Saturday, 31 May 2014

Great Stuff in Venezuela

        Alliance for Global Justice

Venezuela Solidarity Weekly

There is a lot of hot air spewed in the US corporate press crying wolf on the supposedly worsening economic hardships of Venezuela's citizens. The reported cause of their supposed economic woes? Maduro's "authoritarian regime's" socializing of the economy.

Venezuela's (more accurately descibed) profoundly democratic government, disagrees. And why shouldn't they? On top of the global capitalist economic system having serious turmoil, Venezuela is under economic attack. The rich of Venezuela (colluding certainly with rich allies in the US and the service of US spy agencies) are intentionally destabilizing their economy in a dirty class war since having been removed from governmental power by democratic elections.

However, whereas in the US we've seen soaring income inequality as a result of the rich controling our government, in Venezuela an economic offensive against the rich's control has served the interests of the 99% and especially the poorest.
"One of the largest hauls was found in Distruibor El Nonno in Lara State, where 812 tons of food products were being kept from the shelves by the firm’s owner as part of the economic war against the population which aims to, through falsely creating shortages and inflation, generate enough social discontent to topple the elected government of Nicolas Maduro. Of the seizure, only 690 tons were resold in the public network of supermarkets at regulated prices, as 122 tons were past their use-by-date. The owner of the firm has been arrested."
Wouldn't it be great to see some Wall Street Bankers arrested here?
In our second story, we find Venezuela moving forward on another public service that is sure to benefit their country's future. In a move, that could be seen as very European but really just makes sense, Venezuela has been building a free nationwide wireless service.
"The “Wireless for All” project, deployed by the Venezuelan government has reached 1,479 locations, including schools, universities, villages, plazas and parks in the country, representing a 26% improvement over the goal to connect the signal to 5,774 free internet public spaces, said the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Manuel Fernandez."
Now rich college students can quickly upload selfies at the barricades on their brand new iphones without wasting their mobile internet wireless plan. (Only joking, those kids are definately suffering at the hands of an oppressive authoritarian regime. Hopefully vacation shopping sprees in Florida will calm their rage in time away from the poor people using their free university and free healthcare system.)
Finally, Venezuela pushes further towards direct democratic control.
"Another announcement was that authorities will distribute 980 cargo trucks to communes in order to support their productive and agricultural activities. This will help local farmers transport their goods to markets without expensive private sector middlemen charging speculative rates for the service, which drives up the prices of food and reduces farmers’ incomes."
Shucks, all those valueless middlemen jobs are being lost in Venezuela because the communal councils are directly organizing their community against being cheated. What will they think of next?
Full articles below!

Economic Offensive Continues To Stabilize Venezuela

Paul Dobson, Correo de Orinoco, May 23, 2014
The second phase of the government-led economic offensive continued this week, with numerous arrests being made for the crimes of usury, hoarding, smuggling, and price speculation. Copious amounts of goods were seized and resold at regulated prices.

Vice President Jorge Arreaza explained that since the second phase began on April 22, 3,068 businesses have been inspected in joint actions by communities, the armed forces, and government. Major seizures were televised live.

The aim, Arreaza explained, is to “construct a new economic order which allows us to overcome the oil-dependent model,” and defeat the economic war waged by the business classes which has left the country with high inflation, shortages, and low production levels.

Arreaza explained that of the inspections carried out so far, “27% of the businesses have incurred the crimes of hoarding, speculation, and smuggling”. Also, he specified, “36% of the inspections have been in the food sector, 27% in commerce, 11% in construction, 10% in textile and clothing, 6% in vehicles, and 5% in health and medicine.”

In the border states of Tachira and Zulia, where large quantities of subsidized goods are smuggled to Colombia for enormous profit margins, 155 tons of rice and sugar were found in the warehouses of the firm Arrocera Chispa, whilst over-pricing of 82% was found in the supermarket Exito.

In Zulia State, 50,000 liters of lactose products were found hoarded in the warehouses of Merilac Corporation, which was also found to be reselling some goods with profit margins of 96%. In the meat firm A Que Ramon, overpricing of 90% was discovered, and in Revinca Corporation, a tube supplier, overpricing of 443% was found. The new Law of Fair Prices and Costs restricts allowed profit margins to 30%, and grants the authorities powers to penalize the non-compliance of the law with up to 10 years of prison and $500,000 in fines. Profit margins on vehicles and other goods are further limited to 10%.

In the central States of Vargas, Aragua, and Carabobo, illegal profit margins of 664% were discovered at Frenos Sun Corp., a distributor of car parts, while in 1731 Corp., which supplies motorbike parts, illegal profit margins of 380% were found. In Mi Auto Motors 82, illegal profit margins of 300% were disclosed, while in Inversiones Villa de Arauca, 2958kg of hoarded coffee was seized. In the eastern state of Bolivar, the marble firm Marmolia Canaima was also found to be overpricing with profit margins of 305%. In the same entity, the hardware firm Ferreksa was found to be over-pricing by 407%. One of the largest hauls was found in Distruibor El Nonno in Lara State, where 812 tons of food products were being kept from the shelves by the firm’s owner as part of the economic war against the population which aims to, through falsely creating shortages and inflation, generate enough social discontent to topple the elected government of Nicolas Maduro. Of the seizure, only 690 tons were resold in the public network of supermarkets at regulated prices, as 122 tons were past their use-by-date. The owner of the firm has been arrested. The economic offensive is due to continue, focusing this week on car dealers and parts supplies. The offensive is also expected to initiate inspections at the production level, in factories and the countryside, with the objective of facilitating loans and resolving particular problems production so as to increase production levels across the country.

“Wireless for All” Plan In Venezuelan Schools and Public Areas

Correo de Orinoco May 16, 2014
The “Wireless for All” project, deployed by the Venezuelan government has reached 1,479 locations, including schools, universities, villages, plazas and parks in the country, representing a 26% improvement over the goal to connect the signal to 5,774 free internet public spaces, said the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Manuel Fernandez.

Fernandez explained that to date they have connected 215 of the 547 plazas that will be a part of the project; 14 of the 25 parks; 788 of the 3,589 colleges, and 462 of the more than 1,600 villages and universities raised in the plan.

“This wireless project is for everyone to have free Wifi access connections in four types of spaces. Colleges and universities, these two were instructed by President Nicolas Maduro during Learner’s Week in November 2013 and before that he asked us to think of a solution to install free Wifi in recreational areas,” he said.

He noted that this project is done for educational purposes in places of study and public schools as well as for recreational purposes in parks and public areas around the country.

The scope of the project, Minister Fernandez said, in the last three days has managed to connect 70 spaces with free Wifi each day. He explained that the bandwidth for these spaces is 10 megabits per second and will be able to connect to 128 users simultaneously. By the end of June it is estimated that they will have 3,000 new Internet spaces.

Venezuelan Government and Activists Seek to Advance toward “Communal State”

By Ewan Robertson
Mérida, 29th May 2014 ( – The Venezuelan government and commune movement are taking steps to move towards the creation of what is referred to as a “communal state”, which involves community organisations assuming collective control of local production and decision making.

Communes in Venezuela are formed out of groups of community councils, which are small neighbourhood organisations representing 250-400 families – where local residents organise to develop their local community and run community affairs. They can also receive public funds to undertake a variety of projects in their area.

Communes themselves are created when an election of local residents is held to select spokespeople from each community council in a given area to form a communal parliament, which has different sub committees and covers community affairs over a larger territorial zone. The commune can then take on larger scale tasks and responsibilities than individual community councils. They can also register with the Ministry of Communes, which makes them eligible to apply for public funding for productive, educational, cultural, infrastructure or other development projects.

There are currently around 40,000 communal councils and 600 communes registered in the country, with more communes currently in the process of formation.

Over the past year and a half the Bolivarian government has stepped up efforts to encourage citizens to organise themselves into communes. This coincided with a speech that late former president Hugo Chavez made in October 2012, criticising the lack of progress in establishing communes in the country, and the appointment of Reinaldo Iturriza as minister of communes by President Nicolas Maduro last April.

Some of the main ideas behind the creation of communes expressed by activists and commune ministry figures are for local communities to play a greater role in productive activities such as agriculture, and for communities to play a greater role in local decision-making and administration.

Earlier this month, President Maduro created a Presidential Council of Communal Governance to act as a direct link between the government and communes and to receive proposals from communes on how government policy can better support communal development.

“You make the proposals, I’ll articulate them with policies, and you send me the criticisms about the shortcomings of the Bolivarian government. Long live grassroots criticism, let’s learn to grow from criticism, let’s not fear the truth, that’s Hugo Chavez’s method,” said Maduro to 10,000 communards (commune members) in Caracas upon making the announcement.

Another announcement was that authorities will distribute 980 cargo trucks to communes in order to support their productive and agricultural activities. This will help local farmers transport their goods to markets without expensive private sector middlemen charging speculative rates for the service, which drives up the prices of food and reduces farmers’ incomes.

Press also reported that Maduro agreed to a meeting with communards to examine difficulties for communal enterprises in issues such as investments and sales, in order to resolve these issues with presidential law-making powers.

Various other commune meetings are planned for June such as a national communal productive fair. There is also a proposal to be debated soon in the Federal Government Council for the transfer of some competencies of local government to the communes.

Dameris Herrera, a spokesperson of the Orinoquia commune in eastern Venezuela, told media her impression of the announcements. “He [Maduro] is saying that yes we can, especially in the transfer of powers, because we can be the administrators of many things that are being done at the level of the constituted power [local representative governance], and as the constituent power [direct participatory governance]; we have this responsibility,” she said.

Commune movement organising around the country

Meanwhile, communards have been meeting around the country on an independent basis to better organise their movement and present the government with their proposals and requirements for development.

In the Andean town of Mesa Bolivar, Mérida state, some 600 communards representing over 50 communes in the region gathered last weekend to discuss how communes can combat what they describe as an on-going “economic war” against the country’s Bolivarian revolution.

“The aim of this meeting is to reflect, debate and design actions against the economic war, in the areas of supply and revolutionary auditing [of distribution and sales], and in the area of production and socio economic projects,” said Alonso Rua, a member of the Communard Council of Mérida, to

The gathered activists, displaying a range of ages and backgrounds, many of whom were rural workers, met for an open air assembly in the town centre. They then held working groups on security, the economy, communication, and political education. Youth activists met in a separate meeting to discuss issues specific to them.

The more general aim of the meeting, the seventh of its kind over the past year, was to tighten links between commune activists and to advance the organisation of their movement toward goals of local self-management and production.

“What do we want with all this? First, self government, so that we are our own governors. That is to say, truly realise what the constitution says, which is a true democracy,” said Luis Pimental, a high school teacher and member of a commune near Lake Maracaibo, to

The communard continued, “When talk began about communes, I was skeptical, and I asked myself, 'Are we really prepared for this?' Yet with what I’ve seen, I’ve realised that yes, there are a lot of people [in the commune movement] with a lot of knowledge, who have been making a valuable contribution”.

However, some communards warn that beyond the presidency and ministry of communes, many public institutions and figures have been resistant to recognising the growth and potential of the country’s commune movement.

“We continue coming up against a bureaucracy that is present within state institutions, that on many occasions doesn’t allow the community’s proposals to be attended,” said Betty Vargas of a commune in the city of Mérida. Her commune is currently planning to establish a new community run higher education centre in a semi-rural zone near the city.

Nevertheless the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) governor of Mérida state, two local mayors, and representatives of the national government and state institutions were present at the meeting in Mesa Bolivar.

During the open air assembly, the National Land Institute handed three communes new land titles as part of a policy to transfer land to communal organisations for the development of their productive and agricultural projects. One of the communes, India Caribay, plans to plant crops, fruits, and construct a fruit processing plant with public financing.

Liskeila Gonzalez, a youth member of the commune, told of the importance of such projects for the community. “I want the commune to achieve the creation of the farm and fruit processor. In the end, it’s the communities around India Caribay that will benefit, and if a person is in need, the fund [from production] will be there to help them,” she said.

She added, “In the commune we all take part in decision-making. There aren’t bosses, a president, anything like that. We’re all equal and we all work the same”.

A similar meeting of communards was held on the same weekend in the eastern state of Monagas, where reportedly hundreds of communards from 39 communes met.

Further, a national meeting of the independent National Communard Network is set to take place this weekend in Lara state in the west of the country. At least 3,000 are expected to attend, where discussions will take place to further advance communal organisation.

World uprisings happening everywhere!

We will overcome someday.

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Friday, 23 May 2014

Climate Change as a Weapon of Mass Destruction

The 95% Doctrine: Climate Change as a Weapon of Mass Destruction

Is climate change a crime against humanity? Let's go with... Yes.

The fossil fuel industry is waging a war on the planet's ecosystem and her people. It's not only unnecessary and obscene, but should be considered a crime. (Image: public domain)Who could forget?  At the time, in the fall of 2002, there was such a drumbeat of “information” from top figures in the Bush administration about the secret Iraqi program to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and so endanger the United States.  And who -- other than a few suckers -- could have doubted that Saddam Hussein was eventually going to get a nuclear weapon?  The only question, as our vice president suggested on “Meet the Press,” was: Would it take one year or five?  And he wasn’t alone in his fears, since there was plenty of proof of what was going on.  For starters, there were those “specially designed aluminum tubes” that the Iraqi autocrat had ordered as components for centrifuges to enrich uranium in his thriving nuclear weapons program.  Reporters Judith Miller and Michael Gordon hit the front page of the New York Times with that story on September 8, 2002.
Then there were those “mushroom clouds” that Condoleezza Rice, our national security advisor, was so publicly worried about -- the ones destined to rise over American cities if we didn’t do something to stop Saddam.  As she fretted in a CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer on that same September 8th, “[W]e don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”  No, indeed, and nor, it turned out, did Congress!
And just in case you weren’t anxious enough about the looming Iraqi threat, there were those unmanned aerial vehicles -- Saddam’s drones! -- that could be armed with chemical or biological WMD from his arsenal and flown over America’s East Coast cities with unimaginable results.  President George W. Bush went on TV to talk about them and congressional votes were changed in favor of war thanks to hair-raising secret administration briefings about them on Capitol Hill.
In the end, it turned out that Saddam had no weapons program, no nuclear bomb in the offing, no centrifuges for those aluminum pipes, no biological or chemical weapons caches, and no drone aircraft to deliver his nonexistent weapons of mass destruction (nor any ships capable of putting those nonexistent robotic planes in the vicinity of the U.S. coast).  But what if he had?  Who wanted to take that chance?  Not Vice President Dick Cheney, certainly.  Inside the Bush administration he propounded something that journalist Ron Suskind later dubbed the “one percent doctrine.”  Its essence was this: if there was even a 1% chance of an attack on the United States, especially involving weapons of mass destruction, it must be dealt with as if it were a 95%-100% certainty.
Here’s the curious thing: if you look back on America's apocalyptic fears of destruction during the first 14 years of this century, they largely involved three city-busting weapons that were fantasies of Washington’s fertile imperial imagination.  There was that “bomb” of Saddam’s, which provided part of the pretext for a much-desired invasion of Iraq.  There was the “bomb” of the mullahs, the Iranian fundamentalist regime that we’ve just loved to hate ever since they repaid us, in 1979, for the CIA’s overthrow of an elected government in 1953 and the installation of the Shah by taking the staff of the U.S. embassy in Tehran hostage.  If you believed the news from Washington and Tel Aviv, the Iranians, too, were perilously close to producing a nuclear weapon or at least repeatedly on the verge of the verge of doing so.  The production of that “Iranian bomb” has, for years, been a focus of American policy in the Middle East, the “brink” beyond which war has endlessly loomed.  And yet there was and is no Iranian bomb, nor evidence that the Iranians were or are on the verge of producing one.
Finally, of course, there was al-Qaeda’s bomb, the “dirty bomb” that organization might somehow assemble, transport to the U.S., and set off in an American city, or the “loose nuke,” maybe from the Pakistani arsenal, with which it might do the same.  This is the third fantasy bomb that has riveted American attention in these last years, even though there is less evidence for or likelihood of its imminent existence than of the Iraqi and Iranian ones.
To sum up, the strange thing about end-of-the-world-as-we’ve-known-it scenarios from Washington, post-9/11, is this: with a single exception, they involved only non-existent weapons of mass destruction.  A fourth weapon -- one that existed but played a more modest role in Washington’s fantasies -- was North Korea’s perfectly real bomb, which in these years the North Koreans were incapable of delivering to American shores.
The "Good News" About Climate Change
In a world in which nuclear weapons remain a crucial coin of the realm when it comes to global power, none of these examples could quite be classified as 0% dangers.  Saddam had once had a nuclear program, just not in 2002-2003, and also chemical weapons, which he used against Iranian troops in his 1980s war with their country (with the help of targeting information from the U.S. military) and against his own Kurdish population.  The Iranians might (or might not) have been preparing their nuclear program for a possible weapons breakout capability, and al-Qaeda certainly would not have rejected a loose nuke, if one were available (though that organization’s ability to use it would still have been questionable).
In the meantime, the giant arsenals of WMD in existence, the American, Russian, Chinese, Israeli, Pakistani, and Indian ones that might actually have left a crippled or devastated planet behind, remained largely off the American radar screen.  In the case of the Indian arsenal, the Bush administration actually lent an indirect hand to its expansion.  So it was twenty-first-century typical when President Obama, trying to put Russia's recent actions in the Ukraine in perspective, said, “Russia is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors.  I continue to be much more concerned when it comes to our security with the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan.”
Once again, an American president was focused on a bomb that would raise a mushroom cloud over Manhattan.  And which bomb, exactly, was that, Mr. President?
Of course, there was a weapon of mass destruction that could indeed do staggering damage to or someday simply drown New York City, Washington D.C., Miami, and other East coast cities.  It had its own efficient delivery systems -- no nonexistent drones or Islamic fanatics needed.  And unlike the Iraqi, Iranian, or al-Qaeda bombs, it was guaranteed to be delivered to our shores unless preventative action was taken soon.  No one needed to hunt for its secret facilities.  It was a weapons system whose production plants sat in full view right here in the United States, as well as in Europe, China, and India, as well as in Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Venezuela, and other energy states.
So here’s a question I’d like any of you living in or visiting Wyoming to ask the former vice president, should you run into him in a state that’s notoriously thin on population: How would he feel about acting preventively, if instead of a 1% chance that some country with weapons of mass destruction might use them against us, there was at least a 95% -- and likely as not a100% -- chance of them being set off on our soil?  Let’s be conservative, since the question is being posed to a well-known neoconservative.  Ask him whether he would be in favor of pursuing the 95% doctrine the way he was the 1% version.
After all, thanks to a grim report in 2013 from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we know that there is now a 95%-100% likelihood that “human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming [of the planet] since the mid-20th century.”  We know as well that the warming of the planet -- thanks to the fossil fuel system we live by and the greenhouse gases it deposits in the atmosphere -- is already doing real damage to our world and specifically to the United States, as a recent scientific report released by the White House made clear.  We also know, with grimly reasonable certainty, what kinds of damage those 95%-100% odds are likely to translate into in the decades, and even centuries, to come if nothing changes radically: a temperature rise by century’s end that could exceed 10 degrees Fahrenheit, cascading species extinctions, staggeringly severe droughts across larger parts of the planet (as in the present long-term drought in the American West and Southwest), far more severe rainfall across other areas, more intense storms causing far greater damage, devastating heat waves on a scale no one in human history has ever experienced, masses of refugees, rising global food prices, and among other catastrophes on the human agenda, rising sea levels that will drown coastal areas of the planet.
From two scientific studies just released, for example, comes the news that the West Antarctic ice sheet, one of the great ice accumulations on the planet, has now begun a process of melting and collapse that could, centuries from now, raise world sea levels by a nightmarish 10 to 13 feet.  That mass of ice is, according to the lead authors of one of the studies, already in “irreversible retreat,” which means -- no matter what acts are taken from now on -- a future death sentence for some of the world's great cities.  (And that’s without even the melting of the Greenland ice shield, not to speak of the rest of the ice in Antarctica.)
All of this, of course, will happen mainly because we humans continue to burn fossil fuels at an unprecedented rate and so annually deposit carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at recordlevels.  In other words, we’re talking about weapons of mass destruction of a new kind.  While some of their effects are already in play, the planetary destruction that nuclear weapons could cause almost instantaneously, or at least (given “nuclear winter” scenarios) within months, will, with climate change, take decades, if not centuries, to deliver its full, devastating planetary impact.
When we speak of WMD, we usually think of weapons -- nuclear, biological, or chemical -- that are delivered in a measurable moment in time.  Consider climate change, then, a WMD on a particularly long fuse, already lit and there for any of us to see.  Unlike the feared Iranian bomb or the Pakistani arsenal, you don’t need the CIA or the NSA to ferret such "weaponry" out.  From oil wells to fracking structures, deep sea drilling rigs to platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, the machinery that produces this kind of WMD and ensures that it is continuously delivered to its planetary targets is in plain sight.  Powerful as it may be, destructive as it will be, those who control it have faith that, being so long developing, it can remain in the open without panicking populations or calling any kind of destruction down on them.
The companies and energy states that produce such WMD remain remarkably open about what they’re doing.  Generally speaking, they don’t hesitate to make public, or even boast about, their plans for the wholesale destruction of the planet, though of course they are never described that way.  Nonetheless, if an Iraqi autocrat or Iranian mullahs spoke in similar fashion about producing nuclear weapons and how they were to be used, they would be toast.
Take ExxonMobil, one of the most profitable corporations in history.  In early April, it released two reports that focused on how the company, as Bill McKibben has written, “planned to deal with the fact that [it] and other oil giants have many times more carbon in their collective reserves than scientists say we can safely burn."  He went on:
The company said that government restrictions that would force it to keep its [fossil fuel] reserves in the ground were 'highly unlikely,' and that they would not only dig them all up and burn them, but would continue to search for more gas and oil -- a search that currently consumes about $100 million of its investors’ money every single day. 'Based on this analysis, we are confident that none of our hydrocarbon reserves are now or will become "stranded."'
In other words, Exxon plans to exploit whatever fossil fuel reserves it possesses to their fullest extent.  Government leaders involved in supporting the production of such weapons of mass destruction and their use are often similarly open about it, even while also discussing steps to mitigate their destructive effects.  Take the White House, for instance.  Here was a statement President Obama proudly made in Oklahoma in March 2012 on his energy policy:
Now, under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years. That's important to know. Over the last three years, I’ve directed my administration to open up millions of acres for gas and oil exploration across 23 different states. We’re opening up more than 75% of our potential oil resources offshore. We’ve quadrupled the number of operating rigs to a record high. We’ve added enough new oil and gas pipeline to encircle the Earth and then some.
Similarly, on May 5th, just before the White House was to reveal that grim report on climate change in America, and with a Congress incapable of passing even the most rudimentary climate legislation aimed at making the country modestly more energy efficient, senior Obama adviser John Podesta appeared in the White House briefing room to brag about the administration’s “green” energy policy. “The United States,” he said, “is now the largest producer of natural gas in the world and the largest producer of gas and oil in the world.  It's projected that the United States will continue to be the largest producer of natural gas through 2030.  For six straight months now, we've produced more oil here at home than we've imported from overseas.  So that's all a good-news story.”
Good news indeed, and from Vladmir Putin’s Russia, which just expanded its vast oil and gas holdings by a Maine-sized chunk of the Black Sea off Crimea, to Chinese “carbon bombs,” to Saudi Arabian production guarantees, similar “good-news stories” are similarly promoted.  In essence, the creation of ever more greenhouse gases -- of, that is, the engine of our future destruction -- remains a “good news” story for ruling elites on planet Earth. 
Weapons of Planetary Destruction
We know exactly what Dick Cheney -- ready to go to war on a 1% possibility that some country might mean us harm -- would answer, if asked about acting on the 95% doctrine.  Who can doubt that his response would be similar to those of the giant energy companies, which have funded so much climate-change denialism and false science over the years?  He would claim that the science simply isn’t “certain” enough (though “uncertainty” can, in fact,cut two ways), that before we commit vast sums to taking on the phenomenon, we need to know far more, and that, in any case, climate-change science is driven by a political agenda.
For Cheney & Co., it seemed obvious that acting on a 1% possibility was a sensible way to go in America’s “defense” and it’s no less gospel for them that acting on at least a 95% possibility isn’t.  For the Republican Party as a whole, climate-change denial is by now nothing less than a litmus test of loyalty, and so even a 101% doctrine wouldn’t do when it comes to fossil fuels and this planet.
No point, of course, in blaming this on fossil fuels or even the carbon dioxide they give off when burned.  These are no more weapons of mass destruction than are uranium-235 and plutonium-239.  In this case, the weaponry is the production system that’s been set up to find, extract, sell at staggering profits, and burn those fossil fuels, and so create a greenhouse-gas planet.  With climate change, there is no “Little Boy” or “Fat Man” equivalent, no simple weapon to focus on.  In this sense, fracking is the weapons system, as is deep-sea drilling, as are those pipelines, and the gas stations, and the coal-fueled power plants, and the millions of cars filling global roads, and the accountants of the most profitable corporations in history. 
All of it -- everything that brings endless fossil fuels to market, makes those fuels eminently burnable, and helps suppress the development of non-fossil fuel alternatives -- is the WMD.  The CEOs of the planet's giant energy corporations are the dangerous mullahs, the true fundamentalists, of planet Earth, since they are promoting a faith in fossil fuels which is guaranteed to lead us to some version of End Times.
Perhaps we need a new category of weapons with a new acronym to focus us on the nature of our present 95%-100% circumstances.  Call them weapons of planetary destruction (WPD) or weapons of planetary harm (WPH).  Only two weapons systems would clearly fit such categories.  One would be nuclear weapons which, even in a localized war between Pakistan and India, could create some version of “nuclear winter” in which the planet was cut off from the sun by so much smoke and soot that it would grow colder fast, experience a massive loss of crops, of growing seasons, and of life.  In the case of a major exchange of such weapons, we would be talking about “the sixth extinction” of planetary history.
Though on a different and harder to grasp time-scale, the burning of fossil fuels could end in a similar fashion -- with a series of “irreversible” disasters that could essentially burn us and much other life off the Earth.  This system of destruction on a planetary scale, facilitated by most of the ruling and corporate elites on the planet, is becoming (to bring into play another category not usually used in connection with climate change) the ultimate “crime against humanity” and, in fact, against most living things.  It is becoming a “terracide.”

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

since 1945, the US has tried to overthrow more than 50 governments, many of them democratically elected

In Ukraine, the US is dragging us towards war with Russia

Washington's role in Ukraine, and its backing for the regime's neo-Nazis, has huge implications for the rest of the world
US Meal Ready to Eat pack in Ukraine
A pro-Russian activist with a shell casing and a US-made meal pack that fell from a Ukrainian army APC in an attack on a roadblock on 3 May in Andreevka, Ukraine. Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty
Why do we tolerate the threat of another world war in our name? Why do we allow lies that justify this risk? The scale of our indoctrination,wrote Harold Pinter, is a "brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis", as if the truth "never happened even while it was happening".
Every year the American historian William Blum publishes his "updated summary of the record of US foreign policy" which shows that, since 1945, the US has tried to overthrow more than 50 governments, many of them democratically elected; grossly interfered in elections in 30 countries; bombed the civilian populations of 30 countries; used chemical and biological weapons; and attempted to assassinate foreign leaders.
In many cases Britain has been a collaborator. The degree of human suffering, let alone criminality, is little acknowledged in the west, despite the presence of the world's most advanced communications and nominally most free journalism. That the most numerous victims of terrorism – "our" terrorism – are Muslims, is unsayable. That extreme jihadism, which led to 9/11, was nurtured as a weapon of Anglo-American policy (Operation Cyclone in Afghanistan) is suppressed. In April the US state department noted that, following Nato's campaign in 2011, "Libya has become a terrorist safe haven".
The name of "our" enemy has changed over the years, from communism to Islamism, but generally it is any society independent of western power and occupying strategically useful or resource-rich territory, or merely offering an alternative to US domination. The leaders of these obstructive nations are usually violently shoved aside, such as the democrats Muhammad Mossedeq in Iran, Arbenz in Guatemala andSalvador Allende in Chile, or they are murdered like Patrice Lumumba in the Democratic Republic of Congo. All are subjected to a western media campaign of vilification – think Fidel Castro, Hugo Chávez, now Vladimir Putin.
Washington's role in Ukraine is different only in its implications for the rest of us. For the first time since the Reagan years, the US is threatening to take the world to war. With eastern Europe and the Balkans now military outposts of Nato, the last "buffer state" bordering Russia – Ukraine – is being torn apart by fascist forces unleashed by the US and the EU. We in the west are now backing neo-Nazis in a country where Ukrainian Nazis backed Hitler.
Having masterminded the coup in February against the democratically elected government in Kiev, Washington's planned seizure of Russia's historic, legitimate warm-water naval base in Crimea failed. The Russians defended themselves, as they have done against every threat and invasion from the west for almost a century.
But Nato's military encirclement has accelerated, along with US-orchestrated attacks on ethnic Russians in Ukraine. If Putin can be provoked into coming to their aid, his pre-ordained "pariah" role will justify a Nato-run guerrilla war that is likely to spill into Russia itself.
Instead, Putin has confounded the war party by seeking an accommodation with Washington and the EU, by withdrawing Russian troops from the Ukrainian border and urging ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine to abandon the weekend's provocative referendum. These Russian-speaking and bilingual people – a third of Ukraine's population – have long sought a democratic federation that reflects the country's ethnic diversity and is both autonomous of Kiev and independent of Moscow. Most are neither "separatists" nor "rebels", as the western media calls them, but citizens who want to live securely in their homeland.
Like the ruins of Iraq and Afghanistan, Ukraine has been turned into a CIA theme park – run personally by CIA director John Brennan in Kiev, with dozens of "special units" from the CIA and FBI setting up a "security structure" that oversees savage attacks on those who opposed the February coup. Watch the videos, read the eye-witness reports from the massacre in Odessa this month. Bussed fascist thugs burned the trade union headquarters, killing 41 people trapped inside. Watch the police standing by.
A doctor described trying to rescue people, "but I was stopped by pro-Ukrainian Nazi radicals. One of them pushed me away rudely, promising that soon me and other Jews of Odessa are going to meet the same fate. What occurred yesterday didn't even take place during the fascist occupation in my town in world war two. I wonder, why the whole world is keeping silent."
Russian-speaking Ukrainians are fighting for survival. When Putin announced the withdrawal of Russian troops from the border, the Kiev junta's defence secretary, Andriy Parubiy – a founding member of the fascist Svoboda party – boasted that attacks on "insurgents" would continue. In Orwellian style, propaganda in the west has inverted this to Moscow "trying to orchestrate conflict and provocation", according to William Hague. His cynicism is matched by Obama's grotesque congratulations to the coup junta on its "remarkable restraint" after the Odessa massacre. The junta, says Obama, is "duly elected". As Henry Kissinger once said: "It is not a matter of what is true that counts, but what is perceived to be true."
In the US media the Odessa atrocity has been played down as "murky" and a "tragedy" in which "nationalists" (neo-Nazis) attacked "separatists" (people collecting signatures for a referendum on a federal Ukraine). Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal damned the victims – "Deadly Ukraine Fire Likely Sparked by Rebels, Government Says". Propaganda in Germany has been pure cold war, with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung warning its readers of Russia's "undeclared war". For the Germans, it is a poignant irony that Putin is the only leader to condemn the rise of fascism in 21st-century Europe.
A popular truism is that "the world changed" following 9/11. But what has changed? According to the great whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, a silent coup has taken place in Washington and rampant militarism now rules. The Pentagon currently runs "special operations" – secret wars – in 124 countries. At home, rising poverty and a loss of liberty are the historic corollary of a perpetual war state. Add the risk of nuclear war, and the question is: why do we tolerate this?

Monday, 12 May 2014


United States


By Krishna Andavolu 
2 points on reddit
Photo by Mariano Carranza
On the morning of October 8, 1969, José Mujica woke up and got dressed for a funeral. He and nine other young men—nephews of the deceased—piled into a Volkswagen van and waited on the side of a two-lane road that led from Uruguay’s capital, Montevideo, to the small city of Pando, about 14 miles east. Six other cars and a hearse—rented from the fanciest funeral home in the country—drove past, and the VW joined the cavalcade, rumbling through the flat green cattle pastures that hug the South American nation’s coastline. The journey was somber and quiet, until about three miles from Pando, when the mourners subdued the hired drivers of the cars and stuffed them into the back of the Volkswagen.
In reality, there was no funeral to attend, no corpse, and no mourners. The Pando-bound people were members of the Movimiento de Liberación Nacional—also known as the Tupamaros—a Marxist guerrilla group that wished to install a Cuban-style dictator in Uruguay and rid the country of its supposedly kleptocratic government. Mujica, who at 35 years old was one of the group’s earliest and most charismatic members, got into the backseat of one of the cars and clutched the wooden handle of his Spanish-made Z-45 submachine gun. When he arrived in Pando, a sleepy industrial city of 12,000, he and his small battalion robbed its banks and tried to take over the local government, killing a police officer and one civilian in a brazen, chaotic shoot-out in broad daylight.
Four decades later, at 74, José Mujica donned Uruguay’s blue-and-white executive sash and became its president after his left-wing coalition party won the country’s 2009 election. Although his hair had grayed and his belly had expanded, Mujica looked over the crowds gathered at the capital’s central square for his inauguration with the same olive-pit eyes that had scanned the road to Pando back in 1969. The crowd looked back at him admiringly, as he delivered a fiery oration in front of a Jumbotron screen bearing his image.
If a man’s character is his fate, as Heraclitus wrote, then Mujica’s has brought him on an exceptional ride, one that occasionally creeps into the headlines of newspapers and websites but rarely gets a treatment beyond his life’s major plot points. Mujica is a former revolutionary (some might call him a terrorist) who was shot six times, imprisoned for 14 years, tortured, and kept in solitary confinement for upward of three years, only to be released, renounce violence, enter politics, win election to the nation’s highest office, and lead Uruguay as it rose out of recession, all the while legalizing gay marriage and abortion, which is noteworthy for a country that counts Catholicism as its dominant religion. He donates 90 percent of his income to charity, lives at his small farm rather than the country’s lavish presidential palace, drives a Volkswagen Beetle, almost never wears a suit, and rails against the excesses of consumerism and the West’s reliance on it as economic ballast.
But Mujica’s most piquant achievement as a head of state, the one that has made him a cult hero to droves of young progressives around the world, is his government’s decision to fully legalize and regulate marijuana across the country, which became law on December 13, 2013, but won’t take effect until late 2014—making Uruguay the first nation to do so countrywide. Mujica himself is no stoner—he prefers whiskey and cigars and claims to have never smoked the stuff—but as he stated in an address to the United Nations General Assembly in 2012, “What we want is to take the market from drug traffickers.” Rather than continue to fight the war on drugs and perpetuate its cycle of violence—which in South America alone has cost upward of a trillion dollars and taken the lives of tens of thousands of people, by some estimates—Mujica is presenting otro camino, another path. If Uruguay’s legalization succeeds in wresting marijuana sales from cartels, Mujica’s model could reverberate around the world. Drug-policy-reform advocates hope that he will win the Nobel Peace Prize.
Pepe’s three-legged Chihuahua, Manuela. Photo by Mariano Carranza
José Mujica Cordano was born in 1935 on the outskirts of Montevideo. As a child he would help his single mother sell flowers in their neighborhood, riding a bike piled high with bundles of orange, white, and pink chrysanthemums to the farmer’s market. It was their main source of income. “We endured a dignified poverty,” he later recalled.
Poverty was his gateway drug to political activism. According to The Robin Hood Guerrillas, Pablo Brum’s forthcoming biography, after dropping out of a prestigious high school, Mujica began to “link up with small time criminals in Montevideo’s shadier neighborhoods,” where he met a socialist named Enrique Erro. Erro led a youth branch of a left-wing political party and offered Mujica a leadership role because of the teenager’s charisma. With financing from the party, Mujica—who went by the nickname Pepe—traveled the communist world, visiting, among other places, Moscow, Beijing, and Havana, where he met Che Guevara and Fidel Castro in 1959, just months after they took Havana.
When Pepe returned to Montevideo, he abandoned Erro’s party and became a guerrilla. Very little is known about how exactly Pepe went from a young democratic socialist to full-on gun-toting guerrilla fighter. But according to Mujica: El Florista Presidente, a biography by Uruguayan journalist Sergio Israel, the Cuban Revolution pushed Mujica to imagine a similar South American upheaval.
It was in this context of revolutionary longing that Pepe joined the Tupamaros. Founded in the 1960s by Raúl Sendic, a lawyer who had also met Guevara, the group started out doing what they called “armed propaganda”—taking over cinema houses, for example, and forcing the audience to watch slide shows decrying the injustice of liberal democracy. The Tupamaros would also rob banks and give back to people in the city, earning them a Robin Hood–like reputation. Women were well accounted for in the organization, and the guerrillas became notorious in the Uruguayan press for their high-profile female members—like a beautiful blond Jane Fonda type named Yessie Macchi, whom Pepe dated. The group’s propaganda minister told the press that “at no point is a woman more equal to a man than when she is holding a .45 in her hand.”
The Pando raid, in which Pepe dressed as a funeral attendee, was timed to honor the second anniversary of Che Guevara’s death and was meant to advertise the group’s presence—and goal of eventually taking over Uruguay—to the country. When the line of black cars and the Volkswagen entered the city just after noon, Tupamaros in disguise who had already arrived in town commenced a vaudevillian display of character acting in front of the city’s main police station. They harangued the officers at the front desk with their petty complaints until, in a coordinated assault reminiscent of a scene from The Town, they drew their guns and raided the precinct, locking the cops in the building’s jail cells and trading fire and grenades with one policeman who had held out and made a break for it.
Pepe and his team were in charge of disabling the telephone exchange, and they dispatched their duties efficiently, without firing a single shot. The stunned telephone operators left their desks and lay on the ground. Then Pepe went into a tirade about the Che Guevara–inspired revolution the Tupamaros hoped to ignite in Uruguay. Besides the intricate planning, careful disguises, and hiding-in-plain-sight nature of Tupamaro attacks—of which there had been a handful before the Pando assault—pontification was a frequent and important feature. Their tactics of urban assault weren’t geared toward amassing a body count; they were calibrated to convert everyday citizens to the cause.
In the end, three Tupamaros were killed and many more injured in a dramatic gunfight that started at the town’s main bank branch (which the Tupamaros were robbing) and spilled out into the streets. Meanwhile, Pepe had already fled Pando and returned to Montevideo, where he sat at a bar, listening to the action unfold on the radio, like the rest of the country. To Uruguayans alive then, that day is reminiscent of the chaos in Boston after the marathon bombing last year.
Pepe addresses a crowd at the beginning of his legitimate political career, on September 29, 1985. Photo by Marcelo Isarrualde
On March 23, 1970, Pepe was arrested. A cop recognized him while Pepe was drinking grappa at La Via, a bar in the center of Montevideo. The officer called for backup, and Pepe, seeing a police car pulling up to the bar’s entrance, took out his gun and opened fire.
A gunfight ensued. Two policemen were shot, and Pepe was hit twice. While he was sprawled on the bar floor, another cop shot him four more times, in the gut. He likely would have died had it not been for a fortuitous Tupamaro twist: The doctor who ended up treating him turned out to be a Tupamaro too, hiding in plain sight.
From a broad historical perspective, Mujica’s capture could be seen as the beginning of the end for the Tupamaros. Their merry days of masquerading had transformed into an increasingly brutal urban guerrilla war, during which the Tupamaros kidnapped and murdered an FBI agent. The military staged a coup in the summer of 1974, and the junta made a special cause of imprisoning, killing, and torturing hundreds of Tupamaros—including most of the leadership. Pepe spent most of the 1970s in and out of prison, escaping several times, only to be caught again. He and eight other leaders of the Tupamaros were singled out as special prisoners—the government called them hostages—and they were placed in solitary confinement and shuttled around in groups of three between military prisons.
At one of the locations where he was held—a military base in the rural town Paso de los Toros, about 160 miles north of Montevideo—Pepe lived at the bottom of a well. Or not exactly a well, but an outdoor pool in a courtyard from which the military’s horses would drink water. They drained the pool and built three cells, placing sheet metal atop the pool to block the sunlight.
Pepe went mad. He started hearing static, as if a radio had been left on, stuck between stations. He would scream for someone to turn it off.
In 1984 the military rulers signed an agreement to hand power over to a democratically elected government, and the dictatorship officially ended the following year. During that transition, Pepe’s conditions of imprisonment improved. They let him garden. He grew vegetables and regained a degree of psychological stability. But one of the other Tupamaro “hostages” died in captivity, and another went insane.
The surviving eight prisoners were released in 1985 and offered amnesty. Eleuterio Fernández Huidobro, another leader, and Pepe started the Movement of Popular Participation, a legal political party, with other former Tupamaros. Pepe’s charisma carried him to win election to the country’s parliament in 1994, then to its senate in 1999. In 2005 he was appointed the minister of livestock, agriculture, and fisheries. And then, in 2009, riding a crest of liberal sentiment in Uruguay, he won the country’s presidential election with 52.4 percent of the vote.
Mujica has commented a few times over the years about his time in the Tupamaros and his subsequent rise to legitimate leadership, and the statement that makes it into his biographies speaks to the unlikelihood of his life’s arc. According to Mujica, “Not even the greatest novelist could have imagined what happened.”
Pepe speaks during his inauguration in Montevideo’s Independence Square on March 1, 2010. Pablo Porciuncula/AFP/Getty Images
In March I flew to Montevideo to interview President Mujica. The day we were scheduled to meet was bright and sunny. I stood in Independence Square, the same public plaza where he was inaugurated. In the center of the square stands a massive statue of Uruguay’s colonial liberator, José Gervasio Artigas, who fought against the Spanish to secure the country’s independence in 1830. He sits in full uniform astride a horse. Artigas died in exile in Paraguay, and legend has it that as he was approaching death he called for a horse so he could die in his saddle, like a true caballero. His remains are interred beneath the statue.
On the southeastern side of the square is the Torre Ejecutiva, the offices of the president, and I escaped the morning sun under its blue-green glass awning while waiting to be driven to Pepe’s farm, a few miles from the city.
A beige Hyundai minivan emblazoned with the seal of the president—a smiling sun with undulating rays reaching over a curved horizon—pulled up to the curb near where I was waiting. I got in, and we drove through the center of town and its Italian Gothic–style architecture, past the city’s maritime ports, and into the flat countryside.
Pepe’s farm is bucolic and ramshackle. We sat in the sun-dappled courtyard of his one-story farmhouse, where his three-legged Chihuahua, named Manuela, and a few small kittens roamed. Songbirds chirped in the meadow surrounding his farm. I asked him why he chose such humble environs instead of the presidential palace.
“As soon as politicians start climbing up the ladder,” he said, “they suddenly become kings. I don’t know how it works, but what I do know is that republics came to the world to make sure that no one is more than anyone else.” The pomp of office, he suggested, was like something left over from a feudal past: “You need a palace, red carpet, a lot of people behind you saying, ‘Yes, sir.’ I think all of that is awful.”
As his wife, Lucía Topolansky, a former Tupamara who is now a senator, worked inside the house, I asked Mujica what the implications of being the first nation to fully legalize marijuana meant for his country.
“We’re going to start an experiment,” he said, in gravelly Spanish. “It’s almost certain that we’ll be under the international spotlight. We’re a petri dish, really, a social laboratory. But remember this: In Uruguay there are 9,000 prisoners. Three thousand of them are locked up for narcotrafficking crimes. What does that mean? That three out of nine incarcerations are drug-related. First and foremost we need to fix that.”
While many of those prisoners are locked up for marijuana-related offenses, Uruguay also consumes the third most cocaine per capita in South America. When I asked whether other drugs might become legal, he responded, “Paso a paso.” Step by step.
Under the current law, tourists are not allowed to buy weed, but examples like Colorado—where hundreds of millions of dollars in increased economic activity is expected to produce a windfall of tax revenue for the government—are enticing. Is developing a weed economy a pragmatic economic decision?
Pepe, on March 14, 1985, the day he was released after 14 years in prison. Photo by Agencia Camaratres/AFP/Getty Images
Mujica rejected this as a goal of his law. “We want to find an effective way to fight narcotraffic,” he repeated. “After that we might encounter different chapters. But let’s take it easy and go slowly. Because we have to apply a thing and invent a road that we don’t know yet… we have to discover it along the way.”
Even though Pepe is a humble man, his goals are ambitious. The international drug trade is “basically a monopoly for the ones who control it,” he said. “We want to introduce a huge competitor, which is the state, with all the power of the state.” The endgame is to force cartels out of business through economics: The government will sell weed at a shockingly low price of a dollar a gram. To Mujica, stamping out the violence associated with the drug trade comes down to slashing prices, not funneling billions of dollars to military and police and locking up his citizens.
Perhaps surprisingly, while drug-policy analysts, news-hungry stoners, and other anti-prohibition observers love Uruguay’s move to legalization, it’s actually unpopular within Uruguay. A poll conducted prior to the law’s passage determined that 64 percent of citizens oppose legalizing the drug. And the United Nations’ International Narcotics Control Board has decried the nation, and Pepe in particular, for irresponsible policy decisions. I asked him what he thought about that.
“It has always been like that with changes,” he said, wagging his head. “In 1913 we established divorce as a right for women in Uruguay. You know what they were saying back then? That families would dissolve. That it was the end of good manners and society. There has always been a conservative and traditional opinion out there that’s afraid of change. When I was young and would go dancing at balls, we’d have to wear suits and ties. Otherwise they wouldn’t let us in. I don’t think anyone dresses up for dancing parties nowadays.”
Also unpopular is Pepe’s recent push to open his country up to mining. In 2013 his government approved what’s known as the Valentine’s Project, a $3 billion open-pit mine complex. Once the mine is up and running, Uruguay will become a global exporter of iron ore in the amount of roughly 4 to 5 billion tons, according to projections. To Pepe, it’s the most important foreign-policy decision of his administration, but farmers, ranchers, and environmentalists fear that the project, which includes hundreds of miles of slurry pipelines and a deep-sea port, will be disastrous. When I asked him about it, he cut me off mid-question, leaned in closely, and squinted his eyes into two downward-facing crescent moons.
“Let’s get things straight,” he said. “We want to diversify our economy. We don’t want to stop our cattle industries or agriculture or water. If we can add one more economic activity, that could be very interesting. But we have to do it the right way.”
He went on: “What’s sad is that an 80-year-old grandpa has to be the open-minded one. Old people aren’t old because of their age, but because of what’s in their heads. They are horrified at this, but they aren’t horrified at what’s happening in the streets?”
Pepe has no children and was referring to his grandpa-ness in a metaphoric sense, and he won’t turn 80 until after his term in office ends. But I was curious what he thought about the current state of revolt that has gripped young people and set streets on fire from Brazil to Greece, Taiwan to Turkey, and has brought down governments in Egypt and Tunisia.
“I’ve seen some springs that ended up being terrible winters,” he said. “We human beings are gregarious. We can’t live alone. For our lives to be possible, we depend on society. It’s one thing to overturn a government or block the streets. But it’s a different matter altogether to create and build a better society, one that needs organization, discipline, and long-term work. Let’s not confuse the two of them.”
Before I could ask my next question, Pepe interjected, hoping not to admonish the spirit of revolt that had guided most of his life. “I want to make it clear: I feel sympathetic with that youthful energy, but I think it’s not going anywhere if it doesn’t become more mature.”
Pepe holding a cigar he received from Fidel Castro, one of his earliest revolutionary mentors. Photo by Mariano Carranza
After our interview, Pepe showed me around the rest of his property and then brought us back to the courtyard. He answered a call on an old Nokia brick phone—urgent state business. After he hung up, I asked Pepe whether he minded if I smoked a joint. I fully understood the implications of smoking weed in front of a head of state, but of all presidents, I thought, he’d be game. After my translator relayed my request, Pepe smiled broadly and exclaimed, “Por favor!
I sparked up a joint, and Pepe shrugged and smiled. “I have no prejudice,” he said, “but let me give you something juicier to smoke.” He got up, went back into his house, and emerged with a cigar. “This is a cigar given to me by Fidel Castro.” His wife, Lucía, followed behind and showed me a portable humidor, a large box shaped like a house filled with Castro-length Cohibas. For a moment, I thought she was giving all of them to me, and I worried how I’d get them through customs. Pepe chuckled, and I smoked the rest of my joint.
To be clear, Uruguay’s legalization is not aimed at allowing bozos like me to get high indiscriminately. It’s a serious legislative experiment designed to dismantle what pretty much everyone agrees is a horrid failure of public policy: the war on drugs. And while Pepe has an almost too-good-to-be-true avuncular charm, he’s a carefully calculating statesman with a keen sense of how to capture the limelight. A small country of 3.4 million legalizing weed is, on the global scale, a tiny occurrence, but it might just be that crucial example, the hiding-in-plain-sight truth, that all it takes is bold decisions and bold leadership to turn ideas into action. Whether it actually will work is a question neither Pepe nor I can answer.