Friday, February 29, 2008

Bonnie Prince Harry and the blackout of the free press.

AP reports:

"Britain's defense chief decided Friday to immediately pull Prince Harry out of Afghanistan after news of his deployment was leaked on the U.S. Web site the Drudge Report. Air Chief Marshal Jock Stirrup, chief of the Defense Staff, said he decided to withdraw the prince after senior commanders assessed the risks, the Defense Ministry said in a statement. Harry, third in line to the British throne, has been serving on the front line with an army unit in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province since mid-December."

I hear on the BBC this morning that the news media in the UK (and according to this story, the AP as well) knew that Prince Harry was in Afghanistan but chose not to report the news for his protection.

My question is what about the 8000 or so other British troops in Afghanistan? Are their lives that much less important? Aren't they sharing the same danger Harry was? He's not the only bullet magnet over there. Oh, but he's a royal, can't allow him to get killed.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup says "This decision has been taken primarily on the basis that the worldwide media coverage of Prince Harry in Afghanistan could impact on the security of those who are deployed there, as well as the risks to him as an individual soldier."

Sure blame the media for the Taliban. It isn't the worldwide coverage that endangered the Prince, it's the war, Air Chief Marshall -- and the shoddy condition of the British army. In 2006 the Independent reported that an MOD document stated that the condition of the British army was in pretty dire straights.

"The British Army suffers from 'critical weaknesses' to the point that, it is 'almost impossible' to fulfil commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a Ministry of Defence briefing document obtained by The Independent on Sunday. The Army is so stretched from having to fight on two fronts that 40 per cent of army divisions report they are suffering from 'serious or critical' problems. Manning shortages mean that soldiers are having to go on to tours of duty before they are properly rested or trained. And there are such serious problems recruiting for key military professions that colleagues in the field are having to forgo leave and extend their tours."

I'm sure not much has changed since then, either. Judging by the priorities of the British government it's not hard to see why. I mean, really, what a freakin' joke. When are the Brits going to finally abandon their silly obsession with those blue blooded inbreds? Seriously, here's a modern democracy in the 21st century still clinging to an ancient outmoded system of governance that exists solely for the purpose of making some people feel better and for the tourist money. Does anyone even know how much the British government even spends on these freeloaders?

And what does this story reveal about the state of the media in the UK? The BBC has been in Russia all week bemoaning the sorry state of affairs of Putin's new model democracy, but look at what they're doing.

The BBC reports:

"The prince's deployment was subject to a news blackout deal struck between the MoD and newspapers and broadcasters in the UK and abroad. . . In a statement, the Ministry of Defence described the reporting of Harry's deployment by foreign media as 'regrettable.'"

That damn foreign media, why don't they mind their own business?

And what was in it for the UK media?

"In exchange for not reporting the prince's deployment, some media organisations were granted access to the prince in Afghanistan for interviews and filming."

Wow, they got access to Bonnie Prince Harry! The Queen's subjects back home love those photos of hunky, rugged Prince Harry playing soldier. They just eat it up! Man, at least in Russia the reason they no longer have an independent media is because Putin either arrested or killed any journalist who dared report the news. In the UK all you have to do is offer these whores a pack of cigarettes and a beer and they roll right into the sack!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Free Fouad Farhan!

Due to my reliance on the internet the Free Library of Philadelphia provides, such as it is, I haven't been able to blog as much as I used to when I had internet access at home, but that's all changing. I now have the internet at home, so watch out all you folks out there that really piss me off.

Today, I only had time to post at LTAD, my original blog, which just celebrated its fourth birthday, so go over there to check out my views on the arrest of Saudi blogger Fouad al-Farhan. It seems our good friends the Saudis don't like people telling them things they don't like to hear. Fouad has been in solitary confinment since Dec. 10 of last year. See the lowdown about this case at -- and then go to my blog for many links. Don't waste all the time I did compiling all this stuff!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Castro wins again, Miami shrugs.

[I know this is a little out of date, but thanks to the four or five computers the Free Library of Philadelphia has available to the public, sometimes it takes days to get a reservation.]

AFP reports:

"Cuba's parliament named Raul Castro president to replace his ailing brother Fidel, prompting a guarded response Monday from countries looking for signs of reform on the Communist-ruled island."

So Fidel isn't President of Cuba anymore, so what? The media has been hammering away at this story ever since Fidel said he wasn't well enough to run the show anymore and, much like Fidel himself, it's getting really old. (I can't wait to see what they'll do when he actually dies!)

The standard tagline in story after story about the astounding news of Fidel's turning power over to Raul is: 'both Miami and Havana remained calm.' What were they expecting; crazed Cubans rampaging through the streets of Miami or that Cubans in Cuba would storm government buildings and overthrow the regime just because Fidel resigned?

I don't know if anyone in the media has been paying attention, but we've all pretty much known Fidel was sick for more than a year now, Raul has been running things ever since. The most annoying thing about all this faux panicking is that the media still has it in their minds that Cubans in South Florida, the so-called "Exiles," could give a crap less about Fidel these days.

The minute anything happens in Havana, NPR, CNN, ABC -- you name it, the ganzenmitspoche -- just have to run down to "Little Havana" and film the standard footage of old men playing dominoes and lines of cars of knuckleheads beeping their horns and waving Cuban flags.

This time around, they must have been hard pressed to find anyone other than those old dinosaurs in Domino Park. I'm sure there were a few morons holding up traffic on Coral Way -- it's always easy to find morons in Miami -- but that was about it.

NPR's Greg Allen was apparently so desperate to find anyone who cared in the least about this story that he actually interviewed a blogger! Yes, a correspondent for NPR interviewed Val Prieto, the author of Babalu Blog well known for its knee-jerk, rabidly anti-Fidel/anti-Chavez rantings.

God knows how much editing they had to do to get a few reasonably coherent sentences from him into the piece. What Allan probably doesn't know about Mr. Prieto is that he's one of those professional Cubans who spends all his time railing against Castro, desperately trying to keep the fires going because he's got nothing better to do with his life. He may talk a good game about all he wants in Cuba is freedom of expression and democracy but, as with most "exilios" in So. Fla. with big mouths and no lives, the only freedom of expression they tolerate is the speech they agree with.

One of Mr. Babalu Blog's fine readers even went so far as to threaten to put me in the hospital if he ever met me in Miami, all for simply have a contrary opinion. And then I was banned from his blog so I couldn't defend myself. Kind of like something Fidel might do to a dissident, no?

If you've never lived in Miami and haven't had to deal with these boneheads on a regular basis over the years like I have, you wouldn't know that a few minutes of reasonable sounding boiler-plate about the horrors of Fidel and how they fled from his tyranny, the Cuban people's simple desire for freedom etc. is all a load of bull hockey.

First of all, none of these people have the slightest interest in going back. If things were to open up over there, the first thing they would do is try to get their remaining family over here as quick as possible. (Exiles, my ass!)

[Point of interest: If Cuba were to become a democracy, that would be the end of the special immigration status only the Cubans now enjoy. You'd all go to the back of the line with the Haitians and the Mexicans.]

The second thing is; many of the rich ones, the ones that were rich back then and the ones that are still rich today, would immediately bring legal challenges to get back all the property they owned back in the good old days of Batista and Mafia rule.

I don't know where the younger Cuban-Americans get the idea pre-Castro Cuba was some sort of democratic paradise, it wasn't. Most people were dirt poor and anyone who didn't want to pick sugar cane found themselves in jail or hanging from a telephone pole as a warning to others.

The entire concept of the nation of Cuba wasn't even realized until Fidel took over. Cuba had been under Spanish rule ever since its discovery and then the Americans took over after the Spanish American War. At no time before 1959 was Cuba ever a sovereign country.

Yes, Fidel & Co. are despicable and if the whole crew got overthrown tomorrow no one would shed any tears, but the fact is they're there and they're not going anywhere. They have been there for almost 49 years and several generations of Cubans have known nothing but Fidel and the system they have there, so it's not like the minute the regime is replaced they're going to embrace George W. Bush and the American way.

Whoever winds up taking over from the Communist Party in Cuba is going to have to tread lightly and not be too pro-American, unless they want another revolution. Allowing the super rich sugar baron exilios from Miami top come back and claim their plantations isn't going to fly, either. And if the hotheads in Miami think the United States Marines are going to go in and get their property back, they've got another thing coming.

To those remaining few dead-enders, the ones who can't over the fact that Fidel hung on for 49 years and left on his own terms despite the Embargo, despite the beeping horns, even after all the training Alpha 66 did in the Everglades -- get over it and get a life. You're Americans now, the rest of your fellow countrymen don't give a rat's ass about Cuba and we're not going to spill any blood over it.

And sooner or later, some future administration -- hopefully the next one -- is going to go after all those exilio terror groups in Miami.

As points out:

"In Greater Miami, home to the majority of the nation's 1.5 million Cuban-Americans, the presence of what could credibly be described as a terrorist training camp has become an accepted norm during the half-century of the anti-Castro Cuban diaspora. Alpha 66 and numerous other paramilitary groups -- Comandos F4, Brigade 2506, Accion Cubana -- are so common they've taken on the benign patina of Rotary Clubs with weapons."

And don't forget about the long history of political violence in Miami since the late 60's when the CIA saw Cuban exiles as useful foils against Castro. Jim Mullin dared write about this subject, a dangerous maneuver in Miami, back in 2000 for the Miami Times.

Here's a run down of just some of the violence commited by Cuban exiles in Miami just in the last 10 years. (For the rest since 1968 see Mullin's article):

"1998 Bomb threat empties concert hall at MIDEM music conference during performance by 91-year-old Cuban musician Compay Segundo.

1998 Bomb threat received by Amnesia nightclub in Miami Beach preceding performance by Cuban musician Orlando 'Maraca' Valle.

1998 Firebomb explodes at Amnesia nightclub preceding performance by Cuban singer ManolĂ­n.

1999 Violent protest at Miami Arena performance of Cuban band Los Van Van leaves one person injured, eleven arrested.

1999 Bomb threat received by Seville Hotel in Miami Beach preceding performance by Cuban singer Rosita Fornes. Hotel cancels concert.

January 26, 2000 Outside Miami Beach home of Sister Jeanne O'Laughlin, protester displays sign reading, 'Stop the deaths at sea. Repeal the Cuban Adjustment Act,' then is physically assaulted by nearby exile crowd before police come to rescue.

April 11, 2000 Outside home of Elian Gonzalez's Miami relatives, radio talk show host Scot Piasant of Portland, Oregon, displays T-shirt reading, 'Send the boy home' and 'A father's rights,' then is physically assaulted by nearby exile crowd before police come to rescue."

And then, of course there were the Elian riots -- sorry, "the outpouring of emotion" -- after Janet Reno took the boy away from his crazy family.

The Miami Herald:

emonstrators, outraged at the seizure of Elian Gonzalez by a gun-toting federal SWAT team, shouted, wept, waved flags and signs and -- in isolated angrier outbreaks -- blocked traffic, threw rocks, overturned bus benches and torched tires and trash bins. Police met them fast and forcefully -- some say too forcefully -- [if they had been black, the national guard would have been called in!] pumping tear gas canisters into crowds and hauling off dozens in handcuffs. At least 268 people, including a man charged with attempted murder for attacking three officers with a baseball bat, had been arrested by 10 p.m. . . .The city of Miami had about 700 of its 1,127 officers on the street. Miami's officers were reinforced by the Miami-Dade Police Department with 650 county officers in field units and a SWAT team from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. FHP troopers patrolled the perimeter and Miami Beach officers assisted by providing security at the Heat game.."

Just a little skirmish. [I especially liked the scene of rioters trying to get the police to come over to their side: "What are you doing, you're Cuban!"
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