“I came to be dead, but now I have risen” (P12)

Fidel Castro, now an old convalescent man who boasts about walking 600 steps without a cane or help, speaks about everything and nothing to a sympathetic reporter. Does he think himself a Christ-figure, now that he has died and risen? No one asks: that’s an ideological thicket out of which no good can come.

The Castro of this “exclusive,” and a tad hagiographic, interview — has the real one, whoever he is, ever been known?— is a man of powered rendered grandfatherly by illness and age. He insists he read more than 200 cables everyday, devours Wikileaks and wants to (re?) launch an anti-nuclear war movement. All he needs to do is “convince Obama”.

The interview reminds me of nothing so closely as Gabriel García Márquez’ novel The General in His Labyrinth, a punctiliously researched piece of historical fiction about the last days of Simón Bolívar, the Big Man from another era whom I was told to regard as the “bad guy” of South American history.

Many have been told to revile Castro.

I shook his hand as a child when he came to Washington in 1959, with prompting from parents to congratulate him. The story changed. Much as Argentina’s Juan Domingo Perón, he is a figure about whom so much ill and good has been written and said, that it is hard to regard him with equanimity.

Celso Furtado’s classic work on development in Latin America shows Cuba’s socioeconomic indicators—literacy, survival past infancy and so forth— shooting upward past even Brazil’s in the 1960s. On the other hand, various human rights reports raise some questions about civil rights in Cuba.

The Cuban exiles spoil the broth. Having turned Miami into the same bordello Havana was before Castro, the “gusanos” now rant about their sainted “martyrs” — I can’t wait until they all go back to their forsaken little island.

(Original headline: “Llegué a estar muerto, pero resucité”; click here for the entire story.)


Belgian Church Leader Urged Victim to Be Silent (NYT)

What happens when the sitting pope is an actual Nazi and a leading light of the Second Vatican Council becomes embroiled with police in tawdry scandals? I’m waiting for the third act. What can these guys (and they are all guys) come up with next? Are they all high? What gives?

Color me puzzled.

Read the story here.

Even Beck can’t mar King’s legacy (WP)

The laziest opinionator in print versus the laziest opinionator on the cable tube: Who will lose most? The public.

The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson has never found an occasion to be a toady in which he wouldn’t dip his nose deeper into the brown. Nor a situation he couldn’t look at through other than his appointed “journalism” beat as, The Daily Show might say, chief black correspondent. Years in Buenos Aires and London taught him nothing about those places, other than that there are fewer African-Americans there than in Washington, D.C..

Glenn Beck hasn’t even tried to be a journalist. Ever. He’s been a “twinkie” (blond on the outside, fluffy on the inside) every step of his broadcast career. Now he’s discovered you can make $30 million a year (according to Forbes) bloviating misinfoganda to the new Know-Nothing movement.

Which one is worse?

Between bouts with his many and varied women, even Martin Luther King, Jr., would be embarrassed by Robinson’s cheesy Tom act of invocation of the civil rights “good cop.” As for Beck, I’m sure King would surely scratch his head: How could Robinson miss such an easy target by a mile?

Read the story here.

Slain Digger’s Wife Expecting New Baby (BCM)

No, this is not a “color” story about about a cemetery employee. A “digger” is a soldier from Australia or New Zealand. This one was killed in Afghanistan in an explosion, while training the local army. His wife was pregnant.

In the photo accompanying the story, Lance Corporal Jared MacKinney appears dressed up as a celebrity (white tie on black shirt), next to his infant daughter and young wife, in a white dress with black straps (almost a reverse) also looking glamorous. They are standing in the driveway, coming from or going to a social occasion.

Hannah Arendt might have called the scene “the banality of happiness.” Fragile, then gone.

Kareena won’t lose weight for KJo (TimInd)

Good for her! As you can see in the photo, the average-bodied Bollywood actress Kareena Kapoor is declining to go on a diet to cater to the rumored request of film-maker Karan Johar.

Kareena Kapoor

Indian actress Kareena Kapoor

A video on You Tube from a Bollywood-watching TV program (see here) offers the tidbit that her boyfriend “did not approve of her stick-pin figure.”

Kareena, as headline writers in India know her, stars in “We Are Family,” a film that bears some similarities to Julia Roberts-vehicle “Stepmon,” and is slated to wear skimpy dresses in a new film with the working title “Short Term Shaadi” (not sure what that is about).

Read the story here.

Subway workers ‘liberate’ turnstiles at six stations (Clarín)

As Buenos Aires subway workers prepared to go on strike, they took away the turnstiles from six stations, making travel free. Not the way to run a railroad—even one that is underground and privatized (part of the problem).

The Spanish headline (Trabajadores del subte liberan molinetes en seis estaciones) even has a literary subtext: in River Plate Spanish, turnstiles are—I had forgotten—“molinetes” (small windmills), so that riding the porteño subways is, literally, a bit quixotic.

Actually, they are (were?) very decorative, with a variety of murals in many stations. They are (were?) reasonably safe, clean for a big city, fast. But not air-conditioned (it’s winter there, anyway).

European bison born in Palencia (EP)

After about a millenium without them,  the animal depicted in prehistoric cave drawings, is back in Spain, with the first specimen born in the Iberian peninsula about a month ago in Palencia. The birth occurred not far from the famous caves of Altamira where, about 18,000 years ago, cave dwellers drew pictures of their hunts and the animals they chased, the bison notably among them.

Altamira bison

Cave dweller drawing of bison, ca. 16,000 BC

The european bison is nearly extinct and the new specimenis part of a group of 7 bisons brought from Poland to Spain to repopulate the hills of Cantabria where they were known to live up until the 11th century of our era.

(Click on here to read full story. Original headline: Nace un bisonte europeo en Palencia.)