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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Venezuela"

Alexander Woolf: My economic views are mainstream – but have been almost impossible to air at Britain’s universities

Alexander Woolf is a PhD researcher in political economy and a former parliamentary assistant. 

During my years as an undergraduate politics student, I gradually learnt how writing assignments from a free market perspective was like asking to be failed. By my final year, I acquiesced to writing through a socialist lens and I received high Firsts every time.

The fact that I had to pretend to be somebody else in order to succeed frustrated me and violated every belief I had about individuality and meritocracy. At that moment, I decided that my career goal would be to enter academia and teach political science objectively, helping students to understand not just the few flaws of capitalism but also the many benefits. Like today’s political philosophers and political economists, I would continue to teach Marx, but I would also teach Hayek, Mises, Smith and Rothbard. After all, what is education when it is only half-taught?

After finishing my degree and my Masters, and gaining a few years’ experience of working in Parliament, I was accepted on to a PhD course, the final step towards entering the academic world. Finding a British university as a Conservative, libertarian, or classical liberal is no easy feat. I was told by every like-minded scholar I encountered to apply for King’s College in London or cross the Atlantic to attend George Mason University in Virginia. Anywhere else was a waste of my time.

This seemed strange to me. My views about the economy are mainstream among economists and businesses, who champion a system of limited government involvement. My views about wider issues are also shared by the majority of British voters, who have elected Conservative governments for the last decade – and even delivered an unexpected Brexit result. However, I was told that people like me are unwelcome in the vast majority of political science departments in this country.

Despite being driven for so many years to help correct the ideological bias in our universities, I still hadn’t fully grasped the gravity of this problem. As soon as I started my PhD, I grabbed the first opportunity to teach by becoming a seminar tutor. I was given classes in a module called “The Politics of Global Capitalism”. Despite the objective title of this class, however, I soon learnt that the lecturer in charge of the module is a proud Marxist. In our introductory meeting, the lecturer joked how he hoped the students would “throw their iPhones out the window and raise the red flag” by the end of the semester.

In hindsight, I should have recognised the red flag that was raised by his ideological comments and dropped the class, but this just made me more determined. And since Tory students are highly unlikely to secure funding from the ESRC funding council, I frankly needed the money.

I was pleasantly surprised during my months of teaching subjects how mature, rational and open-minded the students can be. However, my Marxist class had two self-confessed communist students who were problematic, to say the least. Other students would confide in me that they felt uncomfortable getting involved in discussions because these students would shout people down, scoff and laugh at them, or call them stupid.

During one particular rant about how “we” should raid businesses and seize their profits, before kicking Jeff Bezos out of the country (for what reason, I’m still unsure), I decided to probe with some intellectual questions. What signals would it send to other businesses? What would happen to our economy when we’re seen as a volatile place to invest? I received no response.

Within one week, I was informed that two students had complained about me for being biased, and since the lecturer had let me teach on the assumption that I was also a socialist, I was advised to drop the class. As with the 2011 riots and the militant tactics of Momentum, the theme is clear: when socialists inevitably lose an intellectual or political debate, they turn nasty.

However, two 18-year olds aren’t the problem here; the responsibility lays with our educational institutions. Students learn what they are taught, and if they are only taught by socialists, then we can’t be surprised when they refuse to tolerate a conservative teacher.

Universities were founded as institutions for creating new ideas and spreading knowledge, but our social science faculties peddle propaganda and incite young people with their own prejudices. My university department, for example, has a research centre dedicated to furthering “public understanding of politics”, an important and admirable task. The fact that this centre is named after a socialist, however, raises serious questions about whose understanding is being publicised.

Approaching the final year of my PhD, my desire to teach has evaporated and I have turned down offers to tutor again. I came to realise that the lack of “people like me” in academia stems from the fact those people don’t want to work in the modern-day university; ones that pride themselves as being “safe spaces”, but safe spaces for whom, when evil, climate-destroying Tories are not welcome? Why would anybody subject themselves to this kind of work environment?

There is cause for conservatives to be concerned about the future of voting in this country. Yes, it’s a blessing that a centre-left Keir Starmer is Britain’s current worst-case scenario, considering his predecessor. However, we cannot forget the perplexing irony that tech-savvy millennials were captured so easily by Corbyn’s 1970s solutions to modern world problems.

The next generation of voters won’t know how socialism worked out in Russia, China, North Korea, Venezuela, or Cuba. They won’t understand that government bureaucrats can’t design a smartphone to rival the iPhone. They won’t realise that arbitrarily punishing businesses might mean an end to the next-day deliveries of their favourite products, forty-minute deliveries of their favourite restaurant food, or instant streaming of their favourite TV shows.

Economic knowledge is important in an advanced economy, and this knowledge needs to be based on facts rather than myths or ideological hyperbole. If we want to ensure that the next Jeremy Corbyn suffers the same fate as the last, it is vital that we ask questions of our schools, colleges, and universities about the accuracy and objectivity of their lessons and lectures on issues of citizenship. Opponents will say that this threatens independent science, but what I have seen both as a politics student and teacher is far from science.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

‘Instead of Coronavirus, the Hunger Will Kill Us.’ A Global Food Crisis Looms.

Westlake Legal Group instead-of-coronavirus-the-hunger-will-kill-us-a-global-food-crisis-looms ‘Instead of Coronavirus, the Hunger Will Kill Us.’ A Global Food Crisis Looms. World Food Program Venezuela Syria South Africa Lebanon Kibera (Nairobi, Kenya) Kenya India Food Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Colombia
Westlake Legal Group 00virus-hunger2-facebookJumbo-v2 ‘Instead of Coronavirus, the Hunger Will Kill Us.’ A Global Food Crisis Looms. World Food Program Venezuela Syria South Africa Lebanon Kibera (Nairobi, Kenya) Kenya India Food Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Colombia

NAIROBI, Kenya — In the largest slum in Kenya’s capital, people desperate to eat set off a stampede during a recent giveaway of flour and cooking oil, leaving scores injured and two people dead.

In India, thousands of workers are lining up twice a day for bread and fried vegetables to keep hunger at bay.

And across Colombia, poor households are hanging red clothing and flags from their windows and balconies as a sign that they are hungry.

“We don’t have any money, and now we need to survive,” said Pauline Karushi, who lost her job at a jewelry business in Nairobi, and lives in two rooms with her child and four other relatives. “That means not eating much.”

The coronavirus pandemic has brought hunger to millions of people around the world. National lockdowns and social distancing measures are drying up work and incomes, and are likely to disrupt agricultural production and supply routes — leaving millions to worry how they will get enough to eat.

The coronavirus has sometimes been called an equalizer because it has sickened both rich and poor, but when it comes to food, the commonality ends. It is poor people, including large segments of poorer nations, who are now going hungry and facing the prospect of starving.

“The coronavirus has been anything but a great equalizer,” said Asha Jaffar, a volunteer who brought food to families in the Nairobi slum of Kibera after the fatal stampede. “It’s been the great revealer, pulling the curtain back on the class divide and exposing how deeply unequal this country is.”

Already, 135 million people had been facing acute food shortages, but now with the pandemic, 130 million more could go hungry in 2020, said Arif Husain, chief economist at the World Food Program, a United Nations agency. Altogether, an estimated 265 million people could be pushed to the brink of starvation by year’s end.

“We’ve never seen anything like this before,” Mr. Husain said. “It wasn’t a pretty picture to begin with, but this makes it truly unprecedented and uncharted territory.”

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The world has experienced severe hunger crises before, but those were regional and caused by one factor or another — extreme weather, economic downturns, wars or political instability.

This hunger crisis, experts say, is global and caused by a multitude of factors linked to the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing interruption of the economic order: the collapse in oil prices; widespread shortages of hard currency from tourism drying up; overseas workers not having earnings to send home; and ongoing problems like climate change, violence, population dislocations and humanitarian disasters.

Already, from Honduras to South Africa to India, protests and looting have broken out amid frustrations from lockdowns and worries about hunger. With classes shut down, over 368 million children have lost the nutritious meals and snacks they normally receive in school.

There is no shortage of food globally, or mass starvation from the pandemic — yet. But logistical problems in planting, harvesting and transporting food will leave poor countries exposed in the coming months, especially those reliant on imports, said Johan Swinnen, director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington.

While the system of food distribution and retailing in rich nations is organized and automated, he said, systems in developing countries are “labor intensive,” making “these supply chains much more vulnerable to Covid-19 and social distancing regulations.”

Yet even if there is no major surge in food prices, the food security situation for poor people is likely to deteriorate significantly worldwide. This is especially true for economies like Sudan and Zimbabwe that were struggling before the outbreak, or those like Iran that have increasingly used oil revenues to finance critical goods like food and medicine.

In the sprawling Petare slum on the outskirts of the capital, Caracas, a nationwide lockdown has left Freddy Bastardo and five others in his household without jobs. Their government-supplied rations, which had arrived only once every two months before the crisis, have long run out.

“We are already thinking of selling things that we don’t use in the house to be able to eat,” said Mr. Bastardo, 25, a security guard. “I have neighbors who don’t have food, and I’m worried that if protests start, we wouldn’t be able to get out of here.”

As wages have dried up, half a million people are estimated to have left cities to walk home, setting off the nation’s “largest mass migration since independence,” said Amitabh Behar, the chief executive of Oxfam India.

On a recent evening, hundreds of migrant workers, who have been stuck in New Delhi after a lockdown was imposed in March with little warning, sat under the shade of a bridge waiting for food to arrive. The Delhi government has set up soup kitchens, yet workers like Nihal Singh go hungry as the throngs at these centers have increased in recent days.

“Instead of coronavirus, the hunger will kill us,” said Mr. Singh, who was hoping to eat his first meal in a day. Migrants waiting in food lines have fought each other over a plate of rice and lentils. Mr. Singh said he was ashamed to beg for food but had no other option.

“The lockdown has trampled on our dignity,” he said.

Refugees and people living in conflict zones are likely to be hit the hardest.

The curfews and restrictions on movement are already devastating the meager incomes of displaced people in Uganda and Ethiopia, the delivery of seeds and farming tools in South Sudan and the distribution of food aid in the Central African Republic. Containment measures in Niger, which hosts almost 60,000 refugees fleeing conflict in Mali, have led to surges in the pricing of food, according to the International Rescue Committee.

The effects of the restrictions “may cause more suffering than the disease itself,” said Kurt Tjossem, regional vice president for East Africa at the International Rescue Committee.

Ahmad Bayoush, a construction worker who had been displaced to Idlib Province in northern Syria, said he and many others had signed up to receive food from aid groups, but that it had yet to arrive.

“I am expecting real hunger if it continues like this in the north,” he said.

The pandemic is also slowing efforts to deal with the historic locust plague that has been ravaging the East and Horn of Africa. The outbreak is the worst the region has seen in decades and comes on the heels of a year marked by extreme droughts and floods. But the arrival of billions of new swarms could further deepen food insecurity, said Cyril Ferrand, head of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s resilience team in eastern Africa.

Travel bans and airport closures, Mr. Ferrand said, are interrupting the supply of pesticides that could help limit the locust population and save pastureland and crops.

As many go hungry, there is concern in a number of countries that food shortages will lead to social discord. In Colombia, residents of the coastal state of La Guajira have begun blocking roads to call attention to their need for food. In South Africa, rioters have broken into neighborhood food kiosks and faced off with the police.

And even charitable food giveaways can expose people to the virus when throngs appear, as happened in Nairobi’s shantytown of Kibera earlier this month.

“People called each other and came rushing,” said Valentine Akinyi, who works at the district government office where the food was distributed. “People have lost jobs. It showed you how hungry they are.”

Yet communities across the world are also taking matters into their own hands. Some are raising money through crowdfunding platforms, while others have begun programs to buy meals for needy families.

On a recent afternoon, Ms. Jaffar and a group of volunteers made their way through Kibera, bringing items like sugar, flour, rice and sanitary pads to dozens of families. A native of the area herself, Ms. Jaffar said she started the food drive after hearing so many stories from families who said they and their children were going to sleep hungry.

The food drive has so far reached 500 families. But with all the calls for assistance she’s getting, she said, “that’s a drop in the ocean.”

Reporting was contributed by Anatoly Kurmanaev and Isayen Herrera from Caracas, Venezuela; Paulina Villegas from Mexico City; Julie Turkewitz from Bogotá, Colombia; Ben Hubbard and Hwaida Saad from Beirut, Lebanon; Sameer Yasir from New Delhi; and Hannah Beech from Bangkok.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Daniel Hannan: Castro. Chávez – and now Morales. That these tyrants are Corbyn’s heroes should make us very, very frightened.

Daniel Hannan is an MEP for South-East England, and a journalist, author and broadcaster. His most recent book is What Next: How to Get the Best from Brexit.

I spent my earliest years under a Corbynista dictatorship. Peru in the early 1970s was run by a Leftist general called Juan Velasco who, claiming to speak for The Many Not The Few, nationalised industries, seized private property, blocked imports and, in an early example of deranged identity politics, sought to impose the indigenous language, Quechua, even in schools where none of the children spoke it. It was Velasco who inspired Hugo Chávez: the young Venezuelan cadet had visited Lima in 1975 and – incredibly, given the palpable poverty and chaos – decided that Venezuela could do with something similar.

There were not many people that Peruvians could look down on in those days. But they managed, at least, to feel superior to Bolivians, their gnomic, landlocked, penurious neighbours. The children at my nursery school used to point in delight at the map on the wall, and in particular at the massive lake that straddled the border. “Titi para Perú y caca para Bolivia,” they would shriek delightedly. If Peru was poor, Bolivia was poorer. If Peru had an unstable political system, Bolivia – at that time also under a strongman – held the world record for the greatest number of putsches.

This year, Bolivia stretched that record further. There have now been 190 revolutions, unconstitutional seizures of power or serious coup attempts in the history of that luckless republic. To be clear, the coup I am talking about is not the popular movement that ousted Evo Morales earlier this week. The coup, rather, was carried out by Morales himself last month.

A bit of background. In 2005, Morales, a Leftist former coca farmer, was narrowly elected president, the first indigenous leader in a country where two thirds of the population is aboriginal. Following the Chavista playbook, Morales scrapped the constitution and “refounded” Bolivia with a new “plurinational” constitution. Among other things, his constitution provided for a two-term limit on the presidency (though, conveniently, it did not count Morales’s existing term, which had started before his constitution entered into force). In 2016, Morales tried to get around the limit so as to be eligible for a fourth term. He held a referendum on changing the rules but, to his surprise, he lost. He then ignored the rules and ran anyway.

This time, he didn’t leave anything to chance. Widespread electoral fraud was supplemented by the arrest of opposition leaders and targeted violence by pro-government thugs. The Organisation of American States, the chief election monitor in the Western hemisphere, reported “serious irregularities” and “clear manipulation” in the poll. When the results came in after October 20 – who’d’ve thunk it – Morales had miraculously secured just enough votes to win on the first round.

At which point, Bolivians displayed a truly heroic readiness to stand by the law. Crowds took to the streets across the country, making a nonsense of the claimed election figures. The police declared that their first loyalty was to the constitution (the constitution passed by Morales himself, remember) and refused to repress the protesters. The Armed Forces followed suit. This week, seeing that the game was up, Morales fled to Mexico.

A cheerful story, you might think. Indeed, arguably the supreme example in the world right now of benign people power. The crowds in Chile are marching against a government that was democratically elected. The crowds in Hong Kong are marching against a regime which, though unelected, is at least legitimate under the existing constitutional order. But the crowds in Bolivia were protesting against what is known in Latin America as an “autogolpe” – a coup carried out by an existing regime against the democratic system.

Most of the world, including most social democratic governments, have backed fresh elections. Only the most anti-Western states – Cuba, Russia, Venezuela – have come out for Morales.

You can probably guess which side Jeremy Corbyn is on. Precisely as he did over Venezuela nine months ago, he has broken with the mainstream international Left in order to back a Marxist who had dispensed with free elections.

Here is how he greeted the end of the dictatorship: “To see @evoespueblo who, along with a powerful movement, has brought so much social progress forced from office by the military is appalling. I condemn this coup against the Bolivian people and stand with them for democracy, social justice and independence.” (Incidentally, Morales’s Twitter handle – “Evo Is The People” – tells you everything you need to know about the megalomania of these socialist revolutionaries, their belief that almost anything can be justified in the name of The People.)

While mainstream Labour MPs, looked on uncomfortably, Momentum repeated its jejune nostrums: “The imperialist coup against him must be condemned. Full solidarity with the Bolivian people in their struggle for sovereignty, justice and democracy.”

In truth, Corbyn is closer to the Chavista autocrats than to European socialists. He sides wholeheartedly and unquestioningly with any Leftist regime, however oppressive its policies and however wretched its people, provided it is sufficiently anti-American.

His attitude ought to worry us. I mean that literally: it ought to make us frightened. Castro, Velasco, Chávez, Morales – all believed that the end justified the means, that the revolution mattered more than the ballot box, that ordinary people should not be allowed to undermine The People. These men are Corbyn’s heroes, his inspiration. Never once has he argued that their contempt for democracy undermines their legitimacy.

What makes you think he’d be any different if he came to office here? Look at the way he has entrenched himself in the Labour Party, removing his critics and entrenching his allies so as to make himself impossible to remove. Can you be certain he’d behave any differently as Prime Minister? Really?

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

U.S.Treasury Dept tosses Guaido a lifeline: Citgo refineries at stake

Westlake Legal Group bd35da57-6eff-4d4e-b565-e0105d7290c3 U.S.Treasury Dept tosses Guaido a lifeline: Citgo refineries at stake Venezuela U.S. Treasury The Blog Sanctions refineries Oil Nicolas Maduro Juan Guaido Citgo

The White House suspended some of the financial sanctions on Venezuela on Thursday, but it’s no lifeline to dictator Nicolas Maduro. Instead, Juan Guaido has been given three months to “restructure or refinance payments”. The opposition to dictator Nicolas Maduro is counting on Citgo’s profits to rebuild Venezuela if or when Maduro is ousted from power.

The U.S. Treasury Department issued an order giving Guaidó’s team three months to “restructure or refinance payments,” by suspending the terms of some financial sanctions that were originally intended to pressure Maduro from office. A likely failure to make $913 million debt payment due Monday could have triggered foreclosure.

Guaidó said U.S. officials are helping protect Venezuela’s assets that Maduro’s government exploited at the people’s expense.

This is a move to shield Venezuela’s opposition leader from losing control of Citgo’s refineries. It is important for Guaido to hold on to control of Citgo, a Houston-based company with U.S.-based refineries, owned by Venezuela since the 1980s as part of the state-run oil company PDVSA. The U.S. refineries are in Louisiana, Texas, and Illinois, with a network of pipelines crisscrossing 23 states also in the mix.

Guaido tweeted in response (translation is shown):

“For years, the regime indebted the Nation, mortgaging the future of Venezuelans who today suffer from a complex humanitarian emergency. Thanks to the support of the Gob of the #EEUU , and its confidence in our management, we are managing to maintain the assets that the regime looted.”

As a quick refresher, since the dire situation in Venezuela often gets overlooked in the 24/7 news cycle focused almost entirely on President Trump’s impeachment, Guaido is the head of the opposition-led National Assembly. In January he declared himself as president and in control of presidential powers. National Assembly’s goal is to end Maduro’s presidency and over twenty years of socialist rule. The Trump administration recognized Guaido as the legitimate leader of Venezuela. A board was appointed by the opposition to take control of Citgo, with the approval of U.S. courts. Citgo’s value is estimated at $8 billion. Venezuela provides between 5% and 10% of U.S. gasoline. It is to the benefit of the United States to support Guaido, and President Trump’s administration realizes it.

The battle for control of Citgo in Venezuela is not a new one. In 2016 National Assembly opposed Maduro’s deal with creditors.

In 2016, Maduro’s government made a deal with some bondholders of the state-owned oil company PDVSA, agreeing to swap their bonds for new ones maturing in 2020.

Maduro gave the creditors 50.1% of Citgo as collateral over objections from the opposition-led National Assembly, which argued the deal was illegally carried out without their approval.

Maduro accuses the opposition of illegally getting control of Citgo, saying it is part of the “imperialist” United States’ attempt to install Guaidó as a “puppet” government.

When Maduro is removed from power, if the actions from the National Assembly are successful, Citgo will be a substantial source for funding the rebuilding of Venezuela. Venezuela has vast oil reserves; Citgo is the cash cow. The crude oil can be sold or refined as needed. At a time when the country is failing, unable to provide for its population, all because the country’s wealth has been squandered by corrupt dictatorships for decades, this is a lifeline of hope for those working to save their own country. It’s a good move by the Trump administration.

The post U.S.Treasury Dept tosses Guaido a lifeline: Citgo refineries at stake appeared first on Hot Air.

Westlake Legal Group bd35da57-6eff-4d4e-b565-e0105d7290c3-300x153 U.S.Treasury Dept tosses Guaido a lifeline: Citgo refineries at stake Venezuela U.S. Treasury The Blog Sanctions refineries Oil Nicolas Maduro Juan Guaido Citgo  Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Venezuela wins seat on UN Human Rights Council thanks to support from other socialist states

Westlake Legal Group UnitedNations Venezuela wins seat on UN Human Rights Council thanks to support from other socialist states Venezuela United Nations The Blog Kelly Craft Human Rights Council

Venezuela is a tragedy but the United Nations is a joke. The UN’s Human Rights Council is composed of 47-members who are elected to three-year terms by UN members. Today, Venezuela was elected to one of two seats reserved for Latin American nations thanks to support from other socialist states:

Venezuela and regional rival Brazil beat out Costa Rica for the two Latin American seats up for election. Costa Rica had declared its candidacy only this month in an effort to deny Venezuela a three-year term, but the support of China, Russia, Cuba and other allies gave the socialist state the win.

“We celebrate, once again, the Bolivarian diplomacy of peace at the U.N.,” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said after the vote. “This victory is historic, since we faced a ferocious campaign.”…

High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet has painted a bleak picture of Maduro’s Venezuela. In three reports this year, she documented arbitrary detentions, torture and killings. In July, she said corruption and underinvestment had violated Venezuelans’ right to an adequate standard of living.

Official corruption and mismanagement in the oil-rich nation are blamed for hyperinflation, widespread power outages and shortages of food, water and medicine. Four million people have fled the country in recent years.

The United States resigned from the Council last year to protest its treatment of Israel. US Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft condemned the results:

Today’s election of the former Maduro regime in Venezuela to the UN Human Rights Council is an embarrassment to the United Nations and a tragedy for the people of Venezuela.

I am personally aggrieved that 105 countries voted in favor of this affront to human life and dignity. It provides ironclad proof that the Human Rights Council is broken and reinforces why the United States withdrew.

That one of the world’s worst human-rights abusers would be granted a seat on a body that is supposed to defend human rights is utterly appalling.

It’s not hard to see why China, Russia, and Cuba are all supporting this travesty. Maduro is in debt to these nations (including Cuba which provides doctors to Venezuela in exchange for discounted oil).

The socialist petrostate is home to the largest oil reserves on the planet, but endemic corruption has devastated its economy. Beijing and Moscow have helped the country stave off collapse by repeatedly extending financial lifelines — to the tune of tens of billions of dollars over the last decade…

Venezuela owes around $100 billion to its external creditors, including China and Russia. Some reports put the figure higher.

Those agreements gave Russia and China relatively cheap oil — and a foothold in the backyard of the United States — and they supplied Venezuela with much-needed cash.

If the Maduro regime collapses, China and Cuba won’t be able to collect from Juan Guaido. Also, Venezuela is one more vote on the council guaranteed to overlook whatever human rights abuses might be going on in those other socialist/autocratic nations. Birds of a feather really do stick together.

The post Venezuela wins seat on UN Human Rights Council thanks to support from other socialist states appeared first on Hot Air.

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Ana Navarro: Maduro’s not a socialist, he’s a corrupt, murderous thug

Westlake Legal Group a-1 Ana Navarro: Maduro’s not a socialist, he’s a corrupt, murderous thug Venezuela thug The View The Blog socialist Rand Paul murderous corrupt ana navarro american

Via the Hill, no one’s still pretending that this person is a Republican or right-winger of any sort, are they?

I mean, certainly the Republican panelists sitting next to her on “The View” aren’t.

Because if anyone is, I’ll gently ask: Why would any actual right-winger regard socialism and corrupt, murderous thuggery as mutually exclusive? Even a passing familiarity with the history of the 20th century would convince you that the opposite is true.

Navarro knows the history, she’s just pushing an agenda. Watch this 90-second display, one of the most embarrassing in the history of this frequently embarrassing show. The dumbest moment is when she appears to conclude that Rand Paul, libertarian, is *defending Maduro* and denying that he’s a thug.

Obviously, when Paul says “That’s not true,” he’s not denying that Maduro is an autocrat. He’s denying Navarro’s point that there’s some either/or choice between “autocrat” and “socialist” when, again, basic political reality cuts the other way. Navarro is annoyed because her ardent anti-Trumpism has turned her into a Democratic voter, whether formally declared or not, and one of Trump’s core attacks next fall on the Democratic nominee will be to call him or her a socialist. I’m not being cute about her affiliation either — this was published just a few weeks ago:

Ana Navarro-Cárdenas, a Florida GOP operative who backed Jeb Bush in 2016 and has been close to Sen. Marco Rubio, attended a Biden campaign event last weekend, sitting on the front row stroking her dog Chacha. Biden turned to her and said, “I’ve got to sort of genuflect in this direction here because I’m afraid of her. No. I’m embarrassing her, I know — that’s my intention. We’ve been good friends for a long time.”

Biden’s the most centrist member of the Democratic top tier, but given Navarro’s relentless antipathy to Trump it’s a cinch that she’ll end up supporting Elizabeth Warren or even Bernie Sanders in the name of ousting the president. All she’s trying to do here with Paul is neutralize the coming GOP electoral argument that Bernie/AOC-style democratic socialism will lead to Maduro-style Chavista socialism in due time if it’s granted power. Trump was elected once before as a lesser of two evils; if he can convince voters that he’s the lesser of two evils again, he might get another four years. Paul was about to make the case that “good socialism” and “bad socialism” are less distinct than we might hope so she started huffing about “mansplaining” and successfully shouted him down.

Why is Navarro even on this show? If they’re looking for a Democrat, they have plenty of those already. If they’re looking for a Republican who hates Trump, they have Meghan McCain. What niche is Ana filling?

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Nearly $100M goes to Guiado’s parallel Venezuelan government

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All of the action in Syria has largely drawn the lens of the media away from the ongoing disaster in Venezuela. The people there are still suffering under the yoke of their dictator, Nicolas Maduro. While much of the world (including the United States) has recognized National Assembly leader Juan Guaido as interim president, Maduro remains in charge of the military and most of the power structure in that nation.

Now, however, Guaido is getting a financial shot in the arm from the United States. And it’s no small matter either. USAID has pledged to deliver $98M in aid to the Guaido administration, such as it is. (Miami Herald)

Washington on Tuesday pledged an additional $98 million in aid to Venezuela, saying the funds will be used to support civil society, human rights organizations and independent media.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) signed what it called a “historic bilateral agreement” with representatives of Venezuela’s Juan Guaidó administration.

Guaidó, the head of Venezuela’s congress, is recognized by the United States and more than 50 other nations as the country’s legitimate interim president. But Nicolás Maduro still holds many of the levers of power in the country.

This is a tricky situation. We clearly want to provide some help to the people of Venezuela who are severely lacking in food, potable water and basic medical supplies. But Maduro, his government and most of his associates are under heavy sanctions. We can’t just transfer money to some government account in a Venezuelan bank because Maduro would be able to immediately seize it.

The solution that was arrived upon has the money taking a more roundabout route. Rather than handing it directly over, the cash will go to a number of international aid organizations working in Venezuela under the direction of Juan Guaido. That should at least assure that most of the help will go where it’s needed.

Of course, the reality here is that this is mostly a symbolic gesture of support for Guaido. There was already nothing stopping USAID from sending money to the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders or any of the other humanitarian aid groups working inside that country. But tying the interim president’s name to it and involving him in the process is another way of undermining the authority of Nicolas Maduro and propping up the appearance of Guaido as being the person in charge.

Will this hasten Maduro’s exit from power? Probably not. As long as he retains control of the military and the backing of Russia, China and Turkey, he can probably hang around for quite a while. But if this aid money actually makes it out onto the streets and helps alleviate the plight of Venezuela’s starving citizens, some good will have come of it.

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Is Maduro back on top in Venezuela?

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We haven’t checked in on what’s been happening in the failed state of Venezuela recently, mostly because there hasn’t been much movement in the stalemate. With no dramatic breakthroughs in negotiations being hosted by other nations and no major concessions from either dictator Nicolas Maduro or self-declared interim president Juan Guaido, the imploded socialist state seems to have dropped off of the international media’s radar in large part.

But it may be that Maduro has been using this lull in the action to solidify his position. The Washington Post editorial board had a rather depressing column yesterday describing some of Maduro’s moves and how he may be playing a waiting game with the rest of the world… and winning.

FOUR MONTHS after a failed U.S.-backed putsch against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, his regime has hunkered down, betting that it can outlast its domestic and foreign opponents. For the moment, at least, it seems to have the upper hand.

Having broken off negotiations with opposition leaders over a new election last month, Mr. Maduro last Monday signed an ersatz deal with minor parties that he may use to undermine the opposition-controlled National Assembly. He has partially liberalized the economy, reducing the inflation rate from seven to six digits and causing food and other consumer goods to reappear in some stores. And he has strengthened ties with Colombian guerrilla movements and deployed 150,000 troops to the border, seeking to intimidate a country that, along with the Trump administration, has pushed hardest for regime change in Caracas.

The one thing keeping the hopes of Guaido and the opposition alive up until now has been the essentially unified front being presented by the National Assembly. Even though Maduro’s puppets managed to rewrite much of the nation’s constitution and gut the Assembly’s power, they’ve remained united against the dictator and kept on the pressure.

Now, with the battle having ground on for far too long, Maduro has started making offers of minor gifts and concessions to some of the smaller parties in the opposition coalition in exchange for their tacit support. If he can weaken that alliance and set them fighting against one another, they may collapse out of sheer exhaustion.

Meanwhile, a coalition of countries including the United States have recognized Guaido, but that doesn’t have any practical impact in Venezuela while Maduro still controls the military. He also has the support of both Cuban and Russian troops and other military assets in his nation. There is no indication that any other country – including us, thankfully – has any inclination to make a military move against him, so time appears to be on his side.

Meanwhile, he’s depleted the country’s treasury to bare bones. National oil production has cratered and much of the remaining oil they do manage to process is being given away to Russia and China for free to pay off the immense debts Maduro has incurred with them.

In other words, very little appears to be changing, but the few changes that are taking place seem to be going in Maduro’s favor. And absent anything truly dramatic happening to shake things up, he may win the waiting game, maintaining his control on power even as his citizens languish or flee for their lives. It’s a tragedy unfolding before the eyes of the world as yet another story of socialism hits the rocks and produces a humanitarian disaster.

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Biden wants special status to allow Venezuelans to come to America

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Clearly, Joe Biden isn’t taking any states for granted, either in the primary or the general election. (Assuming he clings to his lead and secures the nomination.) One state with a buttload of DNC delegates and critical electoral college votes is Florida. Crazy Uncle Joe was down there this weekend trying to shore up his support in the Hispanic community by touring the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami.

Normally you’d expect a candidate addressing Little Havana’s residents to be talking about our policies regarding Cuba, but Biden had his eyes cast further south than that. He proposed that we open the doors to the people of Venezuela who are fleeing starvation and oppression under their dictator, Nicolas Maduro. (CBS Miami)

“We need to grant temporary status for Venezuelans to come here now. It’s not an argument,” he said.

It’s a topic that impacts families in our area. Biden also mentioned a multi-million dollar financial package he was working on toward the end of the Obama Administration to help Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.

“On the condition that you deal with the corruption of your society,” Biden said.

On the surface, it’s easy to see why Biden’s Venezuela proposal would generate some sympathy, particularly in the Hispanic community. Americans have been sending donations to provide relief for the suffering citizens of Venezuela for years now. The conditions there are horrible and the collapse of their socialist system has effectively turned what was once the most prosperous nation in South America into a third world country.

But before we open our hearts (and our doors) to Maduro’s victims, we should ask Joe Biden exactly how he plans to accommodate all those in seek of shelter. As of June, it was estimated that more than four million people had fled Venezuela and are currently displaced. Once the word gets around that America has hung out the vacancy sign, that could turn into an extremely popular option.

If only a quarter of the refugees decided to head for our shores, that would be a million new arrivals in a short period of time. We’re already looking at cutting the number of asylum seekers and legal immigrants we take in because the system is overwhelmed. What are we going to do with a million new Venezuelan refugees?

And it’s not just a question of volume. While I’m sure most Venezuelan refugees are good people simply looking for relief, it’s long been known that the country has been heavily infiltrated with members of drug cartels from other regions, as well as fighters arriving from Cuba and even al Qaeda. Even if we could make room for them, somebody is going to have to vet them all. This was an easy idea for Biden to toss out as an applause line, but the realities would be far more complicated.

Biden also took a moment to suggest that he wanted a comprehensive aid package for Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. These countries are the source of a large number of migrants showing up at our southern border and stabilizing those governments might decrease the human tide heading north. But they are also notoriously corrupt and dangerous countries. Throwing money at the problem without evidence that they’ve reformed their ways would probably just wind up enriching the drug cartels.

In short, Joe Biden is pandering for the Hispanic vote in Florida. But his plans, well-intentioned as they might be, have significant shortcomings. Voters should demand more details from Biden rather than simple bumper sticker slogans.

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Sanders: Hey, I’m not one of those Venezuela kind of socialists

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One exchange in last night’s Democratic debates gave us a preview of what some of the more radically left-leaning candidates will face if they make it to the general election. The most famous socialist in the field, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, wound up having to try to explain why his brand of “democratic” socialism wasn’t the same as what they have in Venezuela. This forced Sanders to slam Venezuela’s tyrant, Nicolas Maduro, and assure everyone that he certainly wouldn’t wind up ruling like a dictator. (National Review)

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said during Thursday night’s primary debate that his brand of democratic socialism has nothing to do with Venezuela’s socialism, calling Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro a “vicious tyrant.”

“Anybody that does what Maduro does is a vicious tyrant,” Sanders said in response to ABC moderator Jorge Ramos. “What we need now is international and regional cooperation for free elections in Venezuela so that the people of that country can make, can create their own future.”

“In terms of democratic socialism, to equate what goes on in Venezuela with what I believe is extremely unfair,” the Vermont Independent said. “I agree with [what] goes on in Canada and Scandinavia, guaranteeing health care to all people as a human right. I believe that the United States should not be the only major country on earth not to provide paid family and medical leave.”

Awww… Bernie thinks it’s unfair. If Sanders does somehow win the nomination (a prospect that’s looking less and less likely), he’s going to face this question at every turn. The history of socialism is rife with stories that eventually end in oppression, decay and death. Sanders pulled the usual move, referencing “socialist lite” countries like Canada and Scandanavia, but that doesn’t carry much weight.

The fact is that you can’t exercise the amount of government control over people’s lives that Sanders proposes without many of their fundamental freedoms being eroded or eliminated. Also, a “little bit of socialism” is like being a little bit pregnant. It tends to swell as it goes.

As far as his Medicare for All plan goes, when everyone supposedly gets “free” healthcare, as Sanders proposes, the quality and availability of such care go downhill. The average wait time to see a doctor in Canada last year was 19.8 weeks. That’s almost five months. And it varies from province to province. In New Brunswick, the average wait time was 45.1 weeks. Do you really think you can wait almost a year to see your doctor?

Also, some of the more successful socialist countries, like Norway, only get away with their current model by having the government control all of their natural resources, such as oil. And they impose massive taxes on any private companies that want to extract any resources. If you look at the list of nations that currently have a socialist party as their governing group, you will see many examples of faltering or ruined economies, though few are as bad as Venezuela right now.

Most socialist nations limit the basic rights of citizens and we’re talking about a lot more than just the Second Amendment. You can have your speech repressed in many countries if you dare to speak out against the government. And get ready for state-run news media. (Ours may be a mess at times, but it’s a lot worse when the government controls the newspapers and television stations.)

The point is, the road to socialism, much like Hell, is paved with good intentions. But the more power you take away from individual citizens and place in the hands of the government, the more the government will tend to exercise that power and limit your rights. Good luck explaining that in the general election, Bernie. You’re going to need it. This is still America, at least for the time being.

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