Thursday, October 26, 2017

To Russia with Love

Since I observed that my last post on #PuertoRico got such a broad reception from inside Russia - with more than 47% of the hits coming from there - I wanted to send out a shout out to all my cosmonaut friends over there and give you something for your listening pleasure tonight.

As you know, you have been really very important to us lately - what with all the dossiers and the meetings at #TrumpTower and we have become extremely interested in your dear leader #VladamirPutin and what, exactly, his intentions are towards us - and what we might expect from him and - of course - you - his loyal - or perhaps not so loyal - bots.

I wanted to share with you a most interesting podcast that I listened to this evening. Now it comes out over iTunes from NYC - but I am sure that you have perhaps heard it? - no - I suspect that you have not - since it was only last night - and you guys who are assigned to my blog are on the #PuertoRico desk. But obviously - you are fluent in English.

And - obviously - you can figure out how to download the itunes app? because that format ought to be available to you even if you using a home built computer.

Tonite's podcast is with a man named Preet Bhajara - you are free to google him - or GIFY - (google it for yourself) He has become pretty famous since Mr Trump fired him. It is a good road to fame here now.

His guest is a man named #BillBrowder - which may not actually mean anything to you "bots" (I do not mean that to be a demeaning term - I know that there are humans who are reading this - but 458 hits in one day from INSIDE of Russia?) - but certainly the name of Sergei Magnitsky rings bells in Moscow - or wherever you are.

Here is the BBC report - ( I do not know how censored your news is - I suspect it is deeply censored)
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-20626960

And here is the intro to tonight's podcast -- you ought to follow on Twitter .. https://twitter.com/PreetBharara/status/923656746387804160

Tonight's guest is Bill Browder - who has - indeed written a book...

but this podcast will do nicely

https://twitter.com/PreetBharara/status/923534221616078848

Try to stay warm. I just turned the heat on here in Florida for the first time this year. The temperature dropped to below 70 degrees! But I am a tropical bird now. At 70 degrees F - I put on a sweater.

Moscow must be very -very cold.

Bill Browder will be a great deal more trouble to you dead than alive -- I can assure you of that.

Trust me on that one, Vlad.

Friday, October 20, 2017

IRMA to MARIA

Will the Rains Never End?

It has been RAINING here - in the Northern Caribbean - in South Florida - since IRMA hit us with the 90 MPH winds. Huge Rains. Sheets. Torrents. Low Ceilings.

For myself - I am on MARIA watch for Puerto Rico, as my closest living relative is there strung out between the southwest tip of Cabo Rojo and San Juan - hungry, in search of water, without much money, without access to water, without electricity, frightened, alone.

Walmarts - he reports - is out of water.
The limit to buy is one bag of ice
Three cans of Chef Boyardee for one person.
There is running water but the reports are that it is not safe to drink.
Without electricity there is no stove, no way to heat food or boil water.

I send him again the formula - three drops of chloro to one litre of water - drink a half glass - if he does not vomit - it is safe.

The winds of IRMA hit here at 90 mph. They were the strongest I had ever experienced. When they hit him, the winds of MARIA were at 185 mph. !*!$$%# 185 mph is more that my mind can grasp.  Like money over one million dollars.. my mind can not absorb.... how terrified he must have been
alone
in
the
house
with the
winds
bringing
down
the
old
trees
around
his house
in the campo

Now he has gone to San Juan
he reports that
that the CONDADO
is DARK

The CONDADO

which looks like MIAMI BEACH!!

is DARK

now
I know
Puerto Rico

And I know the Puerto Ricans

And I know that Puerto Rico Se Levanta

but
I weep
for
the
darkness
of
the
Condado

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Aim of Aid is not really to Help"

I took some time off to move - making an arc from 196 miles from Port au Prince to 742 miles away, back in Florida but surrounded somehow still with Haitians.... Kreyole on the radio,, Kreyole in the Walmart aisle, Kreyole wafting in from my neighbor's house.

"Did you read the news about the more than 200 Haitians found starving in a cave?" my chiropractor asked as he sought to distract me from cracking my back into some semblance of upright biped so that I could walk again without pain. How I had injured it was a mystery.

"They were singing. That is how the aid workers found them. They had nothing to eat. Months after the hurricane. Just google it, You will see. I do not understand it. They should be able to grow food there."

"I have blog" I responded. "Lots of information on that."

My doctor is from Toronto, moved here years ago for the weather. Many of his patients are Haitians. He picks at my mind, seeking to understand. His receptionist calls herself Haitian, although born here, child of the elite, speaks Kreyole, speaks of her country with contempt. As does the branch manager at the local Chase branch. "Haiti will never change." "Haiti could not have been expected to prosper after having to pay reparations." "No, I have never been" "No we rarely go back now, although my family owns several properties around St Marc."

Someone still collects the rents, I think. Someone made those folks poor.

I get angry easily on this topic and want to BLAME someone.

Except Bill and Hillary Clinton- I seem the only one who does NOT want to blame them. I think about the earthquake and Bill Clinton and his office in Harlem. Read Notes from the Last Testament by Michael Diebert  for the deep background on Bill Clinton and Haiti and Aristide.... But I was in Santo Domingo during the earthquake and saw how quickly Bill Clinton responded how often he came down .. how deeply -- he really does indeed care about Haiti.

No good deed goes unpunished.


I google the article on the cave dwellers. Both the Herald and the Sun Sentinel have the same article. It is a puff piece written for Food for the Poor. I know it well.

"Starving Haitians Found.. SEND MONEY"

How could they even bother to print this mess? Found in a cave? With no water? honestly? really? no water? eating toxic plants?

One does not survive without water.. a HUMAN cannot survive without water...

Miami Herald 


I have a lot of respect for Jaqueline Charles..

Who is a fine journalist..

but note - the same story .. here 

 but it would be relief to ALSO hear ABOUT

the ABUSE..

ABOUT the SCAM of the Lords of Poverty


and some reflection on
how it must look -- those "mission trips" - on the air conditioned buses - going down for three days at the cost of about $400 a day (air fare not included) to "SEE THE POVERTY"

HOW IS THIS DIFFERENT THAN KEEPING THEM IN A ZOO?


anyone
who has spent more than 2 weeks on the ground in Haiti knows this is \
A SCAM


Wouldn't it be a RELIEF
to have the RELIEF AGENCIES
exposed for the SCAM artists that they are?


Fortunately... there are REPORTS

http://www.ngosunited.com/how-haitian-aid-works/


So Bravo to Dr Schwartz --


The irony of what I’m saying here is that it’s a viscous cycle. If Haitians could not leave the country. If 90% of medical school graduates and 98% of the children of the rural elite did not emigrate to the US as soon as they are college aged, those people would be the ones to change the system. They have the smarts and the connections to make the system work. And 50 years ago they did have an impact. But emigration gives them and their parents a much easier option. They don’t have to risk fighting. It’s just stupid not to go to the US, Canada or France. Why on earth would someone stay.  Think about it: send your kid to one of these developed country with limitless possibilities and good healthcare, or have them stay in poorest country in the western hemisphere with pathetic future for all but the super-rich and horrendous healthcare. No man, you get your kids the hell out.
And so in Haiti the human capital is gone. The only people who are left are the super- rich, the super poor, drug dealers, and people living on remittances. What that means is that the only people left in Haiti either don’t want change, don’t need it, or can’t do anything to effect it.


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

#MatthewHaiti

For those who might wish to donate to #HaitiRelief
From my 13 years as a journalist here, I can recommend
any of these organizations-
Based on the following criteria:
All are in Haiti, led by Haitians, and do not have foreign offices
All are non sectarian
All are dedicated to uplifting the lives of the small farmers
All have been recommended to me by more than two Haitians who are very involved in development and whose opinions I value
One may suit one's personal values more than another

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Back to the Line of Fire

Charlotte, NC erupted into rioting after another police shooting of a Black man who was either 1) peacefully sitting in his car, reading a book, waiting for his son to come home for work or 2) exiting his car for the second time, brandishing a gun and threatening the police.

Police say they found a gun. His family says he did not have one. Police say he has a record for armed assault. Two stories and we are never going to know the truth since the officer involved was not wearing a body cam.

A story appeared on my FB feed that it required more training to become a hairdresser than it does to become a police officer.

No.. REALLY? Could that be true. Police officers must have amazing training I thought. They are paid $42.5 in Charlotte, as a starting salary and have amazing benefits. True, it is dangerous work. There have been 30 work related deaths on the force since 1892. This number of 30 Charlotte police officers killed  over  124 years stands in contrast to the 62 persons who were killed by police so far in 2016.

Some of those who were killed by police might have been white.Some might have been armed. Some might have actually posed a direct and immanent threat to the police officers who were confronting them.

But do our police not have better ways to bring down suspects?

Is 'he had a gun' now going to be the standard of all the police need to shoot down someone on the street.

So I checked again about whether perhaps we would be better off putting the hairdressers in the squad cars and sending the cops back to school.

YES

That is true.

In North Carolina, for instance, it takes only 640 hours of class training to become eligible to be a police officer. You must complete the Basic Law Enforcement Training and pass the test with 70%.

"QUESTION How long does it take to deliver BLET? ANSWER Approximately 16 weeks - attending full time or 40 hours per week - to deliver the entire course. BLET "night" courses usually last 6-7 months. "Night" courses typically take place Monday - Friday (6- 10pm) and on Saturdays, but are mainly taken by persons working other full time jobs."

That will total 640 hours.

Evidently this is pretty standard nationwide.

But to be a HAIRDRESSER??????

YO Mama--girl

you gatta have 1200 hours.. pass the board..DO AN APPRENTICESHIP  keep that license up to date with continuing education courses.. Not kidding.. NOT

It is no wonder that Charlotte is burning

And Tulsa
And Ferguson
And Watts
And
And
And


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The GOP Platform = Beyond the Candidates Right to Life VS War on Women

Let us take a look at the party platform of the Republicans.. the Grand Old Party.. to see what they have planned for the nation should they win the election.

We will take this in small bites.. because,.. well.. it is too much for my stomach to digest all it once. It sticks in my craw.

So just small bites.

Here is the link for the cliff notes version  for you to read through once.. just do it quickly.. once.. and then we will go back over it piece by piece. But in order to get the full 66 page document, there seems to be no link on the GOP page. The only one I found was here linked in the Huff Post - and one has to sign up for Scribd to download it.  That is probably wise since what folks say that they are going to do in public and what they say they are going to do behind closed doors, to their inside friends, are often not the same thing.

So.. Small Bites..

Let us start with one issue that prominent... the Abortion issue.

How are the Republicans going to outlaw abortion and overturn the Supreme Court decision on RoeVWade?  This is part of what those on the Left call the GOPs 'War on Women' and what the Evangelical Right - which represents up to 15% of the Republican base - calls the "Right to Life" Over the last years access to abortions has become more and more difficult in the United States. More than 200 restrictions have been passed on the state level over the last 4 years., Here is the map.

The 2016 Presidential Platform on abortion starts on page 20 of the 66 page platform. The first position is the proposal of a constitutional amendment referred to only as "a human life amendment.". There are various variations on this - see here. Note that while one of these proposals does include the death of the mother aa a reason for an abortion, all of them rescind the woman's right to freely chose to end a pregnancy.

There are currently five countries in the world which will allow a woman to die before they will allow an abortion. I am now living in one of them. I shudder to think that there are people in the United States who seek to turn the United States into one such heartless nation.

There is more very ugly stuff in the Republican platform on abortion but this is all that I can stomach for today.

Do not let all the attention be focused on candidate at the top of the ticket or the inability of his wife to come up with anything original to say in her speech.,
.




Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Zika on its way

I have not been well really since the chikungunya.

 That must be about two years now although it is hard to tell time here for me without the change of seasons. The pains in my joints have not really left me,  just as some had predicted might happen,

 Dona Gloria, my neighbor who has 25 years on me, stops in front of the bars on my ground floor apartment on her way to the market and we rub our respective wrists and complain about our ankles.

 Now there is another virus on the way. One that attacks new bornes. Called Zika. It gives them tiny heads. The women and girls are being told not to get pregnant.

But the Catholic Church, which rules here under the Papal Nuncio, forbids the use of contraceptives (ah yes, you think that they use them? that the machos spend their money on latex? that they take showers with raincoats? think again)

and abortion is prohibited in all cases.. well I think that there has been a bit of flexibiltiy,. perhaps if a ten year old mother is going to die.. something like that.

this is a bitchin hard island.. let me tell you

and if you think this side is hard..

wow..

the other side of the place

is really hit hard..

one blow ..

after another
after another

after another


they are trying to have elections

so
Puerto Rico is sinking - Puerto Ricans are coming HERE to look for work!
Cuba is being sold back to the sugar barons
and the Dominican Republic is sending Haitians back across the border to sit and starve. Pretending that they are white men.

Well,. Actually.. That is a pretty good imitation of a white man.,

They certainly learned from the best of them.

Everyone tries to imitate democracy


because uncle sam says democracy is the way to go.. well used to say that until Cizens United said that plutocracy was better


but now that we have

almost
president trump

barnum bailey

elections

who are we
to
judge?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Camino de Santiago

The deaf mutes file through churches
along the walled ramparts
on the camino of Santiago de Campostello
listening for the voice of god
At the end
contented
they
carry signs
"The birds sing to earn their crust"
In Santo Domingo
Long ago
The bells fell silent
Traded to the English for cannon balls
The pope sends
Pedophile Polish priests

Children wail

Monday, April 20, 2015

The continuing issue of Statelessness

The non profit Institute on Statelessness provides this useful background piece on the issues now facing the more than 200,000 persons and their descendants whom the international community considers "stateless" while the Dominican Republic considers them "Haitian".

Many of these persons were brought under contract to cut cane under arrangements between governments, many were also trafficked 

NOTE . There are probably more than ONE MILLION Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic. The VAST majority of them were NOT born here and have NO CLAIM to citizenship.
Many more were simply born here at Dominican hospitals.. an estimated 10,000 pregnant Haitians a year come to take advantage of the advanced medical assistance. The Dominican Republic takes very good care of these women, even bringing them from the border up to five hours away,  by ambulance,  These children used to be able to have a tenous claim on citizenship,,, which was litigated in international courts,,, but their parents were not legal, considered in transit,

The Dominican Republic is a small and poor nation and has come under great attack from many nations, from human rights groups, from Haitians, from all sorts of activist,.

But it is only a small portion of the Haitian Dominicans.. or DominicanHaitians..who can make any sort of claim to legal rights to Dominican papers.

It is important that those who are actually concerned for those who are at RISK here take the time to understand ALL sides of the issue. And that includes the United States, the DR CAFTA treaty, the deal with the sugar cane producers.... all.. all ..all... alll....

I ask for a bit of attention here as a member of the Vincini family now owns one of the major newspapers, There is a lot of fear being built up here in the country.. fear of a pacific invasion by Haitians, fear that the international community is pressuring the Dominican Republic to unite with Haiti. Generally .. FEAR.

So, the more people who can hold this in the Light.. the better,

The following is from the Institute Report....


III. AMERICAS Statelessness is a ‘smaller’ problem in the Americas than in other parts of the world in terms of absolute numbers. UNHCR reports a total of 210,032 persons under its statelessness mandate in the Americas, almost all of whom are found in a single country, the Dominican Republic. There also does not appear to be a serious issue of known but unmapped situations of statelessness, such as that which exists in Africa. Only one further country in the Americas has been identified as presenting a significant, but as yet unquantifiable, problem of statelessness. Table 4: Countries in the Americas with over 10,000 stateless persons or marked with * Dominican Republic 210,000 Bahamas * As mentioned earlier in this report, an important reason for this low number of stateless persons is the principle of jus soli which is common to the countries in the western hemisphere: by granting nationality to all persons born on the territory, regardless of parentage or other circumstance, any situation of statelessness fades away automatically with the next generation enjoying birth-right citizenship. As discussed next, the two counties in which statelessness has surfaced as a real problem are those in which restrictions have been placed on the jus soli conferral of nationality. Dominican Republic UNHCR reported figure (end 2013): 210,000 Statelessness in the Dominican Republic (DR) concerns persons of Haitian descent. Until 2010, the Constitution of the Dominican Republic granted nationality automatically to any person born on Dominican soil, with only the limited exception of children whose parents were diplomats or ‘in transit’ in the country at the time. Individuals born in the country thus acquired Dominican nationality, whether their births were recorded in the Civil Registry or not. In practice, this THE WORLD’S STATELESS 73 narrow exception has long been applied in such a way as to deny many children of (presumed)128 Haitian descent access to Dominican nationality, often leaving them stateless – despite an Inter-American Court ruling which condemned these practices.129 The General Law on Migration adopted in 2004 expanded the ‘in transit’ exclusion for jus soli citizenship to children born to parents considered as ‘nonresidents’, which is understood to include temporary foreign workers, tourists and students, among other categories. A 2005 ruling of the Dominican Supreme Court further expanded this exception to include all individuals without proof of lawful residence. This expanded definition of the ‘in transit’ exception was then enshrined in the new Dominican constitution adopted in 2010. Most recently, in 2013, the DR’s constitutional court ordered that this new interpretation of ‘in transit’ be applied to all individuals with Dominican citizenship born in the DR to migrant parents (i.e. retroactively, as far back as 1929). This process resulted in the arbitrary deprivation of nationality on a massive scale. Those affected are left stateless because Haiti has prohibited dual nationality until 2012130 so those who enjoyed Dominican nationality could not also be Haitian. There are no exact figures on how many Dominicans of Haitian descent are affected by this series of amended laws. A survey jointly conducted by the National Statistics Office and the UN Fund for Population (UNFPOA) estimated that 209,912 individuals were born in the DR of Haitian migrants.

131 This matches the UNHCR figure of 210,000 stateless persons in DR at the end of 2013. The figure, however, captures only the first generation of persons of Haitian descent, born in the Dominican Republic. Given that the retroactive stripping of nationality affected individuals who were born in the country as far back as 1929, a far larger number of persons lost their entitlement to Dominican nationality because their parents or grandparents are considered never to have possessed it. For instance, Juliana Deguis Pierre, whose case before the constitutional court figures at the centre of the current problems, has four children herself. If Juliana is no longer considered 128 Often determined arbitrarily or on the basis of racial criteria. 129 Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Yean and Bosico v. Dominican Republic, Series C, Case 130, 8 September 2005. 130 Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Haiti: Dual citizenship, including legislation; requirements and procedures for former Haitian citizens to re-acquire citizenship (2012-January 2013), 8 February 2013, HTI104293.E. 131 See above, note 69. 3 GLOBAL STATELESSNESS STATISTICS 74 Dominican, they also lost their nationality– yet only she appears in the statistic of 210,000 persons under UNHCR’s statelessness mandate. It is not possible, at present, to estimate the size of the further population affected – i.e. the second, third or even fourth generations born in DR who were also stripped of their nationality – but the fertility rate in the Dominican Republic is reported to be 2.8 children per woman.132 Thus, while there are also some recent legislative developments that look set to allow an estimated 10% of those affected to regain their Dominican nationality, the assessment of civil society groups is that statelessness actually threatens a far larger number of people in DR and the data reported is significantly underestimating the problem. O

Friday, April 17, 2015

Money Laundering

The banks are out of peso coins again.

The farmacia just handed me back the five peso coin that I had given them when the clerk asked if I had a peso for the bill. I saw that one side of her tray was filled with individually wrapped cough drops which are given when the change is one or two pesos.

I knew this peso shortgage was my fault since I had a jar of them at home.

I promised I would bring them back to the store.

So I went home, counted out an even hundred of the heavy, metal coins, worth 2.23 US cents each.  Some of them are trading on ebay for as much as .99 US.

They are very large, probably the size of a US quarter if memory serves me, which it often does not. And perhaps like most metal coinage in the world today, it is most likely worth more by its metal content than it is as currency.

They would make a  wonderful necklace, Holding one feels like finding sunken treasure. I usually make a practice of dropping them on the grass, under the huge sacred ficus trees,for the shoe shine boys, the drunks,the begger ladies.

Nevertheless, I had acquired a full jar.

I am mindful that I have a national reputation to preserve here. One of my dearest friends here has said more than once "The Americans are not like the Europeans. When an American says he will do something, he does it. With the Europeans, maybe yes, maybe no, maybe just another glass of wine."

So I felt a certain sense of national honor was at stake here so I did not stop to make lunch but went right to work, laundering the money.

First in "Acer" - detergent
 Rinse.. ah..the dirty water...!!
Then in "Cloro" -
Ah... the sparkling coins.....!
Then dried on a dish towel.

Then placed in one of my rewashed zip lock bags, on its last legs.

On the way to the Farmacia, I thought what to do with the $2,20, which was, after all, completely "found" money. It is the exact price of the Plato del Dia, a mound of rice and beans, a side of fresh cole slaw, two small pieces of chicken in a delicious sauce, far more nourishing than any Happy Meal.

There were two of the regular "shoe shine" boys on the corner but they looked very well nourished playing under the tree with the remnants of a take out container so someone had already given them lunch.

Then, just on cue, arrived Manolito, who is our resident homeless wanderer, Although he could probably qualify for some sort of diagnosis, and sometimes does get drunk and obnoxious on holidays, ussally he only approaches and states that he is hungry. Folks who are not from the neighborhood are afraid of him but none of us are. He will walk alongside me, ask about my dog, ask how my friends from Las Terrenas are.

Reminds me that he has not eaten today.

"Tengo Hambre"

I squeezed the bag of washed pesos in my hand.

"Espere, Manalito".

At the Farmacia, the laundered pesos were greated as a belated Christmas gift. One can only imagine.. those one and two pesos.. over the course of a day for a business, ..that adds up....

 And.. well.. imagine.. the Gringa had.. WASHED them..
After all, I said, you are a Farmacia.. you cannot be passing out dirty money.

When I lived in Haiti,many years ago, the linen gourdes that I got for change in the market place in St Marc were so dirty that I often could not discern the denomination. I would always take them home and wash them.

I did the same for the pesos that were in circulation in Las Terrenas, from the fruit and veggie stands.

I guess I have been laundering money for a long time.

So - national reputation upheld  My word is my bond.
\
money laundered and in circulation

Street wanderer given lunch

life purpose fulfilled for the

God is good