Beyond the Bricks 3/21


Illustration by Corinne Fallone

<a>White House No Longer Follows the Freedom of Information Act

A federal regulation subjecting the White House's Office of Administration to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has been lifted. Many have criticized the move, as the announcement was released on the National Freedom of Information Day and Sunshine Week, which is dedicated to government transparency issues. The Office of Administration was the only White House office that was required to adhere to FOIA up until now. "This is an office that operated under the FOIA for 30 years, and when it became politically inconvenient, they decided they weren't subject to the Freedom of Information Act," said Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch. This will not be a large change due to the fact that most requests for information to this office are for emails and other administrative documents. This is increasingly controversial, considering the recent discussions surrounding Hilary Clinton's private emails. 

Getting rid of this requirement goes against the Obama administration's promise to increase transparency. White House Press Secretary John Earnest defended this promise, stating that the rule "is cleanly in line with the kind of priority that this administration has placed on transparency." The rule change is final and there will be no 30-day public comment period.

Robert Durst, Subject of HBO's Documentary 'The Jinx,' Charged with First-Degree Murder

HBO's documentary 'The Jinx' featured Robert Durst, the suspect of three murders spanning a few decades. The documentary was filmed over several years and ended with a chilling conclusion: Robert Durst, overheard on a microphone that he seemingly forgot was turned on, muttered "What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course." This admission, combined with other evidence that the has come to light in the last few years, has led to Robert Durst being charged with first-degree murder. There is discussion about whether the 'confession' will be admissible in court and whether it was ethical for producers to keep the comments until the final episode aired.

Durst's first wife, Kathie McCormack, went missing in 1982. While there was a history of domestic abuse, no evidence was found, and neither was she. Susan Berman, who handled Durst's public relations after the disappearance of his wife, was found murdered just days before she was supposed to speak with detectives who were reopening the McCormack case. In 2001, he was charged with shooting and dismembering his neighbor, but was acquitted. The latest arrest is for the murder of Berman, although it is unclear what new evidence 'The Jinx' has brought to light.

Scandals Surround Michel Martelly, President of Haiti

Michel Martelly, formerly a popular singer in Haiti, often talked of becoming president one day. In 1997, he was quoted as saying "First thing … I would close that congress thing. Out of my way." Now that he is president, he seems to be working toward that goal. Martelly and the Parliament could not reach an agreement on when to hold elections. Most of the legislative terms expired and were not refilled. There are currently only 11 elected officials in the country, Martelly being one of them. Martelly's circle of friends is riddled with criminals, including rapists, drug-traffickers and murderers. 

Prosecutors in cases against Martelly's friends either disappear or end up fleeing the country. One judge who complained about presidential meddling in one case showed up dead two days later. Originally elected in 2011 during a disputed election, Martelly has allowed his friends and family to corrupt Haiti's government. However, Martelly has seemingly brought prosperity to a once severely troubled country. Haiti now has the fastest growing economy in the Caribbean. Voices against Martelly and his corruption are quiet, as most people point out the improvements that have been made during his regime. Martelly now has control over when and how the next election will occur.