Archive for June, 2009

Out Of The Depths

Why is there a coup in Honduras?

Zelaya: el FMI “no es ni mi papá, ni mi mamá” – Economía –

El presidente hondureño, Manuel Zelaya, arremetió este viernes contra el Fondo Monetario Internacional (FMI) y reiteró que “no hay ninguna obligación de tener ningún tipo de acuerdo” con el organismo financiero.

“El Fondo no es mi padre, ni mi papá ni mi mamá, para venirme a decir a mí lo que tengo de hacer en Honduras”, expresó el mandatario al regresar tras su viaje a Cuba.

Desde el 24 febrero se encuentra en Tegucigalpa una misión del FMI evaluando las cifras económicas para ver si amplía un acuerdo ‘stand by’ cuya vigencia de un año finaliza este mes.

Pero a la llegada de la misión, Zelaya dijo que “Honduras no tiene necesidad de un acuerdo con el FMI, Honduras ha superado todos los indicadores de un país que puede sostenerse sin el aporte del Fondo”.

Allow me to translate.

The Honduran president, Manuel Zelaya, this Friday strongly criticised the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and reiterated that “there is no obligation to have any type of agreement” with the financial organisation.

“The fund is not my father, not my dad and not my mum, to come and tell me what I have to do in Honduras”, said the leader on his return from his trip to Cuba.

Since the 24th February an IMF delegation has been in Tegucigalpa weighing up the economic figures to see if it will extend a ‘stand by’ agreement whose period of one year ends this month.

But on arriving at the delegation, Zelaya said that “Honduras has no need for an agreement with the IMF, Honduras has surpassed all the indicators of a country that can look after itself without the support of the Fund.”

FMI cuestiona la adhesión de Honduras al Alba

A la polémica adhesión de Honduras a la Alianza Bolivariana de las Américas (Alba) se ha sumado el Fondo Monetario Internacional (FMI) que ha pedido explicaciones sobre las repercusión económica que tendrá dicha incorporación y sus consecuencias con su antiguo socio EEUU.

El FMI se ha sumado a la quejas anteriormente realizadas por el Consejo de la Empresa Privada (Cohep) junto con algunos partidos políticos y la Coalición Patriótica sobre las consecuencias futuras de la próxima incorporación de Honduras que se cree que podrá perjudicar en las relaciones con su actual socio estadounidense.

Gracias a Petrocaribe, el presidente venezolano, Hugo Chávez suele proponer a sus socios la creación y fortalecimiento de Banco del Sur, como una opción para prescindir de los organismos de financiamiento liderados por el Banco Mundial (BM), el Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo (BID) o el mismo FMI, afirmó el representante FMI, Mario Garza.

Ayer, ya el (Cohep) de Honduras, criticó la adhesión del país a Alba, al considerar que la operación podría “incomodar” a EEUU y las relaciones comerciales entre ambos países. Entre otros, los países miembros del organismo sonb Venezuela, Bolivia y Cuba.

El ente empresarial calificó el Alba como una alianza política y militar que conspira contra el ejercicio de las libertades individuales y la libre determinación de la sociedad. Opinión que ha sido apoyada por el Partido Liberal y el propio presidente del Congreso, Roberto Micheletti, que afirmaron que no firmarían el tratado.

Let me translate once more.

IMF Questions Honduras Ties To ALBA

The IMF has joined in on the question of the controversial entrance of Honduras to the Bolivarian Alliance of The Americas (ALBA), asking for explanations on the economic repercussions which the aforementioned incorporation will have and its consequences with its old partner the United States.

The IMF has joined the complaints previously made by the Council of Private Enterprise (Cohep) along with some political parties and the Patriotic Coalition on the future consequences of the upcoming incorporation of Honduras which it is believed could damage its relations with its US partner [hollow laughs at Honduras and US as ‘partners’ – HG].

Thanks to Petrocaribe, the Venezuelan President, Hugo Chávez, usually proposes to its members the creation and strengthening of the Bank of The South, as an option to do away with the financial organizations led by the World Bank, the Interamerican Development Bank or the IMF, said the IMF representative, Mario Garza.

Yesterday, the Council of Private Enterprise criticised the country’s joining ALBA, considering that the act could ‘unsettle’ the US and the commercial relations between both countries. Among others, the member countries of the organization are Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba.

The business body described ALBA as a political and military alliance that conspires against the exercise of individual liberties and the free determination of society (hollow laughs once more – HG). This opinion has been supported by the Liberal Party, and the president of Congress, Roberto Micheletti, who said that they would not sign the treaty. Other sectors believe that ALBA will last for what remains of Zelaya’s mandate, until January 2010.

Protesters demand return of ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya | World news |

The 56-year-old president, looking dishevelled but calm, said he had been expelled by “rightwing oligarchs” and promised to return to Honduras.

Zelaya, who had been in office since 2006, was ousted after clashing with the judiciary, congress and the army over proposed constitutional changes that would allow presidents to seek re-election.

The US and European Union joined Latin American governments in denouncing the coup.

In Honduras, however, the establishment rallied around the army’s action.

Congress named an interim president, Roberto Micheletti, who announced an immediate curfew for Sunday and Monday nights. The country’s leading court said it had authorised the toppling of the president.

I think it’s fairly obvious why there has been a coup in Honduras.

Sticking Up For Ireland

When the government starts slashing welfare payments and they say it’s because maintaining market credibility is simply comme il faut, there will be even more talk about how Ireland’s welfare payments are more generous than other countries, with maybe even a hearty nod and wink to the Sunday Independent’s campaign of lamenting the fate of millionaire speculators whilst simultaneously shouting Stop Thief! and pointing at the nasty immigrants.

I saw someone argue a wee while back, somewhat chastened after erroneously claiming -after regurgitating Department of Finance briefings- that Ireland’s welfare payments were the most generous in the EU that it is wrong to compare Ireland’s system of welfare payments to that of other countries, because it is… oh fuck it. Get this.

I bought myself a big packet of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes in the supermarket the other day. There is no Organic Weetabix in Spain, and ordinary Weetabix combined with UHT milk tastes like shite. I figured a packed of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes would be sufficiently nutty and sweet delicious to suspend my knowledge of the fact that I am shovelling UHT milk into myself.

So I had my first bowl, and it was delicious.

But I didn’t close the box properly, and several hundred battallions of bastard ants made their way in from the patio, climbed the sideboard and the wall, and into the box of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, which I then had to throw out, crestfallen and resigned to the fact that it would be back to cardboard Weetabix and shite milk this morning (don’t get me wrong, I’m not completely milk-ist: I think UHT is totally fine for milky coffee).

Now it seems to me that Ireland may be deficient in many things. It may have a collapsing economy, a culture of exalting mediocrity and unquestioning genuflection to technocratic crackpot realists and corporate bullies. Its hospitals may be dilapidated, its GPs may rip you off every time you get sick, its beaches may be filthy and its weather appalling.

But at least you don’t get ants crawling into your fucking Crunchy Nut Cornflakes.

Lifestyle Supplements

You know how it is in post-Tiger Ireland. You go to a dinner party and they’re using ordinary olive oil on the placenta instead of Extra Virgin. The man of the house, who up until recently you would see in diamond-encrusted loafers down at the yacht club, is out in the garden on all fours, licking the decking and dousing himself in Steiger lager. The once perky Pekinese is slumped with its paws in the air atop the Brabantia bin, having exhausted itself in its attempts to hump the leg off the architect’s wife from up the street, his underbelly matted brown with the fake tan she’s had to resort to now. Three holidays a year in Marbella gave way to one trip a month to Chartbusters spray booths, and now that that’s gone to the wall, ever the resourceful type, she’s been draining off the excess liquid from the organic bins into a brownish paste, and started glazing her now-flabby calves (the gym membership expired some months back) with a pastry brush. What can get really galling is the one-upmanship of the whole thing. At the same dinner party, the hostess tried to make a show of her generosity. While the rest of us were struggling cheerfully with the plastic knives and forks, tucking into our (surprisingly delicious) Aldi tinned ham fritters, she grandiosely produced a garden greip and a hoe. Oh don’t mind me, I can manage, I’m afraid we can’t afford any more cutlery. Sure.

One former banker guest seemed rather perturbed and red-faced by the sniggers that accompanied the host reading aloud an Irish Times account of an unnamed former banker who had started up a ‘discrete personal service’ provided to the pets of rich old dowagers in the South Dublin area. “I don’t know how the hell she meets these people” laughed one. “Yah, it’s as if she makes it all up” laughed another. The former banker launched into a stinging disquisition on the morality of providing sexual stimuli to animals. “Imagine you were the last man on earth, lonely and ontologically redundant, with no prospect of sensual consolation from another being. Are you seriously saying that you would reject the tender advances of another creature, even if it was an 11ft praying mantis from the planet Zarg? Your bourgeois morality disgusts me.”

Woodward And Bernstein From Beyond The Grave

Yes I know they’re not dead.

Michael Jackson: A special relationship with Ireland – Friday, 26 June 2009, News, Music & Gigs –

According to Californian psychic Randa Starr, the pop superstar has always been interested in Ireland because he is fascinated by fairies and leprechauns

Nice to see the Belfast Telegraph using quality sources for its reporting. Unsure what to write? Consult a psychic. But wait:

Michael Jackson’s Irish vacation, sticks Tippi Hedren with Tiger bill – Monsters and Critics September 1, 2006

According to Californian psychic Randa Starr, the pop superstar has always been interested in Ireland because he is fascinated by fairies and leprechauns

In Pursuit of Excellence

The Not-so-beautiful Game « The Enterprise Blog

For sure, there may be a number of reasons that is the case but my suspicion is that the so-called “beautiful game” is not so beautiful to American sensibilities. We like, as good small “d” democrats, our underdogs for sure but we also still expect folks in the end to get their just desert. And, in sports, that means excellence should prevail. Of course, the fact that is often not the case when it comes to soccer may be precisely the reason the sport is so popular in the countries of Latin America and Europe.

It would seem the American Enterprise Institute doesn’t get ‘soccer’. I look forward to ‘Why I Hate Golf And Its Communist Handicap System’.


Lenihan admits Irish economy was overheated – The Irish Times – Thu, Jun 25, 2009

Mr Lenihan said the report from the global financial watchdog had been supportive of the recent measures taken by the Government to try and address these problems.

That line tells you so much about modern Ireland. Pointing up the fact that the IMF is backing you on your economic policies is rather like saying Dennis Nilsen supports your strategy for dealing with the homeless. Either Lenihan really thinks that praise from the IMF is praise indeed because he is a fully convinced neo-liberal stooge, or he has such contempt for the listeners that, like Brian Cowen’s references to the thoughts of ‘independent commentators’, he’s betting they’ll be convinced that if the smart boyos from some international body say it is so, then it must be true.

The other thing of note is the reference to the IMF as a ‘financial watchdog’, as though it were some respected body of disinterested expertise and not the hired goons for the financiers of the international capitalist class.

Note on Iran

ei: The Western media and Iran

For years, Palestinians have organized weekly nonviolent demonstrations against Israel’s wall in the West Bank. Each week protestors face the heavily-armed Israeli military and are beaten and shot at with rubber-coated steel bullets and tear-gas canisters, sometimes fatally. Yet, during his recent speech in Cairo to the Muslim world, Obama made no reference to these protests and instead called on Palestinians to “abandon violence” and adopt nonviolent means. Days after the speech a Palestinian was killed and a teenager wounded during the weekly protest, yet there has been no call by the US administration for Israel to “stop all violent and unjust actions” against the Palestinian people. And the media has followed and remained silent, even though covering the demonstrations would be as easy as a 30-minute drive from most Jerusalem-based news bureaus on any given Friday.


When images were shown by CNN or its competitors, it was generally not true to the real horror faced by Palestinians in Gaza. I can’t recall seeing one video of one of the hundreds of children killed in Gaza shown in the US media. In contrast, two days ago CNN broadcasted footage of a woman who was shot and bleeding to death on a Tehran street. Most of these viral videos are taken on citizens’ mobile phones, and they even have a special logo that CNN has created for the “unverified material.”

But there is plenty of “verified material” showing violent images from the Middle East and many other places around the world in recent days, weeks, years that has never been shown. Videos and testimonials are readily available on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, waiting, indeed begging, for the US media to take notice. But coverage of certain places might contradict US foreign policy there, something much of the media are proving unwilling to do.

This is pretty much a validation of one of the features of Chomsky and Herman’s propaganda model, in which the crimes of official enemies are cast into relentlessly sharp relief by media conglomerates, and the crimes of official allies are largely ignored.

Not explored in the article, but worth considering nonetheless, is Western attitudes towards Palestinians voting by comparison with attitudes to Iranians voting. When a Hamas government was elected in what were widely recognised as free, fair and transparent elections, Israel refused to recognise the government, and America and the EU witheld foreign aid. The Americans and Israelis then tried to instigate a Palestinian civil war. One may not approve of Hamas and its Islamism, but there does seem to be something of a beam in a Western eye that ignores outright the attempted destruction of Palestinian democracy when it does not actively rejoice in it, and then devotes lavish attention to the integrity of the electoral process in the Islamic Republic of Iran. There have never been any Palestinian ‘Angels of Freedom’ adopted by the west, but even so, plenty of those who now lament the deaths of people at the hands of the Iranian authorities would, at another moment, be only too happy to cheer on the bombs being dropped on their heads.

Hands Off The People Of Iran

I on Twitter

June 2009