Monday, January 26, 2009

Mardi Gras in Haiti

Mardi Gras in Haiti is an exciting, sensuous and spectacular display of Haitian people; their creativity, art, culture, religion and music. Visit for information, photos and videos of Mardi Gras in Haiti since 2001. Mardi Gras "always falls on the Tuesday that is 46 days before Easter. It is always the day before Ash Wednesday, which is the start of Lent." Future Mardi Gras dates are: Feb. 24, 2009, February 16, 2010, March 8, 2011 and February 21, 2012.

Featured below are some of photographer Patrice Douge's exciting and beautiful images of Mardi Gras in Haiti. Patrice says, "I am shooting Mardi gras again this year to complete a book project: Mardi Gras in Haiti." Read more about Patrice at his website.


© Patrice Douge. All Rights Reserved. All images are copyrighted and shouldn't be copied for promotional purpose without his permission. If you are interested in any of the images please send him an email for rates and use.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama: Don't Blame it on the West

At his inaugural address yesterday President Obama's rhetoric was reminiscent of his predecessor Mr. Bush; "We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you," he said.

The arrogance and hypocrisy of the statement is discouraging. President Obama continued, "To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West -- know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy."

I wonder when the "West" will accept some of the blame for the ill will that it has garnered for its actions in the global south and in the Middle East. When will the "West" admit to the lies, the disinformation, the interventions, the invasions, the slaughter of innocents, the empire building... when will the "West" realize that the size of its military industrial complex will not guarantee that its towers will be safe and its people secure? Only a "new era of diplomacy" can.

Sure President Obama had some positive things to say, as when he addressed "the Muslim world" with words of reconciliation and hope; "To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect."

Perhaps the new U.S. president refers to the unholy terror visited on the Palestinian people of Gaza these past four weeks... maybe the "West" will seek a "new way" that will not involve the unleashing of one of the world's most lethal military and its arsenal of weapons (equipped and supported by its protector, the U.S.) on a hapless civilian population (shades of Iraq's bombardment, which also included cluster bombs, white phosphorus and depleted uranium)? The slaughter of over 1300 people, most of them women and children has not brought Israel any closer to winning the "respect" of the world nor as it cowered or defeated the will of Palestinians.

It is probably a dream to hope that the outgoing Bush administration will be held accountable for its crimes against humanity. That is not what the new U.S. president was implying when he said, "To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist." One can only hope that the Republicans in the U.S. legislature will not obstruct the new administration in its efforts to create new jobs and bring in a new era of a green economy that is less dependent on oil and carbon bi-products.

Obama said, "America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words." Unfortunately, timeless words will not address the United States' "hardships." Perhaps the new U.S. president should visit the question; Why has the U.S. met with such hardship of late? What about the senseless war in Iraq and the planned escalation in Afghanistan, the loss of manufacturing jobs through neo-liberal policies, the stagnant wages, the unregulated greed and corruption... ?

What about accountability? The truth shall set you free... then a reconciliation can take place that will see that U.S. and international laws are respected and upheld for future generations.

The speech was a stern "call to action" for U.S. citizens; as well as recriminations and a holding out of an "olive branch" to "the Muslims" (wonder if any of those are left in Palestine?)... but what would have carried it to the next level would have been if it held less hypocrisy, more truth and most importantly more soul and corny as it sounds... more LOVE. Where is the love?

The good Reverend Joseph Lowery spoke of love. He said in his benediction, "And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance." The narrow scope of his focus is unfortunate because his concluding remarks made clear that he was referring to people within the confines of the U.S. borders.
"Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around -- (laughter) -- when yellow will be mellow -- (laughter) -- when the red man can get ahead, man -- (laughter) -- and when white will embrace what is right."
Rest in peace and love Dr. Martin Luther King--who's January 15th birthday was celebrated on Monday, January 19, a day before the swearing in of President Barack Obama. Would that President Obama had paid tribute to Dr. King by quoting from his speech entitled "Beyond Vietnam -- A Time to Break Silence."
"This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation's self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation and for those it calls "enemy," for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers."
It is encouraging for the world that even though the U.S.'s new "Commander and Chief" was not forthcoming with the love, his supporters, be they U.S. born or internationally bred, were. They have warmly embraced the new "leader of the free world" and wish him the best. Hopefully, with their love, support and civic involvement -- "a change is gonna come."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Justice for Oscar Grant:
Father & Police Shooting Victim

Demand justice in the killing of Oscar Grant

Color of Change is circulating a petition to get justice in the police shooting of Oscar Grant. They are sending a petition letter to the US Dept. of Justice -- one to Mr. Eric Holder (Barack Obama's newly appointed Attorney General) and Mr. Michael Mukase (the current Bush Administration Attorney General) and the second to the California Attorney General Jerry Brown.

The following is text from the Color of Change website describing the incident. The Oakland Police Department is being urged to arrest Johannes Mehserle, the Police Officer who shot Mr. Grant:

On New Year's Eve, Oscar Grant was murdered by a transit police officer. Grant was subdued, posed no threat, and was shot execution style.

Johannes Mehserle, Grant's killer, has not been arrested, charged with a crime, or even questioned by the Alameda District Attorney. More than 10 days later Mehserle still walks free.

Join us in demanding that California Attorney General Jerry Brown take over the case from the District Attorney and arrest Mehserle immediately. At the same time your action will result in an appeal to the US Department of Justice to investigate the repeated failures of BART Police and the Alameda County District Attorney's Office's to hold officer's accountable in police-killings.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Israel Uses Chemical Warfare in Gaza

CNN is reporting that the group Human Rights Watch has observed Israel firing white phosphorus into Gaza. Human Rights Watch is demanding that Israel stop. The practice of using deadly poisons on civilian populations is against international law; as is this collective punishment of the civilian population of Gaza. On CNN an Israeli Defense Forces spokesperson claimed last week that they were not using white phosphorus.

As of today, the death toll in Gaza surpasses 900. According to a Reuters report, "Figures from Palestinian medics indicate at least 909 people have been killed. The health minister in Gaza's Hamas-run government said close to 400 of those were woman and children."

The Israeli death toll is thirteen. According to reports, four soldier's deaths were caused by so-called "friendly fire."

White phosphorus was also used by U.S. forces in Iraq. To me the inhumanity of it is a sign that the attacker is getting desperate and is losing the war. Israel is engaged in war crimes and cannot win in Gaza. In the court of world opinion, they have already lost.

No one doubts that Israel is desperate to kill off as many Palestinians as possible in light of the power shift taking place in Washington, but resorting to chemical warfare and the wholesale poisoning the civilian population of Gaza as the world watches is almost too much irony to bear.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Ongoing Massacre in Gaza:
IDF Unleashes Cluster Bombs

Cluster Bombs used in Gaza

The massacre in Gaza is continuing. It is not a "war" or "fighting" as the U.S. media likes to term it. It is a massacre. The U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice has either blocked or abstained from measures to end the killing and to calls for a truce. The fact is that the Bush administration cannot be an honest broker of peace in the Middle East. First of all, they are war criminals themselves and need to be held accountable for their crimes against humanity and war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Also for the proxy war on Iran through attacks on Lebanon's political party, Hezbollah and for other covert/overt operations on sovereign nations that are conducted worldwide.

This proxy war by Israel on Hamas is clearly a way for the Bush administration to exact collective punishment on Palestinians for electing Hamas in a fair and democratic election.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) is as short sighted in conducting this murderous rampage as the U.S. was in its attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan. They are ignoring the will of the U.N. and world community to their detriment. They are incurring worldwide condemnation that will last well beyond this murderous attack -- making it harder for people of Israeli or Jewish descent to get beyond the kind of prejudice that the Germans face/d after Hitler's Nazi regime perpetuated the horrors of the holocaust.

The IDF unleashed cluster bombs on Gaza today. These Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) are condemned by many nations and calls for bans on cluster bombs have resulted in measures being agreed to worldwide to stop their use permanently. Cluster bombs have a deadly and continuing impact on a densely packed community such as resides in Gaza. They disperse and some do not explode until an unsuspecting child or other innocent civilian disturbs them. They either maim or kill the person(s) instantly. Their deadly nature lasts beyond the time when the conflict has ended.

It would be poetic justice if the Israelis finally get another foothold in Gaza and allow for more Jewish settlements in the area (in defiance of international law) -- only to have the deadly WMD traps that they have set for innocent civilians cause a "bloodbath" or "holocaust" that takes the life of one precious Israeli settler.

Further Reading:

  • An unnecessary war | By Jimmy Carter | Thursday, January 8, 2009 | Washington Post

  • Cluster bomb ban treaty approved | May 28, 2008 | BBC News

  • Cluster bombs banned in 34 African countries | Dec. 3, 2008 |

  • Nations sign cluster bomb treaty in Oslo | Fri, 09-Jan-2009 | The Norway Post

  • UN: Israel cluster bomb use in Lebanon ‘outrageous’ | 09.19.06 | Reuters
  • Thursday, January 1, 2009

    Independence or Death:
    Celebrating the 205th Anniversary of The Haitian Revolution

    Jean Jacques Dessalines, Father of
    Haitian Independence, 1804
    Haiti's founding father Jean-Jacques Dessalines proclaimed Haiti's independence on this day 205 years ago in Gonaives, Haiti. It was a monumental achievement that marked the first successful slave revolution in world history and in the establishment of the independent Republic of Haiti.

    Haitians celebrate and honor Papa Dessalines--the founding father of Haiti. Although the former house slave Toussaint "The Opening" L'Ouverture played a vital part leading the start of the revolution, it was the former field slave, Jean-Jacques "Le Tigre" Dessalines who won freedom and independence from the French. There is considerable and rampant misinformation about this fact -- but it was Jean-Jacques Dessalines who defeated the French and won Haiti's independence, not Toussaint L'Ouverture.

    Toussaint L'Ouverture mistakenly believed in French honor and was seduced by the decorous words of the French Revolution, which stated that "All men are created equal, natural rights of liberty, security, property, and resistance to oppression were given to all citizens," In practice this declaration did not include anyone of his complexion. He was betrayed -- lured to a meeting, where he was detained and shipped off to France -- to die in a cold dank French dungeon. But historians credit Toussaint (perhaps rising on the third day?) with defeating the French and winning the Haitian Revolution.

    These revisionist historians find the house slave's decorous manners and Francophile ways to be more palatable to the unrefined field slave, Dessalines. It was Dessalines' name which struck fear in the hearts of slaveowners. His triumph is often repudiated by those who deem him unworthy of acclaim -- who have labeled him a violent tyrant. But it is clear that Dessalines possessed the same "killer instinct" of today's celebrated "war heroes." He was a true hero, who fought and won for the noble cause of freedom from slavery and for independence.
    Translated by Noe Dorestant

    Citizens, it is not enough to have expelled from your country the barbarians who have bloodied it for two centuries; it is not enough to have put a brake to these ever reviving factions which take turns to play-act this liberty, like ghost that France had exposed before your eyes; it is necessary, by a last act of national authority, assure forever an empire of liberty in this country our birth place; we must take away from this inhumane government, which held for so long our spirits in the most humiliating torpor, all hope to re-subjugate us; we must at last live independent or die.

    Independence or death... May these sacred words bring us together, and may they be the signal of our struggles and of our gathering.
    As Haitians begin another year under UN occupation, they wonder when the struggle will be over. Today Haiti is burdened with the task of wrestling its freedom from the jaws of their oppressors again. In 2004, the U.S., Canada and France engineered another intervention that robbed Haitians of self-rule and its first democratically elected president. Today Haiti is not an independent sovereign nation because of the occupying force of MINUSTAH. Haiti is also enslaved by oppressive corporatist interests who hold the reigns of power and crack the whip of neo-liberal structural adjustment measures. These outside forces keep Haiti poor, underdeveloped and burdened with an onerous and unjust debt. France began this cycle when it managed "to extort an agreement" that condemned Haiti to pay a substantial annual indemnity to France for the success of the revolution. This criminal burden was faithfully respected by the Haitians, though it caused them no end of grief. With much of their revenue exported to France, there was little left to develop Haiti.

    The endless struggle continues for Haitians, but they are honed and scarred by many decades of an undeclared war and are up to climbing the difficult road ahead towards freedom.

    Today is also the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution; a struggle that involved many Haitians on the ground in Cuba. Cuba gives safe harbor to many Haitian immigrants and has a significant Haitian population, as evidenced by the fact that Haitian Creole is Cuba's second language. VIVA!

    While the U.S. and world media show remarkable ignorance in not recognizing the historical and deep impact of the Haitian Revolution, they do live daily with the repercussions. It is not an exaggeration to say that Haitians changed the map of the world and hastened the end of chattel slavery in the Americas. In defeating Napoleon, Haiti dashed the ambitions of France to build an American empire, resulting in the sale of its Louisiana Territory, which doubled the size of the U.S. Simon Bolivar benefited from the aid he received when he appealed to Haiti for help in winning the liberation of Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Panama; all the Haitian president Petion asked in return was that Bolivar also free the slaves.

    One, Respe! Here's to the courageous men and women who fought and died in a heroic war that lasted 14 years and involved defeating three powerful nations and established the first independent Black Republic. Haitians will never forget the great achievements of the Haitian Revolution.

    Remember the Haitian revolution achievements by:
    1. Circulating Boukman's Prayer; and
    2. Send letters demanding France pay Haiti back the Independence Debt.
    (See sample letter).
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