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Zorro's Journal
Zorro's Journal
May 23, 2017

Venezuela leader defies demos, launches constitution overhaul

Source: AFP

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro Tuesday formally launched moves to rewrite the constitution, defying opponents who accuse him of clinging to power in a political crisis that has sparked deadly unrest.

At an open air rally before thousands of supporters, Maduro signed a document formally establishing the terms for electing members of a "constituent assembly" that will be tasked with drafting a new constitution.

His backers waved red, yellow and blue national flags in defiance of angry opposition protests after the death toll from weeks of clashes reached 53.

Violence appeared to intensify in recent days with the opposition marching daily to demand early elections.

Read more: https://www.yahoo.com/news/venezuela-leader-defies-demos-launches-constitution-overhaul-195128391.html

Little Nicky has a lot in common with our orangutan-in-chief.

I'll do what I want, and the public be damned!
May 23, 2017

The Seth Rich Scandal Shows That Fox News Is Morally Bankrupt

It was just a coincidence, but a telling one, that Roger Ailes died on May 18 just as the television powerhouse that he created, the Fox News Channel, was propagating a conspiracy theory involving a Democratic National Committee staffer named Seth Rich, whose murder in Washington, D.C., last summer remains unsolved.

If you don’t watch Fox News, read Breitbart or the Drudge Report, or listen to Rush Limbaugh, you likely don’t have any idea who Seth Rich was. If, however, you are a devotee of those dubious news sources, you have been fed a grab bag of unsubstantiated allegations designed to make you think that Rich was murdered by some kind of Democratic Party cabal for having revealed the party’s secrets to WikiLeaks.

These spurious insinuations have been put forward (before being largely recanted) by a sometime Fox News contributor named Rod Wheeler. Never mind that Rich’s family, the Washington police force, CNN, the Washington Post, and the New York Times, among others, have debunked these conspiracy theories, showing there is no evidence that Rich was a WikiLeaks source, much less that his murder has anything to do with the stolen Democratic Party emails. Sean Hannity, one of the last of the old guard hired by Ailes to rule prime time, nevertheless devoted three separate segments of his show last week to the “DNC murder mystery.” On Sunday morning, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was pushing the same allegation about Rich’s “assassination” on Fox & Friends. Lou Dobbs has spouted these theories on Fox Business Network, too.

Fox’s tasteless conspiracy-mongering has been denounced by the Rich family, which wants the far-right to stop exploiting their son’s tragic death, but it has found support in an unlikely quarter. Ever happy to play the troll, the Russian Embassy in London tweeted: “‪#WikiLeaks ‪informer Seth Rich murdered in US but MSM was so busy accusing Russian hackers to take notice.”


The author of this article is Max Boot, a noted conservative Republican.

May 16, 2017


WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Three men alleged to be prominent Russian spies inexplicably gained access to the Oval Office last week and held a high-level meeting there, according to reports.

Eyewitnesses to the meeting said that the three Russian agents spoke at length and shared sensitive intelligence material, at times laughing uproariously.

After approximately an hour, the meeting broke up, with two of the spies leaving the Oval Office and the third remaining behind.

News that agents of the Russian Federation had somehow eluded the Secret Service in order to hold a meeting in the Oval Office sent shock waves through Washington on Monday evening.


May 14, 2017

Designer Carolina Herrera laments murder of nephew in Venezuela

Venezuela-born fashion designer Carolina Herrera on Saturday lamented the killing of her nephew in the crisis-torn country, in what authorities called an apparent kidnapping.

State prosecutors said the bodies of businessmen Reinaldo Herrera, 34, and Fabrizio Mendoza, 31, were found late on Thursday in a vehicle abandoned along the highway connecting Caracas to the Caribbean coast.

"Our only hope is that the tragic assassination of our young nephew, Reinaldo and his colleague, Fabrizio will serve to mitigate the terrible carnage and murders that are committed against our youth in Venezuela," Herrera, 78, wrote on the Instagram account of her fashion label.

Venezuela, which has been rocked by anti-government protests for the past six weeks, has long ranked among the world's most violent countries.


May 13, 2017

Jailed aides to Brazil's Lula say they funneled cash to foreign election campaigns

Top aides to former Brazilian presidents Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff say they ferried millions of dollars in cash to finance presidential election campaigns in Venezuela, El Salvador and Panama, according to testimony made public Friday.

Joao Santana, a former treasurer for the ex-presidents' Workers Party, was known as the "maker of presidents" for his success as a campaign strategist. He was jailed this year on corruption charges in Brazil's largest ever corruption probe, known as Operation Car Wash.

He and his wife Monica Moura are serving eight-year sentences for their part in the scandal, in which billions of dollars from the state oil company Petrobras were funnelled to businessmen and politicians.

In videotaped testimony released on Friday by Brazil's Supreme Court, Moura said that in 2012 Nicolas Maduro, then vice president and now president of Venezuela, personally handed her suitcases stuffed with a total of $10 million in cash to help the re-election campaign of his mentor Hugo Chavez, who won the election but died shortly thereafter of cancer.


May 13, 2017

Venezuelans battle with shields, gas masks, fecal bombs

Hands straining at a giant elastic exercise band, three young protesters form a giant human slingshot to hurl a jar filled with feces at Venezuelan officers firing tear gas at demonstrators who are in the streets to demand new elections.

Farther down Caracas' main highway, other youths mass behind wooden shields bearing medieval decorations or images of the South American nation's blue constitution book, which socialist President Nicolas Maduro wants to rewrite. Some protesters wear swimming goggles to protest their eyes from the stinging gas. Others use gas masks fashioned from soda bottles.

In a country where finding even a Tylenol can be a weekslong ordeal, protesters are employing every scrap of material they can find as makeshift weaponry or to protect themselves while confronting police and national guardsmen who fire tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse marchers. Protesters are vowing to remain on the streets even as the death toll mounts after six weeks of unrest.

"We are using these devices to protect ourselves — to prevent there from being more injuries than there have already been," Juan Andres Mejia, an opposition lawmaker, said this week as a friend held a wooden shield above his head.


May 13, 2017


WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, Donald Trump boasted that, if he is impeached, the television ratings will be higher than those of any other impeachment in history.

“Everywhere I go, people tell me that if I am impeached, they’re going to watch it,” he said. “The ratings are going to be through the roof.”

He said that he expected his impeachment ratings to be “many, many times” the size of the audience for Bill Clinton’s impeachment, in 1998.

“It’s not even going to be close,” Trump said. “The ratings for Bill Clinton’s impeachment were a joke.”


May 13, 2017

California Leads U.S. Economy, Away From Trump

To justify his executive orders nullifying policies protecting people from climate change, hazardous working conditions and persecution because of their religion or citizenship status, President Donald Trump during a Feb. 16 press conference said: "To be honest, I inherited a mess. It's a mess. Jobs are pouring out of the country." He later told the Conservative Political Action Conference that regulations are "crushing our economy."

That's a claim worth exploring. Look at California, which is one-eighth of the U.S. population with 39 million people and one-seventh of the nation's gross domestic product of $2.3 trillion. Far from being a mess, California's economy is bigger than ever, rivaling the U.K. as No. 5 in the world, when figures for 2016 are officially tabulated.

California is the chief reason America is the only developed economy to achieve record GDP growth since the financial crisis of 2008 and ensuing global recession, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Much of the U.S. growth can be traced to California laws promoting clean energy, government accountability and protections for undocumented people. Governor Jerry Brown, now in his fourth term, considers immigrants a major reason for the state's success: "39 percent of us are Latino and the majority are from Mexico," he said in a March 2 interview in his Sacramento office.

In the stock and bond markets, where investors show no allegiance to political parties, California has outperformed the rest of the U.S. the past five years, especially since the Nov. 9 election, when Trump became the fifth person to win the Electoral College and lose the popular vote. California's creditworthiness keeps getting better, measured by the declining premium global investors must pay to ensure against depreciation of the state's debt obligations. That premium has diminished more than for any other state since 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. California, whose voters favored Hillary Clinton two to one, outperformed Treasury bonds since the November election. Texas, which is the second-largest state in population and which supported Trump, became cheaper compared to Treasuries and California in the market for state and local debt since the November election. Investors see security in the state with more protections for immigrants and more regulations.


May 13, 2017

Trump's Know-Nothing Tour de Force

I was going to write about something else today, but frankly I just can't work around what Donald Trump has said in multiple interviews released today. You should really see the full interviews, or at least the excerpts I'm linking to, but here's the gist:

He told the Economist he invented the use of "priming the pump" with regard to the economy. It's probably most associated with Franklin Roosevelt, and even if Trump meant "came upon it" rather than "came up with it" it's remarkable for anyone in his position to be that ignorant of normal economics usage. Then again, he's never shown that he knows anything about economics.

He spoke gibberish about aircraft carriers to Time magazine: "I said what system are you going to be–'Sir, we’re staying with digital.' I said no you’re not. You going to goddamned steam, the digital costs hundreds of millions of dollars more money and it’s no good." I know very little about aircraft carriers, but the people who do know this stuff confirm that he doesn't know what he's talking about. Not that he's wrong, mind you; he isn't coherent enough to be wrong.

Then he completely contradicted his own explanation on James Comey's firing to NBC News. The old story that Trump was reacting to a recommendation from the Department of Justice; the new story is that he was always going to fire Comey.


May 11, 2017

Tesla begins taking orders for its solar roofs

Source: LA Times

Tesla’s high-design solar roofs are moving a step closer to a housetop near you.

Tesla Inc. is accepting orders for its electricity-generating roofs, with a Wednesday afternoon kickoff.

Chief Executive Elon Musk teased the announcement on Twitter early Wednesday, saying deployment in the U.S. would begin this year and overseas delivery and installations would start in 2018.

He added that his company’s solar glass roofs could be purchased for homes nearly anywhere in the world.

Read more: http://www.latimes.com/os-tesla-solar-roof-orders-20170511-story.html

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