Friday, May 20, 2016

Mob burns Venezuelan man alive over $5 as justice fails

Mob burns Venezuelan man alive over $5 as justice fails

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The mob didn't know at first what Roberto Bernal had done, but he was running and that was enough.
Dozens of men loitering on the sidewalk next to a supermarket kicked and punched the 42-year-old until he was bloodied and semi-conscious. After all, they had been robbed of cell phones, wallets and motorcycles over the years, and thought Bernal had a criminal's face.
Then a stooped, white-haired man trailing behind told them he'd been mugged.

The mob went through Bernal's pockets and handed a wad of bills to the old man: The equivalent of $5. They doused Bernal's head and chest in gasoline and flicked a lighter. And they stood back as he burned alive.
"We wanted to teach this man a lesson," said Eduardo Mijares, 29. "We're tired of being robbed every time we go into the street, and the police do nothing."
Vigilante violence against people accused of stealing has become commonplace in this crime-ridden country of 30 million, once one of the richest and safest in Latin America. The revenge attacks underscore how far Venezuela has fallen, with the lights flickering out daily, and food shortages fueling supermarket lines that snake around for blocks.
The ebbing price of oil has laid bare years of mismanagement. The economy is unraveling, and with it, the social fabric.
"Life here has become a misery. You walk around always stressed, always scared, and lynching offers a collective catharsis," Violence Observatory director Roberto Briceno-Leon said. "You can't do anything about the lines or inflation, but for one moment, at least, the mob feels like it's making a difference."
Reports of group beatings now surface weekly in local media. The public prosecutor opened 74 investigations into vigilante killings in the first four months of this year, compared to two all of last year. And a majority of the country supports mob retribution as a form of self-protection, according to polling from the independent Venezuelan Violence Observatory.
Amid the general haze of violence, Bernal's killing didn't even stand out enough to make the front pages or provoke comment from local politicians. Venezuela now has one of the highest murder rates in the world, and it's hard to find a person who hasn't been mugged.
A quiet man with a muscular build from his time in the army, Bernal lived his whole life in a maze of narrow staircases and cheerfully-painted cinderblock shacks built into the hills above Caracas. This kind of slum is home for about half of Venezuelans, who are bearing the brunt of the country's collapsing economy.

The shantytowns draped over the capital have not seen running water for months, and residents have begun raiding passing trucks for food. Bernal had been out of work, and recently confided in his sisters that he and his wife were struggling to feed their three children. He wanted to find a way to move to Panama.
Bernal spent the days before his death presiding over his sister's kitchen, preparing Easter stews and candied passion fruit. He chuckled softly when he won at dominos.
His six siblings thought of him as the one who made it, attending a cooking school and becoming a professional chef. He liked to turn on the TV as soon as he got home from work, and would leave the room at the first sign of an argument. Many people who grow up deep in the slums assimilate some parts of street culture, sporting tattoos or jewelry, but not Roberto.
"He was so on the straight and narrow, he didn't even have a nickname," his aunt Teresa Bernal said.
A regular church-goer who often sent around religious text messages, Bernal set his relatives' phones dinging the night before the burning with a series of prayers for God to fill their day with blessings.
That morning, he left the family's windowless shack before dawn and walked into an acrid smog that had descended over the city from grass fires in the mountains above. He took a twisting bus ride out of the slum, dropped his daughter at school, then boarded the metro.
By the time he emerged next to a bustling thoroughfare near the center of town, fat blue and gold macaws were crisscrossing overhead. He walked past security guards sitting outside sparsely-stocked shops and apartment buildings protected by the electric fencing that denotes a middle-class Caracas neighborhood.
Bernal had told his wife he was on his way to a new job at a restaurant. But he stopped near a bank beneath a billboard advertising door-to-door delivery of scarce goods from Miami, a three-hour flight away.
A man in his 70s walked out, tucking a stack of bills worth $5 into a baseball cap that he then hid in his jacket.
It would have been a lot of money for Bernal. It could have bought his family a week's worth of food. Or a plastic dining table. Or a proper school uniform for his daughter, whom the other kids were calling "stinky."
Bernal grabbed the cash and started running toward a taxi line where dozens of motorcycles were parked, the robbery victim later told investigators. The man pursued him, crying "thief!" People watching from a distance assumed they were racing to get in line to buy groceries.
In the meantime, the motorcycle drivers were sitting on a low wall in front of the supermarket, fiddling with cracked cellphones and drinking coffee from small plastic cups. They watched the pair come toward them.
When the beating began, workers at the curbside candy stalls and hotdog stands left their booths, not wanting to see what was coming. Other people stayed to watch and cheer.
Someone had the idea to siphon gasoline from a motorcycle tank into a soda bottle. As the smell of burning flesh filled the air, the crowd's shouting turned to silence. Some onlookers took cellphone video of Bernal trying to stand as tall flames consume his head.
He would likely have died there, begging for water to quench the fire in the middle of some two dozen onlookers, if not for Alejandro Delgado. The youth pastor arrived for his part-time job as a motorcycle taxi driver just as the frenzy was reaching its peak. Horrified, Delgado whipped off his sooty black jacket and smothered the flames.
"These guys I work with every day had turned into demons," he said. "I could hear the man's skin crackling and popping. When I put the fire out, they threw bottles at my head."

Bernal was taken away in an ambulance on a cross-city quest to find a hospital with enough medical supplies to deal with his injuries. The videos spread across social media, but they drew curiously little condemnation. Even the trauma nurse who attended to Bernal thought a kind of justice had been carried out.
"If the people grabbed him and lynched him, it's because he was a thug," said nurse Juan Perez, who has himself been robbed too many times to count.
When Bernal's wife got the call, she assumed he had been burned at work. Arriving at the hospital, she walked right past his charred body, and then doubled back to ask, "Are you Roberto?"
His eyes had been seared shut, and his trachea was so scorched that he could only speak in whispers. He told her that the old man had mistaken him for the real thief, and his accusers had not given him time to explain. He died two days later.
His murder was not the first in his family. A cousin was shot when he spooked a home intruder, and a nephew was killed last year in a domestic abuse case.
And it was far from the only attack in the neighborhood.
Elisa Gonzales, 59, watched the mob beat Bernal from her window. That night, she spied another group of men kicking another alleged thief in the head.
"It makes me sick to see this stuff. I don't go downstairs anymore," she said.
Police tend to approach mob violence like bartenders dealing with a fistfight; they'll sometimes step in to break it up, but aren't going to spend much time looking into how it got started.
Increasingly under attack themselves, police recently put up a thick brick wall around their station here. In the weeks after the killing, the taxi drivers who beat Bernal joked that they were waiting for officers to come by to ask for money and then go back to their bunker.
Robberies are so rarely investigated that most victims don't bother to file a report, government surveys have found. And while police used to make 118 arrests for every 100 murders, they now make just eight, according to the Violence Observatory.
Bernal's family was desperate for his case to be different. They began making regular trips to the prosecutor's office, toting mementos of Saint Anthony, patron of the poor. They hoped their presence would shame officials into holding someone accountable for the April 4 murder.
To their surprise, it did.
"We have to prioritize cases," explained public prosecutor Regino Cova. "It really matters when a family comes every day like, 'please, please, please.'"
A month after Bernal's death, Cova charged 23-year-old law school dropout Maickol Jaimez with pouring the gasoline. He told the family that the other men who appeared in the video would now be off the hook. Overwhelmed by a murder rate on par with a war zone, prosecutors can't afford to chase after people for getting in a few kicks, he said.
Jaimez lived in the same hillside slum as Bernal and worked next to the supermarket guarding shoppers' parked motorcycles, one of the many security-related jobs that have proliferated amid the violence. Like Bernal, he had never been in trouble with the law before. But co-workers say he'd been upset lately because people had been stealing helmets and motorcycle batteries, and he'd had to pay.
He told prosecutors they will never be able to convict him because no clear shot of his face appears in the video.
He could be right. Last year, the state charged 268,000 people with crimes ranging from robbery to murder; a threefold increase from the year before. But only 27,000 were sentenced.
Bernal's blood still stains a motorcycle taxi sign above the cracked sidewalk where he was burned. The men here say they won't wash it off; it's their trophy from the time they stood up to one of the criminals who have made city life a cauldron of stress and fear.
"People can try to make us look bad," said Francisco Agro, 29, a taxi driver who participated in the beating. "But the truth is, the courts, the police, they don't work. It's not the way things should be, but it fell to us to protect an old man from a thug."
Bernal's wife and children have been sleeping huddled together since the murder, afraid someone might come for them, too. His 11 year-old son has stopped going to school and is spending more time with the older kids in the slum's dirt alleys, wearing fake tattoos on his spindly arms.
The family still does not believe Bernal robbed anyone, but they agree with his killers on one point: There is no justice here.
"Everyone needs to be scared," said his nephew, Alfredo Cisneros. "People need to know there is no law here anymore. No one is safe."
Hannah Dreier is on Twitter at Her work can be found at

Fast and Furious 8: Charlize Theron's Villain Revealed | Collider

Fast and Furious 8: Charlize Theron's Villain Revealed | ColliderThe last few dispatches have focused on the eighth sequel shooting in Cuba, which Vin Diesel and director F. Gary Gray have called a historical moment in popular international filmmaking. 

‘Fear The Walking Dead’ Spoilers: Who Will Die In The Mid-Season Finale?

‘Fear The Walking Dead’ Spoilers: Who Will Die In The Mid-Season Finale?During a recent interview, showrunner Dave Erickson revealed that Daniel’s inner struggle is very real, and has been waging a war inside of him for quite some time now.

“With Daniel, really it started when he saw that little boy in episode 2. It’s a small moment there, but he is shaken by that. And for a man who is as strong as he is, and for someone who can be as cruel as he can be, he’s not able to watch what happens to that little kid. He walks to the side of boat, he refuses to see the shooting play out, and for us that was the beginning of Daniel starting to see some fragility, starting to see a sense of vulnerability in that character.”


'Eagles of Death Metal' Vocalist Jesse Hughes Says Fear of Offending Muslims 'Making Us Vulnerable'

'Eagles of Death Metal' Vocalist Jesse Hughes Says Fear of Offending Muslims 'Making Us Vulnerable'

Eagles of Death Metal singer: Trump fan with conspiracy theory about Bataclan.

Eagles of Death Metal singer: Trump fan with conspiracy theory about Bataclan.

Surrendering to Death - Taki's Magazine

Surrendering to Death - Taki's Magazineby Gavin McInnes 

May 14, 2016

Thursday, May 19, 2016

New York enters the ObamaCare death spiral | New York Post

New York enters the ObamaCare death spiral | New York PostUh-oh: New York seems set for a ride on the ObamaCare death spiral.

Word came Wednesday that Empire State health-care insurers plan huge hikes in premiums for individual ObamaCare policies — 17.3 percent, on average, but up to 89 percent in at least one case.
That’s going to hurt: Wages have been growing by just a bit over 3 percent a year.
It’s a national trend: Plans in several other states also face double-digit bumps.
Why such steep spikes? Like others, Oscar Insurance cites rising medical costs, expiring government subsidies and customers who need “more care than we expected.”
And that last cost-driver — sicker-than-expected patients — is a built-in, fatal flaw.
Under the ObamaCare law, healthy patients must pay as much as sick ones. That pushes healthy folks to skip insurance altogether and pay the penalty instead.
Upshot? Insurers get sicker, costlier customers and have to — yep — push up rates.
“If these requests [to charge more] aren’t approved, you are going to see more carriers leaving the market,” says CareConnect CEO Alan Murray. Nationwide, scores of insurers have already called it quits: UnitedHealth is fleeing 27 states, including New Jersey.
Companies that stick it out will have to pick up the costlier patients other insurers drop — and the death spiral will take another turn. And all through ObamaCare’s slow implosion, Americans will pay ever-stiffer costs — for lousy insurance, with high deductibles and limited choices.
That leaves a decision for the next White House occupant: Pull the plug on ObamaCare and usher in something that works — or just let Americans keep on suffering.

Founder of the Apache Software Foundation Joins Linux Foundation to Lead Hyperledger Project

Founder of the Apache Software Foundation Joins Linux Foundation to Lead Hyperledger ProjectSAN FRANCISCO – May 19, 2016 – The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit advancing professional open source management for mass collaboration, today announced

Brian Behlendorf is joining the organization as executive director of the Hyperledger Project, a collaborative effort to establish, build and sustain an open, distributed ledger platform for the enterprise.
Behlendorf was a primary developer of the Apache Web server, the most popular web server software on the Internet, and a founding member of the Apache Software Foundation. He has also served on the board of the Mozilla Foundation since 2003 and the Electronic Frontier Foundation since 2013. He was the founding CTO of CollabNet and CTO of the World Economic Forum. Most recently, Behlendorf was a managing director at Mithril Capital Management LLC, a global technology investment firm.

No Tomorrow | First Look | The CW

March 2015 Contest Voting Thread! : vexillology

March 2015 Contest Voting Thread! : vexillology

Mucalinda is the name of a nāga, a snake-like being, who protected the Gautama Buddha from the elements after his enlightenment. It is said that four weeks after Gautama Buddha began meditating under the Bodhi Tree, the heavens darkened for seven days, however, the mighty King of Serpents, Mucalinda, came from beneath the earth and protected with his hood the one who is the source of all protection.
I wanted to have Mucalinda coming out of the ground to shield Gautama Buddha while he is meditating under the Bhodi Tree.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Boris is Completely Right: The EU Was a Nazi Brainchild » Alex Jones' Infowars

Boris is Completely Right: The EU Was a Nazi Brainchild » Alex Jones' Infowars

Wall Street 'Whistleblower' Analyst Exposes Clinton Foundation As "Charity Fraud" | Zero Hedge

Wall Street 'Whistleblower' Analyst Exposes Clinton Foundation As "Charity Fraud" | Zero Hedge

The Clinton Foundation’s finances are so messy that the nation’s most influential charity watchdog put it on its “watch list” of problematic nonprofits last month.

The Clinton family’s mega-charity took in more than $140 million in grants and pledges in 2013 but spent just $9 million on direct aid.

The group spent the bulk of its windfall on administration, travel, and salaries and bonuses, with the fattest payouts going to family friends.

“It seems like the Clinton Foundation operates as a slush fund for the Clintons,” said Bill Allison, a senior fellow at the Sunlight Foundation, a government watchdog group where progressive Democrat and Fordham Law professor Zephyr Teachout was once an organizing director.

Thanks to Charles Ortel, it’s time to prepare ourselves for some more Clinton Foundation revelations.
The Washington Free Beacon reports:
The Wall Street analyst who uncovered financial discrepancies at General Electric before its stock crashed in 2008 claims the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation has a number of irregularities in its tax records and could be violating state laws.

Charles Ortel, a longtime financial adviser, said he has spent the past 15 months digging into the Clinton Foundation’s public records, federal and state-level tax filings, and donor disclosures. That includes records from the foundation’s many offshoots—including the Clinton Health Access Initiative and the Clinton Global Initiative—as well as its foreign subsidiaries.

This week, Ortel is starting to release his findings in the first of a series of up to 40 planned reports on his websiteHis allegation: “this is a charity fraud.”

The Sunday Times of London described Ortel as “one of the finest analysts of financial statements on the planet” in a 2009 story detailing the troubles at AIG.

“Where you or I see pages of numbers, [Ortel] sees a narrative,” wrote Sunday Times reporter Tim Rayment. “Sometimes the theme is a company’s potential for growth. Sometimes it is the prospect of self-destruction. And at times the story does not make sense, because the figures are hiding a fraud.”

Ortel turned his attention to the Clinton Foundation in February 2015. To learn more about the charity, he decided to take it apart and see how it worked.

“I decided, as I did with GE, let’s pick one that’s complicated,” said Ortel. “The Clinton Foundation is complicated, but it’s really very small compared to GE.”

When Ortel tried to match up the Clinton Foundation’s tax filings with the disclosure reports from its major donors, he said he started to find problems.

“I decided it would be fun to cross-check what their donors thought they did when they donated to the Clinton Foundation, and that’s when I got really irritated,” he said. “There are massive discrepancies between what some of the major donors say they gave to the Clinton Foundation to do, and what the Clinton Foundation said what they got from the donors and what they did with it.”

Last year, the Clinton Foundation was forced to issue corrected tax filings for several years to correct donation errors. But Ortel said many of the discrepancies remain.

“I’m against charity fraud. I think people in both parties are against charity fraud, and this is a charity fraud,” he said.
A spokesperson for the Clinton Foundation did not comment on the claims.
I covered the Clinton Foundation and all its shadiness repeatedly last year. Here are a few highlights:

Monday, May 16, 2016

Sharia students loans that do not conflict with the rules of Islam to be offered for the first time in drive to get more Muslims to university  | Daily Mail Online

Sharia students loans that do not conflict with the rules of Islam to be offered for the first time in drive to get more Muslims to university  | Daily Mail Online

  • The government confirmed a new ‘halal’ finance model will be introduced
  • Muslims cannot take out loans that they would be charged interest on
  • Campaigners say this is putting some youngsters off going to university 

Peter Ⓐgorist ⚓ on Twitter: "With #Venezuela in chaos & running out of food, its good to remember what @BernieSanders aid @davidsirota once said:"

Peter Ⓐgorist ⚓ on Twitter: "With #Venezuela in chaos & running out of food, its good to remember what @BernieSanders aid @davidsirota once said:"

'Lucifer' Season 2 Spoilers: Fans Weigh In On Who Should Play Lucifer Morningstar's Mom : ENTERTAINMENT : Design & Trend

'Lucifer' Season 2 Spoilers: Fans Weigh In On Who Should Play Lucifer Morningstar's Mom : ENTERTAINMENT : Design & TrendMeanwhile, fans of the hit FOX series recently weighed in on who they want to see play the role of Mom in "Lucifer" season 2.

@Sandi Frantz said that she wants to see Bette Midler give life to Lucifer's Mom.
"I think she would be awesome, wild and funny!" she wrote.
Another fan @Lynn believes that "Castle" star Stana Katic is the perfect fit for the role. After all, Mom is ageless, and Katic just finished her contract with ABC.
She said, "Get Beckett! (Stana Katic) young, beautiful and can take on anybody. That would be really worth watchin!"
One fan @Slippy_World said that Joan Collins will be perfect for the role.
Another fan @John Flagg said that "American Horror Story" star Lady Gaga would be an interesting addition to the cast of "Lucifer" season 2.
Likely, @Kraezy said that she's rooting for Lucy Lawless to work alongside Tom Ellis because she's definitely a good choice.
@downeaster added that Tina Turner is her bet to play the role of "mommy dearest."
Lastly, @Jenna wrote, "Michelle Gomez was the first name that immediately popped into my head. Perfection as a possible mommy dearest."
"Lucifer" season 2 also stars Lauren German as Chloe Decker, D.B. Woodside as Amenadiel, Lesley-Ann Brandt as Maze, Kevin Alejandro as Dan and Kevin Rankin as Malcolm.
"Lucifer" season 2 will premiere on FOX sometime in Jan. 2017.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Google has AI writing 'rather dramatic' fiction as it learns to speak naturally | The Verge

Google has AI writing 'rather dramatic' fiction as it learns to speak naturally | The Verge

Google is training AI to speak more naturally, and the early results are pretty entertaining. As spotted by Quartz, Google recently presented a paper describing how it's trying to train AI to naturally fill in the gaps between one sentence and another unrelated sentence. To do that, it's using a new neural network model that's been trained by analyzing 12,000 ebooks, primarily fiction — with a lot of those being romance novels.
The technique is working, insofar as it's getting better results than earlier methods did. But its results are still unnatural — and often, they end up creating what the researchers describe as "rather dramatic" sequences that are certainly inspired by the fiction Google's been feeding it.
Here are some of the samples the paper provides. The bolded sentences are what the researchers told the AI to start with and stop on. I've cleaned up some of the punctuation, but otherwise this is straight from the machine:
this was the only was the only way.
it was her turn to blink.
it was hard to tell.
it was time to move on.
he had to do it again.
they all looked at each other.
they all turned to look back.
they both turned to face him.
they both turned and walked away.
there is no one else in the world.there is no one else in sight.
they were the only ones who mattered.
they were the only ones left.
he had to be with me.
she had to be with him.
i had to do this.
i wanted to kill him.
i started to cry.
i turned to him.
i don't like it, he said.i waited for what had happened.
it was almost thirty years ago.
it was over thirty years ago.
that was six years ago.
he had died two years ago.
ten, thirty years ago.
"it’s all right here.
"everything is all right here.
"it’s all right here.
it’s all right here.
we are all right here.
come here in five minutes.
i'm're right.
"all right.
you're right.
okay, fine.
"okay, fine.
yes, right here.
no, not right now.
"no, not right now.
"talk to me right now.
please talk to me right now.
i’ll talk to you right now.
"i’ll talk to you right now.
"you need to talk to me now.
"but you need to talk to me now.
On one hand, its impressive how legitimately dramatic some of this stuff sounds. On the other hand, it's clear that romance authors will still find gainful employment for years to come.

Blog: Very bad weekend for the left in Caracas, Buenos Aires and Brasilia

Blog: Very bad weekend for the left in Caracas, Buenos Aires and Brasilia

Mrs. Fernandez followed her late husband Mr. Kirchner in the presidency.  I guess that corruption finally caught up with them.  At the same time, the couple has a lot of supporters in the public bureaucracy so don't count your chickens yet.
By the way, Nestor and Christina Kirchner remind me a lot of the Clintons.  
Over in Brazil, President Rauseff will be watching the Olympics from home rather than presiding over the opening ceremony as head of state.  A trial has begun that could remove her permanently from the office.  In the meantime, there will be an interim president.
Over in Venezuela, the situation has now hit the "expletive deleted" fan.  President Maduro has declared a 60-day emergency because of what he defines as threats from the US government.  
These 3 crises have a few things in common beyond the fact that the leaders where once the darlings of the left.
First, corruption is rampant, a natural consequence of concentration of power or using state resources to win elections.  It worked great in Venezuela and Brazil as long as commodities and oil prices supported the inefficient state operations.
Second, the economies of Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela are basket cases. 
Brazil, one of the top 10 GDPs in the world, is mired in a deep recession.     
Argentina is a better off but still paying the price of the Kirchner-Fernandez disregard for the rule of law.    
And Venezuela is such a disaster that we won't cite numbers because the country is indeed falling apart.
Argentina will be the first to improve because President Macri is already correcting the excesses of his predecessors.    
Brazil and Venezuela could descend into chaos.       
As my late father used to say, socialism is great as long as the subsidized get their subsidies.  If not, the subsidized turn on the ones who made the promises, as is the case in Venezuela and Brazil.
P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.


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