, with literacy numbers at 1st world levels.

So Castro was hardly starting w/a population of illiterates. And thanks to his exiling a sizeable percentage of the population he has had a smaller number of kids to educate, (think in terms of freeing up resources - #'s of classrooms, teachers, budget per pupil)

That being said, what credit he is due, is in improving the education of the small percentage of the rural and urban poor who traditionally had little access to education.
And in a larger sense, increasing the quality and intensity of the education available to most Cubans. Ideology aside, there is something worth studying about how Cuba has managed to produce the numbers of university grads in technical fields it has produced. Students whose preparation in key subjects like math, started well in elementary schools. Their soviet-style sports and arts programs are first rate: Miami's Junior College chess team is tops in the US thanks to its Cubans. Listen to how well spoken "El Duque" Hernandez or other Cuban pro's are compared to other latin ballplayers.
And in general, their primary and secondary schools seem to do a pretty good job. I talk a lot to everyday Cubans educated on the island, some very recent arrivals. From kids to professors, they all come out with a high level of education, extremely well spoken, impecable Spanish grammar.

Then again all these achievements are wasted, due to the inherently irrational and perverse nature of Socialism/Collectivism. Castro educates his population, produces a huge number of professionals in valuable professions. But then your system underpays this valuable human capital. To the point where women doctors would rather prostitute themselves, engineers drive cabs, and technicians take a flimsy raft to Florida. All this human capital, leaves or produces little on the island. Joins the millions of Cubans - valuable human capital - who have added Billions to the US economy.

That is called stupid.

Nicaragua: Ortega Trashes Opposition Parties

Ortega has succesfully managed to ban the Renovacion Sandinista party and the traditional Conservative Party. This is such a blatantly politicized move that even hard left apologists like Noam Chomsky and Eduardo Galeano have signed a petition asking for a political solution.

Ortega is acting like the other Chavista morons (i.e. Evo), bending procedural rules to the max in order to centralize power in himself, and trashing independent institutions and procedures. As Marcela Sanchez quoting Mundo Jarquin: , "Ortega is manipulating electoral and judicial powers to establish "an institutional dictatorship,"

The radical left does not believe in concepts like separation of powers, checks and balances and decentralized decision-making, in other words things that make for sucessfull representative democracy.

On a separate note. How come a lot of press do not refer to Ortega as a former dictator? Dude was a Communist thug, who ran a pro-Soviet regime during the Cold War. No one elected him as part of that "junta", and he "won" an election, while his Marxist-Leninist party exercised dictatorial control over all branches of government, media, the economy, the army, police, all the way down to neighborhood thugs and snitches who controlled the issuance of basic food rations.

Standard issue corruption is actually an improvement.

Tip Of The Hat to

Sunday, June 22, 2008

USA Network

Quality TV is not an oxymoron.

Got done watching back to back episodes of Law and Order Criminal Intent, and In Plain Sight. Talk about two hours of solid drama. Am already addicted to Burn Notice and throw in Monk, and USA Network have got some winners.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Boli For Barack

First time i saw the guy was at a small event in Chicago when he was running against Bobby Rush. Since then followed him in IL State Senate and his election campaign for Senate in 04.

Veteran of Chicago Dem politics, staying on message while being tough. That is grad school in hardball politics for anyone.

Illinois State Senate has Chicago hardball players, Suburban Reps, Farmbelt & rural reps, Small City machine politicians, just a mishmash of different interests of a big state. Obama did a good job of getting it done for his district, and a reputation for being practical reaching across the aisle to people not only from other parties, but crossing the Chicago/Downstate divide. And he was known as a serious student of policy.

In his run for Senate, he won a very tough Democratic primary, getting votes from Downstate Illinois small town and rural voters - in areas that are close to the Mason Dixie line. He did very well in the central farm area that is midwestern as can be. He also did really well in the Conservative Western suburbs.

Basically, he is a really charismatic guy, who has a good feel on the American public, in seeing the similarities that cut across race, regional, and class - despite the problems in his campaign recently.

He is smart as hell, and can look at issues from different perspectives. But he is absolutely not a wimp, won't give up anything without getting some payback. that is Chicago-style.

He is not a knee-jerk liberal. You don't survive in Chicago and Illinois without dealing w Fortune 500 CEO's and small business alike.

He is as well prepared to actually lead and motivate Americans as anyone I have seen. And he surrounds (and will surround)himself w/both fresh faces and those w/experience. And that is the main point, he can put in place the people who can effect "change". At the very least change from the legions of Republican hacks that enabled Bush as he invaded the wrong country and did nothing while the gulf coast and New Orleans swamped. McCain is going to end up relying on these characters. No thanks

Tip Of The Hat to

Thursday, May 08, 2008

EVO-WATCH: Evo Makes Really, Really Stupid Statements Part XVIIXIII

Evo Goes To UN Forum And Shows The World His Genius

Like an indigenous Kruschev, Evo, at the UN Indigenous People's Forum gave his "10 Commandments" For Saving The World."

#1 With A Bullet is "finishing and erradicating the capitalist model"

Luddite? Neo-Communistic? Definitively plain idiotic in a post-Berlin Wall world where Vietnam, China, and India are feeding hundreds of millions of people much better thanks to making peace with market forces. Morales on the other hand, has tried implementing his "model" by chasing away foreign investment and his recent ban of exports of vegetable oil.

" Si se quiere salvar el planeta, hay que terminar y erradicar al modelo capitalista y lograr que el norte pague la deuda ecológica en vez de que los países del sur y de todo el mundo paguen la deuda externa".

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Colombia Sets Up Ambitious Plan For Reparations to Victims and Displaced

One of the most under-reported effects of Colombia's violence is the millions of internal refugees. Many of the displaced fled due to violence or for opposing one of the armed parties. Many are small landowners or tenant farmers forced off their land by paramilitary "scorched earth" policies - often in complicity with the military. In addition, vast tracts of land have been bought with drug money, and nouveau landowners have done a reverse "agrarian reform" ejecting tenants forcibly. Guerilla policies of drafting young teens and taxing rural residents has also forced people out.

The government of Colombia recently passed a decree of reparations which will indemnify 200,000 victims of violence and 2.2 million displaced people. It is estimated the program will cost around 4 billion dollars, take about 10 years to implement, and will begin later on this year.

The decree covers all victims of illegal "armed groups" irrespective of ideology.
While it looks like the government expects part of the funding to come from armed parties themselves, it is providing the direct funding to get it up and running.

The actual program was designed with assistance from the government of Spain, the Interamerican Human Rights offices, and other organizations. Besides material reparations, the measure also looks to provide rehabilitation and psychological assistance for the victims to assist their reintegration into society.

This looks like quite an undertaking for the Colombian government, involving an ambitious plan involving a huge number of people. Regardless of what you think, it seems to be a step in the right direction.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Caterpillar: How Trade Helps Some US Manufacturers

While US presidential candidates and Unions continue to beat up on free trade deals as job destroyers, one major US manufacturer in the heart of the rustbelt is boosting its profits by sales overseas:
Caterpillar Inc (CAT.N) reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Friday as strong international sales more than offset what the company characterized as a "recessionary storm in the United States."

The news sent shares of Caterpillar -- the world's largest maker of construction and mining equipment, a component of the Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI) and a U.S. business bellwether -- up as much as 4.7 percent in premarket trade.

Construction booms outside North America, particularly in Russia, Africa and energy-producing regions like the Middle East, boosted results, and the weak U.S. dollar aided the company's competitiveness overseas.

First-quarter profit rose 13 percent to $922 million, or $1.45 a share, from $816 million, or $1.23 a share, a year earlier.

Sales increased 18 percent to $11.8 billion.

Analysts, on average, had expected the Peoria, Illinois-based company earn $1.33 a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

"We continue to see robust demand for products used in the global mining and energy industries and for machines used by our customers to build infrastructure, particularly in emerging markets," Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jim Owens said in a statement.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Bill Richardson Endorses Obama, and CNN Doesn't Get It

Watched two whole news segments on Governor Bill Richardson's endorsement of Barack Obama's candidacy. Not once, was it mentioned that he is a major Latino leader, whose endorsement will carry enormous weight. The commentator panel included veteran polls like David Gergen.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Bolivia, Colombia: FARC Laptop: Evo, Ortega to Meet Marulanda at Summit

The laptops which allegedly were captured from the FARC camp are an interesting read. Colombian publication Semana has some n Interesting highlights. In general, it is a lot of back and forth correspondence among top levels of the FARC hierarchy, as would be expected from a member of the directorate charged with foreign affairs.
There is also quite a bit of chatter - almost obsessive - on their business dealings. They try to figure out how best to use money from Chavez - the $300 million the press talks about. In my opinion it could be Chavez granting them a contract to commercialize the $300 million worth of oil, from which they would get a huge commission, and could launder it through front corporations. Only in Colombia would Marxist-leninists have this kind of business savvy. The Uranium, sounds like a proposal one of their "contacts" made. When you have this kind of cash, people will try to sell you anything
Then you get to the heart of the matter of the matter. There is a lot of internal strategizing and debate between FARC commanders about how to effectively use their bargaining position with the hostages, to get international recognition as combatants, the "despeje" or "cleared zone" to further peace negotiations. And throughout its clear that they see Chavez as a key partner, even flattering his vanity. But definitively someone who can help them in undermining Uribe internationally, by upstaging him in these hostage dealings - and consequently strengthening the FARC's position internally.

Evo, Ortega and Correa are described as being close to Chavez: the FARC commander emailing Marulanda/Tirofijo describes them as "patria o muerte" with Chavez "fatherland or death" literally.
Marulanda, the ancient and enigmatic leader of the FARC, who has been in the bush most of his adult life, will apparently have a meeting with Chavez. The Venezuelan will be accompanied by Evo, Daniel Ortega and Correa, in what is described as a "summit of commanders".
Here is a quote from that communication.

Octubre, 4 de 2007
Camarada Manuel. Cordial saludo. Del diálogo con Chacín, lo siguiente:

1- Se proseguirá el esfuerzo por hacer realidad la cumbre de comandantes en el Yarí. De lograrse, Chávez iría acompañado por los presidentes Ortega, Evo y Correa, que son “patria o muerte” con Chávez. De todas maneras habrá una reunión privada Chávez-Marulanda. "

No doubt many discussions of Boliviarian projects, complaints about the empire and comparing notes on coca production.

-As an aside, I was struck by the ideological common ground between Evo, Garcia-Linera, the MAS leadership and the FARC. Their worldview, an extremely paranoid and rigid view of the empire, and its domestic "oligarchic" partners. The delusions they somehow have a "valid revolutionary alternative" - nothing more than the same old Marxist-Leninist cliches, with some twists.

Another letter, describes the topics that will be brought up by these characters. The negotiations with the Colombian government, and a "common geo-political strategy".

3- Ya estoy enterando a Ricardo y a Marcos de todos los pormenores. Los dos camaradas serán recibidos públicamente por Chávez antes de su reunión del 12 con Uribe en la frontera de la Guajira. Esperamos nuevas directrices del camarada Manuel. Por ahora les he explicado que su misión es reiterar a nombre del Secretariado lan exigencia de despeje de Pradera y Florida. Agradecer a Chávez su invaluable labor de intermediación. Que la cumbre Chávez-Marulanda en el Yarí con el acompañamiento de los presidentes Ortega, Morales y Correa, será decisiva en la búsqueda de fórmulas para el acuerdo y para la estrategia geopolítica común. Plantear que estamos analizando sus propuestas de fecha para la reunión secreta con el Secretariado. Convocar a los gobiernos del mundo, personalidades y organizaciones políticas y sociales a rodear la intermediación del Presidente Chávez.

The FARC clearly sees Evo and Ortega as part of this "Boliviarian" anti-US block, that wants to weaken Colombia's government, decrease US influence, and build up Chavez. The FARC want legitimacy as combatants, the clearing of a "demilitarized zone" within Colombia while negotiations for their release and an eventual peace plan take place. They want to discredit and hurt Uribe as much as possible in the meantime. Externally, that means giving Chavez - and partners Evo, Ortega, Correa - leverage by showing they can be effective intermediaries with the FARC by releasing hostages. Evo and Correa can also contact influential countries on behalf of these "efforts", without carrying the Chavez stigma (in theory).

In some ways this is nothing more than the FARC giving a percentage of its future earnings to partners like Chavez - and Evo to a lesser degree. Those earnings, are of course, the ransom for the hundreds they kidnapped and hold hostage for years. This is an ugly situation.
Judge for yourself, the 36 page PDF made available by Colombia.

Monday, March 03, 2008


Tirofijo's son in law gets his, a kilometer inside Ecuador.

Around 8 years ago, Raul Reyes was constantly on Colombian and International TV during the failed negotiations between FARC and the Colombian government, and was the public face of the FARC. Was a ruthless hardline communist trained in East Germany. As commander of the "Bloque Sur" he ordered thousands of kidnapings, hundreds of extra-judicial executions.

He was up to his neck in responsibility for the crimes of FARC, not only from the command side, but because he handled the groups finances>.
And he was also the pervert who kidnapped 9 year girls to become part of his harem.
Chavez comments & actions are inflamatory, revealing, and crazy:

i. A minute of silence for Reyes
ii. Admitted he met 3 times with Reyes, even before president.
iii. Said it was "tribute" to "Raul Reyes a real revolutionary"
iv. says the killing was "not in combat", a "cowardly murder" "coldly planned"
v. Called Colombia a "terrorist state", says Uribe is the "criminal", a "liar" a "terrorist",

Correa meanwhile is the real "aggrieved party" since Ecuadorian sovereignity was violated. But information found on Reyes laptop allegedly shows that Reyes was meeting with Ecuadors government. Correa was negotiating with FARC to recognize them as combatants in order to get involved in hostage negotiations, to probably gain some leverage over Colombia. Apparently Correa was willing to pull more anti-FARC elements in police and military from border. Ecuador's president could come across really, really bad. In the process justifying Uribe not notifiying him.

Tip Of The Hat to

Friday, February 29, 2008

Punk Rockers in Cuba Tell Fidel Castro And Regime Off

The Castro brothers' cruel regime is all about 50 years of centrally planned scarcity, repression, a cult of personality, mind-numbing groupthink.

Gorki Aguila knows all about it, he was jailed by the regime. Not a journalist or human rights activist, he leads punk rock band Porno Para Ricardo.

The music is loud and simple, the band can be pretty outrageous, and the lyrics are angry and full of obscenities. In other words just about everything great about punk rock.

This is real underground, the price is jail and ostracism, the band is not allowed to play openly. Gorki's lyrics aren't just about blaming the government for misery and alienation. Blame is right on Fidel in language not used in Cuba, where dissidents are forced to follow a very precarious line, and there is somewhat of a Stockholm syndrome towards the father figure. And that's what makes the anarchic spirit and irreverence sound downright refreshing.

This video for the song. "Coma Andante" "The Walking Coma" about Fidel.

Porno For Fidel, parodying a nursery rhyme some sycophant made for Fidel, LOL "millions of us ask God that he stops his heart" "The sooner he dies the better."

With subtitles this is a trailer from the documentary being produced about Cuba's underground music scene, with interviews with Gorki. He is a very well-spoken guy, sort of the mode of a Henry Rollins or Jello Biafra, except he really can go to jail for saying this stuff. .

Monday, February 11, 2008

Obama and The Latino Vote.

Barak Obama and Hilary Clinton's virtual tie on supertuesday shows important facts about the Latino vote.

Latino turnout was huge, 15% of all voters nationwide. Just in California 29% of the Democratic turnout was Latino nearly double the 04 primary numbers (16%). Andres Oppenheimer points out the increases in Connecticut (7% vs. 2%), and surprisingly Missouri (5% vs. 1%).

Given this turnout and the close vote between Obama and Clinton, it is clear that the Latino vote was critical for Hilary. She carried more than 60 percent of the Latino vote in California and her home state of New York.

Obama did rather well among Latino voters 18 to 29, but was cleaned out by Hilary in the over 30 vote.

What happened?

Latinos - regardless of region and national origin were energized by the immigration issue. John McCain 50% of the Cuban vote in Florida, catapulted him over his rivals. And quite pointedly McCain enjoyed very favorable media coverage in Spanish-language media, precisely because of his stance on immigration. The phrase "All the Republican candidates except for John McCain" was a lead in many a TV or newspaper story.

Clinton and Obama were both fairly quiet on immigration - but the Democrats have a built-in advantage over Republicans on immigration - namely they aren't the Republicans. At that point it became an issue of which candidate reached out better to the voters. Commentators point out Hillary's endorsements from leading Latino leaders, key Latino members of her campaign doing media outreach, and Bill Clinton's coattails.

Hillary, through, Senator Bob Menendez among others, received extensive coverage in South Florida media - which projects nationally, since much news content comes out of Miami.

Obama failed to win endorsements. But, despite lacking the Clinton goodwill factor, he still had enough positives to project that could have helped him score points. The son of an immigrant - and a politician from a major urban center - is in a powerful position to appeal to immigrants.

Friday, February 01, 2008

BOLIVIA: MAS Y La Economia

Este articulo del economista Gonzalo J.S. Quiroga Soria lo dice todo en un parafo:

Este Gobierno interviene en la economía con fines políticos, no para corregir problemas, y por carecer de solidez teórica en su modelo de decisión, la formulación de políticas es disparatada. Sus efectos, más que fortalecer, vienen debilitando las bases de crecimiento del escaso aparato productivo nacional en cuyo camino se destruye las pocas instituciones que servían para el desarrollo, se acumula un sideral desorden estatal, fiscal y monetario y se gesta un peligroso proceso inflacionario, además de incurrir en un desgraciado desperdicio de recursos humanos y materiales. Es un caso extremo de estupidez en el manejo de los asuntos económicos.

Restringiendo el flujo comercial y castigando las inversiones claves para aminorar el desabastecimiento interno se sigue aumentando la represión contra los circuitos económicos. Entre otras menudencias, es el mal llamado ´cambio´ que sólo es contumacia en el error. La pérdida de rumbo es patética, en medio de dificultades inflacionarias y de escasez que luce van a ser mayores, en lugar de procesar los errores y corregirlos, el Gobierno sigue reclamando más poderes, demostrando una tenacidad infinita y contraproducente, fracasando y sin diálogo con las regiones.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Bolivia - Who's Left?

Has Anyone seen where Bolivian leftist intellectuals, professionals, and politicians from the 70's, 80's, and 90's are? Bolivia had an active, sophisticated left, with the parties around the UDP alliance among others - some who were in exile during Banzer.

These were the people who made up the MIR-ADN government, the ones who formed the earliest NGO's, and the ones who Goni brought in to work on decentralization.

Not being blind to reality after the Berlin Wall fell, many of these folks moved more to what in the sane world is considered the center. After the collapse of the traditional parties, you can now find them in the Civic Committees, opposition parties, business, academia/research institutes, NGO's and the pages of editorial pages - mainly criticizing the Evo.

As for those who "remained left" (or far left) they were often the least prepared, the most intransigent, the blind, the half-wits, and the delusional. And that is why the MAS government makes the "politqueros" from Podemos, Civicos, and past governments seem wise and competent in comparison. Besides angry syndicalist dynamite throwers, they have a few educated ideologues who have kicked around, but not many people with useful skills or talents for anything except conspiracy, agitation, and the very Bolivian art of playing politics.

And that also explains why the Evo government is so thoroughly criticized. Many people are up to his game. Besides having a thorough understanding of Bolivian history they know how 'hardcore' the hard-left hold-outs in Evo's party are. People familiar with far left ideologies, understand perfectly the double talk and lies used by Leninists to advance positions, and consequently mistrust a government which talks out of three not two mouths.

The foreign press is caught up too much in the "indigenous president" angle, and of seeing everyone opposed to Evo being on the "right". Instead they should look where the opposition to Evo comes from, because they would find many people formerly "of the left", who have moved to modern, social-democratic positions. They are in such nerve centers of opposition to Evo like the Santa Cruz Prefecture and the editorial pages. And their is a lot more to their criticism of the Morales government than a simple "white vs. indigenous" or "oligarch vs. poor".

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

COLOMBIA: FARC Treatment of Baby Emanuel


The FARC are worse than criminals....the Miami Herald fills the gaps in the case of baby Emanuel: "born in a FARC jungle camp to one-time vice presidential candidate Clara Rojas, kidnapped by the rebels along with presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt nearly six years ago during a campaign trip to a rural area. The father was reported to be a rebel who had a consensual relationship with Rojas."
The child was handed off by the guerrillas to a resident:

In early June 2005, José Crisanto Gómez, a 37-year-old peasant, arrived here by boat after a one-day trip from his tiny village of La Paz, according to several residents. La Paz was then under the control of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a leftist guerrilla group better known as FARC.

Gómez arrived with two sickly children, seeking medical care for them. One, a boy of about 11 months, had what medical personnel here described as one of the worst health profiles they had seen: malaria, a broken arm, severe malnutrition, anemia, a high fever, diarrhea and leishmaniasis, a serious skin disease common in the jungle.


The public clinic here immediately transferred him to the hospital in the provincial capital, San José del Guaviare, only 17 miles but a 40-minute drive away.
The public clinic here immediately transferred him to the hospital in the provincial capital, San José del Guaviare, only 17 miles but a 40-minute drive away.

''It is not common to receive children in the [bad] health that Juan David arrived,'' said Rosario Neira, director of the San José hospital. ``It was depressing, everything that had come together on just one child. It made for sadness.''

''Anyone would have fallen apart before this child, with so many diseases,'' she added. ``He didn't raise his eyes. He got toys but did not pick them up. He did not stand but dragged himself on his butt. He cried but no tears came because of the malnutrition.''

Given what is now known about the boy, his poor health is not surprising.

In criminal court I have seen thiefs, drug dealers, even murderers who behaved with more basic decency towards "civilians". With all their dope money the FARC did not have the decency to provide the man with money to look after the kid properly. Self-styled revolutionaries are supposed to know the political and monetary value of keeping their "star" captives - and their kids- alive. Even the most hardened gangster knows a hostages kid, is money in the bank, and out of self-interest would at least look after him. They deserve no mercy.

Tip Of The Hat to

Monday, January 07, 2008

COLOMBIA: The Real Number of FARC Hostages

This is something that has bugged me for a long time. Discussion about FARC hostages in Colombia invariably boils down to the Presidential candidate with French citizenship, the American contractors, and other 45 "prominent" people held by the FARC:

But such high-profile hostages represent a mere 4 percent of all the 3,000-plus kidnapping victims in Colombia, according to the Free Country Foundation [], a non-governmental organization that fights against kidnappings and helps victims' families. Aside from the 45, the FARC alone currently holds at least 700 others for monetary ransoms.

'Those are the `anonymous hostages,' '' said Olga Lucia Gómez, director of Free Country, ``the ones no one talks about.''

They are typically middle-class men who own small businesses, butcher shops, small-town bakeries and mom-and-pop stores. They are kidnapped for ransom, either by the FARC, the smaller rebel group National Liberation Army, common criminals or right-wing paramilitary groups. Captors often demand exorbitant amounts of money from the families.

Rest of Article Here.

There are people who have been held for a decade in captivity, like the soldier whose father crossed Colombia to bring attention to his plight. Just this week, the Colombian military found a mass grave where hostages were executed by the FARC apparently for not coming up with the payment.

This context of the scope of the kidnappings by the FARC, shows why it is such a major issue for the Uribe government. It affects a wide spectrum of Colombian society, and does not even account for people (sometimes kids) who were "pressed" into service by the guerillas.

The FARC are at this point a sectarian militia operating as a criminal enterprise, which tears at the Colombian government and society. Like the paramilitaries they have no reason to exist, except as part of a history of 60 years of violence, gangsterism and blood feuds that have perpetuated themselves for too long in the Colombian hinterlands.

Frozen Iguanas & Violated Goats.....Fun Florida

Proof Florida is seriously warped:
Here in Miami, Iguanas affected by the recent cold temperature, "froze up" and fell out of trees. Now really big lizards in suspended animation falling to the ground is the sort of potentially traumatizing sight Floridians are used to. And some of us are apparently responsible for them being here in the first place, since unwanted/escaped pets are the reason the non-native reptiles live in places like Key Biscayne. No worries about that from my relatives, my aunts can make a mean iguana soup, though I prefer it barbecued with lemon and worchestire sauce - yes, it does taste like chicken


Miami Santeros have been known to sacrifice the random goat to honor assorted deities, no doubt further inflaming the sensibilities of those who see the magic city as an unasimilated enclave in fair Florida.

But, it takes some backwoods 48 yr old from the northern panhandle of Florida to really show how warped the entire State is.

The offenses, as set out in this article, stealing a pregnant pet goat, having his way with the poor creature, and in serial killer tradition ending the poor creatures life. And apparently, this was an ongoing pattern with said defendant:

[T]he rape and asphyxiation last year of a family pet goat named Meg -- who was pregnant with twins -- in the town of Mossy Head in rural Walton County.

A suspect in the case, a 48-year-old man, is serving an 11-month, 29-day jail sentence on animal-theft charges in connection with the attempted abduction of another goat in a separate case, according to Walton County Assistant State Attorney James Parker.

Parker said he couldn't prosecute the suspect in the death of Meg because DNA samples taken with a sheriff's office rape kit were inconclusive.

Parker said he asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement last week to retest the evidence.

But even if there's a DNA match, Parker said the suspect could only be charged with misdemeanor trespassing and animal cruelty, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

The Scandaaaaaaaal..has so far earned the censure of our governor and..moved our legislature into action to correct the fact that there is no bestiality statutes. No Alabama jokes please.

After a goat was raped and killed in a Panhandle town, animal activists, police and citizens were almost as shocked to find out that bestiality isn't a crime in Florida.

But it might be soon.

And for those animal rights people (and assorted goat fetishists) here is the text of the legislation.