Friday, September 24, 2021

The treatment of the Haitians cannot be forgotten

Binoy Kampmark (DISSIDENT VOICE) writes:


With that orange haired brute of a president supposedly ushered out of the White House with moralising delight, the Biden administration was all keen to turn over a new leaf.  There would be more diplomacy, and still more diplomacy.  There would be a more humanitarian approach to refugees and asylum seekers – forget, he claimed, the Border Wall.  Kindness would come over border officials and guards of the imperium.

Instead, we have had secret diplomacy culminating in the trilateral security pact of AUKUS, one reached unbeknownst to allies in Europe, Asia and the Indo-Pacific.  And we have had a particularly ugly spectacle concerning Haitian refugees, with many being bundled into planes to be sent back to their country, having been taken from the burgeoning border camp around a bridge in Del Rio, Texas.

Having been blooded in the mass evacuation exercise from Afghanistan, the Biden administration was now doing the reverse in an exercise of expulsion, promising the deportation of 14,000 Haitians over a period of three weeks.  The jarring contrast was not lost on Nicole Melaku, executive director of the National Partnership for New Americans.  “When you contrast the welcome mat that was rolled out for many Afghan refugees who are deserving – of course – of our support and resettlement, with the deplorable treatment of Black migrants on our home soil, it is just an unfathomable contrast.”

At the Rio Grande River, US border agents, crowned by cowboy hats and sporting a thuggish élan, left a remarkable impression of ugliness by their free use of reins in pushing migrants back across the river.  Many members of their quarry had made the journey to obtain food.  “I can’t imagine what context would make that appropriate,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki expressed with the sort of wonder that is becoming her hallmark style.  “But I don’t have additional details and certainly I don’t think anyone seeing that footage would think it was acceptable or appropriate.”


The horror of the images will not soon vanish.  And we saw the US Ambassador to Haiti, Dan Foote, resign over the (mis)treatment of the Haitians (see yesterday's "Haiti").  Even he was shocked by what he saw.  The conduct was that outrageous.  President Joe Biden may think this just requires some distraction but it does not.  It requires a real rethinking of the immigration issue.  I do not feel that he is up to it.  I hope I am wrong.  Jake Johnston (COUNTERPUNCH) notes:


Exactly two months after his appointment, Dan Foote has submitted his resignation as United States Special Envoy to Haiti, citing a “deeply flawed” US policy toward the nation that includes continued political intervention and the administration’s recent decision to ramp up deportations. “I will not be associated with the United States inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees,” Foote wrote in his resignation letter, which was sent to Secretary of State Antony Blinken on September 22.

The resignation comes as the Biden administration pushes forward with one of the largest mass expulsions of asylum seekers in decades. At least 12 flights have transported an estimated 1,400 individuals from Texas to Haiti in the past four days, and such flights are expected to nearly double throughout the week. The Biden administration has pledged to totally close the Del Rio, Texas border camp, where some 14,000 people had gathered last week hoping to apply for asylum in the United States. Though the administration has stated it is prioritizing single adults for deportation, flight manifests show that a significant portion of those sent to Haiti are families with young children.

The head of Haiti’s migration office, Jean Negot Bonheur Delva, has personally called for a moratorium on the flights. Delva, however, said the government was not in a position to make a formal request. “We need to understand that this is a relationship between a big and a small country,” he told the Washington Post.

The administration is facing increasing criticism from influential figures within the Democratic party, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate leader Chuck Schumer. While the NAACP as well as many human rights organizations have denounced the anti-Black treatment of refugees witnessed at the southern border. Earlier in the week, border patrol agents on horseback charged at individuals and in some cases seemed to brandish their reins as whips.

“The events that took place yesterday are all too familiar to those that are aware of America’s ugly history,” NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson wrote, urging supporters to take action. “It is no secret that Haiti – the first Black republic – has been severely punished by western powers for centuries. This latest incident is nothing short of adding insult to injury.” The Haitian Bridge Alliance and Human Rights First noted this was the latest in a long history of discriminatory behavior toward Haitians seeking safety in the US.


Again, I do not feel President Biden is up to the task but I hope I am wrong.  A lot of people need him to be up to this moment and to steer us away from a violent past towards a better future where the rights of all people are recognized and celebrated.  







This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:


Friday, September 24, 2021. No, the White House did not censor a transcript.  And other topics.

Yesterday, at the White House press briefing, a reporter shouted a question at Jen Psaki as she was leaving the podium.  An e-mail to the public account maintains that the official White House transcript is censored.  No, it's not.  She had concluded the press conference.  She was still in the briefing room and walking away from the podium.  I'm not trying to cover for her, I'm just trying to honestly note what happened.

Stream the video below, you can just go to 44:12, actually.  

If the White House had censored the transcript, that would have been huge news.  That's not what happened.  

Jen Psaki has concluded the press conference and said thank you.  She is picking up her briefing items when one man shouts something and a female reporter is overlapping with 
"Question on Hunter Biden if" and by "if" she's already headed towards the door.  The press briefing is over.  She has said "thank you" and began her exit.  Had she turned around and come back to the podium, the remarks would  need to be part of the official transcript.  But she doesn't.

The transcript isn't censored.  If it were, I'd be noting it here.  If it were I'd be horrified at what an administration had been done but, honestly, I'd be happy on one level because that would be news and it would force the outlets ignoring the story to actually cover it.  

But that's not what happened.  If you're being told it is what happened -- the e-mailer claimed he saw the report on FOX NEWS (which is why I have used FOX NEWS' broadcast of the press conference, by the way, so no one can claim that the briefing was edited by the White House) -- then you are being lied to at worst.  At best? Someone unfamiliar with the procedures has made a faulty call and is repeating it without realizing that.

It's perfectly fine to say Jen walked away.  The look on her face indicates she's not thrilled by what's being stated.  I don't think it's fair to say she walked away from the question because she's walking away and has her back to the room before the "if" is spoken.  

But, no, the White House did not censor the transcript.

I don't know who the woman trying to ask at the end is.  I do wonder why she waited until then to attempt to ask a question?  I would've interrupted many times before including during the ending nonsense about drive time and blah blah blah restrictions.  I would've said something like, "Yeah, Jen, you've covered that and you've already told us you have nothing new so what about the revelations that Hunter Biden's laptop has now been confirmed and what about your Tweet back in October insisting that the whole thing was a lie and a smear and" blah blah blah.

And that's how I would've asked it.

Which is the other thing people aren't getting.

I'm going to mention Jill Biden.  I know Jill and I try to make this an off limits space because Jill's always been kind to me and I like Jill.  When she started defending Hunter -- she did it once -- after the election, I immediately called that out here and her by name.  I stated she has every right to say, "Hunter's my son" (she raised him -- do not e-mail the public account telling me she's not his mother, I don't care for your attitude on that, that's a whole issue of stereotypes and nonsense re: Mom is only the birth mom b.s. that I thought we were beyond), she was perfectly in her rights to say "I love him" and either "I hope it's not true" but that was really it.  Anything further needed her redirecting the question along the lines of, "What I can tell you about is . . ." and then sharing some memory.  

I commented that's how she had to respond and if she did anything else she was opening the door to any type of question on Hunter and on the criminal investigation.  She can't open the door a little and then slam it shut.

But, as we noted then, it's even more restrictive on Joe Biden.  Joe's not allowed to speak if asked this question.  He can say, "I love my son."  He probably should say that.  But he needs to immediately follow that with, "As the head of the executive branch, I can't comment on an ongoing criminal investigation."  And he can't.  It would be an ethical lapse and an abuse of his position and his power.

So if I wanted something from Jen, I would frame it around her Tweet last October.

Just asking her about the laptop is most likely going to result in, "I cannot comment on an ongoing criminal investigation that the FBI is conducting."  That's accurate.  But she can be asked about her Tweet.  That's not part of the criminal investigation.  That goes to her own judgment -- and if she's the White House spokesperson, questions about her judgment come with the territory.  

She might blow off the question, she might try humor (something riffing on, ten months after I make a statement, I -- like most people -- know a little more than I did ten months before), she might try to stick to "I can't comment on an ongoing investigation."  

It would be a mistake to fall back on that last one if she's being asked about her Tweet.  Her Tweet goes to judgment, not to the investigation.  

It would be great if the press could function.  That does mean asking Jen about the new revelations regarding the laptop.  And asking her about it? That means doing so during the press conference. That briefing lasted over 40 minutes.  Stream the whole thing and realize how many times she's not answering a question despite speaking on and on.  (That's not slamming her, that's the role of the spokesperson.)  There were many times when someone could have jumped in and asked that question.  They didn't need to be called upon.  Just say, "Yeah, Jen, you've covered that, now about Hunter Biden's laptop --"  And then you have a question asked during the briefing and on the record.  

That's not what happened.

If it were, we'd be blasting the White House right now.  We'd be asking who okayed the altering of the transcript.  

If you're being told that happened, it's not what happened, that's not what happened.

Glenn Greenwald discusses the latest with Tucker Carlson below.

Hunter Biden introduced his father, then-Vice President Joe Biden, to a top executive at a Ukrainian energy firm less than a year before the elder Biden pressured government officials in Ukraine into firing a prosecutor who was investigating the company, according to e-mails obtained by The Post.

The never-before-revealed meeting is mentioned in a message of appreciation that Vadym Pozharskyi, an adviser to the board of Burisma, allegedly sent Hunter Biden on April 17, 2015, about a year after Hunter joined the Burisma board at a reported salary of up to $50,000 a month.

“Dear Hunter, thank you for inviting me to DC and giving an opportunity to meet your father and spent [sic] some time together. It’s realty [sic] an honor and pleasure,” the e-mail reads.

An earlier e-mail from May 2014 also shows Pozharskyi, reportedly Burisma’s No. 3 exec, asking Hunter for “advice on how you could use your influence” on the company’s behalf.

The blockbuster correspondence — which flies in the face of Joe Biden’s claim that he’s “never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings” — is contained in a massive trove of data recovered from a laptop computer.

The computer was dropped off at a repair shop in Biden’s home state of Delaware in April 2019, according to the store’s owner.

Other material extracted from the computer includes a raunchy, 12-minute video that appears to show Hunter, who’s admitted struggling with addiction problems, smoking crack while engaged in a sex act with an unidentified woman, as well as numerous other sexually explicit images.

The press ignored the contents, Facebook and Twitter censored THE POST.  If you go back to the way we covered it in October and November of last year, you'll note we refuted the claim of "hacking" over and over.  And we did that because that was one of the lies being used.  "We're not censoring the story, we just don't report the contents of something when it was hacked."  First off, lie.  Second of, it wasn't hacked nor was the laptop stolen.  If I take one of my guitars in to be restrung (which I honestly do from time to time, I hate putting on new strings myself) and I don't pick it up, it's not my guitar.  It's not someone's job to hold onto my guitar for six months or more.  They have limited space and if I haven't paid for the work done, it's no longer mine.  Hunter left his laptop to be repaired.  He never paid the bill and he never picked it up.  At that point, the computer repair shop owned the laptop.  They were not 'hackers.'  They were not thieves.  

Those are basic facts and it felt like we were having to repeat that over and over here back then.  

Glenn's compiled a video report of what the media did in terms of censoring the story.

He's also covered that terrain in text form:

A severe escalation of the war on a free internet and free discourse has taken place over the last twelve months. Numerous examples of brute and dangerous censorship have emerged: the destruction by Big Tech monopolies of Parler at the behest of Democratic politicians at the time that it was the most-downloaded app in the country; the banning of the sitting president from social media; and the increasingly explicit threats from elected officials in the majority party of legal and regulatory reprisals in the event that tech platforms do not censor more in accordance with their demands.

But the most severe episode of all was the joint campaign — in the weeks before the 2020 election — by the CIA, Big Tech, the liberal wing of the corporate media and the Democratic Party to censor and suppress a series of major reports about then-presidential frontrunner Joe Biden. On October 14 and then October 15, 2020, The New York Post, the nation's oldest newspaper, published two news reports on Joe Biden's activities in Ukraine and China that raised serious questions about his integrity and ethics: specifically whether he and his family were trading on his name and influence to generate profit for themselves. The Post said that the documents were obtained from a laptop left by Joe Biden's son Hunter at a repair shop.

From the start, the evidence of authenticity was overwhelming. The Post published obviously genuine photos of Hunter that were taken from the laptop. Investigations from media outlets found people who had received the emails in real-time and they compared the emails in their possession to the ones in the Post's archive, and they matched word-for-word. One of Hunter's own business associates involved in many of these deals, Tony Bobulinski, confirmed publicly and in interviews that the key emails were genuine and that they referenced Joe Biden's profit participation in one deal being pursued in China. A forensics analyst issued a report concluding the archive had all the earmarks of authenticity. Not even the Bidens denied that the emails were real: something they of course would have done if they had been forged or altered. In sum, as someone who has reported on numerous large archives similar to this one and was faced with the heavy burden of ensuring the documents were genuine before risking one's career and reputation by reporting them, it was clear early on that all the key metrics demonstrated that these documents were real.

Despite all that, former intelligence officials such as Obama's CIA Director John Brennan and his Director of National Intelligence James Clapper led a group of dozens of former spooks in issuing a public statement that disseminated an outright lie: namely, that the laptop was "Russian disinformation.” Note that this phrase contains two separate assertions: 1) the documents came from Russia and 2) they are fake ("disinformation"). The intelligence officials admitted in this letter that — in their words — “we do not know if the emails are genuine or not,” and also admitted that “we do not have evidence of Russian involvement.” 

The new discussion taking place (by some, many in the media remain silent) resulted from Ben Schreckinger's new book  THE BIDEN'S: INSIDE THE FIRST FAMILY'S FIFTY YEAR RISE TO POWER.  He discussed the book with Krystal and Saagar on BREAKING POINTS below.

In related news, Jerry Dunleavy (WASHINGTON EXAMINER) reports:

Hunter Biden boasted of having "access to the highest level” in China, according to emails of his business contacts published on Thursday.

The alleged claim by President Joe Biden's adult son was discussed in a Jan. 28, 2015, email obtained by Business Insider from Democratic donor Sam Jauhari to Saudi business tycoon Sheikh Mohammed al-Rahbani, as the men tried to put together a plan to free Libya’s many billions in frozen funds. 

[ADDED 9/24/21 11:34 PST, since this morning when this originally posted, Jonathan Turley has weighed in.  Please read his analysis.]

Moving over to Iraq . . . 

A piece of the ancient Gilgamesh tablet has been returned to Iraq.

The tablet likely would have remained in the U.S. had the Hobby Lobby-owning Green family not put it in their Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. It caught someone’s eye while on display, and the feds began investigating. Authorities seized the tablet in 2019.

Iraq’s electoral commission aims to announce the results of the upcoming parliamentary elections on October 10 within 24 hours, they announced on Thursday following a voting simulation.
“The commission has committed itself to announce the results of the elections within 24 hours,” the head of the electoral commission Jalil Adnan Khalaf said at a press conference. “Yesterday's simulations were to ensure that.”

24 hours later?  As opposed to the usual week or so?  That would be something if it happened.

The early elections are only taking place because of the brave protesters. The October Revolution  kicked off protests in the fall of 2019 and forced the prime minister to step down and early elections to be announced.  As ARAB WEEKLY notes, "Tens of thousands of Iraqi youths took to the streets to decry rampant corruption, poor services and unemployment. Hundreds died as security forces used live ammunition and tear gas to disperse crowds."  This is what forced the resignation of one prime minister and has led to national elections which are supposed to take place October 10th.  (Members of the Iraqi military will vote October 8thTwo election simulations have been carried out by the IEC and the third and final one will take place September 22nd.)    that the candidates for Parliament include 951 women ("close to 30% of the total number of candidates") who are running for the 329 seats.  Halgurd Sherwani (KURDISTAN 24) has reported Jeanine Hannis-Plasschaert, the Special Representiative in Iraq to the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, declared that Iraq's "Female candidates face increasing levels of hate speech, violence, and blackmail intended to force them to withdraw their candidacy." 

Sinan Mahmoud (THE NATIONAL) counts 3,249 people in all seeking seats in Parliament  BROOKINGS notes this is a huge drop from 2018 when 7,178 candidates ran for office.   RUDAW is among those noting perceived voter apathy, "Turnout for Iraq’s October 10 parliamentary election is expected to be a record low, with a recent poll predicting just 29 percent of eligible voters will cast ballots." Human Rights Watch has identified another factor which may impact voter turnout, "People with disabilities in Iraq are facing significant obstacles to participating in upcoming parliamentary elections on October 10, 2021, due to discriminatory legislation and inaccessible polling places, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Without urgent changes, hundreds of thousands of people may not be able to vote.  The 36-page report, “‘No One Represents Us’: Lack of Access to Political Participation for People with Disabilities in Iraq,” documents that Iraqi authorities have failed to secure electoral rights for Iraqis with disabilities. People with disabilities are often effectively denied their right to vote due to discriminatory legislation and inaccessible polling places and significant legislative and political obstacles to running for office."  Another obstacle is getting the word out on a campaign.  Political posters are being torn down throughout Iraq.  Halgurd Sherwani  (KURDiSTAN 24) observes, "Under Article 35 of the election law, anyone caught ripping apart or vandalizing an electoral candidate's billboard could be punished with imprisonment for at least a month but no longer than a year, Joumana Ghalad, the spokesperson for the Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), told a press conference on Wednesday."  And there's also the battles in getting out word of your campaign online.  THE NEW ARAB reported weeks ago, "Facebook is restricting advertisements for Iraqi political parties and candidates in the run-up to the country's parliamentary elections, an official has told The New Arab's Arabic-language sister site."

THE WASHINGTON POST's Louisa Loveluck Tweeted: of how "chromic mistrust in [the] country's political class" might also lower voter turnout.  Mina Aldroubi (THE NATIONAL) also notes, "Experts are predicting low turnout in October due to distrust of the country’s electoral system and believe that it will not deliver the much needed changes they were promised since 2003."  Mistrust would describe the feelings of some members of The October Revolution.  Mustafa Saadoun (AL-MONITOR) notes some of their leaders, at the recent  Opposition Forces Gathering conference announced their intent to boycott the elections because they "lack integrity, fairness and equal opportunities."  Distrust is all around.  Halkawt Aziz  (RUDAW) reported on how, " In Sadr City, people are disheartened after nearly two decades of empty promises from politicians." 

After the election, there will be a scramble for who has dibs on the post of prime minister.  Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has 90 candidates in his bloc running for seats in the Parliament and one of those, Hassan Faleh, has insisted to RUDAW, "The position of the next prime minister is the least that the Sadrist movement deserves, and we are certain that we will be the largest and strongest coalition in the next stage."  Others are also claiming the post should go to their bloc such as the al-Fatah Alliance -- the political wing of the Badr Organization (sometimes considered a militia, sometimes considered a terrorist group).  ARAB WEEKLY reported, "Al-Fateh Alliance parliament member Naim Al-Aboudi said that Hadi al-Amiri is a frontrunner to head the next government, a position that can only be held by a Shia, according to Iraq’s power-sharing agreement."  Some also insist the prime minister should be the head of the State of Law bloc, two-time prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki.  Moqtada al-Sadr's supporters do not agree and have the feeling/consensus that,  "Nouri al-Maliki has reached the age of political menopause and we do not consider him to be our rival because he has lost the luster that he once had so it is time for him to retire."

The following sites updated: