Here is the full transcript of the conversation I recently had with the great Indian writer Arundhati Roy. We discuss war, Trump, Kashmir, Narendra Modi, the lesser known and disturbing history of Gandhi and Arundhati’s new novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. In such a dark time, Arundhati Roy is a bright, shining light.
This Wednesday, April 18, on Intercepted, we are premiering a new experiment: An old school radio drama written by Wallace Shawn and starring Matthew Broderick, Annapurna Sriram, Larry Pine and other great actors. It deals with targeted killing, #METOO, and living in authoritarian times, even in a democracy. Please spread the word! It will be free for all to listen to and will be in 3 acts on the podcast feed and also at TheIntercept.com. That’s Wednesday, April 18! Would love to hear what you all think!
‘As the marchers turned down Knoll’s street, I struck up a conversation with Hervé Timsit, a composer. “I came because I think we need to act and to confront the normalization of anti-Semitism,” he told me. He was Jewish, an atheist, and had come on his own. “I would have come if a black woman had been killed, or if black people had been killed in the same pattern, or Arabs, but that’s not the case,” he said. He also came because he was distressed by larger developments in Europe. The soft autocracy in Hungary. Poland’s new law criminalizing mention of Polish complicity in the Holocaust. “When you step back and look at what’s happening it’s scary,” he said.’
Open Memorandum To Hon. William Cheptumo
Chairman, Parliament Select Committee on Election Laws Amendments: Don’t Change The Election Laws
Mheshimiwa, am humbled to call you my classmate and friend since 1988. And congratulations on your third re-election as MP for Baringo North and now Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Proposed Changes to our election laws. I have objections to the proposals and with much deference.
Article 259 of the Constitution says that the Constitution shall be interpreted in such a way that is expansive and purposeful to promote the rule of law, Bill of Rights and good governance. This is the barest minimum. Do the proposed amendments intend to achieve this test? Not by any stretch.
The Constitution says that IEBC Chairman is the Presidential Elections Returning Officer. The Constitution is clear that the appointment of the Chairman is different process from the other Commissioners. How then can you even dare want to make every other Commissioner potential Returning Officer? In civilized countries, Electoral Board Members are truly independent. Ours seem excited to be seen to serving Government of the day. Why do you want to give homicidal thoughts to an ambitious but unqualified Commissioner?
When you reduce importance of Elections to results only, it then begs the question, why waste time going through a whole party primaries and Campaign period, if only the results count? Do you want to say that in a football match, we look at the scoreline only even where the referee and goalkeeper were bribed? That a title deed is valid even from River Road? Please!
Then you reduce ballot papers to mere papers. The Constitution doesn’t state that our bank notes should have security marks, but we do because it prevents forgeries and cheats. Which is more important, money or Elections? Elections determine the future of a Country. Civilizations that were advanced and rich disappeared because of bad leaderships. Bad elections produce bad leaders. Let all Ballot Papers: Voting paper and Forms 34A, B and C have security features to stop fake ones being produced on Mombasa Road or River Road. It is why we signed the contract with Al Ghurair with that specific provision.
To say that unsigned Forms count is taking Kenyans for fools. Can you withdraw money with unsigned Cheque? Then why do you want us to have a President voted by unsigned Forms. Cut us some slack.
The spirit of the proposed changes seem to be to mute the powers of Chebukati and make powerful Some three Commissioners and the Secretariat. In the Constitution, the Secretariat is answerable to the Commission under the Chairman. How then you want to make the Chairman a eunuch?
The Constitution says the President shall be sworn by the Chief Justice. How then can you say in Statutory Amendments that any Judge can do it? Any law that violates the Constitution is void. Why then waste time on a void Law?
How sad to make laws for one Elections instead for all time. We still remember and apply the laws of Moses, Hamurrabi and Napoleon Bonaparte because they made laws for all time. And why make laws for one Elections? Laws made now can only apply to 2022 Elections. You can’t change goal-posts now. Those who made laws for a season have been forgotten. Do you want to be remembered for good deeds or erased into ignominy?
Finally, I know you to be like me, a Christian Of deep faith, albeit am Roman Catholic and you are AIC. In the 16th Century, Thomas Cromwell, a great Lawyer snd Statesman, was adviser to King Henry VIII. Cromwell led the King to break away from Rome. He also advised him to divorce against the rules of our Church then. Cromwell was so close to the King he thought he was indispensable. Then he made a fatal mistake: the King wanted to marry for the fourth time and he sent Cromwell to check out the lucky girl, Anne of Cleves. Cromwell told the King there was no other girl prettier than Anne. When the King finally met Anne, even though he married her, she wasn’t t the beauty Cromwell said. The King had Cromwell executed.
Mheshimiwa, be loyal to the President and his Deputy, but don’t lie to them or undertake a deceptive enterprise. The proposed changes to our Elections Laws are ill-advised, deceptive and violate our Constitution. Be truthful. Be honest. Keep your faith.
Donald, classmate & friend.
Today is the 22nd anniversary of my dad’s passing. He was 49 and I was 27. I won’t say that my dad loved me more than my two younger sisters, but I will say, as a parent, that we bond differently with each child. My dad and I were deeply bonded. We shared similar qualities, gifts and talents. He had been a professional singer/songwriter/musician with a Top 50 Billboard Chart hit before he went on to the army as a helicopter medic and then, to get his degree in Psychology before becoming a stockbroker, manager and vice-president of a national firm. I watched him and I could feel the pulse of his emotions. I could sense the rage come on because of the low blood sugar crash from his Type 1 diabetes or his hot Italian temper, and I could feel his complete delight at playing piano for friends or singing for his family or in reaching into his pocket to help someone in need. He taught me how to throw a football, drink a beer while watching the Giant’s game, audition for a major producer at Sony, and mow the lawn with the electric mower. He wrote a column for the Star Ledger, played golf with Payne Stewart in the Greater Hartford Open, and bought his fancy sports car from the same place Paul Newman did in Connecticut. I also watched him argue non-stop with a police officer and get a massive ticket, right in our driveway, for being a monumental ass… and I watched him get quiet that night I came home drunk and lied to him when I was 17. For years my dad and I didn’t speak — and for years we did. What I hold in my heart is this immense closeness and greater understanding of him as I enter my 49th year on November 14 — the day before his birthday on November 15th. He was an extraordinary soul who lives in my heart and lives in the cells of my boys who never met him and yet, smile like him, have gifts like him, and remind me of him every single day. Rock will look at the three of us and say, "Sam Confalone is alive and well in you guys." And he smiles and winks at me when he says it. It seems like a lot to say but I think I want you to know him and yet, you kind of already do, because the parts you see and know in me are the parts that are in so many ways like my dad. When I was a teenager, that made me cringe. But now, it makes me proud. Love you, Dad. Thanks for being unapologetically "you."
Hey everyone, we just published a short film that my colleagues and I made about the history of US intervention in Iraq. Please share on your networks, pages, etc.
To understand Iraq’s current reality, we must confront not just 15 years of U.S. policy, but a history that spans the administrations of 11 U.S. presidents. It’s a 55-year history that is filled with constant interventions and bombings, economic sanctions and covert CIA activity, and regime change. And in this history — a history you never hear discussed on cable news — the main victims are, as they’ve always been: ordinary Iraqis.
This is a classic case study in U.S. imperial crimes that began in 1958 when the British-installed monarchy was overthrown by a popular Iraqi army general who set about to nationalize oil, normalize relations with the Soviet Union, and implement sweeping agrarian and social reforms.
This short film is by no means an exhaustive history, but rather an overview of the role the U.S. has played in destabilizing Iraq and the region.
So.. Intercepted is nominated for two Webby Awards! Voting is now open for the People’s Choice. We are nominated for best news and politics podcast and best podcast host. In the latter, my competition is Oprah, RuPaul and Questlove. Not even kidding. We are gonna need a lot of support to pull this off! We can do it. Vote in both categories!
Looking for a great Sunday read? Here is the full transcript of my interview with the brilliant Eve Ewing, author of the new book Electric Arches. We discuss her book and art, her time as a science teacher in a public school, the white CIA operative in the Black Panther film, guns, and how certain people use violence in Chicago to serve their political agendas, and much more.
THIS WEEK MARKS the 15th anniversary of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. But what is almost never discussed is the fact that the U.S. has been waging war against the Iraqi people over the past six decades. In a short radio documentary, I dig deep into the U.S. legacy in Iraq, beginning with the CIA-backed overthrow of a popular leader who nationalized Iraq’s oil and overthrew the British-backed monarchy. It is a history that spans 11 U.S. presidents, both Democratic and Republican. U.S. policy has always been about the interests of Western capitalism and the flags of American victories have long been planted on the corpses of Iraqi civilians. Mehdi Hasan, host of the new Intercept podcast “Deconstructed,” talks about the commercial that “60 Minutes” ran for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the war in Syria. Matthew Cole talks about how before becoming FBI director, Chris Wray supervised an investigation that found that Blackwater founder Erik Prince likely broke U.S. laws. What happens now to the Prince investigations? The Intercept’s Sam Biddle takes us inside the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the chaos at Facebook. And artist, writer, and educator Eve Ewing talks about her new book “Electric Arches,” how Trump talks about Chicago, and she imagines LeBron James journeying through time to meet his teenage self. And an undercover investigation reveals Prestige Worldwide’s use of prostitutes to influence the outcome of elections.
We have a great new episode of Intercepted: Exxon Mobil is out at the State Department. A radical Christian ideologue is in. And a veteran CIA officer who tortured detainees and set up the CIA black sites after 9/11 is slated to take the helm at Langley. And all of this happened in one fell swoop on Tuesday morning. The Intercept’s Matthew Cole and I analyze the major re-shuffle in Trumpland and what it means for the future of the planet. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, who led the investigation of Erik Prince and Blackwater for years in Congress, analyzes the ongoing scandal over his alleged role in the Trump era and explains why she had her house swept for surveillance when she was investigating Prince. Musical artists Ana Tijoux and Lila Downs talk about the politics of colonialism, neoliberalism, and revolution and their new collaboration on the song, “Tinta Roja.” And, fresh off her stellar debut on 60 Minutes, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos stars in “Kindergarten Cop.”