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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
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”