Saturday, December 20, 2014

Marco Rubio has a selective memory when he talks about Cuban terrorism

LIFE Magazine, Dec. 10, 1971.


In 1971 - the same year U.S. Senator Marco Rubio was born - LIFE magazine published a piece that highlighted the successes of newly-arrived Cubans in Miami.

At a rate unprecedented among America's major immigrant groups, the 350,000 Cubans in the Miami area have transformed themselves into a thriving prosperous community. They comprise a fourth of the area's population, and their average income has risen to a healthy $8,000 for each family. More than half own their own houses, and they pump a total of $600 million a year into the local economy. Cubans own more than one out of three retail businesses in the city, and have created 6,000 new ones.

The Cuban presence is everywhere in Miami. Much of the city today looks, smells and sounds like Havana...
Today many Cubans still talk wistfully of returning to their homeland. But it is doubtful that many would return if they had a chance.

Marco Rubio is understandably proud of his Cuban roots.

In 2011, Washington Post reported his parents "came to the United States and were admitted for permanent residence more than two-and-a-half years before Castro’s forces overthrew the Cuban government and took power on New Year’s Day 1959."

However, on his website, Rubio says he "was born in Miami to Cuban-born parents who came to America following Fidel Castro's takeover." [Emphasis mine.]

Rubio told the Miami Herald's Marc Caputo, “I didn’t lie about the date. I wasn’t aware of it.”

In his recollection of history, Rubio tends leave out the parts that don't fit his narrative.

Perhaps that accounts for Rubio's memory lapse last Wednesday, when, in reacting to President Barack Obama's decision to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, the Senator said this: "Cuba, like Syria, Iran, and Sudan, remains a state sponsor of terrorism."

And what Rubio leaves out in his recounting of the Cuban-American success story in Miami, is the ugly and violent side of the saga.

The fact is that while many newly-arrived Cubans were building new lives and fortunes in Miami, some were engaging in terrorism that kept the city on edge for almost three decades.

In an article posted Friday on Foreign Policy magazine's website, journalist Tristram Korten writes:
For decades, Miami has been a city with its own foreign policy. Local politicians could not get elected unless they towed the anti-Castro line, and their complicity enabled a violent history. Since the 1970s, there have been more than 30 bombings in and around Miami, against individuals and press outlets that dared to broach the subject of rapprochement, not to mention death threats and physical assaults. Too often, it seemed, those pushing for freedom in Cuba were willing to suspend them here. As a result, civic life, the free exchange of ideas, art, all suffered.


Miami News, Oct. 19, 1960.

Miami News, Nov. 20, 1962. 

Miami News, June 11, 1965. 

Miami News, April 2, 1966. 

Miami News, Sept. 16, 1968. 

Miami News, Sept. 19, 1968. 

Miami News, Dec. 4, 1975.

Miami News, May 1, 1976.

Miami News, Sept. 19, 1977.

Miami News, Feb. 24, 1978.

Miami News, Jan. 14, 1980.

Miami News, Jan. 5, 1981. 

Miami News, Jan. 5, 1981.

Miami News, Sept.12, 1981.

Miami News, Feb. 22, 1982.

Miami News, May 28, 1983.

Note to Senator Rubio: Next time you want to use history to make a point, why not include all of it?

Friday, December 19, 2014

15 members of Brooklyn's GS9 street gang arrested and charged with murder and other 'non-fatal shootings' including an October drive-by shooting on Ocean Drive

Alex Crandon.


Alex Crandon, a 20 year-old Brooklyn man who was arrested and jailed briefly following an October drive-by shooting on Ocean Drive, is one of 15 members of the Brooklyn-based street gang GS9 who were arrested by the NYPD on Wednesday and charged with a slew of crimes including murder, assault, conspiracy, weapons and narcotics crimes.

An October Miami Beach police arrest report says that Crandon, and 22 year-old Dimitri Mara Bastien, were stopped by Miami Beach police in the 1500 block of Washington Ave. because the 2014 Nissan Altima they were riding in matched the description of a vehicle wanted in connection with the shooting at Fat Tuesday.

Crandon was arrested for knowingly driving with a suspended license, and Bastien was arrested for marijuana possession and possession of counterfeit currency.

Charges against Bastien are winding their way through the court system, but a search of the Miami-Dade Clerk of the Courts website turns up nothing on Crandon.

At the time I wrote that "police believe that Bastien and Crandon were involved in some way with the drive-by shooting, but aren't being specific. At this point they have not been charged with the shooting."

Following the shooting at Fat Tuesday, Miami Beach police immediately linked the GS9 gang to the shooting but apparently weren't able to make a connection between Crandon and the Brooklyn-based gang.


From the Washington Post:
For Bobby Shmurda — the baby-faced, 20-year-old hip-hop artist arrested in a drug trafficking sting this week — life allegedly seems to have imitated art all too closely. On Thursday, Shmurda, born Ackquille Pollard, and more than a dozen others were charged in a 69-count indictment that included murder, attempted murder, dealing drugs, weapons possession and a list of other crimes in connection with a long-term investigation into shootings and narcotics dealing in Brooklyn.
The investigation allegedly turned up 21 guns. One was allegedly a handgun concealed in a duffle bag on Shmurda’s lap when police arrested him in a car outside Quad Recording — the same studio in Manhattan where Tupac Shakur was shot in 1994. A second gun and a small amount of crack cocaine were also allegedly found in the car.

The two members of the group charged with murder, Alex “A-Rod” Crandon and Rashid “Rasha” Derissant, are accused of killing a member of rival gang, “Brooklyn’s Most Wanted,” on Feb. 8, 2013, outside a Brooklyn bodega.

Shmurda, meanwhile, is accused of firing shots at a crowd outside a barbershop in Brooklyn early this year, and of being present when shots were fired during a confrontation with a rival gang outside a courthouse in January. His friends allegedly had a habit of firing wildly into crowds, prompting bystanders at nightclubs in New York City and Miami to run for cover on multiple occasions.

From a Dec. 18 press release from the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for the City of New York:

15 Members of “GS9” Gang Indicted and Arrested: 21 Firearms Seized

Indictment charges Murder, Assault, Conspiracy, Weapons and Narcotics Crimes

BRIDGET G. BRENNAN, New York City’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor, New York City Police Commissioner WILLIAM J. BRATTON and Brooklyn District Attorney KENNETH P. THOMPSON announced today the arrest and indictment of 15 members of “GS9”, also known as “G Stone Crips,” a street gang based in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. As charged in the indictment, members of GS9 engaged in violent disputes with rival gangs, committed murder and carried out numerous non-fatal shootings. GS9 members are also charged in multiple instances of gunfire in public locations in which no one was shot in both New York City and Miami, Fla. Twelve indicted defendants are charged with narcotics trafficking and using the proceeds to further the criminal activities of the gang.

The 69-count indictment contains charges of Conspiracy and substantive charges of Murder, Attempted Murder, Assault, Attempted Assault, Weapons Possession, Criminal Use of a Firearm, Reckless Endangerment, Narcotics Sales and Criminally Using Drug Paraphernalia.

Police seized 21 guns during the course of the long-term investigation, which was conducted by New York City Police Department’s (NYPD) Brooklyn South Violence Reduction Task Force and the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Narcotics Gang Unit, with assistance from the Kings County District Attorney’s Office.

Innocent Bystander Shooting, July 12, 2014: 128 East 52nd Street, Brooklyn

On July 12, 2014, a 22-year-old woman bystander was shot in the neck outside 128 East 52nd Street in Brooklyn. The investigation revealed that a member of BMW who was the intended target had been standing near her. The investigation revealed that RASHID DERRISANT and ALEX CRANDON ran up the street firing multiple rounds. DERRISANT is also charged with mistakenly shooting CRANDON in the arm during this incident.

The indictment charges DERRISANT, CRANDON, BRIAN HARVEY, aka “Meeshie” and DESHAIN COCKETT, aka “D-Boy”, aka “Larry Bird,” aka “Mitch”, with Attempted Murder in the Second Degree, Assault in the First and Second Degrees and other crimes in connection with the July 12, 2014 shooting 
Shots fired outside nightclubs: Miami and New York

On October 11, 2014, the indictment charges that RASHID DERISSANT and other GS9 members brought their dispute to Miami where they spotted a rival Brooklyn gang member near the club Fat Tuesdays on Ocean Drive in South Beach. DERISSANT fired shots through a window of the club. Video captured the mayhem that ensued as the large crowd of people in front of the club ran and ducked for cover. However, no one was shot.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Grading the Miami media's coverage of the Alan Gross story: The good, the bad and the ugly

The good...

There's probably no one in Miami more qualified to anchor coverage of an important story like a thaw in U.S/Cuba relations than Local 10's Michael Putney. He's covered thousands of stories in this town in his almost 40 years as a journalist. Channel 10 hit it out of the park by tapping Putney to anchor the station's coverage of the Gross story. Kudos also to WPLG for sticking with the story past 1 p.m. while other stations went back to regular programming.


The bad...

This morning, all those recent staff cuts at the Miami Herald came back to bite the paper in the ass. Miami's newspaper of record was slow out of the gate in its coverage of a story it should have owned.

The Herald's first mention of Gross' release was in a tweet sent out shortly before 9 a.m. that was based on information from "multiple outlets." Embarrassing.

Sometime after 9 a.m., the paper finally posted a three-paragraph wire service story that stayed on the Herald's website until well past 10 a.m.

A retired Herald editor emailed this to a former colleague:
What a sad commentary that Cuba news explodes and the Herald knew nothing about it ... And has to quote other media reports even now because it can't independently confirm. The Herald should own this story. Breaks my heart.

It appears that ABC News was first with the story just before 9 .a.m. with this report from Jim Avila in Miami that aired on Good Morning America.

ABC News Video


The ugly...

The Herald also gets a failing grade for posting a picture with one of its stories of Cuban douchebag Miguel Saavedra and his band of idiots. This guy is an amateur agitator who represents no one but himself. Posting a picture of this moron adds nothing to anyone's understanding of a complex and important story.

Miguel Saavedra, center, at the Versailles Wednesday morning.
(Miami Herald photo)

Sadly, it's my duty to report that while Local 10 bested everyone by putting Michael Putney in the anchor chair for this story, someone at the station screwed up big time by deciding it was a good idea to pair Miami's most experienced political reporter with the station's early morning dim-witted Traffic Twinkie, Constance Jones.

Jones looked out of her element sitting next to Putney. A fact that was made abundantly clear anytime she opened her mouth.

During one segment with Putney and Local 10's Cuban-American anchor Victor Oquendo, Jones sat by silently, staring off into space and nodding like some kind of tarted-up bobble head doll.

Jones' contribution to the discussion comes at 1:12 and 1:14 on the video below when she utters the word "wow."

That's insightful, Constance. But Christiane Amanpour you're not.

Perhaps your bosses should have you stick to taking and posting stupid selfies and let the grown-ups handle the important stories.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Question for Miami Herald staffers...

Here's a question for any Miami Herald staffer who cares to answer: Who in the hell is in charge over there in Doral? And when did the Herald stop covering news? 

I ask that because for the past month and a half I've been reading the print edition of the paper...something I haven't done in almost 15 years.

But after holding the print product in my hand for the entire month of November and part of December, I'm not at all surprised that subscribers are abandoning the paper in droves.

Sunday night, five people were wounded after someone fired shots from a Chevy SUV into the courtyard of an Overtown apartment building. Sunday's shooting was just the latest incident in the ongoing orgy of violence that continues to plague the Overtown/Liberty City neighborhoods.

Herald editors gave the story three paragraphs on page 3B.

Chuck Rabin's online version of the story made mention of three other shootings that have taken place since 2012 that have left four dead and dozens wounded. But that information was edited out of the story that appeared in print.

Miami Herald, Dec. 16, 2014. 

So what story did Herald editors decide was more important than one of heavily-armed thugs continuing to hold a neighborhood hostage? Some idiotic nonsense on the most popular Google searches performed by Miamians in 2014.

Also relegated to the inside pages of Tuesday's Herald, was the horrific story of seven men arrested for allegedly kidnapping a 16-year-old schoolgirl and forcing her to take drugs and have sex with as many as 16 men over the course of a week.

Of course, had the 16-year-old rape victim been a student at Ransom Everglades, the story would almost certainly have been treated with a little more urgency and given more prominent play.


Earlier on Random Pixels: 'We are unglued' - Miami Herald continues to treat some South Florida neighborhoods as though they don't exist

And what story did Herald editors decide was more important than the kidnapping and repeated gang-rape of a 16-year-old schoolgirl?

This crap....fluff...

Miami Herald, Dec. 16, 2014, page 1A.

But by now, long-time readers of the Herald have grown accustomed to skimpy, or non-existent coverage of certain kinds of stories. And things are bound to get worse.

Over the past few months no fewer than 9 long-time staffers, most with decades of experience, have either retired or taken buyouts.

One staffer - a photographer with more than 30 years of service - was fired under mysterious circumstances.

Reporter Ina Cordle - a 20 year Herald veteran - is leaving the paper's skeletal business staff to join The Real Deal, a real estate website. Her last day at the paper is December 26.

Cammy Clark, the Herald's long-time Key West bureau chief lost her job after her position was eliminated.

For coverage of Keys news, the Herald will now rely on dispatches from the weekly Florida Keys Reporter, and twice-weekly Keynoter.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Michel du Cille | 1956-2014

Photograph by Michel du Cille / Miami Herald (1987)

"A man looks through a broken window of an empty apartment. 

Unoccupied apartments became the crack den for many of the addicts 
at the apartment complex turned crack cocaine supermarket 
on the corner of Northeast Second Avenue and 71st Street. "
Via the Miami Herald. 


From the Boca Raton News, Oct. 6, 1986
(Click to enlarge.)


Every profession has its giants....those who set the standards for all the rest. In photojournalism, that person was former Miami Herald photographer Michel du Cille. Thursday night, his friends and colleagues learned that Michel - a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner - died of an apparent heart attack while covering the Ebola crisis in Liberia for the Washington Post.


Michel du Cille, Post photojournalist who won Pulitzer three times, dies at 58