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The Wind That Shakes the Barley — British barbarism & Irish resistance

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Thanks to Irishviews.com for the barley image.

Is there any end to the toxic effects of British imperialism and capitalist exploitation?  One look at the Gulf of Mexico disaster provides the answer. Britain’s cruelty and barbarism toward its “subjects” is horrifying. The Irish have suffered from British oppression for centuries. The Irish have resisted with incredible courage and persistence — and with beautiful lyrics and songs about their struggle for dignity and freedom.

The Wind That Shakes the Barley” is one such ballad, by poet Robert Dwyer Joyce.. It’s a traditional Irish ballad in format but is based on true events that transpired during the 1798 Irish Rebellion against British rule. I won’t go into the entire narrative of the uprising but one event stands out: The 29th of May massacre by Britain — which should never be forgotten — or forgiven.The British Army captured, shot and killed 300-5oo Irish prisoners of war at Gibbet Rath, in the Curragh grasslands of County Kildare. Executed. Assassinated. So much for British “nobility”  This massacre exemplifies the vicious savagery that’s characterized British imperialism for centuries. By the way, these were rebels about to surrender…. — from Wikipedia

According to YouTube commenter  anthonyjanetireph:  “The references to barley in the song derive from the fact that the rebels often carried barley oats in their pockets as provisions for when on the march. This gave rise to the post-rebellion phenomenon of barley growing and marking the “croppy-holes,” mass unmarked graves which slain rebels were thrown into, symbolising the regenerative nature of Irish resistance to British rule.”  Three comments.

1) Irish rebels lived on subsistence farming and were near starvation. Imagine trying to survive as by chewing raw barley grains or functioning as a soldier with such meager nourishment. The British used starvation to control the Irish population.

2) The death of each Irish patriot ensured a continuance of the barley harvest (their agrarian way of life)  and ensured future generation of Irish resistance.

3) The shaking of the barley is a visual reminder of  the desire to “live free or die” — free from the ongoing British occupation of Ireland.

I am reminded of the resolution of Seven Samurais. The peasants of the town go back to work in the rice fields, singing. For now, the strife has ended. But at some point, invaders may return to terrorize, kill and steal. It may once more be necessary to summon the help of itinerant samurais to defend the town….

With those concepts in mind, here is a beautiful version of the ballad by Dead Can Dance vocalist Lisa Gerrard:

I sat within a valley green
I sat me with my true love
My sad heart strove to choose between
The old love and the new love
The old for her, the new that made
Me think on Ireland dearly
While soft the wind blew down the glade
And shook the golden barley
Twas hard the woeful words to frame
To break the ties that bound us
But harder still to bear the shame
Of foreign chains around us
And so I said, “The mountain glen
I’ll seek at morning early
And join the bold United Men
While soft winds shake the barley”
While sad I kissed away her tears
My fond arms ’round her flinging
The foeman’s shot burst on our ears
From out the wildwood ringing
A bullet pierced my true love’s side
In life’s young spring so early
And on my breast in blood she died
While soft winds shook the barley
I bore her to some mountain stream
And many’s the summer blossom
I placed with branches soft and green
About her gore-stained bosom
I wept and kissed her clay-cold corpse
Then rushed o’er vale and valley
My vengeance on the foe to wreak
While soft winds shook the barley
But blood for blood without remorse
I’ve taken at Oulart Hollow
And laid my true love’s clay-cold corpse
Where I full soon may follow
As ’round her grave I wander drear
Noon, night and morning early
With breaking heart when e’er I hear
The wind that shakes the barley

Fast forward to 1921 and the continuing struggle for Irish Independence… Nothing has changed. Still horrific poverty, oppression and hunger in Ireland. But the Irish are ready fight to the death for their freedom. Ken Loach created an exceptional film on the subject. It won the Cannes 2006 Palm D’Or.

Lastly, here is an early esponse from a proud British subject on the issue of Irish poverty, hunger and overpopulation. If only the Irish had listened and the liberals hadn’t objected to his plan. All he sought to do was to limit the suffering of the broods of children produced by Irish welfare mommas who seek to embarrass Her Majesty the Queen. Here’s how to solve “The Irish Queston”:

A Modest  Proposal” by Jonathan Swift, 1729

For Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland from Being a Burden to their Parents

or Country and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public

 


Israel’s Specialty, Targeting Civilians

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Children Injured by Israel's Attack on Gaza

Life in Gaza: 2 Riot Police aim at little girl walking 2 school

bombs exploding in lebanon

What Israel Does Best

Lebanese baby killed by Israel's bombs

Zionist Strategy

Israeli Jewish kids autograph bombs 2 b dropped on Palestinians

http://tinyurl.com/36htybl

By Stephen Lendman, May 29th, 2010 5:22 AM

Professor Jeremy Salt teaches political science at Ankara, Turkey’s Bilkent University. He’s also the author of “The Unmaking of the Middle East: A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands.” On January 9, 2009, during Israel’s war on Gaza, he wrote “A Message to the brave Israeli Airmen,” asking:

— “What’s it like, firing missiles at people you can’t see?

— Does that help, that you cannot see who you are killing?

— does it ease your conscience that you are not deliberately targeting civilians,” when, in fact, you are under Israel’s Dahiya Doctrine to use enough “disproportionate force (to inflict) damage and met(e) out punishment” against civilian infrastructure, “economic interests and the centers of civilian power,” willfully slaughtering noncombatant men, women and children;

— “How does this sit on your conscience?

— Do you sleep well at night or do you have nightmares of the women and children you killed in their homes, in their beds, in their kitchens and living rooms, in their schools and mosques?

Do you really believe they threaten your security – farmers in their fields, mothers with their children, teachers in classrooms, imams in mosques, children at play, the elderly, frail or disabled?

Do you ever question what you’ve done and why? Have you no shame, no sense of decency, no idea of the difference between right and wrong? Will you follow orders blindly and do it again and again, mindless about crimes of war and against humanity you, your superiors, and government officials are accountable for under fundamental international law?

“Brave” Israeli airmen, soldiers, sailors, and other security force personnel have acted lawlessly for decades, including committing appalling human rights crimes – a snapshot of some victims follows.

Persecuting Mazin Qumsiyeh

Qumsiyeh teaches and does research at Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities in the West Bank. Earlier he taught at Yale, Duke, and the University of Tennessee. Interested mainly in media activism and public education, he’s been a board, steering, and executive committee member of numerous activist organizations, and is President of the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People and coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Apartheid Wall and Settlements in Beit Sahour. His most recent book is titled, “Popular Resistance in Palestine: A History of Hope and Empowerment.”

On the morning of May 6, Qumsiyeh and three others were arrested, handcuffed, and taken to an unknown destination. He explained what happened.

In Al-Wallaja, his “ten hour ordeal” began at 8:30AM. The village is near the Green line. Israel’s Separation Wall route will encircle it. It’s already lost much of its land. Residents fear losing the rest, so to prevent it they resist.

Israeli bulldozers have demolished numerous homes. Heroic villagers inspired others, “including Internationals and Israelis to join them in their popular resistance….Today’s started as we came through the woods and sat in front of the bulldozer.”

“As the soldiers gathered their forces around us, you could feel (them) preparing themselves for attack. We remained calm and peaceful. They dragged us one by one forcefully from the bulldozed lands. They picked the four of us for arrest for no obvious reason” – Qumsiyeh, two Palestinian brothers, and a Canadian activist.

They beat, clubbed, rifle-butted, and pepper-sprayed the two brothers. All four were then taken to a military checkpoint, told to sit and wait, then ordered “to sign a paper claiming….we were not beaten or mistreated.”

They refused, then taken to “the investigation offices near Qubbit Raheel (Rachel’s tomb), (and) locked up in a metal container.” Hours later, they were interrogated individually, asked, but refused, to sign other papers. Painfully handcuffed, they were returned to the container.

Next on to Talpiot police station to be fingerprinted and photographed. “It was now nearly 5:30 and we were starving….Finally they br(ought) us some bread, each a slice of cheese and a small packet of jam.” Together they were “dragged in front of a new investigator who asked us to sign a release form that says we are told to stay away from the wall….for 15 days and if we don’t we will (each) have to pay” about $1,200. They signed, were released, but not given their ID cards. Later they got them. “Life goes on in the land of Apartheid. Stay tuned.”

As coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Apartheid Wall and Settlements in Beit Sahour, Qumsiyeh leads Palestinian grassroots resistance against “Israeli occupation and colonization” as well as “stopping and dismantling” what the International Court of Justice (ICJ) called illegal, ordering the Wall’s demolition and for Israel “to make reparation for all damage caused by the construction….including in and around East Jerusalem.”

As the “main national grassroots body mobilizing and organizing resistance against” the Wall, the Campaign “coordinates the work of 54 popular committees in communities” targeted for (or now being) destroyed by its construction.

Strategies against it include raising awareness internationally; national and community resistance; mobilizing solidarity among affected communities, the Arab world, civil society, and unions; calling for global boycott, divestment and sanctions; and enlisting international popular support for justice.

Attacking Disabled Palestinians in Gaza

Besides the occupation, siege, regular incursions, and overall reign of terror against 1.5 million people, Israel targets the disabled, explained by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) in a December 2009 report titled, “Israeli Attacks on Palestinian Disabled Persons in the Gaza Strip,” from September 1, 2003 – November 30 2009.

It covers willful assaults against disabled civilians, and others incapacitated by attacks. Of most concern was Operation Cast Lead’s 23-day assault from December 27, 2008 – January 18, 2009, inflicting massive numbers of deaths and injuries, as well as widespread destruction, mostly against civilians, their homes, mosques, businesses, factories, farms, schools, and hospitals – clear non-military targets. The siege’s effect on health, education, and other vital services was also addressed.

During the reporting period, 31 disabled Palestinians were killed, including four women, and six children. Another 600 sustained permanent disabilities, mostly physical. In addition, because of inadequate or unavailable food, medicines, medical equipment, fuel, clean water, sanitation, and the ability to leave or enter freely, the negative impact has been enormous.

“At the same time, foreign medical and technical personnel have not been able to enter (Gaza) to help the disabled and provide them with necessary medical and rehabilitation services.” As for the overall effect of the siege, the longer it continues the more harm it inflicts on those least able to cope. Precisely Israel’s strategic aim – to strangle and smother all Gazans, the elderly, infirm and disabled the most vulnerable.

Amnesty International (AI) on Israeli War Crimes

In its 2010 annual report, AI accused Western nations of shielding Israel from accountability during the Gaza war and for nearly three years of siege, depriving the population of vital essentials to survive and endure. At the same time, it praised the Goldstone Commission for heroically telling the truth.

In documenting Israeli crimes of war and against humanity, AI said:

“Among other things, (Israel) carried out indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks against civilians, targeted and killed medical staff, used Palestinian civilians as ‘human shields,’ and indiscriminately (used) white phosphorous (and other illegal weapons) over densely populated residential areas.” As a result, the toll was devastating.

In response, the US State Department downplayed the accusations, saying it “supports the need for accountability for any violations that may have occurred in relation to the Gaza conflict by any party,” ignoring Israel’s premeditated aggression, willfully attacking civilians and committing horrendous war crimes.

AI also condemned America’s human rights abuses, saying:

“In the counter-terrorism context, accountability for past human rights violations by the USA remains largely absent, particularly in relation to the CIA programme (sic) of secret detention. In litigation, the US administration continues to block remedy for victims of such human rights violations. 181 detainees remain in Guantanamo despite President Obama’s commitment to close the detention facility by January 2010. A new Manual for Military Commissions released by the Pentagon in April confirmed that even if a detainee is (uncharged or) acquitted by a military commission, the US administration reserves the right to continue to hold them in indefinite detention.”

Obama Administration’s Brazen Lawlessness

The latest example comes from a just revealed September 2009 secret directive about expanded covert military activity in the Middle East, Central Asia, the Horn of Africa or anywhere in the world to counter alleged threats. In other words, the Obama administration reserves the right to send US forces anywhere clandestinely, with or without host nation approval, to “penetrate, disrupt, defeat or destroy” designated targets by state terrorism, war, or any other means on the pretext of defending national security – a justification only scoundrels would invoke.

Italian New Weapons Research Committee (NWRC) Accuses Israel of Contaminating Gaza Soil

In its May 11 press release, NWRC (a group of independent scientists and doctors) said Israel’s 2006 and 2009 bombings left a high concentration of toxic/carcinogenic metals residue in soil and human tissue, likely to cause tumors, fertility problems, and serious harm to newborns, including deformities and genetic mutations.

Of particular concern were “wounds provoked by weapons that did not leave fragments in the bodies of the victims, a peculiarity that was pointed out repeatedly by doctors in Gaza. This shows that experimental weapons, whose effects are still to be assessed, were used.”

Some elements found are carcinogenic, including mercury, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, nickel and uranium (from weapons with depleted uranium). Others are potentially carcinogenic, including cobalt and vanadium, and still more are fetotoxic (harmful to fetuses), including aluminum, copper, barium, lead, and manganese. All of them in high enough amounts produce genetic mutations as well as pathogenic effects on human respiratory organs, kidneys, skin, neurological development, and other bodily functions.

The combination of environmental contamination, direct wounds or inhilations, aggravated by dire living conditions, presents a serious risk to large numbers of people, worsened by repeated armed incursions. According to Paola Manduca, NWRC’s spokesperson:

“Our study indicates an anomalous presence of toxic elements in the soil (and human tissue). It is essential to intervene at once to limit the effects of the contamination on people, animals and cultivations.”

Thus far, Israeli-Western collaborators still prevent 1.5 million Gazans from getting the critical help they need, while Moshe Kantor, president the European Jewish Congress, equated NWRC’s research to “ancient blood libels against the Jewish people, when rumors were spread about Jews poisoning wells. Today we are seeing a recurrence of all the worst excesses of anti-Semitism and diatribes that we perhaps naively thought had remained in the Dark Ages.”

The pro-Israeli NGO Monitor’s Gerald Steinberg called the accusations “designed to stigmatize Israel and erase the context of mass terror, (similar to other) false or unverifiable claims.” These are typical responses from rogues and their defenders caught red-handed.

But clear evidence they deny can’t be hidden. Nor can the growing disenchantment of young American Jews, a phenomenon Steven Rosenthal discussed in his 2001 book “Irreconcilable Differences: The Waning of the American Jewish Love Affair with Israel,” citing policies that transformed the relationship from uncritical “Israelotry” to disapproval and distress. The 1982 Lebanon invasion, repressive occupation, Intifada, regular incursions, and greater concern about home-grown issues shattered American Jewish unanimity, diluting Israel’s next generation support.

On May 10, 2009, The Forward and Brandeis University Professor Jonathan D. Sarna asked why, noting “a critical difference between support for Israel in the past and today. For much of the 20th century, the Israel of American Jews – the Zion that they imagined in their minds, wrote about and worked to realize – was a mythical Zion, a utopian extension of the American dream.”

They imagined a “social commonwealth,” an “outpost of democracy, spreading America’s ideals eastward in a Jewish refuge where freedom, liberty and social justice would someday reign supreme.” Utopias, of course, are illusions, now dispelled to reveal “unlovliest warts.” Today, bloom is off the rose, unsurprising given convincing reasons to remove it.

A Final Comment

On May 26, Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire paid “Tribute to the People of Gaza,” saying:

“I never cease to be amazed at the power of the human spirit to survive….In a triumph of hope over adversity and tremendous suffering, love still abides….Gaza’s people have suffered an Israeli occupation for over 40 years,” enduring wars and current medieval-type siege.

Lives have been shattered, crops destroyed, soil poisoned, and sustainability comprised, so “Where is the hope? Where is the love in the midst of such suffering and injustice?” In the will to survive; in growing worldwide solidarity; in the “Freedom Flotilla” defying the blockade to deliver aid, Maguire on it, “inspired by the people of Gaza whose courage, love and joy in welcoming us, even in the midst of such suffering gives us all hope. They represent the best of humanity,” no amount of Israeli repression can extinguish, nor their redoubtable “nonviolent struggle for human dignity, and freedom.”

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

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Bruce Cockburn: If I Had A Rocket Launcher, ca 1971 [free speech era]

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Steve Lendman on Disaster Capitalism in Haiti

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Disaster Capitalism Headed to Haiti – by Stephen Lendman

In her book, “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism,” Naomi Klein explores the myth of free market democracy, explaining how neoliberalism dominates the world with America its main exponent exploiting security threats, terror attacks, economic meltdowns, competing ideologies, tectonic political or economic shifts, and natural disasters to impose its will everywhere.

As a result, wars are waged, social services cut, public ones privatized, and freedom sacrificed when people are too distracted, cowed or in duress to object. Disaster capitalism is triumphant everywhere from post-Soviet Russia to post-apartheid South Africa, occupied Iraq and Afghanistan, Honduras before and after the US-instigated coup, post-tsunami Sri Lanka and Aceh, Indonesia, New Orleans post-Katrina, and now heading to Haiti full-throttle after its greatest ever catastrophe. The same scheme always repeats, exploiting people for profits, the prevailing neoliberal idea that “there is no alternative” so grab all you can.

On Her web site, Klein headlines a “Haiti Disaster Capitalism Alert: Stop Them Before They Shock Again,” then quotes the extremist Heritage Foundation saying:

“In addition to providing immediate humanitarian assistance, the US response to the tragic Haiti earthquake offers opportunities to re-shape Haiti’s long-dysfunctional government and economy as well as to improve the public image of the United States in the region.”

Heritage notes “Things to Remember While Helping Haiti,” itemized briefly below:

— be bold and decisive;

— mobilize US civilian and military capabilities “for short-term rescue and relief and long-term recovery and reform;”

— US military forces should play an active role interdicting “cocaine to Haiti and Dominican Republic from the Venezuelan coast and counter ongoing efforts of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to destabilize the island of Hispaniola;”

— US Coast Guard vessels should stop Haitians from trying “to enter the US illegally;”

— Congress should authorize “assistance, trade and reconstruction efforts;” and

— US diplomacy should “counter the negative propaganda certain to emanate from the Castro-Chavez camp (to) demonstrate that the US’s involvement in the Caribbean remains a powerful force for good in the Americas and around the globe.”

Heritage is an imperial tool advocating predation, exploitation, and Haitian redevelopment for profit, not for desperate people to repair their lives. It disdains democratic freedoms, social justice, and envisions a global economy “where freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and civil society flourish” solely for the privileged, the chosen few, not the disadvantaged or greater majority.

It’s for free market plunder, regulatory freedom, tax cuts for the rich, exploiting the majority, corporate handouts, and militarized control for enforcement. It supports the Bilderberg idea of a global classless society – a New World Order with rulers and serfs, no middle class, no unions, no democracy, no equity or justice, just empowered oligarchs, freed to do as they please under a universal legal system benefitting them.

For the moment, their focus is Haiti, ripe for plunder, like the second tsunami that hit coastal Sri Lankans. The December 2004 one took 250,000 lives and left 2.5 million homeless throughout the region. Klein explained the aftermath at Arugam Bay, “a fishing and faded resort village” on Sri Lanka’s east coast that was showcased to “build back better.” Not for villagers, for developers, hoteliers, and other business interests to exploit. After the disaster, they had a blank slate for what the tourist industry long wanted – “a pristine beach (on prime real estate), scrubbed clean of all the messy signs of people working, a vacation Eden. It was the same up and down the coast once rubble was cleared….paradise” given the profit potential.

New rules forbade coastal homes, so a buffer zone was imposed to insure it. Beaches were off-limits. Displaced Sri Lankans were shoved into grim barracks, and “menacing, machine-gun-wielding soldiers” patrolled to keep them there.

Tourist operators, however, were welcomed and encouraged to build on oceanfront land – to transform the former fishing village into a “high-end boutique tourism destination (with) five-star resorts, luxury chalets, (and even a) floatplane pier and helipad.”

It was to be a model for transforming around 30 similar zones into a South Asian Riviera to let Sri Lanka reenter the world economy as one of the last remaining uncolonized places globalization hadn’t touched. High-end tourism was the ticket – to provide a luxury destination for the rich once a few changes were made. Government land was opened to private buyers. Labor laws were relaxed or eliminated. Modern infrastructure would be built, and public opposition suppressed to let plans proceed unimpeded.

The same scheme followed Hurricane Mitch in October 1998 when Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua were hardest hit. In Sri Lanka, Washington took the Mitch model to the next level – beyond individuals to corporate control over reconstruction. Business ran everything. Affected people were shut out. Klein called it a new type corporate coup mother nature made possible. Now again in Haiti with an idea of what’s coming.

Powerful business interests constructed a blueprint from housing to hotels to highways and other needed infrastructure. Disaster relief went for development. Victims got nothing and were consigned to permanent shantytowns like the kinds in most Global South cities and Global North inner ones. Aceh and other affected areas adopted the same model.

A year after the tsunami, the NGO Action Aid surveyed the results in five Asian countries and found the same pattern – residents barred from rebuilding and living in militarized camps, while developers were given generous incentives. Lost was their way of life forever.

The same scheme played out in New Orleans with unfettered capitalism given free reign. With considerable Bush administration help, mother nature gave corporate predators a golden opportunity for plunder. Prevailing wage rates for federally funded or assisted construction projects were suspended. So were environmental regulations in an already polluted area, enough to be designated a superfund site or toxic waste dump. Instead, redevelopment was planned.

As a previous article explained, New Orleans had ample warning but was unprepared. The city is shaped like a bowl, lies below sea level, and its Gulf coast is vulnerable. As a result, the inevitable happened, affecting the city’s least advantaged – the majority black population targeted for removal and needing only an excuse to do it. The storm wiped out public housing and erased communities, letting developers build upscale condos and other high-profit projects on choice city land.

It was right out of the Chicago School’s play book, what economist Milton Friedman articulated in his 1962 book, “Capitalism and Freedom.” His thesis:

“only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When a crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around…our basic function (is) to develop alternatives to existing policies (and be ready to roll them out when the) impossible becomes the politically inevitable.”

Friedman believed that government’s sole function is “to protect our freedom from (outside) enemies (and) our fellow-citizens. (It’s to) preserve law and order (as well as) enforce private contracts, (safeguard private property and) foster competitive markets.”

Everything else in public hands is socialism, an ideology he called blasphemous. He said markets work best unfettered of rules, regulations, onerous taxes, trade barriers, “entrenched interests” and human interference, and the best government is practically none – the wild west because, in his view, anything government does business does better so let it. Ideas about democracy, social justice, and a caring society were verboten because they interfere with free-wheeling capitalism.

He said public wealth should be in private hands, profit accumulation unrestrained, corporate taxes abolished, and social services curtailed or ended. He believed “economic freedom is an end to itself (and) an indispensable means toward (achieving) political freedom.” He opposed the minimum wage, unions, market interference, an egalitarian society, and called Social Security “the biggest Ponzi scheme on earth.” He supported a flat tax favoring the rich, and believed everyone should have to rely on their own resources to get by.

In a word, Friedmanomics preaches unrestrained market fundamentalism. “Free to choose,” he said with no regard for human needs and rights. For him and his followers, economic freedom is the be-all-and-end-all under limited government, the marketplace being the master.

Applied to New Orleans, it meant permanent changes, including removing public housing, developing upscale properties in its place, privatizing schools, and destroying a way of life for thousands of disadvantaged blacks expelled from their communities and not allowed back.

Klein called Friedman’s thesis “the shock doctrine.” Applied to Russia, Eastern Europe and other developing states, it was shock therapy. For affected people, it was economic and social disaster under Friedman’s prescription for mass-privatizations, deregulation, unrestricted free market predation, deep social spending cuts, and harsh crackdowns against resisters. It’s disaster capitalism, business is booming, and Haitians will soon feel its full fury under military occupation.

Haiti – Beleaguered, Occupied, and Stricken by a Disaster of Biblical Proportions

Since the 19th century, America dominated Haiti. Before the quake, a proxy paramilitary Blue Helmet force occupied the country, dispatched not for peacekeeping but iron-grip control. Worse still, it was the first time ever that UN forces supported a coup d’etat government, the one Washington installed after US Marines kidnapped President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, forcibly exiled him to Africa, and ended the political, economic and social reforms he instituted – in areas of health, education, justice and human rights. Ever since, conditions for Haitians have been nightmarish, and now the quake and further misery ahead from the Pentagon’s iron fist and greater than ever exploitation.

Obama’s top priority is control, underway immediately after the Pentagon took over the Port-au-Prince airport, reopened it after its brief closure, and set up a temporary air traffic control center. Military personnel now decide what gets in or out, what’s delivered, how fast, and according to unconfirmed reports, they slowed arriving search and rescue equipment, supplies, and personnel, except for what other countries managed to send in types and amounts way short of what’s needed. As a result, trapped Haitians perished, whereas a concentrated, sustained airlift, including heavy earthmoving and other equipment, might have saved hundreds or thousands more lives.

The 1948 – 49 Berlin airlift showed how. For nearly 11 months, western allies delivered what rose to a daily average of 5,500 tons, providing vital supplies for the city’s two million people. Today, the Pentagon has far greater capabilities. If ordered, massive amounts of virtually everything could be expedited, including heavy earthmoving equipment and teams of experts for every imaginable need. The result would have been vast numbers more lives saved, now perished because little was done to help, except for heroic volunteers providing food, water, and medical care, and Haitians who dug out survivors with small implements and their bare hands.

On January 15, Reuters reported that the Port-au-Prince 9,000-foot runway escaped serious damage and could handle big cargo planes easily. Immediately, food, water, medicine, rescue crews, and other specialists began arriving from Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, China, and elsewhere, but very little from America, including vitally needed heavy equipment. Haiti has very little of what’s needed.

Instead, the Pentagon sent in thousands of Marines and 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers (a 10,000 force contingent once in place), armed killers, not humanitarian personnel and regular supplies to sustain them. Larger numbers may follow to be supplemented by UN Blue Helmets and Haitian National Police under Pentagon command. A long-term commitment for militarized control is planned, not humanitarian relief, reminiscent of the 20-year 1915 – 1934 period when US Marines occupied and ravaged Haiti.

Throughout the country, the lives of nine million people are at stake. Of immediate concern, are the three million in Port-au-Prince and surroundings, devastated by the quake and unable to sustain themselves without substantial outside help.

Central also is Haiti’s government, now crippled, including one report saying the senate building collapsed with most of the lawmakers inside. It’s not clear who’s alive or dead in either National Assembly chamber, the cabinet, or other government posts. It hardly matters, however, under US military control leaving President Rene Preval and Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive mere figureheads.

Once full control is established, the immediate shock subsides, and the media lose interest, reconstruction will be implemented for profit, not poor Haitians left on their own in communities like Cite Soleil and Bel Air or permanently displaced for what developers have in mind.

Efforts will focus on upscale areas and facilities for the Pentagon, US officials and selected bureaucrats. Before the quake, the Preval government was weak, ineffective, and uncaring about Haiti’s vast needs. He effectively ceded power to Washington, the UN, and the large imperial-chosen NGO presence in the country.

In addition, Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas party was banned from the scheduled February 2010 parliamentary elections (now cancelled or postponed), and was earlier excluded from the 2009 April and June process to fill 12 open senate seats, resulting in a turnout below 10%, and mocking a true democratic process.

Now, millions of Haitians hang by a thread. As one of them put it, “tout ayiti kraze,” the whole country is no more. The government is inoperative. Port-au-Prince is in shambles. People are struggling to survive, 100,000 or more likely dead, a toll sure to rise as disease and depravation claim more. Those in poor communities are on their own. Rescuers are concentrating on high-profile, well-off areas, but without earthmoving equipment can do little to save victims. The problem – Washington obstructionism and indifference to human suffering and need.

On January 15, Al Jazeera reported that aid agencies are struggling under difficult conditions and inadequate supplies, let alone how to distribute them throughout the capital. As a result, frustration is growing with little help, no shelter, decaying bodies still unburied, the threat of disease, and the stench of death everywhere with no power, phones, clean water, food, and everything millions need.

Sebastian Walker, Al Jazeera’s Port-au-Prince correspondent said:

“A lot of people have simply grown tired of waiting for those emergency workers to get to them. Thousands of people are streaming out of the city towards the provinces to try to find supplies of food and water, supplies that are running out in the city.”

On January 16, Al Jazeera headlined “Haiti: UP to 200,000 feared dead.” About 50,000 bodies have been collected, according to Haiti’s interior minister, Paul Antoine Bien-Aime, and he anticipates “between 100,000 and 200,000 dead in total, although we will never know the exact number,” nor how many more will expire in the weeks and months ahead, unnoticed and unreported.

On January 17, Al Jazeera headlined, “Aid teams struggle to help Haitians….amid difficulties in distributing relief supplies to those who need it most.

Sebastian Walker said delivering supplies stacking up at the airport has been extremely problematic:

“This comes down to the complex issue of who is in charge here. The US military has a great deal of control over the number of flights that are landing here. We heard that a UN flight carrying aid equipment had to be diverted because the US was landing its own aircraft there. The question of just who makes the decision over how to distribute the aid seems to be what is holding up the supplies.”

The Pentagon decides, of course, and that’s the problem. Obama also urges “patience,” saying “many difficult days (are) ahead,” without explaining his obstructionist uncaring role.

The result is reports like this:

— from Canada’s CBC As It Happens broadcast interview with an ICRC spokesperson saying he spent the morning of January 15 touring one of the hardest hit areas, and “In three hours, I didn’t see a single rescue team;”

— a same day BBC interview with an American Red Cross spokesperson complained about aid delivery – that arriving planes carried people, not supplies, and amounts at the airpot weren’t being delivered;

– the Canada Haiti Action Network calls Port-au-Prince a city largely without aid because areas most in need aren’t getting it; further, in nicer neighborhoods, dogs and extraction units arrived, but 90% of them are just sitting around, perhaps because of no earthmoving equipment to reach victims;

— another report said a French plane carrying a field hospital was turned away, then later allowed in; meanwhile, Israel got carte blanche for its own field hospital, able to handle 500 casualties daily, so it begs the question – why praise Israel for (selectively) helping Haitians when it murders Palestinians daily, keeps the West Bank isolated and locked down, Gaza under siege, and denies critically ill residents exit permission for treatment unavailable from Strip facilities, leaving them to perish; and

— various reports say US forces are preventing flights from landing; prioritized are landing US troops, repatriating American nationals, and perhaps starving poor Haitians to death; dozens of French citizens and dual Haitian-French nationals couldn’t leave when their scheduled flight to Guadeloupe couldn’t land; an angry French Secretary of State for Cooperation, Alain Joyandet, told reporters that he “made an official complaint to the Americans through the US embassy.”

UN Office of Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Report on Haiti Relief

On January 15, OCHA reported as follows:

“Logistics and the lack of transport remain the key constraints to the delivery of aid. Needs are still being identified as access becomes possible and as assessments begin to take place.

Displaced populations are currently scattered across multiple locations where there is open space. Temporary shelters urgently need to be established.

Fifteen sites have been identified for distribution of relief items. World Food Program reached 13,000 people today with food, jerry cans and water purification tablets.”

OCHA continued, saying:

“A total of (only) 180 tons of relief supplies have arrived in-country so far. Operations are heavily constrained due to the lack of fuel, transport, communications and handling capacity at the airport. Some flights are being re-routed through Santo Domingo airport (far from Port-au-Prince in the Dominican Republic) which is also becoming congested.”

In its latest January 16 report, OCHA repeated that airport logistics remain a challenge, the result of re-routed flights, congestion, lengthy offloading times, the lack of transport and fuel, no storage facility, and the airport “now packed with goods and teams” not being delivered.

Three million Haitians need help, but the World Food Program distributed high energy biscuits only to 50,000. Around 50,000 are getting hot meals.

Major health concerns include untreated trauma wounds, infections, infectious diseases, diarrhea, lack of safe drinking water and sanitation, and Haitians with pre-existing condition like HIV/AIDS, diabetes and cancer aren’t being treated.

Up to a million people need immediate shelter and non-food aid, including clean water, blankets, kitchen and hygiene kits, plastic sheeting and tents.

“As of 16 January it is estimated that fuel for humanitarian operations will only last 2 to 3 more days before operations will be forced to cease.”

There have only been 58 live rescues so far among the many thousands trapped beneath or behind rubble. OCHA launched a Flash Appeal for $575 million “to cover 3 million people severely affected for six months.”

Sixteen EU nations are providing aid but not enough. America is doing practically nothing.

One nation delivering heroic help is Cuba, but little about it is reported. Despite its own constraints, it’s operated in Haiti for years, and now has over 400 doctors and healthcare experts delivering free services. They work every day in 227 of the country’s 337 communes. In addition, Cuban medical schools trained over 400 Haitian doctors, now working to save lives during the country’s gravest crisis. It’s no small achievement that Cuba, blockaded and constrained, is responsible for nearly 1,000 doctors and healthcare providers, all of whom work tirelessly to save lives and rehabilitate the injured.

According to China’s Xinhua News Agency:

“Cuban aid workers have taken charge of (Haiti’s) De la Paz Hospital, since its doctors have not appeared after the quake,” perhaps because many perished, are wounded, or are trapped beneath or behind rubble themselves.

Cubans are working despite a lack of everything needed to provide care except for what its government managed to deliver. Dr. Carlos Alberto Garcia, coordinator of its medical brigade, said Cuban doctors, nurses and other health personnel are working non-stop, day and night. Operating rooms are open 18 hours a day.

Independent reports now say Washington is trying to block Cuban and Venezuelan aid workers by refusing them landing permission in Port-au-Prince. The Caribbean Community’s emergency aid mission is also blocked. On January 15, the US State Department confirmed that it signed two Memoranda of Understanding with the remnants of Haiti’s government putting Washington in charge of all inbound and outbound flights and aid offloading in the country.

For years, Cuba has sent doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers to countries in need worldwide, winning hearts and minds for its free highly professional services. It provides national healthcare for all its people, and now has about 25,000 doctors in 68 countries. In addition, over 1,800 doctors from 47 developing states graduate annually from Cuban medical schools, return home, and provide quality care for their people.

Major Media Misreporting

Ignoring Haiti’s long history as a de facto US colony, the major media report a sanitized version of today’s catastrophe. For example on January 14, The New York Times cynically editorialized: “Once again, the world weeps for Haiti.” This is the same paper that lied in a March 1, 2004 editorial after US Marines forcibly exiled Aristide, saying:

— he resigned;

— sending in Marines “was the right thing to do;” and

— they only arrived after “Mr. Aristide yielded power.”

It also blamed him for “contribut(ing) significantly to his own downfall (because of his) increasingly autocratic and lawless rule,” and accused him of manipulating the 2000 legislative elections and not “deliver(ing) the democracy he promised.”

In fact, other than a brief period after its liberating revolution (1791 – January 1, 2004), the only time Haiti was democratically governed was under Aristide and during Rene Preval’s first term. Aristide, in fact, was so beloved, he was overwhelmingly reelected in 2000 with a 92% majority and would be equally supported today if allowed to run. In fact, when he’s most needed and wanted, Washington won’t let him return.

In media coverage of Haiti’s disaster, the greater story is suppressed, the one that matters, that puts today’s tragedy in context:

— 500 years of repression; slavery under the Spanish, then French, and since the 19th century as a de facto US colony;

— deep poverty and human misery, the worst in the hemisphere;

— despotic rule, occupation, exploitation, starvation, disease and low life expectancy; and

— now now a disaster of biblical proportions getting Times headlines like:

“In Show of Support, Clinton Goes to Haiti”

Omitted was that it was for a brief airport photo op, America’s usual show of indifference to human suffering, in this case, the result of US imperialism, not as a benefactor the way The Times and other major media portray.

“Officials Strain to Distribute Aid to Haiti as Violence Rises”

In fact, Haitians have been remarkably calm, no thanks to Washington that’s slowing aid delivery, providing very little of its own, and offers little more than militarized occupation, armed killers, including Xe (formerly Blackwater Worldwide) mercenaries, notoriously savage brutes.

“Looting Flares Where Authority Breaks Down”

Looting? People are suffering, starving, dying, desperate because America sends fighters, not food; Marines, not medical aid; combat killers, not compassion, caring, and kindness; and diplomats, not doctors or human decency.

“Government Struggles to Exhume Itself”

Calling it “comparatively stable” ignores that Preval’s government is a proxy for US interests and no longer functioning. Pentagon killers are now in charge.

“Bush, Clinton and Obama Unite to Raise Money for Haiti”

After the December 2004 tsunami struck East Asia, the Bush administration spearheaded a similar campaign, raised over $1 billion, and used it for corporate development, not people needs. Obama backs a similar scheme (Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund) in a show of contemptible indifference to human misery and chose two co-conspirators for his plan.

The Bush administration engineered the February 2004 coup ousting Aristide, established police state rule, and immiserated nine million Haitians. For his part, Clinton kept an iron grip throughout his presidency instead of supporting Aristide’s political, economic and social reforms.

He’s now UN Special Envoy to Haiti heading an Obama administration neoliberal scheme featuring tourism, textile sweatshops, sweeping privatizations and deregulation for greater cheap labor exploitation at the expense of providing essential needs. He orchestrated a plan to turn northern Haiti into a tourist playground and got Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines to invest $55 million for a pier in Labadee where the company operates a private resort and has contributed the largest amount of tourist revenue to the country since 1986.

More still is planned, including a new international airport in the north, an expanded free trade zone, a new one in Port-au-Prince, now delayed, various infrastructure projects, and an alliance with George Soros’ Open Society Institute for a $50 million partnership with Haitian shipper Gregory Mevs to build a free-trade zone for clothing sweatshops.ff
In addition, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) has $258 million in commitments, including the Better Work Haiti and HOPE II projects, taking advantage of duty-free Haitian apparel exports to America to encourage greater sweatshop proliferation.

According to TransAfrica’s founder Randall Robinson:

“That isn’t the kind of investment that Haiti needs. It needs capital investment. It needs investment so that it can be self-sufficient. It needs investment so that it can feed itself.” It also needs debt relief, not another $100 million the IMF just announced adding more to a $1.2 billion burden.

Above all, Haiti needs democratic governance freed from US control, military occupation, and the kind of oppression it’s endured for centuries so its people can breathe free.

It doesn’t need two past and a current US president allied with Haiti’s elites, ignoring economic justice, exploiting Haitian labor, ignoring overwhelming human desperation, militarizing the country, crushing resistance if it arises, and implementing a disaster capitalism agenda at the expense of essential human needs, rights and freedoms.

The only good new is that the Obama administration granted undocumented Haitians Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months. They can now work legally and send remittances to family members. It affects 30,000 ordered deported and all non-US citizens.

During the Bush administration and throughout Obama’s first year in office, repeated calls for it were refused. Now after 80 representatives and 18 senators, Republicans and Democrats, and the conference of Roman Catholic bishops sent appeals, Obama relented for Haitians in America as of January 12. New arrivals will be deported unlike Cubans under the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act (as amended), a “wet foot/dry foot” policy under which those interdicted at sea are returned home, but others reaching shore are inspected for entry, then nearly always allowed to stay.

TPS aside, Haiti faces crushing burdens – deep poverty, vast unemployment, overwhelming human needs, severe repression, poor governance, Washington dominance, a burdensome debt, and much more before the January 12 quake. Now the disaster, militarization by the Pentagon, and disaster capitalism soon arriving besides what’s already profiteering. It’s been Haiti’s plight for generations, the poorest hemispheric nation in the area most under Washington’s iron grip and paying dearly for the privilege.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site and listen to the Lendman News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Monday – Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://republicbroadcasting.org/Lendman

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Crocodile Tears: The Haiti Earthquake – in Context

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Hundreds of thousands feared dead in Haiti

By Bill Van Auken
14 January 2010

Officials warned Wednesday that the earthquake that devastated the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince may have claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands, as the city’s residents piled corpses in the street and dug through the rubble for survivors.

Measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale, the earthquake was the most devastating to hit the impoverished Caribbean island nation in 240 years. With its epicenter barely 9 miles from Port-au-Prince, a city of 2 million, and its source relatively close to the surface, the earthquake inflicted immense damage.

Thousands of buildings, ranging from shantytown dwellings and schools to the Presidential Palace, government ministries and the five-story Hotel Christoph, headquarters of the United Nations peace-keeping forces in the country, collapsed, many with occupants inside them. According to some estimates, 75 percent of the city’s structures were reduced to rubble.

“More than 100,000 are dead,” Felix Augustin, Haiti’s consul general at the United Nations, told reporters Wednesday.

Haiti’s prime minister, Jean-Max Bellerive, told CNN that “several hundred thousand may have died,” the cable news network reported.

“Because we have so [many] people on the streets right now, we don’t know exactly where they were living. But so many, so many buildings, so many neighborhoods totally destroyed, and some neighborhoods we don’t even see people,” CNN quoted Bellerive as saying.

CNN’s Gary Tuchman, one of the first US reporters on the scene, reported seeing corpses covered with sheets lining the streets and “truckloads of bodies.”

“There are absolutely no police, fire, emergency authorities on the scene, as the search for survivors continues,” he said. Haitian civilians frantically dug through the rubble with their bare hands in areas that they believed people could be trapped.

Reuters news agency described the scene in Port-au-Prince: “Sobbing and dazed people wandered the streets of Port-au-Prince, and voices cried out from the rubble. ‘Please take me out, I am dying. I have two children with me,’ a woman told a Reuters journalist from under a collapsed kindergarten in the Canape-Vert area of the capital.”

Among the cruelest effects of the earthquake was the destruction of all of the city’s hospitals. The humanitarian aid group Doctors Without Borders reported that all three of the facilities to which it normally refers patients are so severely damaged that they are unusable.

“The level of care we can now provide without that infrastructure is very limited,” said the group’s spokesman in Toronto. “The best we can offer them at the moment is first-aid care and stabilization. The reality of what we’re seeing is severe traumas—head wounds, crushed limbs—severe problems that cannot be dealt with at the level of care we currently have available with no infrastructure really to support it.”

The Red Cross in Haiti reports that it has run out of medicine. The agency estimates that some 3 million Haitians have been affected by the tragedy.

Meanwhile, aftershocks have continued to shake the city and the surrounding areas.

“Experts fear the worst could still be to come in Haiti,” reported the Financial Times of London. “ ‘There will be aftershocks for many weeks,’ said David Kerridge, head of earth hazards at the British Geological Survey; ‘there is a strong possibility of landslides, which may have caused many causalities in more remote parts of the island.’ ”

The earthquake is the latest and the most severe in a series of natural disasters that have struck Haiti. The country has still not recovered from four hurricanes and tropical storms that swept through the island in 2008.

These natural disasters come on top of, and their effects are brutally amplified by, the disaster created by capitalism and more than a century of imperialist oppression in this, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.

Haiti’s gross domestic product stood at $7 billion in 2008, roughly one third the amount that the Wall Street finance house Goldman Sachs set aside for 2009 year-end bonuses. According to World Bank figures, more than half of the population barely survives on less than $1 a day, while over two thirds of the Haitian people subsist on less than $2.

Life expectancy for Haitian men is little over 50.

Blackouts were daily occurrences in the Haitian capital before the earthquake. And, according to the World Health Organization, not a single Haitian city has a public sewage system and half the population lacks access to clean drinking water.

Now there is no electricity and no phone communication, water is running out in many areas, and the threat of infectious disease could produce many more victims.

In 2004, the United Nations secretariat that focuses on disaster relief pointed to this combined effect of natural and socio-economic disasters:

“The impact of the hazards is much greater in Haiti because the vulnerability of people there is higher. Rapid urbanization, lack of land management, the exploitation of charcoal and consequent deforestation make Haitian people more vulnerable to mudslides.”

The head of the secretariat, Salvano Briceño, said at the time: “What is happening in Haiti is an illustration of a combination of vulnerabilities that was bound to happen. Vulnerabilities have been allowed to grow in Haiti in proportions such that any natural hazard would lead to great disaster.”

He urged international agencies and the world’s governments to invest in aiding Haiti to build up its infrastructure so that it could be prepared to deal with disasters, rather than relying only on relief after the fact.

Instead, the United Nations sent thousands of troops, led by the Brazilian army, to occupy the impoverished nation and impose “law and order” in the wake of a US-backed coup that overthrew the elected government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. An estimated 8,000 Haitians were killed in the period of the coup, many at the hands of right-wing gunmen, some of them trained by the CIA.

This was only the latest in a long series of US interventions aimed at maintaining Washington’s domination of the country and suppressing any movement of the masses to transform the oppressive social and economic conditions.

The US militarily occupied the country from 1915 to 1934, withdrawing its troops only after creating a Haitian army that kept a repressive grip on the political life of the country for decades to come. Washington likewise backed the 30-year dictatorship of the Duvaliers—Papa Doc and Baby Doc—whose victims number in the tens of thousands.

The US media has no interest in this history. Haiti’s poverty is presented merely as a fact of life, with the implication that it is the fault of the Haitians themselves. (Televangelist Pat Robertson, the founder of the Christian Coalition and a leading figure in the US Christian Right, offered his own explanation. The Haitians, he affirmed, had succeeded in overthrowing French rule, freeing themselves from slavery and establishing the first black republic only thanks to a “pact with the devil,” and they have been punished for it ever since.)

US President Barack Obama issued a sanctimonious statement on the Haitian catastrophe Wednesday.

“The reports and images that we’ve seen of collapsed hospitals, crumbled homes, and men and women carrying their injured neighbors through the streets are truly heart-wrenching,” he said. “Indeed, for a country and a people who are no strangers to hardship and suffering, this tragedy seems especially cruel and incomprehensible.” With the Haitian disaster, he added, “we are reminded of the common humanity that we all share.”

If Obama wanted to be moved by such images to a feeling of “common humanity,” he needn’t have waited until the magnitude 7 quake hit Port-au-Prince. He could have viewed similar images from the homes and villages hit by Predator missiles in Pakistan, or those bombed by US warplanes in Afghanistan and Yemen, not to mention the massive death and destruction that the US military visited upon Iraq.

The US government’s response to the Haitian catastrophe is largely military, the first elements on the scene being Coast Guard ships that are normally deployed to catch Haitian migrants seeking to flee the oppressive conditions in their country.

They are to be followed by the USS Vinson, an aircraft carrier, and other warships. And the deployment of US troops in the country—once again—is in the planning stages.

The chief of the US Southern Command, General Douglas Fraser, told reporters Wednesday that the Pentagon had “put various forces around the armed forces on alert,” adding that the military may send “a large-deck amphibious ship that will have a Marine expeditionary unit embarked on that.” CBS News reported that the deployment was being planned “for security purposes.”

In the first decade of the last century, during the heyday of imperialism, the German revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg called attention to the stark contrast between the humanitarian pretensions of the imperialist powers in the face of natural disasters and their brutality in suppressing any opposition to their domination.

The disaster then was the eruption of Mt. Pelee on the island of Martinique, which killed some 40,000 people.

Citing the massacre of Africans by the British, Filipinos by the Americans, and colonial peoples in other lands by all the major powers, Luxemburg wrote:

“And now they have all turned to Martinique, all one heart and one mind again; they help, rescue, dry the tears and curse the havoc-wreaking volcano. Mt. Pelee, great-hearted giant, you can laugh; you can look down in loathing at these benevolent murderers, at these weeping carnivores, at these beasts in Samaritan’s clothing. But a day will come when another volcano lifts its voice of thunder: a volcano that is seething and boiling, whether you need it or not, and will sweep the whole sanctimonious, blood-splattered culture from the face of the earth.”


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Galloway: Gaza in Desperate Situation

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