A discussion about Hillary and Cuba

The Guardian has an article about Hillary Clinton's plan to end economic sanctions against the Castro family dictatorship. The following is an excerpt from the article, and a piece of a follow up exchange I had in the comments section:

"Hillary Clinton will call for an end to the US embargo on Cuba during a rare foreign-policy speech for the Democratic presidential frontrunner, in a signal that the former secretary of state is willing to challenge her chief Republican rivals in the arena in which they have sought confrontation the most."


"She will highlight that Republican arguments against increased engagement are part of failed policies of the past and contend that we must look to the future in order to advance a core set of values and interests to engage with Cubans and address human rights abuses,” Clinton’s campaign said in a statement on Wednesday."

So I wrote the following comment:

Let's see....we know the Castro family dictatorship is one of the vilest ancient regimes on Earth. It sponsors and sustain another emerging autocracy, soon to lose any semblance of legitimacy or rationality (Maduro's regime), it advocates hatred towards the USA whenever it can. That's a given. 
Ms Clinton seems to be uncomfortable because Latin American regimes (la Kirchner, Evo Morales, a weakening Dilma, and boy genius Correa?) are made uncomfortable by USA sanctions. So what? If Latin American populists in that list prefer to defend autocracy, corruption and dictatorship, then they aren't worth much. Put them in the backyard and let them bark. And if they want to be Chinese colonies they can be liberated in due course.


Communism is alive and well

I have friends who think communism died when the Soviet empire collapsed and Eastern Europe freed itself. China's move away from its failed version of communism was followed by other dictatorships, like Vietnam. Now Cuba wants to adopt capitalism to protect the ill gotten perks of the party oligarchs. 

But communists seem to insist on rebuilding the past, and will continue wrecking nations like they are doing to Venezuela at this time. This is why I tell my friends communism will always attract followers, and will always remain a threat.


Letter from Ines, the jailed Venezuelan Twitterer

The following letter was written by Ines Gonzalez, a Venezuelan chemical engineer jailed for writing anti-government Twitter comments. Inés has been in jail at a location known as "The Helix" in Caracas, charged with "inciting hatred".

Ins Gonzalez prior to her arrest by 
the political secret police, the SEBIN

Individuals like Inés are arrested under trumped up charges and denied bail, nor are they put on trial. The regime follows the ancient Stalinist repression practices used by the Castro dictatorship, the idea is to pick off individuals and use their fate to terrorize the population.

"The Helix, July 10, 2015: 

To my dear and missed friends It has been over nine months since the repressive forces of the regime forced me to remain silent. 

However, it is time to send smoke signals from the lion's mouth: Inesita of his own hand writes; eternally grateful and touched by all forms of support and solidarity for my sake and that of all political prisoners

The Bible tells me that all our torturers and inquisitors have their reward, only God is the eternal power, and the true fatherland is made up of those of us who are persecuted and fettered.

Ideas can not be locked up in a cell. Here I  am freer than the prosecutor who jailed me, because true freedom is the absence of fear of the consequences. True freedom is to obey reason and a clear conscience ... Everything else is an illusion of stability.

Written word transcends time, connects us with the great minds of the past and allows us to leave testimony of our struggles to succeeding generations. So the regime is more afraid of the word than of lead bullets.

Those who feel they have no hope in this country, fear the  disaster that Maduro wants to impose, should  become your own sun to give luster to your lives. This nightmare will end. Thank you for not forgetting. I love you. 
Ines Gonzalez"
So what did the regime see in this girl? What did she write? She poked fun at Robert Serra, the Chavista who was murdered in Caracas, in a pretty ugly murder (see my post "Two strange murders in Caracas") , and she wrote a tweet saying the protests weren't going to stop the regime, that it was necessary to "lock down the country", meaning it was necessary to call a general strike. In her final days she also wrote the state political police (the KGB clone, known as SEBIN) had been trying to scare her.




Opinion about Venezuela within the US War College

I found a link to a study about the ongoing collapse of the Maduro regime, written by an expert at the USA War College.

The author, Dr R Evan Ellis is a research professor at the Strategic Studies Institute.  I'm going to quote a couple of paragraphs from his study so you can see what experts within the U.S. Military intelligentsia are seeing:

"The current regime in Venezuela is locked in an economic and political death spiral from which multiple reinforcing dynamics make it difficult to escape calamity. During 16 years of “Bolivarian socialism,” anti-business policies including expropriations, price and currency controls, government corruption, and skyrocketing crime have destroyed virtually all productive activity in the country outside the oil sector. In agriculture, where producers battle government-encouraged land invasions and outright expropriations, difficulties in obtaining foreign currency to purchase supplies, and demands from government purchasing agents for kickbacks that must be paid in scarce dollars, production has collapsed, and the agriculturally rich, tropical country must now import almost three-fourths of the food that it requires to feed its people, with the result that, as the government’s foreign currency runs out, Venezuela’s poor find it even harder to eat.
The mismanagement of existing oil fields has inhibited production and accelerated the decline of mature fields, while deferred investments have forced the adoption practices that increase production costs. PdVSA’s failure to invest in “upgrader” facilities, for example, have forced it to purchase “light, sweet” crude to mix with the heavier, sour oil from Orinoco, in order to sell it to commercial refineries. 
The Venezuelan military leaders who are not impeded by their own corruption from defending democracy and the constitution must include in their calculations the Cuban Intelligence agents whom President Hugo Chavez, and his successor Nicolas Maduro, have permitted to become embedded within Venezuelan military structures to maintain a socialist regime in power."
Memo: as of today the bolivar exchange rate is 630 to the U.S. Dollar.

Link to the full study at the U.S. War College website:


Climate Change news and the Siddartha Heuristic

2014 and 2015 have seen the flourishing of climate bullshit stories, many of which are based on falsehhoods or the fraudulent work done to deliver the IPCC's "RCP8.5" business as usual case. More about RCP8.5

The bullshit flood has been noted, and the perception is being discussed. The falsehoods seen in the media's climate change coverage are built on by politicians, turning a shoddy science problem into a much bigger shoddy politics and shoddy regulations problem. To show you how this is seen by people who are a lot smarter than me I'd like to quote from "The Siddartha Heuristic" by Dr. Judith Curry. 

"Analogously to the alarming medical headlines warning future bad outcomes associated with  ordinary daily habits, we see alarming news articles warning of future catastrophes related to climate change.

Spiegelhalter raises an important point: the manufactured and enforced consensus on climate change results in an unknown amount of evidence that we are not hearing about that would challenge the consensus.


Economic sanctions on the Castro dictatorship

I'm not worried about history from 50 years ago. Today economic sanctions are applied to put pressure on the Castro dictatorship to force it to reform. 

What I see today is a senile Fidel Castro whose brain barely works, a very old brother Raul who is trying to change course to introduce fascism mixed with capitalism and have his son Alejandro inherit the family dictatorship.

The heir, Alejandro Castro, who runs the state
 security services, and his sister Mariela. 

I see a fairly restless population, which is gradually accessing information about the outside world via small hard drives and miniature memory devices we introduce in the island. I see a very repressive regime ratcheting up abuses because they realize they are sitting on a volcano of opposition to regime policies. 

The best approach is to set up relations and have the Cuban people free itself by destroying the dictatorship from the inside. I think the communist franchise is nearly dead, Marxism is discredited and the people understand Fidel was full of lousy ideas. But the economic sanctions should be kept to make sure the transition to fascist dictatorship doesn't happen. It's critical to force the red oligarchs and the military to give up power peacefully, so they can be replaced by a viable social democracy.


Pope Francis & Jesus nailed to a hammer and sickle

Poor Pope Francis looked bewildered and upset as he was given an odd looking "Jesus nailed to a hammer and sickle" by Bolivian President Evo Morales:

They say Evo is very enthusiastic and admires Francisco because he shows communist tendencies and issued such as nice encyclical attacking capitalism. Evo is a committed Marxist, but he has tempered his radical tendencies and managed to keep Bolivia from falling in the disastrous conditions we see in Venezuela and Cuba....for now. 

I believe the Christian Catholics call Evo's actions a sacrilege. The object itself is heretical, and a  gross insult to the Pope and the religious institution he represents.

 I believe this is the equivalent of giving a menorah dipped in pork fat to a senior Rabbi, or sending a naked female statue to an Ayatollah? 


New Horizons Spacecraft Pluto Flyby & Discoveries

NASAs New Horizons space probe is approaching Pluto at very high speed.

Pluto has mountains! Here's a 360 video, flying around the ice mountains:

you tube by NASA : ice mountain fly around (don't miss! ) 

Link to an article in Discover magazine on July 20:


Excellent set of photographs released on Friday


 Touch the NASA link below to see a high resolution photograph.


 Latest NASA web page shows Charon, Pluto's moon, in the best detail ever seen (see link)


Link to NASA Tweet showing last photo taken before the flyby blackout period.


Here's a Pluto view from several million kilometers:

Photo released by Alex Parker,  from universe today. 

A really good set of photos can be seen here:


I'll be putting in new photos as they are released. Or you can sign up to follow Emily Lakdawalla using Twitter. The space probe is moving too fast to enter orbit around Pluto, it will fly by in a few days, and afterwards it'll continue traveling at high speed, and exit the solar system.

Corporate greed, profits, and the environment

I wrote a comment at Open Mind a few minutes ago, the subject is oil company profits, whether they know the greenhouse effect is real, etc.  I'm not sure it'll survive, so I decided to copy and paste it here.


To make sure you get the full story, the original post by Tamino is

“Corporations are interested in environmental impacts only to the extent that they affect profits”

The full text is here: https://tamino.wordpress.com/2015/07/09/corporations-are-interested-in-environmental-impacts-only-to-the-extent-that-they-affect-profits/#comment-88977

The exchange was rather limited because Tamino chose to censor my second response, and this was followed by the usual insulting comments one sees in these exchanges. That blog is a fairly inbred heavily censored collection, so I wont be visiting it anymore.

My comment:

I was a mid level technical and operations supervisor for a large multinational, and I saw a mixed bag of attitudes within the company as well as within other oil companies we were partnered with. 
At a high level, most companies worry about their image, the brand. A good image enhances profits. It helps recruit brighter and more educated personnel (oil company employees aren’t subhuman pollution loving monsters, the younger generation in particular likes to go have pizza and not have to hide where they work).


Obama's new friends like to torture

The following letter was sent to Reporters Without Borders, by Lazaro Yuri Valle, detailing some of the human rights violations being experienced by the Cuban population. As the USA prepares to open its Havana embassy the Castro family dictatorship is hardening its position and using more violence against the population.

The situation is really tragic, we see Obama moving to please business lobbies and pander to the international left, even though he knows these abuses go on, day after day after day.

TO: Representatives of the Interamerican Press Association, and Reporters Without Borders

FROM: *Lázaro Yuri Valle Roca, Independent Journalistb

SUBJECT: Indiscriminate repression Against Ladies in White, peaceful activist opponents, journalists, bloggers, and independent communicators

By this letter, I am contacting you to make you aware of what is happening against the Ladies in White, activist opponents, journalists, bloggers, photojournalists, and independent communicators, who are committed to the struggle for citizen, human and political rights that have been violated, and seek to disseminate the reality that our country has suffered under the Castro brothers’ totalitarian regime for more than 56 years. Now that the repression unleashed by their specialized entities is worsening, their intent is that we not make known the brutal repression to which are subjected all who unite in demand for the release of political prisoners, and for reforms that will truly benefit the people.

I am not alone in this case. Sharing this situation are my colleagues: Vladimir Turró Páez and Enrique Díaz, collaborators on Misceláneas de Cuba and Primavera Digital; Juan González Febles, director of Primavera Digital; Agustín López Canino and Liván Serafín Moran, independent journalists; and Antonio Rodiles, director of the Estado de SATS project, to name a few among those most persecuted by the political police–a repressive institution that abducts, tortures, threatens with death and holds abductees in Detention Centers such as police stations, as well as the so-called “Vivac” prison, located in the village of Calabazar, at the southern edge of the City of Havana.


Greece in Red

I just read the musings written by Nantina Vgontzas, a PhD student at New York University, a committed Marxist in a communist web site (jacobinmag.com). This young girl seems quite educated, and properly dosed with rabies. Let me show you what she wrote:

"The final scenario is Plan B with an actual plan. It is in some ways the riskiest but, given the other options, remains the most promising for Greek development and justice. Here, No wins, Greece exits, be it negotiated or unilateral, and there is a massive push to the left: nationalization of key sectors, notably the banking sector; the possible introduction of a parallel currency; restricted foreign exchange; imports of basic goods from allies; some kind of ration, however chaotic; a potential blockade of ports to begin disciplining Greek tankers, at the very least.

This wouldn’t fully resolve the liquidity problem, but it would be better managed than in the fourth scenario — that is, not on labor’s back.

Of course, this option means open confrontation with capital, to which key figures within the party have shown great apprehension. There will inevitably be a fight within the party, a rapid intensification of the simmering of the past few months that will also be influenced by forces outside Syriza.

If those pushing for political radicalization win this battle, we must acknowledge that at that point, anything goes.


Greece under Syriza

Breakfast: bread and water
Lunch: one sardine
Dinner: one olive
Shoes: rubber sandals
Pants: shorts
Shirt: not applicable
Medicine: Aspirin
Prime Minister: Dummy


Chinese pledge to increase CO2 emissions

The media reports China has “pledged” to reduce CO2 emissions by 2030 in a letter to the UN Climate bureaucracy. However, it looks like China´s reduction pledge is a sizable increase, and would leave China as the King Kong of CO2 emissions per capita and by just any other unit we wish to use.

Chinese citizens are very happy to see the new 
government plans to increase CO2 emissions, thus 
ensuring the people´s future economic well being. 

Su Wei,  has pledged to increase China´s CO2 emissions by 2030 by an unspecified amount.  Mr Su is the  “National Focal Point for UNFCC” and Director General of the Department of Climate Change. He sent a letter to Christiana Figueres , UNFCC Executive Secretary, stating China would lower carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 60% to 65% from the 2005 level. 

Note: If you don´t like math please skip the following paragraph.