Farrow in Ecuador raises a gloved hand.

In a propaganda move against Chevron, the government of Ecuador paid Mia Farrow $180,000 for a photo-op earlier this year. Monica Showalter’s excellent editorial shows the truth behind Mia Farrow’s Greased Palm

It would probably be bearable to hear the vapid, views of Hollywood’s finest if it were just a matter of stupid people issuing their opinions.

But when opinions become far-left activist causes and would not even be issued were it not for Third World dictatorship cash, then something else is going on.

Call it greased palms. The candidate for scrutiny who stands out, but isn’t alone, is Mia Farrow, whose talent agency took $188,000 from the government of Ecuador, a supposedly neutral party in the dirtiest shakedown of a corporation ever attempted, the $9.5 billion lawsuit by activist NGOs against Chevron, over pollution in Ecuador it had nothing to do with.

The former Mrs. Sinatra, who was best known for the 1960s film Rosemary’s Baby, wasn’t the only one receiving money from PR firm MCSquared: Danny Glover got $300,000. As you may remember, Danny reportedly received US$18 million bucks from the late Hugo Chavez for making a movie about Toussaint D’Overture, the Haitian slave that led the revolt against the French and declared himself emperor.

We’re still waiting for Danny’s movie.

But back to the $9.5 billion lawsuit

The Farrow visit was part of a campaign centered on an Ecuadorian court ruling that found against Chevron and ordered it to pay more than $9 billion in compensation, the largest civil penalty in history.

But, as Farrow knows from her other performances, there is often a final twist that can turn the story on its head. And so it is with her Ecuadorian jaunt and the Chevron suit.

A few months ago, a New York court found the Chevron judgment was obtained by fraud and bribery — mostly masterminded by Manhattan-based attorney Steven Donziger. The fraud was so outrageous that the judge found the Ecuadorian lawsuit was the equivalent of organized crime extorting money from Chevron.

The RICO laws, normally used against organized crime, are now being applied to Donziger and his associates.
The case was so corrupt, it’s impossible to list here all the outrages.

Basically the court found that the plaintiffs had bribed everyone in Ecuador from “independent” experts to the judges, and also corrupted or lied to US lawyers and scientific groups.

Judge Kaplan’s 497-page decision details the multiple instances of fraud; Paul M. Barrett, in his book Law of the Jungle: The $19 Billion Legal Battle Over Oil in the Rain Forest and the Lawyer Who’d Stop at Nothing to Win, about fraudster Steven Donziger, explains how

Donziger lost sight of the fact that the laws of politics are not the laws that govern the practice of law. As Barrett says, “Invoking legal process brings into play constraints that Donziger declined to observe.” Donziger’s failure to play by the rules didn’t just hurt his clients because his “reckless business management and lack of a moral compass” cast doubt on the wisdom of the entire business model of celebrity litigation.

But Judge Kaplan’s decision is not the end of it. Donziger is appealing, and Ecuador recently hired Putin’s American flack, New York-based Ketchum, which is attacking Barrett and his book. Ironically, Ecuador’s global public relations initiative against Chevron is called “the Dirty Hand.”

Ecuador engages in “widespread repression of the media”; by attacking Barrett, now they try to export the repression to our shores via a public relations firm.

We’ll be hearing more celebrity endorsements. Like Mia and Danny, having had their palms greased, the useful fools get to keep their money.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

by baldilocksBaldilocks mini

So, it’s another one of those days when I’m just winging it.

This morning was a fulfilling one. I finished listening to an audio-book copy of World War Z and began listening  to a like-formatted copy of Lone Survivor–both courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library. (As an author myself, I normally buy books I’m very interested in, professional courtesy and all. But I’m just too broke for that right now.)

Isn’t it great that we can do such things so easily and cheaply now? It makes sweeping, mopping and other methods of bring order out of chaos so much easier–alleviates the boredom. And it saves so much time.

Thinking along the lines of informal education/entertainment through reading, it is frightening how many people scorn reading–it’s not just that they won’t do it themselves but they view those who do as some sort of deviant.

I had a Twitter conversation with a celebrity this morning, a person who cited Ebola as “karma” for America due to America’s “history” of “raping Africa.” (Don’t ask.) Seems concerned with “history,” right? Not so much after I reminded him–or informed him–of the Ottoman Empire’s and other Muslims sordid African history and present.

Still another interesting conversation with an  actual friend and my own brother about the spiritual contradictions of call oneself a Christian while subscribing to the demonstrably non-Christian concept of karma. They both seem to think that I’m being judgmental.

Suffice it to say that today is one of those days that I feel thankful to be living alone.

P.S. Don’t fear the Reaper.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012. Her second novel, Arlen’s Harem, will be done in 2014.

Please contribute to Juliette’s Projects: her new novel, her blog, her Internet–to keep them going and to the COFFEE fund to keep her going!

Or contribute to Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism—->>>>

by baldilocks

President Obama, his puppets and his puppeteers intend to overwhelm several systems and create a pretext for the implementation of the Martial Law which has already been sanctioned. Because of the guns in private hands, a pretext is needed, something like domestic unrest. And the government and the mainstream media have been trying to gin up domestic unrest since the death of Trayvon Martin.

They keep getting close, but don’t quite get there and they try a given tactic twice.

The two latest tactics–domestic attacks by the government–are both in play right now.

One began a few months back with the invasion by illegal aliens, who were aided by the U.S. Government and the Mexican government.

We are just beginning to see the fruit of that attack.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that the Hamilton preschooler who died last week tested positive for the respiratory illness Enterovirus D-68, the N.J. Department of Health announced late Friday. […]

The 4-year-old’s death is the first in New Jersey involving the virus. Enterovirus D-68 has been found in at least four other people who have died in the United States, according to a report on CNN.

That particular tactic–inserting a diseased foreign population into the national one in order to overwhelm various American systems–didn’t work quite fast enough for the rogue US government, so it was tried again–this time with something scarier and more lethal.

Ebola.

And now half the country is in an uproar. The other half? Well, they are proof that technology cannot fix stupid.

Not that an uproar isn’t justified. It is. Our government is purposefully trying to kill us. The government executor–President Barack H. Obama–took down the barriers which were intended to protect us, and invited usurpers in. (Yes, Thomas Duncan is a usurper. He knew he had been exposed to Ebola before he boarded a plane in his native Liberia, and one wonders how he was able to afford the rather expensive flights from Monrovia to Dallas.)

But there are still people defending President Obama. And that really doesn’t matter because Barack H. Obama isn’t the cause of the catastrophes which have befallen our country. He is the effect.

We’ll see how successful these tactics are this time, as we beseech our Lord in prayer.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012. Her second novel, Arlen’s Harem, will be done in 2014.

Please contribute to Juliette’s Projects: her new novel, her blog, her Internet–to keep them going and to the COFFEE fund to keep her going!

Or contribute to Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism—->>>>

 baldilocks

Not only different from everyday topics, but different because the book does not deal with the horrific Communist Revolution.

The book, La Belle Créole: The Cuban Countess Who Captivated Havana, Madrid, and Paris, is about the life of a Cuban lady of aristocratic background who was a contemporary of George Washington, Napoleon Bonaparte, and many illustrious writers who in turn wrote about her.

Her name was Mercedes Santa Cruz y Montalvo. Mercedes was raised by her grandmother in Cuba, moved to Spain where her parents were involved with the royal court, married a general almost twenty years her senior, and then things got interesting, in the form of the Napoleonic wars.

The beautiful child whose school education was mostly ignored grew up to be a most resourceful woman who became a writer and hosted some of the brightest authors of her time. One of them, Alexandre Dumas, had Mercedes herself appear as a character in his novel Pauline. Aristocrat, wife, mother, hostess, opera singer, writer, and traveler, she was also one of the celebrities of her time.

Note that the term Créole of the title refers to a person who was born outside of the country holding a kingdom, and is not a racial term; Mercedes was born in Cuba, which belonged to Spain, hence she was a Créole. As her fame increased, she was nicknamed the Beautiful Créole (La Belle Créole).

Author Alina García-Lapuerta brings to life an extraordinary woman. García-Lapuerta’s skills as researcher and writer shine in a book that illuminates a period of history most of us never hear anything about. Silvio Canto and I had the pleasure of talking to her about this most interesting character, whose life reads like a novel. You can listen to the podcast here.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin America politics, news and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

faustaI lived in the North East for most of my life, having moved to the region right after graduating from college; first, upstate New York, then, New Jersey.

New Jersey, contrary to what the despicable Woody Allen thinks, is a beautiful state, home to the wealthiest zip code in the United States. I was blessed to have owned houses not in that zip code, but in Morristown, Convent Station, and Princeton, three towns that are affluent and charming.

My son is a true Princeton native, having been born, raised, and lived in the town (and township, before consolidation), who, once it was time for college, went away to his top college choice, graduating with honors this year. Because of his occupation he must live in New York City – otherwise he would subject himself to a very long commute at all hours of the night. Like both his parents, he is ready to make his own way into the world.

At the same time, my mom is in her nineties and lives in Florida, and I must spend time with her. Most of my relatives live in Florida.

While all this was going on, my real estate taxes went up by $2,000 last year, a 14% increase, bringing the total to $16,000 in annual real estate taxes. While the law says that there’s a 2% ceiling on annual property tax increases, there are a plethora of reasons why your property will get whammed with more (for instance, if you do certain improvements on your property). Properties are assessed at market value, which means that your assessment may go up now that the market is up, so your tax bill increases, while the tax rate itself has remained unchanged. And on and on.

Fighting such increases is expensive – you need to hire a lawyer – and time consuming, and the odds are it may not work.

Then there’s what lurks in the horizon: School taxes make up 1/2 of the total property tax bill (the current budget is $86.9 million), and the school district wants an additional $100 million for sundry projects, which they are likely to get. After all, a prior $100 million was approved ten years ago. Such an increase in debt brings more tax increases.

And let’s not forget that New Jersey has a 7% sales tax, a state income tax, inheritance taxes, and estate taxes.

So I sat down, did a rough calculation of what it was costing me to stay in New Jersey versus what it would cost to move to Florida, which has a 7% sales tax but no state income tax, no inheritance taxes, and no estate taxes. Florida won.

It looks like I’m not alone:
Northeast loses 40% of House seats as people flee high-tax states

The Census Bureau reports that population growth has shifted to the South and the result is that the 11 states that make up the Northeast are being bled dry of representation in Washington.

The 11 states that make up the Northeast have been bleeding dry their constituents, so many of us did the numbers, talked to our families, and moved.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

by baldilocks

Yes, I know that I have been saying that my new novel would be ready this year. Probably not, but I have been working on it and I just want to remind readers that it exists, still. 

******

“So, your Italian side is in effect today, I see,” said Cordelia.

“Yeah. Next week, when my black side is talking to me, Deanna and I are going to head up to the new soul food restaurant that’s by the apartment.”

“Soul food in Fullerton? That should be interesting. Make sure to bring me a plate.”

“That’s what Deanna said about this place when I said what I was doing tonight. All you two think about is food!”

“Well, that’s not all we’re thinking about,” she grinned. Continue reading “Novel Excerpt: Arlen’s Harem”

by baldilocks

By now, everyone knows that a woman was beheaded in a Moore, NolenOklahoma workplace by a Muslim–one who was terminated from that same workplace for proselytizing there. It also appears that this Muslim–Alton Alexander Nolen aka Ja’Keem Yisrael–was a repeat felon. None of his felonies were nearly as violent as the act he committed against Colleen Hufford (murdered) and Traci Johnson (critically injured). (Ms. Johnson might have been beheaded also, were it not for Mark Vaughn, who ended this particular jihad by shooting Nolen three times. This is Oklahoma we’re talking about, after all)

It’s interesting to speculate as to the spiritual path on which Nolen traveled. He was a felon, but only a small-time one. Drug felonies, mostly, and the worst thing he did before the murder was to seriously injure an OK sate trooper while resisting arrest. That, in itself, is bad enough. But the beheading is a giant leap into criminality…or, rather, a giant descent.

Roger L. Simon asks whether our prisons have become jihad factories. It is a rhetorical question, to be sure. Muslims have been actively proselytizing and gaining prison converts for decades. I’m guessing that the most famous one was Malcolm X, who converted in the late 1950s. Nolen reportedly converted to Islam a few years back during one of his stays in prison.

The Apostle Paul said that each individual is always heading in a singular direction–either to Heaven or to Hell–and that every step that each of us takes is one step toward the final destination. I submit that Nolen took one huge step toward his when he converted to Islam–an ideology which exhorts its believers to, first, invite infidels to convert, then give them a choice between converting and being beheaded.

The murder is merely a beacon as to where Nolen’s final rest might be.

I say “might” because Nolen is still breathing. Some might say, unfortunately, but because he is still breathing, their is a chance that he can make a 180-degree spiritual turn. (Just to be clear, this is not a commentary on any earthly penalties which he will likely pay.)

Along this train of thought, I began to think about Christians who minister to prisoners. I don’t know whether Christian prison ministries have a higher or lower “success rate” than do their Islamic counterparts, but I don’t think it matters. What I do think matters: that we Christians pray for and support those who go into the earthly dens of iniquity and tell the captives of sin how to get free.

And we should also pray for the captives themselves; that they will hear and heed the voice of God the Father. And that they will do so before their Enemy–and ours–leads them to a fate worse than death.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012.

Please contribute to Juliette’s Projects: Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep them going and the COFFEE to keep her going!

Or contribute to Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of baldilocksIndependent Journalism—->>>>

 

While Venezuela, at one time arguably the richest country in the region, sells itself to Cuba and careens into disaster, and Argentina, another has-been, defaults yet again, it is easy to despair about the state of things in our hemisphere.

It comes as a relief to read about the Pacific Alliance, a common market in the making between Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru.

Do not confuse the Pacific Alliance with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is an ambitious, 21st century trade agreement that the United States is negotiating with 11 other countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region (Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam).

The Pacific Alliance is about getting things done, with the presidents of the four countries attending meetings with specific statements and detailed timelines to advance agreed-upon goals (emphasis added):

Also in contrast to the underlying purpose of other groupings—including economic blocs such as Mercosur—Pacific Alliance members have achieved consensus on a model of economic and political integration aimed at attracting investment and creating export platforms for the global market. All have opted for a pragmatic relationship structured around bilateral free-trade agreements (FTAs) with the U.S., the EU and Asian countries.

The Pacific Alliance is perceived as a geopolitical counterweight to ideological and political trends on display in countries ranging from Brazil to Venezuela. It looks outward, acting in some ways like a free-trade zone (through the several bilateral accords among its members). But it is also oriented toward promoting greater cooperation and partnership among member countries. Another key objective is facilitating entry into the Asian market and, particularly, creating greater bargaining power than any of the individual countries could muster separately when approaching China. At the same time, the Pacific Alliance seeks a competitive edge for its members when competing with Asian countries for trade with the U.S. by providing better—and cheaper—products.

Last March I wrote about Vice-President Biden’s meetings with the four Pacific Alliance presidents.

Now in New York for the UN General Assembly, the presidents of Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru issued a joint article , Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru: Better Together summarizing the Alliance’s purpose (emphasis added),

We firmly believe that the main purpose of the Pacific Alliance is to improve the welfare of all our citizens through the promotion of growth and economic development, and the improvement of the competitiveness of our economies.

Among the measures: reviewing foreign investment laws so they are more attractive to foreign companies, agreeing on zero percent tariffs for 90 percent of traded goods, cooperating on environmental and social issues and scientific and technological innovation, police and customs cooperation to track cross-border criminal activity.

The Alliance has many challenges ahead, not the least of which involve political populist tendencies among their leaders, but, considering what it has accomplished on its first three years, that’s pretty good news to celebrate.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on US and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

by baldilocks

The following text is the first part of the War Powers Resolution of 1973. The last time that I reminded readers of its existence was in 2011, when President Obama decided, without congressional authority, to pull the rug out from under Muammar Qaddafi.

PURPOSE AND POLICY

SEC. 2. (a) It is the purpose of this joint resolution to fulfill the intent of the framers of the Constitution of the United States and insure that the collective judgement of both the Congress and the President will apply to the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicate by the circumstances, and to the continued use of such forces in hostilities or in such situations.

(b) Under article I, section 8, of the Constitution, it is specifically provided that the Congress shall have the power to make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution, not only its own powers but also all other powers vested by the Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.

(c) The constitutional powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, are exercised only pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.

There are some who dispute the constitutionality of the Act, but I don’t think it matters anymore. I don’t think that President Obama ever got the approval of Congress for the incursion in Libya and I don’t think he will bother to get one for this war in Syria–which he is pursuing with a coalition of ten nations. Interesting number, that.

What I do expect: more unchecked tyranny by the person in the Oval Office.

Also, there’s this:

17 The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.

2 The cities of Aroer are forsaken: they shall be for flocks, which shall lie down, and none shall make them afraid.

3 The fortress also shall cease from Ephraim, and the kingdom from Damascus, and the remnant of Syria: they shall be as the glory of the children of Israel, saith the Lord of hosts.

–Isaiah 17:1-3

It’s fairly certain that I’m not the only one who is a bit unnerved at watching baldilocksbiblical prophecy unfold before my eyes.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012.

Please contribute to Juliette’s Projects: Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep them going and the COFFEE to keep her going!

Or contribute to Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism—->>>>

 

 

 

 

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

It’s been a week for headlines:
Danger at the Southern Border with Islamic terrorists operating in Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez

Eight bodies found after attack on Guinea Ebola education team

Iranians sentenced to 91 lashes for Pharrell ‘Happy’ video
A group of six Iranians is sentenced to six months in prison and 91 lashes for releasing a music video in which they dance along to Pharrell Williams’ hit song “Happy”

State Dept. Filtered Out Some #Benghazi Documents

Scotland Rejects Independence in Vote, a good thing in my opinion, but the prelude to the vote was fraught with anxiety among many because of national security implications since the UK’s Trident nuclear missile submarines are based in Scotland.

France is ditching the ‘Islamic State’ name — and replacing it with a label the group hates: “Daesh.”

And on and on.

Mankind has always lived in a state of chaos. The above headlines are examples of contemporary chaos, but one only has to browse through Barbara Tuchman’s excellent book, A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century to realize chaos is nothing new.

Whether the chaos is more or less imminent or more or less acute, the truth is that war, disease, and the Seven Deadly Sins (the vices known as wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony, not the TV show) are part and parcel of man’s constant struggle on earth.

But so is gratitude. The dictionary defines gratitude as “the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful,” but I have in mind a more specific form of gratitude.

By gratitude, I mean gratitude for God’s Grace granting us the ability and the strength to rise above our nature, to overcome hurdles, to struggle against evil.

So I today I’m starting the weekend with Psalm 118:24, which opens the Episcopalian Mass on Easter Day:

This is the day which the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

In times of struggle, Psalm 118 always comes in handy. It is also very timely.

Blogging on politics shall resume shortly.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics and culture at Fausta’s Blog.