Sunday, 30 October 2016

Looney Tune President

President Duterte of the Philippines is just the latest in a long line of politicians to claim that he has a special relationship with God.

The Times reports that the recently elected Duterte heard the voice of God on his way home from a state visit to Japan, the Supreme Being having taken time out from his busy schedule to warn the 'Pres' to call time on his potty mouth - otherwise God was going to bring down his plane.

Seems like a high price to pay just for calling both the Pope and President Obama 'sons of whores', especially with all the other innocent passengers on board the President's plane, but then I'm a fully paid up sceptic when it comes to religion.

God warned me to stop swearing, says Duterte

By Richard Smart - The Times

President Duterte said that he heard the voice of God while on a flight home from three days in JapanISSEI KATO/REUTERS

He has ignored advice from President Obama, the European Union and international rights groups. But when God speaks, President Duterte of the Philippines pays attention.

On a flight home overnight after a three-day visit to Japan, Mr Duterte revealed that God had told him to stop swearing, which he now plans to do.

“I was looking at the skies while I was coming over here and I just . . . everybody was asleep, snoring, but a voice said that, you know, ‘If you don’t stop epithets, I will bring this plane down now’,” Mr Duterte told reporters after landing in Davao.

“And I said, ‘Who is this?’ So, of course, it’s God,” said the president, who has in recent months taken to calling the US president a “son of a whore”. Pope Francis was described in the same terms after his visit to Manila caused traffic jams while Mr Duterte was on the campaign trail.

Mr Duterte said that he had “promised God not to express slang, cuss words and everything”.

Looney Tune President 

Image result for demagogue + images

The looney tune president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, has to be one of Jeremy Corbyn's favourite politicians, given than he (Jezza) was such a fan of his Maduro's predecessor, Hugo Chavez.

In another demonstration that he has turned into a demagogue and elected dictator, Maduro has called for the sacking of public sector workers who signed a petition backing his recall.

Just imagine what Jeremy and his 'toytown' leftist revolutionaries would have to say if this outrageous was taking place in some other part of the world.


Venezuela public workers face sack over referendum

BBC Latin America & Caribbean
Image copyright - REUTERS Image caption - President Maduro gave ministries 48 hours to sack senior workers who had signed the petition

Venezuelan public sector workers who signed a petition backing a referendum to recall President Nicolas Maduro could face dismissal, a spokesman of the governing Socialist Party said.

The spokesman said President Maduro had ordered that any manager in five key ministries who signed the petition should be sacked.

The petition is the first step towards a referendum which could see Mr Maduro ousted.

Mr Maduro has been in power since 2013.
48-hour deadline

He is a supporter of the "Bolivarian Revolution", the socialist movement his predecessor in office, Hugo Chavez, founded.

Government critics argue that their socialist policies have driven Venezuela into a severe economic crisis.
They have called for a recall referendum to be held this year to remove Mr Maduro from the presidency and trigger fresh elections.

They handed in a petition to that effect in May signed by almost two million people, many more than the 1% of registered voters they needed.


On Monday, Socialist Party (PSUV) spokesman Jorge Rodriguez said that those in senior public positions who had signed the petition would have to leave their posts.

"Today, by order of the [governing Socialist] party president Nicolas Maduro, five ministries ... cannot have people that are against the Revolution and the president in management positions".

He said that President Maduro had given the ministries of food, basic industries and finance among others a deadline of 48 hours to dismiss those in senior positions who had signed the petition.
Race against time

The announcement follows reports by pressure groups and opposition parties that public sector workers who had signed the petition were pressured and sometimes sacked. 

Image copyrightEPAImage captionOpposition politicians have urged their supporters to take to the streets on 1 September to demand a recall referendum

Opposition politicians behind the drive for a recall referendum say the government is doing everything in its power to try to derail, or at least delay, the referendum.

The electoral authorities have told the opposition that they can only start collecting signatures in late October for the second petition needed to trigger a referendum.

Timing is key as the date when the referendum is held will determine what happens next.

If a referendum should go against the president before 10 January, new elections will be held, which the opposition hopes to win.

But if it is held after that date and Mr Maduro is recalled, his loyal vice-president will serve out the end of his term until 2019.

The opposition has called on its supporters to join a protest march on 1 September to demand that the electoral authorities allow the referendum to go ahead before the 10 January, which marks the day when Mr Maduro will have served four years in office.

Spitting Image (12/11/13)

Anyone looking for confirmation that Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro, is nothing more that a political snake-oil salesman should consider his latest crazy antics - his claim, for example, that a 'miraculous' image of Hugo Chavez (his mentor and predecessor) appeared on the wall of an underground construction site.

Now I've posted the 'miraculous' image with this post and have to say that I can't see this as the 'spitting image' of Hugo Chavez - no matter how hard I try.

In fact it looks at best to me like one of those misshapen vegetables that attract publicity from time-to-time as loosely resemble a human face - good for a laugh perhaps, but that's all.

Yet Nicolas is keen on interpreting this as another miracle, a sign that Hugo Chavez is somehow watching over his country and giving his blessing from beyond the grave to the increasingly wacky Maduro administration - which has price inflation running at an astonishing 50%. 

Now Nicolas is a 'socialist' politician of course, but he seems more than happy to inject a little voodoo into his pitch to the voters - many of whom are deeply religious.  

Which is a load of old bollix, if you ask me - and while you would think that no socialist worth their salt would indulge in this kind of mumbo jumbo, President Maduro appears unabashed.

So, I would not be in the least surprised if he is carted off by men in white coats any day now - or perhaps even the military - because there seems little doubt that the President is losing the plot.   

Here's a report on the 'Chavez is everywhere' story from the Telegraph newspaper - which made me laugh out loud. 


Hugo Chavez 'appears' on construction site wall

President Nicolas Maduro claims marks on a wall are the image of late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez

Stories of Chavez appearances draw mockery from the roughly half of Venezuelans who do not support Mr Maduro Photo: Reuters

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said an image of his political idol and predecessor, the late socialist leader Hugo Chavez, had appeared miraculously in the wall of an underground construction site.

Since his death from cancer earlier this year, Chavez has taken on mythical proportions for supporters, and Mr Maduro has spoken of seeing his former mentor's spirit several times, including in the shape of a bird.

In the latest incident, Mr Maduro said Chavez's face briefly appeared to workers building a subway line in Caracas in the middle of the night.

"My hair stands on end just telling you about it," Mr Maduro said on state TV late, showing a photo of a white-plaster wall with marks that appear like eyes and a nose.

"Who is that face? That gaze is the gaze of the fatherland that is everywhere around us, including in inexplicable phenomena," added Mr Maduro, who won an April election to replace Chavez after his 14-year presidency.

Mr Maduro's reverence for Chavez plays well with government supporters, who treat the charismatic former leader's memory with religious adoration. The 50-year-old Maduro, who mixes Catholic beliefs with a penchant for Asian spirituality, has been a devoted personal follower of Chavez since first meeting him at a jail in 1993.

Workers took the photo with a mobile phone during the image's brief appearance, the president added.

"Just as it appeared, so it disappeared. So you see, what you say is right, Chavez is everywhere, we are Chavez, you are Chavez," Mr Maduro said during an event on live TV.

Stories of Chavez appearances draw mockery, however, from the roughly half of Venezuelans who do not support Mr Maduro. Many of them regard him as a buffoon riding on Chavez's image and causing embarrassment for Venezuela's international standing.

Both sides are gearing up for local elections in December that will be a major test of Mr Maduro's standing in the OPEC nation of 29 million people. Rampant violent crime and economic problems are the main issues taxing voters.

The president's first six months in office have been characterized by dozens of accusations ranging from assassination and coup plots to sabotage of the power grid. Critics say that is a smokescreen to cover up domestic problems.

Edited by Bonnie Malkin

Sleep Disorder (19 October 2013)

I've been taking a keen interest in what's going on in Venezuela these days as I'm fascinated by the rise to power of President Nicolas Maduro to power - because I'm convinced he's a political panhandler, a phoney or as we might say here in Scotland a complete chancer.

My reason for saying this is that the Venezuelan Maduro sees 'dead people' when it suits his purpose and one in particular - his predecessor Hugo Chavez who appeared to him in the form of a little bird at the height of the presidential election.  

But this kind of shameless behaviour has continued with the new President letting it be known that he beds down frequently in the mausoleum where Hugo Chavez's remains have been paid to rest - in the Mountain Barracks which is a 19th century fort in a run-down areas of Caracas.  

Apparently, the 'Great Leader's' tomb is housed in the ornate central atrium of the military barracks and is now guarded - around the clock - by soldiers replete with red and yellow hussars uniforms and swords, although what Hugo Chavez is being protected from is anyone's guess. 

President Maduro 'slipped out' this revelation, quite deliberately of course,  and announced portentously to his people

"I sometimes come at night. At times, many times, I sleep here. We enter at night and we stay to sleep. At night we reflect on things here."

The royal 'we' in this case is the president's entourage who join him in the mausoleum, but it's all clearly just a silly political stunt designed to reinforce the personality cult that grew up around Hugo Chavez - in the hope that some of this will rub off on Maduro.

The latest wheeze from the new President is to ask parliament to grant him special powers - so that Nicolas can govern by Presidential decree for up to three years - allegedly to tackle corruption and economic sabotage.   

Yet the language used by President Maduro in seeking these new powers is very revealing and in a three-hour speech to the Parliament  he reportedly called it a "matter of life or death" for the country's socialist revolution, before adding:

"If corruption keeps expanding and perpetuating its destructive capitalist logic, there will be no socialism here."

Now the problem with this kind of overblown rhetoric is that it's empty-headed, rabble-rousing nonsense of course - since all kinds of people around the world will tell you that 'capitalist' countries have no monopoly on political corruption.

If politics has taught me anything, it's that people with 'left' or 'right' wing views are both very  capable of behaving very badly - and that by and large it's bad for democracy and the body politic for any one person or party to remain in power for too long - because as the saying goes 'Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts, absolutely'.  

Looney Tunes (7 May 2013)

A few weeks ago, the acting President of Venezuela - Nicolas Maduro - told the world that the former President of Venezuela - Hugo Chavez - had appeared to him during the presidential election campaign in the form of a little bird.

Now at the time I said Nicolas was either bonkers or a complete charlatan - and evidence in support of my statement continues to pile up as the Venezuelan leader sees plots around every corner.

Is the President paranoid?, seems a fair question to ask in the circumstances - but I think not, I suspect it's all just a cynical political act.

The latest claim from Nicolas Maduro is that he is the target of an alleged Colombian plot to  assassinate the Venezuelan President - an incendiary charge to make towards a neighbour and one for which Nicolas has not a shred of evidence to back up his claim.

Just like Hugo Chavez appearing to him in the form of a little bird - it's an emotional appeal that's designed to exploit people's feelings - their sense of loss over Chavez and now their sense of resentment towards a neighbouring country, Colombia.

So the newly elected President Maduro has accused former Colombian leader - Alvaro Uribe - of plotting to assassinate him - and Nicolas has alleged other conspiracies against him since taking over from the late Hugo Chavez - and winning disputed elections last month.

The BBC reported Maduro as saying last week:

"Uribe is behind a plot to kill me. Uribe is a killer. I have enough evidence of who is conspiring, and there are sectors of the Venezuelan right involved."

Yet, conveniently, no evidence has been produced - and this latest outburst seems like yet another inflammatory attempt by Maduro to portray his critics variously as  killers, traitors, fascists and bogeymen.

Meanwhile, Mr Uribe responded by describing President Maduro as 'immature' - which seems an very apt description to me of a new President who appears to be way, way out of his depth.

'Miracle of God' (21/10/16)

Image result for putin and kirill

The Times reports on the close relationship that has grown up between the Russian Orthodox Church and the government of Vladimir Putin.

Now of course it suits both men's interests to talk up Putin's presidency as a miracle of God, but it is no less dishonest than Saddam Hussein embracing Islam when the going got tough for the murderous Iraqi tyrant.

Putin ally patriarch meets Welby to discuss Russia tensions
By Kaya Burgess and Tom Parfitt - The Times

The Archbishop and the Patriarch acknowledged “difficult times” between the UK and Russia during their discussions - ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY WEBSITE

Tensions between Russia and Britain were discussed by the head of the Russian Orthodox church, an ally of Vladimir Putin, and the Archbishop of Canterbury during their first meeting yesterday.

Patriarch Kirill also had an audience with the Queen, during which they discussed the revival of the church in Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Kirill, 69, flew home yesterday after a four-day visit that raised protests from MPs due to his close links with Putin at a time of strained relations between Russia and the UK, particularly over Syria. The patriarch has previously described Putin’s presidency as a “miracle of God” and praised Russia’s military action in Syria as “noble and honest” and part of a “holy war”.

Putin and Saddam (12/05/16)

When I read this piece by Ben Macintrye in The Times I was immediately struck by the similarities between Vladimir Putin and Saddam Hussein.

Because the Russian President as a former KBG agent and member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was never a big supporter of the Orthodox Church until it became useful to him, politically speaking.

So when the young women members of Pussy Riot sang a protest song against the Kremlin in a Moscow Cathedral a few years ago, Orthodox Church leaders behaved in a furious and very un-Christian fashion which helped send these dangerous criminals to the gulag for four years (subsequently reduced to two), if I remember correctly.

In other words, the Orthodox Church became a useful political ally to President Putin as he strengthened his grip on power and began the task of isolating and removing his enemies.

Likewise with Saddam Hussein who was a famously high living and secular Iraqi President until the terrible war with Iran required him to suddenly become a devout Muslim so that he could exploit the tensions between Sunni and Shia Islam which continue to bedevil the world.

As religious leaders have shown throughout the ages - in Nazi Germany, in fascist Italy or as a supporter of General Franco in Spain - they are willing to throw their lot in with unscrupulous political leaders, if there's something in it for the faithful.      

No law can gag Russia’s champion swearers

By Ben Macintyre - The Times

Putin’s ban on profanity is an attempt to silence the country’s anarchic, supremely rude language of free expression

In the early 1980s censors in Romania attempted to ban the word “suitcase” from published works. People were fleeing the country and officials feared that the language of luggage was encouraging the exodus: if readers could not read “suitcase”, it was believed, they would not think about packing; and if they could be stopped from thinking about packing they would not think about quitting the socialist paradise of Romania.

Communist dictatorships frequently resorted to language-engineering, banning certain words or replacing them with officially approved euphemisms: in East Germany Christmas angels were stripped of religious connotations to become “year-end winged creatures” and, to take people’s minds off death, coffins were renamed “earth furniture”.

Such attempts to manipulate words may seem ludicrous, but the oppression of language is a central characteristic of totalitarian regimes: control how people write and speak and the tyrant controls how they think; at the very least a population that is uncertain what it can and cannot say will button its lip.

Of all the bare-chest-thumping authoritarian noises coming out of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, few are more disquieting than the law passed this week to outlaw swearing in films, television broadcasts, theatres and media. Henceforth, all Russian books containing obscenities will carry a warning. An official panel will rule on what constitutes profanity. Violators will be fined up to £830 for each offence and banned from performing for three months.

The film The Wolf of Wall Street racked up a record-breaking 561 separate uses of the f-word. Under the new law Martin Scorsese would be fined almost half a million pounds and Leonardo diCaprio could be banned from acting for 140 years.

The Kremlin claims the ban is to preserve the purity of the Russian language; in reality it is another attack on permissive culture, part of an accelerating campaign of cultural conservatism backed by the Russian Orthodox Church. It is also an assault on the voluminous, subversive and supremely rude Russian lexicon of profanity known as “mat”.

Russians are champion swearers; no country in the world curses so enthusiastically, and mat is probably the most expansive and expressive slang vocabulary in the world. From four basic swear words, it spins out a flood of expletives, by attaching suffixes and prefixes, into some 1,596 dirty verbs and an unlimited number of crude derivations.

“Speaking without swearing is like cabbage soup without tomato” goes an old Russian saying. The vernacular of the street, the field, the factory floor and the prison, mat is reflected in folk tales and peasant proverbs, but also deeply embedded in high culture, including the writing of Pushkin, Lermontov, Chekhov and Solzhenitsyn. Dostoevsky once wrote that the entire range of human emotions could be described using variations of the word khuy, Russian slang for todger.

Mat is free-flowing, fertile and filthy, an underground dialect that poses a linguistic challenge to the formality and order of dictionary Russian, which is why successive autocratic regimes have tried to prohibit or control the use of slang, a cynical language of nonconformity, an expression of freedom and rebellion.

Russia’s Tsars viewed cursing as a direct threat to the established order. Catherine the Great banned the word blyad (whore or bitch). In 1913 an official list of dangerous “hooligan” behaviour began with “singing uncensored songs and using foul language”.

The Bolsheviks took a similarly dim view of obscenity and launched the “struggle for cultured speech” as colloquial language came into conflict with official language. Trotsky denounced swearing. In Komsomol, the Young Communists’ League, good Marxists had to speak in the prescribed wooden vocabulary of the state, with “cleanliness, precision and grammatical correctness”. The party spoke to the people in revolutionary jargon, in direct contradiction to the vulgar mayhem of mat. Under Soviet law, swearing in public was punishable by 15 days in prison.

Perestroika, and the collapse of communism, brought with it a huge upsurge in the use of mat, the drive for political freedom echoed by the liberation of language. The obscene argot was picked up by the intelligentsia, the media, writers and artists, becoming almost mainstream.

Putin’s determination to clean up the Russian language by law is just the latest evidence of a conservative, dictatorial clampdown on freedom of expression, following directly on from laws banning gay “propaganda” and curbs on press freedom. Eradicating swearing will “ensure the rights of Russians citizens to use of the state language, protecting and developing language culture”, the Kremlin insists, a form of words deliberately reminiscent of the Soviet “struggle for cultured speech”.

George Orwell would have recognised Putin’s language laws as evidence of a new Newspeak, a language policed to limit freedom of speech and eradicate alternative, subversive forms of expression, or thought crime. The fictional state language imagined by Orwell inNineteen Eighty-Four eliminated undesirable concepts and replaced free ideas with contracted forms of words deliberately echoing Soviet abbreviations: Ingsoc, Crimethink Unperson and Minitrue are Orwell’s sharp satire on Politburo, Comintern and Komsomol.

“The whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought,” Syme declares in the Ministry of Truth. “The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect.”

When an autocrat claims he is perfecting the language and uses the power of the state to enforce rules of speech, then it is time to reach for the suitcase — if the word still exists.