Relief, Occupations and the Haiti Crisis by Justin Podur

2 February, 2010 Toronto — Left Streamed

On January 12, Haiti was hit with an earthquake 7.0 on the Richter scale, leaving possibly 200,000 dead and 3 million affected. Much of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, is now living in makeshift camps with their water, food, and health at risk. While many countries around the world responded with aid, the U.S. and Canada also quickly deployed troops. This presentation explores current events and press coverage in the context of the past decade of Western policy toward Haiti, as well as the prospects for constructive relief and solidarity work.

Justin Podur visited Haiti in 2005 to study the UN occupation and the government after the 2004 coup. This is a recording of a public event that took place in Toronto on February 2, 2010 at the Centre for Social Justice.

more about “Socialist Project -» LeftStreamed“, posted with vodpod
* Haiti: Damming the Flood – with Peter Hallward (June 2, 2008)

Capitalism cut adrift By William Bowles

7 February, 2010

Part One Have we really been brainwashed?

There has been much talk expended over the years on the degree to which the media—and hence culture—is central to maintaining the capitalist system. Leading the charge have been Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman, so much so that they now more resemble sainted objects than social/political analysts, but then this is nothing new for the left, who unfortunately for the most part are happy to let others do the thinking for them.

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Howard Zinn: You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train (2004)

7 February, 2010

Documentary in which professor Howard Zinn recounts his life as a writer, educator, and leader in nonviolent social protest. His story is one of being in “the right place at the right time,” from poor beginnings, working in shipyard unions, fighting in WWII as a bomber pilot, and then launching his academic career as one of the first white professors to teach at the historically black Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. He helped spark the civil rights protest there, and soon moved to Boston College where he became a key figure in organizing anti-Vietnam protests. The historical span of the film concludes with Zinn protesting the war on Iraq. The documentary captures a year in Zinn’s life, including his winning of the 2003 Prix des Amis du Monde diplomatique. Testimonials from the likes of Alice Walker (a student of Zinn’s at Spelman) and Noam Chomsky put his contributions to the peace and civil rights movements in a broader perspective. Matt Damon narrates and the score includes songs by Woody Guthrie, Billy Bragg, and Eddie Vedder.

Haiti Newslinks 7 February, 2010

7 February, 2010

US military vows indefinite stay in Haiti
Press TV
However, the presence of the US military has infuriated some Latin American countries including, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba and Ecuador. …

Protect Haitian orphans
Salt Lake Tribune
The attempt by Baptist missionaries from Idaho to spirit 33 Haitian kids across the border into the Dominican Republic on Friday may have been …

G-7 Forgives Haiti Bilateral Debt,Calls For Multilateral Debt Relief
Wall Street Journal
Flaherty also called for Haiti’s multilateral debt to be forgiven as soon as possible. “Debt should not be an additional burden,” as the country aims to …

Bill Clinton plans no coup in Haiti
Los Angeles Times (blog)
Clinton, a Democrat who was term-limited out of US office in 2001 after eight years, runs two foundations in Haiti, is the special United Nations envoy to …

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Letter to Haiti by M. Nourbese Philip

7 February, 2010 —

Photography by Leah Gordon

Photographer: Leah Gordon

Haiti, I weep for you. I hide my tears because I’m on a flight from Kelowna, British Columbia, to Toronto, and who knows, with all the heightened security I fear they may think something’s amiss. That I’m weeping as a prelude to joining my ancestors. So paranoid have we become. But I weep for you, Haiti, for your people, for the shit — the unmitigated shit — that life seems to throw your way. Again and again. And, to adapt the words of one of your warrior daughters, Maya Angelou, “still you rise,” to greet another green, tropic day that holds hope ransom, as you tear your people limb by painful limb from a hell that eschews fire and opts instead for the hardface, stoneface indifference of concrete that, Medusa like, seems to have frozen all of your magnificent history into slabs of cement. Now fragmented they litter your landscape as if some giant, angry at us mortals, had decided to stamp on your already precarious country. There was a time when our Caribbean houses kept faith with wood, whether one-room homes — some call them chattel houses — or larger, more graceful estate houses. Time was when the thatched Ajoupa bequeathed us by Taino, Arawak and Carib would have swayed to the groans of the earth as she eased her suffering, opening herself along her wounded fault lines to the ever blue skies, the constant love of the sun, to release all her pent up grief for us, birthing we don’t yet know what. Time was when hands steeped in skills of building homes brought from a homeland a slap, kick and a howl away, across a roiling ocean, would have gently patted mud over wattle, weaving branches to create cool interiors, shaping shelters from the earth that would not, could not, betray the safety in home to crush, obliterate, to fall down around your ears. Like the third little pig in the nursery rhyme, Haiti, you built your home of brick — it was supposed to protect you.

Anti-Empire Report No.78 By William Blum – Zinn, Haiti, Aristide, and ideology

6 February, 2010 — The Anti-Empire Report

“In America you can say anything you want — as long as it doesn’t have any effect.” – Paul Goodman

Progressive activists and writers continually bemoan the fact that the news they generate and the opinions they express are consistently ignored by the mainstream media, and thus kept from the masses of the American people. This disregard of progressive thought is tantamount to a definition of the mainstream media. It doesn’t have to be a conspiracy; it’s a matter of who owns the mainstream media and the type of journalists they hire — men and women who would like to keep their jobs; so it’s more insidious than a conspiracy, it’s what’s built into the system, it’s how the system works. The disregard of the progressive world is of course not total; at times some of that world makes too good copy to ignore, and, on rare occasions, progressive ideas, when they threaten to become very popular, have to be countered.

So it was with Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. Here’s Barry Gewen an editor at the New York Times Book Review, June 5, 2005 writing of Zinn’s book and others like it:

There was a unifying vision, but it was simplistic. Since the victims and losers were good, it followed that the winners were bad. From the point of view of downtrodden blacks, America was racist; from the point of view of oppressed workers, it was exploitative; from the point of view of conquered Hispanics and Indians, it was imperialistic. There was much to condemn in American history, little or nothing to praise. … Whereas the Europeans who arrived in the New World were genocidal predators, the Indians who were already there believed in sharing and hospitality (never mind the profound cultural differences that existed among them), and raped Africa was a continent overflowing with kindness and communalism (never mind the profound cultural differences that existed there).

One has to wonder whether Mr. Gewen thought that all the victims of the Holocaust were saintly and without profound cultural differences.

Prominent American historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. once said of Zinn: “I know he regards me as a dangerous reactionary. And I don’t take him very seriously. He’s a polemicist, not a historian.”

In the obituaries that followed Zinn’s death, this particular defamation was picked up around the world, from the New York Times, Washington Post, and the leading American wire services to the New Zealand Herald and Korea Times.

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Viva Palestina News Update

6 February, 2010 — Viva Palestine

Dear friend,
Events have been moving fast since the convoy’s return from Gaza. In addition to the good news that the two convoy members who stayed behind in Gaza are now safely back following intensive efforts to secure their return, here are a couple of further updates.

Viva Palestina US held two very successful meetings in New York and in Boston last weekend, raising around $60,000. In addition, the American Friends of Palestine held a fundraising in New Jersey which raised over $100,000. It is particularly significant that despite attempts in the US to whip up hostility against solidarity with the Palestinians and against Viva Palestina, on account of its high profile, that these events were packed out. There was great enthusiasm for two upcoming initiatives.

Viva Palestina on the High Seas

1) Viva Palestina will be taking part in a mission to send a flotilla of boats to Gaza to seek to break the blockade by sea. The timing of this is in the process of being locked down and we are working very closely with the Turkish organisation IHH, which is taking the lead on organising logistics. All the signs are that there is enormous support in Britain and internationally for this venture. Further details will follow very shortly and VP is committed to a major fundraising effort to bring a significant component to the IHH-led effort.

Summer University of Palestine

2) Negotiations are at a closing stage in Lebanon on the details of a Summer University of Palestine to take place in late July/early August. Again, we will be in a position to announce the final details very shortly.

Convoy Reports

A large number of report back meetings have either happened or are planned, and there is already a huge awareness of what the convoy achieved. A tour of colleges is also organised so that students can hear about the conovy and about conditions facing students in Gaza.

Other meetings and events are also taking place. There will be a large meeting in Batley, West Yorkshire, at the end of this month, for example, thanks to the Indian Muslim Welfare Association, which was extremely supportive of the convoy and all our efforts. In addition, a lot of people have taken the time to write their thoughts about the whole experience down and to email us. Again, there is an overwhelmingly positive feeling. Please do send in your thoughts and suggestions so that we can incorporate them into planning for the future.

We are in the process of securing acknowledgments and thank yous from those who received the aid we delivered and we’ll make these available as we have them.

We hope to be able to put out a comprehensive update on future events soon.

In the meantime, one measure of the success of the convoy and the mushrooming support for Viva Palestina – which is expanding internationally (watch this space!) – is various attempts by those who support the siege to spread disinformation and downright lies about the convoy and their unsuccessful attempts to pressure public authorities in the US and Britain to take these spurious allegations seriously.

We won’t be intimidated by such underhand tricks and attempts to divide the movement we are building. Our answer is to press on, undeterred, and to build on the success of the last three convoys, all of which have broken the siege.

Best wishes,

Kevin Ovenden
Viva Palestina