The World & Beyond

The writings of a global transient.

Month: December 2014

Attacking “terrorists” in another country. When is it ok?

So, the US has engaged in an act of war by violating the airspace of another nation in order to try to kill a supposed terrorist.

Now, said terrorist, as far as I can tell, has not done anything against the US nor is a threat to the United States.

This is, of course, why they call it “the war on terror”. It’s a free license to engage in warfare against almost anyone anywhere, and the “patriotic” contractors need a never ending war.

This was also our justification for attacking the Taliban who had also done nothing to us but supposedly harbored Osama bin Laden.

First off: consider that if the US military is unable to exert dominion over all of Afghanistan why should it be assumed that the Taliban could?

But anyway, let’s assume they could: so, harboring a terrorist is a legitimate reason to launch strikes and/or invade another country.

Who agrees with that? Make up your mind before you read on…
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Meet Orlando Bosch:

bosch

“Orlando Bosch Ávila (18 August 1926 – 27 April 2011)[1] was a Cuban exile, former Central Intelligence Agency-backed operative, and head o fCoordination of United Revolutionary Organizations, which the FBI has described as “an anti-Castro terrorist umbrella organization”.[2] Former U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburghcalled Bosch an “unrepentant terrorist”.[3] He was accused of taking part in Operation Condor and several terrorist attacks, including the 6 October 1976 bombing of a Cuban civilian airliner in which all 73 people on board were killed, including many young members of a Cuban fencing team and five North Koreans. ”

Orlando Bosch is a terrorist. He should be arrested right?
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“Bosch was given safe haven within the US in 1990 by President George H. W. Bush, who in 1976 as head of the CIA had declined an offer by Costa Rica to extradite Bosch.”

All the above is from Wikipedia:

Later in life the US argued against his extradition under the theory that he would be tortured which is amusing given out record of torturing “terrorists”.

So a quick question for anyone who is in favor of or strikes on Somalia or Afghanistan: would you be ok if prior to his death in 2011 Cuban planes struck the US to kill Orlando Bosch? What would you think if they missed and there was “collateral damage”? Would you buy the US “Whoops we are sorry, but we go to great lengths not to kill civilians” excuse?

Why does this matter?  It matters because of Blowback, which I have written about before.  Americans stand around dumbfounded and wonder why others want to kill us.  Not having any clue they buy into the “they hate us for our freedoms” nonsense.  There is a real reason why people around the world want to kill us and it has nothing to do with our freedoms.  It has to do with specific foreign policy actions regularly undertaken by the warfare state.

The day to day burden of theft in Panama

My experience buying a new phone and sim card today in Panama helps to illustrate the day to day economic burden of rampant theft in this country, particularly by employees.

Employee theft of course occurs in the United States.  In the restaurant industry theft of alcohol by employees is extremely common, which explains strict rules on who has access to alcohol in most restaurants and bars and why, for example, there are strict alcohol counts between shifts at Henry Hudsons and companies as well as a proliferation of bar control and measuring systems.  We do the same thing at the bar I am a part owner of in Panama City.

The great difference in theft in the 3rd/2nd world (Panama is really “2nd world” in my opinion) is the attitude of the lower/working to middle classes to theft and corruption.

In Panama, the attitude among most is that “everyone steals or takes bribes” so you would be dumb not to.   They see the massive graft at the top and feel no great moral need to turn down a bribe or take advantage of an employer.  After all, the leading politicians and businessmen all got ahead with corruption.  Why shouldn’t they?

The great success of the United States as a country, in my opinion, is that they elite have managed to convince the middle class to live their lives on the straight and narrow while they (the elite) are busy plundering the country at levels that would be far more shocking than anything I have ever seen in Africa or Panama if the average person understood how the plundering works.  I will expound upon this idea in a later post before the end of the year.  Back to the point, however, crime is higher in Panama on a day to day basis and there are real costs to society imposed by it.

A case in point is my trip to the cell phone store today.

(please excuse the picture quality, I took them discretely)

Picture 1 is  a picture of the entrance, taken from where I was actually ordering my phone.  It shows:

A.  A security guard (on the left)

B.  A woman who checks you in and gives you a number. (also on the left)

C.  Two cubicles in back (more on what happens there later).

case

First I’m sure security guards exists in certain parts of the United States in cell phone stores, but they don’t anyplace I have ever been in Oklahoma and I have been to cell phone stores in less than desirable areas.  This Claro store is in a nice part of town.

2nd, the person checking you in is common in the US so there is nothing to comment on here.

Those two cubicles in the far background I will mention later.

The following is picture two.  This is the sales clerk who was telling me about costs, plans, etc.  Note the window in back for later.

teller and phone

And finally the “cajas” in the third pic. (the window in the far back of the picture).

caja

So, how did the transaction go down?  I will take you through it step by step:

1.  I enter the store and am frisked by the security guard.

2.  I get a number to wait in line.

3.  My number is called and I speak with the sales clerk.  I choose a phone and plan.

4.  Sales clerk writes up the receipt.

5.  I stand in line at the “cajas” to pay.

6.  I return to the sales clerk.  She does something else ( I couldn’t figure out what).

7.  She sends me to the cubicle in the background of picture 1 to choose my phone cover.

8.  I return to sales clerk.  She does something again, then she has to go to the window behind her to get the phone.

9.  She makes sure phone works and then the transaction is complete.

In Oklahoma the process would have been:

1.  Walk in.

2.  (maybe get a number to wait)

3.  Talk to sales clerk, choose phone and plan, choose cover, and pay.  All in one interaction.

All of the unnecessary steps I under went today were because the security guard was needed to prevent customer theft, and after that because Claro can’t trust their sales clerks not to steal phones, phone cases or customer payments.

This is the norm here.  As a result the prices are higher for everything that they otherwise would be as businesses need to have multiple layers of separation in order to prevent embezzlement of one sort or another.

The losers of course are the Panamanians who are trying to get by on 400-500 per month of income.

Blowback. This person gets it.

I had trouble sleeping the other night and while browsing around youtube I came across a video posted by someone who was filming in New York City as 9/11 unfolded.  I generally dont watch this sort of thing but clicked on it and was surprised to find rare insight by a female photographer he was walking with.  While most Americans still seem to think that terrorists hate us for our freedoms, this woman had it figured out after the planes hit and while the towers were on fire but still standing.  The video should start at 3:03:

Here is the transcript:

Female Photographer:

Oh theres so many dead people I wonder what George Bush is going to do nowits about time we wake up and fucking stop fucking with other peopleand they will stop fucking with us.  evil.

Its pretty much common sense, but the very idea that the people who are out to do us harm have any sort of legitimate complaints against us is a difficult subject to broach with most Americans.   The facts remain thought that terrorist activity against us is a result of blowback.

On this point I cant recommend enough the book Blowback The Cost and Consequences of American Empire by Chalmers Johnson.

Blowback is unintended consequences of a covert operation that are suffered by the civil population of the aggressor government. To the civilians suffering the blowback of covert operations, the effect typically manifests itself as random acts of political violence without a discernible, direct cause; because the public—in whose name the intelligence agency acted—are ignorant of the effected secret attacks that provoked revenge (counter-attack) against them.

Heres a link to the book:  http://www.amazon.com/Blowback-Consequences-American-Empire-Project/dp/0805075593

If you want to understand how we got to where we are in the world today, this book explains it.

A Medellin Thanksgiving

I have written previously about happiness.  (See here)  It is something that I think everyone has struggled with at one point in time or another.  I have been happy consistently for a number of years now and I do what I can to help those around me be happy as well. The holidays are a difficult time for many.  It is at the holidays that family and money pressures all come together.  On top of that the very nature of it being the end of one year and a start of another creates an artificial point in time by which people feel the need to judge their progress and their position in life.  Naturally suicides go up during the holidays and divorces increase when the holidays are over.

When I think back on holidays that didnt go well for me there were always two reasons.  Either:

1.  I was alone and felling bad for myself, or

2. I was doing things for the holidays that I fundamentally didnt want do.

That doesnt happen any more.

I didnt have my kids this year for thanksgiving so my best friend Kent Mennem of Hell on Earth Blog and Mennem Foto came down to Panama.  We decided to do a trip from here and chose Medellin, the City of Eternal Spring.

At least two or three people asked me Who the hell goes to Medellin for Thanksgiving?  The answer:  We do.  Thats the whole point.  Its your holiday.  Why should you conform to what your sister in law or someone thinks you ought to do on your holiday?  Usually the people who want you to conform are miserable themselves.  They convince themselves that they are at least doing the right thing by having meals with people they dont really want to have meals with and they see your deviation from acceptable behavior as an attack on their own poor decision making.

You know what?  Thats their problem.

So let me tell you about the greatest thanksgiving in history:

 

I cant think of a better place to start with than thanksgiving lunch.  We went to Llaneritos in Centro Medellin.  Massive skewers of meat are cooked in brick ovens and then served.  Two plates of meat, some potatoes and yucca and 4 beers each came to 23 dollars.  Total.

With a number of days on hand and not too much to do we needed a game-plan, so we did the research and conducted our own self-directed tour of Pablo Escobar sites.  I never actually knew too much about Escobar until a while ago when I saw the excellent 30 for 30 documentary The Two Escobars which I highly recommend:

Our first stop was Escobars aunts house where he was killed.  Here is the picture I took from the front of it:

 

 

 

According to our research when the police came Escobar jumped down onto the one story roof to the left and went towards the rear where he was gunned down.  Incidentally on thanksgiving day we walked around Centro Medellin where there are over 20 statues by the famous Colombia artist Fernando Botero   Botero has a famous painting of Escobars death that I admire:

 

 

Next stop:  Escobars grave.  It was a few miles outside of centro.  We took the Metro and then had to walk for a mile or two until we reached the cemetery.  I learned in The Two Escobars that Pablo was beloved by the people of the slums of Medellin (which today seem to be about 75% of the city).  Escobar consolidated the citys criminal gangs into one organization and prevented street crime while plowing a significant portion of his earnings back into the slums.  His reputation lives on as while we were there numerous young men came to the grave to pay their respects by knocking on his gravestone.  Here is the pic I took:

 

Our third stop was Escobars mammoth office building/home, and command center.  It was built in a nice neighborhood close to the trendy Poblado district.  It has sat empty for almost 20 years now.  (note the parrots on the trees in front):

 

Absent my children, I cant think of a better way to spend a holiday.  If the holidays have you down dont despair.  Endeavor to fix the things that are wrong in your life and most of all dont let other people suck you into their unhappy holidays.  Its your life, celebrate it as you want.

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