Monday, January 25, 2010

The Hate and the Quake

Disaster has a way of galvanizing the human spirit activating an instinctive desire to reach out and help. When most people think of the horrific destruction Haiti has just experienced, they cringe while simultanously thanking God that it's there and not "here". It would appear, given Haiti's economic and social status in the world, that suffering is not a criteria for compassion.

Many theories have been mouthed globally to rationalize the recent quake. There are many answers to the question: Why Haiti? Why now?

Rev. Pat Robinson theory is that Haiti had a "Pact with The Devil". A statement that labels him as either an enlightened visionary or the most insensitive, disconnected preacher in North America. Most people in this part of the world thinks that he is a publicity seeking hound using this tradegy to gain global exposure with outlandish pronouncements.

In the piece that follows a distinguished scholar at the University of the West Indies, Sir Hillary Beckles shares a historical perspective on the plight of Haiti. The earthquake was a wake-up call to the world that Haiti has been suffering for too long.

In his opinion, Haiti has is still paying a diferent price of being the first country in this hemisphere to revolt against its colonial masters. That price is not just social but financial. The world has begun to react and now there are initiatives by a number of countries to forgive Haiti's debt.

Haitians and the rest of us who sympathize with Haiti could be comforted with the knowledge that living conditions in Haiti will improve tremendously after this terrible nightmare. Read Sir Hillary's article below...

Published on: 1/17/2010 by Sir Hilary Beckles

THE UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST INDIES is in the process of conceiving how best to deliver a major conference on the theme Rethinking And Rebuilding Haiti.

I am very keen to provide an input into this exercise because for too long there has been a popular perception that somehow the Haitian nation-building project, launched on January 1, 1804, has failed on account of mismanagement, ineptitude, corruption.

Buried beneath the rubble of imperial propaganda, out of both Western Europe and the United States, is the evidence which shows that Haiti's independence was defeated by an aggressive North-Atlantic alliance that could not imagine their world inhabited by a free regime of Africans as representatives of the newly emerging democracy.

The evidence is striking, especially in the context of France.

The Haitians fought for their freedom and won, as did the Americans fifty years earlier. The Americans declared their independence and crafted an extraordinary constitution that set out a clear message about the value of humanity and the right to freedom, justice, and liberty.

In the midst of this brilliant discourse, they chose to retain slavery as the basis of the new nation state. The founding fathers therefore could not see beyond race, as the free state was built on a slavery foundation.

The water was poisoned in the well; the Americans went back to the battlefield a century later to resolve the fact that slavery and freedom could not comfortably co-exist in the same place.

The French, also, declared freedom, fraternity and equality as the new philosophies of their national transformation and gave the modern world a tremendous progressive boost by so doing.

They abolished slavery, but Napoleon Bonaparte could not imagine the republic without slavery and targeted the Haitians for a new, more intense regime of slavery. The British agreed, as did the Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese.

All were linked in communion over the 500 000 Blacks in Haiti, the most populous and prosperous Caribbean colony.

As the jewel of the Caribbean, they all wanted to get their hands on it. With a massive slave base, the English, French and Dutch salivated over owning it - and the people.

The people won a ten-year war, the bloodiest in modern history, and declared their independence. Every other country in the Americas was based on slavery.

Haiti was freedom, and proceeded to place in its 1805 Independence Constitution that any person of African descent who arrived on its shores would be declared free, and a citizen of the republic.

For the first time since slavery had commenced, Blacks were the subjects of mass freedom and citizenship in a nation.

The French refused to recognise Haiti's independence and declared it an illegal pariah state. The Americans, whom the Haitians looked to in solidarity as their mentor in independence, refused to recognise them, and offered solidarity instead to the French. The British, who were negotiating with the French to obtain the ownership title to Haiti, also moved in solidarity, as did every other nation-state the Western world.

Haiti was isolated at birth - ostracised and denied access to world trade, finance, and institutional development. It was the most vicious example of national strangulation recorded in modern history.

The Cubans, at least, have had Russia, China, and Vietnam. The Haitians were alone from inception. The crumbling began.

Then came 1825; the moment of full truth. The republic is celebrating its 21st anniversary. There is national euphoria in the streets of Port-au-Prince.

The economy is bankrupt; the political leadership isolated. The cabinet took the decision that the state of affairs could not continue.

The country had to find a way to be inserted back into the world economy. The French government was invited to a summit.

Officials arrived and told the Haitian government that they were willing to recognise the country as a sovereign nation but it would have to pay compensation and reparation in exchange. The Haitians, with backs to the wall, agreed to pay the French.

The French government sent a team of accountants and actuaries into Haiti in order to place a value on all lands, all physical assets, the 500 000 citizens were who formerly enslaved, animals, and all other commercial properties and services.
The sums amounted to 150 million gold francs. Haiti was told to pay this reparation to France in return for national recognition.

The Haitian government agreed; payments began immediately. Members of the Cabinet were also valued because they had been enslaved people before independence.

Thus began the systematic destruction of the Republic of Haiti. The French government bled the nation and rendered it a failed state. It was a merciless exploitation that was designed and guaranteed to collapse the Haitian economy and society.

Haiti was forced to pay this sum until 1922 when the last instalment was made. During the long 19th century, the payment to France amounted to up to 70 per cent of the country's foreign exchange earnings.

Jamaica today pays up to 70 per cent in order to service its international and domestic debt. Haiti was crushed by this debt payment. It descended into financial and social chaos.

The republic did not stand a chance. France was enriched and it took pleasure from the fact that having been defeated by Haitians on the battlefield, it had won on the field of finance. In the years when the coffee crops failed, or the sugar yield was down, the Haitian government borrowed on the French money market at double the going interest rate in order to repay the French government.

When the Americans invaded the country in the early 20th century, one of the reasons offered was to assist the French in collecting its reparations.

The collapse of the Haitian nation resides at the feet of France and America, especially. These two nations betrayed, failed, and destroyed the dream that was Haiti; crushed to dust in an effort to destroy the flower of freedom and the seed of justice.

Haiti did not fail. It was destroyed by two of the most powerful nations on earth, both of which continue to have a primary interest in its current condition.
The sudden quake has come in the aftermath of summers of hate. In many ways the quake has been less destructive than the hate.

Human life was snuffed out by the quake, while the hate has been a long and inhumane suffocation - a crime against humanity.

During the 2001 UN Conference on Race in Durban, South Africa, strong representation was made to the French government to repay the 150 million francs.

The value of this amount was estimated by financial actuaries as US$21 billion. This sum of capital could rebuild Haiti and place it in a position to re-engage the modern world. It was illegally extracted from the Haitian people and should be repaid.

It is stolen wealth. In so doing, France could discharge its moral obligation to the Haitian people.

For a nation that prides itself in the celebration of modern diplomacy, France, in order to exist with the moral authority of this diplomacy in this post-modern world, should do the just and legal thing.

Such an act at the outset of this century would open the door for a sophisticated interface of past and present, and set the Haitian nation free at last.

l Sir Hilary Beckles is pro-vice-chancellor and Principal of the Cave Hill Campus, UWI.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Great Earthquake Survival Controversy. What to do?

The following information is being currently circulating by email with advice from an alledged "expert" rescuser, Doug Copp. Read it then click the link below to get a completely different view point. Question is: Who do you believe? Your answer, if it's right, could save your life. Read on...


My name is Doug Copp. I am the Rescue Chief and Disaster Manager of the American Rescue TeamInternational (ARTI), the world's most experienced rescue team. The information in this article will save lives in an earthquake.

I have crawled inside 875 collapsed buildings, worked with rescue teams from 60 countries, founded rescue teams in several countries, and I am a member of many rescue teams from many countries.

I was the United Nations expert in Disaster Mitigation for two years.

I have worked at every major disaster in the world since 1985, except for simultaneous disasters.

The first building I ever crawled inside of was a school in Mexico City during the 1985 earthquake. Every child was under his/her desk. Every child was crushed to the thickness of their bones. They could have survived by lying down next to their desks in the aisles.

It was obscene, unnecessary and I wondered why the children were not in the aisles. I didn't at the time know that the children were told to hide under something. I am amazed that even today schools are still using the “Duck and Cover” Instructions - telling the children to squat under their desks with their heads bowed and covered with their hands. This was the technique used in the Mexico City school.

Simply stated, when buildings collapse, the weight of the ceilings falling upon the objects or furniture inside crushes these objects, leaving a space or void next to them. This space is what I call the'Triangle of Life'. The larger the object, the stronger, the less it will compact.

The less the object compacts, the larger the void, the greater the probability that the person who is using this void for safety will not be injured. The next time you watch collapsed buildings on television, count the 'triangles' you see formed. They are everywhere. It is the most common shape you will see in a collapsed building.


1) Almost everyone who simply 'ducks and covers' when buildings collapse ARE CRUSHED TO DEATH. People who get under objects, like desks or cars, are crushed.

2) Cats, dogs and babies often naturally curl up in the fetal position. You should too in an earthquake. It is a natural safety survival instinct.

That position helps you survive in a smaller void. Get next to an object, next to a sofa, next to a large bulky object that will compress slightly but leave a void next to it.

3) Wooden buildings are the safest type of construction to be in during an earthquake. Wood is flexible and moves with the force of the earthquake. If the wooden building does collapse, large survival voids are created.

Also, the wooden building has less concentrated crushing weight.

Brick buildings will break into individual bricks. Bricks will cause many injuries but less squashed bodies thanconcrete slabs. Concrete slab buildings are the most dangerous during an earthquake.

4) If you are in bed during the night and an earthquake occurs, simply roll off the bed. A safe void will exist around the bed.

Hotels can achieve a much greater survival rate in earthquakes, simply by posting a sign on the back of the door of every room telling occupants to lie down on the floor, next to the bottom of the bed during an earthquake.

5) If an earthquake happens and you cannot easily escape by getting out the door or window, then lie down and curl up in the fetal position next to a sofa, or large chair.

6) Almost everyone who gets under a doorway when buildings collapse is killed. How? If you stand under a doorway and the door jamb falls forward or backward you will be crushed by the ceiling above. If the door jamb falls sideways you will be cut in half by the doorway. In either case, you will be killed!

7) Never go to the stairs. The stairs have a different 'moment of frequency’ (they swing separately from the main part of the building). The stairs and remainder of the building continuously bump into each other untilstructural failure of the stairs takes place. The people who get on stairs before they fail, are chopped up by the stair treads, horribly mutilated. Even if the building doesn't collapse, stay away from the stairs. The stairs are a likely part of the building to be damaged.

Even if the stairs are not collapsed by the earthquake, they may collapse later when overloaded by fleeing people. They should always be checked for safety, even when the rest of the building is not damaged.

8) Get Near the Outer Walls Of Buildings Or Outside Of Them If Possible - It is much better to be near the outside of the building rather than the interior. The farther inside you are from the outside perimeter of the building the greater the probability that your escape route will be blocked.

9) People inside of their vehicles are crushed when the road above falls in an earthquake and crushes their vehicles; which is exactly what happened with the slabs between the decks of the Nimitz Freeway. The victims of the San Francisco earthquake all stayed inside of their vehicles.

They were all killed. They could have easily survived by getting out and lying in the fetal position next to their vehicles. Everyone killed would have survived if they had been able to get out of their cars and sit or lie next to them. All the crushed cars had voids 3 feet high next to them, except for the cars that had columns fall directly across them.

10) I discovered, while crawling inside of collapsed newspaper offices and other offices with a lot of paper, that paper does not compact.. Large voids are found surrounding stacks of paper.

In 1996 we made a film, which proved my survival methodology to be correct.

The Turkish Federal Government, City of Istanbul, University of Istanbul Case Productions, and ARTI, cooperated to film this practical, scientific test. We collapsed a school and a home with 20 mannequins inside.

Ten mannequins did 'Duck and Cover' and ten mannequins were used in my 'Triangle of Life' survival method. After the simulated earthquake collapse we crawled through the rubble and entered the building to film and document the results.

The film, in which I practiced my survival techniques under directly observable, scientific conditions, relevant to building collapse, showed there would have been zero percent survival for those doing ‘Duck and Cover’.

There would likely have been 100 percent survivability for people using my method of the 'Triangle of Life'. This film has been seen by millions of viewers on television in Turkey and the rest of Europe, and it was seen in the USA , Canada and Latin America on the TV program Real TV.

OK, now that you have read that, Would you "duck and cover"? Click the link below to learn more about what people are saying about Doug Copp. After you read that, answer this. What you think or how do you feel?

Read it HERE

fOR more on Doug Copp's theory Go Here

Be Safe and Stay Well

Monday, January 11, 2010

Profitable Humpty Dumpty English

Stand Up For Your Rights

We should all learn this marketing lesson from Digicel TT, one of the two cell phone providers in Trinidad & Tobago. This company spends millions wooing customers then they enforce operating policies that recoups insignificant investments in phone chargers. Yes, you read that right, phone chargers.

Here’s Digicel’s unwritten policy: Customers get a 30 day warranty on every cell phone purchased but there are no warranty on accessories. Their humpty dumpty language says that "chargers are accessories" the meanings of accessory has changed so as not to make Digicel liable for defective chargers. One would assume that intelligent people running such a huge company would be able to rationalize that chargers are "necessities" not “accessories”.

But here’s the kicker; this particular redefinition has nothing to do with profit because I’m sure that chargers are not profitable to Digicel. After all, they are selling AIR TIME in the tune of millions every month.

This is the marketing lesson: don't do unto your customers what you will not want done onto you. Most will not raise a fuss and just purchase the charger. After all, they have just purchased a cell phone that in some cases cost as much as $3000 TT. Buying another charger is simple. Then there are those who will not bend over...

Their response is,”dey go hear mih mouth, ah go give them back belly and side”. But take my advice, the best approach is to seek out the help of the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT). These people are there to help even if they “never hear bout that”. They will call the people at Digicel Headquarters who will quickly accede and promise you a new charger on the condition that you come to headquarters in Maraval to pick it up. Even if you purchased the phone in Penal, consider yourself lucky because now you can actually purchase more air time from Digicel.

In a country where wise governance for the people created an environment where almost everyone must use two cell phones because of the extremely high cost of crossing networks, we are left with no other choice. We either drop out and be digitally isolated or grind our teeth and take it. As we all know before Digicel we had different problems so why complain about buying chargers.

Now in a two phone country, without choices we cannot, NOT use Digicel services but we can put in place our own personal policy that we would just not bend over. We will be very vigilant and find ways around being willing victims. When we feel aggrieved, first we will let them know and if we get no satisfaction, seek the help of the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago TATT.

Above all stop crossing your fingers hoping that someone is looking out for your interest.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Are You Cold Yet?

Reading reports out of Europe and the US shivers my imagination with memories of many harsh winters spent in New England. I know that professional weather men can miscalculate and instead of light snow whiteout blizzards hit.

I recollect my initial amazement at the attention everyone paid to the weather reports. That amazement quickly turned to appreciation when I experienced the quick changes in the weather.

Before I left Trinidad, maybe because I did not pay attention, the weather and the temperature was not important. In this region there is a rainy season and dry season; that’s it.

Two months ago the Commonwealth Head Of Government met here to discuss climate change. Maybe that had something to do with it but suddenly...

It’s cold here now. Most locals would agree the nights and early mornings are a lot colder than it has ever been. Cold for the natives here is anywhere near or around 70 degree F., mormally it like this.

Even people who know the cold feel it here. A family member who is visiting from Boston and staying in Santa Cruz was complaining to me about how cold Trinidad had become. This from a man who had to shovel his car to catch the plane here.

Point is climate change is beginning to happen, Caribbean people must pay attention.

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