Actor Kevin Spacey met privately Monday with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, one of Washington’s most outspoken critics in Latin America.
Neither Spacey – who has won Academy Awards for roles in “The Usual Suspects” and “American Beauty” – nor Chavez spoke to the press after the nearly three-hour encounter in the presidential palace in Caracas. They shook hands warmly on the red carpet as Spacey left after a dinner with Chavez.
Hours earlier, the actor visited a $13 million film studio founded last year by the government to support Venezuelan filmmaking. Details were not released about the rest of Spacey’s itinerary.
Chavez has said Venezuela hopes to produce its own films as an alternative to the “cultural imperialism” of Hollywood. Yet, Chavez speaks highly of some Hollywood films.
He has also hosted recent visits by stars including Sean Penn and Danny Glover.
The Australian man acquitted of killing New Zealand woman Warriena Wright who fell to her death from the balcony of his Gold Coast apartment in 2014 has today posted a lengthy diatribe on Facebook, asking if a murder charge would be laid if the genders were reversed in such a case.
Gable Tostee was acquitted in 2016 of the murder and manslaughter of 26-year-old New Zealand tourist Warriena Wright, who fell from the 14th floor balcony of his Surface Paradise apartment in 2014.
His trial was told that Mr Tostee forced Ms Wright on to his balcony and locked the door after she threw decorative rocks at him following drunken sex. She then fell to her death.
In today's post on Facebook, Mr Tostee, who now goes by the name Eric Thomas, wrote that he didn't think a woman would be "dragged through a trial" in such a case.
"If a man went to a woman's apartment, got himself blind drunk, became aggressive without any provocation and started violently attacking her, verbally abusing her, throwing her things at her, refused to leave and then attacked her with a piece of metal and then climbed off her 14th floor balcony after she managed to lock him outside in desperation, would she be charged with murder?" he wrote.
"Would she be dragged through trial, vilified, shamed and defamed even if fully acquitted? I don't think so. If it's not ok to do it to a woman, it's not ok to do it to anyone."
Mr Thomas tagged his post with hasttags including "hypocrisy", "doublestandards" and "inequality".
The prosecution argued at his trial that Mr Tostee intimidated Ms Wright so greatly that she felt her only option was to try to climb from the balcony.
His defence argued he had used reasonable force to protect himself and his property.
His tirade on Facebook today comes after reports at the weekend that he could face an inquest into Ms Wright's death and potentially, new charges.
Australian media reported that a coroner has not ruled out a coronial hearing into Ms Wright's death, and that Mr Tostee could face fresh charges if "new and compelling evidence" is uncovered in a coronial inquest.
'Would she be charged with murder?' Gable Tostee rants over unfair treatment in Kiwi Warriena Wright death case
President Nicolás Maduro, of Venezuela, at a rally in Caracas on Feb. 3.CreditFederico Parra/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Students at the University of Michigan have staged a rare protest against the brutal dictatorship of Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro. According to The Michigan Daily, more than 100 people joined a rally less than 24 hours after two students created an “SOS Venezuela” Facebook event.
“I think the event created a lot of awareness, not just for the University students, but in general,” The Daily quoted a sophomore as saying. “I think these voices that were heard today are going to keep carrying on; people are going to keep talking about this for a while.”
Go Blue, for raising awareness of the worst humanitarian disaster to befall the Western Hemisphere in decades. Just one problem: The protest took place four years ago.
Scour the Web and you’ll find a handful of reports of anti-Maduro protestsor teach-ins at universities in recent years, usually organized by Venezuelans living in the U.S. And most politically informed people are more-or-less aware of Venezuela’s political and economic disorders. No doubt they don’t like what they see, and no doubt they wish it were otherwise.
They just don’t seem to care that much.
Every generation of campus activists embraces a worthy foreign-policy cause: Ending apartheid in South Africa; stopping ethnic cleansing in the Balkans; rescuing Darfur from starvation and genocide. And then there’s the perennial — and perennially unworthy — cause of “freeing” Palestine, for which there never is a shortage of credulous campus zealots.
Then there are the humanitarian causes young activists generally don’tembrace, at least not in a big way. Cuba’s political prisoners. Islamist violence against Christians in the Middle East. The vast and terrifying concentration camp that is North Korea. Where are the campus protests over any of that?
The case of Venezuela ought to be an especially worthy one for college students. It is urgent. It is close by. Its victims are fighting for democracy, for human rights, for the ability to feed their children.
So why the relative silence? Part of the reason is that campus activism is a left-wing phenomenon, making it awkward to target left-wing villains.
A larger reason is that, until a few years ago, the Venezuelan regime was acause of the left, cheered by people like Naomi Klein, Sean Penn and Danny Glover. Left-wing publications such as Glenn Greenwald’s “The Intercept” have gone out of their way to make excuses for the regime andtreat its critics as Washington stooges. Jeremy Corbyn, who could yet be Britain’s next prime minister, memorialized the late dictator Hugo Chávez in 2013 for his “massive contributions to Venezuela & a very wide world.”
Even today, the criticism is amazingly muted. If Klein has seriously come to terms with Maduro’s tyranny or Venezuela’s catastrophe, she has not done it in The Nation, The Guardian, or anywhere indexed by LexisNexis or Factiva. Corbyn’s response to Maduro’s repression has been to voice his condemnation of “the violence that’s been done by any side, by all sides” — a piece of obfuscatory equivalence worthy of Donald Trump’s Charlottesville remark. Penn and Glover seem to have moved on to other causes, like bashing Trump. Such courage.
That leaves the cause of Venezuela’s deliverance from evil in the hands of … Mike Pence. The vice president may not be the ideal spokesman for the rights of a Latin American country, at least in the eyes of the typical undergraduate political activist. And some of the Trump administration’s policy prescriptions, such as broad sanctions on the Venezuelan economy, may do more to tighten Maduro’s grip than to crush it. (More effective are U.S. sanctions on Venezuelan government officials, which target the guilty and spare the innocent.)
Still, it says something about the moral dereliction of too many liberals that Pence has been a clarion voice of attention and outrage at the unfolding catastrophe, while they mostly remain silent. When you’ve ceded the moral high ground to the Trump administration, you’ve ceded a piece of your soul.
It would be nice to suppose that Venezuela’s agonies will soon be at an end, on the theory that it can’t go on like this much longer. People said that about Syria several years ago, too. How many more Venezuelans have to starve or drown before Western liberals do something more than merely shake their heads?