Thursday, April 21, 2005

Pope Benedict XVI

(Stolen from and older edit of wikipedia, via A Fistful Of Euros)

UPDATE: A tangentially fitting quote from Philip Challinor:

F.D.,abbr. Fidei Defensor, or Defender of the Faith. This title was conferred upon King Henry VIII of England for services rendered to the Catholic Church - which, oddly enough, did not include his leaving it. When he did eventually leave it, in order to form his own Church with himself as pope and England's coffers, rather than the Vatican's, as God, Henry retained the title. Consequently, with the sense of honour which lesser nations have come to expect of the British, all subsequent English monarchs since Henry have been both head of the Church of England and Defender of the Catholic faith. There is nothing an Englishman hates more than a hypocrite.

Puppets On A Long Leash

The tragedy for many of the new Iraqi "transitional"[*] parliament members elected (or not) in the sham elections[+] this January is to discover how much the US is still in charge, to discover that they are puppets on a long leash.

Of course, the discovery usually comes when they feel it on their own skin, rather than see it done in policy matters.

It is getting the usual treatment at the entry of ther Green Zone that upsets our shiny new MPs. US soldiers who treat any raghead as a raghead constitute a hearts-and-minds operation reminding me of Christian tales - about Satan and his little sadistic games with people who sold their souls. This story is almost comical:

“When I told the translator with the soldier that I was a member of the national assembly, he answered: To hell with you and the national assembly,” Sheikh told his colleagues.

“I got really upset, so I got down from my vehicle to confront him and at that moment a US soldier came over and grabbed my neck and choked me for a minute or so.” ...

He said he decided to get out of line and come back later when it was less crowded, but that as he began to pull out, a US soldier came over and kicked his car. “I showed him my badge, but he grabbed it from my hand and tossed it in my face,” said the bearded Sheikh. “When I got out of my car, the soldier twisted my arm.”

[*] Remember, this is only the body that is supposed to draft a constitution and name a transitional government until the 'real' elections come.

[+] To recap: under occupation, no international oversight, yet even in the little that comes out massive irregularities reported, widespread pressure on voters reported; most contesters unknown (only numbers), most contesters without media access, choice thwarthed within Shi'a Arab and Kurdish communities by multy-party lists with pre-set quotas, clear occupation opponents arrested and their offices rampaged by US army; election rules designed by the Bremer admin and the parties in the US-selected Governing Council, elected bodies bound by further rules of the same, while the US retains military control and indirect control of ministeries through delegated 'experts', and so on...

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Red Latin America

From what I know, the present turmoil in Ecuador heralds the return of a Chavez fan, so prepare for WaPo/NYT/etc. articles about more hidden evil Venezuelan meddling (and more articles about triumphs of democracy in the progressive blogosphere).

Said turmoil in Ecuador just appears to have reached its conclusion: Congress deposed President Guitérrez and made his Vice his preliminary successor.

Guitérrez entered the political arena five years ago, when instead of dispersing a leftist protest by indios as ordered, he sided with the protesters and helped make it a coup - a short-lived one, with only the then-vice-President benefitting. But using his fast-earned populist credentials, not three years later he was elected President - only to instantly break his promises and go on with conservative economic policies etc.. His undoing began with a tactical alliance: when his party, the neolib party of the billionaire whom he beat in the elections (Alvaro Noboa), and the populist party of a then self-exiled ex-President (Bucaram) teamed up to tramp on the Constitution and depose the Supreme Court (opposed chiefly, choose your sides, by a rabid right-wing party). Guitérrez's undoing, for the allies had different things in mind: when Guitérrez in turn 'fired' this new Supreme Court, the real reason behind the official one (street protests against) was surely their clearing the ex-President from corruption charges. (Note tough, Bucaram was removed eight years ago by the then-Congress under the charge of being crazy!).

Bucaram said on his way back: "I come to Ecuador to copy Chavez's style with a great Bolivarian revolution". (But before you clasp your hands, remember that his "crazyness" meant f.e. renting his own brothel on state funds, and that he basically emptied the Presidential Palace upon leaving, stuff worth a few dozen millions of dollars.)

Meanwhile in Mexico:

This protest of at least 300,000, of course ignored or played down by most of the Western media, was against the machinations meant to prevent Mexico City Mayor Andrés Manuel López Obrador from running for Presidency (something the right-wing incumbents' and the nominally centre-left old establishment party joined forces in, with heavy encouragement from across the Northern border). Good commentary at Blood & Treasure.

The above mentioned playing down involved the choice of photos if present: close-ups of the major and his entourage in an absurd number of varieties. I found just two photos showing the mass from above, - and the wider one, from Reuters, just as thumbnail. The one I used is from the NYT. (If someone has a link to a free copy of the Reuters image I'd be thankful...)