Category Archives: International

haiti: some of what we know

NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 25: President of the Republic of Haiti H.E. Jovenel Moise speaks onstage during the 2018 Concordia Annual Summit – Day 2 at Grand Hyatt New York on September 25, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Concordia Summit)

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. 

Notes:

  • 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.

Sources:

Global News Podcast.  BBC. (7/7/21)

New York Times (7/8/21)

Reading:

New York Times (2016)

a “bad day”

It has been days since I have watched corporate TV news.  I have been reading, writing, painting and binge-watching Dickens, Trollope, and Austen on Amazon Prime. 

Every time I turn on the corporate news I find CNN hosts interviewing other CNN hosts about their new books.  On MSNBC, I find people like Jason “Island of misfit black girls” Johnson, pontificating and acting like he’s something other than a vicious attack dog there to repeatedly blame the progressives in the Democratic Party for all the failures of the party establishment.    

Morning Joe has turned into a prayer meeting with Joe Scarborough spending whole segments lecturing viewers on what a “true Christian” is.  This is the news?  Mika Brzezinski relentlessly promotes her “know your worth” marketing/money making strategy.  She actually seems to think that people are going to believe this from a woman who “knew her worth” to such an extent she had an adulterous affair and then married her boss.  She defers to him, babies him, allows herself to be regularly demeaned, interrupted and ridiculed by him.  This is women knowing their worth.

In the afternoons, former Senator Claire MacCaskill has taken obsequious behavior to new heights, fawning over Nicolle Wallace at every turn, baking cakes for Wallace and lighting candles on the cake while lauding Wallace’s journalism.  This is the news?

MacCaskill does this while the other members of the panel (including the other prime ass-kisser, Jason Johnson) clap their hands like school children.  It is just nauseating.

There is no, no international news anymore on either CNN or MSNBC.  The amount of information being communicated is almost nil.  It’s like a televised circle-jerk, reporters interviewing other reporters, promoting each other’s books or (worse still) interviewing members of Congress, as if any member of congress is going to say anything either interesting or informative.  There are only a handful of people in the entire Congress who say ANYTHING that is not a collection of focus-group tested nonsense. 

The corporate media is, in short, like a toy my friend told me she bought her grandson a couple of years ago.  I couldn’t even grasp what she was talking about as she described this gadget.  It was a mechanical thing that had no purpose except to move.  It was called a “fidget spinner.”  The corporate news media is an intellectual fidget spinner – words and words and words and interview after interview after interview filling up space, for no reason except to make money for somebody and create the impression that things are under control.  As Scarborough says the “institutions are holding.”

Meanwhile, the institutions are not holding.  The criminal enterprise that was the Trump administration has gone without accountability or punishment, and will continue to do so.  The legal system works to prosecute, hold accountable, and punish only the poor.  We are repeatedly treated to an orgy of spectacle creating the impression that the powerful will be held accountable only to watch the whole sorry exercise collapse.

The Supreme Court which has sold democracy down the tubes with decisions such as Citizens’ United, is poised to further structure the legal system to favor the wealthy and powerful.  The Congress is afraid of its shadow.  If the Biden administration does not do away with the filibuster, alter the Supreme Court, fight for ordinary Americans, and ensure election fairness and security, the Trump/McConnell crime family will be back in power partially in two years, and totally in four.

All you have to do it look at the flood of voter suppression laws that have been passed in Georgia and other states to see that Republicans are going to make sure that the Democrats lose control of the Congress in 2022 and the presidency in 2024.  They are circling like sharks.  All four years of Trump did for them was to give them the smell of blood and demonstrate how easily they could turn this into an authoritarian Christian nationalist state.

Meanwhile, Ari Melber makes jokes, quotes banal rap lyrics (of sexist rap stars) like they were great literature and/or philosophy and interviews celebrities, barely keeping himself from peeing his pants with glee at his proximity to fame.  It is all just really disgusting.

And, then there’s today.  A 21-year-old man has murdered eight women and was on his way to murder more.  But, as the Georgia Sheriff’s office spokesman said, he “had a bad day.”  There are so many things wrong with this story and the coverage of it and the people involved, I don’t know where to begin.

I feel like my mother when she first started watching the O.J. Simpson trial.  She watched for a couple of hours.  “What do you think?”  I said.  “I think they should all be put in prison now,” she replied getting up in disgust to go and read.  “Who?” I asked.  “All of them.”  She said.  “Simpson, the judge, the prosecutors, the defense attorneys, the reporters, all of them.”  She was, of course, right.

That’s precisely what I feel about everybody involved in this murder case in Atlanta.

The Georgia Sheriff and CNN are talking about “sex addiction” as if sex addiction was  something real.  Law enforcement, politicians and the corporate media are actually mouthing the ludicrous sex equivalent of the “Twinkie Defense” for this Long guy.  The Cherokee Sheriff’s office guy, Baker, found it his responsibility to provide an excuse for a man who walked into businesses that employ women (at starvation wages) to cater to the perverted pleasures of men and murder them.   What is this Baker, Long’s defense attorney?  Official law enforcement provides a narrative for the future jury pool excusing this man because of his “sex addiction.”

“Sex addiction?” There is no such thing as a sex addiction.  It’s a fake con devised by the rehabilitation industry to make money.  No serious person would even allow those two words together to come out of their mouth.  A male reporter on CNN said that the young man “had issues.”  ISSUES?////// ISSUES????????? 

He hates women, that’s the issue, he hates and despises women and has racist exploitive sexual fantasies about them that he felt entitled to act out.  It has nothing to do with addiction.  Long is not mentally ill, that we know of.  He is just the same kind of oppressive, abusive, exploitive, violent bastard that this culture turns out by the millions.  He’s just like Donald Trump, Jeffrey Epstein, that old man who used to be a comedian who doped and then raped women (I’m 70.  I can’t remember his f…ing name), Weinstein, Cuomo, and God knows how many more. 

But, we can’t talk about that.  We can’t talk about a culture that makes the hatred of women fundamental, trades in the commodification of women’s bodies at every turn, provides a market for sexual perversion of every sort and then blames the impoverished women who are forced to participate in it for their own destruction at the hands of the very men they are forced to service. 

This guy “had a bad day.”  That’s what Baker, the Sheriff’s Office guy, said. He had a “bad day” and “issues” and “a sexual addiction.”  No, the women who were killed and their families had a bad day, a tragic day.  This guy acted out his violent racist sexual perversions, violent sexual perversions that are fed every day by the media and the entertainment industry and politics. 

THE DEVIL HIMSELF: ERIK PRINCE

While corporate media pundits spend time interviewing each other about interviews they have done ( Lemon interviewing Tapper about his interview with Biden, dogs sniffing assholes)  and touting their books (Maddow and Scarborough), Trump has dangerously upped the ante in the crime spree that has been the Trump/Republican administration.  They are stealing billions from the American people and neither the corporate media nor the Democratic Party is screaming bloody murder as they should be.

As just one minor example of a story that should have been hammered for days, Trump, after getting rid of a top level of Pentagon officials, has appointed stooges (Lewandowski) who will facilitate the massive grifting of the federal government.

With this top layer of sycophants in place, it is being widely reported that (the devil himself) Erik Prince has been awarded a “classified contract” to take over military operations in Africa.

This move would help facilitate a long-pursued project of Prince’s to take over military operations for the U.S. government (he proposed doing so in Afghanistan) and for the Republicans to privatize the enormous defense budget every more than it’s already been farmed out to giant defense contractors.

It was reported that Prince proposed a take-over of the Afghanistan war to the Trump administration earlier in the year.  It is not clear why he was turned down.  He has come back with his hand out for part of the spoils being awarded by Trump and the Republicans.

In case you don’t remember, Erik Prince is the brother of Betsy de Vos.  He was the founder of a mercenary contracting group that was unleashed in Iraq and wreaked so much uncontrolled, unfettered terror among the population, they finally had to prosecute Blackwater and some of his operatives.

Erik Prince is another of the multitude of people (Paul Manafort, Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump,Jr. Jared Kushner, Roger Stone, Rick Gates, Michael Flynn, etc.) who would already have been in prison in 2016 if we had a functioning Justice Department which prosecuted white collar, corporate and political crimes (See “The Chickenshit Club” by Jesse Eisinger).

Also see Jeremy Skahill’s book about Blackwater and (the Devil) Erik Prince.

erik prince: the devil himself, a classified contract with your money

The reporting is that Trump’s new buffoon appointments in the Pentagon have awarded EriK Prince (read, the Devil) a classified contract to run mercenary operations in Africa.

This is the best book out there about the true depth of corruption and violence represented by Erik Prince.

Elliott Abrams Should be in Prison. A New Low for the Trump Administration. The Criminal Mind

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This is a good summary of some of the reasons Elliott Abrams should be in prison: Common Dreams, August 6, 2020

Abrams’ resume includes:

  • In the 1980s, he defended the infamous Guatemalan General Efraín Ríos Montt, whose violent crackdown on the indigenous Ixil Mayan people of Guatemala was so brutal that it was classified as genocide by the United Nations.
  • He denied that the Salvadoran military was responsible for the devastating El Mozote massacre where, in 1981, a U.S.-trained battalion murdered more than 500 civilians, slitting the throats of children along the way. Not only did Abrams deny the massacre and push for continued US support for the notoriously brutal Salvadoran government, but he even claimed in a 1994 interview that “the U.S. administration’s record in El Salvador is one of fabulous achievement.”
  • He is vehemently anti-Palestinian and shamelessly supports Israel. As George Bush’s aide on the National Security Council, Abrams did everything he could to thwart peace negotiations. He repeatedly undercut any U.S. pressure on Israel to stop the building of settlements and cited the Holocaust as justification for Israel’s killings of Palestinians (Jews are “a people who had learned from history what happens to Jews without security”). In 2015, he applauded then-Speaker John Boehner’s decision to invite Netanyahu to address Congress without the approval of President Obama. He lauds Evangelical descriptions of Israel such as the belief that “Israel is connected to the idea that God favors and protects Americans.”
  • In 1991, Abrams pled guilty to withholding information from Congress related to his involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal, the secret and illegal scam in the 1980s to siphon profits from Iranian weapons sales to support the right-wing Contra rebels trying to overthrow the Sandinista government.
  • Abrams was a key supporter of the disastrous invasion of Iraq. In 1998, he submitted a letter to President Clinton encouraging him to depose Saddam Hussein. As Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy during George W. Bush’s second term, Abrams was in charge of promoting Bush’s strategy of “advancing democracy abroad.”
  • Abrams championed the U.S. overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, echoing the tactics used by the neocons for intervention in Iraq.
  • Abrams’ opposition to the Iran Nuclear Deal is epitomized by his attempts to encourage Israel to bomb Iran’s nuclear sites before negotiations became too serious. He expressed concern that Israel’s capacity to impede the deal was “already being narrowed considerably by the diplomatic thaw, because it is one thing to bomb Iran when it appears hopelessly recalcitrant and isolated and quite another to bomb it when much of the world — especially the United States — is optimistic about the prospect of talks.”
  • In January 2019, Abrams was appointed to be the U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela, and used his position to support an attempted coup, quash diplomatic talks, and increase brutal sanctions, even during the pandemic.

Abrams has now been appointed as the U.S. envoy for Iran, managing a situation that is already a tinderbox, with the Iranian people suffering immensely from U.S. sanctions. Rather than receiving this new position, Elliott Abrams should be barred for life from government positions and recognized as the war criminal that he is.

https://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2020/08/06/codepink-denounces-elliott-abrams-appointment-next-us-special-representative

Article in Common Dreams

Flailing States: Reaction to the Pandemic: Pankaj Mishra

pankajmishra

Pankaj Mishra · Flailing States: Anglo-America Loses its Grip · London Review of Books, 16 July 2020

‘The abyss of history​ is deep enough to hold us all,’ Paul Valéry wrote in 1919, as Europe lay in ruins. The words resonate today as the coronavirus blows the roof off the world, most brutally exposing Britain and the United States, these prime movers of modern civilisation, which proudly claimed victory in two world wars, and in the Cold War, and which until recently held themselves up as exemplars of enlightened progress, economic and cultural models to be imitated across the globe.

‘The true test of a good government,’ Alexander Hamilton wrote, ‘is its aptitude and tendency to produce a good administration.’ It is a test the United States and Britain have failed ruinously during the current crisis. Both countries had weeks of warnings about the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan; strategies deployed by nations that responded early, such as South Korea and Taiwan, could have been adapted and implemented. But Donald Trump and Boris Johnson chose instead to claim immunity. ‘I think it’s going to work out fine,’ Trump announced on 19 February. On 3 March, the day the UK’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies warned against shaking hands, Johnson boasted after a visit to a hospital treating coronavirus patients: ‘I shook hands with everybody, you will be pleased to know, and I continue to shake hands.’

Interview with Pankaj Mishra by the Intercept

pankajmishra

The Global System

Intercepted interview with Pankaj Mishra, author of “From the Ruins of Empire: The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia”  and “Age of Anger.”

The rise of free market ideology in the U.S. and Britain has, in fact, undermined democracy and diminished social protections for ordinary people.

Replacing Biden with Trump is not going to accomplish much to change these underlying destructive ideologies.  A great deal of hope is invested in people like Biden, or Obama before him, but Biden will bring with him all the elements of the discredited old regime that led us to Trump.  A Biden administration will be peopled by very same people who participated in the calamitous decisions that led to the rise of Donald Trump.

It’s hard to see any hope in the next administration.  Hopefully the new social movements like Black Lives Matter, can maintain a kind of pressure which hopefully shapes the decisions of the new administration (if it indeed comes about).

But, we see what happened to the social movements that arose with the election of Obama.  He was elected by something resembling a social movement.  But, once elected, Obama had no further use for this movement.  The “social movement disappeared.”  In the Obama administration, we had the same old faces from the Clinton administration and from Wall Street.

The future of democracy can’t be left in the hands of administrations, but must be in the hands of these social movements.

Interview with Sarah Kenzior: Hiding in Plain Sight

hiding

Deep State Radio Podcast

Home

5/5/20

Interview with Sarah Kenzior about her new book “Hiding in Plain Sight.”

Notes from the interview:

  • The Mueller investigation was deeply problematic in that Mueller completely avoided investigating Trump’s finances and the close connection with the Russian Mafia. Mueller also refused to indict or even interview key people like Jared Kushner.
  • Mueller made useless deals with people like Michael Flint that yielded nothing.
  • Mueller was lionized by the corporate media and assumed to be doing a real investigation. But, he virtually defined out of the investigation certain crucial areas like Trump’s finances.
  • The Republicans have no illusions that this will be a free and fair election in 2020. They have no intentions of trying to ensure it is. This should have been investigated from the very beginning.  It was not.
  • The Trump administration is a continuation of “streamlined corruption.” It is a continuation of a philosophy of government – began decades ago – to make government so small and powerless you could “drown it in a bathtub.”
  • Crises make it easier to push authoritarian policies.
  • 911 made it easy to carry out extra-legal surveillance activities.
  • The economic downturn helped solidify income rampant inequality.
  • There is a grave danger that the Coronavirus pandemic will help justify the use of advanced tracking technology that will further invade individual privacy.
  • Kenzior discusses the problems already in China with technology that such as facial recognition and social crediting which records purchases and activities.  For some people it is a branding system.  If you don’t have the right authorization, you can’t get a job, for example.  (Note: There is a documentary about this on the Wiegers.)
  • Kenzior also is concerned about health data being weaponized, there being classes of people who can and can’t get tested or classes of people identified as “infectious groups.”

Alternative Media: Trump Watch Podcast

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As the corporate media becomes more and more useless in covering the Trump/Republican administration and the coronavirus crisis, we must seek alternative sources of news.

Try the “Trump Watch” Podcast.

In the April 16 episode, they do an interview with John Nichols from the Nation Magazine about the attempt by the Republicans to control voting in Wisconsin in order to assure the election of their hand-picked Supreme Court Judge.  They failed, but only because people came out with home-made masks and stood in lines for hours to vote against the Republicans.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the corporate media had covered this win for regular people in Wisconsin?  Wouldn’t it be nice if the corporate media actually talked about the attempt by Republicans, in Wisconsin and elsewhere, to thwart democracy and manipulate the voting process?

They won’t do it and we have to go elsewhere for our news.  The corporate media has ceased to cover any international news at all.  They are obsessed with interviewing everybody in the country about the minutiae of the Coronavirus issue.  They are obsessed with covering every minute of Trump’s propaganda sessions every afternoon and then talking endlessly about what he says.  They are obsessed with providing us inspirational stories about the “heroes” of the crisis and informing us of how we can entertain ourselves while staying at home as if we were children.

The Trump Watch podcast, starts every episode by saying that they cover what Trump DOES not just what he TWEETS.

The Republicans are using the Coronavirus to install a Christo-fascist one-party authoritarian state.  While the press is asking Trump is it is a good idea for Americans to congregate on the mall in Washington, D.C., the Republicans are stealing us blind.  After this is over, they will tell us we can’t afford Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, Head Start…because of the pandemic, not because they robbed us blind and gave the money to their buddies.

I would love to hear of other podcasts you find useful and any comments you might have.

Trump Watch Podcast