HOMESTEAD, FL - The detention and separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border has sparked a swell of protests and marches across the country, as the mainstream media made this not-so-new problem headline news last week. The immediate outpouring of support for migrants and the, by now, predictable social media sniper fire from both sides of the proverbial aisle is part of a cycle, that began with the inauguration ceremony of Donald J. Trump as president of the United States.
Since then, the polarization of American society has been razor sharp, and its subsequent manipulation by complicit media organizations, a case-study of Goebellian propaganda tactics. Nevertheless, at the center of it all, is the American people’s cognitive dissonance regarding what their country actually does around the world. Hollywood and network television have conditioned generations to believe in the righteous, virtuous American profile. On the surface, between L.A. and New York city, this narrative is plausible enough. But, once the metaphorical stars and stripes engages with resource-rich nations outside its borders, a fog of ignorance descends upon Americans, who by-and-large have little understanding of how their government’s foreign policies affects the populations of the rest of the world.
On Saturday, June 23, over a thousand people gathered under the intense heat of one of the farthest reaches of Miami-Dade County - a stones-throw from the most biologically vibrant part of the Everglades ecosystem - to march a few hundred yards towards a detention center, where reportedly dozens of youngsters, intercepted with their families at the border, are being housed away from their parents.
Earlier that day, two politicians were given a tour of the facilities. Scandal-plagued Wasserman-Schultz, who’s running for Congress and Senate candidate Bill Nelson, who had been turned away the day before. Nelson’s opponent, and current governor of Florida, Rick Scott, has not weighed in on the matter. A third politician, Nicolas Kimaz, was there to meet the marchers, busy propping up his foam board campaign signs, which kept toppling over from the winds of encroaching rain clouds. Kimaz, is seeking to fill the seat for Florida’s 22nd district, which includes the site of the recent school massacre, Parkland, FL. After informing me, unsolicited, about his qualifications to speak about the issue at hand, due to his own experience as a child soldier in Lebanon, he told me - with no sense of irony - that he was in Homestead that day to condemn the political exploitation of the children detained in the compound behind us.
Right in front of the building in question, three senior citizens, had arrived early to set up their pro-Trump, pro-detention counter-protest ‘kiosk’. Recycling a few hand-made signs seen before at other Trump-related events in Miami, these die-hard Trump groupies sat comfortably on their portable lawn chairs, equipped with water to keep hydrated and umbrellas to shield them from the scorching sun. As they awaited the marchers, the men indulged in a few wise-cracks about the protestors who were still nowhere to be seen. They seemed to feel safe, surrounded by a half dozen police cruisers and, at least, a dozen Miami-Dade police officers - themselves somewhat more apprehensive as they decided the best way to cordon off the area. As storm clouds got closer and darker, one of the old men remarked that “God” was going to punish the marchers with what, at this point, looked like an inevitable deluge. A comment only possible from someone who’s never had to cross a desert with a child in tow.
The Flood of Humanity
The silhouette of cardboard signs and flags began to be distinguishable in the distance at around 5:30 in the afternoon. A wave of protestors started to make their way down 288th street; the heat mercifully subsiding as incoming clouds produced a canopy over the area. Monitored and followed by policemen on foot and motorcycle, the demonstrators marched past two enormous petroleum silos belonging to the Homestead Air Force base, located just north of the detention center.
Media presence was limited to a few local TV stations, but otherwise not significant. The crowd’s chants started to filter in, as the large multitude approached. Within minutes, the cul-de-sac created by police tape and parked cruisers was crammed with hundreds of protestors, with hundreds more following behind. Upon seeing the three Trump-supporters happily perched in front of the center, one of the marchers smartly suggested to a cop that they might want to remove them, given the numerical disparity between them and the imminent mob. The police officer agreed, in principle, but soon there would be no time to maneuver.
Just as the first flank of the demonstrators flooded the detention center’s entrance, many bringing stuffed animals and toys to leave at the gates, the skies opened up to a torrential downpour, which drenched everything within a 5-mile radius. Caught as they were between the anti-child detention horde and the actual child-detention complex, it would be a miracle if the three Trump supporters were able to save their signs from mother nature’s wet wrath. Unfortunately, I was unable to determine their fate, as I walked through the rainstorm hoping for a miracle of my own - that my expensive camera and lenses wouldn’t get soaked.
Ideals vs Reality
Thankfully, I reached the small roof cover of the gas station half a mile away with perfectly functioning photographic equipment. I took some last shots of the marchers, some of whom also took cover alongside me, while others continued on undeterred by the rain and thunder. These were essentially good people who felt the need to express their opposition to something they believe is wrong. The three Trump supporters, are good people, as well. They, too, felt the need to defend something they believe is right. Neither (for the most part), understand the reality, that has brought them here on this day to stand by their respective principles.
The foreign policy of the United States towards Latin America is a very complicated, but consistent regime of oppression and economic subjugation framed within the parameters of the Monroe doctrine, which basically claims everything south of the Rio Grande as the exclusive purview of American interests. Strategy and implementation have varied throughout the decades, but the ultimate goals of resource extraction, debt burdens or perpetual trade advantages have been achieved through the subversion of the political processes in Latin America, including direct interference in presidential elections and actively backing the region’s most repressive dictatorships, while assisting in the overthrow of many others.
America’s policy in Latin America over the last forty years has been dominated by the war on drugs, which has decimated subsistence economies and is largely responsible for the constant flow of migrants northward, in search of deliverance from the clutches of increasingly powerful drug cartels and the corrupt governments, which run their countries. The fundamental role, that the United States plays in this state of affairs is never examined by mainstream news sources, and rarely by anyone else.
In my documentary series “Borderline - The Unhinged Truth About the Drug War”, I break down how this so-called failed policy is really a vital tool of American hegemony. Part one details an event, which occurred in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila just a few years ago, and which shows the horrific reality that people only a few miles away from the border are facing.
The true scope and consequences of the U.S.’ foreign policy in Latin America are exposed as the series unfolds. I’m sure that at its conclusion, viewers will see the immigration crisis in America through a new, and more informed lens. I’ve included a special access link to part one at the end of this article, and I invite everyone to watch and share.
The Trump Sink Hole
Like Saturday’s washout, any energy we waste shaking our fists against Donald Trump or screaming our support for him, is energy that will never be used to address the real causes behind the problems that lie at our doorstep. Instead, we keep falling into the big, orange sink hole, because we lack the necessary information.
The children being separated from their families and detained in so-called “tender-age” camps are a symptom of a much bigger and systemic problem. Eight U.S. administrations have waged the disastrous war on drugs, year after year, decade after decade. Trump will continue to wage it. Hint: it’s not really about drugs.
BORDERLINE - PART ONE | Access Password: “borderlinepremiere”
What do you get when you mix a former child-genius who grew into an adult with a pathological god complex, two sister heirs of a multi-million-dollar fortune with daddy issues, and an endless supply of emotionally unstable, aspiring actresses? The answer, apparently, is a sex-cultish pyramid scheme called NXIVM, masquerading as a self-empowerment program, which engages in child trafficking, blackmail, branding, and rape.
Keith Raniere, the 57-year old founder and mastermind of the organization pronounced NEX-i-um, was arrested by Mexican authorities in late March at an estate in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, and deported to Texas, where he was arraigned on charges brought against him by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, NY.
Raniere, who had been in and out of the public (and law enforcement) eye for almost two decades, had so far avoided too much attention, despite a 2003 Forbes Magazine cover story, that painted him and his organization in a most unflattering light. The secretive self-help “guru” had continued to dispense his unusual brand of personal empowerment techniques to thousands of paying customers through his so-called ESP (Executive Success Program) seminars, imparted internationally by several franchise-like partnerships with some very influential people around the world.
His relative anonymity came to a screeching halt as a result of his arrest in Mexico, followed by the detention of one of his co-conspirators (as defined in the FBI’s filing), Allison Mack. Widely known to the younger generation as “Chloe” of the hit Television show, Smallville, Mack’s arrest sent shockwaves through the Internet, which has latched on to the story, ever since. Curiously, her sycophantic character in the teen melodrama somewhat mirrors her current ‘real-life’ drama, which revolved around a not-so-subtle worship of the show’s hero, an adolescent Superman. Even more odd is the apparently factual claim that fellow star, Kristin Kreuk, who played the treacherous “Lana Lang” character on the same series, was the one who brought Mack into Raniere’s group after taking one of the organization’s “intensives” - a multi-day empowerment course. According to Barbara Bouchey, former member and NXIVM bookkeeper, Mack created a program within the organization called The Source, which targeted actors to bring into Raniere’s lair.
Much of the press has focused on the shocking details of the physical and psychological abuse endured by the group’s inner circle sorority members, who have been subjected to sleep deprivation and sexual coercion, and the brutal heat stamping of their skin with a cauterizing pen during a 30-minute, video-taped ritual imposed on selected female members by other female members, upon induction to DOS, an acronym for the Latin “Dominus Obsequious Sororium”, which loosely translates to Master Over the Slave Women. Allison Mack is said to have functioned at the highest level of the sorority, and is alleged to have benefitted financially from her participation, receiving compensation for bringing women into the Raniere-created group.
As disturbing as the involvement of a well-known actress may be, that might just be the tip of the iceberg. In an interview with WNYT, Bouchey remarked that, “as the story unfolds, the branding and the women’s group is what’s getting everybody’s attention, however, I think there’s so much more underneath…” As we delve further into the NXIVM story, her warning becomes unassailable.
The Higher Ups
NXIVM’s tentacles extend all over the world. But, when the Eastern District of New York launched a full-on investigation into NXIVM and Keith Raniere, the self-styled messiah fled south of the border, where some of his most important friends could put him up for a while.
The man who led NXIVM’s operations in Mexico was Emiliano Salinas Occelli, son of none-other than Carlos Salinas de Gortari, former President and one of the most powerful, if reviled figures in the country. Despite the fact that Gortari had to flee to Ireland and then Fidel’s Cuba in the wake of his calamitous presidency (1988-1994), marked by the massive heist known as FOBAPROA, he is once again living in Mexico, but is careful (and powerful enough) to remain out of the spotlight. Gortari is a known psychopath, who murdered a maid in his house when he was a young boy. Much of the wealth he stole, and which he continues to generate through various financial interests, is hidden behind one of Forbes’ so-called “richest men in the world”, Carlos Slim, who is simply a frontman for the illicit Salinas family fortune, and other Mexican one-percenters who wish to remain anonymous.
Police in Mexico do not operate independently, and do not initiate investigations - that job is left to the judicial branch, who, in turn work at the behest of whichever political clique happens to be running the country. Mexican cops are low-paid grunts who spend their time extorting the population for their own survival, and only execute arrests like Raniere’s in Puerto Vallarta when they are directed by someone higher up on the food chain. The go-ahead to apprehend the American might have come from Salinas himself, as the heat had started to build on his son, and began to pose a problem for Salinas’ future political ambitions. Initially, the scion of the notorious ex-President was forced to distance himself publicly from the allegations against DOS, citing the same excuse given by Raniere himself, who asserted that the “sorority” of women who had branded each other with a mysterious symbol, combining both his own initials and those of Allison Mack, was in no way connected with the NXIVM organization.
Raniere’s other Mexican partner, Alejandro Betancourt Ledesma - who managed the Mexican NXIVM operation with Salinas Occelli, had previously availed himself of his lawyer’s services to send threatening letters to the guru’s detractors and legal challengers in America, and even managed to procure a worthless, but perhaps frightening “cease and desist” order from a Mexican federal agent, which was sent to at least twenty of Raniere’s enemies in the U.S.
Rosa Laura Junco, daughter of the publisher of one of the country’s largest newspapers, Reforma, is allegedly a member of DOS, and has also been branded, according to sources. In addition, Raniere is also partner in another company with Emiliano Salinas Occelli, along with Alejandra González Anaya - sister of Mexico’s Secretary of the Treasury, called Ánima (Spirit), which has received several Mexican government contracts over the years, including the Pan-American Games of 2011, which took place in Guadalajara.
Since Raniere’s arrest, Emiliano Salinas has divested himself completely from any interests in NXIVM, though none of the statements issued by him or his communication vehicles give a specific reason for the break.
Edgar Bronfman Jr. royally pissed off his father, original heir to the Seagram’s wine and spirits empire, when he married Sherry Brewer, a beautiful black woman. “Are you telling me that I couldn’t be president of Seagram if I married Sherry?”, asked a defiant Edgar Jr. “No.”, was Sr.’s matter-of-fact answer. But, marriage in the Bronfman clan was never a ‘till death do us part’ kind of thing, and in good time, Edgar Jr. would assume the reins of the company, and Sherry would make way for Jr.’s second wife, the New York educated Venezuelan daughter of the Chairman of Petroleos de Venezuela. Bronfman Sr., himself, had recently remarried for the third time, to Rita Webb, aka, Georgina, who would bear his last two children, Sara and Clare Bronfman. Edgar Jr.’s mother, Ann Loeb, heiress of the Kuhn, Loeb & Company banking dynasty, had divorced his father just two years prior; a union that produced five offspring altogether.
The Bronfmans are in the pantheon of 20th Century royalty. Samuel Bronfman, the patriarch who’d started it all, had been President of the World Jewish Congress. Seagram’s growth, a basic spirits company founded by the “gruff Russian Jew”, was made possible by the more than two billion dollars in stock dividends from stock in DuPont owned by the company. By the time Edgar Jr. joined the company in 1982, Seagram would be a six-billion-dollar multinational behemoth, that owned such noteworthy assets like Chivas Regal, Crown Royal and Absolut Vodka, among many others.
But the young Bronfman Jr. had a strong creative streak, and was first attracted to a career in film production; an itch he scratched before taking a position in the family business with a couple of movie ventures. He never fully relinquished his love for show business, and in 1993, Edgar Jr. persuaded the Seagram board to purchase 4.9 percent of Time Warner, just under the 5 percent threshold that would require public disclosure. Eventually, Seagram would acquire 15 percent of the massive media company, setting off rumors of a hostile takeover, which never materialized.
In 1995, Bronfman Jr. approached DuPont to propose a deal where the chemical giant would buy back Seagram’s stock for $9 billion; a move that drew heavy criticism on Bronfman Jr., who proceeded with the deal nevertheless, and used to money to make further inroads into the content and media business, buying a controlling interest in MCA, which included assets such as Universal Pictures. Five years later, Bronfman Jr. sold controlling interest of Seagram’s entertainment division to the Vivendi corporation, and its beverage division to Pernod-Ricard. In 2002, Seagram’s assets - in excess of 250 by then - were auctioned off by the French company. Seagram was no more. Charles Bronfman, Edgar Jr.’s uncle, called the events leading up to Seagram’s demise “a disaster… It is a family tragedy.”
It was around this time, as the once mighty wine and spirits colossus was crumbling to the ground that Edgar Jr.’s young half-sisters, Sara and Clare Bronfman, were making the acquaintance of the eccentric genius guru in upstate New York. At just 25 years of age, Sara would take the first leap, undergoing one of the NXIVM’s “intensives” in the fall of 2002. The course, a combination of hypnosis and NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) was ostensibly designed for self-improvement and personal empowerment. The younger Clare, was less enthusiastic about the course, but relented under her sister’s prodding and took one herself soon thereafter.
Edgar Bronfman Sr. had a strained relationship with Clare and Sara, whose mother he had divorced when they were just 4 and 7, respectively. Much of their lives had been spent traveling between England and Kenya, where their mother and Richard Leakey, a renowned Paleontologist, carried on an affair. The old man was eager to rekindle a relationship with his youngest daughters, and in the early part of 2003 took one of Raniere’s courses himself. Bronfman Sr. turned out to be so impressed, that he arranged for private therapy sessions with NXIVM’s second-in-command, Nancy Salzman, who was flown in his helicopter from the group’s compound in New York to his estate in Virginia. This went on for months, until, it is said, Clare revealed to her father, that Raniere had borrowed $2 million dollars from her.
Bronfman Sr. was reportedly livid, and cut ties with NXIVM immediately. In October of that year, Forbes would publish the hit piece on Keith Raniere, entitled “Cult of Personality”. The article would reveal all sorts of previously unknown information about the man, including his sketchy business past with Consumers’ Buyline, a marketing concern, which had been shut down by regulators in 1993 over claims it was a pyramid scheme. The Forbes piece also went into some detail about NXIVM’s odd practices and Raniere’s obsession with the works of Ayn Rand. Bronfman Sr. himself was quoted in the article, calling the group “a cult”. For Sara and Clare, this was nothing short of betrayal by their father, who saw their progress at NXIVM as a personal achievement.
Raniere, perhaps intuiting how to benefit from this rift, suggested that the Bronfman girls become clients of Barbara Bouchey’s asset management firm. Bouchey, who was then part of NXIVM’s board of directors, and one of Raniere’s girlfriends, is today one of Raniere’s biggest detractors. At the time, Bouchey didn’t grasp the conflict of interest, as she signed check after check, drawing funds from the Bronfman girls’ accounts to finance Raniere’s ambitions.
Between the years of 2004 and 2010, according to legal filings and public records, $150 million was withdrawn from the Bronfman’s trust and bank accounts. Among the expenses were $30 million in real estate investments, $11 million for a private jet, and over $65 million to cover Raniere’s trading losses through First Principles, a company registered under Nancy Salzman’s name. At one point, in need of more money, the Bronfman girls sought to access a trust reserved until Bronfman Sr.’s passing, by changing the trustees, who oversaw it.
Bronfman Sr. began to consider the possibility of having his daughters declared legally incompetent, to stem the financial bloodletting, but was dissuaded by the idea of stigmatizing the family name with such a recourse.
Raniere put Sara and Clare on the NXIVM board, with Sara given the title of “Minister of Humanities”, which put her in charge of organizing all events. She arranged a V.I.P. session with Richard Branson on his private island in the Caribbean, and continued to climb the NXIVM ladder. Clare, meanwhile, was also becoming closer to the organization practically abandoning her equestrian dreams - she was a trained jumper, and in 2004 she was running for the U.S. Olympic trials - but, on Raniere’s advice, decided to sell most of her horses, and a $7 million-dollar training center to continue financing Raniere’s projects.
In 2009, the Bronfman sisters organized what seemed like the biggest success of their lives, when they managed to book the Dalai Lama to speak in Albany, New York. The event’s announcement caused an uproar in the local press, which decried the holy man’s association with the “cult-like” group. Two potential venues, including Raniere’s alma mater, refused to host the event, and after a slew of emails sent to the Dalai Lama himself, complaining about said association, he cancelled his appearance.
Alas, the reincarnated spiritual master is a practical man, and after Sara Bronfman flew to India to plead with him (and the Dalai Lama Trust was registered in New York State), the visit was back on. Sara and Clare beamed when he called them “friends” only a few feet away from him on the stage at the Palace Theater in Albany in May.
The newborn appeared out of nowhere in 2007. Gaelen, as they call him, arrived in upstate New York with then NXIVM member Kristin Keefe. The boy’s provenance was as mysterious as that of little Clark Kent when the farmer couple found the kid of steel in the middle of their wheat field. Keefe claimed the baby’s grandfather had simply handed him over to her after his mother had died a few weeks earlier in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Barbara Bouchey, who was then still Raniere’s confidante, said that she overheard the child “would be raised utilizing Keith’s methodology, and the child would be exposed to certain kinds of music, certain kinds of physical exercise and language.”
Gaelen would be the first test-case for Raniere’s so-called “Rainbow Cultural Garden”, a controversial program developed with Dr. Brandon Porter, a New York doctor, who was being investigated in December of 2017 for traumatic experiments on women, which allegedly consisted in making the female subjects watch videos of rape and murder.
Keefe, and the boy escaped NXIVM with the help of the New York State Police in 2014.
In a lawsuit involving former NXIVM attorney Joseph O’Hara and the Bronfmans, Ethical Foundation, a non-profit O’Hara says was being used to illegally hide funds for for-profit activities, was turned over to the group with $230,000 in funds. O’Hara complained to Andrew Cuomo’s office, but didn’t hear back. The funds have since been directed to a new foundation called Ethical Science Foundation, led by Clare Bronfman, which claims to do brain research by the aforementioned Dr. Porter.
Rainbow Cultural Garden LLC, which is affiliated with another company called Ethical Principles, Inc., has 11 branches around the world. Described as an “early child-development program which, through careful, progressive exposure to multiple languages, cultures, representational systems, and aesthetics, seeks to inspire and capture the miraculous, creative, learning lives of children.”
Late in 2017, Rainbow Cultural Garden U.K., which listed Sara Bronfman as CEO on its website, before it was taken down, was placed under “review” by a watchdog group. Just yesterday, the Miami New Times reported that Rainbow Cultural Garden Miami, was ordered closed by state authorities. The school, located close to Miami’s posh Design District was inaugurated by Raquel Perera in 2015. Perera is the wife of Spanish pop star, Alejandro Sanz. She claimed to “direct” the school, and credited Raniere with creating the school’s curriculum in an interview with Spanish-language television station, Univision, that same year. Their son, Dylan, is supposedly a student.
According to Frank Parlato Jr., who has been exposing NXIVM for years on his blog (FrankReport.com), the schools are “an attempt to train children to become sociopaths who can never bond with their parents”.
The parade of celebrities who have passed through NXIVM, and the methods used in their courses and seminars, bears more than a passing resemblance to another cult-like organization: Scientology.
Linda Evans, Richard Branson, Allison Mack, Kristen Kreuk, and Sheila Johnson, founder of BET, are just a few of the well-known people, that we know have had close dealings with this nefarious group.
Keith Raniere, who makes his followers call him “Vanguard”; a man has expressed a megalomaniacal desire to start his own country - going as far as collecting names of people with Native American heritage, in hopes having enough of them to claim sovereignty for a future land purchase; whose former girlfriend and former NXIVM member, Toni Natalie, has been warning others and counseling ex-members for almost twenty years; and, finally, has been known to authorities for at least as long, is finally facing justice.
Raniere may be an evil genius, but whoever has been protecting him all these years must be the devil himself.
MIAMI BEACH, FL - Trump nemesis, and former Mexican President, Vicente Fox Quesada delivered the inaugural keynote address in front of a few thousand guests, exhibitors, and invitees at the fifth iteration of eMerge Americas, one of the newest technology conferences in the country, focusing on Latin American and local tech startups.
Known for his straightforward style, and colorful language, Fox got right to the point, beginning with a soliloquy on what he called the “underground” threat to globalization. Citing Brexit and the separatist movement in Catalonia, he then singled out Donald Trump as the new driving force behind the sinister plot to break up the “progress” and “enlightenment” so far achieved by the breaking down of national barriers to trade and people.
Fox warned, with the tone of a man with inside knowledge, that President Trump was not revealing his true intentions to the American people.
Trump “Has not yet shown what is below the surface; has not clearly stated to the American people where he is taking this nation. He’s got a plan,” Fox said, “he knows where he’s going. But, I don’t think U.S. public opinion knows what the path is.”
He continued with a look into the future, in which he forecasted human lifespans of 130 years, and a civilization enjoying the fruits of robot labor. The six-foot-four, one-time Coca-Cola executive, declared that NAFTA had achieved its goal of bridging the economic gap between north and south, and predicted that all of North America would reach one-to-one economic parity in the coming years.
After his relatively brief address, Fox sat down for a discussion with John Harwood, Chief Washington D.C. Correspondent for CNBC, who pressed him on his remarks about Trump.
“Now, if I understood you correctly,” Posed Harwood, “you said you thought that the president, our president has only revealed part of what his agenda is. But, there’s much more coming, that we have not seen. What do you mean by that?”
Fox, however, didn’t provide any hard evidence for his claim, and instead went on to talk generally about the dangers of populist governments, like those which litter the history of Latin America.
The conversation then veered off into the speaking engagements he’s taken on since his exit from public office, candidly telling his audience, that he only does it to generate revenue for his three foundations. Harwood, at one point, asked him how his anti-Trump t-shirt sales were going, to which the former president responded, that he had yet to see the numbers.
His mention of a Cannabis conference he will be hosting at Centro Fox in Mexico, opened the door to expounding on his views concerning drugs and legalization, as he is in favor of complete legalization. After Harwood asked sarcastically whether he didn’t believe Mexico was at fault for the drug problem in the United States, Fox stated categorically that the “headquarters” of the big drug cartels are not in Mexico, but here in the United States.
“Those who distribute here. Those who raise the money here. Those who benefit from the crime and drugs are the U.S. cartels.” Said Fox.
Eventually, the topic would inevitably turn back to Trump and his protectionist policies, pointing out the folly in shutting out 80% of global GDP, or the rest of the world. “What’s going to happen with GM, with Chrysler, with Ford?” Asked Fox, “They make the profits out there.”
Harwood ended the discussion with a question he’d been trying to get an answer to from the beginning; whether Fox thought there would be a new NAFTA deal. Fox came back with an emphatic yes, but left a 5% chance for a negative outcome.
“This is another false promise…” Fox said, referring to Trump’s threat of scrapping the North American Free Trade Agreement. Mexico’s newly expanded trade deal with the EU, agreed to in principle only days ago, might be the reason for his optimism.
But with presidential elections looming south of the border, and a populist candidate from the left leading in all polls, the only certainty is that you won’t live to 130.
The events that transpired in Parkland, Florida on Valentine’s Day, may turn out to be germane to our ability to live as a free society.
In a time of engineered fear, and an infantilized populace, enslaved by emotional responses to events they can barely comprehend, we’re also able to count on a considerable minority of people, who have taken advantage of the advent of information technology to create its own, independent force for the alternative interpretation and propagation of information, which has seriously challenged the status quo.
Both of these groups are being targeted by purveyors of the party line. The former as the focus of manipulation, and the latter with the aim of destruction. The massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has provided them with an opportunity to pursue both, simultaneously.
Rumbling painfully in the background are the agonizing death throes of the American Republic, whose overextended empire-for-hire has begun to eat its own children. Like Saturn, the mythical god of ancient Rome, the United States is cannibalizing its young, beginning its inexorable march into oblivion.
The Strawman’s Dilemma
Within hours of the massacre at Stoneman Douglas, the mainstream news media had gotten a jump on the “conspiracy theories” and claims of fake crisis actors that, by now, have commonly followed highly publicized mass shooting events like these.
Miami Herald reporter, Alex Harris, was targeted by a hoaxer who created two phony screenshots, which seemed to originate from his Twitter account. Also making the rounds was a fake Miami Herald article, warning of “potentially catastrophic events” in the coming days, citing threats to a Miami-Dade Middle School.
Several McClatchy newspapers, the Herald’s parent company, as well as other national publications ran stories on the “attacks”, ascribing to them a specific motive: discrediting the mainstream news media.
The fake screenshots were circulated via Twitter and Snapchat, according to Tim Johnson, who penned the conspiracy-rebuttal for McClatchy DC. He quotes at least three individuals from news media and information circles, all of whom rail against what one called an “evolving system of misinformation”.
Despite their dire predictions about a “world of dense information pollution”, the particular examples of fakery, which provoked the article are fairly easy to spot for anyone familiar with Photoshop or a cursory grasp of search engines.
Many other examples of false claims regarding the incident at Stoneman Douglas, proliferated on social media days after the tragedy; all of which could be easily disproven with the slightest effort; a classic strawman.
The Harris screenshots prompted Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, to join the chorus of anti-fake news refrains from social media industry leaders, stating that his company was looking for a “scalable and objective” solution to the problem. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg had already inserted himself in the proceedings, with a ‘flagging’ feature for Facebook user’s posts, which resulted in the unintended consequence of drawing even more attention to the untrustworthy content.
This is not a new problem. The mainstream news media has been fighting for the restoration of is credibility for many years now. In fact, their struggle can be traced directly back to the birth of the World Wide Web.
A Hero’s Legacy
In the summer of 1996, the San Jose Mercury News chose to publish a groundbreaking investigative series called Dark Alliance, as the lead story on their newly-revamped website. Gary Webb’s original three-part series, documenting a nefarious network of collusion between the Nicaraguan Contras, drug traffickers and the CIA, exposing links that reached to the highest levels of the United States government, became the first viral story of the Internet, attracting millions of hits.
The shell-shocked mainstream media would take months to start their own coverage, but instead of investigating the explosive allegations made by Webb, they went after the author himself in article after article, trying to discredit him. Despite never finding a single factual error, the San Jose Mercury News was forced to publicly distance itself from the journalist and the story due to pressure by his corporate-funded naysayers.
More than 20 years later, Webb’s work has not only been corroborated by a deluge of facts unearthed by the army of independent journalists he inadvertently created, but even the conclusions of the CIA’s own internal investigation eventually revealed, that the intelligence agencies involvement was greater than what Webb had disclosed.
All of this notwithstanding, the mainstream press buried any retractions, and continues to publish, as late as 2014, articles meant to disparage the now deceased investigative reporter. In addition to unleashing a real citizen journalist movement, Webb’s Dark Alliance series and the aftermath dealt a massive blow to the credibility of the mainstream media, which has never recovered.
The current campaign to discredit independent journalism with strawman social media posts and ivory tower arbiters of information is one of their latest, and most concerted efforts to regain control over the dissemination of content they enjoyed before the Webb fiasco.
The Parkland massacre has been riddled with dicey tidbits of patently false information. One such example was a video purporting to show David Hogg, one of the MSD students thrust into the limelight, as a high school graduate from California in a class of 2015. The claimant posted a picture and a video fragment of what was supposed to be Hogg’s senior yearbook picture in the Los Angeles area high school. The image and video postings, however, were clearly taken from a social media account of one of Hogg’s classmates, who had uploaded the original video of his first yearbook picture at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. The strawman account, which published the doctored images, was less than three days old.
In the Court of the Manchurian Prom Queen
On the morning of February 15, less than twenty-four hours after the massacre, a group of approximately 25 students met at the home of MSD senior, Cameron Kasky, and formed the so-called “Never Again” movement; a latter day breakfast club, which set its sights on gun law reform. The student group raised an astonishing 3.5 million dollars in the span of two days through a Go Fund Me campaign, that drew large infusions by several Hollywood celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey, and intelligence-connected George Clooney.
CNN wasted no time in introducing the faces from the newly-minted teenage political action committee to every living room in America. While one of the members, Emma Gonzalez, would not make her big splash until a couple of days later at the inaugural “Never Again” rally in Ft. Lauderdale, David Hogg would get a head start on his career in TV journalism. Hogg would join CNN at the media staging area of the Stoneman Douglas crime scene to recite the scripted responses to the network’s questions, which oscillated predictably between emotional triggers and gun control, but never any actual investigation of facts.
David Hogg has been one of the most “attacked” figures in the ad-hoc student activist movement, with the mainstream media coming to his defense, and knocking down strawman arguments at every turn, virtually assuring at least a measure of skepticism about any negative stories, that might call his starring role into question.
Kevin Ralph Hogg, David’s father, is a former Comey appointee at the FBI. Special Agent, Hogg, was assigned to the Los Angeles International Airport Resident Agency during a mysterious incident in 2011, involving Nigerian national, Olajid O. Noibi, who managed to board a Virgin America flight from JFK airport to LAX without a valid boarding pass or ID. Despite the fact that the FBI had been tipped off by the plane’s Captain and an airport police dispatcher, after being spotted in flight, Noibi was not arrested when he arrived at LAX, and was only detained days later, when he attempted to board a Delta flight to Atlanta from L.A. using another invalid boarding pass. Noibi cleared TSA and made it to the flight’s boarding gate without a valid ticket, passport or identification. It was only as a result of the actions of a Delta Airlines employee, that Noibi was ultimately denied boarding and his belongings searched, revealing, fake ID’s and 10 boarding passes with different names in his possession.
Kevin Hogg interrogated Noibi and issued an affidavit to a Los Angeles court, which sentenced him to time served (five months) for a single stowaway charge. The blatant lapses in airport security and the Bureau’s own apparent indifference would suffer no scrutiny, however. Hogg would move on from the FBI a few years later and join the private sector with an Orlando, Florida-based company called Cubic Simulation Systems, which specializes in tactical training programs for police and military personnel.
Hogg heads up their Pompano, Florida offices. Among the services offered by the DOD contractor, are a software and visualization package called PRISim, which trains assault rifle users on simulated human targets. Another of the company’s offerings is called ASAULT (Advanced System Architecture for Urban Live Training), a comprehensive urban warfare training system, complete with cameras, speakers, smoke generators, ballistic laser mounts to track the accuracy of the marksmen trainees on their computer-based monitors, and other bodies. ASAULT was recently installed in a Homeland Security Training Center in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. The name of the facility is pronounced “slay” for its acronym, SLEA, which stands for Suburban Law Enforcement Academy.
Cubic Simulations Systems’ new Chairman, Bradley Feldman, whose firm has already scored at least one multimillion-dollar contract from the DOD for the procurement of services of Israeli Defense Forces, has close ties to the Israeli military industrial complex and is perfectly positioned to take advantage of his proximity, and special religious-cultural kinship with Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, who heads the nation’s largest police department and its $730 million-dollar budget.
The dovetailing of Kevin Hogg’s background with the actual events of February 14th, 2018 in Parkland, Florida is not unique. Another parent also shares some odd, if circumstantially relevant links to the emerging details of the Valentine’s day massacre.
Jeffrey A. Kasky, Jr., father of the enterprising Cameron who ostensibly presided over the creation of the “Never Again” movement at his home is an attorney who, together with his own father, runs a for-profit adoption program called One World Adoptions, which works with impoverished young women all over the world to facilitate placement of children they cannot afford to raise, even before they miss their first period. Jeffrey Kasky is also the author of “The ABA Guide to Assisted Reproduction”; the Orwellian overtones of such a title are clear enough.
The accused, Nikolas Cruz, was adopted not once, but twice in his short life. The 19-year old purported gunman’s origins are as sketchy as the claims of him being a white nationalist; a bogus story planted deliberately in the media by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) hours after the incident at Stoneman Douglas.
Neither CNN or any of the other MSM networks would look into any of these things. Instead, they would continue round-the-clock coverage of the student-led movement. Indeed, CNN would go above and beyond, by literally creating platforms for the students. Just two days after the massacre, that they would organize a town hall at the BB&T center, home of the Florida Panthers. The event would take place the following Wednesday, and invitations were publicly sent to a number of political leaders. Among those who attended the discussion were Senator Marco Rubio, NRA representative Dana Loesch, and Sheriff Scott Israel, the former Broward SWAT director, who is personally leading the pro-gun control discourse.
Momentum is gathering steam, and Emma Gonzalez will soon lead the “Never Again” kids in a march in Washington D.C. in a few days. Curiously, the permit for that march is not held by the students, but by a controversial lobby group called Everytown for Gun Control.
Deep State Spillover
We are told that he “signs” about Nikolas de Jesus Cruz were there, but that all were ignored and his alleged rage was allowed to fester. A monster under the roof, said Mrs. Snead, the plus one in the marriage who took Cruz in weeks earlier after his adoptive mother passed away. Mr. Snead, coincidentally, also had a Military Intelligence background, with expertise in radio-frequency technology; the very technology that police claimed failed miserably on Wednesday, February 14th, 2018 in Parkland, Florida, and contributed to their delayed response.
Cruz’ guilt was treated as a matter of course by the media, who never raised any questions about how that conclusion was reached by law enforcement, despite several witness accounts raising serious doubts about the official narrative. One of the most salient examples is an interview with MSD senior, who related to a CNN reporter her belief that more than one shooter must have been active, and followed that statement with the explosive claim that the accused gunman, himself, walked out of the campus beside her.
This video and other witness accounts pointing to the likelihood of multiple shooters were quickly scrubbed from any coverage. Predictably, the media simply began to engage in their familiar pattern of character assassination, to paint a credible picture of incrimination to an emotionally rapt viewing audience.
The media’s talking points, as usual, centered on the outrage. The gory details of massacred children, the dereliction of duty by BSO officials (while simultaneously accepting their word about the events as gospel), and of course, the political hot button subject of gun control.
Cops apprehended Nikolas barely an hour after the massacre. BSO was tipped off to his whereabouts by Rabbi Hershy Bronstein, who spotted Cruz strolling casually by the Chai Chabad House. After the good Rabbi turned over the security cam footage to police, the cameras kept rolling as BSO deputies led a confused-looking Nikolas Cruz into the police cruiser, which would make a short stop at Broward Health North before continuing on to the precinct, with the suspect dressed in an emasculating hospital robe.
The Broward Sheriff, Scott Israel, wasted no time in putting politics front and center. The very next day, during a vigil attended by thousands of Parkland residents, Israel laid out the agenda:
“If you are an elected official and you want to keep things the way they are and not do things differently, if you want to keep the gun laws as they are now—you will not get re-elected in Broward County.”
A not too subtle endorsement of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the disgraced former DNC chair who was also in attendance, and is running to retain her seat as representative for Florida’s 23rd congressional district in the upcoming midterm elections. Wasserman-Schultz’ involvement in the federal probe of her former IT aide, Imran Awan, (not to mention the mysterious case of DNC staffer Seth Rich’s murder) has been conveniently shoved aside from the media spotlight thanks to the Stoneman Douglas tragedy.
The Awan probe threatens to ignite a political tinderbox surrounding recent global events, tied to Israel’s geopolitical machinations and the apartheid state’s sponsors in the U.S. government. One of them is Robert Wexler, a five-time U.S. Representative for Florida’s 19th district, hired Awan in 2004, flying him in from Pakistan. The Congressman resigned his seat in 2010 to become chairman of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Mideast Peace, which is a major source of funding for pro-Zionist politicians and State Department bureaucrats.
Wasserman’s infamous row with Capitol police in mid 2016, threatening law enforcement with “consequences” over the aide’s confiscated laptop, revealed just how compromised she is in what looks to be the real spy scandal of the century, involving the illegal surveillance of Congressional communications and the deep state’s covert operations to bring down all secular Arab states.
Is the Awan case at the heart of the unlikely installment of Donald Trump in the White House, the Mueller investigation, and the radical policy shifts being attempted by this administration? Are Wasserman-Schultz and Robert Wexler more invested in furthering Israeli interests, than those of the districts they represent? Or, are these actually the real interests of the people and corporations in these districts?
The State’s biggest contractor, GEO, is headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida in Wexler’s former district 19. Formerly known as Wackenhut, the company founded by former FBI agents, is a massive security firm that runs private prisons all over the world, and has been known to spy on American citizens on behalf of their customers, many of whom are in the oil and energy sectors. More recently, GEO has moved into Immigration and Customs enforcement, making them one of ICE’s biggest contractors.
The secrets of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Valentine’s Day massacre could be hidden in the upcoming midterm elections, as those left in the lurch after November, 2016, seek to regain control after being ousted by the interests behind the Trump presidency.
The Obama administration facilitated an unprecedented influx of the financial kleptocracy into government, as Goldman Sachs and other creditors set up shop in D.C. Hillary Clinton was slated to continue their agenda, but was clearly thwarted by the asset holders, like big oil, who seem to be thinking twice about handing everything over to the central planners or perhaps it was the central planners, themselves, who have given us Trump in anticipation of another bloodbath.
The signals are contradictory to those of us looking on from the outside. But, we can always look at the final outcome to discern the truth.
The last time we had a Valentine’s Day massacre was in 1929, when Al Capone slaughtered a few of his enemies in a Second City restaurant. A few months later, Montagu Norman’s Bank of England and the central banking cabal would redouble efforts to destroy the gold standard and plunge the world into a massive financial meltdown, in order to erect their debt-based game of musical chairs.
Now that the music has stopped, and the United States is the world’s largest debtor nation, who will be left standing?
It’s unlikely that issues such as gun control and immigration will ever be resolved. These issues are ways to mobilize their respective bases, in order to put themselves in the position to act on behalf of the interests that they actually serve. One thing we can be sure of, they are not ours.
The area immediately surrounding Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is a very affluent, suburban enclave with fastidiously trimmed hedges and artificial bodies of water, typical of many developments in South Florida. Fake hills line the north and south sides of Holmberg Road, where the campus stands between Pine Island and Nob Hill Roads. The idyllic, if contrived, scenery works for a weekend stroll or the occasional outing with the kids along the bike path, that undulates beneath the imported trees.
Holmberg Rd, itself, is named after a marginally important figure who bought some land in the area a few decades ago. But once you move past the security kiosks, which guard the entrances to the multiple gated, million-dollar communities, the street names cease to have even this tenuous relation to the region’s history, and become a potpourri of posh-sounding words brainstormed in a real estate marketing firm by an underpaid graphic designer.
Distances are long and there are few community-oriented spaces, like parks, which have not been specifically included in the amenities section of the development’s marketing brochure. The wide boulevard is about the only place you’ll steal a glimpse of an actual person through their windshield.
In general, Parkland, Florida looks like a deliberately sterile environment where the risk-averse come to nest. Even the colors are heavily patrolled by zoning committees, which make sure the color palate remains strictly within a beige-taupe spectrum. Only the green leaves and perfectly mowed lawns are permitted to add contrast.
The American dream fulfilled, hidden behind the uncomfortable rumblings of volatile mortgage debt and the nightmarish undercurrent of American culture. This is Levittown of the 21st century. In the 1950s, school children were faced with the abstract prospect of nuclear annihilation, and trained to hide under their desks, at a time when the country was engaged in a nuclear arms race. Today, the threat faced by our children is far more concrete, but the drills equally absurd as the arsenals of individual Americans continues to swell.
Nearly seven decades since William Levitt held his first open house, nuclear weapons have proliferated, despite the lip service paid to détente. But, without the credible threat provided by the now defunct Cold War, nation-wide fear indoctrination loses potency. A heavily armed population is a good substitute, if it can be effectively vilified.
Walking around Parkland, Florida, one could easily imagine a narrative where a socially isolated, heavily medicated kid, with severe depression and a weak support system could suddenly snap, and take out his anger on fellow former classmates. The story has been inculcated into the American collective unconscious via Hollywood and repeated ad nauseam by the news media, itself.
In the end, whether it’s the “lone gunman” approach, eliciting marches for gun control or the “Mexican rapist” argument drawing calls to build a wall, the consensus points to the same pattern, which is recognizable in the last days of all empires: More security. More surveillance. More locks on the doors, and increasingly less, and less freedom.
Miami’s new Police Chief will have his hands full sorting through the criminal element inside his own department, as he is ushered in as Magic City’s top cop amid a spate of internal scandals.
Former assistant Police Chief, Jorge Colina, was sworn in a day after the Miami New Times published a new piece on the shameful exploits of Police Capt. Javier Ortiz, whose antics around the community, have resulted in dozens of lawsuits for misconduct, including incidents of cyberstalking, harassment, police brutality and fabricating arrest reports. The MPD veteran is seemingly proud of his Internal Affairs file, bragging about it on Facebook, and even going so far as to taunt the press about his untouchability.
Ortiz, who was promoted to Captain in October of last year, used to head the city’s Police Union; a post he relinquished in favor of his friend, and possibly more corrupt colleague, Sgt. Edward Lugo, who was caught running a criminal protection racket during an FBI sting in 2009. Ortiz didn’t go far, however, staying on as Vice President of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police.
Only a couple of months earlier, Officer Adrian Santos, was arrested and charged with cocaine possession after he was spotted snorting the white powder inside a Miami nightclub while off duty. Rodolfo Llanes, Colina’s former boss and predecessor, denounced the two-and-a-half year member of the force, who is appealing his termination. Santos’ lawyer filed a lawsuit against the city, claiming it was negligent in forwarding information on his investigative file, according to a report by the Miami Herald.
The very day that Colina took over as Chief, Officer Dermis Hernandez, was arrested while trying to board a flight to Costa Rica. Hernandez is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in a Ponzi scheme he operated between 2011 and 2015, according to the FBI. The 12-year Miami Police veteran scammed fellow officers out of their pensions, promising a 20% return on investment in a company that ostensibly provided high-interest loans to property owners in Costa Rica. Hernandez was taken into custody at Hollywood-Ft. Lauderdale International Airport on Monday.
Despite the seemingly bad omens surrounding Colina’s appointment, it barely underscores an already familiar pattern of corruption. Colina will be the fifth Chief of Police Miami has had in the last nine years; an unprecedented turnover rate for the 1,200 plus strong force. His promotion was a decision made practically from the hip by new City Manager, Emilio T. Gonzalez, who named him Chief of Police after a single meeting. No search for candidates or application process was carried out.
Among the qualities that attracted Gonzalez to Colina was his desire to expand the department’s coordination with federal agencies, and just days after naming Colina, Emilio T. Gonzalez released a statement that emphasized the new Police Chief’s intention to use the latest technologies to “enhance efficiency, improve transparency and reduce overall crime”. In other words, this signifies the broad implementation of new and highly questionable law enforcement technologies, such as Sting Ray devices, facial recognition software and iris-scanners among other invasive tools, that are being rolled out to police precincts around the country.
Colina emerged elated from the meeting, sounding like a high school student who had just bonded with his counselor: “Man, I’m tripping out,” Colina said. “I met with the manager this morning and we had a long philosophical discussion.”
Given Gonzalez’ background and Colina’s own words, the philosophy in question was unlikely to revolve around community outreach. “There’s no reason why we can’t be one of the safest cities in the country,” Colina told the Miami Herald. “Reducing gun violence is the priority. I have no sympathy if you chose to use a firearm to commit a crime.”
The Cuban-born Gonzalez was George W. Bush’s Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and boasts a distinguished military career, during which he served with the Defense Intelligence Agency as a military attaché and at U.S. Southern Command, heading their Office of Special Assistants for the Commander in Chief. After 26 years in the armed forces, Gonzalez retired with the rank of Colonel.
Gonzalez is fresh off a four-year stint as Director of Miami International Airport; a position to which he was appointed by embattled county Mayor, Carlos Gimenez, whose embrace of Trump’s Sanctuary City ban has caused a rift among locals. The Mayor defended his decision by citing much needed federal dollars, but the move does more to reveal the entrenched interests of the Cuban-American lobby, which continues to have more sway than the city’s changing demographics suggest it should.
Under Gimenez, Miami has solidified itself as the capital of income inequality, with a majority of residents slogging through low-paying jobs in the service economy in the third largest renters market in the country, while South American millionaires scoop up luxury condos. Meanwhile, David Beckham is about to raze parts of one of Miami’s poorest neighborhoods to build a stadium for his new MLS franchise and Amazon teases South Florida with more service jobs, that we’re invited to subsidize ourselves.
The risk for severe social unrest lies just beneath the surface, and a corrupt police force along with an insulated leadership, that chooses to stand with Trump’s anti-immigration policies, against the logical interests of most Miami residents - including Cubans of more recent extraction, is setting the stage for a confrontation down the line.
The look on people’s faces when I tell them I don’t have a car is usually one of absolute bewilderment. The question that invariably follows after they get over the initial shock is some variation of how I can possibly live in Miami without one. As someone who has used MDT for over 20 years to get around this city, no one is more understanding of their befuddlement, but my answers never seem to clear up the confusion. After all, why would anyone put up with late, infrequently scheduled, frequently broken-down buses and a so-called “metro rail” that features a single line – no, the airport detour doesn’t count as a second line - in 90-degree weather, to boot?
It’s a valid question. But a more valid question is why our city leaders continue to neglect our transit system, while repeatedly using it to collect tax money. The SMART plan, unveiled to much media fanfare late last year, is yet another in a long list of similar proposals brought forward promising the expansion of public transit system everybody knows the County needs. Politicians make the speeches, tout the benefits and announce from the bow of the ship sightings of Miami’s bright future.
A Mayor Mistake
Mayor Carlos Gimenez pulled off one of the most egregious about-faces in recent memory when he turned on his own campaign promises just months into his last term. No need to maintain the façade if reelection is not a consideration. He can afford to shed the pretense and get to work for his real constituents: property developers.
Miami has always been developer heaven. The Metrorail plan was originally nothing but a hook for developers, who were supposed to flock to Miami and build along the banks of the suburb-to-downtown rail line. The idea was to cater to a white-collar workforce that never materialized thanks to the emergence of the Internet and the subsequent decentralization of work. 35 years later, the Miami monorail – as it should more aptly be named – continues to shuttle only a few thousand people a day. Ridership has decreased, despite claims to the contrary. Some city commissioners even claimed that ridership had gone up because train cars appeared to be packed. But this is nothing more than an illusion caused by the dwindling number of train cars, which have to come off line as they break down and the parts needed to fix the old steel wagons are no longer made.
New cars are currently being manufactured and scheduled to be on the tracks sometime in 2019. Mayor Gimenez will still be in office at that time, unless drastic action is taken by the people of this city. His 180 on transit, proposing more buses instead of implementing the SMART plan as it was intended and once again defrauding the residents of Miami should be enough to bring us together to recall this Mayor. Unfortunately, most people are making car payments. They look at people like me and think I’m crazy for even making the effort. I don’t really blame them. They have kids, jobs and in their day-to-day hustle to make ends meet, who has time to deal with a dysfunctional transit system that doesn’t work?
Local Swamp Thing
U.S. Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, Chairman of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development subcommittee, is responsible for allocating federal funds for transportation projects across the nation. Appearing on the local ABC affiliate channel 10’s Sunday morning news show yesterday, he decried the lack of consensus plaguing municipal politics that has resulted in no projects even reaching his desk in Washington from Dade County.
“Get me something that’s real… that I can fund.”, said the Congressman as hosts posed the issue of the SMART plan and Gimenez’ duplicity. “With the need we have here (and) nothing gets to us”, he added, further eroding Mayor Gimenez’ credibility who just last week stated that no federal money was available for transit. County Commissioner Esteban Bovo, Jr. also made an appearance later in the show and largely backed the Congressman, assuring the panel that he would soon bring a resolution to the floor regarding transit.
According to Bovo, there is currently $1 billion in available County funds to make the North Dade Corridor – part of the long-awaited Metrorail extension – a reality, as well as several millions more in other city coffers waiting to be utilized for transit purposes.
Escaping the Trap
At the end of the day, it is always a matter of political will. But unless we make it clear that we want a competent, useful and reliable public transit system, they will continue to divert funds to their pet projects. Recalling Gimenez is the clearest message we can send to Dade County. He made his reelection campaign all about the SMART plan and now he is trying to weasel his way out of it.
Those of us who use Miami Dade Transit are used to waiting, but we can’t wait for this train any longer. Gimenez and friends’ vision for Miami is one of luxury condos for foreigners and a low-wage local service economy. It is the traditional tourist trap model that thrives off a poorly educated local population serving the provisional needs of visitors and results in a high-crime, heavily segregated city.
The transformation of Miami starts with the recall of Mayor Gimenez. If he is allowed to finish his term, it will be yet another capitulation to dishonest politics and we will continue to have the government we deserve, not to mention late to work.
At first, it reminded me of a 6th period class on the last day before Spring Break. Most of the 300 seats were empty in the auditorium and the only students in the room had been brought by their parents or had come to see friends. Except, this was a rally for public education, which was taking place in the middle of the summer. Considering that, the seventy-five people, or so, that did show up was a positive turn out.
The production values were above average, with professionally designed and consistent “Women’s March” branding rolled out on T-shirts, hand-signs and video splash screens. The venue was properly set up for the lineup of speakers there to address the small, but spirited crowd about a cause, which had come into sharp relief over the past week. Florida House Bill (HB) 7069 was signed into law by governor Rick Scott a few days earlier and public school advocates across the state have been reeling since. The sweeping legislation gives for-profit, charter schools nearly half a billion dollars in state funding and access to public school facilities and infrastructure.
“Now, we’re in a situation; a state of affairs where we have legislators that are trying to systematically dismantle public education.”, said Karla Hernandez Mats, the first Hispanic President of United Teachers of Dade (UTD), an organization that traces its roots to the nation’s first statewide teachers’ strike in the history of the United States.
Pat Tornillo was a Dade County public school Teacher when he ran and won the presidency of the Dade County Classroom Teachers Association (DCCTA) in 1963 on a platform of greater organizational militancy and the desegregation of teaching staff.
The Florida Education Association (FEA), the larger body to which the DCCTA and other educators’ associations yielded to, was originally limited to white teachers and administrators and even engaged in direct actions to sabotage the efforts of African-American teachers who sought equal pay and other benefits. Tornillo upended the status quo, playing a vital role in the dissolution of these legacy, racist policies as well as the establishment of collective bargaining rights for educators through the adoption of a more union-like approach to their dealings with the state.
By the time the strike broke out in 1968, Tornillo’s star was steadily rising. The work stoppage lasted anywhere from a week to three months and would yield little in the way of practical gains for the teachers, but the strike split and weakened the FEA, which opened the door for Tornillo to merge his DCCTA – the largest teachers’ union in the state – with FEA rival American Federation of Teachers affiliate in Dade to form the United Teachers of Dade. This forced the FEA into a state-wide merger with AFT by 1974. The new teachers’ federation would be called FEA-United and Pat Tornillo would control the organization for almost a quarter of a century until his spectacular fall from grace.
In 2003, the FBI raided UTD’s headquarters in Miami after being tipped off about Tornillo’s embezzlement of union dues. The scandal rocked the entire state and the financial burden brought on by the ordeal nearly bankrupted the organization. Tornillo, who died in 2007, was convicted and sentenced to twenty-seven months in prison for stealing millions out of UTD’s coffers. The FBI, however, may still be watching - In my attempt to connect to a weak Wi-Fi signal at the rally’s venue, a network named “FBI surveillance van #1” appeared on my mobile device, but mysteriously disappeared before I could take a screenshot.
Preaching to the Choir
Resigned to the fact that I won’t have access to my Twitter feed, I turn back towards the stage of the Chapman Center at Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus. It is brightly decorated with a couple of blue roll-up banners, indoor plants and a futuristic-looking plexiglas podium from where Aida Reyes, the Women’s March Miami representative and emcee, keeps the introductions going.
A few spots after Hernandez-Mats was local radio personality, Fernand Amandi, whose program, “The Fernand Amandi Show” on 610 WIOD was recently pulled by the station citing budgetary considerations. Many believe it was his anti-Trump rhetoric, however, which caused his show to be axed. “We need to make their lives a living hell. You need to call them. You need to show up at their offices. You need to show up at their town hall meetings. When they do their public hearings, you need to bring your friends and family and make them realize that if they don’t respond to the people’s interest, we will vote them out.”, Amandi told the largely anti-Trump audience.
Joe Gebara, former President of Florida PTA/PTSA, echoed these same ideas of civic awareness in his speech, even cueing the audience to shout “and vote!” after specific trigger words. Nonetheless, both of them made it abundantly clear that they are not against private schools as such. Only their funding at the expense of public schools. The clarification seemed unnecessary, but maybe they had been looking for a Wi-Fi connection, too, and decided to err on the side of caution.
Kay Reed, from Women’s March Broward, talked about the importance of public schools for parents of disabled children, who, she said, “pay about ten to sixty thousand dollars more to raise and take care of our child” and that public schools are often the “only venue for disabled children to find a quality education.” Necessary things like speech therapy or behavioral therapy would be all but impossible for most families to afford if these were not provided by the public education system.
Jennifer Solomon, followed up with the more controversial issues surrounding gender and identity. As the South Miami Chapter President of PFLAG, which stands for Parents, Families and Friends of Gays and Lesbians, she spoke about the challenge of raising her own “gender non-conforming” son; a term she defined as the “opposite of a tomboy”. Mrs. Solomon called for the introduction of staff protocols at the elementary school level for the protection of children who display fluid gender roles. “This is new for elementary school.”, she said, “We can’t expect our teachers to know this. This is something that we need to get into the schools so they can identify what they can do to make the children safe”.
Several other guest speakers broached matters of social justice, including a few students, notable among whom was a young man named Connor Cunningham. He shared his inspiring story of overcoming a diagnosis of autism at an early age and using public school system resources – and the social interactions he found there – to fight through his challenges. Today, he is the Co-Founder of the Stand in my Shoes movement, which promotes tolerance and awareness of neurodiversity in children.
Many of the guest speakers at the March for Public Education here in Miami have ties to the various labor unions that represent the educators and education professionals that work in our public schools. Organizations like UTD, the National Educators Association (NEA), Education Support Professionals (ESP) and others naturally see themselves as the most threatened by the election of Donald Trump.
But as laudable as we find the struggle for social justice and as much as we need advocacy for those can’t fend for themselves, school children should never be used to advance an agenda. As the Tornillo case shows, entrenched bureaucracies can become blind to the original purpose of the institutions they serve and in an effort to remain in power, will undermine the very principles they pretend to uphold.
“Fair and fully-funded public education for all children is a moral imperative we should all stand up for”, said Rudy Diaz, 2017 Miami Dade Teacher of the Year, in the event’s closing remarks. You will not find many people on either side of the aisle that will disagree with that statement. Most would also agree that the public education system is in crisis and anyone who witnessed the apathetic turn out for yesterday’s nationwide March for Public Education events – a dozen planned across the country – including the two thirds empty auditorium in Miami, it’s clear that it goes deeper than a few earmarked dollars.
The School Bell Curve
Change is inevitable. In the 21st century, it is also furiously fast. The rate of automation, the advancement in robotics, big data and the IoT are on the verge of transforming every facet of life on earth.
Jeremy Rifkin, in his seminal work “The Zero Marginal Cost Society” predicts a very near future where work, as we know it, will be obsolete. Economists, as we speak, are baffled by the unpredictability of markets that no longer follow once proven patterns. Proponents of a universal basic income are convinced that it is the only way to stem the coming lag between production and supply, as technologies like 3-D printing quickly evolve and manual labor is relegated to a past chapter in human history. If so, what does education mean in a society where people no longer need to work to live?
We are undergoing deep changes in society brought on by exponential advancement in technology and the public school system will have to adapt like the rest of us. It is, itself, the product of the Industrial revolution, another massive social shift. But that shift occurred over decades, whereas ours can be counted almost by the hour.
Our educators have to see beyond the obvious and look past petty politics. They must develop a vision for the future and for that, they need to see the forces that are leading us there.
Simply stated: If you want to keep teaching, you need to keep learning.
Klaus Eberwein, former Director General of Haiti’s FAES – an agency tasked with allocating government funds for social and economic development projects – was found fatally shot in the head on Tuesday, July 11, in a hotel in Miami, Florida. Ruled a suicide by the Miami-Dade medical examiner, the 50-year old entrepreneur and ex government official was scheduled to testify that very day before the Haitian Senate’s Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission as part of their investigation into misappropriated PetroCaribe funds.
The immediate reaction of the blogosphere was to pin it on the Clinton suicide machine, which has been garnering renewed attention as a result of the suspicious death of Republican political operative and financier, Peter W. Smith.
At a protest in front of Clinton Foundation headquarters in New York back in 2015, Eberwein joined other Haitian activists accusing the charitable organization of defrauding the people of Haiti and using them as a cover to funnel millions of dollars in kickbacks to foreign governments through the foundation. Eberwein is quoted as saying that the Clinton Foundation “are criminals, they are thieves, they are liars, they are a disgrace.”
Ironically, Eberwein was himself a byproduct of Clinton influence-peddling. After the chaotic post-earthquake election of 2010, the OAS (Organization of American States) sent an ‘expert’ mission to the devastated country to analyze the results and concluded that fraud had taken place, forcing a run-off election that put Michel “Sweet Mickey” Martelly, a neo-Duvalierist pop-musician, in power. Then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, flew to Haiti herself to install Martelly who was seen ever since as an American puppet. Klaus Eberwein was his Advisor and appointed by him to the directorship of the Social and Economic Assistance Fund (FAES).
Meanwhile, Bill Clinton was co-chair of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, charged with planning and approving millions of U.S. Government-funded recovery projects, as well as co-leader with George W. Bush in the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund that raised millions more. The Clintons, through their foundation, their high ranking position in the Obama administration and decades of carefully cultivated political alliances in Haiti made themselves the conduits for billions of dollars coming from around the world for ostensible disaster relief. Seven years later, with Haitian earthquake victims still living in tents, the question of where all that money went is still unanswered.
Maybe Klaus Eberwein knew where the bodies were buried and his silence could not be purchased. It is also possible that Eberwein was up to his elbows in corruption himself and what he knew was as likely to incriminate him, as well as whoever he decided to throw under the bus. Then again, this story doesn’t end with the Clintons and their penchant for turning up in the backstory of high profile self-immolations.
Follow the Oil
Given the current obsession in the U.S. media about supposed Russian interference in the 2016 American presidential election, it’s inconceivable that no one has even bothered to mention the egregious intervention by the United States in Haiti’s 2010 election. Beyond the infamous conclusions reached by the OAS, slammed as a politically motivated in a report issued by the DC-based Center for Economic and Policy Research, the U.S. continued to challenge election results in legislative and senatorial races on the small island to force Unity, the party of Aristide, from government.
The reason for the aggressive push against the legitimate government of the Caribbean nation was revealed in a series of cables published by WikiLeaks that show the U.S.’ growing frustration with Aristide’s successor, René Préval, who was committing the cardinal sin of courting Cuba and Venezuela. Chavez had already laid the groundwork with the previous administration for an oil-for-food-type program between Venezuela and Haiti called PetroCaribe, but it was not until Préval took power in May of 2006 that the agreement was signed. The pact would allow Haiti to obtain the vital resource at a very low interest rate, delayed payment plans, which could include payment in goods. The Haitian government would then resell the oil to finance much-needed government spending projects. A fantastic deal for a developing country like Haiti.
In August of that same year, the treaty was officially ratified by the Haitian parliament and the international oil companies blew a gasket. With the U.S. Embassy firmly behind them, Exxon and Chevron – two of four oil companies operating in Haiti - engaged in sabotage refusing to purchase any of the PetroCaribe oil. Total, the French oil giant was ambivalent. Only Dinasa, the local oil company pledged cooperation with the PetroCaribe plan.
A Wolf at Haiti’s Door
The following year, 2007, Hugo Chavez arrived in Haiti and received a national hero’s welcome. Among the items on his agenda was the announcement of a trilateral collaboration agreement between Haiti, Cuba and Venezuela to bolster Haitian infrastructure and healthcare.
So far, the efforts of American geopolitical strategists were failing. Former Coca-Cola executive, Vicente Fox’s ‘Plan Panama Puebla’, designed to counter Chavez’ PetroCaribe initiative, fell flat and the South-South cooperation would prove to be so successful that the U.S. establishment moved in as soon as nature provided the opportunity.
The destructive earthquake brought down all the hope that Haitians had built since recovering from another U.S.-sponsored coup a few years before. But this time around, “Haiti’s most important and reliable bi-lateral partner,” as Ambassador Janet Sanderson defines the U.S., would make sure hope remained far off shore.
Chavez is dead and Venezuela is on the verge of annihilation. Cuba is teetering on the edge and Donald Trump is President of the United States. If you were Klaus Eberwein, an idealist who fought to change the wretched fate of his fellow countrymen, perhaps booking a room in a two-story motel in Miami and putting a bullet through your head doesn’t seem like the worst idea.
MIAMI BEACH, FL - Former New York Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, came to Miami Beach today to announce his American Cities Initiative – a $200 million-dollar investment project spanning the country’s largest urban areas. The plan seeks to promote strengthening of City Halls across the nation, including a $600,000 grant to bolster media coverage of municipal government efforts. The enterprise will also focus on stimulating the arts in local communities through different ventures that encourage creative endeavors in our cities.
The billionaire made his announcement in front of hundreds of Mayors from around the country during the Inaugural Luncheon at the 85th United States Conference of Mayors, hosted by his friend and colleague, Mayor Philip Levine, at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach. His remarks served as the keynote speech for the inauguration of incoming President of the USCM, Mayor of New Orleans, Mitch Landrieu.
In his address, Bloomberg highlighted the current rift between the White House and local governments, urging the leaders of our cities to take up the mantle of seeing the country through the challenges posed by climate change; referring to the administration’s exit from the Paris Accord as a clarion call for the heads of America’s metropolitan centers to deliver on the promise already made by most other nations on earth.
Part of the initiative is the so-called Mayors’ Challenge, now in its fourth iteration, which will award a total of $9,000,000 million dollars to the five best ideas submitted by Mayors in cities with 30 thousand or more residents. In addition, $100,000 will be awarded to each of the 25 runner-ups in the same competition to jump-start further research. The former Mayor made it clear that no idea would be considered too bold except, perhaps, Mayor Philip Levine’s idea to rename Miami Beach to “Levine Beach”. Should the host mayor consider renaming it “Bloomberg Beach”, he joked, then the three-time Mayor of the Big Apple would be more open to the idea.
Among those joining Mr. Bloomberg on the dais were former Mayor of Miami Dade, Manny Diaz, New Orleans Mayor, Mitch Landrieu and prominent Democrat James Carville.
The 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, was in Miami Beach yesterday to speak at the 85th Annual Meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors. An event that gathers together hundreds of Mayors from the biggest cities in the country. Clinton touched on a number of subjects, from tribalism to the opioid epidemic in a speech that fell only a few minutes short of the hour. Watch the highlights of his address in the video.