Haitians Boycott Senate Elections

Boycott Stifles Haiti Elections
by Kevin Pina
Haiti's largest political movement and party, Fanmi Lavalas, organized a second successful boycott of Senate elections yesterday posing a serious challenge to their credibility.
 
President Rene Preval's handpicked Conseil Electoral Provisoire (CEP) excluded the Fanmi Lavalas party from participation in the elections on a technicality. Yesterday's boycott was called "Operation Closed Door 2" and urged voters to stay away from the polls.
 
Poll workers nap as voters stayed away from the
elections after Fanmi Lavalas called a boycott
- ©2009 Jean Ristil/HIP
 
Rene Civil, one of the leaders of the successful boycott campaign stated, "They have to hold the elections again and allow Fanmi Lavalas to participate or face having a parliament that is not recognized as legitimate by the Haitian people. They will swear them into office but no one is going to take them seriously."
 
Buses and taxis operated throughout the day unlike the first round of Senate elections held last April 19. Most voters did not take advantage of the lifting of the transportation ban and stayed home. Journalists in Haiti's ten departments continued to provide reports throughout the day of napping poll workers and near empty ballot boxes. At one point Brazilian ambassador Igor Kipman arrived with a group of observers at a large polling station on the outskirts of the sprawling pro-Lavalas slum of Cite Soleil. Kipman's menacing security staff and the visiting observers stood virtually alone in the facility as the ambassador commented, "These are great elections. I'm very happy with today's results."
 
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ABC's for Mexico's Poor Kids: Sacrificed on the Altar of Neoliberalism

Sacrificed on the Altar of Neoliberalism
by John Ross
Words are powerless to describe the unspeakable horror that engulfed the working class "Y" colony in the northern Mexican desert city of Hermosillo June 5th when a grubby industrial warehouse that had been rented out as a day care center burst into flames trapping over 100 toddlers inside.
 
image

With the emergency exits blocked, no fire extinguishers on the premises, and defective smoke and fire alarms, neighbors frantically fought to rescue their children. One brave young man repeatedly slammed his pick-up into the front wall to open an escape hatch - he was later cited for inflicting property damage.
 
57 youngsters were carried out of the ABC Day Care Center alive. 41 were not, most of them burned beyond recognition in their cribs and cots. 26 of the children rescued remain hospitalized in grave condition - five more have since died. In one heartbreaking incident, a surviving child's face was so badly disfigured that her parents did not recognize her and she was given to another family whose own child had burned up in the conflagration.

The privatization of government day care centers under Calderon and his right-wing predecessor Vicente Fox graphically underscores how neo-liberalism dilutes safety standards and sacrifices children's lives to boost profit margins.
 
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Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Yves Engler, Janine Bandcroft June 22, 2009

This Week on GR
by C. L. Cook
This week: Canadian journalist and author, Yves Engler on Canada's dirty foreign policy secrets with, 'The Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy;' and, Victoria Street Newz publisher and CFUV radio broadcaster, Janine Bandcroft on summer activism around the city, and newz from the city's streetz.
 
 
Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Monday, 5-6pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, 104.3 cable, and on the internet at: http://cfuv.uvic.ca.  He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, www.pacificfreepress.com. Check out the GR blog at: http://GorillaRadioBlog.blogspot.com
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Netanyahu: Shadows of Peace, Shades of Ben-Gurion

The Case of Netanyahu and the Curious Incident
by Uri Avnery
"You must be celebrating,” the interviewer from a popular radio station told me after Netanyahu’s speech. “After all, he is accepting the plan which you proposed 42 years ago!” (Actually it was 60 years ago, but who is counting?). The front page of Haaretz carried an article by Gideon Levy, in which he wrote that “the courageous call of Uri Avnery and his friends four decades ago is now being echoed, though feebly, from end to end (of the Israeli political spectrum).”

I would be lying if I denied feeling a brief glow of satisfaction, but it faded quickly. This was no “historic” speech, not even a “great” speech. It was a clever speech. It contained some sanctimonious verbiage to appease Barack Obama, followed right away by the opposite, to pacify the Israeli extreme right. Not much more. 

NETANYAHU DECLARED that “our hand is extended for peace.”

In my ears, that rang a bell: in the 1956 Sinai war, a member of my editorial staff was attached to the brigade that conquered Sharm-al-Sheikh. Since he had grown up in Egypt, he interviewed the senior captured Egyptian officer, a colonel. “Every time David Ben-Gurion announced that his hand was stretched out for peace,” the Egyptian told him, “we were put on high alert.”

And indeed, that was Ben-Gurion’s method. Before every provocation he would declare that “our hands are extended for peace”, adding conditions that he knew were totally unacceptable to the other side. Thus an ideal situation (for him) was created: The world saw Israel as a peace-loving country, while the Arabs looked like serial peace-killers. Our secret weapon is the Arab refusal, it used to be joked in Jerusalem at the time.

This week, Netanyahu wheeled out the same old trick.
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Iran: A Feast of Foes Bejoin the Famine

Through a Glass Darkly: Sifting Myth and Fact on Iran
by Chris Floyd
Iranian academic Ali Alizadeh points out an important fact missed by many who see nothing but sinister American manipulation behind the post-election protests in Iran: that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's economic policies -- touted as a possible reason that he expanded his vote total by 10 million over the last election, a bounty ostensibly harvested from the grateful rural poor -- are actually much more in line with his old nemesis, George W. Bush.
 
As Alizadeh notes (via the Angry Arab):

It needs to be emphasized that Ahmadinejad’s economic policies are to the right of the IMF: cutting subsidies in a radical way, more privatization than any other post-79 government (by selling the country to the Revolutionary Guards) and an inflation and unemployment rate which have brought the low-income sections of the society to their knees.

The trope of a singular American hand guiding a million-headed puppet in the streets of Iran seems a bit odd anyway. There is of course little doubt that the imperial security apparat will try to make hay from the turmoil; but the American militarists have already made it clear that they prefer a victory for the incumbent Ahmadinejad; after all, without a readily demonizable figure as the public face of Iran, their unquenchable lust for conquering Persia becomes that much harder to consummate.
 
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Korea, Madness, and Assured Deterrence

North Korea: “Sanity” at the Brink
by Michael Parenti
Nations that chart a self-defining course, seeking to use their  land, labor, natural resources, and markets as they see fit, free from the smothering embrace of the US corporate global order, frequently become a target of defamation. Their leaders often have their moral sanity called into question by US officials and US media, as has been the case at one time or another with Castro, Noriega, Ortega, Qaddafi, Aristide, Milosevic, Saddam Hussein, Hugo Chavez, and others.
 
Korea's "Mad" Dictator, Kim Jong-il

So it comes as no surprise that the rulers of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) have been routinely described as mentally unbalanced by our policymakers and pundits.  Senior Defense Department officials refer to the DPRK as a country “not of this planet,” led by “dysfunctional” autocrats.
 
One government official, quoted in the New York Times, wondered aloud “if they are really totally crazy.” The New Yorker magazine called them “balmy,” and late-night TV host David Letterman got into the act by labeling Kim Jong-il  a “madman maniac.”

To be sure, there are things about the DPRK that one might wonder about, including its dynastic leadership system, its highly dictatorial one-party rule, and the chaos that seems implanted in the heart of its “planned” economy. But in its much advertised effort to become a nuclear power, North Korea is actually displaying more sanity than first meets the eye. The Pyongyang leadership seems to know something about US global policy that our own policymakers and pundits have overlooked. In a word, the United States has never attacked or invaded any nation that has a nuclear arsenal.   
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Haiti: UN Peacekeepers Open Fire on Jean-Juste Funeral Protest

Credibility of elections in Haiti challenged
by Kevin Pina - Haiti Information Project (HIP)
Fanmi Lavalas, Haiti's largest political party and grassroots movement, laid Catholic liberation theology priest Father Gerard Jean-Juste to rest this past Thursday.
 
Mourners at the funeral of Haitian priest Father Gerard Jean-Juste march with his coffin in the area of Haiti's national cathedral moment before gunfire erupted. - ©2009 Jean Ristil/ Haiti Information Project
 
A large banner waved overhead declaring "[Father] Jerry you left us but the struggle continues" as thousands of mourners streamed out carrying Jean-Juste's casket sparking an impromptu pro-Lavalas demonstration.
 
Chants of "The struggle continues, return Aristide" and "No elections without Lavalas" rang through the streets as a reminder that Lavalas is preparing to wage a second round of boycotts against the upcoming Senate elections scheduled for Sunday.
 
The procession and demonstration were suddenly interrupted by gunfire that could be heard from around the corner. Witnesses report that Brazilian soldiers with the UN military mission opened fire after attempting to arrest one of the mourners. The UN has since denied the shooting and claim that the victim had been killed by either a rock thrown by the crowd or a blunt instrument. Eyewitnesses on the scene have countered that the UN is trying to cover-up the affair as it promises to heighten tensions before Sunday's elections.
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Strange Bedfellows: Lies and Spies - Robert Fisk Reports from Iran

In Tehran, fantasy and reality make uneasy bedfellows
by Robert Fisk’s World - Saturday, 20 June 2009
At around 4.35 last Monday morning, my Beirut mobile phone rang in my Tehran hotel room. "Mr Fisk, I am a computer science student in Lebanon. I have just heard that students are being massacred in their dorms at Tehran University. Do you know about this?" The Fisk notebook is lifted wearily from the bedside table. "And can you tell me why," he continued, "the BBC and other media are not reporting that the Iranian authorities have closed down SMS calls and local mobile phones and have shut down the internet in Tehran? I am learning what is happening only from Twitters and Facebook."

When I arrived at the university, the students were shrieking abuse through the iron gates of the campus. "Massacre, massacre," they cried. Gunfire in the dorms. Correct. Blood on the floor. Correct. Seven dead? Ten dead, one student told me through the fence. We don't know. The cops arrived minutes later amid a shower of stones. Filtering truth out of Tehran these days is as frustrating as it is dangerous.

A day earlier, an Iranian woman muttered to me in an office lift that the first fatality of the street violence was a young student. Was she sure, I asked? "Yes," she said. "I have seen the photograph of his body. It is terrible." I never saw her again. Nor the photograph. Nor had anyone seen the body. It was a fantasy. Earnest reporters check this out – in fact, I have been spending at least a third of my working days in Tehran this past week not reporting what might prove to be true but disproving what is clearly untrue.
 
[Pacific Free Press has a policy of republishing only authors providing permission. Robert Fisk has not provided us with that permission, but on occasion, when news is too important to the public good, we vary from that policy. Such is the case with the following piece, in which Fisk puts to the lie much of the "reportage" coming out of Iran, correctly identifying it as technology assisted agit-prop, designed to destabilize the Iranian regime. - lex]
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Free the Cuban 5: "Mr. Obama, tear down these walls!"

FREE THE 5 CUBAN HEROES HELD IN U.S. JAILS NOW!
by The Free the Cuban 5 Committee-Vancouver
On June 15th 2009, the Supreme Court of the United States announced its decision not to review the case of the Cuban 5. Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labanino, Rene Gonzalez, Fernando Gonzalez and Gerardo Hernandez, have been unjustly imprisoned in U.S. Jails for over 10 years. Their crime? Investigating U.S. sponsored right wing, anti-Cuban terrorist organizations in Miami that are responsible for the deaths of over 3,400 innocent Cubans.

The numerous evidence presented to the Court exposed the fact that the 5 Cuban men could not have attained a fair trial in Miami, the centre for anti-Cuban terrorism. Despite the international cry for justice from millions of people around the world, including 10 Nobel Lauriat’s, National Parliaments and the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the US Supreme Court has rejected the request for reviewing the case of Cuban 5 political prisoners in US jails.

This June 15 decision to deny justice to the 5 Cuban heroes has made it unquestionably clear that the case of our 5 Cuban brothers has been, from the very beginning, a political case. Thus, let us make no mistake about it; it is a case that must be won through waging a nonstop struggle based on a strong and consistent campaign. We must increase our efforts multiply and intensify our work world wide to build a mass movement to free the 5 heroes.
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Homeland Contamination: Destroying Indigenous Lands and Populations

Destroying Indigenous Populations
by Dahr Jamail | t r u t h o u t
The Fort Laramie Treaty once guaranteed the Sioux Nation the right to a large area of their original land, which spanned several states and included their sacred Black Hills, where they were to have "the absolute and undisturbed use and occupation" of the land.
 
Charmaine White Face, spokesperson for the Teton Sioux Nation Treaty Council

However, when gold was discovered in the Black Hills, President Ulysses S. Grant told the army to look the other way in order to allow gold miners to enter the territory. After repeated violations of the exclusive rights to the land by gold prospectors and by migrant workers crossing the reservation borders, the US government seized the Black Hills land in 1877.

Charmaine White Face, an Oglala Tetuwan who lives on the Pine Ridge Reservation, is the spokesperson for the Teton Sioux Nation Treaty Council (TSNTC), established in 1893 to uphold the terms of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868. She is also coordinator of the voluntary group, Defenders of the Black Hills, that works to preserve and protect the environment where they live.

"We call gold the metal which makes men crazy," White Face told Truthout while in New York to attend the annual Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues at the United Nations in late May. "Knowing they could not conquer us like they wanted to ... because when you are fighting for your life, or the life of your family, you will do anything you can ... or fighting for someplace sacred like the Black Hills you will do whatever you can ... so they had to put us in prisoner of war camps. I come from POW camp 344, the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. We want our treaties upheld, we want our land back."
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California's Terminator Economics: Poor Pay for Excesses of Wealthy

Schwarzenegger’s Shock Therapy — The Poor Pay For The Sins Of The Rich
by Naomi Klein   
Now that Washington has ruled out an immediate bailout for California, we know who will pay the ultimate price for the crisis born on Wall Street: the state's most vulnerable citizens. And with many states facing similar crises, this could be a preview of where the country as a whole is headed.

California is facing a $24.3 billion dollar budget gap, and the governor wants to attack it with cuts to social programs alone. If Schwarzenegger has his way, the price will be paid by 1.9 million people who lose their health care coverage, 1.3 million who lose basic welfare, thousands of state workers who get fired, schools that lose $5 billion in funding, having already survived brutal cuts earlier this year.

I just spent a week in LA and Sacramento filming a documentary on the crisis for Fault Lines, the show I co-host on Al Jazeera English Television. We interviewed teachers who are on hunger strike against the cuts, students organizing protest marches, health care workers and their patients, politicians from both parties, undocumented immigrants and the talk show hosts who demonize them (Californians will know the John and Ken Show...)

What we discovered (beyond some priceless video of Arnold Schwarzenegger introducing Milton Friedman's TV series on PBS in 1990, is that thanks to the quirks of California's system, the state is a Petri dish for some of the most virulent strains of American political culture.

Around the world, government is seen as the last hope to stimulate a comatose economy. In California, anti-tax, anti-spending, and anti-government sentiments are converging: California is facing a de-stimulus package of epic proportions.

 
 
 
Watch both parts of my half-hour documentary below,
and check out AJE live, 24 hours day, at livestation.com.

Fault Lines, California: Failed State Part 1
[Part 2 Below the break]
 
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Massacre in Peru: A Trip Into the Amazon

Massacre in Peru: A trip into the Amazon brings answers and more questions
by Ben Powless
I arrived into Lima's Jorge Chavez International Airport on Friday June 5th, after a personal trip to Cuzco and Machu Picchu. I had come to Peru for a 5-day Indigenous summit in the southern Peruvian Andes and decided to take a few days off at the end to see these world-renowned sights, thinking I may not have the chance again.
 
The Devil's Curve, June 5th - Photo: Thomas Quirynen
 
At the summit, we had been informed there of the situation on the ground in the Amazon. Alberto Pizango, president of the organization AIDESEP, the Inter-ethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Amazon, which represents 400,000 Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon, had even come to the summit to speak. So on Friday, waiting for my plane back to Canada, I was alarmed to hear of the crisis unfolding in the Amazon, but felt remorseful that I would be leaving now, in the moment of crisis. That is, until the security guard came looking for me to inform me that my flight had been cancelled. Suddenly, I was free. They let me book another return ticket to Ottawa, so I had them give me a week more in Peru.

The next day, I headed into the offices of AIDESEP, urged on by a friend from the Ecuadorian Amazon who said they could use help. Immediately I was put to work in the communications office, helping translate, taking photos and audio of the press conference that morning, and looking into international press and assistence. When I finally had the chance to meet with the acting director, Pizango having already gone into hiding after a warrant was issued for his arrest, he offered me the opportunity of a lifetime. I was to head into the Amazon itself with a delegation from AIDESEP, one of their lawyers, and some press. They needed a delegation from their central offices in Lima to talk with the people, take pictures and collect information, and I jumped at the opportunity.

That's how a week later I ended up in Jaen, an hour outside the town of Bagua, where the tragic events of June 5th were centered. On Monday, June 8th I returned to the office, which was in turmoil, and it took hours before anyone had enough free time to chat. I posted an article I had written online, and worked to get it distributed far and wide, being one of the few English language articles at the time to go in-depth about the events here. I had another meeting with some AIDESEP leaders, and they told me that the next day I was to head to the Amazon area to assist. It was settled.
 
[London's Independent has published photographs of the protest attack and aftermath from Survival International, here.]
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