It is a sad comment on the state of our politics that Charles Blow feels the necessity to apologize for a mild, but crucial criticism of the Biden Administration.
A day after a Fox News anchor, Brian Kilmeade, argued that it was not the job of the government to protect people, the NYT is reporting that the FDA approved the use of a drug, Aducanumab, manufactured by Biogen when there was no conclusive evidence that the drug was effective in treating Alzheimer’s.
As is noted in the Times, officials from Biogen worked closely with the FDA during the application process to “…jointly assess the data and chart a path forward.” They also participated in a “joint Biogen-FDA presentation to a committee of independent experts.”
It took a consumer advocacy group filing a complaint and demanding an inspector’s general investigation of the “collaboration” to initiate an internal review.
The corporate media no longer finds it necessary to cover international stories. We are treated to video after video of Biden boarding a plane to go somewhere, but the assassination of the President of Haiti is barely mentioned.
The assassination of Haiti’s president, Jovenel Moise, was barely covered last week.
From what I have read, this is some of what we know.
During an attack early in the morning of July 7, President Jovenel Moise, was killed and his wife wounded in their private residence on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. The wife was flown to Miami.
The attack has been described by the NYT as “well-planned.” And there were reports that many of the attackers were foreigners who spoke Spanish.
A great many questions are left unanswered about how Moise, President of the country, who usually traveled with more than a dozen armored cars and police guards could be so easily targeted.
The NYT reports that Moise had over 100 officers from the presidential guard around his home. Nevertheless, Moise was found lying on the floor at the foot of his bed “bathed in blood.”
There were 12 bullet holes visible in the body according to a Haitian Justice of the Peace, Carl Henry Destin, who was on the scene.
The house had been ransacked. The servants had been tied up.
There are two Americans among the 20 people who have been detained so far. They were described as Florida residents of Haitian descent. Other members of the hit squad were described as Colombians. Mr. Edmond described the men as “well-trained professionals, killers, commandos.”
The Americans told authorities that they were merely translators and had not been in the room where Moise was killed.
Clement Noel, a judge involved in the investigation said that the two Americans had met with other members of the hit squad at a suburban hotel to plan the attack. They said that the attack had been planned over the course of a month. The two American men maintained that the goal was not to kill Moise (the body had 12 gunshot wounds), but to bring him to the national palace.
It has not been reported when the American men entered Haiti, or what connection they had with the other hit men before the assassination.
Judge Noel said that it was one of the Americas Solages who can be heard on audio of the attack, yelling out that the attackers were DEA agents. Solages had previously worked as a security guard at the Canadian Embassy in Haiti and there had been no evidence reported that indicates there was any DEA connection. Why this particular claim was made aloud at the beginning of the attack is not known.
Haiti’s interim prime minister, Claude Joseph, put the country under martial law after the assassination. It is not clear whether he has the legal authority to do so. In fact, most of what is going on in Haiti at the moment is of dubious legal basis.
Days before his death, Moise, had appointed a new prime minister, Ariel Henry. Henry says he should be in charge of the government.
There is no clear designation of authority in the executive branch and there is no functioning Parliament in Haiti. There are only 10 sitting senators out of 30. The terms of the other 20 have expired. The entire lower house is no longer sitting because their terms expired last year. The head of the Supreme Court died of Covid.
Haitian government officials told the NYT that they had asked the U.S. to provide troops to protect infrastructure.
According to a BBC podcast (7/7/21), Moise had become increasingly autocratic during his tenure as president. He was pushing through a referendum which would have changed the constitution so he would stay in power longer.
- The former Prime Minister is Laurent Lamothe.
- Haiti’s ambassador to the U.S. Bocchit Edmond.
- Claude Joseph is Haiti’s interim prime minister.
- The two American men were identified as Joseph Vincent and James J. Solages.
- Former President, Michael Martelly, left office in an electoral crisis in 2016. He was able to use his political power, however, to see his supporter, Moise, elevated to the presidency. Protestors were in the streets demanding Martelly’s ouster in 2016. He left office formally giving presidential power to the leader of the National Assembly.
- Martelly (like Moise) was criticized for not holding elections during his years. Martelly was accused of surrounding himself with “cronies, some of them criminals.” NYT (2016)
- When Martelly was elected, the process was said by critics to be riddled with fraud.
- Former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier was ousted in 1986.
Global News Podcast. BBC. (7/7/21)
New York Times (7/8/21)
New York Times (2016)
On a Sunday afternoon, February 23, 2020, a retired police investigator, Greg McMichael, 64, sees a young black man, Ahmaud Arbery, 25, jogging down the street past McMichael’s house. As it has been described, McMichael goes on “high alert.” He calls out to his son Travis McMichael who also lives in the neighborhood, grabs his 357 Magnum and runs to his white pick up truck. Travis McMichael grabs a 12-gage shotgun and jumps into the driver’s seat.
Arbery is jogging down the street with no cell phone, no weapon, wearing jogging clothes.
The two men, the McMichaels, later claimed that they were on high alert because they recognized the young man. They (with amazing rapidity) formed a self-appointed posse to hunt the young man down.
Ahmaud Arbery was a jogger. He had jogged in the Satilla Shores neighborhood before. In fact, this was part of the reason the two men (joined by another) pursued him. The McMichaels claimed that Arbery had been observed on video tape, entering a house in the area which was under construction.
The owner of the house under construction had set up the video equipment and had also viewed the tapes. Nothing he saw on the tapes alarmed him. There was a curious white couple who entered the house, a group of white young people who carted off pieces of wood. Arbery has also been filmed wandering around the house and leaving without disturbing anything. The owner didn’t call 911. He didn’t even notify the authorities.
But, evidently, there was a buzz in the neighborhood about trespassers. I would be willing to bet my bottom dollar this buzz wasn’t about the white couple, or the white kids who stole from the site. It was about a young black man daring to act like any number of other people fulfilling their curiosity about the new construction.
This is the kind of “buzz” that leads to two white men arming themselves in a matter of minutes and hunting down a young black man on the street. This is the kind of “buzz” that gins up hyper vigilance for men who see themselves as protectors of white privilege. It makes them feel special, like heros, like warriors. They love it.
And, they thought they were perfectly justified in arming themselves, jumping into a truck and pursuing another human being, cutting off his escape and murdering him in the street.
The date for the trial of the three men who hunted down Ahmaud Arbery and shot him in the street is October 18, 2021 in the Glynn County Courthouse, Brunswick, Georgia.
For almost three months after Arbery was shot and killed, there were no arrests, no charges brought and almost no local press coverage. But, one of the men who joined the chase of Arbery as Arbery jogged through a Brunswick, Georgia neighborhood, filmed the chase and the shooting. When the video went viral, media attention was attracted to the case. When the GBI took the investigation out of the hands of local officials, charges were brought in days.
The local prosecutor had recused herself from the case almost immediately because one of the men, Gregory McMichaels, had been a police investigator with her office. She contacted another local prosecutor, and asked him to give advise the police department about the case.
Waycross DA, George E. Barnhill advised the Glynn County Police Department that the three men appeared to have been acting in self defense.
The local prosecutor, Jackie Johnson, requested a new prosecutor. She contacted the state Attorney General who assigned the case to Barnhill. But, Barnhill’s son, George F. Barnhill, worked as an attorney in the Brunswick DA’s office and the family of Ahmaud Arbery objected to the elder Barnhill’s appointment. The younger Barnhill had worked with Gregory McMichaels on a case against Ahmaud Arbery years before.
Georgia Attorney General, Chris Carr, then assigned case to Tom Durden, Atlantic Judicial Circuit in Hinesville. He announced plans in early May to ask a grand jury to consider criminal charges.
Carr made a statement last year that the elder Barnhill did not mention potential conflicts when he was asked to take over the case, nor that he had already offered the police department an “initial opinion.”
The case was later transferred to the Cobb County DA. That is where it remains.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported in June of 2021 that a grand jury had been convened to investigate the actions of DA Jackie Johnson in the Ahmaud Arbery case.
On a Sunday afternoon, February 23, 2020, Ahmaud Arbery jogged through a neighborhood in Glynn County, Georgia. He had jogged in the neighborhood before.
But, this jog ended with a retired police investigator and his son, Greg and Travis McMichaels, jumping into their pick up truck and pursuing Arbery. They shot Arbery in the street and killed him.
For nearly three months, the police, prosecutors, and press DID NOTHING. Only when a video of the killing surfaced on social media was national attention focused on the case and the total lack of action about the murder.
Another man in the Satilla shores neighborhood phoned 911 about Arbery jogging. After a few seconds, the caller said: “He’s running now” referring to Arbery. The 911 operator asked: “What is he doing?” Then, she asked: “I just need to know what he was doing wrong.”
Every citizen of this country needs to listen to the podcast about the murder of Ahmaud Arbery based on an investigation conducted by members of Emory University.
“I just need to know what he was doing wrong.”
The corporate media has become such a vast wasteland it is impossible to watch. If you just lump together the nightly news on MSNBC alone, it is a collection of celebrity worship, quoting of rap lyrics as if they were great literature, political gossip, endless discussions of things that MIGHT happen on Capital Hill. Added to that are long winging narratives designed to demonstrate that the Republicans are hypocrites (we would have never guessed) and (I’m sure that will stop them). There is also the moaning and hand-wringing about how the Repubicans can be the authoritarians they are. In case you haven’t noticed, a great proportion of the nightly news is also composed of “breaking news” about investigations, or potential investigations. Then, after a few days, these investigations are dropped like hot potatoes and we never hear of them again.
I could go on for hundreds of words, but…podcasts are the only answer for those of us who are intensely interested in politics and see the corporate news for what it is – a means of “cooling out the mark.” The mark is us.
Heather Cox Richardson co-hosts a really good podcast covering various interesting subjects. The podcast is called “Now and Then.”
If you would like to listen to a discussion of the history of cults in the U.S. and the implications for the current cult we see developing, this podcast is really good.
QAnon, Cults and Cutlery
Now and Then Homepage
For many people, having Netanyahu out of power was a relief. In fact, there were those who worried that (like Trump) Netanyahu would refuse to relinquish power even though he was defeated in a national election. But, Netanhahu’s replacement (at least for the time being), Bennett, is not much better.
According to Sarah Kenzior at Gaslight Nation (an essential podcast):
- Netanyahu’s replacement, Bennett, is “incredibly dangerous in his own right.” Naftali Bennett is an ultranationalist, has represented the violent Jewish settlement movement, has bragged openly about killing Arab people, opposes any Palestinian state within Israel, and has recently criticized Netanyahu for not boing violent enough with Gaza.
- Bennett is only one leader among the coalition of leaders taking over from Netanyahu, but he is among the most conservative. His position as Prime Minister is supposed to be temporary and he is supposed to step down after a certain period of time to be replaced by one of the other members of the coalition.
- The new coalition government is made up of eight parties who have agreed to “hold off on major decisions surrounding controversial issues, like the future of the occupied West Bank.”
- “Over the last 12 years, he (Netanyahu) has used his time in office to allow the growth of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, frustrated Palestinian aspirations for statehood and aligned Israel with right-wing leaders internationally.”
- “…the former prime minister also faces corruption charges including bribery, fraud and breach of trust — allegations Netanyahu denies. A trial is already underway.”
- Bennett is Netanyahu’s former chief of staff.
- He is to serve two years before handing off to Lapid for the second half of a 4-year term. Lapid holds more than double the seats of the “centrist” Yesh Atid party led by Bennett, but an agreement was made to allow Bennett to take the first term to “maintain political solidarity.” I have no idea what that means.
- This coalition includes a party representing Arab citizens.
- Netanyahu called the coalition “…the scam of the century.”
In a speech shortly after handing over power, Netanyahu said: “We’ll be back – and faster than you think.” (NPR)
The Biden administration is taking on the same elitist “we’ll handle this you don’t need to bother” attitude that characterized the Obama administration. And, the result will probably be the same.
When there was clear evidence that the Russians had hacked into the election infrastructure in 2016, Obama, fearful of appearing partisan, refused to make the information public. Harry Reid all but announced the information, but the corporate media ignored him. But, Obama, remained silent.
According to staffers, Obama was so confident that Hillary was going to win, he figured she would take care of the issue after she was elected. “We’ll handle this.” Right.
Well, it didn’t turn out that way and we wound up with a Russian puppet in the White House for four years. We will never know the extent of the devastation of that four years.
Obama cared more about his legacy than he did about the American people and the damage is incalculable.
Biden is issuing the same patronizing kinds of statements about the recent outbreak of conflict in Israel. The administration is doing “quiet diplomacy.” That’s the story. “We’ll handle this you don’t need to bother.” It’s behind the scenes because really cool guys (like Biden) with experience (like Biden) know that it’s better to move behind the scenes than come out publicly and (in this case) demand a ceasefire.
In fact, not that you would know it from watching corporate news (celebrity gossip, agent driven interviews about new books, rap lyric quotes, hand wringing about the hypocrisy of the Republicans, the creation of Liz Cheney as a super-star) but the U.S. government has blocked a UN Security Council call for a ceasefire three times since this conflict began.
Why, why would the U.S. block a call for a ceasefire? What possible purpose would that serve unless you wanted to signal to Netanyahu that we support driving the Palestinians into the sea?
But, there is not a peep about this on the corporate news, or at least not that I have seen. It’s all reassuring elitist head patting. “We’ve got this under control.” “Don’t worry.” “You don’t have to know what’s going on. Just trust us.” “After all, it’s uncle Joe and his son died.”
When Barak Obama decided he knew better than the American people what to do about the Russian hacking, we wound up with the disaster of Trump, three Supreme Court justices not to mention a legion of federal court judges who comprise a ticking time bomb. Biden adopting the same “trust me” attitude is not comforting.
The corporate news by and large is promoting its usual “both sides” analysis. Well, the Israelis are launching some missiles and Hamas is launching some missiles. But, as was pointed out on Christine Amanpour’s show on 17 May 2021, there is no symmetry in the destructive power of the two entities.
And, as Ehaled Elgindy, former advisor to the Palestinian authority commented on Amanpour’s program, the Israelis are essentially asking that Hamas stop firing on Israel in exchange for the Israelis stopping firing at some time in the future as yet undetermined.
Elgindy noted that what was needed was the “robust” involvement of Biden in the situation, not the passive approach he is taking at the moment. Elgindy argued that Biden was essentially saying to Netanyahu, go ahead, we’ll run diplomatic interference for you until you get what you want. Biden should be calling for an immediate cease fire. Because he is not, Biden is “greenlighting” the process.
Elgindy continued that the policy in Washingon is basically that we have to “hug Israel” to get them to do anything. Through 54 years of occupation, expulsions, and blockades, all Washington is willing to come up with are “positive inducements.” The U.S. has “enabled” the situation for decades.
This week on the horrible Morning Joe (home for all middle of the road has beens who have nothing, and I mean nothing,to say) David Ignatius claimed that there wasn’t really anything the U.S. could do about the situation.
Meanwhile, Washington approved $735 million in precision-guided weapons to Israel. The Democrats were largely silent.
Christine Amanpour (5/17/21)