Posts Tagged ‘Venezuela’

Dave Barry’s 2017 Roundup

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

Dave Barry breaks out the Dave Barry in his 2017 roundup:

Some samples:

It was a year so surreal, so densely populated with strange and alarming events, that you have to seriously consider the possibility that somebody — and when we say “somebody,” we mean “Russia” — was putting LSD in our water supply. A bizarre event would occur, and it would be all over the news, but before we could wrap our minds around it, another bizarre event would occur, then another and another, coming at us faster and faster, battering the nation with a Category 5 weirdness hurricane that left us hunkering down, clinging to our sanity, no longer certain what was real.

Meanwhile the big emerging journalism story is the Russians, who, according to many unnamed sources, messed with the election. Nobody seems to know how, specifically, the Russians affected the election, but everybody is pretty sure they did something, especially CNN, which has not been so excited about a story since those heady months in 2014 when it provided 24/7 video coverage of random objects floating in the Pacific while panels of experts speculated on whether these objects might or might not have anything to do with that missing Malaysian airliner. You can tune into CNN anytime, day or night, and you are virtually guaranteed to hear the word “Russians” within 10 seconds, even if it’s during a Depends commercial.

The biggest political story comes at the end of the month, when Trump nominates Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, noting that the letters in “Neil Gorsuch” can be rearranged to spell both “Heroic Lungs” and “Lunch Orgies.” Democratic leaders pledge to give Gorsuch a fair and open-minded hearing, then destroy him.

Amazon, aka the Death Star of Retail, becomes even larger and more powerful when it announces plans to buy Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, or enough money to buy nearly four pounds of top sirloin at current Whole Foods prices.

Facebook announces that it has reached a total of two billion users, who in 2017 alone have already posted a total of 17 trillion impassioned statements of their political views, which have changed a total of zero minds.

With emotions running high in the wake of Charlottesville, ESPN executives decide to pull announcer Robert Lee off the broadcast of the University of Virginia football game, out of concern that his name might be disturbing to those viewers who are as stupid as ESPN executives.

In other protest news, police in Berkeley, California, battle anti-fascist activists, or “antifa,” who fight fascism by violently assaulting anybody who might do or say or think something the “antifa” deem unacceptable.

Speaking of excitement, Hillary Clinton, responding to the insatiable public appetite for reliving the 2016 election over and over and over, comes out with her new tell-all book titled “You Idiots,” in which she candidly reveals that she was in fact a superb candidate and charming human who totally would have won the presidency had it not been for — among many other unfair obstacles that were unfairly placed in her path — James Comey, the Russians, the so-called “Electoral College,” Bernie Sanders, the Democratic National Committee, Anthony Weiner, sexism, Barack Obama, the media, her incompetent campaign staff and the frankly unacceptable stupidity of the American public. Next stop: 2020!

Meanwhile a major scandal engulfs the entertainment world when The New York Times reveals that powerful movie producer Harvey Weinstein, despite being a prominent supporter of all the correct causes, basically spent the past several decades lumbering around in an open bathrobe forcing himself on unreceptive women. This news comes as a big shock to members of the Hollywood community, especially coming on the heels of their recent discovery that the pope is Catholic.

In financial news, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, seeking to prop up his nation’s collapsing economy, announces the creation of a new digital currency called the “Petro,” which will be backed by a combination of oil reserves and a magic feather. The Illinois Legislature quickly follows suit, announcing that from now on the financially troubled state will pay its debts with the “Porko,” a digital currency backed by bratwurst.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Obama Let Hezbollah Sell Cocaine in U.S.

Monday, December 18th, 2017

This should take still more of the shine off Obama’s plastic halo:

In its determination to secure a nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration derailed an ambitious law enforcement campaign targeting drug trafficking by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, even as it was funneling cocaine into the United States, according to a POLITICO investigation.

The campaign, dubbed Project Cassandra, was launched in 2008 after the Drug Enforcement Administration amassed evidence that Hezbollah had transformed itself from a Middle East-focused military and political organization into an international crime syndicate that some investigators believed was collecting $1 billion a year from drug and weapons trafficking, money laundering and other criminal activities.

Over the next eight years, agents working out of a top-secret DEA facility in Chantilly, Virginia, used wiretaps, undercover operations and informants to map Hezbollah’s illicit networks, with the help of 30 U.S. and foreign security agencies.

They followed cocaine shipments, some from Latin America to West Africa and on to Europe and the Middle East, and others through Venezuela and Mexico to the United States. They tracked the river of dirty cash as it was laundered by, among other tactics, buying American used cars and shipping them to Africa. And with the help of some key cooperating witnesses, the agents traced the conspiracy, they believed, to the innermost circle of Hezbollah and its state sponsors in Iran.

But as Project Cassandra reached higher into the hierarchy of the conspiracy, Obama administration officials threw an increasingly insurmountable series of roadblocks in its way, according to interviews with dozens of participants who in many cases spoke for the first time about events shrouded in secrecy, and a review of government documents and court records. When Project Cassandra leaders sought approval for some significant investigations, prosecutions, arrests and financial sanctions, officials at the Justice and Treasury departments delayed, hindered or rejected their requests.

The Justice Department declined requests by Project Cassandra and other authorities to file criminal charges against major players such as Hezbollah’s high-profile envoy to Iran, a Lebanese bank that allegedly laundered billions in alleged drug profits, and a central player in a U.S.-based cell of the Iranian paramilitary Quds force. And the State Department rejected requests to lure high-value targets to countries where they could be arrested.

How high did drug trafficking evidence go?

As a result, the U.S. government lost insight into not only drug trafficking and other criminal activity worldwide, but also into Hezbollah’s illicit conspiracies with top officials in the Iranian, Syrian, Venezuelan and Russian governments — all the way up to presidents Nicolas Maduro, Assad and Putin, according to former task force members and other current and former U.S. officials.

The network was extensive:

For decades, Hezbollah — in close cooperation with Iranian intelligence and Revolutionary Guard — had worked with supporters in Lebanese communities around the world to create a web of businesses that were long suspected of being fronts for black-market trading. Along the same routes that carried frozen chicken and consumer electronics, these businesses moved weapons, laundered money and even procured parts for Iran’s illicit nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

As they pursued their investigations, the DEA agents found that Hezbollah was redoubling all of these efforts, working urgently to raise cash, and lots of it, to rebuild its south Lebanon stronghold after a 2006 war with Israel had reduced it to rubble.

Dating back to its inception in the early 1980s, Hezbollah, which translates to “Party of God,” had also engaged in “narcoterrorism,” collecting a tariff from drug dealers and other black-market suppliers who operated in territory it controlled in Lebanon and elsewhere. Now, based on the DEA’s extensive network of informants, undercover operatives and wiretaps, it looked like Hezbollah had shifted tactics, and gotten directly involved in the global cocaine trade, according to interviews and documents, including a confidential DEA assessment.

“It was like they flipped a switch,” Kelly told POLITICO. “All of a sudden, they reversed the flow of all of the black-market activity they had been taxing for years, and took control of the operation.”

Operating like an organized crime family, Hezbollah operatives would identify businesses that might be profitable and useful as covers for cocaine trafficking and buy financial stakes in them, Kelly and others said. “And if the business was successful and suited their current needs,” Kelly said, “they went from partial owners to majority owners to full partnership or takeover.”

Hezbollah even created a special financial unit that, translated into English, means “Business Affairs Component,” to oversee the sprawling criminal operation, and it was run by the world’s most wanted terrorist after Osama bin Laden, a notoriously vicious Hezbollah military commander named Imad Mughniyeh
Imad MughniyehA Hezbollah mastermind who oversaw its international operations and, the DEA says, its drug trafficking, as head of its military wing, the Islamic Jihad Organization.
, according to DEA interviews and documents.

Mughniyeh had for decades been the public face of terrorism for Americans, orchestrating the infamous attack that killed 241 U.S. Marines in 1983 in their barracks in Lebanon, and dozens more Americans in attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Beirut that year and an annex the year after. When President Ronald Reagan responded to the attacks by withdrawing peacekeeping troops from Lebanon, Hezbollah claimed a major victory and vaulted to the forefront of the Islamist resistance movement against the West.

Over the next 25 years, Iran’s financial and military support for Hezbollah enabled it to amass an army with tens of thousands of foot soldiers, more heavy armaments than most nation-states and approximately 120,000 rockets and ballistic missiles that could strike Israel and U.S. interests in the region with devastating precision.

Socialist “hero” Hugo Chavez was also involved in the operation up to his ears:

In Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez was personally working with then-Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Hezbollah on drug trafficking and other activities aimed at undermining U.S. influence in the region, according to interviews and documents.

Within a few years, Venezuelan cocaine exports skyrocketed from 50 tons a year to 250, much of it bound for American cities, United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime statistics show.

And beginning in 2007, DEA agents watched as a commercial jetliner from Venezuela’s state-run Conviasa airline flew from Caracas to Tehran via Damascus, Syria, every week with a cargo-hold full of drugs and cash. They nicknamed it “Aeroterror,” they said, because the return flight often carried weapons and was packed with Hezbollah and Iranian operatives whom the Venezuelan government would provide with fake identities and travel documents on their arrival.

From there, the operatives spread throughout the subcontinent and set up shop in the many recently opened Iranian consulates, businesses and mosques, former Project Cassandra agents said.

So what was the result of all this painstaking case-building?

Senior Obama administration officials appeared to be alarmed by how far Project Cassandra’s investigations had reached into the leadership of Hezbollah and Iran, and wary of the possible political repercussions.

As a result, task force members claim, Project Cassandra was increasingly viewed as a threat to the administration’s efforts to secure a nuclear deal, and the top-secret prisoner swap that was about to be negotiated.

Snip.

In addition, the briefings for top White House and Justice Department officials that had been requested by Holder never materialized, task force agents said. (Holder did not respond to requests for comment.) Also, a top intelligence official blocked the inclusion of Project Cassandra’s memo on the Hezbollah drug threat from being included in Obama’s daily threat briefing, they said. And Kelly, Asher and other agents said they stopped getting invitations to interagency meetings, including those of a top Obama transnational crime working group.

That may have been because Obama officials dropped Hezbollah from the formal list of groups targeted by a special White House initiative into transnational organized crime, which in turn effectively eliminated DEA’s broad authority to investigate it overseas, task force members said.

Snip.

“When it looked like the [nuclear] agreement might actually happen, it became clear that there was no interest in dealing with anything about Iran or Hezbollah on the ground that it may be negative, that it might scare off the Iranians.”

Hey, what are the lives of some black kids hooked on crack compared to the glory of Obama’s Iran deal?

Remember the fantasy floated by liberals in the 1980s that the CIA was secretly behind the Central American cocaine trade? Obama actually did that, letting Hezbollah off the hook despite an iron-clad case of narcoterrorism, in order to do the Iran deal.

This is a long, detailed piece in a mainstream media outlet. Read the whole thing.

(Hat tip: Legal Insurrection.)

Venezuela Officially Bankrupt

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

The inevitable has happened: The Magic Power of Socialism™ has officially bankrupted Venezuela:

Milton Friedman once joked that if you put the government in charge of the Sahara Desert in five years there would be a shortage of sand. He could have been talking about Venezuela and its oil wealth. But it is no joke.

On Monday Caracas missed interest payments due on two government bonds and one bond issued by the state-owned oil monopoly known by its Spanish initials PdVSA. Venezuela owed creditors $280 million, which it couldn’t manage even after a 30-day grace period.

Venezuela is broke, which takes some doing. For much of the second half of the 20th century, a gusher of oil exports made dollars abundant in Venezuela and the country imported the finest of everything. There were rough patches in the 1980s and 1990s, but by 2001 Venezuela was the richest country in South America.

Then in 2005 the socialist Hugo Chávez declared that the central bank had “excessive reserves.” He mandated that the executive take the excess from the bank without compensation. Today the central bank has at best $1 billion in reserves.

Falling oil prices are partly to blame, but the main problem is that chavismo has strangled entrepreneurship. Faced with expropriation, hyperinflation, price controls and rampant corruption, human and monetary capital has fled Venezuela.

As of Tuesday evening, the Investment Swaps and Derivatives Association still had not declared Venezuela in default. That matters because this will trigger the insurance obligations inherent in the credit default swaps. But S&P Global Ratings declared the country in default Monday. On Tuesday morning the Luxembourg Stock Exchange issued a suspension notice for the bonds with missed payments.

From the richest nation in latin America to one where people have to eat their own pets to stave off starvation.

Venezuela: Lynching, Riots, General Collapse

Monday, June 19th, 2017

Time for an update on everyone’s favorite socialist paradise, where the collapse of the economy (and civil society) continues apace:

  • Things have degenerated enough that lynching has made a comeback:

    The public-safety infrastructure in Venezuela has been degraded to such a degree that citizens now take justice into their own hands. Agence France Presse reported that lynchings have risen sharply over the last year and a half as political and economic instability in the crumbling socialist republic has worsened. Witnesses who spoke to AFP said a 22-year-old man who was set on fire at an anti-government demonstration in May was actually lynched after being accused of stealing by the crowd – not because he was a government sympathizer, as President Nicolas Maduro had suggested at the time.

  • Protestors set fire to the Venezuela Supreme Court. “The incident comes after the Supreme Court voted to reject a motion blocking Maduro from rewriting the country’s constitution, despite recent polls showing that up to 85 percent of Venezuelans oppose the reforms.”
  • Tearing down a statue of Hugo Chavez doesn’t get you sent before a civilian judge, it lands you before a military tribunal:

    Maduro is following the playbook of other tyrants facing the collapse of socialism page by page. The anger in the streets against his failed regime is so intense that protesters might not be convicted in a jury trial handled through the regular order of civilian law enforcement. So instead, the troublemakers are being rounded up and taken off to face a court martial in an environment which the government can closely control.

  • Brazil has suspended tear gas sales to Venezuela.
  • Venezuela’s collapsing oil industry is also screwing over Cuba.
  • Venezuela in 20 pictures. Including a really sad one of a starving elephant. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Are the government’s Twitter accounts suspended?
  • There’s also a Washington Post piece that asks if Civil War is imminent I’m not linking to because the words “starvation” and “hyperinflation” are conspicuously absent. As the Hot Air piece on military tribunals states, “the citizens are effectively in a state of war with their own government” already…

    The Venezuela Diet

    Sunday, May 14th, 2017

    Important Administrative Note: I’ve published additional blog posts, like this one, but for some reason they’re not showing up on the front page of the blog.

    “Want to lose weight without drugs, pills, or human rights?”

    (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

    Venezuela Boils

    Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

    The problem with reporting on the slow-motion trainwreck that is Venezuela is the “slow-motion” part. Things fall apart, children die, people starve, but it’s hard to gauge the rate at which the ship of state is slipping under the iceberg of reality due that giant gash of socialism in its side.

    The crisis has now reached the “regular riots and soldiers shooting protesters in the street” phase:

    An economy in shambles, lethal street crime, dungeons packed with political prisoners, and South America’s worst refugee crisis — it’s hard to find a misery that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government hasn’t visited on his compatriots in his four years in office. But by calling for a new constitution (Venezuela has had 26) as he did this week, Latin America’s ranking strongman may well have trumped his own dismal record.

    On May 1, with the streets of Caracas and other major cities teeming with anti-government protests, Maduro announced a plan to convoke a constituent assembly to write a new constitution. As anti-climactic as that sounds, this was an autocratic milestone even for the country that has turned political and economic fiat into a science. In a single flourish, the Venezuelan leader proposed not just to bend the rules, as he has done repeatedly since coming to power in 2013, but also to junk the latest constitution — which his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, fashioned into a tyrant’s toolbox — and cherry-pick a Bolivarian dream team to deliver what will presumably be an even more authoritarian one.

    If the proposal stands, as virtually all of Maduro’s decrees have stood to now, the new law in turn would bury the cherished trope among contemporary Latin American strongmen that their word, no matter how arbitrary, is still anchored in democratic process. “Maduro’s proposal was not just flagrantly unconstitutional. It was the most radical move in more than 17 years of Chavismo,” said Diego Moya-Ocampos, chief political risk analyst at IHS Markit, a London-based business consultancy.

    Brazilian foreign minister Aloysio Nunes went further, labelling Maduro’s proposal a “coup” and a breach of democratic civility. “Maduro chose to radicalize,” Nunes told me in an interview. “This proposal is incompatible with the democratic process, slams the door on dialogue, and is a slap in the face to the Pope’s appeal for a negotiated solution.”

    Even the Secretary General of the Organization of American States has recognized that Venezuela no longer even pretends to be a democracy:

    There are elements of dictatorships that are unmistakable. Today I must refer to one more in Venezuela: the passing of civilians to military justice.

    Venezuela´s civic-military regime represents the worst of every dictatorship. That includes tyrannical control over political freedoms and the basic guarantees of the people, the elimination of the powers of the branches of government of popular representation, political prisoners and torture, starting with the armed collectives, a kind of fascist blackshirts, with orders to attack civilians during protests.

    The accusations of military prosecutors to civilians is absolute nonsense in juridical terms.

    In Venezuela, the rule of law does not exist even in appearance.

    The accusations of crimes of vilification and instigation to rebellion, as well as other categories of a similar nature, are part of a reactionary discourse devoid of legal grounds applied against demonstrators. The reality is that they simply serve the purpose of depriving peaceful protesters of their freedom.

    When a government considers that its people are a threat to its continuity it is because it is a government whose strategy is to continue without the people and on the basis of the use of force.

    This constitutes a new violation of the Constitution, which in its article 261 says clearly that:

    “The commission of common crimes, human rights violations and crimes against humanity shall be judged by the courts of the ordinary jurisdiction. Military courts jurisdiction is limited to offenses of a military nature.”

    More scenes from the disintegration of Venezuelan society over the last few months:

  • More classic commie moves: arrest opposition leaders and charge them with plotting a coup, in this case Gilber Caro.
  • They also banned opposition leader Henrique Capriles from holding political office for 15 years.
  • Another opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez, has just disappeared in prison. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Though his wife Lilian Tintori has evidently seen him, and says that he wants the opposition to continue protesting. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • “Last year, the average Venezuelan living in extreme poverty lost 19 pounds amid mass food shortages largely created and then exacerbated by government price controls—60 percent of Venezuelans said they had to skip at least one meal a day. Maduro joked that the ‘Maduro diet,’ as the government-induced starvation has been called, was leading to better sex, to the applause of government workers and party loyalists but few others. There have been shortages of food as well as goods like toilet paper, deodorants, condoms, and even beer.”
  • “Venezuela military trafficking food as country goes hungry.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • “Facing a bread shortage that is spawning massive lines and souring the national mood, the Venezuelan government is responding this week by detaining bakers and seizing establishments.”
  • Eight Venezuelans were actually electrocuted trying to loot a bakery.
  • Venezuelans are fleeing to Brazil for medical care…A spiraling economic crisis and hyperinflation have cleaned Venezuelan hospitals of needles, bandages and medicine. Desperate for care and often undocumented, patients are overwhelming Brazilian emergency rooms as they turn up by the thousands.” (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • “Consumer prices in Venezuela soared by 741% year-over-year in February 2017.”
  • That hyperinflation was so bad that Venezuela outlawed their own currency. “In mid-December, the Venezuelan government surprised its citizens by withdrawing from circulation the 100-bolívar note, its largest and most used bill, with only 72 hours’ warning.” (Hat tip: The Other McCain.)
  • Statue of Hugo Chavez torn down by protesters.
  • “The Venezuelan government is investigating alleged corruption in a $1.3 billion contract between the state oil company and a private contractor co-founded by a Saudi prince, according to law-enforcement officials and related documents.” Usual WSJ hoops apply.
  • In Venezuela, the prisoners are literally running the prisons. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Why is it that reporters keep scratching their heads about Venezuela’s descent into extreme poverty and chaos? The cause is simple. Socialism. End it and you will end the misery.”
  • Chavista Socialism Has Destroyed 570,000 Businesses in Venezuela.”
  • Fracking means Venezuela will run out of money sooner rather than later. “A country like Venezuela, which was on the edge even before prices fell from $100 a barrel, well they’re running out of foreign exchange reserves, they’ve fallen from $66 to about $15 billion. And they’re collapsing and they’re running out of the ability to import food and other materials, and so there you’re dealing with almost societal instability, and order is being maintained by folks with guns.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Venezuela’s oil tankers are too dirty to be allowed to dock in foreign ports.
  • The regime’s useful idiots among the American left remain strangely silent as the country they once held up as a shining example of the success of socialism collapses:

  • Venezuelan Socialism Out-Grinches Itself

    Monday, December 26th, 2016

    The ongoing failure of socialism in Venezuela is one of those continuing stories that always threaten to turn post-worthy. This week’s Christmas season hook: the government’s Grinch-like seizure of toys:

    Caracas, Venezuela (CNN)Venezuelan officials have confiscated nearly 4 million toys from a toy distributor, accusing the company of planning to sell them at inflated prices during the Christmas season.

    On Saturday, the government initially said it had confiscated 4.8 million toys. It revised the figure Sunday, putting it at 3.821 million.

    Critics say the consumer protection agency, which targeted the toy warehouse this week, has become “the Grinch that stole Christmas” because many families won’t be able to buy the confiscated toys for the holiday.

    Agency head William Contreras disputed that, saying executives at toy distributor Kreisel-Venezuela, the largest of its kind in the country, “don’t care about our children’s right to have a merry Christmas.”

    Lack of toys are not the biggest problem for children in Venezuela. Thanks to the Magic Power of Socialism™, a child’s scrapped knee can mean death. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)

    Last month’s death of Cuba’s communist dictator Fidel Castro shouldn’t eclipse the ongoing collapse of Venezuela, Latin America’s other failed socialist state:

    Except for Nicaragua in the 1980s, Venezuela has more wholly adopted Castro’s economic and ideological model than any other Latin American nation. The late Hugo Chávez took his cues from Castro on everything from his fondness for army fatigues to his 10-hour speeches. Chávez also adopted the Castro model of seizing private property, suppressing the independent media, hounding political opponents and making cause with rogues in Damascus and Tehran.

    For a while Venezuela escaped some of the inevitable consequences thanks to a flood of petrodollars. That’s over. Inflation is forecast to reach 1,640% next year. Caracas is the world’s most violent city. Hospitals have run out of basic medicines, including antibiotics, leading to skyrocketing infant mortality. There are chronic and severe shortages of electricity, food and water, as well as ordinary consumer goods like diapers or beer. Nicolás Maduro, Chávez’s handpicked successor, has put his leading political opponents in jail.

    And there’s hunger. An estimated 120,000 Venezuelans flooded into neighboring Colombia to buy food when Mr. Maduro briefly opened the border in July. Desperate Venezuelans are trekking through the Amazon hinterlands to make it to Brazil. And, like Cubans, they are taking to boats, risking their lives to make it to the nearby Dutch colony of Curaçao. Where there’s socialism there are boat people.

    Zero Hedge has been keeping track of the twists and turns of Venezuela’s ongoing hyperinflation:

  • First Maduro’s idiot socialist government threw in the towel and announced they were printing currency with denominations 200x larger than the previous currency.
  • The results were swift: The bolivar crashed 22% in one week.
  • Then, following the moronic lead of Narendra Modi’s India, Venezuela announced that they were pulling 100 boliver notes from circulation, ahead of larger bills being available.
  • Then they closed the borders to prevent “currency smuggling.”
  • And yet, despite all this, despite children starving to death in the street, opposition parties cannot get their act together to oppose Maduro’s socialists. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

    As long as the government keeps failed socialist policies and printing money, the economic nightmare plaguing the people of Venezuela will continue.

    Starvation Stalks Venezuela

    Monday, August 8th, 2016

    This is what happens when a “socialist paradise” enters its terminal phase.

    Venezuela children are dying from malnutrition:

    Malnourished children who faint in class. Children who, in the worst cases, die from hunger, their bodies nothing but skin and bones, the outlines of their ribs visible.

    Images like those have become common in Venezuela, where critical food shortages are pushing hundreds of thousands of children under a blanket of misery and hunger more often seen in the poorest countries in Africa.

    “We are seeing cases not seen for 40 years,” said William Barrientos, a physician and part of the opposition bloc in the legislative National Assembly who produced and posted a video on YouTube to highlight the issue of malnutrition among Venezuelan children.

    It’s like something out of the French Revolution:

    A mob of starving people advanced on the presidential palace chanting, “We want food”. They were met by soldiers and police dispatched by the tyrant from his lavish palace decorated opulently with a golden sun, giant rock crystal mirrors, sparkling chandeliers and towering oil portraits.

    The scene wasn’t 19th century France, but 21st century Venezuela.

    And if you are wondering why you haven’t seen it on the news, it’s because Venezuela is a Socialist disaster area that was once being used as a model by the left. Now it’s a place where the vast majority of people can’t afford basic food staples and a third are down to two or fewer meals a day.

    Snip.

    Venezuela, once a wealthy oil state, where the doctors offering “universal health care” have no medicine and starving people loot government stores looking for food, is yet another example. 50 people are dead in the latest food riots. Their graves are yet another “grave error” of the left.

    Snip.

    Venezuela needs 10 billion bank notes in its new inflationary economy, more than America, and it can’t pay for them. Or pay for anything else. It can’t afford to import food and it refuses to pay fair prices at home. Meanwhile eggs, at the official exchange rate, run to $150, McDonald’s fries for $126 and a pound of coffee for $85. Socialists may not believe in inflation, but inflation believes in them.

    No wonder the people are starving.

    Teachers sell passing grades to students in exchange for milk and flour. Lines at government stores are endless and an entire economy has been built on buying and trades spots on food lines. Fingerprint scanners are used to enforce milk rations. And a heavy military police and military presence is required to stop mobs of starving people from grabbing the food as soon as it arrives.

    (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

    Venezuelans who are able cross into Columbia to buy food, at least what little their worthless hyperinflated Bolivars will buy.

    How many children will have to starve to death until the Venezuela’s socialist ruling class reverses course?

    Venezuela Re-institutes Slavery

    Monday, August 1st, 2016

    On June 2, 1816, Simon Bolivar landed in Venezuela and declared all slaves in Spanish America free. In 2016, the “Bolivarian Revolution” in Venezuela reinstitued slave labor on farms:

    Venezuelan ministry last week announced Resolution No. 9855, which calls for the establishment of a “transitory labor regime” in order to relaunch the agricultural and food sector. The decree says that the government must do what is “necessary to achieve strategic levels of self-sufficiency,” and states that workers can be forcefully moved from their jobs to work in farm fields or elsewhere in the agricultural sector for periods of 60 days.

    (Hat tip: Instaundit.)

    I’m sure if you went into Houston’s Fifth Ward or Atlanta’s south side and announced “Hey, due to a food emergency, we’re going to need to put you back on the plantations. But it’s only for 60 days!” I’m sure they’d be totally understanding…

    This follows months of food riots. Animals are starving to death in Venezuela’s zoos because they can’t afford to feed them. “Danta from the Caricuao zoo died from hunger.” There you go, liberals: An animal with a name! Now we just wait for all that spontaneous outrage…

    Danta Tapir

    So what is country whose people are literally starving due to the Magic Power of Socialism™ to do? Why, institute censorship, of course! And why reform your failing socialist econmy when you can threaten to arrest international executives because their local factories can’t produce goods due to a lack of raw materials?

    Leftist leaders around the world love proclaiming “Socialism or Death!” But as Venezuela proves yet again, socialism is death…

    LinkSwarm for June 3, 2016

    Friday, June 3rd, 2016

    Another week, another Texas flood. Try to stay dry and enjoy a Friday LinkSwarm:

  • Paglia on Clinton: “If it were a Republican in the crosshairs, Hillary’s shocking refusal to meet with the Inspector General (who interviewed all four of the other living Secretaries of State of the past two decades) would have been the lead item flagged in screaming headlines from coast to coast. Let’s face it—the genuinely innocent do not do pretzel twists like this to cover their asses.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • New York Magazine massively re-edits article on why Hillary won’t debate because the original wasn’t fawning enough.
  • Eight reasons Hillary sucks. Including Obama: “she does not seem to want to run on Ben Rhodes’s foreign policy, Jonathan Gruber’s Obamacare, Lois Lerner’s IRS, Lisa Jackson’s EPA, Eric Holder’s Justice Department, or Barack Obama’s racial healing. And yet she needs Obama’s hard-left base. So far she has rejected her 2008 Annie Oakley, Reagan-Democrat schtick, gambling that her Black Lives (alone) Matter and transgenderism pandering can ensure that she will match Obama’s historic share of the minority vote. But so far it seems just as likely that she will lose more voters among the white working class than she can lease from Obama’s core.”
  • College students are allowed to ask Hillary Clinton original, spontaneous questions that just happen to be scripted by the Clinton campaign. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • At judge’s order, 20,000 documents related to Fast and Furious scandal released. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Trump is right: Some illegal aliens are being lavished with more benefits than our own veterans.
  • How a naval contractor named “Fat Leonard” infiltrated the Navy with bribes, prostitutes and lavish parties. “The Soviets couldn’t have penetrated us better than Leonard Francis.” Our country is in the best of hands. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Oberlin students are among the most precious of snowflakes.
  • More on the same theme. Alas, this morning I just don’t have time to explicate all the manifest idiocies on display by the Social Justice Warrior Campus Cadets…
  • Obama Administration bitch-slapped for attempting ex-post facto regulation. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Columbia was once a basket case and Venezuela a thriving nation on the rise. Thanks to The Magic Power of Socialism™, they’ve switched places.
  • This bitch is so crazy I can’t even keep up with her crazy bitch shit.”
  • Enya: rich crazy cat lady.
  • Flooding-related blackout leads to Texas prison riots.
  • City Manager behind Dallas’ controversial city-owned hotel steps down.
  • If your political party openly calls for the complete destruction of the oil industry, maybe you shouldn’t have your national convention in Houston.
  • Science Fiction writer Gregory Benford on university host escort duties for G. Gordon Liddy, Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut, and a certain “Tom.”
  • Space City Comic Con turns into an actual con. As in the fraud kind…
  • Swiss open world’s longest tunnel with ceremony featuring marching uniform worker drones, a horned goat god, and a giant flying death baby.