Saturday, January 16, 2010


Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is violence if you ask me. So any violence directed against him become a double negative or a positive, I suppose. I'll say no more.

The following is from the Huffington Post.

Protest Against America's Toughest Sheriff Turns Violent in Arizona

Produced by HuffPost's Eyes & Ears Citizen Journalism Unit

PHOENIX, AZ -- A peaceful march for immigrant rights turned violent Saturday after a small number protesters allegedly threw water bottles and rocks. The march was organized by a coalition of immigrant rights groups and drew several thousand to protest the strict immigration enforcement practices of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

The protest was mostly peaceful as demonstrators marched more than 3 miles from a Phoenix park to the famous "tent city" jail to protest Arpaio who has become an embattled local symbol for both sides of the immigration debate. He is infamous for controversial practices, including immigration "sweeps" in Hispanic neighborhoods, pink handcuffs, old-fashioned striped jail uniforms, pink underwear, and pink flip flops. He is most famous for housing inmates in outdoor tent-based jails.

According to a police spokesperson and witnesses, a handful of protesters, dressed in black, began throwing rocks and water bottles at officers who had been stationed at the jail to keep the peace. A horse-mounted officer attempted to enter the crowd to take the items away from the troublemakers who retaliated by pushing the horse with sticks. As the altercation quickly escalated, other officers used pepper spray to separate the horse and officer from the crowd. Some witnesses also reported that tasers were used to subdue them.

Ruben Gallego, a local city staffer, witnessed the incident and said the anarchists were not part of the organization and did not share the agenda of the protest, "There do not represent 99% of the 15,000 people that were there. They tried to take away the message."

Immigration protests in Phoenix have been peaceful in the past, and many demonstrators brought their children and elderly relatives. Gallego and other witnesses reported that children downwind from the incident were affected by the pepper spray.

At least four protesters, including two men and two women, were detained (all yet to be named), but police say only one is expected to be charged with a crime. That protester is likely to be charged with "aggravated assault on a police officer." Chris Newman, one of the organizers says, "We are asking for a full investigation into the incident, both with respect to the conduct of those who are accused of disrupting the march and the actions of the police."

A few nearby protesters shouted for the police to release those who had been detained, but most kept moving forward with the march. Because the incident happened near the back of the mile-long line of marchers, most people in the crowd did not even realize any altercation had taken place.

The protest was headlined by Zach de La Rocha (of Rage Against the Machine) and Linda Ronstadt (pop singer). The protest was organized by Puente, along with a coalition of immigrant rights groups, including the National Day Labor Organizing Network.


The mainstream media loves those stories of fire fighters from Virginia pulling someone (usually a white American) out of the wreckage in Haiti, but ignores the history that led to the wreckage being so widespread. Meanwhile, the US pledges 2/3 of the cost of the Obama inaugural as aid. Isn't that nice?

The following is from one of my favorite sources - The San Francisco Bay View.

The Haitian tragedy and mainstream media response

by Kiilu Nyasha

How can anyone look at this baby and not want to do all we can to help. – Photo: Roshin Rowjee

I cannot remain silent in the face of so much racism and disinformation streaming over the mainstream media regarding the ongoing Haitian tragedy.

This 7.0 major earthquake of Jan. 12 and its aftershocks have left in its wake a state of emergency unlike any of us has witnessed in our lifetime – just 700 miles from our East Coast shores.

Upwards of 50,000 people are already counted as deceased, and many more injured and dying for lack of water, food and basic medical care. Estimates are reaching a possible 100,000 deaths, not to mention the devastating destruction of homes and buildings, including the Presidential Palace.

Time is of the essence, yet the international response has been painfully, tragically slow. Would this pace of rescue – where every minute counts in digging people out of the wreckage – have been the case if the earthquake victims were European?

Blame the victims

Ignored by most commentators is the truth of Haiti’s historic and ongoing poverty – in classic “blame the victim” coverage. For example, it’s not mentioned that Haitians fought their way out of slavery, expelling the colonial powers of Britain, Spain and France. In fact, Haitians won their war of independence against Napoleon’s crack troops in 1804 and were celebrating their bicentennial when the U.S. kidnapped and exiled (for the second time) their popular President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who won two landslide victories in internationally monitored elections. The majority of Haitians have demanded his return ever since.

Mainstream reporters describe this U.S.-backed coup as Aristide being ousted by rebels, implying his own people ran him out of the country. They talk about Haitians living on a dollar a day but fail to mention that part of the reason Aristide was attacked involved his attempt to double the minimum wage to about $2.50 a day; or that American factories exploit Haitian workers – underpaid and overworked in sweatshops. An example of such American corporate greed is the case of Disney using Haitian labor to make their garments at 27 cents an hour. Haitians organized and demanded a raise to 50 cents. Disney threatened to move to China (where labor was even cheaper) – and they did.

On his re-election in 2000, Aristide built schools, hospitals and clinics, a medical school to train doctors with help from Cuba, and demanded restitution from France for the main reason Haiti is the poorest country in the West – France’s extortion of (in today’s currency) $21 billion, the total paid to the French between 1925 and 1946 as so-called reparations for the financial losses Frances suffered when slavery ended and their richest, sugar-producing colony was liberated. The guns of Britain, Canada and the U.S. backed France’s robbery. This same quartet continues to occupy Haiti through its U.N. Peacekeepers, a misnomer if ever there were one. Their brutality is well known among Haitians.

Media give undue credit to Bill Clinton in both his former role as president and his current position as U.N. special envoy, a first-time post. While it’s true that Clinton helped pave the way for Aristide’s return in 1994 following massive international pressure, it was not without preconditions that tied Aristide’s hands in solving Haiti’s enormous problems. After all, it was the U.S. that backed the 1991 military coup in the first place. The regime change installed Gen. Raul Cedras who unleashed the death squads on Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas party and conducted a reign of terror resulting in some 10,000 Haitians dead and countless others maimed. The U.S. arranged for the general’s asylum in Panama and his golden exile, with impunity for his massive crimes.

This was the scene outside the Port au Prince office of Doctors Without Borders the day after the earthquake. – Photo: © Stefano Zannini

More recently, Clinton has been busy setting up investment opportunities for Wall Street corporations to further exploit Haitian labor.

Racism in coverage

The slow response and the level of aid all point to the kind of racist attitudes we saw during the Katrina tragedy – the devaluing of Black lives.

About this same time of massive death and destruction – the worst quake in 250 years – mainstream media is having a fit about racist comments recorded in a new book about the presidential campaign of 2008. Let s/he who is without racism cast the first stone.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s statement that a “light-skinned” Black who doesn’t speak a “negro dialect” could win the presidency was simply the truth. Moreover, it helps if he’s male. History’s lessons testify to the preference of Black men over women of any hue. In fact, Sojourner Truth warned Frederick Douglass that if he didn’t stand up for universal suffrage instead of compromising to allow Black men to get the vote without women, it would be a long time before women would have equal voting rights. It took another 50 years, 1870 until 1920! So it was predictable that Hillary couldn’t win over Barack. But I digress.

Just how many dark-skinned Black people do you see in the media? It’s kind of comical to watch light-skinned Blacks along with lighter-skinned whites attacking Reid since they’d be unlikely to have their jobs were they darker skinned. Skin color in color-struck America is nearly always the elephant in the room.

When I was a young woman entering the employment offices of NYC in the late 1950s, early ‘60s, I knew after being hired that I was often breaking the color barrier – finding myself the only colored girl in the company (the spook who sat by the [elevator] door) or one of two or three light-skinned office workers. Those were the days when the generally lighter ethnic groups hadn’t yet replaced us as domestics. Now, as Blacks fill the prisons, we’re seeing a cradle to prison pipeline. And it was just reported this morning (Jan. 15) that African children in America have a 50 percent poverty rate.

So what has changed?

Not much. America and the world are still color struck and racist, refusing to recognize the latest genetic science proving that race is a fiction, a stupid construct. We are one human species that originated in sub-Saharan Africa; our differences are essentially cultural and often political.

If we were to recognize this, we would clearly see that Haitians are among the most vibrant, creatively artistic, socially conscious, courageous and resilient people on the planet Earth.

Obama’s pledge of assistance

President Obama has pledged $100 million in aide to Haiti days after its worst disaster ever with a climbing death toll of tens of thousands, severe and life-threatening injuries, incalculable suffering, no infrastructure, no food, water, electricity, shelters or even tents with some 3 million homeless.

True to form, mainstream pundits are praising Obama’s contribution. I was not impressed, so I decided to find out what $100 million will buy, with the help of my assistant, Nedzada.

We discovered that Obama threw a party that cost $50 million more than he’s sending to Haiti. Yup! He spent $150 million on his Inaugural Ball. We also learned the following:

Top U.S. firms are on pace to award $148.85 billion in payouts for 2009, according to a Wall Street Journal study. Billions with a B!

You can also buy a Beverly Hills mansion, a yacht or a painting for more than the relatively meager sum Obama is donating. Obviously, we cannot rely on this government to do the right thing by Haitians in their hour of need. It never has.

So I would implore you to give all you possibly can, making sure you’re getting your contribution to the best possible agents for direct assistance to the Haitian people. I know and have confidence that your money would be well spent with Partners in Health (Paul Farmer’s organization) and Doctors Without Borders, as well as the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund here in the Bay Area.

Finally, if you’re planning to go to Haiti, I hope you’re planning to wear jeans and carry a shovel. Haitians need real help trying to dig out victims who may still be alive, not opportunistic posturing and photo ops.

May the Haitian people turn grief into strength and keep their faith in the people, not governments.

All power to the people.

Kiilu Nyasha, Black Panther veteran, revolutionary journalist and Bay View columnist, blogs at The Official Website of Kiilu Nyasha, where episodes of her TV talk show, Freedom Is a Constant Struggle, along with her essays are posted. She can be reached at

Friday, January 15, 2010


That screwed up grand jury in Davenport which has already indicted one person (Scott DeMuth) and has jailed Carrie Feldman for approaching three months now has reportedly subpoenaed someone else. For information, please read the brief update below from the site Support Carrie and Scott (where you can also find background information and more).

Third person subpoenaed to Davenport grand jury

We've just received word that another person has been subpoenaed to the Davenport, IA federal grand jury investigating a 2004 ALF action at the U of I. We'll put more information out when we have it. In the meantime, please contact us by emailing or calling 612-29-EWOKS if you or anyone you know has been subpoenaed, indicted or otherwise harassed in regards to this matter. Stay strong, and fuck grand juries!


Single women are fighting for their rights in India in a struggle you've heard next to nothing about.

Women create a united front during the National Forum for Single Women's Rights. / Credit:<span class=
Women create a united front during the National Forum for Single Women's Rights.

In an article at IPS last October Nitin Jugran Bahuguna wrote, "Rich or poor, widows struggle against a deep social stigma in most communities in India. Even more ostracized are women who live alone, either because they are unmarried or have been deserted by their husbands. Many married women are trapped in dehumanizing personal situations in the family, often enduring battering, humiliation and physical and mental cruelty, unable or unwilling to strike out on their own."

The IPS story was written at about the same time that hundreds of women gathered in New Delhi to demand that the government recognize the plight of single women in India. Since then the movement has grown both nationally and at the state level.

The following is from Women's Campaign International.

Rapidly Growing Advocacy Movement Promises Relief for Single Women of India

The Association of Single Strong Women (ASSW) was established in Rajahstan, India in the year 2000 to challenge the long-held traditional beliefs that deprive widows and single women of essential rights and resources. Since the establishment of ASSW, similar organizations have formed in seven other Indian states. With a membership of over 58,000 women, this advocacy movement is now working towards influence at the federal-level. An investigation by Swapna Majumdar of Womens’ E-News reveals a clear ripple effect throughout the past five years which promises to significantly improve the status and condition of single women and their children country-wide.

Hundreds of women gathered in New Delhi last October to protest the government’s inaction towards the rights of single women, and to reject the widow’s standard “rehabilitation package” which often forces a woman into remarriage or moves her to a shelter home. Most importantly, they laid out the framework for political and social influence at a national level by establishing the National Forum for Single Women’s Rights. Their mission consists of two central goals: changing the societal views and beliefs that are a key contributing factor to the marginalization of single women, and lobbying at a national level for the acquisition of federal resources to strengthen and broaden their efforts. With these two goals in mind, they submitted a charter of demands to the federal Department of Women and Child Development regarding a single woman’s rights in labor, health care, social security, and property and received a rather positive response from government officials.

The Association of Single Strong Women boasts a long list of achievements in the Indian state of Rajahstan since their establishment including their successful push towards increasing widows’ monthly pensions from $3 to $8, and securing drought-relief work for widows which provided them with a minimum wage for at least 100 days a year. Advocacy has now transcended the borders of Rajahstan as organizations across India report their own significant achievements which include securing women’s rights over inherited land, protecting widows from abuse, providing them with bank accounts and financial security, and even challenging tribal beliefs that widows are witches.

This investigative report by Women’s E-News demonstrates the strength of grassroots efforts in propelling and amplifying such advocacy movements. What initially began in one Indian state is rapidly gaining national influence. Widows and single women who have long been marginalized are becoming increasingly aware of their rights, and acquiring the tools to claim them. Their inclusion and acceptance in all areas of society is sure to improve the country’s overall development and quality of life.

For more information, please visit the article at


End the deportation of Haitians. Release Haitians held in detention pending deportation. Do it now President Obama.

The following is from TransAfrica Forum.


January 12, 2009 Haiti, was rocked by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake, its most severe in 200 years. The city, including communications and transport infrastructure, has suffered “massive damage.” According to Associated Press, the capital is largely destroyed, with widespread loss of life predicted. As nations around the world begin to mobilize relief, research and recovery efforts for Haiti, the U.S. must end the deportation of Haitian immigrants, release those currently held in detention centers pending deportation, and grant Temporary Protected Status for the 30,000 currently under threat of deportation.

Since January 2009 U.S. immigration judges have issued deportation orders to over 30,000 undocumented Haitians. The Department of Homeland Security should immediately halt the arrests of these deportees and grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitians in the United States and conduct a full review of its policy towards Haiti. Temporary protected status (TPS) is granted by the United States (Homeland Security Department) to eligible nationals of countries that cannot safely return to their homelands because of armed conflict, environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions. Haiti clearly fits this description.

Please contact your Members of Congress today with this urgent message.

>>Learn More

January 15, 2010

URGENT -- TPS for Haitians

Dear Member of Congress:

We will add your signature from the information you provide.

Add me to the following list(s):
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TransAfrica Forum is the leading U.S. advocacy organization for Africa and the African Diaspora in U.S. foreign policy. TransAfrica Forum helped lead the world protest against apartheid in South Africa and today works for human and economic justice for African people on the continent of Africa, in Latin America and in the Caribbean. Contact us: TransAfrica Forum, 1629 K Street, N.W., Suite 1100, Washington, D.C., 2006, 202-223-1960,


"This Country Must Change: Essays on the Necessity of Revolution in the USA" edited by Craig Rosenbraugh is a collection of writings by current and former political prisoners, many (but not all) associated with the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) which challenges those who take issue with the tactic of direct action. Whether you agree or disagree with the arguments put forward the authors, this sounds like a book well worth taking a look at.

A review at AK press says of the book, "Arguing that reformist measures cannot be relied upon to correct the fundamental problems caused by the corporate elite and political structure in the United States, the contributing authors in this book are unified in their call for a significant revolutionary change in the United States of America."

Includes writings by: Ramona Africa, Jake Conroy, Bill Dunne, Ronald Kuykendall, Jaan Laaman, Rob Los Ricos, Jeff Luers, Jalil Muntaqim, Jonathan Paul, Leslie Pickering, Craig Rosebraugh, and Peter Young.

The following is from Toward Freedom.

The Necessity of Revolution in the USA
Written by Hans Bennett
Wednesday, 13 January 2010

ImageReviewed: This Country Must Change: Essays on the Necessity of Revolution in the USA, Edited by Craig Rosebraugh, Arissa Media Group, 2009.

From 1997 to 2001, Craig Rosebraugh acted as a public spokesperson for the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), a self-described "international, underground movement consisting of autonomous groups of people who carry out direct action in defense of the planet." On February 12, 2002, Rosebraugh was made to testify against his will before the US Congress’ House Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health. The FBI had recently declared the ELF the #1 domestic terrorist threat, and Congress had subpoenaed Rosebraugh demanding he help them investigate "eco-terrorism." Rosebraugh had already received seven grand jury subpoenas from various federal investigations, but had always refused to cooperate. After he rejected this particular Subcommittee’s offer to voluntarily testify, they seemed to think that intimidation might help. They were wrong.

Rosebraugh invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination 54 times that day, instead issuing his now-famous 11-page statement declaring that "the US government by far has been the most extreme terrorist organization in planetary history." He cited a long list of crimes, beginning with the history of Black chattel slavery and the genocide of indigenous peoples, and concluding with a long list of US military interventions since WWII. He argued that it was hypocritical to label the ELF "terrorist," since all ELF actions had been directed towards corporate property, and had never injured anyone: "This noble pursuit does not constitute terrorism, but rather seeks to abolish it."

Rosebraugh has since continued his public advocacy of direct action and has edited a new book entitled This Country Must Change: Essays on the Necessity of Revolution in the USA. This collection of twelve essays, most written by current and former political prisoners, discusses the many problems with today’s corporate state and why the contributors believe a fundamental revolution is the only practical solution. Furthermore, Rosebraugh writes that "it is literally impossible to create fundamental political and social change by strictly adhering to only those methods approved by the government."

Many of these writers were imprisoned for their actions with the ELF or with other groups that have used extreme direct action tactics, such as sabotage. These tactics will doubtless remain controversial, but This Country Must Change makes clear how important it is that activists reject the state’s vilification of those who use unlawful tactics. Their voices reveal that they are not "agent provocateurs," but well-intentioned, thoughtful individuals who felt limited by lawful protest tactics. Therefore, even if many in the activist community do not agree with authors’ more radical tactics, this should not be a reason to ostracize political prisoners who badly need our support.

Jeff "Free" Luers was one of the first targeted in the recent "Green Scare" repression wave against environmental activists. He received a 23-year sentence in 2001 after he admitted setting fire to several SUVs at a Eugene, Oregon car dealership. He was also convicted of putting an incendiary device on an oil delivery truck, but he has always repudiated this charge. In 2009, his sentence was reduced and he was released this past December. In his essay here, Luers defends his actions: "when faced with the degree our own government has colluded to cover up global warming, dismantle the endangered species act, give industry loopholes around the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, and in general put corporate interests before the interests of its own people, the use of extreme direct action, such as sabotage or arson, against government and corporate institutions or their agents is justified."

Luers recognizes the complexity and "the severity of extreme direct action," writing "the tactic of property destruction is not nonviolent. It is true that the violence is not directed against life. Yet, property destruction, particularly arson, can create a level of fear and insecurity in those targeted…It is not a tactic that should be romanticized or taken lightly." As a strategy for making change, Luers emphasizes "sabotage and political arson are only tools. Outside of targeting a specific company until it is forced out of business, they will not and cannot create social change. Only a change in the social consciousness and thinking can do that." Luers concludes that "like the numerous successful social justice movements that have come before, only the successful weaving of multiple strategies will lead to success. The combined efforts of education, non-violent protest, and militant resistance is the only method by which to both raise public awareness and confront those responsible for ongoing injustices."

The book’s most obvious shortcoming is the dearth of female writers. Rosebraugh apologizes for this, explaining that the publisher, Arissa Media Group, is planning a follow-up book focusing on female activists. The sole female voice comes from Ramona Africa, of the MOVE Organization. Africa was imprisoned for seven years, after she survived the May 13, 1985 police assault on MOVE’s West Philadelphia home. The police killed 6 adults and five children that day, firing over 10,000 rounds of gunfire, dropping a C-4 bomb on the roof that started a fire, and shooting at the occupants who tried to escape. The MOVE Commission later appointed by the mayor concluded that the deaths of the children "appeared to be unjustified homicides which should be investigated by a grand jury," however no official has ever faced criminal charges. This backdrop illustrates the truth in Africa’s argument that "legal is not the same as right. Apartheid, The Holocaust, Slavery were all legal and all wrong. Resisting these horrors were all ‘illegal’ but they certainly were not wrong. It is our duty, our obligation to revolt against anything that wrongs us, our babies, our family in any way and nobody can prove this position wrong."

Other featured writers present a variety of strategic plans to build a popular movement, including former Black Panther Jalil Muntaquim, a widely recognized political prisoner from the COINTELPRO era. Muntaquim argues that a call for human rights should be central to movement-building because it synthesizes many issues, makes the struggle international, and "embodies the collective human will to be free from racist, capitalist-imperialist oppression and domination."

Chicano anarchist Rob Los Ricos was released from prison in June 2006, following his conviction for allegedly throwing a rock at a police officer during a Reclaim The Streets protest in Eugene, Oregon on June 18, 1999. He writes that we are suffering from "a failure of imagination. We cannot envision a world, or a way of living, that is vastly different (personally rewarding, nurturing, cooperative, gentle on our planet) because it is beyond the reach of our imagination." To counter this, he argues that "we need to band together with strong-willed and like-minded people in order to produce working models of how we think life could be, were there not coercive forces severely limiting our options."

This Country Must Change makes two important contributions to US activist literature. It raises awareness around the neglected issue of political prisoners and state repression, and it encourages an honest dialogue and critical thinking about the effectiveness of activist strategies and tactics. Readers may not agree with everything written here, but they will certainly have their beliefs challenged.


Hans Bennett is an independent multi-media journalist ( and co-founder of Journalists for Mumia (


Things are getting a little strange in southern California where local vampires are taking to the streets. What more can I really say?

The following is from Laist.

Vampires to Protest Lawndale's Garlic Removal Plan

Things are getting interesting in Lawndale (for once!). Years ago the city spent millions on redeveloping Hawthorne Boulevard. That included adding garlic plants to the medians, which was not only part of the project's cost, it cost residents and shoppers to endure an unpleasant stink. Nevertheless, the city council is now looking into spending $35,000 to have the plants removed.

"The only reason we had garlic put in was so we could keep the vampires out of town," Councilman Jim Ramsey told KTLA. "And since we have had garlic I haven't seen one single solitary vampire in town."

Ramsey's interview now has local vampires fuming. A group of them are planning to "take back Lawndale," according to a press release from an apparent vampire organizer. More from the release:

Let's speak up and take to the streets (with parasols, of course) to show that silly city council man that we're not afraid to say vampires were people too and won't take lightly to being shoo'd off the streets or being mocked in the news. City Councilman Jim Ramsey needs to learn that vampires will go where they please (unless it's inside a house without being invited) when they please (except in the daylight without proper protection) and we will stand up for our rights and the rights of the undead everywhere! Let's let Councilman Ramsey know that vampires stay out of Lawndale because it's a crappy town in the middle of nowhere, not because of some silly plants!

The group is meeting up at Jane Addams (Addams Family!) Park at the corner of Firmona Ave and Marine Ave. at noon on Saturday. The group will walk a short half-mile up Marine Ave to Hawthorne Blvd and then up to 14717 Burin Ave where the City Council building is located.Then they'll go get lunch at a local vampire friendly eatery.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


When Black slaves threw off the shackles of slavery and ousted French colonialist from their island nation, the world took note. In fact, the world, the imperialist world, never stopped taking note. Imagine the fear the white slave holders in the American south felt when they heard the news. The fear the Black Jacobin revolution in Haiti has never really passed from the colonialist, the imperialists, the racists. The history of Haiti makes that only too clear. Let the corporate media confront that while they shed their crocodile tears for the people of Haiti. Where have they and their bourgeois allies been for the last two hundred years or so? What were all the good white Christian folk thinking about as they weren't passing out bibles to people who had no food? Cashing their checks and making their reservations for the here to come, that's where. It makes me sick.

The following is from the Black Sun Gazette.

The Haiti Disaster and Superstition

The current disaster in Haiti is a tragedy of epic proportions. The cleanup, which will almost certainly never happen in any meaningful way, would take years if given the full weight of the world’s productive resources that it deserves. Haiti is entirely unequipped to deal with such a disaster, and the death toll is expected to be in the hundreds of thousands. All three of Port au Prince’s hospitals were destroyed in the earthquake, leaving the survivors to do little more than perform first aid on any survivors found. The effects of this tragedy will impact the national psychology of the small island nation for years to come. There is much confusion in the popular press about Haiti, both it’s history and its current situation. The disaster, however, makes possible a “teachable moment” (har har) about the inability of non-materialist world views to explain the world in which we live.

Why do bad things happen to Haiti? What is the reason behind it? Of course we have Pat Robertson being his usual douche bag self, muttering all manner of incoherent ramblings about how an invisible man in the sky wants to punish Haiti for an alleged pact made with an invisible red satyr over 200 years ago. This view of Haiti- divinely or cosmically punished by invisible forces- is not limited to Christian circles. A few years ago the nascent youth cult Ultraculture was torn apart when members of its inner circle left after some questionable statements about voodoo. Fot its own part, the mass media has towed a similar sort of line on Haiti, albeit from a secular perspective. The crushing poverty in Haiti is presented as if it were some kind of natural disaster of its own, with no historical context whatsoever, a fact of life as unavoidable as the earthquake itself. There seems to be little else to do but blame Haitians for their poverty, particularly when using the mythology of the market that dominates so much thinking in the world.

The racism implicit in Robertson and those like him both secular and New Age is obvious. If a nation of black slaves threw off the shackles of imperialism and slavery, they did so only by a pact with the devil. They are a nation of cursed, wretched people who are worthy of only a sort of detached, preaching pity.

Of course, there are real, verifiable reasons that Haiti is poor that have nothing to do with this. It starts with massive indemnity that Haiti was forced to pay to French slaveholders after their successful revolution. The revolution, which created the second democratic republic in the Western Hemisphere, did not go unnoticed by the world’s powers who feared similar rebellions anywhere that black slaves and natives outnumbered white settlers. Haiti’s tragic history continues through 200 years of imperialist domination and international meddling. There have been 32 coups in Haiti’s history. The United States occupied the island outright from 1915 to 1934, only leaving after a right-wing dictatorship friendly to American business interests was in place. From 1957 to 1986 Haiti was ruled by the Duvalier family who terrorized the island with alleged black magic and very real death squads. The country is used as a cheap labor platform by much of the industrialized world.

None of this explains why there was an earthquake in Haiti, which is a question for geologists, not political economists. But it does explain why a massive earthquake hits Haiti harder than it does most of the rest of the world. And it goes a long way toward explaining the rest of the more quotidien problems that effect Haiti. Marx’s writings on the way in which the world and its politics and economy operate are as valuable as Darwin’s writings on the way in which the biological world operates. Both reject a world view that blames things on invisible men or forces beyond man’s understanding. Events such as the earthquake disaster in Haiti cannot be understood without a good, hard look at the long history of the island nation, and its broader context in the world.

There are answers for why things are the way they are. Analysis of the world which relies upon statements such as “that’s just the way it is,” “people are that way,” “[insert country / culture / religion here] is just ___________” actually say nothing. They just reiterate superstitions grounded in personal prejudice and confusion. Scientific world analysis- i.e. that which relies upon verifiable data which can be checked, tested, etc.- is the only method equipped to provide real explanations for the world.

PS: Credit card companies are making a killing off of donations to Haiti. I would also invite people to think about the crocodile tears shed by the current administration vs. their total lack of empathy for the people of Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, etc


All I've got to say here is, "THERE IS NO PLANET B."

The following is from the Guardian.

Arctic permafrost leaking methane at record levels, figures show

David Adam, environment correspondent

Experts say methane emissions from the Arctic have risen by almost one-third in just five years, and that sharply rising temperatures are to blame.

Arctic tundra in Siberia

Permafrost in Siberia. Methane emissions from the Arctic permafrost increased by 31% from 2003-07, figures show. Photograph: Francis Latreille/Corbis

Scientists have recorded a massive spike in the amount of a powerful greenhouse gas seeping from Arctic permafrost, in a discovery that highlights the risks of a dangerous climate tipping point.

Experts say methane emissions from the Arctic have risen by almost one-third in just five years, and that sharply rising temperatures are to blame.

The discovery follows a string of reports from the region in recent years that previously frozen boggy soils are melting and releasing methane in greater quantities. Such Arctic soils currently lock away billions of tonnes of methane, a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, leading some scientists to describe melting permafrost as a ticking time bomb that could overwhelm efforts to tackle climate change.

They fear the warming caused by increased methane emissions will itself release yet more methane and lock the region into a destructive cycle that forces temperatures to rise faster than predicted.

Paul Palmer, a scientist at Edinburgh University who worked on the new study, said: "High latitude wetlands are currently only a small source of methane but for these emissions to increase by a third in just five years is very significant. It shows that even a relatively small amount of warming can cause a large increase in the amount of methane emissions."

Global warming is occuring twice as fast in the Arctic than anywhere else on Earth. Some regions have already warmed by 2.5C, and temperatures there are projected to increase by more than 10C by 2100 if carbon emissions continue to rise at current rates.

Palmer said: "This study does not show the Arctic has passed a tipping point, but it should open people's eyes. It shows there is a positive feedback and that higher temperatures bring higher emissions and faster warming."

The change in the Arctic is enough to explain a recent increase in global methane levels in the atmosphere, he said. Global levels have risen steadily since 2007, after a decade or so holding steady.

The new study, published in the journal Science, shows that methane emissions from the Arctic increased by 31% from 2003-07. The increase represents about 1m extra tonnes of methane each year. Palmer cautioned that the five-year increase was too short to call a definitive trend.

The findings are part of a wider study of methane emissions from global wetlands, such as paddy fields, marshes and bogs. To identify where methane was released, the researchers combined methane levels in the atmosphere with surface temperature changes. They did not measure methane emissions directly, but used satellite measurements of variations in groundwater depth, which alter the way bacteria break down organic matter to release or consume methane.

They found that just over half of all methane emissions came from the tropics, with some 20m tonnes released from the Amazon river basin each year, and 26m tonnes from the Congo basin. Rice paddy fields across China and south and south-east Asia produced just under one-third of global methane, some 33m tonnes. Just 2% of global methane comes from Arctic latitudes, the study found, though the region showed the largest increases. The 31% rise in methane emissions there from 2003-07 was enough to help lift the global average increase to 7%.

Palmer said: "Our study reinforces the idea that satellites can pinpoint changes in the amount of greenhouse gases emitted from a particular place on earth. This opens the door to quantifying greenhouse gas emissions made from a variety of natural and man-made sources."

Palmer said it was a "disgrace" that so few satellites were launched to monitor levels of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. He said it was unclear whether the team would be able to continue the methane monitoring in future. The pair of satellites used to analyse water, known as Grace, are already over their expected mission life time, while a European version launched last year, called Goce, is scheduled to fly for less than two years.

The new study follows repeated warnings that even modest levels of global warming could trigger huge increases in methane release from permafrost. Phillipe Ciais, a researcher with the Laboratory for Climate Sciences and the Environment in Gif-sur-Yvette, France, told a scientific meeting in Copenhagen last March that billions of tonnes could be released by just a 2C average global rise.

More on methane

While carbon dioxide gets most of the attention in the global warming debate, methane is pound-for-pound a more potent greenhouse gas, capable of trapping some 20 times more heat than CO2. Although methane is present in much lower quantities in the atmosphere, its potency makes it responsible for about one-fifth of man-made warming.

The gas is found in natural gas deposits and is generated naturally by bacteria that break down organic matter, such as in the guts of farm animal. About two-thirds of global methane comes from man-made sources, and levels have more than doubled since the industrial revolution.

Unlike carbon dioxide, methane lasts only a decade or so in the atmosphere, which has led some experts to call for greater attention to curbs on its production. Reductions in methane emissions could bring faster results in the fight against climate change, they say.


The racist xenophobia rearing its head in Europe these days is treated as if it were something new. It isn't. The target, Muslims, are different, but white Europeans have never found it hard to target someone, anyone, different from themselves. The Swiss vote on banning minarets (in a country where only four exist) is, of course, not about architecture. It is about fear and loathing and racism.

The following is from Searchlight.

Fear and loathing grips Europe
Author: Nick Lowles

Towards the end of last year the people of Switzerland voted to ban the building of minarets in their country. It was, we were told by the referendum organizers, an attempt to stop the growing influence of Islam in Swiss society.

Politicians and commentators at home and abroad queued up to denounce the move. Even the Vatican condemned it as a “blow to freedom of religion”. But despite the widespread criticism from political and religious leaders the referendum was widely welcomed by large swathes of Europeans and it reflects a growing unease and increasingly open hostility towards the Muslim communities.

The origins of the referendum lie in 2005, when an Islamic Cultural Association sought permission to build a 6m minaret on its community centre. Planning permission was initially refused amid local opposition, but the decision was eventually overturned by the government’s Building and Justice Department, whose decision in turn was rubber stamped by Federal Supreme Court. Four years after the original plans were submitted the minaret was finally built.

The Swiss right was furious and during 2006 and 2008 the Swiss People’s Party and the Federal Democratic Union launched cam-paigns in several regions to ban minarets. This came to nothing after the bans were deemed unconstitutional and so void. Recognising they had to change the law, the two parties started a federal popular initiative to amend article 72 of the Constitution to ban minarets. Over the next 18 months they collected the necessary 100,000 signatures for a referendum.

supporters of the minaret ban produced a poster displaying a black-veiled Muslim woman and a forest of missile-like minarets imposed on the pure red and white of the Swiss flag

Once again, a Swiss vote was overshadowed by an inflammatory poster designed to whip up fears and reinforce racial and religious stereotypes. Before the general election in 2007 the controversial poster depicted one black sheep being kicked out by three white sheep with the slogan “For more security”. This time the supporters of the minaret ban produced a poster displaying a black-veiled Muslim woman and a forest of missile-like minarets imposed on the pure red and white of the Swiss flag.

Despite opposition from the government 57% of voters backed the ban, with majorities in 22 of the country’s 26 regions.

Condemnation of the result was swift and predictable. Political and religious leaders queued up to express their shock, as did, with huge embarrassment, the federal government.

Conversely, there was predictable joy from right-wing political parties across Europe. Marine Le Pen, the deputy leader of France’s far-right National Front, praised the outcome and said France should now hold a wider referendum on multiculturalism.

“The elites should stop denying the hopes and fears of European peoples who, without opposing religious freedom, reject ostentatious symbols forced on them by politico-religious Muslim groups, often verging on provocation,” Agence France Presse quoted her saying.

In Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands, anti-immigrant movements called on their own governments to debate similar measures. “What can be done in Switzerland can be done here,” said Geert Wilders, the leader of the Freedom Party in the Netherlands. Meanwhile Roberto Calderoli, a member of Italy’s Northern League, which is part of the country’s ruling coalition, said: “Switzerland is sending us a clear signal: yes to bell towers, no to minarets”.

There was also support from the Society of St Puis X, an ultra-Orthodox Catholic sect that includes Bishop Williamson, the British bishop who has denied the Holocaust, which has its base in Switzerland. The Society denounced the Catholic Church, at home and in the Vatican, for being “either stupid or naive”.

However, after a day or two there were some rumblings of dissent from some unexpected quarters. A week after the French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner denounced the Swiss decision, saying he was shocked and scandalised and calling for the ban to be reversed, President Nicolas Sarkozy took a different line. Writing in Le Monde the French President voiced sympathy for the Swiss vote, calling on religious practitioners to avoid “ostentation” and “provocation” for fear of upsetting others.

Claiming to be surprised by the widespread criticism of the outcome of the referendum, Sarkozy said that there was need for a debate on national identity in France.

“How can you not be amazed at the reaction that this decision has produced in certain media and political circles in our own country,” Sarkozy wrote in Le Monde. “Instead of condemning the Swiss out of hand, we should try to understand what they meant to express and what so many people in Europe feel, including people in France.”

Sarkozy called for discretion from France’s six million Muslims, the biggest Muslim community in Europe, in their religious observance, while pledging to fight all discrimination.

“Christians, Jews, Muslims, all believers regardless of their faith must refrain from ostentation and provocation and … practise their religion in humble discretion.” Muslims would need to find a way of integrating in France “without conflicting with our social and civic pact”, while moderate Islam would fail if Muslims sought to challenge the country’s republican value system or Christian heritage.

Unfortunately, Sarkozy’s views, like the original referendum objective, have been welcomed by many people across the continent. Newspaper opinion polls in Spain, France and Germany showed large majorities supporting a ban on minarets in their respective countries. In France, a more official survey found 46% of people opposed minarets and 41% opposed any new mosques.

Obviously the Swiss vote was about far more than minarets. Indeed, there are only four minarets in Switzerland and two of those are on industrial estates well away from residential areas. Many of the initial media reports following the vote looked at Swiss life and tried to understand what motivated Swiss voters. However, it was only after Sarkozy’s intervention that the real significance of the vote, which is far wider than only a Swiss issue, began to be seriously considered as an international problem.

The referendum result reflected a growing hostility to Muslims across Europe.

In Germany, Wolfgang Bosbach, the spokesman on domestic security for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s con-servative Christian Democrats, said the vote expressed a fear of Islamisation that also exists in Germany. “One has to take this concern seriously,” Bosbach told the Berliner Zeitung.

Germany’s largest selling newspaper, Bild, said Germans would probably vote the same way if they were allowed a referendum on the issue. “The minaret is not just the symbol of a religion but of a totally different culture,” the paper claimed. “Large parts of the Islamic world do not share our basic European values: the legacy of the Enlightenment, the equality of man and woman, the separation of church and state, a justice system independent of the Bible or the Koran and the refusal to impose one’s own beliefs on others with ‘fire and the sword’. Another factor is likely to have influenced the Swiss vote: Nowhere is life made harder for Christians than in Islamic countries. Those who are intolerant themselves cannot expect unlimited tolerance from others.”

To my knowledge there has been no research into whether British people would support a similar ban on minarets. I would like to think that we would be different from the Swiss but I’m not really sure.

In a large YouGov survey of 32,000 voters during last summer’s European elections 44% of Britons agreed with the statement: “Even in its milder forms, Islam is a serious danger to western civilisation”. Another 18% offered no opinion and only 32% disagreed.

When asked which groups benefit from unfair discrimination, 39% of respondents cited Muslims with only 21% believing that Muslims suffer from unfair discrimination.

It is clear that across Europe fear of and hostility towards Muslims is growing. Islamophobic parties are polling well at the ballot box and the media, such as the Daily Express and Daily Star in the UK, are providing a daily diet of Islamophobia.

However, it would be wrong simply to denounce the Swiss voters because if we do then we are likely to be repeating ourselves over another country in the not too distant future.

Racism and Islamophobia are on the rise across Europe and likely to grow over the next few years. War, terrorism and economic decline are all toxic ingredients for division and scapegoating. There is also a growing sense of unease among many people about where their respective countries are going and their place within them. As power shifts away from Europe towards Asia this growing unease and lose of identity could manifest itself in ever greater resentment. As hostility grows, so conversely Islamic fundamentalists will gain recruits and so the cycle will spiral downwards.

The Swiss expressed their views on religion and race and there is absolutely no reason to believe that they would not be replicated in several other European countries given a chance – including Britain. Yes, condemn the Swiss vote but we need to deal with the issues that led to it.

© Searchlight Magazine 2010


These folks decided burying live pigs in an avalanche was just a swell idea. Somehow the cruelty of the "experiment" passed these suckers by. After protests erupted, the scientists had the audacity to say the experiment should continue or the pigs would have died in vain.

The following is from The Canadian Press.

Austrian activists protest experiments testing avalanche survival by burying pigs in snow

By Veronika Oleksyn (CP) – 2 hours ago

VIENNA, Austria — Vehement protests by animal rights activists prompted scientists on Thursday to temporarily stop an avalanche experiment that involved burying pigs in snow and monitoring their deaths.

The two-week experiment - taking place in the Western Austrian Alps - was trying to determine what factors make it possible for humans to survive an avalanche in an air pocket until rescued without suffering permanent brain damage.

Hermann Brugger, co-director of the experiment led by the Institute of Mountain Emergency Medicine in Bolzano, Italy, and the Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria, asserted the pigs didn't suffer because they were sedated and given an anesthetic beforehand.

But activists called it cruel and pointless.

Following protests Thursday, Herbert Lochs, director of the Medical University of Innsbruck, confirmed the experiment had been halted temporarily due to the massive media interest sparked by the activists' protests. A total of 29 animals had been selected for the tests.

"It is absolutely unacceptable that these highly sensitive, helpless animals are killed for such an unnecessary test," said Johanna Stadler, head of the group Four Paws.

"People are shocked and outraged that such cruel experiments can even be carried out in Austria," said Gerda Matias, president of the International Union of Animal Experiment Opponents.

In a statement posted on the Medical University of Innsbruck's Web site, organizers said the experiment was ethically justifiable and had been approved by a commission in Austria's Science and Research Ministry.

Brugger, in a telephone interview with The Associated Press, said the study could help humans survive an avalanche and that stopping now would mean that those pigs that already died did so in vain.

"We want to save lives, that's the only goal of this study," he said in an interview with Austrian broadcaster ORF.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Haitians aren't living in hell just due to bad luck. It's called imperialism, stupid.

The following is from True/Slant.

US debt policies left Haiti vulnerable to catastrophe

Haitians protest against the cost of living on...

Haitians protest against the cost of living in Port-Au-Prince in 2008. Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

The same message is resonating from all corners of the Internet: Poor Haiti. That little, miserable island just can’t catch a break, can it? Yes, thousands are feared dead, and the pictures coming in from Haiti are heartbreaking, but no one can be blamed for an earthquake.

And sure, Haiti is the poorest nation in the northern hemisphere (more than half the population of 9 million lives on less than $.50 cents a day,) which explains the construction of those flimsy houses that collapsed like card houses during the quake (Haiti’s ambassador calls the country’s infrastructure “among the world’s worst.”)

But this is just rotten luck, or God’s work! Surely, this is one of those things we can write off as “unlucky,” or “Shit happens.”

KT McFarland asks, what will become of those impoverished, feeble blacks Haitians when America can’t “ride to the rescue” anymore? I mean, really, when are these poor countries going to get their acts together?

In news story after news story, there are reports of Haiti’s “flimsy” shacks with no mention of why Haitians live in such extreme poverty. The impression one is left with is that these people are just inherently poor savages who don’t know how to construct decent homes for themselves (see these numerous examples of the “flimsy” line). The language almost implies Haitians deserved to be crushed during the quake. That’s what they get for living in such squalid conditions!

The media is missing a valuable opportunity to explain why Haiti is so poor. Once again, Americans are receiving a hefty dose of miseducation. They are learning that Haiti is simply a poor country where bad things happen all the time. In reality, the country has a rich, fascinating story, but unfortunately its history is also dominated by western exploitation.

Haiti was the first country in the Americas to abolish slavery (though Napoleon later reinstated it.) Meanwhile, the western world scorned the tiny island. Thomas Jefferson, that famous slave owner and champion of liberty, warned Haiti had created a bad example during its revolution, and argued it was necessary to “confine the plague to the island.”

Haiti was not born poor, but rather saddled with debt, first by the French and now by the United States. When the slaves fought for their independence in 1804, and won, the French punished them by demanding payment for damages (the equivalent of $21.7 billion in today’s dollars, or forty-four times Haiti’s current yearly budget, according to journalist Eduardo Galeano). Even as they began to pay that debt, France was the only country to recognize the newly independent Haiti, the country that transformed from a slave colony to an invisible, autonomous society. Yet, Haiti was never really free. No indebted country is ever free as debt takes the place of shackles.

The United States began its occupation of Haiti in 1915 when Woodrow Wilson sent 330 U.S. Marines to Port-au-Prince. The reason for the invasion, according to the Secretary of the Navy, Admiral William Deville Bundy, was to “protect American and foreign” interests. Of course, the public was told the purpose of the mission was to “re-establish peace and order.” Sound familiar? Galeano writes:

The occupying army suspended the salary of the Haitian president until he agreed to sign off on the liquidation of the Bank of the Nation, which became a branch of City Bank of New York. The president and other blacks were barred entry into the private hotels, restaurants, and clubs of the foreign occupying power. The occupiers didn’t dare reestablish slavery, but they did impose forced labor for the building of public works. And they killed a lot of people. It wasn’t easy to quell the fires of resistance.

The guerrilla chief, Charlemagne Peralte, was exhibited in the public square, crucified on a door to teach the people a lesson.

And those were the acts of Marines, the civilized people.

When the occupiers left in 1934, they left behind a National Guard that they had created, and the ruler François Duvalier, who Galeano compared to such tyrants as Trujillo and Somoza. Duvalier was responsible for the deaths of around 30,000 people and the exile of thousands more. In 1971, Duvalier died and his son became ruler. In 1986, the son, Jean-Claude Duvalier, was overthrown in a popular uprising.

Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the rebel priest, and enemy of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, became president in 1991. He only lasted a few months before

the U.S. government helped to oust him, brought him to the United States, subjected him to Washington’s treatment, and then sent him back a few years later, in the arms of Marines, to resume his post. Then once again, in 2004, the U.S. helped to remove him from power, and yet again there was killing. And yet again the Marines came back, as they always seem to, like the flu.

Worse than the destruction of ongoing occupation, however, was the “help” Haiti received from The World Bank (the pet project of the United States,) and IMF. Haiti obeyed all orders from its financial overlords. It slashed tariffs and subsidies, and other protectionist policies, and yet its credit was frozen. The majority, rice farmers, became beggars. Now, Haiti imports rice from the United States since national production has practically been outlawed.

Back in 2003, Marie Clarke, National Coordinator of the Jubilee USA Network, wrote

Creditors are denying Haiti new loans and desperately needed humanitarian aid. They claim that this is because the current government cannot service its debt. Because debt payments must be made in the form of foreign capital and Haiti has only two weeks’ reserve in their central bank, it cannot service its debt. Jubilee USA and Jubilee Haiti argue that the debt is illegitimate and should not be serviced at all. Forty percent of Haiti’s current debt was accrued by the dictator Duvalier. According to international law, this debt is odious as it was a debt incurred in the name of the people but has not served the interest of the people. The people of Haiti have been handed a bill for their oppression.

Because Haitians were saddled with the debt of a dictator installed by the west, they are kept in perpetual poverty.

The dangers of this forced poverty policy were extremely clear. Clarke wrote in 2004:

Haiti’s loans from the 1994 reconstruction aid package will come due this year, doubling the country’s debt service payments. Before entering into new loan agreements, the best way that the donor community can start to assist in Haiti’s development is to release desperately needed resources by canceling Haiti’s odious debts. The pending loans are odious debt in the making. There are no guarantees that these funds will benefit the Haitian people. Creditors should heed the example of Iraq; they can not expect the Haitian people to repay these loans in the future.

And in 2009, $1.2 billion (2/3 of Haiti’s overall debt) was cancelled, which some saw as cause for celebration, but others realized the debt cancellation could only partly begin to right the wrongs of the past. Now that a large portion of the debt was gone, how could Haiti hope to begin to rebuild its economy and infrastructure? Instead of focusing on national production, the Haiti government seems determined to focus on the export sector. Haiti, like the west, is being told the cure to all her woes is the free market:

[A] few months ago UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon and British economist Paul Collier made yet another proposal for international aid to fund garment assembly production in new Free Trade Zones.

Indeed, Corinne Delechat, IMF mission chief for Haiti, commenting on the debt cancellation, told Reuters that Haiti is a ‘land of opportunity if you’re an entrepreneur and an investor,” adding, “It is a golden moment for Haiti to start investing in export capacity, particularly in textiles.”

So therein lies the answer to why Haiti is so poor, and why so many citizens laid huddled in those paper shacks that immediately collapsed during the quake.

The media doesn’t like to focus on the details of Haiti as a rule. It pretty much ignored the 2008 floods from Hurricane Hanna that killed at least 537 people, and the ongoing food shortages. That could be because we have a superficial, shallow media that finds such suffering boring, or it could be because examining Haiti’s plights forces the US to uncomfortably self-examine its policies and history. Or maybe it’s because Haiti disturbs Americans at an almost subconscious level: horrific environmental disasters, food shortages, civil unrest. It’s a little like looking into a mirror that shows the future.

As for positive policy changes that could benefit Haiti and the US, I like Juan Cole’s idea of asking Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase CEOs to donate some of their $47 million in combined bonuses to Haiti.

The US government only puts in about $200 million a year into aid to Haiti. Although Americans tell pollsters that they think we give away too much in foreign aid, it is only about $22 billion, much less as a percentage of our national income than most advanced countries. A third of it goes to Israel and Egypt.

Instead of Congress having to borrow money to increase the aid budget to help Haiti, or raise taxes, why don’t the nice folks on Wall Street do the right thing? Just give 10 percent of their bonuses to Haiti. It might help change the public perception of them.

When pigs fly, right? In the meantime, you’re nice people, so give what you can to the people of Haiti.


Want to help Haiti. I'd suggest the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund which can be found here.


Haiti hit by the first large earthquake in 240 years

Death toll growing. Tens of thousands may have been killed and hundreds of thousands left homeless.

This is a moment in which your solidarity is of critical importance.

January 13, 2010

Dear Friends of Haiti:

Haiti has been hit by the first large earthquake in 240 years. The enormity of the effects of this devastating 7.0 quake are only barely understood at this time. Thousands may have been killed and tens of thousands left homeless. This is a moment in which your solidarity is of critical importance.

Haiti’s grassroots movement – including labor unions, women’s groups, educators and human rights activists, support committees for prisoners, and agricultural cooperatives – will attempt to funnel needed aid to those most hit by the earthquake. Grassroots organizers are doing what they can – with the most limited of funds – to make a difference. Please take this chance to lend them your support.

This is a time for all of us to act.

What Can You Do?

Since its inception in March 2004, the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund has given concrete aid to Haiti’s grassroots democratic movement as they attempted to survive the brutal coup and to rebuild shattered development projects. We urge you to contribute generously, not only for this immediate crisis, but in order to support the long-run development of human rights, sustainable agriculture and economic justice in Haiti.

During this period, if you or anyone you know are planning to make a donation to assist those in need, please consider the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund. Donations will be forwarded to our partners on the ground to help them rebuild what has been destroyed.

Click the button below to donate to:
Haiti Emergency Relief Fund
which supports organizations giving humanitarian aid to the people of Haiti
in the aftermath of this devastating earthquake

or mail check made out to:

"Haiti Emergency Relief Fund/EBSC"

donations tax deductible

send mail to:

East Bay Sanctuary Covenant
2362 Bancroft Way
Berkeley, CA 947

Please consider a tax-deductible donation to HERF/EBSC.
EBSC is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, tax ID# 94-3249753.
We will acknowledge all donations.

Here are some of the projects we continue to support in Haiti:

Sustainable Agriculture – HERF has contributed much-needed funds to peasant cooperatives in various parts of Haiti. We have provided irrigation pumps, funds for seeds and tools, and other needed resources. We believe that local agricultural development and the growth of a cooperative movement in Haiti are part of the long-term solution to the food crisis.

Victims Assistance –HERF funds have supported grassroots activists who had to flee their homes and live as internal refugees. We have also contributed to campaigns to free political prisoners and given much-needed financial support to their families. In a recent case, a family could not locate their son who had been held as a prisoner in Port-au-Prince. After weeks of pressuring the authorities, they finally found his body at the morgue. No explanation was given for his death, a common occurrence in Haitian prisons.

Independent Human Rights Monitoring - HERF has given support to human rights workers and attorneys who continue, under dangerous conditions, to document human rights violations and defend victims of repression. They have provided material, psychological and legal assistance to victims of the 2004 coup. In particular, we have given continued support to the efforts to insure the safe return of Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, a central figure in Haiti’s popular movement, who was disappeared on August 12, 2007, and has not been heard from since.

Women’s Organizing – Women’s organizations are leading education campaigns, supporting market women, helping women form cooperatives, sustaining the victims of rape and other forms of sexual and physical abuse. HERF has been in the forefront of supporting these projects.

Defending Trade Union Organizers – HERF has assisted trade unionists whose labor organizing was violently attacked throughout the coup period. We have provided support for labor activists forced from their homes and their jobs due to repression, and supported the efforts of trade unionists to fight privatization.

Education/Literacy - Since the coup, government subsidies for school children have been cut and many literacy projects have been terminated. HERF has provided funding for many important educational projects in this period: a school for poor children in Port-au-Prince, educational projects in the rural areas of northern Haiti, literacy programs

We can expect that the mainstream media will shift its eyes away from Haiti over the next months. We will not do the same. One concrete form of support is to help the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund. HERF is administered by a board of Haiti solidarity activists and deeply connected to grassroots movements in Haiti. In a country in which many people live on less than a dollar a day, every dollar goes a long way. Please give generously. Our dollars can do so much.


Walter Riley
Civil rights attorney, Chair of the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund

Sister Maureen Duignan, O.S.F.
Co-Chair, Haiti Emergency Relief Fund

Pierre Labossiere,
Board Member, Haiti Emergency Relief Fund, Co-Founder of Haiti Action Committee

Randall White
Deacon, Allen Temple Baptist Church, Board Member HERF