Saturday, October 10, 2009

Cat Bauer: An American in Venice "Gone Taliban"

(Venice, Italy) Yesterday, to celebrate John Lennon's birthday and my second novel, Harley's Ninth -- which takes place on a single day, October 9th -- I tried to get into my apartment so I could put my new Venetian flag back on my balcony. My flag you see there in the photo (which was shot without my knowledge or permission for the Hotel Rialto's publicity brochure) has been stolen. I made three attempts to enter:

1. By changing the lock. This did not work because The Opposition has replaced the lock with a Devil Lock, an evil contraption which, probably, has double bolts, plus a steel bar that runs floor-to-ceiling, plus must be opened on the inside with a key.

2. In Venice, when you are locked out without a key, the official way to get back inside is by calling the Fire Department. I already tried this back in June. The Fire Department came, but because the illegal eviction has been signed by a judge, they had to obey the court order, not me.

Since then, I have built a strong case about the illegality of the eviction with shocking results, all leading back to one place: the American military presence in Vicenza. It has been like ripping up crab grass -- the tentacles are everywhere.

WHAT CAT BAUER THINKS BARACK OBAMA SHOULD DO WITH RESPECT TO AFGHANISTAN:


Press the Pause Button, take a deep breath and
use reason.


The situation is too serious and broad-reaching to make hasty decisions.
If my rights as an American citizen and a long-time Venetian resident have been stripped away, the world is in immediate, profound danger. YOU ARE INTERRUPTING MY BLOG. It is like the old days when the television would interrupt regular programming to broadcast an emergency situation.

2. (cont'd) On September 29th, I went in person to the Fire Department in Dorsoduro. I rang the bell and walked into the office. In front of three firemen, I began my story:

Cat: I am Catherine Bauer, and I live at San Polo --
Fireman Behind the Desk: We know who you are. Look.

He indicated a large handwritten sign dated September 11th, hanging in plain view on the wall, that basically said:

IF CATHERINE BAUER CALLS DO NOT RESPOND.

Cat: (gasping) It cannot get more illegal! Out of everyone in Venice, if I, Cat Bauer, call, you are not to respond? What if there is a fire?

Fireman: The Carabinieri at San Zaccaria told us not to respond. You have to talk to them.

Cat: I have tried to talk to them. In fact, on September 11th I tried to denounce my landlady, Paola Bortoluzzi, for physically assaulting me on September 2nd in front of three Carabinieri, but after waiting for an hour and a half, they said they could not do it. So, I went to the Carabinieri in Padua and denounced her there. I think I should go back to Padua.

(NOTE: in Italy there is something called arresto in flagranza, which states that an arrest is mandatory when a law enforcement officer witnesses the commission of a crime.)

(NOTE: if you have read my eviction documents catbauereviction.blogspot.com/ you will see the Carabinieri tried to force me into the hospital back on August 7, 2008 and I reported immediately)

So, off I trotted to Padua, and the Carabinieri there did, indeed, write up the denunciation. All of Venice is sick of this story, including the Fire Department, and including most of the Carabinieri at San Zaccaria. Also, Meran (a town up in the Alps, where this story sometimes moves) is sick of it. In fact, I think all of Northeast Italy is getting tired of this story, in which I play but a tiny part, the size of an ant. They are only following orders.

Judging by the way the Americans are treating me, I can only conclude they are at the head of this monster -- or at least they have the power to change its direction. Nice way to treat your own citizen, huh? Many times I've thought that my life is in danger, and I am not the only one. Well, they will either kill me or they won't. I'm a great believer in Quantum Theory, so I am not that worried about dying, especially if it is the spark that is needed to light the raging fire.

With that background, yesterday the Venetians (you have to understand that 90% of Venice knows this story) said to call and tell the Fire Department that I was cooking and left the gas on and thought I smelled smoke. Now, in Venetian terms, this is not considered lying because everyone in the entire city knows it is not true. So, I called 115 and told the Fire Department: "This is Catherine Bauer, San Polo 622. I am so stupid that I was cooking and I ran outside without my key, and I think I left the gas on, and I think I smell a fire inside my apartment."

They said they were coming. Yay!

I waited on Riva del Vin. I waited and waited. And they did come, quietly, one light blinking, but they could not stop. Then they came again, sirens screaming, wailing, causing all sorts of waves and gondolas bouncing and water splashing all over the tourists. THANKS, GUYS!

3. Did this stop Cat Bauer? No way, Jose. Next, I decided I needed a really tall ladder because when they changed the locks they cracked open a window on the Grand Canal side of my apartment. The only way you can enter is in front The Entire City of Venice -- there is no sneaking in that window. Since I am convinced there is no legal reason for me to be out of my apartment, I had no fear about walking up a very tall ladder.

By this time, the atmosphere at Rialto was sort of like Carnival, and this is something the Americans, French and British will never understand. Everyone was grabbing ladders out of magazzinos, getting in the spirit. But none were tall enough. Finally I found some construction guys with a really tall ladder. In broad daylight, they carried the ladder right down Riva del Vin and up to my window. Yay! But then, at the last minute, while I ran to get the pole for my Venetian flag, they were warned not to do it and they left. I was so close!

Then some police passed by and I stopped them. I said, can you please explain to me why I cannot go inside my apartment when I have done everything legally and Paola Bortoluzzi and Gianni Benetta, the landlords, have done nothing legally? We were joined by three more polizia and I passed around my documents. They said, "It is a matter for the judge." I said, "Well, I am out on the street now for four months. How long do you think it will take to see the judge? To me, it is an emergency situation."

To finally arrive at the topic of this blog, "Gone Taliban" is my way of explaining to Europeans the meaning of "Going Postal," which means nothing over here because postal workers don't get guns and start blowing everyone's heads off. Seriously, it takes all my willpower everyday to restrain myself from doing something illegal simply to go to jail, get a lawyer and tell my story officially.

Example of a conversation I had recently at a sophisticated event:

Cat: I think they even deliberately infected my foot at the hospital.
Very Intelligent Woman: Oh, yes. I heard they were doing that now.
Cat: (sipping prosecco) Yeah, and then a woman named Martina shoved a piece of glass into the festering wound during a pedicure.

In the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Hugh Gusterson writes "Why the War in Afghanistan Cannot be Won" (September 21, 2009):

"...This all may sound good in the airtight world of White House briefings but, in the real world, the very phenomena the counterinsurgency gurus see leading to success--more troops and more development--will make the U.S. effort fail. Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan contains within itself the seeds of its own ineluctable failure.
This is so for three reasons--(1) Newton's Third Law, (2) the development dilemma, and (3) the prohibitionist paradox."
Hauntingly, Gusterson explains exactly what is happening in Venice, even though he is writing about Afghanistan.

...more U.S. soldiers, dressed like armadillos in sunglasses, will intrude into Afghan daily life with their alien clothes, speech, and body language.

To read his entire article, click below, which I strongly suggest you do, and strongly suggest that you follow his links:

The Bulletin of The Atomic Scientists

One link will lead you to Nicholas D. Kristoff at the New York Times:

"President Obama has already dispatched an additional 21,000 American troops to Afghanistan and soon will decide whether to send thousands more. That would be a fateful decision for his presidency, and a group of former intelligence officials and other experts is now reluctantly going public to warn that more troops would be a historic mistake."

Click to read the entire article: New York Times

Gusteron also quotes Jean MacKenzie:
"More importantly, every time the United States increases its development budget in Afghanistan, it also increases the Taliban's budget. This is because a major source of Taliban funding consists of taxes it levies on Western development projects. The more schools, bridges, and clinics Washington builds, the more money the Taliban will have to blow them up and to attack U.S. soldiers. This dynamic is illuminated in a fascinating article by Jean MacKenzie, writing for GlobalPost. (And why aren't the mainstream media writing about this?) MacKenzie tells her readers about "the manager of an Afghan firm with lucrative construction contracts with the U.S. government" who has to negotiate not only with development bureaucrats but also with the Taliban contracts officer. He "builds in a minimum of 20 percent for the Taliban in his cost estimates. The manager, who will not speak openly, has told friends privately that he makes in the neighborhood of $1 million per month. Out of this, $200,000 is siphoned off for the insurgents." She mentioned another Afghan contractor who told her, "I was building a bridge. . . . The local Taliban commander called and said, 'Don't build a bridge there, we'll have to blow it up.' I asked him to let me finish the bridge, collect the money--then they could blow it up whenever they wanted. We agreed, and I completed my project."

In case that link doesn't work, here it is again:

Funding the Afghan Taliban


I decided to win the battle and not the war, so I placed my new Venetian flag on the magazzino and wrote "PROPERTY OF CAT BAUER" all over it. The police told me I could make a protest, and that is my protest. If anyone steals my flag, I am going to call the police.

My cellphone was stolen late last night, so in case anyone is trying to call me, that is why I am not answering. And, remember, too, that my American passport has been stolen and the United States Consul in Milano has hung up the phone on me.

All prayers welcome,
Cat

Catherine Cat Bauer
Venetian Cat - Venice Blog
http://venetiancat.blogspot.com

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Please Stand By... (Rethink Afghanistan - The Cost of War)




(Venice, Italy) Here's something to watch while you're waiting. As I said on Facebook, the war in Afghanistan was not a blip on my radar until I was illegally evicted from my apartment and dropped right down the rabbit hole.

More soon...

Ciao from Venice, Italy,
Catherine "Cat" Bauer

Venetian Cat - Venice Blog
http://venetiancat.blogspot.com