Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Haitian Blogger: Will Jean-Bertrand Aristide Apologize for Coup-napping?

The Haitian Blogger: Will Jean-Bertrand Aristide Apologize for Coup-napping?

The brief statement from Bush will say:

"Greetings, Jean-Bertrand, it's George Bush here... Jr. I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology some time and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my Embassy goo-oo-n… personnel. Why didn't you have the sense to leave immediately? Why did you have to be "persuaded" to sign that resignation letter and get on that plane? So what, you weren't told where we were taking you and your family? Why didn't you just trust that the U.S. had your best interest at heart when we took you "back to Africa" as it were? After all, they do speak French in the Central Republic of Africa.

So give it some thought and certainly pray about this... ah I know you were ex-communicated by the Catholic Church for your political activism on behalf of the poor, but still do pray on it, won't ya? Do come to understand why you did what you did. OK, have a good day there in South Africa. Say hi to that guy who was on the terrorist watch list for most of my presidency… ah what's his name, Mande... ah something."

Senator Tom Coburn Responds to AP's Charges He's Holding Up Haiti Aid

Almost a month ago the Associated Press published the results of their investigation into the US Congress' failure to approve the release of aid to Haiti. Jonathan Katz and Martha Mendoza reported the $1.1 billion pledged by Secretary of State Clinton was being held up in the Senate by the junior senator from Oklahoma, Republican Tom Coburn (aka Dr. No). Katz and Mendoza seem to have got it wrong.

Twenty-two days later Coburn has written a response in the Washington Examiner to deny he is responsible and explain how if he were responsible he would be right. The column is a curious blend of pious concern for the federal deficit and a sort of pretend reasonableness designed to mislead the casual reader. Coburn’s reason for blocking the passage of the authorization bill? He’s not blocking the bill! It’s the State Department’s fault, and anyway, the US has already spent over 2 billion on relief for Haitians.

The crux of Coburn’s argument is NO NEW SPENDING. That’s right. The US government should authorize no new spending until…well, he doesn’t really make it clear. Coburn writes “…It is grossly irresponsible to for Congress to authorize or appropriate any new spending when we have a $13.6 trillion national debt that is strangling our economy.” Any new spending?

Coburn has a long list of wasteful projects Congress should cut before it authorizes any more expenditures - including fulfilling Clinton's promise. He offers two: cutting the funding of a Hawaiian think tank and eliminating the Overseas Private Investment Corp. funding. If this funding was cut Coburn would be perfectly happy to authorize the aid going to Haiti.

The bill Coburn is holding up is the $500 million dollar “Haiti Empowerment, Assistance, and Rebuilding Act” sponsored by Senator John Kerry. Coburn considers this bill, since it is not funded by cutting existing programs, to be “at the expense of the next generation”. This is the bill that will establish funding priorities for the next fiscal year.

“I do not object to fulfilling our pledge to assist Haiti recover. However, I believe our charity today should not come at the expense of the next generation. Therefore, any additional aid we provide must be paid for with cuts to lower priority programs elsewhere within the federal government’s bloated $3.7 trillion annual budget.”

Perhaps Senator Coburn would withdraw his objection if he was aware that the US occupation of Haiti and support for 35 years of brutal dictatorship had more to do with the state of Haiti than the earthquake.

Tom Coburn is playing politics with the people of Haiti in a shameless attempt to negate the entire concept of foreign aid and emergency assistance.
Today 19 human beings died from what is probably cholera in the Artibonite Valley in Haiti from tainted water, hundreds are sick, and 1.3 million Haitians are sleeping and going hungry in tents. I don’t care which bill you’re blocking, Mr. Coburn – you should be ashamed of yourself.

Bill Clinton Makes it Clear

Former US President Bill Clinton, one of the architects of the subsidies to US farmers - and who is now, paradoxically, the co-chair of Haiti's earthquake recovery Commission - is quoted by Oxfam as saying that the policy was "a mistake".
Continue reading the main story
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* Haiti: Aid effort six months on
* Quake-hit Haiti slowly rises from the rubble
* Worst of places for a big tremor

"It may have been good for some of my farmers in Arkansas, but it has not worked," said Mr Clinton, a frequent visitor to Haiti.

"I have to live every day with the consequences of the lost capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti to feed those people, because of what I did."

The aid agency says the $434m (£274m) paid annually in domestic US rice subsidies is more than the total US aid to Haiti of $353m.

The Oxfam report said subsidies paid to American farmers meant the rice they export to Haiti - known locally as Riz Miami or "Miami Rice" - is cheaper than locally produced rice.

The foreign rice that is "dumped" in Haiti therefore exacerbates the rural-urban drift that has seen the population of the capital Port-au-Prince balloon out of control as farmers who cannot feed themselves move to the city in search of employment.

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The Infamous Koch Borthers continue their attack on democracy

"There is nothing to prevent Supreme Court justices from hanging out with people who have political philosophies," said Steven Lubet, a professor of law at Northwestern University who teaches courses on Legal Ethics.

But the Koch event appears more political than, say, the Aspen Ideas festival. In its own invitation, it was described as a "twice a year" gathering "to review strategies for combating the multitude of public policies that threaten to destroy America as we know it." In addition, it's not entirely clear what the two Justices did at the Koch event. A copy of the invitation that served as the basis for the Times's report was posted by the liberal blog Think Progress. It provided no additional clues. A call to the Supreme Court and an email to a Koch Industries spokesperson meanwhile were not immediately returned.

Faced with a lack of concrete information, and cognizant of Koch's fairly intense history of political involvement, legal ethicists are urging for more disclosure.

"This is certainly worth more reporting," said Stephen Gillers, a professor of law at New York University. "It is intriguing because the Koch brothers are so politically active and identify with a point of view. I know I would be curious to know exactly what forums the Justices went to. Obviously they could not go to a strategy session about how to elect more Republicans. On the other hand if it was a forum on the meaning of the First Amendment and it didn't involve strategy or fundraising a Justice could appear... It's fascinating and it merits more reporting."

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