Propping Up A Dictator

One America News is reporting today that two Russian air force planes landed in Venezuela’s main airport on Saturday carrying a Russian defense official and nearly 100 troops. This is reported by a local journalist.

The article reports:

Reporter Javier Mayorca wrote on Twitter on Saturday that the first plane carried Vasily Tonkoshkurov, chief of staff of the ground forces, adding that the second was a cargo plane carrying 35 tonnes of material.

An Ilyushin IL-62 passenger jet and an Antonov AN-124 military cargo plane left for Caracas on Friday from Russian military airport Chkalovsky, stopping along the way in Syria, according to flight-tracking website Flightradar24.

The cargo plane left Caracas on Sunday afternoon, according to Adsbexchange, another flight-tracking site.

It sounds as if the Russians are attempting to duplicate what they did in Cuba many years ago, support an unpopular dictator who will be a thorn in the side of America. The Russians have another reason to want to keep Venezuela indirectly under their control.

On March 22nd The Miami Herald reported:

Cuba would have to spend nearly $2 billion a year to meet its domestic oil needs if Venezuela’s National Assembly and interim president Juan Guaidó manage to stop deliveries to the Caribbean island.

“Cuba’s demand for oil is about 130,000 barrels per day, and Cuba produces about 50,000 barrels per day, which means a deficit of about 80,000 barrels per day,” said Jorge Piñón, director of the Latin American Energy Program at the University of Texas at Austin.

Piñón estimates that Cuba has fuel reserves for about 45 days. But the end of deliveries by Venezuela’s PDVSA oil company would force the government to spend nearly $5.2 million per day at the market price of $65 per barrel for the 80,000 barrels per day it would need to import to meet demand.

By the end of one year, that would add up to nearly $2 billion for an economy that economists agree has not reached 2 percent annual growth in recent years and has probably experienced a recession.

The National Assembly, controlled by the opposition, recently ordered a suspension of crude shipments to Cuba, which started under an agreement to exchange oil for medical services negotiated by the late Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez.

PDVSA now ships an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 barrels per day to Cuba, not quite half of what the oil company sent before it spiraled into an unprecedented crisis under the Nicolás Maduro regime.

There is also another aspect of Venezuela’s oil shipments.

In November 2013, I reported:

On Friday the Associated Press reported that PDVSA, the government-owned oil producer in Venezuela, seized control of two oil rigs owned by a unit of Houston-based Superior Energy Services. The company had shut down the rigs because the Venezuela oil monopoly was behind on payments.

Nicolas Maduro, the successor to Hugo Chavez, has not taken over any industries during the six months he has been President of Venezuela. This is the first move he has made in that direction. When Hugo Chavez began taking over industries, one news analyst observed that it would be difficult for him to keep those industries running at their profit levels without the knowledge of the companies that owned them. The seizure of these two rigs, which are repair rigs, is an illustration of that point.

Like it or not, free enterprise generates more wealth for more people than socialism.

It is a safe bet that oil production is only a fraction of what it was before Maduro took over the oil industry. That adds to the financial woes of Venezuela and will also have an impact of Cuba.

The Epstein Case Gets Murkier

Mike Cernovich is reporting that the mystery man who filed the brief to keep the records sealed in the Jeffrey Epstein case formerly worked for Robert Mueller and James Comey.

The article reports:

A mystery man with massive wealth and power retained a powerful law firm to keep the records sealed in a case involving Jeffrey Epstein. (See Politico here, and the Miami Herald’s report here.)

After the Second Circuit Court Court of Appeals, in a lawsuit involving investigative Julie Brown of the Miami Herald and others, signaled it was prepared to order an entire vault of records unsealed, the mystery man made the unusual move of filing what’s known as an amicus curiae brief anonymously. Latin for “friend of the court,” an amicus curiae brief is only supposed to be filed when the brief will help the Court reach a proper conclusion of law.

Seeking to bypass ordinary judicial procedure with high-powered lawyers, the mystery man filed a brief that would only benefit himself, and called it an amicus brief.

The Miami Herald’s lawyers properly called out this outrageous move, which would get an ordinary lawyer sanctioned for abuse of the judicial process:

  • “As a preliminary matter, John Doe’s proposed amicus brief is an improper vehicle by which to submit his arguments. See United States v. Gotti, noting that the phrase amicus curiae means, literally, ‘friend of the court,’ and ‘serv[es] for the benefit of the court and for the purpose of assisting the court in cases of general public interest’….”
  • “John Doe is admittedly self-interested in seeking closure.”

Evidently there are some very important people who engaged in some very awful activities and don’t want what they did revealed. If what they were involved in was illegal (as it appears to be), their activities need to be revealed and the appropriate justice applied.

This Could Get Very Ugly

There are a lot of questions about how the Jeffrey Epstein trial and sentencing was handled in Florida. A lot of evidence has remained secret, and a lot of circumstantial evidence seems to require a much harsher sentence than was given. The Miami Herald has followed this story and done a lot of investigative reporting on the case.

Yesterday The Miami Herald posted an article about the latest twist in the Jeffrey Epstein case.

The article reports:

Two mysterious parties, labeling themselves Jane Doe and John Doe, have filed separate legal briefs in an attempt to limit the public release of personal information that could connect them to an underage sex trafficking operation allegedly run by New York financier Jeffrey Epstein and his partner, Ghislaine Maxwell.

Jane Doe, represented by Kerrie Campbell, a Washington-based gender equality lawyer, appears to be a victim who wants to remain unidentified, but indicated she is amicable to the release of some information — as long as it doesn’t identify her, court documents filed this week show.

The other party, John Doe, submitted a brief in support of Maxwell, who continues to mount a last-ditch legal campaign to keep court records that allegedly contain details of their sex exploits involving young girls — and other third party people who may be involved — under seal.

It’s not clear whether the latest challenges will delay release of the documents, said Sanford Bohrer, attorney for the Miami Herald, which filed an action to unseal the files last year as part of its investigation into Epstein called “Perversion of Justice.’’

The article concludes:

Epstein, who was not party to the lawsuit, has denied he ever ran a sex trafficking operation. In 2005, he came under investigation by Palm Beach police, accused of molesting three dozen underage girls by luring them to his mansion under the guise of paying them for massages.

Eventually, under a secret plea deal negotiated by then-Miami U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta, Epstein pleaded guilty to two prostitution charges in state court and served 13 months in the county jail, where he enjoyed liberal work release privileges despite that being prohibited for sex offenders.

In November, the Miami Herald published a series of articles that deconstructed how Epstein and his lawyers manipulated the criminal justice system, working secretly with federal prosecutors to conceal and minimize his crimes. The handling of the case is now under investigation by the Department of Justice.

On March 4, some of Epstein’s lawyers wrote an op-ed letter to The New York Times denying that Epstein ran a sex trafficking ring and contending that the number of women involved in his criminal case was “vastly exaggerated.’’

Acosta, who is now President Trump’s secretary of labor, has come under pressure by some in Congress to resign his post, but the president on Tuesday expressed his support.

This is a story to keep an eye on. There are a lot of people involved in the Epstein story who would very much like to keep their names secret. We know a lot of their names because some of the flight logs of the plane to “Lolita Island” have been released. If more of the records regarding the Epstein trial are made public, there are a number of public figures who will have a lot of explaining to do.

Another Incredible Coincidence

On Wednesday, the Miami Herald reported that Klaus Eberwein, a former Haitian government official had committed suicide in a motel room in Florida.

The article reports:

A supporter of former Haitian President Michel Martelly, Eberwein served as director general of the government’s economic development agency, Fonds d’assistance économique et social, better known as FAES. He held the position from May 2012 until February 2015 when he was replaced. He was also a partner in a popular pizza restaurant in Haiti, Muncheez, and has a pizza — the Klaus Special — named after him.

…During and after his government tenure, Eberwein faced allegations of fraud and corruption on how the agency he headed administered funds. Among the issues was FAES’ oversight of shoddy construction of several schools built after Haiti’s devastating Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake.

Eberwein was scheduled to appear Tuesday before the Haitian Senate’s Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, the head of the commission, Sen. Evalière Beauplan confirmed. The commission is investigating the management of PetroCaribe funds, the money Haiti receives from Venezuela’s discounted oil program.

A website called Yournewswire gives a slightly different description:

Klaus Eberwein, a former Haitian government official who was expected to expose the extent of Clinton Foundation corruption and malpractice next week, has been found dead in Miami. He was 50.

Eberwein was due to appear next Tuesday before the Haitian Senate Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission where he was widely expected to testify that the Clinton Foundation misappropriated Haiti earthquake donations from international donors.

According to Miami-Dade’s medical examiner records supervisor, the official cause of death is “gunshot to the head“. Eberwein’s death has been registered as “suicide.”

Eberwein, who had acknowledged his life was in danger, was a fierce critic of the Clinton Foundation’s activities in the Caribbean island, where he served as director general of the government’s economic development agency, Fonds d’assistance économique et social, for three years.

The article at Yournewswire also reports:

According to the Haiti Libre newspaper, Eberwein was said to be in “good spirits“, with plans for the future. His close friends and business partners are shocked by the idea he may have committed suicide.

It’s really shocking,” said Muncheez’s owner Gilbert Bailly. “We grew up together; he was like family.”

Bailly said he last spoke to Eberwein two weeks ago and he was in good spirits. They were excited about future business plans and were working on opening a Muncheez restaurant in Sunrise, he said.

Wow. Just wow.

Has Anyone Bothered To Check The Facts ?

The killing of Trayvon Martin has brought all sorts of people with all sorts of political and ideological persuasions out of the woodwork. There are rumors and pictures flying–some accurate and some not so accurate. According to the Los Angeles Times, the New Black Panther Party has offered $10,000 for the citizen’s arrest of George Zimmerman. There have also been death threats against Mr. Zimmerman and charges that he was not arrested due to political connections. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have gotten involved. Have any of the people screaming bothered to check the facts? This is the kind of rhetoric that results in lynchings–it needs to stop.

A local Florida reporter has taken the time to clear up some of the misstatements and misinformation that is out there. Rene Stutzman at the Orlando Sentinal has done some investigating and dispels some of the rumors that have been circulating.

1. There is a rumor that the county Medical Examiner refused to release Trayvon Martin’s body to his family for three days. That is simply not true–the coroner released the body to the funeral home after 39 hours–the funeral home did not pick up the body for another 24 hours.

2. Rumor has it that the Sanford police did not collect George Zimmerman’s clothing as evidence. That is also not true–clothing from both men was collected to be examined as evidence.

3. One story says that George Zimmerman was not arrested because he has a relative on the police force. First of all, he has no relative on the force. Second of all, Florida Statute 776.032 expressly prohibits police from arresting someone who had a reasonable fear of imminent death or great bodily harm. Legally, the police could not have arrested him.

It is a tragedy that Trayvon Martin is dead, but we need to be careful not to make him an angel in death when there are some real questions as to what kind of a person he was in life.

ABC News reported yesterday:

Family attorney Benjamin Crump told ABC News that Martin had been slapped with a 10 day school suspension after a bag with suspected marijuana was found in his backpack.

Last year Martin was suspended for spraying graffiti on school grounds. The Miami Herald reported that the school guard who stopped him searched his backpack and found 12 items of women’s jewelry and a flathead screw driver that the guard believed to be a “burglary implement.” But Martin was never charged or specifically disciplined for the incident.

It is a shame that Trayvon Martin is dead, but that death has nothing to do with racism–it seems to have more to do with being in the wrong place at the wrong time and some very bad decisions made very quickly by both parties involved. I am not sure George Zimmerman should be charged with anything. Evidence suggests that he was pretty badly roughed up when police interviewed him. Hopefully, the hysteria will die down soon enough for the truth to come out.

 

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One Consequence Of Changes In Immigration Law

Yesterday the Miami Herald reported on the case of Kesler Dufrene, an illegal immigrant from Haiti who was a twice-convicted felon serving a five-year jail term. When Mr. Dufrene’s sentence was up, he was released from prison rather than deported to his native Haiti because the Obama Administration ordered an indefinite halt of deportations to Haiti after the nation’s devastating earthquake. U.S. authorities could not legally detain Dufrene indefinitely. The story does not have a happy ending.

The article reports:

Instead, when Dufrene’s state prison term was up, Miami immigration authorities in October 2010 released him from custody. Two months later, North Miami police say, he slaughtered three people, including a 15-year-old girl in a murder case that remains as baffling today as it did the afternoon the bodies were discovered.
DNA on a rifle found inside the house and cellphone tracking technology later linked Dufrene to the Jan. 2, 2011, slayings.

Eighteen days after the murders, Mr. Dufrene shot and killed himself when he was cornered by Manatee County sheriff’s deputies in Bradenton after an unrelated break-in and shooting there.

It seems to me that a mistake was made somewhere along the line that resulted in the unnecessary death of three people. We need sanity in our immigration policy. If you are here illegally and you commit a crime, you should be sent home–regardless of where home is.

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