Saturday, May 04, 2019

Trump still fighting necessary and inevitable Cuban revolution

Between 1898 and 1959, the US used Cuba as its economic piggybank, to the detriment of the Cuban people. Grabbing Cuba from Spain in the made up Spanish American War of 1898, America reneged on its promise to grant Cuba its independence for four years; then forced Cuba to allow US military intervention anytime it saw fit, which it did in 1906 and 1912. America eventually traded direct military intervention for puppet Cuban leaders; Gerardo Machado from 1924 to 1933, then infamous tyrant Fulgencio Batista from 1933 to New Years Day, 1959. His replacement Fidel Castro began undoing 61 years of US cruelty and exploitation which included US control of over 80% of the Cuban economy. US policy was simple: the Cuban people suffered so US capitalists, both legal in illegal, prospered.
The US response was to foment counter revolution to topple Castro, returning it to a US economic protectorate. Failing to either overthrow or assassinate Castro, US policy imposed an economic embargo that continues 60 years on. President Obama spent his eight years pursuing detente and reconciliation; re-establishing diplomatic relations, encouraging American travel, but failing to end the cruel, senseless economic embargo.
But Trump immediately reverted to the pre-Obama Cuban policy, vowing to overturn Obama's Cuban initiatives in his deranged mission to reverse every sensible Obama policy. He did little at first, mainly restricting US travel to Cuba and ending further detente. Now, lumping Cuba along with Nicaragua and Venezuela in his Latin American 'Troika of Evil', Trump has turned up the screws on Cuba: further restricting travel, limiting currency Americans can send to poor Cuban families, and expanding prohibited financial transactions with entities doing business with the Cuban government. But the big one is ending three decades which prevented Cuban refugees from suing companies doing business on former refugee property. The EU and other countries are pushing back, calling this policy reversal a violation of international law and a non-starter for their compliance. Once again, the sanction obsessed Trump is blowing up normal international diplomacy to feed his crazed mission to destroy all things Obama, the Cuban people be damned.
The Cuban revolution may have been necessary and inevitable, but cruel, heartless US policy in Cuba is anything but.

Friday, May 03, 2019

Trump trumps Congress to continue murderous Yemen war

In a story virtually ignored by the media, Congress failed to override Trump's veto of their joint resolution invoking the 1973 War Powers Act to force a US withdrawal from Saudi Arabia's murderous war in Yemen. The vote was 53-45, falling 13 votes short of the two-thirds margin required to bring an end to the four year long war that has killed over 70,000 and caused disease and starvation to millions more. The Saudis intervened in the Yemen civil war to promote the Sunni faction they want to prevail over the Shi'ite faction. They can not succeed without US support including intelligence, mid air refueling of Saudi bombers and massive quantities of US weapons of civilian destruction (WCD) which keep US war factories humming. The congressional vote was historic: the first serious effort by Congress to end criminal US war since the War Powers Act was enacted in 1973 in response to Nixon's ferocious bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War.

The Trib's coverage of the veto override failure was a disgrace; a tiny article on page 12 calling Trump's continuing slaughter of the hapless Yemenis a 'policy'. The Sun-Times' was worse; not a mention whatsoever. That's how perpetual US war is perpetuated: hear no evil, see no evil, report no evil.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Pompeo disgraces America; menaces the world

The US has had some illustrious Secretaries of State among the the 69 persons who served as America's top diplomat prior to current Secretary Mike Pompeo. Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams early on; more recently Cordell Hull during World War II, George Marshall following WWII and John Kerry during the Obama administration. Mike Pompeo will never join that pantheon of greats. He plays the fool to utterly clueless President Trump on foreign policy. Pompeo got his job because he's a shameless sycophant; chosen to replace sensible adult Rex Tillerson, fired for pushing back against Trump's rush to blow up the 5 + 1 Iran Nuclear Agreement. That puts possible war with Iran back on the front burner. Pompeo shares Trump's vision of endangering world peace, whether threatening war with Iran, provoking North Korea to demand his ouster from nuclear talks due to his all or nothing approach to diplomacy, egging Trump on to end detente with Cuba, and overtly threatening military action to oust the hated socialist regime of Nicholas Maduro in Venezuela.

Pompeo's loyalty earned his selection to sustain Trump's veto of Congress' joint resolution to end America's involvement in Saudi Arabia's Yemen war which has killed over 70,000 and caused starvation and disease to millions. Up to the challenge, Pompeo offered the ludicrous argument we must defend our great ally Saudi Arabia from retaliatory attacks due to their waging war on hapless neighbor Yemen. Pompeo tops that outrageous defense by claiming our support of Saudi Arabia is needed because the war is Iran's fault and ending our support would make Iran happy. These ugly, preposterous claims insult the 301 Congresspersons who voted to end the Yemen war and the millions of us citizens seeking to end US perpetual wars around the world.

That would be an appropriate new job title for Mike Pompeo...Secretary of Perpetual War.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Abernathy's 29 years a distant second to Heirens' 66 years for crimes he didn't commit

As horrific as Christopher Abernathy's 29 years in prison for a 1984 murder he didn't commit, the all time champ for wrongful convictions goes to fellow Chicagoland teen William Heirens, who served 66 years (1946 -2012) for three murders he didn't commit. Abernathy's exoneration and $14 million wrongful conviction settlement is page one news today. Abernathy endured 18 hours of interrogation before confessing, the only evidence offered at trial other than a witness who testified Abernathy confided to him of the murder. That witness later recanted his testimony, saying he was coerced by police eager to close a horrific case.

But 73 years ago an even younger sacrificial lamb, William Heirens, 17, a career burglar seeking quick cash to for a night out with his University of Chicago classmate, was caught burglaring an apartment nearby the Northside home of 6 year old Suzanne Degnan who had been abducted and dismembered 6 months earlier. Horrified they couldn't solve the case, as well as two other grisly murders of women a year earlier, cops focused on Heirens after his burglary arrest. Like Abernathy, with no physical evidence, they did it the old fashioned way, a form of medieval torture that would persuade Mother Teresa to fess up.

But before reviewing Heirens' torture, consider the first sacrificial lamb police offered up to clear three unrelated murders that occurred 12 months, 9 months and 6 months before Heirens was selected to take the rap. Hector Verburgh, was the 65 year old janitor in the building of third murder victim. Although only tortured for two days, Verburgh was so badly injured he spent ten days in the hospital recovering. His recollection speaks volumes about police methods in 1940's style law enforcement:

"Oh, they hanged me up, they blindfolded me ... I can’t put up my arms, they are sore. They had handcuffs on me for hours and hours. They threw me in the cell and blindfolded me. They handcuffed my hands behind my back and pulled me up on bars until my toes touched the floor. I no eat, I go to the hospital. Oh, I am so sick. Any more and I would have confessed to anything."

Verburgh's last words were prophetic and not lost on Heirens. While Verburgh eventually received $20,000 from the city for his brush with a life sentence, Heiren's got the Full Monty - 65 years, eight months and twenty days before his quiet death in March, 2012. View the photo of two cops dragging the barely conscious 17 year old Heirens from an interrogation, and you get, literally, the picture. That photo was actually used by police to portray Heirens as a wild animal and by reporters to sell papers.

Try to picture what there isn't a picture of concerning Heirens "interrogation":
Heirens was brought barely conscious to the Cook County jail Bridwell Hospital and questioned round the clock for six days without access to an attorney. He was beaten, deprived of food and water and still didn't confess. Without consent or a warrant, two psychiatrists administered sodium pentothal (truth serum) and eventually a lumber puncture without anesthetic after which he was given a lie detector test which had to be stopped due to Heirens' extreme pain. A later polygraph was completed and ruled inconclusive.
On the seventh day the police rested and permitted Heirens to be hospitalized to recover from his injuries.
Under the influence of drugs administered, Heirens gave an incoherent, almost hallucinatory story of an alter ego who committed the crimes but this was considered utterly unsatisfactory for prosecutorial purposes.
Enter Chicago Tribune reporter George Wright who concocted a confession that appeared in a 38 column Trib story on July 18th, 22 days after Heirens' arrest. The other four dailies published the ghost written confession verbatim and it was even discussed over the radio.
States Attorney Bill Touhy had such a flimsy case without a solid confession that he pressed Heirens' defense attorneys to have him sign off on the make believe confession to complete a plea bargain: three life sentences instesad of electrocution. Back then a condemned man would be executed within months if not weeks of sentencing. Heirens attorneys and even his parents pressed for the confession in open court to spare Heirens' life.
The deal finally went down on September 5, 1946, exactly 65 years and six months until Heirens March 5th, 2012 death. Cook County Sheriff Michael Mulcahy asked his soon to depart jail inmate Heirens if the six year old suffered when killed her. Heirens replied: "I can't tell you if she suffered, Sheriff Mulcahy. I didn't kill her. Tell Mr. Degnan please look after his other daughter, because whoever killed Suzanne is still out there."

Unlike Christopher Abernathy, Bill Heirens was not exonerated, not compensated and not released. Officially, Bill Heirens is still the killer of record on the twisted scales of justice, and the killers of the two women in 1945 and the little girl in 1946 went to their deaths with their deadly secrets. Seventy-three years on our system of justice has improved...but still has a way to go.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Carter still speaking truth to war at 94

Former President Jimmy Carter doesn't suffer fools too easily. At 94 he's still calling out America's descent into the madness of perpetual war, something he avoided during his entire 1977 through 1980 presidency. Commenting on how China is catching up and will inevitably pass the US in economic growth and power, Carter lays our decline in stark terms: "The US is the most warlike nation in the history of the world." China, he argues correctly, hasn't been at war with anyone since 1979, allowing them to invest trillions in infrastructure and economic growth rather than America's endless, murderous wars with more on the horizon in places like Iran and Venezuela. China now has 18,000 miles of high speed rails; US has zilch. Carter argues that If we'd have invested just half of the $6 trillion squandered on war in rebuilding America, "We'd have high-speed rails, we’d have bridges that aren’t collapsing, we’d have roads that are maintained properly. Our education system would be as good as that of say South Korea or Hong Kong.”

That's why I revere Jimmy Carter, the best president in my 75 years....except for my first 32 days on Earth under FDR.

Bolton plays Mr. Mayhem to the world

The Allstate 'Mayhem' commercials may be the best ever. In Allstate's stark warning to consumers to buy Allstate insurance instead of the cheapie brands, horrific accidents ruining people' homes and autos are not accidents but the devilish glee of Mr. Mayhem, the banged up and bandaged monster who plagues peace loving citizens when they least expect him. Mr. Mayhem reminds me of Mr. John Bolton, the scarier, walrus mustachioed super villain who rampages around the world fomenting regime change with sanctions, money for US sponsored revolutionaries or outright murderous bombing and invasion if the subtle means fail. Over four decades Bolton has promoted regime change in Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, Somalia, Yemen, North Korea and Nicaragua.
Mr. Mayhem's dirty works go back to 2010, entertaining us while filling the coffers of super rich Allstate executives. But Bolton's Mr. Mayhem has been promoting death and destruction round the world since the 1980's. His latest targets are three socialist countries in Latin America: Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, who he dubbed last week a "troika of tyranny". He denigrated their respective leaders Miguel Diaz-Canal, Daniel Ortega and Nicolas Maduro as "the three stooges of socialism", whose time in power is running out. Bolton's has a thing for 'troikas of tyranny', reprising his 2002 speech 'Beyond The Axis of Evil' which added Syria, Cuba and Libya to President Bush's 'Axis of Evil' speech countries of North Korea, Iran and Iraq. Bolton was so obsessed with regime change in Cuba back then he concocted a fairy tale Cuba was cooking up biological weapons; an absurdity easily debunked by congressional investigators. Seventeen years on Bolton wants Cuba back on his personal Latin American hit list along with Ortega's Nicaragua and Maduro's Venezuela.
I laugh when Allstate's Mr. Mayhem screws up hapless peoples' lives. I cringe when John Bolton's Mr. Mayhem seeks regime change in all states he despises on the world stage.