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Monday, November 28, 2005

Georgia's Fraudulent Anti-Fraud Legislation


Georgia's Fraudulent Anti-Fraud Legislation

by Julian Bond
November 23, 2005
http://www.chicagodefender.com/page/commentary.cfm?ArticleID=2981

WASHINGTON (NNPA) - What is it with some people?

Why do they persist in believing racial minorities are
inveterate cheaters at the polls? What kind of racist
criminal profiling takes place in their minds?

Now comes Georgia State Rep. Sue Burmesiter (R-Augusta)
telling the United States Department of Justice that if
Black people in her district "are not paid to vote,
they don't go to the polls."

She predicted that if a restrictive law she proposed
was adopted, fewer Blacks would vote because her
measure would end Black voting fraud. Although
Georgia's Secretary of State testified there was not
widespread fraud in Georgia, the Republican-dominated
legislature overwhelmingly passed Burmesiter's bill.

Fortunately, a federal judge suspended the law's
requirement of expensive photo identifications. He
agreed with civil rights organizations that charged the
law imposed an unconstitutional poll tax. But Georgia's
Gov. 'Sonny" Perdue says he still supports the law
despite claims that it would adversely affect racial
minorities,

Rep. Burmesiter, unfortunately, isn't alone - many
others behave in every election as if they are the only
barrier between honest elections and Black voters bent
on fraudulent, dishonest ways to steal elections.

In electoral contest after contest, in states scattered
across the country, they've employed so-called "ballot
security programs" to halt an anticipated flood of
criminally-minded African-Americans from casting
illegal votes.

In both Florida and Ohio in 2004, for example, GOP
operatives threatened to monitor Black precincts to
insure the sanctity of the presidential contest. No
such precinct police were employed to guard White
polling places. Those voters presumably enjoyed a
racial exemption from suspicion of felonious behavior.

A 2004 report issued by People for the America Way
(PFAW) and the National Association for the Advancement
of Colored People (NAACP) listed numerous examples of
intimidation and voter suppression efforts aimed at
racial minorities.

Among the report's findings:

The use in the Orlando, Fla. area of armed,
plainclothes officers from the Florida Department of
Law Enforcement (FDLE) to question elderly Black voters
in their homes.

In Florida in 2004, the state ordered the
implementation of a "potential felon" purge list to
remove voters from the rolls, in a disturbing echo of
the infamous 2000 purge, that removed thousands of
eligible voters, primarily African-Americans, from the
rolls. The state abandoned the plan after news media
investigations revealed that the 2004 list also
included thousands of people who were eligible to vote,
and heavily targeted African-Americans while virtually
ignoring Hispanic voters.

Michigan state Rep. John Pappageorge (R-Troy) was
quoted in the Detroit Free Press in 2004 as saying, "If
we do not suppress the Detroit vote, we're going to
have a tough time in this election." African-Americans
comprise 83 percent of Detroit's population.

In South Dakota's June 2004 primary, Native American
voters were prevented from voting after they were
challenged to provide photo IDs, which they were not
required to present under state or federal law.

In Kentucky in July 2004, Black Republican officials
joined to ask their State GOP party chairman to
renounce plans to place "vote challengers" in African-
American precincts during the coming elections.

In Texas, a local district attorney claimed that
students at a majority Black college were not eligible
to vote in the county where the school is located. It
happened in Waller County - the same county where 26
years earlier, a federal court order was required to
prevent discrimination against the students.

In 2003 in Philadelphia, voters in African American
areas were systematically challenged by men carrying
clipboards, driving a fleet of some 300 sedans with
magnetic signs designed to look like law enforcement
insignia.

In 2002 in Louisiana, flyers were distributed in
African American communities telling voters they could
go to the polls on Tuesday,

December 10th - three days after a Senate runoff
election was actually held.

In 1998 in South Carolina, a state representative
mailed 3,000 brochures to African American
neighborhoods, claiming that law enforcement agents
would be "working" the election, and warning voters
that "this election is not worth going to jail."

As the PFAW/NAACP report details, voter intimidation
and suppression is not a problem limited to the
southern United States. It takes place from California
to New York, Texas to Illinois. It isn't the province
of a single political party, although patterns of
intimidation have changed as the party allegiances of
minority communities have changed.

Over the past two decades, the Republican Party has
launched a series of "ballot security" and "voter
integrity" initiatives that have have targeted minority
communities. At least three times, these initiatives
were successfully challenged in federal courts as
illegal attempts to suppress voter participation based
on race.

The first was a 1981 case in New Jersey which protested
the use of armed guards to challenge Hispanic and
African-American voters, and exposed a scheme to
disqualify voters using mass mailings of outdated voter
lists. The case resulted in a consent decree
prohibiting efforts to target voters by race.

Six years later, similar "ballot security" efforts were
launched against minority voters in Louisiana, Georgia,
Missouri, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Indiana.
Republican National Committee documents said the
Louisiana program alone would "eliminate at least 60-
80,000 folks from the rolls," again drawing a court
settlement.

And just three years later in North Carolina, the state
Republican Party, the Helms for Senate Committee and
others sent postcards to 125,000 voters, 97 percent of
whom were African-American, giving them false
information about voter eligibility and warning of
criminal penalties for voter fraud - again resulting in
a decree against the use of race to target voters.

These incidents and others were explained away in 2004 as normal legal partisan activity, aimed at helping one party and hurting another.


But there's nothing 'legal' about intimidating minority
voters away from exercising their constitutional
rights.

Unfortunately, at least for some people, it is all too
"normal."

--------------------------------------------------
Julian Bond has been Chairman of the NAACP Board of
Directors since February 1998. He is a Distinguished
Scholar in the School of Government at American
University in Washington, DC, and a Professor of
History at the University of Virginia.
______________________________


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Hurricane Gumbo



Hurricane Gumbo
by MIKE DAVIS & ANTHONY FONTENOT

[from the November 7, 2005 issue]

Evangeline Parish, Louisiana

Nothing is moving in Evangeline Parish except for the sky. Black rain bands, the precursors of Hurricane Rita's fury, scud by at disconcerting velocity. Wind gusts uproot ancient oaks and topple a decrepit billboard advertising an extinct brand of chewing tobacco. The rice fields are flooding and the roads are barricaded with tree debris.

Millions of desperate Texans and southern Louisianans are still gridlocked on interstate highways headed north from Rita's path, but here in Ville Platte, a town of 11,000 in the heart of Acadiana (French-speaking southern Louisiana), the traditional response to an impending hurricane is not to evacuate but to gather together and cook.

Dolores Fontenot, matriarch of a clan that ordinarily mobilizes forty members for Sunday dinner (the "immediate family") and 800 for a wedding (the "extended family"), is supervising the preparation of a colossal crab gumbo. Its rich aroma is sensory reassurance against the increasingly sinister machine-gunning of the rain on her home's boarded-up windows.

Although every major utility from Baton Rouge to Galveston has crashed, a noisy generator in the carport keeps lights flickering inside as little kids chase one another and older men converse worriedly about the fate of their boats and hunting camps. There are disturbing reports about the waters rising around Pecan Island, Holly Beach and Abbeville.

In addition to Fontenot kin, the table is also set for three eminent immunologists from Latin America, whose laboratories at the Tulane and LSU medical centers in New Orleans were flooded by Katrina, destroying several years of invaluable cancer research. The doctors, two from Medellín, Colombia, and one from Mexico City, joke that Ville Platte has become the "Cajun Ark."

It is a surprisingly apt analogy. The folks of Ville Platte, a poor Cajun and black Creole community with a median income less than half that of the rest of the nation, have opened their doors over the past three weeks to more than 5,000 of the displaced people they call "company" (the words "refugee" and "evacuee" are considered too impersonal, even impolite). Local fishermen and hunters, moreover, were among the first volunteers to take boats into New Orleans to rescue desperate residents from their flooded homes.

Ville Platte's homemade rescue and relief effort--organized around the popular slogan "If not us, then who?"--stands in striking contrast to the incompetence of higher levels of government as well as to the hostility of other, wealthier towns, including some white suburbs of New Orleans, toward influxes of evacuees, especially poor people of color. Indeed, Evangeline Parish as a whole has become a surprising island of interracial solidarity and self-organization in a state better known for incorrigible racism and corruption.

What makes Ville Platte and some of its neighboring communities so exceptional?

Part of the answer, we discovered, has been the subtle growth of a regional "nationalism" that has drawn southern Louisiana's root cultures--African-American, black Creole, Cajun and French Indian--closer together in response to the grim and ever-growing threats of environmental and cultural extinction. There is a shared, painful recognition that the land is rapidly sinking and dying, as much from the onslaught of corporate globalization as from climate wrath.

If one wanted to be fashionably academic, Ville Platte's big-heartedness might be construed as a conscious response to the "postcolonial" crisis of Acadiana. In plainer language, it is an act of love in a time of danger: a radical but traditionalist gesture that defies most of the simplistic antinomies--liberal versus conservative, red state versus blue state, freedom of choice versus family values, and so on--that the media use to categorize contemporary American life.

But before arguing theory, it is first necessary to introduce some of the ordinary heroes sitting around Dolores Fontenot's generous dinner table as Rita shakes the earth outside.

The Cajun Navy

Edna Fontenot passes around bottles of beer--Corona in honor of the Latin American guests. He is a lean, gentle-spirited man in his late 40s with an impressive résumé of mechanical skills and survival expertise.

"You know, we were all watching New Orleans on television and we realized that somebody's got to help all these people, because nothing was happening. Nothing. Then there was a call [by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries] for small boats. So I said, I'm going. I knew I could do something. I lived in New Orleans and know how to get around on water."

Edna drove to nearby Lafayette (Acadiana's informal capital city) then convoyed with scores of other boat owners to Old Metairie, across from the broken 17th Street Canal that had emptied the waters of Lake Pontchartrain into central New Orleans.

"There was no FEMA, just a big ol' bunch of Cajun guys in their boats. We tried to coordinate best we could, but it was still chaos. It was steaming hot and there was a smell of death. The people on the rooftops and overpasses were desperate. They had been there for several days in the sun with no food, no water. They were dehydrated, blistered and sick...giving up, you know, ready to die."

Edna stayed for two days until floating debris broke his propeller. Although FEMA has recently taken credit for the majority of rescues, Edna scoffs at its claims. Apart from the Coast Guard, he saw only the Wildlife and Fisheries' "Cajun Navy" in action. "That was it. Just us volunteers." He feels guilty that he couldn't afford to fix his boat and return. "I had some good times in that damn city," he says softly, "and, you know, I have more black friends there than white."

City of the Dead

While Edna was saving the living, his brother-in-law, a police detective from another city, was engaged in the grueling, macabre work of retrieving bodies. "Vincent" (his real name can't be used) went out each night in a Fisheries boat with a scuba diver and an M-16-toting National Guard escort.

"I wore a [hazmat] space suit and piloted the boat. I was chosen because I'm trained in forensics, and since I am a Cajun the higher powers assumed I was a water baby. We worked at night because of the heat and to avoid the goddamn news helicopters that hover like vultures during the daytime. We didn't want some poor son of a bitch seeing his grandma covered with ants or crabs on the 6 o'clock news."

Ants and crabs? "Hey, this is Louisiana. The minute New Orleans flooded it became swamp again. The ecosystem returns. Ants float and they build big colonies on floating bodies the same as they would upon a cypress log. And the crabs eat carrion. We'd pulled the crabs off, but the goddamn ants were a real problem."

Vincent described the exhausting, gruesome work of hauling bloated bodies aboard the boat and then zipping them into body bags. (FEMA neglected water, food rations and medicine, but did fly thousands of body bags into Louis Armstrong Airport.) Although Vincent was supposed to tag the bags, few victims had any identification. Some didn't have faces.

One of us asks about the demographics of death. "We pulled seventy-seven bodies out of the water. Half were little kids. It was tough--no one died with their eyes closed, and all had fought like hell, some slowly drowning in their attics.

"I deal with crime scenes and human remains all the time and usually keep a professional distance. You have to, if you want to continue to do your job. But sometimes a case really gets to you. We found the corpse of a woman clutching a young baby. Mother or sister, I don't know. I couldn't pry the infant out of the woman's grasp without breaking her fingers. After finally separating them, the baby left a perfect outline imprinted across the lady's chest. That will really haunt me. And so will the goddamn cries of the people we left behind.

"We were under strict orders to remove only bodies. But there were still lots of people on the roofs or leaning out the windows of their houses. They were crazy with fear and thirst. They screamed, begged and cursed us. But we had a boatload of bodies, some probably infectious. So we saved the dead and left the living." Vincent believes that the "sniper activity" so luridly reported in the media was from stranded people who were outraged when boats and helicopters ignored them.

Madonna and Child

Danny Guidry, a paramedic married to a Fontenot cousin, has a story with a happier ending. Along with his partner and driver, he was sent with dozens of ambulances and rescue units from the Cajun parishes to the edge of New Orleans.

As victims were brought in by volunteers in boats or by the Coast Guard in their big Black Hawk helicopters, Danny classified them according to the severity of their condition and took the most critical cases to Baton Rouge, one and a half hours away through the pandemonium of emergency traffic.

Since southern Louisiana's only full-fledged trauma center was in a rapidly flooding hospital in New Orleans, most of the injured or sick evacuees were dropped at a triage center in a Baton Rouge sports stadium where a single nurse, just 24 years old, was in charge of sorting out cases and sending the most serious to already overwhelmed local hospitals.

"By my third trip," Danny explained, "I was working on automatic pilot. You just shut yourself off from the pain and turmoil around you and concentrate on doing your job as carefully and quickly as possible."

But, like Vincent, he found one case extraordinary. "She was a young lady, thirty-three weeks pregnant, in premature labor. She had been in a hospital ready for a caesarean section when the evacuation of the city was announced. Her physician stopped the labor and sent her home, presuming, I guess, that she had access to a car, which she didn't. Her husband went out to look for food, then the levee broke. When we picked her up, the husband had been missing for several days. To make matters more complicated, she was cradling a 9-month-old baby that she had rescued from a crack-addict neighbor. Both she and the infant were heat stressed, and my sixth sense told me she might not make it to Baton Rouge.

"It was the longest run of my career. Her IV was bad and I was running out of fluid. She was getting paler, and her blood pressure was falling dangerously. My orders were to take her to the central triage center, but I told my partner to punch it and head straight to the nearest hospital.

"Out of professional protocol I never divulge personal information to a victim. But this case really moved me, so I gave this young woman my phone number and urged her, Please call when you are out of labor. In fact, I kept phoning the hospital to monitor her progress. She had a healthy baby and eventually found her husband. Meanwhile, the infant she had saved was reunited with its mother. Having come this far with this girl, I just couldn't walk away, so my wife and I invited her and her husband to Ville Platte. We found them a little house and she's getting ready to go to college in Lafayette. I helped board up their windows this afternoon."

'Just Friends'

In between Rita's windy tantrums, we made a quick run down to the Civic Center Shelter, where volunteers welcomed new "company" from the hurricane-threatened Louisiana-Texas border area.

The shelter is supported only by local resources but provides ample beds, toys, television, Internet access, superb Cajun-Creole cooking and hospitality to evacuees staying only for a few nights or waiting to be rehoused on a medium-term basis with local residents.

The center's founders include Edna's "Kosher Cajun" cousin Mark Krasnoff (his dad was from Brooklyn) and Jennifer Vidrine, who has become its full-time coordinator. Everyone had told us that Jennifer has the most gorgeous smile in Louisiana. Although she hadn't slept in two days, her smile indeed brightened the entire shelter.

An LSU graduate with a recent fellowship at Harvard's prestigious Kennedy School, Jennifer has had every opportunity to conquer the world, but she wouldn't think of leaving Ville Platte. She talks about the first week after Katrina.

"There were just thousands of tired, scared people on the roads of Evangeline Parish. Not just in cars: Some were walking, carrying everything they still owned in a backpack. Some were crying; they had a look of hopelessness. It was like
The Grapes of Wrath. Most knew nothing about Ville Platte, but were amazed when we invited them into our homes."

It sounds too good to be true: Acadiana, despite deep cross-racial kinships of culture, religion and blood, was once a bastion of Jim Crow. Just a few years ago an effort by Ville Platte authorities to redistrict the town to dilute the black vote was struck down as a violation of the Voting Rights Act. So we ask Jennifer, who's both "French" and African-American, if the relief effort isn't discreetly color-coded, with a preference for suburban white refugees.

She's unflappable. "No, not at all. We embrace everyone with the same love. And the whole community supports this project: black, white, Catholic, Baptist. Perhaps one-third of all private homes have taken in out-of-town folks. And it doesn't matter where our 'company' comes from: the Ninth Ward [black] or Chalmette [white]. That's just the way we are. We're all raised to take care of neighbors and give kindness to strangers. This is what makes this little town special and why I love it so much."

Jennifer praises local schoolteachers and the City Council. But when we ask about the contribution of the national relief organizations and the federal government, she points to the banner over the shelter's entrance: N
O RED CROSS, NO SALVATION ARMY OR FEDERAL FUNDS... JUST FRIENDS.

"I started trying to contact the Red Cross immediately. I phoned them for thirteen days straight. I was told 'no personnel are available.' [According to the
Wall Street Journal, the Red Cross, which raised $1 billion in the name of aiding Katrina victims, had 163,000 volunteers available.] Finally, they promised to come, but then canceled at the last minute. FEMA is just the same. We have yet to see the federal government in person." Indeed, before Rita closed the roads, we saw no evidence of a federal presence, although we ran across several SUVs with Halliburton logos.

Ville Platte, whose black majority has an annual per capita income of only $5,300, has thus managed to help thousands of strangers without a single cent of Red Cross or federal aid. We remain incredulous: What superior organizational principle or charismatic leadership is responsible for such an achievement?

Jennifer is bemused. "Listen, my committee is my telephone. I call folks and they respond. Food, clothing, cots, medicine--it's all provided. Even poor people down here have some extra deer meat in the freezer or an old quilt or an extra bed. And all of us know how to spontaneously cooperate. My God, we're always organizing christenings or family gatherings. So why do we need a lot of formal leadership?" In a nation currently without competent leadership, this may be a reasonable, even deeply profound, question.

The People's Republic of the Bayous?

So what does it all mean?

Mark Krasnoff thinks Ville Platte is the shape of things to come: southern Louisiana getting its interracial act together to take on its colonizers and rulers. A small, wiry man with the build of a dancer or gymnast, he is an actor (most recently in a prophetic FX network TV drama, Oil Storm, about a category 6 hurricane hitting the Gulf Coast) and a stunning bilingual raconteur. He is also the Che Guevara-cum-Huey Long of Evangeline Parish. His beat-up pickup wears the bumper sticker L
OUISIANA: THIRD WORLD AND PROUD OF IT.

"Look, Louisiana is the same as any exploited oil-rich country--like a Nigeria or Venezuela. For generations the big oil and gas companies have pumped billions out of our bayous and offshore waters, and all we get back is coastal erosion, pollution, cancer and poverty. And now bloated bodies and dead towns.

"People in the rest of America need to understand there are no 'natural' disasters in Louisiana. This is one of the richest lands in the world--everything from sugar and crawfish to oil and sulfur--but we're neck-to-neck with Mississippi as the poorest state. Sure, Washington builds impressive levees to safeguard river commerce and the shipping industry, but do you honestly think they give a shit about blacks, Indians and coonasses [pejorative for Cajuns]? Poor people's levees, if they even existed, were about as good as our schools [among the worst in the nation]. Katrina just followed the outlines of inequality."

Mark is incandescent. "The very soul of Louisiana is now at stake." He enumerates the working-class cultures threatened with extinction: the "second line" black neighborhoods of New Orleans, the French Indians in Houma, the Isleno (Canary Islander) and Vietnamese fishermen in Plaquemines, Cajun communities all along the Gulf Coast.

"If our 'leaders' have their way this whole goddamn region will become either a toxic graveyard or a big museum where jazz, zydeco and Cajun music will still be played for tourists but the cultures that gave them life are defunct or dispersed."

Mark's worst fears, of course, are rapidly becoming facts on the ground. Bush's Housing Secretary, Alphonso Jackson, told the
Houston Chronicle on September 30, "I think it would be a mistake to rebuild the Ninth Ward." He predicted that New Orleans' black population, 67 percent before Katrina, would shrink to 35 to 40 percent. "New Orleans is not going to be as black as it was for a long time, if ever again," he said.

This was undoubtedly music to the ears of Republican master strategist Karl Rove, who knows that the loss of 10,000 or 15,000 active black Democratic voters could alter the balance of power in Louisiana and transform overnight a pink state into a red state. The GOP could gain another senator as well as the governorship.

Mark's preferred solution is secession: "Let us keep our oil and gas revenues and we can preserve our way of life as well. We don't really belong to the same cultural system anyway. You prize money, competition and individual success; we value family, community and celebration. Give us independence and we'll restore the wetlands, rebuild the Ninth Ward and move the capital to Evangeline Parish. If you wish, you can ship the Statue of Liberty to Ville Platte and we'll add a new inscription: Send us your tired and huddled masses and we'll feed them hurricane gumbo."

We all laugh, but everyone understands it is gallows humor. Ordinary people across Louisiana and the Gulf Coast are beginning to understand what it's like to be Palestinians or Iraqis at the receiving end of Washington's hypocritical promises and disastrous governmental and military actions.

Katrina and Rita have stripped Louisiana naked: Exposed to a brutal light are government neglect, corporate rapine and blatant ethnic cleansing. Equally revealed, however, is the bayou country's ancient moral bedrock of populist revolt, cultural resistance and New Testament generosity. But when in the entire bloody course of history has the kindness of strangers ever defeated the conspiracy of money and power?

Friday, November 25, 2005

Chavez, Venezuelan oil in spirit of Fair trade

SOUTHOF BOSTON.COM's Nov. 25 editiorial "Low-cost oil is not free from political strings"...misses the point entirely.

At least in our humble opinion at Blacklogic.

That Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has brokered the economic leverage of that nation to help not only his own nation's poor but regionally in South America, the Carribbean, and these here United States is commendable to say the least. As evidenced by the sham oil hearings before Congress a few weeks ago, American oil multinationals lack the humanity do do the same for poor here at home.

The writer is correct to suggest that "almost everything about oil is political," but even before the US War induced spike in oil prices led to $35 and up barrel prices for crude, Chavez had long championed and advocated global fair trade.

See, there are other forms of commerce besides the disparity-inducing capitalism that only a small percentage the world's populace deems necessary for their survival.

The writer continues the same tired white supremacist/colonialist/imperialist narratives newspapers have subtly and not so subtly evoked as the myth of objective, normative information, ever since I don't know when. I just admit it's kinda fun watching the U.S. propagandist mainstream media gradually exposed for the infotaintment fraud they've prepetrated for access t o power, and to participate in the preservation of an order based on economic disparities, racial division and distrust at the expense of the world's majority; an order that could only be created, enforced, and now, desperately maintained through exponential violence. that Venezuela President Hugo Chavez is an ardent foe of President Bush and helped make a shambles of the Free Trade Area of the Americas conference in Argentina this month," as the writer notes, should only highlight what's right about President Chavez. The writer omits to inform his South Boston readership of the antithesis to free trade, FAIR TRADE. " His (Chavez's) opposition to free trade prevents opening new markets for American companies and improving life for working people in Latin America."

It is important we as Blacks recognized these narratives passed off as normal discourse. After Hurricane Katrina it was Cuba who stepped forward to offer emergency medical assistance on the spot that our own government couldn't provide. Just think what hundreds of professional doctors trained in the Latin American School of Medicine in Cuba could have done in the immediate aftermath of that devestation!
"Chavez now would like nothing better than to tweak Bush and American corporations by playing the humanitarian," a role it seems no one at the top of America's military/industrial complex seems willing or able to assume. Oil, whether in abundance or disparity, influences the politics of the entire world (just check the recent greenhouse gas reports about man's impact over the last 200 years versus the previous 650 millinea). That Chavez chooses freely to extend that nation's oil wealth to help others worldwide, should not be criticized as mere grandstanding when the world's richest nation has done so very little for the same.

Let's be glad others are there to fill the void.


Monday, November 21, 2005

Haiti: Empty bellies and empty elections

Workers World - Nov 24, 2005 issue


Haiti: Empty bellies and empty elections

By G. Dunkel

The desperate situation of the people of imperialist-occupied Haiti
has grown worse. Hunger and random brutality, according to a report
produced by the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights and the Latin
American office of UNICEF, are the daily fare of children and
teenagers in Haiti.

Of course, UNICEF didn't put its conclusions so bluntly. It merely
reported that, in 15 percent of the zones included in its nationwide
survey, children were killed by gunfire. In one-third of the zones
children were either injured by gunfire or beaten. In urban areas,
where violence is most common, rapes of children have increased
markedly.

Fewer and fewer children are going to school in this country where the
illiteracy rate is more than 50 percent because schools and the
streets leading to them are too dangerous. In about 70 percent of the
zones UNICEF surveyed, families had fled to safer areas.

Much of the burden of the current situation in Haiti is falling on its
children. Hunger affects them more severely since they are still
growing and they are less capable of resisting violence. But their
parents and other adults have also suffered. An estimated 10,000
people throughout Haiti have been killed by violence since the
U.S.-backed coup began in early 2004 and more than 3,000 supporters of
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide are currently political prisoners.

UNICEF is pleading for compassion and mercy and aid from the very
countries that created, deepened and intensified the misery of Haiti:
the United States, Canada and France, with the assistance of Brazil.

The U.S. government, with some technical and political cooperation
from France, organized and implemented the coup that removed from
office Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti's democratically elected
president. U.S. Marines from the ambassador's bodyguard then put
Aristide on a U.S. plane that took him to the Central African
Republic.

When the U.S. and France had to pull back a bit from Haiti in order to
fulfill more pressing commitments--the U.S. in Iraq, France in the
Ivory Coast--Canada stepped up its role, spending at least $100
million to prop up the current, illegitimate government that
Washington imposed on Haiti.

The current UN approach to "solving" Haiti's problems is a
"selection/election" of a president and parliament that will do what
they are told and certainly not challenge the U.S.'s political control
in the Caribbean and Latin America or demand reparations from France
for imposing a crushing debt on Haiti. In 1825, France forced Haiti to
pay French plantation owners 150 million gold francs in compensation
for freed slave laborers. According to an estimate by the Aristide
government, this would amount to $21 billion today. The Aristide
government was actively seeking this amount as reparations when it was
overthrown.

Currently the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) claims to have
registered 3 million Haitians for the proposed elections, but only a
handful of its fancy identification cards--which require thumb prints
and photos--have been distributed. The CEP has been forced to postpone
the first round of elections, which was scheduled for Nov. 17 but has
been pushed back to Dec. 11 and Dec. 18, despite the fact that de
facto Prime Minister Gérard Latortue made a round of international
visits at the end of October to the UN Security Council and various
bodies in Europe swearing up and down that the next president of Haiti
would take office as constitutionally mandated on Feb. 7, 2006.

The CEP has removed three candidates from the roster of 39 who are
running for president because they have foreign passports, which under
Haitian law means they are no longer citizens. The CEP assigned
identification numbers to the 43 parties and political groups running
in the elections. Some of the concerned parties registered loud
protests, charging the draw was rigged because their numbers weren't
in the box.

This article is copyright under a Creative Commons License.
Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
Email: ww@workers.org
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Monday, November 07, 2005

November 7, 2005


Here's an interview we conducted with St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly late last week. This interview was originally scheduled to appear coutesy the local NNPA paper, but the responses arrived late.

Kelly, a professed Democrat, is in a high profile race against fellow Democrat Chris Coleman, who bested Kelly by a 2-1 margin in the September primary.

Kelly is known far and wide, for better or worse, for his lavish endorsement and embrace of President Bush over the choice of his own party. A pundit in a local paper has recently suggested Kelly would stand a better chance if he'd just formally switch parties, but the combative Kelly is still confident up the the eve of the city wide elections tomorrow. Here for our readers, in his own words:

St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly: Can he buy this election?

By Rashard Zanders
BlackLogic Staff Writer

Twin Cites, MN


1.) In your estimation, how will the voters of
St. Paul respond November 8?

Kelly: Elections have consequences. And this one is no exception. I have kept every promise I made to voters when I ran in 2001. When I ran for office four years ago I said we would work together and build 5,000 new units of housing, reduce crime, and make a difference in St. Paul schools. We have done that and more amidst one of the toughest economic recessions in memory. In this campaign I have pledged to keep government spending at the rate of inflation over the next four years in order to keep our property taxes in the city affordable. With the energy price spike weve had this year -- gas north of $2.00 a gallon and the home heating oil season upon us for winter  government needs to learn to live within its means just like families and senior citizens do.

2.) Many St. Paul area business leaders are actively involved in your campaign. How will there support translate into a victory over challenger Chris Coleman?

I am proud of the diverse group of supporters my candidacy has inspired. Among them, I count many, many, small, medium, and corporate business leaders who are actively involved in my campaign. I also have the endorsements of Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike. They are supporting me because of my commitment to encouraging their entrepreneurial spirit, my leadership to improve our commercial corridors, including our ethnic business corridors such as University Avenue, District de soli, and Selby Avenue, and my understanding that responsible tax policies will foster continued private investment in our City. They are supporting me because I believe their voice is an important one to be heard at city hall. I am proud of their support and I believe their efforts, along with many other supporters like the St. Paul and Minneapolis Police Federations and unions like Local 455 Steamfitters Pipefitters will help my campaign succeed in the election.

3.) Is their support a matter of believing the Kelly campaign can 'buy' this election?

Chris Coleman has been endorsed by several public employee unions who will have contracts before the City. I presume he would object to the premise of this question as much as I do. The support of any individual or organization is a reflection of their belief in your ideals, your vision and your leadership. I am proud of the support of those individuals because they believe in the vision of this Administration, and the direction of our City.

4.) How has the Kelly Administration improved the economic outlook for the city's nonwhite communities, particularly the African American and immigrant communities?

I hired the first African American Fire Chief. I hired an African American Police Chief. My record of support for minority hiring in the City, and my Administration's emphasis on improving culural diversity is historic.

For the last four years our Administration has worked day and night to improve St. Pauls safety and its affordability. We have completed our Housing 5,000 initiative which included building 1,000 units that are affordable for lower income and seniors living on a fixed income. We have focused on recruiting and retaining jobs in the city, and this year alone will add 2,300 additional jobs to our workforce. We have made doing business with the city more transparent and open to all  for instance we passed an immigration ordinance which allows undocumented residents to report crimes without fear of retribution.

We have improved the diversity of our workforce  nearly one in every four hires in city government is a person of color; we have 13 minority developers doing 90 million dollars worth of business in the city; and we dedicated two streets to legendary leaders of our minority communities, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez. When faced with thousands of new Hmong immigrants coming to our city, our administration led a delegation to Thailand to ensure our community was prepared for their arrival and ready to help in their transition to our community.

5.) The courts recently dismissed without prejudice a suit by Black businessmen about the City's record on chapter 84. How does this make you feel, in the context of Housing 5000 and other initiatives you've led?

My administration has worked tirelessly over the course of the last four years to make our development processes open, transparent, competitive, and fair for everyone. We have set goals, and invested significant time and resources to ensure those goals are met. And, while I am proud of the progress we have made so far, as indicated by recent court action which will allow us to bring more minorities onto to our Firefighters ranks, I believe we can do better, and I am committed to doing just that.

6.) How has this mayoral administration improved St. Paul over the last four years?

We have made significant strides over the last four years in bringing more jobs to St. Paul, completing 5,000 units of housing where 1,000 of those units are affordable for lower income populations, reduced crime by double digits, brought 2,100 volunteers into our schools to help our children read and worked to close the achievement gap between white students and students of color. This administration has handled challenging budget times, without sacrificing important quality of life investments in our parks, libraries and community centers. And, we have also completed innovative initiatives like our Bioscience Corridor, the Conservatory for Performing Arts, and consolidating our communications center with Ramsey County.

7.) Given President Bush's ongoing problems with the Special Prosecutor Fitzerald, the Supreme Court, crisis management, et al., does the Mayor still stand by this administration?

People who do not tell the truth, need to be held accountable for their actions. I applaud the efforts of the Special Counsel. Unlike Chris Coleman who has run against candidates of his own political party time after time after time -- only to then, when his political career is on the line, apologize for running against them -- I stand by my principles. While I do not agree with every decision of this Administration, I will not backtrack on my principles.

8.) Are there any criticisms of the President that the Mayor finds valid?

I have long said I personally disagree with the Presidents position on gay marriage. And, I do believe that overall the federal government response to Hurricane Katrina could have been substantially more effective.

9.) How can Black contractors get jobs with the city that are not subcontracted through larger companies and developers?

First, our Administration has made the entire process more open, transparent and competitive. Any contractor can register as a vendor with the City of Saint Paul. I am committed to making sure that minority contractors take advantage of these opportunities, and if we discover more minority contractors would participate if we invested in educational forums or streamlined registration, I pledge to support those efforts. We have taken the lead on a metro area examination of disparities in the treatment of minorities businesses and will particpate in the remediation efforts needed. We make available $250,000 every year for minority business capacity building, and we support the construction partnership program which formally links minority businesses to joint ventures, partnerships and mentoring opportunities with large general contractors. Currently the city supports minority contractors through our construction partnership program and our joint ventures initiatives.

10.) What in closing would you like to say to our readers before the election? (Space for you to account for your administration).

This election does have consequences. If you believe that Saint Paul has made remarkable strides over the last four years, that our priorities of making this community more safe, more affordable, and more livable are moving this city in the right direction, then I urge you to get out and vote for me on November 8th. If you value my commitment to job creation, transportation, arts and culture, and responsible tax policy, then I urge you to get out and vote for me on November 8th.

Because if you do not vote, or if you decide partisanship is more important than partnership, my friends our city will look a great deal different four years from now. My opponent has promised things only your tax dollars can deliver. Under my opponents leadership our city will take a drastically different path to greater taxes and less accountability. Gone will be the confidence and hope that inspires the kind of private and public sector development and investment that makes a community thrive. I urge you to choose wisely.