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Tags: Venezuela

Maria Conchita Alonso: Commie Fighter



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You don’t see this every day: A Hollywood actress and musician took to the streets of Washington Friday to demand U.S. government action — not to mandate carbon-neutral toilets or provide universal health care for cats, but to take on an autocratic socialist regime.

The Washington Post’s David Montgomery reports that Maria Conchita Alonso, appearing in front of the White House along with “hundreds of fired-up Venezuelan-Americans,” planted a big kiss on Old Glory while “holding her rescue Chihuahua Tequila.”

The Cuban-born, Venezuelan-raised pepperpot was demanding U.S. sanctions on Venezuela, exclaiming, “They’re going to kill me, those Communists!”

Conchita Alonso never quite made it to the A list, but she’s been in some good movies, including Paul Mazursky’s sadly forgotten Moscow On the Hudson, which was one of the best pro-western statements of the Cold War specifically because it eschewed ideological hawkery in favor of a sentimental/liberal celebration of American free markets, social laissez-faire and abundance. 

But the actress has been taking a harder line with Venezuela’s Bolivarian paradise. Montgomery reports:

She’s been an outspoken foe of late Hugo Chavez and his successor for years — remember her celebrated shouting match with Sean Penn in LAX in 2011? Penn has expressed support for the social goals of the Bolivarian Republic. In chummier times, the pair co-starred in the 1988 film “Colors.”

(For the record, Hugo Chávez’s successor is Nicolás Maduro, but I can sympathize with Montgomery’s not bothering to look it up; because really, who cares what his name is?)

The Post has some fun with Conchita Alonso’s fiery antics before specifying what the activists are hoping to achieve:

The crowd carried American and Venezuelan flags, and sang the sonorous Venezuelan national anthem, twice. They carried signs in English — “Sanction violators of human rights” — and chanted in Spanish — “Who are we? Venezuela! What do we want? Liberty!”

The sanctions bills would cut visas for certain officials and freeze assets.

“We don’t want to hurt our brothers down there,” [Demonstrator Ernesto] Ackerman said. “We want to get those sanctions to the people who are the dictators.”

It hasn’t been in the news much lately, but Venezuela’s enlightened 21st-century-socialist government is still doing what socialists do best: beating people up and arresting them.

Tags: Venezuela , Communism , Hollywood

Ukraine has a New President; Raul Castro Voices Support for Maduro

Via the BBC and El Nuevo Dia:

BBC: Parliament in Ukraine has named its speaker as interim president

Oleksandr Turchynov takes charge following the dismissal of President Viktor Yanukovych on Saturday. Mr Turchynov told MPs they had until Tuesday to form a new unity government.

Parliament also voted to seize Mr Yanukovych’s luxury estate near Kiev, which protesters entered on Saturday.

The whereabouts of Mr Yanukovych, who described parliament’s decision to vote him out as a coup, remain unclear.

Thousands of opposition supporters remain in Independence Square, where the atmosphere is described as calm. . .

El Nuevo Dia (translated): Raul Castro supports Maduro 

President Raul Castro on Tuesday expressed support for President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela and condemned the violence that has caused deaths and injuries in the country.

“We have expressed and ratified our full support for the Bolivarian revolution and Chavez, and teammate Nicolas Maduro, who wisely and firmly handled this complex crisis,” Castro said in a speech at the closing ceremony of the Central ruling Workers Cuba. . .

- Greg Pollowitz

Tags: Ukraine , Venezuela , Euromaiden

American Foreign Policy Has Gone on an Extended Hiatus



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Today’s Morning Jolt launches with this . . . 

American Foreign Policy Has Gone on an Extended Hiatus

One of the all-time “dang, I wish I had written that” essays:

Earlier this month while visiting Monticello with a French delegation that included socialist President François Hollande, President Obama was caught in a moment joking about breaking protocol to view the grounds, quipping, “That’s the good thing as a President, I can do whatever I want.” Forget the enormity of the irony; an American President joking at Thomas Jefferson’s home that rules don’t apply to him and give Obama the benefit of the doubt that this was just a casual line.

It was no different than a line Michael Douglas would say in The American President or Kevin Kline in Dave or Martin Sheen in The West Wing, and that’s exactly the point. Obama has become a President of good lines from movies but unable to act like a very real leader.

The reason for the uproar over comments like this from this President is because he never wastes an opportunity to show just how right the absurdness of the social media noise machine is. When Obama jokes about being able to do whatever he wants, then turns around and hits an HBO producer up at a State Dinner for advanced copies of television shows to get him through an extended weekend, how are we as a desperate electorate supposed to react? We tolerate the luxuries afforded to our leaders. Just don’t be a d*** about it.

How is a world currently engulfed in flames of revolution supposed to react?

The problem for a President who makes any excuse to hit up a golf course or admits to watching tons of HBO is there are still events in the world happening outside his windows. People are desperate for American leadership and can’t wait for the killer on True Detective to be revealed.

Nobody in Kiev is interested in the fallout of the Red Wedding.

Nobody in Venezuela cares about the fate of Zoe Barnes . . . 

At the height of violence that erupted with both protests this past weekend, where was he? Hosting a Hollywood premiere style party for #GeorgeClooney and cast of his film #TheMonumentsMen, in private at the White House, simply because he could. Right now in Kiev, historical statues and art are being burned in front of the world. He was content to remain silent and watch a movie about it happening instead. The real world does not interest this President. The set design does.

That essay is so darn good, there’s only a point or two left for me to add. First, particularly on foreign policy, Obama is done. Maybe he gets a trade deal, maybe he doesn’t. Sooner or later the last troops leave Afghanistan, and if the place falls apart like Iraq, with al-Qaeda flags flying over cities, well, that’s their problem. Pivot to Asia? Pshhhht. We don’t even put much effort into our old alliances anymore. The U.K. said they wouldn’t stick with us in any conflict in Syria; we don’t worry about antagonizing the Canadians over Keystone. The Benghazi killers still walk freely.

You can tell what’s important to the president by what he spends his time on, and what issues he returns to again and again. Obama really wants an immigration deal and to preserve Obamacare, and that’s about it. He doesn’t want to touch entitlement reform with a ten-foot pole. He’ll talk about global warming, but he knows the votes aren’t there for it and it’s more useful as a talking point. The deficit has shrunk from the worst ever to the fifth-worst ever, so as far as he’s concerned, the budget is fixed. Year of action? Whatever. The House isn’t getting any more cooperative before January 2017.

While we as Americans may really want to tune out the world, life goes on out there, and on a lot of fronts, it’s getting worse. Sooner or later, that translates into trouble on our shores. It may not come in the form of a hijacked airliner next time. Maybe it comes in the form of Chinese and Japanese navies trading fire over a misunderstanding and a resulting economic panic. Maybe it comes in the form of an Iranian nuclear test, but the Iranians will probably just want to drag out negotiations as long as possible to get as far along as possible before revealing they’ve got the bomb. Maybe Syria’s civil war really spreads to Lebanon, Iraq or even Jordan and Turkey in ways that endanger the governments of those countries. Maybe the nut-job running North Korea gets too provocative for anyone to ignore. Maybe it’s a cyber-attack.

Right now, the regimes in Venezuela and Ukraine are cracking down on uprisings, and the reaction from Washington alternates between pro forma denunciations and not much of anything. The world noticed. The world is reacting.

This is why the president gets the level of grief for golf, the movie screenings, and so on. He’s not doing that well at the basics of the job, and the White House wants us to believe everything’s running smoothly.

Tags: Ukraine , Venezuela , Barack Obama

The Non-Arab Spring: A ‘Cheat Sheet’ on Venezuela, Ukraine, and Thailand

Via CNN:

Here’s a cheat-sheet guide to protests in Thailand, Ukraine and Venezuela:

Thailand

What are protesters’ demands?

rotesters in Bangkok have been calling for months for the ouster of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, whom they allege is a puppet of her billionaire brother, the deposed, exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Who’s protesting?

Opposition to Thaksin and Yingluck is strongest among the urban elites and middle class. That’s why the demonstrations have been concentrated in Bangkok. The protesters want to replace Yingluck’s government with an unelected “people’s council” to see through electoral and political changes.

When did demonstrations start?

Protests began in November after Yingluck’s government tried to pass an amnesty bill that would have paved the way for her brother’s return to the political fray.

What’s the latest?

Deadly violence erupted in the heart of Bangkok Tuesday as anti-government protesters clashed with police, and the country’s anti-corruption commission filed charges against the Prime Minister.

[GP]: Click on the link above for information on Ukraine and Venezuela.

- Greg Pollowitz

Tags: Ukraine , Venezuela , Thailand , protests , democracy , Putin

Venezuela: Protest Leader Leopoldo Lopez Surrenders

Via Reuters:

Hardline Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez surrendered to security forces on Tuesday to face charges of fomenting unrest against President Nicolas Maduro’s government that has killed four people in the last week.

Lopez, a 42-year-old Harvard-educated economist who has spearheaded the protest movement, got into an armored vehicle after a defiant speech to an opposition rally in Caracas on another chaotic day in the South American OPEC member nation.

“I have nothing to hide,” he told supporters with a megaphone. Minutes later, he surrendered to army officers, pumping his fist, and stepping into the military vehicle with a Venezuelan flag in one hand and a white flower in the other.

“I present myself to an unjust judiciary … May my jailing serve to wake up a people,” he added in the speech. . .

That's a bold move. -

Tags: Venezuela , Leopoldo , Lopez

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