How George H.W. Bush Made Guantanamo a Prison, Starting with Haitians


Kim Ives

Part II

Part I: George H.W. Bush’s Grim Legacy in Haiti

After George Herbert Walker Bush died on Nov. 30 at age 94, the mainstream press favorably contrasted him to Donald Trump, portraying the former Republican president as “kinder” and “gentler,” two watchwords from his inaugural speech.

But, Trump’s signature aggressivity towards immigrants is epitomized through extra-territorial interception and imprisonment and separation of families, brutal policies which were, in fact, pioneered by Bush I during the Haitian refugee exodus following the Sep. 30, 1991 coup d’état in Haiti.

A hangar at Guantanamo Naval Base where Haitian refugees were housed on cots in late 1991 through May 1992. Credit: Chris O’Meara/AP

As we saw in this series’ first article, George H.W. Bush’s administration gave manifest and tacit support to dictator Prosper Avril (1988-1990) and to the first coup d’état against democratically-elected Pres. Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

As a result of that putsch, tens of thousands of Haitians took to the high seas in small boats, many fleeing for their lives. In the first year after the coup, the U.S. Coast Guard intercepted some 38,000 Haitians in international waters.

U.S. interdiction of Haitian refugees had begun in September 1981 under Pres. Ronald Reagan, for whom George H.W. Bush was vice-president. Under the rules laid out by Reagan’s Executive Order 12324 titled “Interdiction of Illegal Aliens,” Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) agents on board U.S. Coast Guard cutters were supposed to interview and “identify candidates for asylum as political refugees under United States and international law,” explains University of Miami law professor Irwin Stotzky in his new book Send Them Back, about the efforts of crusading lawyers (including himself) on behalf of Haitian refugees during the 1980s.

The screening process was laughable, with interviews which were not private and as short as five minutes, while the snatched-up “boat-people” were often hungry, thirsty, scared, and confused.

Haitians lived in hundreds of tents at Camp McCalla at Guantanamo under the George H.W. Bush administration.

“As a result of these defective procedures, only 28 of the approximately 23,000 Haitians on vessels interdicted by the Coast Guard from the inception of the interdiction program in 1981 until mid-1991 were identified by INS officials as potential asylees,” Stotzky writes.

During Aristide’s eight months in office in 1991 (Feb to Sep), there was a net human influx back to Haiti, as thousands of joyful expatriate Haitians returned to their homeland to take part in a new democratic experiment after three decades of dictatorship.

But the 1991 military coup cruelly cut short that hope-filled period and provoked a new refugee wave which overwhelmed the U.S. Coast Guard ships stationed off Haiti’s coast. As a result, the Coast Guard began transporting Haitians to the U.S. Naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, housing them in giant hangars and Camp McCalla, a makeshift city of hundreds of tents set up on Guantanamo’s paved runways and loading docks. At its peak, there were over 12,500 Haitians detained there.

After eight months, the Bush I administration finally dropped all pretense of giving Haitians any due process and discarded the Reagan-era screening protocols, as imperfect as they were. “On May 24, 1992, claiming there were too many Haitians coming, Bush ordered the Coast Guard to intercept all Haitians fleeing in boats and immediately return them to Haiti, without interviews to determine if they were at risk of persecution or death,” Stotzky explained to Haïti Liberté.         

Haitians at Guantanamo’s Camp McCalla on Dec. 31, 1991, three months after the coup d’état which ousted Pres. Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Credit: Carol Halebian

Beginning in 1991, “when the U.S. detained Haitian refugees indefinitely, it set a precedent,” concluded Prof. A. Naomi Paik in a comprehensive article last June about Haitians at Guantanamo on the website The Conversation.

This was the beginning of Guantanamo being used as a prison, for which it would become even more famous in the early 2000s after it was used to hold, in legal limbo, prisoners swept up in George W. Bush’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq [. . .]

via How George H.W. Bush Made Guantanamo a Prison, Starting with Haitians

What do the protesters in France want? Check out the ‘official’ Yellow Vest manifesto


What do the protesters in France want? Check out the ‘official’ Yellow Vest manifesto — Society’s Child —

  • Constitutional cap on taxes – at 25%
  • Increase of 40% in the basic pension and social welfare
  • Increase hiring in public sector to re-establish public services
  • Massive construction projects to house 5 million homeless, and severe penalties for mayors/prefectures that leave people on the streets
  • Break up the ‘too-big-to-fail’ banks, re-separate regular banking from investment banking
  • Cancel debts accrued through usurious rates of interest


  • Constitutional amendments to protect the people’s interests, including binding referenda
  • The barring of lobby groups and vested interests from political decision-making
  • Frexit: Leave the EU to regain our economic, monetary and political sovereignty (In other words, respect the 2005 referendum result, when France voted against the EU Constitution Treaty, which was then renamed the Lisbon Treaty, and the French people ignored)
  • Clampdown on tax evasion by the ultra-rich
  • The immediate cessation of privatization, and the re-nationalization of public goods like motorways, airports, rail, etc
  • Remove all ideology from the ministry of education, ending all destructive education techniques
  • Quadruple the budget for law and order and put time-limits on judicial procedures. Make access to the justice system available for all
  • Break up media monopolies and end their interference in politics. Make media accessible to citizens and guarantee a plurality of opinions. End editorial propaganda
  • Guarantee citizens’ liberty by including in the constitution a complete prohibition on state interference in their decisions concerning education, health and family matters


  • No more ‘planned obsolescence’ – Mandate guarantee from producers that their products will last 10 years, and that spare parts will be available during that period
  • Ban plastic bottles and other polluting packaging
  • Weaken the influence of big pharma on health in general and hospitals in particular
  • Ban on GMO crops, carcinogenic pesticides, endocrine disruptors and monocrops
  • Reindustrialize France (thereby reducing imports and thus pollution)
    Foreign Affairs
  • End France’s participation in foreign wars of aggression, and exit from NATO
    Cease pillaging and interfering – politically and militarily – in ‘Francafrique’, which keeps Africa poor. Immediately repatriate all French soldiers. Establish relations with African states on an equal peer-to-peer basis
  • Prevent migratory flows that cannot be accommodated or integrated, given the profound civilizational crisis we are experiencing
  • Scrupulously respect international law and the treaties we have signed

via What do the protesters in France want? Check out the ‘official’ Yellow Vest manifesto — Society’s Child —

Iran says U.S. arm sales turning Middle East into ‘tinderbox’


December 8, 2018

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Saturday that the United States is selling arms into the Middle East which were beyond the region’s needs, turning it into a “tinderbox”, state news agency IRNA reported.

“The level of arms sales by the Americans is unbelievable and much beyond regional needs and this points to the very dangerous policies followed by the Americans,” IRNA reported Zarif as saying.

(Reporting by Dubai Newsroom; Editing by Alexander Smith)



via Iran says U.S. arm sales turning Middle East into ‘tinderbox’

Legal Marijuana Will Create 5 New Professions And 250,000 More New Jobs By 2020



Six years ago recreational marijuana use was illegal in all 50 states — and had been for nearly a century. Following the 2018 midterm elections, anyone over 21 will soon be allowed to legally consume marijuana in 10 states plus the District of Columbia. Overall, 33 states in the past 22 years have passed some form of marijuana legalization, from medical to recreational use.

Despite the ever-present federal threat — the Drug Enforcement Administration still considers marijuana a banned substance, and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions threatened a crackdown — the $8.5 billion U.S. marijuana industry seems poised to grow as rapidly as the law will allow it. And it’s generating jobs just as quickly.

By 2020 the industry is expected to create 250,000 new jobs, according to New Frontier Data, an industry research firm. In 2017 the number of job posts for openings in the marijuana industry increased by 445 percent, outpacing tech (254 percent) and health care (70 percent), according to ZipRecruiter.

The industry is in search of workers across the spectrum, from accounting to compliance, customer service, sales, technology and more. As the industry grows, so too do the opportunities. California, Colorado and Washington currently have the greatest demand for workers, but that could shift as legalization spreads.

Though the total number of marijuana jobs are still far smaller than those other, much older industries, they include several positions that didn’t exist prior to legalization, offering enterprising workers the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of an entirely new career.

Because legalization has come state by state, there is no single association or governing body offering licenses, training or certifications. Workers looking to enter the industry will need to do a bit of research to find out their specific state requirements.

But newcomers don’t necessarily need an encyclopedic nature of weed culture to succeed in the industry. In fact, Karson Humiston, CEO and founder of recruiting firm Vangst, said she decided to start her firm, which specializes in the cannabis industry, after discovering the breadth of talent required by entrepreneurs attending a 2015 industry convention.

“When I asked people what positions they were hiring for, it was everything from a botanist to a chemical engineer to a Ph.D. to a retail store manager to a marketing manager to a human resource manager to a CFO,” she said. “You name it, and these companies were hiring for it.”

Though some may hesitate to join an industry selling a drug that’s still banned by federal law, everyday workers have little to fear, said Morgan Fox, media relations director for the National Cannabis Industry Association. “We haven’t seen any U.S. attorneys make an effort to crack down on businesses that are compliant with state law, even though the former attorney general gave them carte blanche to do so,” he said, referring to Sessions. “If someone is just an employee of a company, I would think there’s pretty much no risk.”

Here are five fast-growing new careers driven by marijuana legalization. Salary data is gleaned from the 2018 Vangst Salary Guide. In most cases the salary ranges are unusually broad due to the industry’s youth and rapid expansion [. . .]

marijuana cultivation

French Police Union Calls on Police to Join Yellow Vests’ Protests


Sputnik – 06.12.2018

After the surge in fuel prices in France, the so-called Yellow Vests movement has held protests, calling firstly on the government to lower the prices, and then also on French President Emmanuel Macron to resign. On Wednesday, the French National Assembly approved a moratorium on the planned fuel price hike.

The French labour union Vigi has called on its members working in the national police and in the Ministry of the Interior to start an indefinite strike on Saturday, joining the Yellow Vests movement. The statement was placed on Vigi’s Facebook page on Wednesday.

“The demands made by the Yellow Vests movement related to all of us. The time to organize legally and express solidarity with them for the benefit of all has come”, Vigi’s post reads. “We are being perceived as mercenaries, given bonuses for overtime work, but they cannot compensate for the decisions made by the government.”

The call is directed at “administrative, technical, scientific and state workers/cooks from the Ministry of the Interior”, according to the statement.

“Act IV” of the Yellow Vests’ protests, which is to start on Saturday, will make the government take precautions, as during the previous “Act III”, more than 260 people, including some 80 police, were injured. Earlier, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner announced that he would reinforce security for next Saturday.

Michel Thooris, the head of the France Police labour union, said that the French government had failed to implement security measures in Paris, noting that “a majority of the French continue to back the movement”. She also highlighted that using the armed forces against civilians would indicate that France is heading towards a civil war.

The protests, which started as a movement against a hike in fuel prices, turned violent, leading to more than 600 people being injured and at least two deaths. The three-week demonstration forced the French government to drop the fuel tax rise from the 2019 budget.

“The government is ready for dialogue and is showing it because this tax increase has been dropped from the 2019 budget bill”, Edouard Philippe, the French prime minister, said on December


via French Police Union Calls on Police to Join Yellow Vests’ Protests

California governor signs legislation to bail out utility that sparked deadly fires


Dec. 2018 Fire ruins Malibu (AP)By MARC ROME

In October, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that the effects of climate change are already happening, making natural events like wildfires more intense. A month later, the Camp Fire, fueled by Diablo winds and drought conditions, incinerated Paradise, Calif., killing 88 people with nearly 800 unaccounted for. More than 16,000 structures, mostly homes, were destroyed, forcing at least 52,000 to evacuate and leaving tens of thousands of people homeless throughout the 150,000 acre burn zone in Butte County. It is the deadliest fire in the state’s history, and was nearly as destructive as the previous 10 record setting California fires combined.

As the fires raged in Paradise, an area covering hundreds of miles was an ominous and forbidding landscape full of smoke darkened skies that affected millions with hazardous air or nearly two weeks. Air Quality Indexes measured from upwards of 400 in Sacramento and 238 in San Francisco. Smoke plumes were detected as far away as Philadelphia.

Factoring in the Woolsey fire in southern California, which left three dead and upwards of 2000 homes and structures destroyed or damaged, nearly 150,000 people have been displaced, leading to a humanitarian/housing crisis in a state where affordable housing is already extremely difficult to find for working and poor people. Ed Mayer, executive director of Butte County’s housing agency, said, “Big picture, we have 6000, possibly 7000 households who have been displaced and who realistically don’t stand a chance of finding housing again in Butte County. I don’t even know if these households can be absorbed in California.”

Lawsuits have been filed by victims against PG&E for their suspected responsibility in starting the Camp Fire. The AP reported, “PG&E told state regulators that it experienced a problem on a transmission line in the area of the fire just before the blaze erupted. In its filing Thursday [Nov. 8] with the state Public Utilities Commission, it said it had detected an outage on an electrical transmission line. It said a subsequent aerial inspection detected damage to a transmission tower on the line.” PG&E’s practice of cutting labor costs (which boosts profits) led to poor maintenance of its electrical grid, and, according to state fire investigators, caused 17 of 21 wildfires in 2017, including the 2017 Tubbs Fire in Sonoma County, which killed 24 and destroyed more than 5300 homes.

A series of lawsuits have also been filed against Southern California Edison alleging that the Woolsey fire began due to poor maintenance of their equipment near the flashpoint. To shield three California utility monopolies—Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas and Electric—from financial ruin, Governor Brown recently signed SB 901 to pass off the utilities’ liabilities to rate payers for fires attributed to equipment owned by these billion-dollar corporations. PG&E alone is facing $15 billion in liabilities for the 2017 fires, and SB901 allows them to issue bonds paid for by increasing fees for ratepayers.

Their liabilities may be as high as $30 billion if it’s determined that the utility is responsible for the Camp Fire, which could lead to PG&E’s collapse without another state government bailout. SB 901 was proposed by Brown and passed the State Assembly and Senate with virtually no resistance from Democratic Party legislators (nine Democrats opposed it in total). There is no comparable bailout legislation for the victims of the most destructive fire in U.S. history in a century [. . .]

via California governor signs legislation to bail out utility that sparked deadly fires

Trump’s $12 billion bailout of farmers hurt by his trade wars has been a massive bust


Trump’s $12 billion bailout of farmers hurt by his trade wars has been a massive bust: NYT | Alternet

According to the Times, the bailout program “has done little to cushion the blow” of the president’s trade wars, “with red tape and long waiting periods resulting in few payouts so far.”

In fact, the Times estimates, just $838 million of the $6 billion worth of bailout funds that have been authorized so far has been paid out.

Among the problems with the program, the paper reports, is that farmers cannot apply for relief funds until they complete their harvests for the season, which has harmed farmers whose harvests have been delayed due to bad weather.

Jim Mulhern, president of the National Milk Producers Federation, tells the Times that most dairy farmers hit hard by the tariffs haven’t seen any significant relief since the program was announced.


via Trump’s $12 billion bailout of farmers hurt by his trade wars has been a massive bust: NYT | Alternet