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Time for Sanders to play hardball: With Clinton Stumbling Following His Big Michigan Win, Bernie Should Attack Her Integrity
By Dave Lindorff
Bernie Sanders, whose campaign for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination is on a roll following a stunning if narrow win in last Tuesday’s Michigan primary, where he embarrassed pollsters who were predicting a double-digit rout by Hillary Clinton only a day before the voting, has famously said he’s “not interested” in the issue of his opponent’s exclusive use, during her five years as Obama’s Secretary of State, of a private, instead of government email account and server.
By John Grant
“One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. ... The realms of advertising and of public relations, and the nowadays closely related realm of politics, are replete with instances of bullshit so unmitigated that they serve among the most indisputable and classic paradigms of the concept.”
By John Grant
By Dave Lindorff
I was shocked to find myself in almost perfect agreement today with a recent column by the neoconservative pundit Charles Krauthammer.
Usually Krauthammer has me groaning, but yesterday his column nailed it.
Look who’s calling voting ‘divisive’ and ‘illegal’: The Blood-soaked US Has No Business Opposing Sovereignty Plebiscites
By Dave Lindorff
The rot at the core of US international relations, domestic politics and the corporate media is evident in the American approach to the Ukraine crisis.
Not funny, but it’s still hard not to laugh: How Can the US Accuse Russia of Violating International Law?
By Dave Lindorff
If you want to make moral or legal pronouncements, or to condemn bad behavior, you have to be a moral, law-abiding person yourself. It is laughable when we see someone like Rush Limbaugh criticizing drug addicts or a corrupt politician like former Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) voting for more prisons, more cops, and tougher rules against appeals of sentences.
The same thing goes for nations.
By Dave Lindorff
I ran the Boston Marathon back in 1968, and, my feet covered with blisters inside my Keds sneakers, dragged across the finish line to meet my waiting uncle at a time of about 3 hours and 40 minutes. It was close enough to the time that the current bombing happened in this year’s race -- about four hours from the starting gun -- that had I been running it this year, I might still been near enough to the finish line to have heard the blasts.
If you're like me, there are some things you would like to abolish. My list includes war, weapons, fossil fuel use, plutocracy, corporate personhood, health insurance corporations, poverty wages, poverty, homelessness, factory farming, prisons, the drug war, the death penalty, nuclear energy, the U.S. Senate, the electoral college, gerrymandering, electronic voting machines, murder, rape, child abuse, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and the Washington Post. I could go on. I bet you can think of at least one institution you believe we'd be better off without.
All of us, then, can almost certainly learn a thing or two from the men and women in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in England who abolished first the slave trade and then slavery within the British empire. I highly recommend watching a film about them called "Amazing Grace." If you like it, you'll love a book called "Bury the Chains."
You'll discover that this was in many ways the original activist movement. It created activist committees, with chapters, newsletters, posters, speaking tours, book tours, petitioning, boycotts of products, theatrical props, and investigative journalism -- pioneering all of these now familiar tactics. It achieved great success without voting, as only a tiny fraction of the population could vote. That, in itself, should be a lesson to those who believe elections are the only tool available.
The abolition movement had stamina. Looking back, its gains appear stunningly swift. At the end of the 1700s the world was dominated by slavery. Slavery was the norm. Before the end of the 1800s it had been outlawed almost everywhere. Yet, those who worked night and day against the current of their times to create the abolition movement faced endless defeats. Many of the hardest working activists didn't live to see the final success. And yet they kept working. That too may be a lesson for us.
A war between England and France halted progress, and could have stopped it cold. But the war ended, and the movement was revived -- in large part with a new cast of characters, a younger generation of radicals. Freezing all forward momentum for wars has been the rule over the ages. It's a hard lesson for us to face, as we've now accepted that we live in an era of permanent war. The difficult truth may be that we must escape that era if we are to make headway on numerous fronts.
When the abolition movement sprang into being in England, it was a moral movement demanding rights -- but, unlike most movements we've seen -- demanding rights for other people. The Britons were not demanding their own freedom. In fact, they were willing to make sacrifices, to risk a reduction in their own prosperity, and to boycott the use of slave-grown sugar. This is a useful fact in an age when we are often told that people can only care about themselves. Never mind the dead Afghans and Pakistanis, we're advised, just make sure that Americans know the financial cost of the wars. Perhaps that advice can be questioned after all.
However, Adam Hochschild, the author of "Bury the Chains," believes that Britons were able to appreciate the evil of the slave trade because of their own experience with the practice of naval impressment. That is to say, because they themselves lived in fear of being kidnapped and enslaved by the British Navy and forced to sail naval vessels around the world, and in fear of their loved ones meeting that fate, they were able to imagine the misery of Africans living in fear of being kidnapped and sold into slavery in the West Indies.
Where might this insight lead us? Americans do face random senseless gun violence. Can we appreciate the evil of a drone buzzing over a village and then blowing up a family because we know that our shopping mall or school could soon be the scene of mass murder? Americans have also been taught to fear foreign terrorism. Can we appreciate the need to stop funding foreign terrorism in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan, foreign terrorism carried out by the U.S. military?
We do have another tool available to us. We can make use of video, audio, and instantaneous reporting on the victims of war or other evils. Perhaps, understanding that morality can move people, we will figure out a better way to communicate what needs to be abolished. The original abolitionists did not have this ability.
The original abolitionists made great use of newspapers and books which -- unlike those in France and other nations that failed to develop a similar mass movement -- were completely uncensored. (We come back to the need to abolish our corporate media cartel.) The original abolitionists benefitted from the egalitarian organizing of the Quakers, at whose meeting any man or woman could speak -- although they were remarkably slow to make use of the voices of freed slaves who could have spoken of slavery first-hand, and who eventually did so to great effect.
The movement to abolish the slave trade was aimed at Parliament. It did not demand freedom or rights for blacks. It threatened the livelihood of ship captains but not of the wealthy whose investments were in the plantations across the sea. The movement persuaded MPs of just enough to pass the legislation desired -- and even less, as abolitionists slipped through Parliament a bill designed to damage the slave trade but not advertised that way or understood by its opponents until the vote had been taken.
The movement was launched in 1787 and by 1807 had outlawed the slave trade. By August 1, 1838, all slaves in the British empire were free.
The slaves themselves heard of these efforts, of course, and their own struggles for freedom may have done more than anything else to win the day. The rebellions in Saint-Domingue (Haiti), Jamaica, and elsewhere had a significant impact on British thinking about slavery. In fact, the first generation of abolitionists, now aging, failed to keep pace with public sentiment. Their proposals for a slow and gradual end to slavery had to make way for the demand of immediate emancipation advanced by younger men and the now very active groups of women. And ultimately a reform bill had to be passed to somewhat democratize the government before the popular demand for slavery's abolition could be answered.
Activists were somewhat disappointed when Parliament chose to compensate slave owners for the liberation of their slaves. The slaves themselves were, of course, not compensated. They had little but hard times ahead.
But the compensation of slave owners offered a model that might have served the United States better than bloody civil war. During the American revolutionary war, the British had recruited slaves to fight on their side by promising them freedom. After the war, slave owners, including George Washington, demanded their slaves back. A British commander, General Sir Guy Carleton, refused. Thousands of freed slaves were transported from New York to Nova Scotia to avoid their re-enslavement. But Carleton did promise to compensate the slaves' owners, and Washington settled for that.
The original British abolitionists, including Thomas Clarkson, greatly influenced Americans like William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick
Douglas Douglass. But few picked up on the idea of compensated emancipation, which had not originated with the abolitionists.
Elihu Burritt was an exception. From 1856 to 1860 he promoted a plan to prevent a U.S. civil war through compensated emancipation, or the purchase and liberation of slaves by the government, following the example that the English had set in the West Indies. Burritt traveled constantly, all over the country, speaking. He organized a mass convention that was held in Cleveland. He lined up prominent supporters. He edited newsletters. He behaved, in other words, like Clarkson and many an activist since.
And Burritt was right. Britain had freed its slaves without a civil war or a slave rebellion on the scale that was possible. Russia had freed its serfs without a war. Slave owners in the U.S. South would almost certainly have preferred a pile of money to five years of hell, the deaths of loved ones, the burning and destruction of their property, and the uncompensated emancipation that followed, not to mention the century and a half of bitter resentment that followed that. And not only the slave owners would have preferred the way of peace; it's not as if they did the killing and dying.
When a former slave found his voice in London, told his story in a best-selling book, filled debating halls, and became a leader in the movement to free all others, he was a man who had been a slave in my home state of Virginia. His name was Olaudah Equiano. He was one of, if not the first, black to speak publicly in Britain. He did as much to end the slave trade as anyone, and it might have gone on considerably longer without him.
I've never seen a monument or memorial in Virginia to Equiano. In contrast, just down the street from my house in Charlottesville is a tree called Tarleton's Oak. Next to it is a gas station by the same name. The tree is not old, having been planted to replace an enormous aging oak that I recall seeing. Under that one, supposedly, during the revolution, British troops camped. They were led by a young officer named Banastre Tarleton. He later got himself into Parliament, and there was no more obnoxious defender of the slave trade than he. Africans themselves, he maintained, did not object in the least to being enslaved. Tarleton lied at tremendous length without a hint of shame. His memory we mark, not Equiano's.
By Dave Lindorff
I went into my local township building Monday to settle up my local income tax bill. I had filed for an extension of my federal and state taxes back in April because of my father’s unexpected death a few weeks before the tax filing date and the need to deal with his funeral and with arranging for care for my widowed mother, who has alzheimers, had taken up all my time.
Stolen Haitian Relief Money
by Stephen Lendman
Following Haiti's catastrophic January 12, 2010 earthquake, billions of dollars in relief aid were raised. Suffering Haitians got virtually none of it.
Hundreds of thousands remain homeless. A cholera emergency still exists. On June 19, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent said:
By John Grant
Vietnam, a story of virtually unmitigated disasters that we have inflicted on ourselves and even more on others.
-Bernard Brodie, 1973
Haiti: Two Years Later - by Stephen Lendman
On January 12, 2010, Haiti experienced a calamitous earthquake. Port-au-Prince was devastated. Property destruction and damage were extensive.
As many as 300,000 or more died. Many others were injured. Impoverished Haitians enduring crushing hardships lost everything, including loved ones.
Selective Sympathy: War’s Mayhem and Murder is Somehow Less Hard to Bear than the Humane Termination of an Injured Animal
By Dave Lindorff
The officer rested his arm holding the stock of the assault rifle on the top of a log pile, and aimed directly between the target’s eyes. She was looking directly at him, unblinking, from 30 feet away, and exhibited no fear. “I hate doing this,” he muttered, before finally pulling the trigger.
A sharp “bang!” rang out, her head jerked up and then her whole body sagged to the ground, followed by some muscle jerks, and it was over.
The officer went over and checked the body, decided no second shot was needed to finish the job, and then walked back to his squad car, took out his phone, and called in the serial number of his rifle, reporting his firing of one round, as required by regulations.
Haitian Suffering Under Imperial Occupation - by Stephen Lendman
Except briefly after their successful 1804 revolution and under Aristide, Haitians suffered over 500 years of persecution and human misery.
It's ongoing today under America's imperial boot, UN paramilitary occupation, and stealth Duvalierist Michel ("Sweet Micky") Martelly's illegitimate April 2011 election.
Aristide Heading Home - by Stephen Lendman
On March 18, Reuters headlined, "Haiti's Aristide heads home before runoff vote," saying:
He "headed back to his country on Friday after ignoring US opposition to a homecoming some fear could disrupt Haiti's presidential election runoff on Sunday."
For months, State Department officials obstructed him, wanting him permanently excluded, especially during Sunday's illegitimate elections, featuring two unpopular presidential candidates most Haitians spurn. Most, in fact, won't participate, knowing either winner represents Washington, not them.
First round November 28 elections and Sunday's runoff were rigged to defraud. Haitians want democracy, what's absent in Sunday's vote.
Obstructing and Delaying Aristide's Return - by Stephen Lendman
He's lived in exile since US marines forcefully ousted him at gunpoint on February 29, 2004. Efforts to help him return followed, what he's wanted for eight years today, the anniversary of his abduction.
On February 25, San Francisco's Bay View and other publications ran attorney Walter Riley's article titled, "Prominent anti-apartheid movement veterans call on South African government to assist Aristide in returning to Haiti now," saying:
Noted figures wrote "South African President Jacob Zuma an open letter 'in hopes that (he'll) assist' former (President) Aristide and his family (return) to Haiti 'as soon as possible.' " Among them were:
-- Randall Robinson, Trans Africa Forum's founder;
-- Jesse Jackson;
-- Danny Glover;
-- British MP John McDonnell;
-- Dick Gregory;
-- Jack Healey, Human Rights Action Center's founder and director;
Reactions to Aristide's Impending Return - by Stephen Lendman
After receiving his diplomatic passport to return, Haitians eagerly await his arrival. For them and millions of global supporters, it can't come a moment too soon. Reactions express varying views.
On February 18, AP headlined "Aristide backers march amid talk of Haiti return," saying:
In Port-au-Prince, thousands rallied in support "as people close to the former leader say he plans to return soon from (US-forced) exile in South Africa."
Marchers "seemed largely festive, with loudspeakers blaring music and young men drinking beer in the hot sun." Eugene Mirthil, an unemployed worker, spoke for others saying:
"We must have the return of Dr. President Aristide as a simple citizen to help us get better as a country as a people."
Washington calls his return disruptive ahead of March 20 runoff elections. Maryse Narcisse, Aristide's spokeswoman, said:
Aristide Gets Diplomatic Passport to Go Home - by Stephen Lendman
Several previous articles discussed his right to return, accessed through the following links:
Since forcibly exiled on February 29, 2004, Washington and Haiti denied his right to return, though affirmed in Haiti's Constitution and international law.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:
Article 9: "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile."
Article 13(2): "Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country."
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) states:
Grassroots Support for Aristide's Return - by Stephen Lendman
Two recent articles discussed his eagerness to return, accessed through the following links:
He explained he's "ready....today, tomorrow, at any time. The purpose is very clear: To contribute to serving my Haitian sisters and brothers as a simple citizen in the field of education."
After six eye surgeries in the past six years, it's also vital for health reasons. He experiences extreme winter pain and risks complications causing blindness. In addition, Haitians want him badly, mainly for his powerful inspirational presence. It's why so far Washington denied him, wanting no one interfering with its imperial agenda.
Haiti Update: Electoral Runoff and Aristide's Status - by Stephen Lendman
With world attention focused on Middle East events, mainly Egypt's, Haiti's gotten little attention despite its compelling need for real change. So far, it's nowhere in sight, nor openly discussed, or demanded like visible millions are doing abroad.
Stay tuned. It may happen if visceral anger spreads globally by enough people knowing that democratic freedoms depend on them - through massive, sustained grassroots pressure, accepting nothing less than ouster of corrupt, repressive regimes for equitable, just ones they choose.
Imperial Washington Suffocates Long Suffering Haitians
Despite sham November presidential and parliamentary elections and growing calls for new ones, a runoff March 20 second round is scheduled, led by two Washington-approved presidential candidates:
-- former first lady Mirlande Manigat of the right-wing Rally of Progressive National Democrats (RDNP); and
Bizarre Developments in Haiti - by Stephen Lendman
Three previous articles relate to this one, accessed through the following links:
On January 20, Al Jazeera headlined, "Baby Doc wants Haiti presidency," saying:
Despite his 15-year reign of terror and current corruption, embezzlement, money laundering, and perhaps assassination charges, he "retains ambitions of returning to the presidency," according to one of his lawyers, Reynold George saying:
"He is a political man. Every political man has political ambitions." Asked if he wishes to return to power, George replied, "That is right. Because under this new constitution, and let me tell you I am one of the persons who wrote that constitution, he has the right to do so (under) two mandates. Two!"
Duvalier in the Dock - by Stephen Lendman
Don't bet on it, or at most expect prosecutorial pretense, theater, with Baby Doc Duvalier free to return to his luxury French villa, though perhaps later than planned. A previous article discussed his arrival and 15 dictatorial years of rule (plus his father's), accessed through the following link:
On January 18, New York Times writer Ginger Thompson headlined, "Former Haitian Dictator to Face Charges," saying:
"Haitian prosecutors presented formal charges of corruption and embezzlement against the former dictator Jean-Claude (Baby Doc) Duvalier on Tuesday, raising the level of uncertainty surrounding his abrupt emergence from exile this week."
Haiti's Chief Magistrate, Marycidas Auguste, announced charges of "government corruption, embezzlement of funds, money laundering, and assassination."
Baby Doc Duvalier in Haiti - by Stephen Lendman
With more troubles than Job, Haitians now have another after former dictator Jean-Claude Baby Doc's arrival. On January 16, Air France flew him back, New York Times writer Randal Archibold headlining, "A Former Dictator Reappears in Haiti," saying:
"Haitian television and radio stations reported that Mr. Duvalier....landed shortly after 6PM in Port-au-Prince," telling reporters he was there "to help Haiti."
He's most unwelcome. As Haitian dictator from April 21, 1971 - February 7, 1986, he ruled brutally after succeeding his father, Francois Papa Doc, another infamous thug in charge from October 22, 1957 until his April 21,1971 death.
For nearly 30 years, they reigned terror, using Tonton Macoute killers to murder up to 100,000 Haitians, yet America backed their rule. When military strongman Paul Magloire was deposed, rigged elections brought Papa Doc to power. More on his rule and son Baby Doc below.
Post-Quake Haiti: One Year Later - by Stephen Lendman
On January 12, 2010 at 21:53 GMT, 4:53PM in Haiti, the earth massively shook. For affected Haitians, it never stopped. The combination of initial shock, devastating destruction, vast loss of life, injuries, suffering, and human misery disrupted millions of Haitians already overwhelmed by crushing hardships.
A year ago, people wandered the streets dazed, searching for loved ones. Lost power cut communications except by satellite phone. Haiti's quake vulnerability was well known but little reported, and no advance precautions were taken.
Haiti's Elections: Illegitimately Recounting Fraud - by Stephen Lendman
Haiti's November 28 elections were irremediably fraudulent, farcical and outrageous. The entire process was rigged. New elections, including all excluded parties, are essential, but not planned. Instead, so-called independent OAS experts began recounting verification to legitimize fraud. According to Albert Ramdin, Assistant OAS Secretary General:
Recounting will be secretive behind closed doors. No public statement will be made until final results are announced, likely early in January. Team members will "look at all systems and then....agree on how (to) proceed" instead of trashing junk tally sheets and starting over.
Originally scheduled for January 16, second electoral round voting will be delayed until initial totals are recounted and verified, no matter how fraudulent, ludicrous, and worthless.
The New York Times Endorses Fraud
More on Haiti's Raging Cholera, Electoral Fraud and Deportations - by Stephen Lendman
Haitians remains plagued by a perfect storm combination of earthquake devastation, crushing poverty, raging cholera, electoral fraud, exploitation, persecution, Obama-ordered deportations, and world indifference to their plight, with few exceptions like Cuba and Venezuela.
Post-quake, their aid was some of the first to arrive. After cholera struck, Chavez sent a Ministry of Health team with medications, intravenous drips and rehydration tablets. He promised more as needed for "our Haitian brothers and sisters (exploited) by savage capitalism and imperialism."
Since 1998, Cuba's had hundreds of doctors, nurses, and other medical specialists in Haiti to help. Post-quake, it sent more, and after cholera struck, more still with supplies to set up new facilities and deliver heroic services under the most adverse conditions, including in hard to reach rural areas.
Haiti's Electoral Council Tries Alternate Ways to Legitimize Fraud - by Stephen Lendman
It's almost surreal following Haiti's November 28 elections, a process elevating fraud to a new level. So bad, in fact, most candidates demanded voiding it and starting over, but no matter. On December 9, New York Times Deborah Sontag headlined, "Haitian Vote Results to Be Reviewed," saying:
"Seeking to defuse the violent protests that have shut down this country for two days, Haiti's electoral council (CEP) promised....to rapidly review the widely mistrusted preliminary results...."
Honest observers and most candidates condemned them, citing brazen fraud, widespread ballot box stuffing, polling stations opening late, closing early, or not opening at all, staffing them with functional illiterates, omitting voter names from rolls, others told their ID cards were invalid, and numerous other examples of electoral illegitimacy, mocking a free and open process.
More Fraud, Intimidation, and Illegitimacy Assured in Haiti's Electoral Runoff - by Stephen Lendman
On November 28, Haiti's first round legislative and presidential elections were so tainted, they elevated sham elections to a new level - a cruel joke, a process in name only, one fraudulent enough to make a despot blush. Now round two, New York Times writer Deborah Sontag headlining, "Candidates Face Runoff in Haiti's Troubled Vote," saying:
On December 7, Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) announced "that Mirlande Manigat, a former Haitian first lady, and Jude Celestin, (Preval's man), had won the first round of voting."
Correction: stole the first round. Neither candidate was the people's choice. For them, none of the above ranked first, followed by Jean-Henry Ceant, a Haitian businessman, community leader and philanthropist.
Haitians Protest Sham Elections - by Stephen Lendman
Washington's imperial boot flaunts Lavalas' slogan: "All people are people (Tout moun se moun)." The sham elections are one of many abuses. As a result, Haitians continue protesting for rights they've been long denied, including leaders serving them, not monied interests.
On December 3, Al Jazeera's Sebastian Walker said street protests continued for the fourth consecutive day after the November 28 sham elections.
"Tensions reached a level not seen in Haiti's capital in many weeks. UN troops were powerless to keep the crowds back. At times the city center looked more like a war zone."
Litter bins were toppled, then used to block roads. "Frustrations over fraudulent elections were taking on a new turn." UN officials told several angry candidates they were ahead in the popular vote, lying to enlist their support for a rigged process.