WIKILEAKS DEVELOPS NEW BUSINESS MODEL

PREVIOUSLY
https://tipit.to/wikileaks.org
http://www.techradar.com/news/internet/wikileaks-applies-for-a-grant-to-expand-659552
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikileaks
“Sunshine Press (WikiLeaks) is an non-profit organization funded by human rights campaigners, investigative journalists, technologists and the general public. Through your support we have exposed significant injustice around the world—successfully fighting off over 100 legal attacks in the process. Although our work produces reforms daily and is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the 2008 Economist Freedom of Expression Award as well as the 2009 Amnesty International New Media Award, these accolades do not pay the bills. Nor can we accept government or corporate funding and maintain our absolute integrity. It is your strong support alone that preserves our continued independence and strength.”

WHISTLEBLOWER REPOSITORY GOES ON STRIKE
http://wikileak.org/
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8490867.stm
WikiLeaks whistleblower site in temporary shutdown / 1 February 2010

WikiLeaks, a whistleblower website that allows people to publish uncensored information anonymously, has suspended operations owing to financial problems. Its running costs including staff payments are $600,000 (£377,000), but so far this year it has raised just $130,000 (£81,000). WikiLeaks has established a reputation for publishing information that traditional media cannot. The website claims to be non-profit and relies on donations. A statement on its front page says it is funded by “human rights campaigners, investigative journalists, technologists and the general public”.

Original documents
WikiLeaks does not accept money from governments or corporations. A list of names and addresses of people said to belong to the British National Party (BNP) was posted on the site in October 2009. WikiLeaks also published e-mail exchanges involving US politician Sarah Palin after her account was hacked. The site claims to have information about corrupt banks, the UN and the Iraq war that it is unable to publish while funds remain low.

While it has won awards for its work from the Economist and Amnesty International, WikiLeaks has also fought more than 100 legal challenges. “WikiLeaks has established a good name for itself and broken some good stories,” Julian Petley, chair of the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom, told BBC News. “One of the reasons why WikiLeaks is so useful is that it’s able to put original documents up – unfiltered by comment and editorial.” Investigative journalist Paul Lashmar said he had been “startled” by the effectiveness of WikiLeaks in publishing suppressed information.

However he thought that the funding issue would not be easily resolved. “(Web) users aren’t interested in how the people behind sites make their money,” he said. “The problem for the self-funding model is that sites like WikiLeaks will not find it easy to attract funding through advertising. “At some point people who care about free speech will realise that free speech has to be funded, otherwise it’s not free.”

LABOR DISPUTE
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/libertycentral/2010/jan/29/wikileaks-shut-down
Dig deep for Wikileaks
BY Emily Butselaar / 29 January 2010

Wikileaks, the whistleblowers’ home, has been temporarily shut down while its management tries to raise funds. Its tremendous success has meant the site has often struggled under the volume of users. It has faced down governments, investment banks and the famously litigious Church of Scientology but paying its operating costs (circa $600,000) has proved its undoing. As of today instead of reading government secrets and details of corporate malfeasance all visitors to the site will see is an appeal for cash. Anyone who cares about freedom of expression should dig deep.

Wikileaks, with its simple “keep the bastards honest” ethos, aims to discourage unethical behaviour by airing governments’ and corporations’ dirty laundry in public, putting their secrets out there in the public realm. The site won Index on Censorship’s 2008 freedom of expression award because it’s an invaluable resource for anonymous whistleblowers and investigative journalists.

Among Wikileaks’ recent triumphs are its publication of top-secret internet censorship lists. The blacklists from Australia, Thailand, Denmark and Norway demonstrate exactly how censorship systems are abused to suppress free expression. The Thai list featured sites criticising the country’s royal family and the Australian blacklist turned out to include a school canteen consultancy. Despite its child porn mandate, less than half of the Australian blacklist were linked to paedophilia. Also on the list were satanic and fetish sites, anti-abortion websites, and sites belonging to a kennel operator and a dentist. Publication highlighted the lack of transparency in the process and gave impetus to the “No Clean Feed” campaign which opposes the Australian government’s internet filter proposals.

But Wikileaks is not just a tool for journalists, it allows ordinary Kenyans to read a confidential report detailing the billions their former president allegedly siphoned from the country’s coffers. Its repository includes controversial military documents including the US rules of engagement in Iraq and an operating manual issued to army officers in Guantánamo Bay. It has put corporations on notice that the costs of unethical behaviour are immeasurable in PR terms because it amplifies the Streisand effect, the social media phenomenon that punishes those who use the courts to suppress or censor information, by ensuring it has a much wider reach.

Some have dismissed the site as a snooper’s charter. Many were outraged by its publication of Sarah Palin’s hacked emails which included private email addresses and Palin’s family photographs. These critics tended to overlook that the emails also provided clear evidence that Palin was using private email accounts for state business.

Wikipedia democratises news and information, allowing the public to access secret information that once would have been limited to the chateratti. Had the Trafigura case occurred five years earlier, most journalists would have been able to access the secret report at the heart of the case, but Wikileaks enables everyone to read it. The superinjunction taken out by Trafigura was so comprehensive that of 293 articles about the suppressed report, only 11 dared to link to it or told the public where they could access it. If Wikileaks didn’t exist, it is possible that Trafigura’s management may have clung to their injunction.

For fear of compromising its integrity Wikileaks doesn’t accept funding from corporations or governments. Instead, it relies on the public. If you want to read the exposés of the future, it’s time to chip in.

LIKE WHAT?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikileaks#Notable_leaks
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/aug/31/kenya.topstories3
http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2008/03/wikileaks-restraining-order-a-failure-judge-says.ars
http://www.wired.com/politics/onlinerights/news/2007/11/gitmo
http://www.homepagedaily.com/Pages/article6937-wikileaks-cracks-natos-master-narrative-for-afghanistan.aspx
http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2009/11/leaked_911_text.html
http://www.smartmobs.com/2009/11/26/text-messages-sent-on-911/
http://reason.com/blog/2009/11/25/climategate-forget-the-emails
http://arstechnica.com/old/content/2008/08/wikileaks-to-auction-hugo-chavez-aides-e-mail-trove.ars
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/rudd-government-blacklist-hacker-monitors-police/story-e6frg8yx-1225718288350
http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Wikileaks_tells_Wikinews_why_they_published_Danish_child_porn_censorship_list
http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2008/02/cayman-island-b/
http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2008/02/post/

OVERWORKED, UNDERVALUED
http://wikileaks.org/
“ Wikileaks has probably produced more scoops in its short life than the Washington Post has in the past 30 years ” — The National, November 19. 2009

“To concentrate on raising the funds necessary to keep us alive into 2010, we have reluctantly suspended all other operations, but will be back soon. We have received hundreds of thousands of pages from corrupt banks, the US detainee system, the Iraq war, China, the UN and many others that we do not currently have the resources to release. You can change that and by doing so, change the world. Even $10 will pay to put one of these reports into another ten thousand hands and $1000, a million. We have raised just over $130,000 for this year but can not meaningfully continue operations until costs are covered. These amount to just under $200,000 PA. If staff are paid, our yearly budget is $600,000.

The Sunshine Press (WikiLeaks) is an non-profit organization funded by human rights campaigners, investigative journalists, technologists and the general public. Through your support we have exposed significant injustice around the world—successfully fighting off over 100 legal attacks in the process. Although our work produces reforms daily and is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the 2008 Economist Freedom of Expression Award as well as the 2009 Amnesty International New Media Award, these accolades do not pay the bills. Nor can we accept government or corporate funding and maintain our absolute integrity. It is your strong support alone that preserves our continued independence and strength.

If you are interested in contributing to our mission using another payment method or with a shares, property, bonds, a grant, matched contribution, bequest, interest free loan, or have any other questions, please write to wl-supporters@sunshinepress.org

SUPPORT TECHNICALLY
Wikileaks is currently overloaded by readers. This is a regular difficulty that can only be resolved by deploying additional resources. If you support our mission, you can help us by integrating new hardware into our project infrastructure or developing software for the project. Become patron of a WikiLeaks server or other parts of our technology, adding more pillars to the stability and balance of the WikiLeaks platform. Servers come trouble-free and legally fortified, software is uniquely challenging. If you can provide rackspace, power and an uplink, or a dedicated server or storage space, for at least 12 months, or software development work for WikiLeaks, please write to wl-supporters@sunshinepress.org

SUPPORT LEGALLY
Individuals or organizations wishing to donate lawyer time write to wl-legal@sunshinepress.org. We provide unique legal challenges in an ongoing fight for global justice and freedom of speech. If you support our mission, join our legal team to help defend those values.

THANKS GIVEN
WikiLeaks would like to thank the following 18 steadfast supporters (unordered):
Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press (RCFP)
The American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE)
The Associated Press – world wide news agency, based in New York
Citizen Media Law Project – Harvard university
The E.W Scripps Company – newspapers, TV, cable TV etc.
Gannett Co. Inc – largest publisher of newspapers in US, including USA Today
The Hearst Corporation – conglomerate which publishes the San Francisco Chronicle
The Los Angeles Times
National Newspaper Association (NNA)
Newspaper Association of America (NAA)
The Radio-Television News Directors Association (RTNDA)
The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ)
Public Citizen – founded by Ralph Nader together with the California First Amendment Coalition (CFAC)
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
The Project on Government Oversight (POGO)
Jordan McCorkle, the University of Texas

“ … serves as an uncensorable and untraceable depository for the truth, able to publish documents that the courts may prevent newspapers and broadcasters from being able to touch. ” — In praise of… Wikileaks – The Guardian, October 20, 2009

GOING GALT
http://events.ccc.de/congress/2009/wiki/Main_Page
http://mirror.fem-net.de/CCC/26C3/mp4/26c3-3567-en-wikileaks_release_10.mp4
http://stefanmey.wordpress.com/2010/01/04/leak-o-nomy-the-economy-of-wikileaks/
The Economy of Wikileaks / January 4, 2010

Wikileaks is a global platform for Whistleblowers, in which internal documents can be published. The idea is that arcane knowledge becomes common knowledge and the world a better place. The project could play in the same league as success stories like Wikipedia or Indymedia. After a highly acclaimed lecture at the 26th Congress of the Chaos Computer Club in Berlin, I had the opportunity to interview Julian Assange, the most prominent Wikileaks-character on how to finance such a website. The question seems to be pressing.

Q. At the moment [update Jan 21: and still today] Wikileaks.org has an unusual appearance. The website is locked down in order to generate money. How did you decide in favor of this tough step?
A. In part, this is a desire for us to to enforce self-discipline. It is for us a way to ensure that everyone who is involved stops normal work and actually spends time raising revenue. That’s hard for us, because we promise our sources that we will do something about their situation.

Q. So, you strike?
A. Yes, it’s similar to what unions do when they go on strike. They remind people that their labour has value by withdrawing supply entirely. We give free and important information to the world every day. But when the supply is infinite in the sense that everyone is able to download what we publish, the perceived value starts to reduce down to zero. So by withdrawing supply and making our supply to zero, people start to once again perceive the value of what we are doing.

Q. Do you urgently need money?
A. We have lots of very significant upcoming releases, significant in terms of bandwidth, but even more significant in terms of amount of labour they will require to process and in terms of legal attacks we will get. So we need to be in a stronger position before we can publish the material.

Q. In mainstream media as well as in non-commercial media there are two important questions. What does it cost? And how is it financed? Would you please first describe the cost side …
A. By far the biggest cost is people. That’s also a cost that scales with operations. The more material we go through, the more the management and labour costs are. People need to write summaries of the material and see whether it’s true or not. In the moment everyone is paying himself, but that can’t last forever.

Q. How big is the core team of WikiLeaks?
A. There are probably five people that do it 24 hours a day. And then there are 800 people who do it occasionally throughout the year. And in between there is a spectrum.

Q. How do you and the other four guys who work full time without salaries finance living costs?
A. I have made money in the Internet. So I have enough money to do that, but also not forever. And the other four guys, in the moment they are also able to self-finance.

Q. Was Wikileaks your idea as many assumed?
A. I don’t call myself a founder.

Q. Nobody really knows about the founders, says Wikipedia …
A. Yes. This is simply because some of the people in the initial founding group are refugees, refugees from China and other places. And they still have family back in their home countries.

Q. So at the moment the labour costs are still hypothetical, but the big costs that you really have to pay bills for are servers, office, etc.?
A. On the bandwidth side, the backing is costly as well when we get big spikes. Then there are registrations, bureaucracy, dealing with bank accounts and this sort of stuff. Because we are not in one location, it doesn’t make sense for us to have headquarters. People have their own offices across the world.

Q. What about cost for lawsuits?
A. We don’t have to pay for our lawyer’s time. Hundred of thousands or millions dollars’ worth of lawyer time are being donated. But we still have to pay things like photocopying and court filing. And so far we have never lost a case, there were no penalties or compensations to pay.

Q. So all in all, can you give figures about how much money Wikileaks needs in one year?
A. Propably 200 000, that’s with everyone paying themselves. But there are people who can’t afford to continue being involved fulltime unless they are paid. For that I would say maybe it’s 600 000 a year.

Q. Now let’s talk about revenues, your only visible revenue stream is donations …
A. Private donations. We refuse government and corporate donations. In the moment most of the money comes from the journalists, the lawyers or the technologists who are personally involved. Only about ten percent are from online donations. But that might increase.

Q. At the bottom of the site is a list of your “steadfast supporters”, media organisations and companies like AP, Los Angeles Times or The National Newspaper Association. What do they do for you?
A. They give their lawyers, not cash.

Q. Why do the they help you? Probably not out of selflessness.
A. Two things: They see us as an organisation that makes it easier for them to do what they do. But they also see us as the thin end of the wedge. We tackle the hardest publishing cases. And if we are defeated, maybe they will be next in line. In other words: If Wikileaks.org goes down as a result of a legal action, the same precedence can be used to take down nytimes.com the next day or the German Spiegelonline.

Q. My explanation was that maybe they do it because they know that what you do is actually their job, but they don’t have the money to do it.
A. Maybe. The cost per word in investigative journalism is high. We make it a little bit cheaper for them. If you can bring these costs per word down you can get more words of investigative journalism and publish even in a company that wants to maximize profit, because we do some of the expensive sourcing. And there is another really big cost, namely the threat of legal action. We take the most legally difficult part, which is not the story, but usually the backing documents. As a result there is less chance of legal action against the publisher. So we help them to bring their costs per word in investigative journalism down.

Q. You need to motivate two groups of people, in order to make the site run, the whistleblowers and the journalists. What are the motivations for whistleblowers?
A. Usually they are incenced morally by something. Very rarely actually they want revenge or just to embarrass some organisation. So that’s their incentive, to satisfy this feeling. Actually we would have no problem giving sources cash. We don’t do that, but for me there is no reason why only the lawyers and the journalists should be compensated for their effort. Somebody is taking the risk to do something and this will end up benefiting the public.

Q. But then the legal problem would become much bigger.
A. Yes, but we’re not concerned about that. We could do these transfer payments to a jurisdiction like Belgium which says, that the authorities are not to use any means to determine the connection between the journalist and their source. And this would include the banking system.

Q. On the other hand, you experiment with incentives for journalists. This sounds weird at first. Why do you have to give them additional incentives so they use material you offer them for free?
A. It’s not that easy. Information has value, generally in proportion to the supply of this information being restricted. Once everyone has the information, another copy of the information has no value.

Q. But nearly every journalist in the U.S. has daily access to the material of a news agency like AP.
A. The material of AP is ready to go straight into the newspaper. Our material requires additional investment. So when we release an important leak, it requires an important, intelligent journalist who is politically well connected. Those journalists have significant opportunity costs. Okay, they want to spend their time on 200 pages. In order for that to be profitable they need to make sure that they will come out with an exclusive at the end. But if it is perceived to be something of interest, it is probable that also other people will be working on it at that moment. And when they publish is unpredictable. That produces the counter-intuitive outcome that the more evidence there is of some scandal and the more important the scandal, the less likely it is that the press will write about it. If there is no exclusivity.

Q. In Germany you made an exclusivity deal with two media companies, with Stern and Heise. Are you satisfied with these kind of deals?
A. We have done this in other countries before. Generally we have been satisfied. The problem is that it takes too much time to manage. To make a contract, and to determine who should have the exclusivity. Someone can say, oh, we will do a good story. We are going to maximize the political impact. And then they won’t do it. How do we measure this?

Q. You want to make sure that if you give them the exclusivity that they really do what they promise to do …
A. Yes. One thing that can’t be faked is how much money they pay. If you have an auction and a media organisation pays the most, then they are predicting, that they will benefit the most from publishing the story. That is, they will have the maximum number of readers. So this is a very good way to measure who should have the exclusivity. We tried to do it as an experiment in Venezuela .

Q. Why Venezuela?
A. Because of the character of the document. We had 7 000 e-mails from Freddy Balzan, he was Hugo Chavez’s former speech writer and also the former ambassador to Argentinia. We knew that this document would have this problem, that it was big and political important, therefore probably no one would write anything about it for the reason I just said.

Q. What happened?
A. This auction proved to be a logistical nightmare. Media organisations wanted access to the material before they went to auction. Consequently we would get them to sign non-disclosure agreements, chop up the material and release just every second page or every second sentence.That proved to distracting to all the normal work we were doing, so that we said, forget it, we can’t do that. We just released the material as normal. And that’s precisely what happened: no one wrote anything at all about those 7 000 Emails. Even though 15 stories had appeared about the fact that we were holding the auction.

Q. The experiment failed.
A. The experiment didn’t fail; the experiment taught us about what the burdens were. We would actually need a team of five or six people whose job was just to arrange these auctions.

Q. You plan to continue the auction idea in the future …
A. We plan to continue it, but we know it will take more resources. But if we pursue that we will not do that for single documents. We will instead offer a subscription. This would be much simpler. We would only have the overhead of doing the auction stuff every three months or six months, and not for every document.

Q. So the exclusivity of the story will run out after three months?
A. No, there will be exclusivity in terms of different time windows in access to the material. As an example: there will be an auction for North America. And you will be ranked in the auction. The media organisation which bids most in the auction would get access to it first, the one who bids second will get access to it second and so on. Media organisations would have a subscription to Wikileaks.

Q. They would have timely privileged access to all Wikileaks documents that are relevant for North America …
A. Yes. Let’s imagine there are only two companies in the auction. And one pays double what the other one pays. And let’s say the source says they want the document to be published in one month’s time. So there is a one month window where the journalists have time to investigate and write about the material. The organisation that pays the most for it gets it immediately, so therefore they would be able to do a more comprehensive story. Then the organisation that pays half as much gets it half the time later, they get the documents two weeks later. And then after one month they both publish.

Q. That sounds promising. Wouldn’t then the financial problem be solved?
A. It depends on how many resources the auction itself takes. And media themselves don’t have so much money at all. But all in all I think we only would have to have a few bid cases per year, that would be enough to finance it.

SECURE UPLOAD [DISCLAIMER]
https://secure.wikileaks.org/

YOU Submit a document for us to publish and, inorder to maximize its impact, distribute amongst our network of investigative journalists, human rights workers, lawyers and other partners.

WE will publish and keep published the document you submitted, provided it meets the submission criteria. Your data is stored decentralized, encrypted and as a preserved historic record, accessible in full by the public. The information you submit will be cleaned by us to not be technically traceable to your PDF printing program, your word installation, scanner, printer. We also anonymize any information on you at a very early stage of the WikiLeaks network, and our services neither know who you are nor do they keep any information about your visit. We will never cooperate with anyone trying to identify you as our source. In fact we are legally bound not to do so, and any investigation into you as our source is a crime in various countries and will be prosecuted.

UPLOADING THE HISTORICAL RECORD
http://web.archive.org/web/20080419013425/http://www.wikileaks.org/wiki/Wikileaks:Submissions
http://www.itworld.com/internet/80445/wikileaks-plans-make-web-a-leakier-place
Wikileaks plans to make the Web a leakier place
BY Dan Nystedt / October 9, 2009

Wikileaks.org, the online clearinghouse for leaked documents, is working on a plan to make the Web leakier by enabling newspapers, human rights organizations, criminal investigators and others to embed an “upload a disclosure to me via Wikileaks” form onto their Web sites. The upload system will give potential whistleblowers around the world the ability to leak sensitive documents to an organization or journalist they trust over a secure connection, while giving the receiver legal protection they might not otherwise enjoy. “We will take the burden of protecting the source and the legal risks associated with publishing the document,” said Julien Assange, an advisory board member at Wikileaks, in an interview at the Hack In The Box security conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Once Wikileaks confirms the uploaded material is real, it will be handed over to the Web site that encouraged the submission for a period of time. This embargo period gives the journalist or rights group time to write a news story or report based on the material.

The embargo period is a key part of the plan, Assange said. When Wikileaks releases material without writing its own story or finding people who will, it gains little attention. “It’s counterintuitive,” he said. “You’d think the bigger and more important the document is, the more likely it will be reported on but that’s absolutely not true. It’s about supply and demand. Zero supply equals high demand, it has value. As soon as we release the material, the supply goes to infinity, so the perceived value goes to zero.” The final act will be for Wikileaks to publish the material on its Web site after the story has been written and the embargo period lapsed. “We want to get as much substantive information as possible into the historical record, keep it accessible and provide incentives for people to turn it into something that will achieve political reform,” said Assange.

Wikileaks is also working on ways to make the material it receives easier to search through. The problem Wikileaks often runs into is how to present the material it’s been given and how to make it easier to sift through for vital information, said Assange. “At the moment, for example, we are sitting on 5GB from Bank of America, one of the executive’s hard drives,” he said. “Now how do we present that? It’s a difficult problem. We could just dump it all into one giant Zip file, but we know for a fact that has limited impact. To have impact, it needs to be easy for people to dive in and search it and get something out of it.” In three years on the Web, Wikileaks has published over 1.2 million sensitive documents.

GLASS HOUSE INTACT
http://www.infoworld.com/d/windows/wikileaks-springs-leak-599
The famous whistle-blower site just blew its own whistle, leaking the e-mail addresses of dozens of its financial supporters.
By Robert X. Cringely / February 23, 2009

Live by the leak, die by the leak. Apparently that’s the motto at Wikileaks.org, the whistle-blowing site that provides one-stop shopping for stuff other folks really don’t want you to see. Wikileaks made headlines last year when it published documents accusing Swiss bank Julius Baer of money laundering and other activities not-entirely-on-the-up-and-up. The bank sued, inspiring some laughably lame attempts to shut the site down and generating even more bad PR. About a month later the site published various “secret documents” for the Church of Scientology. The site has also been instrumental in documenting torture at Abu Ghraib, human rights protests in Tibet, and civilian casualties in Afghanistan.

But Wikileaks is now dangling by its own petard, after someone in its fundraising arm sent out an e-mail shilling for donations but put the addresses of its 58 recipients on the “To:” field instead of “Bcc:”. Someone quickly submitted the e-mail to the Wikileaks foundation as a “leaked” document, presumably to test just how devoted Wikileaks is to its own mission. Egg meet face. To its credit (and probably to some donors’ horror) the site posted the document in full, including all 58 email addresses. Many of them feature aliases like “eekameeka” and “phantom 7266,” while other less fortunate folks included what appear to be their real names and work email addresses. But even a pseudonymous address can yield a lot of information about someone if they use it to sign onto multiple sites across the Web.

Nothing wrong with giving money to a site that exists to promote freedom of the press. But now one question becomes whether organizations that got pwned by Wikileaks will start harassing the site’s donors, if only to shut off the money spigot. The bigger question is, how can you trust Wikileaks to protect whistle-blowers’ identities when it can’t protect its own donors? Wikileaks claims it’s better at protecting the sources of its information, even if it’s not so hot at protecting the sources of its funding. In a comment posted on Wired’s Threat Level blog, organization spokesdude Jay Lim says:

“…while definitely not good form, the mistake was a missed shortcut made by one of our admin people and is not related to the efforts or systems involved in source protection.”
If I’m someone who could lose my job because I posted secret information to Wikileaks, I would find this statement cold comfort.

Really, Wikileaks was hosed regardless of what it decided to do; if your whole schtick is exposing the unvarnished unredacted truth, you can’t suddenly start making exceptions for yourself. But this dumb mistake is likely to cost it contributions, both monetary and otherwise.

DATA HAVEN
http://www.pcworld.com/article/188519/will_wikileaks_drown_in_its_own_red_ink.html
Will Wikileaks Drown in Its Own Red Ink?
Robert Cringely / Feb 4, 2010

We have interrupted our nonstop coverage of Apple iPad mania to bring you this important word about the freedom of information — more specifically, Wikileaks.org. I’ve written about Wikileaks several times over the last few years, in part because it’s a classic example of why the Internet is such an extraordinary telecommunications tool. Wikileaks is usually described as a “whistleblower” site, but it’s really more of a safe haven for secrets that need to be exposed — kind of like a Swiss bank, only in reverse, so it’s kind of fitting that a Swiss bank is one of its most famous targets. But instead of shielding people who are trying to hide their assets, it exposes them. Thanks to the nature of the Net, confidential sources can make those secrets public without putting their own necks on the chopping block. (Admittedly, these sources sometimes break the law or their legal agreements by doing so. And Wikileaks sometimes exposes information — like personal email addresses — of people who’ve done nothing wrong. It’s far from perfect.)

Through its work, Wikileaks has exposed money-laundering banks, brainwashing cults, repressive governments, corporate scofflaws, butter-fingered politicos, and all other manner of bad actors. Not surprisingly, the org has been sued by its deep-pocketed targets, harassed by the authorities, and attacked by DDoSers. Now it faces the biggest obstacle of all: money — or, rather, a lack thereof.

Today Wikileaks announced it has been forced to suspend its operations due to a lack of funds. That sound you hear is champagne glasses clinking in the boardrooms at Bank Julius Baer, at the Scientology HQ in St. Petersburg, Fla., in the government halls of Beijing, and in other elite locations around the globe.  I can understand why the wiki’s donor pool dried up. About a year ago, Wikileaks sprung a leak itself and accidentally emailed a list of its financial patrons, some of whom probably would have preferred to remain anonymous. That email was then submitted to Wikileaks, which dutifully posted it like any other document it receives from anonymous sources.  Now it’s seeking donations from the public to stay afloat, as well as technical resources (like servers and storage space) and legal expertise. Its supporters have started a Facebook group (numbering about 1,200 members at press time), and other journos besides yours truly are spreading the good word.

Why support Wikileaks?
Because investigative journalism is on a respirator, and the prognosis isn’t good. For one thing, this kind of reporting is expensive. You need publications that can afford to pay a professional reporter, or a team of them, to dig into a story for months or even years without any promise that they’ll end up with something worth publishing. Those stories might involve the use of a private detective, and they will almost always require the services of a team of attorneys to vet the copy carefully and defend the story later in court, if required. None of that stuff comes cheap.

Still, investigative reporting was how major news dailies and dozens of glossy mags made their bones back in the day. Now the number of publications that can continue to fund this kind of reporting have been whittled down to a handful, and most of those are teetering on the brink. These days it’s all about how fast you can publish a story online — even when it bears little resemblance to reality as defined by most people — and how much Google loves you as a result. There aren’t a lot of rewards for reporting and reflection there. Sure, the blogosphere can occasionally step in and break a story, just like a blind pig occasionally stumbles across an acorn. But only for the most brain-dead simple stuff — like the wrong font used in a typewritten letter. Most investigative breakthroughs involve detailed painstaking work, deep understanding of a topic, and the ability to earn the trust of a wide range of confidential sources who are willing to put their jobs and possibly their lives at risk just by talking to you.

Those things are not generally available to obsessive-compulsive pajama-wearing typists who may or may not be using their real names. And they certainly won’t be without resources like Wikileaks, which levels the information playing field for everyone, professional and amateur journos alike. So it’s your choice. You can spend $10 on a couple of lattes and a kruller, or you can spend it on keeping information flowing just a little more freely around the world. I know which one I’d pick. If Wikileaks goes down, will something new rise to take its place?

ENDING IN PAY SETTLEMENT : LEAKED DATA BACK UP,  FOR NOW
http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/02/wikileaks-meets-cash-goal
Wikileaks Meets Its Minimum Cash Goal
BY Kim Zetter / February 4, 2010

The whistleblowing site Wikileaks has apparently raised the money it needs to continue operating for the time being, according to a message the organization sent out Wednesday night on Twitter. “Achieved min. funraising [sic] goal. ($200k/600k); we’re back fighting for another year, even if we have to eat rice to do it,” read the tweet, without specifying whether it had raised the full $600,000 or just $200,000.

The site announced last December that it was ceasing day-to-day operations to focus on raising money. It said contributors could still send documents and tips through its anonymous submission tool. Last week, it was ceasing operations indefinitely because it had raised only $130,000 of the $200,000 it needed to maintain base operations annually. The site says it requires $600,000 to operate if it pays its staff of technologists and curators who sift through submissions to provide context for documents and other information valuable to its users. The announcement page, beginning with: “We protect the world — but will you protect us?” has not changed, except to add that Wikileaks “will be back soon.”

“We have received hundreds of thousands of pages from corrupt banks, the U.S. detainee system, the Iraq war, China, the UN and many others that we do not currently have the resources to release,” the pages reads. “You can change that and by doing so, change the world. Even $10 will pay to put one of these reports into another 10,000 hands and $1,000, a million.”

The site takes donations through PayPal, Moneybookers and TipiT, as well as checks and bank transfers. Its online TipiT tipjar indicates it has raised $31,000 using that method. Donors to its tipjar leave such messages as: “Keep scooping us — we’re very grateful for your persistence.” “Keep up the good work, shining light in dark places.” “You may be the most important resource on the net in the long term.”

The site was formally launched in 2007 as an online clearinghouse for anonymous submissions of documents, images and other data. It has received awards from Amnesty International and has been praised by media groups and others for giving whistleblowers and political dissidents a forum to expose corruption and suppression and foster transparency.

It’s run by the Sunshine Press, said to be supported by anonymous human rights activists, investigative journalists, technologists and members of the general public around the world. The site has scooped mainstream media outlets a number of times in obtaining documents and information on controversial topics that have then become the source of mainstream media stories.

In 2007, the site published a 238-page U.S. military manual detailing operations of the Defense Department’s Guantánamo Bay detention facility. It also posted a manual for operating the CIA’s rendition flights, which involved undocumented detainees who were kidnapped in various locations and flown to countries outside the United States for interrogation and torture.

Wikileaks was among the first to publish data from Sarah Palin’s private Yahoo e-mail account after a Tennessee judge tried to shutter Wikileaks by ordering its U.S. host to take it offline after a Cayman Islands bank complained that the site was publishing proprietary documents. The judge reversed his decision a week later following criticism of numerous groups that said the judge’s decision constituted prior restraint, a violation of the First Amendment.

SEE ALSO
http://www.cryptome.org/

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=fuck-you%20money
“An amount of wealth that enables an individual to reject traditional social behavior and niceties of conduct without fear of consequences.”

YEAH I’M NOT PAYING FOR THAT


http://india.5thpillar.org/ZRN [downloadable]

ZERO RUPEE NOTE
http://blogs.worldbank.org/publicsphere/paying-zero-public-services
Paying Zero for Public Services
BY Fumiko Nagano / 12.29.2009

Imagine that you are an old lady from a poor household in a town in the outskirts of Chennai city, India. All you have wanted desperately for the last year and a half is to get a title in your name for the land you own, called patta. You need this land title to serve as a collateral for a bank loan you have been hoping to borrow to finance your granddaughter’s college education. But there has been a problem: the Revenue Department official responsible for giving out the patta has been asking you to pay a little fee for this service. That’s right, a bribe. But you are poor (you are officially assessed to be below the poverty line) and you do not have the money he wants. And the most absurd part about the scenario you find yourself in is that this is a public service that should be rendered to you free of charge in the first place. What would you do? You might conclude, as you have done for the last 1-1/2 years, that there isn’t much you can do…but wait, you just heard about a local NGO by the name of 5th Pillar and it just happened to give you a powerful ally: a zero rupee note.

In Doha last month, CommGAP learned about the work of 5th Pillar, which has a unique initiative to mobilize citizens to fight corruption. In India, petty corruption is pervasive – people often face situations where they are asked to pay bribes for public services that should be provided free. 5th Pillar distributes zero rupee notes in the hopes that ordinary Indians can use these notes as a means to protest demands for bribes by public officials. I recently spoke with Vijay Anand, 5th Pillar’s president, to learn more about this fascinating initiative.

According to Anand, the idea was first conceived by an Indian physics professor at the University of Maryland, who, in his travels around India, realized how widespread bribery was and wanted to do something about it. He came up with the idea of printing zero-denomination notes and handing them out to officials whenever he was asked for kickbacks as a way to show his resistance. Anand took this idea further: to print them en masse, widely publicize them, and give them out to the Indian people. He thought these notes would be a way to get people to show their disapproval of public service delivery dependent on bribes. The notes did just that. The first batch of 25,000 notes were met with such demand that 5th Pillar has ended up distributing one million zero-rupee notes to date since it began this initiative. Along the way, the organization has collected many stories from people using them to successfully resist engaging in bribery.

One such story was our earlier case about the old lady and her troubles with the Revenue Department official over a land title. Fed up with requests for bribes and equipped with a zero rupee note, the old lady handed the note to the official. He was stunned. Remarkably, the official stood up from his seat, offered her a chair, offered her tea and gave her the title she had been seeking for the last year and a half to obtain without success. Had the zero rupee note reached the old lady sooner, her granddaughter could have started college on schedule and avoided the consequence of delaying her education for two years. In another experience, a corrupt official in a district in Tamil Nadu was so frightened on seeing the zero rupee note that he returned all the bribe money he had collected for establishing a new electricity connection back to the no longer compliant citizen.

Anand explained that a number of factors contribute to the success of the zero rupee notes in fighting corruption in India. First, bribery is a crime in India punishable with jail time. Corrupt officials seldom encounter resistance by ordinary people that they become scared when people have the courage to show their zero rupee notes, effectively making a strong statement condemning bribery. In addition, officials want to keep their jobs and are fearful about setting off disciplinary proceedings, not to mention risking going to jail. More importantly, Anand believes that the success of the notes lies in the willingness of the people to use them. People are willing to stand up against the practice that has become so commonplace because they are no longer afraid: first, they have nothing to lose, and secondly, they know that this initiative is being backed up by an organization—that is, they are not alone in this fight.

This last point—people knowing that they are not alone in the fight—seems to be the biggest hurdle when it comes to transforming norms vis-à-vis corruption. For people to speak up against corruption that has become institutionalized within society, they must know that there are others who are just as fed up and frustrated with the system. Once they realize that they are not alone, they also realize that this battle is not unbeatable. Then, a path opens up—a path that can pave the way for relatively simple ideas like the zero rupee notes to turn into a powerful social statement against petty corruption.

5th PILLAR
http://india.5thpillar.org/
http://5thpillar.blogspot.com/
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article1629446.ece
Can this note stamp out corruption in a land where it’s the norm?
BY Ashling O’Connor / April 9, 2007

In the secret language of corruption in India, an official expecting a bribe will ask for Mahatma Gandhi to “smile” at him. The revered leader of the independence movement is on all denominations of rupee notes. With rampant dishonesty ingrained in the bureaucratic culture, an anticorruption group has decided to interpret the euphemism literally by issuing a zero-rupee note.

A direct copy of the 50-rupee note, including Gandhi’s portrait, it is designed to be handed out to officials who demand backhanders. In the place of the usual promise of redemption by the central bank governor, the new pledge is: “I promise to neither accept nor give bribe.”

5th Pillar, the organisation behind the initiative, says that the note will allow ordinary Indians to make a statement against corruption without provoking a confrontation with people in authority. It has printed 25,000 notes and is distributing them in the southern city of Chennai as part of a wider mission to stamp out corruption “at all levels of society”.

Vijay Anand, the president of 5th Pillar, said: “People have already started using them and it is working. One autorick-shaw driver was pulled over by a policeman in the middle of the night who said he could go if he was ‘taken care of’. The driver gave him the note instead. The policeman was shocked but smiled and let him go. The purpose of this is to instil confidence in people to say no to bribery. It is just a representation.”

The group says that it has checked its legal position carefully and is not deemed to be printing counterfeit money because the official design is on only one side. The other side carries its mission statement. G. Ramakrishnan, information commissioner of Tamil Nadu, described the note as “a symbol to express refusal to grease the palms of officials”.

Corruption is part of the daily routine in India. Whether an individual needs to get a phone line, renew a passport or dodge a speeding ticket, the process normally involves a bribe. Most officials get away with it because of a general lack of awareness about citizens’ rights. In 2005 the Right to Information Act was passed as a way of holding government departments, agencies and officials accountable. Citing the law, anyone can access government records within 30 days of their request. Yet the majority of the population have no idea how to use it in their everyday lives nor do they have access to the legal resources.

Last month 5th Pillar, which has 1,200 members and 6,000 online subscribers worldwide, opened drop-in centres staffed by volunteers able to help people to leverage the Act by drafting petitions and delivering them to the relevant government department. “We want to empower people to fight for their rights,” Mr Anand said. “One lady had been waiting a year for her land title and was told she would only receive it if she paid a 7,500-rupee ‘fee’. She went back to the office with one of our volunteers and got the document in 30 minutes without paying anything.”

Hard graft
— India regularly joins China and Russia at the top of the global bribery index
— Ordinary people pay bribes worth £2.5 billion a year for public services
— Bihar is the most corrupt state, Kerala the least
— Civil servants are poorly paid and open to temptation. Police are the most corrupt, followed by lower courts and land administration
— Traffic police pay to be posted at junctions that are fertile ground for kickbacks
— Every bag of cement that goes into Indian roads has involved a bribe

CONTACT
Vijay Anand
http://www.zerocurrency.5thpillar.org/contact.html
email : vijay [at] 5thpillar [dot] org / ENDcorruption [at] 5thpillar [dot] org

ZERO CURRENCIES (SELECT by COUNTRY)
http://zerocurrency.org/
Corruption (n.): the misuse of entrusted power for private gain

“Corruption in the form of bribery is prevalent throughout the world. On average in a country where corruption is a known occurrence around
$5 billion exchange hands every year. Corruption results in many problems for a country’s political, economic and social structures. If every one of us stops giving and taking bribes we can put an end to corruption in our country.

The zero currency note in your country’s currency is a tool to help you achive the goal of zero corruption. The note is a way for any human being to say NO to corruption without the fear of facing an encounter with persons in authority. Next time someone asks you for a bribe, just take your country’s zero currency note and hand it to them. This will let the other person know that you refuse to give or take any money in order to perform services required by law or to give or take money to do something illegal.”

CORRUPTION PERCEPTIONS INDEX
http://www.transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2009
http://www.icgg.org/index.php?datei=research

SUNLIGHT FOUNDATION
http://sunlightfoundation.com/
OPEN SECRETS
http://www.opensecrets.org/
MAPLIGHT
http://maplight.org/about

CONTACT
Lawrence Lessig
http://blip.tv/file/3120038
http://lessig.blip.tv/
http://change-congress.org/about/
http://www.ethics.harvard.edu/people/faculty
email : lessig_from_web [at] pobox [dot] com

http://leahy.senate.gov/press/201001/012810b.html

INSTITUTIONAL CORRUPTION
http://www.hlrecord.org/opinion/citizens-united-upholds-institutional-corruption-1.1090846
Citizens United upholds institutional corruption
BY Aminu Gamawa / The Harvard Law Record / January 28, 2010

What started as a 90-minute political campaign documentary against then- presidential candidate Hilary Clinton ended in the Supreme Court with a decision that was described by some critics as one of the worst since Dred Scot. “Hillary: The Movie,” was produced by Citizens United, a conservative nonprofit, as part of its campaign against the former democratic presidential aspirant, and was released during the Democratic presidential primaries in 2008.

The judgment, which relaxes the restriction on power of the corporations to directly spend on advertising during federal elections, was described by Harvard law Professor Lawrence Lessig as “proverbial fuel on the fire”. He notes that the issue is not whether corporations are silenced or their First Amendment right to free speech upheld. More importantly, the outcome is an assault on democracy, capable of promoting a system that will further erode the public trust in their elected officers. Lessig cautioned that decision would undermine the participation of the citizens in the democratic process and that it gives unfair advantage to corporations, whose financial prowess will give them a stronger voice than the electorate.

Lessig heads Harvard’s Safra Center for Ethics, which studies the intersection between politics, interest groups and corruption in the U.S. politics. As part of the reading for a course convened by the program, I came across a very interesting article by an expert on political corruption, Zephyr Rain Teachout (found in the Cornell Law Review, Vol. 94, No. 341, 2009, for those who are interested), which I found very relevant to the Court’s decision in Citizens United.

Teachout writes that the Framers of the Constitution were obsessed with corruption and saw it as one of the greatest threats to democracy. They designed the system in such a way that corrupt leaders will not only loose their positions, but also their reputation. The Founding Fathers built mechanisms into the Constitution to safeguard democracy by ensuring transparency, accountability and citizens’ participation in the political process. The independence of the political office holders from other special interests was of paramount importance to the Framers.

Teachout writes that “corruption was discussed more often in the constitutional convention than factions, violence, or instability. It was a topic of concern on almost a quarter of the days that the members convened. Madison recorded the specific term corruption fifty-four times, and the vast majority of the corruption discussions were spearheaded by influential delegates Madison, Moris, Mason, and Wilson. The attendees were concerned about the corrupting influence of wealth, greed, and ambition.” It is not an overstatement to say that the Framers actually saw the Constitution as an instrument to fight corruption.

The Framers defined political corruption to include “self-serving use of public power for private ends, including, without limitation, bribery, public decisions to serve private wealth made because of dependent relationships, public decisions to serve executive power made because of dependent relationships, and use by public officials of their positions of power to become wealthy”.

Their efforts to curb corruption in the political process is visible in issues including the regulation of elections, term limits, limits on holding multiple offices, limitations on accepting foreign gifts, the veto power, the impeachment clause, and provisions for the separation of powers, among other measures, with a view to ensure that leaders represent the interest of their constituency and not personal interests. In the words of Teachout, “taking seriously the architecture [of the Constitution] requires more than passing knowledge of what motivated the choice of architecture. Political corruption is context without which other specific words don’t make sense; it is embodied in the text itself through other words that can’t be understood without understanding corruption”.

History has shown that when leaders put their self-interest above those who elected them, it undermines the trust of the people in the process and inevitably leads to collapse of the democratic system. The Roman and Greek empires are classic examples. The danger of democracies leaving political corruption unchecked is succinctly captured by Teachout: “voters will stop voting, people will stop running for office, and citizens will stop making serious efforts to read news and understand the public issues of their day, because they will believe that such efforts are futile,” she writes.

In McConnell v. FEC, 540 U.S. 93, which the Court overturned in Citizens United, the Court had made the following powerful comments: “Just as troubling to a functioning democracy as classic quid pro quo corruption is the danger that officeholders will decide issues not on the merits or the desires of their constituencies, but according to the wishes of those who have made large financial contributions valued by the office holder. Even if it occurs only occasionally, the potential for such undue influence is manifest. And unlike straight cash-for-votes transactions, such corruption is neither easily detected nor practical to criminalize. The best means to prevention is to identify and remove the temptation.”

Ignoring the threat of corruption to democracy is, therefore, a serious problem that cannot be taken lightly. I agree with Teachout when she writes that “internal decay of our political life due to power-and-wealth seeking by representatives and elites is a major and constant threat to our democracy. History provides some powerful tools to allow us incorporate the anti-corruption principle into the constitutional law of democracy. We should pay attention to it”. The recent decision of the Supreme Court ignores this history, undermining the Constitution’s efforts to curb corruption at the highest level.

The 5-4 conservative majority decision was delivered by Justice Anthony Kennedy ’61, and concurred in by Justice Samuel Alito, Chief Justice John Roberts ’79, Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Antonin Scalia ’60. Justice Sonia Sotomayor began her Supreme Court career with a dissent. She joined four other liberal justices in disagreeing with the majority decision. The dissenting judgment delivered by Justice Stevens severely criticized the majority court for ignoring the dangerous consequence of the decision on democracy:

“At bottom, the Court’s opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. It is a strange time to repudiate that common sense. While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics,” Justice Stevens wrote.

The decision overruled a decade of precedent laid down in McConnell, a 2003 decision that upheld the part of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, which restricted campaign spending by corporations and unions, as well as Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, 494 U.S. 652, a 1990 decision that upheld restrictions on corporate spending to support or oppose political candidates.

In his weekly address on Saturday, President Barack Obama ’91 criticized the decision as “a huge victory to the special interests and their lobbyists”. The President expressed his disappointment with the ruling, saying that he could not “think of anything more devastating to the public interest. The last thing we need to do is hand more influence to the lobbyists in Washington, or more power to the special interests to tip the outcome of elections”. He noted that even foreign corporations would now have say in U.S. politics; candidates that disagreed with corporations would come under serious attack from the corporations during election.

Obama went on to observe that “all of us, regardless of party, should be worried that it will be that much harder to get fair, common-sense financial reforms, or close unwarranted tax loopholes that reward corporations from sheltering their income or shipping American jobs offshore”. He also cautioned that the decision makes it “more difficult to pass common-sense laws” to promote energy independence or expand health care.

The danger is clear!
The competition will now be intense among the corporations to producing the highest number of Senators and Representatives. Doesn’t this undermine the role of the public in the American democracy? Can individuals’ contribution to candidates now count in the campaign process? Will this be the last Congress that is truly elected by the people? How much would this decision contributing in promoting institutional corruption? I am sure most politicians will be more concerned about pleasing the corporations than their constituencies. It will be dangerous for any of them to fall out with the corporations.

American democracy has been a model to many countries across the globe. But the recent decision by the Supreme Court legalizing direct corporate participation which over turn a time revered restriction on the corporation is a worrisome development that deserve concern of anyone that is interested in American democracy’s future. Citizens United has introduced a new era in the U.S. politics.

The Constitution’s “We the People” has gradually become “We the Corporations”. Equating corporations with human beings undoubtedly undermines the participation of individual citizens in the political process. Election into political office under the new regime will largely depend on having the highest donation from the corporations. Corporations and their interests, which sometimes include interest of foreign nationals, will now have the strongest voice in the U.S. politics.

It will not be surprising to see Blackwater, Wal-Mart, Exxon and other corporations being better represented in Congress than citizens, whose interest and participation the Constitution seeks to preserve. This is an unwelcome development that anyone concerned about preserving the U.S.’ long-cherished democracy must oppose.

The matter of democratic integrity, transparency and accountability transcends the usual liberal/conservative or Democrat/Republican divide. It is an assault on democracy and negation of the text and original understanding of the Constitution as understood by the Founding Fathers, who strived to craft a document that would preserve democracy by protecting the interest of the electorate over and above other interests.

One might ask if there is anything Congress can do. Even before the decision was announced, an advocacy group called Change Congress was working to pursue the passage of a bipartisan bill called the Fair Elections Now Act. The bill is sponsored by congress men Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Arlen Specter (R-PA), and Reps. John Larson (D-CT) and Walter Jones (R-NC).

“Under this legislation, congressional candidates who raise a threshold number of small-dollar donations would qualify for a chunk of funding—several hundred thousand dollars for House, millions for many Senate races. If they accept this funding, they can’t raise big-dollar donations. But they can raise contributions up to $100, which would be matched four to one by a central fund. A reduced fee for TV airtime is also an element of this bill. This would create an incentive for politicians to opt into this system and run people-powered campaigns.”

President Obama said that he has instructed his advisers to work with Congress on a forceful, bipartisan response. In a New York Times op-ed, David D. Kirkpatrick wrote that because of the enormous threat of this decision to democracy, some members of Congress are working hard to introduce new laws that will, cure the defect by either
• Imposing a ban political advertising by corporations that hire lobbyists, receive government money, or collect most of their revenue abroad;
• Tightening rules against coordination between campaigns and outside groups so that, for example, they could not hire the same advertising firms or consultants; or
• Requiring shareholder approval of political expenditures, or even forcing chief executives to appear as sponsors of commercials their companies pay for.

What is really necessary need, as Professor Lessig puts it, is an alternative, “Not the alternative that tries to silence any speaker but an alternative that allows us to believe once again that our government is guided by reason or judgment or even just the politics of the people in a district and not by the need to raise money.”

NO INFRASTRUCTURE, at ALL

CALLS for INNOVATION
http://www.trackernews.net/search/?s=HAITI
http://crisismapping.ning.com/

OPEN STREET MAP TOOLKIT
http://www.openstreetmap.org/?lat=18.72&lon=-72.68&zoom=8&layers=B000FTF
http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/WikiProject_Haiti
http://labs.geofabrik.de/haiti/


(Ricardo Arduengo/AP)

TXT 4636 FREE COMM SYSTEM
http://blog.ushahidi.com/index.php/2010/01/17/the-4636-sms-shortcode-for-reporting-in-haiti/
http://blog.ushahidi.com/index.php/2010/01/18/ushahidi-fletcher-situation-room-update/
http://blog.ushahidi.com/index.php/2010/01/20/4636-success-stories-from-haiti/

GOOGLE MISSING PERSON SPREADSHEET
http://haiticrisis.appspot.com/
https://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=t0Ya6eH0L7fn599qN4WsJkw&gid=0
https://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=t0Ya6eH0L7fn599qN4WsJkw&gid=1
iREPORT SEARCH BY NAME
http://www.ireport.com/ir-topic-stories.jspa?topicId=381628
INT’L RED CROSS
http://www.familylinks.icrc.org/haiti/people
http://www.familylinks.icrc.org/haiti

REUTERS EMERGENCY INFORMATION SERVICE (EIS)
http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/126373176384.htm
“EIS is exclusively operating for and on behalf of earthquake survivors, using local languages, French and Creole. The service is free and global. People in Haiti and families and friends around the world can register via a simple text message. Survivors will receive critical news and information direct to their mobiles”

InSTEDD
http://www.instedd.org/technology_overview
http://www.instedd.org/technology_field_lab

RELIEF EFFORTS
http://www.mercycorps.org/
http://www.standwithhaiti.org/haiti
http://www.cidi.org/incident/haiti-10a/
http://community.apan.org/hadr/haiti/default.aspx
http://www.usaid.gov/faqs.html#q4
http://www.interaction.org/crisis-list/earthquake-haiti
http://blog.ted.com/2010/01/the_haiti_trage.php

OVERSIGHT
http://www.disasteraccountability.org/
http://www2.guidestar.org/

HEALTH + SANITATION GUIDES (KREYOL)
http://www.hesperian.org/publications_download.php
http://www.hesperian.info/assets/Where_There_is_no_Doctor_Creole.pdf
http://www.hesperian.info/assets/hesperian_wwhnd_haitian%20creole_2000.pdf
http://www.hesperian.info/assets/PDF%20Kreyol%20sanitation%20book-1.pdf

kreyol

LEARN KREYOL
http://haiticrisis.appspot.com/?lang=ht
http://crisiscommons.org/wiki/index.php?title=Creole-French-English_Phrase_Dictionary_Wiki

TECHNICAL VOLUNTEER REGISTRY
http://dex.cidi.org/
http://www.ewb-usa.org/haiti.php

IMPORTABLE INFRASTRUCTURE :
WHO’S WHERE, DOING WHAT
http://haiti-orgs.sahanafoundation.org/prod/or/organisation
http://haiti.sahanafoundation.org/prod/
http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/dbc.nsf/doc108?OpenForm&emid=EQ-2010-000009-HTI&rc=2

CONDITIONS
http://wfplogistics.org/haiti-earthquake-2010

NAVIGATOR
http://www.garmin.com/garmin/cms/site/us/onthetrail/

CONTEXT
http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2010/01/haiti-imagery-layer-now-available.html
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2010/01/scenes-of-destruction-in-haiti-from-above.html

Images of this week’s massive earthquake in Haiti are now flowing out of the country as aid workers and journalists flow in. What we have seen so far confirms the obvious: devastation is massive and widespread. Buildings collapsed. Homes destroyed. A country once inching back from the abyss has been thrown violently back. The photos above, courtesy of GeoEye and Google, show parts of Port-au-Prince before and after the quake. The white building in the bottom frame is the presidential palace, cracked along its axis. This morning, Google added GeoEye’s new imagery to Google Earth. It is available here. We’ve embedded it below. Google Earth Library also has a good collection of data and images from Haiti. Additionally, Google has launched a dynamic spreadsheet, called the “Haiti Situation Tracking Form” that allows people to post messages looking for loved ones and other updates.

CRISIS MAPPING
http://haiti.ushahidi.com/main
http://haiti.ushahidi.com/reports/submit
http://blog.ushahidi.com/index.php/2010/01/13/haiti-earthquake/
http://sitroom.ushahididev.com/
http://leeinhaiti.com/
http://wiki.sahana.lk/doku.php/haiti:start
http://talksahana.com/?p=333

TECH VOLUNTEERS
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2010/01/20101206836217899.html

Hundreds of web technicians, spurred into action by Haiti’s earthquake one week ago, have developed new web-based tools and services to help the relief effort. Volunteers in the US built and refined software for tracking missing people, mapping the disaster areas and enabling urgent text messaging. Tim Schwartz, a web programmer in San Diego, California, said that he feared that due to so many social-networking sites, crucial information about Haitian earthquake victims would “go everywhere on the internet [but] it would be very hard to actually find people”.

Acting on his concern, Schwartz and 10 other web developers built http://www.haitianquake.com, an online lost-and-found site to help Haitians in and out of the country to locate missing relatives. The database, which anyone can update, was online less than 24 hours after the earthquake struck, with more than 6,000 entries due to a built-in “scraper” that gathered data from emergency relief organisations working at the site of the earthquake in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. Agencies, including the International Committee of the Red Cross and the US federal emergency management agency [Fema], put the systems to use and two days later, Google, the US search engine giant, created PersonFinder, which consolidated all the information from various person-finding sites. Christopher Csikszentmihalyi, the director of media at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said PersonFinder, which can be embedded in any website and thus far has more than 32,000 records, “greatly increases the chances that Haitians in Haiti and abroad will be able to find each other”.

Dispatching rescuers
Another volunteer project forged in the earthquake’s aftermath was a mobile phone text-messaging system that helps relief groups dispatch rescuers, food and water. Patrick Meier, the director of Crisis Mapping and Strategic Partnerships at Ushahidi, an online crisis-reporting platform, told Al Jazeera such tools allow near real-time disaster response. “One of the most recent developments in that effort has been the free text messages [they are usually in Creole but in 10 minutes we get them translated into English] … if anyone inside Haiti texts 4636, we get that information in near real time and can [then] map it [and get the information to organisations that need it],” he said. “We have had a number of success stories. One of the very first was a report that went up through Ushahidi about an orphanage that was desperately running out of water … soon after we had someone report they had dispatched 20 litres of water to the orphanage.” In another collaborative effort, volunteers from online OpenStreetMap “crisis mapping” project provide up-to-the-minute data, such as the location of new field hospitals and collapsed bridges.

USHAHIDI [TESTIMONY]
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/15/AR2010011502650.html
online tool to Haitian disaster relief effort
BY Monica Hesse / January 16, 2010

Patrick Meier learned about the earthquakes at 7 p.m. Tuesday while he was watching the news in Boston. By 7:20, he’d contacted a colleague in Atlanta. By 7:40, the two were mobilizing an online tool created by a Kenyan lawyer in South Africa. By 8, they were gathering intelligence from everyplace, in a global effort to crowd-source assistance for Haiti. The site is www.Ushahidi.com, and it allows users to submit eyewitness accounts or other relevant information for disaster zones via e-mail, text or Twitter — and then visualize the frequency of these events on a map. By Friday, Ushahidi, which means “testimony” in Swahili, had received nearly 33,000 unique visitors, and several hundred personal reports that mainstream news organizations might not hear about. “Chantal Landrin is stuck under the rubble at a house in Turjo!” one user submitted via Twitter. “Please help me find my family in Haiti,” begins another poster. The majority of Ushahidi’s posts are from people — many from the United States — hoping to find information about missing relatives. “Route 9 is access point into [Port-au-Prince] but still precarious,” writes another, who has traveled the road.

Taken individually, these bits of data might not be terribly useful. The goal is that by aggregating the incidents in a visual format, people and organizations using the site will be able to see patterns of destruction, to determine where services should be concentrated. A red dot on the map, for example, signifies that looting is happening near a town called Pétionville; another shows that Hotel Villa Creole has become a site of medical triage. The practice is known as crisis mapping, a newer field of disaster analysis using geography-based data sets, employed by organizations like Ushahidi and Arlington-based GeoCommons. Although individuals have used Twitter and Facebook to share anecdotes for a few years — notably, during 2009’s contested Iranian elections — crisis mapping brings many data points together, making meaning out of randomness and spreading information about areas lacking well-developed records. “We’re providing a repository for all kinds of organizations,” says Meier, who in addition to working as Ushahidi’s director of strategic operations also founded the International Network of Crisis Mappers.

Ushahidi was originally founded in 2008 to map reports of violence in post-election Kenya. Ory Okolloh, a lawyer, had been trying to keep track of these incidents via her personal blog, “but I got swamped by how much information was coming in,” Okolloh says, “and I wanted to have a larger context of what was happening.” She appealed to the blogosphere for help, and soon had a site that allowed the entire Kenyan population to catalogue the injustices and atrocities they were witnessing — a real-time encyclopedia of unrest. Since then, the Ushahidi platform has been employed in many smaller projects, from monitoring elections in India to tracking medicine in various African countries. “Stop the Stock-outs,” as the medical project was known, involved volunteers swarming pharmacies to check the availability of common drugs and text their findings to be displayed on a map. In Kenya alone, more than 100 health centers were revealed to be operating without necessary medication, according to reports. The Kenyan government later allocated more funds for medication.

In Haiti, Meier says, it’s too early to tell what impact Ushahidi might have on relief efforts. Some of the rescue workers for whom Ushahidi was intended are currently too besieged by the chaos of the situation to attempt incorporating it into their work: “Our colleagues are not feeding information into crowdsourcing platforms for now,” writes Florian Westphal of the International Committee of the Red Cross via e-mail. “I don’t think they have the time.” Crisis mappers hope that their analytics will gain greater use in coming days, as rescue workers attempt to navigate the changed landscape. “Being one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti doesn’t have the infrastructure that a more developed country would have,” such as extensive Global Positioning System equipment that would aid in mapping the terrain, says Andrew Turner, chief technology officer of GeoCommons, which has also been producing Haiti-related maps. “Now you have all of these people needing to know how to get from here to there. . . . You need to know where the triage centers are, and the food and water. An old map would be irrelevant with road closings.”

The crowd-sourcing represents what Meier sees as the future of crisis response. “We’re going to need to collaborate, we’re going to need to share data,” he says. “The best way to provide humanitarian response is to be able to provide platforms” and tools that allow people to share on-the-ground information quickly. On Ushahidi, someone posts that the National Cathedral has collapsed, and the map gets another tiny dot of red.

CRISIS COMMONS [WHITE HAT]
http://haiti.crisiscommons.org/
http://crisiscommons.org/wiki/index.php?title=Haiti/2010_Earthquake
http://twitter.com/crisiscamp

TXT/SMS DONATIONS
http://blogs.consumerreports.org/money/2010/01/update-donating-haiti-relief-red-cross-text-donations-better-business-bureau-wise-giving-alliance.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2010/01/14/text-message-donations-to-haiti/
http://www.giveonthego.com/
http://www.mobilegiving.org/
http://www.mobileaccord.com/
http://www.mgive.com/help/haiti.aspx
http://www.mgive.com/Learn_More.aspx
http://blog.mgive.com/category/case-studies/

DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS ALREADY THERE (FACILITIES DESTROYED)
http://doctorswithoutborders.org/news/
http://doctorswithoutborders.org/news/article.cfm?id=4157

The first reports are now emerging from Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams who were already working on medical projects Haiti. They are treating hundreds of people injured in the quake and have been setting up clinics in tents to replace their own damaged medical facilities.

The Martissant health center in a poor area of Port-au-Prince had to be evacuated after the earthquake because it was damaged and unstable. The patients are now in tents in the grounds and the medical staff have been dealing with a flow of casualties from the town. They have already treated between 300 and 350 people, mainly for trauma injuries and fractures. Among them are 50 people suffering from burns—some of them severe—many of them caused by domestic gas containers exploding in collapsing buidings. At the Pacot rehabilitation center another 300 to 400 people have been treated. In one of MSF’s adminstrative offices in Petionville, another part of Port-au-Prince, a tent clinic there has seen at least 200 injured people. More are getting assistance at what was the Solidarite maternity hospital, which was seriously damaged.

One of MSF’s senior staff, Stefano Zannini, was out for most of the night, trying to assess the needs in the city and looking at the state of the medical facilities. “The situation is chaotic,” he said. “I visited five medical centers, including a major hospital, and most of them were not functioning. Many are damaged and I saw a distressing number of dead bodies. Some parts of the city are without electricity and people have gathered outside, lighting fires in the street and trying to help and comfort each other. When they saw that I was from MSF they were asking for help, particularly to treat their wounded. There was strong solidarity among people in the streets.” Another MSF coordinator there, Hans van Dillen, confirmed that Port-au-Prince was quite unable to cope with the scale of the disaster. “There are hunderds of thousands of people who are sleeping in the streets because they are homeless,” said van Dillen. “We see open fractures, head injuries. The problem is that we can not forward people to proper surgery at this stage.”

So many of the city’s medical facilities have been damaged, healthcare is severely disrupted at precisely the moment when medical needs are high. MSF is also working to get more staff into the country. Around 70 more staff are expected to arrive in the coming days. MSF is sending out a 100-bed hospital with an inflatable surgical unit, consisting of two operating theaters and seven hospitalization tents. Nephrologists will be sent as part of the team in order to deal with the affects of crush injuries. However, transport links are difficult and it is not yet clear whether supplies and medical staff will have to go in through neighboring Dominican Republic. MSF is also concerned about the safety of some of its own staff. There are 800 of them and not all have yet been accounted for because of the poor communications and general disruption.

INFLATABLE HOSPITAL EN ROUTE
http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/press/release.cfm?id=4165
Doctors Without Borders Cargo Plane With Full Hospital and Staff Blocked From Landing in Port-au-Prince / 17 January 2009

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) urges that its cargo planes carrying essential medical and surgical material be allowed to land in Port-au-Prince in order to treat thousands of wounded waiting for vital surgical operations. Priority must be given immediately to planes carrying lifesaving equipment and medical personnel.

Despite guarantees, given by the United Nations and the US Defense Department, an MSF cargo plane carrying an inflatable surgical hospital was blocked from landing in Port-au-Prince on Saturday, and was re-routed to Samana, in Dominican Republic. All material from the cargo is now being sent by truck from Samana, but this has added a 24-hour delay for the arrival of the hospital.

A second MSF plane is currently on its way and scheduled to land today in Port- au-Prince at around 10 am local time with additional lifesaving medical material and the rest of the equipment for the hospital. If this plane is also rerouted then the installation of the hospital will be further delayed, in a situation where thousands of wounded are still in need of life saving treatment.

The inflatable hospital includes 2 operating theaters, an intensive care unit, 100-bed hospitalization capacity, an emergency room and all the necessary equipment needed for sterilizing material. MSF teams are currently working around the clock in 5 different hospitals in Port-au-Prince, but only 2 operating theaters are fully functional, while a third operating theater has been improvised for minor surgery due to the massive influx of wounded and lack of functional referral structures.

MEANWHILE : NO MEDICINE, BABY BEING BORN on STREET
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2010/01/2010114164959501665.html

CHILD SCAVENGERS SELLING at STREET MARKETS

NETWORK RELIEF KIT
http://www.make-digital.com/make/vol19/?pg=46&pm=1
http://www.nethope.org/images/uploads/casestudies/DisasterRelief.pdf
“NetHope members who have been active in our relief efforts firmly believe that NGOs on the ground require a lightweight “NetHope ICT Kit” they can carry in their baggage to provide instant communications from Day 1 onward. This kit must have the following features:”


NETHOPE
http://www.nethope.org/about/faq/
http://www.nethope.org/impact/programs/
http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/business/-/2560/817908/-/4gqf59z/-/

TECH SUPPORT
http://www.inveneo.org/?q=wifi_access_point
http://www.inveneo.org/?q=haiti-response
http://www.inveneo.org/?q=poweradvantage
http://www.cioinsight.com/c/a/Past-News/IT-Lends-a-Helping-Hand-An-interview-with-NetHopes-Edward-GrangerHapp/
IT Lends a Helping Hand: interview with NetHope’s Edward Granger-Happ / 2005-01-28

How to help the IT relief effort : “Donate laptops, desktops, network equipment and other technology. Donate bandwidth, especially satellite transponder space. Serve as a volunteer, and encourage your staff to do the same.”

The relief workers toiling in the tsunami-battered nations of southern Asia, Sri Lanka and Indonesia don’t just need money; they need IT support. Like all professionals, their effectiveness and productivity can be amplified by IT—only in their case it means saving more lives and restoring communities more quickly. But field workers for organizations such as Save the Children, Oxfam, and CARE must do their work in nightmarish conditions, often without electricity, phone lines and the human basics. Edward Granger-Happ, the chairman of the board and a founder of NetHope, Inc., is a CIO on the front lines of the tsunami relief effort. NetHope is an organization made up of IT executives from 15 non-government relief organizations who have banded together for cooperative effort rather than competitive advantage. NetHope members share information and know-how, and work together with corporate partners such as Cisco Systems, IBM and Microsoft to develop, share and supply equipment, software and communications services for their members’ relief workers.

Granger-Happ doubles as the chief technology officer of Save the Children, a Westport, Conn.-based charity and relief organization and a NetHope member. He left behind a 24-year career in the private sector, first as an executive with First Boston, Lotus, Chase and Data Broadcasting Corp., then as senior partner and founder of a management consulting firm, to join Save the Children about four years ago.

CIO Insight executive editor Allan E. Alter spoke with Granger-Happ about NetHope’s founding and mission, its work in tsunami relief, and how CIOs and other IT managers and professionals can help NetHope provide technical support.

Q. What is NetHope?
A. My 30-second description is that we’re a group of the largest international non-profits who have banded together to bring ICT – information and communication technology – out to the most challenged areas of the world in which we work. The members are 15 of the largest international non-profits, representing a collective $3.5 billion relief and long term development aid. NetHope is in Sunnyvale, Calif., because that’s where our executive director and finance director are. The members of the board come from throughout the U.S. and the U.K.

Q. What is its mission?
A. To make a difference in the world at the point where our members’ programs touch children and families. The analogy for the for-profit world is where the products meet the customers. Our primary focus is the field worker who is sometimes hours or miles away from even the central field office in the country, administering relief programs like those in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, as well as long-term development, HIV, education, economic opportunity, and conservation-type work.

Q. Why was NetHope started?
A. It started with a white paper, called “Wiring the Virtual Village,” I wrote during my first nine months at Save the Children and presented to Cisco Systems in March 2001. Essentially, it said if we band together as a group of non-profits, we can solve our communication and technology infrastructure problems faster and cheaper than if we continue to try to do it on our own. We all have the same IT issues: in the U.S and Europe IT infrastructure is taken for granted, but in the areas we work we can’t even take electricity for granted. My compelling hypothesis No. 2 is that if we band together to solve these problems, we would be much more attractive to corporate technology partners. A technology company that is interested in philanthropic work could benefit 15 non-profits if it contributed technology, money or people through NetHope, not just one. They would leverage their gifts and time much more than with one-off grants to individual non-profits. It’s also lower risk, because if one or two non-profits have difficulty implementing a grant (always a big concern for corporate partners), the other 12 or 13 who had success can help the other two come up to speed. I spent the first 24 years of my career in the for-profit world, and I was very encouraged by the openness and willingness of non-profits to share internal information and cooperate.

In early April 2001, I got a call from Cisco, when they were launching their Cisco Fellow program. Right after the dot.com bubble burst, companies like Cisco had a significant economic downturn. One expense-neutral alternative they found to downsizing was to give managers the option of working with a non-profit, and they would pay for a portion of the expenses. Financially, you come out better if you do this than if you lay off employees; otherwise, you’d have to pay severance and unemployment, and then hire a recruiter when you wanted to fill the position again at the end of the downturn. Two thirds of Cisco Fellows, however, return as an employee. They asked if we’d be interested in that, and I said absolutely. We hired the first Cisco Fellow in June 2001. That was Dipak Basu, and he’s been the executive director of NetHope for its first three years. Dipak gets the credit for taking this vision of a cooperative among non-profits and making it happen. I was really just the idea person.

By the way, when people returned to Cisco after doing this fellowship program, they all said it was critical to their development as leaders. So now Cisco employees have the option of doing this for several months. It’s become strategic for them.

Q. What is NetHope doing now to help the tsunami victims?
A. The key thing NetHope is doing is a project that began a year ago with some technology that had been developed by some Cisco engineers in North Carolina working with Inmarsat in London as a response to the Sept. 11 emergency, where communications and networking was knocked out in New York City. They came up with some off-the-shelf components they put together in a single box to provide what I call a “network-in-a-box.” In relief situations you want to establish voice and data communications in 72 hours or less. In the initial stages of disaster relief, the first relief workers are highly mobile; they are doing situation assessments, determining what the key needs are and marshaling the resources and the equipment that’s necessary to fulfill these needs. You need to have voice and data communications to make that happen. So we saw that network-in-a-box as a potential “net relief kit” (NRK). The kit, which is built by Cisco and now in its second generation, is the size of a weekender suitcase. It’s meant to be out in a field location; it’s ruggedized, runs off a car battery, and is cooled by multiple fans. It can support up to 50 laptops and four or more wireless telephones. It gives us a box with a handle that people flying to the disaster area can bring with them. NetHope has been the driving force behind developing that project, and Cisco has donated the engineering time and expertise to put the box together.

We had done two lab tests of the NRK and were scheduling field tests in Africa for this quarter when the tsunami hit. Our emergency people had reports about the problem within hours. Save the Children’s field office at Banda Aceh was hit and our field office people were lost; all but two were later accounted for. We also lost ten midwives with a community partner. Many of the NetHope managers, like Catholic Relief Services, World Vision, Save the Children and others, who are responding to this emergency in Indonesia and Sri Lanka and to a lesser extent in Myanmar and India, said we need to take this NRK and get it into the field. We said this emergency will become our trial. It’s not the typical way you build and do a trial, but if there’s anything we’ve learned in IT it’s that speed is essential in product development.

The way emergency response works, you get initial response people who try to get in there as soon as possible, determine the situation and what the needs are, and the people in headquarters try to martial the resources and goods—locally at first, so there’s no shipping, but longer-term usually from the U.S. and other sources. This first phase is highly individual and highly mobile. These initial response people took satellite phones, thanks to an agreement we had already worked out with Iridium. We had daily conference calls among members of NetHope during the first phase, and shared our technology assessment information and discussed who can bring what technologies to bear. That information sharing and consulting among members is of enormous value to organizations like Save the Children; we don’t have a large IT staff, and it feels especially small when we’re operating in triage and crisis mode. That happened in Afghanistan and Iraq, and now it’s happening in Indonesia.

The second phase in emergency response involves groups of people, but they’re also highly mobile and need to talk with one another. We’re now starting the second phase, and that’s when the NRK will be used. Many of these groups will operate in tent communities; when we get in with the NRK, we connect their laptops. The kit is just going over now. Our director of networks will be the point person for the first kit. He’s landed in Jakarta, and he’ll be gathering the equipment he needs and will be going to Banda Aceh in the next few days.

Q. How many NRKs will be going out?
A. We’ve asked for ten. That’s the preliminary request, and we haven’t heard back yet what’s possible. That’s the challenge. They are still custom-made; it’s the dedication of the engineers at Cisco in North Carolina that’s putting them together. We’re going to try to share the NRKs as much as possible, but there are bandwidth issues there. In some places we can only get a 64K connections, and there’s only so much bandwidth you can share. Bandwidth is always an issue. Not until the third phase do we establish a more permanent office, and we will outfit that office with a VSAT or other connections, LANs and desktop PCs. When you get to the third phase the NRK is irrelevant because you get a VSAT in a more permanent building. The final way NetHope will be of value will be taking its learning and experiences and sharing it with non-members and developing countries. That’s part of the philanthropic value of what NetHope is doing: Just as we benefit from our knowledge-sharing experiences, we want to turn around and open that to others.

Q. How will that knowledge-sharing be done?
A. NetHope members actually use IBM Lotus Domino QuickPlace, a donation IBM Lotus made to Save the Children. We have a library of posted documents and information, a discussion area, and folders for each of the emergencies and projects on which we’re working. It’s a fully searchable and indexed knowledge base of information, and we have close to four years of information in it now. And here’s the tie-back to how open non-profits are to sharing information: If the head of network engineering at Oxfam has discussions with three satellite phone providers in the European Union, he’ll summarize it and post it for the rest of the members. We don’t all have to talk to those three EU phone providers.

Q. What will you be doing in the next two to eight weeks to help the tsunami victims?
A. I think phase 2 will last at least 90 days, maybe longer. With the extent of the damage we’re seeing in the Banda Aceh area, it may take significantly longer before we can establish a field office that has electricity and communications. Again, NetHope is focused on that relief worker, the relief worker who is doing the food distributions and handling medical programs, crisis intervention in terms of psychological counseling for families and kids, and relocation services. Our job is to make that field workers’ job as easy as possible, by giving him communications and by minimizing the amount of paperwork he needs to do. If you remember what it was like to work without e-mail and a computer, and think about how much easier it is now to do that much more, we want to give the same advantages to the field worker. We’re bringing in laptops, LANs, wireless telephones, satellite telephones, portable satellite dishes, larger satellite dishes for the longer term, and the NRK is the network infrastructure that sits in the middle of that.

Communications is critical for security. In Iraq, communication is essential to make sure people are safe and accounted for. These areas we are going into now for tsunami relief have tenuous situations; there’s a civil war and insurrections going on. Security is an issue there as well. It used to be, before the UN was bombed in Baghdad, that non-profits were immune. We could go in as politically and religiously neutral and meet dire needs wherever we went. That whole world changed with the UN bombing in Baghdad; we’re no longer immune, we’re now one of the targets. There have been kidnappings and bombings. It’s a different world for non-profits. Now we have to spend time on security planning that we didn’t have to do before. And that requires better technology.

Q. What can IT executives do to help the tsunami victims and NetHope?
A. To the degree they have bandwidth or technology they can share, that is of significant interest to us. Many laptops and desktop PCs are on two-year leases; CIOs ought to take them as they come off lease and donate them to non-profits, and get the tax write-off if you do the buy-out. It’s a win-win. Check with your accounting department first, of course. We have a third-party “wiping service” to delete any data from the donated machines.

Q. How can companies share bandwidth?
A. Many companies have paid for large amounts of satellite transponder space; it’s the rented space on the bird itself. To the extent they have transponder space on satellites that cover India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia, they can help. We still have to put satellite communications equipment on the ground, but the most expensive part is often the recurring transponder space rent. We’ve talked with some corporations about sharing network infrastructure, but global companies are in the major cities and that’s not where we typically are. But they will have satellite transponder space. Many companies rent space for peak periods. When it’s not peak time, there ought to be ways to donate transponder space.

There’s another way CIOs could help, and that is to volunteer to act as advisers to the non-profit IT directors, from NetHope to the individual IT directors at the non-profits. Save the Children spends less than 1.5 percent of revenue on IT, and our headquarters IT department is 23 people for a 3,200-person organization in 40 countries. So we’re excellent at taking slim resources and stretching them to do incredible things. But when you layer on top of it a disaster of this magnitude, where you have to turn your attention to those things, getting help and advice on more efficient ways to do the day-to-day blocking and tackling, or to even come and volunteer to fill in to do those things, would be very valuable. We’re good at stretching things thin to run a normal operation, but add a disaster like this and it becomes an abnormal operation. We have daily stand-up meetings to look at everyone’s top three things they are doing that impacts their response. There could be lots of other things that don’t happen. Having people who are experts at crisis management and in applying medical triage to business situation would be invaluable to non-profits.

Q. What kinds of people from an IT staff would you want as volunteers?
A. It could be as basic as help-desk people who can configure PC laptops before they go out in the field. It could be network engineers who can run our data centers. At senior-management level, advisers on how to apply triage and crisis management to most efficiently manage hour-to-hour with our limited resources. To help, go to www.nethope.org. There’s a link to contact us at http://www.nethope.org/contactus.html. Or call us at (408) 525-2451 or e-mail us at info [at] nethope.org. Those calls and e-mails will get funneled to Molly Tschang, our current executive director, who will take it from there. If anyone is interested in particular in Save the Children, contact me by email at ehapp [at] savechildren [dot] org rather than call.

Q. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
A. NetHope doesn’t happen without our corporate partners, especially Cisco, IBM, Microsoft, Immarsat and Eutelsat. Microsoft and Cisco have worked with us from day one when this tragedy struck, asking us how they can help. Cisco has responded by speeding up the Net Relief Kit, and employees at both organizations are donating to Save the Children. They’ve been incredible partners. Beyond business partners, these are organizations that really care about making a difference, and they have taken a keen interest in having NetHope succeed.

And just two human-interest points: This is my third career. I worked on Wall Street for the first 14 years of my career, with First Boston, Chase, Lotus and Data Broadcasting Corp. Then I ran my own management consulting business in IT and balanced scorecard work for ten years before joining Save the Children. Which leads me to my second point: I could double my income at any corporate firm, but what’s more important to me at this point in my career is having the ability to make an impact every day in what I do. When we get IT right, more kids get fed, more kids get inoculated, and more kids get educated and taught. The value of that is immeasurable. So my whole model has turned from pursuit of success to pursuit of significance.

CONTACT
Edward Granger-Happ
http://www.eghapp.blogspot.com/
http://www.nethope.org/about/board-of-directors/ed-granger-happ/
http://www.fairfieldreview.org/hpmd/EGHprofile.nsf/
email : ehapp [@] savethechildren [dot] org / ehapp [at] hpmd [dot] com

CROWD-FUNDING / MICROFINANCE
http://www.mercycorps.org/topics/microfinance
https://www.microplace.com/investments/details/Sevis+Finansye+Fonkoze+via+Oikocredit+GC+Note
https://www.microplace.com/learn_more/howitworks
http://grameenfoundation.wordpress.com/
https://secure3.convio.net/gfusa/site/Donation2?df_id=1820&1820.donation=form1
http://www.grameenfoundation.org/americas/haiti
http://www.kiva.org/about/inside/2010/01/13/earthquake-in-haiti-update-on-kiva.html
http://www.accion.org/Page.aspx?pid=225
http://www.accion.org/microcredit-vs-microfinance

FRONTLINE SMS
http://medic.frontlinesms.com/
http://credit.frontlinesms.com/
http://www.frontlinesms.com/download/
http://www.frontlinesms.com/who/
http://www.frontlinesms.com/
http://www.kiwanja.net/blog/category/frontlinesms/

ICT4D [KNOWLEDGE SHARING]
http://inventory.ict4peace.org/Haiti+Earthquake+-+January+2010
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_and_communication_technologies_for_development
http://mayafrica.wordpress.com/the-abc-of-ict4d/
http://www.apdip.net/resources/case
http://www.infodev.org/en/Publication.107.html
http://celac.wordpress.com/
http://www.celac.or.ug/
http://successtories.wordpress.com/

ONE LAPTOP PER CHILD [NO HAITI?]
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Regional_groups#20_Active_Groups_for_groups.laptop.org

$75 WATERPROOF COMPUTER w/CAMERA [SOLAR or CRANK?]
http://laptop.org/en/participate/get-involved.shtml
http://www.forbes.com/2009/12/22/tablet-computer-negroponte-technology-cio-network-olpc.html
Take a look at the designs for what could someday be the world’s cheapest PC, and you may start to wish you were a third-grade child in Burundi.
BY Andy Greenberg / 12.22.09

One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), MIT professor Nicholas Negroponte’s non-profit effort aimed at putting cheap educational laptops into the hands of developing world schoolchildren, is working on an upgrade to its so-called XO computer, once known as the “hundred-dollar laptop.” That revamped machine, known as the XO-3 and targeted for release in 2012, is still more of a pipe dream than a product. But early designs for the PC reveal a minimalist slate of touch-powered electronics that drops practically every feature of a traditional computer except its 8.5-by-11-inch screen, a scheme that would shed all of the first XO’s child-like clunkiness without losing its simple accessibility. “I wanted to bring the One Laptop Per Child identity to life in this new form,” says Yves Behar, founder of FuseProject, which designed the both the original and the XO-3. “That meant taking the visual complexity away, bringing tactility and friendliness, touch and color.”

Behar says he hopes to shrink the frame around the XO-3’s display down to practically nothing, opting for a virtual keyboard instead of a physical one, and no buttons. The result, in his mock-ups, is a screen surrounded by only a thin green rubber gasket. “Nicholas [Negroponte] asked for something extremely simple and practically frameless,” he says. “The media or content on the computer will be the prime visual element.” In fact, that new form factor is just the beginning of OLPC’s monstrous ambitions: It aims to make its tablet PC highly durable, all plastic, waterproof, half the thickness of an iPhone and use less than a watt of power, despite an 8-gigaherz processor. The price: an unprecedented $75.

Many of OLPC’s goals, to be fair, are more imagination than road map. And Negroponte has a history of overpromising. The original XO never hit its original goal of $100, (it currently sells for $172) and another touch screen upgrade to the XO that Negroponte announced in May 2008 was quietly scrapped this year based on costs. But in this case, Negroponte’s plan has a twist: As OLPC assembles the components for its dream machine, it plans to open the architecture of the device to allow any other PC maker to take over the project. Negroponte is more interested in pressuring the industry to make cheaper, more education-focused PCs than he is in manufacturing any specific machine. “We don’t necessarily need to build it,” Negroponte told Forbes. “We just need to threaten to build it.”

Regardless of who puts their stamp on the ultra-cheap tablet, OLPC’s biggest task may be getting the various components in line. A typical fragile, glass LCD screen hardly seems a wise choice in the hands of young children, or in countries with unpredictable and scarce electricity. So OLPC hopes to incorporate plastic back-plane components, possibly from Mountain View, Calif.-based Plastic Logic, that would be far more durable. The tablet will also likely use ultra low-power screens from start-up Pixel Qi with both reflective and LCD capabilities, created by former Negroponte disciple Mary Lou Jepsen. If Behar’s design comes to fruition, the XO-3 will feature a camera on the back of the device and a finger-hold ring on the computer’s corner. That loop, a metal cable that runs from the device’s rim and is encased in the same rubber as the screen frame, can be used to steady the computer in the user’s hand or to let it hang at one’s side. Magnets in the loop could also be used to keep it tucked behind the machine, out of the way.

Those simple additions are the only departures from the tablet’s minimalist design: Ideally, the machine won’t even have a charging port. Behar says OLPC wants to use induction to wirelessly charge the battery through its rubber frame. “We wanted to remove all the scars that you typically see on a laptop from Lenovo or HP,” he says. While the tablet isn’t slated to appear until 2012, OLPC has other plans in the meantime. An incremental upgrade of the XO set for release in January will have several times the memory, storage and processing power of the current machine. The next upgrade, in 2011, will boost the machine’s performance again and replace its AMD chip with a lower-power processor from phone chip maker Marvell.

When it comes to his plans for the $75 dream tablet, however, Negroponte admits his track record of lofty promises doesn’t offer much assurance that this latest fantasy machine will appear. But he warns the computer industry not to underestimate OLPC. “Sure, if I were a commercial entity coming to you for investment, and I’d made the projections I had in the past, you wouldn’t invest again,” he says. “But we’re not a commercial operation. If we only achieve half of what we’re setting out to do, it could have very big consequences.”

CONTACT
Nicholas Negroponte
http://web.media.mit.edu/~nicholas/
http://laptop.org/en/participate/index.shtml
email : nicholas [at] media.mit [dot] edu

ENDORSEMENT
http://www.i4u.com/article29451.html
BY Robert Evans / 23 Dec 2009

“One Laptop Per Child is a charity run by Nicholas Negroponte. Their goal is to provide laptops to every child in the developing world. One of the ways they do this is by selling their ultra-cheap machines to Westerners for double the price. That way you get a laptop, and you get to buy a laptop for some kid in Uganda or Somalia. While the current versions of the OLPC are fairly unimpressive, the XO-3, Negroponte’s design for the 2012 OLPC, looks incredible.

Forbes reports that this new OLPC is going to be a totally stripped down, 8.5″-11″ tablet PC. The only features of this tablet will be the touchscreen, and a little ring on the side to act as a hand-hold or to loop into a belt. The XO-3 will be simple and durable; it’s going to be made entirely of plastic will be waterproof. It should pack an 8 GHz processor, but will use less than a watt of power. Remember; this thing isn’t scheduled to hit until 2012.

The price is expected to be $75. Whether or not this device will ever launch, let alone at that price, remains to be seen. I really hope it does, though. One Laptop Per Child is an incredibly beneficial charity that allows poor children all around the world to connect to the Internet. It makes possible a level of communication and exposure to information that none of these children would otherwise have. Plus, the XO-3 is supposed to have a camera. That means Flickr will soon be populated with thousands of shots from OLPC owners in exotic locales all around the world. That alone is worth a donation or two.

PORTABLE GENERATORS
http://www.solarstik.com/
SOLAR OVENS
http://www.sunbdcorp.com/haiti.php
INFLATABLE SATELLITE ANTENNAS
http://www.gatr.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=60&Itemid=26
HEXAYURTS
http://www.appropedia.org/Hexayurt
http://hexayurt.com/

STAR-TIDES / STARFISH
http://star-tides.net/about/research
http://star-tides.net/files/STAR-TIDES%20-StarFish%20paper%20-%20DH%2070_0.pdf
http://www.ndu.edu/ctnsp/wells_bio.htm
http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2008/10/fast-cheap-and/
Fast, Cheap and Sustainable:
Ex-Pentagon Geek Plots Disaster Relief 2.0
BY Nathan Hodge / October 16, 2008

Linton Wells used to be one of the Pentagon geeks-in-chief — a prime mover in the military’s embrace of information technology. Now, he wants to encourage the Defense Deparment to network with relief agencies, civic organizations and the private sector in order to reboot disaster recovery. The goal of the tech-heavy effort is not only to avoid a Hurricane Katrina repeat. It’s to get better at stabilizing failed states that could easily slip into radical hands. But first, the boys in uniform have to get over their traditional reluctance to cooperate with civilians.

Nation-building, perhaps by default, has become a core mission for the U.S. military. Last week, the Army unveiled its new stability operations manual. And this week, the Department of Defense is hosting a demonstration of some of the more innovative new tools for disaster relief and humanitarian assistance.

The project is called STAR-TIDES (Sustainable Technologies, Accelerated Research-Transportable Infrastructures for Development and Emergency Support). The acronym may be long, but the concept is simple: it is supposed to pull together cheap and effective solutions for humanitarian emergencies or post-war reconstruction.

Among the items on display at the Pentagon demo: solar cooking panels; Solar Stik portable power generators (pictured); inflatable satellite antennas; and water purification systems. It’s an intriguing sight to see bureaucrats sip purified
Potomac River water in the Pentagon center court, or to watch a two-star general inspect a tree-hugger’s Hexayurt shelter.

The buzzwords here are “affordable solutions,” “sustainable support” or “capacity building” – all terms borrowed from the world of aid and development. STAR-TIDES is also part of a larger effort by Wells to spread the word these concepts within the Defense Department.

“We’re not an operating agency,” Wells said. “I’m coordinating this with a few colleagues on a more or less volunteer basis. If someone comes in and says, ‘coordinate the next Katrina,’ we’re not in a position to do that. We are in a position to try to perhaps help the decisionmakers to think ahead and maybe get some of these coalitions built so there’d be better planning for whole-of-government, civil society, and maybe different scenarios they might not otherwise think of.”

The current demo is set up for a few scenarios: disaster relief in Central America or the Western Pacific; stabilization and reconstruction in Afghanistan; and refugee support in sub-Saharan Africa. Some of the technology on display could also be used for “defense support to civil authorities” (think Hurricane Katrina).

A project like STAR-TIDES faces more than institutional resistance within the Pentagon; non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and aid groups are often wary of working with the military. Wells said he recognized the limitations.

“In many respects, the conflict-resolution NGOs are quite willing to work with the military, whereas the humanitarian assistance NGOs are more wary because their people are in the field and could be at risk,” he said. “If they are seen going in and out of military facilities or communicating routinely with the military, instead of being neutral parties in the crisis, one side or the other can attribute to them the motives of the U.S. military. So they actually see in some cases their people being at risk. … What we try to do is recognize their constraints, recognize their environment, in a social network, trust-building type of arrangement. Deliver something of value that’s useful to them and show how it’s advantageous for them to work with the U.S.”

STABILITY OPERATIONS FIELD MANUAL 3-07
usacac.army.mil/cac2/repository/FM307/FM3-07.pdf
http://www.army.mil/-newsreleases/2008/10/06/13091-army-unveils-new-stability-operations-manual/
http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2008/09/field-manual-307-stability-ope/

CIVIL-MILITARY INTERACTION REPORT : STRONG ANGEL III
www.strongangel3.net/files/sa/10-20-30.pd
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strong_Angel
http://www.strongangel3.net/

PREVIOUSLY on SPECTRE :
HASTILY FORMED RELIEF NETWORKS
http://spectregroup.wordpress.com/2006/08/17/strong-angel-iii-hastily-formed-networks/
TXTBANKNG THE UNBANKED
http://spectregroup.wordpress.com/2009/07/10/sms-banking-in-kenya/
ONE CELLPHONE PER CHILD
http://spectregroup.wordpress.com/2008/09/21/one-cellphone-per-child
KATRINA 2.0
http://spectregroup.wordpress.com/2008/09/01/katrina-20/
R U IN JAIL?
http://spectregroup.wordpress.com/2008/04/01/r-u-in-jail/

U.S. STOPS DEPORTING HAITIANS
http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Global-News/2010/0113/Haiti-earthquake-US-stops-deporting-Haitians

GUANTANAMO BACK to being REFUGEE CAMP
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/americas/guantanamo/story/1438773-p2.html
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/21/AR2010012103547.html

Workers have also been preparing tents at Guantanamo Bay for Haitian migrants in case the earthquake spurs a mass migration. This is not a new role for the base: At any given moment, the facility temporarily holds small groups of migrants, mostly from Cuba. In the 1990s, Guantanamo housed tens of thousands of Haitian boat people until they could be sent home. About 100 tents, each capable of holding 10 people, have been erected. The U.S. has capacity to hold up to 13,000 at that site, which is on the opposite side of the base, separated by 2 1/2 miles of water, from the detention center for terrorism suspects. Blaisdell said he is considering additional places in case more space is needed.

At the prison, Friday’s deadline for the closure of the base prison was a nonevent. Behind walls of razor wire, officials say they will be on alert for protests by prisoners. But Army Col. Bruce Vargo, the guard force commander, said the reduced population and the decision to house nearly 75 percent of the men in communal settings has eased tensions. He does not expect significant trouble. The delay in closing the base has angered Guantanamo’s many critics, but attorneys for prisoners say most of their clients were always skeptical that they would be going home soon. Many of them now have regular access to the news and could read copies of Obama’s order posted around the camps. “When they saw how slow the review process became and the tiny trickle of men transferred from Guantanamo, they were realistic and saw it would be impossible to meet the Jan. 22 deadline,” said David Remes, a Washington attorney for 18 prisoners.

Navy Rear Adm. Thomas Copeman, commander of the task force that runs the detention center, views with pride the base’s role in trying to solve the humanitarian crisis. “The ability to conduct real-world humanitarian assistance and disaster relief … that’s more exhilarating at the moment then walking the block in the detention camp, not to say that walking the block is not an extremely important mission for the United States but probably not as gratifying as saving someone’s life.”

EXPECTATIONS of VIOLENCE, CORDON against REFUGEES
http://todayspictures.slate.com/20100121/
http://www.slate.com/id/2242078/
Why Did We Focus on Securing Haiti, Rather Than Helping Haitians?
Here are two possibilities, neither of them flattering.
BY Ben Ehrenreich / Jan. 21, 2010

By the weekend, it was clear that something perverse was going on in Haiti, something savage and bestial in its lack of concern for human life. I’m not talking about the earthquake, and certainly not about the so-called “looting,” which I prefer to think of as the autonomously organized distribution of unjustly hoarded goods. I’m talking about the U.S. relief effort.

For two days after the quake, despite almost unimaginable destruction, there were reasons to be optimistic. With a few notable exceptions—Pat Robertson and David Brooks among them—Americans reacted with extraordinary and unhesitating generosity of spirit and of purse. Port-au-Prince is not much farther from Washington, D.C., than, say, New Orleans, and the current president of the United States, unlike his predecessor, was quick to react to catastrophe. Taking advantage of “our unique capacity to project power around the world,” President Barack Obama pledged abundant aid and 10,000 troops. Troops? Port-au-Prince had been leveled by an earthquake, not a barbarian invasion, but, OK, troops. Maybe they could put down their rifles and, you know, carry stuff, make themselves useful. At least they could get there soon: The naval base at Guantanamo was barely 200 miles away.

The Cubans, at least, would show up quickly. It wasn’t until Friday, three days after the quake, that the “supercarrier” USS Carl Vinson, arrived—and promptly ran out of supplies. “We have communications, we have some command and control, but we don’t have much relief supplies to offer,” admitted Rear Adm. Ted Branch. So what were they doing there?

“Command and control” turned out to be the key words. The U.S. military did what the U.S. military does. Like a slow-witted, fearful giant, it built a wall around itself, commandeering the Port-au-Prince airport and constructing a mini-Green Zone. As thousands of tons of desperately needed food, water, and medical supplies piled up behind the airport fences—and thousands of corpses piled up outside them—Defense Secretary Robert Gates ruled out the possibility of using American aircraft to airdrop supplies: “An airdrop is simply going to lead to riots,” he said. The military’s first priority was to build a “structure for distribution” and “to provide security.” (Four days and many deaths later, the United States began airdropping aid.)

The TV networks and major papers gamely played along. Forget hunger, dehydration, gangrene, septicemia—the real concern was “the security situation,” the possibility of chaos, violence, looting. Never mind that the overwhelming majority of on-the-ground accounts from people who did not have to answer to editors described Haitians taking care of one another, digging through rubble with their bare hands, caring for injured loved ones—and strangers—in the absence of outside help. Even the evidence of “looting” documented something that looked more like mutual aid: The photograph that accompanied a Sunday New York Times article reporting “pockets of violence and anarchy” showed men standing atop the ruins of a store, tossing supplies to the gathered crowd.

The guiding assumption, though, was that Haitian society was on the very edge of dissolving into savagery. Suffering from “progress-resistant cultural influences” (that’s David Brooks finding a polite way to call black people primitive), Haitians were expected to devour one another and, like wounded dogs, to snap at the hands that fed them. As much as any logistical bottleneck, the mania for security slowed the distribution of aid.

Air-traffic control in the Haitian capital was outsourced to an Air Force base in Florida, which, not surprisingly, gave priority to its own pilots. While the military flew in troops and equipment, planes bearing supplies for the Red Cross, the World Food Program, and Doctors Without Borders were rerouted to Santo Domingo in neighboring Dominican Republic. Aid flights from Mexico, Russia, and France were refused permission to land. On Monday, the British Daily Telegraph reported, the French minister in charge of humanitarian aid admitted he had been involved in a “scuffle” with a U.S. commander in the airport’s control tower. According to the Telegraph, it took the intervention of the United Nations for the United States to agree to prioritize humanitarian flights over military deliveries.

Meanwhile, much of the aid that was arriving remained at the airport. Haitians watched American helicopters fly over the capital, commanding and controlling, but no aid at all was being distributed in most of the city. On Tuesday, a doctor at a field hospital within site of the runways complained that five to 10 patients were dying each day for lack of the most basic medical necessities. “We can look at the supplies sitting there,” Alphonse Edward told Britain’s Channel 4 News.

The much-feared descent into anarchy stubbornly refused to materialize. “It is calm at this time,” Lt. Gen. Ken Keen, deputy commander of the U.S. Southern Command, admitted to the AP on Monday. “Those who live and work here … tell me that the level of violence that we see right now is below pre-earthquake levels.” He announced that four—four, in a city of more than 2 million—aid-distribution points had been set up on the sixth day of the crisis.

So what happened? Why the mad rush to command and control, with all its ultimately murderous consequences? Why the paranoid focus on security above saving lives? Clearly, President Obama failed to learn one of the basic lessons taught by Hurricane Katrina: You can’t solve a humanitarian problem by throwing guns at it. Before the president had finished insisting that “my national security team understands that I will not put up with any excuses,” Haiti’s fate was sealed. National security teams prioritize national security, an amorphous and expensive notion that has little to do with keeping Haitian citizens alive.

This leaves the more disturbing question of why the Obama administration chose to respond as if they were there to confront an insurgency, rather than to clear rubble and distribute antibiotics and MREs. The beginning of an answer can be found in what Rebecca Solnit, author of A Paradise Built in Hell, calls “elite panic”—the conviction of the powerful that their own Hobbesian corporate ethic is innate in all of us, that in the absence of centralized authority, only cannibalism can reign.

But the danger of hunger-crazed mobs never came up after the 2004 Pacific tsunami, and no one mentions security when tornados and floods wipe out swaths of the American Midwest. This suggests two possibilities, neither of them flattering. The first is that the administration had strategic reasons for sending 10,000 troops that had little to do with disaster relief. This is the explanation favored by the Latin American left and, given the United States’ history of invasion and occupation in Haiti (and in the Dominican Republic and Cuba and Nicaragua and Grenada and Panama), it is difficult to dismiss. Only time will tell what “reconstruction” means.

Another answer lies closer to home. New Orleans and Port-au-Prince have one obvious thing in common: The majority of both cities’ residents are black and poor. White people who are not poor have been known, when confronted with black people who are, to start locking their car doors and muttering about their security. It doesn’t matter what color our president is. Even when it is ostensibly doing good, the U.S. government can be racist, and, in an entirely civil and bureaucratic fashion, savagely cruel.

THOUSANDS of ARMED PRISONERS at LARGE

LOCALS LYNCH ESCAPED GANG LEADER
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/audio/2010/jan/21/haiti-natural-disasters
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jan/20/haiti-escaped-prisoners-cite-soleil
Haiti escaped prisoners chased out of notorious slum Cité Soleil
Ed Pilkington and Tom Phillips, in Cité Soleil / 20 January 2010

When the 3,000 inmates of the central prison in Port-au-Prince unexpectedly gained their freedom, courtesy of the earthquake, everybody knew where they would be headed: Cité Soleil, the poorest area of this poorest city, in whose maze of streets they could vanish.

But the fugitives hadn’t counted on one thing: the determination of Cité Soleil’s people not to let them back. “We’ve got so many huge problems because of the earthquake, we have so little food, water and medicines, we can’t deal with another huge problem,” said Caries Rubens, 26, one of the area’s 300,000 people.

Several of the escapers had been gang leaders in the slum neighbourhood, ensnaring and terrorising the people with drugs and guns. Nobody wanted to see them regain their hold. When news that the earthquake had granted the prisoners early parole reached Cité Soleil, a committee was set up, then vigilante security teams. Prisoners spotted re-entering the area were chased and run out of town. Those who were caught came to a more definitive end. Bled, one of the most notorious gang leaders whose moniker derives from what happened to his many murder and kidnapping victims, was welcomed back by a lynch mob wielding machetes.

That the people of this downtrodden place have shown a determination to stand up to gang leaders is a sign of the change that has taken root in Cité Soleil. Between 2002 and 2006 the area was almost entirely in the grip of the gangs, but in the last three years, partly through the intervention of UN peacekeepers and partly through communal self-help, the gangs’ power has waned and the people’s confidence has grown.

Rubens is a member of a local charity that tries to help the young find an alternative path to adulthood through education rather than violence and drugs. “It’s very difficult to ask a young kid to stay out of the gangs in Cité Soleil,” said Fedora Camille Chevry, who set up the charity Fondation Roussan Camille. “To do that there has to be hope and in Cité Soleil there is so little hope. By providing them with a way of opening up their minds, we try and give them that hope.”

If the foundation is trying to work to shore up the community from within, from the outside UN forces are keeping a close eye on Cité Soleil for fear that the prison breakout might prompt a slide back into the dark past. Their commanding officer has vowed to “intensify” operations to recapture the escapees.

General Florianao Peixoto said his troops had drawn up a list of targets and had already begun making arrests. “We are going to have to carry out more intensive activities to get these elements back where they belong. The hypothesis is that these leaders will regroup to carry out collective operations. But I have a military force that is far superior to that of any gang.”

“We know the area and we have it under control,” said Captain Italo Monsores, a Brazilian marine, during a tour of Cité Soleil’s rubble-strewn streets. The threat, like in so much of this stricken city, is that the devastation will destroy the fragile gains of recent years. Cité Soleil is a chaotic jumble of concrete houses interspersed with corrugated iron shacks. Several of the structures have collapsed, including a school where the metal roof has fallen on to wooden desks stamped with the logo of the UN children’s agency Unicef.

The death toll here was probably lower than in other parts by dint of the houses being low-rise, but many people were wounded in an area with primitive medical services. We came across a woman whose left arm had been burnt to a blackened crust. She had been cooking when the earthquake happened, tipping a saucepan of boiling water over her. Her arm looked as though it were weeping and in risk of infection. Down the road a long line of women was queuing with buckets at a water tanker. There was scuffling and shouting at the front – unsurprisingly as Cité Soleil has been without drinking water for days. We were taken to see the central water tower, which had keeled over.

Food remains difficult to find. We passed a small shop selling balloons, brooms, salami, lollipops and other random items. The owner now sells his wares from behind a metal grille. “Times are hard,” he said. “People might be tempted to rob.” As Rubens puts it: “You want to know how we feel? We feel alone.” But there is grit and imagination here too. Up above the iron roofs, under the flight path of Black Hawk helicopters ferrying supplies, a kite made of plastic and paper flapped in the wind.

ALTERNATIVE to MILITARY is WHO EXACTLY?
http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2008/01/insourcing-the-tools-of-nation/
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/14/AR2008021403433.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/15/AR2010011502457.html
After the earthquake, how to rebuild Haiti from scratch
By Jeffrey D. Sachs / January 17, 2010

President Obama has declared that the United States will not forsake Haiti in its moment of agony. Honoring this commitment would be a first for Washington. To prevent a deepening spiral of death, the United States will have to do things differently than in the past. American relief and development institutions do not function properly, and to believe otherwise would be to condemn Haiti’s poor and dying to our own mythology.

In Haiti, we are facing not only a horrific natural disaster but the tectonics of nature, poverty and politics. Even before last week’s earthquake, roughly half of the nation’s 10 million inhabitants lived in destitution, in squalid housing built of adobe or masonry without reinforcements, perched precariously on hillsides. The country is still trying to recover from the hurricanes of 2008 as well as longtime social and political traumas. The government’s inability to cope has been obvious, but those of us who have been around Haiti for many years also know about the lofty international promises that follow each disaster — and how ineffectual the response has been each time.

In the past two decades, U.S. interventions have done much more harm than good to the Haitian economy. In the early 1990s, Washington thought it did Haiti a favor by imposing a crushing trade embargo to bring about democratization — specifically, the reinstatement of democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The embargo destroyed Haiti’s fragile manufacturing industries. Then, true to America’s political swings, ideologues in the Bush administration spent years trying to oust Aristide, first by foisting a de facto and illegal aid freeze on international development agencies, and then by brazenly toppling Aristide and carrying him to the Central African Republic. Congress took a pass on reviewing these sordid events, pausing only to declare its love for the Haitian people.

Now it’s time to save Haitian lives by the millions, or watch a generation perish. A serious response will require a new approach. President Obama should recognize that the U.S. government alone lacks the means, attention span and true regard for Haiti that is needed to see this through past the most urgent phase. After the coming weeks, during which U.S. emergency airlift assistance is essential, the effort should be quickly internationalized, in an effective manner that acknowledges U.S. political realities and leverages the help that Washington will give.

Typically, a tragedy such as this is followed by international pledges of billions of dollars, but then only a slow trickle of help. The government of Haiti, overwhelmed far before this earthquake, is in no position to pester 20 or more complicated donor agencies to follow up on designing projects and disbursing funds. The recovery operation needs money in the bank — in a single, transparent, multidonor recovery fund for Haiti and the world to see. Haiti does not need a pledging session; it needs a bank account to fund its survival and reconstruction. The Inter-American Development Bank would be an excellent venue; it is well-run and highly regarded, already serves as Haiti’s largest development financier and could bring in donor partners from around the globe.

How would a Haiti Recovery Fund be organized? It should receive emergency outlays from the United States and other donors; organize a board that includes members appointed by Haitian President René Préval, the U.N. secretary general and donors; and empower a management team to formulate and execute plans agreed to by the Haitian government. Very soon, the first phase of recovery operations in Haiti will end. Tragically, tens or hundreds of thousands will have died under the rubble, with relief and equipment arriving too late. Now the race is on to save Haiti itself. Its capital, a city without reserves of food, water, power, shelter, hospitals, medicine and other vital supplies, faces the real possibilities of hunger, epidemics and civil unrest. And the rest of the country is like a body without a head. The port is shut, the government is overwhelmed, many U.N. peacekeepers have transferred to Port-au-Prince, and the normal operations of government, skimpy as they once were, have broken down entirely.

The recovery fund would focus first on restoring basic services needed for survival. For months to come, medical supplies from abroad should be stockpiled and then distributed in the capital and beyond. Makeshift surgical units and clinical facilities will be essential. Power plants on offshore barges will be needed for electricity until new plants can be constructed. The salaries of public workers — especially teachers, police officers, nurses, reconstruction workers and engineers — must be assured, despite an utter collapse of revenues. Haiti’s currency will need to be backed by international reserves so that the demand for public spending does not create harrowing inflation. The Haiti Recovery Fund, together with a quick-disbursing grant from the International Monetary Fund, should provide the needed reserves and budget financing.

Emergency relief should quickly and seamlessly transform into reconstruction and development. Indeed, if we stop at humanitarian relief alone, Haiti will be back in crisis soon enough, after the next disaster. The first step in this transition is food security: Haiti’s farmers will need seed and fertilizer within weeks if they are to grow food for a destitute country. The displaced urban population will need income support or food transfers to subsist. The World Food Program’s effective food-for-work projects can help feed workers recruited to rebuild roads and buildings.

After the extreme emergency period over the next few weeks, growing more food in Haiti will be far cheaper, more reliable and more sustainable than living on imported food aid. Supplying the farm inputs to Haiti will require more grants — as impoverished farmers have no capacity to buy seeds, fertilizer and small-scale equipment — as well as official aid to help deliver such materials to Haiti’s remote villages.

New shelters must not be makeshift units that would be destroyed by Haiti’s frequent floods, landslides and hurricanes. The country will need a revived and expanded construction industry to produce the brick, reinforced concrete and other vital materials. Private companies, domestic and international, should be contracted to set up operations. China is capable of quickly dismantling a factory, putting it in containers on ships and reconstructing it within weeks in a foreign location. Such efforts are needed immediately. (The asphalt for Liberia’s roads comes from a Chinese factory assembled this way in the capital, Monrovia.) The list of needs goes on; it was very long and urgent even before last week’s calamity.

The Haiti Recovery Fund should be constituted for five years — a suitable period to respond to such a challenge. Electoral politics in Haiti should be suspended for at least one year as well. This is no time for national elections; the people’s survival is the first purpose of politics. How much money would the Haiti Recovery Fund need? And where should it come from? Here is a rough estimate: Before the earthquake but after the hurricanes, I had calculated an urgent (and unmet) development financing need of $1.4 billion per year for Haiti, up from about $300 million currently. Basic urgent reconstruction costs will add perhaps another $5 billion to $10 billion over the next few years. One can imagine annual disbursements of $2 billion to $3 billion annually over the next five years.

Obama should seek an immediate appropriation of at least $1 billion this year and next for a Haiti Recovery Fund, and ask other countries and international agencies to fill in the rest, not with promises but with cash. The obvious way for Washington to cover this new funding is by introducing special taxes on Wall Street bonuses, utterly unjustified payments that will be announced in the next days. Haiti will suffer a quick death of hunger and disease unless we act, and the United States will suffer a slow and painful moral death unless we respond to the extreme distress of our neighbors, whom we have neglected for so long and, at times, even put in harm’s way.

CRISIS PROFITEERING
http://mobile.thenation.com/doc/20100201/scahill
BY Jeremy Scahill /

“We saw this type of Iraq-style disaster profiteering in New Orleans, and you can expect to see a lot more of this in Haiti over the coming days, weeks and months. Private security companies are seeing big dollar signs in Haiti thanks in no small part to the media hype about “looters.” After Katrina, the number of private security companies registered (and unregistered) multiplied overnight. Banks, wealthy individuals, the US government all hired private security. I even encountered Israeli mercenaries operating an armed checkpoint outside of an elite gated community in New Orleans. They worked for a company called Instinctive Shooting International. (That is not a joke).

Now, it is kicking into full gear in Haiti. The Orwellian-named mercenary trade group International Peace Operations Association didn’t waste much time in offering the “services” of its member companies to swoop down on Haiti for some old-fashioned “humanitarian assistance” in the form of disaster profiteering. Within hours of the massive earthquake in Haiti, the IPOA created a special webpage for prospective clients, saying: “In the wake of the tragic events in Haiti, a number of IPOA’s member companies are available and prepared to provide a wide variety of critical relief services to the earthquake’s victims.”

While some of the companies specialize in rapid housing construction, emergency relief shelters and transportation, others are private security companies that operate in Iraq and Afghanistan, such as Triple Canopy, the company that took over Blackwater’s massive State Department contract in Iraq. For years, Blackwater played a major role in IPOA until it left the group following the 2007 Nisour Square massacre.

In 2005, while still a leading member of IPOA, Blackwater’s owner Erik Prince deployed his forces in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Far from some sort of generous gift to the suffering people of the US gulf, Blackwater raked in some $70 million in Homeland Security contracts that began with a massive no-bid contract to provide protective services for FEMA. Blackwater billed US taxpayers $950 per man per day.

The current US program under which armed security companies work for the State Department in Iraq–the Worldwide Personal Protection Program–has its roots in Haiti during the Clinton administration. In 1994, private US forces, such as DynCorp, became a staple of US operations in the country following the overthrow of Jean-Bertrand Aristide by CIA-backed death squads. When President Bush invaded Iraq, his administration radically expanded that program and turned it into the privatized paramilitary force it is today. At the time of his overthrow in 2004, Aristide was being protected by a San Francisco-based private security firm, the Steele Foundation.

Beyond the establishment mercenary industry’s activities in Haiti, look for more stories like this one: On January 15, a Florida-based company called All Pro Legal Investigations registered the URL Haiti-Security.com. It is basically a copy of the company’s existing US website but is now targeted for business in Haiti, claiming the “purpose of this site is to assure construction and reconstruction companies considering a Haiti project that professional security is available.”

“All Protection and Security has made a commitment to the Haitian community and will provide professional security against any threat to prosperity in Haiti,” the site proclaims. “Job sites and supply convoys will be protected against looters and vandals. Workers will be protected against gang violence and intimidation. The people of Haiti will recover, with the help of the good people from the world over.”

The company boasts that it has run “Thousands of successful missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.” As for its personnel, “Each and every member of our team is a former Law Enforcement Officer or former Military service member,” the site claims. “If Operator experience, training and qualifications matter, choose All Protection and Security for your high-threat Haiti security needs.” Among the services offered are: “High Threat terminations,” dealing with “worker unrest,” armed guards and “Armed Cargo Escorts.” Oh, and apparently they are currently hiring.

What is unfolding in Haiti seems to be part of what Naomi Klein has labeled the “Shock Doctrine.” Indeed, on the Heritage Foundation blog, opportunity was being found in the crisis with a post titled: “Amidst the Suffering, Crisis in Haiti Offers Opportunities to the U.S.” “In addition to providing immediate humanitarian assistance, the U.S. response to the tragic earthquake in 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,” wrote Heritage fellow Jim Roberts in a post that was subsequently altered to tone down the shock-doctrine language. The title was later changed to: “Things to Remember While Helping Haiti” and the wording changed to “In addition to providing immediate humanitarian assistance, the U.S. response to the tragic earthquake in Haiti should address long-held concerns over the fragile political environment that exists in the region.””

PEACEOPS
http://peaceops.org/poi/
http://www.peaceops.org/law/

IPOA
http://ipoaworld.org/eng/haiti.html
http://ipoaworld.org/eng/aboutipoa.html
“IPOA is a 501(c)(6) non-profit trade association. IPOA’s mission is to: promote high operational and ethical standards of firms active in the peace and stability operations industry; to engage in a constructive dialogue and advocacy with policy-makers about the growing and positive contribution of these firms to the enhancement of international peace, development and human security; to provides unique networking and business development opportunities for its member companies; and to inform the concerned public about the activities and role of the industry. IPOA is committed to raising the standards of the peace and stability operations industry to ensure sound and ethical professionalism and transparency in the conduct of peacekeeping and post-conflict reconstruction activities. All member companies subscribe to the IPOA Code of Conduct, which represents a constructive effort towards better regulating private sector operations in conflict and post-conflict environments. It reflects our belief that high standards will both benefit the industry and serve the greater causes of peace, development, and human security.”

DISASTER CAPITALISM
http://www.democracynow.org/2010/1/14/naomi_klein_issues_haiti_disaster_capitalism
http://www.naomiklein.org/articles/2010/01/haiti-disaster-capitalism-alert-stop-them-they-shock-again

CRISIS as OPPORTUNITY
http://74.125.93.132/search?q=cache:X2tagj8j4TYJ:blog.heritage.org/2010/01/13/amidst-the-suffering-crisis-in-haiti-offers-opportunities-to-the%20u-s/+”amidst+the+suffering+crisis+in+haiti+offers+opportunities%%2022&cd=1&;hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us
Amidst the Suffering, Crisis in Haiti Offers Opportunities to the U.S.
BY Jim Roberts / January 13th, 2010

“In addition to providing immediate humanitarian assistance, the U.S. response to the tragic earthquake in 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. The U.S. government response should be bold and decisive. It must mobilize U.S. civilian and military capabilities for short-term rescue and relief and long-term recovery and reform. President Obama should tap high-level, bipartisan leadership. Clearly former President Clinton, who was already named as the U.N. envoy on Haiti, is a logical choice. President Obama should also reach out to a senior Republican figure, perhaps former President George W. Bush, to lead the bipartisan effort for the Republicans.

While on the ground in Haiti, the U.S. military can also interrupt the nightly flights of cocaine to Haiti and the Dominican Republic from the Venezuelan coast and counter the ongoing efforts of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to destabilize the island of Hispaniola. This U.S. military presence, which should also include a large contingent of U.S. Coast Guard assets, can also prevent any large-scale movement by Haitians to take to the sea in rickety watercraft to try to enter the U.S. illegally.

Meanwhile, the U.S. must be prepared to insist that the Haiti government work closely with the U.S. to insure that corruption does not infect the humanitarian assistance flowing to Haiti. Long-term reforms for Haitian democracy and its economy are also badly overdue.
Congress should immediately begin work on a package of assistance, trade, and reconstruction efforts needed to put Haiti on its feet and open the way for deep and lasting democratic reforms. The U.S. should implement a strong and vigorous public diplomacy effort to counter the negative propaganda certain to emanate from the Castro-Chavez camp. Such an effort will also demonstrate that the U.S.’s involvement in the Caribbean remains a powerful force for good in the Americas and around the globe.

REVISED
http://blog.heritage.org/2010/01/13/things-to-remember-while-helping-haiti/

Today, the United States began surveying the damage inflicted by a devastating earthquake in Haiti this week. In addition to providing immediate humanitarian assistance, the U.S. response to the tragic earthquake should address long-held concerns over the fragile political environment that exists in the region.

The U.S. government response should be bold and decisive. It must mobilize U.S. civilian and military capabilities for short-term rescue and relief and long-term recovery and reform. President Obama should tap high-level, bipartisan leadership. Clearly former President Clinton, who was already named as the U.N. envoy on Haiti, is a logical choice. President Obama should also reach out to a senior Republican figure, perhaps former President George W. Bush, to lead the bipartisan effort for the Republicans.

While on the ground in Haiti, the U.S. military can also interrupt the nightly flights of cocaine to Haiti and the Dominican Republic from the Venezuelan coast and counter the ongoing efforts of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to destabilize the island of Hispaniola. This U.S. military presence, which should also include a large contingent of U.S. Coast Guard assets, can also prevent any large-scale movement by Haitians to take to the sea in dangerous and rickety watercraft to try to enter the U.S. illegally.

Meanwhile, the U.S. must be prepared to insist that the Haiti government work closely with the U.S. to insure that corruption does not infect the humanitarian assistance flowing to Haiti. Long-term reforms for Haitian democracy and its economy are also badly overdue. Congress should immediately begin work on a package of assistance, trade, and reconstruction efforts needed to put Haiti on its feet and open the way for deep and lasting democratic reforms.

The U.S. should implement a strong and vigorous public diplomacy effort to counter the negative propaganda certain to emanate from the Castro-Chavez camp. Such an effort will also demonstrate that the U.S.’s involvement in the Caribbean remains a powerful force for good in the Americas and around the globe.

“NO LOANS” – DEBT ACTIVISTS MAKE BREAKTHROUGH
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122802377
Global Activism At Work: IMF Clarifies Loan
BY Richard Kim / January 21, 2010

“Last Friday I wrote about the IMF’s new $100 million loan to Haiti. I cited debt relief activists who told me that the new loan would be an extension of the IMF’s existing loan of $165 million. This information was confirmed by the IMF’s press release, which stated that “emergency financing would be provided as an augmentation to the existing IMF-supported arrangement with Haiti under the Extended Credit Facility [ECF].” The IMF’s announcement provided no further information about conditions that may or may not be attached to the loan and made no mention of future debt relief for Haiti.

My post was based largely on an analysis by Soren Ambrose, the development finance coordinator of ActionAid International, who concluded that augmenting the existing ECF loan to Haiti would impose the same conditions as the original loan. Those conditions include raising prices for electricity, refusing pay raises for any public sector employees except those making minimum wage and keeping inflation as low as possible. Ambrose says that he doesn’t know of any established procedure that would exempt an augmentation of an existing program from the program’s conditions. (His analysis also noted that Haiti’s existing program with the IMF was due to expire at the end of this month and that negotiations on the loan’s terms were likely underway already.)

As the IMF announced its $100 million loan under vague and presumably onerous terms, debt relief activists like the folks at Jubilee USA were already calling for a different kind of global response. They were demanding that aid to Haiti come in the form of grants, not loans. But given the magnitude of the crisis and the fact that the IMF does not issue grants, they welcomed the IMF loan in the hopes that its terms could be altered in the future and that Haiti’s entire debt could be canceled. At the same time, Naomi Klein and others warned about the possibility that the earthquake would be used as a pretext to amp up Haiti’s exposure to the shock doctrine. Activists started a Facebook group, No Shock Doctrine for Haiti, and in less than a week, it has attracted almost 18,000 members. Appeals for debt relief and for the recognition of Haiti’s economic sovereignty were written to the Obama administration, the IMF, the World Bank and anyone else who might play a role in Haiti’s reconstruction.

Today, the IMF put out an announcement clarifying the terms of its new loan to Haiti — it’s “an interest-free loan of $100 million in emergency funds.” A spokesman for the IMF emailed me to confirm that “the US $100 million loan does not carry any conditionality. It is an emergency loan aimed at getting the Haitian economy back to function again…” The IMF’s managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said in a statement that the IMF would immediately work to cancel the entirety of Haiti’s debt ($265 million) to the fund:

“The most important thing is that the IMF is now working with all donors to try to delete all the Haitian debt, including our new loan. If we succeed—and I’m sure we will succeed—even this loan will turn out to be finally a grant, because all the debt will have been deleted.”

In other words, as the IMF is processing a loan, it is also making a public promise to try to cancel it.

Klein says that this is “unprecedented in my experience and shows that public pressure in moments of disaster can seriously subvert shock doctrine tactics.” Neil Watkins, Executive Director of Jubilee USA, likewise hails the IMF’s response. “Since the IMF’s announcement last week of its intention to provide Haiti with a $100 million loan, Jubilee USA and our partners have been calling for grants and debt cancellation—not new loans—for Haiti. We are pleased that Managing Director Strauss-Kahn has responded to that call.”

Watkins and others will continue to follow the issue, holding the IMF to its commitment to debt relief and non-conditionality. They’re also pressing the case on Haiti’s other outstanding debt. The largest multilateral holders of Haiti’s debt are the Inter-American Development Bank ($447 million), the IMF ($165 million, plus $100 million in new lending), the World Bank’s International Development Association ($39 million) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development ($13 million). The largest bilateral loans are held by Venezuela ($295 million—hello, Chavez!?) and Taiwan ($92 million). The lesson: global activism can work, especially in a moment of such acutely visible human need. Keep up the mobilization, on Facebook and in real life.

JUBILEE ACT / HR 4405 [DEBT RELIEF]
http://www.jubileeusa.org/jubilee-act.html
http://www.jubileeusa.org/jubilee-act/07jacountries.html
for Responsible Lending and Expanded Debt Cancellation

DROP the DEBT
http://www.one.org/us/actnow/drophaitiandebt/index.html

IMF RECOMMENDS DEBT FORGIVENESS, MARSHALL PLAN
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dominique_Strauss-Kahn
http://english.aljazeera.net/business/2010/01/201012134313606654.html
IMF urges ‘Marshall Plan’ for Haiti

The head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has called for an ambitious international recovery plan for earthquake-ravaged Haiti, similar to the US “Marshall Plan” that rebuilt Europe after World War II. “My belief is that Haiti, which has been incredibly hit by different things – the food and fuel prices crisis, then the hurricane, then the earthquake – needs something that is big,” Dominique Strauss-Kahn told reporters on Wednesday.

What is needed, he said, is “not only a piecemeal approach, but something which is much bigger to deal with the reconstruction of the country – some kind of a Marshall Plan that we need now to implement for Haiti.” While the primary focus remains on rescue and immediate relief efforts after the massive January 12 quake, international financial institutions say urgent measures are needed to help rebuild Haiti’s shattered economy.

Officials fear as many as 200,000 people were killed in the quake that reduced most of the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince to rubble and impacted an estimated three million people, or one third of the country’s population. “The urgency, today, is to save the people. The urgency, in some weeks, will be the reconstruction,” Strauss-Kahn said. Last week, the IMF promised an interest-free loan of $100 million in initial emergency funds to the Haitian government. However, the loan has drawn criticism for adding to the country’s debt burden.

“The most important thing is that the IMF is now working with all donors to try to delete all the Haitian debt, including our new loan,” Strauss-Kahn said. The IMF and the World Bank classify Haiti among “heavily indebted poor countries” eligible for debt forgiveness. The Caribbean nation was granted $1.2bn in debt relief last June.

Economic recovery
Experts say cash flow needs to be urgently restored to begin recovery [Reuters] The IMF is also working with donors to get cash circulating again in Haiti’s devastated economy so people can buy food and civil servants can get paid, a senior IMF official said on Wednesday. According to Nicolas Eyzaguirre, director of the IMF’s western hemisphere department, banks will reopen shortly while some money transfer agencies are already functioning for remittances sent by Haitians living abroad.

Remittances for Haitian expatriates have been a major “We need to urgently help Haiti to get its economy functioning again,” he said. Eyzaguirre said the cost to the Haitian economy wrought by the quake would probably exceed the $900m – or about 15 per cent of the country’s GDP – caused by devastating hurricanes in 2008. However he said in the early days after the quake there was still a lot of uncertainty over the full impact.

Davos agenda
Disaster-hit Haiti will also be one of the top agenda items at this year’s gathering of the World Economic Forum (WEF), Klaus Schwab, the group’s chairman and founder, has said. The annual meeting, which will draw more than 2,000 government, business and religious leaders from around the world, is scheduled to begin on January 27, two weeks after the earthquake struck.

Schwab said a special panel on Haiti will be held on January 28, where a reconstruction initiative should be outlined. “We hope that we can present a major common effort to the world community showing true corporate global citizenship in Davos,” Schwab said during a news conference in Geneva on Wednesday. Former US president Bill Clinton, who acts as a special envoy for Haiti, and Helen Clark, the former New Zealand prime minister and administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, will support the WEF’s initiative.

TRUE CAUSE : GENERAL FAILURE TO SUPPORT THE ONLY

SUCCESSFUL SLAVE INSURRECTION IN KNOWN HISTORY
http://www.pbs.org/egaliteforall/
Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian Revolution

It was the only successful slave insurrection in history. It grasped the full meaning of French revolutionary ideas — liberté, eqalité, fraternité — and used them to create the world’s first Black republic. It changed the trajectory of colonial economics…and led to America’s acquisition of the Louisiana territory from France. “It” was the Haitian Revolution, a movement that’s been called the true birth moment of universal human rights. Vaguely remembered today, the Haitian Revolution was a hurricane at the turn of the nineteenth century — traumatizing Southern planters and inspiring slaves and abolitionists, worldwide.

The man at the forefront of Haiti’s epochal uprising was Toussaint Louverture. He was world-known in his day and deserves a place among history’s most celebrated figures today. Born into slavery, Toussaint had been freed by his master before the revolt began. He owned property and was financially secure. He risked it all, however, to join then lead an army of slaves that would fight, in turn, the French, the British, and the Spanish empires for twelve years. He was often compared to George Washington. But his is military feats alarmed Thomas Jefferson… and ultimately provoked a full-scale attack from Napoleon Bonaparte. France’s final offensive would cost Toussaint his life. But France lost, nonetheless, and the richest colony in the Americas became an independent black republic.

The story of Haiti’s revolution is a story of extraordinary pathos. Half a million slaves dared hope for an unprecedented end to slavery and thousands died in the process. But the revolution’s history is also a story of forgotten people and milestones. Haitian slaves did not just fight with weapons. In 1794 a multi-racial delegation from Haiti traveled to Paris to address the national assembly. They spoke powerfully about slavery’s moral and physical violence. They argued that their struggle was part of France’s domestic revolution against despotism. And they won the day. The elocution of Haitian Blacks led to a sudden decree that not only freed the empire’s entire slave population, it made them French citizens, too.

the HAITIAN REVOLUTION of 1791-1803
http://www.webster.edu/~corbetre/haiti/history/revolution/revolution1.htm
http://www.webster.edu/~corbetre/haiti/history/revolution/revolution4.htm

as per U.S. LIBRARY Of CONGRESS
http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/httoc.html#ht0013
The Slave Rebellion of 1791 / [data as of December 1989]

Violent conflicts between white colonists and black slaves were common in Saint-Domingue. Bands of runaway slaves, known as maroons (marrons), entrenched themselves in bastions in the colony’s mountains and forests, from which they harried white-owned plantations both to secure provisions and weaponry and to avenge themselves against the inhabitants. As their numbers grew, these bands, sometimes consisting of thousands of people, began to carry out hit-and-run attacks throughout the colony. This guerrilla warfare, however, lacked centralized organization and leadership. The most famous maroon leader was François Macandal, whose six-year rebellion (1751-57) left an estimated 6,000 dead. Reportedly a boko, or voodoo sorcerer, Macandal drew from African traditions and religions to motivate his followers. The French burned him at the stake in Cap Français in 1758. Popular accounts of his execution that say the stake snapped during his execution have enhanced his legendary stature.

Many Haitians point to the maroons’ attacks as the first manifestation of a revolt against French rule and the slaveholding system. The attacks certainly presaged the 1791 slave rebellion, which evolved into the Haitian Revolution. They also marked the beginning of a martial tradition for blacks, just as service in the colonial militia had done for the gens de couleur. The maroons, however, seemed incapable of staging a broad-based insurrection on their own. Although challenged and vexed by the maroons’ actions, colonial authorities effectively repelled the attacks, especially with help from the gens de couleur, who were probably forced into cooperating.

The arrangement that enabled the whites and the landed gens de couleur to preserve the stability of the slaveholding system was unstable. In an economic sense, the system worked for both groups. The gens de couleur, however, had aspirations beyond the accumulation of goods. They desired equality with white colonists, and many of them desired power. The events set in motion in 1789 by the French Revolution shook up, and eventually shattered, the arrangement.

The National Assembly in Paris required the white Colonial Assembly to grant suffrage to the landed and tax-paying gens de couleur. (The white colonists had had a history of ignoring French efforts to improve the lot of the black and the mulatto populations.) The Assembly refused, leading to the first mulatto rebellion in Saint-Domingue. The rebellion, led by Vincent Ogé in 1790, failed when the white militia reinforced itself with a corps of black volunteers. (The white elite was constantly prepared to use racial tension between blacks and mulattoes to advantage.) Ogé’s rebellion was a sign of broader unrest in Saint-Domingue.

A slave rebellion of 1791 finally toppled the colony. Launched in August of that year, the revolt represented the culmination of a protracted conspiracy among black leaders. According to accounts of the rebellion that have been told through the years, François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture helped plot the uprising, although this claim has never been substantiated. Among the rebellion’s leaders were Boukman, a maroon and voodoo houngan (priest); Georges Biassou, who later made Toussaint his aide; Jean-François, who subsequently commanded forces, along with Biassou and Toussaint, under the Spanish flag; and Jeannot, the bloodthirstiest of them all. These leaders sealed their compact with a voodoo ceremony conducted by Boukman in the Bois Cayman (Alligator Woods) in early August 1791. On August 22, a little more than a week after the ceremony, the uprising of their black followers began.

The carnage that the slaves wreaked in northern settlements, such as Acul, Limbé, Flaville, and Le Normand, revealed the simmering fury of an oppressed people. The bands of slaves slaughtered every white person they encountered. As their standard, they carried a pike with the carcass of an impaled white baby. Accounts of the rebellion describe widespread torching of property, fields, factories, and anything else that belonged to, or served, slaveholders. The inferno is said to have burned almost continuously for months.

News of the slaves’ uprising quickly reached Cap Français. Reprisals against nonwhites were swift and every bit as brutal as the atrocities committed by the slaves. Although outnumbered, the inhabitants of Le Cap (the local diminutive for Cap Français) were well-armed and prepared to defend themselves against the tens of thousands of blacks who descended upon the port city. Despite their voodoo-inspired heroism, the ex-slaves fell in large numbers to the colonists’ firepower and were forced to withdraw. The rebellion left an estimated 10,000 blacks and 2,000 whites dead and more than 1,000 plantations sacked and razed.

Even though it failed, the slave rebellion at Cap Français set in motion events that culminated in the Haitian Revolution. Mulatto forces under the capable leadership of André Rigaud, Alexandre Pétion, and others clashed with white militiamen in the west and the south (where, once again, whites recruited black slaves to their cause). Sympathy with the Republican cause in France inspired the mulattoes. Sentiment in the National Assembly vacillated, but it finally favored the enfranchisement of gens de couleur and the enforcement of equal rights. Whites, who had had little respect for royal governance in the past, now rallied behind the Bourbons and rejected the radical egalitarian notions of the French revolutionaries. Commissioners from the French Republic, dispatched in 1792 to Saint-Domingue, pledged their limited support to the gens de couleur in the midst of an increasingly anarchic situation. In various regions of the colony, black slaves rebelled against white colonists, mulattoes battled white levies, and black royalists opposed both whites and mulattoes. Foreign interventionists found these unstable conditions irresistible; Spanish and British involvement in the unrest in Saint-Domingue opened yet another chapter in the revolution.

TRIGGERED by FRENCH REVOLT: ‘THEY SAID EVERYONE!’
http://www.kreyol.com/history003.html
Federal Research Division Library of Congress
Edited by Richard A. Haggerty / Research Completed December 1989

Although Hispaniola never realized its economic potential under Spanish rule, it remained strategically important as the gateway to the Caribbean. The Caribbean region provided the opportunity for seafarers from Britain, France, and the Netherlands to impede Spanish shipping, to waylay galleons crammed with gold, and to establish a foothold in a hemisphere parceled by papal decree between the Roman Catholic kingdoms of Spain and Portugal. This competition was carried on throughout the Caribbean, but nowhere as intensely as on Hispaniola. Sir Francis Drake of England led one of the most famous forays against the port of Santo Domingo in 1586, just two years before he played a key role in the English navy’s defeat of the Spanish Armada. Drake failed to secure the island, but his raid, along with the arrival of corsairs and freebooters in scattered settlements, was part of a pattern of encroachment that gradually diluted Spanish dominance.

French Settlement and Sovereignty
Reportedly expelled by the Spanish from Saint Christopher (Saint Kitts), the original French residents of Tortuga Island (Ile de la Tortue), off the northwest coast of Hispaniola, sustained themselves mostly through two means: curing the meat and tanning the hides of wild game, and pirating Spanish ships. The former activity lent these hardy souls the colorful designation of buccaneers, derived from the Arawak word for the smoking of meat. It took decades for the buccaneers and the more staid settlers that followed them to establish themselves on Tortuga. Skirmishes with Spanish and English forces were common. As the maintenance of the empire tried the wit, and drained the energies, of a declining Spain, however, foreign intervention became more forceful.

The freewheeling society of Tortuga that was often described in romantic literature had faded into legend by the end of the seventeenth century. The first permanent settlement on Tortuga was established in 1659 under the commission of King Louis XIV. French Huguenots had already begun to settle the north coast of Hispaniola by that time. The establishment in 1664 of the French West India Company for the purpose of directing the expected commerce between the colony and France underscored the seriousness of the enterprise. Settlers steadily encroached upon the northwest shoulder of the island, and they took advantage of the area’s relative remoteness from the Spanish capital city of Santo Domingo. In 1670 they established their first major community, Cap François (later Cap Français, now Cap-Haïtien). During this period, the western part of the island was commonly referred to as Saint-Domingue, the name it bore officially after Spain relinquished sovereignty over the area to France in the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697.

Colonial Society: The Conflicts of Color and Class
By the mid-eighteenth century, a territory largely neglected under Spanish rule had become the richest and most coveted colony in the Western Hemisphere. By the eve of the French Revolution, Saint-Domingue produced about 60 percent of the world’s coffee and about 40 percent of the sugar imported by France and Britain. Saint-Domingue played a pivotal role in the French economy, accounting for almost two-thirds of French commercial interests abroad and about 40 percent of foreign trade. The system that provided such largess to the mother country, such luxury to planters, and so many jobs in France had a fatal flaw, however. That flaw was slavery.

The origins of modern Haitian society lie within the slaveholding system. The mixture of races that eventually divided Haiti into a small, mainly mulatto elite and an impoverished black majority began with the slavemasters’ concubinage of African women. Today Haiti’s culture and its predominant religion (voodoo) stem from the fact that the majority of slaves in SaintDomingue were brought from Africa. (The slave population totalled at least 500,000, and perhaps as many as 700,000, by 1791.) Only a few of the slaves had been born and raised on the island. The slaveholding system in Saint-Domingue was particularly cruel and abusive, and few slaves (especially males) lived long enough to reproduce. The racially tinged conflicts that have marked Haitian history can be traced similarly to slavery.

While the masses of black slaves formed the foundation of colonial society, the upper strata evolved along lines of color and class. Most commentators have classified the population of the time into three groups: white colonists, or blancs; free blacks (usually mulattoes, or gens de couleur–people of color), or affranchis; and the slaves.

Conflict and resentment permeated the society of SaintDomingue . Beginning in 1758, the white landowners, or grands blancs, discriminated against the affranchis through legislation. Statutes forbade gens de couleur from taking up certain professions, marrying whites, wearing European clothing, carrying swords or firearms in public, or attending social functions where whites were present. The restrictions eventually became so detailed that they essentially defined a caste system. However, regulations did not restrict the affranchis’ purchase of land, and some eventually accumulated substantial holdings. Others accumulated wealth through another activity permitted to affranchis by the grands blancs–in the words of historian C.L.R. James, “The privilege of lending money to white men.” The mounting debt of the white planters to the gens de couleur provided further motivation for racial discrimination.


Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

INDEPENDENCE
http://www.kreyol.com/history005.html

On January 1, 1804, Haiti proclaimed its independence. Through this action, it became the second independent state in the Western Hemisphere and the first free black republic in the world. Haiti’s uniqueness attracted much attention and symbolized the aspirations of enslaved and exploited peoples around the globe. Nonetheless, Haitians made no overt effort to inspire, to support, or to aid slave rebellions similar to their own because they feared that the great powers would take renewed action against them. For the sake of national survival, nonintervention became a Haitian credo.

Dessalines, who had commanded the black and the mulatto forces during the final phase of the revolution, became the new country’s leader; he ruled under the dictatorial 1801 constitution. The land he governed had been devastated by years of warfare. The agricultural base was all but destroyed, and the population was uneducated and largely unskilled. Commerce was virtually nonexistent. Contemplating this bleak situation, Dessalines determined, as Toussaint had done, that a firm hand was needed.

White residents felt the sting most sharply. While Toussaint, a former privileged slave of a tolerant white master, had felt a certain magnanimity toward whites, Dessalines, a former field slave, despised them with a maniacal intensity. He reportedly agreed wholeheartedly with his aide, Boisrond-Tonnerre, who stated, “For our declaration of independence, we should have the skin of a white man for parchment, his skull for an inkwell, his blood for ink, and a bayonet for a pen!” Accordingly, whites were slaughtered wholesale under the rule of Dessalines.

Although blacks were not massacred under Dessalines, they witnessed little improvement in the quality of their lives. To restore some measure of agricultural productivity, Dessalines reestablished the plantation system. Harsh measures bound laborers to their assigned work places, and penalties were imposed on runaways and on those who harbored them. Because Dessalines drew his only organizational experience from war, it was natural for him to use the military as a tool for governing the new nation. The rule of Dessalines set a pattern for direct involvement of the army in politics that continued unchallenged for more than 150 years.

In 1805 Dessalines crowned himself Emperor of Haiti. By this point, his autocratic rule had disenchanted important sectors of Haitian society, particularly mulattoes such as Pétion. The mulattoes resented Dessalines mostly for racial reasons, but the more educated and cultured gens de couleur also derided the emperor (and most of his aides and officers) for his ignorance and illiteracy. Efforts by Dessalines to bring mulatto families into the ruling group through marriage met with resistance. Pétion himself declined the offer of the hand of the emperor’s daughter. Many mulattoes were appalled by the rampant corruption and licentiousness of the emperor’s court. Dessalines’s absorption of a considerable amount of land into the hands of the state through the exploitation of irregularities in titling procedures also aroused the ire of landowners.

The disaffection that sealed the emperor’s fate arose within the ranks of the army, where Dessalines had lost support at all levels. The voracious appetites of his ruling clique apparently left little or nothing in the treasury for military salaries and provisions. Although reportedly aware of discontent among the ranks, Dessalines made no effort to redress these shortcomings. Instead, he relied on the same iron-fisted control with which he kept rural laborers in line. That his judgement in this matter had been in error became apparent on the road to Port-au-Prince as he rode with a column of troops on its way to crush a mulattoled rebellion. A group of people, probably hired by Pétion or Etienne-Elie Gérin (another mulatto officer), shot the emperor and hacked his body to pieces.

Under Dessalines the Haitian economy had made little progress despite the restoration of forced labor. Conflict between blacks and mulattoes ended the cooperation that the revolution had produced, and the brutality toward whites shocked foreign governments and isolated Haiti internationally. A lasting enmity against Haiti arose among Dominicans as a result of the emperor’s unsuccessful invasion of Santo Domingo in 1805. Dessalines’s failure to consolidate Haiti and to unite Haitians had ramifications in the years that followed, as the nation split into two rival enclaves.

TORTUGA of SONG
http://books.google.com/books?id=SJEg0p4RCP4C

COLONIZED by BUCANEERS
http://www.thepiratesrealm.com/Isle%20of%20Tortuga.html

These men were known for the meat that they barbecued (French for smoked meat is viande boucanee), and so eventually were named… Buccaneers. When these hunters learned that piracy was more profitable than selling meat, they were soon making regular raids on the Spanish ships sailing the local trade routes. An early French governor named Jean le Vasseur used his training as an engineer to build a 24-gun fort by the harbor which helped to repel Spanish attacks. French governors preferred to use the buccaneers for local defense, as the British governors were later to do at Port Royal, and Tortuga Island became well-known for those men calling themselves the Brethren of the Coast. The most notorious among the pirates of Tortuga was Francois L’Ollonais, a psychopath whose method of choice was often horrible tortures and murder. Sir Henry Morgan started his career of piracy from this very island.

FLYING WRONG FLAG LEGAL
http://www.blackpearltales.net/erins_site/History.html#top

Tortuga was initially founded by the French in 1625, who realized Hispaniola was awfully thick with Spaniards and so turned their attentions to the large island just northward. There the French and some English with them began setting up plantations and making themselves at home. However, the Spaniards and their new neighbors took periodic swats at each other and control of the island switched back and forth a few times. Most of the English on Tortuga decided to move elsewhere, but a few remained to form their own small colony. For a time the French and English on Tortuga both had their own colonies and governors, and managed an uneasy co-existance.

It was the French who first encouraged privateers to use Tortuga as their base, in large part as a deterent to Spanish incursions. By 1633 Tortuga is a haven for the wolves of the sea. Tortuga comes under attack by the Spanish several times over the years, the struggle for control bloody and fierce. By 1641 the English colonists on Tortuga were expelled by the French – but this did not curtail English pirates or privateers, who continued to ply their trade with their French and Dutch brethren, and Tortuga’s uproarious career likewise continued. In 1653 the French governor was assassinated, whereupon the Spanish instantly pounced on his predecessor, and when the smoke cleared the English returned to hold the island from 1655-59. But once again the balance of power changed to French hands.

About 1665 the governor of Tortuga wished to somewhat civilize his piratical folk, and did his best to encourage proper colonization and trade of their hard-won goods. He met with dubious success, but the island continued to be the playground of the Brotherhood of the Coast. By 1670 a great many privateers sailed under commisions granted by the governor of Tortuga, not the least being the infamous Henry Morgan, who led his fleet to attack Santa Marta, Rio de la Hacha, Puerto Bello and Panama.

The death of the privateers came in the 1680’s, when English laws made it a felony to sail under a foreign flag. Thereafter if any Englishman was found privateering under any flag other than his own – and after the 1684 Treaty of Ratisbone England no longer issued letters of marque – he would be hanged. In 1688 Henry Morgan died in Jamaica, and the glory days of the privateers was over.

FOLLOWED (PERHAPS INEVITABLY) by FREE ENTERPRISE ZONE
ADMINISTRATED by KNOWN RADIO PIRATE (INVITED)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Pierson
Freeport Tortuga + Don Pierson

In 1967, during the time that Don Pierson was attempting to lease the ship which had been the former homes of [pirate stations] Swinging Radio England and Britain Radio, he received a response from the Ambassador for Haiti in Washington, DC. Don Pierson’s original plan was to lease or sell the ship to the government of Haiti for it to establish two powerful 50 kW commercial radio stations aimed at American tourists visiting the old buccaneer stronghold of Tortuga island, which is located some 10 miles off the north coast of the main Haitian island of Hispaniola which is also shared by the Dominican Republic.

This offer became a plan to develop the island itself as a freeport and he was asked to assist the government of Haiti to encourage business investment in that poverty-stricken land. After years of research and negotiation, Don Pierson’s idea of a privately financed, privately managed free enterprise zone became a reality in 1971 when Haitian dictator François Duvalier (known as “Papa Doc”) and the Haitian government entered into a 99-year contract with Don Pierson’s company called Dupont Caribbean Inc. This contract provided for the establishment of Freeport Tortuga.

Within 18 months Don Pierson succeeded in building the island’s first airport, a loading dock for seagoing vessels, a rudimentary water and sewer system, an electricity generating facility, and six miles of paved road. Of equal importance. the project created jobs for some 400 previously unemployed Haitians and resulted in the establishment of a small school to teach various job skills. During this period he also became Honorary Consul of the Republic of Haiti to Texas from 1969 through 1974. Tragically, the free port project came to abrupt end in 1974 when, after it was announced that Gulf Oil Corporation was contemplating investing more than $300 million to build a resort on the island, the government of Jean-Claude Duvalier (known as “Baby Doc”), summarily expropriated the project, resulting in its collapse. A similar venture on the island of Dominica which was attempted in the wake of the failed project in Haiti, also met with disaster following governmental turmoil in Dominica.

PREVIOUSLY on SPECTRE :
HAITIANS EATING MUD
http://spectregroup.wordpress.com/2008/04/21/haitians-eating-mud/

NON-HYPOTHETICAL MALTHUSIAN CATASTROPHE
[SEE ALSO GRAHAM GREENE]

REPARATIONS (DEBT) to FRANCE for DAMAGES INCURRED by REVOLUTION
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article6281614.ece
Haiti: the land where children eat mud
What is the West doing to rescue the ‘nightmare republic’?
BY Alex von Tunzelmann / May 17, 2009

If you ever hear of Haiti, it is usually because of something frightening. It is famous for hurricanes, deforestation, poverty, drug smuggling, violence, dictatorships, voodoo and slavery. Half a century ago, when it was under the tyranny of François “Papa Doc” Duvalier and his “zombie” militia, Graham Greene called Haiti the “nightmare republic”. Though Papa Doc has long gone, the nightmares have never ended in this Caribbean dystopia. Haiti is the poorest country and only Third World nation in the western hemisphere, and it’s getting worse.

Two centuries ago, the political economist Robert Malthus postulated that a society in which the population grew too fast could reach a point where people simply could not be fed, leading to a total collapse. Over the past five years, Haiti has not only met but exceeded the conditions for a Malthusian catastrophe. The only things keeping the country from absolute disaster are imported food and charity. With a global economic crisis afoot, the question is how long that can be sustained. I had plenty of reservations about going to Haiti. It is a place born out of the darkest days of slavery: a country where white people have always been regarded, with some reason, as the enemy, and where, in some areas, half of all women and girls have been the victims of rape.

I am a historian, not a foreign correspondent or aid worker, but I wanted to see for myself what life was like in this haunted nation. Notables including Ban Ki-moon, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton have visited Haiti in the past couple of months, highlighting the fact that the country is poised on the brink of what could be a humanitarian crisis of terrifying proportions.

In the 1960s, Papa Doc decorated the “Welcome to Haiti” sign at Port-au-Prince’s airport with the dismembered corpses of his enemies. At least they’ve taken those down. Instead there’s a calypso band playing for tips, and a swarm of hustling taxi drivers. Immediately I hear the epithet by which I will be known for the next week: la blanche, the white woman.

At the hotel in the relatively affluent suburb of Pétionville, there is a long list of rules. Don’t go out alone. Don’t walk more than two kilometres in any direction. Don’t go out after dark at all. If you hear gunshots, stay inside. Smile at the man toting an assault rifle who stands at the hotel entrance. He’s here for your protection.

Just why is Haiti in such a dire situation, so much worse than any other country in the Americas, and as bad as anywhere on Earth? Some blame the United Nations. Some blame the Americans. Some have theories about the collision of global warming with global capitalism. All are careful to point out that the Haitian elite deserves its reputation for being greedy, negligent and kleptocratic. “I think the Haitian people have been made to suffer by God,” Wilbert, a teacher, tells me, “but the time will come soon when we will be rewarded with Heaven.”

History tells a different story. The appalling state of the country is a direct result of having offended a quite different celestial authority — the French. France gained the western third of the island of Hispaniola — the territory that is now Haiti — in 1697. It planted sugar and coffee, supported by an unprecedented increase in the importation of African slaves. Economically, the result was a success, but life as a slave was intolerable. Living conditions were squalid, disease was rife, and beatings and abuses were universal. The slaves’ life expectancy was 21 years. After a dramatic slave uprising that shook the western world, and 12 years of war, Haiti finally defeated Napoleon’s forces in 1804 and declared independence. But France demanded reparations: 150m francs, in gold.

For Haiti, this debt did not signify the beginning of freedom, but the end of hope. Even after it was reduced to 60m francs in the 1830s, it was still far more than the war-ravaged country could afford. Haiti was the only country in which the ex-slaves themselves were expected to pay a foreign government for their liberty. By 1900, it was spending 80% of its national budget on repayments. In order to manage the original reparations, further loans were taken out — mostly from the United States, Germany and France. Instead of developing its potential, this deformed state produced a parade of nefarious leaders, most of whom gave up the insurmountable task of trying to fix the country and looted it instead. In 1947, Haiti finally paid off the original reparations, plus interest. Doing so left it destitute, corrupt, disastrously lacking in investment and politically volatile. Haiti was trapped in a downward spiral, from which it is still impossible to escape. It remains hopelessly in debt to this day.

Like all cities, Port-au-Prince has better and worse neighbourhoods. Unlike all cities, several of its worst neighbourhoods are declared conflict zones. Some slums are so dangerous that even the United Nations peacekeeping troops, who carry machineguns, do not venture in. The UN is not popular here. Peacekeepers are rumoured to have massacred unarmed slum-dwellers on several occasions. “A lot of people say the UN soldiers trade guns and drugs,” a Haitian student tells me while we walk around Champs de Mars, the park by the National Palace, a line of soldiers just in front of us. Many Haitians palpably mistrust foreigners. Pedestrians and peanut-sellers keep their eyes on me but stay back, as if I were a predator.

Just 10 minutes’ drive from the National Palace, past a cemetery filled with elaborate pastel-coloured tombs, is Carrefour Feuilles. A perilous stack of breeze blocks, filth and human misery teetering on the hills overlooking the bay, it is considered to be among the most dangerous and deprived of the city’s slums. The streets are too narrow and rutted to drive. I walk up steep paths in between shacks of mud and rusting corrugated iron. At every turn, the route is obstructed by heaps of discarded packaging, decomposing rubbish and human waste, over which goats and children crawl, foraging for food. In the blazing midday sun, the stench is hard to endure.

This is a place where you come face to face with Haiti’s industrial collapse. Unemployment, which hovers around 75% nationally, is higher here. Most people are illiterate, unskilled and unhealthy. The only vaguely legal option open to the majority of residents is to buy a few items of cheap produce, and sell them at a tiny profit in the markets. Unfortunately, the city’s recent effort to clean up the streets in the centre has meant that many of these traders have been kicked out. The remaining jobs open to them make an unappealing list: selling drugs, selling weapons, robbery, blackmail, prostitution and kidnapping. It is the kidnappings that make headlines.

For the gangs, in a country that produces virtually nothing, terror is one of the few reliable sources of income. Gang members ambush an ordinary person, usually someone unlikely to resist, such as a woman or a child. They saw off one of the victim’s fingers or an ear, and take it to the family, along with a demand for money. Even if the ransom is paid, the victim often ends up dead. At one point, kidnappings were reported five times a day. There was another peak in the first few months of 2008, but some arrests of gang leaders were made over the summer, and now the official statistics have stabilised at something closer to one incident every couple of days.

Foreigners have been targeted, which is why nobody will let me walk around on my own, but the greatest danger is to ordinary Haitians. Even slum-dwellers are often abducted and tortured by the gangs, sometimes for a ransom as little as the price of a cocktail in London.

“Parents in Carrefour Feuilles are happy when their son joins a gang,” one Haitian woman, who runs an anti-violence project, tells me. “They are also happy when their daughters become child prostitutes. It means the family can afford to eat.” Posters advocating sexual abstinence can be seen on every street. So far, they do not appear to be having much impact: population growth is rising. Haiti was considered unsustainably overcrowded in the 1950s, when the population was 3m. Now it is 9m. Survival is a daily effort, and these starving slum-dwellers will seize on any opportunity to earn money, however unpleasant.

The new idea from the UN and the US is Hope II, a programme that would give Haitian companies duty-free access to the American market for nine years. The focus is on agriculture and garment factories. A similar scheme has been running since 2006, and the results look good on paper: 3,000 jobs are said to have been created. On the street, though, the word is not good. Pay is subsistence level at best, and does not keep pace with food prices. Conditions are dangerous and unsanitary. Workers are charged for going to the toilet. Abuse is widespread.

There are people who argue that rich countries, too, once went through a stage of sweatshop labour, and that this is some sort of necessary purgatory on the road to improvement. It is an easy argument to make from a comfortable armchair in the home counties, but it is ahistorical. Haiti’s path of development has been completely different from those of the rich countries. The reason it has not become sustainable is that, for two centuries, rich countries and their banks have menaced almost all of its wealth out of it. For how much longer should the Haitians do penance?

The country’s problems were only exacerbated when, in 1957, François Duvalier became president. Exploiting Haitian beliefs in the traditions of voodoo (most Haitians still practise it today), he established a personal militia, the Tonton Macoutes, rumoured to be zombies he had raised from the dead, who soon gained a chilling reputation for rape and torture.

Papa Doc himself affected the style of Baron Samedi, the spirit of the dead, appearing in a black top hat and pinstriped suit. Reports from Haiti brought forth disgust from the developed world, but the protests did not turn into action. Instead of moving to condemn and remove these dictators, the world’s richest countries opened their chequebooks. In 1967, American-owned plantations in the Dominican Republic paid Papa Doc directly for rounding up 20,000 Haitians to work on their lands. In 1972, his son and heir, Baby Doc’s minister of the interior, was exposed for literally selling Haitian blood to private American hospitals: $3 a litre, no questions asked. During the Duvaliers’ combined 28 years in power, up to 60,000 Haitians were “disappeared” by the regime. The Duvaliers swindled international creditors and aid agencies for enormous sums. The American government, via various agencies and banks, lent millions to both dictators.

Though there was anger in Washington about the Duvaliers and their 80% rate of aid embezzlement, no action was taken to remove them until 1986. The Duvaliers were always happy to sign up to new loans, and to give lucrative contracts to American corporations. Most of the projects went nowhere. Haiti is littered with half-built and abandoned schools, hospitals, bridges and roads.

Most of the money lent to the Duvaliers found its way into private bank accounts. When Baby Doc fled, he took millions with him: estimates go as high as $900m. The debts incurred by the Duvaliers make up 45% of Haiti’s total current debt. None of the creditors finds the fact of their complicity a compelling argument for cancellation. Those creditors include the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, the IMF and the governments of the US and France.

Debt relief is at the discretion of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative, run by the World Bank and the IMF. Haiti must meet certain conditions, including poverty reduction and inflation controls, before any debt can be written off. By international standards, the sums are small, but for Haiti they are enormous. The World Bank alone demands an estimated $1.6m a month.

On April 14, in a speech at a conference on Haiti’s social and economic development, Robert B Zoellick, president of the World Bank Group, announced: “We are working closely with the authorities and the IMF to help expedite debt cancellation while ensuring that monies released go directly to support poverty reduction.” At the spring meeting of the World Bank and the IMF less than two weeks later, Haiti was judged again as having failed to show sufficient progress towards macroeconomic stability to qualify for debt cancellation. In a surprise move, however, the US government stepped in to cover Haiti’s debt service payments for the rest of this year.

Undoubtedly, the American gift is a boon, and Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton do seem to be making a genuine effort to help. Obama’s tax return for this year revealed a personal donation of $2,000 to a Christian organisation working in Haiti. Clinton has also announced that she will re-examine US policy on Haitian migrants. At the moment, unlike the Cuban refugees who are given asylum, Haitians are considered economic migrants, and are imprisoned and deported.

Haiti’s record on political freedom is far from spotless, though it is in theory now a democracy. The most popular party among the impoverished majority, Fanmi Lavalas, was banned from contesting elections this month on the grounds that its leader, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, did not meet a very short deadline unexpectedly imposed for signing the hard copy of his party’s lists. He could not have done so: he is in exile in South Africa, having been ousted in a highly controversial UN intervention in 2004. There is some hope Clinton will award temporary work permits to Haitian illegals in the US. “But, at the same time,” she added in her announcement, “we don’t want to encourage other Haitians to make the dangerous journey across the water.” Both George W Bush in 2004 and Bill Clinton in 1994 justified military intervention in Haiti, partially on the basis that unmanageable numbers of “boat people” were turning up on their shores. “There is only one solution to Haiti’s problems, and that’s mass emigration,” one senior American foreign-policy expert told me. “But nobody wants to talk about it.” So Haiti remains in debt, relieved for now, but not for ever. And the question of France repaying some or all of the compensation it extracted for Haitian independence is not even on the agenda.

The Artibonite valley is the rural heart of Haiti. The potholed road out of the capital runs north through miles of bleak marshland. We drive past Titayen, a dumping-ground for the bodies of people murdered by political groups or criminal gangs. The hot air is oppressive with the weight of storm clouds. Near the town of Cabaret is a tent-city full of refugees. On both sides of the road, houses are stoved in, with walls and roofs ripped off, and whole floors of concrete folded in on themselves like origami. This is the parting gift left by Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike, four storms that devastated Haiti in three weeks last summer. All around the valley rise high mountains. Fifty years ago, these were covered in dense tropical jungle. Now, there is nothing but brownish scrub. Eighty per cent of Haitians live below the poverty line, and cook on charcoal from scavenged wood. As the population has shot up, the forests have been cut down. Haiti is now 98% deforested. The roots of those trees held the land together. Now, every time a hurricane hits Haiti, the rains and floods sweep topsoil and soft clay from these hills down to the valleys and the coast. Arable land is stripped back to barren rubble, while whole towns such as Gonaives — until last August a city of 250,000 people — are buried under sludge.

At a nearby village, Robuste, dozens of excited children ambush me. Not many strangers come here, and they are intrigued. Even in the middle of horrific poverty, the people have not lost their sense of humour. I raise my camera to take a picture, and an old woman immediately begins weeping and howling. Shocked, I lower the camera, and she points at me and roars with laughter. It was a joke, and a clever one: she was satirising the usual news-agency photos. But most of the devastation here is all too real. In the hurricanes, half the houses in Robuste were washed away.

The village pastor takes me into his church, a comfortless hall in which over 200 refugees have been sleeping rough. One woman lies here, suffering from unidentified sickness in the aftermath of the floods. There is no doctor. Her year-old baby is left unattended on the concrete floor. He crawls up to me, wide-eyed. Slavery did not end with the revolution. A grim fate awaits many of the children in Robuste. When destitute Haitian families cannot feed their children, they send them to the towns. There are 300,000 such children in Haiti, around 10% of the entire child population. They are known as restaveks — a Creole word from the French rester avec, to stay with. Host families provide restaveks with food, clothing, shelter and in some cases education, in return for having the child work as a servant. Often these children are beaten, sexually abused, starved, denied medical treatment. In a couple of years the baby in front of me could be given up to this modern form of slavery. Restaveks as young as three have been found in Port-au-Prince. His mother rolls over in her sleep. She looks desperately ill. Soon, nobody in this village will have enough to eat. At that point the sending away of their children will begin.

Even before the hurricanes hit, Haiti was in the grip of a food crisis. A year ago, when the price of rice soared across the world, Haitians began to starve. There were confirmed reports of people being reduced to eating dirt. Cookies made of mud mixed with vegetable oil were all they could scrape together. In the slums of Port-au-Prince, Oxfam is funding community restaurants in an attempt to provide something more nutritious. People bring tin pots and pay 10 gourdes (16p) to have them filled with rice, beans and vegetables. It is thought that charging a small sum preserves people’s dignity, and avoids giving them the impression that they can rely on hand-outs. The restaurant is at a busy intersection, surrounded by a huge mass of people, mostly young men, shouting, banging their tin pots and jostling to get to the front. Food riots are common.

A little boy of about eight wanders up to us. He looks even thinner and more nervous than the other children, and is barefoot, dressed in a worn-out black string vest and threadbare shorts. Ian, Oxfam’s British press officer, is good with children. He leans down, smiles and shakes the boy’s hand. The boy wanders back to join the people waiting for food. He goes to a woman in her late thirties. “Get away from me!” she screams at him, smacking him across the face. “You shook hands with the blanc! Koko rat!” The crowd gasps. The name she has called him is one of the strongest insults in Creole, literally a crude expression for the genitals of a female rat, but the implication is worse. The woman means that the little boy is a traitor. Ian is aghast, but of course it’s not his fault. The little boy runs off. Moments later, he appears beside me again. He looks lost, and wears an expression of unbearable sadness. He had a tin bowl before, but it has gone. “Where’s his bowl?” I ask my Creole translator. She asks him. “Someone took it from him.” “We’ve got to find him another one,” I say. “He hasn’t had any food yet.” “There aren’t any around,” she replies.

It’s true. Nobody has a spare, and everyone here needs to eat. Just down the street, market stalls display mouldy vegetables and half-rotten meat crawling with flies. Even rotting food is too expensive for most slum-dwellers. By now the crowd is getting seriously aggressive. Men are shoving each other, and punches are thrown. The organiser hurries back to us. “We have to leave. Now.” At another roadside stall I see a painting of a pregnant Haitian woman crying tears of blood, while demonic white babies with sharpened teeth scramble to suckle from her breasts.

Graham Greene’s “nightmare republic” has become a literal fact. The next morning I board a bus to make the long journey through the mountains to Santo Domingo, the capital of the neighbouring Dominican Republic. Driving through Haiti, there are almost no trees to be seen. The roads are lined with scrub, thorns and piles of refuse. At the exact point of the border line, the world surges back into life. Suddenly the road is thick with towering mature trees, their branches heavy with lush green leaves, fat blossoms, singing birds. It is beautiful but heartbreaking, a reminder, if any were necessary, that things need not be as they are.

The facts
– last year’s hurricanes devastated more than 70% of Haiti’s agricultural land
– more than 80% of the population lives on less than £2 a day
– some 3.8% of the population is HIV-positive, according to Save the Children; among them 17,000 minors. Medical provisions are scarce. There is one doctor for every 3,000 patients.
– life expectancy at birth is 61 years. The survival rate of newborns is the lowest in the western hemisphere. One-third are born underweight.
– there are 80 deaths per 1,000 live births. The mortality rate for children under five is 120 in 1,000

DIDN’T PRACTICE VOODOO CORRECTLY, DESPITE WARNINGS
http://www.rnw.nl/english/article/benin-voodoo-calm-evil-spirits-haiti
Benin voodoo to calm evil spirits in Haiti
BY Razzack Saïzonou / 15 January 2010

“We are deeply affected and feel solidarity with our Haitian brothers,” said an emotional Queen Djehami following Tuesday’s earthquake in Haiti. Djehami is the wife of Kpodégbé Toyi Djigla, King of Allada, a town in central Benin and one of the largest kingdoms of the country. “We are deeply affected, primarily because I am African, but mainly because I am from Allada. There is a sense of desolation at the palace.”

During the 16th and 17th centuries, Benin played a key role in the slave trade. Thousands of men and women were uprooted and sold as slaves to work in plantations in Europe, the Caribbean and America. Many of them came from Allada, as did the family of Toussaint L’ouverture, who later founded the Republic of Haiti.

Toussaint L’ouverture (1743-1803), nicknamed the Black Napoleon, was born on a plantation in the French colony of Saint Domingue. He was named Breda after the plantation as was the custom for slaves. His master, the relatively humane Mr Baillon de Libertat, encouraged Toussaint to learn to read and write, and appointed him as his coachman and then as his foreman. Later Toussaint led a revolution against slavery and Haiti became the first republic to be ruled by leaders with African ancestry.

Apart from the historical ties between Haiti and Benin, the two countries share the religion of their ancestors: voodoo. This religion is central to the worship and traditions of thousands of Haitians and Beninese. Queen Djehami believes that this week’s earthquake has happened because Haiti’s ancestors failed to carry out sacrifices. She explains that during his trip to Haiti six years ago, King Kpodégbé had warned the then President of Haiti of the need to organise sacrifices to appease angry spirits and ward off evil ones. His trip was part of bicentenary celebrations marking the death of Toussaint L’ouverture.

Although the Haitian authorities probably didn’t ignore the king’s warning, they did put off organising the rituals. “Haiti is profoundly African and these things should not be underestimated,” exclaims Queen Djehami. “His Majesty the King asked for a number of things to be done when we were there, but his wishes were not met. Was it negligence, was it that nobody believed in it?”

In an outburst of solidarity with the victims of the earthquake, the people of Benin and particularly those of Allada have organised traditional ceremonies to appease the spirits and seek the blessing of their ancestors for the Haitians.” A purification ceremony is planned for Haiti and a trip to the devastated island is even possible. We will continue to pray that it never happens again,” says the Queen of Allada.

“HAITIANS are CURSED” [OP-ED]

“TRUE STORY” :PAT ROBERTSON SPEAKS for HIMSELF
http://www.google.com/search?ie=UTF-8&q=pat+roberston+call+800

“call Pat @ (800) 759-0700 to give your opinion of statements on Haiti, or put them on hold + just play music, it costs them money to wait for you”

HOLD MUSIC


COGNITIVE DISSONANCE
(or WHY I AM CALLING YOU A RACIST)
http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=256628482369&comments
Why it’s wrong to label Pat Robertson as a crackpot.
Posted Yesterday [1/14] at 4:12pm

“Pat Robertson has been called crazy, loony, and a crackpot based upon his comments regarding a 200 year old curse placed upon Haiti. This would be an inappropriate label. The story is based upon a myth created to justify a belief in White Supremacy, and has been maintained and repeated by Southern Christians to this day. Robertson was speaking in a code not understood by Northerners and Westerners, so it appears to fall to me to explain the origins off the myth, and the reasons it has survived in the South to this day, and continues to influence our foreign and domestic policy.

The myth is rooted in beliefs regarding the “Mark of Cain” [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curse_and_mark_of_Cain] which are widely held in the South. Most theologians believe the “Mark” referred to a curse to a nomadic lifestyle, and an inability to grow crops. The belief was used to justify the extermination of Native Americans, because they weren’t using the land profitably, while systematically burning their crops, and stealing their orchards. As long as taking lands could be justified through “making the land fertile” it was theologically justified. The irony of course is that world cuisines would be very different today without basic Native American crops such as potatoes, tomatoes, chili peppers, corn, blueberries, strawberries, and so on. But, that is another history for another day.

The “Mark of Cain” was made into skin color by Southern theologians, seeking to justify slavery. Therefore, to the degree that one’s skin was dark, it designated that person as less than human, and able to be exploited as any other animal with the approval of the Southerner’s God. I must add here, that is was not only the approval, but the destiny supported and guaranteed by the Southern God. When you hear a Southerner say, “Everything happens for a reason,” it means that everything that happens to a person, or a people, because it is their God’s will.

When Haiti achieved independence in 1804, the foundation of that set of beliefs was shaken. The only way to reconcile the belief of White Superiority with a Black Nation achieving independence was the intervention of the Devil. Therefore, a myth was created that said that the Haitians had made a deal with the Devil, and bore a new “Mark,” similar to that of Cain. The fact that Toussaint L’ouverture was an educated man, who fought to retain his freedom becomes obscured by the myth. This belief has influenced our dealings with Haiti, from Thomas Jefferson to the present day. Jefferson’s struggles with how to deal with Haiti have already been published, and I will not go through the history of our foreign policy with respect to Haiti with this entry.

This is not a fringe belief. In 1994, ONE HUNDRED AND NINTEY years after Haiti achieved independence, President Bill Clinton sent peacekeeping troops to Haiti under pressure from the Congressional Black Caucus when a military dictatorship supported by US business interests overthrew the popularly elected Aristede. Before the troops were sent to Haiti, they were briefed by a local expert chosen by the CIA, who said: “The briefing was only partly inexplicable to me. Many of the mindless prejudices of the briefing would resurface later as official documents, from Intelligence, Psychological Operations, and Civil Affairs. It was part of the attempt to minimize American contact with Haitian realities. It is going on to this day, and it is effective. Now, the bullshit is being disseminated by the United States Embassy. The press laps it up and regurgitates it for us uncritically, awed as always to be allowed so near the powerful.”

Robertson’s beliefs are neither crackpot, outside of the norm for many people in positions of power. They also inform the myth-building in Southern States on how to deal with the election of President Barack Obama. The mad scramble for a label from Anti-Christ to NAZI is a reflection of irreconcilable cognitive dissonance between Southern belief systems and reality. Within a day of Robertson’s remarks, a G.O.P. Spokesman stated that all ANYONE needed to do, INCLUDING THE UNITED NATIONS, was to heal the injuries, bury the dead, and GET OUT. This is belief and praxis, naked. Robertson is a GOP operative, and has advised presidents in the past, including Bush, and his bombing of Mayan villages coincided with Reagan’s support of the atrocities committed by the Contras, and by the systematic overthrow of democratically-elected governments in the Caribbean, Central, and South America and subsequent atrocities in this hemisphere.

To fail to recognize the importance of the system of beliefs in the behavior of Southerners, the praxis of those beliefs, and the way in which those beliefs are transmitted is to fail to recognize the danger of the situation. His belief in the Curse of Haiti, is supported by a belief system that cannot reconcile the United States having elected a Black President. The disbelief that Barack Obama is President along with the signs displayed at the various protests in the South, among significant portions of the South are indicative of the cognitive dissonance among that population. The situation parallels the cognitive dissonance caused by the independence of Haiti. It is a dangerous time for Pat Robertson, and that means it’s a dangerous time for all of us.

WHICH GODS HATE HAITI? an ECUMENICAL PRIMER
http://www.albertmohler.com/2010/01/14/does-god-hate-haiti/
Does My God Hate Haiti?
BY Albert Mohler / January 14, 2010

The images streaming in from Haiti look like scenes from Dante’s Inferno. The scale of the calamity is unprecedented. In many ways, Haiti has almost ceased to exist. The earthquake that will forever change that nation came as subterranean plates shifted about six miles under the surface of the earth, along a fault line that had threatened trouble for centuries. But no one saw a quake of this magnitude coming. The 7.0 quake came like a nightmare, with the city of Port-au-Prince crumbling, entire villages collapsing, bodies flying in the air and crushed under mountains of debris. Orphanages, churches, markets, homes, and government buildings all collapsed. Civil government has virtually ceased to function. Without power, communication has been cut off and rescue efforts are seriously hampered. Bodies are piling up, hope is running out, and help, though on the way, will not arrive in time for many victims.

Even as boots are finally hitting the ground and relief efforts are reaching the island, estimates of the death toll range as high as 500,000. Given the mountainous terrain and densely populated villages that had been hanging along the fault line, entire villages may have disappeared. The Western Hemisphere’s most impoverished nation has experienced a catastrophe that appears almost apocalyptic. In truth, it is hard not to describe the earthquake as a disaster of biblical proportions. It certainly looks as if the wrath of God has fallen upon the Caribbean nation. Add to this the fact that Haiti is well known for its history of religious syncretism — mixing elements of various faiths, including occult practices. The nation is known for voodoo, sorcery, and a Catholic tradition that has been greatly influenced by the occult.

Haiti’s history is a catalog of political disasters, one after the other. In one account of the nation’s fight for independence from the French in the late 18th century, representatives of the nation are said to have made a pact with the Devil to throw off the French. According to this account, the Haitians considered the French as Catholics and wanted to side with whomever would oppose the French. Thus, some would use that tradition to explain all that has marked the tragedy of Haitian history — including now the earthquake of January 12, 2010.

Does God hate Haiti? That is the conclusion reached by many, who point to the earthquake as a sign of God’s direct and observable judgment. God does judge the nations — all of them — and God will judge the nations. His judgment is perfect and his justice is sure. He rules over all the nations and his sovereign will is demonstrated in the rising and falling of nations and empires and peoples. Every molecule of matter obeys his command, and the earthquakes reveal his reign — as do the tides of relief and assistance flowing into Haiti right now.

A faithful Christian cannot accept the claim that God is a bystander in world events. The Bible clearly claims the sovereign rule of God over all his creation, all of the time. We have no right to claim that God was surprised by the earthquake in Haiti, or to allow that God could not have prevented it from happening. God’s rule over creation involves both direct and indirect acts, but his rule is constant. The universe, even after the consequences of the Fall, still demonstrates the character of God in all its dimensions, objects, and occurrences. And yet, we have no right to claim that we know why a disaster like the earthquake in Haiti happened at just that place and at just that moment.

The arrogance of human presumption is a real and present danger. We can trace the effects of a drunk driver to a car accident, but we cannot trace the effects of voodoo to an earthquake — at least not so directly. Will God judge Haiti for its spiritual darkness? Of course. Is the judgment of God something we can claim to understand in this sense — in the present? No, we are not given that knowledge. Jesus himself warned his disciples against this kind of presumption.

Why did no earthquake shake Nazi Germany? Why did no tsunami swallow up the killing fields of Cambodia? Why did Hurricane Katrina destroy far more evangelical churches than casinos? Why do so many murderous dictators live to old age while many missionaries die young? Does God hate Haiti? God hates sin, and will punish both individual sinners and nations. But that means that every individual and every nation will be found guilty when measured by the standard of God’s perfect righteousness. God does hate sin, but if God merely hated Haiti, there would be no missionaries there; there would be no aid streaming to the nation; there would be no rescue efforts — there would be no hope.

The earthquake in Haiti, like every other earthly disaster, reminds us that creation groans under the weight of sin and the judgment of God. This is true for every cell in our bodies, even as it is for the crust of the earth at every point on the globe. The entire cosmos awaits the revelation of the glory of the coming Lord. Creation cries out for the hope of the New Creation. In other words, the earthquake reminds us that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only real message of hope. The cross of Christ declares that Jesus loves Haiti — and the Haitian people are the objects of his love. Christ would have us show the Haitian nation his love, and share his Gospel. In the midst of this unspeakable tragedy, Christ would have us rush to aid the suffering people of Haiti, and rush to tell the Haitian people of his love, his cross, and salvation in his name alone.

Everything about the tragedy in Haiti points to our need for redemption. This tragedy may lead to a new openness to the Gospel among the Haitian people. That will be to the glory of God. In the meantime, Christ’s people must do everything we can to alleviate the suffering, bind up the wounded, and comfort the grieving. If Christ’s people are called to do this, how can we say that God hates Haiti? If you have any doubts about this, take your Bible and turn to John 3:16. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. That is God’s message to Haiti.

[ "I am always glad to hear from readers and listeners. Write me at mail@albertmohler.com." ]

“See also these two articles from the Katrina disaster:”
http://www.albertmohler.com/2005/09/07/god-in-the-storm-part-one/
http://www.albertmohler.com/2005/09/08/god-in-the-storm-part-two/


The only golf course

DON’T MEDDLE [DISSENT]
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/14/gop-candidate-chuck-devor_n_423460.html
GOP DeVore’s Spokesman: World Community Should Leave Haiti ASAP / 01-14-10

“Earlier today, I wrote about the push by several major foreign policy voices to ensure that America’s role in restructuring Haiti extends beyond emergency response to the earthquake. The politics seem logical — the impoverished country has endured plenty of socioeconomic chaos in addition to natural disasters in recent history. And now, more than ever, there is a moral and geopolitical imperative for the U.S. to be involved. But rallying domestic support for a long-term U.S. commitment to Haitian affairs has long proved difficult. And here is another example why:

The communications director for California Republican Senate candidate Chuck DeVore tweeted on Thursday that America, the world and even charity organizations should immediately leave the island once immediate and limited recovery is done. “[T]he best thing the int’l community can do is tend the wounded, bury the dead, and then LEAVE. That includes all UN and charity,” wrote Josh Trevino. This seems a bit blunt, even for the most non-interventionist of Republican candidates (DeVore is a Tea Party favorite). But it also is a reflection of Americans’ widespread skepticism about the prospects of building a functioning and stable Haitian society. I asked former National Security Adviser Tony Lake about the problem in sustaining U.S. interest in Haiti during an interview on Wednesday. He didn’t have any specific explanation, but acknowledged that it was problematic. “There are political voices in the United States that have spoken up for the Haitians, including the black caucus,” Lake said. “But generally the political weight of the Haitian community in the United States has been less than the community deserves. And I think that has been a problem in maintaining a consistent American interest.””

MEDDLE [CASE STUDY; under BEST PRACTICES]
http://www.ibiblio.org/prism/May96/haiti.html
Soldier’s testimony: US intervention salvaged the thugs
BY Marshall Valentine (alias)

In September of 1994, when US forces entered the Republic of Haiti, I was the detachment operations NCO for a Special Forces A Team. My team was given the mission of controlling almost a thousand square kilometers in the Northeast Department of Haiti. We were to base ourselves out of Fort Liberte, a political center near the northern Dominican border.

In August of ’94, just one month before the decision was announced to occupy Haiti, we were instructed to attend an intelligence briefing on Haiti that had been coordinated through the 3rd Special Forces Group staff.

Prelude to the dance
This briefing would be the one and only predeployment intelligence briefing we were to receive. For this presentation, the staff had conscientiously avoided using any of the former Haitian nationals that worked and lived in Fayetteville and Fort Bragg. These included a professor of physics at Fayetteville State University, his wife, a Creole instructor at the Special Forces school, and various Haitian-American soldiers on active duty in Fort Bragg.

To ensure that we had a reliable source for this one and only predeployment brief, our intelligence gurus selected an expatriate, white, American, fundamentalist Protestant preacher. This gentleman had occupied himself for the last 11 years, in a small community outside of Cap Haïtien, salvaging the heathen souls of some 300 local congregants. He was an emaciated, blepharitic man, tall and thin, in a black suit, reeking of Calvinist austerity and burning with years of besieged righteousness.

He began his account with a personal introduction and a brief history of his mission. Then came a brief historical account of the nation of Haiti. The account was perfectly informative as long as it confined itself to events, personalities and dates. What followed his synopsis, however, was a bizarre narrative. He flatly declared that the successful Haitian revolution against the French Army was inaugurated with a bargain. Jean Jacques Dessalines, the Haitian leader of the revolution, according to this preacher, had struck a deal with the devil. With complete seriousness, our intrepid young missionary, explained that Satan himself, disguised as a voodoo deity, contracted with Dessalines to assure him a military victory. In exchange for the victory, Satan was to be given control of the new nation for a period of 200 years.

I’m not sure what surprised me the most at that briefing. The outlandish characterization of the first independent black nation in the Western Hemisphere? The fact that an Intelligence Officer on the Group staff had coordinated for his presence? Or the spellbound attention being paid this crackpot by hundreds of allegedly rational grown men who were in the room listening?

The problem was this. Most of the Special Forces soldiers there had no previous interest in Haiti. Most of them harbored cultural and racial preconceptions of Haiti. All had been exposed to the drumbeat of skewed media coverage of Haiti. Many were fans of both the CIA and Jesse Helms, both of whom were staging a concerted venture to shape foreign policy on behalf of the Cedras regime, by fabricating rumors about Aristide. Almost all of them were thoroughly ignorant of both the history of Haiti and the dynamics of the current crisis.

It was easy then, in support of the anti-Aristide sentiment already afoot in the special operations community, for this charlatan to get away with his prevarication. He was positively obsessed with voodoo, which he repeatedly characterized not as a religion (which it is, with components of West African polytheism and Catholicism), but as worship of demons. He stated that Haitians were childlike, and in need of outside direction, morally and spiritually lost, still practicing human sacrifice and cannibalism. The racist echoes were not lost on the largely white Special Forces audience.

Aristide was a particularly hot issue. Aristide was always in the company of voodoo priests and priestesses, he explained, explicitly stating that Aristide’s Christianity was a sham…that Father Aristide, too, was a devil worshipper. Aristide, the minister explained to the audience, was not really a priest, at all. He had been defrocked. This was a sidelong reference to Aristide’s expulsion from his religious order for political action on behalf of the poor. Aristide, also a closet communist, according to our preacher, had personally ordered riots and murders of countless people during his brutal eight month regime. Cedras and Francois showed up just in time to save the country, and any intervention to oust Cedras would be a terrible mistake, not to mention the dangers to young, Christian GIs, of working with HIV-riddled demon worshippers. When questioned about Aristide’s landslide victory in the elections, he said that the election was a fraud perpetrated by Lavalas (the popular movement). He stated that the reports of violence by the Cedras regime were exaggerated. And if they did support Aristide, that demonstrated that they were not yet ready for democracy.

The briefing was only partly inexplicable to me. Many of the mindless prejudices of the briefing would resurface later as official documents, from Intelligence, Psychological Operations, and Civil Affairs. It was part of the attempt to minimize American contact with Haitian realities. It is going on to this day, and it is effective. Now, the bullshit is being disseminated by the United States Embassy. The press laps it up and regurgitates it for us uncritically, awed as always to be allowed so near the powerful. I want to emphatically state that the distortions and prejudices of this one man can not be generalized to any particular group. There are numerous religious groups of many faiths, Protestant included, who have consistently and vigorously supported the Haitians’ rights to self-determination and freedom from violence.

Haitian landing
That said, I entered Port au Prince on the 19th of September, where we were summarily informed, in the wake of the Carter-Nunn-Powell agreement, struck, by the way, in the absence of a single legitimate representative of the democratically-elected government of Haiti, and signed by Emile Jonassaint, the Cedras-installed illegal president, that we would now become the friends, patrons and trainers of the Haitian armed forces, whom I shall refer to as the FAdH. Admittedly, this was during a period of policy confusion, when the Clinton administration couldn’t decide what to do about FAdH soldiers openly clobbering unarmed citizens senseless with ironwood batons in front of CNN’s cameras.

It’s important to note, though long-term objectives in Haiti have become clear, many short-term decisions at that point in time appeared to be typical indecisive bumbling on the part of the Administration. It’s important to remember that Clinton launched the operation under pressure from the Congressional Black Caucus and TransAfrica. These groups were illuminating the gross contradictions between policy toward Haiti and Cuba. By the same token, business interests, represented by Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, whose Madison Avenue public relations firm had a happy and lucrative history of dealings with key Duvalierist elites in Haiti, were strenuously opposing the reinstallation of Aristide.

By the time we escaped from the 10th Mountain Division’s clutches in Port au Prince, a unit that had dauntlessly undertaken to prevent contact between ordinary Haitians and American troops, the guidance had changed. We were instructed to stop all “Haitian on Haitian violence.” Worded this way, we were permitted to interfere with policemen cracking heads, gassing and shooting at anyone they disliked, so long as it was understood that we were protecting the police from civilian violence as well. It was by this bit of verbal legerdemain, that officials managed again to minimize the Haitian military police and paramilitary’s overwhelming share of the mayhem, and to provide support to the prevailing disinformation alleging widespread violence perpetrated by pro-Aristide people.

In a telling analysis of this phenomenon, Catherine Orenstein, anthologized in a highly recommended book called The Haiti Files, edited by James Ridgeway, points out the complete collaboration of the US mainstream press in this gross misrepresentation of Haitian reality. Of the total space devoted to covering Haiti by the popular press, less than 4% was devoted to reporting human rights abuses by the Cedras regime, while it was in power, when between 3,000 and 5,000 people were murdered. Under the Aristide government, human rights violations were reduced by more than 65% in eight months, but no mention of this trend appeared in the New York Times or on CNN. The Times, in the three weeks following the coup devoted three times as much space to allegations of Lavalas violence, by all accounts less than 2% of the total, as it did to massive, ongoing military violence being directed at unarmed civilians. Again, I don’t attribute this to an innate dishonesty on the part of the press, but to their unwavering tendency to truckle around after powerful people and reverently accept everything they say. Reporters who are not good sycophants do not last long in today’s corporate megamedia environment.

Regulating the tropical heat
The question of disarming the paramilitaries was another subject that shifted repeatedly in the conduct of the mission. Before the soft option entry negotiated by the Carter team, military necessity made the question of weapons clear cut. If you carried a firearm, you were hostile. If a weapon were discovered, it was confiscated. But with the permissive entry, the Rules of Engagement stated that we were obliged to behave as police do, demanding that an armed individual relinquish his weapon and giving that individual an opportunity to do so, before employing deadly force. This ROE, as it is known, did not present a great problem. It was the question of seeking out and confiscating weapons that changed.

By the time my detachment arrived in Gonaïves, en route to Fort Liberte, planned searches for weapons caches were put on indefinite hold by Task Force commanders. No reason was ever given. Though we still had the authority to confiscate displayed weapons, we were prohibited from searching buildings and houses, even if we received multiple reports alleging their presence. That prohibition against searches for the purpose of confiscating firearms and other ordnance remains in effect to the end. The eventual justification was that Haitians had a constitutional right to own firearms…even though we were an extraconstitutional force. This would not be the first time that we were subjected to selective interpretations of the Haitian Constitution. And what it ignored was the practical fact, that nearly every weapon in the country was owned by a supporter of the de facto regime, this being the means by which they had retained their power.

By itself, this shift could be interpreted as an error in judgment, which it certainly would be, but other facts on the ground tend to support the thesis that it was part of an overall effort to achieve a specific circumstance. When we left the intrepid 10th Mountain Division in Port au Prince, they had begun fanning out, not into the slums where human rights violations continued to be reported, but to protect the property of the rich in Petionville from anticipated angry mobs who never materialized. The task force set up its headquarters on the factory complex of the second richest family in Haiti.

In Gonaïves, where a series of incidents had strained our relationship with the FAdH, and endeared us to the local population (an eventuality not anticipated by the Task Force commanders), we were obligated to work with a Haitian commander named Captain Castra, originally on our “detain immediately” list as a dangerous and seedy character, a known drug trafficker, and the originator of a massacre of 27 civilians in the slum of Raboteau just three months earlier. He and hundreds of other charming members of the armed forces had been miraculously rehabilitated by the stroke of a pen.

These encumbrances were temporarily removed when four members of FRAPH, the Haitian paramilitary headed by CIA employee Emmanuel Constant, shot and wounded a Special Forces soldier on the 2nd of October in Les Cayes. Independent of the conventional commanders, special operations commanders sent us the order to squash FRAPH. In my own sector, we made three detentions the first day, two the second, and ten the third when we entered Fort Liberte, including Nyll Calixte, former Haitian ambassador to France, and chief financier to FRAPH in the Northeast Department. On the fourth day after the directive, we detained Rene Mozart, Northeast Department president of FRAPH, subordinate only to Emmanuel Constant.

Calixte was released within 24 hours on a presidential order from the United States, with apologies. Mozart was returned in three weeks, with the admonition that FRAPH was now to be recognized as a legitimate political party, kind of like the loyal opposition. All but one of the original detainees were released. We were told to stop all detentions unless we could provide a laundry list of information and evidence that would have daunted the average FBI agent, citing the need for due process. Our argument that due process implied the presence of a functional police force, a forensics capability, a viable court, and a normally operating government, was viewed as evidence of a smart-assed attitude.

With that, our participation in assisting Haitian justice ground to a halt, accompanied by directives to provide support to propaganda efforts pushing the theme of “reconciliation.” I was accused of failing to cooperate on two occasions with Psychological Operations Teams who wished to broadcast feel-good messages in my sector. These were accurate accusations, but in my own defense, our team had established effective rapport with the local population, predicated on our ongoing credibility and our open association with Lavalas, and broadcasting messages that insulted the intelligence of the local population with the transparency of the missive, stood to undermine that credibility.

Miller Time for Democrats
To understand how fragmented certain aspects of the operations were, it is important to explain that individual Special Forces Teams had a great deal of autonomy, much to the chagrin of a host of micromanaging, anal compulsive, career-obsessed commanders. My team, with only eight people on the initial entry, was responsible for hundreds of square kilometers of territory. For this reason, to this day, attitudes of Haitians in various sectors of the country will be wildly divergent with regard to American military. Some teams moved into FAdH garrisons, emplaced concertina wire, and built what appeared to be a Vietnam style firebase. Our team lived in a house, accessible to all, with neighbors on three sides, who listened to music with us on the porch and dropped by for coffee. We shopped at the local market, and drank an occasional Presidente beer from the little street store down the road. It was not at all unusual to shoo chickens out of the house in the morning.

In fact, the presence of beer, though its consumption by Special Forces was widespread in Haiti, was presented to us as a violation of a General Order in December of that year, and I was asked to leave the country. During the investigation regarding the General Order violation, the subject of beer seemed to preoccupy the investigating officer far less than our cozy relationship with Lavalas, to which I credited the remarkable stability of our sector throughout the operation.

The other subject that came up repeatedly was my failure to support the concept of the Interim Police Security Force, or IPSF. The original concept, briefed to us, was that the new police would be organized from the general population, even allowing certain decent, nonabusive gentlemen (and there were a few) from the original force, to continue employment. This sat well with the locals and with us. We were told to vet current members of the garrisons to determine which police had potential, and which were absolutely unacceptable to the general population. We did this, and were succinctly blown off. Instead of dropping the identified thugs from the rolls, a shell game was implemented, where Haitian police were abruptly reassigned to other towns, far away. We knew it. The Haitians knew it. Officialdom never acknowledged it. If I were attracted to conspiracy theories, I might have thought that someone was trying to protect the Haitian military from future legal action by removing them from places where they perchance would be deposed against.

The ostensible military action to restore democracy was launched on the heels of a bargain made with an outgoing military dictator and a phony president. The US military wasted no time setting up their headquarters on the industrial property of the Mev family, first stringers with the ultrarich, ruling elite. The operation advanced at a glacial pace, with emphasis placed on establishing security around the property of the wealthy. Soldiers were admonished not to take aggressive action to round up known criminals, not to search for weapons, and to observe a kind of “due process” in the treatment of former henchmen. US soldiers were given guidelines for detention so stringent that by the 5th of October, 1994, virtually all detentions had ceased. De facto government persecutors so notorious they were on “detain immediately” lists before the Carter-Nunn-Powell deal was cut, were allowed to continue in their present capacities, sometimes with US cooperation. Weapons buyback programs were implemented which allowed unserviceable weapons to be exchanged for money, while the serviceable ones were carefully cached for future use. In my own sector, dozens of reports came to us of large quantities of weapons being packed across the Dominican border, where many de facto criminals were being given sanctuary. The former military were dressed up in new uniforms, after a cosmetic vetting of past activities, and put back on the street with an apprehensive public who continually told American military authorities that this was an unacceptable arrangement. UN/US military policy stressed a “balanced” approach to dealing with Haitians, defining balance as “walking a line” between Lavalas, who represented the overwhelming majority of Haitians, and FRAPH, a terrorist organization working for the elite.

While there is no doubt that without intervention, the Cedras regime would have continued indefinitely, the best thing that could happen in Haiti at this moment would be the discontinuation of American, IMF, and World Bank influence. But, as always with both Democratic and Republican administrations, corporate wishes will prevail in the long term. The greatest miscalculation that the Haitian people can count on now, is the foolish but persistent belief that being illiterate means one is stupid.

Every Haitian has heard the old proverb… ‘You can send a snake to school but it’s hard to make him sit down.”

EARTHQUAKE PENTECOSTAL
http://www.utexas.edu/utpress/books/garpro.html
http://www.religiondispatches.org/blog/international/2190/“biblical”_disaster:_understanding_religion_in_haiti/
“Biblical” Disaster: Understanding Religion in Haiti
BY Michelle Gonzalez Maldonado / January 13, 2010

Note to Pat Robertson: Haiti is not a nation of Vodou practitioners. It is, and continues to be, overwhelmingly Christian. Yesterday morning as I settled onto my elliptical at the gym, I anxiously turned to the television silently playing captioned CNN. It was before sunrise, and I knew it would be a good thirty minutes before daylight would reveal the devastation the 7.0 earthquake had unleashed on Haiti. The man on the neighboring machine, also watching the television, turned to me and said, “You know they killed all the white people after they gained independence … it is that Vodou … they deserve it.” I pedaled along speechless, not sure what shocked me more, that this man would think these things or that he felt comfortable enough with his hatred that he was fairly confident I would agree. I ignored him and I wish I had not. What I wanted to say is that Vodou is not some sort of sorcery, or the product of some “pact to the devil” (thank you Pat Robertson). I also wanted to correct his erroneous assumption that Haiti is a nation of Vodou practitioners. It is, and continues to be, overwhelmingly Christian.

I confess that I have been fairly glued to CNN in the past twenty-four hours, and two things have struck me as I watched the constant onslaught of images of suffering and destruction. The first is the erroneous fact that CNN keeps claiming on its ticker that Haiti is 80% Roman Catholic. The second is the sheer amount of U.S. missionaries on the island. The two are inter-related. Recent studies estimate that the Protestant population of Haiti is somewhere around thirty percent. In Port-au-Prince that number jumps to almost forty percent. The majority of these churches are Pentecostal. These churches are overwhelmingly independent, indigenous Haitian entities, though some are linked to North American denominational Pentecostal churches. Haiti, along with Jamaica and Puerto Rico, is home to one of the fastest growing Pentecostal populations in the Caribbean.

As I watch the drama unfold in Haiti, and feel it here in Miami, the home of the largest Haitian Diaspora in the United States, I cannot help but think of another earthquake, another country. In 1976 a 7.5 earthquake devastated Guatemala, leaving 23,000 dead and over 50,000 injured. My husband, a child at the time, has told me of the silence, the fear that followed this catastrophe. As a scholar of religion, I have often wondered of the theological impact of this natural disaster.

Thankfully, the scholarship of Virginia Garrard-Burnett provides some answers. She correlates the explosion of Pentecostalism in Guatemala, who like Haiti, is an epicenter of Pentecostalism in the Americas, in part as a response to the earthquake. An overwhelmingly high percentage of Guatemalans saw the earthquake as a form of divine punishment and a call for repentance. Arriving in the guise of aid and relief, Protestantism provided an alternative way of being Christian. Yet Pentecostalism primarily emerged in Guatemala, as it did in Haiti, disconnected from North American denominations. Indigenous Pentecostalism, with its apocalyptic theology, also gained momentum among Indigenous Guatemalans.

Haiti had barely recovered from the four devastating storms of 2008 prior to this earthquake. The Roman Catholic Cathedral in Port-au-Prince has collapsed, and Archbishop of Port-au-Prince, Monsignor Joseph Serge Miot’s lifeless body was pulled from the ruins of the diocesan offices. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has described the natural disasters that this nation has endured as “biblical” in nature. “It is biblical, the tragedy that continues to stalk Haiti and the Haitian people.” Clinton does not realize that her comments would strike a chord with many Haitians today. Haitian Pentecostals, with their biblical literalism and their certainty that the second coming of Jesus is imminent, could see this time of tribulation as a challenge where the faithful will be rewarded on judgment day. Religion will surely play a role in the manner in which Haitians make sense of this tragedy, and I suspect we will find growing numbers of Pentecostal converts as Haitians attempt to find meaning in what can only be described as senseless and inexplicable suffering.

ACACIA SELF-DEFENSE
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg12717361.200-antelope-activate-the-acacias-alarm-system.html
Antelope activate the acacia’s alarm system
BY Sylvia Hughes / 29 September 1990

Acacia trees pass on an ‘alarm signal’ to other trees when antelope browse on their leaves, according to a zoologist from Pretoria University. Wouter Van Hoven says that acacias nibbled by antelope produce leaf tannin in quantities lethal to the browsers, and emit ethylene into the air which can travel up to 50 yards. The ethylene warns other trees of the impending danger, which then step up their own production of leaf tannin within just five to ten minutes.

Van Hoven made his discovery when asked to investigate the sudden death of some 3000 South African antelope, called kudu, on game ranches in the Transvaal. He noticed that giraffe, roaming freely, browsed only on one acacia tree in ten, avoiding those trees which were downwind. Kudu, which are fenced in on the game ranches, have little other than acacia leaves to eat during the winter months. So the antelope continue to browse until the tannin from the leaves sets off a lethal metabolic chain reaction in their bodies.

Van Hoven’s research is to be published in the Journal of African Zoology. He described his results at a recent conference in France. Claude Edelin of the National Scientific Research Centre (CNRS) described the discovery as ‘terribly exciting’. Fifteen years ago, a French scientist at the CNRS, Paul Caro, found that oak trees attacked by caterpillars reacted by stepping up the quantity of tannin and phenol produced in their leaves. Caro observed that the trees’ defence mechanism inhibited the growth of the larvae.

AND YET : MUTUALISM
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7179880.stm
Big mammals key to tree-ant team
BY Anna-Marie Lever / 11 January 2008

At first it may seem counter-intuitive: that preventing large African herbivores from browsing Acacia trees decreases their growth. This, however, is precisely what researchers report in Science magazine. It is all because of the Acacia’s mutually beneficial relationship with a biting ant. Together they fend off Africa’s big grazing mammals; but it is these very antagonists that are needed to keep the plant-insect team working in concert. “Simulating large mammal extinction, by experimentally excluding them from eating the trees, causes the ant-plant mutualism to break down,” said co-author Robert Pringle from Stanford University, US. The whistling thorn tree (Acacia drepanolobium) and the biting ant (Crematogaster) that lives on it form a relationship, evolved over many millennia, in which both species co-operate and in turn benefit from each other.

Ant bodyguards
When this “mutualism” is working well, Acacia trees provide ants with swollen thorns, which serve as nesting sites; and nectar, which the ants collect from the bases of Acacia leaves. In return for this investment, ants protect the tree from browsing mammals by aggressively swarming against anything that disturbs the tree. Mr Pringle explains: “It is as if the tree hires bodyguards, in the form of ants, to protect it from being eaten.” The researchers disrupted this relationship by fencing off six plots of savanna land in Kenya by an 8,000-volt electric fence for 10 years.

Herbivores, such as giraffes and elephants, were no longer able to feed on the trees, causing a change in plant-ant dynamics. “[The trees] diminish the rewards that they produce for the ant bodyguards, decreasing both the amount of housing and the amount of sugar-rich nectar they produce,” lead-author Dr Todd Palmer at the University of Florida, US, told the BBC News website. He continued: “In essence, the trees begin to default on the co-operative bargain that they’ve made with the ants, because the trees no longer have need for protection from large browsing mammals like giraffes and elephants.” It would seem that now the trees are better off, as they do not need to use their resources to support the ants – but the researchers have revealed that this is not the case. Due to lack of housing and food, the mutualistic ant species becomes less aggressive, its colony size decreases and it loses its competitive edge.

Conservation implications
“The net result is a community-wide replacement of the ‘good’ mutualist ant by a decidedly ‘bad’ ant species that does not protect the trees from herbivores, and actually helps a wood-boring beetle to create tunnels throughout the main stem and branches of the acacia trees, which the bad ant then uses as nesting space,” Dr Palmer explains. Trees occupied by this antagonist ant grow more slowly and experience double the death rate compared with trees occupied by the mutalistic ant. At present, the researchers do not fully understand the mechanisms that allow the tree to sense it is no longer being browsed and to turn off its investment in mutualistic ants, but they suggest it takes place over a 5-10-year period. Dr Palmer said there were two important conservation implications of this research: “The first is that the decline of these charismatic [large animals] can have complex and cascading effects on entire ecosystems, with unanticipated results. “The second is that classical conservation approaches talk about conserving species, but perhaps equally important is the conservation of ‘interactions’.” The researchers suggest that the loss of large herbivores throughout Africa, due to ongoing human activity, may have strong and unanticipated consequences on the broader community. Mr Pringle adds: “It is a cautionary tale.”

INSECT BRIBES AND REPELLENTS
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8383577.stm
Acacia plant controls ants with chemical
BY Victoria Gill / 27 December 2009

In Africa and in the tropics, armies of tiny creatures make the twisting stems of acacia plants their homes. Aggressive, stinging ants feed on the sugary nectar the plant provides and live in nests protected by its thick bark. This is the world of “ant guards”. The acacias might appear overrun by them, but the plants have the ants wrapped around their little stems. These same plants that provide shelter and produce nourishing nectar to feed the insects also make chemicals that send them into a defensive frenzy, forcing them into retreat.

Nigel Raine, a scientist working at Royal Holloway, University of London in the UK has studied this plant-ant relationship. Dr Raine and his colleagues from the universities of St Andrews, Edinburgh and Reading in the UK and Lund University in Sweden have been trying to work out some of the ways in which the insects and the acacias might have co-evolved. He explains how the ants provide a useful service for the acacias. “They guard the plants they live on,” said Dr Raine. “If other animals try to come and feed on the rich, sugary nectar, they will attack them.”

In Africa, one type of ant-guard, known as Crematogaster, will even attack large herbivores that attempt to eat the plant. “If a giraffe starts to eat the leaves of an acacia that is inhabited by ants, the ants will come out and swarm on to its face, biting and stinging,” says Dr Raine. “Eventually, the giraffe will get fed up and move off.” In the New World tropics, the Pseudomyrmex genus of ants fulfil a very similar guarding role. For both species, the acacias provide little, reinforced structures that the ants hollow out and nest within, as well as sugar-rich nectar for them to eat. “In return, both groups of ants protect their host plants from herbivores – both hungry insects and larger [animals],” explains Dr Raine.

Give and take
That is the plus side for the plants. But being inhabited by aggressive insects could make one important aspect of a plant’s life difficult – flowering. Flowers need to be pollinated so the plant can reproduce. So what stops the ants from attacking the helpful little pollinators or stealing all the tasty nectar that attracts them? “Some plants do this structurally, with physical barriers to stop ants getting on to the flower, or sticky or slippery surfaces that the insects can’t walk on,” said Dr Raine. “Acacias don’t have these barriers. They have very open flowers, but still, the ants don’t seem to go on to them. We wanted to know why.”

One clever approach by the plant is a food “bribe”. “Extrafloral nectaries” are small stores of nectar on stems, from which the inhabitants can feed without going on to the flowers. Acacias also produce structures called beltian bodies on the leaf tips. These, Dr Raine explains, are nutritious structures produced by the plant to feed its resident colony of ant-guards. But when this isn’t enough, it is a case of chemical warfare. Flowers can produce a variety of chemicals. We can smell some of the volatile organic compounds they release when we sniff our favourite summer bloom. But there is a more manipulative side to these scents. Floral volatile compounds can act as signals – drawing in pollinators such as bees and hummingbirds in with their irresistible aromas.

To the ants, however, they are far from irresistible. “The flowers seem to produce chemicals that are repellent to the ants,” said Dr Raine. “They release these particularly during the time when they’re producing lots of pollen, so the ants are kept off the flowers.” In recent studies, described in the journal Functional Ecology, Dr Raine and his colleagues found that the plants with the closest relationships with ants – those that provided homes for their miniature guard army – produced the chemicals that were most effective at keeping the ants at bay. “And that was associated with the flower being open,” he says. “So the chemicals are probably in the pollen.”

When the pollen has all been taken away – by being brushed on to the bodies of hungry pollinators and helpfully delivered to other plants – the flowers become less repellent. “So at this point, the ants can come on to the flowers and can protect them from other insects that might eat them, so that the developing seeds aren’t lost,” he explains. Dr Raines’ team was able to test this using young flowers that had just opened and that contained lots of pollen. The scientists wiped them on older flowers and on the acacia’s stems. This showed them that the effect was “transferrable” – the stems and older flowers that had been wiped became more repellent. “It gives this really neat feedback system – the plant is protected when it needs to be protected, but not when it doesn’t.”

Selective deterrents
The repellent chemicals are specific to the ants. In fact, they attract and repel different groups of insects. “[The chemicals] don’t repel bees, even though they are quite closely related to ants. And in some cases, the chemicals actually seem to attract the bees,” says Dr Raine. The researchers think that some of the repellents that acacias produce are chemical “mimics” of signalling pheromones that the ants use to communicate. “We put flowers into syringes and puffed the scent over the ant to see how they would respond, and they became quite agitated and aggressive” he explained. “The ants use a pheromone to signal danger; if they’re being attacked by a bird they will release that chemical that will quickly tell the other ants to retreat.” Dr Raine says this clever evolutionary system shows how the ants and their plants have evolved to protect, control and manipulate each other. The ants may be quick to swarm, bite and sting, but the harmless-looking acacias have remained one step ahead.

CONTACT
Wouter Van Hoven
http://web.up.ac.za/research/2008/Faculties/NaturalSciences/VEEW/Researcher/145.html
email : wouter.vanhoven [at] up.ac [dot] za

Robert Pringle
http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~rpringle/Home.html
email : rpringle [at] harvard [dot] edu

Todd Palmer
http://web.mac.com/toadpalmer/Site/Mutualisms.html
email : Tmpalmer [at] zoo.ufl [dot] edu

Nigel Raine
http://www.biology.qmul.ac.uk/research/staff/chittka/chittkalab/Team/Nigel.html
http://www.rhul.ac.uk/Biological-Sciences/For-Staff/
email : n.e.raine [at] qmul.ac [dot] uk

U.S. SUPREME COURT vs ‘FLYING’ ASIAN CARP
http://www.fws.gov/midwest/Fisheries/hot-asian-carp-12-09.html
http://www.asiancarp.org/rapidresponse/greatlakesthreat.htm
http://asiancarp.org/rapidresponse/

ARMY CORPS of ENGINEERS as CODEFENDANT
http://www.epa.gov/glnpo/invasive/asiancarp/
http://corpslakes.usace.army.mil/employees/related.cfm?Id=invasive
http://www.anstaskforce.gov/default.php
http://invasivespecies.nbii.gov/portal/server.pt
http://biology.usgs.gov/invasive/
http://www.supremecourtus.gov/publicinfo/publicinfo.html

ENFORCEMENT ISSUES

GREAT LAKES INFECTED?
http://www.michigan.gov/documents/ag/Motion-Petition-Brief_305173_7.pdf
http://www.michigan.gov/documents/ag/Motion_for_Preliminary_Injunction_305176_7.pdf
http://www.michigan.gov/documents/ag/12-21-09_Carp_Fact_Sheet_305177_7.pdf
http://www.michigan.gov/ag/0,1607,7-164–228372–,00.html
http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/paperchase/2009/12/michigan-sues-illinois-in-supreme-court.php

LAWS OF NATURE
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gPBBiKJKfp1MbkPXxJCnNjnZCCrQD9CNR67O0
Mich. files suit in US high court over Asian carp
BY John Flesher (AP) – Dec 21, 2009

Michigan asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to close shipping locks near Chicago to prevent Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes and endangering their $7 billion fishery. State Attorney General Mike Cox filed a lawsuit Monday with the nation’s highest court against Illinois, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. They operate canals and other waterways that open into Lake Michigan.

Bighead and silver carp from Asia have been detected in those waterways after migrating north in the Mississippi and Illinois rivers for decades. Officials poisoned a section of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal this month to prevent the carp from getting closer to Lake Michigan while an electrical barrier was taken down for maintenance. But scientists say DNA found north of the barrier suggest at least some of the carp have gotten through and may be within 6 miles of Lake Michigan. If so, the only other obstacle between them and the lake are shipping locks, which open frequently to grant passage for cargo vessels.

Fifty members of Congress last week joined environmental groups in urging closure of the locks — the same demand made in Michigan’s lawsuit. “The Great Lakes are an irreplaceable resource,” Cox, who is seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination in Michigan, said at a news conference in Detroit. “Thousands of jobs are at stake and we will not get a second chance once the carp enter Lake Michigan.” He likened the fish to “nuclear bombs.” Cox went directly to the Supreme Court because it handles disputes between states. Michigan is seeking to reopen a case dating back more than a century, when Missouri filed suit after Chicago reversed the flow of the Chicago River and began sending sewage-fouled Lake Michigan water south toward the Mississippi River.

After that issue was resolved, several Great Lakes states — including Michigan — renewed the suit with a new complaint: Chicago’s diversion of water away from the basin was harming the lakes by lowering water levels. The high court has ruled on the matter numerous times, setting ceilings on the amount of Lake Michigan water Chicago could divert. The present limit is 2.1 billion gallons per day. Michigan’s suit argues that continued operation of the locks represents another potential injury to the lakes. It asks the court to immediately order them closed, and to create new barriers to prevent the carp from entering the ship canal from nearby waterways during floods.

Obama administration officials last week pledged $13 million to prevent carp from bypassing the electronic barrier by migrating between the Des Plaines River and the canal. The lawsuit also asks the Supreme Court to require a study of the Chicago waterway system to define where and how many carp are in those waters and to eradicate them. Noah Hall, an assistant professor at Wayne State University’s law school, said Michigan has a good chance of prevailing if it can show the potential harm posed by Asian carp would outweigh the benefits of keeping the locks open. “The carp invasion is a good textbook example of irreparable harm,” Hall said.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office was reviewing the suit and had no immediate comment, spokeswoman Natalie Bauer said. Metropolitan Water Reclamation District spokeswoman Jill Horist called the lawsuit “unfortunate.” “It’s unfortunate that there would be an assumption that this would make some positive resolution come sooner than is truly feasible,” Horist said. “Even if the locks were closed there’s still a variety of ways for DNA or Asian carp to enter Lake Michigan.” Messages left with the Army Corps of Engineers seeking comment were not returned.

Rep. Candice Miller, a Michigan Republican, praised the lawsuit.”There is nothing more pressing than stopping this aggressive invasive species from entering Lake Michigan and threatening our lake’s environment and all the states’ economies in the Great Lakes Basin,” Miller said. Environmentalists said closing the locks would be a temporary fix, but the only long-term solution would be restoring the natural separation between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River system. “The Chicago diversion was a 19th century solution to an environmental problem. Now it’s causing a 21st century emergency,” said Andy Buchsbaum, director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes center.


POLICY DETERMINED, BUDGET ALLOCATED
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gPBBiKJKfp1MbkPXxJCnNjnZCCrQD9CJD5F80
Feds to spend $13M to fight Asian carp invasion
BY John Flesher / Dec 14, 2009

Federal officials said Monday they would use $13 million in Great Lakes restoration funds to step up the fight against invasive Asian carp. Lisa Jackson, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, said the money will be used for engineering projects to prevent the carp from slipping into Lake Michigan near Chicago. They include closing conduits and shoring up low-lying lands between the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal — which leads to the lake — and other waterways. The ravenous carp have been migrating northward in the Mississippi and Illinois rivers for decades. Scientists say if they get into the Great Lakes, they could gobble up plankton, interrupt the food chain and devastate the $7 billion fishery.

Federal and state officials poisoned a six-mile section of the canal this month to prevent the carp from getting closer to Lake Michigan while an electrical barrier was taken down for maintenance. They have promised to consider other measures. Michigan officials are preparing a lawsuit demanding at least temporary closure of shipping locks on the canal, part of a roughly 300-mile waterway linking the lake with the Mississippi. That’s opposed by tug and barge companies that haul millions of tons of iron ore, coal and other cargo on the waterway. While debate on a long-term plan continues, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will use some of the newly designated funds to block potential bypasses between the sanitary and ship canal and two nearby waterways believed already to have Asian carp: the Des Plaines River and the I&M Canal. Scientists fear the carp might be washed from those waterways into the sanitary and ship canal above the electrical barrier during flooding caused by heavy rains.

The rest of the money will provide DNA testing in hopes of determining how far the carp have advanced, Army Corps spokeswoman Lynne Whelan said. Congress this fall appropriated $475 million to kick off a comprehensive restoration of the Great Lakes, including cleanup of contaminated harbors, wildlife habitat improvements and crackdowns on runoff pollution and species invasions. The $13 million to battle the Asian carp will be drawn from that fund, which President Barack Obama requested. The fund has “given us what we need to significantly and immediately reduce the risk of Asian carp reaching the Great Lakes and destroying such a valuable ecosystem,” Jackson said.

Officials with federal agencies involved in the carp battle met last week with members of Congress who pushed for spending up to $30 million over the next year. “I want to be clear that our work on this is not done and we’ll continue to aggressively work to protect the Great Lakes from this dangerous creature,” said Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich. “Allowing the Asian carp into the Great Lakes is simply unacceptable.” Henry Henderson, Midwest director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the planned spending was worthwhile but a stopgap measure. Environmental groups want to sever the link between the Great Lakes and Mississippi systems created by engineers more than a century ago. “We need a permanent solution, not a series of ad hoc barriers,” Henderson said.

GREAT LAKES AT WAR
http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2009/1229/Minnesota-Ohio-join-lawsuit-against-Illinois-over-Asian-carp
Minnesota, Ohio join lawsuit against Illinois over Asian carp
BY Mark Guarino / December 29, 2009

Minnesota and Ohio have joined Michigan in a lawsuit against Illinois in the battle keep Asian carp from the Mississippi Basin from invading the Great Lakes through a historic Chicago canal. Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson announced her state’s involvement in the lawsuit on Monday after judging that the presence of the Asian Carp along the state’s 149-mile shoreline on Lake Superior would directly threaten the state’s commercial and recreational fishing industries, which together generate $2.7 billion. “We pride ourselves on outdoor recreation; we call ourselves ‘The Land of 10,000 Lakes’,” she said in a phone interview. “We do think it is a public emergency.” The total revenue from fishing and tourism on the Great Lakes amounts to $7 billion.

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox’s lawsuit last week asked the US Supreme Court to order Illinois state agencies and the US Army Corps of Engineers to close the O’Brien Lock and Dam and Chicago Controlling Works, two critical junctions of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. The historic waterway was built in the 1920s to divert sewage away from Chicago and to provide a commerce route between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. Linking river traffic to Lake Michigan resulted in booming commerce for the Midwest, resulting in $30 million in annual revenue, according to the American Waterways Operators (AWO), a trade association representing the tugboat, towboat, and barge industry. But it also introduced a potential environmental disaster: the Asian carp, a bottom feeder, one of which was discovered in the canal close to Lake Michigan in early December, the northernmost finding of the fish in North America. The carp is thought to have traveled up the canal from Mississippi and Arkansas, where the fish was first introduced to help control algae growth on catfish farms in the 1970s.

The local shipping industry has argued that closing the canal locks will damage the shipping industry. But Minnesota’s Ms. Swanson says that argument is shortsighted and inadequate when set against the possible destruction of the Great Lakes. “There’s no monetary comparison to an ecosystem,” she says. “They’re an American treasure. Once you contaminate them with Asian carp, that treasure is jeopardized and can’t be changed. You can’t pay Michigan or Ohio or Minnesota enough money to ruin the Great Lakes. Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray also joined the lawsuit. His office says Asian carp in Lake Erie could cripple the $680 million earned in recreation fishing each year.

The lawsuit grounds its case on three 1929 complaints pitting Wisconsin, Michigan and New York against Illinois. Those complaints charged that the canal’s reversal of the water flow away from Lake Michigan was illegal. The Supreme Court declared the canal unlawful one year later in 1930, but never ordered it shut over the following years but only sought to regulate it. Mr. Cox says if the court will not reopen the old case, he will file a new case charging the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources with allowing pollutants to contaminate the Great Lakes system. The lawsuit is on the high court’s agenda Jan. 8.


“Crews dump rotenone in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal on Thursday in Lockport, Ill. The fish-toxic chemical was dumped on a nearly 6-mile stretch of the canal as part of efforts to keep the voracious and invasive Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes.”

RIVERS PREVENTIVELY POISONED
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=chicago-river-poisoned-to
Chicago river poisoned to block feared Asian carp
BY Andrew Stern / December 3, 2009

Authorities scooped up poisoned fish floating to the surface of a Chicago-area waterway on Thursday in an operation designed to keep invasive Asian carp out of the Great Lakes and prevent an ecological disaster. Illinois officials said a single Bighead carp, one of two prolific species of Asian carp viewed as a threat, had turned up in the huge fish kill that began overnight along 6 miles of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal southwest of the city. Poison was dumped into the waterway so maintenance could be performed on an electrical barrier that is designed to keep the carp out of the Great Lakes. The Asian carp was found some 40 miles from Lake Michigan, which was the closest to the Great Lakes the species has been found, authorities said.

Some 200,000 pounds (90 tons) of dead fish are expected to be collected, weighed, inventoried, and dumped in a landfill over the next few days. Most of the dead fish scooped up so far have been native carp and shad. Silver carp and the Asian Bighead, which can grow to 5 feet and weigh more than 100 pounds (45 kg), have come to dominate sections of the Mississippi River and its tributaries. Authorities fear that if the carp swim up to the Great Lakes, the largest fresh-water resource in the world, they could create an “ecological disaster” by consuming the bottom of the food chain and ruining the lakes’ $7 billion fishery.

Since 1990s floods allowed the carp to escape into rivers from research facilities and commercial fish ponds in the South, where they were introduced to clean away weeds and other detritus, the carp have multiplied and become a “nuisance species,” according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Along some stretches of the Illinois River, the carp make up 95 percent of the biomass and they are considered poor for eating or as a game fish. Silver carp, which leap into the air when disturbed by passing motorboats, have injured boaters.


Two electrical barriers in the canal were erected in 2002 and 2006 to shock any fish, particularly carp, that try to swim up the canal to Lake Michigan. The newer barrier is being switched off to perform maintenance on it. To give themselves a window to complete the task and keep any carp at bay below the barrier, authorities dumped into the canal more than 2,000 pounds (900 kg) of the natural poison rotenone that prevents fish gills from absorbing oxygen. The toxin, which is used as a broad-spectrum insecticide and pesticide, kills fish and freshwater snails but does not harm other animals. It dissipates within two days, though authorities planned to introduce a neutralizing agent to speed up the process.

Notre Dame University scientists recently detected carp DNA on the lake side of the barriers, which could indicate the carp have already passed them and the effort is either too little or too late. Fishermen have been asked to look out for the invasive carp on the lake side of the barriers. The DNA discovery led some environmentalists to call for river locks to be shut and ask for permanent separation of the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River watershed. Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm has indicated her state might demand locks be closed permanently. But the shipping industry argued that would be a costly mistake. The American Waterways Operators, which represents barge operators and other water shippers, said 15 million tons a year of commodities including oil, cement, iron, coal and road salt would be disrupted or halted.

THE LESSON? DEAD CARP SINK
http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091204/NEWS06/912040373/
Cleanup near Chicago yields just 1 bighead
BY Tina Lam / Dec 4, 2009

As cleanup and Asian carp-searching efforts continued after a massive poisoning in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal on Thursday, officials said they had found a lone Asian carp among the 200,000 pounds of dead fish. The bighead carp, nearly 22 inches long, was found just above the lock and dam at Lockport. That’s one of many spots where DNA testing since July has shown the presence of carp. The find is important because it established that the DNA testing is correct. That same testing has shown that there are carp just below an even more critical lock, the O’Brien lock, 7 miles from Lake Michigan.

A biologist who tested the poison on carp said Thursday that the fact that more carp weren’t showing up dead in the canal wasn’t surprising, since his tests showed they would sink to the bottom. “There is a chance someone will find one or two,” wrote Duane Chapman, a biologist at the U.S. Geological Survey in Missouri. Finding the single carp Thursday will only increase the drumbeat to close the canal off from Lake Michigan. “We’re concerned,” said Dan Thomas, president of the Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council. The Great Lakes Fishery Commission has pushed for several years to try to get studies done about how the engineering work might be done, said Marc Gaden, spokesman for the Great Lakes Fishery Commission.

The canal was built more than 100 years ago to let ships move between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River basin, and to allow Chicago to flush its waste down the river. Now, it’s become a pathway for invasive species to pass back and forth between the bodies of water. “It benefits Chicago, but the states around it have to ask, ‘What are we getting from it?’ ” said Gaden. The dead bighead carp was found during fish cleanup work Thursday along a 5 1/2-mile stretch of the canal from Lockport to a point just above an electric barrier built to keep carp out of the Great Lakes.

The discovery of one dead carp may not sound significant. But in an e-mail, a biologist who has studied Asian carp for more than two decades — and did the research to find out how much poison would kill them — said he never expected any Asian carp to be found floating among the dead fish in the canal. Instead, in tests he did, they plummeted to the bottom. “I have a strong doubt that we will see any bighead or silver carp for a few days or more, if ever, after the poisoning is done,” wrote Duane Chapman, a biologist at the U.S. Geological Survey in Missouri. That doesn’t mean they weren’t there, he said.

Along the canal where 350 people from various agencies poisoned 200,000 pounds of fish, security was tight Thursday, apparently partly out of fear that animal rights activists might try to enter the area. Gaden said it was unfortunate that news media weren’t allowed to see or photograph piles of dead fish being hauled from the shore by crane. “I want people to see dead fish,” he said. “It shows what drastic measures we have to take when we don’t prevent invasive species from getting in in the first place.” With the canal shut to barge and pleasure boat traffic, government boats crisscrossed the canal all day, carrying nets to scoop up flopping fish. Fish specialists examined the fish, looking for Asian carp, and found the lone bighead near the dam.

Bighead and silver carp are both considered dangerous to fish in the Great Lakes. But only the silver carp is on a national list of species labeled injurious, meaning it’s illegal to transport, sell or import them. In 2005, experts said bighead were a high and unacceptable risk to native wildlife and requested that bighead be put on the list. States can create their own bans, but a federal prohibition is more far-reaching and secure. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., introduced a bill in July that would require bighead to be listed. At a Senate hearing Thursday, held before the bighead was found in Illinois, Levin urged his colleagues to pass the bill swiftly. Asian carp were brought into the United States decades ago to clean up sewage ponds, but escaped in the 1970s into the Mississippi River and began their journey north to the canal.

Ellie Koon of the National Fish and Wildlife Service helped pick up dead and dying fish hours after the poison, rotenone, was dumped in the canal. Koon’s usual job in Ludington, Mich., is to use a fish toxin to kill sea lamprey, an invasive fish that wrecked the Great Lakes fishery in the 1950s. Koon said her own opinion, based on her 25 years of work on sea lamprey, is that everything possible should be done to stop even a small number of Asian carp from getting into the lakes. “We now spend millions of dollars a year just to control one invasive species, sea lamprey,” she said. “We can’t let Asian carp get by.”

NEXT LEVEL : CARP BOWHUNTING
http://carpbusters.com/proteams_riversedge.shtml

DYSTOPIAN ECOTOURISM [WEAR A HELMET]

PROPOSAL TO ADD CARP TO STATE PRISON MENUS
http://www.sphere.com/nation/article/invasive-asian-carp-inspire-lawsuits-extreme-archery/19296294
Invasive Asian Carp Inspire Lawsuits, Extreme Archery
BY Katie Drummond / Dec. 29, 2009

They’re the “nuclear bombs” of American waterways. That’s the analogy Michigan attorney general Mike Cox has drawn for the Asian carp, which is rapidly taking over stretches of the Illinois and Mississippi rivers — so rapidly, in fact, that his state is now seeking a legal injunction to help prevent the carp from invading the Great Lakes. Cox’s hope is that the courts accomplish what science could not: A recent experiment with poison in the Chicago river killed 90 tons-worth of fish, but only one carp was among the deceased.

Still, if you haven’t been following the coverage, it can be a puzzler: All this fuss, over a fish? Just who are these marauding, cockroach-tough swimmers that have state lawmakers, the commercial fishing industry and justifiably skittish boaters in a tizzy? A primer on this fear-inducing “missile with fins”:

1) They Haven’t Always Been the Enemy: “Asian carp” designates eight different major species of fish, of which only four — grass, black, silver and bighead — are considered invasive species in American waters. (Nor are all carp mutant-sized monsters that can grow to reach 100 pounds. The common goldfish, also known as Carassius auratus, is among the carp family too.) The fish were imported to the U.S in the 1970s to remove algae from commercial catfish ponds. Then, in the early 1990s, they rode flood waters into Mississippi waterways, and the trouble was under way.

2. They’re hearty eaters: The four common species currently in U.S. rivers will eat pretty much anything, and a lot of it — they consume nearly half their body weight in food every day — which can overwhelm native fish populations. Bighead and silver carps are “filter-feeders” that nosh on plankton; black carp eat mussels and snails. Silver carp don’t even have stomachs, allowing them to chow pretty much all the time.

3. They’re a big hit on YouTube: Carp have adapted to quiet lake bottoms and backwaters and are apt to jump at the sound of approaching watercraft. Jet skis and motor boats send them flying — up to 6 feet into the air. Footage of wildly flopping, airborne carp has become fodder for viral online videos, but the fish are a genuine danger to recreational boaters: The U.S. Geological Survey has likened an encounter with a leaping carp to “being hit with a thrown bowling ball.”

4. They’re remarkably resilient: How to kill a carp? Not with the aforementioned poison. Nor will suffocation or starvation get the job done: Grass carp, for instance, can live under the ice of frozen-over rivers and lakes and survive on very little food; other species go into a state of “suspended animation” to make it through periods of scarce sustenance and can survive for periods of time out of the water. Although recent reports suggest that carp might be dying off in some waterways, a comparison of carp levels from 1990 to 2000 shows how prolifically the fish, especially the bigheads, can expand their population in just a year.

5. They’ve inspired at least one new outdoor hobby: Not everyone’s upset over the Asian carp invasion, which for some innovative outdoor lovers has given rise to a new pursuit: fishing (or hunting?) for carp with a bow and arrow. Wisconsin resident Sam Woods is among them, and he likes to drive to the Illinois River to shoot the fish as they jump. “They’re awesome,” Woods told CBS. “If I don’t put 200 fish a night in the boat, I’m pretty disgusted with myself.”

6. They pair well with a nice white wine: The futility of other Asian carp abatement efforts is prompting some, such as Illinois State Sen. Mike Jacobs, to suggest an alternate approach: If you can’t beat ‘em, eat ‘em. Jacobs has advocated for adding carp to state prison menus, but you don’t need to be locked up to dine on the fish, which is consumed widely in Asia. Illinois State University helpfully points to a few recipes — for fried carp, and for smoked carp two ways — and notes that some testers even preferred the taste of the fish to canned tuna.

PREVIOUSLY ON SPECTRE : CLONED AQUARIUM PLANT TAKES OVER MEDITERRANEAN
http://spectregroup.wordpress.com/2009/02/19/hacking-nature-for-salvation-and-profit/
VIKING MICE (+ MUMMY LICE)
http://spectregroup.wordpress.com/2008/10/02/viking-mice/
BAD MOVES IN CENTRAL PLANNING : DEATH TO SPARROWS
http://spectregroup.wordpress.com/2007/11/08/spectre-classics-bad-moves-in-central-planning/

INVASIVE SPECIES PRIMER
http://www.bayjournal.com/article.cfm?article=3743
BY Rona Kobell / Officials swap stories of battle against invasive species
Social pressure, regulations discussed as tools to prevent spread of unwanted plants, animals

Spiny water fleas, furry mitten crabs, northern snakeheads, dead man’s fingers-they all sound like something out of a horror movie. But unfortunately, the story of the invaders that took over the nation’s seas is all too real. These marauders enter our waterways, either introduced accidentally or on purpose, and within a few short years, many establish breeding populations. They gobble up native fish and native habitats. With no natural predators, there’s no stopping their growth. They breed like rabbits-or, as the case may be, nutria. With nature unable to control them, wildlife managers try their best-but often, they’re simply too late and the results are devastating.

Invaders take several paths into the waterways. Some are brought in for a specific reason, and then things go terribly wrong. MSX, one of two diseases that have devastated native oyster populations, was accidentally brought to the East Coast with foreign oysters imported for research. In December, the Mid-Atlantic Panel of Aquatic Nuisance Species met in Baltimore to discuss the various vectors for bringing in the invaders and how to better manage them. The panel, which was organized by Maryland Sea Grant, was established in 2003. It took the place of the Bay Program’s Invasive Species Workgroup and, based on lessons learned here and elsewhere, is aimed at preventing new invasions when possible, and containing them when prevention doesn’t work. “Some of them hang out in a bay and stay for 50 years, and don’t spread-until they do,” said James Carlton, director of the Mystic Seaport Maritime Studies Program at Williams College in Massachusetts.

The case of the Asian carp and the Great Lakes is an example of the threat an invasive species can pose, and the millions of dollars in effort it takes to combat it. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service brought the Asian carp to the United States, seeking a natural weed killer. In the 1970s, catfish farmers in the Southeast began importing them as a natural pond cleaner. But floods in the Mississippi caused the ponds to overflow, and the carp swam into the great river. In some parts of the Mississippi, the voracious carp is the dominant species. They can weigh up to 100 pounds and can consume 40 percent of their body weight daily. They have no natural predators, and are so bony that U.S. consumers don’t want to eat them.

The carp was recently discovered in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, a man-made body of water connecting the Mississippi River to the Great Lakes. The Army Corps of Engineers has an electronic barrier at the canal to stop the fish from entering the Great Lakes. But Michigan authorities are complaining that the electronic barrier-which costs $40,000 a month to power-is not enough to keep the carp from the Great Lakes. They want the Corps to close the canal and protect Michigan’s $7 billion tourism/recreational fishing industry. But, closing the canal would disrupt a huge amount of interstate commerce between the Mississippi and the Great Lakes, and the Corps is planning to use federal stimulus money to erect another barrier to further insulate the Great Lakes. So, in 40 years, the Asian carp has gone from a helpful pond cleaner to a multimillion-dollar nuisance.

The northern snakehead hasn’t proven to be the nuisance that Asian Carp is, but it’s still worrisome that scientists have discovered hundreds of them in the Potomac River and several of its Northern Virginia tributaries. Scientists believe the snakeheads got to the Potomac sometime around 2002, when a male and female were dumped into Dogue Creek. So far, the bass in the river are tolerating the voracious Chinese fish, but scientists worry the peaceful co-existence won’t last long, given snakeheads’ copious breeding practices. Live bait is also an excellent vector for invasive species. Fishermen should never release unused bait into the water or leave it on shore. They should save it, give it to another angler or put it in their freezer.

In Montana, where recreational boaters have unwittingly spread invasive mussels that hitched a ride on their boat bottoms, managers are turning to social marketing to get the word out. Robert Wiltshire, founder and director of the Center for Aquatic Nuisance Species, said that it’s not enough to tell people to clean their boats. It has to be socially important for them to do so. Managers can appeal to the environmental sensibilities of a fly fisherman in a canoe, but Wiltshire said, that same message wouldn’t go over well with a jet skier. “We can’t do this through regulation. The real action is through peer-to-peer sharing,” Wiltshire said. “You need your fishing buddy to tell you to clean your boat, not the Game Board.” One way to do that, he said, is to reach out to professional athletes in competitions such as the X-Games.

The biggest conduit for aquatic invasive species, though, is ballast water used to balance ships that travel the world. Carlton, of the Mystic maritime program, said the nation’s scientists and port managers must work together to reduce the surprises. For decades, environmentalists have pushed for stricter federal standards. And when they didn’t materialize, many states took matters into their own hands. In 2000, Washington state required ships to exchange their ballast water 50 miles from shore. Oregon and California soon followed suit. In 2004-eight years after Congress passed a voluntary program to regulate ballast water, the Coast Guard required ships to flush ballast water from their tanks and replace it with ocean water when they were at least 200 miles from shore. But most of the ships couldn’t comply with that standard.

Gregory Ruiz, who studies invasives and ballast water at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, MD, said the exchanges, while “better than nothing” are an imperfect answer. The exchange does not get rid of all organisms. And it can be dangerous for a ship to destabilize itself in the middle of the ocean. Over the last several years, the shipping industry and marine scientists have agreed that onboard treatment systems using chemicals to kill all of the invasive species are a far better option. The Coast Guard is now proposing that all ships have a treatment system on board by 2016.

The Chesapeake Bay is now home to 170 invasive species, from the invasive reed, phragmites, to nutria, a foreign muskrat, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore to the shellfish-eating rapa whelk in Virginia and zebra mussels in the Susquehanna. Bay policy makers didn’t really start to study the problem of invasive species until the mid-1990s, when they were already clearly a problem in San Francisco Bay and the Great Lakes. But now, the Chesapeake is one of two places in the country where new ballast water treatment systems are being tested. The Maritime Environmental Resource Center, which does its research aboard the Cape Washington near Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, is testing ballast water treatment options. Part of a partnership between the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Chesapeake Biological Laboratory and the Maryland Port Administration, the center is also looking at ways to limit hull fouling from invasive species and to rein in air emissions from ships.

POPULAR TO EAT ELSEWHERE
http://www.semissourian.com/story/1454225.html
Asian carp cause problems in the region’s waterways
BY Steve Vantreese / The Paducah Sun / August 20, 2008

A quiet invasion makes for troubled waters on the area’s big rivers and some related backwater slough lakes. The lower Ohio, Tennessee, Cumberland and Mississippi rivers nowadays teem with a pair of carp species that aren’t native to American waterways. Indeed, bighead carp and silver carp are Asian in origin. Arkansas fish farmers imported the fish as pond cleaners in the 1970s. But the Asians escaped their commercial surroundings when floodwaters came calling to lowland ponds in 1993.

In the 16 years since their accidental release, bighead and silver carp proliferated in the Mississippi River, then blew up in numbers in all the major tributaries, including the lower Ohio and the far downstream ends of the Tennessee and Cumberland. Rather than being a mere addition to rivers, streams and lakes, Asian carp force themselves among those swimming local waters. But that’s especially true for huge numbers of large fish — silver carp easily reach 30 pounds and bighead carp potentially double that size and more.

Paul Rister is the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources fisheries biologist for the state’s westernmost waters. He said vast numbers of Asian carp could undermine the food base for other fish. As filter feeders, the bighead and silver carp strain small organisms, algae and plankton, from the water. The vast population of them might dramatically reduce this material, which is a basic food source for juvenile fish of many species and a primary food source for shad and paddlefish. “Shad are filter feeders, too, and they’re a chief food for most sport fish species,” Rister said. “If shad go down because of the competition from Asian carp, then we don’t have as much for sport fish to live on. “One of our chief concerns is for paddlefish, which compete directly with Asians because they’re all filter feeders,” Rister said. “Paddlefish are clearly in poorer condition than what we’ve seen in the past. “We’ve seen bighead and silver carp use the oxbow lakes that are occasionally flooded by the rivers as nursery areas,” he said. Oxbow lakes are bow-shaped lakes formed in a former channel of a river. “The paddlefish use them, too, and they compete for the same food there,” Rister said. “The paddlefish we’ve seen in the oxbows are emaciated.” Fishing pressure to hook paddlefish for their eggs compounds the species’ problems. Paddlefish eggs satisfy an inflated caviar market as a substitute for sturgeon roe.

Adult Asian carp found in Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley are thought to have passed through navigational locks to reach the reservoirs. They are not thought to be reproducing in the lakes, however. Thus the numbers of bighead and silver carp reportedly are modest in comparison to the masses seen in the rivers and river-flooded oxbow lakes. “They do especially well in the bottomland lakes,” said Doug Henley, a Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources Ohio River biologist. “To reproduce, they need running water like they have in the rivers, but the larval fish that they produce by spawning need the backwater areas as nurseries. There, they really compete with small native fish for plankton. “The 2- and 3-inch crappie that are in the oxbows might end up without enough food when there’s a mass of Asian carp in there, and that’s where you get a bottleneck of all these mouths to feed and too little food,” Henley said. “That’s one way you get stunted fish.”

A wild abundance of fish might seem to be a bounty instead of a blight to a commercial fisherman, but it all has to do with public demand. “They’re tasty fish, but there’s no local market for Asian carp,” said Ronnie Hopkins of Ledbetter, a commercial fishermen and one of a few who nets silver and bighead carp intentionally. “I’ve got my own market, but I just ship them out as I get orders for them,” he said. “I can usually catch all I need to keep the orders filled.” Hopkins said existing demand primarily is ethnic in origin, people who are culturally inclined to eating silver and bighead carp. But with the huge resource of Asian carp in area rivers and lakes, consequently, processing facilities are needed to turn the invaders into ground fish patties or other forms that can be used in the mass market.

In the interest of improving the fish populations on some of Ballard County’s state-owned small lakes, Hopkins has done some contracted netting to remove Asian carp from them. He also nets on the Ohio as demand rises for Asian carp as a food fish. “We’re eat up with them, but you have to go to the kind of places they go to catch them,” he said. “On the river, they like to go where there’s swift water next to dead water and net along the edge there.”

Hopkins said silver carp are notorious for jumping when disturbed, and this behavior has proved painful for fishermen and boaters in this region. “They’re shaped like torpedoes, and they hit just as hard when you’re running along in the boat and you run into one,” he said. “I was just out running a net and had about 15 of them jump into the boat while I was working,” Hopkins said. “One of them hit me in the back, and it was like somebody hit me with a ball bat.”

The U.S. Geological Survey has issued information cautioning boaters about the jumping behavior of silver carp. The warning equates a leaping silver carp striking a power boat passenger with getting hit with a thrown bowling ball. Asian carp also damage commercial fishing equipment, Hopkins said. A large school of these bullet-shaped exotics can destroy fishing nets designed for other species, he said.

Ohio River biologist Henley said the stronghold of the Asian carp seems to be in the lowest portion of the Ohio, with both silvers and bigheads growing markedly less plentiful in the Louisville, Ky., area and upstream. Hopkins said despite their downstream plenty, Asian carp seem to be still on the upswing in the lower reaches in the Ohio River and in the lowest portions of the Tennessee and Cumberland. “Their population is getting stronger every year,” he said. “They’re taking over.”

ALL WAY DOWN TO LOUISIANA
GOV’T CAJUN/JERK COOKING SHOW
http://www.lib.niu.edu/2002/oi020509.html
http://www.nola.com/newsflash/index.ssf?/base/sports-164/126199962984530.xml&storylist=louisiana
Protect the environment, eat jumping fish
BY Nikki Buskey / 12/28/2009

Houma, La. – They’re big, ugly and have been known to leap from the water and smack boating fishermen. Asian carp have begun infiltrating area bayous and freshwater lakes, but how can Cajuns defend themselves against these aquatic invaders? The best way we know how: By cooking and eating them. “Invasive fish are very difficult to control, especially when you’re in an open system like this,” said Michael Massimi, invasive-species coordinator for the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program. “Developing a demand is going to help.” In an attempt to battle infiltrating silver carp, Glenn Thomas, marine-extension leader with Louisiana Sea Grant, and Duane Chapman, a fisheries biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Columbia, Mo., teamed up to make video that is part cooking show and part fish-and-game report. The film provides step-by-step coaching on the proper way to clean and cook Asian carp.

Invasive silver carp, a species of Asian carp, are large filter-feeding fish that eat algae and plankton. The fish were intentionally introduced to the United States in the 1970s to help manage aquaculture ponds and wastewater lagoons. They quickly escaped into the wild where their populations have grown exponentially in the Mississippi River basin. Native to large rivers and associated floodplains in eastern Asia, the carp were first found in Louisiana waters in the 1980s. They reproduce quickly and, with their large size and hunger for plankton, they could pose a threat to native filter-feeding fish, like the big-mouth buffalo and the paddlefish, with also eat plankton. Silver carp have been found locally, likely because of spreading caused by freshwater floods and spillway openings in spring 2008, Massimi said. Their movements into Terrebonne and Lafourche are limited by their low saltwater tolerance. Locally, silver carp have a confirmed population in Lake Field. They are also rumored to be found in Lake Verret.

The fish are easy to identify. They have small, downward-facing eyes, a stout body and protruding lower jaw. Silver carp commonly exceed 20 pounds. Record catches have approached 100 pounds, Thomas said. But the silver carp is best known for an unusual and dangerous survival behavior. When startled by the sound of a boat motor, it attempts to flee danger by jumping skyward, frequently hitting boats and people. The action has earned them the nickname, “flying carp,” Massimi said. “As you can imagine, getting hit by a 50 or 60 pound carp can cause serious problems,” Massimi said. The fish have been known to cause boating accidents, black eyes, bruises and more severe injuries.

Trying to promote annoying invasive species as a tasty treat is a worthwhile tactic, but it might be difficult to pull off, Massimi said. Since the fish eat algae, they don’t tend to bite on hooks. Chapman, however, said that might make the fish a more exciting target for anglers. “You can go bowfishing or wait for them to jump in the boat,” Chapman said. “Commercial fishermen catch them in hoop-and-gill nets in Illinois.” Massimi, who tried Chapman and Thomas’ carp recipes at a recent state coastal meeting said the fish are delicious and taste like “fresh catfish.” Silver and bighead carp have moist, white mild flesh, he said. The larger carp yield meaty fillets. But their unusual bone structure does make them difficult to clean, a drawback that can make fishermen wary.

In the video, Chapman demonstrates his unique cleaning methods. He also demonstrates three cooking methods: blackened fillets, grilled fillets and a fried, bone-in preparation he calls ‘flying carp wings’. “You eat the fish off the bone, just like a chicken wing,” Massimi said. The fish, regardless of how they are captured or cook, do need to be put on ice quickly, he said, because they spoil easily. The instructional video was filmed and produced by the LSU AgCenter. The 27-minute video will be available on DVD from Louisiana Sea Grant in the spring.



LOUISIANA SEA GRANT
http://www.laseagrant.org/
http://www.laseagrant.org/adserv/nis.htm

LSUa
http://www.lsuagcenter.com/search/default.aspx?q=INVASIVE

CONTACT
Duane Chapman
http://www.cerc.usgs.gov/
http://www.usgs.gov/aboutusgs/
http://www.cerc.usgs.gov/Staff.aspx?StaffId=237
email : dchapman [at] usgs [dot] gov

RECIPES (SEND MORE)
www.iisgcp.org/AsianCarp/recipes_chapman.pdf
From the Kitchen of Duane Chapman, USGS Fish Biologist
Recipes for Fry-Cut Asian Carp Strips

Fried Asian Carp
1) Fry-cut silver carp strips (cut in the manner described in Carp Lemonade – most pieces will contain 2-4 large bones, while some pieces will be boneless).
2) Dry cornmeal-based seasoning (pre-mixed, or make your own from yellow cornmeal, salt, black pepper, and whatever other seasonings you desire)
3) Vegetable or peanut oil

Roll strips in dry coating and deep-fry until golden brown. Serve while still steaming hot. To minimize problems with the bones, eat in the following manner: break the strip in two pieces, a bit off-center. The bones will now protrude from the break. Usually all of the bones will remain in the longer piece. Pull the bones out and place them on a plate or napkin reserved for that purpose, and eat the fish – which is now boneless. Easier, by far, than eating chicken wings!

Flying Carp Wings
Prepare and eat as above, except instead of a seasoned cornmeal mix, use unadulterated corn starch, and fry until cornstarch coating is crispy. After frying, while the fish are still hot, shake strips in your favorite hot-wing sauce. Messy, but it will knock your socks off! Not for dieters!

From the Kitchen of Duane Chapman, USGS Fish Biologist
Recipes for Deboned Asian Carp

Fajitas Carpitas
1) 2 pounds deboned Asian carp meat pieces (see Carp Lemonade for instructions on deboning)
2) ½ bottle liquid fajita marinade (dry mixes can also be used)
3) 10 soft tortillas, fajita size
4) Fajita toppings as desired, such as salsa, pico de gallo, cheese, sour cream, guacamole, shredded lettuce, etc.

Marinade deboned carp pieces in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Grill over a hot fire. Use of a fish basket, or a piece of expanded aluminum mesh will help keep the fish pieces from breaking up and falling through the grill (however, if you are careful, this is not entirely necessary because the carp meat is quite firm). Place in a covered dish when removing from the grill, to keep the fish hot until delivered to the table. Diners can construct their own tortillas with their desired toppings.

Asian Carp Curry, Indian Style
2 pounds boneless Asian carp filets, in bite size pieces
½ t turmeric
3 T cooking oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 t garlic powder
1½ t salt
2 t ginger powder
½ t cayenne pepper
2 t curry powder
2 cups water
1 small can tomato sauce (tomato paste works too)
juice of lemon

Mix 1 t salt with half of turmeric and half garlic powder and rub on fish pieces. Sprinkle with lemon juice, and set aside to marinate while sauce is being made.

In large, deep frying pan or wok, saute onion in oil until golden brown. Add rest of spices and stir for a few seconds, then stir in tomato sauce. Simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add water and rest of salt. Bring to a boil and add fish pieces. Cover and simmer on low heat, without stirring, until fish flakes. This will not take more than a few minutes, depending on size and density of fish pieces. Do not overcook fish. Then spoon onto a bed of cooked white rice and garnish with something green, preferably fresh broccoli.

Options:
1. Add some vegetables (broccoli florets, yellow squash slices) into the sauce when cooking fish.
2. Add a carton of plain yogurt. This sounds strange but it is very traditional in Indian curries, and is delicious. The yogurt must be stirred in while broth is hot, just before adding fish.
3. The sauce (not with yogurt) may be made up in large batches and stored refrigerated or frozen. This makes a very quick meal if you have some fish thawed when you come home from work. Or take a frozen container of sauce with you when you go camping, and cook your fresh-caught fish in it. This is especially good when it is cold out!

From the Kitchen of Duane Chapman, USGS Fish Biologist
Recipes for Bone-In Asian Carp Filets

One option for dealing with Asian carp bones is simply to take the filets (an upper and a lower filet half from each side of the fish, with red meat removed but intramuscular bones still in), season appropriately, and grill, broil, steam, or smoke the fish. Then the bones can be quickly removed by simply breaking the filet lengthwise and picking out the bones. This can be done at the table or by the chef. The following recipe is just one of many ways to cook the filets. Make sure you make extra, because the leftovers are fantastic. Take the leftover fish, remove any bones, flake the meat, mix in mayonnaise, a bit more of the pepper mix, and some of the fruit salsa and make incredible fish salad sandwiches.

Jamaican Jerk Carp
1) 4 pounds of white meat filets from silver, bighead, or grass carp. Filets should be cut lengthwise down the center line, and skin and red meat removed.
2) Juice of two limes (or substitute apple cider vinegar)
3) Spice mix (1T paprika, 2t salt, 1t fresh ground black pepper, 1t white pepper, 1t cayenne, 1t garlic powder, 1t onion powder, ½t oregano, ½t thyme)

Rub filets generously with spice mix, and put the filets in a plastic bag. Add juice or vinegar, and shake the bag to mix well. Marinade for 20 minutes to an hour. (DO NOT EXCEED one-hour marinade time, or the acid will begin to “cook” the fish, causing it to fall apart on the grill.) Grill over a hot fire. Serve with Jamaican-style red beans and rice (called “Peas and Rice” in Jamaica) and/or a fruit salsa (see recipes which follow).

Jamaican “Peas” and Rice
1 ½ cups dried red kidney beans*
1 garlic clove, crushed
4 cups water
salt, to taste
2 cups canned coconut milk
fresh ground pepper, to taste
1 small onion, minced (optional)
1 scallion, chopped
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 fresh hot pepper
2 cups uncooked rice

Combine the kidney beans, garlic, water and salt to taste in a saucepan. Cook covered over medium heat until tender, about 2 hours. Add the coconut milk, pepper to taste, scallion, onion, thyme and whole fresh pepper. Bring to a boil, remove the hot pepper. Then add the rice and stir. Return to a boil, cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 25 minutes, or until all the liquids have been absorbed. Serve hot.

*Can substitute 16-oz. can of cooked beans instead. Drain and combine with water and other ingredients except rice. Boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add rice, boil, reduce heat and cook about 20 minutes or until liquids are absorbed.

Fruit Salsa
2 T chopped red onion
1 T minced fresh cilantro leaves
2 cups of chopped, mixed tropical fruit using at least two of orange, mango, and pineapple. Orange and mango should be fresh, pineapple may be canned. (If desired, may also include some firm tomatoes)
Mix all and let sit for an hour in the refrigerator. Serve cold.

RECIPES (cont.)
http://www.lib.niu.edu/2002/oi020509.html
Bones of Contention / BY P.J. Perea
Commercial anglers are having a tough time marketing this abundant nuisance species which ranks better than tuna in taste tests.

“The biggest problem right now with bighead and silver carp are the bones,” said Rob Maher, head of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources commercial fishing program. “The commercial anglers don’t have any machinery that can handle the larger-sized fish and the numerous bones that are interlaced throughout their meat.” The bighead and silver carp are filter feeders, and the bones are part of a fine sensory network that allows the fish to detect minute food particles in the water column. With the help of Mike Hooe of the Division of Fisheries, Maher spent a morning collecting fish for recipe testing. It did not take long to find a school of bigheads, as several breached around the wake of their boat. “After a five-minute net set, we had more than 150 pounds of bighead and silver carp in the net,” Maher said. “There are literally tons of these fish out there.”

A recent marketing test performed at the University of Arkansas on canned bighead carp revealed that taste testers preferred the flavor of canned bighead carp to that of canned tuna. The flesh of a fresh bighead and silver carp is firm, clean and slightly translucent with a metallic sheen. There is an oily feel to the firm meat, much like that of a whitefish or a freshwater trout. The meat is very mild when cooked and will readily absorb spices and marinades. Every fish used in the recipe testing was very healthy and had a sizeable fat layer on the belly and inside its back. The fat is slightly bitter and should be removed prior to cooking.

Here are three recipes that allow cooks to deal with the bones, whether from a smaller fish of 1 to 5 pounds or from a larger 5- to 30-pound fish.

Fried Asian Carp
————-
2 pounds of scored fillets
Salt
Fresh ground pepper
Deep fryer with oil heated to 375° F to 400° F
Commercial frying coating (dry)

Smaller 1- to 5-pound fish have fine bones that readily dissolve when exposed to hot oil. Do not use large fish as they have much thicker bones that do not break down as easily. Most fish markets will sell the fish prescored for your convenience. Use light coatings, and avoid heavy batters that smother the scoring and which may leave the bones intact.

Salt and pepper the fillets, and let them rest in the refrigerator for an hour. Dredge the fillets in the commercial frying coating, and place in hot oil. Remove when golden brown, and serve with lemon wedges as a finger food or as a fish sandwich.

Smoked Asian Carp (Savory)
———————-
5 pounds bighead or silver carp steaks or fillets (skin on)
1cup coarse kosher salt
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp. fresh ground pepper
1 bunch fresh baby dill

Smoked Asian Carp (Sweet)
———————-
5 pounds bighead or silver carp steaks or fillets (skin on)
1cup coarse kosher salt 1 tbsp. fresh ground pepper
1 cup brown sugar
4 cups apple juice
2 sticks cinnamon

Smoker: charcoal and smoking chips (hickory, cherry or apple wood chips)

Smoking is a good way to prepare larger 5- to 30-pound fish. The light, oily texture of the meat readily absorbs the smoke flavor. The smoking process also loosens the bones and allows for easy extraction after cooking. Taste testers found both versions of the carp to be comparable to smoked whitefish or salmon.

Savory: Line up fillets/steaks on non-reactive pan or tray. Coat both sides with salt, pepper and dill. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Sweet: Place fillets/steaks in non-reactive bowl. Add remaining ingredients: salt, pepper, brown sugar, apple juice and cinnamon. Mix lightly until sugar and salt dissolve. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Soak wood chips in water one hour before smoking. Fire up charcoal until covered with a light ash. Fill water pan to create steam in smoker and keep fish from drying out.

Remove fish from marinade. Place on wire racks in the refrigerator for one hour. Be sure to put a pan under the rack to catch drippings. The fish will develop a slight glaze. Lightly oil grill and position marinated fish on the rack. Add a handful of smoking chips to charcoal and close cooker. Replenish chips every 20-30 minutes. Most fish will be cooked in two to four hours, but this will vary with weather conditions and desired depth of smokiness. Finished fillets will have golden honey to mahogany color, depending on preference and type of wood chips used. Cooked fish will flake easily and will become opaque.

Allow fish to cool, and serve “as is” or use in recipes that traditionally call for smoked salmon.

Poached Silver Salad Sandwich
————————
2 pounds bighead or silver carp fillets (skin off)
1 lemon
Fresh ground pepper
Salt
Fresh baby dill

Sandwich Stuff
Mayonnaise
Fresh ground pepper
Celery, chopped
Red and yellow pepper slices
Cucumber slices
Lettuce
Tomato slices
Dill pickle
Cheese slices (optional)
Fresh bagel or favorite sandwich bread

Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon on the fillets. Salt and pepper fillets to taste. Coarsely chop a small bunch of dill, and sprinkle it on the fillets. Steam in an open foil packet until fillets become opaque and flake easily with a fork. Allow fish to cool and remove meat with a fork, separating from the bones.

Mix flaked fish with mayonnaise, ground pepper, celery and red and yellow pepper slices to taste. Chill salad in refrigerator. Serve salad on bread with side ingredients: cucumber slices, lettuce, tomato, pickle and cheese.

SYNANTHROPES
http://beefheart.com/walker/lyrics/crow/icecreamforcrow.htm
http://community.zdnet.co.uk/blog/0,1000000567,10007459o-2000331777b,00.htm
Synanthropy, and ice cream for crow
BY Rupert Goodwins / 5 March 2008

My new favourite word is synanthropy – the study and practice of creating symbiotic relationships between people and animals. I came across it thanks to the ever-giving Metafilter group blog, a pretty fine palace of symbiosis n its own right. It pointed me at A Vending Machine For Crows, a project by polymath techie Joshua Klein that aims to put some of the hundreds of millions of dropped coins back in circulation. It does this by training crows to realise that if they find coins and take them to the machine, they’ll get food. Crows, and corvids in general, are my favourite birds; they’re impressively intelligent, communicative, fast to learn and innovative when problem solving. They also like shiny things: really, what’s not to love?

The benefits of this idea are manifold. Klein posits that if you can get a few crows trained, then the idea will spread naturally throughout the population – and that means that mostly, human intervention can be restricted to seeding the idea and then leaving enough machines around. That makes it very economical – especially if the crows remain unaware of the true market value of the coinage they find. Although I’m sure that economics will take over if the idea catches on; if it’s profitable for the machine operators, then rival devices will appear offering better deals and a wider range of treats – and I do hope crows really are partial to ice cream. Is it perhaps entirely smart to introduce intelligent non-humans into our economy?

Perhaps the most exciting long-term potential for the Crow Vending Machine is that humans will lose a bit more of that apartness when it comes to other animals, and learn to think in symbiotic terms. That can only be advantageous; currently, our attempts to game the world’s ecosystems are clumsy and full of ill thought out missteps. Co-option is better than control. Meanwhile, watch yourself when you’re counting out change for that lunchtime sandwich at the pavement cafe. If this catches on, avian mugging will spread from the seagulls in no time flat.

SMART ENOUGH TO LIVE

HALVED COCONUTS AS PORTABLE SHELTER
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/12/15/2771822.htm

Scientists discover coconut-carrying octopus / Dec 15, 2009

Two scientists at the Melbourne Museum have recorded the first case of tool use in an invertebrate animal. The veined octopus, Amphioctopus marginatus, selects, stacks, transports and assembles coconut shells as portable armour. Many octopuses use available objects such as shells and rocks for shelter, but that is not considered tool use. Dr Mark Norman says what makes these animals so special is the the planned future use of the coconut shells. “It comes at a cost, carrying these shells in this awkward way and it’s a fantastic example of complex behaviours in what we consider the lower life forms,” he said. “I think these sorts of behaviours are everywhere in nature. There’s really complex behaviours that we write off because we think we’re the clever ones.”

He and colleague Dr Julian Finn spent more than 500 hours diving in remote waters off Indonesia to observe and film the animals. They watched the octopuses dig out coconut shells from the ocean floor and empty the shells of mud using jets of water. Dr Finn says it is not unusual for octopuses to live inside coconuts but it is how the veined octopus uses the shells that is unique. “It gathers them together, it stacks them like bowls, covers its whole body over bowls, lifts them up and then trundles along on its arm tips until a predator comes or there’s a threat,” he said. “Then it closes them over like a ball and hides inside.”

This series of actions are among the most complex ever recorded for octopuses. The veined octopus evolved this behaviour by first using clam shells as shelter. However once humans began discarding large numbers of coconut shells they found the perfect armour to protect themselves against fish attackers. The pair have written a scientific paper on the veined octopus which appears in the scientific journal Current Biology.

‘NEVER LAUGHED SO HARD UNDERWATER’ : RESEARCHER
http://www.cell.com/current-biology/abstract/S0960-9822(09)01914-9
http://cordis.europa.eu/fetch?CALLER=EN_NEWS&ACTION=D&SESSION=&RCN=31586
Study reveals use of tools by octopuses / 2009-12-15

Researchers often see tool use as a mark of intelligence. Humans, birds, primates and other mammals are all known to use them, and now a report by British and Australian researchers published in the journal Current Biology says that octopuses, an invertebrate, can be added to the list. Until recently, science had perceived invertebrates as lacking the cognitive abilities to demonstrate tool use. While some have been observed using leaves or sand to collect and transport food, researchers have said that these behaviours are different to the tool use seen in mammals and birds.

The new report details a type of behaviour of the veined octopus called ‘stilt walking': the soft-bodied octopus spreads itself over stacked, upright coconut shells, makes its eight arms rigid, and raises the whole assembly to then amble across the seafloor. The octopus later uses the shells as a shelter, which the researchers say is different to a hermit crab using a discarded shell. ‘There is a fundamental difference between picking up a nearby object and putting it over your head,’ said Mark Norman of the Museum Victoria in Australia, who worked on the project and led the report, ‘versus collecting, arranging, transporting (awkwardly) and assembling portable armour as required.’ The researchers found that the veined octopus exhibits further tool abilities by assembling the coconuts. This confirms the behaviour as tool use, distinguishing it from other object manipulations by octopuses, such as using rocks to barricade a lair entrance.

To study the octopuses, researchers dove for nearly 500 hours between 1999 and 2008 off the coasts of Bali and northern Sulawesi in Indonesia. More than 20 octopuses were studied, and the discovery of the behaviour was a surprise. ‘I could tell that the octopus, busy manipulating coconut shells, was up to something, but I never expected it would pick up the stacked shells and run away,’ stated Julian Finn, also of the Museum Victoria. ‘It was an extremely comical sight – I have never laughed so hard underwater.’ The researchers believe that the behaviour is likely to have evolved using large empty bivalve shells prior to the relatively recent supply of clean and light coconut shell halves discarded by costal communities near the marine habitant of the octopuses. The report concludes: ‘Ultimately, the collection of use of objects by animals is likely to form a continuum stretching from insects to primates, with the definition of tools. However, the discovery of this octopus tiptoeing across the seafloor with its prized coconuts shells suggests that even marine invertebrates engage in behaviours that we once thought the preserve of humans.’

BRAINS WITH TENTACLES
http://www.slate.com/id/2192211/
How Smart Is the Octopus?
BY Carl Zimmer / June 23, 2008

Aristotle didn’t have a high opinion of the octopus. “The octopus is a stupid creature,” he wrote, “for it will approach a man’s hand if it be lowered in the water.” Twenty-four centuries later, this “stupid” creature is enjoying a much better reputation. YouTube is loaded with evidence of what some might call octopus intelligence. One does an uncanny impression of a flounder. Another mimics coral before darting away from a pushy camera. A third slips its arms around a jar, unscrews it, and dines on the crab inside. Scientific journals publish research papers on octopus learning, octopus personality, octopus memory. Now the octopus has even made it into the pages of the journal Consciousness and Cognition (along with its fellow cephalopods the squid and the cuttlefish). The title: “Cephalopod consciousness: behavioral evidence.”

So, is the octopus really all that smart? It depends on how you define intelligence. And if you’ve got a good definition, there are quite a few scientists who would love to hear it. Octopuses can learn, they can process complex information in their heads, and they can behave in equally complex ways. But it would be a mistake to try to give octopuses an IQ score. They are not intelligent in the way we are—not because they’re dumb but because their behavior is the product of hundreds of millions of years of evolution under radically different conditions than the ones under which our own brains evolved.

Grady Hendrix recommended that we avoid the giant squid at all costs. Daniel Engber explained why it’s so hard to find a giant squid and wondered if cats can really sense death. Seth Stevenson reviewed the history of celebratory sports gestures, including the venerable “octopus toss” of the Detroit Red Wings. You’d have to go back about 700 million years to find the moment in the history of life when humans and octopuses diverged. Our most recent common ancestor, scientists suspect, was a little wormlike creature with eyespots and little more. Since then, our lineage evolved bones; theirs evolved boneless bodies they control with water pressure. We’ve accumulated so many and such incredible differences over that time that 20th-century scientists were excited to discover a few deep similarities. In the 1950s, for example, biologists demonstrated for the first time that octopuses have massive brains.

Cephalopods belong to the same lineage that produced snails, clams, and other mollusks. A typical mollusk might have 20,000 neurons arranged in a diffuse net. The octopus has half a billion neurons.* The neurons in its head are massed into complex lobes, much the way our own brains are. In comparison with their body weight, octopuses have the biggest brains of all invertebrates. They’re even bigger than the brains of fish and amphibians, putting them on par with those of birds and mammals. In the late 1950s, Oxford biologist N.S. Sutherland decided to put the big brains of octopuses to the test. He would show them two shapes and reward them for touching one but not the other. They might learn to tell a rectangle in a horizontal position from the same rectangle rotated 90 degrees. And once they had figured out this test, the octopuses knew to select any horizontal rectangle they saw, no matter what its particular dimensions. They were learning what to learn. Over the years, octopuses have shown many more signs of intelligence. They proved to have an excellent memory. They were clever and unpredictable. Jennifer Mather, a Canadian biologist, has tossed toys into octopus tanks and watched as the octopuses inspect them and puff them around with jets of water.* They are playing, she argues. Clams do not play. Humans do.

Mather is also the author of the new paper arguing for consciousness in octopuses. She does not claim that they have full-blown consciousness like we do but a simpler form known as primary consciousness. In other words, they can combine their perceptions with their memories to have a coherent feel for what’s happening to them at any moment. Mather bases her claim not just on how octopuses behave but also on how their brains work. For example, one sign of the complexity of the human brain is that we can be left-handed or right-handed. Our preference comes from one side of the brain dominating over the other—a sign of how the two sides of our brains are not identical. Instead, they divide up mental work and communicate with each other to create a unified sense of reality. Octopuses may not be left-handed (or left-armed), but Mather claims that they show similar kinds of specialization with their eyes. In a 2004 experiment, she and her colleagues found that when they looked out from their dens, some preferred to sit with their left eye facing out, others with their right.

But some octopus experts are skeptical of these bold claims. Many reports of weird octopus behavior come from casual observations in aquariums. Even some experiments have not held up to scrutiny. Last year, Jean Boal of Millersville University and her colleagues found fault with Mather’s experiments on left- and right-brained octopuses. The problem was that the scientists had looked at too few octopuses. It was impossible to rule out the possibility that octopuses might not have any preference at all for either eye. The results of the experiments might simply have been a matter of chance. After 50 years, in other words, we still don’t know that much about what’s going on in the heads of octopuses. Carefully designed experiments will be essential for finding out more, but so will a more octo-centric attitude. What we call intelligence is really just a set of behaviors and abilities that evolved in our ancestors as they adapted to a particular way of life. Octopuses evolved behaviors of their own, but they were adapting to a way of life that’s hard for us to imagine—they were naked mollusks in a world of fish.

The earliest cephalopods, which lived about a half-billion years ago, had shells. Over the next 250 million years, they evolved into giant predators. They shot bursts of water out of siphons to swim—a prehistoric form of jet propulsion.* But their glory was cut short by fish with jaws—our ancestors. Fish could swim faster by bending their bodies than cephalopods could move by jetting. Today, only a single shelled cephalopod survives—the nautilus, which spends most of its life lurking deep underwater. The other living cephalopods lost their shells. While they gave up a defense against predators, they were free to evolve new skills. Squids became fast swimmers. Octopuses instead moved to the sea floor, where they could use their shell-free bodies to explore cracks and crevices for prey. But in order to survive in this new niche, they had to become fast learners. Jean Boal and her colleagues have done some experiments that show how good octopuses are at learning geography. Boal put the octopuses in tanks with an assortment of landmarks, such as plastic jugs, plates of pebbles, and clumps of algae. It took only a few trials for the octopuses to find the quickest route to a hidden exit in the bottom of the tank. What made Boal’s results particularly impressive is that the octopuses were learning two completely different mazes at once. Boal would move them from one to the other after each trial. Somehow, the octopuses could keep track of two geographies concurrently. When octopuses are moving across new terrain, they can perhaps learn the best escape from predators.

Octopuses escape from predators not just by hiding quickly but by deceit. One of the most impressive examples of this deception is what marine biologist Roger Hanlon calls the moving-rock trick. An octopus morphs into the shape of a rock and then inches across an open space. Even though it’s in plain view, predators don’t attack it. They can’t detect its motion because the octopus matches its speed to the motion of the light in the surrounding water. For Hanlon, what makes this kind of behavior remarkable is that it’s a creative combination of lots of behaviors, used to address a new situation. Similarly, when an octopus escapes an attack, it may puff up its body and turn white to scare a predator, shoot off puffs of ink to distract it, zigzag through the water, and then suddenly switch its skin to match the surrounding coral.

There’s not much point in trying to pin this sort of behavior to some human-based scale of intelligence, because our behavior emerged as apes adapted to life spent on two legs, in groups, and using our hands to make tools. We’d fail pretty badly at an octopus-based test of intelligence, but surely we wouldn’t hold it against ourselves.

CROW CAM
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071008132804.htm

Tiny Crow Camera Spies On Clever Birds / Oct. 10, 2007

A new technique developed by Oxford University zoologists enables researchers to ‘hitch a ride’ with wild birds and witness their natural and undisturbed behaviour. The scientists developed miniaturised video cameras with integrated radio-tags that can be carried by wild, free-flying birds. Using this new ‘video-tracking’ technology, they spied on the behaviour of New Caledonian crows, a species renowned for its sophisticated use of tools, recording behaviours never seen before. Observing New Caledonian crows in the wild is extremely difficult because they are easily disturbed and live in densely forested, mountainous terrain. ‘Video-tracking’ enabled the Oxford scientists to obtain particularly intimate observations of crow behaviour. ‘Everyone thought that New Caledonian crows use tools mainly to probe into holes and cracks in rotting wood and tree crowns, but we now discovered that they use tools even on the ground,’ said Dr Christian Rutz, from the Behavioural Ecology Research Group at Oxford’s Department of Zoology.

One crow was seen probing leaf litter with grass-like stems – a mode of tool use, and a tool material, that decades of observation with conventional techniques had missed. ‘This discovery highlights the power of our new video-tracking technology’ said Dr Rutz, who leads the group’s field research. ‘This is the first time that wild birds have been tracked in this way, and it has already changed our understanding of New Caledonian crow behaviour.’ For the study, 18 crows were fitted with ‘tailcams’ with each unit weighing about 14 grams – only slightly heavier than a conventional radio-tag. The units were attached to two tail feathers with strips of adhesive tape, and were designed so that they did not adversely affect the bird’s movements, and could be removed by the crows themselves or would detach after a few weeks with the birds’ natural moulting process.

‘Observing wild birds this closely in their natural habitat has been one of the final frontiers of ornithological field research,’ said Dr Rutz. ‘Whilst video footage has been taken before using tame, trained birds, it is only now that we have been able to design cameras that are small and light enough to travel with wild birds and let them behave naturally. Potentially, this new video technology could help us to answer some long-standing questions about the ecology and behaviour of many other bird species that are otherwise difficult to study.’ A report of the research, entitled ‘Video Cameras on Wild Birds’ was published in Science Express on Thursday 4 October 2007. The research was undertaken by Dr Christian Rutz, Lucas Bluff, Dr Alex Weir and Professor Alex Kacelnik from the Behavioural Ecology Research Group at the Department of Zoology and was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

VIDEO
http://users.ox.ac.uk/~kgroup/tools/movies/crowcamS1_high.mov
http://users.ox.ac.uk/~kgroup/tools/movies/crowcamS2.mov
http://users.ox.ac.uk/~kgroup/tools/movies/crowcamS3.mov
http://users.ox.ac.uk/~kgroup/tools/movies/crowcamS4.mov
http://users.ox.ac.uk/~kgroup/tools/movies/crowcam%20schematic.wmv

CROWS SHOW CULTURAL ADAPTATION

http://www.ted.com/talks/joshua_klein_on_the_intelligence_of_crows.html
http://www.ted.com/speakers/joshua_klein.html

CONTACT
Josh Klein
http://www.josh.is/projects/index.php
email : josh [at] wireless [dot] is

TEACHING CROWS (TO TEACH OTHER CROWS)
TO COLLECT TRASH, IN EXCHANGE FOR PEANUTS
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/14/magazine/14Ideas-section4B-t-003.html
BY Claire Trageser / December 12, 2008

In June, Josh Klein revealed his master’s-thesis project to a flock of crows at the Binghamton Zoo in south-central New York State. The New York University graduate student offered the birds coins and peanuts from a dish attached to a vending machine he’d created, then took the peanuts away. Klein designed the machine so that when the crows searched for the missing peanuts, they pushed the coins out of a dish into a slot, causing more peanuts to be released into the dish. The Binghamton crows quickly learned that dropping nickels and dimes into the slot produced peanuts, and the most resourceful members of the flock began looking for more coins. Within a month, Klein had a flock of crows scouring the ground for loose change. Now Klein is working with graduate students at Cornell University and Binghamton University to study how wild crows make use of his machine. Although his invention might conjure Hitchcock-worthy visions of crows stealing the loose change from pedestrians’ pockets and hands, Klein’s conception is more benign. To Klein, the machine demonstrates the value of cooperating with “synanthropes” — animals that have adapted seamlessly to human environments. “Rather than just killing off a species, why not see if they can do something useful for us, so we can all live in close proximity?” he said. To pursue his research, he founded the Synanthropy Foundation this year. Someday, he hopes, similar techniques may allow us to train rats to sort our garbage for us.

CORRECTION
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/12/magazine/12letters-t-CORRECTIONS-1.html
Vending Machine for Crows / April 12, 2009

An article in the Year in Ideas issue on Dec. 14, 2008, reported on Josh Klein, whose master’s thesis for New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program proposed “a vending machine for crows” that would enable the birds to exchange coins for peanuts. The article reported that beginning in June 2008, Klein tested the machine at the Binghamton Zoo, that the crows learned how to use it and that after a month the crows were actually scouring the ground for loose change.

The Times has since learned that Klein was never at the Binghamton Zoo, and there were no crows on display there in June 2008. He performed these experiments with captive crows in a Brooklyn apartment; he told the reporter about the Brooklyn crows but implied that his work with them was preliminary to the work at the zoo. Asked to explain these discrepancies, Klein now says he and the reporter had a misunderstanding about the zoo.

The reporter never called the zoo in Binghamton to confirm. And while the fact-checker did discuss the details with Klein, he did not call the zoo, as required under The Times’s fact-checking standards. In addition, the article said that Klein was working with graduate students at Cornell University and Binghamton University to study how wild crows make use of his machine, which does exist. Klein did get a professor at Binghamton to help him try it out twice in Ithaca, with assistance from a Binghamton graduate student, and it was not a success. Corvid experts who have since been interviewed have said that Klein’s machine is unlikely to work as intended.

These discrepancies were pointed out to The Times by the Binghamton professor several weeks after the article was published; this editors’ note was delayed for additional reporting. These details should have been discovered during the reporting and editing process. Had that happened, the article would not have been published.

CONTINUING RESEARCH
http://www.wireless.is/projects/crows/

PREVIOUSLY ON SPECTRE : EFFORT TO CORRUPT BIRDS PAYS OFF
http://spectregroup.wordpress.com/2008/03/08/effort-to-corrupt-birds-pays-off/

MEANWHILE : VOLUME DISPLACEMENT
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/08/aesopscrows/
Clever Crows Prove Aesop’s Fable Is More Than Fiction
BY Hadley Leggett / August 6, 2009

Aesop’s fables are full of talking frogs and mice who wear clothes, but it turns out at least one of the classic tales is scientifically accurate. Researchers presented four crows with a challenge from Aesop’s fable “The Crow and the Pitcher”: a container of water not quite full enough for the birds to reach with their beaks. Just like Aesop’s crow, all four birds figured out how to raise the water level by dropping stones into the glass. The crows also selectively chose large pebbles over small ones, and quickly realized that dropping rocks into a container of sawdust didn’t have the same effect. “The results of these experiments provide the first empirical evidence that a species of corvid is capable of the remarkable problem-solving ability described more than two thousand years ago by Aesop,” wrote the researchers in the paper published Thursday in Current Biology. “What was once thought to be a fictional account of the solution by a bird appears to have been based on a cognitive reality.”

The researchers took four adult rooks, a type of intelligent crow, and tempted them with a tasty worm floating on top of a glass of water, just out of reach. Then they placed a pile of small rocks next to the crows. After they assessed the height of the water from the top and sides of the glass, the crows dropped stones into the glass until the water level rose enough for them to grab their prize. Once they’d caught the worm, the birds didn’t keep putting stones in the glass, and they didn’t try to grab the worm until they’d dropped in a certain number of stones. “This number was strongly correlated to the number of stones needed to raise the water level to the correct height,” the researchers wrote, “suggesting that, having assessed the starting level of the water, rooks translated this into an estimate of the number of stones needed.”

Before this experiment, the birds had never been exposed to a glass with water in it, and they’d never used stones as tools. According to the researchers, the only other animal known to perform this kind of task is the orangutan, which has been recorded spitting into a tube to bring a peanut into reach. “Corvids are remarkably intelligent, and in many ways rival the great apes in their physical intelligence and ability to solve problems,” said biologist Christopher Bird of the University of Cambridge in a press release. “This is remarkable considering their brain is so different to the great apes’.” The antics of the four birds — Cook, Fry, Connelly and Monroe — can be seen in the videos below. Cook and Fry snagged the floating worm after just one try, while Connelly and Monroe succeeded after two attempts. Unfortunately, Fry had a bad reaction to one of the worms and gave up in the middle of the experiment.



TOOLMAKING
http://www.sciencemag.org/feature/data/crow/weirmovie.mov
http://www.sciencemag.org/feature/data/crow/

In the Brevia section of the 9 August 2002 issue of Science, Weir et al. report a remarkable observation: The toolmaking behavior of New Caledonian crows. In the experiments, a captive female crow, confronted with a task that required a curved tool (retrieving a food-containing bucket from a vertical pipe), spontaneously bent a piece of straight wire into a hooked shape — and then repeated the behavior in nine out of ten subsequent trials. Though these crows are known to employ tools in the wild using natural materials, this bird had no prior training with the use of pliant materials such as wire — a fact that makes its apparently spontaneous, highly specific problem-solving all the more interesting, and raises intriguing questions about the evolutionary preconditions for complex cognition. The crow’s behavior was captured on video.

THE MOST FAMOUS CROW (ACCORDING TO HUMANS)

“BETTY”
http://users.ox.ac.uk/~kgroup/
http://users.ox.ac.uk/~kgroup/tools/handedness.shtml
http://users.ox.ac.uk/~kgroup/tools/introduction.shtml
http://users.ox.ac.uk/~kgroup/tools/tool_manufacture.shtml

Our experiments on tool selectivity did not examine whether the crows understood how their tools worked. To do this, we gave our subjects a very unnatural material – garden wire – and an unusual problem: some meat in a small bucket, at the bottom of a transparent ‘well’. In the first experiment, the crows were given a choice between a hooked and a straight piece of wire, and could only get the bucket if they used the hook.

As so often in scientific research, the experiment took an unexpected turn. On the fifth trial of the experiment, one of our subjects (“Abel”) removed the hooked wire, leaving the other subject (“Betty”) with only the straight piece. After trying to use this unsuccessfully, she wedged one end of it under a piece of sticky tape and pulled the other end with her beak – creating a hook! – which she then used to retrieve the bucket. When tested with only straight wire, she repeatedly bent it into hooks, using a variety of techniques, indicating that this was not something she just did accidentally on that one occasion (Weir et al. 2002).

These observations were particularly remarkable because it is the first time any animal has been seen to make a new tool for a specific task, without an extended period of trial-and-error learning. It seems that Betty understood that she needed a hook to get the bucket and that she could then figure out how to make a hook from a novel material. We have recently tested her with a different kind of material – flat strips of aluminium – and found that she quickly learned how to modify these as necessary, either to make a hook, or to make them longer or narrower (Weir & Kacelnik 2006). We are currently investigating whether other individuals have the same abilities.

CONTACT
Alex Kacelnik
http://users.ox.ac.uk/~kgroup/people/alexkacelnik.shtml
email : alex.kacelnik [at] zoo.ox.ac [dot] uk

Russell Gray
http://www.psych.auckland.ac.nz/people/Gray/Russell.htm
email : rd.gray [at] auckland.ac [dot] nz

Gavin Hunt
http://language.psy.auckland.ac.nz/crows/gavin-home-page.htm
http://www.psych.auckland.ac.nz/people/Gavin/Gavin.htm
email : grhunt10 [at] hotmail [dot] com

http://language.psy.auckland.ac.nz/
http://language.psy.auckland.ac.nz/crows/
http://language.psy.auckland.ac.nz/crows/video-clips.htm

THE CORVID INTELLECT
http://www.earthlife.net/birds/corvidae.html
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8023295.stm
Meet the brains of the animal world
By Rebecca Morelle / 7 May 2009

“In the past, people thought birds were stupid,” laments the aptly named scientist Christopher Bird. But in fact, some of our feathered friends are far cleverer than we might think. And one group in particular – the corvids – has astonished scientists with extraordinary feats of memory, an ability to employ complex social reasoning and, perhaps most strikingly, a remarkable aptitude for crafting and using tools. Mr Bird, who is based at the department of zoology at Cambridge University and is supervised by Dr Nathan Emery, says: “I would rate corvids as being as intelligent as primates in many ways.”

The corvids – a group that includes crows, ravens, rooks, jackdaws, jays and magpies – contain some of the most social species of birds. And some of their intelligence is played out against the backdrop of living with others, where being intelligent enough to recognize individuals, to form alliances and foster relationships is key. However, group living can also lead to deceptive behaviour – and western scrub jays (Aphelocoma californica) can be the sneakiest of the bird-bunch. Many corvids will hide stores of food for later consumption, especially during the cold winter months when resources are scarce, but western scrub jays take this one step further. Mr Bird says: “If they are being watched, they will hide their food, but they will do some ‘fake hides’ as well – so they’ll put their beak in the ground, but not place the food. It’s a bit like a confusion strategy. “Sometimes, if they are being watched, then they’ll even go back and hide the food again.”

Corvids’ cognisance of other birds has led scientists to ponder whether they are also aware of themselves. And to test this, scientists use the Gallup mark test, where an animal is marked on a part of its body that it cannot normally see and is then shown its reflection in a mirror. If it notices this mark and tries to remove it, then it suggests that the animal knows it is looking at itself and could possess some kind of self-awareness. So far, only some species of primates have consistently passed this self-recognition test, although more recent studies suggest elephants and dolphins may also respond. But last year, a German team revealed that magpies, marked with a coloured sticker under their beaks, tried to remove it when presented with a mirror – the first time a bird had been seen to pass this test. Professor Onur Gunturkun, from Ruhr-University Bochum, one of the authors of the Plos paper, says: “It throws out the assumption that only higher mammals were capable of self-recognition.”

While the birds’ social intelligence has continued to impress, it is perhaps their physical intelligence, and in particular their tool use, that has stirred the most interest. Recent studies reveal that corvids’ tool-use may at least rival, and even surpass, that of primates, such as chimpanzees. And one species in particular possesses an extraordinary ability – the New Caledonian crow (Corvus moneduloides), which is found on the Pacific island of New Caledonia. Russell Gray and his colleagues from the department of psychology at the University of Auckland have studied this species extensively, and were the first to discover that the birds were crafting tools in the wild. Professor Gray tells BBC News: “They do some really complex looking things. “We have seen that they take a whole branch, chop off the side branches and hone away at the end to create a hook, which they use to get grubs.” Other experiments carried out at field stations have even shown that the birds will use a number of different tools to reach a tasty snack.

Inside the laboratory, captive New Caledonian crows are also helping scientists to better understand tool use and corvid intelligence. And one bird in particular seemed to posses a remarkable ability when it came to solving problems using tools – Betty. Alex Kacelnik, who leads the behavioural ecology group at Oxford University, said: “Betty was captured as a juvenile from the field, and she must have been one-and-a-half years old when she came to us. And we didn’t have any reason to suspect that she was an unusual animal.” However the team discovered, by chance, that Betty was able to perform some remarkable feats that had never been seen before in any other animals. The researchers were testing how New Caledonian crows selected tools by presenting them with a small bucket filled with some food, which was placed in a well, and pieces of wire, some straight and some with a hook at the end. The aim was to see whether the crows would select the bent wire to retrieve the treat-laden bucket. But Betty astonished researchers when she selected a straight piece of wire and then used her beak to bend it into a hook so she could pull up the bucket of food. When she was later tested with just the straight wire, Betty repeatedly bent it into hooks – and other experiments with aluminium strips revealed how she would bend, shorten and lengthen the material to get to her food. This was the first time that any animal had been seen to make a new tool for a specific task, without an extended period of trial-and-error learning.

As scientists discover ever-more intelligent behaviour in corvids, they are now trying to understand why this group has developed these special abilities. And New Caledonian crows’ tool-use is a key focus. Professor Gray explains: “What has led to just this one species in this one little island in the Pacific being able to make these complex tools? It’s an ongoing mystery.” Professor Kacelnik agrees: “This really is the million dollar question. We know that this is heritable – we have demonstrated that if you raise New Caledonian crows, without exposure to any social input, they still would want to use tools to solve problems.” Researchers are also looking at the cognitive processes that underpin this behaviour. Mr Bird says: “The interesting thing is that they can do so many of these clever things that primates can do – sometimes they can do them even better. But their brain is completely different from the mammalian brain. “They don’t have the area of the mammalian brain that is thought to be the area of intelligent cognition – the neocortex. Interestingly, they have another area, the nidopallium, that might do the same job.”

As scientists try to understand this, the research is also driving forward some more fundamental questions about intelligence. Christian Rutz, who also works for Oxford’s behavioural ecology group, says: “There are such enormous semantic issues. How do you define intelligence? How do you define what it means to understand something?” We have to be careful with ascribing intelligence to seemingly impressive behaviours, he says. He explains: “Not everything that looks smart to the human observer is actually smart. “For example, take orb web spiders. These animals build sophisticated structures for foraging, but would we call this behaviour ‘intelligent’? Probably not. He says to understand what the birds are doing and whether this sets them apart in any way, the same experiments need to be carried out, multiple times, on many different species, to properly compare results. Dr Rutz adds: “People tend to think corvid cognition research is now incredibly advanced and we’ve answered most of the questions – I don’t think so, I think it is at the very beginning.”

MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL SYNANTHROPY IN PRACTICE : SNIFFER RATS

HeroRATS
http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/tanzania605/video_index.html
http://www.apopo.org/bringing_minefields_to_the_rats.php
http://www.apopo.org/landmine_detection.php
http://www.herorat.org/en/video/rats-detecting-landmines
http://socyberty.com/issues/unexploded-landmines-call-for-the-herorats/
Unexploded Landmines? Call for The Herorats
BY R J Evans / December 12, 2009

Unexploded landmines still remain a huge problem the world over. What is more, landmine clearance is an expensive business. One man has found a potential solution, however. It may seem like an unlikely combination. Giant pouched rats are not what spring to mind immediately when conversation turns to the global issue of unexploded landmines. However, Bart Weegens, from Belgium has found a low-technology answer to the continuing issue of unexploded mines. A childhood interest in the animals came to mind when he was musing over possible solutions and this led to an extraordinary development.

The idea occurred to Weegens as he realized that rats were both easy to train and had an excellent sense of smell. Combining these two would, he considered, provide a cheap way to detect unexploded mines and – what is more – with limited danger to human life. He founded APOPO, which is a non-profit organization, the aim of which is to train up African Giant Pouched Rats and to deploy them in the field. Not only would the rats be a cheaper alternative to mine clearance methods already in use – he figured that they would be considerably more efficient as well. An army of sniffer rats, would, it seemed save hundreds if not thousands of human lives. Not bad, considering that rats do not generally have a great press with a lot of people.

Having said that, the Giant Pouched Rats used in this project are only a distant relative of the common rat we hold in such great esteem. It is an intelligent species and easy to train – with many new recruits easy to breed. The female of the species can produce up to ten litters a year. Although this is a scary fact, only one to five arrive with each litter, despite the mother having eight nipples. In many African countries they are kept as pets but also are predominantly used as a food source. Perhaps the mine field is a better option than the casserole dish after all.

Initial funding for APOPO was in Belgium. This was given by the Belgian Directorate for International Co-operation. When the rats proved successful in terms of their training it was decided to switch the whole operation to Tanzania in East Africa. There they could be trained in near-to-real conditions and so the team is now based in Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania. The training there proved successful and it was while this was happening that Bart thought of another use for the HeroRATS as they were now called. It had been discovered that the rats could detect tuberculosis in human sputum (the stuff you cough up when you have a cold). Research began on this in 2004.

So, how do the rats do their detection work? There are two methods, direct detection and REST. What happens is that they are trained from young to associate the smell of explosives with a treat – such as a banana or peanut. This reward is vital to the rat doing its work as, akin to our own species – individuals do not like to do something for nothing, after all. The rats move up and down an area the size of a squash court and when they locate a mine they usually sit still and scratch themselves. After that the mines can be detonated by their human helpers.

Why these rats though? As well as having the highly developed sense of smell important in this work they are, as we have seen, easy to tame, breed and train. The cheapness of breeding and maintaining them is further helped by their ability to adapt to a number of environments. Once they are trained the rats seem to actively enjoy performing repetitive tasks and they do not get stressed if their trainers are changed in the way that dogs will. Plus of course – one serious advantage over dogs – they are too light to detonate a mine by themselves if they step on it. A living rat is better than a canine cadaver.

Training is a little time consuming – it can take up to a year. They are trained according to pavlovian principles. A food reward is initially associated with a clicking sound – their favorites being bananas or peanuts. It takes a while for them to learn that a click means food but once they do then the real training can begin. The teaching goes that when they find TNT, indicating it by scratching, then they will hear a click and get their food reward. They are initially trained in cages and once they have learned that indicating a positive sample of TNT means food then they are ready to work in a field of mines.

The REST method of detecting does not involve visiting a minefield at all. REST stands for Remote Explosive Scent Tracing and this is when scent is brought from the mines to the rats. The rats can find explosives present in these samples and it helps to determine the actual boundaries of minefields. This means that more land can be cleared at a quicker rate. Direct detection involves harnessing the rats and proceeding with a systematic search of the minefield. The rat is connected, via a search string, to two trainers and this is how the rat is directed. When TNT is detected the rat will give itself a good scratch and safe detonation can then proceed. In order to ensure that all mines have been detected two or three rats will each search the same area. It is important though, to reward the rat whenever it performs its function.

The HeroRATS are currently deployed in Mozambique where they have enabled over one thousand families to reclaim their land. They have also helped with clearing areas so that power lines can be passed through – so bringing electricity which would not otherwise have been possible to over ten thousand local citizens. It is hoped that they will soon be deployed to Zambia, Congo and Angola as well, but negotiations are still underway. APOPO is actively looking for demining partnerships globally, not just in Africa.

PUBLIC SHARES OFFERED

SOMALI PIRATES OPEN ‘STOCK EXCHANGE’
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE5B01Z920091201
Somali sea gangs lure investors at pirate lair
BY Mohamed Ahmed / Dec 1, 2009

In Somalia’s main pirate lair of Haradheere, the sea gangs have set up a cooperative to fund their hijackings offshore, a sort of stock exchange meets criminal syndicate. Heavily armed pirates from the lawless Horn of Africa nation have terrorized shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean and strategic Gulf of Aden, which links Europe to Asia through the Red Sea. The gangs have made tens of millions of dollars from ransoms and a deployment by foreign navies in the area has only appeared to drive the attackers to hunt further from shore. It is a lucrative business that has drawn financiers from the Somali diaspora and other nations — and now the gangs in Haradheere have set up an exchange to manage their investments.

One wealthy former pirate named Mohammed took Reuters around the small facility and said it had proved to be an important way for the pirates to win support from the local community for their operations, despite the dangers involved. “Four months ago, during the monsoon rains, we decided to set up this stock exchange. We started with 15 ‘maritime companies’ and now we are hosting 72. Ten of them have so far been successful at hijacking,” Mohammed said. “The shares are open to all and everybody can take part, whether personally at sea or on land by providing cash, weapons or useful materials … we’ve made piracy a community activity.”

Haradheere, 400 km (250 miles) northeast of Mogadishu, used to be a small fishing village. Now it is a bustling town where luxury 4×4 cars owned by the pirates and those who bankroll them create honking traffic jams along its pot-holed, dusty streets. Somalia’s Western-backed government of President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed is pinned down battling hard-line Islamist rebels, and controls little more than a few streets of the capital. The administration has no influence in Haradheere — where a senior local official said piracy paid for almost everything. “Piracy-related business has become the main profitable economic activity in our area and as locals we depend on their output,” said Mohamed Adam, the town’s deputy security officer. “The district gets a percentage of every ransom from ships that have been released, and that goes on public infrastructure, including our hospital and our public schools.”

In a drought-ravaged country that provides almost no employment opportunities for fit young men, many are been drawn to the allure of the riches they see being earned at sea. Abdirahman Ali was a secondary school student in Mogadishu until three months ago when his family fled the fighting there. Given the choice of moving with his parents to Lego, their ancestral home in Middle Shabelle where strict Islamist rebels have banned most entertainment including watching sport, or joining the pirates, he opted to head for Haradheere. Now he guards a Thai fishing boat held just offshore. “First I decided to leave the country and migrate, but then I remembered my late colleagues who died at sea while trying to migrate to Italy,” he told Reuters. “So I chose this option, instead of dying in the desert or from mortars in Mogadishu.”

Haradheere’s “stock exchange” is open 24 hours a day and serves as a bustling focal point for the town. As well as investors, sobbing wives and mothers often turn up there seeking news of male relatives missing in action. Every week, Mohammed said, gang members and equipment were lost to the sea. But he said the pirates were not deterred. “Ransoms have even increased in recent months from between $2-3 million to $4 million because of the increased number of shareholders and the risks,” he said. “Let the anti-piracy navies continue their search for us. We have no worries because our motto for the job is ‘do or die’.” Piracy investor Sahra Ibrahim, a 22-year-old divorcee, was lined up with others waiting for her cut of a ransom pay-out after one of the gangs freed a Spanish tuna fishing vessel. “I am waiting for my share after I contributed a rocket-propelled grenade for the operation,” she said, adding that she got the weapon from her ex-husband in alimony. “I am really happy and lucky. I have made $75,000 in only 38 days since I joined the ‘company’.”

CLASS A SHAREHOLDERS
http://www.undispatch.com/somali-pirates-buisiness-model

A basic piracy operation requires a minimum eight to twelve militia prepared to stay at sea for extended periods of time, in the hopes of hijacking a passing vessel. Each team requires a minimum of two attack skiffs, weapons, equipment, provisions, fuel and preferably a supply boat. The costs of the operation are usually borne by investors, some of whom may also be pirates.

To be eligible for employment as a pirate, a volunteer should already possess a firearm for use in the operation. For this ‘contribution’, he receives a ‘class A’ share of any profit. Pirates who provide a skiff or a heavier firearm, like an RPG or a general purpose machine gun, may be entitled to an additional A-share. The first pirate to board a vessel may also be entitled to an extra A-share.

At least 12 other volunteers are recruited as militiamen to provide protection on land of a ship is hijacked, In addition, each member of the pirate team may bring a partner or relative to be part of this land-based force. Militiamen must possess their own weapon, and receive a ‘class B’ share — usually a fixed amount equivalent to approximately US$15,000.

If a ship is successfully hijacked and brought to anchor, the pirates and the militiamen require food, drink, qaad, fresh clothes, cell phones, air time, etc. The captured crew must also be cared for. In most cases, these services are provided by one or more suppliers, who advance the costs in anticipation of reimbursement, with a significant margin of profit, when ransom is eventually paid.

When ransom is received, fixed costs are the first to be paid out. These are typically:
• Reimbursement of supplier(s)
• Financier(s) and/or investor(s): 30% of the ransom
• Local elders: 5 to 10 %of the ransom (anchoring rights)
• Class B shares (approx. $15,000 each): militiamen, interpreters etc.

The remaining sum — the profit — is divided between class-A shareholders.

PIRATE DEMOCRACY
http://www.peterleeson.com/Opportunism_and_Org_Under_the_Black_Flag.pdf
http://www.peterleeson.com/The_Calculus_of_Piratical_Consent.pdf

INVISIBLE HOOK OF THE MARKET
http://www.peterleeson.com/The_Invisible_Hook.pdf
http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/20/pirate-economics-101-a-qa-with-invisible-hook-author-peter-leeson/
BY Ryan Hagen / April 20, 2009

The crew of the Maersk Alabama, having survived an attack by pirates in Somalia last week, has returned home for a much-deserved rest. But with tensions ratcheting up between the U.S. and the rag-tag confederation of Somali pirates, it’s worth looking to the past for clues on how to tame the outlaw seas. Peter Leeson, an economist at George Mason University (and an occasional Freakonomics guest blogger), offers a brisk and fascinating look at old-school piracy in his new book The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates. Leeson agreed to sit down and answer some important piratical questions for us:

Q: The Invisible Hook is more than just a clever title. How is it different from Adam Smith’s invisible hand?
A: In Adam Smith, the idea is that each individual pursuing his own self-interest is led, as if by an invisible hand, to promote the interest of society. The idea of the invisible hook is that pirates, though they’re criminals, are still driven by their self-interest. So they were driven to build systems of government and social structures that allowed them to better pursue their criminal ends. They’re connected, but the big difference is that, for Adam Smith, self-interest results in cooperation that generates wealth and makes other people better off. For pirates, self-interest results in cooperation that destroys wealth by allowing pirates to plunder more effectively.

Q: In the book, you write that pirates had set up their own early versions of constitutional democracy, complete with separation of powers, decades before the American Revolution. Was that only possible because they were outlaws, operating entirely outside the control of any government?
A: That’s right. The pirates of the 18th century set up quite a thoroughgoing system of democracy. The reason that the criminality is driving these structures is because they can’t rely on the state to provide those structures for them. So pirates, more than anyone else, needed to figure out some system of law and order to make it possible for them to remain together long enough to be successful at stealing.

Q: So did these participatory, democratic systems give merchant sailors an incentive to join pirate crews, because it meant they were freer among pirates than on their own ships?
A: The sailors had more freedom and better pay as pirates than as merchantmen. But perhaps the most important thing was freedom from the arbitrariness of captains and the malicious abuses of power that merchant captains were known to inflict on their crews. In a pirate democracy, a crew could, and routinely did, depose their captain if he was abusing his power or was incompetent.

Q: You write that pirates weren’t necessarily the bloodthirsty fiends we imagine them to have been. How does the invisible hook explain their behavior?
A: The basic idea is, once we recognize pirates as economic actors, businessmen really, it becomes clear as to why they wouldn’t want to brutalize everyone they overtook. In order to encourage merchantmen to surrender, they needed to communicate the idea that, if you surrender to us, you’ll be treated well. That’s the incentive pirates give for sailors to surrender peacefully. If they wantonly abused their prisoners, as they’re often portrayed as having done, that would have actually undermined the incentive of merchant crews to surrender, which would have caused pirates to incur greater costs. They would have had to battle it out more often, because the merchants would have expected to be tortured indiscriminately if they were captured.

So instead, what we often see in the historical record is pirates displaying quite remarkable feats of generosity. The other side of that, of course, is that if you resisted, they had to unleash, you know, a hellish fury on you. That’s where most of the stories of pirate atrocities come from. That’s not to say that no pirate ever indulged his sadistic impulses. But I speculate that the pirate population had no higher proportion of sadists than legitimate society did. And those sadists among the pirates tended to reserve their sadistic actions for times when it would profit them.

Q: So they never made anyone walk the plank?
A: There was no walking the plank. There’s no historical foundation for that in 17th- or 18th-century piracy.

Q: You write about piracy as a brand. It’s quite a successful one, having lasted for hundreds of years after the pirates themselves were exterminated. What was the key to that success?
A: There was a very particular type of reputation that pirates wanted to cultivate. It was a very delicate line to walk. They didn’t want to have a reputation for wanton brutality or complete madness. They wanted to be perceived as hair-trigger men, men on the edge, who if you pushed, if you resisted, they would snap and do something horrible to you. That way, the captives they took had an incentive to be very careful to comply with all of the pirates’ demands. At the same time, they wanted a reputation as being very brutal, as meting out these brutal, horrible tortures to captives who didn’t comply with their demands. Stories about those horrible tortures were relayed not only by word of mouth, but by early 18th-century newspapers. When a former prisoner was released, he would oftentimes go to the media and provide an account of his capture. So when colonials read these accounts in the media, that helped institutionalize the idea of pirates as these men on the edge. That worked marvelously for pirates. It was a form of advertising performed by legitimate members of society that again helped pirates reduce their costs.

Q: What kinds of lessons can we draw from The Invisible Hook in dealing with modern pirates?
A: We have to recognize that pirates are rational economic actors and that piracy is an occupational choice. If we think of them as irrational, or as pursuing other ends, we’re liable to come up with solutions to the pirate problem that are ineffective. Since we know that pirates respond to costs and benefits, we should think of solutions that alter those costs and benefits to shape the incentives for pirates and to deter them from going into a life of piracy.

CONTACT
Peter Leeson
http://www.peterleeson.com/Papers.html
http://economics.gmu.edu/faculty/pleeson.htm
email : pleeson [at] gmu [dot] edu

PIRATE UTOPIAS
http://books.google.com/books?id=SJEg0p4RCP4C&dq
http://www.hermetic.com/bey/taz3.html

CUTTHROAT CAPITALISM
http://www.wired.com/images/multimedia/magazine/1707/Wired1707_Cutthroat_Capitalism.pdf
http://www.fpif.org/fpiftxt/6033

ACTUAL PIRATE MAPS
http://www.icc-ccs.org/index.php
http://bbs.keyhole.com/ubb/showflat.php/Cat/0/Number/1242871/an/0/page/0
http://www.unosat.org/freeproducts/somalia/Piracy/UNOSAT_SOM_Piracy_Gulf_Aden_Sept08_Highres_v6.pdf

MAYBE EVEN THE DE FACTO GOVERNMENT
THEY ARE AT LEAST THE NAVY

MEN WITH GUNS AND BOATS
THAT’S REALLY ALL IT TAKES

“We don’t consider ourselves sea bandits. We consider sea bandits
those who illegally fish in our seas and dump waste in our seas and
carry weapons in our seas. We are simply patrolling our seas. Think of
us like a coast guard.”

“WE JUST WANT THE MONEY”
http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/10/31/africa/31pirates.php
Somalia’s pirates flourish in a lawless nation
BY Jeffrey Gettleman / October 31, 2008

Boosaaso, Somalia: This may be one of the most dangerous towns in
Somalia, a place where you can get kidnapped faster than you can wipe
the sweat off your brow. But it is also one of the most prosperous.
Money changers walk around with thick wads of hundred-dollar bills.
Palatial new houses are rising up next to tin-roofed shanties. Men in
jail reminisce, with a twinkle in their eyes, about their days living
like kings. This is the story of Somalia’s booming, not-so-underground
pirate economy. The country is in chaos, countless children are
starving and people are killing one another in the streets of
Mogadishu, the capital, for a handful of grain. But one particular
line of work – piracy – seems to be benefiting quite openly from all
this lawlessness and desperation. This year, Somali officials say,
pirate profits are on track to reach a record $50 million, all of it
tax free.

“These guys are making a killing,” said Mohamud Muse Hirsi, the top
Somali official in Boosaaso, who himself is widely suspected of
working with the pirates, though he vigorously denies it. More than 75
vessels have been attacked this year, far more than any other year in
recent memory. About a dozen have been set upon in the past month
alone, including a Ukrainian freighter packed with tanks, antiaircraft
guns and other heavy weaponry, which was brazenly seized in September.
The pirates use fast-moving skiffs to pull alongside their prey and
scamper on board with ladders or sometimes even rusty grappling hooks.
Once on deck, they hold the crew at gunpoint until a ransom is paid,
usually $1 million to $2 million. Negotiations for the Ukrainian
freighter are still going on, and it is likely that because of all the
publicity, the price for the ship could top $5 million. In Somalia, it
seems, crime does pay. Actually, it is one of the few industries that
does.

“All you need is three guys and a little boat, and the next day you’re
millionaires,” said Abdullahi Omar Qawden, a former captain in
Somalia’s long-defunct navy. People in Garoowe, a town south of
Boosaaso, describe a certain high-rolling pirate swagger. Flush with
cash, the pirates drive the biggest cars, run many of the town’s
businesses – like hotels – and throw the best parties, residents say.
Fatuma Abdul Kadir said she went to a pirate wedding in July that
lasted two days, with nonstop dancing and goat meat, and a band flown
in from neighboring Djibouti. “It was wonderful,” said Fatuma, 21.
“I’m now dating a pirate.”

This is too much for many Somali men to resist, and criminals from all
across this bullet-pocked land are now flocking to Boosaaso and other
notorious pirate dens along the craggy Somali shore. They have turned
these waters into the most dangerous shipping lanes in the world. With
the situation clearly out of control, warships from the United States,
Russia, NATO, the European Union and India are steaming into Somalia’s
waters as part of a reinvigorated, worldwide effort to crush the
pirates. But it will not be easy. The pirates are sea savvy. They are
fearless. They are rich and getting richer, with the latest high-tech
gadgetry like handheld GPS units. And they are united. The immutable
clan lines that have pitted Somalis against one another for decades
are not a problem here. Several captured pirates interviewed in
Boosaaso’s main jail said that they had recently crossed clan lines to
open new, lucrative, multiclan franchises. “We work together,” said
Jama Abdullahi, a jailed pirate. “Good for business, you know?”

The pirates are also sprinkled across thousands of square miles of
water, from the Gulf of Aden, at the narrow doorway to the Red Sea, to
the Kenyan border along the Indian Ocean. Even if the naval ships
manage to catch pirates in the act, it is not clear what they can do.
In September, a Danish warship captured 10 men suspected of being
pirates cruising around the Gulf of Aden with rocket-propelled
grenades and a long ladder. But after holding the suspects for nearly
a week, the Danes concluded that they did not have jurisdiction to
prosecute, so they dumped the pirates on a beach, minus their guns.
Nobody, it seems, has a clear plan for how to tame Somalia’s unruly
seas. Several fishermen along the Gulf of Aden talked about seeing
barrels of toxic waste bobbing in the middle of the ocean. They spoke
of clouds of dead fish floating nearby and rogue fishing trawlers
sucking up not just fish and lobsters but also the coral and the
plants that sustain them. It was abuses like these, several men said,
that turned them from fishermen into pirates. Nor is it even clear
whether Somali authorities universally want the piracy to stop. While
many pirates have been arrested, several fishermen, Western
researchers and more than a half-dozen pirates in jail spoke of
nefarious relationships among fishing companies, private security
contractors and Somali government officials, especially those working
for the semiautonomous regional government of Puntland.

“Believe me, a lot of our money has gone straight into the
government’s pockets,” said Farah Ismail Eid, a pirate who was
captured in nearby Berbera and sentenced to 15 years in jail. His
pirate team, he said, typically divided up the loot this way: 20
percent for their bosses, 20 percent for future missions (to cover
essentials like guns, fuel and cigarettes), 30 percent for the gunmen
on the ship and 30 percent for government officials. Abdi Waheed
Johar, the director general of the fisheries and ports ministry of
Puntland, openly acknowledged in an interview this spring that “there
are government people working with the pirates.” But, he was quick to
add, “It’s just not us.”

What is happening off Somalia’s shores is basically an extension of
the corrupt, violent free-for-all that has raged on land for 17 years
since the central government imploded in 1991. The vast majority of
Somalis lose out. Young thugs who are willing to serve as muscle get a
job, albeit a low-paying one, that significantly reduces their life
expectancy. And a select few warlords, who have sat down and figured
out how to profit off the anarchy, make a fortune. Take Boosaaso, once
a thriving port town on the Gulf of Aden. Piracy is killing off the
remains of the local fishing industry because export companies are
staying away. It has spawned a kidnapping business on shore, which in
turn has scared away many humanitarian agencies and the food, medicine
and other forms of desperately needed assistance they bring. Reporting
in Boosaaso two weeks ago required no fewer than 10 hired gunmen
provided by the Puntland government to discourage any would-be
kidnappers.

Few large cargo ships come here anymore, depriving legitimate
government operations of much-needed port taxes. Just about the only
ships willing to risk the voyage are small, wooden, putt-putt
freighters from India, essentially floating jalopies from another era.
“We can’t survive off this,” said Bile Qabowsade, a Puntland official.
The shipping problems have contributed to food shortages, skyrocketing
inflation and less work for the sinewy stevedores who trudge out to
Boosaaso’s beach every morning and stare in vain at the bright
horizon, their bare feet planted in the hot sand, hoping a ship will
materialize so they will be able to make a few pennies hauling 100-
pound sacks of sugar on their backs.

And yet, suspiciously, there has been a lot of new construction in
Boosaaso. There is an emerging section of town called New Boosaaso
with huge homes rising above the bubble-shaped huts of refugees and
the iron-sided shacks that many fishermen call home. These new houses
cost several hundred thousand dollars. Many are painted in garish
colors and protected by high walls. Even so, Boosaaso is still a
crumbling, broke, rough-and-tumble place, decaying after years of
neglect like so much of war-ravaged Somalia. It is also dangerous in
countless ways. On Wednesday, suicide bombers blew up two government
offices, most likely the work of Islamist radicals trying to turn
Somalia into an Islamist state. Of course, no Somali government
official would openly admit that New Boosaaso’s minicastles were built
with pirate proceeds. But many people, including United Nations
officials and Western diplomats, suspect that is the case.

Several jailed pirates have accused Muse, a former warlord who is now
Puntland’s president, of being paid off. Officials in neighboring
Somaliland, a breakaway region of northwestern Somalia, said they
recently organized an antipiracy sting operation and arrested Muse’s
nephew, who was carrying $22,000 in cash. “Top Puntland officials
benefit from piracy, even if they might not be instigating it,” said
Roger Middleton, a researcher at the Royal Institute of International
Affairs in London. Actually, he added, “all significant political
actors in Somalia are likely benefiting from piracy.” But Muse said he
did not know anything about this. “We are the leaders of this
country,” he said. “Everybody we suspect, we fire from work.”

He said that Puntland was taking aggressive action against the
pirates. And Boosaaso’s main jail may be proof of that. The other day,
a dozen pirates were hanging out in the yard under a basketball hoop.
And that was just the beginning. “Pirates, pirates, pirates,” said
Gure Ahmed, a Canadian-Somali inmate of the jail, charged with murder.
“This jail is full of pirates. This whole city is pirates.” In other
well-known pirate dens, like Garoowe, Eyl, Hobyo and Xarardheere,
pirates have become local celebrities. Said Farah, 32, a shopkeeper in
Garoowe, said the pirates seemed to have money to burn. “If they see a
good car that a guy is driving,” he said, “they say, ‘How much? If
it’s 30 grand, take 40 and give me the key.’ “

Every time a seized ship tosses its anchor, it means a pirate shopping
spree. Sheep, goats, water, fuel, rice, spaghetti, milk and cigarettes
– the pirates buy all of this, in large quantities, from small towns
up and down the Somali coast. Somalia’s seafaring thieves are not like
the Barbary pirates, who terrorized European coastal towns hundreds of
years ago and often turned their hostages into galley slaves chained
to the oars. Somali pirates are known as relatively decent hosts,
usually not beating their hostages and keeping them well-fed until
payday comes. “They are normal people,” said Said. “Just very, very
rich.”

“WE JUST SAW A BIG SHIP, SO WE STOPPED IT”
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/01/world/africa/01pirates.html
Somali Pirates Tell Their Side: They Want Only Money
BY Jeffrey Gettleman / October 1, 2008

Nairobi, Kenya — The Somali pirates who hijacked a Ukrainian freighter
loaded with tanks, artillery, grenade launchers and ammunition said in
an interview on Tuesday that they had no idea the ship was carrying
arms when they seized it on the high seas. “We just saw a big ship,”
the pirates’ spokesman, Sugule Ali, said in a telephone interview. “So
we stopped it.” The pirates quickly learned, though, that their booty
was an estimated $30 million worth of heavy weaponry, heading for
Kenya or Sudan, depending on whom you ask.

In a 45-minute interview, Mr. Sugule spoke on everything from what the
pirates wanted (“just money”) to why they were doing this (“to stop
illegal fishing and dumping in our waters”) to what they had to eat on
board (rice, meat, bread, spaghetti, “you know, normal human-being
food”). He said that so far, in the eyes of the world, the pirates had
been misunderstood. “We don’t consider ourselves sea bandits,” he
said. “We consider sea bandits those who illegally fish in our seas
and dump waste in our seas and carry weapons in our seas. We are
simply patrolling our seas. Think of us like a coast guard.”

The pirates who answered the phone call on Tuesday morning said they
were speaking by satellite phone from the bridge of the Faina, the
Ukrainian cargo ship that was hijacked about 200 miles off the coast
of Somalia on Thursday. Several pirates talked but said that only Mr.
Sugule was authorized to be quoted. Mr. Sugule acknowledged that they
were now surrounded by American warships, but he did not sound afraid.
“You only die once,” Mr. Sugule said.

He said that all was peaceful on the ship, despite unconfirmed reports
from maritime organizations in Kenya that three pirates were killed in
a shootout among themselves on Sunday or Monday night. He insisted
that the pirates were not interested in the weapons and had no plans
to sell them to Islamist insurgents battling Somalia’s weak
transitional government. “Somalia has suffered from many years of
destruction because of all these weapons,” he said. “We don’t want
that suffering and chaos to continue. We are not going to offload the
weapons. We just want the money.” He said the pirates were asking for
$20 million in cash; “we don’t use any other system than cash.” But he
added that they were willing to bargain. “That’s deal-making,” he
explained.

Piracy in Somalia is a highly organized, lucrative, ransom-driven
business. Just this year, pirates hijacked more than 25 ships, and in
many cases, they were paid million-dollar ransoms to release them. The
juicy payoffs have attracted gunmen from across Somalia, and the
pirates are thought to number in the thousands. The piracy industry
started about 10 to 15 years ago, Somali officials said, as a response
to illegal fishing. Somalia’s central government imploded in 1991,
casting the country into chaos. With no patrols along the shoreline,
Somalia’s tuna-rich waters were soon plundered by commercial fishing
fleets from around the world. Somali fishermen armed themselves and
turned into vigilantes by confronting illegal fishing boats and
demanding that they pay a tax. “From there, they got greedy,” said
Mohamed Osman Aden, a Somali diplomat in Kenya. “They starting
attacking everyone.”

By the early 2000s, many of the fishermen had traded in their nets for
machine guns and were hijacking any vessel they could catch: sailboat,
oil tanker, United Nations-chartered food ship. “It’s true that the
pirates started to defend the fishing business,” Mr. Mohamed said.
“And illegal fishing is a real problem for us. But this does not
justify these boys to now act like guardians. They are criminals. The
world must help us crack down on them.” The United States and several
European countries, in particular France, have been talking about ways
to patrol the waters together. The United Nations is even considering
something like a maritime peacekeeping force. Because of all the
hijackings, the waters off Somalia’s coast are considered the most
dangerous shipping lanes in the world.

On Tuesday, several American warships — around five, according to one
Western diplomat — had the hijacked freighter cornered along the
craggy Somali coastline. The American ships allowed the pirates to
bring food and water on board, but not to take weapons off. A Russian
frigate is also on its way to the area. Lt. Nathan Christensen, a Navy
spokesman, said on Tuesday that he had heard the unconfirmed reports
about the pirate-on-pirate shootout, but that the Navy had no more
information. “To be honest, we’re not seeing a whole lot of activity”
on the ship, he said.

In Washington, Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, declined
to discuss any possible American military operations to capture the
ship. “Our concern is right now making sure that there’s a peaceful
resolution to this, that this cargo does not end up in the hands of
anyone who would use it in a way that would be destabilizing to the
region,” Mr. Morrell told reporters at the Pentagon. He said the
United States government was not involved in any negotiations with the
pirates. He also said he had no information about reports that the
pirates had exchanged gunfire among themselves.

Kenyan officials continued to maintain that the weapons aboard were
part of a legitimate arms deal for the Kenyan military, even though
several Western diplomats, Somali officials and the pirates themselves
said the arms were part of a secret deal to funnel weapons to southern
Sudan. Somali officials are urging the Western navies to storm the
ship and arrest the pirates because they say that paying ransoms only
fuels the problem. Western diplomats, however, have said that such a
commando operation would be very difficult because the ship is full of
explosives and the pirates could use the 20 crew members as human
shields.

Mr. Sugule said his men were treating the crew members well. (The
pirates would not let the crew members speak on the phone, saying it
was against their rules.) “Killing is not in our plans,” he said. “We
only want money so we can protect ourselves from hunger.” When asked
why the pirates needed $20 million to protect themselves from hunger,
Mr. Sugule laughed and said, “Because we have a lot of men.”

‘NATIONAL VOLUNTEER COAST GUARD’
http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2006/07/03/world/03somalia.xlarge1.jpg
http://travel2.nytimes.com/2006/07/03/world/africa/03somalia.html
“The pirates adopt names like the National Volunteer Coast Guard,
which is used by a group that intercepts small boats and fishing
vessels in southern Somalia. Another of the four main piracy groups
along the coast calls itself the Somali Marines. Organized like a
military unit, with admirals, vice admirals and the like, the group
operates around Mogadishu.”

INTERVIEW
http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/09/30/q-a-with-a-pirate-we-just-want-the-money/index.html
Q. & A. With a Pirate: “We Just Want the Money”
BY Jeffrey Gettleman / September 30, 2008

Somali pirates in small boats hijacked the Faina, a Belize-flagged
cargo ship owned and operated by Kaalbye Shipping Ukraine, on Sept.
25. Sugule Ali, the spokesman for the Somali pirates holding hostage
the Faina, a Ukrainian freighter loaded with weapons, spoke to me by
satellite telephone today from the bridge of the seized ship. In the
holds of the Faina, which the pirates seized on Thursday, are 33
Russian-built battle tanks and crates of grenade launchers, anti-
aircraft guns, ammunition and other explosives. American officials
fear that the weapons could fall into the hands of radical Islamist
insurgents who are battling Somalia’s weak government. My questions
were translated into Somali, and Mr. Ali’s responses into English, by
a translator employed by The New York Times.

Q. Tell us how you discovered the weapons on board.
A. As soon as we get on a ship, we normally do what is called a
control. We search everything. That’s how we found the weapons. Tanks,
anti-aircraft, artillery. That’s all we will say right now.

Q. Were you surprised?
A. No, we weren’t surprised. We know everything goes through the sea.
We see people who dump waste in our waters. We see people who
illegally fish in our waters. We see people doing all sorts of things
in our waters.

Q. Are you going to sell the weapons to insurgents?
A. No. We don’t want these weapons to go to anyone in Somalia. Somalia
has suffered from many years of destruction because of all these
weapons. We don’t want that suffering and chaos to continue. We are
not going to offload the weapons. We just want the money.

Q. How much?
A. $20 million, in cash. We don’t use any other system than cash.

Q. Will you negotiate?
A. That’s deal making. Common sense says human beings can make deals.

Q. Right now, the American Navy has you surrounded. Are you scared?
A. No, we’re not scared. We are prepared. We are not afraid because we
know you only die once.

Q. Will you kill the hostages if attacked?
A. Killing is not in our plans. We don’t want to do anything more than
the hijacking.

Q. What will you do with the money?
A. We will protect ourselves from hunger.

Q. That’s a lot of money to protect yourselves from hunger.
A. Yes, because we have a lot of men and it will be divided amongst
all of us.

Q. [There are 20 crew members, most of them Ukrainian, being held
hostage.] How are you interacting with the hostages? Eating with them?
Playing cards?
A. We interact with each other in an honorable manner. We are all
human beings. We talk to one another, and because we are in the same
place, we eat together.

Q. What if you were told you could leave peacefully, without arrest,
though without any ransom money. Would you do it?
A. [With a laugh] We’re not afraid of arrest or death or any of these
things. For us, hunger is our enemy.

Q. Have the pirates been misunderstood?
A. We don’t consider ourselves sea bandits [”sea bandit” is one way
Somalis translate the English word pirate]. We consider sea bandits
those who illegally fish in our seas and dump waste in our seas and
carry weapons in our seas. We are simply patrolling our seas. Think of
us like a coast guard.

Q. Why did you want to become a pirate?
A. We are patrolling our seas. This is a normal thing for people to do
in their regions.

Q. Isn’t what you are doing a crime? Holding people at gunpoint?
A. If you hold hostage innocent people, that’s a crime. If you hold
hostage people who are doing illegal activities, like waste dumping or
fishing, that is not a crime.

Q. What has this Ukrainian ship done that was a crime?
A. To go through our waters carrying all these weapons without
permission.

Q. What is the name of your group? How many ships have you hijacked
before?
A. I won’t say how many ships we have hijacked. I won’t talk about
that. Our name is the Central Region Coast Guard.

SHIPS FIGHT BACK

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/piracy/3849969/Chinese-ship-uses-Molotov-cocktails-to-fight-off-Somali-pirates.html
“Our crew, who had been well trained and prepared, used water cannon, self-made incendiary bombs [Molotov cocktails or petrol bombs], beer bottles and anything else that could be used to battle with them. Thirty minutes later, the pirates gestured to us for a ceasefire. Then the helicopter from the joint fleet came to help us.”

SOMALIA’S GROWTH ECONOMY
http://www.navytimes.com/news/2008/10/ap_somalia_pirates_100508/
Somali pirates in stare-down with global powers
BY Elizabeth A. Kennedy / Oct 15, 2008

Nairobi, Kenya — With a Russian frigate closing in and a half-dozen
U.S. warships within shouting distance, the pirates holding a tanker
off Somalia’s coast might appear to have no other choice than to wave
the white flag. But that’s not how it works in Somalia, a failed state
where a quarter of children die before they turn 5, where anybody with
a gun controls the streets and where every public institution has
crumbled. The 11-day standoff aboard the Ukrainian MV Faina begs the
question: How can a bunch of criminals from one of the poorest and
most wretched countries on Earth face off with some of the world’s
richest and well-armed superpowers?

“They have enough guns to fight for another 20 years,” Ted Dagne, a
Somalia analyst in Washington, told The Associated Press. “And there
is no way to win a battle when the other side is in a suicidal mind
set.” In Somalia, pirates are better-funded, better-organized and
better-armed than one might imagine in a country that has been in
tatters for nearly two decades. They have the support of their
communities and rogue members of the government — some pirates even
promise to put ransom money toward building roads and schools. With
most attacks ending with million-dollar payouts, piracy is considered
the biggest economy in Somalia. Pirates rarely hurt their hostages,
instead holding out for a huge payday. The strategy works well: A
report Thursday by a London-based think tank said pirates have raked
in up to $30 million in ransoms this year alone. “If we are attacked
we will defend ourselves until every last one of us dies,” Sugule Ali,
a spokesman for the pirates aboard the Faina, said in an interview
over satellite telephone from the ship, which is carrying 33 battle
tanks, military weapons and 21 Ukrainian and Latvian and Russian
hostages. One Russian has reportedly died, apparently of illness. The
pirates are demanding $20 million ransom, and say they will not lower
the price. “We only need money and if we are paid, then everything
will be OK,” he said. “No one can tell us what to do.”

Ali’s bold words come even though his dozens of fighters are
surrounded by U.S. warships and American helicopters buzz overhead.
Moscow has sent a frigate, which should arrive within days. Jennifer
Cooke of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in
Washington said hostage-taking is the key to the pirates’ success
against any military muscle looming from the U.S. and Russia. “Once
you have a crew at gunpoint, you can hold six U.S. naval warships at
bay and they don’t have a whole lot of options except to wait it out,”
Cooke said. The pirates have specifically warned against the type of
raids carried out twice this year by French commandos to recover
hijacked vessels. The French used night vision goggles and helicopters
in operations that killed or captured several pirates, who are now
standing trial in Paris. But the hostages are not the bandits’ only
card to play. Often dressed in military fatigues, pirates travel in
open skiffs with outboard engines, working with larger mother ships
that tow them far out to sea. They use satellite navigational and
communications equipment and an intimate knowledge of local waters,
clambering aboard commercial vessels with ladders and grappling hooks.

They are typically armed with automatic weapons, anti-tank rocket
launchers and grenades — weaponry that is readily available throughout
Somalia, where a bustling arms market operates in the center of the
capital. They also have the support of their communities and some
members of local administrations, particularly in Puntland, a
semiautonomous region in northeast Somalia that is a hotbed for
piracy, officials and pirates have told the AP. Abdulqadir Muse Yusuf,
a deputy minister of ports in Puntland, acknowledged there were
widespread signs that Puntland officials, lawmakers and government
officials are “involved or benefiting from piracy” and said
investigations were ongoing. He would not elaborate. Piracy has
transformed the region around the town of Eyl, near where many
hijacked ships are anchored brought while pirates negotiate ransoms.
“Pirates buy new luxury cars and marry two, three, or even four
women,” said Mohamed, an Eyl resident who refused to give his full
name for fear of reprisals from the pirates. “They build new homes —
the demand for construction material is way up.” He said most of the
well-known pirates promise to build roads and schools in addition to
homes for themselves. But for now, Mohamed says he has only seen
inflation skyrocket as the money pours in. “One cup of tea is about
$1,” he said. Before the piracy skyrocketed, tea cost a few cents.

Piracy in Somalia is nothing new, as bandits have stalked the seas for
years. But this year’s surge in attacks — nearly 30 so far — has
prompted an unprecedented international response. The Faina has been
the highest-profile attack because of its dangerous cargo. The U.S.
fears the arms could end up in the hands of al-Qaida-linked militants
in a country seen as a key battleground on terror. The United States
has been leading international patrols to combat piracy along
Somalia’s unruly 1,880-mile coast, the longest in Africa and near key
shipping routes. In June, the U.N. Security Council passed a
resolution that would allow countries to chase and arrest pirates
after attacks increased this year. But still, the attacks continue.
Dagne, an analyst in Washington, said that unless the roots of the
problem are solved — poverty, disease, violence — piracy will only
flourish. “You have a population that is frustrated, alienated, angry
and hopeless,” Dagne said. “This generation of Somalis grew up
surrounded by abject poverty and violence.”

READY TO DIE
http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2008/09/mystery_surrounds_hi.php
http://www.thetimes.co.za/PrintEdition/Article.aspx?id=851953
Pirates die strangely after taking Iranian ship
BY Andrew Donaldson / Sep 28, 2008

A tense standoff has developed in waters off Somalia over an Iranian
merchant ship laden with a mysterious cargo that was hijacked by
pirates. Somali pirates suffered skin burns, lost hair and fell
gravely ill “within days” of boarding the MV Iran Deyanat. Some of
them died. Andrew Mwangura, the director of the East African
Seafarers’ Assistance Programme, told the Sunday Times: “We don’t
know exactly how many, but the information that I am getting is that
some of them had died. There is something very wrong about that ship.”

The vessel’s declared cargo consists of “minerals” and “industrial
products”. But officials involved in negotiations over the ship are
convinced that it was sailing for Eritrea to deliver small arms and
chemical weapons to Somalia’s Islamist rebels. The drama over the Iran
Deyanat comes as speculation grew this week about whether the South
African Navy would send a vessel to join the growing multinational
force in the region. A naval spokesman, Lieutenant-Commander Greyling
van den Berg, told the Sunday Times that the navy had not been ordered
by the government to become involved in “the Somali pirate issue”.

About 22000 ships a year pass through the Suez Canal and the Gulf of
Aden, where regional instability and “no-questions-asked” ransom
payments have led to a dramatic rise in attacks on vessels by heavily
armed Somali raiders in speedboats. The Iran Deyanat was sailing in
those waters on August 21, past the Horn of Africa and about 80
nautical miles southeast of Yemen, when it was boarded by about 40
pirates armed with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades. They were
alleged members of a crime syndicate said to be based at Eyl, a small
fishing village in northern Somalia.

The ship is owned and operated by the Islamic Republic of Iran
Shipping Lines, or IRISL, a state-owned company run by the Iranian
military. According to the US Treasury Department, the IRISL regularly
falsifies shipping documents to hide the identity of end users, uses
generic terms to describe shipments and operates under various covers
to circumvent United Nations sanctions. The ship set sail from
Nanjing, China, at the end of July. According to its manifest, it was
heading for Rotterdam where it would unload 42500 tons of iron ore and
“industrial products” purchased by a German client. At Eyl, the ship
was secured by more pirates — about 50 on board, and another 50 on
shore.

But within days those who had boarded the ship developed mysterious
health trouble. This was also confirmed by Hassan Allore Osman,
minister of minerals and oil in Puntland, an autonomous region of
Somalia. He headed a delegation sent to Eyl when news of the toxic
cargo and illnesses surfaced. He told one news publication, The Long
War Journal, that during the six days he had negotiated with the
pirates, a number of them had become sick and died. “That ship is
unusual,” he was quoted as saying. “It is not carrying a normal
shipment.”

The pirates did reveal that they had tried to inspect the ship’s cargo
containers when some of them fell sick — but the containers were
locked. Osman’s delegation spoke to the ship’s captain and its
engineer by cellphone, demanding to know more about the cargo.
Initially it was claimed the cargo contained “crude oil”; later it was
said to be “minerals”. And Mwangura has added: “Our sources say it
contains chemicals, dangerous chemicals.” But IRISL has denied that —
and threatened legal action against Mwangura. The company has
reportedly paid the pirates 200000 — the first of several “ransom
instalments”, but that, too, has been denied.

SOMALI COAST AS TOXIC WASTE DUMP
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2008/10/2008109174223218644.html
‘Toxic waste’ behind Somali piracy
BY Najad Abdullahi / October 11, 2008 / 12:21 Mecca time

Somali pirates have accused European firms of dumping toxic waste off
the Somali coast and are demanding an $8m ransom for the return of a
Ukranian ship they captured, saying the money will go towards cleaning
up the waste. The ransom demand is a means of “reacting to the toxic
waste that has been continually dumped on the shores of our country
for nearly 20 years”, Januna Ali Jama, a spokesman for the pirates,
based in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, said. “The Somali
coastline has been destroyed, and we believe this money is nothing
compared to the devastation that we have seen on the seas.”

The pirates are holding the MV Faina, a Ukrainian ship carrying tanks
and military hardware, off Somalia’s northern coast. According to the
International Maritime Bureau, 61 attacks by pirates have been
reported since the start of the year. While money is the primary
objective of the hijackings, claims of the continued environmental
destruction off Somalia’s coast have been largely ignored by the
regions’s maritime authorities.

Dumping allegations
Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy for Somalia confirmed to Al
Jazeera the world body has “reliable information” that European and
Asian companies are dumping toxic waste, including nuclear waste, off
the Somali coastline. “I must stress however, that no government has
endorsed this act, and that private companies and individuals acting
alone are responsible,” he said. Allegations of the dumping of toxic
waste, as well as illegal fishing, have circulated since the early
1990s. But evidence of such practices literally appeared on the
beaches of northern Somalia when the tsunami of 2004 hit the country.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) reported the tsunami had
washed up rusting containers of toxic waste on the shores of Puntland.
Nick Nuttall, a UNEP spokesman, told Al Jazeera that when the barrels
were smashed open by the force of the waves, the containers exposed
a “frightening activity” that has been going on for more than decade.
“Somalia has been used as a dumping ground for hazardous waste
starting in the early 1990s, and continuing through the civil war
there,” he said. “European companies found it to be very cheap to get
rid of the waste, costing as little as $2.50 a tonne, where waste
disposal costs in Europe are something like $1000 a tonne. “And the
waste is many different kinds. There is uranium radioactive waste.
There is lead, and heavy metals like cadmium and mercury. There is
also industrial waste, and there are hospital wastes, chemical wastes
– you name it.”

Nuttall also said that since the containers came ashore, hundreds of
residents have fallen ill, suffering from mouth and abdominal
bleeding, skin infections and other ailments. “We [the UNEP] had
planned to do a proper, in-depth scientific assessment on the
magnitude of the problem. But because of the high levels of insecurity
onshore and off the Somali coast, we are unable to carry out an
accurate assessment of the extent of the problem,” he said. However,
Ould-Abdallah claims the practice still continues. “What is most
alarming here is that nuclear waste is being dumped. Radioactive
uranium waste that is potentially killing Somalis and completely
destroying the ocean,” he said.

Toxic waste
Ould-Abdallah declined to name which companies are involved in waste
dumping, citing legal reasons. But he did say the practice helps fuel
the 18-year-old civil war in Somalia as companies are paying Somali
government ministers to dump their waste, or to secure licences and
contracts. “There is no government control … and there are few
people with high moral ground … [and] yes, people in high positions
are being paid off, but because of the fragility of the TFG
[Transitional Federal Government], some of these companies now no
longer ask the authorities – they simply dump their waste and leave.”

Ould-Abdallah said there are ethical questions to be considered
because the companies are negotiating contracts with a government that
is largely divided along tribal lines. “How can you negotiate these
dealings with a country at war and with a government struggling to
remain relevant?” In 1992, a contract to secure the dumping of toxic
waste was made by Swiss and Italian shipping firms Achair Partners and
Progresso, with Nur Elmi Osman, a former official appointed to the
government of Ali Mahdi Mohamed, one of many militia leaders involved
in the ousting of Mohamed Siad Barre, Somalia’s former president. At
the request of the Swiss and Italian governments, UNEP investigated
the matter. Both firms had denied entering into any agreement with
militia leaders at the beginning of the Somali civil war. Osman also
denied signing any contract.

‘Mafia involvement’
However, Mustafa Tolba, the former UNEP executive director, told Al
Jazeera that he discovered the firms were set up as fictitious
companies by larger industrial firms to dispose of hazardous waste.
“At the time, it felt like we were dealing with the Mafia, or some
sort of organised crime group, possibly working with these industrial
firms,” he said. “It was very shady, and quite underground, and I
would agree with Ould-Abdallah’s claims that it is still going on…
Unfortunately the war has not allowed environmental groups to
investigate this fully.”

The Italian mafia controls an estimated 30 per cent of Italy’s waste
disposal companies, including those that deal with toxic waste. In
1998, Famiglia Cristiana, an Italian weekly magazine, claimed that
although most of the waste-dumping took place after the start of the
civil war in 1991, the activity actually began as early as 1989 under
the Barre government. Beyond the ethical question of trying to secure
a hazardous waste agreement in an unstable country like Somalia, the
alleged attempt by Swiss and Italian firms to dump waste in Somalia
would violate international treaties to which both countries are
signatories.

Legal ramifications
Switzerland and Italy signed and ratified the Basel Convention on the
Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their
Disposal, which came into force in 1992. EU member states, as well as
168 other countries have also signed the agreement. The convention
prohibits waste trade between countries that have signed the
convention, as well as countries that have not signed the accord
unless a bilateral agreement had been negotiated. It is also prohibits
the shipping of hazardous waste to a war zone. Abdi Ismail Samatar,
professor of Geography at the University of Minnesota, told Al Jazeera
that because an international coalition of warships has been deployed
to the Gulf of Aden, the alleged dumping of waste must have been
observed.

Environmental damage
“If these acts are continuing, then surely they must have been seen by
someone involved in maritime operations,” he said. “Is the cargo aimed
at a certain destination more important than monitoring illegal
activities in the region? Piracy is not the only problem for Somalia,
and I think it’s irresponsible on the part of the authorities to
overlook this issue.” Mohammed Gure, chairman of the Somalia Concern
Group, said that the social and environmental consequences will be
felt for decades. “The Somali coastline used to sustain hundreds of
thousands of people, as a source of food and livelihoods. Now much of
it is almost destroyed, primarily at the hands of these so-called
ministers that have sold their nation to fill their own pockets.” Ould-
Abdallah said piracy will not prevent waste dumping. “The intentions
of these pirates are not concerned with protecting their environment,”
he said. “What is ultimately needed is a functioning, effective
government that will get its act together and take control of its
affairs.”

A PIRATE BOSS TALKS
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/nov/22/piracy-somalia
‘We consider ourselves heroes’ – a Somali pirate speaks
Asad ‘Booyah’ Abdulahi, 42, describes himself as a pirate boss,
capturing ships in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.
Interview by Xan Rice and Abdiqani Hassan / November 22 2008

“I am 42 years old and have nine children. I am a boss with boats
operating in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. I finished high
school and wanted to go to university but there was no money. So I
became a fisherman in Eyl in Puntland like my father, even though I
still dreamed of working for a company. That never happened as the
Somali government was destroyed [in 1991] and the country became
unstable.

At sea foreign fishing vessels often confronted us. Some had no
licence, others had permission from the Puntland authorities but did
not want us there to compete. They would destroy our boats and force
us to flee for our lives. I started to hijack these fishing boats in
1998. I did not have any special training but was not afraid. For our
first captured ship we got $300,000. With the money we bought AK-47s
and small speedboats. I don’t know exactly how many ships I have
captured since then but I think it is about 60. Sometimes when we are
going to hijack a ship we face rough winds, and some of us get sick
and some die.

We give priority to ships from Europe because we get bigger ransoms.
To get their attention we shoot near the ship. If it does not stop we
use a rope ladder to get on board. We count the crew and find out
their nationalities. After checking the cargo we ask the captain to
phone the owner and say that have seized the ship and will keep it
until the ransom is paid. We make friends with the hostages, telling
them that we only want money, not to kill them. Sometimes we even eat
rice, fish, pasta with them. When the money is delivered to our ship
we count the dollars and let the hostages go.

Then our friends come to welcome us back in Eyl and we go to Garowe in
Land Cruisers. We split the money. For example, if we get $1.8m, we
would send $380,000 to the investment man who gives us cash to fund
the missions, and then divide the rest between us. Our community
thinks we are pirates getting illegal money. But we consider ourselves
heroes running away from poverty. We don’t see the hijacking as a
criminal act but as a road tax because we have no central government
to control our sea. With foreign warships now on patrol we have
difficulties. But we are getting new boats and weapons. We will not
stop until we have a central government that can control our sea.”

BIGGEST HIJACKED SHIP EVER
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2008/11/200811190427825729.html
Somali pirates strike again / November 19, 2008 / 09:02 Mecca time

Somali pirates have struck again in the Gulf of Aden, hijacking
another ship a day after seizing a Saudi oil supertanker with a cargo
worth $100m. The Delight, a Hong Kong-registered vessel carrying
33,000 tonnes of wheat, was sailing to Iran with 25 crew members when
it was seized, Chinese state news agency Xinhua said. A spokesman for
the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet in the Gulf confirmed on Tuesday that the
Delight had been hijacked. A Hong Kong government spokesman said
“this could be a serious matter for us. We will deal with it”.

Saudi tanker anchored
News of the latest hijack came as the hijackers of the Saudi Sirius
Star – the biggest vessel ever hijacked – anchored the vessel off
Somalia. The vessel was seized in the Indian ocean off East Africa on
Sunday in the boldest attack by pirates operating from lawless
Somalia. “We can confirm the ship is anchoring off the Somali coast at
Haradheere,” Lieutenant Nathan Christensen, a spokesman for the US
Fifth Fleet, said on Tuesday. Haradheere is situated roughly in the
centre of Somalia’s coastline.

The supertanker had been heading for the US via the Cape of Good Hope
at the southern tip of Africa, instead of heading through the Gulf of
Aden and the Suez Canal. The hijacking occurred despite an
international naval response, including from the Nato alliance and
European Union, to protect one of the world’s busiest shipping areas.
US, French and Russian warships are also off the Somali coast. The
pirates have driven up insurance costs, forced some ships to go round
South Africa instead of through the Suez Canal and secured millions of
dollars in ransoms. Last week, the European Union, in its first-ever
naval mission, launched a security operation off the coast of Somalia
to combat growing piracy and protect ships carrying aid agency
deliveries.

Outrageous act
Prince Saud al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister called the
hijacking of the Sirius Star an outrageous act and promised to back an
EU-led initiative to step up security in shipping lanes off Africa’s
east coast. “This outrageous act by the pirates, I think, will only
reinforce the resolve of the countries of the Red Sea and
internationally to fight piracy,” he told reporters in Athens. The
vessel owned by Saudi oil giant Aramco was fully loaded when it was
attacked on Sunday more than 450 nautical miles southeast of Mombasa.
The standoff comes as another ship is seized off the coast of Somalia.
According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), a Thai fishing
boat with 16 crew members has been hijacked. Noel Choong, head of the
IMB piracy reporting centre, based in Kuala Lumpur, said the ship was
seized in the Gulf of Aden on Monday. Eight ships have now been
hijacked in the past two weeks.

‘Hitting the jackpot’
Andrew Mwangura, co-ordinator of the East African Seafarers’
Association, said: “The world has never seen anything like this …
The Somali pirates have hit the jackpot.” The association, based in
the Kenyan port city of Mombasa, has been monitoring piracy for years.
Mwangura said he thought a hijacked Nigerian tug was a “mother-ship”
for the November 15 seizure. “The supertanker was fully loaded, so it
was probably low in the water and not that difficult to board,” he
said, adding that the pirates probably used a ladder or hooked a rope
to the side.

Pirates are well organised in the Horn of Africa, where Somalia’s
northeastern tip juts into the Indian Ocean. Somalia has had no
effective government since the 1991 overthrow of Mohamed Siad Barre,
the former president, touched off a bloody power struggle that has
defied numerous attempts to restore stability. This year, Somali
pirates have attacked 90 ships, more than double the number in 2007,
according to the International Maritime Bureau, and are still holding
16 ships and more than 250 sailors.

CURRENTLY HELD FOR RANSOM
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,454124,00.html
Somali Pirates Keep Hundreds of Hostages in Pirate City of Eyl
Heres a list of ten of the biggest vessels still in pirates’ hands.

1. Sirius Star / Hijacked November 17
Cargo: 2 million barrels of oil, value $100 million
Crew: 25 men

2. MV Karagol / Hijacked November 12
Cargo: 4,000 tons of chemicals
Crew: 14 Turks

3. MV Stolt Strength / Hijacked November 10
Cargo: Phosphoric acid
Crew: 23 Filipinos

4. CEC Future / Hijacked November 7
Cargo: Unknown
Crew: 11 Russians, one Georgian, one Lithuanian

5. MV Yasa Neslihan / Hijacked October 29
Cargo: Iron ore
Crew: 20 Turks

6. MT African Sanderling / Hijacked October 15
Cargo: Unknown
Crew: 21 Filipinos

7. MV Faina / Hijacked September 25
Cargo: 33 T-72 Russian battle tanks
Crew: 17 Ukrainians, 2 Latvians, one Russian

8. MV Captain Stefanos / Hijacked September 21
Cargo: Unknown
Crew: 17 Filipinos, two other nationals

9. Centauri / Hijacked September 18
Cargo: 17,000 tons of salt
Crew: 25 Filipinos

10. MV Great Creation / Hijacked September 17
Cargo: Chemical fertilizer
Crew: 24 Chinese, one Sri Lankan

CATERERS HIRED TO PREPARE WESTERN-STYLE FOOD FOR HOSTAGES
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jCRkrQxbXdCbH0TfHp3oGe_2W1KAD94IB2F00
Somali pirates transform villages into boomtowns
BY Mohamed Olad Hassan and Elizabeth Kennedy / 11.19.08

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Somalia’s increasingly brazen pirates are
building sprawling stone houses, cruising in luxury cars, marrying
beautiful women — even hiring caterers to prepare Western-style food
for their hostages. And in an impoverished country where every public
institution has crumbled, they have become heroes in the steamy
coastal dens they operate from because they are the only real business
in town. “The pirates depend on us, and we benefit from them,” said
Sahra Sheik Dahir, a shop owner in Harardhere, the nearest village to
where a hijacked Saudi Arabian supertanker carrying $100 million in
crude was anchored Wednesday.

These boomtowns are all the more shocking in light of Somalia’s
violence and poverty: Radical Islamists control most of the country’s
south, meting out lashings and stonings for accused criminals. There
has been no effective central government in nearly 20 years, plunging
this arid African country into chaos. Life expectancy is just 46
years; a quarter of children die before they reach 5. But in northern
coastal towns like Harardhere, Eyl and Bossaso, the pirate economy is
thriving thanks to the money pouring in from pirate ransoms that have
reached $30 million this year alone. “There are more shops and
business is booming because of the piracy,” said Sugule Dahir, who
runs a clothing shop in Eyl. “Internet cafes and telephone shops have
opened, and people are just happier than before.”

In Harardhere, residents came out in droves to celebrate as the
looming oil ship came into focus this week off the country’s lawless
coast. Businessmen gathered cigarettes, food and cold bottles of
orange soda, setting up kiosks for the pirates who come to shore to
resupply almost daily. Dahir said she even started a layaway plan for
them. “They always take things without paying and we put them into the
book of debts,” she told The Associated Press in a telephone
interview. “Later, when they get the ransom money, they pay us a lot.”
Residents make sure the pirates are well-stocked in khat, a popular
narcotic leaf, and aren’t afraid to gouge a bit when it comes to the
pirates’ deep pockets. “I can buy a packet of cigarettes for about $1
but I will charge the pirate $1.30,” said Abdulqadir Omar, an Eyl
resident. While pirate villages used to have houses made of corrugated
iron sheets, now, there are stately looking homes made of sturdy,
white stones. “Regardless of how the money is coming in, legally or
illegally, I can say it has started a life in our town,” said Shamso
Moalim, a 36-year-old mother of five in Harardhere. “Our children are
not worrying about food now, and they go to Islamic schools in the
morning and play soccer in the afternoon. They are happy.”

The attackers generally treat their hostages well in anticipation of a
big payday, hiring caterers on shore to cook spaghetti, grilled fish
and roasted meat that will appeal to Western palates. And when the
payday comes, the money sometimes literally falls from the sky.
Pirates say the ransom arrives in burlap sacks, sometimes dropped from
buzzing helicopters, or in waterproof suitcases loaded onto skiffs in
the roiling, shark-infested sea. “The oldest man on the ship always
takes the responsibility of collecting the money, because we see it as
very risky, and he gets some extra payment for his service later,”
Aden Yusuf, a pirate in Eyl, told AP over VHF radio.

The pirates use money-counting machines — the same technology seen
at foreign exchange bureaus worldwide — to ensure the cash is real. All
payments are done in cash because Somalia has no functioning banking
system. “Getting this equipment is easy for us, we have business
connections with people in Dubai, Nairobi, Djibouti and other areas,”
Yusuf said. “So we send them money and they send us what we want.”

Despite a beefed-up international presence, the pirates continue to
seize ships, moving further out to sea and demanding ever-larger
ransoms. The pirates operate mostly from the semiautonomous Puntland
region, where local lawmakers have been accused of helping them and
taking a cut of the ransoms. For the most part, however, the regional
officials say they have no power to stop piracy. Meanwhile, towns that
once were eroded by years of poverty and chaos are now bustling with
restaurants, Land Cruisers and Internet cafes. Residents also use
their gains to buy generators — allowing full days of electricity,
once an unimaginable luxury in Somalia.

PIRATES MAKE GOOD HUSBANDS
http://www.thenational.ae/article/20081021/OPINION/481690039/1006/rss
“Pirate Jama Shino in the Somali town of Garowe, threw the most lavish
wedding party for his second marriage and invited hundreds of people
from the local authorities and among citizens,” Hussameddin wrote.
“The bride and the young women who attended the party, said: “Marrying
a pirate is every Somali girl’s dream. He has power, money, immunity,
the weapons to defend the tribe and funds to give to the militias in
civil war,” – from an op-ed in the Egyptian paper, Al Ahram.

PIRACY CHIC
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7650415.stm
Somali pirates living the high life
BY Robyn Hunter / 2008/10/28

“No information today. No comment,” a Somali pirate shouts over the
sound of breaking waves, before abruptly ending the satellite
telephone call. He sounds uptight – anxious to see if a multi-million
dollar ransom demand will be met. He is on board the hijacked
Ukrainian vessel, MV Faina – the ship laden with 33 Russian battle
tanks that has highlighted the problem of piracy off the Somali coast
since it was captured almost a month ago. But who are these modern-day
pirates? According to residents in the Somali region of Puntland where
most of the pirates come from, they live a lavish life.

Fashionable
“They have money; they have power and they are getting stronger by the
day,” says Abdi Farah Juha who lives in the regional capital, Garowe.
“They wed the most beautiful girls; they are building big houses; they
have new cars; new guns,” he says. “Piracy in many ways is socially
acceptable. They have become fashionable.” Most of them are aged
between 20 and 35 years – in it for the money. And the rewards they
receive are rich in a country where almost half the population need
food aid after 17 years of non-stop conflict.

Most vessels captured in the busy shipping lanes of the Gulf of Aden
fetch on average a ransom of $2m. This is why their hostages are well
looked after. The BBC’s reporter in Puntland, Ahmed Mohamed Ali, says
it also explains the tight operation the pirates run. They are never
seen fighting because the promise of money keeps them together.
Wounded pirates are seldom seen and our reporter says he has never
heard of residents along Puntland’s coast finding a body washed
ashore. Given Somalia’s history of clan warfare, this is quite a feat.
It probably explains why a report of a deadly shoot-out amongst the
pirates onboard the MV Faina was denied by the vessel’s hijackers.
Pirate spokesman Sugule Ali told the BBC Somali Service at the time:
“Everybody is happy. We were firing guns to celebrate Eid.”

Brains, muscle and geeks
The MV Faina was initially attacked by a gang of 62 men. BBC Somalia
analyst Mohamed Mohamed says such pirate gangs are usually made up
of three different types:
* Ex-fishermen, who are considered the brains of the operation
because they know the sea
* Ex-militiamen, who are considered the muscle – having fought for
various Somali clan warlords
* The technical experts, who are the computer geeks and know how
to operate the hi-tech equipment needed to operate as a pirate -
satellite phones, GPS and military hardware.

The three groups share the ever-increasing illicit profits – ransoms
paid in cash by the shipping companies. A report by UK think-tank
Chatham House says piracy off the coast of Somalia has cost up to $30m
(£17m) in ransoms so far this year. The study also notes that the
pirates are becoming more aggressive and assertive – something the
initial $22m ransom demanded for MV Faina proves. The asking price has
apparently since fallen to $8m.

Calling the shots
Yemen, across the Gulf of Aden, is reportedly where the pirates get
most of their weapons from. A significant number are also bought
directly from the Somali capital, Mogadishu. Observers say Mogadishu
weapon dealers receive deposits for orders via a “hawala” company – an
informal money transfer system based on honour. Militiamen then drive
the arms north to the pirates in Puntland, where they are paid the
balance on delivery. It has been reported in the past that wealthy
businessmen in Dubai were financing the pirates. But the BBC’s Somali
Service says these days it is the businessmen asking the pirates for
loans.

Such success is a great attraction for Puntland’s youngsters, who have
little hope of alternative careers in the war-torn country. Once a
pirate makes his fortune, he tends to take on a second and third wife
– often very young women from poor nomadic clans, who are renowned
for their beauty. But not everyone is smitten by Somalia’s new elite.
“This piracy has a negative impact on several aspects of our life in
Garowe,” resident Mohamed Hassan laments.

He cites an escalating lack of security because “hundreds of armed
men” are coming to join the pirates. They have made life more
expensive for ordinary people because they “pump huge amounts of US
dollars” into the local economy which results in fluctuations in the
exchange rate, he says. Their lifestyle also makes some unhappy. “They
promote the use of drugs – chewing khat [a stimulant which keeps one
alert] and smoking hashish – and alcohol,” Mr Hassan says.

The trappings of success may be new, but piracy has been a problem in
Somali waters for at least 10 years – when Somali fishermen began
losing their livelihoods. Their traditional fishing methods were no
match for the illegal trawlers that were raiding their waters. Piracy
initially started along Somalia’s southern coast but began shifting
north in 2007 – and as a result, the pirate gangs in the Gulf of Aden
are now multi-clan operations. But Garowe resident Abdulkadil Mohamed
says, they do not see themselves as pirates. “Illegal fishing is the
root cause of the piracy problem,” he says. “They call themselves
coastguards.”

“THEY ARE STRONGER THAN US”
http://allafrica.com/stories/200808250109.html
‘Pirates Are Stronger Than Us’ – Eyl Mayor / 23 August 2008
“The mayor of a small coastal town in northeastern Somalia has
declared that local authorities are unable to stop pirates. Abdullahi
Said O’Yusuf, the mayor of Eyl in Puntland region, confirmed Radio
Garowe during a Saturday interview that four hijacked ships are being
held hostage near the town’s shores. “They are stronger than us,”
Mayor O’Yusuf said, while speaking of the pirates. He condemned
continued attacks on foreign ships traveling across the Indian Ocean,
while underlining that local authorities “cannot do anything” to stop
piracy. The Associated Press has reported that four ships – with
owners in Malaysia, Iran, Japan and Germany – and a total crew of 96
people are being held hostage by Somali pirates. Mayor O’Yusuf said
the pirates who hijacked the ships “are the same ones who received
ransom payments before,” referring to previous pirate attacks in the
region. According to the Mayor, pirates use ransom payments to “buy
houses in big cities” in different parts of the country.”

PUNTLAND, PORT OF EYL
http://www.maplandia.com/somalia/nugaal/eyl/
http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-150775
http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-150774
http://www.ireport.com/people/Moulidismail
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eyl
“Eyl is a town in the northern Puntland region of Somalia. The
prominent clans in the Eyl district are the Majeerteen and Leelkase
sub-clans of the Darod. Eyl is near the Hafun peninsula, the location
of most of Somalia’s casualties from the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. As
of 2008 Eyl has become a pirate haven, with more than a dozen ships
being held captive by pirate crews. The Puntland government has
acknowledged that they are relatively powerless to stop pirate
activities. French commandos decided a hostage rescue in Eyl was too
dangerous, and carried out a rescue of two French sailors before they
could be taken there.”

PIRATE ACCOUNTANTS
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7623329.stm
Life in Somalia’s pirate town
BY Mary Harper / 18 September 2008

Whenever word comes out that pirates have taken yet another ship in
the Somali region of Puntland, extraordinary things start to happen.
There is a great rush to the port of Eyl, where most of the hijacked
vessels are kept by the well-armed pirate gangs. People put on ties
and smart clothes. They arrive in land cruisers with their laptops,
one saying he is the pirates’ accountant, another that he is their
chief negotiator.

With yet more foreign vessels seized off the coast of Somalia this
week, it could be said that hijackings in the region have become
epidemic. Insurance premiums for ships sailing through the busy Gulf
of Aden have increased tenfold over the past year because of the
pirates, most of whom come from the semi-autonomous region of
Puntland. In Eyl, there is a lot of money to be made, and everybody is
anxious for a cut.

Entire industry
The going rate for ransom payments is between $300,000 and $1.5m
(£168,000-£838,000). A recent visitor to the town explained how, even
though the number of pirates who actually take part in a hijacking is
relatively small, the whole modern industry of piracy involves many
more people. “The number of people who make the first attack is small,
normally from seven to 10,” he said. “They go out in powerful
speedboats armed with heavy weapons. But once they seize the ship,
about 50 pirates stay on board the vessel. And about 50 more wait on
shore in case anything goes wrong.”

Given all the other people involved in the piracy industry, including
those who feed the hostages, it has become a mainstay of the Puntland
economy. Eyl has become a town tailor-made for pirates – and their
hostages. Special restaurants have even been set up to prepare food
for the crews of the hijacked ships. As the pirates want ransom
payments, they try to look after their hostages. When commandos from
France freed two French sailors seized by pirates off the Somali coast
in September, President Nicolas Sarkozy said he had given the go-ahead
for the operation when it was clear the pirates were headed for Eyl -
it would have been too dangerous to try to free them from there.

The town is a safe-haven where very little is done to stop the pirates
– leading to the suggestion that some, at least, in the Puntland
administration and beyond have links with them. Many of them come
from the same clan – the Majarteen clan of the president of Somalia’s
transitional federal government, Abdullahi Yusuf.

Money to spend
The coastal region of Puntland is booming. Fancy houses are being
built, expensive cars are being bought – all of this in a country that
has not had a functioning central government for nearly 20 years.
Observers say pirates made about $30m from ransom payments last
year – far more than the annual budget of Puntland, which is about
$20m. When the president of Puntland, Adde Musa, was asked about
the reported wealth of pirates and their associates, he said: “It’s more
than true”.

Now that they are making so much money, these 21st Century pirates
can afford increasingly sophisticated weapons and speedboats. This
means that unless more is done to stop them, they will continue to
plunder the busy shipping lanes through the Gulf of Aden. They even
target ships carrying aid to feed their compatriots – up to a third of the
population. Warships from France, Canada and Malaysia, among others,
now patrol the Somali coast to try and fend off pirate attacks.

An official at the International Maritime Organisation explained how
the well-armed pirates are becoming increasingly bold. More than 30%
of the world’s oil is transported through the Gulf of Aden. “It is
only a matter of time before something horrible happens,” said the
official. “If the pirates strike a hole in the tanker, and there’s an
oil spill, there could be a huge environmental disaster”.

It is likely that piracy will continue to be a problem off the coast
of Somalia as long as the violence and chaos continues on land.
Conflict can be very good for certain types of business, and piracy is
certainly one of them. Weapons are easy to obtain and there is no
functioning authority to stop them, either on land or at sea.

BOARDING THE MOTHERSHIP
http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/WORLD/africa/08/21/somalia.pirates/art.somaliaship.jpg
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gB7YMEDuCwwY9ncDOtPAkEI4-H2wD94I5IQO0
http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=919833

“We want pre-emptive action against the mother ships before the
pirates carry out a hijacking,” said Captain Pottengal Mukundan,
director of the London-based International Maritime Bureau, which
monitors international piracy, referring to the ships pirates use as
bases from which to launch attacks. “The positions of the mother ships
are generally known. What we would like to see is the naval vessels
going to interdict them, searching them and removing any arms on
board. That would at least force the pirates to go back to Somalia to
pick up more arms before they could come back again,” he told Reuters
in an interview.

But the laws governing what navies can do to take on the pirates are
complex. Only if pirates are caught in the act of piracy — actually
boarding a ship and seizing it — can a naval ship intervene with the
full force of international law. Arriving 30 minutes after a vessel
has been boarded, when there is a degree of uncertainty over whether
those on board are pirates or not, is often too late, experts say.
Denmark recently had to return some suspected pirates to Somalia
because it couldn’t prove they were pirates after they were seized.

Mr. Mukundan said there were currently about four ‘mother ships’ –
seized dhows or other larger fishing boats anchored near international
waters — being used by pirates. The pirates live on the mother ships,
storing arms, fuel and other supplies on board, and then target ships,
which can include fuel tankers, by catching up to them in high-speed
boats and boarding them with rope ladders while heavily armed. Mr.
Mukundan acknowledged the legalities of taking on ‘mother ships’ were
tricky, but said it could be done if governments gave their naval
forces instructions to do it.”

CONVENTION ON THE HIGH SEAS
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Convention_on_the_Law_of_the_Sea
http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Convention_on_the_High_Seas
http://www.eaglespeak.us/2006/01/american-navy-ship-may-have-captured.html

“Piracy is an international crime consisting of illegal acts of
violence, detention, or depredation committed for private ends by the
crew or passengers of a private ship or aircraft in or over
international waters against another ship or aircraft or persons and
property on board. (Depredation is the act of plundering, robbing, or
pillaging.)

In international law piracy is a crime that can be committed only
on or over international waters (including the high seas, exclusive
economic zone, and the contiguous zone), in international airspace,
and in other places beyond the territorial jurisdiction of any nation.
The same acts committed in the internal waters, territorial sea,
archipelagic waters, or national airspace of a nation do not
constitute piracy in international law but are, instead, crimes within
the jurisdiction and sovereignty of the littoral nation.

Sea robbery is a term used to describe attacks upon commercial
vessels in ports and territorial waters. Such attacks are, according
to international law, not true acts of piracy but rather armed
robberies. They are criminal assaults on vessels and vessel crews,
just as may occur to truck drivers within a port area. Such attacks
pose a serious threat to trade. The methods of these attacks have
varied from direct force using heavy weapons to subterfuge in which
the criminals have identified themselves on VHF radio as the national
coast guard.

These maritime criminals are inclined to operate in waters where
government presence is weak, often lacking in both technical resources
and the political will to deal effectively with such attacks.
International law permits any warship or government vessel to repress
an attack in international waters. In a state’s territorial waters,
such attacks constitute an act of armed robbery and must be dealt with
under the laws of the relevant coastal state. These laws seldom, if
ever, permit a vessel or warship from another country to intervene.
The most effective countermeasure strategy is to prevent criminals
initial access to ports and vessels, and to demonstrate a consistent
ability to respond rapidly and effectively to notification of such a
security breach.

Acts of piracy can only be committed by private ships or private
aircraft. A warship or other public vessel or a military or other
state aircraft cannot be treated as a pirate unless it is taken over
and operated by pirates or unless the crew mutinies and employs it for
piratical purposes. By committing an act of piracy, the pirate ship or
aircraft, and the pirates themselves, lose the protection of the
nation whose flag they are otherwise entitled to fly.

To constitute the crime of piracy, the illegal acts must be
committed for private ends. Consequently, an attack upon a merchant
ship at sea for the purpose of achieving some criminal end, e.g.,
robbery, is an act of piracy as that term is currently defined in
international law. Conversely, acts otherwise constituting piracy done
for purely political motives, as in the case of insurgents not
recognized as belligerents, are not piratical.

International law has long recognized a general duty of all
nations to cooperate in the repression of piracy. This traditional
obligation is included in the 1958 Geneva Convention on the High Seas
and the 1982 LOS Convention, both of which provide: “[A]ll States
shall cooperate to the fullest possible extent in the repression of
piracy on the high seas or in any other place outside the jurisdiction
of any State.””

PIRACY AS A BUSINESS MODEL (cont.)
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/africa/article5183662.ece

MORAL HAZARD (OR GETTING WHAT YOU PAY FOR)
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/USA/Somali_pirates_paid_up_to_30m_this_year_UN/articleshow/3734963.cms
PAID RANSOMS ARE PROOF OF CONCEPT, ENCOURAGING MORE PIRACY
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=95472602
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=97170630
Lucrative Piracy Business Thrives Off Somali Coast / November 18,
2008

The seizure Monday of a supertanker carrying $100 million of crude oil
off the coast of Somalia is one of many ship hijackings by pirates of
late. A cargo ship flying a Hong Kong flag also was taken over in the
Gulf of Aden on Tuesday — the seventh hijacking in the area in 12
days, according to The Associated Press. The magnitude of recent
piracy attacks is rising, and an interactive map maintained by the
International Chamber of Commerce shows where these attacks are
taking place. Many are focused around the eastern Horn of Africa, but
piracy in the waters around Indonesia also has been frequent. J. Peter
Pham, director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public
Affairs at James Madison University, says the recent spikes in piracy are
“a crime of both opportunity and expediency.”

“Somalia has lacked a government, effectively, since 1991 and the
current interim government — the 14th of its kind in a decade and a
half — is tottering on its last legs, so there is very little control
to prevent lawlessness,” he says. “There is also the fact that
increasingly commerce is moving in this direction — the demand for oil
and other resources. Roughly 11 percent of the world’s petroleum flows
through these waters.” For Somalis, Pham says, “this is really the
best thing they have going for them economically. Piracy and ransom
this year will exceed more than $50 million — it’s Somalia’s largest
income-earner.

“The ship owners and insurers have found that it’s more cost-effective
to pay ransoms. They are currently averaging slightly over $1 million
per vessel, and that’s cheaper than buying a new ship,” Pham says.
“The Saudi tanker that was seized [Monday] was just launched six
months ago and cost $150 million to build and the cargo on board is
worth $100 million, so I suspect the ship owners will be willing to
pay some fraction of that to get it back.” Pham says that most tankers
of that size are not armed, or if they are, they have small side arms.
The pirates come in fast speed boats, circle the vessel and threaten
to blow it out of the water with rocket-propelled grenades or shoulder-
launched missiles. “Faced with that prospect, most captains — to save
the life of their crew and save the vessels — will surrender control
of the vessel to the pirates,” Pham says.

POWER VACUUM
http://worldfocus.org/blog/2008/09/22/somali-pirates-sink-maritime-industry/1302/
http://worldfocus.org/blog/2008/11/18/chaos-on-and-off-somalias-shores/2749/
http://www.economist.com/world/mideast-africa/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12342212
The world’s most utterly failed state / Oct 2nd 2008

Tipped off by friends in ports from Odessa to Mombasa, Somali pirates
captured a Ukrainian freighter, the MV Faina, in the Gulf of Aden and
steered it to Somalia’s coast. At first they demanded $20m for the
release of ship and crew. The captain died, apparently of
“hypertension”, and several pirates may have then killed each other
after a quarrel. This recent incident was only the latest in a long
list of similar outrages and highlights the growing menace caused by
the total failure of the state of Somalia, the ultimate cause of the
virus of piracy in the region.

The ship was carrying 33 T-72 Russian tanks, anti-aircraft guns and
grenade launchers. Lighter weapons may have been offloaded on the
Somali shore before an American warship arrived on the scene. Kenya
claimed ownership of the cargo but the manifest suggests its
destination was south Sudan, with Kenya’s co- operation in its
delivery to be rewarded in the future with cheap south Sudanese oil.
At midweek, a Russian warship was steaming to the scene to take
responsibility for its citizens on the ship.

The attack was only one of at least 60 off Somalia this year. Foreign
navies can intercept vessels captured by pirates, but the desolation
and length of Somalia’s coastline give them little chance of stamping
out piracy without much larger and better co-ordinated forces. In
cahoots with gangs in Yemen, Somali pirates look set to go on hitting
vessels heading into or out of the Red Sea or passing through the Gulf
of Aden: about 10% of the world’s shipping.

It is big business. The pirates are increasingly sophisticated,
handsomely bankrolled by Somalis in Dubai and elsewhere. They are not
yet directly tied up with the Islamist insurgents in Somalia, though
they may yet have to pay cash to whoever controls their coastal havens
in return for uninterrupted business, thus assisting the purchase of
weapons and fuelling the violence. The nabbed ships are mostly
anchored off the village of Eyl in Puntland in the north-east or the
pirate town of Haradheere farther south (see map) until a ransom is
paid, which is usually within a month of capture. The average ransom
has tripled since 2007, as has the number of ships taken. Some $100m
may have been paid to pirates this year. By comparison, the United
Nations Development Programme’s annual budget for Somalia is $14m.

Piracy is a symptom of the power vacuum inside Somalia. The country’s
“transitional federal government”, headed by a warlord president,
Abdullahi Yusuf, and a bookish prime minister, Nur Hussein, is
powerless to stop its citizens raising the Jolly Roger, just as it
cannot halt the resurgent jihadists, some with al-Qaeda connections,
who have taken control of much of southern Somalia, including the port
town of Kismayo. Hundreds of thousands have fled street fighting in
the north of Mogadishu to camps outside the city; some head south to
refugee camps in Kenya. About 9,000 civilians have been killed in the
insurgency in the past year, according to human-rights groups.

The UN’s envoy to Somalia, Ahmedou Ould Abdullah, a former foreign
minister of Mauritania, is overseeing peace talks in nearby Djibouti
between the transitional government and the moderate wing of the
Alliance for the Reliberation of Somalia (ARS), an Islamist group
headed by a former teacher, Sharif Ahmed. The aim is to create a
genuine government of national unity before elections next year.

A condition of any agreement is the withdrawal of the 7,000-odd
Ethiopian troops now in Somalia. Mr Ould Abdullah wants to replace
them and a separate 2,200-strong African Union force of Ugandan and
Burundian troops with 8,000 UN peacekeepers. Ethiopia, which is losing
men and money, would be happy with that, if the peacekeepers were
somehow shoehorned in without the jihadists taking advantage of a
hiatus. America agrees, but only if the deployment of blue helmets is
matched by an effort to build a new Somali national army. Mr Ould
Abdullah is also keen for the International Criminal Court in The
Hague to indict some of the worst warlords, to show they cannot murder
their opponents with impunity. But it is unlikely, in present
circumstances, that UN peacekeepers will ever arrive. If the UN cannot
produce half its promised force for Darfur, despite a detailed plan
for one, Somalia stands little chance of getting any blue helmets at
all.

Feuding among Somali leaders makes matters worse. “Somalia is a victim
of its political, business and military elite,” says Mr Ould Abdullah.
“They’ve taken the country hostage.” A slender hope, backed by Britain
and some other EU countries, is that ordinary Somalis will eventually
force their leaders to put national interest above self-interest and
sign the proposed agreement in Djibouti. In any event, says another
diplomat, “There is no Plan B.”

As the peace talks limp on, the insurgency is getting stronger. It is
led by the Shabab (Youth), the armed wing of the Islamic Courts Union,
which ran Somalia with some success for a few months in 2006 until it
was smashed, at the end of that year, by the invading Ethiopians, with
American backing. The Shabab has since reconstituted itself, making
ground with tactics copied from Iraq: roadside bombings, the kidnap
and murder of foreigners, local aid-workers and peace campaigners, and
grenade attacks on video shacks showing films or football.

My enemy’s enemy is my friend
Its fighters come under the leadership of a wily red-bearded 70-year-
old jihadist, Hassan Dahir Aweys, and a former deputy commander of the
Islamic Courts, Mukhtar Robow. They are backed by Eritrea, which has
offered sanctuary to the radical rump of the ARS in its capital,
Asmara. Eritrea’s interest is not to help Somalia but to hurt its
bitter enemy, Ethiopia. The Shabab is also backed by fighters from the
Hawiye clan and by hungry young freelance gunmen who represent
Somalia’s huge lost generation. Half the population, 10m-odd before
the exodus, was born after Siad Barre’s regime fell in 1991. Since
then, it is guessed, only 10% have had even rudimentary education;
health care barely exists.

Few foreign governments have shown much interest in trying to end
Somalia’s woes. Diplomats charged with trying to do so are frustrated
and depressed. Meanwhile the suffering is mounting. The UN reckons
3.2m Somalis now survive on food aid. The piracy means that warships
have to escort ships bringing food. If fighting intensifies, that will
be harder—and manipulating food aid could become a weapon, as it was
during fighting in 1991 and 1992, when 300,000 Somalis starved to
death.

BUT FOR ORDINARY MIRACLES
http://www.royalafricansociety.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=501
http://thirtylettersinmyname.blogspot.com/2008/10/somalia-through-richard-dowdens-eyes.html
BY Hari Jagannathan Balasubramanian / October 06, 2008

…as I now read Richard Dowden’s Africa: Altered States, Ordinary
Miracles, the political outline is becoming clear: one man rule from
1969-1991; then civil war; a failed American rescue attempt; and then
no government; and more recently, Ethiopia meddling in its affairs.
The excerpts I’ll present here, though, are images of a modernizing
Somalia, of how in the absence of a government, a free market thrived
in the 90s and filled the void.

“In 1999 I went back to Somalia to see what had happened.
Considering there was no state and civil war sputtered on, life was
not as bad as I had expected. In some ways it was a lot better. Those
few aid agencies that stayed on were no longer run by expatriate
overlords but staffed by Somalis. Not many foreign aid workers wanted
to be there. Somalis had also managed to get the economy going –
without a single cent from the World Bank or IMF. The new economy was
largely built around a worldwide telephone banking system – a truly
free market system and , at the time, by far the world’s cheapest and
most efficient. Several Somalis who had worked in telecoms in America
bought dishes and telephone equipment and set up phone booths in small
towns. From here, for a dollar a minute, people could call cousins and
aunts and uncles all over the world.”

And how the cell phone is the perfect device for the wandering Somali
herder wanting to learn market prices:

“Somali herders move around in a yearly pattern. In the dry
season, towards the end of the year, they go down to the coast as they
have done for centuries to sell some of their animals to traders who
take them across the Red Sea to the markets of Saudi Arabia. I have
watched them at the port of Berbera, herds of camels and sheep driven
to holding areas where herders have to buy fodder for them and pay for
water at the trough markets. These herdsmen are at a big disadvantage
while they wait to sell their animals. But the mobile phone has
rescued them. They can call up traders in Jeddah directly to find out
the market price of animals there. They now know when to come down
out of the mountains and sell. A week later I watch a herdsman on the
outskirts of Berbera driving his herd towards the port with herding
stick in one hand and in the other a mobile phone – perfect technology
for the nomad.”’

CHEAPEST MOBILE SERVICE IN AFRICA
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4020259.stm
Telecoms thriving in lawless Somalia
BY Joseph Winter / 2004/11/19

Rising from the ruins of the Mogadishu skyline are signs of one of
Somalia’s few success stories in the anarchy of recent years. A host
of mobile phone masts testifies to the telecommunications revolution
which has taken place despite the absence of any functioning national
government since 1991. Three phone companies are engaged in fierce
competition for both mobile and landline customers, while new internet
cafes are being set up across the city and the entire country. It
takes just three days for a landline to be installed – compared with
waiting-lists of many years in neighbouring Kenya, where there is a
stable, democratic government. And once installed, local calls are
free for a monthly fee of just $10. International calls cost 50 US
cents a minute, while surfing the web is charged at 50 US cents an
hour – “the cheapest rate in Africa” according to the manager of one
internet cafe. But how do you establish a phone company in a country
where there is no government?

No monopoly
In some respects, it is actually easier. There is no need to get a
licence and there is no state-run monopoly which prevents new
competitors being established. And of course there is no-one to demand
any taxes, which is one reason why prices are so low. “The government
post and telecoms company used to have a monopoly but after the
regime was toppled, we were free to set up our own business,” says
Abdullahi Mohammed Hussein, products and services manager of
Telcom Somalia, which was set up in 1994 when Mogadishu was still
a war-zone. “We saw a huge gap in the market, as all previous services
had been destroyed. There was a massive demand.” The main airport
and port were destroyed in the fighting but businessmen have built
small airstrips and use natural harbours, so the phone companies are
still able to import their equipment. Despite the absence of law and
order and a functional court system, bills are paid and contracts are
enforced by relying on Somalia’s traditional clan system, Mr Abdullahi
says.

Mobile target
But in a country divided into hundreds of fiefdoms run by rival
warlords, security is a major concern. While Telcom Somalia has some
25,000 mobile customers – and a similar number have land lines – you
very rarely see anyone walking along the streets of Mogadishu chatting
on their phone, in case this attracts the attention of a hungry
gunman. The phone companies themselves say they are not targeted by
the militiamen, even if thieves occasionally steal some of their
wires. Mahdi Mohammed Elmi has been managing the Wireless African
Broadband Telecoms internet cafe in the heart of Mogadishu, surrounded
by the bustling and chaotic Bakara market, for almost two years. “I
have never had a problem with security,” he says and points out that
they have just a single security guard at the front door. Mr Abdullahi
says the warlords realise that if they cause trouble for the phone
companies, the phones will stop working again, which nobody wants. “We
need good relations with all the faction leaders. We don’t interfere
with them and they don’t interfere with us. They want political power
and we leave them alone,” he says.

Selling goats on the net
While the three phone companies – Telcom, Nationlink and Hormuud – are
engaged in bitter competition for phone customers, they have co-
operated to set up the Global Internet Company to provide the internet
infrastructure. Manager Abdulkadir Hassan Ahmed says that within 1.5km
of central Mogadishu, customers – mostly internet cafes – can enjoy
service at 150Mb/second through a Long Reach Ethernet. Elsewhere, they
can have a wireless connection at 11Mb/s. He says his company is able
to work anywhere in Somalia, whichever faction is in charge locally.
“Even small, remote villages are connected to the internet, as long as
they have a phone line,” he says. The internet sector in Somalia has
two main advantages over many of its Africa neighbours. There is a
huge diaspora around the world – between one and three million people,
compared with an estimated seven million people in Somalia – who
remain in contact with their friends and relatives back home. E-mail
is the cheapest way of staying in touch and many Somalis can read and
write their own language, instead of relying on English or French,
which restricts internet users to a smaller number of well educated
people. Just two days after it was opened, the Orbit internet cafe in
south Mogadishu’s km5 was already pretty busy, with people checking
their e-mail accounts, a livestock exporter sending out his invoices
and two nurses doing medical research.

Video calling
And Somalia’s telecoms revolution is far from over. “We are planning
to introduce 3G technology, including live video calling and mobile
internet, next year,” says Mr Abdullahi. But despite their success,
the telecoms companies say that like the population at large, they are
desperate to have a government. “We are very interested in paying
taxes,” says Mr Abdullahi – not a sentiment which often passes the
lips of a high-flying businessman. And Mr Abdulkadir at the Global
Internet Company fully agrees. “We badly need a government,” he says.
“Everything starts with security – the situation across the country.
“All the infrastructure of the country has collapsed – education,
health and roads. We need to send our staff abroad for any training.”
Another problem for companies engaged in the global telecoms business
is paying their foreign partners. At present, they use Somalia’s
traditional “Hawala” money transfer companies to get money to Dubai,
the Middle East’s trading and financial hub. With a government would
come a central bank, which would make such transactions far easier.
Taxes would mean higher prices but Mr Abdullahi says that Somalia’s
previous governments have kept taxes low and hopes this will continue
under the regime due to start work in the coming months. Somalia’s
telecoms companies are looking forward to an even brighter future with
the support of a functioning government – as long as it does not
impose punitive tax rates or state control in a sector which obviously
needs very little help to thrive.

MARKET SOLUTIONS
http://www.petermaass.com/core.cfm?p=1&mag=51&magtype=1
Ayn Rand Comes to Somalia
In the absence of government bureaucracy and foreign aid, business is
starting to boom in Mogadishu.
BY Peter Maass / The Atlantic Monthly / May 2001

The headquarters of Telecom Somalia is filled with the sights and
sounds of Mogadishu-style success. Customers pour through the
entrance, funneling past machine-gun positions that flank the front
doors. After a pat-down by security guards, who take temporary
possession of any guns and knives, they enter the lobby and line up at
the appropriate counters to pay their bills or order new service.
Clocks on a wall display the time in New York, Paris, London, Sydney,
and Karachi—reminders of an outside world that has pretty much left
Somalia for dead. Computer keyboards clatter as workers punch in
information. Customers chat and argue with one another in a gregarious
manner that makes the lobby feel like a town square—all the more so if
a goat that’s being herded down the street happens to stray inside.

Telecom Somalia is the largest company in Mogadishu. It has 700
employees, and it offers some of the best and cheapest phone service
in Africa. It also provides a clue to the possible resuscitation of
the world’s most famous failed state. In 1995, when the international
community decided to wash its hands of Somalia and the last United
Nations peacekeepers left the country, Mogadishu was a Hobbesian
horror show. It remains a miserable and unstable place, a city where
taxi drivers ruin their own vehicles, denting the body work and
smashing the windows, so that thieves will not bother to steal them.
But it is less dismal than it used to be, and better times may be on
the way, owing to a new generation of businessmen who are determined
to bring the lawless capital back to life.

Prime among the city’s entrepreneurial leaders is Abdulaziz Sheikh,
the chief executive of Telecom Somalia. When I visited him last
summer, in a small office on the fourth floor of the company’s
headquarters, he was being blasted by a hurricane-force air-
conditioner that nearly drowned out the constantly ringing phones on
his desk. “You need to be here twenty-four hours a day,” he said,
explaining that he lives as well as works on the premises. Sheikh had
the running-on-fumes look of a campaign chairman in a never-ending
race, but at least he appeared to be winning. Anyone can walk into the
lobby of his building, plunk down a $100 deposit, and leave with a
late-model Nokia that works throughout the city, in valleys as well as
on hilltops, at all hours. Caller ID, call waiting, conference
calling, and call forwarding are available. There are two other
cellular-phone firms in town, and the three recently entered into a
joint venture and created the first local Internet-service provider.
Not all battles here are resolved by murder.

Mogadishu also has new radio and television stations (one night I
watched the Somali equivalent of Larry King Live, in which the
moderator and his guest, one of the city’s leading Islamic clerics,
fielded questions from callers), along with computer schools and an
airport that serves several airlines (although these fly the sorts of
airplanes that Americans see only in museums). The city’s Bekara
market offers everything from toilet paper, Maalox, and Colgate
toothpaste to Viagra, sarongs, blank passports (stolen from the
Foreign Ministry a decade ago), and assault rifles. The international
delivery company DHL has an office in Mogadishu, where its methods can
be unorthodox: if a client has an urgent package that cannot wait for
a scheduled flight out of the country, the company will dispatch it on
one of the many planes that arrive illegally from Kenya every day
bearing khat, a narcotic leaf that is chewed like tobacco but has the
effect of cocaine.

Mogadishu has the closest thing to an Ayn Rand-style economy that the
world has ever seen—no bureaucracy or regulation at all. The city has
had no government since 1991, when the much despised President
Mohammed Siad Barre was overthrown; his regime was replaced not by
another one but by civil war. The northern regions of Somaliland and
Puntland have stabilized under autonomous governments, but southern
Somalia, with Mogadishu at its core, has remained a Mad Max zone
carved up by warlords for whom fighting seems as necessary as oxygen.
The prospect of stability is a curious miracle, not simply because the
kind of business development that is happening tends to require the
presence of a government, but because the very absence of a
government may have helped to nurture an African oddity—a lean
and efficient business sector that does not feed at a public trough
controlled by corrupt officials.

Similarly, the lack of large-scale (and often corrupting) foreign aid
might have benefits as well as drawbacks. Somali investors are making
things happen, not waiting for them to happen. For example, on the
outskirts of town, on a plot of land the size of several football
fields and surrounded by twenty-foot-high walls, workers recently
completed a $2 million bottling plant. Everyone refers to it as “the
Pepsi factory,” even though Pepsi is not involved. The project’s
investors say the plant will become a Pepsi factory: they figure that
if they begin producing soft drinks, Pepsi or some other international
company will want to get in on the market.

Many of the larger companies in Mogadishu, including the bottling
plant, have issued shares, although there is of course no stock
exchange or financial authority of any sort in the city. Everything is
based on trust, and so far it has worked, owing to Somalia’s tightly
woven clan networks: everyone knows everyone else, so it’s less likely
that an unknown con man will pull off a scam. In view of Somalia’s
history, this ad hoc stock market is not as implausible as it may
sound. Until a century ago, when Italy and Britain divided what is
present-day Somalia into colonial fiefdoms, Somalis got along quite
well without a state, relying on systems that still exist: informal
codes of honor and a means of resolving disputes, even violent ones,
through mediation by clan elders.

Of course, the lack of a government poses problems, especially with
respect to the warlords. Sheikh and his fellow businessmen have kept
them at bay by paying them protection money and by forming their own
militias. Those manning the machine guns outside Telecom Somalia are
employees of the company, and when the firm’s linemen go out to lay
new cables (they used to string overhead lines, but those got shot up
by stray gunfire), they, too, are protected by company gunmen. All of
this is costly, so the business leaders have taken steps to bring
about a new government—one that will keep its hands out of their
pockets and focus on providing security and public services. The
process began two years ago, when Sheikh and other entrepreneurs got
fed up with the blight of checkpoints, at which everyone was required
to pay small tributes to armed teenagers affiliated with various
warlords. The businessmen decided collectively to fund a militia to
get rid of the checkpoints, resulting in an armed force that is
overseen by the city’s Islamic clerics. Having succeeded in its main
mission, the militia now serves as an informal sort of police force,
patrolling the streets in an effort to stop petty crime.

With the checkpoints gone and the warlords weakened by the loss of a
key source of income, the business elite is bankrolling a transitional
government that was appointed at a peace conference last August. The
government does not yet control much more than the heavily guarded
buildings that are its temporary headquarters, but it has begun
deploying its own policemen in some parts of the city. The businessmen
are pooling their company security forces to bolster the government
and are trying to lure the warlords’ gunmen to its side with cash
incentives. In February one of the leading warlords, Mohamed Qanyareh,
agreed to support the government in exchange for ministerial posts for
himself and his allies.

If the business community succeeds in returning Mogadishu to something
resembling normalcy, it will have shown that a failed state, or at
least its capital city, can get back on its feet without much help
from the outside world. This would constitute not an argument against
outside intervention but, rather, a lesson that intervention doesn’t
have to be of the UN-led, billion-dollar variety. Before leaving the
city I met with Hussein Abdullahi, a well-educated businessman who
fled Mogadishu in 1991 and wound up in Toronto, driving a taxi. Three
years ago, during a return visit, he was struck by the fact that his
Somali friends were living better at home than he was in Canada, at
the bottom of the immigrant ladder. He decided to move back and now
manages a thriving pasta factory, a bread factory, and a medical
clinic. Sipping an ice-cold Coke in his office, Abdullahi offered to
share a secret that, he promised, could make me rich. A chubby man
with a beatific smile, he leaned forward conspiratorially. “Everything
is possible in Mogadishu now, everything,” he said. “If you have the
money and the knowledge, you can do whatever you want. It is virgin
here.” Perhaps so, but only in the way of scorched earth.

PRIVATE SECTOR FINDS WORKAROUNDS
http://rru.worldbank.org/PublicPolicyJournal/Summary.aspx?id=280
http://rru.worldbank.org/Documents/PapersLinks/280-nenova-harford.pdf
BY Tatiana Nenova and Tim Harford / 11/1/2004

Telecommunications: networks link up
Many local companies have teamed up with international giants such as
Sprint (U.S.) and Telenor (Norway), providing mobile phones and
building new landlines. Vigorous competition has pushed prices well
below typical levels in Africa, and Somalia now has 112,000 fixed
lines and 50,000 mobile subscribers, up from 17,000 lines before 1991.
Yet not all is well. Calling every phone subscriber in Hargeisa, in
the Northwest, would require connections from four telephone firms.
But firms in Mogadishu have now agreed on interconnection standards,
and those in Hargeisa appear to be following suit. The negotiations
were brokered by the Somali Telecom Association, set up with the help
of the United Nations and International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
and head-quartered in Dubai.[1]

Electricity: simple solutions yield results
Entrepreneurs have worked around Somalia’s lack of a functioning
electricity grid, payment systems, and metering. They have divided
cities into manageable quarters and provide electricity locally using
secondhand generators bought in Dubai. They offer households a menu of
choices (daytime, evening, or 24-hour service) and charge per
lightbulb.

Water: access but not cheap or safe
Public water provision is limited to urban areas, but a private system
extends to all parts of the country as entrepreneurs build cement
catchments, drill private boreholes, or ship water from public systems
in the cities. Prices naturally rise in times of drought.
Traditionally, destitute families have not had to pay for water, while
the slightly better-off borrow funds from relatives. Nevertheless,
after several years of drought the United Nations estimates that many
families in the Eastern Sanaag have debts of US$50–100 for water.
Moreover, access to safe water is low even by African standards
because neither regulators nor the market have been able to persuade
merchants to purify their water.

Air travel: outsourcing safety
In 1989 the national carrier (partly owned by Alitalia) operated just
one airplane and one international route.[2] Today the sector boasts
about 15 firms, more than 60 aircraft, 6 international destinations,
more domestic routes, and many more flights. But safety is a concern.
Airports lack trained air traffic controllers, fire services, runway
lights, and a sealed perimeter against stray animals, and checks on
aircraft and crew are inadequate. The makeshift solution:
international outsourcing. Somali carriers lease planes, often with
crews from Eastern Europe (the largest, Daallo Airlines, leases a
Boeing from the United Kingdom, to boost customer confidence). And
they operate out of Djibouti, Dubai, and Nairobi, using the facilities
there to check aircraft safety.

Private courts: quick but limited
A recent effort to endow Mogadishu with a functioning court collapsed
when the court tried to levy taxes and take over the privately run
port of El Ma’an. In any case Somalia lacks contract law, company law,
the concept of limited liability, and other key pillars of commercial
law. In some cases Somalis have used offshore registration of
businesses to import legal concepts and services. More commonly,
disputes are settled at the clan level, by traditional systems run by
elders and with the clan collecting damages. Such measures are free—
and fast by international standards. In a case involving the
oppression of minority shareholders in a large livestock company, out-
of-court talks were preferred, the company continued to operate
successfully, and the dispute was settled amicably. But clan-based
systems deal poorly with disputes outside the clan. In a dispute
involving the telecommunications company Aerolite, the interclan
committee of elders awarded the plaintiff from a weaker clan an
unfairly small settlement, and since it was not enforced, he received
nothing.

Currency: perfect competition for dollars [2001]
Sharp inflation in 1994–96 and 2000–01 destroyed confidence in three
local currencies. U.S. dollars are harder to forge, do not need to be
carried around in large fragile bundles, and, most important, retain
their value. The feeble capabilities of the central bank have allowed
free entry into the currency exchange business, which is as close to
perfectly competitive as is ever likely to be possible.

International fund transfers: hawala system
The hawala system, a trust-based money transfer system used in many
Muslim countries, moves US$0.5–1 billion into Somalia every year. A
person in New York wishing to send money to his family in Tog-waajale
gives the hawala agent in New York the sum in cash, paying a 5 percent
commission. The agent deposits the cash in a local bank account to be
transferred to the company bank account in Djibouti or Dubai, then
alerts the clearinghouse in Hargeisa, which passes details on to Tog-
waajale. When the recipient shows up, the local agent quizzes him
about his clan lineage using questions provided by the relative
overseas as security against fraud. The transaction is usually
completed within 24 hours. Hawala networks are unregulated and do not
always keep records of transactions, but they are coming under
pressure from efforts to combat money laundering.[3]

Savings accounts and traveler’s checks
Somalia has adopted the widespread African institution of rotating
credit associations, which rely on clan links for enforcement and
provide a safe haven for savings. More innovative is the system of
traveler’s checks for the pilgrimage to Mecca, or hajj. Nobody would
accept Somali checks, so Somali firms set up accounts in Saudi banks
and write checks to pilgrims that can be cashed in any branch.

Gaps in private sector provision
In some areas the private sector has made little progress. The Somali
road system, for example, is limited and in poor condition. For a
private supplier to build a road and collect fees to cover the costs
is apparently too hard, partly because of prohibitive transaction
costs and partly because fee-paying users are not the only ones who
benefit from roads. Primary education is another disappointing story.
Some 71 percent of primary schools are privately owned (typically by
parents or communities), but enrollment is just 17 percent. By
contrast, it is 82 percent in West Africa, where countries are richer
and more stable and the government is much more heavily involved in
the economy. Ideally, benevolent government would sort out both
problems. But government that is merely stronger might not help. Where
municipal governments along the Berbera–Hargeisa road have the power
to collect tolls, they do not spend them on maintenance. The failings
of the education system are partly because half of Somalis are nomads.
It is not clear that government would do much better, especially since
the private schools are locally acknowledged to be superior to those
run by local government. Rather than try to create a government system
from scratch, a better policy would be to improve the network of
higher-quality private schools.

Conclusion
The achievements of the Somali private sector form a surprisingly long
list. Where the private sector has failed—the list is long here too—
there is a clear role for government interventions. But most such
interventions appear to be failing. Government schools are of lower
quality than private schools. Subsidized power is being supplied not
to the rural areas that need it but to urban areas, hurting a well-
functioning private industry. Road tolls are not spent on roads.
Judges seem more interested in grabbing power than in developing laws
and courts. A more productive role for government would be to build on
the strengths of the private sector. Given Somali reliance on clan and
reputation, any measures allowing these mechanisms to function more
broadly would be welcome; credit and land registries would be a good
start. And since Somali businesses rely heavily on institutions
outside the economy, international and domestic policies supporting
such connections would help. For governments and aid agencies, the
capability of some business sectors to cope under the most difficult
conditions should give hope and guidance in other reconstruction
efforts. It may take less encouragement than is commonly thought for
stripped-down systems of finance, electricity, and telecommunications
to grow.

Notes
1. “Somalia Telecoms Boom without Government,” Somaliland Times, July
22, 2004.
2. United States Institute for Peace, Removing Barricades in Somalia:
Prospects for Peace(Washington, D.C., 1998).
3. Abdusalam Omer, “Supporting System and Procedures for the Effective
Regulation and Monitoring of Somali Remittance Companies
(Hawala)” (United Nations Development Programme, Nairobi, 2003).

KHAT MARKET FUTURES
http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/africa/090715/somalias-addict-economy
Somaliland’s addict economy
BY Tristan McConnell / July 17, 2009

Somalia’s economy is dominated by trade in khat, a narcotic banned in the U.S. and much of Europe. Eye-popping, head-buzzing khat is loved by Somali men who chew the leaves for their stimulant effect. While most of war-torn Somalia’s economy is moribund, khat does a bustling trade estimated at well over $50 million annually. Doctors warn, however, that the drug is not only a drain on limited Somali resources but is also destroying lives.

Hargeisa is the capital of Somaliland, the northern territory nominally independent from Somalia which maintains peace and economic activity, especially the khat trade. Lounging on a rug on the second floor of an ostentatious glass and stone mansion overlooking Hargeisa, Mohamed Yusuf Moge, aptly known as “The Fat Mohamed,” lit up another cigarette. In front of him was a pile of leafless khat twigs. His eyes were wide and red-rimmed, a symptom of the leaves that have been chewed. “We bring in 80-tons of khat every day,” he said. “We have many vehicles and two airplanes for transporting our produce. We control the market: We are the De Beers of the khat industry!”

“We” is “571 Allah Amin,” a family business started 15 years ago that has grown to become Somaliland’s biggest khat importer. Moge is 571’s country rep. Although he would not reveal how much the company makes, it is estimated that its revenue is $320,000 a day. Downtown at the company depot, the second of the day’s trucks arrives from the highland farms of neighboring Ethiopia mid-morning. Thursday is the busiest day of the week because, as one man explained, Friday is the Muslim day of rest so everyone can sleep off their khat hangover.

As the khat truck pulled in, barrow boys and vendors crowded round the tailgate to unload the 70 kg sacks of khat wrapped in hay to keep it fresh. Inside are small bundles of shoots that are bought wholesale for $1 and sold retail for $1.50. “Business is good!” shouted Omar Hersi Warfa, 571’s depot manager, over the clamor. “We are working hard and people are chewing!” Khat vendor Shamis Abdullahi Nur, 50, squatting on the ground nearby, agreed. “Business is very good because of our security and peace,” she said as she directed a sack of khat to be loaded into the back of a beat-up station wagon for the drive across town to her stall. Others pushed smaller consignments away in wheelbarrows. “I’ve been selling khat for over 30 years and now is the best time. There was a time of war, a time when I was a refugee, but now you can see I am sitting here eating my mango,” she said with a sticky, happy smile

Street prices are highest in the early afternoon because this is gayiil time when most men chew the khat and shoot the breeze. They can be found sitting on carpets in shady spots close to khat kiosks, with an ashtray, a flask of sweet tea and a jug of water at their feet. Women often sell khat but are not invited to chew. But increasingly men are also chewing in the morning, the evening and throughout the night. The stoned man in a cotton wrap tottering in a daze along a crumbling potholed road with a fistful of green stems is a common sight. Some warn the national habit does psychological damage. In the mental wing of Hargeisa’s main hospital, a staff member walked past the patients, many of whom were chained to a bed or a post or sat staring vacantly on the floor. “The majority of the men here are affected by chewing khat, most are schizophrenic,” said Faisal Ibrahim.

Dr. Yassin Arab Abdi, the hospital’s chief doctor, said: “Chewing is part of it although there are many reasons for mental illness. Before they used to chew at a certain time for a few hours now there are four sessions 24-hours a day. These people are addicts.” Back at the khat mansion, “Fat Mohamed” Moge and his colleagues, however, extolled the virtues of the drug. “Khat plays a great role in our society. If there’s conflict people have to sit down, chew, talk about it,” Moge said. “It is not like a drug which destroys the mind. It is a stimulant. If you chew khat in the right manner it doesn’t affect you.” But, he admitted, “There are some guys who are addicted, this is because they are jobless and have nothing to do.”

Unfortunately this description applies to many Somali men. The last national government — a military dictatorship — collapsed in 1991. Since then the unrecognized state of Somaliland has declared itself independent while Somalia has descended deeper into war and chaos. Isolation on the one hand and war on the other have left the formal economy shattered with many surviving on remittances sent from relatives abroad. Yet it is not unusual for men to spend $5 or $10 a day on khat, making the habit a huge drain on very limited resources. The government’s entire annual budget is less than $50 million, around $14 a head for each of Somaliland’s 3.5 million citizens. Such is the love of khat that to outlaw it would be political suicide. Nevertheless a senior Somaliland politician, Musa Behe of the opposition Kulmiye party, said, “The Somali man works less because he chews khat. We won’t ban it but we need to raise awareness of the harm khat does.”

STILL HAS BORDERS
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/country_profiles/1072592.stm
Profile : Somalia

Somalia has been without an effective central government since
President Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991. The self-proclaimed state
of Somaliland and the region of Puntland run their own affairs.
* Population: 8.7 million (UN, 2007)
* Capital: Mogadishu
* Area: 637,657sq km (246,201 sq miles)
* Major languages: Somali, Arabic, Italian, English
* Major religion: Islam
* Life expectancy: 47 years (men), 49 years (women)
* Monetary unit: 1 Somali shilling = 100 cents
* Main exports: Livestock, bananas, hides, fish
* GNI per capita: n/a

President: Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed
Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, a former leader of the semi-autonomous Somali
region of Puntland, was chosen by Somalia’s interim parliament as
president of the Transitional Federal Government in October 2004. The
election took place in Kenya because the Somali capital was regarded
as being too dangerous. A former army officer and faction leader, Mr
Yusuf led a guerrilla movement in the 1970s aimed at ousting the
Somali dictator Siad Barre. In the 1990s he emerged as the pre-eminent
leader of his native Puntland region; he declared the territory
autonomous in 1998. He is said to have an authoritarian approach to
leadership.

Somalia’s disintegration is reflected in its media, which is
undeveloped, fragmented and often partisan. Broadcasters and
journalists operate in an atmosphere which is hostile to free
expression, and often dangerous. In spite of this, diverse and more
professional media outlets have emerged in recent years – in
particular, FM radio stations with no explicit factional links. The TV
and press sectors are weak and radio is the dominant medium. There are
around 20 radio stations, but no national, domestic broadcaster. Many
listeners tune to Somali-language media based abroad, in particular
the BBC Somali service. In secessionist Somaliland and Puntland the
authorities maintain a tight hold on broadcasting.

LOCAL NEWS / TV / RADIO
http://www.somalilandtimes.net/
http://www.hornafrik.com/english.htm
http://www.shabelle.net/
http://www.radiobanadir.com/
http://simbanews.com/
http://www.allsbc.com/english.php

BUT GET THIS:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_unrecognized_countries

THE BREAKAWAY FUNCTIONING-DEMOCRACY OF SOMALILAND
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somaliland
http://www.somaliland.org/tag/eng/
http://www.apd-somaliland.org/
http://www.iprt.org/
http://www.un.org/webcast/pdfs/unia991.pdf
http://hargeisacaat.freeservers.com/
http://www.somalilandnet.com/
http://www.radiosomaliland.com/
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e4/Map_of_somaliland_border_claims.jpg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_relations_of_Somaliland

“Due to its unrecognized status, The Republic of Somaliland has no
official contacts with any other nation. The current foreign policy of
Somaliland is to try to secure international recognition as a
sovereign, stable country, so that international aid can be more
readily secured. Somaliland was independent for a 3 day period in
1960, between the end of British colonial rule and its union with the
former Italian colony of Somalia which status then continued until the
unilateral declaration reestablishing its independence in 1991.
Somaliland’s claims to sovereignty rests on its former independent
status. In addition, the fact that the rest of Somalia is in a state
of chaos while Somaliland is under stable government also lends
credence to its claim. The attitude of the United Nations and the
African Union on the preservation of existing national borders has so
far prevented recognition of Somaliland, despite the examples of the
former status of British Somaliland, and the fact that Eritrea
successfully broke away from Ethiopia and became a recognized country.
An African Union fact-finding mission that visited Somaliland in early
2005 recently published a report that recommended favorable
consideration for recognizing Somaliland’s independence.”

OR: HOW TO START A GOVERNMENT FROM SCRATCH
http://www.somalilandgov.com/
“The population of Somaliland is estimated at around 3.5 million. The
average population growth rate is 3.1%. Population density is
estimated at approximately 25 persons per sq. kilometre. Fifty-five
percent of the population is either nomadic or semi-nomadic, while 45%
live in urban centres or rural towns. The average life expectancy for
the male is 50 and for females it is 55.

The Republic of Somaliland known as the Somaliland Protectorate under
the British rule from 1884 until June, 26th 1960 when Somaliland got
its independence from Britain. On July 1st 1960 it joined the former
Italian Somalia to form the Somali Republic. The union did not work
according to the aspirations of the people, and the strain led to a
civil war from 1980s onwards and eventually to the collapse of the
Somali Republic. After the collapse of the Somali Republic, the people
of Somaliland held a congress in which it was decided to withdraw from
the Union with Somalia and to reinstate Somaliland’s sovereignty.

The country has a republican form of government. The legislative
assembly is composed of two chambers – an elected elder’s chamber, and
a house of representatives. An elected President and an elected Vice-
president head the government. The President nominates the cabinet
which is approved by the legislature. There is an independent
judiciary

One of the provisions of the National Constitution of the Republic of
Somaliland is the establishment of a Bank to carry out Central Banking
functions. The bank of Somaliland (Baanka Somaliland) was thus
inaugurated in 1994 together with appropriate Banking Laws, to insure
that Banking regulations are carried out to the letter. Board of
Directors has accordingly been appointed together with a Governor of
the Bank, Vice-governor, and a Director General. In addition, the Bank
of Somaliland besides its functions as Central Bank, runs the
activities of Commercial sector.

The Bank’s main objectives are detailed in Article 3 of the
Constitutive Law of Somaliland Bank as follows: Fostering Monetary
stability maintaining the internal and external values of the
Somaliland Currency and promoting credit and exchange conditions
conductive to the balanced growth of the economy of the Republic and
within the limits of its powers, it shall contribute to the financial
and economic policies of the state.”

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
1 MAY LABOUR DAY
18-19 MAY RESTORATION OF SOMALILAND SOVEREIGNTY
26 JUNE INDEPENDENCE DAY

PAPER CURRENCY
http://aes.iupui.edu/rwise/countries/somaliland.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Somaliland_100_shillings.jpg#file
http://worldcoingallery.com/countries/Somaliland.php
http://www.pjsymes.com.au/articles/somalia(part4).htm

IMPRESSIVE REALLY:
BACK IN THE CAPITOL (MOGADISHU)
http://flickr.com/photos/ctsnow/sets/72157600871632748/
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/picture_gallery/04/africa_mogadishu_life/html/1.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7651204.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7651414.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7651397.stm
FOLKS BUY THEIR PASSPORTS FROM MR BIG BEARD

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMf89xPcKxg


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yo58jeLV6Jw


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlyhEWy9WPE

OTHER PLACES THAT DON’T EXIST
http://www.youtube.com/user/shootandscribble
http://shootandscribble.com/sr/1.html

DISPENSE WITH FORMALITIES
http://www.afrol.com/articles/10294
http://www.unpo.org/content/view/3905/236/
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200304/cmhansrd/vo040204/halltext/40204h03.htm
“Our foreign service hang-ups about recognition are getting in the way
of us… to build adequately on the efforts of the Government of
Somaliland to create a modern, democratic state. In effect, we are
putting the interests of the warmongers in the south ahead of those of
the peace-builders in the north.”

SELF-ORGANIZATION EFFORTS GO UNRECOGNIZED BY NEIGHBORING ANARCHIST ELITES
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2242/is_1679_287/ai_n27865671
Democracy comes of age in Somaliland
BY Stefan Simanowitz / Contemporary Review / Dec 2005

The rising sun reveals two long lines of people snaking towards a
small concrete polling station in Gabiley, a town in rural Somaliland.
Many of them have walked considerable distances and queued all night
in order to vote in these, the first parliamentary elections held in
the territory for nearly forty years. But although voters across the
country have turned out in force, and although the election is deemed
free and fair by international observers, the result will not be
officially recognised beyond its territorial borders. Indeed, in the
eyes of the international community, Somaliland is a country that does
not exist.

Since its unilateral proclamation of independence in 1991, Somaliland,
an area the size of England and Wales in the north of Somalia, has
struggled to gain international recognition. Whilst neighbouring
Somalia has all but ceased to function as an administrative, judicial
and territorial entity, Somaliland has taken important steps towards
creating a stable working democracy in one of the poorest and most
dangerous regions of the world. A new constitution was adopted in 2001
following a referendum. In 2002 local elections passed off peacefully,
and in 2003 free and fair presidential elections took place. Having
thus laid the foundations of a functioning democracy, the
parliamentary elections of 29th September 2005 were seen as the final
step in the democratisation process and an important milestone in the
transition from a traditional clan-based, single-party-dominated
political structure to a stable multi-party democracy. Many
Somalilanders also regarded them as the final prerequisite for
international recognition.

However, despite the fact that Somaliland may fulfil the requirements
necessary for recognition as a sovereign state, the question of
recognition will be determined by a number of external geo-political
factors. These factors include the African Union’s position on the
sanctity of colonial borders and Somaliland’s role in the so-called
‘war on terror’.

Background
Somaliland was a British Protectorate for over eighty years during the
colonial period. In 1960, it gained independence but formed a hasty
union with the former Italian Somaliland to create the Somali
Republic. In 1969 Mohamed Siad Barre’s military coup brought Somalia’s
flirtation with democracy to an end and planted the seeds of a
secessionist struggle in Somaliland. This struggle culminated in a
brutal three-year civil war in which 50,000 people were killed and
half a million refugees fled. Between 1988 and 1991, Barre’s forces
massacred civilians, laid over two million mines and reduced cities to
rubble.

In 1991, the overthrow of Barre’s regime plunged Somalia into a state
of anarchy from which it is yet to emerge. Somaliland, however, was
quick to declare independence and, over the years, it has managed to
establish itself as a model of stability, good governance and economic
discipline. Rival militias have been demobilised, mines have been
cleared and refugees have been repatriated. The war-ravaged
infrastructure has been rebuilt and Somaliland now boasts modern
airports, hospitals, ports, power plants and universities. There is a
free press and the central bank manages an official currency with
relatively stable exchange rates. An unarmed police force and
independent judiciary maintain order.

What is most remarkable about this progress is that it has been
achieved with virtually no external help. Whilst economic development
has been heavily supported by Somalilanders in the Diaspora, lack of
international recognition has meant that Somaliland does not qualify
for bilateral aid or support from international financial
institutions. This international isolation has not, however, resulted
in isolationism. Lack of access to external aid has forced this
country of 3.5-million people to become more self-reliant than many
other African states. This self-reliance is reflected in what is
perhaps the most significant of Somaliland’s achievements: its system
of government.

Rather than having a Western democratic model of governance imposed
on them from outside, Somaliland has managed to fuse Western-style
institutions of government with its own traditional forms of social
and political organisation. Its bi-cameral parliament reflects this
fusion of traditional and modern, with the Senate consisting of
traditional elders, and the House of Representatives consisting of
elected representatives.

However, with its history of ‘tribalism’ and internecine fighting, the
key challenge for Somaliland’s new parliament is to try and replace
clan-based politics with party politics. For its first twelve years,
Somaliland had no political parties but instead followed more
traditional clan-based forms of political organisation. Political
parties were introduced during the presidential elections and it was
hoped that the recent parliamentary elections would help to usher in a
representative system without allowing representation to be overtly
clan-based. Clearly, if clan loyalties were to take precedence over
party loyalties, parliament would be seriously weakened. The
traditional clan-based political system had resulted in an under-
representation of some clans and it was hoped that having just three
non-clan-based parties would reduce the extent to which clan
allegiance affected the selection of candidates and the way in which
people voted. A limited number of political parties would force
alliances between clans to develop thereby increasing integration and
pluralism.

In the traditional clan system it is the male elders who make
decisions, and during the nomination process, many candidates were
indeed selected by elders along clan lines. The male-dominated nature
of the selection process was reflected in the fact that only seven of
the 246 candidates were female. There was also evidence that political
parties often chose candidates based on their perceived popularity and
support base. Whilst the absence of voter registration makes it hard
to analyse voter patterns, it would seem from the results that there
is some evidence that regional voting patterns reflect clan
preferences. There is also evidence however, that alliances were
sought between subgroups of different major clans across regions under
the different party umbrellas. This would indicate that, although
tribalism inevitably played some part in the election, it has been
weakened.

The election itself was very tightly fought. At one stage it seemed
inevitable that the president’s Democratic United National Party
(UDUB) would lose to the Solidarity Party (Kulmiye). However, UDUB was
able to use its powerbase as the governing party to maintain its
percentage of the popular vote, while Kulmiye lost considerable ground
to the Justice and Welfare Party (UCID). The close nature of the
result means that parliament will not be dominated by clan or party,
but will require much greater consensus-building coalitions. It will
nevertheless be interesting to see how party loyalties will be
negotiated against clan interests in the new parliament.

Election Day
Lack of international recognition meant that Somaliland was not able
to access forms of governance support commonly received by post-
conflict areas such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Nevertheless, the
elections were well organised and successfully conducted with over
800,000 voters turning out to the country’s 985 polling stations to
elect 82 members of parliament. This represents a turnout of over 90
per cent.

Like all elections in infant democracies there were some inevitable
teething problems of a practical, administrative and logistical
nature. The absence of a census and voter register meant that a
decision was made to allow voters to vote in any of Somaliland’s six
regions: the only requirements for voting being that voters were 16
years of age and spoke Somali. Inevitably, this led to widespread
attempts at underage and multiple voting. Due to the tradition of
women decorating their hands with henna it was decided that invisible
ink (and black lamps) should be used instead of indelible ink. This
generally proved an effective barrier to multiple voting; however
punishment for those caught varied. In some polling stations those
attempting to vote more than once were merely turned away, often only
to rejoin the queues. In other polling stations people had their shoes
and belts taken away and were made to sit outside the polling station
awaiting detention by the police. Whilst the fact that 30 per cent of
the population are nomadic makes census taking and voter registration
more difficult, there is confidence that both will be in place before
the local elections in 2007.

With illiteracy rates as high as 80 per cent and with many people
having had little or no experience of voting, substantial voter
education was attempted prior to the elections. In addition, ballot
papers had symbols beside the name of each candidate to make it easier
for those that could not read. On the day however, many voters, not
even knowing which way up to hold the ballot paper, chose to announce
their choice to the local chairperson, who marked the paper for them.
Whilst this compromised the secrecy of the voting process, it did not
seem to bother voters who were generally eager to talk about whom they
had voted for.

Shadow of Terror
The shadow that hung over the elections and continues to darken
Somaliland’s future is that cast by the threat of terrorism. On 25th
September the atmosphere in Hargeisa, Somaliland’s impoverished but
relaxed capital, changed. With the elections only days away, several
suspected Islamic militants were arrested following a shoot-out with
police. The following day a cache of arms, including heavy anti-tank
weapons, was discovered in the city. According to the Interior
Minister, one of the men arrested was a senior al-Qaeda operative
allegedly in the region to organise attacks on local leaders and
foreigners. This incident heightened fears of violence especially as
it coincided with the arrival of 76 international election observers
including potentially high-profile targets such as parliamentarians
from South Africa and Europe as well as a former US Ambassador. It
also provided a stark reminder of Somaliland’s precarious position in
the global war on terror.

Whilst Somaliland has managed to avoid the violent lawlessness and
extremism of Somalia, the discovery of Islamic militants in Hargeisa
does not come as a great surprise. Over the last two years, extremists
have murdered four foreign aid workers in Somaliland. Last month four
men were sentenced to death for murdering a British couple in 2003 in
a school they had built. Although the predominantly Sufi form of Islam
practised in Somaliland does not lend itself to extremism, concerns
have been raised by the presence of an increasing number of radical
clerics as well as the porous nature of the border with Somalia.
Mogadishu has become something of a haven for al-Qaeda-affiliated
fighters and Somalia was used as a transit point for the terrorists
who carried out the 1998 attacks on the US embassies in Kenya and
Tanzania, as well as the 2002 suicide bombing in Mombasa.

Whilst the threat of terrorism is clearly a problem for Somaliland, it
also presents an opportunity. Ironically, the discovery of al-Qaeda
operatives in the territory might do more to make Western governments
take notice of Somaliland than the free and fair conduct of their
elections. Somaliland is strategically positioned on the Gulf of Aden
and is also home to what could be an important navel base in Berbera.
Currently the only location in Africa where the US has a military base
is neighbouring Djibouti, and Somaliland is seen by the Americans as a
potentially important ally against the spread of extremism.

Somaliland is conscious that too close a relationship with the
Americans might not be popular with its population, but it also
recognises the advantages that collaboration with the US could bring
in terms of finance, security and long-term stability. By promoting
itself as a non-threatening strategic partner in the ‘war on terror’,
Somaliland could fast-track its entry into the international
community.

Recognition and beyond
Even if the US were to support Somaliland’s right to self-
determination, it is unlikely that they or any other country will
recognise Somaliland without the approval of the Organisation of
African Unity. One of the OAU’s central principles is that African
colonial borders should not be redrawn. This is based on a well-
grounded fear that recognition of ‘separatist’ states could cause the
continent to descend into chaos. However, there is a strong argument
that by breaking a union that it had entered into as an independent
state, Somaliland would be reverting to, rather than redrawing its
colonial borders. It is also worth noting that despite its reluctance
to acknowledge secessionist states, the OAU has recently recognised
the newly formed nations of Eritrea and Western Sahara. It is also
important to note that thirty new countries have been internationally
recognised since 1990, although most of these emerged from the
dissolution of the USSR and Yugoslavia.

Despite OAU intransigence, Somalilanders remain optimistic about the
possibility of recognition and the benefits it will bring. As well as
giving Somaliland access to bilateral aid, recognition would finally
give access to the mining and oil companies eager to exploit
Somaliland’s proven natural resources. Large-scale extraction of oil,
coal, gemstones and minerals could transform this country where 43 per
cent of the population are living in extreme poverty. Whilst
international recognition is not a panacea that will lift Somaliland
out of poverty or eradicate its problems with health, education, food
insecurity, water supply, and HIV/AIDS, it would undoubtedly speed
development.

Although there is still a distance to travel, Somaliland’s
accomplishments are impressive. It has created effective institutions
of state and attained a level of political maturity well beyond its
years. Somaliland provides a useful model of democracy that offers
lessons to us all. It reminds us that democracy is not a static,
prescriptive system but a living idea that is constantly adapting and
taking new forms. In Hargeisa, reminders of how far this small nation
has come are all around. When the rains come, a mass grave beside the
river is exposed. Bones protrude from the red earth, some still tied
at the wrist. Beside the airport road, a rusting Russian tank is
plastered with election posters: a reminder of Somaliland’s war-
ravaged past and a symbol of hope for a democratic future.

{Stefan Simanowitz is a writer and researcher. He was part of the
International Election Observer mission to Somaliland in September
2005.}

PUNTLAND SEPARATISTS
http://www.puntlandgovt.com/
http://www.somalilandtimes.net/sl/2005/218/1.shtml
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somaliland-Puntland_dispute
http://www.somaliawatch.org/archivejuly/000812601.htm

“Following the pattern of the Booroma National Charter, which
formalized the birth of Somaliland during 1993, a new entity – the
Puntland State of Somalia – was established in July 1998 out of a long
Constitutional process that lasted more than two months. The
institutional recognition of the role played by the traditional
leadership in Puntland in the seven-year period of peaceful self-
government in a stateless situation, has come only at the end of this
process. However, the mediation role of the elders has not been so
successful in other regions of Somalia for several reasons. Generally
speaking, outside the Majeerteen context, Somali society lacks a
stable hierarchy of paramount chiefs, and it follows that mediation
can achieve only a local dimension. Nevertheless, in the northwestern
regions (Somaliland) a regionalist feeling has widely spread in the
last thirty years. In this part of Somalia, after the collapse of the
State, the elders have collectively expressed this feeling better than
the SNM, frequently paralyzed by leadership competition.

The local concept of State sovereignty does not naturally match with
the rigid concept of State territory. Instead, it should expand in the
‘official’ territory of other countries in a flexible way and wherever
members of its community are found. This is exactly one of the options
offered to end the conflict and to reconstruct Somalia by the LSE
consultant to the European Union during 1995. Today, is effectively
put into effect in all Somali regions without respect of internal and
external borders. From another point of view, it is a slide back to a
legal status of the community group, confirmed by a citizenship which
corresponds to kinship. These are new elements of extreme importance
to those who are directly or indirectly committed to developing
alternative solutions in the African context, split up between State
sovereignty and ethnic allegiance. What is advancing in Somalia is a
more flexible and a more restricted idea of what the State is and
means in Africa (and elsewhere).”

SAYS WHO? : MAKHIR STATE SECEDES TOO
http://www.laasqoray.net/view_article.php?articleid=1011
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Somali_sultanates
http://www.somalilandtimes.net/sl/2007/291/3.shtml

Badhan, Somaliland, August 18, 2007 – The semi-autonomous regional
state of Puntland (Majeerteenya) declared this week that the recent
formation of `Makhir state’ by eastern Sanag residents is `a load of
hoo ha and a dream’. In a press statement, The Puntland Minister of
Information, Mr Abdirahman Banga in recent press statement strongly
condemned last week’s declaration of a new state in eastern Sanag. Mr
Banga said that the people behind the declaration of Makhir State are
dreaming because it doesn’t exist.

The minister stressed that this area is 100% in the hands and control
of Puntland, though the area recently saw bloody clashes between
forces loyal to Puntland and Somaliland. Soon after the minister’s
statement, the self-appointed President of `Makhir’ state, Mr Jibril
Ali Salad, who used to be a Somaliland parliamentarian, spoke to the
local media in response to the minister’s statements. Mr Salad said,
“Puntland has no business to talk about our new state, and they are
powerless to stop us, and do not have the ability to even come here”.

“Makhir state is acknowledged by its people as a fully-fledged state
independent of Puntland and Somaliland,” added Jibril Ali Salad.
Makhir state was established last week in the Badhan district of
eastern Sanag and its president is Jibril Ali Salad, who up to early
this year was a member of Somaliland’s parliament House of
Representatives. Somaliland’s government has not made any comment
regarding this newly-established enclave inside its border.

MORE SELF-POLICING : ‘ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION CORPS’ (ACT LOCAL!)
http://www.dhahar.com/article.php?articleid=3603
http://www.dhahar.com/article.php?articleid=3583 [PHOTOS]
Environmental Protection Corps in Maakhir State of Somalia

The roots of the destructive nature of the charcoal trade in Sanaag
region was due to lack of rules and regulations stemmed from the
collapse of the central Somali Government. This finally came to an end
since the declaration of Maakhir State. The Environmental Protection
Corps (EPC) of Maakhir State is growing in numbers and contributing to
a larger slowdown of charcoal trade and illegal gaming of wild
animals.

The authority in Maakhir State has banned charcoal trade because of
the environmental destruction and desertification that it does to the
fragile Somali environment. Traders drastically cut entire swaths of
forests, and as a result the trade was flourishing due to the high
demand for charcoal in the Arab Gulf States and other countries in
Asia. These are the reasons why the Environment Protection Corps are
confronting the charcoal profiteers and their militia that have been
menacing the Gebi Valley and Sool Plateau.

It is important to highlight that the newly established Maakhir
Authority did not receive any international aid for this effort. This
largely local effort has made an immediate impact on preserving and
protecting the environment in the Gebi Valley and Sool Plateau. As
indicated by the President of Maakhir Jibril Salad in last Thursday’s
press release; ” Maakhir Administration used traditional conflict
resolution methods to stop the traders and their militia, however
these militia are heavily equipped with automatic firearms who would
not cooperate, but the most effective and successful method for
limiting the harmful distress of our environment was creating and
using the EPC forces.”

The EPC in Maakhir apprehended more than 80 criminals over the past 4
months and jailed them in the district of Dhahar. The administration
constructed a new program of materials, structures, and training to
educate militia while they are held in jail. Jama Dahir Kodah, one of
the program directors of the EPC, told the media that their next
sustainable occurring project is to implement a plantation program in
the region.

The EPC is divided into three forces in the following areas of Maakhir
State and the main base is in city of Dhahar, the capital city of
Boharo region, the new region in Sanaag that Maakhir created:
1) The first battalion is responsible for the protection in vast areas
which stretches from Baragaha-Qol in Southern Sanaag to Eilbuh in
Central Sanaag.
2) The Second Battalion is responsible for an area which stretches
from Dhahar to Western Part of Bari region of Somalia near Boosaaso.
3) The Third and most important battalion have bases along the highway
that links Maakhir to Puntland and does stop and search in suspected
vehicles.

SERIOUSLY
JUST REDO THE BORDERS
http://talesfromtheborderlands.blogspot.com/2007/09/crossing-african-borders.html
http://www.afriquefrontieres.org/
(IN A CAREFUL, RESPONSIBLE WAY, SURE)
http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/polisci/wgape/meeting.html

TRADE INCENTIVES
http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/10/10/opinion/edhunter.php
INTERNATIONAL WILDLIFE PARKS
http://www.scidev.net/en/features/breaking-down-borders-in-africa.html

AT BEST ARBITRARY, AT WORST DELIBERATELY DIVISIVE + DESIGNED TO CREATE WEAKNESS
http://encarta.msn.com/sidebar_762512457/Africa%27s_Arbitrary_Borders.html
COLONIAL BORDERS DON’T HELP
http://www.dfa.gov.za/au.nepad/au_nutshell.htm
http://www.dfa.gov.za/docs/2003/au0815.htm
http://www.africa-union.org/root/au/index/index.htm
http://www.africa-union.org/root/au/OtherPages/Others/Useful_Links.htm
http://www.nepad.org/2005/files/video.php
http://www.triomedia.co.za/work/nepad/newsletters/2008/
http://www.sarpn.org.za/nepad.php

ABANDONING SOVEREIGNTY
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/2115736.stm
African Union replaces dictators’ club
BY Paul Reynolds / 8 July, 2002

A new wind of change is blowing through Africa. The move from OAU
(Organisation of African Unity) to AU (African Union) is supposed to
be more than the dropping of one letter. It is supposed to represent a
shift from a “dictators’ club” to a people-based grouping. Everything
of course depends on implementation. And given the sad record – and
current problems, such as AIDS – there must be doubts about how much
can be achieved. AIDS alone is reducing life in some countries,
especially in southern Africa, to nothing more than an existence. Life
expectancies are being cut to levels unknown since the 19th Century.
The OAU was set up to develop Africa after colonialism – and to help
liberate Southern Africa from white rule.

Convenient
The African Union reflects the developments in many parts of Africa in
recent years, as democracy has started to take hold and a new emphasis
has emerged which concentrates less on the battles of the past and
more on the need to improve the lives of ordinary people. The key
shift is that the principle of state sovereignty has been abandoned.

It was the central belief of the OAU that nobody should interfere in
anyone else’s business. That was especially convenient for dictators.
Now the AU has as one of its aims the promotion of “democratic
principles and institutions, popular participation and good
governance.” It will have the right to initiate a so-called “peer
review” of a country’s record, intervene if there is genocide and war
crimes and impose sanctions. Everything of course depends on
implementation.

High hopes
Nobody is mourning the end of the OAU. Yet when it was founded in
Addis Ababa in 1963, Africa was full of pride and hope. Its leaders
were giants of their day. Africa was coming out of colonial rule and
many had led their nations to independence. It was a time to be bold.
One of the key figures was Dr Kwame Nkrumah, President of Ghana which
became independent (and dropped its colonial name the Gold Coast) in
1957. He believed that the African continent should be “united.” But
defining that unity was the problem. The OAU solved the problem by
praising unity in its language, but avoiding it in its practice. The
differences across the continent were just too many and the principle
which the OAU adopted, of non-interference and non-intervention,
simply meant that member states turned a blind eye to their
neighbours.

Tragedy
When one of the founding members, Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia
gave a speech to the OAU, he was praised in its formal thanks for his
“wisdom.” When the man who overthrew him in 1974 (and later murdered
him and buried him under a latrine), Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam,
subsequently welcomed delegates back to Addis Ababa, he was thanked
for his “warm and generous hospitality.” Colonel Mengistu went on to
declare his “red terror” in which tens of thousands of opponents were
slaughtered by his neighbourhood committees. It was one of the
tragedies of the OAU that all that happened in the city where it was
founded. There were coups all over the place – including Nigeria
(which had been the jewel in the British colonial crown in Africa and
the hope for parliamentary democracy), Libya (which brought Colonel
Gaddafi to power) and Uganda (in which Idi Amin rose to fame). Kwame
Nkrumah was overthrown in a coup himself. It symbolised the problems
Africa was having in developing stable government. The OAU could say
little and did nothing.

‘Interference’
Even after the recent elections in Zimbabwe, it was still bringing
forth its usual kind of statement when it objected to possible
American sanctions: “We are dismayed by this report, which amounts to
interference in the internal affairs of a member state.” It was more
successful over the years in trying to mediate in conflicts between
states. It helped mediate a border dispute between Algeria and Morocco
and between Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. One of the ironies was that
the OAU insisted on preserving the borders drawn by the colonial
rulers which often reflected spheres of influence rather than natural
divisions. The view at the time was also that Africa needed time to
settle down. And after all, it was achieving good economic growth of
about 5% a year in the 1960s. And the crisis in Southern Africa, where
white rule was being confronted, was regarded as more of a priority
for the OAU.

Faith lost
But Africa began to fail. Economic growth gave way to debt repayments;
the pioneering efforts to improve public health were swamped by AIDS,
wars were unending and famine stalked the land. The people lost faith
in governments and governments lost interest in the people. According
to Bernard Otabil of West Africa magazine: “The people did not feel
that the OAU satisfied their aspirations. It did not involve people on
the ground. It was top heavy.” The Secretary General of the OAU, Amara
Essy, who has helped to bring the new African Union about, was
scathing about the old grouping: “The OAU is the most difficult
organisation I have ever seen”, he told New African magazine. Mr
Otabil believes that the African Union is on the right course because
it is less grandiose and hopes to be more community based. It is also
offering an economic dimension and seeks African integration into the
world economy. One of the main tasks for the AU will be to push
forward with Nepad, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development. This
offers a bargain with the West – you give us aid and we will put our
house in order. It is a long way from 1963.

SUCCESS BUILDS FROM THE BOTTOM UP
http://www.mg.co.za/article/2006-02-10-au-supports-somali-split
African Union supports Somali split
BY Jean-Jacques Cornish / Feb 10 2006

Hopes of recognition for Somaliland’s 15-year independence have been
raised by the favourable report of an African Union mission that
visited the territory last year. The report, a copy of which the Mail
& Guardian has obtained, comes at a time when signs of a new
flexibility in African thinking on boundary issues are emerging. It
suggests that official African aid be tapped by this country of
3,5million people that was effectively destroyed by the Somali
dictator Siad Barre. With the fall of Barre in 1991, the former
British colony broke its union with southern neighbour, the former
Italian colony of Somalia. Since Barre’s departure, Somalia has been
without an effective government.

But Somaliland has pulled itself up by its bootstraps. It has had a
referendum to adopt a democratic Constitution and has organised
presidential and parliamentary elections. Independent international
observers have endorsed all of these. The Organisation of African
Unity refused to recognise Somaliland’s independence, citing the maxim
that there would be chaos if colonial boundaries were not observed in
post-independence Africa.

Unions between Senegal and Gambia, and Egypt and Sudan, among
others, have been broken without affecting the recognition of these
countries. The AU mission accepts this, stating in its report that
Somaliland’s “case should not be linked to the notion of ‘opening a
Pandora’s box’. As such, the AU should find a special method for
dealing with this outstanding case. “The lack of recognition ties the
hands of the authorities and people of Somaliland, as they cannot
effectively and sustainably transact with the outside to pursue the
reconstruction and development goals.

“Furthermore, given the acute humanitarian situation prevailing in
Somaliland, the AU should mobilise financial resources to help
alleviate the plight of the affected communities, especially those
catering for the internally displaced persons and the returnees.
Finally, given also the high potential for conflict between Mogadishu
and Hargeisa, the AU should take steps to discuss critical issues in
the relations between the two towns. That initiative should be taken
at the earliest possible opportunity.”

Iqbal Jhazbhay, an Africa analyst at the University of South Africa,
says the report illustrates a new mood in the AU, an organisation
Somaliland has officially applied to join. “The AU-sponsored peace
deal in Sudan allows for a referendum, five years from now, on whether
the south wants to go it alone. This could not have happened if it
were business as usual. The AU now goes for results, and takes account
of subjective facts and practical realities,” says Jhazbhay. “The AU
clearly recognises the stability created in Somaliland and the
infrastructural development. It is determined to bring peace to the
horn. It is looking at post-conflict reconstruction and it has the
capacity to handle these issues.”

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