Saturday, April 21, 2007

Mythic Creatures exhibit at American Museum of Natural History, May 26, 2007 to Jan 6, 2008

Vodou Flags from Haiti Art Cooperative website at depict Vodou spirits and their correlating symbols sewn in sequins and beads (not connected to the Mythic Creatures exhibit)

Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns & Mermaids
May 26, 2007-January 6, 2008 at American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West & 79th Street, in Manhattan. See museum catalog at pages 3 & 4 at (includes image of Mermaid Vodou Flag from Haiti).

Trace the origins, through their cultural and natural history roots, of legendary creatures including dragons, unicorns, mermaids, and sea serpents at the Mythic Creatures exhibit at New York's American Museum of Natural History. Exhibit includes mythological creatures from land, sea and air such as mermaids, unicorns, griffins, sea serpents, and dragons in this major exhibit which starts at this museum and then will travel on to others throughout the United States.
"...fantastical creatures have been a part of human experience through legends and fables, ancient and contemporary art, performance, and even in the accounts of early naturalists. Mythic Creatures will include spectacular sculptures, paintings, and textiles, along with a number of cultural objects from around the world ranging from shadow puppets to ceremonial masks and helmets that will bring to light surprising similarities and differences in the ways peoples around the world have envisioned and depicted these strange and wonderful creatures."

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Re: Emmanuel (Toto) Constant ---- President Aristide Wants to Bring FRAPH to Justice (February 17, 2004)

President Aristide Wants to Bring FRAPH to Justice
REVISED February 17, 2004

Press Release
Contact: Michelle Karshan, Foreign Press Liaison, National Palace, Haiti

President Aristide says Haiti's justice system might use FRAPH documents in pursuit of justice in investigation of FRAPH leader, Louis-Jodel Chamblain

Port-au-Prince - During a press conference held at Haiti's National Palace today regarding the humanitarian crisis caused by recent acts of terrorism, President Aristide revealed that the Government of Haiti may need to unveil the famous FRAPH documents. These documents and photos may be helpful in the pursuit of justice with regard to a criminal investigation underway involving FRAPH commander Louis-Jodel Chamblain, who emerged Friday as one of the terrorists in Gonaives. The terrorists are currently holding the approximately 150,000 residents of Gonaives hostage. Their violence and blocking of roads has cut off food, fuel and medical supplies to the Northern portion of the country.

Today, in discussing the violence in Gonaives and other towns, Aristide said Haiti's justice system may need to refer to the FRAPH documents in the pursuit of justice. He added that the names contained in the FRAPH documents are of persons who were actively involved in FRAPH, as well as those who supported it. President Aristide suggested that more than likely many of those same names engaged in the terrorist activities from that period are also implicated in the recent destablization and violence being waged today.

The criminal investigation the President referred to involves the Cite Soleil fire, an arson committed during the coup d'etat period, in which Chamblain is implicated. After trials were held on two other matters, Chamblain was earlier convicted in the Raboteau Massacre, as well as the assassination of businessman and Aristide supporter, Antoine Izmery. Both of these crimes occurred during the three-year coup period. Chamblain is also named in the Cite Soleil arson.

FRAPH, (Revolutionary Front for Haitian Advancement and Progress), a paramilitary organization formed during the second half of the coup d'etat (1991-1994) has been reported on and denounced by all international human rights groups for their use of torture, assassination and rape against Aristide supporters during that time.

FRAPH was founded by Emmanuel (Toto) Constant, who later revealed during a 60 Minutes interview that he met regularly with the CIA station chief in Haiti at the time, advising him in advance of all upcoming FRAPH activities and also stated that he received regular funds from the station chief.

An article by Blum and Nairn (see below) reveals that Constant stated that after Aristide was ousted from Haiti during the 1991 coup d'etat a US Defense Intelligence Agency officer, who he named, urged him to set up a front as a balance to the Aristide movement. This led to the creation of FRAPH in August 1993. Chamblain was the second in command of FRAPH.

The FRAPH documents contain papers and photos seized by the US military during their intervention in 1994 which led to the restoration of democracy and the return of President Aristide a short time thereafter.
FRAPH maintained offices throughout Haiti and they wallpapered their offices with "trophy photos" of their tortured and maimed victims. Human rights organizations vary in their reporting of the numbers of persons killed during the repression of the coup d'etat with the range being somewhere between 3,000 to 5,000 victims, a large percentage being attributed to the FRAPH paramilitary thugs.

Immediately following the US intervention in Haiti in 1994 the US Embassy spokesperson held a press conference in the central park of Port-au-Prince and attempted to introduce the head of FRAPH, "Toto" Constant, to the press as a legitimate leader of a legitimate opposition group. The staged event was quickly derailed by Haitians who had just been liberated after three years of brutal repression at the hands of Haiti's military and FRAPH. This attempt to portray FRAPH as a legitimate political organization was immediately denounced and rejected by human rights groups around the world, as well as by the press corps who were all too familiar with the mutilated corpses resulting from FRAPH's repressive maneuvers.

A highly publicized victim of FRAPH's handiwork was that of the machete attack against Alerte Belance, who was dragged from her home in the middle of the night because her husband had been an electoral worker in the 1990 elections which brought President Aristide to power on February 7, 1991.

Belance was attacked by men who identified themselves as FRAPH and left for dead on the national highway. After being assisted by a stunned motorist, she underwent surgery to sew her severed face back together, which had been sliced in half, and her arm had to be removed. She miraculously survived and underwent years of physical rehabilitation.

Despite requests by the Government of Haiti that Toto Constant be returned to Haiti to face the justice system, he remains at liberty in Queens, New York and was granted a permit to work. The US government allowed Constant to enter the United States in the mid 90s, although he was a known terrorist. The US ordered his deportation but never moved to deport him and he remains untouched by the Justice Department's human rights violator program, which has been aggressively deporting other such characters.

The Government of Haiti formally requested that the US return the FRAPH documents, arguing that they would be critical to the work of Haiti's Truth Commission at the time and in the investigation of criminal acts committed during the coup period. An international mobilization of individuals, human rights organizations and haiti-interest groups, aggressively campaigned as well for the return of the documents, however the US refused to hand over the documents.

In one of President Clinton's last presidential acts, the FRAPH documents were handed over to the Government of Haiti in early 2000, with the condition that their use be limited to legitimate criminal investigations, as opposed to retribution. They have never been used in the investigation and prosecution of crimes to date.

Please refer to these excellent articles on FRAPH:

Alan Nairn: The Nation in Haiti Under Cloak - Feb 26, 1996
David Grann: The Atlantic Monthly -
Giving the Devil his Due - June 2001
The Nation
"Our Man in FRAPH: Behind Haiti's Paramilitaries", - Oct 24, 1994referring to Emannuel Constant, the head of FRAPH p. 460
An Interview With Allan Nairn June 1995 - Nairn broke the story of the United States government's role in establishing and funding the brutal Haitian paramilitary death squad, FRAPH
FRAPH genesis Nov 8, 2003 - (#17173) As described by investigate journalist Alan Nairn and by William Blum "FRAPH, actually a front for the army,. . .spread ..."
William Blum:
Killing Hope "Who will rid me of this turbulent preist?" Haiti 1986-1984 - excerpts from the book.

Sink or Swim! Florida fun for Haitian

Click here to see larger image of cartoon:
Sink or Swim: Florida Fun for Haitian Refugees! (Made 12/1/02) by Mikhaela (

For info on the current situation of the 101 Haitian refugees in detention in Florida and to learn how you can help, see

Hunger strike in second week to protest detention of 101 Haitians

Photo by Michelle Karshan*

Haitian-American Army veteran enters second week of hunger strike
Associated Press, April 18. 2007

MIAMI - A Haitian-American U.S. Army veteran entered the second week of a hunger strike Tuesday to protest the detention of 101 Haitian migrants who landed in South Florida in a dilapidated sailboat.Henri Petithomme, 32, is only drinking water and Gatorade and spoke in barely audible sentences as he described his goals.He wants the migrants released to their families as they await their deportation hearings so they can work closely with their attorneys to prepare their cases. Ultimately, he hopes the U.S. will give temporary legal status to Haitians already in the country, as it has done in the past for citizens of several Central American nations.
Read story at:

*Photo of town in Haiti where many political refugees took off by boat from during the first coup d'etat against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide 1991-1994 (Photo copyright by Michelle Karshan). PHOTO NOT CONNECTED TO ABOVE AP STORY.

The Accomplishes: Sundance George and Butch Reid and the Virginia Tech Massacre by Greg Palast

"But before we bring in the suspects for questioning, let's pull back the camera lens for the bigger picture. Because what we saw at Virginia Tech was just a concentrated node of a larger, nationwide killing spree that goes on day after day in the USA. Eighty-thousand Americans take a bullet from a hand gun in any year. Thirty-thousand die. That's one thousand shooting deaths off-camera for each victim at Virginia Tech."

The Accomplishes: Sundance George and Butch Reid and the Virginia Tech Massacre by Greg Palast (based on excerpt from Armed Madhouse)

He had accomplices. Don’t kid yourself: 23-year-old Cho Seung-hui didn’t forge his two little pistols in his smithy shop.
He had a dealer, a guns-and-bullets pusher-man who put the heat in his hand, took the kid’s money and pocketed it with a grin.
“Whether you are looking for a pistol for affordable training or simply the excitement of shooting, the P22 is the pistol for you!”
That’s the ad on the Walther website for the student-reaper, a Walther .22.
Continue reading ‘The Accomplices: Sundance George and Butch Reid and the Virginia Tech Massacre’

This report is adapted from, "Just Put Down that Lawsuit, Pardner, and No One Gets Hurt" in the Class War section of the new edition of Greg Palast's bestseller, "ARMED MADHOUSE: Sordid Secrets and Strange Tales of A White House Gone Wild." Order it now at before its official release next week.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Virginia Tech Tragedy and Arms Control

The Virginia Tech Tragedy and Arms Control

Excerpt from Dick Bernard's Peace & Justice list serve (P&J#1367),, April 17, 2007, Minnesota:

...The people at National Rifle Association (NRA), predictably, are probably already out with their mantra that "guns don't kill people, people kill people", and some wise ones are likely already saying that if the personnel in the engineering building had been armed, the carnage would have been less....
It seems ironic now, but Saturday night Pat Keefe of the Nonviolent Peace Force and I journeyed the 100 miles to St. John's University, Collegeville, to speak to students following the Amnesty International film "Arms for the Poor", a film on (according to the brochure announcing the film) "how U.S. weapons makers influence Congress to sell weapons to the developing world and the destabilizing effect these sales have on poor countries. American weapons are exported to almost any nation in the world regardless of the international implications of the sale, with little consideration to the human rights record or the financial status of the country. American arms sales remain at the same level they were at the height of the Cold War."
The moderator wrote us beforehand suggesting that "since the audience may be a little disturbed after watching the film, it may be good to give them ample time to ask questions and process the new issues, and brainstorm ideas for addressing these issues."
We watched the film along with six students, and had a good discussion afterwards.
The film opened with the famous Dwight Eisenhower clip of Jan 17, 1961, where he articulates the danger of the "military-industrial complex".
Leaving the Alcuin library Saturday night, I picked up the brochures left for the students: They came from the following groups:;
This might be a good day to review some of these websites.
And by the way, in a few days it is the 8th anniversary of the Columbine massacre: I have a little familiarity with that. My then 13-year granddaughter and her family lived (and still live) one mile from Columbine High School. I was there a few short days after the tragedy. I will never forget the long, slow, rain-soaked walk up "Cross Hill" above Columbine, where crosses had been put in place for the victims of the carnage. (There had been crosses in place, also, for the perpetrators, but they had been removed...a story in itself.)
NRA was in denial about that tragedy, too...
At a meeting last night, we opened the meeting with a moment of silence for the victims of the violence in Virginia, and for all the victims of violence everywhere..

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Slavery Apologies Gain Momentum in Southern States

North Carolina's senate joined Virginia and Maryland in passing resolutions apologizing for past official actions that legalized slavery and discrimination. North Carolina's house will most likely pass their own resolution as well. Other states are expected to follow and with the increasing calls for active racial reconciliation, there is also a momentum for a "slavery apology" at the federal level.

Virginia, the first state to pass a such a resolution, wrote in their resolution that government sanctioned slavery “ranks as the most horrendous of all depredations of human rights and violations of our founding ideals in our nation’s history, and the abolition of slavery was followed by systematic discrimination, enforced segregation, and other insidious institutions and practices toward Americans of African descent that were rooted in racism, racial bias, and racial misunderstanding.”

On North Carolina's senate resolution, Jack Betts wrote in his April 8th article, A Resolution on equality is worth a listen for all (Charlotte Observer) that: When Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand rose Thursday and asked for immediate consideration of a resolution "expressing the profound regret of the North Carolina General Assembly for the history of wrong inflicted upon black citizens by means of slavery, exploitation and legalized racial segregation and calling on all citizens to take part in acts of racial conciliation," the usual background buzz came to a halt. I listened to a recording of the full debate as senators took turns expressing contrition about things approved by Old South legislatures of states that once willingly fought in a war that would have preserved the enslavement of other humans. It wasn't just an apology for slavery. It was an accounting of the injustices done in the public's name by laws approved over the centuries. See

The Latest Legacy of Slavery: Apologies by Erin Texeira, Associated Press, March 12, 2007,

Apologies for slavery too little too late by Sam Johns, Black News Weekly (BNW)

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Maya Deren's Divine Horsemen, The Living Gods of Haiti at Manhattan's Hunter College April 13th

Anthropology students document Vodou ceremony process (Photo copyright by Michelle Karshan)

Contact: Lois Wilcken, 718-953-6638,


Makandal, a company that brings the traditions of the Haitian people alive in music and dance, and the Haitian Drum Workshop of Hunter College announce a special screening of experimental filmmaker Maya Deren’s Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti on Friday, April 13th, 8 pm, in Brecher Hall at Hunter College CUNY at 68th Street in Manhattan. This viewing of the film celebrates its recent release by Mystic Fire Video in DVD format.

In 1947 Deren departed for Haiti on a Guggenheim fellowship with a plan to film sacred Afro-Haitian dance within an eight-month time frame. But once in Haiti, she discovered that “the dance could not be considered independently from the mythology.” During her filming over the next several years she studied anthropology, experienced the “white darkness” of spirit possession, and published the classic book, Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti in 1953 (reprinted by McPherson & Company, 1983). In 1977, Deren’s widower Teiji Ito and his second wife, Cheryl Ito, posthumously completed the making of the film.

Please join us in celebrating this classic on Haitian Vodou. Savor the rare aural and visual images from the 1940s and ‘50s, which bring to life the private (ritual) and public (Carnival and Rara) faces of Vodou. Our program offers a brief introduction by Dr. Lois Wilcken (author, The Drums of Vodou), a showing of the film, a discussion moderated by Hunter College students, and light refreshments. Admission: $5 general public; FREE for Hunter students with College ID. Travel Directions at

Makandal and the Ethnomusicology Program of the Hunter College Music Department established the Haitian Drum Workshop in 1983, and the Undergraduate Student Government has chartered and funded it since 1996. The Workshop meets Friday evenings to study the remarkable rhythms of Haitian Vodou with Master Drummer Frisner Augustin (NEA Heritage Fellow).

Thursday, April 5, 2007

NYC CONDOM "I'm wearing one right now, it helps me think."

"New York, we've got you covered" and "New York's hottest new wrapper" are the attention grabbing slogans announcing NYC's new condom program. New York City has become the first city to produce and market its own line of condoms and has branded it with a logo mirroring the signs for its subway lines. Bringing its distribution to the streets, NYC has already given away five million of its condoms. NYC CONDOMs and lubricants can be ordered free of charge by not-for-profit organizations for free distribution only at To find out where individuals can pick up their NYC CONDOM, see the list of businesses (bars, hair braiding shops, etc.) in your neighborhood at Animated flash show displaying several languages calls it the "condom that speaks all languages" can be seen at where someone asks if the other had heard of the NYC CONDOM and the other answers, "I'm wearing one right now, it helps me think."

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Act Now for the Release of the 101 Haitians who Arrived in Florida Last Week by Boat

  1. Demand Release of 101 Haitians Who Arrived Last Week in Hallandale Beach by Boat
  2. Demand Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for all Haitians in the United States
Urgent Immigration Update issued by Steven David Forester, Esq., Senior Policy Advocate of Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami/Haitian Women of Miami, Inc. Read full story and how you can help at


Monday, April 2, 2007

Selavi: That is Life, A Haitian Story of Hope by Youme Landowne

SELAVI: THAT IS LIFE, A Haitian Story of Hope, written and illustrated by Youme Landowne. Beautiful and historic book about the orphanage for street children that Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide founded in the 80s. Tells the story through the perspective of the children. Each character based on actual children who lived at La Fanmi. See Edwidge Danticat's piece at the end and enjoy photos by Jen Cheek Pantaleon as well.
ORDER HERE FROM AMAZON: Selavi, That is Life: A Haitian Story of Hope (Also available in Creole - will put up link soon)

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Bonga and Vodou Drums of Haiti at S.O.B.'s this Friday

click on image for info
for info on Bonga:

2nd Annual Haitian Jazz Music Festival

2nd Annual Haitian Jazz Music Fesitval
Saturday, April 21, 2007

Haiti Independence Day Flag by Riva Precil

Haiti Independence Day Flag by Riva Precil for Peace Diaries (copyright)
Haiti's Flag Day is May 18th!

Bob Marley flag and Haitian flag

Bob Marley and Haitian flags side by side at Haiti's May Day Agricultural Fair in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Photo by Michelle Karshan (copyright)

Tupac Shakur image inside a Haitian Tap Tap (bus)

Tupac Shakur picture in Haitian Tap Tap, Photo by Michelle Karshan (copyright 2000)
Taken inside a Tap Tap on Route Malpasse, Haiti

Targeted, National Security and the Business of Immigration by Deepa Fernandes

Targeted, National Security and the Business of Immigration by Deepa Fernandes
From Seven Stories Press: America has always portrayed itself as a country of immigrants, welcoming each year the millions seeking a new home or refuge in this land of plenty. Increasingly, instead of finding their dream, many encounter a nightmare—a country whose culture and legal system aggressively target and prosecute them.

In Targeted, journalist Deepa Fernandes seamlessly weaves together history, political analysis, and first-person narratives of those caught in the grips of the increasingly Kafkaesque U.S. Homeland Security system. She documents how in post-9/11 America immigrants have come to be deemed a national security threat.

Fernandes—herself an immigrant well-acquainted with U.S. immigration procedures—takes the reader on a harrowing journey inside the new American immigrant experience, a journey marked by militarized border zones, racist profiling, criminalization, detention and deportation. She argues that since 9/11, the Bush administration has been carrying out a series of systematic changes to decades-old immigration policy that constitute a roll back of immigrant rights and a boon for businesses who are helping to enforce the crackdown on immigrants, creating a growing “Immigration Industrial Complex.” She also documents the bullet-to-ballot strategy of white supremacist elements that influence our new immigration legislation.

DEEPA FERNANDES is the host of the popular morning show, “Wakeup call” on Pacifica radio station WBAI in New York City. Her award-winning radio features have aired on the BBC World Service, and Public Radio International. Her writing has appeared in the Village Voice, In These Times, and the New York Amsterdam News. Targeted, her first book, is the result of four years of research collecting narratives from immigrants as well as human rights groups, community organizers and lawyers who are challenging the Bush Administration's policies.

Toussaint Louverture by Madison Smartt Bell

Toussaint Louverture, A Biography by Madison Smartt Bell

From Random House: In 1791, Saint Domingue was both the richest and cruelest colony in the Western Hemisphere; more than a third of African slaves died within a few years of their arrival there. Thirteen years later, Haitian rebels declared independence from France after the first--and only--successful slave revolution in history. Much of the success of this uprising can be credited to one man, Toussaint Louverture--a figure about whom surprisingly little is known.
In this fascinating biography, the first about Toussaint to appear in English in more than fifty years, Madison Smartt Bell combines a novelist's passion for his subject with a deep knowledge of the historical milieu that produced the man. Toussaint has been known either as a martyr of the revolution or as the instigator of one of history’s most savagely violent events. Bell shatters this binary perception, producing a clear-eyed picture of a complicated figure.
Toussaint, born a slave, became a slaveholder himself, with associates among the white planter class. Bell demonstrates how his privileged position served as both an asset and a liability, enabling him to gain the love of blacks and mulattoes as "Papa Toussaint" but also sowing mistrust in their minds.
Another of Bell's brilliant achievements is demonstrating how Toussaint’s often surprising actions, such as his support for the king of France even as the French Revolution promised an end to slavery and his betrayal of a planned slave revolt in Jamaica, can be explained by his desire to achieve liberation for the blacks of Saint Domingue. This masterly biography is a revelation of one of the most fascinating and important figures in New World history.
Order here from Amazon: Toussaint Louverture: A Biography