Sunday, March 1, 2015

Your Granma wears army boots

AKA; The Official Voice of the Communist Party of Cuba's Central Committee wants everyone in El Norte to know how swimmingly everything is going;
Juan Jacobino, spokesperson for the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, explained that the dialogues being held at the U.S. State Department are taking place in a positive, constructive and respectful climate.
The second round of conversations has been taking place since this Friday morning, which should clear the way toward reestablishing bilateral relations, with the challenge of finding solutions to unresolved issues regarding the reopening of embassies.
But José Azel raises an objection;
On January 28, 2015, speaking in Costa Rica and addressing the III Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), General [Raul] Castro set his demands. Before the two nations can re-establish normal relations the United States must:

  1. Unconditionally eliminate all economic sanctions.
  2. Return to Cuba the Guantanamo US naval base.
  3. Stop all the transmissions of Radio-TV Martí.
  4. Compensate Cuba for the supposed damages caused by the embargo — which Cuba estimates at US$116 billion and growing.
  5. Eliminate Cuba from the US “State Sponsors of Terrorism” list.
The general declared that “If these problems aren’t resolved, this diplomatic rapprochement wouldn’t make any sense.” And that “It would not be ethical or acceptable to ask Cuba for anything in return… Cuba will not negotiate on these internal matters which are absolutely sovereign.”
Thus, Castro has essentially declared that he's not going to make any concessions...but he will accept unconditional surrender on the part of Barack Obama. Azel offers this two hour video of his, and other anti-Castro-ites deeper analysis of what that surrender would result in for the USA. Which, to summarize would be;

1. More revenue for the Cuban military, which owns the tourist sector in Cuba. The people who work in tourism are paid slave labor wages, while the bulk of the money paid by tourists goes to the military elite.

2. The Guantanamo naval base would be almost immediately leased to Russia for use by its (Vladimir Putin's) navy. That, or bartered for oil. The deep waters outside Guantanamo are perfect for Russian submarines to operate undetected.

3. Elimination of a source of anti-Castro information to the people of Cuba.

4. Well, over a hundred billion Yanqui dollares for use by Cuba's military and intelligence services to improve their capabilities.

5. More terrorism in the world, especially from Iran (and Hezbollah) with which Cuba has strong ties. And, if Iran eventually develops nuclear weapons, probably nuclear terrorism 90 miles offshore Florida.

Additionally, if full diplomatic relations were re-established, Cuba would  open an embassy in Washington, consulates in many U.S. cities, offices of Prensa Latina (Che Guevara's gift to journalism) in major cities, and trade delegations. All of which will be used for espionage. For Cuba's purposes and any country that can trade for information gathered.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Was Augusto Pinochet a Villain or Hero for Chile?

For the PanAm Post, it is still unresolved, apparently. Some even denying that Pinochet and Chile had any real enemies;
I was born in Chile, and lived under Allende and Pinochet. So according to you, then I saw things all wrong and I never saw anyone get arrested or killed, and the truth commissions currently being held in Chile now are all lies and communist propaganda.
Next you will quote me from the NY Times that Victor Jara was never murdered by Pinochet-he staged his death so he could move into a house with Elvis in the Bahamas, and that Contreras is innocent and that DINA was not a murderous secret police, but really just a late night food delivery service. Next you will tell me no prisoners were ever held by Pinochet at the National Stadium in Santiago and show me the FIFA report to confirm this. Villa Grimaldi was just a country club and that elections were held every year when Pinochet was in power and that he never tried to stage another dictatorship the night he lost the plebiscite.  You are truly delusional.
 Javier (the author of the above comment) seems determined to miss the point that no one disputes that people get killed during wars. And did in the civil war in Chile after the overthrow of Salvador Allende's Wanna-be-like-Fidel regime. One wonders who Javier thinks the people fighting Pinochet were, peaceful demonstrators petitioning for redress of grievance?

No, in most cases they were armed and dangerous Marxist guerillas. Whether they called themselves MIR, ERP, Tupamaros or Montoneros, they were armed and trained in Cuba or by Cubans to destabilize not only Chile, but Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Argentina and several other countries. There were thousands of them in Chile before and after the military overthrew Allende in 1973.

Back in October of 1970, just after Salvador Allende was named as the winner of the Presidency in Chile, there was this exchange on William F. Buckley's Firing Line, among the host and his guests Selden Rodman and Georgie Anne Geyer--who knew Allende so well that she used to go swimming with him and his Cuban girlfriend at the Veradero Beach Club in Havanna almost every day when the both lived in Cuba in 1966 (transcript from the Hoover Institution);
Mr. Buckley: But does Allende, himself, allude to the Cuban situation -- does he say, I want to make things the way they have them in Cuba?
Miss Geyer: Very often.
Mr. Buckley: Yes.

Miss Geyer: When I was there in June, he gave a speech and said very clearly -- I was there -- he said, when I'm elected, we will have the revolutionary axis between Havana and Santiago. And, whenever I have talked to him, which is a half-dozen times over the years, he has always made it very, very clear -- that I don't think there is any --well, his admiration for Fidel is almost worshipful. And, at times....
Mr. Rodman: When the exiles from Che's adventure in Bolivia escaped into Chile, Allende took them personally by plane to Havana, because he thought that they were the heroes of his movement.
And those heroes returned to fight Pinochet again and again. Even into the 1980s, as they almost succeeded in killing Pinochet with a rocket attack on his motorcade in 1986.

Hey, Augusto, take it like a man!, says Javier.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Getty when the Getty is good

Then the comrades forget about it and whine, What have you done for us lately;
STRIKING National Gallery staff stormed to super-rich boss Mark Getty’s private gallery yesterday, vowing to keep him in the spotlight until hated privatisation plans are ditched.
Employees are fighting plans to outsource security and visitor services staff to privateer contractors.
A lunchtime rally saw workers brave torrential rain to march from their Trafalgar Square home to the Getty Images gallery, off Oxford Street, which is owned by board of trustees’ chairman Mr Getty.
Leading the charge, PCS culture sector president Clara Paillard slammed Mr Getty’s firm for making money from selling copyrights to cultural institutions.
But what has Mr. Getty done with his money? As this 2001 Guardian piece makes clear, donate it to the arts;
News that a new generation of the Getty dynasty has taken up the family hobby of giving large amounts of money to good causes will bring joy to the directors of cash-strapped museums and galleries.
It emerged yesterday that the Getty responsible for a £10m gift to the National Gallery is Mark, 41-year-old heir to part of one of the largest oil fortunes in the world, son of John Paul Getty II, and grandson of John Paul Getty I.
Which is in addition to the 50 million Pounds Mark's father donated in 1985. When the money could have gone to the Getty Foundation's own museum in California.

But, for the comrades at Morning Star that's all in the past. Now it's class war;
[PCS union head Clara Paillard] called for culture to be valued as a public good and a means of resistance. “Our aim is to use art as a weapon,” she told onlookers.
There's a precedent for that;

Down and down I go

That ol' magia negra of Venezuela isn't petroleum, but their monetary policy;
The bolívar has plummeted into a free fall in recent years, Ricardo Hausmann said on Wednesday, head of the Center for International Development at Harvard University.
“It took one year to fall from 50 to 100 [Bs. per dollar], and five months to go from 100 to 200,” he tweeted. Hausmann forecasts that if the current trend continues, by December the bolívar will be traded at 800 Bs. per dollar in the black market.
It now takes 214 bolivars to buy one dollar, making a one hundred bolivar note worth less than $ 0.50. That's the market's verdict on Maduro's latest monetary scheme;
This news comes after President Maduro announced on Tuesday, February 10, a new currency exchange system, named the Marginal System of Foreign Currency (Simadi) and effective since February 19.
“With the new system we are putting an end to the mafia of the black dollar,” Maduro said. “This is why I created the Simadi. This is why I created an exchange system to protect the people.”
At its initiation, the exchange rate was 172 bolivars for one US dollar. Since then it's dropped by about 19%. Stop the protection racket, Nick!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Greeks baring guff

Ekathimerini says that Syriza lost its gamble...big time;
Greece has diluted at least five of its key electoral promises in the face of implacable German-led opposition to its stance. There's been no extension of the country's debt repayment timetable; Greece is still a ward of the troika, even if its guardians now go by a different name (they're now referred to as the [institutions]); there's no rollback of the previous government's economic reforms; cash allocated to the domestic banking system won't be diverted to alleviating economic hardship; and the need to achieve a sensible budget surplus has been acknowledged.
Who won?
Those concessions might prove to be a tough sell for Syriza at home given its election strategy. But they're very helpful if, for example, you're Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and you face an election by the end of the year. Rajoy's People's Party has about 30 percent of voter support in the most recent opinion polls, with the anti-austerity Podemos part on 26 percent; other recent polls have shown Podemos in the lead.
So the Spanish government can say, Podemos is Syriza, and look what happened to them. Also;
If Greece had been able to wring concessions from its euro peers, opposition parties in other countries -- Portugal also has elections this year, Ireland goes to the ballot box next year, while Italy's coalitions are notoriously unstable -- might have used them as evidence that abandoning austerity is an acceptable economic strategy within the euro region. Instead, Germany has underscored to voters across the continent -- again, rightly or wrongly -- that the euro zone won't accommodate all economic points of view.
Germany; the Master Race after all.

I didn't bill that

No way. Maybe some other Gruber. I've always been on the straight and narrow
Vermont officials ignored "obvious signs" of problematic billing by health care economist Jonathan Gruber, the state auditor said in a memo released Monday.
Gruber's invoices lacked important details and claimed dubious numbers of work hours as he prepared economic models for a single-payer health care system — but state officials failed to scrutinize the invoices, Auditor Doug Hoffer wrote.
Hoffer said he was referring the matter to Attorney General William Sorrell, who said in an interview that the auditor raised "serious questions."
The Vermont auditor is sceptical about the ability of Gruber and his team to actually work the number of hours they claim they did;
Gruber submitted two consecutive invoices in September and October claiming the exact same figures — 100 hours for Gruber at $500 per hour, and 500 hours for his research assistants at $100 per hour. Only one research assistant worked on the project, according to the auditor's report.
That one research assistant would have had to work about 115 hours per week.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What's the matter with Kansas trial lawyers?

Crocodile tears, wethinks;
“From a trial lawyer standpoint, I can’t think of anything more tragic than having a case come out of this,” Ronald Pope, senior partner at Ralston, Pope & Diehl LLC said in an interview yesterday from his Topeka office. “It would be nice if we could stop that first tragic poster child from getting hurt.”
That's basketball;
Video showed coaches being pushed into tables and fans colliding with players when Kansas State fans rushed the court after a 70-63 home win two nights ago against No. 8 Kansas.
.... Though no one was seriously hurt two nights ago, Kansas coach Bill Self said in his post-game news conference that a number of fans ran into or hit his players.
“This has got to stop,” Self said. “Somebody is going to hit a player, the player is going to retaliate, you’re going to have lawsuits — it’s not right.”