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A fascinating piece from today’s Washington Post about Allen Andersson, the rich American who helped bring Manuel Zelaya to power in Honduras in 2005:
And then, there’s one of his all-time favorite multimillion-dollar gambits, the time he played presidential kingmaker in Honduras . . . and won. Barely noticed outside Tegucigalpa, Andersson assumed a key — many say decisive — offstage role in the 2005 election of Manuel “Mel” Zelaya, the recently deposed president of Honduras.
As Honduras convulsed this month over Zelaya’s ouster — in his pajamas — in a military coup, Andersson spoke for the first time about what he proudly describes as the “shenanigans” he orchestrated in the final days of the 2005 upset. It is a saga sprinkled with heaps of cash, private detectives, sting operations, attack ads, internecine squabbles and Andersson’s epic grudge against Zelaya’s wealthy, dashing opponent, Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo, whose last name means “wolf” in Spanish.
And there’s this interesting section:
The 2005 Honduran election pitted Mel Zelaya, the leftist son of a well-heeled businessman, against Pepe Lobo, the president of the Honduran congress. Lobo, the clear front-runner, was the former head of the national forestry agency in a country plagued by illegal logging of precious hardwoods, such as mahogany. Andersson had contempt for Lobo, suspecting that he surreptitiously condoned illegal logging that had decimated indigenous communities…
[Andersson] didn’t trust the Honduran media, saying it was almost completely controlled by various oligarchs. So, he took over a small newspaper, El Libertador, and encouraged tough stories about Lobo. He hired a U.S. polling firm, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, to conduct surveys. And he also funded private-eye forays in Honduras by the Environmental Investigation Agency, a nongovernmental organization with offices in London and Washington that had ferreted out illegal loggers in Asia.
The intrigue commenced: One EIA agent posing as a lumber buyer secretly videotaped a meeting in Miami with a Honduran congressional candidate, Gilma Noriega, and her father, lumber dealer Guillermo Noriega. On the tape, Gilma Noriega says payoffs to government officials can be made to ensure a steady flow of lumber, and brags that their business will be protected if her father’s best friend, Lobo, is elected. “Pepe Lobo will be our savior,” Guillermo Noriega says on the tape…
Read the rest. As I said before, Zelaya was no radical. His crime, in the eyes of those who overthrew him, was not his allegedly anti-democratic tendencies — you have to be stupid to think the Honduran elite cares anything at all about democracy — but his approval of a big minimum wage increase, which was desperately needed in a country where so many workers are poor.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
Many comedians consider stand-up the purest form of comedy; Doug Stanhope considers it the freest. “Once you do stand-up, it spoils you for everything else,” he says. “You’re the director, performer, and producer.” Unlike most of his peers, however, Stanhope has designed his career around exploring that freedom, which means choosing a life on the road. Perhaps this is why, although he is extremely ambitious, prolific, and one of the best stand-ups performing, so many Americans haven’t heard of him. Many comedians approach the road as a means to an end: a way to develop their skills, start booking bigger venues, and, if they’re lucky, get themselves airlifted to Hollywood. But life isn’t happening on a sit-com set or a sketch show — at least not the life that has interested Stanhope. He isn’t waiting to be invited to the party; indeed, he’s been hosting his own party for years.
Because of the present comedy boom, civilians are starting to hear about Doug Stanhope from other comedians like Ricky Gervais, Sarah Silverman, and Louis CK. But Stanhope has been building a devoted fan base for the past two decades, largely by word of mouth. On tour, he prefers the unencumbered arrival and the quick exit: cheap motels where you can pull the van up to the door of the room and park. He’s especially pleased if there’s an on-site bar, which increases the odds of hearing a good story from the sort of person who tends to drink away the afternoon in the depressed cities where he performs. Stanhope’s America isn’t the one still yammering on about its potential or struggling with losing hope. For the most part, hope is gone. On Word of Mouth, his 2002 album, he says, “America may be the best country, but that’s like being the prettiest Denny’s waitress. Just because you’re the best doesn’t make you good.”
Ratio of husbands who say they fell in love with their spouse at first sight to wives who say this:
Mathematicians announced the discovery of the perfect method of cutting a cake.
Indian prime-ministerial contender Narendra Modi, who advertises his bachelorhood as a mark of his incorruptibility, confessed to having a wife.
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Science’s crisis of faith