Monday, May 26, 2008

Jimmy Carter: Abusive and imprudent

Carter: "Israel has at least 150 atomic weapons in its arsenal". In a new slip Carter made his comments at a press conference at the annual literary Hay Festival in Wales however Israel has never confirmed they have nuclear weapons.

This Jimmy Carter is a really bad weed...

There is not right to eternal power

The excentric and corny gang governing Venezuela belives their leader has a right to stay in powewr for ever. Even go to the extreme of inventing a new fundamental human right for him.

"Un exministro anuncia que "en el 2010 se planteará la iniciativa de referéndum constitucional para reconocerle al Corornel Chávez su derecho fundamental de postularse a la Presidencia de la República OTRA VEZ en el año 2012..."

Funny. A monarchic revolution, something never seen before...

Myself, but long ago...

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

UFO over Orchila island

"By mistake" spy airplane visited Mr. Hugo Chavez beach house on a Saturday...

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Empire strikes back

CARACAS, mayo 19 . - Autoridades venezolanas denunciaron el lunes que "un avión militar estadounidense violó su espacio aéreo" el fin de semana, lo que el Gobierno consideró una "nueva provocación por parte del enemigo imperialista, bla, bla, bla... "


250 kilotones Nuclear Bomb

Colombia redujo de 250.000 a 5.000 toneladas al año el cupo de exportaciones de carnes hacia Venezuela.

A correr carnívoros...

TIM PADGETT´s Dilemma over Chavez

TIME magazine Tim Padgett thinks that: "... there's the possibility, albeit remote in the eyes of many observers, that Chavez might be right — that the laptops themselves might not be authentic. Interpol chief Richard Noble said he was "absolutely certain" that the computers "came from a FARC terrorist camp." But technically, all that Interpol did in its examination of the computers was to confirm that they had not been messed with post-March 1; it wasn't asked to investigate Chavez's allegations that the computers had been planted by the Colombian military in the first place..."

Good but failed attempt to dissociate Chavez from FARC computers...

WashPost on Hugo Chavez

Evidence of support for terrorism could carry Chávez to the pariah status he deserves.

Sunday, May 18, 2008; Page B06

THE CONFIRMATION by an international forensics team that laptops and hard drives captured by Colombia originated in a camp of FARC terrorists ought to open a new era in relations between the democratic world and Hugo Chávez's Venezuelan government. Whether it does will depend to a large extent on how Colombia and the United States handle a rich but tricky diplomatic opportunity.

The computers and drives contain a staggering 610 gigabytes of data, according to Interpol, including 983 encrypted files opened by its team. What is already known is enough to demonstrate that Mr. Chávez and senior members of his government, army and intelligence service had a far-reaching clandestine relationship with the FARC and that Venezuela offered the group weapons, money and harbor on its own territory. Ecuador, which under President Rafael Correa has become a Venezuelan satellite, had lesser but also incriminating ties to the group, which specializes in drug trafficking, kidnapping and massacres of civilians.

On its face the evidence is enough to convict Mr. Chávez and his collaborators of backing terrorism against a democratic government. If Venezuela were a European or Asian country, it would surely become an international pariah virtually overnight. But Venezuela is in Latin America -- where governments are reluctant to criticize their neighbors, terrorist groups professing a left-wing ideology have often won sympathy in Europe and the United States, and demagogues such as Mr. Chávez are able to turn hostility from Washington to their advantage. That of course is the Venezuelan strategy: Rather than even attempt to respond to the contents of the laptops, Mr. Chávez is describing them as a CIA plot and a pretext for a U.S. invasion.

Therein lies the best approach for Colombia and the United States. Since neither Mr. Chávez nor Mr. Correa has offered any credible or even serious response to the laptop material, they should be firmly, repeatedly and relentlessly confronted with the evidence and asked for answers. Colombia can do this by petitioning the Organization of American States to determine whether Venezuela and Ecuador have breached its charter; it could also ask the U.N. Security Council to judge whether the two governments violated Resolution 1373, passed in September 2001, which prohibits all states from providing financing or havens to terrorist organizations. President Álvaro Uribe should order that all of the captured material be posted on the Internet. This should at least expose Mr. Chávez's behavior to global scrutiny and make it more difficult for countries and political leaders who have tried to ignore or excuse it, ranging from neighbors such as Brazil to some U.S. Democrats.

Some in Congress are already calling for Venezuela to be placed on the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism. While the designation may be justified and even mandated by U.S. law, it could simply bolster Mr. Chávez's anti-American narrative. A better course would be to single out and sanction Venezuelan companies and individuals compromised by the laptop evidence, such as the generals who have been secretly meeting and doing business with FARC leaders. Punishment of Venezuelans as a whole would serve little purpose. After all, the country recently voted down Mr. Chávez's attempt to prolong and institutionalize his rule. If managed correctly, the laptop scandal will surely deepen the domestic political hole into which the would-be "Bolivarian" revolutionary is sinking.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Economist unravels Chavez mistery

A $10m mystery

May 15th 2008, from The Economist

What connects the deputy-chairman of the Conservative Party with Hugo Chávez?

MICHAEL ASHCROFT is a powerful man. A former treasurer of the Conservative Party, he is now its deputy-chairman. He is also a very wealthy man—the 65th richest in Britain, according to a rough-and-ready ranking by the Sunday Times. Through one of his companies, he has given over £3m ($6m, at today's rates) to the Tories in the past five years in cash and kind (including free flights for the leadership and opinion-poll research). Before the last general election, Lord Ashcroft lent the Tories another £3.6m.

As well as being powerful and rich, Lord Ashcroft is elusive: he is the right-wing pimpernel of British politics, whose name is uttered with awe and terror by Labour MPs. The mystery partly emanates from Lord Ashcroft's association with Belize: he spent part of his youth in what was then still British Honduras, subsequently returning to Belize to base some of his business
activities there.

Belize is the smallest country on the American mainland, and one of the poorest in the Caribbean (“if the world had any ends,” Aldous Huxley wrote of it, this “would certainly be one of them”). If Lord Ashcroft is an influential man in Britain, in Belize he is a colossus. His holding companies control, among other things, the country's biggest bank, Belize Bank. A strange tale involving that bank and Hugo Chávez, Venezuela's left-wing president, now risks embarrassing the Tory deputy-chairman.

At issue—and now under dispute in assorted ongoing court cases—is a $10m transfer from Venezuela to the government of Belize that has, in effect, ended up in the coffers of Belize Bank. The bank argues that the money it received constitutes repayment of a government-guaranteed debt; the current government says Belize Bank had no right to hang on to it and is suing to get it. The story revolves around a private hospital established by a company called Universal Health Services (UHS), with early financial backing from the government of the day and from Belize Bank.

The UHS hospital is today a surprisingly modest building in a suburb of Belize City. According to the Ministry of Finance, the firm borrowed money from Belize Bank in 1998 and then from various arms of the government, incurring debts that were transferred between government agencies as they rapidly mounted. It is unclear why the agencies and Belize Bank continued to lend relatively large sums over an extended period to such an unpromising enterprise, which was never able to meet its repayment obligations.

By December 2004, says the Ministry of Finance, UHS owed Belize Bank Bz$29m ($14.5m, or £7.7m). The prime minister of Belize, Said Musa, agreed to guarantee repayment of all UHS's obligations to Belize Bank (assuming a guarantee previously issued by Belize's Development Finance Corporation). The guarantee was signed by Mr Musa and by Francis Fonseca, the attorney-general. As court papers show, the guarantee was not disclosed publicly and the cabinet was not informed of it.

Further funds were advanced and UHS's debts continued to mount, to more than Bz$33m by March 2007, according to court submissions. A new agreement was reached on March 23rd 2007 in the form of a settlement deed and a loan note signed by Mr Musa and representatives of Belize Bank in the presence of Mr Fonseca. In it the government promised to repay UHS's existing obligations to the bank, beginning on April 23rd, and the former open-ended guarantee was discharged. Any disputes were to be resolved through arbitration in London. An additional loan facility for Bz$12m was agreed on March 29th.

The GDP of Belize is only $1.2 billion; many of its 300,000 inhabitants live in poverty. Illiteracy, shanty housing, gang crime and ill health are all sadly common (the annual budget of its health ministry is less than $40m). So you might think that there would be restraints on the government's ability to agree to what, in Belizean terms, was an enormous guarantee. In fact, there were: under section 7 of the Finance and Audit (Reform) Act of 2005, the government required the approval of the National Assembly.

What friends are for

The first was to ask for a hand-out from rich and friendly countries. Taiwan agreed to help the government of Belize (one of the few countries with which the Taiwanese have formal diplomatic relations). On September 12th the Taiwanese paid a (US) $6m cheque into an account held with Belize Bank in the Turks and Caicos islands, and on October 20th another cheque for $4m was deposited.

Oil-rich Venezuela also obliged. On December 28th the central bank of Belize received $10m from Venezuela, wired via the Federal Reserve Bank in New York. In January Venezuela's generous gift, for housing and a sport stadium, was disclosed to a grateful nation; a general election was announced and cash frantically dished out to eager voters.

Unbeknownst to the public, however, another $10m pursued a more winding path from Venezuela to Belize. As court papers show, the funds were transferred on December 28th by the Banco de Desarollo Económico y Social (BANDES), Venezuela's development bank, to Belize Bank's account with its correspondent bank in London, Bank of America. The transfer contained (in Spanish) the instructions “Single disbursement [to]GOB (ie, the government of Belize) [for] construction and repair of housing”. On January 24th the money joined the Taiwanese funds in the Turks and Caicos islands.

While this aid was being wrung from public donors, a private-sector buyer for UHS was also sought. Dr Muthugounder Venugopal was the man eventually fixed upon. He and his associates ran the Loma Luz hospital in Belize—and he reportedly raised Bz$5m in the form of a loan from Belize Bank. A bewildering array of trusts and companies and a joint venture variously registered in the British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos, and St Kitts and Nevis was used to convey much of the money thus assembled to Belize Bank. On January 30th Belize Healthcare Partners, owned by a joint venture essentially between Dr Venugopal's Venny Group and a new Belize Healthcare Charitable Trust, paid Belize Bank Bz$39m—almost the combined total of Taiwan's grants and the secret transfer from Venezuela—to buy UHS's assets, and a further Bz$6m to other creditors and suppliers.

This secret Venezuelan transfer was not made public—until Mr Musa, despite the hand-out, lost the election on February 7th: he is now threatened by a host of corruption allegations, including some involving dodgy loans by development agencies. The day after he was swept from power, the new rulers of Belize were, they say, asked by Venezuela for an accounting of its $20m gift. The central bank of Belize demanded that Belize Bank hand over the Venezuelans' second $10m and display its authorisation for not coughing up the Taiwanese funds. In its report on the matter sent to Belize Bank on March 31st it charges the bank with various irregularities. For its part Belize Bank has challenged in court the central bank's directives.

The government of Belize, under its new prime minister, Dean Barrow, wants good relations with Belize's largest commercial bank and with Lord Ashcroft. But it also wants what it sees as its money back. On April 10th the government sued the bank for the return of the Venezuelan $10m. (Referring to the former government's secret agreements, Mr Barrow told the assembly on April 25th that “The days of doing things in the dark behind the backs of the Belizean people in order to screw the Belizean people are over.”)

What is the truth of the matter? Philip Johnson, the chairman of Belize Bank, says in a letter to The Economist only that “a further settlement was reached which allowed monies to be made available for the purchase of the assets of UHS.” He insists that the guarantees were legal, and claims that Belize Bank in fact received less than it was entitled to. As to the transfer instructions from Venezuela specifying that the funds be paid to the government of Belize for housing, his bank “was not privy to the arrangements between the Governments of Belize and Venezuela” (though, as the deposit was made into Belize Bank's correspondent account in London, it seems odd that the bankers should have been unaware of Venezuela's instructions).

A different interpretation is summarised by Mark Espat, a minister under Mr Musa who lost his cabinet job for opposing the guarantee. Money, he says, was “diverted from its intended purpose to honour a debt that should never have been agreed in the first place”.

They seek him here, seek him there

Lord Ashcroft's Belizean existence has caused him trouble before now. When he was ennobled in 2000, the Tories said he would assume permanent residence in Britain—fulfilling the inverted principle of no representation without taxation. His nomination for a peerage had previously been rejected, partly, it is thought, because of his tax status. It remains unclear whether that pledge has been fulfilled; his attendance in the Lords has been infrequent. And as the UHS row demonstrates, he is as controversial a figure in his adoptive homeland as he is in what is theoretically his real one.

The Economist sought his comments on Belize Bank's involvement in the affair, but none has been forthcoming from him or from his aides. So Lord Ashcroft's own role in the matter, if any, remains unclear. But Belize Bank is owned by a holding company of which he is the majority shareholder and executive chairman. His son runs Belize Bank in the Turks and Caicos.

Meanwhile, Lord Ashcroft and his fortune continue to exert huge influence on British politics. Exploiting a clause in party-funding laws that allows unlimited campaign spending before an election period, he is funding aggressive campaigns by prospective Tory candidates in key marginal constituencies—a tactic that reaped big benefits at the 2005 election.


INTERPOL: Reyes PC documents intact

USS Washington & Presidents

The USS Washington is at Punta Arenas (Chile), while more than 50 presidents meet in Peru. Caring or intimidating?

I do not know about military things, just do the question...

MAD about a computer

Venezuelan president looks really nervous about the Raul Reyes FARC computers and today is de "D" day. D for disclosure...

Thursday, May 08, 2008

OBAMA already sounds like the guy

Papers all over say Obama has 90% chance of being the Democratic nominee for the WHouse. Will he be able to defeat McCain. Three months ago I would have not doubted, now after all these Clinton attacks and his own mistakes I am not so sure. Time will say.I only hope he is not killed like the Kennedies or rev. King in the sixties...

Monday, May 05, 2008

Exercise your brain or else...

This story is in the New York Times today: "When David Bunnell, a magazine publisher who lives in Berkeley, Calif., went to a FedEx store to send a package a few years ago, he suddenly drew a blank as he was filling out the forms. “I couldn’t remember my address,” said Mr. Bunnell, 60, with a measure of horror in his voice. “I knew where I lived, and I knew how to get there, but I didn’t know what the address was.” Mr. Bunnell is among tens of millions of baby boomers (about 50) who are encountering the signs, by turns amusing and disconcerting..."


Saturday, May 03, 2008

Bolivia: A sad history of dismembering

Some one is mad here

The last madness. A computer gamewith prostitution and homicides. Please, tie those desktopcrazies. Enough with all the Mugabes, Castroes and Chavez in this world...