Thursday, February 27, 2014


















Haiti & me: In search of Jean Bertrand Aristide

     When thinking about Haiti, a lot of people think first about that terrible earthquake disaster of 2010 -- and also about President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.   And I do too.  So on my first day in Port au Prince, I toured most of the earthquake disaster areas.  And on my third day there, it only seemed logical that I also attempt to meet up with the great man himself.  And I actually came THIS close to doing that too!  

     After recovering from wandering around the Carrefour district's Carnival celebration the night before, I then went over to check out Aristide's house.  "President Aristide is actually here today," said the guard at the door, "but he's not seeing visitors right now.  However, you can always wave to him on our closed-circuit TV camera."  Great idea!  So I smiled and waved and smiled and waved at the CCTV camera like the idiot tourist that I am.

      Next I went off to visit Aristide's Foundation Pour la Democratie and looked around there.  Met some interesting diplomats, students, professors and a chicken.

     Then I visited UniFA, a medical school established by Aristide in order to create more doctors in Haiti -- where the ratio of Haitians to doctors
is 10,000 to 1 in urban areas and 20,000 to 1 in the countryside (no wonder vodou cures are so popular here).  "How many students study here?" I asked a bright-eyed first-year physician wannabe, sitting outside eating her lunch between classes.  (Actually all the students here are clearly bright-eyed and diligent and idealistic -- all young, gifted and Black.  Go them.) 

     "About 700," the student replied. 

     "So can you tell me how cure my sore knees?" I asked. 

     "No, we haven't gotten that far in our curriculum quite yet."  Rats.

      Lastly, I stopped by a large apartment building that had been constructed during Aristide's presidency in order to house some of Port au Prince's homeless population, right before GWB sent in the Marines.  Two things about this apartment building were note-worthy.  First, it was the only building for blocks around that had actually withstood the 2010 earthquake.  And, second, the apartments all had two bedrooms, a bathroom and a kitchen.

     In stark contrast, directly across the street one could also see a hundred-odd new U.N. housing units -- such as they were.  Each family had been allocated a really really small cube-shaped one-room dwelling with no bathroom, no bedroom, no kitchen and no running water.  And their shared port-a-potties were all way down the street.

    So just exactly who is this guy Jean-Bertrand Aristide?  And why do American neo-cons and corporatists all hate him so much?  I don't know.  Maybe because Aristide doesn't want to keep Haiti forever "barefoot and pregnant"?  Maybe because Aristide, a former priest, actually tries to practice the teachings of Jesus?  Your guess is as good as mine.

     In any case, here's a bit more about Aristide's back-story for those of you who have never heard of the guy.  In 2001, Aristide was democratically elected as president of Haiti, just one year after George Bush stole the 2000 American election.  But, unlike GWB, Aristide's emphasis was on inclusion and education. 

     In just the few years that he was president, Aristide built more schools in Haiti than had ever existed in all of its long miserable history of being controlled by U.S. interests.  Aristide also devoted 20% of the nation's budget to healthcare.  Good grief!  No wonder Wall Street and War Street hated him.  And overthrew him too.  Violently.  In favor of deadly U.N. "peacekeepers" and the Marines, who immediately shot everything up and turned UniFA into a military barracks.  That was back in 2004.  http://www.projectcensored.org/12-another-massacre-in-haiti-by-un-troops/

     And now, ten years later, Haiti has been stuck with President Michel Martelly, aka the "Neo-Cons' Choice," elected in the same way that the U.S. got stuck with Dubya -- illegally.  "He is our guy!" cries Wall Street, War Street and the Deep State.  http://billmoyers.com/2014/02/21/anatomy-of-the-deep-state/

     And now WalMart is once again happily running sweatshops in Haiti, where workers get paid $4.56 a day http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVx2dl3Hgso

     What the freak was Aristide thinking! 

     Surely Aristide should have known that anybody who denies WalMart access to economic slave labor is naturally gonna be in big trouble -- and educating a country's children and providing its citizens with healthcare is also a really bad idea because then countries like Haiti will no longer have a subservient labor force and a really dumb electorate -- and that's just not the corporatist way.  Aristide should have known better.  Even most Americans are clear on this concept, keeping their eyes down and their mouths shut.  Why couldn't Aristide do the same?


     And if you still want even more information on Aristide and Haiti, here's a great video to watch:  https://ia700401.us.archive.org/20/items/FreedomIsAConstantStrugglePGMTelvueMPEG2/Freedom%20is%20a%20Constant%20Struggle_PGM-Telvue%20MPEG-2.ogv 

PS:  I truly love being in Haiti!  It's an amazing country.  You all should all come visit it sometime.  And, unlike those nasty rumors spread by neo-cons hell-bent on colonizing Haiti for fun and profit, Haiti is perfectly safe.  And it's lovely here too.

PPS:  Here's another interesting fact about Haiti:  The whole population of this country has African DNA.  So far, I'm the only white person I have met in all of Port au Prince.  For instance, there were over 2000 people at the carnival in Carrefour last night -- and only yours truly was white.  And you know what?  No one cared -- because everyone was having such an amazingly wonderful time there, dancing in the streets, even me (except, of course, for my sore knees).

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Advertizements for myself: In these hard times of brutal (and illegal) corporatist ball-busting socialism-for-the-rich-only, I am doing whatever I can to make a spare dollar. Here are some of my current alternate-economy schemes that never seem to work -- but I keep hoping!
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If anyone ever wants to hire me on as a travel writer (or war correspondent), "Have laptop, will travel!"




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Then I'm your man! I can portray all kinds of older women -- from judges, business execs and other insane zombies to bag ladies, cancer patients, kindly grandmothers and dying patients in rest homes. I've played them all. So send me a script and let's do this. Hollywood, here we come! Here's my new 2014 reel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uad0XDU_cXg&feature=youtube_gdata

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Are you a plaintiffs' attorney who is tired of writing those pesky personal injury settlement briefs all the time? No problem! I can write them for you. Years of experience. And pay me only if you win the case.
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I recently got my Notary Public commission!

Need a Notary Public? Have seal, will travel. E-mail me at jpstillwater@yahoo.com and I'll stamp your document, make it official and only charge $10. Of course if you live outside of Berkeley, I may have to charge travel expenses -- but am well worth it!

****
Want something good to read? Buy my book! "Bring Your Own Flak Jacket: Helpful Tips for Touring Today's Middle East," available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. http://www.amazon.com/Bring-Your-Own-Flak-Jacket/dp/0978615719/ref=cm_pdp_rev_itm_title_1. It's like if Jack Kerouac, Mark Twain and/or Janet Evanovich went to war.

I also wrote a book about going on Hajj (also included as a chapter in "Bring Your Own Flak Jacket," but this book is cheaper -- but it's worth buying them both!) My book on the Hajj is so outstanding that I bet even Christian fundamentalists will love it! Please buy it here: http://www.amazon.com/Mecca-Hajj-Lessons-Islamic-School/dp/0978615700/ref=cm_rdp_product

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"Imagine a world where EVERY child is wanted, nurtured, protected and loved: World peace in one generation!"
You can now buy T-shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags, truckers' caps, baby gear and/or teddy bears with this logo printed on them. They make great gifts, especially for parents and teachers. To purchase, just click here:http://www.cafepress.com/StillTWaters

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"Life is a competition. The winners are the ones who do the most good deeds."
You can also buy T-shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags, truckers' caps, baby gear and/or teddy bears with this logo printed on them. They make great gifts, especially for those of us who are still idealists in these troubled times. To purchase, just click here: http://www.cafepress.com/StillTWaters 

Friday, February 21, 2014














Shhh, I finally made it to Haiti!

     I was supposed to fly down to Haiti on February 12 but ice-storm Pax put an end to that plan.  3,000 flights were cancelled, including mine -- which was sort of embarrassing because I had already told the world and his wife that I was going and hated to go back on my word.  So when I suddenly came across another cheap flight to Port au Prince on February 20, I decided not to tell anyone I was going until I was actually really and truly there.  Why jinx a good thing?  Fingers crossed.

     And now I really am actually here!  And just saw Port au Prince up close and personal.  And had goat stew for dinner.  Yes!
 
      Sure, Haiti is a third-world country -- thanks mainly to the United States, Canada and France.  And, sure, there are still people living in tents from the 2010 earthquake, and a lot of our money donated to Haiti has gone toward projects like building a five-star hotel and getting Baby Doc's evil rep whitewashed.  But today when I did a quick windshield survey of Port au Prince, I also saw a lot of school kids in uniforms going hopefully off to school and a lot of market women carrying on.

     And I didn't see as many homeless panhandlers here as I did back in the United States.  But, like I said, Haiti is still a seriously third-world country.

     Last night I slept for a half-hour on a red-eye flight from SFO to JFK. 

     Tonight I'm off to the Hotel Oloffson to hear the RAM band play music based on Haiti's vodou heritage.

*************************************
*************************************

Advertizements for myself: In these hard times of brutal (and illegal) corporatist ball-busting socialism-for-the-rich-only, I am doing whatever I can to make a spare dollar. Here are some of my current alternate-economy schemes that never seem to work -- but I keep hoping!
******

If anyone ever wants to hire me on as a travel writer (or war correspondent), "Have laptop, will travel!"




******
 
Need someone to help you throw out stuff? I'm really good at deciding what needs to be thrown out (starting with all those corporate-owned bums in Washington!)

****

Need an actor to play an older woman in your movie?
Then I'm your man! I can portray all kinds of older women -- from judges, business execs and other insane zombies to bag ladies, cancer patients, kindly grandmothers and dying patients in rest homes. I've played them all. So send me a script and let's do this. Hollywood, here we come! Here's my new 2014 reel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uad0XDU_cXg&feature=youtube_gdata

****
Are you a plaintiffs' attorney who is tired of writing those pesky personal injury settlement briefs all the time? No problem! I can write them for you. Years of experience. And pay me only if you win the case.
****


I recently got my Notary Public commission!

Need a Notary Public? Have seal, will travel. E-mail me at jpstillwater@yahoo.com and I'll stamp your document, make it official and only charge $10. Of course if you live outside of Berkeley, I may have to charge travel expenses -- but am well worth it!

****
Want something good to read? Buy my book! "Bring Your Own Flak Jacket: Helpful Tips for Touring Today's Middle East," available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. http://www.amazon.com/Bring-Your-Own-Flak-Jacket/dp/0978615719/ref=cm_pdp_rev_itm_title_1. It's like if Jack Kerouac, Mark Twain and/or Janet Evanovich went to war.

I also wrote a book about going on Hajj (also included as a chapter in "Bring Your Own Flak Jacket," but this book is cheaper -- but it's worth buying them both!) My book on the Hajj is so outstanding that I bet even Christian fundamentalists will love it! Please buy it here: http://www.amazon.com/Mecca-Hajj-Lessons-Islamic-School/dp/0978615700/ref=cm_rdp_product

****

"Imagine a world where EVERY child is wanted, nurtured, protected and loved: World peace in one generation!"
You can now buy T-shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags, truckers' caps, baby gear and/or teddy bears with this logo printed on them. They make great gifts, especially for parents and teachers. To purchase, just click here:http://www.cafepress.com/StillTWaters

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"Life is a competition. The winners are the ones who do the most good deeds."
You can also buy T-shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags, truckers' caps, baby gear and/or teddy bears with this logo printed on them. They make great gifts, especially for those of us who are still idealists in these troubled times. To purchase, just click here: http://www.cafepress.com/StillTWaters 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014



















Snowstorms just cancelled my trip to Haiti. No-o-o-o-o!

    I have been trying to get down to Haiti ever since the 2010 earthquake -- and now, four years later, I thought that I was finally going to get that chance.  But no.  Leaving today as planned?  Not. 

     "Severe weather in NYC has caused your flight to Port au Prince this evening to be cancelled," said a rep from Jet Blue.  "But we can still get you down there just two and a half days later -- and we can probably still get you back home as scheduled."  Oh great.  Just three days in Haiti?  Or I could stay longer but with no guesthouse reservations?  Forget that.

     Damn you, climate change!  Damn your eyes.

     But one good thing has come out of this.  I have been reading up on Haiti.  A lot.  Things are not really all that rosy down there right now.  Lots of people still don't have homes, food or even access to clean water -- despite all the billions that have been spent on "building back better" after the quake.  Most of that money seems to have gone to outside contractors and NGOs, according to Paul Farmer in "Haiti After the Earthquake," not toward creating local jobs.

     And Baby Doc Duvalier has been back in Haiti for over three years and is still running around free and acting like George W. Bush -- like all those killings and tortures they committed weren't really real, just stuff that has been made up by disgruntled liberals.  Yet nobody seems to be asking all the amputees and ghosts born from their regimes.

    According to Amnesty International, "While the victims await the Court’s decision [on Baby Doc's crimes], Duvalier has been taking part in public events.  Most recently, on 1 January 2014, he attended a state ceremony to celebrate Independence Day in the city of Gona├»ves.  Former president Prosper Avril, a close Duvalier ally who came to power following a military coup in 1988 and ruled until 1990, also was there.  President Michel Martelly justified Duvalier’s and Avril’s invitations as important to promote national reconciliation." 

     National reconciliation?  Then perhaps we should send GWB back to Iraq so Dubya could do some hands-on "reconciliation" with the million ghosts he created there.  Or we should send Obama to Pakistan and Afghanistan for even more and better "reconciliation" after all his drone strikes on weddings.

     Baby Doc?  Nelson Mandela he is not.

     I also learned that Jean-Bertrand Aristide is now living in Port au Prince but isn't allowed to run for office again.  And who isn't allowing him to run?  One guess.  The same folks who had him ousted the last time he was legally elected.  Or was it the last two times he was legally elected?  Wall Street and War Street. 

     As Jose Marti once said, "If you look at all South American countries, the ones controlled by the United States are the poorest and the least free."  And over a hundred years later, this simple fact still rings true.  Just look at Honduras.  Just look at Haiti.

     Then I read Isobel Allende's book that took place in Haiti back when French "Christian" slave-owners were torturing their slaves and working them to death; for fun and profit.  Nowadays slavery is illegal per se in Haiti, but American corporations have now replaced French slave-owners -- and they can still get Haitians to work for them for slave wages and they can still work them to death.  

    "But Jane," you might say, "if Haiti is such a freaking nightmare, why in the world would you want to go there?"  Great music, nice people, wonderful historical sites, fabulous beaches -- and a chance to give something back to the people of Haiti after European and American "capitalists" have spent the last six centuries taking so very much away.

PS:  I haven't given up yet.  Sooner or later I WILL get to Haiti.  And you should come too!

     And when you get there, ask Ravix Evens (ravixevens@yahoo.com) to meet you at the airport and take you straight to the Hotel Oloffson in Port au Prince -- and then, later on, ask him to drive you over mountains beyond mountains to the beautiful historical city of Cap Haitien, a UNESCO world heritage site.  That's what I would have done.

     Sigh.

*************************************
*************************************

Advertizements for myself: In these hard times of brutal (and illegal) corporatist ball-busting socialism-for-the-rich-only, I am doing whatever I can to make a spare dollar. Here are some of my current alternate-economy schemes that never seem to work -- but I keep hoping!
******

If anyone ever wants to hire me on as a travel writer (or war correspondent), "Have laptop, will travel!"



******
 
Need someone to help you throw out stuff? I'm really good at deciding what needs to be thrown out (starting with all those corporate-owned bums in Washington!)

****

Need an actor to play an older woman in your movie?
Then I'm your man! I can portray all kinds of older women -- from judges, business execs and other insane zombies to bag ladies, cancer patients, kindly grandmothers and dying patients in rest homes. I've played them all. So send me a script and let's do this. Hollywood, here we come! Here's my new 2014 reel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uad0XDU_cXg&feature=youtube_gdata

****
Are you a plaintiffs' attorney who is tired of writing those pesky personal injury settlement briefs all the time? No problem! I can write them for you. Years of experience. And pay me only if you win the case.
****


I recently got my Notary Public commission!

Need a Notary Public? Have seal, will travel. E-mail me at jpstillwater@yahoo.com and I'll stamp your document, make it official and only charge $10. Of course if you live outside of Berkeley, I may have to charge travel expenses -- but am well worth it!

****
Want something good to read? Buy my book! "Bring Your Own Flak Jacket: Helpful Tips for Touring Today's Middle East," available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. http://www.amazon.com/Bring-Your-Own-Flak-Jacket/dp/0978615719/ref=cm_pdp_rev_itm_title_1. It's like if Jack Kerouac, Mark Twain and/or Janet Evanovich went to war.

I also wrote a book about going on Hajj (also included as a chapter in "Bring Your Own Flak Jacket," but this book is cheaper -- but it's worth buying them both!) My book on the Hajj is so outstanding that I bet even Christian fundamentalists will love it! Please buy it here: http://www.amazon.com/Mecca-Hajj-Lessons-Islamic-School/dp/0978615700/ref=cm_rdp_product

****

"Imagine a world where EVERY child is wanted, nurtured, protected and loved: World peace in one generation!"
You can now buy T-shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags, truckers' caps, baby gear and/or teddy bears with this logo printed on them. They make great gifts, especially for parents and teachers. To purchase, just click here:http://www.cafepress.com/StillTWaters

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-uqSuzOjM4vU/TafAFKcYz0I/AAAAAAAAFJc/Duv2LYJyUTs/s1600/IMG_0045.JPGhttp://3.bp.blogspot.com/-dlHRO-CPqf0/Tae6tLspmQI/AAAAAAAAFI0/iUKwYDK1f3A/s1600/IMG_0041.JPG
"Life is a competition. The winners are the ones who do the most good deeds."
You can also buy T-shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags, truckers' caps, baby gear and/or teddy bears with this logo printed on them. They make great gifts, especially for those of us who are still idealists in these troubled times. To purchase, just click here: http://www.cafepress.com/StillTWaters