Gladiatorial Television

Who Needs Lions vs. Christians When There’s the News?

When you have ten million people in a large, spread-out county like Los Angeles, you get to watch a lot of gladiatorial events on the evening news. Most of these are car chases, whenever some chicken-necked loser decides to steal a car and lead the police on a freeway chase. In almost all cases, the perpetrators are spread-eagled on the tarmac while being cuffed by a legion of angry police on their best behavior.

Today, there was a special event. An allegedly homeless man wearing an LA Dodgers hat and no shirt caused a ruckus in the 2000 Block of Brighton Avenue in San Gabriel. Around 1:30 in the afternoon, his girlfriend or acquaintance reported him to the police. The Sheriff’s Department showed up in force. When the man in question began firing at the police, the SWAT team was called in. But that was only the beginning. He set fire to two houses, continued shooting at the police, throwing lit firecrackers at them (?!), and running back and forth from house to car and boat and back again.

Houses Burning in San Gabriel

Of course, the fire department was unable to save the first house that was set afire, because the gunman kept threatening the first responders for upwards of five hours. Eventually, someone decided that enough was enough. First they hit the suspect with a rubber bullet, then they filled his hiding place with tear gas, then moved in and killed him proper using the real stuff.

In the meantime, they had to close down both lanes of the nearby San Bernardino Freeway (I-10) because the house was right up against the freeway, and the gunman kept firing in all directions. Tens of thousands of motorists trying to get home after work were affected.

If this is the kind of entertainment you crave, come to Los Angeles. But if you’re a chicken-necked loser or a shirtless bum, go elsewhere. Like Texas.

 

An Unforeseen Difficulty

A Protest Around La Unión Hold Up My Trip

As I have written before, the biggest transportation problem on my trip was getting from Copán, Honduras to Rio Dulce, Guatemala. In the end, I was right. There had at one time been shuttle buses that made the trip, but either they had been canceled or occurred only during certain times. In the end, I cut a deal with a Honduran travel agency called Baseline Tours out of the Café ViaVia to hire a car and driver to:

  1. Drive me to Rio Dulce
  2. Allow for a one- or two-hour stopover at the Maya ruins of Quiriguá on the way

I wound up paying 1,700 Guatemalan quetzales (about $217) for a car and driver to take me there. I could have taken public transportation for much cheaper, but it would have thrown a monkey wrench into my schedule. I would have had to take a collectívo to the Guatemalan border at El Florido, a Litegua bus to Chiquimula, and an (unspecified) second class bus to Quirigua, where I would have had to spend the night. And then, I would have had to face the chore of a bus from Quiriguá to Morales, and from Morales to Rio Dulce. So I spent the money and adhered to my schedule.

Except there was one little unforeseen difficulty. Midway between El Florido and Chiquimula, the highway was closed in both directions because the residents of La Unión were protesting en masse some government dictate or malfeasance. For an hour and a half, I sat in the car reading my Kindle when—quite suddenly—the local police (shown above) started letting traffic through.

It is not unusual to find whole towns in Latin America shutting down access to and from their towns while they make their point to the government. Bolivia is particularly notorious for this type of action.

In the end, I got to Quiriguá and Rio Dulce with time to spare. It was not an accident that I left early, around 8 AM, to allow for this sort of hindrance.

 

The Fashion Police

In Quito, There Are Many Types of Police

One thing that my brother and I noticed when we were in Quito, Ecuador, last October was that there are many different types of police. We sat in the central Plaza de Independencia for upwards of two hours, watching the different types of police congregate and go their separate ways, only to be replaced by policia with different uniforms and different means of locomotion. We were particular amused by the Segway patrol that mostly wheeled around chatting with one another.

At one point, as we were going by in a taxi, we noticed a number of heavily armed military escorting several male and female officers into the Municipal Palace. They seem to have arrived there without any major mishaps, like having a Segway run over their feet.

Just a few blocks away, there were four cops with bright yellow vests.

These Police Seemed to Be Guarding a Church (Rear Left)

All I could guess is that the creation of different government security forces was a form of mitigating the unemployment problem that seems to be endemic throughout South America.

Several times, we asked the police for directions. They were always very polite, even if they didn’t understand us. Fortunately, we didn’t look like bad guys; else, we would have been mobbed by policia wearing a variety of different uniforms. (It would have given them something to do for a change.)

No Nuclear Weapons for Ferguson PD!

Also: No Drones or Bombers Have Been Approved

Also: No Drones or Bombers Have Been Approved

President Obama today declared in an impromptu press conference that no drones, bombers, or nuclear warheads would be approved for the Ferguson, Missouri Police Department for riot control.

National Rifle Association (NRA) Executive Vice President Wayne La Pierre protested the President’s decision, followed quickly by Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC), who stated, “The Second Amendment gives us full authority to pulverize any nigras who threaten public order—by any means possible.” House Speaker John Boehner could not be reached for comment, though it is suspected he was either being briefed by Tea Party representatives or putting a new coat of orange paint on his face.

In the meantime, Vladimir Putin has authorized two hundred white trucks to cross the Mississippi River to give humanitarian aid to the white population of the Saint Louis area. It is suspected, however, that these trucks may contain RPGs and automatic weapons to assist the Robocops of the Ferguson Police Department.