• Tuesday, January 30, 2018 at 8:33 AM

    Grammys Rapfest Snubs Jay-Z

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Producers hyped Sunday’s telecast of the Grammys as a smorgasbord of music performances. What they presented smacked of a Hip-Hop binge – complete with R&B and pop performers featuring rappers as condiments; you know, like ketchup on hotdog.

    Granted, according to a Nielsen report on January 3, 2018, last year saw Hip-Hop finally surpass Rock & Roll as the most popular music genre. No doubt producers based their catering on that report.

    But they had three and a half hours. Therefore, they could easily have included more “diverse” performances, especially from genres like Alternative Rock (Grunge), Blues, and Jazz.

    As the telecast played out, viewers not into Hip-Hop must have felt like producers were jamming it down their throats. Which probably explains this:

    Ratings for the 2018 Grammys slipped over 20 percent from last year’s event, putting Music’s Biggest Night in danger of securing its lowest ratings in modern history.

    (RollingStone, January 29, 2018)

    That said, this was supposed to be the Jay-Z show. It was enough that he led all nominations with eight for 4:44. But his A-list peers hailed him like royalty at the annual Clive Davis and Recording Academy’s pre-Grammy gala on Saturday night, at which they crowned him with a special Industry Icon award.

    But talk about anticlimactic:

    He didn’t win a single award. Jay-Z has had a complicated relationship with the show for a long time (he boycotted for years until Beyoncé was nominated) and also declined to perform on Sunday’s telecast.

    (Washington Post, January 29, 2018)

    Jay-Z reportedly declined to perform simply because he didn’t feel like it – as if other superstars like U2 performed because they needed the exposure.

    Mind you, this is the icon who boycotted the Grammys for years for dissing Hip-Hop. Yet he made a mockery of that purportedly principled stand by giving this lame explanation (at that pre-Grammy gala) for finally getting over … himself:

    I realized, man, all this is super subjective, and everyone’s doing their best, and the Academy — they’re human, like we are, and they’re voting on things that they like; it’s subjective.

    (People, January 28, 2018)

    Duh.

    But I fear this humiliating snub might cause him to have a boycott relapse – much as trauma might cause an addict to have a drug relapse.

    In any event, it speaks volumes that it was Bruno Mars who upstaged Jay-Z on what was produced as Hip-Hop’s biggest night at the Grammys – ever. After all, Mars is a classic R&B artist, who actually looks and performs like the musical progeny of a hookup between Prince and Michael Jackson.

    Again, Jay-Z’s 4:44 was nominated for eight. He won none. Mars’s 24K Magic was nominated for six. He won all six, including the top three awards for Album, Song, and Record of the Year.

    This bring me to the conspicuous absence of women as winners in any of the major categories. This, on a night when women were making quite a show of their newly realized empowerment with the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements.

    SZA, the woman with the most nominated, won zero; Lorde, the only woman nominated for album of the year, lost to Bruno Mars; and in the pop-solo-performance category, in which four women were nominated along with Ed Sheeran, it was the lone (absent) man who won.

    (Vanity Fair, January 29, 2018)

    The telecast featured many women as performers. But Alessia Cara, who won Best New Artist, was the only woman featured as a Grammy winner.

    I fully support the reckoning for sexual harassers, which these movements portend. But I’m not so bothered by this practical shut out because I fully appreciate the irony.

    Frankly, it seems perversely fitting that women would be so disrespected on a night orchestrated to celebrate the dominance of Hip-Hop. After all, no other music genre has misogyny so rooted in its DNA.

    For the record, though, hashtag protests like #OscarsSoWhite and #GrammysSoMale are becoming trite. Not least because results will continue to be thus, so long as members of the respective voting academies remain mostly white males. More diversity will preclude such sour-grapes protests.

    Incidentally, I do not recall anyone protesting #GrammysSoFemale after Adele dominated in 2016. Not to mention that I had cause just last year to write “#OscarsSoDiverse…,” January 27, 2017. Just sayin’.

    Meanwhile, there were a few memorable performances. My best three:

    • SZA – “Broken Clocks”
    • Kendrick Lamar – medley, including “XXX” and “DNA”
    • Patti LuPone – “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina”

    Alas, there were many forgettable ones. My worst three:

    • Sam Smith – “Pray”
    • Sting and Shaggy – “Englishman in New York”
    • John Legend – for upstaging 91-year-old Tony Bennett. Evidently, this upstart couldn’t resist hitting a higher note and holding it longer during their bit performance of Bennett’s signature song “New York, New York.”

    With that, I shall end on a confessional note in homage to Jay-Z’s confessional album.

    I reveled more with each of his eight humiliating snubs. Mind you, I like 4:44. What’s more, I think it was worthy of at least one Grammy. Yet I reveled because I realized instantly that karma was being meted out.

    It stems from what I wrote about his marriage in “For LGBTs in North Carolina, Beyoncé Is a Sellout,” May 6, 2016.

    ____________________

    Lemonade is all about Beyoncé playing her fans for suckers; you know, the way Donald Trump plays his supporters.

    In fact, the women who believe her I-am-woman-hear-me-roar-against-my-cheating-husband shtick are no smarter than the rednecks who believe his ‘Make-America-Great-Again’ shtick.

    Frankly, even the Kardashians can’t keep up with the way Bey and Jay exploit the intimacies of family life, including infidelities. Which is why it’s hardly surprising that he’s planning to mix his ‘Iced Tea’ with her Lemonade.

    ____________________

    To be fair, I was wrong about Jay-Z. His mix with Beyoncé’s Lemonade turned out to be not “Iced Tea,” but 4:44. (They were both born on the 4th day (4) and married on April 4th (44).) In any case, I’m sure royalties will help them get over his Grammy humiliation.

    Interestingly enough, Beyoncé led all nominations last year with nine for Lemonade. She won two. Except that, if she were properly snubbed for that album, the way Jay-Z was for this one, she would have 20 career Grammys to his, still, 21.

    Related commentaries:
    Beyoncé and Jay-Z stupid fans
    Adele vs Beyoncé
    #MeToo
    #OscarsSoDiverse

  • Sunday, January 28, 2018 at 6:22 PM

    Black Unemployment: Jay-Z Dragged Trump for Fronting on Obama’s Record

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    On Saturday’s inaugural edition of The Van Jones Show, Jay-Z took issue with Trump taking credit for lowering black unemployment.

    Specifically, Jones asked if it’s OK for Trump to diss blacks as long as he “put[s] money in our pockets.” Truth be told, Jay-Z gave a rambling answer – filled with rich-man platitudes about money not buying happiness and laced with a riff that ended with him calling Trump a racist “superbug.” This sums up what he said:

    It goes back to the whole thing – ‘treat me really bad and pay me well.’ It’s not going to lead to happiness, it’s going to lead to, again, the same thing – everyone’s going to be sick.

    (CNN, January 28, 2018)

    True to form, the thin-skinned Trump perceived a mortal slight that warranted this presidential tweet:

    Somebody please inform Jay-Z that because of my policies, Black Unemployment has just been reported to be at the LOWEST RATE EVER RECORDED!

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 28, 2018

    For the record, the 2008 financial crisis caused black unemployment to rise to a high of 16.8 in March 2010.

    • Thanks to Obama’s policies, that rate fell to 7.9 in November 2016, the month Trump was elected president of the United States.
    • Thanks to Trump’s policies, which mostly continued Obama’s, that rate has now fallen to 6.8.

    The point is that, under Obama, black unemployment fell from 16.8 to 7.9, for a truly praiseworthy drop of 8.9 percent. Under Trump, it fell from 7.9 to 6.8, for a thanks-for-not-f*cking-up-this-trend drop of 1.1 percent.

    Yet, after jumping on the trend near this record low, Trump is taking all the credit. Frankly, this is as lame as a runner joining the Marathon at mile 23 (of 26.2) and expecting everyone to cheer him for setting a new world record. Unfortunately, the gaslit media will let him get away with this “big lie” (too).

    Mind you, at 6.8, the black unemployment rate is still twice the white rate of 3.7. But this hardly matters to Trump’s big lie about creating more jobs for blacks than any president in US history.

    If they were not so easily manipulated, however, reporters would be challenging him to explain what specific policies he’s implementing to bridge that unemployment gap. He wouldn’t be able to, of course, because he has no such policies.

    NOTE: Lest Trump trolls accuse me of sharing fake data, all of the unemployment data cited above come courtesy of the Trump administration’s own Bureau of Labor Statistics extracted on: January 28, 2018 (5:20:44 PM).

  • Sunday, January 28, 2018 at 2:08 PM

    Federer Pads Numbers of Iconic Career at Australian Open

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    The match announcer hailed 35-year-old Roger Federer as the “ageless wonder” after he won his 19th grand slam at Wimbledon last summer.

    Well, the wonder that is Federer continues.

    Federer won the Australian Open championship with a five-set win over Marin Cilic, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. In the past 12 months, Federer has won back-to-back Aussie Open titles and three Grand Slam championships in all to bring his total to 20 (extending his own record).

    (ESPN, January 28, 2018)

    For a little perspective, consider this:

    • Tiger Woods made surpassing Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 majors the holy grail of his career. But he has been stuck at 14 since 2008, and it will take a miracle for him to win his 15th.
    • Federer made surpassing Pete Sampras’s record of 14 grand slams the holy grail of his career. And he not only did so, but has set a new standard for the holy grail in his sport six times since.

    Imagine the deifying media coverage if Woods were continually setting new standards in Golf the way Federer is in Tennis. Hell, Woods got more (global) coverage this weekend, after merely making the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open, than Federer got, after winning the Australian Open.

    Meanwhile, Croatia’s Milan Cilic risks becoming to Federer’s grand slams what the Washington Generals are to the Harlem Globetrotters’ exhibitions: an entertaining foil. After all, here is what I wrote after he played that role for Federer’s 19th:

    What are we to make of his cry-baby opponent, Cilic? He took a three-minute timeout midway through the second set, during which he sobbed inconsolably because he developed a boo boo on his foot.

    That was bad enough. But the commentators kept speculating throughout the remainder of the match that a mysterious injury was hampering his play.

    In doing so, they undermined Federer’s eventual victory. And they compounded this unfairness by failing to mention that Cilic could only have suffered his alleged injury because the masterful Federer had him running all over the court like a chicken with its head cut off.

    (“Wimbledon:…Federer Pads Iconic Career,” The iPINIONS Journal, July 17, 2017)

    This time he was crying about the cold. He was reportedly expecting to play Federer in an open-air arena, in Australia’s sweltering summer heat. Instead, tournament organizers had them play in an enclosed, air-conditioned arena. Now he’s complaining that their decision to approximate optimal playing conditions threw him off his game. #CrybabyCilic

    That said, perhaps nothing puts Federer’s win into perspective quite like the relief Caroline Wozniacki expressed after winning the women’s draw.

    The 27-year-old’s maiden and elusive major makes her the first Danish player to win a grand slam singles title after prevailing over a fearsome and spirited Simona Halep in three brilliant sets, 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-4.

    (The Guardian US, January 27, 2018)

    No doubt her relief stemmed from the fact that this was her first grand slam win in 43 appearances during her 12-year career.

    Except that, apropos of perspective, this compels me to note that Serena Williams has won 23. Moreover, like Federer, she seems bound to pad the numbers of her iconic career when she returns to the tour after fully recovering from giving birth last September.

    Related commentaries:
    Federer Wimbledon win

  • Saturday, January 27, 2018 at 7:51 AM

    Shade: Trump requests expensive art. Museum sends golden ‘shithole’

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    The emailed response from the Guggenheim’s chief curator to the White House was polite but firm: The museum could not accommodate a request to borrow a painting by Vincent van Gogh for President and Melania Trump’s private living quarters. …

    The curator’s alternative: an 18-karat, fully functioning, solid gold toilet — an interactive work titled ‘America’ that critics have described as pointed satire aimed at the excess of wealth in this country.

    (Washington Post, January 25, 2018)

    Alas, Trump has neither the intelligence nor the sense of humor to appreciate this clever insult, which lampoons not only his potty mouth but also his ‘America’ as a shithole.

    He couldn’t buy class as a billionaire real-estate mogul. He can’t even borrow it as the president of the United States. What a laughingstock!

    In any event, this has to be the best case of throwing shade in the history of mankind. So go ahead, Guggenheim. Drop the mic!

    Related commentaries:
    Trump slams shithole countries
    Condemning Trump re Haitian migration

  • Friday, January 26, 2018 at 11:07 AM

    Trumpeting Hot Air, Trump Is Perfect Davos Pitchman

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Donald Trump spent most of his career criticizing the World Economic Forum in Davos as an annual gathering of clueless global elites. But his criticism always reeked of resentment because he never received one of its coveted invitations.

    Bear that in mind as you read this.

    President Donald Trump put on his salesman’s hat on Friday during his address to a den of the world’s power players, hailing America’s economic success from his first year in office. …

    Trump also declared America ‘open for business’ and insist that conditions for business in the United States have never been stronger.

    (CNN, January 26, 2018)

    Unsurprisingly, the CEOs who composed his audience gave him a rousing ovation. But this had little to do with what he said. Instead, they were showing appreciation for the “historic” tax cuts he championed into law, which will save their corporations billions … annually.

    Never mind the cynicism inherent in Trump hailing these CEOs for this trickle-down ruse:

    Home Depot is paying out one-time bonuses of up to $1,000 in cash to its hourly workers in the US, citing the recent tax overhaul.

    The home improvement retailer follows others doing the same, including Disney, Starbucks and Walmart.

    (ABC News, January 25, 2018)

    Significantly, the billion-dollar bonuses these corporations are getting in tax cuts are permanent. This is why it smacks of a sleight of hand for CEOs to handout these one-time bonuses in lieu of permanent increases in their workers’ hourly wages – commensurate with their corporate tax cuts.

    Frankly, this amounts to little more than the proverbial sin of the poor feeding on crumbs that fall from the table of the rich.

    Not to mention Trump’s own sleight of hand. After all, most workers will have to use their one-time bonuses to pay for the healthcare coverage he’s taking away with his “sabotaging” of Obamacare.

    To be fair, a few (too few) corporations, like Starbucks, are increasing wages as well as providing other long-term benefits, including funding for further education.

    In any event, I’ve been decrying the hot air that passes for smart talk at this forum for years, noting that the more the rich talk about helping the poor, the richer the rich become.

    The following is an excerpt from “Why All the Fuss about the World Economic Forum,” January 30, 2006. I trust it makes clear why Donald Trump is the first president to attend since Bill Clinton’s notoriously regrettable attendance 2000.

    _________________

    The World Economic Forum … is an annual event at which corporate titans, international bankers, world leaders, and a smattering of celebrity do-gooders gather to bloviate about the impact of worldwide developments on their respective businesses, personal wealth, and collective conscience. Politicians and celebrities change from year to year, but the regulars are invariably the same CEOs, investors, and managers who represent the world’s super rich.

    The forum is promoted as ‘impartial and not-for-profit; it is tied to no political, partisan or national interests.’ But movers and shakers know the reason an invitation to this retreat is so coveted is that it’s a rare (and rarified) opportunity to see, and to be seen amongst, the people who really rule the world. And, the PR value of such images alone is priceless. …

    The wealthiest one percent would have the rest of us believe that Davos is all about addressing world economic problems that affect our lives. That’s why the most talked-about feature of their gathering is not the (main-event) schmooze-fests for business opportunities; rather, it’s the (undercard) gabfests for charitable causes – at which invited guests sit on panels and blow hot air on issues like climate change and the plight of the poor.

    __________________

    Given this, you can imagine how heartened I was when no less an authority than the Financial Times vindicated my contempt in a column titled “Boneheaded Aphorisms from Davos’s Windy Summit,” January 31, 2016.

    Again, Davos is arguably the most ostentatious gathering of the rich to discuss ways to ensure they get richer. And no hypocrisy is too bitter for them to swallow as they do so.

    Take climate change, for example. It’s a staple of their panel discussions. Yet reports are that as many as 1,700 private jets crisscross the pristine Alps each year, taking attendees to and fro:

    To hear these rich folks lamenting about the depletion of the ozone, the increasing gap between haves and have nots, and the almost criminal waste of non-renewable energy, one would think they jet-pooled to Davos on ethanol-fueled airplanes; whereas they all flew in on gas-guzzling, air-polluting private jets.

    (“Attendees Emit More CO2 than Solutions at Davos World Economic Forum,” The iPINIONS Journal, January 29, 2007)

    They only compounded this hypocrisy by rolling out the red carpet for Trump – complete with liveried Swiss guards tooting his horn as he took the stage for his keynote address. After all, not only is he the world’s most famous climate denier, but chances are that 90 percent of its organizers spent their careers shunning his bull(y)-in-a-China-shop shtick.

    But Trump’s policies of cutting corporate taxes and regulations have made them all so much richer, I suppose the least they could do was risk his gauche behavior. Except that they must have been pleasantly surprised. Because the Trump who showed up behaved more like a neutered bull than the blue-balled one they saw rampaging along the campaign trail two years ago.

    Indeed, “America First” became kumbaya, y’all: I win, you win, we all win!

    Yet the congenitally narcissistic Trump could not have been happier to have finally arrived. What the current edition of US News & World Report quoted him saying speaks volumes:

    I just came out and some really wonderful people said, ‘Davos has never been like this.’ This is like walking into the Academy Awards, except we have more photographers.

    Exactly what you’d expect a reality-TV star cum leader of the free world to say, no?

    Oy vey!

    Related commentaries:
    Why all the fuss
    More CO2 than solutions

  • Thursday, January 25, 2018 at 6:36 AM

    Venezuela, Fighting Economic Death Spiral, Assassinates ‘Rambo’ Coup Leader

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Venezuela might not be a “shithole country,” but it’s certainly a basket case — so much so that it’s making Zimbabwe look like a paragon of political stability and economic sustainability.

    Five years ago, there were 4000 white-owned farms in Zimbabwe; today, there are only 400 (mostly unproductive) farms left. Five years ago, Zimbabwe was the breadbasket of sub-Saharan Africa; today, it is a basket case of starving people.

    (“Zimbabweans Pray for Liberation from their Liberator – Robert Mugabe,” The iPINIONS Journal, March 29, 2005)

    I have written many commentaries presaging (and bemoaning) the descent of both countries into political and economic bankruptcy. This is why I hasten to assert here that former President Hugo Chávez is as responsible for Venezuela’s current mess as former President Robert Mugabe is for Zimbabwe’s.

    The following excerpt is from “Chávez’s Chavismo: More Robbing Hoodlum than Robin Hood,” August 12, 2015. It gives an overview of the primrose path he led Venezuela down to arrive at this purgatory.

    ____________________

    My socialist affinities are such that I used to be a big fan of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. … However, it did not take long before I began denouncing him as just another tin-pot dictator betraying the very socialist causes he championed. I did so in commentaries like ‘Bolivia’s Woes Expose Chávez’s Socialist Counter-Revolution as Little more than a One-Man, Three-Ring Circus,’ September 7, 2006. …

    It was hardly surprising that poor Venezuelans were protesting against chronic privation within a year of his death in March 2013. …

    Few Venezuelans appreciated that Chávez was a bigger crook than any drug lord who ever menaced South America. Yet he earned his rightful place in the rogue’s gallery of dead kleptomaniacs, which includes everyone from Claude ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier of Haiti to Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire/DR Congo, Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. Crime bosses like Al Capone and drug lords like Pablo Escobar had nothing on political dictators like these. …

    His family and cronies have nothing to fear, so long as the man to whom he bequeathed the presidency, his crony in chief Nicolás Maduro, remains in office. But all bets are off – with respect to their ill-gotten fortunes, and even their freedom – the minute any opposition leader assumes power.

    ____________________

    Apropos of President Maduro remaining in office, I argued – in “Venezuela’s Death Spiral of Recession, Protest, and Repression,” April 24, 2017 – that there’s no way he can win a free and fair election. Further, that his fate depends on the military supporting his dictatorship the way it supported Chávez’s.

    More the point, I advised – in “Venezuela Finally Awakens from Chavismo Nightmare,” December 9, 2015 – that he would be wise to negotiate blanket immunity (for himself and his family) in exchange for his immediate resignation. Further, that he should let Chávez’s family and cronies suffer come what may.

    But Maduro seems determined to emulate not just Chavez’s 11 years in power, but Mugabe’s 37. He threw this into tragic relief just last week. That’s when he ordered security forces to gun down fugitive coup leader Oscar Pérez (36).

    Fittingly, the young Pérez livestreamed their siege, hence the world saw him pleading to no avail for them to allow him to surrender. When all the pleading and shooting was done, Justice Minister Néstor Reverol announced that security forces had killed Pérez and seven other “terrorists.”

    Pérez, a police officer, had been on the run since June. That’s when he commandeered a helicopter and used it to drop grenades on government buildings in Caracas. Reports are that he was only trying to rally anti-government protesters, not kill government officials.

    Before launching his helicopter attack … he called on the military, the police and civilians to rise up against … President Nicolás Maduro’s ‘tyranny’ and his ‘narco-dictatorship.’ …

    ‘Together, let’s retake our beloved Venezuela … re-establish the constitutional order in Venezuela … return the power to the people.’

    (BBC, January 16, 2018)

    Sure enough, nobody was harmed. But there’s no denying the recklessness of behavior.

    On the other hand, there’s also no denying that Maduro wanted Pérez killed, not least to prevent him emulating Chávez. Recall that Chávez first captured (and forever held) the imagination of the Venezuelan people after he led a failed coup in 1992 against then-President Carlos Andrés Peréz. That landed him in prison. Yet he was elected president just six years later.

    Except that Pérez struck most Venezuelans, including anti-government protesters, as more Rambo wannabe than revolutionary.

    Even in Miami, where most members of the Venezuelan community have ceased to believe that Maduro would ever concede losing at the polls, opposition leaders expressed doubts about the legitimacy of the Pérez movement.

    (Miami Herald, January 23, 2018)

    Alas, his lack of popular support did not matter.

    Besides, Maduro could be forgiven for thinking he would suffer no consequences, despite the viral nature of this extrajudicial killing. Because he could look to the way the president of Iran got off scot-free after the equally viral killing of Neda Agha-Soltan in 2009 – amidst similar anti-government protests.

    Meanwhile, Maduro has been stringing opposition leaders along for years with talks of compromise. They convened their latest rounds last September in the Dominican Republic, where an international group of politicians were acting as mediators.

    Mind you, Maduro needs support from opposition leaders, primarily, to

    • lobby the United States to lift the nail-in-the-coffin sanctions Trump imposed; and
    • renegotiate Venezuela’s crippling foreign debt.

    In exchange, they are demanding, among other things, that he

    • allow distribution of international humanitarian aid;
    • release political prisoners;
    • recognize their duly-elected National Assembly; and
    • provide guarantees that this year’s presidential will be free and fair.

    But nobody who knows anything about the nature of Maduro’s rule believes he will ever accede to their democratic demands. This, notwithstanding the obvious fact that, without their support, Venezuela’s economic death spiral will continue.

    The political turmoil comes against the backdrop of a worsening economic crisis. Despite having the largest proven oil reserves in the world, Venezuela is fast running out of cash, and its people have struggled for years with food and medical shortages, coupled with skyrocketing prices.

    (CNN, April 20, 2017)

    Remarkably, Maduro created a new “constituent assembly” against this backdrop. Its mission was to rewrite the constitution to “bring peace to the nation.”

    However, all indications are that he created this “legislative superbody” merely to serve as his rubberstamp alternative to the democratically elected National Assembly. Forebodingly, he vested it with “total power” to enact his dictatorial decrees, dissolve state institutions (including the National Assembly), and rig his re-election.

    Accordingly, Maduro made clear on Tuesday his abiding contempt not just for these opposition leaders but also for the US and European leaders who are imposing the crippling sanctions at issue. Specifically, he made quite a show of announcing his intent to stand for re-election.

    Despite national turmoil and international outcry, he insisted that Venezuelans will go to the polls before the end of April. And, sure enough, hapless opposition leaders seem inclined to accede to his dictatorial whim.

    The opposition plans to hold primaries to choose a candidate, but the hasty presidential vote may make that tricky.

    Its most popular leaders are almost all sidelined from politics – jailed, in exile, or barred from holding office.

    (Reuters, January 23, 2018)

    Mexico led the international chorus of those denouncing his announcement as a poison pill, rendering talks with opposition leaders pointless. Duh.

    But I cannot overstate how much Maduro needs their support. Therefore, one wonders why he engages in such plainly counterproductive maneuvers?

    The only explanation is that, like Mugabe, Maduro is content to continue his iron-fisted rule — even if it’s over a Venezuela that is a complete basket case. Nothing betrays this quite like him betting on a cryptocurrency (like Bitcoin) as a panacea for his country’s woes:

    Maduro announced the nation would create its own ‘petrocurrency,’ backed by reserves in oil, gas, gold and diamonds. It will enable Venezuela ‘to advance in monetary sovereignty, carry out its financial transactions to overcome the financial blockade,’ Maduro said.

    (Bloomberg, December 3, 2017)

    Not to mention that Venezuela’s currency lost 96 percent of its value last year, while inflation soared above 4000 percent.

    Interestingly enough, Maduro is aping Trump by maintaining that reports about Venezuela’s economic death spiral are fake news. To be fair, at the bottom of its economic death spiral (in November 2008), Zimbabwe’s inflation rate reached an unfathomable 89.7 sextillion percent. Therefore, Maduro can argue that Venezuela is faring relatively well.

    Still, no matter his sham talks, rigged election, or Trumpian delusion, Maduro must know his days are numbered. After all, his fate rests upon the favor of Venezuela’s military leaders.

    Except that they remained so loyal to Chávez because he rose from among their ranks. Maduro did not. Indeed, they probably see him as nothing more than a leftist “militant dreamer” – who is to Chavismo what Steve Bannon is to Trumpism (Got that?).

    More to the point, though, these military leaders must also know that, as long as Maduro remains in office, Venezuela’s economic death spiral will continue. He clearly enjoys ruling over a basket case. I doubt they enjoy serving in one.

    Therefore, instead of continuing feckless talks with him, opposition leaders should appeal to their nationalist/Chavismo pride to get them to ensure a free and fair presidential election, which would surely see Maduro ousted in a landslide.

    By the same token, instead of gambling with Venezuela’s fate, Maduro would do well to secure his own.

    We cry for you, Venezuela

    The truth is, he never loved you

    Despite Chavismo

    His revolution,

    He broke his promise

    Please find your senses.

    Related commentaries:
    Venezuela’s death spiral
    Trump imposes nail-in-coffin sanctions

  • Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 7:39 AM

    NFL Conference Championship Sunday: Hail, Patriots! Hail, Eagles!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Casual Football fans think Super Bowl Sunday is the most exciting day of the NFL season. But real fans know that day is conference championship Sunday.

    (“NFL’s Historic Conference Championship Sunday,” The iPINIONS Journal, January 22, 2007)

    Sure enough, this conference championship Sunday lived up to the hype.

    AFC

    Much to my chagrin, this earlier AFC game turned out to be the more exciting of the two. Of course, anyone familiar with my NFL commentaries knows that I think the Patriots are cheaters who too often prosper.

    This explains the unbridled relish I displayed on the rare occasions when they got their comeuppance. I refer you to “Giants Stomp Patriots to Win Super Bowl XLVI 21-17,” February 6, 2012, and “NFL Sacks Brady as Court Reinstates Deflategate Suspension,” April 27, 2017.

    Therefore, to say I wanted the Jaguars to win would be the understatement of the season. Unfortunately, those damned “Deflategate” cheaters prospered — again:

    The New England Patriots were down 20-10 early in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s A.F.C. Championship game. Little had worked for the Patriots all day, but like Tom Brady has so many times over the years, the 40-year-old quarterback kept his cool and led the Patriots to a 24-20 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    (New York Times, January 22, 2018)

    Truth be told, I switched to FIS Alpine skiing after Brady led the Patriots on an 85-yard drive to close that early fourth-quarter gap to 20-17. I had seen this game before … too many friggin’ times.

    Incidentally, USA skiers Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin missed golden opportunities in Cortina d’Ampezzo, mirroring similar opportunities missed at other stops on the World Cup circuit this season. No doubt each will win a gold medal at next month’s Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. But neither will sweep her events in Phelpsian fashion as hyped. I digress …

    If you bought into the drama over Brady’s jammed finger (on his throwing hand no less), you’d probably buy into a time share in the Florida Everglades. I didn’t think for a minute that his “injury” was nearly as serious as the Patriots pretended. #Gamesmanship!

    In fact, Brady was so much on form, he passed for 26 of 38 for 290 yards and two touchdowns. What’s more, his game-winning pass to Danny Amendola has gone viral. Mind you, it took Amendola’s balletic athleticism to make it a touchdown catch. Yet Brady is getting all the credit.

    Whatever the case, it will surely rival the touchdown Joe Montana threw to Dwight Clarke in the 1981 NFC championship game as the best catch in championship history.

    Finally, superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski is Brady’s “go-to” receiver. But here is what I wrote about him after last year’s championship game, when yet another injury prevented him from even playing:

    Apropos of hype, injury-prone, party-boy Rob Gronkowski is fast becoming to the Patriots what NBA player Derrick Rose became to the Bulls: all promise, no pay off. The Patriots proved this season they don’t need him, just as the Bulls proved they don’t need Rose.

    Therefore, the Patriots would do well to trade ‘Gronk,’ just as the Bulls traded Rose.

    (“NFL Conference Championship Sunday: Hail, Patriots! Hail, Falcons!” The iPINIONS Journal, January 25, 2017)

    Sure enough:

    Gronkowski was taken out with two minutes remaining in the first half of the of Sunday’s AFC Championship Game after a helmet-to-helmet hit with Barry Church. …

    At the start of the fourth quarter, the team announced Gronkowski would be out for the remainder of the game.

    (Sports Illustrated, January 21, 2018)

    All the same, I would bet my life savings he’ll be cleared to play in the Super Bowl on February 4. But it’s anybody’s guess if he’ll avoid another injury to play the entire game.

    NFC

    As indicated above, this game was not as exciting.

    The Vikings scored on their opening drive, but it was all downhill from there as the Eagles scored 38 unanswered points.

    (SBNation, January 21, 2018)

    And I watched the whole thing. Not that I’m complaining. As a long-suffering Philadelphia Eagles fan, I am thrilled they routed the Minnesota Vikings 38-7.

    In doing so, they won their first berth to the Super Bowl since 2004. This ended 13 years during which I spent conference championship Sundays sounding sour notes like this:

    Unfortunately, my enjoyment of this day of Football revelry was undermined by the lingering sour taste of watching the Packers eliminate my team, the Philadelphia Eagles, from the playoffs two weeks ago.  Naturally, this was reason enough for me to root for the Bears to rout the Packers.

    (“NFL Championship Sunday,” The iPINIONS Journal, January 24, 2011)

    That said, I’m a little superstitious. Specifically, I fear writing anymore, and gloating unavoidably, will jinx them.

    The only reason I watched this game is that I fully expected the Vikings to make a comeback. Perversely, watching that play out would have been as irresistible as watching a Donald Trump press conference, which invariably features him blurting out train-wreck gaffes.

    Frankly, it seemed incomprehensible to me that backup quarterback Nick Foles would succeed where superstars like Michael Vick, Mark Sanchez, and Sam Bradford failed.

    In fairness to Foles, though, nobody thought the Eagles would advance beyond the first week of the playoffs. Carson Wentz, our latest Brady in the making, dashed all hopes after he suffered a season-ending injury in Week 14 of the regular season. Yet here we are.

    But my superstition is such that I’m not even going to watch the Eagles soar over the Patriots to win their first Super Bowl trophy in team history!

    Go Eagles!

    Related commentaries:
    NFL conference championships
    Deflategate
    Championship Sunday

  • Monday, January 22, 2018 at 6:57 AM

    Icy Baptism Exposes ‘He-man’ Putin as a Shivering Wimp

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has gone to extreme lengths over the years to burnish his he-man image.

    I duly ridiculed him in commentaries like “Hail Putin,” December 3, 2007, “Putin’s Photo-Op Flop,” October 20, 2010, and “Putin’s Divorce Dents Public Armor,” June 12, 2013, which includes this abiding observation:

    Putin has become an international laughingstock for staging photo ops to make himself look more like an action hero than a political leader. Not least because so many of his stunts, like pretending to escort migrating cranes in a glider, make him look more like Johnny English than James Bond.

    Now comes this:

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken a dip in icy lake waters to celebrate Epiphany, a major holiday in Orthodox Christianity marking the baptism of Jesus.

    Russian television stations have shown the 65-year-old Putin approaching a hole cut in the ice on Lake Seliger in northwestern Russia and then dunking himself in and crossing himself.

    (CBS News, January 19, 2018)

    No doubt he got the desired effect from commentators who swooned over his bare chest – religiously adorned with gangsta-like chain and cross pendant. But he exposed his wimpiness when it came time to dunk himself.

    For it was bad enough that he began by holding his nose. But then, instead of fully submerging himself, he allowed the water to crest barely above his chin. This, while real men (and women) not only fully submerged themselves, but did so three times.

    Even worse, though, when Putin popped up, he had that reflexive look of fright you always see on the face of little girls struggling for dear life in Jaws movies.

    His aides dare not tell Putin how stupid his he-man stunts make him look. Like aides who dare not tell Kim Jong-un how weak his military threats make him look, they fear losing their jobs … or much worse.

    All the same, better to have them live out their chest-thumping fantasies through harmless theatrics than deadly maneuvers – like test-launching nuclear missiles (Lil’ Kim).

    (“Earth to Putin: He-Man Stunts Make You Look Stupid, Not Strong,” The iPINIONS Journal, August 22, 2015)

    Hail, Pootie!

    Mind you, all ridiculing aside, the world would be a lot safer today if President Trump were into these Putin-style stunts to show off his manhood. Unfortunately, he’s into Kim-style nuclear brinkmanship – complete with taunts about who has the bigger nuclear button. #PutUpOrShutUp

    Incidentally, apropos of my allusion to Jaws, I cannot resist sharing this tidbit. It’s courtesy of Stormy Daniels, the porn-star now enjoying her 15 minutes of fame because of an alleged affair she had with Trump in 2006:

    [Trump] is terrified of sharks. He was like … ‘I hope all the sharks die.’

    (Huffington Post, January 18, 2018)

    Hee, hee. But hey, we already knew this notorious pussy-grabber was just a big pussy.

    Related commentaries:
    He-man
    Putin’s public armor

  • Saturday, January 20, 2018 at 8:26 AM

    Trump’s First Year Ends with Government Shutdown…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    And it perfectly symbolizes the discrimination, diatribes, dysfunction, dissembling, dangers, disaffection, dithering, and disillusionment that have characterized his first year as president of the United States.

    In the final moments leading up to Friday’s midnight deadline, Senate Republicans and Democrats were unable to agree on a stopgap funding measure to continue government services. …

    Whoever works for agencies and departments that are considered nonessential, including agencies that pay out small business loans and process passport requests, will cease to work effective immediately until Congress is able to agree on a bill for the federal budget.

    (CNN, January 20, 2018)

    Every president since Harry Truman (1945-53) has made a show of intoning his famous mantra for presidential responsibility:

    The buck stops here!

    Trump, however, has distinguished himself by passing the buck whenever something goes wrong. He is relatively new to Washington. But nobody plays its ritual blame game better than this congenital shyster.

    In this case, Trump is leading the chorus of Republicans blaming Democrats with shameless abandon, so much so that you’d never know he and Republicans control the White House and both houses of Congress, respectively.

    In fact, a government shutdown under such one-party rule is so incomprehensible, this is the first time it has happened in US history.

    Mind you, when he isn’t shifting blame, he’s shirking responsibility. He threw this into shocking relief early in the year, when he began publicly begging the Chinese president to no avail to get the North Korean president to stop threatening to nuke the United States. I commented on his humiliating and unprecedented dereliction in “’Leading from Behind’ — Trump Depending on China to Protect US from North Korea,” April 21, 2017.

    That said, it’s worth bearing in mind that Trump is the self-proclaimed master of the Art of the Deal. More to the point, he convinced the American people to elect him primarily by claiming that he alone could negotiate deals that would preclude such shutdowns.

    But nobody should be surprised that it has come to this. After all, this first year has seen him botch negotiations on issues ranging from the Paris Climate Change accord to the Trans Pacific Partnership on trade, Middle East peace, and the Iran Nuclear deal.

    Frankly, Donald Trump is to deal making what Homer Simpson is to parenting.

    I shall spare you the sausage-making reasons for this epic shutdown – except to note that it has everything to do with Trump’s “wall” of discrimination against Mexican immigrants. As you consider assigning blame, however, I suggest you ignore Trump’s blame-shifting, self-serving tweets. Instead, just consider what he said in 2013, during the most recent government shutdown.

    Obama was president. Republicans controlled both houses of Congress. But they used that control to force a shutdown. They hoped in vain that this would further their open and notorious conspiracy to make Obama a failed president. Trump duly piled on:

    When [historians] talk about the government shutdown, they’re going to be talking about the president of the United States, who the president was at that time.

    They’re not going to be talking about who was the head of the House, the head the Senate … I really think the pressure is on the president.

    (Fox News, September 30, 2013)

    This is why never before in the history of politics has it been more deserving for a politician to eat his own … “sh*+.”

    Bon appetit, Mr. Trump!

    NOTE: Apropos of every president since Truman, Trump seems determined to be the first to alienate his predecessors so much that they all shun him like the plague. Mind you, it would probably suit the congenitally insecure Trump well to complete his entire term without even a phone call, let alone personal contact, with any of them. His tweets actually give the impression that he fears anything Obama related as if it were kryptonite to his presidency.

    Nonetheless, for the sake of his legacy, his advisers should prevail upon him to assign them ex-presidential missions that none dare reject. This would enable him to appear the most presidential, while fulfilling this customary fraternal requirement.

    Related commentaries:
    Make Obama fail
    Trump presidency
    Trump depending on China

  • Friday, January 19, 2018 at 7:18 AM

    United Nations a Haven for Sexual Predators…?

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Yes, it is as much a haven for them as offshore nations are for tax dodgers.

    The United Nations has allowed sexual harassment and assault to flourish in its offices around the world, with accusers ignored and perpetrators free to act with impunity

    Dozens of current and former UN employees described a culture of silence across the organisation and a flawed grievance system that is stacked against victims.

    (The Guardian US, January 18, 2018)

    The following excerpt is from “The Whistleblower,” August 5, 2011.  It explains why this latest news about the rotten state of affairs at the United Nations vindicates commentaries like “The United Nations: Corrupt from Head to Toe,” June 17, 2005, “UN Peacekeepers Preying on Helpless Haitians?! Yes,” June 23, 2015, and “UN Peacekeepers like Foxes Guarding Henhouse,” April 4, 2016.

    ____________________

    The woman being portrayed is Kathryn Bolkovac, an ordinary Nebraska cop who signs up to serve as a UN peacekeeper in Bosnia. (For spoiler reasons, I won’t say why.)

    Alas, what she found was that many of the people committing crimes against humanity were men of all ranks in her own peacekeeping mission. Only instead of ethnic cleansing, they were involved in the sexual exploitation and trafficking of helpless teenage girls.

    As it happens, I’ve been doing what little I can for years to draw attention to these despicable crimes:

    Disgusted officials leaked an internal UN report which found that peacekeepers had sexually molested and abused African refugees in the DR Congo. These leaks forced Secretary General Kofi Annan to admit that he had known all along about his staff’s criminal conduct – including pedophilia, rape and prostitution (some of which was caught on tape).

    (“Kofi Annan’s UN Malaise,” The iPINIONS Journal, February 20, 2005)

    ____________________

    Frankly, the sexual predators who prey under the banner of the United Nations make those who prey behind the scenes in Hollywood look like teenage pests.

    Even worse, though, UN predators can be forgiven for thinking they enjoy the same immunity for sexual assaults that diplomats enjoy for parking tickets:

    In New York, UN officials have racked up $16m in unpaid parking tickets, while London is owed £100m in congestion charge fees. …

    Yet, like mice, noise and traffic jams, there seems to be little any city can do to protect itself from diplomats.

    (The Guardian US, September 23, 2016)

    In any event, we now understand why UN peacekeepers prey with such abandon on women and girls in their charge. They clearly know they’re just aping the impunity with which UN officials prey on co-workers in their offices.

    A pouting, petulant President Trump threatened to withdraw funding after the United Nations voted overwhelmingly to reject his unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. But this systemic scourge of sexual harassment gives him just cause to do so.

    Related commentaries:
    Whistleblower
    UN peacekeepers
    Trump threatens world over Jerusalem

  • Wednesday, January 17, 2018 at 7:48 AM

    Simone Biles Joins USA Gymnastics’ #MeToo Moment

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, and Simone Biles were members of the US women’s gymnastics team that won gold at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. But sadly, they got into a dispiriting Twitter spat two months ago.

    It stemmed from Raisman speaking about her sexual abuse at the hand of their team doctor on 60 Minutes. No doubt she expected all of her former teammates to offer sympathy and support.

    Instead, Douglas victim-blamed Raisman, tweeting in effect that sexual abuse is what happens when women/girls dress seductively. This provoked Biles to chastise Douglas for doing so.

    Their tweets are not worth republishing. The point is that I commented on them as follows in “USA Gymnastics Sex-Abuse Shame: Gabby Victim-Blames Aly and Outrages Simone,” November 20, 2017.

    ____________________

    There’s no denying the indiscriminate and prolific nature of Nassar’s sexual abuse. Therefore, I have to wonder if Douglas and Biles reacted to Raisman’s testimonial based on similar experiences:

    • Douglas exhibiting a form of Stockholm syndrome by blaming the victim and siding with her and their abuser; and
    • Biles defending Raisman as much as fellow teammate as fellow victim of Nassar’s sexual abuse.

    ____________________

    Sure enough, the very next day, Douglas claimed #MeToo:

    Gabby issued a statement Tuesday which started out by apologizing for her perceived victim shaming of ex-teammate Aly Raisman … and then dropped the bombshell that she, too, was a victim.

    (TMZ, November 21, 2017)

    Alas, it’s debatable whether she came forward in solidarity with her former teammate or out of shame from the backlash her victim-blaming provoked.

    In any event, just as I also reasoned, Biles is now claiming #MeToo … too:

    On the eve of former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar’s sentencing for sexually abusing girls in his care, American gymnast Simone Biles has come forward to say me, too.

    ‘I, too, am one of the many survivors that was sexually abused by Larry Nassar,’ she said Monday afternoon in a Twitter post.

    (CNN, January 16, 2018)

    Reports are that nearly 100 of Nassar’s 140 victims signed up to give impact statements at his sentencing, which got underway yesterday in Lansing, Michigan. Their statements will run through Friday, at which point the judge is expected to add dozens of years to the 60 he’s already serving on child pornography charges.

    As of this writing, it’s unclear if any of the “Fierce Five” Olympic champions from 2012 or the “Final Five” Olympic champions from 2016 will be making statements. Rumor has it that non-disclosure agreements with USA Gymnastics might prevent some of them from doing so. But no court would enforce such agreements in the circumstances.

    Actually, I’d like to think these Olympic champions appreciate that this might be an occasion to let these relatively unknown gymnasts have the floor. After all, if one Olympian shows up, everyone in the media, perhaps even everyone in Court, might act as if all of the other victims are mere bystanders.

    Related commentaries:
    Sex-abuse shame

  • Monday, January 15, 2018 at 8:06 AM

    Observing MLK Day 2018

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    If Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were alive today, he would be the first to bemoan that America remains so far from the Promised Land that inspired his famous dream. It speaks volumes in this respect that President-elect Trump began observations of this holiday last year with a racist rant on Twitter against MLK protégé John Lewis.

    I commented in “Observing MLK Day,” January 16, 2017.

    ____________________

    After Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) said that Russian interference undermined the legitimacy of his election, the preternaturally thin-skinned Trump reacted by impugning Lewis’s character and life’s work:

    Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to…mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk – no action or results. Sad!

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 14,  2017

    This he said of a man who bears well-known scars from marching with MLK for civil rights. Lewis also happens to be the most revered black man in America today – as Obama himself would concede.

    As for his district, far from ‘falling apart [and being] crime infested,’ Atlanta is the very manifestation of that ‘shining city upon a hill’ former President Ronald Reagan envisioned in his farewell address. Moreover, no less a Republican bible than Forbes named his district ‘the ninth best place in America for businesses and career development, and among the best for job growth and education.’

    ____________________

    Yet, remarkably, President Trump began observations this year with a racist rant inside the White House against “shithole countries” like Haiti and all those in Africa.

    Evidently, when it comes to immigration, he wants people to be judged by the color of their skin, not by the content of their character. This is why he reportedly huffed that too many are coming from those black countries and not enough from white ones … like Norway.

    I commented in “Only an Asshole like Trump Would Call Caribbean and African Countries ‘Shitholes,” January 12, 2018, and “Are the Caribbean Leaders Condemning Trump Living in Glass Houses?” January 12, 2018. I trust you’re still digesting what I wrote. Therefore, I see no point in quoting from either one.

    Incidentally, it’s arguable that this latest rant vindicates Lewis’s declared intent to boycott Trump’s presidency. He did not attend Trump’s signing of a Proclamation to Honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the White House on Friday. And he said just yesterday – on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos – that he will not attend Trump’s State of the Union Address on January 30.

    But, hey, this is MLK’s day.

    It is most noteworthy that he is the only private citizen (black or white) to have a federal holiday declared in his honor.

    Hell, even Washington and Lincoln have to share one holiday on Presidents’ Day. And, with the August 2013 dedication of his memorial, MLK is now perched on the Mall alongside them in perpetuity. All of which might explain why Washington’s monument is glaring down on MLK’s …

    Seriously, though, am I the only one who thinks the Washington Monument looks eerily like a stonemason’s homage to the KKK …?

    There was considerable media coverage last week of workers rappelling down the Washington Monument to inspect damage caused by the recent earthquake. However, while most people seemed mesmerized by the acrobatic feat this entailed, I could not help noticing how much up-close images of the cone of the Monument resemble the hood of a Klansman.

    Is it not a curious thing that this everlasting monument to the slave-holding Washington pays unwitting homage to this everlasting symbol of white supremacy?

    (“Washington Monument’s KKK Imagery,” The iPINIONS Journal, October 11, 2011)

    Whatever the case, this holiday is not just a testament to MLK’s greatness. It’s a symbolic down payment on the promissory note, which represents the unpaid, if not unpayable, debt America owes descendants of the blacks it enslaved.

    That said:

    This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

    Related commentaries:
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  • Saturday, January 13, 2018 at 7:12 AM

    Trump takes victory lap after (latest) racist remarks

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    After making his ‘shithole’ comment about Haiti and Africa during an Oval Office meeting, President Trump phoned aides, allies and friends to ask how they thought the slur played out in the press, according to a report.

    One White House official described the president’s actions as a ‘victory lap.’

    (New York Post, January 12, 2018)

    And here he is, taking that victory lap wearing not only his doofus look but his dunce cap too.

    Related commentaries:
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  • Friday, January 12, 2018 at 6:13 PM

    Are the Caribbean Leaders Condemning Trump on Haiti Living in Glass Houses?

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    I am dismayed that so many readers are questioning why I did not mention, let alone criticize, Caribbean leaders in my original commentary — “Only an Asshole like Trump Would Call Caribbean and African Countries ‘Shitholes’.” After all, the reason for not doing so strikes me as self-evident.

    I will get to it below. But this questioning constrains to me to share a little context.

    I have been expressing compassion for Haitian migrants for years. Here is how I framed the categorical imperative to do so in “Compassion Fatigue for Haitian Migrants,” July 31, 2009.

    ____________________

    I do not blame Haitians for taking to the sea. Frankly, if I were living their lives of such oppressive desperation, I would do the same. Unfortunately, every Caribbean country is now following U.S. practice by aggressively repatriating them.

    Therefore, improving living conditions in Haiti offers the only hope for a better life for the vast majority of these would-be immigrants. And, the United States bears far greater responsibility to help improve those conditions than all Caribbean countries combined.

    This, not only because of its vast resources, but also because of its de facto colonial legacy in Haiti:

    American presidents are almost as responsible for creating the nightmarish living conditions in Haiti as the succession of incompetent, corrupt and ruthless leaders they’ve sponsored throughout Haiti’s modern History. …

    The American government must honor its unfulfilled obligations to help build a Haiti than can sustain, govern and police itself.

    (“The Plague of Haitian Migrants in the Caribbean,” The iPINIONS Journal, March 31, 2005)

    In the meantime, I urge President Obama to reform U.S. immigration laws consistent with these obligations. He can begin by granting Haitians the same protected status Cuban migrants have always enjoyed.

    ____________________

    In fact, I have an unimpeachable record of championing the sustainable development of Haiti (and Africa). Yet even I was moved to lament their shortcomings as follows:

    Haiti is fated to loom amidst the islands of the Caribbean — just as Africa is amidst the continents of the world — as a dark, destitute, diseased, desperate, disenfranchised, dishonest, disorganized, disassociated, dangerous and, ultimately, dysfunctional mess. …

    And, even though white foreign faces appear as evil forces from time to time, black indigenous faces (like those of the Tonton Macoutes, FRAPH, and even Catholic Lavalas devotees) are the constant, central, and catalytic characters in Haiti’s purgatory.

    (“Haiti’s Living Nightmare Continues,” The iPINIONS Journal, March 7, 2005)

    But I trust all can see how my compassionate lament is a far cry from President Trump’s racist rant. Recall that he denigrated Haiti and all countries in Africa as “shitholes” whose people are not good enough to immigrate to the United States.

    It came as no surprise that his remarks incited outrage across every continent. But it should also come as no surprise that Trump would spew such contempt on the chronic poverty that compels so many to flee these countries. After all, this billionaire buffoon has shown time and again that he is as ignorant about the root causes of that poverty as he is arrogant about the hereditary entitlements that made that wealthy.

    All the same, one cannot overstate the recurring role the United States has played in sustaining those causes — with respect to Haiti. But I shall suffice here to share how I framed the origins of the racist conspiracy to keep Haiti shackled in poverty. I did so in “Haitians: Returning to Africa; Blaming the US and France?!” February 12, 2010.

    ____________________

    The U.S. and France led other nations in a conspiracy to ensure that Haiti would suffer crib death as a nation after winning independence in 1804.

    And here is the pretext they used to justify it:

    Haiti’s current economic crisis and political turmoil have their roots in the ‘odious debt’ of 150 million gold francs (later reduced to 90 million), which France imposed on the newborn republic with gunboats in 1825.

    The sum was supposed to compensate French planters for their losses of slaves and property during Haiti’s 1791-1804 revolution…

    It took Haiti 122 years, until 1947, to pay off both the original ransom to France and the tens of millions more in interest payments borrowed from French banks to meet the deadlines.

    (Haïti Liberté’s Statement for the European Parliament In Support of Pan-Afrikan Society Community Forum (PASCF) Global Research, May 10, 2013)

    The Americans [helped the French enforce the suffocating terms of this debt]. They did so because they deemed it politically untenable to have a nation of black revolutionaries enjoying democratic freedoms in their backyard. No doubt they feared the embers from the revolutionary fires that liberated black slaves in Haiti might ignite similar fires to liberate black slaves in America.

    Of course, imposing this debt was all the French could do to avenge their humiliating defeat. Never mind the irony that these Haitian revolutionaries merely emulated the way American revolutionaries defeated the British … with the help of the French. Which only compounds the racism and hypocrisy inherent in the United States and France treating Haiti this way.

    ____________________

    The prevailing point is that, after centuries of mercantile pillaging, the French launched a deliberate campaign to sabotage the economic development of its former colony. By contrast, the way the Spanish treated the Dominican Republic is instructive.

    It of course is the side of the island of Hispaniola the Spanish retained after ceding “Saint-Domingue” (Haiti) to the French – who at the time were mostly rampaging pirates. But, unlike the French, the Spanish did not treat the DR as a natural resource to be exploited – like an African mine. Instead, they treated it as one to be cultivated for sustainable use … and as a source of imperial pride.

    There is no denying that the legacy of that infamous sabotage is partly to blame for Haiti’s chronic state of poverty and privation. I hasten to stress, however, that one cannot overstate the recurring role Haitian leaders have played in keeping their own people mired in poverty. As indicated above, I have duly denounced them for doing so.

    In a similar vein, my commentaries make clear why I think Caribbean leaders would do well to check their moral compass before hurling rocks at Trump’s house. In short, they clearly could do more to assimilate Haitian migrants.

    I’m all too mindful, however, that no less a person than President Obama failed in this regard. Notably, I called on him — in the 2009 commentary excerpted above — to either grant Haitians the same “wet foot, dry foot” privilege President Clinton granted Cubans, or end it. He ended it. I hailed his executive action with mixed emotions in “Obama Ends Discriminatory ‘Wet Foot, Dry Foot’ Cuba Policy,” January 13, 2017.

    This brings me to readers upbraiding me for not denouncing Caribbean leaders with the same indignation with which I denounced Trump. The simple fact is that Trump has repeatedly spewed the kind of racist bile at issue. I challenge anyone to cite any Caribbean leader who has ever once spewed the same.

    Again, Haitian migrants pose a heavy, unsustainable burden for the relatively small and poor countries of the Caribbean. This explains why, even though none have called Haiti a shithole, some Caribbean leaders have treated Haitians like shit.

    The point, though, is that Haitian migrants do not pose the same for the big and rich country of the United States. This is why I am loath to draw a comparison between the way Caribbean leaders struggle with this burden and the way Trump is attempting to disown it. Such a comparison smacks of a reductio ad absurdum of moral relativism (pardon my Latin).

    Then, of course, there’s the insult to injury inherent in Trump calling all Haitians AIDS-infected to justify shirking of America’s prevailing responsibility — as chronicled above. Not to mention that this insult is all too consistent with his plainly racist immigration policies. They, you may recall, have seen him attempt to

    • build a wall to keep out brown people from Central and South America; and
    • implement a travel ban on all Muslims and blacks from several African countries.

    And all this while reportedly declaring

    We should have more people from places like Norway.

    — NBCNews, January 11,  2018

    President Trump is a racist. Caribbean leaders are not.

    Related commentaries:
    compassion fatigue
    Haitians: returning
    Haiti lament
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  • Friday, January 12, 2018 at 7:38 AM

    Only an Asshole like Trump Would Call Caribbean and African Countries ‘Shitholes’

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    President Trump’s dismissal of Haiti, El Salvador and all of Africa as ‘shithole countries’ whose inhabitants are not desirable for U.S. immigration shocked people around the world and provoked swift condemnation.

    The president made the remarks Thursday during a White House meeting with lawmakers and suggested immigrants from Norway or Asia would be preferable.

    (Washington Post, January 12, 2018)

    If you are shocked or even disappointed by this, you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years.

    After all, Trump showed he’s a racist in 2011 when he appointed himself the Grand Wizard of Birtherism. That of course is the movement that has white nationalists (still) peddling the demonstrable lie that Barack Obama, the first black president of the United States, is an African fraud.

    He then reinforced his true colors in 2015 when he launched his presidential campaign. Because he did so by scapegoating Mexicans as rapists, insisting that he had to build a wall to keep them out of the country.

    Yet, despite all this, Americans elected him president.  And so, ask not if Trump is a racist – ask why so many Americans continue to defend and support him.

    Alas, this represents the triumph of white nationalism over multiculturalism/globalism. … Trump’s victory says far more about white racism than white anger. …

    I urge those of you who cannot even countenance a Trump presidency to resist mounting feckless street protests. …

    I’m on record stating my suspicion that many whites voted for Obama in 2008 more as a gesture of racial absolution than of political faith. These AP findings bear that out. And having thusly absolved themselves of their sins of racism (with this one, historic act), many of them now feel liberated to give way to their racial prejudices without fear of being called racists. …

    The only consolation I can offer is that America has survived far worse than anything a Trump presidency portends.

    (“WTF: President-elect Donald J. Trump?! America. What. Have. You. Done.” The iPINIONS Journal, November 9, 2016)

    Meanwhile, the Post ran what seems a clever cartoon showing Trump sticking out his tongue for his physical, which is scheduled for today. The cartoon is captioned

    Trump’s ‘shithole’ slip of the tongue.

    The kicker is that it shows KKK hoodies popping up like racist warts all over his tongue as the doctor examines it.

    The problem, however, is that this was no slip. It was just another symptom of the racism that afflicts Trump to the core. This is why, instead of Make America Great Again (#MAGA), his presidential slogan should be Make America White Again (#MAWA); you know, like it was during the 1950s.

    But the remedy is not feckless outrage – complete with politicians tweeting platitudes about diversity. It’s either Congress impeaching him or voters rejecting him.

    Unfortunately, the Republican-controlled Congress seems determined to enable even his racist vices. Therefore, the only way to excise the cancer Trump represents on the body politic is for voters to

    • vote Republicans out in Congressional mid-term elections this year; and
    • vote him out in the 2020 presidential election, punctuating their disgust by handing him the most humiliating defeat in history.

    So here’s to Democrats, Independents, and (conscientious) Republicans – who together compose at least 75 percent of the electorate – marching to the polls to do just that!

    In the meantime, though, I feel constrained to reiterate what I urged all self-respecting blacks and conscientious whites to do years ago. I did so in “Trump for President? Don’t Be a Sucker!” April 8, 2011.

    ____________________

    We all knew that Trump was a self-aggrandizing buffoon. But he has now exposed himself as a self-deluding racist as well.

    This is why I urge the rich folks he depends on to patronize his eponymous resorts and buy up his eponymous condominiums to begin shunning him — just as they would a half-baked racist like David Duke. I urge this especially of the black Hollywood and sports stars he likes to feature as extras in his one-man freak show.

    Trump is entitled to say whatever he likes. But, at the very least, he should suffer truth and consequences for accusing this country’s first black president of being a Kenyan Muslim who has perpetrated ‘the biggest scam in US history.’ …

    So, here’s to this fiendishly thin-skinned huckster having his trademark words thrown back in his face: Trump, you’re fired!

    ____________________

    NOTE: Kudos to my friend Mary for sharing the drop-the-mic joke about the biggest shithole on this planet being Donald Trump’s mouth.

    Related commentaries:
    WTF! Trump president-elect
    Trump gets physical
    Trump’s racist warts
    Charlottesville
    Trump for pres? Don’t be a sucker

  • Thursday, January 11, 2018 at 6:43 PM

    Trump Gets Physical

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Donald Trump is scheduled to get his first physical exam as president tomorrow. And, Americans are waiting for the results with such baited breath, it rivals their waiting for the verdict in the murder trial of O.J. Simpson.

    But I find the interest in this exam stupefying. After all, it is self-evident that Trump’s physical shape is almost as bad as his mental state, which, as his daily tweets manifest, meanders between psychotic and demented.

    As it happens, psychiatrists have been all over TV recently trying to explain, among other things, his pathological lying, narcissism, xenophobia, and racism. Their explanations have become so fevered, and troubling, that the New York Times felt moved to publish an editorial just yesterday under the headline “Is Mr. Trump Nuts? It included the following:

    Is Donald Trump mentally fit to be president of the United States? It’s an understandable question, and it’s also beside the point. …

    We don’t need a medical degree or a psychiatric diagnosis to tell us what is wrong with Mr. Trump. It’s obvious to anyone who listens to him speak, reads his tweets and sees the effects of his behavior — on the presidency, on the nation and its most important institutions, and on the integrity of the global order.

    The Times duly noted that the only question Trump’s fitness raises is which will come first:

    • his Cabinet will declare him unfit;
    • Congress will impeach him; or
    • voters will reject him.

    Granted, tomorrow’s exam will not include a psychiatric evaluation. But the point is that the Times could easily include very similar language in an editorial about his physical shape under the headline “Is Mr. Trump Fat?

    That said, it would constitute political malpractice – even for Trump’s hapless advisers – if they allow him to take this exam without a clear indication of what the result will be.

    Frankly, I suspect they had a reputable doctor perform a private exam recently. Therefore, they probably know full well what to expect.

    One of the doctors from the White House Medical Unit who performed Obama’s annual exam will perform Trump’s. And, like Obama, Trump can forbid the release of any result.

    This raises the question: which results will be so embarrassing that he will forbid their release?

    Whatever the case, I would bet my life savings that his results will not show that “he’s the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” That you might recall was the laughable assessment his longtime doctor made in a December 2015 letter, which Trump’s campaign could not wait to release.

    NOTE: Obama routinely released all vital statistics (e.g., weight and blood pressure), lab results (e.g., cholesterol and PSA numbers), and medications (e.g., vitamins and statins).

  • Wednesday, January 10, 2018 at 6:49 AM

    (Real) Black Face a Hit in … Romania

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    During a 2007 “pilgrimage” to Serbia, I visited several towns on the outskirts of Belgrade. In each one, I got the impression that mine was the first (real) black face people living there had ever seen.

    They invariably greeted me with stares, which made me feel like a Martian visiting Earth for the first time. But, on one occasion, a few schoolgirls completely disarmed me. They giddily approached and asked if I was some famous black guy they had seen on TV.

    Naturally, I disabused them of that impression. Yet their curiosity was such that they proceeded to ask if they could take pictures with me, which led to them asking if they could touch my hair and skin. I happily obliged, which I think provided some consolation for the fact that I was not that famous black guy.

    I recounted this and other experiences in “My Serbian ‘Pilgrimage,’” May 30, 2007. I’m sharing it today because it helps me (and might help you) relate to a report the BBC published yesterday. It was headlined “How Nigerian singers are winning the hearts of Romanians,” and included the following:

    The stares are from people trying to work out if he really is the Tobi Ibitoye who shot to fame, coming third on The Voice of Romania talent show in 2015. …

    But Romania only has a very small African community, as most of those leaving the continent tend to head to Western European countries – generally to those with a colonial link.

    It is estimated that over 90% of Nigerians living in Romania are university students, many of whom have come to study medicine, computer engineering or maritime engineering.

    Interestingly enough, I’ve read many accounts of the Soviet Union treating Africans during the Cold War the way Romania seems inclined to treat them today.

    The Soviet officials had clearly hoped that by bringing thousands of African students to the USSR they would score a major propaganda victory against their cold war rivals in the West and also consolidate their country’s prestige in the Third World.

    However, they had failed to foresee the impact of African students on the Soviet society. Instead of serving as symbolic ideological allies of the regime, once in the Soviet Union, Africans often functioned as its opponents.

    (Encyclopedia of Afroeuropean Studies)

    This is why I wonder how long the infatuation between these Romanians and Nigerians will last.

    After all, the novelty of a few black faces is bound to grow into a migration of many. At which point I fear the kind of disaffection and disillusionment African migrants are now experiencing in Russia:

    In the Nov. 2 Section A, an article about hostility against African blacks in Russia said there had been 177 reported acts of violence against blacks in Russia since 2010, according to the SOVA Center for Information and Analysis. …

    ‘Most of the time I’m harassed, but this was the worst experience,’ Bazie, 28, said recently as he sat at a parish community center in Moscow where African migrants often seek refuge.

    His story is not uncommon … African migrants face widespread hostility and racism that usually go unpunished.

    (Los Angeles Times, November 2, 2014)

    This constrains me to clarify that there’s nothing novel about Nigerian singers enjoying some measure of celebrity among Romanians (notably young women). For I’m reminded of the celebrity black singers like Sammy Davis Jr. enjoyed among whites Americans during the 1950s. That was the height of Jim Crowism when, as we all know, 99 percent of blacks were being treated more like Bazie than Ibotoye.

    This is why it’s very likely that things are not all that rosy even for the small number of unsung Nigerians who are just trying to get an education in Romania today.

    What’s more, it’s worth reiterating that the Soviet Union recruited Africans for propaganda purposes, the fallout notwithstanding. Significantly, the USSR was the biggest benefactor of the African National Congress, and trained thousands of the ANC’s militant members to fight the Apartheid regime of South Africa.

    By contrast, these Africans are in Romania today only because no Western European country wants them. This stems from the fact that, because so many African migrants preceded them, the influx of more became an untenable burden.

    Europe is trying to cut the flow of migrants from Africa. …

    Just as the European Union appeared to be stemming the flood of Syrian refugees last year, it realized that it had another, even more complicated problem on its hands: Migration from Africa was continuing to surge. …

    Unlike Syrians, most of whom have viable claims to refugee status because of the war in their country, a large portion of Africans moving to Europe are economic migrants seeking better jobs.

    (Washington Post, August 31, 2017)

    This constrains me to end by noting that Africans ending up in Romania only compounds the continental shame I lamented in African Migrants Turning Mediterranean Sea into Vast Cemetery,” February 12, 2015:

    I just hope the damning irony is not lost on any proud African that, 50 years after decolonization, hundreds of Africans (men, women, and children) are risking their lives, practically every day, to subjugate themselves to the paternal mercies of their former colonial masters in Europe.

    Related commentaries:
    Serbian pilgrimage
    African migrants

  • Monday, January 8, 2018 at 6:44 AM

    The Golden Globes (Oprah and MeToo)

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Forget who wore, said, or won what. This show was all about #MeToo and Oprah, fool!

    In late December, rumors began circulating that the Golden Globes red carpet would be experiencing a blackout: Many stars were banding together in search of all-black dresses and outfits to make a statement against the epidemic of sexual harassment in the entertainment industry and beyond.

    At first, there were just hints here and there on social media, but buzz began to build, and on Jan. 2, it was revealed in the New York Times that the coordinated wardrobe effort was part of a bigger, organized campaign called Time’s Up.

    (People, January 7, 2018)

    Time’s Up is an evolution of the #MeToo … moment. This slogan and the black dresses are meant to signal the day of reckoning for sexual harassers in Hollywood. But I fear they will force no greater reckoning than #BringBackOurGirls did for kidnappers of schoolgirls in Africa. Remember that moment?

    Nothing justifies my cynicism quite like this:

    Three months to the day after the New York Times first published its detailed exposé alleging decades of sexual harassment and sexual assault by Harvey Weinstein, a female producer, agent, actress, and a showrunner all told Deadline they fear a backlash against women who initiate allegations of sexual harassment or sexual assault against A-list men — especially at the studios, networks and uber-agencies.

    Indicative of that fear and despite the rising #MeToo movement, each woman in the quartet would only speak anonymously about the matter.

    ‘Hollywood’s a boys’ town and they will do what they have to do to keep their power, even if that means paying lip service for a while to stamping out misogyny,’ the award-winning showrunner tells Deadline.

    (Deadline Hollywood, January 5, 2018)

    So, yeah, A-list women will be fine — as they’ve always been. After all, sexual predators only prey on starry-eyed ingénues and desperately seeking B-list women (and men).

    Meanwhile, apropos of “beyond,” titans in Silicon Valley make honchos in Hollywood look like choir boys when it comes to the festering antics of misogyny. I refer you to Emily Chang’s “‘Oh My God, This Is So F**ked Up’: Inside Silicon Valley’s Secretive, Orgiastic Dark Side,” Vanity Fair, January 2, 2018. But here’s a teaser:

    The sexual harassment women face on the proverbial casting couch in Hollywood pales in comparison to the sexual harassment women face while interviewing for start-up jobs (or venture capital) in Silicon Valley. Even worse, the prevailing sense of entitlement among nouveau-riche geeks is such that the sexual culture in the Valley rivals the dystopian one depicted in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

    In any event, last night’s show featured host Seth Myers and everyone else trying to say something worthy of the moment. No doubt each was hoping to emulate the moving speech Meryl Streep gave at last year’s Golden Globes, during which she cauterized metastasizing angst from the shock election of Donald J. Trump as president of the United States.

    Never mind the irony that it was none other than Streep who paid this now-cringeworthy tribute to Weinstein at this very show six years ago:

    I just wanna thank my agent Kevin Huvane and God, Harvey Weinstein.

    (SimplyStreep.com, January 16, 2012)

    That she said this is as much an indication of how far Weinstein has fallen from grace as it is an indictment of how much even Streep was beholden to him. Sure enough, he moved heaven and earth in the weeks following that show to help Streep win her third Oscar for her starring role in The Iron Lady – a film he produced.

    Incidentally, if everyone thought he was God, is it any wonder Weinstein thought he could do no wrong, especially when it came to having his way with starlets?

    That said, I feel constrained to share this about the Oscars, which now applies to all awards shows:

    I have little regard for preening, pampered poseurs showing off their borrowed frocks and bling-bling as a prelude to a [nearly four-hour] show — only six minutes of which anyone really cares about (i.e., the time it takes to present Oscars for actor and actress in a leading role, actor and actress in a supporting role, best director, and best picture). …

    And, remarkably enough, the host comedians do little to relieve the boredom of the interludes between these carefully spread-out moments.

    (“My Review of the 2008 Oscars,” The iPINIONS Journal, February 25, 2008)

    So here’s the only reason I tuned in to this one:

    Media icon Oprah Winfrey is set to be feted at the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards.

    She will be honored with the 2018 Cecil B. DeMille Award, which is given ‘to a talented individual who has made an incredible impact on the world of entertainment.’

    Past honorees include Barbra Streisand, Denzel Washington, Sidney Poitier, George Clooney, Martin Scorsese, Meryl Streep, and Steven Spielberg.

    (CNN, December 14, 2017)

    We all know Oprah well enough to suffice to say she did not disappoint. As the New York Times reports today, she delivered

    A gorgeous speech about how a yesterday of discrimination becomes a tomorrow of hope: one of the best routes, she noted, are role models. She recalled what it meant to her, when she was younger, to see Sidney Poitier receive Hollywood’s highest accolades. And she wondered aloud what it might mean for little girls Sunday night to see her getting the Cecil B. DeMille Award for outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment.

    Mind you, I don’t know what “incredible impact on the world of entertainment” makes her deserving of this award. Granted, she has given some critically acclaimed performances (e.g., in The Color Purple, Beloved, and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks). She has also produced some box-office hits (e.g., Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Precious, and Selma).

    But she has never given a Globe-winning performance, let alone an Oscar-winning one, like Barbra or Denzel. Nor has she ever directed or produced a Globe-winning movie, let alone an Oscar-winning one, like Spielberg or Scorsese.

    In fact, she has had an incredible impact not on the world of entertainment, but on the world of ordinary people. To be fair, she always says that her signature medium, The Oprah Winfrey Show, was all about helping people find their calling, purpose, authentic selves … to follow their bliss. In a similar vein, her Master Classes and “The Life You Want” seminars do more to educate and empower (women especially) than entertain.

    [There] is a commonality in human experience. … Our shows are hour-long life lessons. My mission is to use this position, power and money to create opportunities for other people.

    (TIME, June 24, 2001)

    Sure enough, she has created opportunities for countless people through her various charities. Most notable are the college scholarships she funds in America every year and the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls she founded in South Africa in 2007.

    Clearly, her greatest accomplishments have little to do with the world of entertainment. But, given recent revelations about the seedy underbelly of that world, one can hardly blame its bestowers of awards for wanting to hail Oprah as their standard bearer.

    More to the point, I am happy to cheer any recognition Oprah gets for all the good she has done, and continues to do.

    Which brings me to Oprah for president?

    I say yes! Not least because the only redeeming thing about the election of Donald Trump is that it makes the election of Oprah Winfrey a no-brainer.

    Except that she and Gayle (and Stedman) would have some ‘splainin’ to do (i.e., about being their authentic selves). I commented on this prohibitive spectre of hypocrisy in “Oprah Protests ‘I’m Not Gay’ (Too Much, Me Thinks),” July 19, 2006. This is why, as tempted as she might be, I don’t think she’s going to run.

    But nobody can deny that Stedman has been as impressive a consort to Oprah as Prince Philip has been to Queen Elizabeth II.

    Moreover, I cannot resist noting the prospect of Oprah providing even greater redemption for America after Trump than Obama provided after Bush. Alas, this racial symmetry would constitute just another way of blacks cleaning up after whites the way they have done throughout American history.

    Hail, Oprah!

    NOTE: Not for nothing, Oprah, but that Weight Watchers gig is working, girl!

    Related commentaries:
    #bringbackourgirls
    Sexual harassment in entertainment
    Selma
    Oprah ‘I’m not gay’

  • Sunday, January 7, 2018 at 7:50 AM

    Happy (Orthodox) Christmas!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

     

    January 7 is Christmas day for Orthodox Christians in Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro and Serbia.  The holiday also is commemorated January 7 in Syria, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Albania, Cyprus, Finland and by the Orthodox Church in America.

    The Assyrian and Ethiopian churches also celebrate Christmas on the seventh, according to the Julian calendar.

    (Voice of America)  

    Hristos se rodi.

    Srecan Božic !

  • Saturday, January 6, 2018 at 8:12 AM

    Competitive sports prove yet again the antidote for fractious politics

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    North Korea has accepted an offer to attend high-level talks next week, South Korean officials have said.

    The meeting, on 9 January, will focus on finding a way for North Korean athletes to attend the Winter Olympic Games in South Korea in February.

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said this week that sending a delegation to the Games would be ‘a good opportunity to show unity of the people’.

    (BBC, January 5, 2018)

    Related commentaries:
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