This is how ignorant you have to be to call Haiti a ‘shithole’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

PostEverything

This is how ignorant you have to be to call Haiti a ‘shithole’

President Trump’s defenders don’t know anything about Haiti’s history — or the United States’s.

 January 12 at 5:36 PM

Jonathan M. Katz, a freelance journalist, is the author of “The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster.” He is the director of the media and journalism initiative at Duke University’s John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute.
 2:29
Long before ‘shithole,’ the U.S.-Haiti relationship was complicated

President Trump is under fire for referring to Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries as “shithole countries.”

The president had no respect for Haiti. He could see as well as anyone following the news that the country was a basket case — wracked by political unrest, filthy, incapable of handling its own affairs. There was no doubt his opinion of the black republic was informed by his blatant racism, which included praising members of the Ku Klux Klan. He had criticized his predecessors’ foreign wars while running for office. But in the White House, he realized he was willing to flex the country’s muscles abroad, so long as the mission fit his motto: “America first.”

Taking Haiti was a U.S. priority, he decided. The United States would invade.

That president was Woodrow Wilson. The year was 1915. And if that was the beginning of a story you’ve never heard before, you aren’t alone.

Since news broke that Wilson’s unwitting heir, Donald Trump, called Haiti — along with El Salvador and seemingly all 54 nations in Africa — “shithole countries,” the president’s defenders made it clear that not only do they not know Haiti’s history, they’re unaware of their own. As soon as they heard his comments, Trump’s partisans went defensive, claiming that while Trump might have been rude, he was right. Fox News regular Tomi Lahren tweeted: “If they aren’t shithole countries, why don’t their citizens stay there?” “Trump should ‘vehemently condemn’ the Haitian government for running a shithole country,” wrote one of the organizers of last year’s inaugural “DeploraBall.”

Some on the right particularly applauded a segment on CNN, where National Review editor Rich Lowry asked political commentator Joan Walsh if she would “rather live in Norway or Haiti.” It was a reference to Trump’s reported wish that the U.S. bring in more Nordic immigrants instead of those from Latin America or Africa. Walsh refused to answer, noting she’d never visited either country. Tucker Carlson accused her of dishonesty. “Those places are dangerous, they’re dirty, they’re corrupt and they’re poor,” the Fox News host said, with an indignation Wilson would have admired. “Why can’t you say that?”

Trump’s supporters on cable news appear to believe that they, and he, are brave tellers of unvarnished truths others are too timid or politically correct to say out loud. (Never mind that Trump is a notorious, if not pathological, liar — or that, hours later, he tried weakly to walk back the “shithole” remark after his favorite TV show told him to.)

But in reality, they don’t know many truths at all. To rail against poverty in countries like Haiti, and argue that it’s some naturally occurring, objective reality, ignores why that poverty exists and what the United States’s own role has been in creating it. And ignoring that means not only making bad and hateful decisions today, but risks repeating the errors of the past.

***

Haiti was founded Jan. 1, 1804, by people of African descent who were tired of being slaves. They fought and won a revolution against France, ultimately defeating an expeditionary force of Napoleon Bonaparte’s army, then the most powerful in the world.

France fought so hard to keep the colony because it was basically the Saudi Arabia of coffee and sugar at the time, providing the majority of both commodities consumed in Europe. The money it generated fueled the entire French empire. But it was made with blood. The slave regime necessary to produce those crops was so deadly that 1 in 10   enslaved Africans kidnapped and brought to the island died each year. As historian Laurent Dubois has noted, the French decided that it was cheaper to bring in new slaves than to keep the ones they had alive.

As soon as Haiti was free, the world’s most powerful empires did everything they could to undermine it. France refused to acknowledge the new nation existed. In the United States — then the only other independent country in the Americas — President Thomas Jefferson, a slaveholder, was uninterested in seeing a free black nation succeed nearby. The slaveholding powers refused to set up official trade with Haiti, forcing the country into predatory relationships. Haiti’s independence remained a cautionary tale U.S. slavers used to counter abolitionists until the Civil War.

France finally offered much-needed diplomatic recognition in 1825, at gunpoint. King Charles X demanded the Haitian government pay restitution of 150 million gold francs — billions of dollars in today’s money — to French landowners still angry about the loss of their land and the Haitians’ own bodies in the war. If they didn’t pay, he would invade.

Haiti’s leaders agreed. They spent the next decades raiding their own coffers and redirecting customs revenue to paying France for the independence they had already won, ravaging the economy. By the 1880s, Haiti had paid what France had wanted. But now it owed huge sums to foreign banks, from which it had borrowed heavily to make ends meet. In the early 20th century, much of that debt belonged to banks in the United States. Americans had also established extensive business interests in Haiti, exporting sugar and other commodities.

The United States, meanwhile, was looking to expand. Starting in 1898, we began using our military to secure new territory and markets overseas. By 1914, we had annexed the Philippines, Hawaii, Guam and other islands in the Pacific. In the Caribbean, we had Puerto Rico and a permanent base in Cuba at Guantanamo Bay. The U.S. Marine Corps had also helped carve out a new Central American country, Panama, in exchange for rights to dig a canal providing a trade route to Asia — and invaded Nicaragua, Honduras, Mexico and elsewhere.

Haiti was next. Haiti’s politics, roiled by the economic turmoil caused by the debt, were in a tailspin. Presidents were repeatedly assassinated and governments overthrown. The banks demanded payment; U.S. businessmen wanted more security and control. Newspapers had been paving the way for U.S. public opinion — a New York Times dispatch in 1912 declared, “Haitians acknowledge the failure of a ‘Black Republic’ and look forward to coming into the Union.”

In late 1914, U.S. Marines came ashore in Port-au-Prince, marched into the national reserve and carried out all the gold. It was hauled back to the National City Bank in New York — known as Citibank today. Months later, declaring his concern that European powers, especially Germany, might gain a foothold in the Caribbean (even though they were all busy with World War I), Wilson ordered an invasion, then a full occupation.

The U.S. flag was run up Haiti’s government buildings. The Haitian government and armed forces were dissolved. For the next 19 years, the United States ruled Haiti. U.S. Marines fought a bloody counterinsurgency campaign to stamp out resistance. The Haitian government, Constitution and army were disbanded and replaced with new U.S.-friendly ones. Intending to embark on a major public works program, the Marines instituted a system, drawn from Haitian law, called the corvée, in which peasants were essentially re-enslaved. Many of the occupation’s leaders were explicit white supremacists, who used lessons they had learned instituting Jim Crow at home to create new, American forms of discrimination in Haiti. One major organizer was Col. Littleton W.T. Waller, a child of antebellum Virginia, who assured his friend, Col. John A. Lejeune — the future commandant of the Marine Corps: “I know the n**ger and how to handle him.”

Not all Americans were fans of the colonial regime in Haiti. Anti-imperialist lawmakers, journalists and organizations including the NAACP protested, held hearings and wrote screeds against the occupation. But most Americans, then as now, were essentially unaware. As reports of massacres and other abuses mounted, though, embarrassment grew. Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had served in the occupation of Haiti as assistant secretary of the Navy, came to office promising to end U.S. imperial policies in this hemisphere. The occupation ended in 1934. Haiti had some new roads and buildings, a legacy of scars and abuse and a new U.S.-made economic and political system that would keep wreaking havoc over the decades to follow.

In 1957, a U.S.-trained physician, François Duvalier, came to power. Known as Papa Doc, he was a black nationalist who positioned himself in part as an heir to the Haitian Revolution and opponent of U.S. imperialism, but he also knew how to manage a nearby superpower. U.S. presidents gave him, and his son who succeeded him, support at key moments (when they weren’t trying to sponsor coups against him), until the dictatorship ended in 1986.

***

So in light of all that history, to be convinced that Haiti just happens to be a failed “shithole” where no one would want to live, you’d have to know nothing about how Haitians view their country and themselves. You’d have to know nothing about the destructive U.S. trade policies that continued past the end of the dictatorship, destroying trade protections and, with them, local industries and agriculture. You’d have to not know about the CIA’s role in the 1991 coup that overthrew President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, or the U.S. invasions in 1994 and 2004. You’d have to know nothing about why the United States sponsored and took the leading role in paying for a United Nations “stabilization mission” that did little but keep a few, often unpopular, presidents in power and kill at least 10,000 people by introducing cholera to Haiti for the first time. And you’d have to not understand the U.S. role in the shambolic response to the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake — which was a mess, but possibly not in the way that you think.

Haiti is indeed a difficult place to live for many of the people who live there. Poverty is rampant. There is no good sanitation system, in part because the same international system that introduced cholera in 2010 steadfastly refuses to meet its promises to pay to clean it up. (Before the outbreak, the United States withheld funds to pay for water and sanitation infrastructure for more than 10 years for purely political reasons.) After centuries of exploitation and abuse, the best hope for many Haitians is to move away — and suddenly encountering infrastructure and opportunities, they thrive. For many migrants, the ultimate goal is to earn enough money to retire, build a home in Haiti and go back.

In trying to walk back his slur Friday, Trump insisted that he “has a wonderful relationship with Haitians.” There is no evidence of that. As he decided to move forward with forcing the deportation of tens of thousands of Haitians allowed to take refuge after the 2010 earthquake, Haiti’s leading newspaper pronounced him the country’s “worst nightmare.” Last summer, he reportedly said all Haitians have AIDS — a slur that cuts deep in the Haitian American psyche. And now this.

I lived in Haiti for three and a half years, by choice. I saw many people struggling, many beautiful and terrible sights and lived through some of the hardest days of my life. I learned a lot about the complicated relationship between that country and ours — the ways in which our power can be used for good, and to do incredible harm. Many people pointed out this week that Haitians have been through far worse than a racist president calling their country a “shithole.” The question is if, knowing the truth, we all want to go through it again.

Read more:

Trump sounds ignorant of history. But racist ideas often masquerade as ignorance.

I’m one of the Central Park Five. Donald Trump won’t leave me alone.

President Trump has no idea what’s happening in Puerto Rico

Republican Christians: Quit Being Hypocrites, Put Up, Or Shut Up

 

I use the name Truth Troubles for this Blog Site for a reason, it is because in many cases the ‘truth’ can be inconvenient for our ego’s. Politicians are great at telling people they are speaking the truth on a subject matter when in fact only about 1% of what they are saying is actually the truth. You see, that is speaking the truth, they just don’t tell you about the 99% BS that goes along with their version. When you step on the witness stand in a court room you are told to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God. Folks, that, is the only truth, God’s truth, not some version or percent of it.

 

In November of 2016 ‘we the people’ mainly had two horrible habitual liars to choose as our President, which one was the worse for our Country, that is debatable. Weather the Democratic Party or the Republican Party is the most evil is also easily debatable, personally I have no faith in either of them to ever be truthful with the American people. The Democratic Party and their platform of supporting abortion at will make it impossible for many Christians to vote for a Democrat knowing that they will endorse this policy. Yet this article today isn’t about the Christians who vote for Democrats, today, this article is about the Republican Party and their own ‘unholy’ policies.

 

I say unholy policies because of their own ‘platform’ issues. This newest Republican Tax Plan is a good example of the cold-hearted nature of their base beliefs. This Bill is 1,997 pages long, the reason is simple, there are many items other than changing the Tax Code in that Bill. If it were just a simply straight forward Tax Code Bill how many pages would it be? Really, think about it, should it be more than 2 pages, 5, or maybe 10? How about even 100 pages, you can put a lot of words in 100 pages. In this bill are items like not reimbursing teachers for the supplies they have to buy out of their own pockets so their classrooms can have the basic supplies they need. Also items like stopping assistance to the ‘Meals on Wheels’ program which helps feed the poorest of the poor ‘shut in’s’. Also stopping all the funding for PBS. Stopping many of the Federal Grants for poor kids to help them go to College thus also massively hurting thousands of Colleges and Universities. In this Bill is also massive cuts to Medicaid and Medicare which will cause many millions of Americas poorest people to lose their only Insurance. This will also cause many small hospitals around the Nation to have to close as people will again be having to go to their E.R. services when they get sick or injured and when these people can not pay their bills, the Hospitals will go out of business.

 

The Lord tells us all to be kind and charitable, giving and loving. The Republican Party very plainly caters only to the wealthiest 10% or so of our population. Think about this one fact for a moment please, I was born back in the mid 1950’s, in my lifetime there has not been one single minimum wage increase when there has been a Republican in the White House, not one. Trickle down economics does not work folks. It is like saying that the richest folks will be gracious and allow some of the crumbs to be swept onto the floor so the poor don’t starve to death. And the only reason they allow the crumbs is because the working class is the ones who make the products that make the rich, richer. If the people starve to death it might hurt their profit margins. If you think I am being to hard on some folks just think about the Stock Market for a moment. President Trump likes to talk about how well the Market is doing and that is a good thing folks, but the trouble is that it is a horrible thing for the people who can’t afford massive amounts of those Stocks. When a company lays off hundreds or thousands of employees their Stock value goes up right away. When a company moves out of the U.S. to a ‘Third World’ country for cheaper labor costs, their Stock value goes up right away. When Wal-Mart and Target recently gave all of their employees a raise, their Stock value went down right away.

 

Most of us know that many of the largest American companies are flooded in cash right now and that this cash is sitting in offshore banks. This is not illegal if they have followed all of the existing laws in their putting it there, in fact that is quite smart of them. If the CEO’s weren’t taking advantage of these loopholes their stock holders would vote them out of a job. I have heard several times on different news programs where Executives have commented that they have no place to invest this money so they are just hanging onto it as they are looking for better ‘deals’. So, this talk about caring about the wages and living conditions of the working class is really just a bunch of BS. If these companies were paying better wages and benefits to their workers then the whole economy would prosper. If the government actually raised the taxes on the major companies and closed off all of their built-in loop holes then the Nation could invest in our Nations roads, bridges, city infrastructures, education system and health care system.

 

The Democratic Party has lots of its own sins but as I said this article today is about some of the sins of the Republican Party and the Christians who keep putting their ‘Name, their stamp of approval’ to them. If you are a Christian and you are a voter and you choose to vote for any Republican then it is your Christian duty to insist that the Republican politicians start acting like God-fearing Christians or make it very plain that they no longer have your vote. Charity, kindness, love, compassion are staples of the teachings of Jesus Christ. Folks, the teachings of the Republican Party are exactly the opposite of the teachings of Jesus! So, if you are a Christian and your are a voter, start acting like you know and care about the teachings of Christ and force the hand of these Republican politicians. Either that or simply quit supporting them, otherwise we are nothing but a hypocrite, we are not a follower of the teaching of Christ!

THIS ARTICLE IS ABOUT HOW THE STOCK MARKET KILLS GOOD JOBS

I BELIEVE THAT STOCK MARKETS ARE A PONZI SCHEME THAT KILLS THE WORKING FAMILIES

 

About 4:15 PM, EST today I reblogged a story from the ‘Times Of Israel’ about a large Pharmaceutical Company based in Jerusalem that it is said is getting ready to cut about 10,000 jobs within the next two years. The headline spoke a simple reality, basically it said that the Stock values jumped once the news got out. Folks I posted that article because it was no surprise to me, and in reality, this is the expected obvious result of 10,000 people and their families losing their jobs, their incomes.

A young lady who is one of my readers, and I one of hers, left me a comment, her opinion about this article and I would like to share her thoughts and mine with you now. This young lady has an excellent Website that I hope you will take a few moments of your time to check into. I did something that I don’t ever remember doing and that is that I did a copy paste of her comment to me and my somewhat long comment to her, Ms. Laina. Ms. Laina’s Blog Site can be found at (the silentwaveblog.wordpress.com).

Years ago, my gut instincts told me that either severely restricting, totally revamping, or even maybe completely abolishing the stock market might be a good thing. Glad to know that 1) I’m not alone and 2) we might be onto something! 👏🏼👏🏼👍🏼

And this is my reply to Ms. Laina.

Yep, think about it, just like in this case, when a company announces lay off’s their stock value goes up. When a company breaks a union, their stock value goes up. When a company moves their production to a third world country, their stock values goes up. What is in common with all of these is that the total labor cost go down so the profits go up. When Wal-Mart and Target announced that they were going to give their employees a raise, their stock values took a dive. When a company moves from the U.S. to China or Indonesia they know that their costs are going to go down, labor cost, EPA costs go way down, there is no OSHA, all of these things increase profits so the stock value goes up. As I am sure that you have noticed, when a company cuts their costs by lets say 50%, there is no reduction in the cost of their products on the store shelves. It is all about the profit for the company executives and for the stock holders, all at the expense the workforce. The stock market is nothing but a Ponzi Scheme to rob from the poorest to give to the richest, it should be totally illegal, but that is never going to happen.

The Unneeded Poor WILL BE Exterminated

The Unneeded Poor WILL BE Exterminated

 

In this article today I am going to write it as a proverbial ‘Devils Advocate’. What I mean by this is that this is not something that I want to happen yet I am making the argument to you that it is very much a possible reality as the human race continues to degenerate.

 

When it comes to politics I am an ‘Independent’, neither a Democrat nor a Republican. I believe that both of those major parties are about as crooked at the top levels as they can find a way to be. When you are a person like Hillary or Bill Clinton or a Trump or a Bush I believe that they have proven themselves to be the type of people who will do anything to win or to enrich themselves. In the past day or so thousands of documents dubbed the ‘Paradise Papers’ have surfaced showing how the super wealthy cheat their country and their people out of tax revenues. Last year the same type thing happened with the ‘Panama Papers.’ These documents show that not only are many of the ‘super wealthy’ cheating on their taxes, they also show how intertwined they are with world leaders, government officials, and the super huge global companies as they all seek to scratch each other’s backs in their efforts to get even richer.

 

Back in the mid-1970’s you used to hear people talking on the radio and TV how with the ‘new technologies’ how people were only going to be only having to work 4 day weeks because the machines will allow us to get as much done in 4 days as was currently being done in the 5 day work week. How foolish these ‘talking heads’ were. If you are the employer why would you give up the chance to make an extra 20% each week by giving your employees an extra day off? Especially if your company is on the Stock Exchange, your stockholders would quickly replace you. The business world, especially those on the Stock Exchange are only concerned about one thing, higher profits. If you have ever paid any attention at all to the stock market, you should have noticed how little these people think of the people who are actually making the products. When two companies merge the value of the stock goes up. Why, because the next thing that will happen is the new Board of Directors will be getting rid of many ‘unneeded’ employees. Doing this means that the company will take those wages as pure profit, increasing the value of its stock. When a company decides to get rid of employees, the stock value goes up. When a company breaks a Union, the stock value goes up. During these events, you should also have seen that the Board of Directors salaries and bonuses go up. When a company moves their production factories to a ‘third world’ country where they can fire all of their American workers and get child slave labor to do all the production, stock values, and executive compensation goes up.

 

The world as you know has a population growth that is unsustainable yet at this same time machines and robots (AI) are taking more and more jobs away from workers. From a business standpoint, having machines replace human workers is a very wise thing to do, and it increases your stock value and the bosses salaries and compensation. If they invest in machines they can get rid of the overhead cost of having human employees. Think about it, no more salaries to pay, no benefit packages to pay like Workers Comp, vacation pay, health insurance, retirement benefits, paid sick days, you can’t be sued by a computer, no OSHA regulations to adhere to. Folks, the list goes on and on.

 

Our planet has about seven billion people on it right now, look at the slave labor around the world right now, from Africa to Asia to the Middle-East and yes, here in the U.S. also. Is slave labor legal in a lot of these countries? No, but it still goes on. You may say why, why does it still go on but the answer is simple, pay as little for the labor as possible to increase the profits at the top and to the stockholders. You may say now wait a moment, slaves don’t cost anything but this is not totally true. Slaves still have to get some food and some water or they will die or become too weak to do the work. The more slaves you have in the ‘waiting room’ the less you have to supply to each one each day. Why, because it is in your financial best interest if all of the ‘extras’ die. If the ‘extras’ aren’t dying fast enough on their own, you assist them.

 

If the Earth has seven billion people but can only sustain six billion people because there is no way to produce enough food, what happens to the extra billion people? Who do you think are going to be the ones that are starved to death? Hint, it is not going to be the super rich who basically own everything, it will be the poorest of the poor who will be eliminated. During the early Republican Primaries last year a former ‘Speaker of the House’ Newt Gingrich spelled out the perfect Republican ‘wish list.’ As you probably know the majority of the Republicans in the Congress and the Senate, and this President wants to cut the national deficit by cutting programs like food stamps to the poor and cutting way back on Medicare, Medicaid, meals on wheels, school lunch programs and Social Security. Folks, who need these programs the most? Mr. Gingrich in a TV program last year went even further. Mr. Gingrich consider all of these programs to be ‘welfare’, yet he went further, he called military retirement pay, VA disability compensation and the VA itself ‘welfare’ programs and he said that all of these ‘Welfare’ programs need to be eliminated. There was one thing that he did not include in his list of welfare programs, that was Congressional, Senate, and Presidential retirement pay and benefits, go figure. He has been receiving taxpayer-paid benefits for decades, but I guess that doesn’t count.

 

Back in the 1950’s the top end national tax rate was 90%, during that time the U.S. was able to build city infrastructures, a National Highway program unequaled in the whole world as well as thousands of new bridges and dams. Now, our roads, bridges, dams, and cities are falling apart, why is this? Now the top end tax rate has been 35% and the President is pushing a top end tax rate of 20%. This is at the same time that corporations are swimming in cash and as they say, with nowhere to spend it. About six months ago, I think it was on CNN, that they reported that U.S. companies have about 13 Trillion Dollars sitting in offshore accounts. So, what do these Republican lawmakers want to do, take even more money out of the economy and give it to these same folks who are destroying our country from the inside? It is also these same benefactors who are filling the pockets of these same evil politicians.

 

Back in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s in China Chairman Mao put a starvation policy in place against the citizens of China. The reason was simple, 500 million people are easier to control than one billion people. Folks, these are just things that I have seen, heard, and read throughout my 60+ years. You don’t have to agree with anything that I have written in this article today, but I hope that I have been able to at least get you to think about these issues.

 

 

 

 

 

Sex Trafficking Victim Speaks Out After Her Rescue

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE F.B.I. AND TIME.COM)

 

‘No Way for a Person to Live.’ Sex Trafficking Victim Speaks Out After Her Rescue

2:28 PM ET

A Philadelphia woman who was rescued from sex trafficking spoke out about her former life of drug addiction and prostitution in a new video the FBI posted Wednesday.

The woman, identified only as Ali, had spent five years on the streets, where she quickly became addicted to heroin and fully dependent on her sex traffickers for drugs and money, officials said. She escaped with the help of law enforcement, although it’s unclear when.

“They have that control over you,” Ali said of her sex traffickers, who physically abused her. “I felt obligated to do certain things with them in order for them to keep providing for me . . . I was willing to sacrifice enduring that because without that person I thought I had nothing.”

Ali, who has a master’s degree, said she left her stable home for the notoriously violent streets of Kensington after she tried heroin and became addicted. “It’s honestly like a war zone,” she said of the neighborhood. “Most of what goes on there is drugs, prostitution and violence. It’s crazy when I think about it now because it’s no way for a person to live.”

William Johnson, a deputy sheriff with the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office, arrested Ali after her family asked authorities for help finding her. When that happened, Ali said she was scared but also relieved because she “knew that it was over.” “I knew that the way that I was living and my days on the streets and years of living that way was ending,” she said. “I don’t think I would have made it off of the streets alive had I continued to stay out there.”

Ali now works at a treatment center helping others fight their addictions, according to the FBI. It’s unclear how old she was when she was rescued.

The agency posted Ali’s story as it announced it had recently rescued 84 children, including a 3-month-old girl, and arrested 120 alleged traffickers, following a nationwide crackdown on child sex trafficking.

Puerto Rico’s Misery, Four Weeks After Maria

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Puerto Rico’s misery, four weeks after Maria, seems like it may never end

Updated 4:49 PM ET, Wed October 18, 2017

(CNN)The misery never ceases. And for millions of people in Puerto Rico, the future holds little promise of hope.

Four weeks after Hurricane Maria laid waste to the American territory, the islands remain in a state of acute crisis. Each day, the most basic elements of modern life — potable water, electricity, medicine, phone service — fade further into memory. And each night, infants and schoolchildren and working parents and elders close their eyes with nary a sense of when civilization might return.
Some call conditions nothing short of apocalyptic. And yet, the plan for recovery remains as murky as the filthy water some residents have scooped up to drink. Here is a glimpse four weeks into the disaster:

Source: CIA Factbook; CNN; Puerto Rico government. Moody’s Analytics

President Trump Suspends ‘Jones Act’ In Effort To Get Help To Puerto Rico Quicker

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Washington (CNN)The White House has authorized a waiver to loosen shipping rules regarding Puerto Rico that island officials say would be a significant help for recovery efforts from Hurricane Maria.

“At @ricardorossello request, @POTUS has authorized the Jones Act be waived for Puerto Rico. It will go into effect immediately,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted Thursday morning.
Her tweet comes after Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said he asked the White House to loosen the regulations Wednesday night.
He joined the growing list of officials who argued that lifting the the Jones Act — a federal law designed to protect the financial interests of US shipbuilders by limiting shipping by foreign vessels — would help expedite supplies to the ravaged island. The act has had the unintended consequence of making it twice as expensive to ship things from the US mainland to Puerto Rico as it is to ship from any other foreign port in the world, according to Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain’s office.

Trump weighs lifting Jones Act for Puerto Rico

Trump weighs lifting Jones Act for Puerto Rico 01:01
The act was quickly lifted to help Texas and Florida in the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The Department of Homeland Security said it was able to lift the restrictions quickly because the Department of Defense requested a waiver for those states and the department hadn’t yet done so for Puerto Rico.
Trump told reporters on Wednesday that “we’re thinking” about lifting the law, but added that a “lot of shippers” didn’t want it lifted.
In the wake of the devastation in Puerto Rico caused by Hurricane Maria, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz — along with other US politicians, including McCain and Marco Rubio, R-Florida — had urged the suspension of the Jones Act in order to speed up supply deliveries.

Puerto Rico, Trapped Between Colonialism and Hurricanes

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

Puerto Rico, Trapped Between Colonialism and Hurricanes

Puerto Rican Graffiti. Photo by Flickr user Juan Cristóbal Zulueta. Used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license.

Puerto Rican Graffiti. Photo by Flickr user Juan Cristóbal Zulueta. Used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license.

You came to Puerto Rico for the golden sand and sun—gold, you will recall, was also the basis of our first colonizers’ initial attraction. For the endless piña coladas and rum-spiked mysteries. For the colonial charm and quaint, humble lifestyle. Poverty looks so alluring in the Caribbean, what with the bright colors, crystal-clear waters and the backdrop of lush greens—besides, it’s only for a week. Your friends say it’s the hottest Spring Break spot; the newspapers say it’s a debt-ridden disaster; your parents say it’s dangerous and that the water is undrinkable; and the brochures say it’s a (tax) haven, an absolute paradise. So here you are, in your bathing suit and sarong, mojito in hand, ready to focus on your one task for the week: getting a tan.

But it turns out that the sun isn’t nailed onto the sky, and it doesn’t run on one-million 100-watt light bulbs that never fail. The tides rise and the swells are ferocious. Coconuts, palm trees and branches are potential projectiles. And a hurricane is heading straight for your worry-free fantasy.

So you try to catch a flight out of this paradise-turned-inferno, because a hurricane was not on your must-see itinerary. Instead, JetBlue takes you to a hurricane shelter in San Juan, a hot and humid coliseum, where your beach chair is replaced by a cot; your piña colada by a Walgreens water bottle; your dream, by our reality.

The power was out in my house as I imagined the scenario above, which had taken place the day before, right before Irma’s arrival. After Irma’s passing the next morning there were more than a million households without power. The Electric Power Authority (AEE) was predicting the outages would last two to four months, and almost 80,000 households had lost water service as well. Over 6,200 people were in shelters on the northeastern side of the island, and Puerto Rico’s agricultural industry had suffered $30.4 million in losses. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Governor Ricardo Rosselló were still evaluating infrastructural and residential damages. And now a powerful new storm was heading our way: María.

Puerto Rico is no stranger to crisis. Before Irma’s rampage through the archipelago, Puerto Rico was already in the midst of one of the most devastating financial and socio-political crises in its recent history, with an unaudited $74 billion debt under its belt, $49 billion in pension obligations, and several decades’ worth of illegal bond issuances and trading related to its status as an overly-advertised tax haven. Neoliberal policies such as draconian budget cuts and extreme austerity measures had already rendered life in Puerto Rico quite precarious. And the whole thing was being overseen and managed simultaneously by Governor Rosselló, an unelected and antidemocratic Fiscal Control Board, and judge Laura Taylor Swain, all of whom were going back and forth on the country’s fiscal management and debt restructuring processes.

But even as Hurricane Irma headed straight towards it, for many outside of the country, Puerto Rico is a mere blip on CNN’s news ticker, an enchanting US-owned island on a tourist brochure, that exotic place where the music video for “Despacito” was filmed (and made all the better by Justin Bieber), a pebble sinking between an ocean and a sea that have seen too much.

But Irma’s passing and aftermath have once again brought to light Puerto Rico’s primordial conundrum: colonialism.

Puerto Rico has been a US colony (the US prefers the euphemistic designations of “commonwealth”, “unincorporated territory” and “free associated state”) for 199 years, a relationship that has led to the country’s being trapped in a steep downward spiral. The current fiscal and socio-political crisis is only one of the side effects of this relationship.

Hurricane Irma’s passing underscored the damage done by the neoliberal austerity measures imposed by the Fiscal Control Board and the crimes committed by corporations taking advantage of Puerto Rico’s colonial status. For starters, as a result of the massive closure of public schools, only 329 schools across the island were available as hurricane shelters compared with the 372 available during Hurricane Bertha’s passing in 2014.

Puerto Rico’s infrastructure also finds itself in an advanced state of deterioration, including roads, bridges, the University of Puerto Rico and public service buildings all of whom were critically endangered during Irma’s passing. A good part of the country’s “essential infrastructure” is on the coast, making it vulnerable to flooding, high tides and storm surges, especially during hurricanes of Irma’s or Maria’s intensity.

It is notable that much of that infrastructure was built to benefit the tourist industry and mercantile trade with the US, and the US alone. Money invested in infrastructure tends to go towards revitalizing these “essentials”, not to repairing the potholed roads in our communities, remediating asbestos-filled buildings or replacing crumbling light poles at the mercy of hurricane winds. All of this is further proof of our colonial market dependency and the essentially colonial nature of the tourist industry, which caters particularly to PR’s relationship with the US.

Even the disaster declaration signed by the US President authorizing FEMA assistance for Puerto Rico second-rate, allowing only for search and rescue, public health and safety, and debris removal. It didn’t include rebuilding or even restoration of power, and with the current fiscal crisis and the Fiscal Control Board’s silence since Irma’s passing, rebuilding and restructuring will be a tough feat for Puerto Rico given the lack of available resources.

Center for Investigative Journalism in Puerto Rico’s Carla Minet said:

The budget cuts, in an already weak economy, will probably make the storm’s social impact worse.

Minet added that a pre-Irma forecast by the Center for a New Economy’s policy director, Sergio M. Marxuach, predicts that the recently approved the Fiscal Plan would result in another lost decade, continued population loss due to migration and lower birth rates, lower employment, less access to public education, pension cuts, worsening health outcomes, higher mortality and lower life expectancy, and, ultimately, higher rates of poverty and inequality. “Now add in the cataclysm of a monster hurricane that the plan never accounted for,” said Minet.

The Fiscal Control Board is likely to use Irma as an excuse to aggressively push the many policies it has in line, such as the privatization of PR’s Electric Power Authority (AEE). Nor would it be surprising if Gov. Rosselló and the Fiscal Control Board used the occasion to dismantle and privatize the University of Puerto Rico, the only public higher education institution in the country, as well as a number of other public institutions that are defenseless against the colonial rule of the Fiscal Control Board and its blatant neoliberal attacks.

Now, barely two weeks after Irma’s passing, we’ve just been hit by another category 5 hurricane, María. This just as some household have just got back their electricity supply, and while others are still living in the dark; while the ground is still strewn with fallen trees and light posts waiting to take on second lives as projectiles; while many, both locals and refugees from neighboring Caribbean islands, are still recovering from the loss of their homes, their entire reality; and while crisis and colonialism continue to hold hands, as they do every day.

And so, you’re sitting in your cot with your straw hat on, hundreds of locals scrambling around you with what’s left of their lives stuffed into a bag or a suitcase, wondering why JetBlue dropped you off here and high-tailed it; why the shelter is so understaffed; why the power went even though it hasn’t yet started raining and not a gusts of wind has blown; why CNN wasn’t covering Irma’s passing over Puerto Rico. “I’m here, send over an Embassy representative for me!” you yell in your mind as you stare at the screen of your almost-dead smartphone. Why, you wonder, has life had been so unfair to you, ruining your longed-for vacation in the Island of enchantment.

Then your thoughts are interrupted as you spot a window and you walk gloomily towards it and look through pigeon-christened glass, and watch as the storm clouds gather and gusts of wind batter a US flag—oh, and a Puerto Rican one too.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan a “huge iceberg of misinformation” about the Rohingya crisis was being distributed to benefit “terrorists.”

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

(CNN)Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has made her first public comments on the fate of her country’s persecuted Rohingya minority since new violence broke out almost two weeks ago.

Suu Kyi, who as Myanmar’s state counselor is the country’s defacto leader, claimed during a phone conversation with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan a “huge iceberg of misinformation” about the Rohingya crisis was being distributed to benefit “terrorists.”
According to a readout of the call, she added her government was fighting to ensure “terrorism” didn’t spread over the whole of Rakhine state.
Suu Kyi has come under fire in recent days for failing to speak out against the mass killings and displacement of Rohingya by her government, particularly given her previous image as a champion of human rights.
During the call, Suu Kyi said her government was already working to protect the rights of the Rohingya.
“We know very well, more than most, what it means to be deprived of human rights and democratic protection,” Suu Kyi said, according to a readout of the call.
“So we make sure that all the people in our country are entitled to protection of their rights as well as, the right to, and not just political but social and humanitarian defense.”
At least 123,000 Rohingya refugees have poured across the Bangladeshi border in just two weeks after Myanmar’s military crackdown. The violence intensified after coordinated attacks on border posts which the government blamed on “terrorists.”
Refugees brought with them stories of death and destruction from inside the western Myanmar province. Satellite imagery released by Human Rights Watch allegedly shows entire villages razed to the ground.

International aid heads to Myanmar

Following Erdogan’s call with Suu Kyi, a spokesman for the Turkish presidency announced the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) would be allowed to deliver 1,000 tons of aid to Rakhine State.
“The aid will be delivered to the Maungtaw and Buthi Taung areas in the northern regions of Rakhine … to the hundreds of families displaced from their homes and villages as a result of attacks,” spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said.
“The first stage of the aid which will be made to the Rohingya who fled to mountainous areas … includes the food staples of rice and dried fish as well as clothing.”
The spokesman added as the region was still unsafe, aid would be delivered via military helicopters in cooperation with Rakhine authorities.

Myanmar's Rohingya ethnic minority members walk through rice fields after crossing over to the Bangladesh side of the border, Friday, Sept. 1.

Turkey isn’t the only one sending aid to the troubled province either — the Migrant Offshore Aid Station Foundation (MOAS) announced Monday it would relocate to Myanmar to help fleeing refugees.
MOAS is the organization that has been working since April 2014 to rescue migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean to Europe on often unsafe vessels.
They claim to have already helped more than 40,000 people, including children.
“Building on MOAS’ long-standing dedication to alleviating the plight of the persecuted Rohingya minority, MOAS is therefore undertaking a strategic shift of its operations to South East Asia,” the organization announced on their website.
“MOAS said they were following a direction from Pope Francis, who on August 27 publicly called for an international response to the Rohingya crisis.”
“From there, MOAS will deliver much-needed humanitarian assistance and aid to the Rohingya people, and will work to provide a platform for transparency, advocacy and accountability in the region.”

Muslim anger grows worldwide

Myanmar has faced a growing chorus of outrage from across the Muslim world following the most recent outbreak of violence inside Rakhine State.

Thousands in Chechnya rally for Rohingya Muslims

Thousands in Chechnya rally for Rohingya Muslims 00:49
Leaders of several Muslim majority countries, including Turkey, Indonesia and Pakistan, have issued strong statements calling out the ongoing persecution of the Rohingya.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif on Monday expressed “deep anguish” at the continuing violence, which he termed “deplorable.”
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi flew to Myanmar on Monday for talks for state councilor Suu Kyi, after her president Joko Widodo said real action was needed to stop the conflict.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is due to hold talks with Suu Kyi during a state visit to Myanmar on Wednesday.
Multiple countries have also seen large protests in support of the Rohingya people, including a mass march in the Chechnyan capital of Grozny and outside the Myanmar embassy in Jakarta.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres led Western states in condemning the violence, releasing a statement Tuesday saying he is “deeply concerned about the security, humanitarian and human rights situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.”

Paul Ryan Debated a Nun and the Nun Won

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘THE NATION.COM’)

 

Paul Ryan Debated a Nun and the Nun Won

Challenged by a former educator, the Speaker of the House got everything wrong—factually, and morally.

YOU’RE READING 1 OF 6 FREE ARTICLES AVAILABLE FOR THE NEXT 30 DAYS

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.

Close Meerkat

Life Love Passion & Erotica

This Site Is About All Matters Of Life And Pain The Up's And Downs The Good And The Bad That Come With Love The Passion of Something Or Someone Next To You And Erotica Is Everything Dirty And Good Or Wrong

cliocult...Muse your brain!

Looking to have a brainchild? Put your little grey cells in the mood with a glimpse at the classics; movies, fashion, art, literature and people that make your brain swoon!

intothelight

bringin' it

Bollywood 24X7 World Wide

Always Up to Date with Bollywood

Perfect Chaos

Music and Theology from Steven Colborne

The Ramey Family

And their adventures chasing freedom

RETURN OF THE INTERNET NOBODY

Still on the Internet, Still a Nobody

%d bloggers like this: