HAMMERNEWS- Michael Hammerschlag

Current Political Commentary by journalist Michael Hammerschlag; Thoughts on foreign policy, Republican outrages, liberal strategies, science by 8 year correspondent in Russia/Ukraine over 22 years and longtime commentator; Website: http://HAMMERNEWS.com

Tuesday, March 12, 2013



Hugo finally was dispatched by the Grim Reaper, after surviving coup/assassination attempts; the rage of Oil Cos, Heinz Ketchup, the powerful Venezuelan 1%, George Bush, et. al. His crime, according to Greggy Palast, was

---"Just after Bush's inauguration in 2001, Chavez' congress voted in a new "Law of Hydrocarbons." Henceforth, Exxon, BP, Shell, and Chevron would get to keep only 70 percent of the sales revenues from the crude they sucked out of Venezuela, from 84%. Not bad, considering the price of oil was rising towards $100 a barrel... Worse, Venezuela had been charging a joke of a royalty - just one percent - on "heavy" crude from the Orinoco Basin. Chavez told Exxon and friends they'd now have to pay 16.6 percent.

On April 11, 2002, President Chavez was kidnapped at gunpoint and flown to an island prison in the Caribbean Sea. On April 12, Pedro Carmona, a business partner of the US oil companies and president of the nation's Chamber of Commerce, declared himself President of Venezuela"---

Greggy is offering his 2008 BBC doc on Chavez for free download on his site. He can be a little sloppy in his journalism- I've caught mistakes- but this is interesting.    pic- Acting Prez Maduro

The extremely strange restoration of Hugo in 2002 came because he had been forewarned a coup was in the works, and had secreted units of commandos in the Prez Palace, who came out and demanded his return at gunpoint. Iran + Libya had then embargoed oil to America and supposedly, GB2 was terrified Venezuela would too. Venez has 5x more oil reserves than Saudi Arabia, though it's heavy tarry oil, expensive to get.

Gotta wonder, though, doesn't the CIA have drugs that can give one.... cancer?? Sadly, leftist populist former Veep replacement Maduro has accused America of just that- poisoning Chavez, not out of the realm of possibility, considering the neocon killers Bush surrounded himself with, but still very stupid, when he should be turning over a new leaf w Obama/Kerry. Probably plays well w his base.
                 Chavez on USS Yorktown --
He has been sworn in as Prez and expected to win the election in a month. Wonder how Kerry (w Heinz wife, whose unused plantations were appropriated by Chavez for the poor) is gonna handle this- he's off to a good start, I think alot better than Rice would have been. Chavez was an important and semi-noble leader, he had some totalitarian impulses, but shattering the dominance of the tiny white "Spanish" overlords who brutally suppressed the Indians and blacks for a half millennium is gonna take some breaking of eggs. Caracas has massive favelas; Venez was perhaps the most unequal country in South America; now there are schools and health clinics in the favelas. He reduced the massive 58% poverty by half and malnutrition by 3/4 by Soviet style food price controls and a chain of highly (up to 50%) discounted supermarkets. He created several S.Am. international agencies (ALBA) like OAS or IMF to lend money. Incredibly, he doled out maybe $15 bil to other newly leftist SA governments (inspired by him, perhaps his lasting legacy) in aid, beating IMF, MF, US significantly; and more in cheap oil (26 cents/gal in Venez). He didn't really turn against the US until after the 2002 coup, likely sponsored by US (the Ambassador rushed to the palace to have pic taken with new Prez), but he said stupid things after 9-11 that earned US ire.

 He first tried a failed military coup in 1992 after creating a secret Army socialist org. as a military instructor, was allowed to go on TV to stop it, and used that to become a hero- served only 2 years in jail. He won his 4 elections 1998, 2000, 2007, 2012 by a massive 60%, so his autocracy was democratically approved all the way. The new 1999 Constitution he pushed through was hailed by international orgs as much better and fairer, though he ignored it at will and ruled by decree.

On flip side, Chavez became a huge friend of Fidel from the beginning, worse a big buddy of Ahmadinejad and every anti-American dictator, and worst directly supported the murderous kidnapping drug-running FARC rebels in Columbia (though the Gov, Army, and Cartels were all murderous vermin there). The only reason US didn't depose him was our distraction with Iraqistan and the WOT, also why the "pink wave" in SA flourished. In his growing autocracy, he crushed much of the free press, jailed opponents, and seized any business he wanted. The economy went downhill under his command- even more dependent (70 to 86%) on oil exports, and crime exploded (murder tripled-quadrupled in Caracas- had most murders in world in 2009). Caracas sits at about 2400-2900ft, so has maybe the most mild temps in the world- they range from 60-80F; record low + high are only 50 and 90F. By his last election, he'd lost most of the middle class, but still got 55%. Course being on USA's sh*t list has a negative affect on all indicators. He was deathly ill for the last 6 months, riddled with cancer, but kept it secret, having treatment in Cuba.  Sorry I didn't interview him- I had a oil rich Venez friend in Maracaibo from college, and friends were encouraging me to check him out.


US marches blithely into a scary non-brave new world with our aerial robot spies/killers. According to this amazing story, 10,000's are already here. On Point radio show

This is terrifying business: Every bit of privacy anywhere, except in off-line phone-less window-less underground rooms... will soon disappear. Wait till LA cops get their hands on these.

Never thought I'd honor anything a Tea Party nut does, but Rand Paul's 13 hour real filibuster against US-citizen-killer drones (+Brennen's nomination) had elements of nobility. I had some Libertarian beliefs, esp about drugs, the War on which is our original sin that has done more to pervert and destroy America than anything else. Someone must question this pushbutton killing of Americans (Anwar AA sure deserved it, but his 16 yo son?)- I more or less trust Obama with it, but another Cheney??!@#$ I actually support drones- I think the collateral deaths are "only" 30-40% of the actual targets- far lower than any method of war ever. Would people really prefer bombing strikes, artillery, naval shelling? These historically killed 2-10 times more innocents. Yes, drones are cowardly and far too easy and enrage tribal people more than anything else, and soon, others will have them... but we still have mortal enemies (shouldn't vermin like the schoolgirl Malala's attempted assassins be exterminated?), and would you rather have US soldiers on the ground?    Amy Goodman's Democracy Now bravo:

WE'RE #3

Quick, what # is US in nation size? I learned #4 in school, after USSR/Russia, Canada, and China, but weany geo-revisionists apparently downgraded China in 1986, lopping off enough territory that every list now has US as #3. In fact Canada, also in a dead heat with US, has 3 times more inland water (lakes)- without them, US is #2!!!!!!!!!! 70% of Canada is uninhabitable arctic wasteland anyway- let's get them "downgraded"- we're number 2!!!! Actually I hate this tinkering with stats- give me back my Pluto as the 9th planet... but it is kinda cool. The main difference (researched it) was removing the Bohai Sea, an enclosed Chesapeake-like bay west of N. Korea that is the monster port of Beijing. And the highest and biggest mtn on Earth is really the Big Island of Hawaii (31,300ft from ocean bottom, 1000 mi. diameter at base, 100 mi at surface). Pics

And in another amazing revision, they downgraded the 90 yr old record high world temp from Libya- 136F, so NOW, America is officially the hottest place in the world - 134F (57C) in Death Valley 100 years ago, which I've seen from the top of Mt. Whitney, but never reached.

 Temps are all taken in the shade- ever wonder what a high sunny temp was? 201F in 1972 in Death Valley's Furnace Creek! Think that would be fatal pretty quickly. The high temps are because of the low altitude (-282 Ft) and  so higher pressure, denser air can transmit temp better by the speedy bouncing gas molecules.

While we play Guiness (beer) stats, which is bigger- Antarctica, Australia, Brazil, or Greenland?  How about Russia and South America*

Biggest Cities in metro pop are 1. Tokyo 36 mil, 2. Jakarta 26 m, 3. Seoul 23m, 4. Delhi 21-2m, 5. tie: NYC, Mexico City, Shanghai, Manila, Sao Paolo, Karachi all ~20 m.    NOTE: big disparities exit in lists, depending on where they end metro area


The FRONTLINE doc Jan 22, The Untouchables, that investigated TBTP (to big to prosecute) and had Justice's Lanny Breuer explain how they had to take collateral damage in account, went off like a mortar round- Breuer quit the next day! Taibbi investigates another whistleblower thrown under the bus by Bush judges. Speak of which 4 of 11 slots on the crucial #2 court DC Court of Appeals are empty for years now- the result of Reid's cowardice in not Killing Phil... waiting for a Repub restoration.
Liz Warren, bless her, has been screeching about the HSBC Mafia/terrorist/cartel agent scumbags getting off with a fine (now they do criminal prosecutions of corps and just FINE THEM? - guess they are people).


US diplomats under siege by a crazed violent mob, Benghazi Consulate sacked + burned, employees desperately burning classified docs, rescue APC immolated by gasoline. 2012?, no, 1967. The provocation was the start of the 6 Day War, and some BS story that the US was bombing Cairo. Incredibly, despite being on fire, the Embassy peeps held out in what was a bank bldg (w giant vault doors) till rescued by a Brit column without major injuries, but a 5 man Brit APC crew were burned alive first trying.

While seriously beautiful, we never were a giant fan of Ashley Judd- there was something creepily Southern controlling in her movie performances (though “Ruby” was good); however, we are wholesale cheering her on in her anticipated run against the detestable mush-mouth Slug of the Senate- Mitch McConnell, who has left a corrupt corporate trail of slime wherever he goes. “He's never done one good thing,” according to my pathologically self-inflating Ky pal Harvey. It would take some star power to dislodge the venal Slug, engorged by decades of suckling on the big tobacco, oil, pharma, et al, tits. UPDATE: Sadly, Ashley has decided not to run, no doubt due to some Rovian reminder of her risque photos and videos- few actresses don't have some of that in their career.


Russians who have drilled 2 1/2 miles through the Antarctic ice cap at the coldest place on Earth (Vostok- at top of ice plateau -125F) to the geothermally melted L.Ontario-size LakeVostok, sealed off for at least 15 million years!!!! say they have discovered NEW LIFE, bacteria whose DNA is only 86% correspondent to anything known- a huge difference in DNA (over 90% means unknown). Utterly amazing, all life from the simplest virus, to 500 mil old horseshoe crabs, to the billion year old nucleus-less nori seaweed, to the dinosaurs, to blind sulfur-eating thermophilic tube worms, to us, functions with this one miraculous molecule. Wonder how many other living molecules there are splayed across the infinite trillions of planets- now they think most stars have solid planets (they are finding them daily, even Earth-like Goldilocks planets). Maybe 60% of the billions of visible lights in the heavens are galaxies with billions of stars each! We are but a mote in the grand design, and there are endless wonders ahead... but an advanced species, confronted with people like Stalin or Inhofe or Scalia ... might think it better to sterilize the planet, lest the infection spread. No worries- we are on track to catastrophically reducing man's footprint on Earth.

 *  Actually Antarctica is huge, 1/6 smaller than Russia and twice the size of Australia- Greenland is small, smaller than the Congo, Australia is 3.6x bigger- it's the horrible distortion in polar zone maps that makes it look the size of S. America, but Brazil (or US) is bigger than the Australian continent. South America is just a little bigger than Russia, significantly smaller than the old SU.


The new Argentinian Pope is about as good as we can hope from the conservative cardinals- a pastoral (grazes on grass?) humble guy concerned with the poor, brutal inequality, and charitable works (the best thing about Catholicism); but he is also pretty conservative, rejecting any liberalization in priestly marriage, sex, or female members; abortion, even contraception (which +90 of all Catholics support and necessary to save the planet). With the exception of Poland + Ireland, Catholicism has become irrelevant in the 1st world because of their intransigence on these issues.. and the enormously evil sex abuse scandals that are a direct result of their antiquated and perverse strictures. He rides buses and lives in a normal aptmt in BA, a good sign, but he is, at 76, an interim Pope and sop to the Americas, who have the majority of Catholics now. Actually though, he looks in very good shape, maybe he'll last a while.

The harsh New World inequality has been a boon to the Church, though, and the almost perverse obsession with the Crucification in Mexico and Central/South America disquieting. From growing up in the most Catholic US state, I've long thought they have a certain vested interest in keeping the masses poor + ignorant - and they were of course, a huge part of the obscenely brutal Spanish colonial power structure that created that condition [When Columbus landed in Haiti/DR, there were maybe 500K Taino Indians (1st "Indians"), after only 14 years of disease, murder, enslavement, torture, there were only 60,000; after another 20 years, they were eradicated.]

There are lingering questions about  Francis's actions during the 1976-83 Dirty War by the Juntu Generals, who murdered thousands of "Leftists", including 2 Bishops + many priests. It was high time to bring the Church into the 20th Century, but maybe he will at least inveigh against the evil bankers that have been looting the world.


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