I sold my house in New Jersey and moved to Florida this summer.

Registering to vote:
When I moved to New Jersey decades ago, you had to go to town hall to register to vote, and you were sent a paper postcard with your information. That postcard was never updated. It was so long ago I don’t even remember what documentation you needed, but the NJ Department of State shows the current criteria.

I registered in Florida by signing a form when I went for my driver’s license. A couple of weeks later, I received a plastic card showing all information (district, polling place, etc.).

Every time I vote, I go in the early afternoon, after lunch but before school lets out. Children in Florida had election day off.

To vote in New Jersey, I walked to the local elementary public school (half a mile from my house). There were no signs, t-shirts, posters, banners, or any political materials allowed within 20 yards of the school grounds. The entrance to the polling station was clearly marked.

Once inside, you went to the table marked for your district. At the table were people manning the books listing the registered voters in alphabetical order by last name. You would introduce yourself to the person holding the book, who would find your name, ask you to sign the book, and compare the signature with the one in the book.

No proof of ID was requested at any moment.

Then the person would hand you a slip of paper with a number on it, and you would head to the booth. The booth had dark red curtains (which made it look like a portable fitting room) which you would shut after stepping in by pressing a lever on an electronic board. You entered all your votes by pressing a lever for each choice, confirm them by pressing another lever, the curtains would open, and you were done.

IMG_0743To vote in Florida, I drove a mile and a half to the local elementary public school. There were four elderly ladies wearing campaign t-shirts waiting in the parking lot across the entrance to the school. One handed me a paper fan, “Vote Yes On #166“. The entrance to the polling station was clearly marked.

Once inside, I was directed by the first gentleman who saw me to approach his table. I told him I had just moved to Florida, so he explained the process, first asking me to show my driver’s license after he typed my name on his tablet. He looked at the photo, asked me to sign an electronic pad, and compared that signature with the one on the driver’s license (and I believe, with the one on record in his tablet).

Then he printed a register slip, which I was to hand over to another gentleman, who, after checking it, placed the slip in a large folder, along with two large cards (each about 1/3 the size and weight of a poster board) printed on both sides, and handed me the whole thing with a black ballpoint pen. I was ten directed to a booth, which was a counter-height table with little curtains on three sides obstructing the view from anyone trying to see what you were writing. You filled in your choices on the large printed cards.

After you were done, you went to the scanner, where another gentleman checked the printed slip before asking you to feed each card to through the scanner.

I guarantee you there will be no chads to hang anywhere in that process.

In all, the Florida process struck me as safer and much less prone to fraud.

And yes, #166 won.

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

If you haven’t seen it yet, a video of a young woman walking in areas of New York City for ten hours has made quite a splash. It is supposed to show How Women Are Constantly Harassed on the Street.

Maybe the advertisers are trying to tell me something, but every time I’ve watched it, it’s preceded by car ads – luxury cars at that (two Lexus, one Volvo). Not only am I not on the market for a car, I believe that you have to be insane to own a car in Manhattan.

But I digress.

The young woman (age in the mid-twenties to early thirties?) in the video is Caucasian, dressed in NYC casual uniform of black jeans and t-shirt, and numerous men during her 10 hour walk say hello, many say “God bless you”, a couple say “damn” (which among some in the Big Apple is the equivalent of hello) to her, about which we are supposed to be outraged.

The creepy ones were two guys who walked along with her, one silently for five minutes, another one trying to pick her up (and failing miserably). At that point, I wondered how much of the video was staged (I also want to know what camera they used, since it doesn’t shake).

As it turns out,

The one dude who turns around and says, “Nice,” is white, but the guys who do the most egregious things—like the one who harangues her, “Somebody’s acknowledging you for being beautiful! You should say thank you more,” or the one who follows her down the street too closely for five whole minutes—are not.

So, what “Hollabck! a non-profit dedicated to ending street harrassment” ended up doing is looking, shall I say it, “raaaaacist.”

Apparent from the video is also the fact that the men involved are not working. I wonder what the video would have been like if she had moseyed down Water Street, Wall Street, and the financial district, where everybody is on the job – even the guys girl-watching.

Heartiste of the pick-up manosphere looked at the video and titled his post “10 Hours Of Walking In New York City As A Racist White Woman.” Not one to mince words, his review is crude at times, but accurate in this,

Catcalling, if you couldn’t already tell, is mostly a non-asian minority thing. Only Mediterranean whites like Italians come close to expressing the… unsolicited robust amour… of blacks and guapos. And even then, the Italians in America catcall with a stylishness far removed from the ghetto version. It’s so rare for white men that I can’t honestly remember the last time I saw one catcall like those loping suitors in the video.

I’ve walked through numerous neighborhoods in the five boroughs, and that has been my experience, even in my advanced age.

However, to generate real outrage, the people of Hollaback! ought to have tried being a female American tourist traveling alone in Italy in the 1970s. They would have had their butts pinched enough times that they would had needed to edit the video standing up.

Aggressive catcalling does wear thin at times. Heartiste, again, makes a valid point,

The closest analogy for a man would be having to tolerate homeless bums begging for handouts every block.

but the Funny or Die guys went for the gusto,

Hey Harvard! Hey Harvard! Wanna network? Wanna network with me?

Sing it, Brenda!

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news and culture at Fausta’s Blog. She learned to handle catcalls by age 14, having grown up in Puerto Rico.

It came up in yesterday’s MA3 debate, and ebola is still in the news (especially when you see headlines like this: Ebola can survive on surfaces for almost TWO MONTHS: Tests reveal certain strains survive for weeks when stored at low temperatures), so it’s time for an update on the curious incident of the Carnival Magic in Belize.

To recap, the reports said that the Carnival Magic cruise ship was denied docking privileges in Belize and Mexico when authorities found out that among its passengers was a Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital worker who may have handled ebola samples. The international incident was ignored by the U.S. State Department, and, the last time I looked, 4633 passengers and crew members were stranded.

All because a lab worker decided to “self-monitor” while on a cruise ship.

No word as to whether she went bowling.

Opinions are like navels: everybody has one. What I get from the above story is that “self-monitoring” appears to be a not well defined, rather loose term, subject to the interpretation of people who don’t want to be inconvenienced by staying away from social contact, or, heaven forfend, interrupt plans.

So, on the one hand, it looks like the government is playing it as it goes with a deadly disease it doesn’t seem to know a whole lot about, while, on the other hand, the government is regulating school lunches down to the last potato chip.

Now that I got that off my chest, here’s the update on the Carnival Magic and its surreal voyage:
Contrary to what was initially reported, passengers other than the lab worker and her companion were allowed to disembark in Belize. The Magic did not receive clearance to dock in Cozumel, Mexico.

A blood sample taken from the health care worker who was being monitored on-board the Carnival Magic cruise ship tested negative for Ebola, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

A helicopter met up with the cruise ship Saturday to take a blood sample for testing prior to the ship’s Sunday arrival in Galveston.

Of course, the helicopter flew at taxpayer’s expense.

The Carnival Magic cruise ship returned to its home port in Galveston, Texas, on Sunday, October 19. Its passengers will get a $200 credit on their ship accounts and a 50 percent discount for future cruises, not that it’s likely that they’ll be stampeding to the next cruise, having wasted valuable vacation days on their trip to nowhere.

In my post I predicted that the curious incident will probably put the kibosh on Caribbean holiday tourism for a long time. For the time being, Carnival and Norwegian stocks are down.

Speaking of stocks, it may be worth looking into buying Clorox , the stock and the product,

The floor was cleaned in part with a 10 percent bleach solution, the method that Mr. Pain said was recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Millions of dollars and man-hours wasted because a lab worker decided to “self-monitor” while on a cruise ship.

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

Readers of my blog know that I have been following U.S. and Latin American politics for a long time. Recently, I have been posting on Brazil’s presidential election.

The incumbent, Dilma Rousseff, was chief of staff to Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva ,the prior president. In her younger, Marxist, days, she was involved with the Colina terrorist group which carried out bank robberies, car thefts and a couple of bombings, and she was jailed and tortured. She later joined Lula’s Worker’s Party (PT), and was elected Brazil’s first woman president in 2010. Her administration is under investigation for alleged widespread corruption and cronyism at state-owned companies like oil giant Petrobras, including embezzlement.

Dilma’s agenda is that of populist, redistributionist policies driven by bigger government. She has behind her a huge political machinery, the support of millions dependent on welfare, and, not having obtained a clear majority on the October 5th election faces a runoff election next Sunday.

Her challenger, Aécio Neves, of the Social Democracy Party, is a

former two-term governor of prosperous Minas Gerais state, taking credit for rescuing it from near-bankruptcy by cutting expenses and boosting revenue under a program dubbed “management shock.”

Neves’s agenda is Brazil’s economy, currently in recession after four years of stagnation.

He has vowed to slash government ministries, simplify Brazil’s tax code and tackle inflation.

He’s pro-market, pro-free enterprise.

Dilma is currently ahead in the polls.

Brazil, South America’s largest country, is currently a friend of socialist leaders in our hemisphere, hosting the Foro de Sao Paulo. Normally I don’t quote from Wikipedia, but this is accurate,

Foro de São Paulo (FSP; English: São Paulo Forum) is a conference of leftist political parties and other organizations from Latin America and the Caribbean. It was launched by the Workers’ Party(Portuguese: Partido dos Trabalhadores – PT) of Brazil in 1990 in the city of São Paulo.

The Forum of São Paulo was constituted in 1990 when the Brazilian Workers’ Party approached other parties and social movements of Latin America and the Caribbean with the objective of debating the new international scenario after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the consequences of the implementation of what were taken as neoliberalpolicies adopted at the time by contemporary right-leaning governments in the region, the stated main objective of the conference being to argue for alternatives to neoliberalism.[1]

Neves has his work cut out for him, but an effective pro-market, pro-free enterprise president in Brazil would change the orientation of the entire hemisphere, not just of the country.

In Brazil Election, a Stark Choice on Economic Direction

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

Nothing shows the control Mexican drug cartels exert over the area adjacent to the border with the United States than the media blackout the cartels decreed four years ago. The media blackout is complete, and enforced, every day, with death penalties.

The Daily Beast reports how, in the border state of Tamaulipas, rival drug cartels, “the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas, have final say over what gets printed or broadcast in the local media.” Citizen journalists risk their lives by using Facebook and Twitter “to share information about organized crime and its infiltration of the government.”

Extortion, kidnappings, shootouts, arson, bodies excavated from arid pits, all of this happens in Tamaulipas, practically on a daily basis, but hardly any of it gets reported because of a media blackout the cartels decreed four years ago

Take, for instance, the death of Dr. Maria del Rosario Fuentes Rubio, Twitter handle Felina, whose account has now been closed. Dr. Fuentes was one of the admonistrators for Valor por Tamaulipas:
She Tweeted Against the Mexican Cartels. They Tweeted Her Murder.
No newspaper dares to publish the truth about the drug lords in Tamaulipas. Those who break the silence on Twitter and Facebook are marked for death.

Felina posted under the handle @Miut3 and was best known for her posts of danger alerts that pinpointed the location of violent incidents in real time. People sent her bits of information as a way for them to resist the hegemony of the cartels. She also wrote posts pleading with victims of crime not to remain silent, to file a police report even if it meant having to brave reprisals. She would post emergency telephone numbers as a way to try to help

She was killed:

Felina nevertheless continued to post a high volume of news alerts to the site at the hashtag #ReynosaFollow. Until early in the morning of Thursday, Oct. 16, when this message from Felina @Miut3 was posted:


Her assassins are yet to be found,

The state prosecutor’s office in Tamaulipas confirmed that a Dr. María del Rosario Fuentes Rubio was reported kidnapped on the day before the photos and messages were posted to Felina’s Twitter account. Officially the case remains a kidnapping because, according to the coroner’s office, the body of the woman in the photographs has yet to be recovered.

As we watch with dismay the ever-more-porous border with Mexico, is it unreasonable to be concerned about the effects of the Obama administration’s open borders policy on public safety and national security?

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

Or, Travel in the Time of #Ebola.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is one of my favorite book titles (and the book’s a good read, too), so I borrowed the title for this post, as we now read news that boggle the mind more than the best fiction:

Texas worker who may have handled Ebola samples quarantined in Belize. The hapless Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital worker went on a cruise on Sunday. Now she and her husband “have voluntarily remained isolated in a cabin,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki,

“We are working with the cruise line to safely bring them back to the United States out of an abundance of caution.”

Why the cruise line? Because

The Belize government turned down a request by the United States to evacuate the worker through the international airport in Belize City.

Thus provoking an international incident, about which the State Department is apparently doing nothing.

But wait! There’s more!

The Belize coast guard is not allowing the ship to dock or its passengers to disembark
. . .
Belizean news reports identified it as the cruise ship Carnival Magic, and said it was being kept offshore after the island nation’s government learned that a U.S. hospital worker on board may have been exposed to Ebola. The government assured its citizens that neither the health care nor as many as 4,000 others aboard the ship were allowed on the island.

Let’s do the numbers here: the Carnival Magic carries a total of 6,000 people: 4,631 passengers and 1369 crew members [SEE UPDATE BELOW], all now stranded (and likely quarantined) because a lab worker decided to “self-monitor” while on a cruise ship, since “she is deemed by CDC to be very low risk.”

Over at the Department of Homeland Security, they’re proudly advertising its “Ebola Outbreak-related Immigration Relief Measures to Nationals of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone Currently in the United States,” that is, they’re actually expediting visa requests.

Contrast that with how Nigeria stopped ebola. “Of course, you can’t expect our government to be as competent as Nigeria’s.”

Or Belize’s, either.

There’s good news, and there’s bad news.

The ship is reportedly carrying 3652 passengers and a total population of 4633 persons.


“Confirmed with representatives of the Ministry of Health that they have indeed received a report that there is at least one passenger on board the cruise ship, Carnival Magic, showing symptoms similar to that of the Ebola virus.”

An Outbreak of Epidemiological Hysteria.

As Tyler Durden said, It’s almost as if the administration is doing everything in its power to spread a panic.
Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

Our friend Pete has coined the term Pope-a-Dope regarding the media’s spin on Pope Francis. “The Pope married people who were living in sin! The Pope is challenging taboos!” Over the decades (yes, I’m that old), I have attended Catholic weddings of couples who had lived together and were now getting married;. married in a civil ceremony, had children, and then married by the Church; and on and on, so the so-called “taboos” headlines were particularly amusing.

Following the news on the Synod on the Family, I would now like to expand the term Pope-a-Dope to include the spin on the Catholic Church in general. Not that we didn’t see it coming:

Sure enough:

the real danger of what is coming out of the Synod not what the words say but how they’re spun.

The media’s goal, as Pete so aptly puts it, is

to have the church decide to not only consider such states of Mortal Sin acceptable for individuals but to actually redefine sin itself.

Princeton professor Robert P. George (one of Ted Cruz’s former professors), expands on the subject:
Has the Catholic Church Changed Its Teaching on Sex and Marriage?
Amid reports of “earthquakes” and “seismic” shifts, we ought to remember the Catholic Church’s moral teachings in their wholeness, which have not shifted.

Now, if you’ve been reading the papers or watching television or visiting blogs and online news sites, you may be thinking:

“Hang on there, professor. Haven’t you heard? On Monday the Catholic Church changed its teachings on marriage and sexuality. There has been an ‘earthquake,’ a ‘seismic shift.’ Things will never be the same. The Church now welcomes remarried people to communion, has dropped its objections to homosexual conduct, and denies that homosexual desires are ‘intrinsically disordered.’ Or it’s about to do all of that. Francis is a new kind of Pope, and it’s a new day. He has brought Catholicism into line with the teachings of the Episcopal Church USA, the Unitarian Universalists, and the New York Times editorial board.”

Prof. George points out that the (emphasis added)

document released on Monday as an interim report on discussions occurring at a Vatican synod of bishops (called an “extraordinary” synod because it is preparatory to a larger synod—an “ordinary” synod—that will occur next year) on contemporary challenges to the family.

The relatio, then, is raw material for this week’s discussion, which will prepare for next year’s discussion, which may provide fodder for a document by the Pope.

So it’s conducive to something preparatory to something (possibly) advisory.

It has no teaching authority whatsoever.

What’s more, it proposed no changes—none—in the doctrine or moral teaching of the Church.

Read Prof. George’s article.

The bottom line is, while the media tries to actually redefine sin itself, the Church asserts that sin is sin and must be rejected.

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

Back in April of 2012, 11 Secret Service agents were placed on administrative leave amid allegations they brought prostitutes back to their hotel rooms (prostitution is legal in Cartagena) while preparing for a visit by President Barack Obama to the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia. I mentioned it in passing on a post on the Summit of the Americas.

The story faded into the background, especially after a much bigger story happened on September 11 the same year.

As it turns out, the White House tried to cover up the Cartagena prostitution story:

“We were directed at the time . . . to delay the report of the investigation until after the 2012 election,” David Nieland, the lead investigator on the Colombia case for the DHS inspector general’s office, told Senate staffers, according to three people with knowledge of his statement

Jonathan Dach,

who was a White House volunteer during the Cartagena trip, this year started working full time in the Obama administration on a federal contract as a policy adviser in the Office on Global Women’s Issues at the State Department.

Dach’s father is a lobbyist/fundraiser, now also working for the Obama administration.

Ten members of the Secret Service lost their jobs, while the White House denies that any of its staffers were involved with prostitutes and decided to not fully investigate one of its own.

Why bother? As Ace points out,

Assuming the worst is true, the son of donor, working in a fairly low-level capacity for the White House had, allegedly, maybe, had something to do with a prostitute in a foreign country.

It’s precisely how small potatoes that is that makes the cover-up frightening — if they’re willing to cover-up something so trivial, so unlikely to generate a few bored headlines for half a news day, then what won’t they cover up?
. . .
Likewise, Ron Fournier calls this latest misrepresentation from the White House as just the latest in an “epidemic of half truths” from the White House.

Epidemic indeed; Victor Hanson lists the ways the Obama administration is following more the French model than the American to fundamentally transform America. The method?

Official stories change to fit larger agendas.

In the case of the Cartagena, Colombia, prostitution scandal, the coverup is simply part of the method.

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

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.

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.