25 September 2005

No Way Out?

Common Sense
John Maxwell

Many, many years ago, when I was a teenager at high school, the local cinema mogul would once or twice a term lend the school a projector and a feature film which had been shown everywhere else. This time the projector worked but the sound didn't. The film was "Whispering Smith", a western epic, starring Alan ladd, then at the height of his stardom, a tough, no-nonsense cowboy.

Unfortunately, without sound, unable even to whisper, bereft of voice, Alan Ladd came across as an animated dummy, running the gamut of emotions from A to B, as I think Dorothy Parker once said. It was all gesture, mechanical: smile, frown, look quizzical; frown again etc etc.
I began to laugh and my fellows, to whom Alan Ladd was a genuine hero, looked at me quizzically.

Alan Ladd raised his eyebrows; I raised mine; he smiled, grimly; so did I; he looked quizzical; so did I. Pretty soon the guys beside me began to laugh and soon the whole school was enjoying an uproarious silent comedy which was meant to be deadly serious.

Later I discovered that Alan Ladd was so short that he had to stand on boxes to kiss his leading ladies. George Bush reminds me of Alan Ladd. And if you turn off his sound you will see why. It is all gesture, no heart.


The headline above is taken from an AP report out of Houston on Friday: 'No Way Out: Many Poor Stuck in Houston'.
The Cubans do it better.

In the the last five years, the Cubans have moved six million people "equivalent to half their population" in response to hurricane threats. According to Prensa Latina, the Cuban news agency, "Most people find refuge in institutions prepared by the Civil Defence System or in houses of relatives and neighbours; part of the spontaneous solidarity of the Cuban people.

In September 2004 alone, over two-and-a-quarter-million people were evacuated before Hurricane Ivan, which reached category five. As a result of precautions taken by the Cuban Civil Defence, the most effective in the world, there were no human losses; something considered amazing in the world, but customary in Cuba."

When they are threatened by a hurricane, every Cuban knows what to do. Every family knows where they are going and how they are getting there. During Hurricane Dennis there were 16 people killed in Cuba, because they had refused to move and hid themselves from the neighbourhood committees which are responsible for such matters.

Those were the first deaths from a hurricane in Cuba for a very long time. The Cubans are in the direct path of hurricanes and when a hurricane's position and direction are known, every man, woman, child and animal is moved to safety.

The entire Cuban people were extremely upset at the deaths from Dennis. It was all so unneccessary, they say.
For Rita there were no reports of casualties, neither dead nor injured last week when almost 238,000 people were evacuated to safe shelters. Nearly 60,000 students from boarding schools (junior high and high) were taken to evacuation centres and their schools secured. Thousands of tourists in Key Coco and Varadero were also transfered to safety.

Cuba is one of the poorest countries in the world, with a national income below that of Jamaica or the Dominican republic. That is, according to how you measure national welfare.
The United States is one of the richest countries in the world and has more millionaires than Barbados has people.

When Hurricane Rita strikes this weekend I pray that no one will die, but I am not at all confident. Rita battered northern Cuba last week but no one died. In Texas 24 people died on Friday when a bus filled with elderly and sick evacuees caught fire.

Roads were jammed and some people were reported stuck for more than half a day trying to get out of Houston.
In some ways the United States resembles Jamaica. Here too, we wait until the last minute to make preparations for events we know are sure to happen.


Jamaica is still trying to get special treatment from the European community for its bananas and sugar, both lost causes 40 years ago, as far as I was concerned. There are, and were, alternatives, but we will not consider them. The reason: if we transform food production in Jamaica into a real agricultural pursuit and not a factory system, we will have to redistribute land, give power to the people and make life less profitable for the coupon clippers.

If we transform agriculture and begin to eat what we produce and produce more of what we eat we will be free from the threat of globalisation, from the threat of being non-competitive beggars and slaves to foreign capital. We will not need to borrow from the international financial institutions.

The crime rate will fall because we will need to educate our children and take better care of them.

We depend on a system which depends on exploitation of the presence of a fluid, volatile reservoir of unemployed whose function is to keep wages down. Full employment means that everyone will have to work for his living. We can't have that.

Somehow, they have it in Cuba. The Cubans operate what the western press reports to be an antiquated, discredited collectivist system which by definition cannot work. Three weeks ago, this dilapidated economy offered to send 1,600 trained emergency doctors to the United states, an offer which was refused.

One wonders if one of them was on that bus in Houston if it would have caught fire in the first place. Last week the Cubans decided to organise an international brigade from those volunteer doctors, ready to go anywhere to help anyone in trouble.

There are thousands of Cuban doctors all over the world, thousands in Africa, thousands in Venezuela, hundreds in Haiti, treating sick poor people.

There must be something wrong with such a system!!
Last week the Cuban president announced that Cuba is well on the way to achieving the lowest infant mortality rate in the hemisphere, below four per thousand births, even better than Canada, he said. He was addressing a graduation ceremony for 1,903 physicians from the island's medical schools.

In addition, Castro announced that Cuba's life expectancy will be highest in the hemisphere. That advance will take place in half the time it took Switzerland and Japan to raise their life expectancies from 70 to 80 years. In Cuba life expectancy is at 77.5 years.

The president noted that medical services in Cuba have increased life expectancy by 18 years from the 60 years at the triumph of the Revolution in 1959.


Next door to Cuba is Haiti, another of the world's poorest countries, run, like Jamaica, on laissez-faire principles, so laissez -aire, in fact, that the country is not being run by its own people but by a clique put in power by the United States.

The invasion of Haiti and the coup against President Aristide were one of Mr Bush's most ambitious experiments in spreading "freedom". It was done because they thought Aristide would turn into "another Fidel Castro".

To do that, he decapitated Haitian democracy and deposed a president who, unlike him, won the votes and loyalty of an overwhelming majority of his people.

In order to democratise Haiti, the United States, aided and abetted by France, Canada and the Security Council of the United Nations has imposed an oligarchy in Haiti which rules by terror, confident of the approval of the 'civilised' world.

Convicted murderers have been let loose and pardoned and one is about to run for president in a mock election under the auspices, of the so-called United Nations. They are confident that the odd dozen rapes, beatings and occasional massacres will pass unnoticed by the western press, those stalwart defenders of freedom and human rights. They can securely mistreat Haitian women, paying them starvation wages and sterilising them against their will to maintain a disciplined workforce.

This Haitian election is especially significant when one remembers the pious speeches of George Bush and Kofi Annan two weeks ago at the UN summit when they both regretted the advance of terrorism and the decline of democracy in the world.
But all is well.

It is the gesture that is important, not the action. As we watch Mr Bush quizzically raise his eyebrows, wisely frown, sagaciously clench his lips and resolutely point his finger, we know that he is a very serious man, just like Whispering Smith. And we know that his speech was written by an accomplished acolyte of George Orwell, that prophet of newspeak and globalisation.

To safeguard democracy and make assurance doubly sure, in Haiti Messrs Annan (black) and Mr Bush (white) have jointly conceived a multiracial solution, that is sure to get world approval, to the problem of Haitian democracy. Simply announce an election, call for candidates for the election and when they present themselves, lock them up.

Meanwhile, in the spirit of the times, especially of the New York Times, I consider it opportune to write a piece 'in the manner of George Orwell' honouring Western journalism. It will be called: "Homage to Catatonia", and they should all be pleased whenever they awake from their slumbers, five, 10 or 50 years from now.

Meanwhile, we in Jamaica have not been slow in making our marks in the annals of confusion and misfeasance. Some items:
The latest friend of Patterson (FOP), Mr Cartade, is busily spreading his idea of freedom to settlements outside of his Long Mountain gated community.

Having already destroyed a precious pre-Colombian Taino archaeological site and laid waste to a biodiversity hotspot in which there was at least one plant not found anywhere else in the world, Mr Cartade is now happily pumping human excrement onto the lawns and gardens, the roads and footpaths of the Pines of Karachi.

He probably thinks they need manure, and like any nascent politician, he is giving them more than they ever thought they needed.

The minister of finance, now challenging for the prime minister's job, has quietly annexed part of National Heroes' Park for that sublime amenity of civilised life, a car park.

The University of the West Indies, not to be outdone, is busily constructing a patty shop at the intersection of its Queen's Drive and Ring Road.

Soon, invoking GATS, Burger King, MacDonalds and Taco Bell will demand 'national treatment' and Jamaican civilisation will finally come to full flower at the centre of Caribbean intellectual life, complete with the majestic backdrop of the Blue Mountains. This backdrop was once considered so sacred, in fact, that not even fences were to be placed in the sightlines.All we will need is a stall at the main gate selling cowskin soup.

Times change, they say 'tempus fugit' and I am become a fugitive from civilisation.

11 September 2005

So Poor! 'So Black!'

Common Sense
John Maxwell

'So Poor!' he said in wonderment. CNN's Wolf Blitzer was looking at some of the victims of Katrina, rudely uprooted from their Third World existence in New Orleans by the hurricane. They were, of course outside his experience.

For Wolf Blitzer and most other American journalists, American poverty is a whole other country and so, white American journalists are as bemused as the rest of the world, looking on in stupefied disbelief as they are exposed to the reality of the American underclass.

On Thursday, a group of more than a hundred Jamaicans returned to Jamaica from jobs on the US Gulf coast. They were ordinary workers, hotel maids, bellhops and the like, with no particularly rare skills. They've been working in the US because American hotels can't find American workers to do these jobs.

They can't find them because Americans, no matter how poor, refuse to work for the kind of pay Jamaicans will willingly accept. The American workers are, in the words of the globalisers, not competitive.

To make them competitive the United States has for generations relied on imported labour, mainly illegal immigrants and some others who go to the United States with the full knowledge and complicity of the American authorities to work for American capitalists.

Foreign workers, like this Jamaican woman, take low-paying jobs which most Americans won't accept.

How can we compete, the capitalists ask piteously, against the production of peasants in faraway countries, impressed into industrial labour forces by agents of other American capitalists?

Obeying the imperatives of capitalism, Americans have been outsourcing production for a very long time, but the movement has accelerated into a stampede within the last 10 years. These days, only China is competitive.

Originally, the equation was simple. Industrialised countries 'bought' primary products from former colonies and sold them at grossly inflated prices to their own markets and to the people they had bought the stuff from in the first place. But as countries like Jamaica developed on the 'Puerto Rican' model and others developed on the Japanese model, profits began to be shaved and markets began to be overloaded.

In the Far East where colonialism had not managed to do too much damage, people retained their cultures, their language and most of their ancient skills. The Chinese, who invented gunpowder, were producing steel in backyard furnaces in the 1960s.

The Japanese, who had built the world's largest and most advanced battleship, the Yamato, 70 years ago, had to endure the fairly benign occupation of the American military after having been atom-bombed into subjection.

But they got to keep their emperor and they got something infinitely more valuable, enormous amounts of military investment which helped fuel a new growth of industrialisation. The same thing happened in Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and the effect spilled over into other southeast Asian countries. Europeans got the Marshall Plan.

Starting from a different level than Americans, these people soon began to produce and outproduce Americans particularly in electronics and motor vehicles.

In Africa, where whole civilisations and cultures had been uprooted and obliterated, and in the former American colonies of the European powers, life was different.

One major reason was the colour of the skins of the people. For 500 years, in order to justify slavery, the world was told that blacks were shiftless, work-shy and undisciplined. They had to be forced to work 'for their own good, you understand; they needed slavery'.

That excuse allowed King Leopold to enslave the Congo, long after slavery was 'abolished' and the British, Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish to enforce similar forms of superprofit-extraction in Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America. In Latin America there were lots of blacks, but the population majorities there weren't black; they were, as the writer Inga Muscio was once described, simply 'less than white'.

Within the United States itself the promised Reconstruction after slavery swiftly degenerated into white reaction and re-enslavement under another name. The intensely religious Americans emulated the ecclesiastics of the 12th century. Instead of figuring how many angels could dance on the head of a pin they were calculating how many Anglos could dance on the head of a peon.

Blacks in the Americas have always been ambivalent about their prospects on this side of the Atlantic. There were and are those who, like Martin Luther King, figured that their blood and suffering had bought them rights. There were the others, like Marcus Garvey and the 'Black Muslims' who believed that for blacks there was no white man's justice that would ever encompass them.

Being black in America is not quite as dangerous as being openly homosexual in Jamaica, but it is close enough. A black man in the Bronx today has a lower life expectancy than a Bangladeshi of the same age.

Nearly 50 years ago, on my first visit to the United States I was challenged by a black shoemaker in Washington DC, literally within the shadow of the Capitol.

He was puzzled by my accent and wanted to know where I came from.
When I told him he asked me:
"They got anybody like me where you come from?"
I didn't understand him. Yes, they had shoemakers in Jamaica, I said.
No man. "They got any niggers there?"

I was totally flabbergasted. He and I could easily have been blood brothers; our hair was the same, our skin colour was the same. if anything he was a shade or two lighter-skinned than I. We even looked a little bit alike, I thought.

We settled the historical and ethnic questions over a pitcher of beer in a nearby bar. Why, I asked him, didn't he think I was a nigger? "Because you don't talk like a nigger, man, and you don't walk like a nigger."

New Orleans was in one way, a swinging, cosmopolitan city, world city, multicultural, multi-ethnic, in which 'black culture' was the defining flavour. But New Orleans was cross-dressing.

It was also an archetypical Southern US city, a kind of human zoo or theme park in which the majority of the population were allowed to flourish as long as they were of good behaviour. Beneath the export-only black culture there was another layer of black poverty and misery, largely invisible to the Blitzers and the kibitzers.

Apart from being so poor and so black, the Afro American minority is also dismissed as criminal and diseased. In the name of law and order, about half a million blacks are currently warehoused in prisons which are real universities of crime. The American black prison population is larger than the total prison population of any country, other than perhaps China.

Almost one-third of young black American men are either in jail or under some sort of custodial supervision, because the laws of the United States, as exemplified by persons such as Rehnquist, Jesse Helms, and the media, believe that blacks prefer a life of crime to fulfilling the American dream.

As Herrnstein and Murray say in The Bell Curve: "Clearly something about getting seriously involved in crime competes with staying in school."

The Bell Curve, accepted as making sense by an overwhelming cross section of the US media, postulates a "Custodial state", a high tech and more lavish version of the Indian reservations for some substantial minority of the nation's population, while the rest of America tries to go about its busines.

Herrnstein and Murray say that such a state "will not only be tolerated but actively supported by a consensus of the cognitive elite" and they claim that they are not really theorising but reporting.

Instead of a custodial state, Herrnstein and Murray suggest "cognitive partitioning", supported by a return to Individualism. That is, the cognitive elite will formally continue to select out its Colin Powells, Condoleezza Rices and Clarence Thomases (but definitely not Serena Williams) to serve them, as Harry Belafonte described Powell, as house slaves.

The problem is not ethnic, although ethnicity is involved. The Central Europeans, who are the largest ethnic group in the United States outside of Hispanics, have always had their Serbs, Slavs and Gypsies (Egyptians) to hew wood and draw water. To that perhaps we should add the Irish, until they were all supplanted by the blacks.

The ethnic discrimination is not simply ethnic, but a convenient way to classify an economic underclass because so many wear an instantly recognisable uniform.

It tends to be forgotten that blacks are only a part of the American underclass. Their white compatriots are usually ignored, as if they are simply passing through a phase.

But since many become visible because of their homelessness, or joblessness or some dysfunctionality which makes them stand out, all of these characteristics are passed on to other poor people, particularly to blacks.

Black is black and white is white and never shall the twain mate. That, at least, is the theory of Hollywood and of much of the media so that it is now part of the Hollywood myth-complex.

The rest of the world looks strangely at an America in which "Guess who's coming to dinner", after 40 years, is still as far as Hollywood is prepared to go with the idea of 'inter-racial' sex, as if the mating of white and black were as experimental as the mating of gorillas and chimpanzees.

The result is someone like O J Simpson who, having been acquitted of murder, was still found guilty, essentially of marrying a white woman. While no one can explain how Simpson could have sanitised himself and his house in the hour or so between the murders and his journey to Chicago, most white Americans thought he should pay damages to the families of his murdered wife and her friend. Newsweek made the point: O J tried to live like a white man. "He even played golf."

TIME magazine confessed to painting him blacker than he was, just as they did to Hugo Chavez, no doubt for good and sufficient reason.

When, 40 years ago, the actress Kim Novak was rumoured to be having an affair with Sammy Davis Jr, it more or less meant the end of her career. 'Inter-racial' mating is seen by the media as terminally dangerous not just to the morals of their audiences, but more dangerously, to the economics of the US.

There can be no miscegenation without representation, and where would that leave the working class? Barbara Bush had it right. Refugees in Texas MUST be better off than at home in New Orleans. And more sanitary to boot.

Meanwhile, if one examines the real USA, away from the ersatz gentility of the media, one discovers that not only are the really poor getting poorer, but the middle class is going nowhere at all. The middle classes are almost exactly where they were thirty years ago, in real economic terms.

The rich have become immeasurably wealthier and the poor destitute and hopeless. If social peace is to be maintained, globalisation must provide the answer: that means providing cheaper and cheaper goods to disguise the static economic position of the majority of Americans.

That requires not only a real Third World outside the boundaries of the United States; it also requires one within as well.

04 September 2005

Losing New Orleans

Common Sense
John Maxwell

New Orleans was , I'm told, a place of myth and magic - a place where moral, ethnic and social certitudes evaporated, where the only reality was the city itself.

It was a world city, a place apart from the United States. embedded in it, but breathing an atmosphere richly distilled by centuries of separation from the mainstream of the Protestant, puritan, Anglo-Saxon United States, It was a place of French and Caribbean and black culture, history and folklore. It was the American interface with the third world,

Last week, we lost New Orleans. At least the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, thinks we should lose New Orleans. It's not worth rebuilding, he said; it should be bulldozed.

Even if he's wrong, the old New Orleans is gone.

Even the Louis Armstrong International Airport was under water, along with thousands of houses and the people who lived in them. Most were simply too poor to escape Hurricane Katrina, inevitable victims of a disaster long foretold, predicted and expected.

According to Professor Paul Krugman in the New York Times, before 9/11 the Federal Emergency Management Agency listed the three most likely catastrophic disasters facing America:
  • a terrorist attack on New York;
  • a major earthquake in San Francisco; and
  • a hurricane strike on New Orleans.
"The New Orleans hurricane scenario," The Houston Chronicle wrote in December 2001, "may be the deadliest of all."
It described a potential catastrophe very much like the one now happening.

The New York Times quotes Eric Tolbert, formerly a top official of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). According to Tolbert, FEMA officials, having just returned from helping in last December's Tsunami relief, drew up a list of probable disasters in the United States: "New Orleans was the No. 1 disaster we were talking about. We were obsessed with New Orleans because of the risk." But FEMA and all the other agencies of the US government were caught flatfooted by Hurricane Katrina.

It wasn't because they hadn't drawn up plans, or because they hadn't rehearsed what they would do in case their fears came to pass. It was because the federal government had down-sized FEMA and had, over the last five years, refused to heed New Orleans' pleas for money to defend the city against exactly such a natural disaster.

The National Guard, which would have been among the first responders, is largely in Iraq, fighting a war they were not meant to.

Disasters have many layers. Physical destruction and the consequent disruptions are one part. There are also the psychological, social, political and economic disruptions which follow. Natural disasters become catastrophes when human beings don't act intelligently or in time.

Twenty-five years ago, when Hurricane Allen seemed headed for Jamaica's south coast and specifically for Portmore, I was one of a group which convinced the prime minister to come to our assistance in an emergency movement of about 50,000 people from low-lying Portmore within about 14 hours.

At the time, we were in the throes of planning what later became the Office of Disaster Preparedness . Most of what we managed to do was seat of the pants improvisation. But had the hurricane struck Portmore, we would have saved the lives of thousands of people.

New Orleans had much more warning and many thousands were evacuated. But many of the people in New Orleans were too poor to arrange their own evacuation. They stayed behind because no one had thought to prepare for their problems.

But the catastrophe now developing in New Orleans has been years in the making and most of it is directly attributable to the idea that man can tame nature and that 'development' consists in putting down capital intensive works without considering other factors, like the weather, the geography and geology and most of all, the people.

The point of sustainable development is to increase economic prosperity while making sure that the benefits gained do not get wiped out by foreseeable hazards. In New Orleans, greed and capital prevailed over common sense.

When New Orleans was first settled nearly three centuries ago, the land on which it was built was 10 feet above sea level.
Today it is about 10 feet below. The reasons are fairly simple.

The city is built on land formed by the Mississippi river, part of its delta and like Portmore, (on the Rio Cobre delta) much of it is underlain by peat which is infinitely compressible.

When water is abstracted from peat, the land above it sinks. Further, the federal government in an attempt to tame the Mississippi, has tried to force it to behave like a gully, constructing, restricting and redirecting its flow so that the river no longer nourishes the watertable underneath the city as it did when the city was younger and sat more lightly on its foundations.

Beyond the physical disaster is the human calamity. The US Congress is giving express passage to a bill providing more than US$10 billion for emergency relief, about twice as much as ha been requested to shore up the defences of New Orleans and, possibly, moderate the effects of what is now estimated to be a $28 billion disaster.

Meanwhile, the people on the ground in New Orleans are angry, the officials as well as the ordinary citizens. Law and order no longer exists as desperate people take the law into their own hands to ensure their own survival.

On Thursday night the citys mayor, Roy Nagin told a television interviewer: "I need reinforcements, I need troops, man. I need 500 buses, man. This is a national disaster. This is a major, major, major deal. And I can't emphasise it enough. It's awful down here, man."

Of President Bush he said: "We have an incredible crisis here and his flying over in Air Force One does not do it justice. Excuse my French everybody in America - but I am pissed." New Orleans' emergency operations chief Terry Ebbert called the situation a national disgrace. "We can send massive amounts of aid to tsunami victims, but we can't bail out the city of New Orleans."

New Orleans is the largest area of disaster, but there are others scattered through Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
Stories abound of people waiting in miles-long lines for hours for gasoline, water or ice.

Worse were the stories from the Superdome, which has been sheltering thousands of people driven from their homes: people dying, women and children being raped, and outside, human bodies rotting on the flooded streets. Four days after the disaster there was no organised assistance available.

The psychological toll will be enormous. In places like Jamaica more accustomed to natural calamities, people may be a little more tolerant of official delay. But in the United States where food comes out of a supermarket or a take-out restaurant, life is more complicated.

The poorer you are, the more complicated it gets. And in New Orleans and Biloxi and most of the affected areas, the poor, the ones left behind, are overwhelmingly black. In neighbouring Mississippi black people earn half as much as white people.

Race is becoming the fulcrum for criticism of the government. The Rev Jesse Jackson said cities had been dismissed by the Bush administration because Mr Bush received few urban votes.

"Many black people feel that their race, their property conditions and their voting patterns have been a factor in the response. I'm not saying that myself, but what's self-evident is that you have many poor people without a way out."

A vignette: Two photographs; one from Associated Press captioned: 'A young man walks through waist deep water after looting a grocery store', the other from Agence France Presse: 'Two residents walk through waist deep water after finding bread and soda from a local grocery store'. The AP photo was of a black man.

The authorities have agreed on a shoot-to-kill policy against looters. Mr Bush approves. He condemned looting and profiteering yesterday. It is not known whether profiteers will be shot.

Professor Krugman suggests that "at a fundamental level our current leaders just aren't serious about some of the essential functions of government. They like waging war, but they don't like providing security, rescuing those in need or spending on preventive measures".

Yesterday Mr Bush made an utterly fantastic claim: that nobody expected the breach of the levees. In fact, there had been repeated warnings about exactly that risk.

So America, once famous for its can-do attitude, now has a can't-do government that makes excuses instead of doing its job. And while it makes those excuses, Americans are dying.

Europeans have been stunned by the America revealed by Katrina. Suddenly, the hurricane has blown away the facade of Hollywood, CNN and McDonalds and revealed an America, in living colour and dire destitution, which they had never imagined.

Others outside of the United States watch in fascinated horror, as things fall apart in the country whose leader has proclaimed it his mission to 'spread democracy'. Is this, they ask, what democracy looks like?

Meanwhile, in Haiti

One of the places where Mr Bush is spreading democracy is Haiti, tied by history and culture to New Orleans in a way few other countries are. It is now tied by another bond: catastrophe following the decapitation of democracy.

As Jesse Jackson points out, the Republican administration of President Bush has neglected the cities because essentially, there are too many Democrat voters in them and not enough Republican. In Haiti the situation is somewhat different.

The head of state, the popularly elected president, was removed by the US Ambassador and a platoon of Marines, because, in the words of the American diplomat Luigi Einaudi, "the only thing wrong with Haiti is that it's run by Haitians".

The new Haitian regime run by American satraps, is busy trying to eliminate and terrorise the Haitian population to exterminate support for President Aristide.

Two weeks ago a crowd at a football match applauded when they saw members of the Haitian police entering the stadium. Since the match had been arranged by USAID as a peacekeeping, conciliatory gesture, the crowd thought that the cops were there to protect them.

No such luck. Gunfire broke out, and behind the police came machete-wielding masked men dealing death and dismemberment to random members of the stadium crowd.

It is still unclear how many people were butchered inside the stadium and outside as they ran for their lives. There is no body count coming from either the government, the Haitian police nor the supervising authority, the United Nations Mission - MINUSTAH.

In Haiti, as in New Orleans, chaos reigns. But, whereas in the New York Times and other the US media, pundits like Professor Krugman are calling for accountability for the disaster in New Orleans, no one is calling for accountability in Haiti.

Last year, because the legitimate government had been destroyed, more than 3,000 Haitians lost their lives to flooding from rain. The reason? The Bush-sponsored regime had chased into exile or murdered the community leaders whose duty it was to warn and prepare the people in the event of threatened disasters. They have not been replaced

The US weather service tells us by the way, that the 'bulk' of the current hurricane season is still ahead of us; that there are more hurricanes, more dangerous hurricanes, in the offing.

And, of course, the debate goes on. Is there such a thing as global warming? And doesn't global warming mean more hurricanes and more dangerous hurricanes?

For President Bush, the jury is still out. He sees no danger there. Meanwhile he will be visiting some of the hurricane stricken areas this weekend. He will not go to New Orleans.

That is too dangerous.