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.