Archive for September, 2004

Where is the World? Jeanne: Compare Florida to Haiti

Thursday, September 30th, 2004

by Alan Farago
…Hurricane Jeanne hit Haiti hard before it did that loop the loop and aimed right where Frances had gone before. The double blow bent the knees of the most hardened residents of Florida’s Treasure Coast, already weakened by calamitous, toxic outflows from Lake Okeechobee.

The death toll in Haiti, first reported at 500, quickly mounted to more than 1,000 and is likely to double. More than 250,000 are homeless. The storm hit in the middle of the night in Gonaives, where most deaths occurred, without forewarning — no Weather Channel, no TV reporters with goggles leaning into the blistering wind.

When a hurricane aims for the United States, millions of people mobilize in synchronicity. The storm’s passing sets the stage for federal emergency managers, power crews clearing trees fallen from roads or on roofs, transformers shipped by the bushel in flatbed trailers, plywood stacked in perfect bundles, gasoline stations resupplied and rallying the troops.

Every response of our government to disaster reinforces the large-scale systems that provide comfort to people who can afford them, even when the viability of those systems is shaken by the power of nature.

But in Haiti — the poorest place in our hemisphere — every disaster only reinforces the vacuum of power and absence of organization to protect people from survival of the fittest.

…Our own comforts obscure how difficult it is to rearrange poverty that people experience as a humiliating stigma they did nothing to deserve. And although we seem to recognize that in a world of globalization we are not an island unto ourselves, too often our relations with the undeveloped world are poisoned by the attitude that if they would just learn to do business like we do, or if they can’t, let us do business for them, then everything would be swell.


It is discouraging on a website that claims to challenge the status quo to see an article like this. What are the historical roots of this “poverty that people experience”? It’s not about US isolationism, being “an island unto ourselves,” but aggressive interventionism, in Haiti’s case for 200 years. Why doesn’t anybody want to talk about why poor countries are poor? About why over 200 people in Haiti last week were simply left to die? This article suggests that the US should be ashamed of its lack of charity. That is just obscene. It was President Aristide’s demand for reparations that caused 50 American marines to storm his palace this winter and remove him. Poor countries don’t need charity. They need justice.

UN plea for more troops in Congo

Thursday, September 30th, 2004

by Rory Connell
The UN is under pressure to expand its peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the prospect of renewed fighting has prompted tens of thousands of refugees to flee.

Tomorrow the security council is to debate the secretary general Kofi Annan’s plea to renew the force’s mandate and more than double its number to 23,900, making Congo one of the UN’s more expensive missions at $1.4bn (Ł800m) a year.

The US and other council members say the force, known as Monuc, is inept but do not contest the need for a sizeable presence.

There has been a recent surge of refugees, underlining the continued volatility of the areas bordering Rwanda and Burundi. Troops loyal to the transitional government in Kinshasa have deployed around Goma to flush out rebels allegedly backed by Rwanda.

No fighting has been reported but the refugees, survivors of five year of war which killed 3 million, do not trust the deal last year aimed at ending the hostilities.

Oxfam says 20,000 villagers from Kalehe, South Kivu, are camping in the hills 40 miles north of Goma with little shelter.

Full Article: Guardian UK

Judge Rules Against Patriot Act Provision

Thursday, September 30th, 2004

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Part of the Patriot Act, a central plank of the Bush Administration’s war on terror, was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge on Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Victor Marreo ruled in favor of the American Civil Liberties Union, which challenged the power the FBI has to demand confidential financial records from companies as part of terrorism investigations.

The ruling was the latest blow to the Bush administration’s anti-terrorism policies.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that terror suspects being held in places like Guantanamo Bay can use the American judicial system to challenge their confinement. That ruling was a defeat for the president’s assertion of sweeping powers to hold “enemy combatants” indefinitely after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The ACLU sued the Department of Justice, arguing that part of the Patriot legislation violated the constitution because it authorizes the FBI to force disclosure of sensitive information without adequate safeguards.

The judge agreed, stating that the provision “effectively bars or substantially deters any judicial challenge.”

Under the provision, the FBI did not have to show a judge a compelling need for the records and it did not have to specify any process that would allow a recipient to fight the demand for confidential information.

Ten Ways to Beat George W. Bush

Thursday, September 30th, 2004

by Ralph Nader
The Kerry/Edwards campaign is failing to distinguish itself enough from Bush/Cheney. They are not putting forward explicit solutions that meet the daily needs of the American people, not putting forward an effective foreign policy alternative to the pre-emptive Bush war doctrine, and not crisply challenging Bush on his failed record.

1. The Failed Presidency of George W. Bush Shows he is a Compassionless Conservative

On the home front and around the world, President Bush has failed the United States. His economic record is one of record deficits, loss of jobs, creation of low-wage jobs. He has failed to create a budget that puts people’s needs before corporate greed. He has made us less safe at home, turned allies into adversaries, and trapped us in an impeachable, illegal quagmire. The four-year record of George W. Bush shows his rhetoric of 2000 is not consistent with the impact of his presidency-more poverty; lower paying jobs; more people without health care; less protection from pollution, disease, and job hazards; and more military and civilian casualties.

2. Bush is Not Telling the Whole Story on Casualties in Iraq and the Likely Return of the Draft or Facing Up to the Challenge of Peace in Israel-Palestine


Iraq Study Sees Rebels’ Attacks as Widespread

Wednesday, September 29th, 2004

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Sept. 28 – Over the past 30 days, more than 2,300 attacks by insurgents have been directed against civilians and military targets in Iraq, in a pattern that sprawls over nearly every major population center outside the Kurdish north, according to comprehensive data compiled by a private security company with access to military intelligence reports and its own network of Iraqi informants.

The sweeping geographical reach of the attacks, from Nineveh and Salahuddin Provinces in the northwest to Babylon and Diyala in the center and Basra in the south, suggests a more widespread resistance than the isolated pockets described by Iraqi government officials.

The type of attacks ran the gamut: car bombs, time bombs, rocket-propelled grenades, hand grenades, small-arms fire, mortar attacks and land mines.

“If you look at incident data and you put incident data on the map, it’s not a few provinces, ” said Adam Collins, a security expert and the chief intelligence official in Iraq for Special Operations Consulting-Security Management Group Inc., a private security company based in Las Vegas that compiles and analyzes the data as a regular part of its operations in Iraq.

The number of attacks has risen and fallen over the months. Mr. Collins said the highest numbers were in April, when there was major fighting in Falluja, with attacks averaging 120 a day. The average is now about 80 a day, he said.

But it is a measure of both the fog of war and the fact that different analysts can look at the same numbers and come to opposite conclusions, that others see a nation in which most people are perfectly safe and elections can be held with clear legitimacy.

Full Article:NY Times

Of Human Bondage

Tuesday, September 28th, 2004

by Robin Blackburn

Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution
by Laurent Dubois

A Colony of Citizens: Revolution and Slave Emancipation in the French Caribbean, 1787-1804
by Laurent Dubois

In the sequence of revolutions that remade the Atlantic world between 1776 and 1825, the Haitian Revolution is rarely given its due, yet without it the progressive credentials of the others would be far weaker. The revolutions–American, French, Haitian and Spanish-American–should be seen as a chain, each helping to radicalize the next. The American Revolution launched an idea of popular sovereignty that helped to destroy the French monarchy. The French Revolution, dramatic as its impact on the Old World was, also became a fundamental event in the New–curiously, a more important catalyst than the revolt of the thirteen English colonies of North America, since it undermined empire and slavery throughout the hemisphere. Revolutionary struggles in Haiti, the richest slave colony of the Americas, set the scene for a massive slave uprising in August 1791 and prompted the National Convention’s decree of 16 Pluviôse An II (February 4, 1794), which abolished slavery throughout the French colonies. The Convention was spurred to action by delegates from Haiti (then known as Saint Domingue) who argued that, faced with a British invasion and the defection of many royalist planters, only such a radical step could save the Republic by rallying more black insurgents to its side.

The French Revolutionary offensive struck down slave property at a time when the pressure of the sans-culottes on the Convention was at its height. Perhaps only the Jacobins at their most radical could have inaugurated the policy, but, following Robespierre’s overthrow in Thermidor, it was to be sustained by the Directory down to the end of the 1790s. Slave insurrections were fostered in the Spanish colonies and English islands. Guadeloupe was liberated by the French revolutionary Victor Hugues, the “Robespierre of the Antilles,” with the help of a newly recruited légion de la liberté, comprising “colored” men (free men of mixed race) and former slaves. Among those sent packing was Benedict Arnold, who had joined the British expedition as a war contractor. In Saint Domingue the black army led by Toussaint L’Ouverture, a former slave, deserted its Spanish patron and joined the republican ranks. With matériel sent from France, L’Ouverture created a well-armed and disciplined force, which drove the Spanish and the British from the colony by 1798. Overall, the British, who had to fight hard to regain Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Grenada, lost 90,000 soldiers in the Caribbean as a whole, a higher total than in Europe.

Toussaint L’Ouverture insisted that Saint Domingue remain French, but he dealt with Britain and the United States like a sovereign power. His army included white and colored, as well as black, commanders. He invited émigré planters to return. In 1802 Napoleon sought to reassert metropolitan power and to re-establish slavery. L’Ouverture was captured, and died in France, but the expeditionary force, commanded by Napoleon’s brother-in-law, Gen. Charles Leclerc, was defeated, with a loss of 50,000 men, including Leclerc himself. In 1804 the black generals declared the new Republic of Haiti, with a constitution that outlawed slavery and declared that all citizens were legally black. The name of the new state, a homage to the island’s precolonial inhabitants, signaled the break with empire.

In 1816 Haiti’s president, Alexandre Pétion, helped Simón Bolívar mount the invasion that was ultimately to defeat the Spanish empire in the Americas. In return, Bolívar promised to free his own slaves and adopt measures to extinguish slavery in the lands he was to free. Many South Americans no doubt recalled this historic act when Hugo Chávez, the president of Venezuela, offered asylum to Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the recently ousted president of Haiti.


Rolling Haiti Back to Colonialism

Monday, September 27th, 2004

Charles Boylan of Vancouver Co-op Radio interviews Kevin Pina 
by Kevin Pina and Charles Boylan; September 21, 2004  
Charles Boylan: I saw an e-mail yesterday and it said that the Haitian Army is re-establishing itself. I want you to tell us what you know about these facts, and to tell us a little bit about what this army is and its history.  
Pina: Well it’s the Forces, d’army Haiti Fad’h, which was the army created by the US back during the first occupation of Haiti, which lasted nineteen years, from 1915 to 1934. The army, traditionally, was a tool of the ruling class of Haiti. It could be bought; it was responsible for more than thirty-three coup d’etats in Haiti’s history. During the 1990’s, after the coup d’etat against the first government of President Aristide, the army became very deeply involved in drug trafficking. Certainly it’s an army that has never had to be used to defend Haiti’s sovereignty against any outside force. It’s traditionally been a tool of repression for Haitians inside Haiti.  
As far as its resurgence [goes], what we know is that members of the former military, as well as members of the former CIA trained paramilitary death squad FRAPH, as well as officers such as Guy Philippe [formerly] of the Haitian police, were given safe harbour by certain segments of the Dominican government and certain segments of the Dominican military. After the year 2000 we know that they began several series’ of incursions into Haiti, which led to the assassination of several members of Aristide’s Lavalas Party . They would make armed incursions into Haiti and they would then return to their “safe haven” in the Dominican Republic. There have been charges that there’s no way that this could have been done without U.S. complicity and the U.S. knowing exactly what was going on.  
Certainly, I was reporting about [this]…about two, two and a half years ago. So, certainly if I had that information, it had to be available to the United States government, certainly the U.S. embassy in the Dominican Republic. And, the former military along with these other forces I described, used Dominican territory to launch an attack into Haiti; a larger attack into Haiti in early February [2004], which led to the coup d’etat of the constitutionally elected President, Jean Bertrand Aristide, who was forced out of the country on February 29th of this year.

Powell acknowledges problems in holding January elections in Iraq

Sunday, September 26th, 2004

US Secretary of State Colin Powell acknowledged that organizing elections throughout Iraq in January could be difficult because of the unrest that has rocked the country.

“There will be polling stations that are shot at. There will be insurgents who will still be out there who will try to keep people from voting,” Powell told CNN television’s “Late Edition” program.

Still, he said, “I think what we have to keep shooting for, and what is achievable, is to give everybody the opportunity to vote in the upcoming election, to make the election fully credible, and something that will stand the test of the international community’s examination.”

He told the “Fox News Sunday” television program that the goal of the United States and the Iraqi government was to hold elections throughout Iraq.

“It is premature to judge that we cannot have full, free elections throughout the country,” he said.

“I think it has to be throughout the country. It doesn’t mean that everybody’s got to vote on that particular day,” he said.

“We don’t need a 100 percent turnout of every single citizen.”

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told a congressional committee Thursday that unrest might prevent elections from being held in parts of Iraq.

“Let’s say you tried to have an election and you could have it in three-quarters or four-fifths of the country, but some places you couldn’t, because the violence was too great,” he said.

“Well, so be it,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “You have an election that’s not quite perfect. Is it better than not having an election? You bet.”

Dozens killed in Iraq violence as Egypt, Britain seek to free hostages
“…Intelligence sources indicated that approximately 10 terrorists were meeting at this location to plan operations targeting innocent Iraqi civilians and multinational forces,” the US military said.

Two hospitals in the city reported receiving eight dead and 22 wounded, including women and children, while residents said many victims remained under the rubble.

At least two homes in the area were destroyed while others suffered significant damage.

An earlier US air strike on another alleged hideout of the militants killed seven Iraqis and wounded 11, again including women and children, according to medics.

Following the air strikes, twin car bombings struck US and Iraqi security forces west of Fallujah, causing casualties of both nationalities, a US commander said…

2700 attacks in August. Over 700 Iraqis killed. 1100 US wounded. ‘Insurgents’ have launched more than 100 attacks a day so far in September. Let’s have an election! So what if it’s not ‘perfect’?

Nigerian Rebels to Widen Conflict, Target Agip

Sunday, September 26th, 2004

LAGOS (Reuters) – Nigerian rebels battling troops in Africa’s top oil exporter declared on Sunday they would extend their uprising across the whole of the country’s oil-producing southern delta.

A rebel leader told Reuters the conflict, currently focused in the eastern part of the delta, was to force political reforms or gain sovereignty for the impoverished region, adding that his militia would attack Italian oil installations and personnel.

Mujahid Dokubo-Asari accused the Italian oil company Agip, a unit of ENI, of lending helicopters to the military to spy on rebel positions. The company denied it.

Companies fear a repeat of last year’s uprising by members of the Ijaw tribe, which forced them temporarily to shut 40 percent of the country’s 2.5 million barrel per day output.

Oil production has not yet been affected by the latest surge in violence, but multinational Royal Dutch/Shell evacuated 235 staff from two oilfields on Thursday.

“We have decided to declare Operation Locust Feast which will cover the whole Niger delta. It is going to be an all-out war against the Nigerian state. Now the whole Ijaw nation will be fighting against the Nigerian state,” Asari told Reuters by satellite phone.

About half of Nigerian oil production comes from the eastern side of the delta, a vast area of creeks and mangrove swamps, while the other half comes from the west, also inhabited predominantly by Ijaws and scene of last year’s rebellion.

…“We were forced into Nigeria by the British colonialists. We are not Nigerians — there is no such nation as Nigeria,” Asari said. “Until there is a Sovereign National Conference to decide these issues, we have no choice but to fight until sovereignty is in our hands.”

Asari says he is fighting to improve the lot of the Niger delta people, most of whom live in abject poverty despite having all the nation’s oil reserves. The government calls him a gangster fighting for control of smuggling routes used by oil thieves.

Full Article: Reuters

Britain Offering to Pay Off 10% of Third World Debt

Sunday, September 26th, 2004

by Alan Cowell
LONDON, Sept. 25 – Britain is planning a new effort to help poor countries reduce their huge debts by offering to pay off 10 percent of the total owed to international agencies and challenging other nations to follow suit, said Gordon Brown, the chancellor of the Exchequer.

In an address on Sunday to an advocacy group called the Trade Justice Movement, Mr. Brown also plans to repeat an earlier proposal that the International Monetary Fund should revalue its vast gold reserves, currently priced at a tenth of their market value, and use the proceeds to cancel some third world debt, according to a text of his remarks published Saturday in The Guardian and later confirmed by the Treasury.

The issue is rising once more on the international agenda because a previous mechanism for debt relief, set up in 1996 by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, is to be renewed in December for two years. James D. Wolfensohn, the president of the World Bank, said Friday in Washington that the White House had devised a plan to cancel some third world debt, Reuters reported. Senator John Kerry, the Democratic presidential challenger, has also promised to lead efforts to cancel the debts of impoverished countries if he is elected.

Mr. Brown’s proposal is significant because it comes just days before the annual meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in Washington. The finance ministers of the Group of 7 major industrial nations, including Mr. Brown, are also to meet just before those gatherings.

Full Article: NY Times

‘Third world debt:’ Well the Brits are offering to pay 10% of what they owe. In their delusion they consider this charitable.