>PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- "I think we can call this the calm before the storm," announced one Haitian radio broadcaster Friday afternoon as journalists, politicians and ordinary Haitians impatiently awaited the release of the official candidate list for the November 28 presidential election. But the storm hasn't broken--one could speak of scattered showers, perhaps, with a few burning tires in Gonaives, some peaceful protesters in Delmas--but nothing equaling the anticipated social hurricane.
Wyclef Jean is not in the running to be the next president of Haiti, contrary to the apparent desires of many Haitians filling the streets throughout the country over the last few days. The Provisional Electoral Council announced the list of 19 approved presidential candidates, and 15 rejected applications--including that of Jean's--late Friday night.
Richardson Dumel announces the official candidate list for Haiti's November 28 election at the Provisional Electoral Council in Petionville.
While the legal justifications for the decisions have not been released, the hindering factor was likely the question of residency. Candidates are required to have resided in the country for five years ahead of the election, and while Jean's lawyers maintained his paperwork was "tight", until the end, everyone could see that Jean traveled the world and spent much of his time in the U.S.
Thus closes a chapter of excitement both among ordinary Haitians and international media outlets that had overtaken the country since Jean applied to run.
What this means for politics in Haiti, and daily life for Haitians struggling through unemployment and quotidian instability, however, varies depending on the source. In any case the campaign circuit will be less of a spectacle without the highly popular hip-hop star.
Whoever does become president may struggle to garner popular support. Many youths said, both before and after the publication of the candidate list, that they would not vote if Jean was not deemed eligible.
Even after Reuters leaked the news of Jean's rejection on Thursday, many Haitians, as well as many in Jean's camp held out hope, waiting for the official results. At 6 p.m. on Friday, Nostand Justin was waiting outside Hotel Kinam where Wyclef was staying, a block away from the electoral council. "I am waiting for Wyclef because I love him," she said, "I'm going to vote, but not if he's not a candidate."
"Where is the president?! Give us Wyclef!" youth yelled, while waiting for Jean in Les Cayes on Sunday August 15, before he was blocked from participating in Haiti's presidential election.
"It is a sad day for Haiti, and a sad day for the youth," said Fritz Clairvil, one of Jean's aides. "Haiti has lost, once again, an opportunity to have a real change, because Wyclef is not a professional politician, and in Haiti you only have professional politicians who take over the country."
Even though Jean had not officially launched his campaign and had not presented any concrete plan, he was framed as change, and to some a risk worth taking. "He would represent a rupture with the status quo," said a business owner in Les Cayes last week.
Others, however, question the accuracy of his image of change. "We need to get out of the current framework, because it is always responding to a person or a personality and not a program." Said Alex Fils-Aimé, a government deputy for disarmament and political commentator. The interest of many youths in the campaign only to support Jean is testament to this interpretation.
Social stratification is prominent in Haitian society and politics. Some saw Jean as bridging the class divide, because, even though he is a multimillionaire, he spoke to the people--though of course, his brief public appearances and strolls through slums were offset by stays in luxury hotels and rides through the country in his Land Cruiser.
Jean maintains that he will continue representing Haiti and working to improve the country as he had before, wearing the flag as he tours the world--a role for which many detractors think the star is better equipped.
His supporters claim that unrest may still arise. "For the youth, and the university students unable to get a job, the unemployed and the people in tents, this was a coup," Said Jenson Desrosiers, one of Jean's aides, "because they know that if they had passed this stage they wouldn't be able to stop us ... and we're not going to let it slide." Desrosiers says they are waiting for people to cool down to avoid violence, but are planning protests to undermine the elections, and eventually the next president.
The most serious remaining contenders come from the established political elite. Mirlande Manigat is a university professor and former first lady who nearly won a 2006 senate seat before dropping out ahead of the run-off.* Jude Celestin, representing the ruling Unité party is the current national director of the office overseeing infrastructure, but has never been a public political figure. Jaques-Edouard Alexis is a two time prime minister under current president René Preval, but was dismissed from his post amidst food riots in 2008. Yves Cristallin is the national director of social affairs; Leslie Voltaire is the current special envoy for Haiti to the United Nations; and Yvon Neptune is a former senator and prime minister under former president Aristide.
Michelle Martelly, a Kompa music star known for stripping during his performances, is the only remaining pop-culture icon, and most see his candidacy as a joke.
Politics in Haiti has therefore returned to, well, politics, something many ordinary Haitians have grown weary of--with the political elite debating, seemingly to no end, while the masses struggle.
With or without Jean as a political contender, Fils Aimé asserted, "we need a total change in focus and values and energy." Whether Haiti's politicians will rise to the challenge remains to be seen. But the remaining contenders--each with his own history of implication in Haiti's messy politics--will have to work doubly to convince the people that they can change the status quo and improve the lot of everyday Haitians.
Allyn Gaestel is a freelance journalist based in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, who writes on international politics, social issues, and human rights. She is a former United Nations correspondent and National Press Foundation Fellow.
Ordinary Americans will be able to submit—and vote on—questions to be considered when the candidates meet again.
Viewers unhappy with the questions asked at Monday night’s debate will have a shot to weigh in before Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton meet again on October 9: For the first time, the networks producing the town-hall style debate have agreed to accept questions voted on through the internet.
The Commission on Presidential Debates had already announced that the second of three debates would feature questions submitted online in addition to those asked by the traditional studio audience. But on Tuesday morning, the organizers confirmed they are embracing a format that a broad bipartisan cross-section of activist and civic groups known as the Open Debate Coalition have been pushing for years. Americans will be able to submit and then vote on questions online at PresidentialOpenQuestions.com, and ABC and CNN have agreed to consider the 30 most popular queries when they jointly plan the debate.
Last night’s most amazing feat: Hillary Clinton turned Donald Trump’s career into a handicap on the biggest night of the campaign.
For decades, Donald Trump has sold himself to the public as a fantastically successful businessman. Nothing is more central to his personal branding. So you would think that talking about business would be Trump’s strength in a presidential debate, especially against Hillary Clinton––she knows more about foreign and domestic policy, but has almost no business experience herself.
Somehow, it wasn’t so Monday.
Exchanges about business produced some of the worst moments that Trump had all night, moments that are likely to haunt him in campaign ads and YouTube clips. At times, giving better answers would have been easy. At other times, Trump’s opponent skillfully maneuvered him into addressing hard to defend attacks.
In a unique, home-spun experiment, researchers found that centripetal force could help people pass kidney stones—before they become a serious health-care cost.
East Lansing, Michigan, becomes a ghost town during spring break. Families head south, often to the theme parks in Orlando. A week later, the Midwesterners return sunburned and bereft of disposable income, and, urological surgeon David Wartinger noticed, some also come home with fewer kidney stones.
Wartinger is a professor emeritus at Michigan State, where he has dealt for decades with the scourge of kidney stones, which affect around one in 10 people at some point in life. Most are small, and they pass through us without issue. But many linger in our kidneys and grow, sending hundreds of thousands of people to emergency rooms and costing around $3.8 billion every year in treatment and extraction. The pain of passing a larger stone is often compared to child birth.
The Democrat’s command and poise left her rival looking frustrated, peevish, and out of sorts.
Monday brought the first debate of the presidential season, but it often felt like two separate debates. One, from Hillary Clinton, was wonky, crisp, and polished; if not always inspiring, it was professional and careful. The other, from Donald Trump, was freewheeling, aggressive, and meandering, occasionally landing a hard blow but often substance-less and hard to follow. But the two debates intersected at times, sometimes raucously, as Trump repeatedly broke in to interrupt Clinton.
It was a commanding performance from the Democratic nominee. Clinton delivered a series of detailed answers on subjects ranging from race to the Middle East to tax policy. Meanwhile, she delivered a string of attacks on Trump, assailing him for stiffing contractors, refusing to release his tax returns, fomenting birtherism, and caricaturing black America. She stumbled only occasionally, but left few openings for Trump. She remained calm and often smiling as Trump repeatedly attacked her and interrupted her answers—doing it so often that moderator Lester Holt, often a spectral presence at the debate, finally cut in twice in short order to chide him. (Vox counted 40 instances; Clinton made some of her own interruptions, but fewer.) Clinton displayed a sort of swagger perhaps not seen since her hearing before Congress on Benghazi.
If undecided voters were looking for an excuse to come around to Clinton’s corner, they may have found it on Monday night.
Donald Trump sniffled and sucked down water. He bragged about not paying federal taxes—“That makes me smarter.” He bragged about bragging about profiting from the housing crisis—“That’s called business, by the way.” He lost his cool and maybe the race, taking bait coolly served by Hillary Clinton.
If her objective was to tweak Trump’s temper, avoid a major mistake, and calmly cloak herself in the presidency, Clinton checked all three boxes in the first 30 minutes of their first debate.
It may not matter: Trump is the candidate of change and disruption at a time when voters crave the freshly shaken. But the former secretary of state made the strongest case possible for the status quo, arguing that while voters want change in the worst way, Trump’s way would be the worst.
For decades, the candidate has willfully inflicted pain and humiliation.
Donald J. Trump has a cruel streak. He willfully causes pain and distress to others. And he repeats this public behavior so frequently that it’s fair to call it a character trait. Any single example would be off-putting but forgivable. Being shown many examples across many years should make any decent person recoil in disgust.
Judge for yourself if these examples qualify.
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In national politics, harsh attacks are to be expected. I certainly don’t fault Trump for calling Hillary Clinton dishonest, or wrongheaded, or possessed of bad judgment, even if it’s a jarring departure from the glowing compliments that he used to pay her.
But even in a realm where the harshest critiques are part of the civic process, Trump crossed a line this week when he declared his intention to invite Gennifer Flowers to today’s presidential debate. What kind of man invites a husband’s former mistress to an event to taunt his wife? Trump managed to launch an attack that couldn’t be less relevant to his opponent’s qualifications or more personally cruel. His campaign and his running-mate later said that it was all a big joke. No matter. Whether in earnest or in jest, Trump showed his tendency to humiliate others.
The Republican nominee illustrated a lesson for debating in the social-media era: Don’t lie about that which you’ve publicly tweeted.
Here’s a modern technology moment that happened in Monday’s presidential debate:
Hillary Clinton: Donald thinks that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. I think it’s real.
Donald Trump: I did not. I did not. I do not say that.
In bygone years, the moment would’ve passed, unresolved, and more than likely forgotten. But this is 2016. So last night, all across America, many people watching the debate while using Twitter saw this missive retweeted into their feeds:
The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.
During the debate, the Republican nominee seemed to confirm an accusation that he hadn’t paid any income tax, then reversed himself later.
In the absence of facts, speculation will flourish. For example, as long as Donald Trump declines to release his tax returns, his opponents will offer theories for why he has failed to do so.
Trump has claimed that he cannot release his returns because he’s being audited by the IRS. (He complained Monday that he is audited every year.) He repeated that claim during the debate, even though the IRS has said that Trump is free to release his returns even if he is being audited.
Harry Reid, the Democratic senator from Nevada who in 2012 claimed (falsely, it turned out) that Mitt Romney paid no income taxes, has speculated that Trump is not as wealthy as he claims and is a “welfare king.” Romney himself has gotten in on the act, writing on Facebook, “There is only one logical explanation for Mr. Trump's refusal to release his returns: there is a bombshell in them. Given Mr. Trump's equanimity with other flaws in his history, we can only assume it's a bombshell of unusual size.”
One man conducted hundreds of interviews to understand the motivation and morality of those in the finance industry.
How can bankers live with themselves after the destruction wrought by their industry? That’s in part what the Dutch journalist Joris Luyendijk sets out to uncover in his new book, Among the Bankers: A Journey Into the Heart of Finance, which was published overseas last year under the title Swimming with Sharks. The book attempts to lay bare not the technical workings of a very opaque industry, but the emotional and moral considerations of those who operate within it.
Luyendijk, a reporter at The Guardian who has a background in anthropology, poses that question of conscience over and over again. To answer it, he conducted hundreds of interviews with people who work in the City, London’s version of Wall Street.
Details later, because I start very early tomorrow morning, but: in the history of debates I’ve been watching through my conscious lifetime, this was the most one-sided slam since Al Gore took on Dan Quayle and (the very admirable, but ill-placed) Admiral James B. Stockdale (“Who am I? Why am I here?”) in the vice presidential debate of 1992.
Donald Trump rose to every little bit of bait, and fell into every trap, that Hillary Clinton set for him. And she, in stark contrast to him, made (almost) every point she could have hoped to make, and carried herself in full awareness that she was on high-def split-screen every second. He was constantly mugging, grimacing, rolling his eyes—and sniffing. She looked alternately attentive and amused.