Monthly Archives: January 2010

A TIME to Grieve–Haitians Observed

A Time to GRIEVE:

We have washed the smell of decaying bodies from our clothing, sorted the files and forms from a Roundtable meeting in PaP, and sit before wooden wick candle burning on a hundred year old coffee table, in our 100 year old bungalow, listening to an acustic guitar playing a mournful tune, and try not to think of the last week of our lives. A jof terror, death and destruction bracketed by spontaneous praise to a God who secured the night and prayer and chants to beg God’s protection and preparation for a new day of uncertainty.

Days ago we jthe terror of earthquake with our Haitian friends as the world collapsed in a cloud of dirt, broken water lines and crushed bodies. Homes of millions avalanched down mountainsides as an already hopeless lifestyle became one of confusion, death and chaos. A culture developing the rudiments of new technology was reduced once again to isolation from communication, hunters of food rotting in smashed markets, and water under layers of dirt and debris. No light in the darkness of belief their world was floating on water that had become crazy. Clinging together we helped dig through tons of collapsed rock and concrete to find nine year old babies and 90 year old angels. Now I sit, having searched and secured the body of a lost colleague to his loved ones, and I weep with God because of a nation in a palpable pain. I don’t ask “why”. I fear some jerk would offer an offensive scientific reason. I don’t want an answer, I want to cry. I want to cry all night.

Once I sat at the bedside of my comatose son, whose skull was broken, and my heart hurt so bad I could not breathe, I could not pray, I could not swallow. This night, I cannot swallow. I can only turn off NPR and give thanks we have no TV to subject me to the negative assessments of a broken, desperate people and those attempting to hold together a gaping hole leaking out the life of a nation. Tonight I allow myself to sit by the bedside of my Haitian friends who fight desperately to locate the lost and live, themselves, through another night. Tonight, I allow myself to grieve. There is nothing more I can do, this night.

I am safe and warm in a cold world. I have the face of a young man before me, asking “Madame, I am hungry and have no money, won’t you give me one dollar?” I tell him I have not enough dollars for all who stand with him, uncertain and hungry. He asks, “What will we do? Will the water swallow us?” I tell him, I do not know what he can do but the water is not his enemy. I tell him, “help will come”. I will keep his face in my heart, and tell my people, his friends are hungry. I ache to embrace this almost child with a scarred face but take him by the shoulders, and I cannot swallow. He thanks me and I leave with my dead friend.

There is a time for everything, the scriptures say. Tonight is my time to cry. Tomorrow there is much work to do, phone calls to make; emails to send; prayers to pray; stories to tell; funds to raise; plans to make; money to send; buried bodies to find; bodies to bury; questions to answer; answers to seek; and worry to do.

Tonight, thinking Sam; thinking Clint; thinking Jim; thinking Haiti; tonight, I cannot swallow. Continue reading

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TEARING THE SILENCE—What is a German American Identity?


Several of the characters interviewed in TEARING THE SILENCE talked about love-hate relations they had observed on-and-off over the decades with the USA and Germany. Two of the interviewees noted that the worst thing one could be called in Germany when they were growing up was “An Ami”—or American (usually American in Occupying Army but not exclusively), i.e. when “ami” was said in a very derogatory tone of voice. Meanwhile, in and after WWI, the worst you could say to a German was to call him a “Kraut”. Later, in the post-war period, the worst thing was to call a German a “Nazi”. Many interviewees shared how much they had hurt to feel unfairly called the name, “Nazi”.

Every one of those interviewed by Hegi had experienced being called a “Nazi”—even those who were born after 1945 experienced this. Nothing bothers a German of the post-WWII world more than being referred to as a Nazi.

I would have to concur—for most Germans this is true today.

Similarly, a German educator, I had once known in Wuppertal, shared that in the 1970s when she was 19, she was working as a nanny in New York City. She was out on the town one Saturday taking pictures with a fellow German nanny when her camera stopped rewinding properly. The two German teens subsequently went over to the nearest camera shop. They asked for help with the camera.

The Jewish owner looked at them and asked, “Are you German?”

They said, “Yes”. [They, in fact were.]

“I thought so,” the photo shop owner nodded.

Then, before the young German women’s eyes, the camera shop owner tore the camera open and intentionally let the film fall to the floor–exposing it to the light and spoiling the photos.

Tearfully, these German girls left the Jewish camera shop. They certainly felt charged with a crime from their parents and grandparents generation. Without exactly saying it, the Jewish owner had called them Nazis.

These teens were being called Nazis by an American Jew. They felt defenseless. All they could do was walk away—in silence–and possibly go back home and learn a bit more about their country’s Nazi past.

Such antagonism between Jews and Germans is, however, seldom present in TEARING THE SILENCE. Most of the 17 German-Americans interviewed have had positive working and familial relationships with Jews and Jewish families in America. Some even say that they find a bond in a common history between Jews and Germans that brings them together as they don’t have to explain their anguish in much detail for the other to comprehend the source or memory causing the pain or worry.
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Earlier this month, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou was on Democracy Now (DN) and let listeners know that he, in fact, listened regularly to DN in order to get important news from the USA. I do not recall any other Premier or Western Head of State saying that he listened to a good progressive alternative reporting media source.

I would think that German government officials and other EU leaders and ministers should listen and watch alternative progressive media sources often so as to stay ahead of the curve in the information world in this information age.

Amy Goodman and others at DN are out driving around Haiti this week. They report from the ground where help has not landed on the ground. They show where help needs to be sent.

Only by going out through Haiti, from Carrefoure to other places far from Porto Prince, can aid be distributed properly, but the militarized (led by the USA) groups arriving to aid the poor Haitians are getting stuck at the airport in big tents. Nonetheless, only Amy Goodman and others seem to be doing this sort of fact finding.

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Dostoyevsky and the Rhine Society in and around Wiesbaden circa 1865

In literary circles, it has been well-noted that in despair, very lonely, and already in trouble for gambling too much, Fyodor Dostoyevsky fled his many debts in Russia and came to Wiesbaden around 1865. To this day there are still many evident links to Dostoyevsky and the Russian love with/of the West (especially Germany) in 19th Century Wiesbaden.

The very street in Wiesbaden City which bares his name, i.e. Fiodor-Dostojewsk-Strasse, is exactly where the Hessen regional Finance Ministry offices are located, i.e. this is where Germany residents, employers, and employees of all nationalities pay their taxes or have their tax books investigated. Fittingly, Dostoyevsky wrote his famous work, CRIME AND PUNISHMENT, while living on the run in Wiesbaden and in neighboring gambling towns, such as Bad Homburg. Dostoyevsky naturally continued to gamble away his own moneys week-after-week, making him quite familiar with the material for his second novel in Wiesbaden—THE GAMBLER.

Across town from the Finance Ministry and nearer to the Hessen Parliament, itself, is located the most famous gambling hall in the region: The Spielbank (Casino) Wiesbaden. Dostoyeski and other emigrants from all over Europe came to this hall to play.
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Translation into English of Kevin Stoda’s article and sharing on ADD or ADHD in Adults

When I came to Germany I noticed that too few of the adult ADD was recognized in the society. Sollche Entwinklungen astonished me, because so many German who had emigrated to America, showed tendencies to the ADD adult. Luckily here are some very good sources of information about adults and ADD. I show you a quote and then the link


GERMANY: attention deficit disorder & ADULTS

By Kevin Stoda, from America, but at the moment to Wiesbaden ausgewanderet

When I came to Germany I noticed that too few of the adult ADD was recognized in the society. Sollche Entwinklungen astonished me, because so many German who had emigrated to America, showed tendencies to the ADD adult.

Luckily here are some very good sources of information about adults and ADD. I show you a quote and then the link: Continue reading

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You are Not Done Yet–Dear World Leaders, get to Work!!

You know that Copenhegan in December was not the finish line. Here is a video from 350, who are challenging YOU and world leaders to step up the real work and real commitment in 2010.

CLICK ON VIDEO HERE Continue reading

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What do you think of these proposals circulating for Congress in 2010?

I am sending this to my e-mail list and that includes
conservatives, liberals, and everybody in between.
Even though we disagree on a number of issues, I
count all of you as friends. My friend and neighbor
wants to promote a “Congressional Reform Act of
2010. “It would contain eight provisions, all of which
would probably be strongly endorsed by those who
drafted the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

I know many of you will say, “this is impossible.”
Let me remind you, Congress has the lowest
approval of any entity in Government, now is the
time when Americans can join together to reform
Congress — the entity that “represents” us.

We need to get a Senator to introduce this bill in
the U.S. Senate and a Representative to introduce
a similar bill in the U.S. House. These people will
become American hero’s.
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MARC BECKER Reports out of Pre-Earthquake Haiti to the Media and Educators of 2010

I returned from Haiti just a couple of days before a powerful earthquake rocked the country on January 12. I was in Haiti on a solidarity delegation to document human rights abuses by the United Nations Stabilization Mission (MINUSTAH) and to observe preparations for February’s legislative elections. Other members of the HAW Steering Committee encouraged me to share my thoughts with the broader HAW membership and friends on the historical background to this catastrophe.

Many people have observed that the Haitian earthquake was more a political disaster than a natural one. The similarly powerful 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in California killed 63 people, while the death toll in Haiti appears as if it may soar over 100,000. Our experiences in the country confirmed that the solution to Haiti’s problem is political in nature.

Two hundred some years ago Haiti was the richest colony in the world, but today it is the poorest and most unequal country in the Americas. A successful slave revolt in 1804 defeated the French planter class, but the only other independent country in the Americas, the United States, refused to welcome a Black Republic because of the powerful example it set for marginalized and oppressed people everywhere. The French demanded a 150 million franc payment from the Haitians for losing their prized pearl of the Antilles. Haiti made the payment, strangling any possibility for development, and sacrificing its future so as not to be seen as an international pariah.

In Haiti, we heard from grassroots activists who complained that large international aid agencies collect funds for administrative salaries, vehicles, and office support, but little of this money filters down to the people who need it the most. Dumping cheap rice on the country has destroyed the local agricultural economy. Haiti has a desperate short-term need for assistance, but this aid must be funneled through groups like Doctors Without Borders ( and Partners in Health ( that have a track record and distribution networks necessary in place to make proper use of the aid.

The longer term solution, however, is political. Already conservative pundits are proclaiming that the earthquake is an opportunity to remake the country along neoliberal lines. But the extraction of natural resources, creation of low-wage jobs, and privatization of government functions are factors that have left Haiti incapable of responding to a natural disaster.

Haiti has never recovered from the ostracization it faced from the French and United States governments at independence, and ongoing international policies appear to be designed to sink the country deeper into debt. The U.S. marines occupied the country from 1915 to 1934, and the earthquake seems to provide a convenient excuse for the United States once again to land military troops and reassert its imperial control over the country.

In 2004, the French, United States, and Canadian governments removed popular leftist president Jean Bertrand Aristide who promised to shift resources to the most marginalized sectors of society. They have insisted that the current government ban his Fanmi Lavalas, the largest political party in Haiti, from participating in electoral contests.

The solution to Haiti’s problems is to allow the country to develop its own economy and political system without constant outside intervention. Otherwise, Haiti’s next natural calamity will be worse than this one, and the country will continue to sink deeper into poverty, inequality, and social exclusion. Continue reading

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DEUTSCHLAND: Aufmerksamkeitsstörung & ERWACHSENE

Als ich nach Deutschland kam, merkte ich, dass zuwenig ADD der Erwachsenen in den Gesellschaft anerkannt wurde. Sollche Entwinklungen hat mich erstaunt, da soviele deutsche, die nach Amerika ausgewandert hatten, zeigten Neigungen zur ADD des Erwachsene.

Zum Glueck sind hier einige sehr gute Informationsquellen ueber Erwachsenen und ADD. Ich zeige einen Zitat und danach den Link:

“… In Amerika haben »Hyper«-Menschen schon immer große Anziehung ausgeübt. Schließlich sind wir Angehörige der Neuen Welt, und allein schon die Kraft und der Mut, die unsere eingewanderten Vorfahren brauchten, um aufzubrechen und ganze Kontinente zu überqueren, sind Eigenschaften, die wir hochschätzen: Eigenschaften nicht ganz unähnlich der Hochspannung, dem leicht manischen Verhalten, das wir als Bestandteil der Aufmerksamkeitsstörung (ADD) kennen…. Wir können sicher sein, daß auf diesen Schiffen mehr als nur einige wenige hyperaktive Abenteurer mitfuhren. Inzwischen sind die Grundzüge der Aufmerksamkeitsstörung vielen vertraut geworden: ADD hält man für einen Makel im Aufmerksamkeitssystem, der es einem Kind oder Erwachsenen erschwert, auf Kommando aufmerksam zu sein. »Auf Kommando« ist hier der entscheidende Ausdruck, weil ein Kind mit ADD zu bestimmten Zeiten hyperfokussieren kann und dies auch tut: es kann sich an einem Thema oder einer Aktivität festbeißen (z.B. an einem Videospiel) und unfähig sein, sich davon zu lösen.”
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PAT ROBERTSON BELIEVES VOODOOism is the Root Cause of HAITI’s Problems; Rush Limbaugh is just as bad; What do you Say?

PAT ROBERTSON said on a Christian News Station last week after one of the most horrific Earthquake in modern history: “And. . . .something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and the people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, “We will serve you if you will get us free from the French.'”

In turn, RUSH LIMBAUGH in one of his radio shows added this racism to the story of the Haitians. Of the Haitian, expert Limbaugh claimed namely that: “This is what he [a Haitian] lives for. He lives for serving those in misery. Now, don’t misunderstand here, folks. See, this is—I wonder—I don’t have the whole press conference, but I wonder, did he apologize for America before acknowledging we are the only people on earth that can possibly help them out down there in any significant way? So the country …

Admittedly, both Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson stated similar things about Americans living in New Orleans back when Hurricane Katherine struck five years ago.
I’d like readers of this very blog to comment on these comments by people abusing American free speech rights and encourage you all to get to know the true story of Haiti. Take care of these fun-loving and generous peoples as best we can. Helping only comes back to you.
Here are some agencies to offer to help to Haiti with your support, your volunteerism or through your (donations):
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