Friday, April 29, 2011

Has Shaun the Sheep Been Hijacked by Farmerama?

I took a screenshot of this ad (don't click on it--there is no operating link) and I was bothered by how similar the "sheep" in the ad looks to Shaun the Sheep:
Here's what Shaun the Sheep looks like, by the way:

So, do I do nothing? Or do I get involved? (sounds of trumpets)

I sent this to Aardman:
I just took a screenshot of an ad that appears on one of my blogs.
This shot looks like a dead-ringer for Shaun the Sheep, one of your main characters.
Is this sanctioned? Does "Farmerama" have the rights to use the likeness of Shaun the Sheep?
I have posted the image in question on my website, I'll be happy to forward you the image in question.
If this image is not sanctioned, I would like to ban Farmerama ads from my website for stealing your character's image.
Hilariously, I'll probably get sued by everyone involved and lose all my blogs. Yay! No matter. Around our house, Shaun the Sheep is king. And we're starting to get the new Timmy Time DVDs as well. It's possible the image skews more towards Timmy (the baby sheep character that has been spun-off for his own animated series) but I don't know. Either way, the image really looks like a copyright infringement. I'm not perfect, but I don't think that sort of thing should go unnoticed.

Like I said, it's probably nothing. But, I got involved! (sounds of trumpets)
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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Oxfam International

If you're interested in policy research, Africa, and the environment, you could do a lot worse than this:

The Rain Doesn't Come On Time Anymore: Poverty, vulnerability, and climate variability in Ethiopia

Oxfam International has a great presence on Scribd. This is something that I can also recommend.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Someone Needs to Get Kendra Some Advil

I've never seen an episode of Dancing With the Stars, but it's probably the biggest thing on television right now. Kendra Wilkinson is one of the stars of this season and she's a hurting gator:

What's up for next week? 
We don't know yet, but we have two dances next week. Usually, we get our dance and our music today or yesterday but we haven't gotten anything yet. 
Oy. Two dances! 
I know. It's beyond crazy. Right now I am so broken. What I am feeling right now is like being a car wreck. I have whiplash. I have a shoulder out of place because it came out of the socket the other week. My ankle is a little messed up. But I can still perform. The adrenalin is what pushes me through.

Liability? Hello? Making the poor lady dance that much is going to wear her out.
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

SETI Shuts Down

This is a shame:

Lacking the money to pay its operating expenses, Mountain View's SETI Institute has pulled the plug on the renowned Allen Telescope Array, a field of radio dishes that scan the skies for signals from extraterrestrial civilizations.
In an April 22 letter to donors, SETI Institute CEO Tom Pierson said that last week the array was put into "hibernation," safe but nonfunctioning, because of inadequate government support.
The timing couldn't be worse, say SETI scientists. After millenniums of musings, this spring astronomers announced that 1,235 new possible planets had been observed by Kepler, a telescope on a space satellite. They predict that dozens of these planets will be Earth-sized -- and some will be in the "habitable zone," where the temperatures are just right for liquid water, a prerequisite of life as we know it.

Does it matter if they hear what they're listening for? No. The effort of listening informs the searches that haven't even begun.
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Yes, and Why Are They Starving?

There is more than one way to be impoverished. You can be poor and have the means of sustaining your life. In America, even the poorest citizens have access to the means by which they can feed and clothe themselves. It's not like that in the rest of the world, of course, and Foreign Policy has two takes as to why this is true:

Jeffrey Sachs, an advisor to the United Nations and director of Columbia University's Earth Institute, is one such expert. In books and countless speeches and television appearances, he has argued that poor countries are poor because they are hot, infertile, malaria-infested, and often landlocked; these factors, however, make it hard for them to be productive without an initial large investment to help them deal with such endemic problems. But they cannot pay for the investments precisely because they are poor -- they are in what economists call a "poverty trap." Until something is done about these problems, neither free markets nor democracy will do very much for them.
But then there are others, equally vocal, who believe that all of Sachs's answers are wrong. William Easterly, who battles Sachs from New York University at the other end of Manhattan, has become one of the most influential aid critics in his books, The Elusive Quest for Growth and The White Man's Burden. Dambisa Moyo, an economist who worked at Goldman Sachs and the World Bank, has joined her voice to Easterly's with her recent book, Dead Aid. Both argue that aid does more bad than good. It prevents people from searching for their own solutions, while corrupting and undermining local institutions and creating a self-perpetuating lobby of aid agencies. The best bet for poor countries, they argue, is to rely on one simple idea: When markets are free and the incentives are right, people can find ways to solve their problems. They do not need handouts from foreigners or their own governments. In this sense, the aid pessimists are actually quite optimistic about the way the world works. According to Easterly, there is no such thing as a poverty trap.
When I hear the words "Goldman Sachs," why do my eyes glaze over? Allow me to turn on the sarcasm for a moment.
Of course "aid" is the problem. Everyone knows that if you try to feed, clothe and house people who are desperate, you'll end up with a disaster.
Except when we talk about things like the Marshall Plan, of course. Sarcasm, off.
Doesn't the United States have a moral obligation to try to do something? I thought that was one of the easiest things to explain to people. 
Here's Theodore Roosevelt, writing in 1894:

Preachy, yes. But, relevant? Absolutely.

Gwyneth Paltrow Calls Out Her German Grandmother

When someone throws this out there, all you can say is "whoa."

Oscar-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow has shocked her fans by attacking her late German grandmother for being “mean as hell” and full of hate.
Speaking to talk show host Chelsea Handler, the 38-year-old US actress let rip after discovering they both had grannies hailing from Germany.
“Mine was a c**t,” Paltrow said during the interview, with the profanity beeped out. “She just hated my guts, basically, and she tried to poison my mother against me.”

Paltrow and Handler said their grandmothers both went by the moniker “Mutti,” which is German for “Mommy.”

It's kind of hard to get between someone and how they remember a "mean" relative. I'm sure that a lot of people are shocked, but what they should feel is a little uncomfortable being on the outside of something that Paltrow probably didn't want to say while promoting a film.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Paul Krugman Will Brook No Bromance With You

I think this is just a media attempt at finding a way to take a smart man in public life and make him look weird on purpose:

Paul Krugman is a Nobel-Prize winning economist and world-famous blogger. According to a new article, you can add self-described loner to that list as well.
In a New York magazine profile, "What's Left of the Left," Krugman, author of the New York Times'highly-influential blog, "The Conscience of a Liberal", is described as a "lonely man" that had trouble naming a single friend that could be interviewed to provide the author with a better understanding of one of America's most famous liberals.
Asked to describe himself, Krugman, who allegedly avoids eye contact with colleagues in the elevator, quickly points to his own solitary characteristics: “Loner. Ordinarily shy. Shy with individuals.”

Paul Krugman is married. Married men who avoid bromances are easy to understand. They prefer their wives to jackasses. I'm a fan boy of that sort of thinking.

Sometimes, when you're on the way to the bathroom, you can choose to avoid making eye contact with the idiots you work with. I can totally get that, too. Yes, we said "hello" to each other this morning. It's now 11 AM. Let's give each other some space, okay? That's not to say that one always works with idiots--really, we're talking a subjective thing here. Mr. Krugman works for a newspaper. Idiots thus abound.

Paul Krugman Will Brook No Bromance With You

I think this is just a media attempt at finding a way to take a smart man in public life and make him look weird on purpose:

Paul Krugman is a Nobel-Prize winning economist and world-famous blogger. According to a new article, you can add self-described loner to that list as well.
In a New York magazine profile, "What's Left of the Left," Krugman, author of the New York Times'highly-influential blog, "The Conscience of a Liberal", is described as a "lonely man" that had trouble naming a single friend that could be interviewed to provide the author with a better understanding of one of America's most famous liberals.
Asked to describe himself, Krugman, who allegedly avoids eye contact with colleagues in the elevator, quickly points to his own solitary characteristics: “Loner. Ordinarily shy. Shy with individuals.”

Paul Krugman is married. Married men who avoid bromances are easy to understand. They prefer their wives to jackasses. I'm a fan boy of that sort of thinking.

Sometimes, when you're on the way to the bathroom, you can choose to avoid making eye contact with the idiots you work with. I can totally get that, too. Yes, we said "hello" to each other this morning. It's now 11 AM. Let's give each other some space, okay? That's not to say that one always works with idiots--really, we're talking a subjective thing here. Mr. Krugman works for a newspaper. Idiots thus abound.

Keep the Nuts at Bay

Westminster Abbey, site of the Royal Wedding
The Royal Wedding has brought out the worst in some people:

A forensic psychiatrist, Dr. David James, is the clinical director of FTAC and has conducted research into attacks on the Royal household.
"The royal wedding has become the focus of attention for various fixated individuals who have responded by making threats to disrupt events -- some for deluded paranoid reasons and others because they believe themselves already to be married to Prince William. Such individuals generally meet the criteria for compulsory care under the Mental Health Act," says James

How can you differentiate between someone who is difficult and fixated? Can you inadvertently infringe on the rights of someone who is just weird and poses no threat to anyone?

This is a question they cannot take very lightly in Great Britain. There is virtually no privacy anymore. Everyone and everything is fair game for being videotaped in public and the authorities have the right to pretty much detain anyone they wish to without really being held to any standard. You're not really free anywhere anymore, especially when someone famous is going to have a public event of some great stature.

There was a time when "fixated loner" meant "shy," by the way.
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The Answer is a Resounding Yes

The headline reads, "Should Wal-Mart Pay Workers $12 An Hour" and what strikes me about that is the nearly-universal simplicity of the question. Yes, Wal-Mart should pay their workers more:
Walmart is plowing through its global responsibility goals, cutting down on plastic waste, improving energy efficiency in factories, and reshaping the crop diversity of entire U.S. regions. But it's doing a less-than-stellar job when it comes to doing right by its workers. According to a new report(.pdf file) from the University of California, Berkeley, Walmart could significantly raise the wages of its employees without affecting its low prices. Chronically underpaid people around the country could benefit.
I have a personal belief that this would greatly improve the economy. And I base that on common sense. If Wal-Mart were to pay its workers just a little more, that money would go back into the economy. It would, I believe, then be spent at Wal-Mart, increasing sales and profits. It wouldn't automatically replace the money paid out, but Wal-Mart would see a benefit in increased sales, happier employees (not all, but some, for sure) and that would, in turn, lift some people out of poverty (or get them closer to being lifted out).

When you work for hourly wages, you don't have many other options besides sticking it out in a place. You work through your initial probationary period and then you work to get better schedules, better hours, and better pay by making it to the various milestones along the way. These milestones are designed to give employees incentives. If you stay for a year, you'll make x amount more than what you're making more. Many times, you know that, after three or five years in a position, you can run into a cap; meaning, once you've made it to the top of the pay scale, that's it. No more raises.

If Wal-Mart is serious about being a good corporate citizen, making the wages that it pays more progressive and a little bit better would go a long ways towards improving the lives of the people who work there.

Advocates of business "freedom" sometimes applaud when workers take a pay cut to help save a company (these pay cuts hurt our economy because those workers have less discretionary income for things like going to Wal-Mart and all that). Wal-Mart doesn't need saving right now. But, if it took this step towards raising wages, it would build up goodwill for a later date.
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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hey, That's No Way to Analyze the Problem

See if you can spot the same triggers in this part of William Bennett's editorial:

This entire debate begins with the assumption that the Bush tax cuts from 2001 and 2003 led to a ballooning of the deficit problem. But as Brian Riedl at the Heritage Foundation has shown, those cuts, at every level, are responsible for only 14% of our current deficit problem, with the tax cuts at the upper margins being responsible for only 4%.
Indeed, the bulk of our deficit problem is because of "above-average spending, not below-average revenues." And there is a serious question as to whether raising rates on the wealthy raises more revenue at all based on behavior, flexibility and numbers.
Recently, The Wall Street Journal editorial page analyzed what marginal tax rates would yield at the upper brackets even if 100% of income were taxed and assets were not moved around (a mighty assumption). The answer: There simply is not enough money to be taxed among the wealthy to solve our deficit and debt problems.
If you want to argue that the Bush tax cuts didn't add to our deficits and didn't hurt our long-term financial outlook, then why would you turn to the Heritage Foundation? Who is the Heritage Foundation? Well, it's hardly a non-partisan operation. It clearly advertises itself as a conservative organization and it opposes tax increases of any kind. Why would someone cite their research and not expect for the point to be dismissed as being biased?

Then, Mr. Bennett cites The
Wall Street Journal's editorial page. And this is run by whom? It's well in the hands of conservatives, and the Wall Street Journal is owned by Rupert Murdoch.

What a poor example of making a case. This op-ed should have come with a warning attached to it: nothing in it "is intended to be a factual statement."

The problem is, organizations like CNN will run this material, and it will have virtually no effect on advancing the debate or informing the public. It won't influence anyone to change their mind unless that person is completely uninformed and easily manipulated. Anyone fully versed in the details of the debate will see the triggers in this article and realize that Mr. Bennett has turned in a lazy piece.

Yes, the big question here is: "why did CNN even bother to run it?"
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Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Fallacy Laid Bare

See if you can read this and not see that there is an underhanded premise being shaped here:
When politicians argue that, for the sake of fairness, we must raise taxes on the entrepreneurial class — and make those “millionaires and billionaires” bring us a few state-subsidized beers on the beach — they are unwittingly undermining the possibility of achieving the opportunity society they regret not having.
We are not a perfect opportunity society in the United States. But if we want to approach that ideal, we must define fairness as meritocracy, embrace a system that rewards merit, and work tirelessly for true equal opportunity. The system that makes this possible, of course, is free enterprise. When I work harder or longer hours in the free-enterprise system, I am generally paid more than if I work less in the same job. Investments in my education translate into market rewards. Clever ideas usually garner more rewards than bad ones, as judged not by a politburo, but by citizens in the marketplace.
To throw the word "politburo" into the discussion is a buzzword that is supposed to associate "higher taxes on the rich" with "communism." Did you fall for it? Of course not. Whenever a member of America's elite, either academically, financially, or socially speaks to the American people about taxes, fairness, meritocracy, or the American dream, the use of the word "politburo" is supposed to conjure up terrifying images of a Soviet Union on the march.

Of course, there is no Soviet politburo anymore, and there hasn't been one for about twenty years. But Mr. Arthur Brooks knows that if he can link the idea of forcing the rich to pay for the benefits of living in a free society with a communist plot to bring socialism to America, he can convince people to vote against--or advocate against--their economic self-interest.

The advocacy is inherently suspect whenever the discussion of whether the wealthy should pay more in taxes. As shown here, there's no use denying it, wealthy people do have to pay taxes. But what this article doesn't really acknowledge is this:

The tax burden in America has dropped for wealthy Americans over the last fifty years. It plunged during the Reagan era and dropped precipitously during the Bush Administration (2001-2009). Raising taxes on the rich is one thing--actually getting them to pay their taxes is the other half the battle:
The dean of tax reporters, David Cay Johnston, has a fantastic cover story in the Willamette Week (of all places and 40 other alt-weeklies), shining a bright light on just how unfair and unequal the US tax system is. The whole 3,000-word article is well worth reading in full, but here are some highlights:
  • In Alabama, the tax burden on the poor is more than twice that of the top 1 percent. The one-fifth of Alabama families making less than $13,000 pay almost 11 percent of their income in state and local taxes, compared with less than 4 percent for those who make $229,000 or more.
  • Between 2000 and 2009, the US population increased by 25,584,644. Meanwhile, the number of people with jobs increased by just 2,803,967.
  • John Paulson has paid no taxes at all on the $9 billion of income that he made in 2008 and 2009.
  • Frank and Jamie McCourt, the owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers, have not paid any income taxes since at least 2004.
  • Between 2000 and 2008, corporate profits rose by 12% while corporate income taxes fell by 8%. Without any change in the corporate income-tax rate.
  • George W Bush did sign one — just one — tax increase. It was on children under the age of 17.

I suspect that if you "raised" taxes on the wealthy, stories about how wealthy people were "leaving" America would surface. If we are already not collecting much in taxes from the wealthy, why are there so many advocates for keeping tax rates on the wealthy low?

One theory is that the only wealthy people who actually pay taxes are the ones who want to work in the public sector. These are the wealthy individuals who have to file ethics reports and who expect to have their tax returns examined closely if they choose to work for the government. I don't think that a wealthy person who has nothing but disdain for the tax system worries about whether or not they are going to face similar scrutiny.

Tax rates remain low for the individuals who actually pay their taxes because many of them work in the public sector. Tax rates are irrelevant for those individuals who have taken their money offshore, decided to pursue a tax strategy of openly cheating, or who have created a business situation where they are able to game the system.

Any change in the tax code would have to be accompanied by strict enforcement and auditing of tax laws and tax returns by an IRS that would have to be directed to pursue wealthy individuals who commit fraud, the ability to pursue those individuals who move their money offshore, and the political will to challenge a system that benefits only a handful of powerful Americans.

If the system were even remotely honest, wealthy Americans would pay their share of the costs of civilization. These costs are rising every day and the burden on people who are not sophisticated enough to lie, cheat, or steal becomes greater on an annual basis. Do we have a discussion about fairness, or about fear? Unwarranted fears are always used to distract people from the real issues at hand. Namely, the gap between rich and poor is growing and no one seems to know how to stop the process and reverse the trends which are shrinking the middle class, creating endemic poverty in groups that saw economic growth during the last half of the Twentieth Century, and leaving us with an economic system that is not sustainable.

If it is argued that we cannot sustain a large Federal deficit then why isn't anyone arguing that concentrating wealth in the hands of a few elite individuals is an even quicker road to economic ruin?

Until we begin to have an honest discussion about these issues, we will be treated to more of this "politburo" talk.
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Friday, April 22, 2011

Distressed Gentlefolk

Inspired by actually looking something up.

The term "Distressed Gentlefolk" appears in this album title by British band The Jazz Butcher. I was sorting out some titles and thoughts one night and this one revealed itself in two ways. First, no one had registered the "dot com" title. Second, it referred to an actual effort in Great Britain to care for the poor.

Elizabeth Finn
Elizabeth Finn's life spanned nearly the same decades as Queen Victoria. When she founded the DGAA, Britain was the richest country on earth. The newly emerging middle classes increased in number and prospered distinguished by devotion to duty, education and success in the services, in business and the professions.
However, the end of the 19th century saw a particularly severe economic recession. Victorian society, like generations before, was used to poverty and want. Charitable societies for abandoned children and for fallen women sprang up alongside movements for women's rights and for enlightened legislation on working conditions and education. No one, however, was prepared for 'distressed gentlefolk'. With no welfare state there was nowhere to turn for those (many from an educated or services background) who had fallen into dire poverty because they were too old or too ill to work.
Elizabeth Finn, at the age of 72, decided that something had to be done for the silent suffering of people in this part of society. Elizabeth founded the Distressed Gentlefolk's Aid Association in 1897 with the help of friends and her daughter Constance, the Association's first and very able secretary.

The roots of her caring ethos started early in Elizabeth's life. She was born in Warsaw in 1825 where her father, the Reverend Alexander McCaul was a missionary. The young Elizabeth grew up with a clear vision of a world in which privilege and responsibility go hand-in-hand. Her parents chose to do what they could about the appalling social conditions they encountered in their missionary work. They taught their children to do the same. Elizabeth, the eldest daughter, helped raise her brothers and sisters, undertook schooling the younger ones and helped her parents in their charitable work.
Taking these two ideas to create a website and blog about poverty has resulted in what you have right now.

Leave That Dog Alone

I don't think this guy is going to get anywhere with his frivolous lawsuit:
A Mason man charged with teasing a police dog by barking at it says a city law violates free speech rights.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reports the attorney for 25-year-old Ryan James Stephens says his client was not striking the animal in suburban Mason. Lawyer Jim Hardin says barking may not be seen as intelligent speech but is "still speech." He questions the validity of a city law that bars taunting police dogs.
A police officer investigating a car crash at a pub on April 3 reported he heard the dog barking uncontrollably. The officer said he found Stephens making barking noises and hissing at a dog inside the police car.
The problem is, the civil code of Ohio is pretty clear on this subject:
(B) No person shall recklessly do any of the following: 
(1) Taunt, torment, or strike a police dog or horse
(2) Throw an object or substance at a police dog or horse; 
(3) Interfere with or obstruct a police dog or horse, or interfere with or obstruct a law enforcement officer who is being assisted by a police dog or horse, in a manner that does any of the following: 
(a) Inhibits or restricts the law enforcement officer's control of the police dog or horse; 
(b) Deprives the law enforcement officer of control of the police dog or horse; 
(c) Releases the police dog or horse from its area of control; 
(d) Enters the area of control of the police dog or horse without the consent of the law enforcement officer, including placing food or any other object or substance into that area; 
(e) Inhibits or restricts the ability of the police dog or horse to assist a law enforcement officer. 
I've bolded the parts of the code that seem to apply. You cannot interfere with the officer's control of the police dog, and that would fall under taunting it in such a way as to make the dog bark uncontrollably. Free speech doesn't really apply because a criminal could argue that calling out for help or assistance while being arrested by a police officer is free speech as well. I don't think the case has merit, but if the courts disagree then look for further distraction.
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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Does Anyone Have the Right to be Forgotten?

Spain is dealing with an issue that I haven't really considered:
In a case that Google Inc. and privacy experts call a first of its kind, Spain's Data Protection Agency has ordered the search engine giant to remove links to material on about 90 people. The information was published years or even decades ago but is available to anyone via simple searches.
Scores of Spaniards lay claim to a "Right to be Forgotten" because public information once hard to get is now so easy to find on the Internet. Google has decided to challenge the orders and has appealed five cases so far this year to the National Court.
For obvious reasons, the veracity of searched material is something that Google really wants to maintain. They want you to find what you're looking for and return for more of what they offer. The better the results, the more relevant the results, the stronger Google appears to the people who use their service. That's the business model that has expanded into a comprehensive web experience.

For Google to have to make the results their search algorithms brings back less reliable is the same as forcing Google to make itself a weaker company with a weaker product. This would force Google to weaken itself. Would the same standards apply to ANY and ALL search engine providers? I would hope so. Google isn't the only game in town, of course.

Yes, there are privacy concerns and no one should have fraudulent, defaming material following them around, especially if they have proof that this material is all that and damaging as well, but actual facts about someone are hard to dispute. Scrubbing Google would help alleviate certain kinds of bullying, for example. I think there is a societal and very legal need for Google to be able to scrub images or text items that are relevant to a specific case of bullying.

This really bothers me:
Many details about the Spaniards taking on Google via the government are shrouded in secrecy to protect the privacy of the plaintiffs. But the case of plastic surgeon Hugo Guidotti vividly illustrates the debate.
In Google searches, the first link that pops up is his clinic, complete with pictures of a bare-breasted women and a muscular man as evidence of what plastic surgery can do for clients. But the second link takes readers to a 1991 story in Spain's leading El Pais newspaper about a woman who sued him for the equivalent of euro5 million for a breast job that she said went bad.
The fact that the surgeon was sued is relevant to his customers, and it's not Google's fault that he was sued. Google is merely linking one item to another item and it is up to the user of Google's service to determine if this is relevant.

No one should be allowed to scrub the Internet of factual things that relate to the services they provide. Politicians would be ordering up Google scrubs every fifteen minutes. Corrupt officials would be scrubbing Google on a regular basis. No one should have the right to go around, butchering people, and then plead to have all of that forgotten. Everyone should have the right to use Google to prevent themselves from using a plastic surgeon who is incompetent. And Spain should probably defend that right while taking the common-sense step of ensuring that this plastic surgeon is on the up and up.

The results of your professional endeavors should be available to the public. I can see the argument for scrubbing embarrassing Facebook photos, however. I'm sympathetic as heck on that front.
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Haiti Returns to the Duvalier Fold

If you're following what's going on in Haiti, and the recent election of pop star Michael Martelly, you should know this:
Under the Duvalier dictatorship, Martelly ran the Garage, a nightclub patronized by army offi cers and members of Haiti’s tiny ruling class. At a recent press conference, Martelly spoke nostalgically of the Duvalierist era, when François "Papa Doc" Duvalier and later his son Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" enforced their iron rule with gun and machete wielding Tonton Macoutes, a sort of Haitian Gestapo. “Today the dog is eating its vomit," lamented Marcus Garcia of Radio Mélodie FM in a Dec. 8 editorial. While "Michel Martelly openly defends the Duvalier regime in a press conference,” the youth who have been duped into supporting him are “without memory of [the infamous political prison] Fort Dimanche-Fort La mort, without memory of the Nov. 29, 1987 electoral massacre,” when neo-Duvalierist thugs killed hundreds of would-be voters.
In a 2002 article, the Washington Post explained how the konpa singer was a long-time “favorite of the thugs who worked on behalf of the hated Duvalier family dictatorship before its 1986 collapse.” But the mainstream media of late has yet to pick up on the singer’s past affiliations. Duvalierist affinities should not be taken lightly. Human rights groups such as the League of Former Political Prisoners and Families of the Disappeared compiled a partial list of several thousand of the Duvalier regime’s victims, which was published in Haïti Progrès in 1987, but total estimates of those killed under the U.S.-backed 29-year long dictatorship range from 30,000 to 50,000 people. After Baby Doc’s fall in February 1986, a mass democratic movement, long repressed by the Duvaliers, burst forth and became known as the Lavalas, or flood. Martelly quickly became a bitter Lavalas opponent, making trenchant attacks against the popular movement in his songs played widely on Haitian radio.
Haiti needs competent, professional leadership and should not return to the days of the Baby Doc era. What a shame. And, what's more shameful, is that the United States has embraced this farce.

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