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What I find striking is the many ways that Americans are conditioned like Nazi Germans. On the one hand, in their discourse, they insist on following the law (and by “law”, they mean American laws!). So much so that when there is a law that would prevent American secret agencies from breaking laws regarding American citizens, that is, the national sphere of laws, these agencies must find a way to break the law secretely or to bypass the law through justifications, or to take advantage of legal loopholes, for example, all these secret courts and decisions for mass surveillance. In other words, they allege to the populace that they are “following the law” while behaving in a criminal way. But they must pretend to follow the “rule of law”.
On the other hand, Americans clearly state that they will break all laws in every other country if they want, for purposes of “national security”, “spying”, etc. In other words, the attitude is that they can disregard the rule of law completely once the sphere moves from internal to external. Yes, they justify acting in a criminal way internationally by pretending it’s to “catch bad guys”, but still they believe they are entitled to be criminals as they please. Internally they must pretend to be “following the law”, externally, no pretense is necessary.
It’s very Nazi.
See this article from National Review for a clear example:
I haven’t seen the garbage of people who think homosexuality is normal demand answers from Milo on this: Which pedophiles did Milo expose? What are their full names? And what is the full name of the priest he says abused him? Let’s hear the stories.
Here’s betting a hundred quid, as they say over the pond, that no names will ever be produced, nothing that could identify anyone. Just totally made-up claims.
BTW, The Federalist, of all people!, actually published a good article, “good” as far as today’s sick American society standard goes, about homosexuality and child/teen abuse.
“In the gay world,” Milo said later, “some of the most important, enriching and incredibly, you know, life-affirming, important, shaping relationships very often between younger boys and older men, they can be hugely positive experiences for those young boys.” “Provided they’re consensual,” he added, “provided they’re consensual.”
During a different interview, with Joe Rogan, Milo talked approvingly of an alleged sexual encounter he had with a priest when Milo was around 14 years old. Milo also described attending Hollywood “boat parties” and “house parties,” where he saw things that “beggar belief.” As Milo put it: “some of the boys at [these parties] were very young. Very young.” Later, he reiterated for the third time: “There were some very young boys around at that time.” In spite of Rogan’s prompting, Milo refused to name anyone at these parties.
But wait: the perversity does not stop there. In a 2006 audio clip that resurfaced in the midst of the Milo debacle, Star Trek alumnus and liberal activist George Takei, who, like Milo, is gay, spoke fondly with radio host Howard Stern (and co-host Robin Quivers) about his sexual experience as a 13-year-old boy with an “eighteen or nineteen” year-old camp counselor.
At one point Stern asked Takei: “Were you molested in a sense, because you were 13?” Takei replied: “No, no…I thought he was pretty attractive.” Stern and Quivers seem captivated and delighted by the story. Quivers prompts Takei for details—“Ahh! Was he gazing into your eyes the whole time? Was he saying anything?”—while Stern cracks wise: “Who wants a hand job without kissing?” Takei describes the experience: “It was both wonderful and scary and kind of intimidating, and delightful.”
Reflect on that for a moment: two adults were listening to a third adult describe an instance of genuine child sexual abuse, and were both happy and jocular about it.
There are two deeply appalling aspects to these sordid interviews. The first is the possibility that, as Milo put it, sexual relationships between young boys and adult gay men occur “very often.” At the Huffington Post last week, “gay conservative” Chad Felix Greene described his own experiences in this regard, having his first sexual encounters with adult men at age 14. As Greene put it, reflecting on the negative effect such behavior has had on his life and the need to stop this “generational pattern of abuse”: “As much as the LGBT world seems to ignore [older gay men having sex with young teenage boys], it seems fairly universal and unfortunately not time-bound to a period when young gay men had fewer options.”
Nevertheless, these revelations are unnerving and profoundly troubling, and the implications of these revelations are terrible, especially combined with many years of research showing disproportionately high rates of child sexual abuse against young gay males. Should we not consider the possibility that something both brutal and endemic is going on here, and that we’re simply ignoring it?
Yet there is another, even more troubling idea at work here: the possibility that these stories have been around for a long time, that many people have known about them for a long time, yet nobody has done anything about it, or even cared.
Consider: Milo’s interview with Rogan took place in September 2015, nearly 17 months ago. His statements on the livestream occurred more than a year ago, in January 2016. Yet his remarks and beliefs did not come to wide attention or constitute a scandal until very recently, when they were publicized by a conservative group opposed to his appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
If a grown male celebrity had spoken approvingly of having sex with 13-year-old girls, including having attended a party where “very young girls” were being used for sex, the reaction would have been swift and ruthless. It would not have taken the man in question more than a year to suffer any consequences, as it did for Milo.
Takei’s own tacit approval of child sex, meanwhile, has been on record for more than a decade, and he has suffered no professional or personal fallout for it.
Author: Daniel Payne is a senior contributor at The Federalist. He currently runs the blog Trial of the Century, and lives in Virginia.
Well, you know something is official if it happens on Facebook. And so here it is: the Bible has been declared hate speech and banned from Facebook – at least temporarily.
Elizabeth Johnston, an Ohio homeschooling mother of 10 who runs the popular conservative blog “The Activist Mommy,” told The Christian Post on Tuesday that Facebook suspended her account earlier this month because she wrote about how Leviticus condemns homosexuality as “detestable” and an “abomination.”
Johnston said the comment in question was posted over six months ago in a long thread of comments that was in response to another Facebook user who claimed that Christians are hypocrites for condemning homosexuality but being willing to eat shellfish and pork.
The post was removed on Feb. 9 and Johnston’s public “The Activist Mommy” Facebook page, which has over 76,000 followers, was frozen for a period of three days. She was alerted that her comment on homosexuality was removed because “it doesn’t follow the Facebook Community Standards.”
“Someone had commented underneath one of my videos and were commenting under the thread and said something about how Old Testament law prohibits the eating of pork — one of the homosexuals’ favorite arguments to make. I responded with just scriptural commentary and that is considered ‘hate speech’ by Facebook,” Johnston explained. “It was just very intellectual and it was just a commentary on what the Bible says. There was no name calling or anything like that.”
After her account was unfrozen on Feb. 12, Johnston said that she re-posted her thoughts on the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality only to have Facebook remove the post again and freeze her account for an additional seven days.
The community standards state: “Facebook removes hate speech, which includes content that directly attacks people based on their: race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender, or gender identity, or serious disabilities or diseases.”
Johnston’s post only cited Scripture and did not directly attack any person.
The Ohio mother contended that with the way the Facebook algorithm is set up is that all that is needed for her account to be frozen is for liberal trolls and LGBT activists to report her account.
Good article on TAC:
How long will the people permit it?
There was an excellent article on Tom Dispatch on this very question.
What Does It Mean When War Hawks Say, “Never Trump”?
The Enemies of My Enemy May Be War Criminals
By Rebecca Gordon
…we just heard from 50 representatives of the national security apparatus, men — and a few women — who served under Republican presidents from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush. All of them are very worried about Donald Trump.
They think we should be alerted to the fact that the Republican standard-bearer “lacks the character, values, and experience to be president.”
That’s true of course, but it’s also pretty rich, coming from this bunch. The letter’s signers include, among others, the man who was Condoleezza Rice’s legal advisor when she ran the National Security Council (John Bellinger III); one of George W. Bush’s CIA directors who also ran the National Security Agency (Michael Hayden); a Bush administration ambassador to the United Nations and Iraq (John Negroponte); an architect of the neoconservative policy in the Middle East adopted by the Bush administration that led to the invasion of Iraq, who has since served as president of the World Bank (Robert Zoellick). In short, given the history of the “global war on terror,” this is your basic list of potential American war criminals.
Their letter continues, “He weakens U.S. moral authority as the leader of the free world.”
There’s a sentence that could use some unpacking.
What Is The “Free World”?
Let’s start with the last bit: “the leader of the free world.” That’s what journalists used to call the U.S. president, and occasionally the country as a whole, during the Cold War. Between the end of World War II and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the “free world” included all the English-speaking countries outside Africa, along with western Europe, North America, some South American dictatorships, and nations like the Philippines that had a neocolonial relationship with the United States.
The U.S.S.R. led what, by this logic, was the un-free world, including the Warsaw Pact countries in eastern Europe, the “captive” Baltic nations of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, the People’s Republic of China (for part of the period), North Korea, and of course Cuba. Americans who grew up in these years knew that the people living behind the “Iron Curtain” were not free. We’d seen the bus ads and public service announcements on television requesting donations for Radio Free Europe, sometimes illustrated with footage of a pale adolescent man, his head crowned with chains.
I have absolutely no doubt that he and his eastern European countrymen were far from free. I do wonder, however, how free his counterparts in the American-backed Brazilian, Argentinian, Chilean, and Philippine dictatorships felt.
The two great adversaries, together with the countries in their spheres of influence, were often called the First and Second Worlds. Their rulers treated the rest of the planet — the Third World — as a chessboard across which they moved their proxy armies and onto which they sometimes targeted their missiles. Some countries in the Third World refused to be pawns in the superpower game, and created a non-aligned movement, which sought to thread a way between the Scylla and Charybdis of the U.S. and the Soviet Union.
Among its founders were some of the great Third World nationalists: Sukarno of Indonesia, Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, and Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, along with Yugoslavia’s President Josip Broz Tito.
Other countries weren’t so lucky. When the United States took over from France the (unsuccessful) project of defeating Vietnam’s anti-colonial struggle, people in the U.S. were assured that the war that followed with its massive bombing, napalming, and Agent-Oranging of a peasant society represented the advance of freedom against the forces of communist enslavement. Central America also served as a Cold War battlefield, with Washington fighting proxy wars during the 1980s in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, where poor campesinos had insisted on being treated as human beings and were often brutally murdered for their trouble. In addition, the U.S. funded, trained, and armed a military dictatorship in Honduras, where John Negroponte — one of the anti-Trump letter signers — was the U.S. ambassador from 1981 to 1985.
The Soviet Union is, of course, long gone, but the “free world,” it seems, remains, and so American officials still sometimes refer to us as its leader — an expression that only makes sense, of course, in the context of dual (and dueling) worlds. On a post-Soviet planet, however, it’s hard to know just what national or geographic configuration constitutes today’s “un-free world.” Is it (as Donald Trump might have it) everyone living under Arab or Muslim rule? Or could it be that amorphous phenomenon we call “terrorism” or “Islamic terrorism” that can sometimes reach into the “free world” and slaughter innocents as in San Bernardino, California, Orlando, Florida, or Nice, France? Or could it be the old Soviet Union reincarnated in Vladimir Putin’s Russia or even a rising capitalist China still controlled by a Communist Party?
Faced with the loss of a primary antagonist and the confusion on our planet, George W. Bush was forced to downsize the perennial enemy of freedom from Reagan’s old “evil empire” (the Soviet Union) to three “rogue states,” Iraq, Iran, and North Korea, which in an address to Congress he so memorably labeled the “axis of evil.” The first of these lies in near ruins; the second we’ve recently signed a nuclear treaty with; and the third seems incapable of even feeding its own population. Fortunately for the free world, the Bush administration also had some second-string enemies to draw on. In 2002, John Bolton, then an undersecretary of state (and later ambassador to the U.N.), added another group “beyond the axis of evil” — Libya, Syria, and Cuba. Of the three, only Cuba is still a functioning nation.
And by the way, the 50 Republican national security stars who denounced Donald Trump in Cold War terms turn out to be in remarkably good company — that of Donald Trump himself (who recently gave a speech invoking American Cold War practices as the basis for his future foreign policy).
“He Weakens U.S. Moral Authority…”
After its twenty-first century wars, its “black sites,” and Guantánamo, among other developments of the age, it’s hard to imagine a much weaker “moral authority” than what’s presently left to the United States. First, we gave the world eight years of George W. Bush’s illegal invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as CIA torture sites, “enhanced interrogation techniques,” and a program of quite illegal global kidnappings of terror suspects (some of whom proved innocent of anything). Under President Obama, it seems we’ve traded enhanced interrogation techniques for an “enhanced” use of assassination by drone (again outside any “law” of war, other than the legal documents that the Justice Department has produced to justify such acts).
When Barack Obama took office in January 2009 his first executive order outlawed the CIA’s torture program and closed those black sites. It then looked as if the country’s moral fiber might be stiffening. But when it came to holding the torturers accountable, Obama insisted that the country should “look forward as opposed to looking backwards” and the Justice Department declined to prosecute any of them. It’s hard for a country to maintain its moral authority in the world when it refuses to exert that authority at home.
Two of the letter signers who are so concerned about Trump’s effect on U.S. moral authority themselves played special roles in “weakening” U.S. moral authority through their involvement with the CIA torture program: John Bellinger III and Michael Hayden.
June 26th is the U.N.’s International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. To mark that day in 2003, President Bush issued a statement declaring, “Torture anywhere is an affront to human dignity everywhere. The United States is committed to the world-wide elimination of torture, and we are leading this fight by example.”
The Washington Post story on the president’s speech also carried a quote from Deputy White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan to the effect that all prisoners being held by the U.S. government were being treated “humanely.” John Rizzo, who was then the CIA’s deputy general counsel, called John Bellinger, Condoleezza Rice’s legal counsel at the National Security Council, to express his concern about what both the president and McClellan had said.
The problem was that — as Rizzo and his boss, CIA director George Tenet, well knew — many detainees then held by the CIA were not being treated humanely. They were being tortured or mistreated in various ways. The CIA wanted to be sure that they still had White House backing and approval for their “enhanced interrogation” program, because they didn’t want to be left holding the bag if the truth came out. They also wanted the White House to stop talking about the humane treatment of prisoners.
According to an internal CIA memo, George Tenet convened a July 29, 2003, meeting in Condoleezza Rice’s office to get the necessary reassurance that the CIA would be covered if the truth about torture came out. There, Bellinger reportedly apologized on behalf of the administration, explaining that the White House press secretary had “gone off script,” mistakenly reverting to “old talking points.” He also “undertook to [e]nsure that the White House press office ceases to make statements on the subject other than [to say] that the U.S. is complying with its obligations under U.S. law.”
At that same meeting, Tenet’s chief counsel, Scott Muller, passed out packets of printed PowerPoint slides detailing those enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, so that Bellinger and the others present, including Rice, would understand exactly what he was covering up.
So much for the “moral authority” of John Bellinger III.
As for Michael Hayden (who has held several offices in the national security apparatus), one of his signature acts as CIA Director was to approve in 2005 the destruction of videotapes of the agency’s waterboarding sessions. In a letter to CIA employees, he wrote that the tapes were destroyed “only after it was determined they were no longer of intelligence value and not relevant to any internal, legislative, or judicial inquiries.”
Of course destroying those tapes also meant that they’d never be available for any future legislative or judicial inquiry. The letter continued,
“Beyond their lack of intelligence value… the tapes posed a serious security risk. Were they ever to leak, they would permit identification of your CIA colleagues who had served in the program, exposing them and their families to retaliation from al-Qaeda and its sympathizers.”
One has to wonder whether Hayden was more concerned with his CIA colleagues’ “security” from al-Qaeda or from prosecution. In any case, he deprived the public — and any hypothetical future prosecutor — of crucial evidence of wrongdoing.
Hayden also perpetuated the lie that the Agency’s first waterboarding victim, Abu Zubaydah — waterboarded a staggering 83 times — was a crucial al-Qaeda operative and had provided a quarter of all the information that the CIA gathered from human subjects about al-Qaeda. He was, in fact, never a member of al-Qaeda at all. In the 1980s, he ran a training camp in Afghanistan for the mujahedin, the force the U.S. supported against the Soviet occupation of that country; he was, that is, one of Ronald Reagan’s “freedom fighters.”
Bellinger later chimed in, keeping the Abu Zubaydah lie alive by arguing in 2007 on behalf of his boss Condoleezza Rice that Guantánamo should remain open. That prison, he said, “serves a very important purpose, to hold and detain individuals who are extremely dangerous [like] Abu Zubaydah, people who have been planners of 9/11.”
“He Appears to Lack Basic Knowledge About and Belief in the U.S. Constitution, U.S. Laws, and U.S. Institutions…”
That’s the next line of the open letter, and it’s certainly a fair assessment of Donald Trump. But it’s more than a little ironic that it was signed by Michael Hayden who, in addition to supporting CIA’s torture project, oversaw the National Security Agency’s post-9/11 secret surveillance program. Under that program, the government recorded the phone, text, and Internet communications of an unknown number of people inside and outside of the United States — all without warrants.
Perhaps Hayden believes in the Constitution, but at best it’s a selective belief. There’s that pesky 4th Amendment, for example, which guarantees that
“[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Nor does Hayden appear to believe in U.S. laws and institutions, at least when it comes to the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which established the secret courts that are supposed to issue exactly the sort of warrant Hayden’s program never requested.
John Negroponte is another of the signers who has a history of skirting U.S. laws and the congress that passes them. While ambassador to Honduras, he helped develop a murderous “contra” army, which the United States armed and trained to overthrow the government of neighboring Nicaragua. During those years, however, aid to the contras was actually illegal under U.S. law. It was explicitly prohibited under the so-called Boland Amendments to various appropriations bills, but no matter. “National security” was at stake.
Speaking of the Constitution, it’s instructive to take a look at Article 6, which states in part that “all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land.” Such treaties include, for example, the 1928 Kellogg-Briand non-aggression pact (whose violation was the first charge brought against the Nazi officials tried at Nuremberg) and Article 51 of the U.N. charter, which permits military action only “if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations.”
In 1998, Robert Zoellick, another of those 50 Republicans openly denouncing Trump, signed a different letter, which advocated abrogating those treaties. As an associate of the Project for a New American Century, he was among those who urged then-President Bill Clinton to direct “a full complement of diplomatic, political, and military efforts” to “remove Saddam Hussein from power.” This was to be just the first step in a larger campaign to create a Pax Americana in the Middle East. The letter specifically urged Clinton not to worry about getting a Security Council resolution, arguing that “American policy cannot continue to be crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council.”
“He Is Unable or Unwilling to Separate Truth From Falsehood…”
So says the letter, and that, too, offers a fair characterization of Trump, who has often contended that President Obama has never proved he was born in the U.S.A., and has more than once repeated the long-disproved legend that, during the 1899-1913 Morro Rebellion in the Philippines, General John J. Pershing used bullets dipped in pig’s blood to execute Muslim insurgents. (And that’s barely to scratch the surface of Donald Trump’s remarkable unwillingness to separate truth from falsehood.) What, then, about the truthfulness of the letter signers?
Clinton never bit on the PNAC proposal, but a few years later, George W. Bush did. And the officials of his administration began their campaign of lies about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, yellow cake uranium from Niger, and “smoking guns” that might turn out to be “mushroom clouds” (assumedly over American cities), all of which would provide the pretext for that administration’s illegal invasion of Iraq.
The Bush administration didn’t limit itself to lying to the American people. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Negroponte was dispatched to the Security Council to lie, too. Security Council Resolution 1441 was the last of several requiring Iraq to comply with weapons inspections by the United Nations Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Some members of the Council, especially Russia and France, were hesitant to approve 1441, fearing that the U.S. might interpret it as a license to invade. So, in the discussions before the vote, Negroponte assured the Security Council that “this resolution contains no ‘hidden triggers’ and no ‘automaticity’ with respect to the use of force. If there is a further Iraqi breach, reported to the Council by UNMOVIC, the IAEA or a Member State, the matter will return to the Council for discussions.” The British ambassador used almost identical words to reassure the Council that, before attacking Iraq, the United States and Britain would seek its blessing.
That, of course, is hardly what happened. On February 24, 2003, Washington and London did bring a resolution for war to the Security Council. When it became apparent that two of its permanent members, France and Russia, would veto that resolution if it came to a vote, Bush (in consultation with British Prime Minister Tony Blair) decided to withdraw it. “We all agreed,” he wrote in his memoir, that “the diplomatic track had reached its end.”
And so the U.S. was on its foreordained path to war and disaster in Iraq, the path that after much winding, much failure, and much destruction would lead to Donald Trump.
So much for keeping promises and separating “truth from falsehood.”
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Rebecca Gordon, a TomDispatch regular, teaches in the philosophy department at the University of San Francisco. She is the author of American Nuremberg: The U.S. Officials Who Should Stand Trial for Post-9/11 War Crimes (Hot Books). Her previous books include Mainstreaming Torture: Ethical Approaches in the Post-9/11 United States and Letters from Nicaragua.
Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.
At least in terms of scale. Of course, in terms of widespread lack of character, it’s like all of the worse offenders in history, current and past.
Reuters: The United States Army’s finances are so jumbled it had to make trillions of dollars of improper accounting adjustments to create an illusion that its books are balanced.
The Defense Department’s Inspector General, in a June report, said the Army made $2.8 trillion in wrongful adjustments to accounting entries in one quarter alone in 2015, and $6.5 trillion for the year. Yet the Army lacked receipts and invoices to support those numbers or simply made them up.
As a result, the Army’s financial statements for 2015 were “materially misstated,” the report concluded. The “forced” adjustments rendered the statements useless because “DoD and Army managers could not rely on the data in their accounting systems when making management and resource decisions.”
And did you notice how this information was worded?
The United States Army’s finances are so jumbled…
Jumbled? The proper word is corrupt. To the core. And what would “materially misstated” really mean in ‘As a result, the Army’s financial statements for 2015 were “materially misstated,” the report concluded’? Perjury?
The abject failure that is this co-called democracy and its capitalist system.
Wikileaks had published two short CIA manuals for guidance on committing crimes of false identity intended for its operatives traveling through Europe.
In other words, below is a crime manual. And as I have been pointing out in recent posts, the US, France, and the UK are just organized mafias where people wear suits.
There is no rule of law – just the rule of power without oversight. Which means we live in democracies with no rule of law. How’s that for a system? As long as material wealth trickles down to certain sectors of society, people support it.
CIA Advice for Operatives Infiltrating Schengen
I came across a report from a couple that traveled to Cuba that offered their experience. I have a similar expectation that this is what one could very well see in Cuba – particularly as a tourist.
Castro and his supporters achieved tremendous progress for Cuba, and he outsmarted the US’s evil desire to destroy this progress, and bring it under its heel of corruption and exploitation as it has done to dozens of other countries in Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East.
When my husband and I started telling others that we had begun making plans to travel to Cuba this summer, their reactions ranged from curiosity to something like thinly veiled horror: Cuba, of all places? Fidel Castro, communists, the missile crisis in the ‘60s — why Cuba?
For us, the answer was simple: Cuba today is at a pivotal moment in its history, and has not been this accessible to regular Americans in more than 50 years. It is also one of the most interesting, culturally rich, and astoundingly gorgeous natural areas on Earth. When Christopher Columbus landed on Cuba’s northeastern shore in October 1492, he wrote that he “never beheld such a beautiful place.”
This we had to see.
But first, we needed to figure out how to get there. U.S. travel restrictions had been locked in place for decades, embedded in our country’s 1961 trade embargo and loosened only in late 2014. With additional lightening of limitations in March of this year, travelers like us could plan our trip without needing to apply for a visa with the federal government so long as our trip’s purpose fit into one of 12 pre-approved categories. These include humanitarian work, academic research, sport competitions and journalistic activities (hint, hint: this article’s for you, feds!). Purely touristic travel, however, is still technically prohibited under U.S. law.
Once the legal details were ironed out, we booked two flights: one to Mexico, and one from Mexico to Havana. The good news is that this type of roundabout entry into the country will soon be unnecessary, with direct flights from the States to several Cuban cities scheduled to resume this fall. Denver’s own Frontier Airlines has even been awarded a number of daily trips by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Soon, we were stuffing last-minute snacks and sunblock into our backpacks and locking the door to our Glenwood home behind us. As we exited customs in the Havana airport about 24 hours later, a blast of infernal tropical heat pummeled us — and I knew we had arrived.
For the next three weeks we drove across the island from east to west in a small Chinese rental car, beginning in the eastern metropolis of Santiago de Cuba and eventually making our way back to Havana. Santiago was a fascinating introduction to the country, a vivacious city pulsing with music, dance and youthful energy. Here we stayed in the first of several Airbnb’s throughout the trip, booked online before we ever left home. Airbnb has taken off since beginning operations in Cuba last year partly because private homestays, or casas particulares, are one of a few limited forms of private enterprise allowed by the government.
After Santiago we drove northeast through Guantanamo province, stopping near the top of its eponymous bay to see if we could squint hard enough to spot our infamous U.S. base at the other end. The road then took us to lush, secluded Baracoa — arguably the most lovely town we visited in all of Cuba. Accessible only by sea for centuries before a single road was constructed in the 1960s to connect it with the rest of the country, Baracoa maintains its own unique atmosphere, culture and food traditions today. The heaping plate of spiced tetí we ate there — tiny fish the size of rice grains, native to the region — was the most unusual culinary experience of our trip.
From Baracoa we went west along Cuba’s northern shore, with stops in the sleepy colonial towns of Banes and Gibara. Further inland we visited stunning Camagüey and roamed its labyrinthine streets, which were reportedly designed to confuse pillaging bands of pirates a few centuries ago. Afterward we continued to Trinidad, a cobblestoned village surrounded by ghostly old sugarcane plantations, and then skirted the south coast until hitting the Bay of Pigs.
Would anyone believe that the Bay of Pigs, once the gruesome site of the U.S. government’s doomed 1961 attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro, is now a bona fide adventure destination attracting snorkelers and scuba divers from all over the world? Well, it is — and for good reason. Along the bay’s eastern edge is a wild and uncorrupted 22-mile stretch of coral reef and gentle crystalline waters. What an odd place for us to spend the Fourth of July this year.
For our final few days in Cuba, we saved the biggest sight for last: Havana. At once grand and decrepit, Havana was everything we had seen in pictures and more. Vintage cars the color of bubble gum and banana cream, crumbling colonial architecture, horse drawn carts full of papayas, children playing handball in the street, daiquiris, dancing, music pouring from open doors, sunsets over the sea wall: as our Lonely Planet guidebook put it, “No one could have invented Havana. It’s too audacious, too contradictory, and — despite 50 years of withering neglect — too damned beautiful.”
The same, I think, could be said of the entire country. The fascinating thing about Cuba in 2016 is that all of its glorious contradictions are coming to a head. It is obvious that change is happening — but what exactly that change might bring is anyone’s guess.
Cuba surprised me in ways that I did not expect. At every turn, something or someone was waiting to dismantle the old Castro-Communist-Missile Crisis narrative of Cuba that I (and most other Americans) had grown up with. Where I anticipated animosity, I was granted kindness; where I assumed danger, I felt safety; and where I expected ugliness, I found beauty. Cuba is not what it was in the 1960s, or the 1990s, or even what it was five years ago — and I can’t wait to see where it goes next.
It’s always the innocent who are killed in these “terrorist” attacks that pay the price for the horrible wars and killings the French are doing abroad.
The French, stupid and corrupt as they are, are not focusing on killing less innocent people abroad, nor destroying less other countries, nor bringing to justice their grotesque military and politicians who enable these wars and horrors. No – they want to stop the “terrorist attacks” – which are a reaction to all the killing the French are doing to other innocent people abroad, notably in Africa and the Middle East.
Every time I hear one of these people who were there on the Promenade saying, “Oh my god, it was like a war zone, with bodies all over it, so horrible,” I feel like telling them, “See? That’s what the French, the Americans, and the British are doing to poor people in Africa and the ME every single week.”
You have to agree that a lone wolf attack like this – with something that is not a standard weapon – is a brilliant attack from a tactical perspective, because it is very easy to carry out (relatively speaking), it requires basically only one person, it’s incredibly cheap, it raises no suspicions if carried out in a minimally smart way (and this guy was really smart about how he went about it), and it causes a huge impact. The damage and the media attention is just berserk. I mean, he alone killed about as many people as the November attacks which were much, much more complicated. Lastly, this kind of attack, as some authorities already underscored, is basically impossible to prevent.
I was extremely impressed by an account of an “action guy” who died tried to get on the truck to stop the driver. From the little information that was given, the guy was on a motorcycle, and he cuts in front of the truck (?), then tries to grab onto the door near the driver, but the driver shoots at him, and he falls and dies overrun (?) by the truck. It was an eyewitness account and there wasn’t a lot of detail. But just with this little bit of information, I was just stunned at this guy’s capacity to just dive into action, like a scene from one of those action movies – except this was real life. Just incredible. Just amazing how someone could think about all this in a split second and just go into serious action, risking their life and all. I mean, just running out of the way of the truck is one thing, but this? Wow.
Updated on July 23: OK, so now the media has identified this guy (Franck) who told in more detail what happened. It’s still very amazing. His wife was with him on the motorcycle. His son was at the square the truck was heading to. He made a decision right then to try to save his son’s life even if he got killed in the process. He tells his wife to get off the motorcycle. He then nears the truck and ditches the motorcycle. He continues on foot, manages to jump and cling to the truck’s door with one arm and starts punching the driver with his free arm. He says the “terrorist” didn’t even flinch! Terrorist grabs his gun and points at his face but gun doesn’t fire. Finally terrorist hits guy on his head with the gun and the guy falls off. Another guy who was also on a bike (Alexandre Migues) tried to do something similar. And he obviously wasn’t shot in the head so we have to ask: did the terrorist actually have bullets? Or just a malfunctioning gun? However, the description of what took place from grainy footage in the news report describes things a bit differently.
What was the response from the Nazi French regarding this attack? They’ve just announced they are going to bomb more people in the Middle East. They are going to kill more innocent people – hence there will be more “terrorist” attacks.
We live in a world where there are big terrorist governments (e.g., the US, UK, and France) and small terrorist groups. The scale of horrors from the terrorist governments is much bigger than from the terrorist groups – although you’d never ever know this from Western media. And the so-called terrorist groups are often covertly funded by the terrorist governments in the West to fight their proxy wars. You have to say, it’s a horrible world.
I commented on the images in the media on my previous post about the attacks. I am just dumbfounded that we never see pictures of people dying and being blown up in the wars in African and the Middle East. They are being killed and killed and the Western media basically never show their bodies, their faces, their identities, they never interview the survivors, they never tell of their suffering…
You have to say, it’s very Nazi. It’s like the Jews just disappearing and disappearing and no one cared to know who they were.
Not a good time for the Olympics right now – not only because of the terrorism threat. This is not a new thought for me – I had already really felt disgusted at the Winter Olympics last time and at other games before that. This is how I saw the last Winter Olympics: mostly just a huge expensive party for privileged kids from rich countries who promote a way of life that is totally disconnected from the horrible reality of many people around the world, including that brought about by poverty, oppression, and wars which their governments are profoundly enmeshed in producing. I was often disgusted while watching the Games because of this context.
Added July 20:
“Nice est la ville la plus vidéosurveillée de France avec 1400 caméras visionnées par différents agents 24h/24 au CSU (Centre de supervision urbain). ”
So what do we find out now? Nice is the most camera-monitored city in France with 1,400 cameras! And yet the guy went ahead right under their noses. I saw an article describing the terrorist saying “he wasn’t very intelligent.” Maybe not, in the intellectual sense – but the guy outsmarted 60 million French idiots without much effort! The article above in francebleu also talks about the fact that France has two laws prohibiting these big trucks from circulating at certain times. And yet nobody told the truck not to circulate. Why not? Because the city needs to give out exceptions to trucks making deliveries, etc., to all the restaurants and bars, for example. You know the French can’t be deprived of drinking their wine and having their cheese while their military is murdering masses of innocent people in Africa and the ME.
So I see that we are full steam ahead in the post-attack “find the people to be blamed!” stage.
The police, the city council, the prefecture, Hollande and Valls, everyone is now the target of blame, criticism, and seething anger coming from everyone else in a big huffing and puffing circus.
The police has defended itself saying that while they have this enormous quantity of cameras, they can’t assign an agent simply to watch one little screen 24/7 – this would mean 1,400 agents just sitting there for each 8 hour shift, or 4,200 agents just sitting on their stupid French behinds for a round-the-clock coverage – not counting weekends, because you know the French don’t work on weekends. LOL! In other words, most of the their camera system is ineffective, not to say useless. Now what I’d be really curious about is just how many agents they currently employ to watch these 1,400.cameras. Like three? I would not be surprised.
The French president has also put a call out to French citizens to join their reservists. Oh, a militia! Here it is, folks. You’re watching it right before your eyes. The Milice française, or French Militia, is growing again.
What a disgusting world.
July 23, 2016:
Heh! New act in the Nice attack circus: the French government wants all video evidence of the attack destroyed. Unbelievable. Told ya – the French are corrupt to the core. I was surprised that the city of Nice stood firm and refused – but maybe they are afraid their heads will roll as scapegoats if the government has them destroy the footage – given all the compensation lawsuits that lie ahead.
Not only that, now my curiosity is extremely peaked at what that footage actually contains in this regard. I mean, it must be something quite damning about the police.
And I have found part of my answer: an interview with the policewoman (Sandra Bertin) that heads the police video surveillance center in Nice. She says that less than 24 hours after the attack, she was harassed by someone from the government to lie about the presence of French national police at the attack site – contrary to what appeared in the screens/videos she was watching at the time. She has refused to lie and she has told the media about it! Hah! And that’s one answer as to why the French government wanted to have them erase the security videos. They are going to be creamed with lawsuits – which are going to claim the government failed in its duty to provide the proper police security for such an event. The corrupt-to-the-core French are at it again! They lost this round however. Her full interview will be published tomorrow – it should make for an interesting reaction. 🙂
From prostitution (and porn and homosexuality) promoter magazine Vanity Fair: an article promoting prostitution for young people – especially with older adults. Surprise.
Daddies, “Dates,” and the Girlfriend Experience: Welcome to the New Prostitution Economy
“Basically every gay dude I know is on Seeking Arrangement,” says Christopher, 23, a Los Angeles film editor. “And there are so many rent boys,” or young gay men who find sex-work opportunities on sites like RentBoy, which was busted and shut down in 2015 by Homeland Security for facilitating prostitution. “Now people just go on RentMen,” says Christopher.
“We talked a lot about agency” when conceiving The Girlfriend Experience, says producer Steven Soderbergh (who directed a movie of the same name in 2009), “and the idea that you have this young woman who is going into the workforce and ends up in the sex-work industry, where she feels she has more control and is respected more than she is at her day job,” at a law firm.
[So since prostitution is a horrendous kind of activity – this really is just underscores how disgusting law firms in a grotesque capitalist society like the US are! ]
Meanwhile, sugaring has its own extensive community online—also known as “the sugar bowl”—replete with Web sites and blogs. On Tumblr, babies exchange tips on the best sugaring sites and how much to charge. They post triumphant pictures of wads of cash, designer shoes, and bags.
Really – designer shoes and bags. These young women are debasing themselves and sexuality for some designer shoes and bags – and they call this agency. They couldn’t be more daft, they couldn’t have more of a perverted understanding of what’s important in life and in themselves, they couldn’t be cheaper – and here they are desperate, desperate for some crap with some label on it. Just to feel valued in the grotesque peer environment they live in.
Agency for patriarchal sluts is like this. As I would say to them – patriarchy has you where they want you. Imagine this! Women brain-washed to prostitute themselves to men (who can care less about them and who have a deformed view of relationships and sex) and who tell themselves this is agency – and feminism. Agency starts with the capability to think critically and to have a healthy mindset. No ability to think – no agency. Just another brainwashed slut serving patriarchy (or its homosexual variant). Because you know what garbage of people LGBTs are.
On Facebook, there are private pages where babies find support for their endeavors as well. On one, members proudly call themselves “hos” (sometimes “heaux”) and post coquettish selfies, dressed up for “dates.” They offer information on how to avoid law enforcement and what they carry to protect themselves (knives, box cutters, pepper spray). They give advice on how to alleviate the pain of bruises from overzealous spanking and what to do when “scammers” refuse to pay. They ask questions: “How do you go about getting started in sex work? I’m honestly so broke.”
And here is where really begins to intrude the “sex work is just another kind of work” lies. Tips on how to protect themselves from violence? What for? Could it be because they are putting themselves at risk by being alone with some grotesque stranger? Tips for “alleviating the pain of bruises”? Bruises?
“Agency” for the most ideologically enslaved women is like this: bruises. Knives. Calling themselves “hos”. Look at the respect, the freedom, the “agency”.
Throughout this article, I also wondered how much of it was made up. Because you know, Vanity Fair. In any case, they tell us this about the profile of some of these young people:
They were squeezed by college tuition, crushed by student loans and the high cost of living. Many of their parents were middle- or upper-middle-class people who had nothing to spare for their children, derailed by the economic downturn themselves. And so they did “cake sitting”—a specialty service for a fetish that craves just what it says—or stripping or Webcamming or sugaring. Some beat people up in professional “dungeons”; others did “scat play,” involving sex with feces. They did what they felt they had to do to pay their bills.
Is this a complete fabrication from Vanity Fair? I mean, their description doesn’t seem to make any sense. If the parents are upper middle class, how can they have nothing to spare for their kids? The only way I see that happening is if the parents hate their own children, and are stingy – which happens with a certain frequency – but there’s no mention of that. They speak of upper middle class families as if they were living under a bridge.
“Being in the L.A. atmosphere, and at the age of 16 or 17 going out in nightlife—it’s all very based on appearance,” Alisa says. “Out here, as long as you’re wearing Saint Laurent and the newest items, that’s all people care about, so my friends and I were obsessed with fashion. I think with our generation, Instagram also has a lot to do with it—people are constantly posting what they have.” She’s explaining that she became a sugar baby in order to buy luxury goods.
You see why Fidel Castro is cool? Because he has a vision for young people to become doctors, engineers, social workers, to build a society together. I’m dying to go to Cuba to see “sur place” what is it like. Just how bad are the problems? Just how much have they been able to achieve despite the US having done everything to destroy them?
This is what the US has to offer to the world: a society of prostitutes and johns – with girls and boys who do it so they can have some designer bag! It’s enough to make you weep. But for Americans, it’s normal! And it wasn’t like that a couple of generations ago – but things are changing. For the worse.
And look at all that agency here:
“I haven’t done it [prostitution] in a really long time,” she says, “solely because of how it made me feel. Like it just makes you feel worthless ‘cause they don’t pay attention to your brain, they don’t care what you have to say. They just care that you’re attractive and you’re listening to them. I don’t want to ever have to look back and think, like, I made it to this point just because I used my body to get there.”
Huhoh! Couldn’t get more patriarchal than that, could it? And capitalist.
And look at the heaps of “feminism” here:
Jenna says that a friend of hers was sexually assaulted by a man she met on a sugaring site. “She didn’t want to report it,” she says, “because she didn’t want her parents to know what she was doing.”
Keeping quiet about being sexually assaulted is so feminist!
And look at how much respect they really get:
But it wasn’t real dating, and after a while it began to bother her, as she realized the men, although “generally nice,” didn’t actually respect her. “I think the sugar daddies just see the sugar babies as whores,” she says. “They would never consider a monogamous relationship with someone who would need to do this to survive. It’s like a class thing. They see you as beneath them, desperate.
No, idiot – prostitution is not dating. And here we can see how these young women have to create a completely fake persona, and can never be themselves – because agency!
Miranda is 22 and has the wavy bobbed hair and clipped mid-Atlantic accent of a 1930s movie star; she grew up in a Texas suburb. “I’ve learned how to look like this, talk like this,” she says. “I work hard at being this,” meaning someone who can charge $700 an hour for sex.
Then she adds:
Now, she says, she has a rotation of three regular “clients”—”a top Austin lawyer, a top architect, and another tech guy,” all of them married. She adds, “Their relationships are not my business.”
Well, I’d be curious if their families felt that way as well. You know, I mentioned this article to some married women I know, and I was surprised they all said they thought the wives of these three guys would certainly not agree if they knew. I rather had imagined them differently. I had imagine their wives to be quite the prostitutes themselves – only they are married to only one guy. In other words, I imagine them to want the designer bags and shoes – and that they would put up with these men and their affairs and use of prostitutes just so they could live an upper class life.
I can’t know – but there would be nothing better than to throw the names of these guys into the public light and find out. And that goes for all the men and women using these sites. Nothing wrong? Than do it openly.
Lastly – there’s a lot to say about the language used to embellish prostitution and to hide the violence and degradation inherent to it – but the use of the word “daddy” is particularly sick given its incestuous connotation.