You are browsing the archive for 2020 October 22.

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Haiti has a long history of being assaulted by its Latin American neighbors

October 22, 2020 in Blogs

By AlterNet

by Lautaro Rivara

This article was produced by Globetrotter.

Thirteen United Nations peacekeeping missions are underway in various countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Haiti has been the epicenter of the UN peacekeeping missions in Latin America and the Caribbean; there have been eight UN missions since the International Civilian Mission in Haiti (MICIVIH) was deployed in Haiti in 1993. On October 15, 2019, the UN finally ended its 15-year-long peacekeeping mission in Haiti that began in 2004, leaving behind a “mixed legacy.”

The most dramatic intervention took place in 2004, after the coup d’état against the democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Camille Chalmers, executive director of the Haitian Platform to Advocate Alternative Development, a civil society organization network, said in 2019 that a domestic political conflict was used as the pretext. The coup was carried out by ex-military personnel whose forces had been dissolved by Aristide in 1995. Backed by the United States, Canada and France, the army of the coup entered from the Dominican Republic and marched to Port-au-Prince.

After Aristide’s forced exile, interim President Boniface Alexandre requested the first deployment of a Multinational Interim Force. Composed of Canadian, French, U.S. and Chilean soldiers, this force would be the seed of the future United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Both the request and the occupation itself contravened Haiti’s 1987 Constitution; only the National Assembly has the power to make these decisions, but it was circumvented by Alexandre.

The UN’s Arguments: ‘Stabilization’ and ‘Humanitarian Interventionism’

Since the creation of MINUSTAH, a series of euphemisms have emerged to justify the occupation, such as ‘suspension of sovereignty,’ ‘humanitarian interventionism,’ and ‘pacification.’ In practice, pacification implied an exercise of selective political repression, the perpetration of various sexual crimes, and the propagation of a cholera epidemic from a MINUSTAH base that claimed 10,000 lives and infected more than 800,000 people. This was belatedly acknowledged by the then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who also apologized for the UN’s response to the cholera outbreak.

The creation of MINUSTAH took place in the …read more


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Trump has committed nearly every sin found in Dante's Hell

October 22, 2020 in Blogs

By TomDispatch

by Ariel Dorfman

For some time now, I’ve wanted to send Donald Trump to Hell. I mean this literally, not as a figure of speech. I want him to inhabit the palpable, sensory Hell that religions have long conjured up with scenes of sulfur, damnation, and screams of perpetual pain from those who once caused grievous harm to their fellow humans.

The more Trump has abused his power and position in this world and the more he’s escaped any retribution for his crimes, the more obsessed I’ve become with visualizing ways for him to pay in some version of the afterlife.

As I mulled over the treatment he deserved for the havoc he continues to wreak on the lives of countless others here in the United States and across the globe, I turned almost automatically to the work of Dante Alighieri, the Italian poet whose Divina Commedia minutely recreated in a verse called terza rima what awaited the readers of his time once they died. Dante (1265-1321) laid out his otherworldly landscape in three volumes—Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso—that have rightly been considered among the towering and influential literary achievements of humanity.

There was nothing abstract about the Hell he created. Dante pictured himself personally taking a voyage into the hereafter to meet men and women, both of his time and from the past, who were being rewarded for their virtue or eternally castigated for their offenses. Of that journey through purgatorial fires and heavenly wonders, guided by his dead childhood sweetheart Beatrice, it was the Florentine writer’s descent into the saturated circles of Hell that most fascinated and enthralled readers throughout the centuries. We listen to stories of the wicked as they express their remorse and experience the excruciatingly sophisticated torments he dreamt up as suitable reprisals for the damage they did during their earthly existence.

Witnessing the infernal realities President Trump has unleashed on America, I can’t help wondering where Dante would have placed our miscreant-in-chief in his afterlife of horror. In the end, perhaps not surprisingly, I realized one obvious thing: the 45th president has such a multitude of transgressions to his name that he fits almost every category and canto that Dante invented for the sinners of his age.

As I pondered what the Italian author would have made of Trump and his certainty that he was above the laws of society and nature, …read more


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Biden's new plan for the Supreme Court sounds like a disaster in the making

October 22, 2020 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick

Former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday finally fleshed out his answer on the question of court-packing, which he had studiously avoided following the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

While his strategic silence had given hope to some who favor expanding the size of the Supreme Court, his new remarks are much more concerning.

“If elected what I will do is I’ll put together a national commission of — bipartisan commission of — scholars, constitutional scholars, Democrats, Republicans, liberal, conservative, and I will ask them to over 180 days come back to me with recommendations as to how to reform the court system because it’s getting out of whack, the way in which it’s being handled,” Biden said in a clip of an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes.”

“And it’s not about court packing,” he continued. “There’s a number of other things that constitutional scholars have debated and I’ve looked to see what recommendations that commission might make.”

This answer has some virtue. It finally gives Biden a solid answer to a question he seemed to be dodging, which may put him on slightly firmer ground when talking about the issue. To the extent voters are looking for measured, moderate proposals from a presidential candidate, it may offer some reassurance. Most of all, it helps take the issue off the table for him for the next two weeks, allowing for him to focus on issues where he thinks he’s strongest: fighting the pandemic and uniting the country.

But that’s where the advantages end. As a substantive plan, it could well be a disaster.

The problem is that Biden, along with many other establishment Democrats, doesn’t seems to quite realize how dire a threat a 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court poses. On a wide range of progressive issues, including abortion, Obamacare, voting rights, environmental regulation, immigrants’ rights, freedom from religion, consumers’ rights, workers’ rights, LGBTQ rights, and D.C. statehood, the right-wing court could prove to be an immovable impediment. And on any number of obscure issues of statutory interpretation, a conservative court could find creative ways to thwart Democrats’ policy goals and electoral ambitions. This is a five-alarm fire for the progressive agenda.

That’s why many have concluded that expanding the court is necessary. Previous congresses have changed the size of the court many times, and it is clearly entirely constitutional. Republicans will doubtless cry foul, but so what? The era …read more


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Why silencing Trump's mic won’t stop him from short-circuiting the democratic process

October 22, 2020 in Blogs

By The Conversation

by Karrin Vasby Anderson, Colorado State University

New rules will mute the microphones of both Donald Trump and Joe Biden for parts of the next presidential debate, but it may not be enough to solve the problems that arose in the chaotic first presidential debate.

The candidates will still be able to hear each other, potentially interrupting their train of thought – and, as The New York Times reported, anything a candidate says while his own microphone is muted may still be picked up by the other candidate’s mic.

And in late September, after the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates promised to add “additional structure” to “ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues,” President Donald Trump said he would defy any new rules.

By promising to dominate rather than debate, Trump made clear that he would continue his signature strategy for campaigning and governing: undermining democratic institutions.

That leaves one big question: Is a debate even possible?

As a professor of political communication and former college debate coach, I’ve spent 20 years teaching students how to learn from presidential debates. I teach them that functional political debates, like healthy democracies, require participants who respect the process and follow mutually agreed-upon rules. The rules are often mundane – what the time limits are, whether candidates can directly question each other and when rebuttals are allowed – but they make it possible for political opponents to engage one another, answer tough questions and give voters a way to evaluate contrasting arguments.

Trump broke the rules, abused the process and treated the notion of democratic debate with disdain. This microphone change may not prevent him from doing so again.

Debates have a purpose

Scholars lament that televised presidential debates don’t follow academic debate rules, but they can serve important functions for the public.

They demonstrate candidates’ ability to react under pressure, address a broad range of policy questions and connect with voters. The Pew Research Center reports that in many election cycles, large majorities of voters have said the debates help them choose whom to support.

What happened on Sept. 29 achieved none of that.

Trump launched a 90-minute blitz of outbursts, interruptions and attacks, which was roundly denounced across the political spectrum. Moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News repeatedly inserted himself into the barrage of cross-talk, but was unsuccessful in his efforts to …read more


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Explosive report reveals Russian hacking that could presage electoral chaos to help Trump

October 22, 2020 in Blogs

By The New Civil Rights Movement

The New York Times has just published a bombshell report, alleging Russian hackers “in recent days” were able to access state and local computer networks, in an effort to help President Donald Trump win re-election. These “breaches…could allow Moscow broader access to American voting infrastructure.”

The revelation is in keeping with Russia’s stated goal of undermining confidence in the U.S. elections system.

“The discovery of the hacks came as American intelligence agencies, infiltrating Russian networks themselves, have pieced together details of what they believe are Russia’s plans to interfere in the presidential race in its final days or immediately after the election on Nov. 3,” the Times reports.

“Officials did not make clear what Russia planned to do, but they said its operations would be intended to help President Trump, potentially by exacerbating disputes around the results, especially if the race is too close to call.”

For months Trump has been sowing seeds to allow himself and his supporters to claim the election was not free or fair, repeatedly calling it “rigged.”

The Times claims there is “no evidence that the Russians have changed any vote tallies or voter registration information.”

But experts say this isn’t over.

“This could be the reconnaissance for disruptive activity,” says John Hultquist, the director of threat analysis at the security firm FireEye.

“American officials expect that if the presidential race is not called on election night, Russian groups could use their knowledge of the local computer systems to deface websites, release nonpublic information or take similar steps that could sow chaos and doubts about the integrity of the results, according to American officials briefed on the intelligence.”

…read more