Friday, September 28, 2007

Long Island Latino International Film Festival at Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center

September 28-29-30

Projecting lots of friends Latino film festival predicts a warm welcome from East End's Hispanics by Gene Seymour, New York Newsday, September 28, 2007

Baby steps are the best that any planner of a fledgling film festival can hope for. And those putting together the Long Island Latino International Film Festival insist that after three years, they're barely beginning to establish themselves as an annual showcase for - and celebration of - the eclectic range of Hispanic cinema.

Still, the fact that the third edition of the weekend-long festival opens tonight at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center seems pretty audacious, as baby steps go.

In its first two years, the LILIFF ("Just like lisping the name, 'Lilith,'" jokes festival co-founder and executive director T.J. Collins) played at the Bellmore Movie Theater. Making the move to the glamorous East End is bold, but Collins says it's a logical step backed by market research and demographics.

"Between Nassau and Suffolk counties, there are more Latinos in Suffolk," he says. "So if it's going to be here, it may as well be in the East End."

There are 19 films on this year's schedule, which begins and ends with documentaries involving bats and balls.

The centerpiece of tonight's opening-night festivities at 7 is "Bragging Rights: Stickball Stories," wherein first-time-feature-director Sonia Gonzalez chronicles how immigrant groups of succeeding generations used New York's street baseball to assert their presence in the city.
Sunday's closing-night feature - following the 5 p.m. awards ceremony - is "The Legacy of #21," a tribute to Latino baseball pioneer and Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente.

In between, there are features and short films coming from as far away as Brazil (Fernando Pinhero Guimares' animated short, "A Garota") and Mexico City ("I Like You, Too/Yo Tambien Te Quiero," a romantic-comedy short by Jack Zagha Kababie to be shown tonight before "Bragging Rights"). Other scheduled features include Ivan Velez's melodrama, "Indiscretion" and Miguel Aviles' crime drama "44."

Collins and fellow festival producer Janet Cruz sat in the lobby of the Westhampton Beach theater one recent morning to talk about how the festival arrived at this point in its short history. As founding partners of the Long Island-based Mezcla Media Market, Inc., a nonprofit organization sponsoring the festival, Cruz and Collins have cultivated the LILIFF's growth with careful attention to they way they reach out to the burgeoning and diverse Hispanic audience.

Continue article at (and see trailer of The Little Cyn, entered in the Short Film Competition):

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Shock Doctrine, The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

From NewsCenter

The Shock Doctrine
The Age of Disaster Capitalism
by Naomi Klein

The following is excerpted from Naomi Klein’s recently published book:

"As George Bush and his cabinet took up their posts in January 2001, the need for new sources of growth for US corporations was an urgent matter. With the tech bubble now officially popped and the DowJones tumbling 824 points in their first two and half months in office, they found themselves staring in the face of a serious economic downturn. John Maynard Keynes had argued that governments should spend their way out of recessions, providing economic stimulus with public works. Bush’s solution was for the government to deconstruct itself - hacking off great chunks of the public wealth and feeding them to corporate America, in the form of tax cuts on the one hand and lucrative contracts on the other. Bush’s budget director, the think-tank ideologue Mitch Daniels, pronounced: “The general idea - that the business of government is not to provide services, but to make sure that they are provided - seems self-evident to me.” That assessment included disaster response. Joseph Allbaugh, the Republican party operative whom Bush put in charge of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) - the body responsible for responding to disasters, including terrorist attacks - described his new place of work as “an oversized entitlement programme”.Then came 9/11, and all of a sudden having a government whose central mission was self-immolation did not seem like a very good idea. With a frightened population wanting protection from a strong, solid government, the attacks could well have put an end to Bush’s project of hollowing out government just as it was beginning."
See rest of excerpt at

College Drinking a National Epidemic

Photo from

College drinking is a national epidemic. Drinking and alcohol poisoning are regular occurrences at most college campuses across the U.S. The byproduct of this epidemic is death, expulsion, fires, sexual assault, etc.

March 2007 press release reveals findings of The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University study entitled Wasting the Best and Brightest: Substance Abuse at America’s Colleges and Universities
The report found that half of college students binge drink, abuse prescription and illegal drugs and nearly one in four meet medical criteria for alcohol, drug abuse and dependence.

"Forty-nine percent (3.8 million) of full time college students binge drink and/or abuse prescription and illegal drugs, according to Wasting the Best and the Brightest: Substance Abuse at America’s Colleges and Universities, a new report by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.

"The study also finds that 1.8 million full-time college students (22.9 percent) meet the medical criteria for substance abuse and dependence,[i] two and one half times the 8.5 percent of the general population who meet these same criteria.

"The comprehensive 231-page report, the result of more than four years of research, surveys, interviews and focus groups is the most extensive examination ever undertaken of the substance abuse situation on the nation’s college campuses." See rest of press release or link to actual report at


This September 12, 2007 New York Times education article, Calling the Folks About Campus Drinking by Samuel G. Freedman, a professor of journalism at Columbia University, looks at how one university is addressing the problem.

Quote from the article:
"UNAMBIGUOUSLY, alcohol abuse is the No. 1 health and safety problem on every college campus,” Chancellor Wiley said in a recent interview. “I don’t even know what would be No. 2. Just about every unpleasant incident, every crime, involves alcohol abuse by the victim or the perpetrator. The question is, what do you do that’s effective to prevent it? And there’s no magic bullet.”


National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) College Drinking: Changing the Culture website explains
What is alcohol poisoning? What are the symptoms? What to do if you think someone has alcohol poisoning...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Haiti's Kesler Pierre appears in today's New York Times

Haiti's Kesler Pierre, a stained-glass artisan, is shown in today's New York Times article, Synagogue Window Returns for Rosh Hashana, about the restoration of a stained glass window at the Eldridge Street Synagogue in Manhattan.
Photo of Kesler borrowed from the La Troupe Makandal website at

The photograph of Kesler Pierre and Raymond Clagnan reinstalling the 15-foot-wide rose window over the entrance of this historic synagogue on Manhattan's lower east side is featured prominently on the upper left hand corner of page 2 in the Times' Metro section. Click below and scroll down to second photograph and click on it to enlarge the image:,%20James

Kesler Pierre was trained in stained glass art while he still lived in Haiti. Kesler also is a former longtime key member of the famous Makandal band, and is the creator/photographer and archivist of incredible images from Haiti and historical documents relating to Haiti.

A bio of Kesler Pierre on the La Troupe Makandal website at states that:

"Kesler Pierre (Percussionist, Third Drum, and Artist), born in Port-au-Prince, is a self-trained artist who worked for a stained glass studio in Haiti. Since migrating to the United States, Mr. Pierre has compiled an extensive dossier of work in and around the New York metropolitan area. In 1997, he began to study the Haitian drum with Master Drummer Frisner Augustin of La Troupe Makandal and went on to play third drum and percussion with the group. Mr. Pierre has created clothing for the musicians and props for stage sets, most notably the sacred bottles that adorn Vodou altars. His elaborate designs derive from cosmograms traced on temple floors during Vodou rites. Scintillating with color and movement, they have drawn the admiration of audiences in the United States and France. Please visit Kesler Graphic Arts, where you can walk through galleries of his photographs on Haitian themes, restorations of historical documents, and images of Makandal's work."

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Join Jubilee USA's Cancel the Debt Fast

Fasters Urge Congress to Cancel Poor Countries' Debts by Haider Rizvi, One World US,
Fri., Sep. 7, 2007
New York, Sep 6 (OneWorld) - A coalition of faith-based human rights groups has launched a nationwide campaign to win congressional support for legislation that would cancel debts owed by the world's poorest nations. Click here for article:

Blog the Debt
Jubilee USA's notes on debt and economic justice. Cancel debt. Eliminate poverty.

Paul Farmer commentary in Forbes feature Solutions: Health Care

Commentary, 09.04.07, Forbes Magazine

Paul Farmer interviewed by Sonia Narang

I was lucky enough to make my first trip to Haiti almost 25 years ago. Haiti has been the best teacher I've ever had (and that's saying a lot).

Working there taught me several things: that all enduring, good work is done by teams (no doctor can be effective alone); that public health and public infrastructure is always important (even the biggest and most beautiful mission hospital cannot serve the people of an entire region, much less a nation); that community-based care, relying on village health workers is the secret to success for programs for chronic diseases, including AIDS and tuberculosis; that some services should not be sold, even for the tiniest price, because there will always be some who cannot pay these "users' fees," as they're called, and the ones who cannot pay are precisely the people we came to serve in the first place. These are also the people who are, often enough, hungry. There's only one treatment, we learned, for that affliction: food. See full story at:
Read the Partners in Health January 2007 report on their work in Rwanda at
Read the Partners in Health January 2007 report on their work in Haiti at

Edwidge Danticat & Junot Diaz new books reviewed by New York Times

A Haitian Tragedy: Brothers Yearn in Vain

Michiko Kakutani reviews new books by Edwidge Danticat and Junot Diaz

By MICHIKO KAKUTANI, The New York Times, Books of the Times
Published: September 4, 2007
When Edwidge Danticat was 2 years old, she recalls in this deeply affecting memoir, her father, Mira, left her and her brother in Haiti to move to New York City. Two years later, when her mother followed him to America, she left Edwidge with 10 new dresses she’d sewn, most of them too big for the little girl and meant to be saved to be worn in the years to come. During the following eight years Edwidge and her brother Bob lived with her father’s brother, Joseph, and his wife, Denise, in their pink house in Bel Air, a Port-au-Prince neighborhood caught in the crossfire between rival political factions and gangs. See

Femmes en Democratie exhibit in Haiti/Haitian crafts produced by women

Photos by Michelle Karshan of items displayed at this year's Femmes en Democratie exhibit in Haiti (images not connected to below article)
Creole Creations, Colors and Flavor
By JUDY LUTZ, Naples News, Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The annual assembly of Haitian art enthusiasts and business women was held recently in Petion-Ville, Haiti at the Karibe Convention Center that showcased a wide variety of art and homegoods created by Haitian women from around the country... (article includes short video)

September 11th and 30th -- anniversaries of violence against the poor in Haiti

Weekly demonstration for justice for the victims of the September 30, 1991 coup d'etat,
Photo by Michelle Karshan

The anniversaries of the September 11, 1998 massacre at Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide's church, St. Jean Bosco, and of the September 30, 1991 coup d'etat against President Aristide are approaching. Here is an old press release I wrote which is still key today.
Press Release Date: August 1, 2001
Contact: Michelle Karshan, Foreign Press Liaison for President Jean-Bertrand Aristide
Tel. (011509) 228-2058

Photo Exhibit Depicts the Horrors Endured by the Haitian People at the Hands of the Haitian Military and FRAPH

A traveling exhibit of photos of victims of the brutal Haitian Army and the paramilitary organization, FRAPH, was exhibited in the Place des Martyrs around the monument for the victims of the coup d’etat that was erected by President Jean-Bertrand Aristide at the end of his last term.

One photo depicted the image of a mural of President Aristide on a wall that had been shot at. Next to it was written, “The criminals could not get Titid, so they shot at his picture.” The gruesome photos of Alerte Balance with her face split wide open as well as her neck and arms, were displayed. The words told the story, Arlerte Belance. “They took her from her home. They attacked her with machetes, they cut her up, they beat her with a stick, and then they dropped her in Titanyen.”

The victims’ organization, Fondation 30 Septembre (named for the date of the coup d’etat against President Aristide in 1991) has been putting up this exhibit around the country for the past few months in response to the growing resurgence of the former military and the call by the Democratic Convergence for the return of the Army. Convergence member Gerard Gourgue, who they refer to as their provisional president, called for the restoration of the army in his speech at their party headquarters. Since then former military have been visibly aligned with the Convergence, and were even seen at the Convergence headquarters shooting at demonstrators in the street during a March incident. More recently, former army general Prosper Avril attended one of their well-publicized events to demonstrate his support.

Every Wednesday, without fail, the Fondation 30 Septembre rallies around the monument for the victims to keep the memory alive and to demand justice for the victims and their families. Today’s rally marked their 198th rally for justice and against impunity.

Today’s exhibit in the main square of Port-au-Prince was particularly key, just four days after former military apparently attempted to stage a coup d’etat attacking police stations and the Police Academy. The Fondation’s coordinator, Lovensky Pierre-Antoine, took the opportunity today to demand justice for the five police officers who lost their lives, and the fourteen who were seriously injured, in the pre-dawn attacks.

On this day, the message of the victims and the Haitian people was clear as they denounced the attacks made against the police on July 28th and rejected any new coup d’etat against their elected government. The accompanying words to the exhibit said, “They unleashed the Army against the people,” and,” The Haitian Army is gone, they cannot return!”

With activists songs playing, hundreds of men, women and children huddled around the images, studying the photos of the horrors that occurred during the three years of the coup d’etat and other incidents that have occurred since the people’s movement forced the former president, Jean-Claude Duvalier to flee Haiti in 1986.

Some stood in silence mourning the memory of the fellow countrymen, some explained the gruesome images to their young children, all were pointing to the atrocities documented before them. Walking through the crowd I saw many shaking their heads in disbelief at the violence that they themselves have lived through. It was written somewhere, “They destroyed the faces to the point that people could not identify them.” Struck by the photos of the military and FRAPH shooting, beating, and gassing innocent people, the viewers are confronted with one poster asking, “What protectors do they have?”

“Under the Army, children got the same baton as adults.” Numerous photos of children being shot at, wounded or dead were displayed. In one photo a woman lay in a hospital bed with her baby girl by her side. Both were bleeding from gunshot wounds. Someone had written beside the photo, “For either adults or children, same bullets, no difference.” Another photo showed a badly injured man forced to sit up. “In the hospital there weren’t any beds left to lay down.”

Some of the massacres represented in the exhibit included: Jean Rabel (July 23, 1987), the coup d’etat against President Aristide which left 5,000 dead (Sept. 30, 1991), massacre at Au Bornge (April 25, 1994), the attack and burning down of Father Aristide’s church, St. Jean-Bosco (September 11, 1988). The words read, “They burned the church, St. Jean Bosco. They thought they could destroy the dreams of the people.”

Some of the victims displayed included: Evans Paul, Jean Auguste Mesyeux and Marino Etienne with grossly swollen faces after having been beaten by order of General Prosper Avril; Father Jean-Marie Vincent (assassinated); a foreign journalist shot; Haitians forced back into Haiti through the Dominican border during the coup d’etat period; Colson Dorme, an activist journlist who reported during the coup period, with head injuries; Claudy Museau, the activist student who was beaten to death; Yves Volel, the teacher from New York who returned in 1986 to help his country and was assassinated by the military; Antoine Izmery, the activist businessman assassinated in front of the Sacred Heart Church; and, Guy Malary, the Justice minister gunned down near the Ministry of Justice during the coup d’etat period.

Offenders portrayed included: General Philip Biamby, Raoul Cedras, Pastor Leroy yelling “Viv Lame” in front of the military headquarters, Toto Constant, the leader of the paramilitary group FRAPH, Luc Desir, Duvalier’s famous chief of torture, Samuel Jeremy, Jodel Chamblain, Army Police Chief Michel Francois, and Colonel Franck Romain.

A wanted poster was hung prominently which read, “Wanted: Toto Constant, Leader of FRAPH. Wanted for Crimes Against Humanity."
- 30 -
Two recent writings by Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, the National Coordinator of Fondasyon Trant Septanm (The September 30th Foundation) can be found on the Fanmi Lavalas communications website at Part I and II of an interview with Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine in ENGLISH can be found on the Haiti Information Project webite at and